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They all stared at the body, trembling in fear and trying to understand what had just happened in front of them. Their friend had just seemed like she had some panic attack and started staring at thin air like there was something they didn't see. Then she had just collapsed, fallen to the ground like a lifeless puppet whose strings got cut off.



Maya didn't move anymore. Her body was just lying on the ground, completely motionless. There was no make-up on her face even though they had barely seen her without it. She clearly hadn't viewed it as important anymore. Not when she feared for her life. The dark rings under her eyes were clearly visible. She had been paranoid for a while. And they hadn’t...



She could have been mistaken for just asleep if it weren't for those horrific deep cuts that covered her entire face. Rex, Mina and Arya didn't know where they came from. The cuts had just randomly appeared out of nowhere as their friend had fallen to the ground. It almost looked like someone had attempted a surgery on her but failed. It was quite sickening. None of them had seen what had cut her. Was it still in the room with them?



Mina slowly kneeled beside Maya. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. What had... what had just happened? How was this even possible?



Arya moved across the room to kneel beside her. "Oh my god! Oh my god, Maya! Is she breathing?" Rex put his hands on her shoulder to comfort her, but Arya pushed him away immediately. She didn't need him comforting her. Who did he think he was? He never cared about Maya! Or any of them!



"No. Don't. Don't!" Rex rasped as Mina had started examining Maya's body.



"Mina check her pulse!" Arya cried, breathing heavily. Maybe she wasn't dead yet... Maybe they could... maybe they could call an ambulance...



"Just... just..." Rex choked on the words.



Mina looked at them and slowly shook her head. "W-we need to call the cops!" She sobbed. Her whole body was shaking.



Arya glanced at Rex. He had stopped staring at Maya's corpse. He looked like he was sick from just seeing her disfigured face. He was the guy in the group, so he probably thought he needed to figure out how to get out of this situation... If the cops were called he would end up in prison and he knew it. This looked like murder! He couldn't be here after everything that had the last time.



"And tell them what happened? Maya was... torn out by some... e-evil... monster... thing... demon... I don't know!" Arya stood up and wiped her tears away. She needed to be strong. She was strong! She wouldn't let the others see how confused and terrified she was. If they were caught here it would end all of their carriers. None of them could risk that. And Maya wouldn’t want it either.



"This is like... uh... gas leak... It's a gas leak, yeah!" Rex stammered, trying to come up with a rational explanation for her death. Arya glared at him. Did he really think his stupidity would make things better? Trying to make excuses nobody would believe? They would just look more guilty!



"Rex! J-j-just s-stop, okay?! This is bad enough as it is, so just shut up, Rex! Shut up!" Arya yelled. Her heart was beating so fast she feared she might get a heart attack. This was all just too much...



A small whimper from behind them interrupted their fight. Arya and Rex turned around and looked at Mina. "What do we do now?" she asked. Her make-up was all over her face from her tears and her constant tries to wipe away her tears. She looked so pathetic.



Rex and Arya were silent for a few seconds before Arya took the lead again. "Okay, we can't stay here and... and... and not do anything, okay. We have to just figure..." Arya stopped and looked at the others. It was clear they weren't thinking clearly just like she was. But she couldn't show them. She needed to be strong. "...figure this out and just... keep calm and... yes..."



"Yeah, yeah, we... we... we gotta run! We have to run! We have to get one-way tickets! We have to get out of here!" Rex replied. It was obvious he was trying not to freak out but he was failing miserably.



Arya stared at him in disbelief. "What...?! No, what's wrong with you?! We've got to figure this out, okay? Okay, somehow we have to figure this out!" she yelled. Why wasn't he listening to her? Why did he have to ramble like some idiot?



"Maya was telling the truth..." Mina said with a quiet voice.



"Oh my god..." Arya muttered, hoping the others wouldn't hear her. "Oh my god..." She raised her voice again. "We have to just calm down and work this out together-" Why was she just repeating herself? She needed to think. Find an explanation. Get to the bottom of this. She-



"She was right!" Mina sobbed. "She was right, it's not gonna stop! And that means... that means... that one of us..." She stopped and looked at the others as tears were rolling down her cheeks again. Her eyes widened at the realization. "One of us... made the deal."



Arya stared at her. She was right. One of them... one of them had betrayed Maya. One of them was the reason she had died. One of them had sacrificed the only person that we there for them. But who? Rex was the right person for such a thing. He always threw people under the bus for his goals, didn’t he? Everyone in this group was just his means to an end. And Mina... Mina was as Fake as one could get. Her whole personality was fake. She could just fake being sad while she celebrated that it had went so well.



But did it matter? At the moment, all their careers were at risk, hers included. Playing detective would complicate things. She wasn’t the target now and she should be grateful.



"We... We can deal with this later! Her phone... Maya has information about us wanting to meet up here on her phone!"



"Why... why is that important?" Mina asked.



"Because the cops will look through her stuff! And if they find out we were here..."



"But we can just take it with us!" Rex suggested. 



"Are you fucking insane?!" Arya screamed and had to hold herself back from slapping him. "They will know she's an influencer! They’re not... They’re not brain dead! If they find out her phone's missing they will know someone must have taken it! And then we’ll definitely be suspects! We'll just... we’ll delete it."



She kneed next to Maya's body... her corpse. She had put her phone in her pocket just where it always was. So she would just need to-



Her whole body was shaking. Was she really going to do this? Take the phone of a dead friend and erase important info for the police? If she was found out, she was definitely done for. Maybe reporting the body to the polo and just loosing her followers wasn’t so bad...



But she couldn't go back to her parents...



She took a deep breath and slowly pulled out Maya's phone. Arya shuddered. This felt wrong. So wrong. But she needed to do this. She would just delete their conversation. Nothing more and nothing less. This wasn’t too bad. The phones turned on without any problems. She was quite surprised when there wasn't even a pin code to type in. Her hands were shaking as she opened Chats.



"You done yet?" Rex asked. She turned to yell at him but jumped when his and Mina's faces were just inches away from hers. She hadn't noticed they were peeking over her shoulder.



"N-no... But I'm working on it."



She scrolled down the people Maya had messaged. "Shit, she talked about TRM with two other people as well..."



"Then delete these ones, too!" Mina screamed. "We can't risk anything!"



"I know that! You don't need to tell me!"



Arya was surprised how quickly she could delete them. It was way too easy. It was unsettling. She checked twice if they were actually gone before she sighed and looked at the other two. "It's done. There's no way the cops will find this. Maybe if they have their own advanced technology, but I don’t think they have evolved that much.“



Rex nodded. "Yeah, they're idiots when it comes to technology. We can-"


They were interrupted, when the phone suddenly vibrated. "What the-" Arya muttered.


So it was useless after all



"A-a new message?" Mina asked quietly. "Who...?"



"Don't be such chickens, girls! Maya knows other people than just us. Hmm. That's just a number. Probably one of her stalkers..."



Before Arya or Mina could stop him, he clicked on the message. Together they read the prior chat history.



Hi Maya






Do I know you?



If you are just another
guy who wants to date
me, no thanks



Look, I want to help you



I know what you are
going through



I know you came in
contact with the



That he will kill



Who are you???



My name is Anna



Please, you need to
listen to me



I know how to defeat



You are dealing with
a simulacra



I can help you



I already know how



My friends and I will
defeat it



I don't need help
from a stranger



New notifications



So it was useless after all



She's dead



You are her friends,



"What the hell?!" Rex yelled. "What... what is this? How does this 'Anna' person...?!"



"Is she maybe a ghost possessing Maya's phone?"



"Be quiet!" Arya hissed. These two weren't helping at all. She needed to think. This person... they seemed to know stuff.



She began typing:



What do you want?



To help you



You are in a bad



I can help you



Why should we trust



I'm the only person
who can help you



We can help ourselves
just fine



So you want another
one of you three to



I KNOW what we are
dealing with



You will just point
at each other



I know how to
stop the rippleman



"M-maybe we should listen to her?" Mina muttered.



"A random stranger on the internet? Mina, have you never heard stories? Are you really that naive?" Rex asked.



"We will listen to Anna," Arya sighed. "This is the best we've got."



What do you suggest?



Meet me at 3 PM
tomorrow in



In the pizzeria



"Oh, I know that one!" Mina said. "It's quite lovely there. But also very unhealthy..."



"Shut up!"



See ya tomorrow



"I hope this was the right choice..." Rex murmured. "Or else we'll all die."



"Did we have any other choice?" Mina asked quietly.