He had expected something weird, something unforgettable.
But as the end of the shadowy birthday event came into sight, he finally understood what was really happening. This was going to haunt him for years. And what made it worse was, he brought it on himself.
- It was birthday time again, and Xander knew exactly what he wanted.
Last year’s “dark web” surprise box had him in nervous jitters when he first asked for it. But the end result was full of weird and hilarious trinkets worthy of any troll-appreciating forum. It was time to take things to the next level.
The “dark scavenger hunt” label called to him like a moth to a flame.
With the help of his more tech-savvy friend, he was finally able to put in the request and go through the shady business of paying for it. The first stage arrived in a little white envelope – that he was to burn after reading.
He shook with excitement as he tore back the paper. Bold, black letters sat on the page in a strange jumble.
After a few minutes, the answer became clear. It was the address to a local coffee shop he loved. It was an oddly personal connection, but hey, he could use the caffeine fix for whatever was coming.
Xander, however, didn’t even make it through the front door.
There was already a tiny package waiting for him on an unoccupied table. Inside was a cheap burner phone. Oh … this was getting good! The rush of adrenaline continued. The only thing on the phone was a short voice message and a password protected-video.
The mysterious, digitally-muffled instructions told him to take the phone to a new address and “pick up some fun.”
It wasn’t until he arrived did it finally make sense. Bright red painted numbers on an alley wall gave him access to a video … instructions on how to pick a lock. On the ground was a small lockbox and picks.
After plenty of fails and cursing, the stubborn lock clicked open – a set of keys and another slip of paper.
Xander’s grin grew wider. Dots and dashes? Morse code. This was too easy. Letter by letter the message unfolded into the last thing he would expect.
The new location was one he knew very well – a friend’s house. They were in on it?!
The caffeine was in full force and his body was trembling. The setting sun and darkening atmosphere only added to the intrigue. What was waiting for him? Maybe it was a huge party.
The end felt close. With tools and phone in hand, he walked up the driveway.
Night had set in and the air turned cool and crisp. He could feel his heartbeat furiously in his chest. He was about to knock on the front door when the mobile beeped.
“Go to the back door. Find your way in. Use your new skill.”
Xander ran to the back, ready to playfully berate his friend for the run-around. However, when he reached the back, he realized something was wrong. The door was already open.
Inside was trashed. Furniture was toppled over, items clearly stolen, and a huge mess everywhere.
The fun rush of the event quickly changed to dread. For better or worse, his knee-jerk reaction was to dial 911. Soon, lights and sirens wailed outside. A loud knock came from the front.
The phone beeped again. It would be the last message of his dark hunt.
“Happy Birthday. Enjoy your jail time.” It had started off as a thrilling disconnected. But now the pieces fell into place. He was about to be caught with breaking and entering tools.
Cops rushed in, guns aimed and ready. In the middle of it all stood Xander.
His blood ran cold. He tried to explain but no one listened. The handcuffs went on with a click and he was dragged into a cruiser. It wasn’t until a lawyer sat across from him did he get a chance to tell the whole story – including one big problem.
He had burned the pages. The phone no longer had the message on it.
There was also no one home. His best friend wasn’t there to back him up. His big day was indeed spent behind bars. Even though most of him was terrified, a small part marveled at the personalized nature of the setup.
In the end, things were sorted out and his friend’s family didn’t press charges.
But the dark web adventure was nothing like his gift box from last year. The moth had flown into the flamed and got burned badly. Maybe next year he would just have a normal party.