I like horror. People who know me know that. I especially like to dive head-first into those stories that make you question your grip on reality, or doubt the barriers that separate you from fiction. I’m not sure I’ve reached that point yet, but I’m definitely freaked out, and here seems as good a place to talk about it as any.
There’s this r/hubpost list of r/askreddit discussions that pertain to creepy, spooky, paranormal, or otherwise unsettling topics, and I’ve been making my way down it, trying to find some piece of inspiration for my own horror works. Like a lot of AskReddit stuff, the posts all start to look pretty similar over time, with popular answers getting reposted in an attempt to gain karma. You know the deal.
One of my favourite thread types is when people are posting scary images. There’s this one that always gets posted, of Omayra Sánchez, that little girl who got pinned down partially underwater and died of hypothermia, since her eyes are pitch black even though the rest of her face looks healthy and normal. People also like to post images of that guy who survived the Tokaimura nuclear accident and was kept alive to study the effects of extreme radiation exposure, and those are fucking terrifying, not going to lie. Pictures of that poor woman who was dug up and preserved by her stalker, Carl Tanzler. Then there’s pictures of missing people, or people who are now dead, or victims of famous crimes, stuff like that. In all these cases, there’s usually some backstory to the images, and some resolution to their stories. It does make them a little less unsettling to know how, why, and when they were taken.
There’s always this one image that got me, though. It’s this grainy, shitty image of a person lying on the floor of what looks like a basement. They have a bright eye shine, which is weird since human eyes don’t shine that well, and their mouth is partially open, with something dark dripping out of their mouth. They look skinny and bony, but not super unwell. Their hair is cut irregularly but doesn’t look like the stereotype of lank black hair lying over the face like in The Ring. I’m not really sure why this image creeps me out, but I can’t be the only person who feels this way since it gets posted in all these threads and by different users.
It does look like the kind of picture that someone would take as a prank or for an art piece, and there’s nothing much in the image that immediately suggests that something is wrong, but with all the elements together it does give off unsettling vibes. The person’s hands are behind their back, too, and their ankles are together, so the blurriness of the image gives the impression they might be tied up, although you can’t see well enough to tell. The shot is from low to the ground, like the person holding the camera is crouching, and person on the ground is looking towards the camera.
All of this wouldn’t be worth talking about if I hadn’t noticed something fucking weird the other day. I was opening a bunch of these AskReddit threads at the same time in different tabs, and since there’s never any caption accompanying these images, I didn’t notice I was opening this creepy image twice, once from each different thread. I noticed as I closed one tab and it switched to the other that the images weren’t identical, as I had thought. There was a very slight difference between them. The eye shine was the first thing that jumped out at me, since it’s so weird and bright that noticing it had shifted a little between images was easy. I reopened the first image and compared the two. The posing of the person on the floor had changed very slightly between the two images, like they had wriggled. I figured at first that it was two images from the same weird photoshoot someone had done, which was where the plot thickened.
I checked a few more image threads to see if there were other variant images, and the first few I found all had slightly different images. None of them were repeated, in fact; I checked six threads total and there was a different image in all of them, with variation in the shape and brightness of the eye shine, and slight differences in the position of the person on the floor and how close they were to the camera. I tried to reverse image search them, and while the images have spread on the web due to how weird they are, the earliest instance I can find of their existence is always in the Reddit threads. The images look kind of old, too, but I would guess they were taken on an early smartphone or something similar in the 2000s based on their quality. No timestamp that I can see.
This was where I started to feel really uncomfortable. It’s one thing to find a bunch of weird images, but the fact that AskReddit seemed to be the source of the pictures struck me as really weird. They’ve only been appearing in the last few years, despite how shit the images look, and they weren’t posted on Something Awful or 4chan or anywhere else first. All of the people who have posted these images have generic usernames and no other posts aside from adding this picture to the AskReddit thread without commentary. They’re all hosted on Imgur, uploaded the same day they were posted to AskReddit.
I don’t understand why someone would go to all the effort of making these different accounts and spacing the images months apart, without doing anything more than uploading them to Reddit. At first I thought that I was probably stumbling into an ARG, and that idea was palatable to me since it would firmly put a line back between fiction and reality for me, but if this is someone’s ARG then they must be prepared for the long game since there’s no other content for it.
I went back as far as I could looking for these images on different AskReddit threads. The earliest one is from 2014, and they’re posted pretty regularly every few months whenever this kind of thread gets popular on AskReddit. The commenter usually posts within an hour or two of the thread starting. It’s never the same account, and they never do anything except post the Imgur link. I ended up with 18 distinct images, all of which had been in the top ten comments in their respective threads. People do occasionally repost them in threads, but they look like normal users with activity on their profiles, and they’re never original images. The metadata pertaining to the location and time of the image’s origin is never present.
Short of doxxing the users posted these images, which is not something I’m prepared to do (or know how to do, for that matter), I guess I’m at a dead end. I don’t know why these images were taken or why the hell someone would go to the lengths they have gone to just to post these images on Reddit.
The very last thing I did, at the suggestion of a friend of mine, was try to sort the images into a linear sequence and make a gif out of them. It was tricky, because the differences between each of the 18 images are slight, but I think I got them in the right order. When you play it, the person on the floor wriggles across the ground towards the camera, moving maybe just over a foot closer, and a few dark drops fall from their mouth as their eye shine shifts and flickers.
The most recent I found was in a thread from yesterday. It slotted right in between two frames of the gif. It wasn’t much upvoted in the thread, which made me feel like there must be more frames that I hadn’t found yet because they had been buried. OP didn’t have any activity on their account, just like the others. So, these frames are still being uploaded, and I guess there are probably more incoming.
After watching the gif over and over, I tried messing with the light and exposure settings, and when I lightened it enough I could see another face moving in the background. This one looks more outright creepy. The only movement they’re carrying out is chewing over and over, on something that’s leaking a dark liquid out of their mouth, and their eyes are dark recesses in a pale face. Why go to all the effort of setting up this second person to look so fucking creepy and then not even including them in the final shot?
I guess the reason I’m posting this is because it’s creeping me out and I want people to stop upvoting these posts. If you see one of these, let me know, but don’t upvote it. These image threads are the perfect dumping grounds for someone with a weird itch to scratch. Mixed in with those pictures of dead children and long-lost victims of awful crimes, you could find, well. I don’t actually fucking know.