You're next. Enjoy it, or don't.
Let me start by saying I am a modest person. I am no different than your average firefighter, soldier, or paramedic. Well, there's obviously a bit of a difference. Those professions can't really compete with what I manage to do. What they do in 40 hours I can do in ten. I have the job others are too scared to do. I have the career people would kill to possess.
I am a social media influencer.
I make content that sets fire to the internet (see: Renegade dance challenge on TikTok, link in bio), I defend myself to my enemies who are jealous of my accomplishments (see: Say So dance challenge), and I heal myself when my job gets too dangerous (See: WAP FAIL! [so much blood] on Youtube). An influencer creates, manages, and portrays content to their admirers. There is no riskier job that I can think of.
Yet somehow, some people don't like me. Folks love to hate and hate to love. Like that user who wrote that I'm only famous because I'm shirtless in every video. Don't they understand how hard it is to incorporate that into your content? I've perfected the art of subtle marketing with my shirt off (see: Black Lives Matter Always tribute on Tiktok). It's not my fault I'm good-looking. I spend one, sometimes two hours a week working on my physique. But no, @Marcus.Thompson24 says I don't have any muscles.
You literally grew two feet in high school. Of course, you're going to look thin. You're a skeleton, not a bodybuilder.
If that isn't some type of hate crime, then I don't know what is.
Yeah, you just don't know what it is
- A user replied under my Fuck You Marcus Thompson 24 response video.
This is where things get messy. Apparently, when someone verbally abuses you online, you have no rights. So when Marcus, with 37 followers on Instagram, insults my gorgeous body, evidently, I can't even look at his own photos. I'm not supposed to see he posted an image of his mom's gravestone, another picture of him at a gay pride march, and then use all my social media accounts to ask him, "did your mom know you're gay or is that what killed her?" You can't even let your followers dox him without someone causing a fuss. Victim blaming is what it is. But I'm used to the adversity, and I always persist when I'm given a bad hand.
After posting my justified response, I was banned from all social media accounts for 48 hours. I 'apologized' (see: I've learned my lesson (2021 version) on Youtube) on my channel, but that didn't seem to be enough. When I got the email from all my socials, I laughed and said I didn't care. 48 hours is nothing. It'll be a mini-vacation to clear my thoughts and come up with (steal) more content.
I'd been sitting on my couch for six hours, scrolling through social media with my burner account. My voice meant nothing without my checkmark and followers. Just another sad soul whose opinion means little.
I was desperate to be out there. All I could do was watch other 'influences' and gossip channels cash in on my struggle. Videos titled "The Dark Truth about Chase Thompson" or "Why I never liked Chase Thompson (emotional)." My legs shook
violently on the sofa. My skin reddened as I watched my friends use my misfortune for views. I would never do such a hateful thing. I only talked about influences that were actually bad (see: Jenny O'Connor is a SKANK -she's so sick for this-).
After I finished searching my name on Twitter, I needed something to calm me down. There was only one place that guaranteed peace. So I headed to the library.
I don't read, obviously. My schedule doesn't allow me to. It's a part of the grind. But there's just something about the library that lets me escape for a bit. It brings me back to my roots and reminds me to be humble. Of all the influencers, I am the most genuine.
When I was younger, I loved going to the library. Books were my escape from the harsh life I pretended to have. When my parents told me we had to go to Cancun instead of the Bahamas because of cost, Junie B. Jones healed my heartbreak. My favorite was the smell of the books. Any book published before 1985 was always too risky to smell. Sometimes you'd just get dust or mold or old cigarette ash. But the 90's books are heaven—Smooky but not too new. The pages are crunchy and lightly faded but not damaged or messy.
Walking down the aisles of titles you've never heard before. Pulling a book out of the shelf, flipping to the summary on the dust jacket. Then putting it back after reading it because it's a book about repairing pendulum wall clocks. You don't even need to pick up anything while you're there. You don't need to feel guilty when you leave empty-handed, shyly passing the check-out counter. It's your time; spend it as you please. I would browse the library for hours if I could. Though I don't want to look like I have no life.
When I entered the Cork County Public library, I decided to check out a book after browsing. I'd be calm here, but I needed something to hold me over once I was home. I explored the fiction center cautiously. It'd been so long since I'd read fiction. Frankly, it'd been so long since I'd read anything. Except, of course, my latest memoir, Chasing the bag: how I got famous despite my enemies, which I definitely wrote. The exhausting 200-page book took me almost two weeks to read (I mean write). I tried to remove it from Goodreads when a few (hundred) nitpickers gave me poor ratings because "every sentence has a typo" or "Chase dedicated an entire chapter about the struggles of the modern straight man.
One reviewer even said, "I had a more enjoyable time reading Mein Kampf." I don't know what that is, but I promise I'm more famous than whoever wrote it. It's not fair to give me mean reviews when my ghostwriter should be held accountable for it. All I did was talking for thirty minutes while he wrote some of it down. It's not even really my book, so I shouldn't be the one reviewed. Nevertheless, I won an award (Best Youtuber Memoir Published in February), and I was so proud to accept my hard work.
When the library flashed its fifteen-minute warning lights, I grabbed the first book I saw off the fiction shelf and moved to the check-out counter. I didn't even read the title.
The woman behind the counter stared at me for a while. Her eyebrows squinted as she looked me up and down. How did I not think this was to happen? I should have worn a disguise or at least a hat. This place is going to be mobbed right when they're about to close.
"Sir, you need to wear a shirt in the library."
I looked down at my right hand that carried my new book and crumpled black muscle T-shirt. I forgot I'd taken it off to film that video in front of the Women's History section of the library. I'd be posting that one in March.
"Oh, okay," I replied. Why was she so rude? Should be grateful, frankly. Probably the most action she's got all year.
After putting my shirt on slowly and checking out my book, I got back to my car and headed home. I guess reading on a Friday night is where I'm at right now.
I got back home and pulled out the book I blindly picked up. I already regretted it once I saw how old it was. Indeed, before 1985, I thought. The book was called Republic by Plato.
I turned to a random page and read the sentence with eight words I couldn't recognize. Then closed the book. No. At least I can take a picture of me reading it in the pool and post it when my social media jail sentence is up.
I flipped the pages with my fingers, still getting calmer as the gentle wind came across my face. As I flipped through, I saw something on one of the pages. Thinking it's a
Bookmark someone left, I went to retrieve it. It's a photograph, I thought. Just a Poloroid of a black square. Ready to toss it out, I quickly turned to the backside. There are words. I felt a chill in me that I couldn't understand. It read simply,
You're next. Enjoy it, or don't.
I stared at the words hoping they would change. Hoping it was written by some dumb kid who just wants to scare someone. But I felt something in me; fear, unanswerable fear. I flipped the picture quickly, but the black square was no longer there. All I saw was my room. It's a mirror, I thought. But why am I not in it? I saw my fish tank, my clothes the maid still hasn't cleaned. I moved the mirror all over the room, and it caught each item in its reflection. But I was nowhere to be found. I picked up a sock on the floor and waved it at the photo. It was there. Floating. Fucking floating in the air, with no sign of something holding it up. I panicked and dropped the picture and sock. I ran to my bathroom to see my reflection in the mirror. I turned the light on and stood near my sink.
It's just my bathroom.
What is happening?
I flash the lights quickly, thinking someone is screwing with me. Tears formed in my eyes. What friend would do this to me? How would they do this? How do you deceive mirrors? It can't be a prank. All of the ones I'd been a part of were staged (See: MOVING HIS MATTRESS INTO THE POOL -he's so PISSED-).
I was tired, disoriented, and angry. This wasn't happening. It's not possible. I left the bathroom and went back to the photograph now resting on the floor. I turned back to the writing. My eyes shotted up. It changed. There were now eight lines:
Float into the world
Let your ego deplete
Walk into our world
Though you can't see your feet
Do what you wish
No rules we give to you
Steal your favorite dish
Or blend right into our zoo
I grew faint, and my eyes trending downwards. I no longer saw my Vans. Where are my clothes? Where am I? I'm under the influence of something; I can't believe otherwise.
I need someone to see me, to tell me I have nice thighs. I ran to the front door and stepped outside into the light, watching cars pass, holding impatient humans trying to get to some irrelevant place. Most of them would stop if they saw someone on the road. Not necessarily because they fear hurting something, but they just got a new paint job, and they really don't want the hassle.
So I run to the road and walk into the pavement. A Navy Blue Camry comes my way, surprisingly under the speed limit. Though it doesn't slow down. The older man in the driver's seat looks right at me as I stand in the middle of the lane. Of course, he's not looking right at me; he's looking right through me.
I dodge out of the lane when the Camry gets within seven feet of me. Part of me wanted to stay, to see what happens. But my brain gets the better of me.
I ran back into the house and grabbed my phone. It doesn't unlock.
"What the fuck” I screamed in frustration.
Face ID not recognized. Of course.
When I try and swipe right to enter my passcode, the screen doesn't move. Like my fingerprints don't exist.
I grabbed the photograph and stared at the new lines. I didn't even care about the impossible word changes at that point. The side displayed four lines:
You'll see yourself soon, our friend,
Trust us when we tell you.
Just see yourself for you, our friend
Not who others thought they knew.
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