This Face Does Exist
How Do You Distinguish Yourself From the Artificial?
Soon I’ll find it. Find myself. I’m the only one who’s not affected, but I think I can save everyone else. I can end this.
I’m hungry, exhausted, and filled with dread. But I must keep going. Something is wrong with everyone around me. I see them, see their faces, but they're horribly distorted and disfigured. It's terrifying.
It started when I visited that damn website. It's supposed to show computer generated images of human faces. Faces that aren't real; people who don't exist.
I monotonously clicked refresh, over and over, searching for a picture of a late twenties/early thirties, clean cut male of any ethnicity. I needed it for a mock pamphlet I was making for a school project.
Finding what you're looking for is usually no more than twentyish refreshes, but that day (how many days has it been since?), I was having poor luck.
I didn't find what I was looking for. But after what felt like hundreds of clicks, I landed on an image that haunted me. I couldn't help but cease my search, and try to find a distraction.
The image itself was of a woman. Perfectly normal, mid to late twenties, fairly pretty. What disturbed me was off to the side.
Beside the main woman's face, there was a second. This is highly irregular for the program, as it's intended to exclusively show one face, with little to no excess details in the rest of the image.
To the left of the main face, was the partially formed, minorly disfigured face of another woman.
I know, I know. It comes across as ableist body shaming, or just plain mean. But there was something about her eye. It was looking straight at me. Through me.
I'd attempted to go back about my day, to shake off the uneasy feeling. When I tried to watch TV, things really began to sink in.
I turned on the tube, to be met with some kind of war documentary. The history channel, I guess. Again, off to the side, I'd catch glimpses of monstrously deformed faces. In many cases, deformities so severe you'd be surprised they could be alive. They kept getting worse.
I felt the faces watching me through the screen. It was hard to tell though, because if I caught them, they'd disappear. It was as if they were never there to begin with.
I flipped through the channels, hoping to find that it was a trick of the mind, or coincidental filming errors, but no. The news, holiday programs... even cartoons hosted real life, mangled faces, peaking at me through tortured eyes. If they even had any eyes at all.
I was up all night. It was the early morning at that point. I’d been running on fumes. I tried to explain it all away. “I’m overtired,” I told myself. But sleep was no sanctuary.
I wrapped my heavy eyelids over my dry, tired eyes. A momentary respite from the disturbing faces. It couldn’t have been more than a few minutes before I started seeing them in my head. New ones, as if I was creating them myself.
At that point I’d started to really consider that I was losing my mind. I needed to seek help.
Then the crescendo of my madness began, and it hasn’t quieted since.
Every mirror, every reflective window. They all held the faces. I left my apartment, into the dawn’s early twilight. Few people, and fewer cars were out and about. Premature signs of the city waking up.
I scampered over to the local gas station to grab an energy drink. I knew I wouldn’t get sleep any time soon. I kept my eyes glued to the sidewalk. I couldn’t risk glancing at a window and seeing them.
As soon as I had entered, my world came to a halt. The customers, the clerk, they were all leering at me. With disfigured, inhuman faces.
I rushed back outside, mind racing.
“Where can I go?” I asked myself.
The only place I knew there wouldn’t be other people would be at home, but there’s too many reflective surfaces that host the faces.
“Maybe the park?”
No, I knew it was the dog walking and jogging hour at that point.
After racking my mind further, I noticed more and more people on the street. Walking. Driving. Going about their business. All with heads turned, facing me, exposing me to their hideous, abominable visages.
I raced home, covered the TV, pulled the blinds, blanketed the mirrors. No faces. For a time.
I thought about seeing if I could get a hold of a mental health professional, but I couldn’t shake the certainty that they too would have a haunting, twisted face.
What did they want?
Scared and alone, I called my mother. She kept trying to convince me to leave the house. I couldn’t! I knew she cared, but I also knew she was one of them now.
She offered me one piece of crucial advice. I don’t know if she knew what was going on. If some part of who she really was, was trying to help me. She told me that I need to “find myself.”
Since that phone call, I’ve been here. In my computer chair, forcing myself to look at the monstrous faces before me. I’ve been through thousands, maybe more.
The image that started it all
Trying to find…
The only face that’s normal…
About the author
"Tewahway? How do you even say that?" Honestly, so long as you try, you're doin' it right!
I mainly write horror fiction, but I'm here to spread my wings and soar like a literary baby bird.
https://www.talesbytravel.com/short-stories for more