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Catfish

Catfish

For a while it seemed as if the computer had died; the screen displayed no activity and no noise came from the fan, which normally sounded like a fighter jet.

Jack was about to unplug the entire system, when a tiny speck of light appeared in the centre of the monitor. It grew larger and larger, until the blackness had been entirely replaced with bright purple. The speakers came to life soon after, blaring out a distorted jingle, which made Jack lunge towards the mute button.

After a few seconds, the purple began to fade away, slowly revealing a standard ‘sign up’ icon, which appeared in the same neon writing as the advert. Atop the icon, with her legs crossed, sat the same semi – naked woman, this time with an outstretched finger that beckoned Jack to enter the website.

He was more than happy to oblige her.

His eyes darted back to the sign up icon. Maybe this time he would be lucky enough to get chatting with a more local girl, one that he wouldn’t have to travel fifty miles to meet. First things first he would resurrect his Oscar Novak profile, a young lad as handsome and athletic as him would surely drag in more girls like Molly Lomax.

But when Jack clicked sign up, he was taken to a page that looked completely different to anything he had seen before.

Instead of being taken to an account creation page, Jack found himself looking at a poorly animated Ferris wheel, with one noticeable difference. Instead of gondolas, pictures of teenage lads decorated the outside of the wheel, each more good – looking than the last.

At first Jack was annoyed; this was clearly a well put together scam, that would probably tap into his bank account or hack his computer at the first given opportunity.

Click here to spin.

Worries of losing money and the contents of his computer quickly fell to the back of his mind, as curiosity crept over him like a rash. It was as if he was staring at a big red button that had ‘do not press’ written all over it. Pressing it would almost definitely lead to nothing good, but at the same time it was a big red button. What else was he supposed to do?

Jack clicked the screen and the wheel began to turn.

It was slow at first, barely even noticeable but it gradually became faster and faster until the monitor became a hazy blur of facial features. The jingle that should have been silenced started to play again, louder and more aggressive than before, eventually becoming so intolerable that Jack had to retreat to the opposite end of the room in order to relieve his ears.

That was when the pain started, horrific pain that cut through his forehead like a hot knife, instantly knocking him to the ground. Jack tried to scream, but the shock was a gut punch, that ensured only a pathetic wheeze escaped his lips. All he could do was claw at his face, as the pain mercilessly spread across his whole head, completely enveloping him in agony.

After a few seconds that felt like hours, the assault came to an abrupt end and silence once again returned to the room. The pain subsided and Jack staggered to his feet, still clutching his head in a vice – like grip. He felt dizzy, as if he had been drinking for twenty – four straight hours.

Catching his breath, he eventually relaxed enough to drop his hands and glance up at the computer monitor.

The lads on the Ferris wheel had vanished.

Except for one.

Shaken, Jack returned to his office chair to find the image of a muscle bound rugby player, named Ryan Parfitt now occupied the bottom of the wheel. He was nineteen years old and had curly brown hair, which was beautifully complimented by a set of piercing green eyes. His clothes were stylish, sporting a denim jacket and tight fit black jeans, as well as a designer T Shirt. In short Ryan looked like the hunky protagonist of a chick flick, which every girl in the world wanted to co – star in. Just above his picture there was a message…

Look in the mirror.

Jack stared at the phrase for a minute, frightened of what he was about to do.

Cautiously, Jack made his way across the room towards a dirty mirror, which hung crookedly above a pile of unwashed clothes. It was only a few metres away, but the distance felt like he was walking his very own green mile as he drew nearer and nearer to the dusty looking glass.

Jack Cramley, aged forty three looked into the mirror.

Ryan Parfitt, aged nineteen looked back.

This time he had no trouble in mustering a scream. The noise that erupted from Jack’s mouth sounded nothing like his own voice; it was higher and smoother, completely contrasting his typical gruff and hoarse tone. It was a scream so loud and long that it could only come from the bottom of young, healthy lungs.

Running his fingers along his face, the spots and wrinkles that normally decorated his mug were not there. Now Jack felt perfectly moisturized skin, with not even one spot or imperfection.

Instead of his usual stained jogging bottoms, which allowed him to comfortably tuck in his flabby overhang, he now found himself standing in the skinniest of black jeans, athleticism replacing the obesity as if it was never there in the first place.

Fear quickly give way to elation as he continued to admire his new reflection. This was impossible, yet there was no doubt about it – he had morphed into a completely new man.

How he had transformed was completely beyond Jack’s understanding, but the website and the wheel were definitely responsible. Nothing about this was natural, but Conjurer.com had performed nothing short of a miracle, granting him a wish he didn’t know he had. The inner workings of the website could remain a mystery, for all Jack cared.

On the monitor, the other lads had been restored to the wheel and to his delight, ‘click to spin again’ was flashing in all of its neon glory. In the bottom left corner of the screen, the semi naked woman pointed towards a twenty hour timer, which had already begun counting down. A speech bubble protruding from her mouth told Jack to ‘enjoy it while it lasts.’

Jack unzipped his fly and pulled down his jeans and designer boxer shorts. Just as he had hoped, it was huge, much larger than his own. The cherry on top.

He could get used to this.

About The Author

Sam Barrowcliffe

I am nineteen years old and will begin studying English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick in September. Since starting at Mouthing Off as Creative Writing Editor, I have written and published a number of short stories and can’t wait to share even more. My favourite genres are horror and science – fiction and I take great inspiration from the likes of Rod Serling, Charlie Kauffman, H.P Lovecraft, Christopher Nolan and Phillip K. Dick. In the future, I hope to follow my dream of becoming a professional screenwriter and novelist, following in the footsteps of my idols. I look forward to publishing even more fiendish tales and I hope people will continue to enjoy reading them, as much as I have writing them!

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