Alright guys, if you are reading this, I am assuming things got way out of hand, and I’m sorry. It started as a game, it really did. We called it assassin, and it was just something stupid we did around school that somehow took on a life of its own. The way is started was simple, really. If someone got behind you, and put their hand on your back or neck, it meant you were “dead” for the day. If you were “dead” for the day, you could not assassinate anyone else. The idea was to see who was the last man standing most often, and dubbing that person the monthly assassin. That was it. Then one day, John got the note that changed everything. It was folded into one of his school books, and he pulled it out during class. Scrawled in pen were the words: Surprise, you’re dead! And on the back of the paper were instructions. Kill someone within ten minutes of getting this note, or you will be killed. I know John thought it was a joke, we all did. But the next day when they found John’s body, no one was laughing, and everyone was suspect. And then it happened again, and wouldn’t you know it, kids would much rather kill someone than die themselves, which turned Surprise, You’re Dead into the epidemic it is now. I’ll tell you all I know, but you need to take this to the right people and do the right thing, and you know what that is.

The oddest thing in all this was the true sense of paranoia it set over the community. No one should have taken to this. It should have been laughed off and dismissed like the crazy idea it was. But once John turned up dead, and there were no people in custody, we realized it could have been anyone. A jaded ex. An angry parent who snapped and was looking to scare some kids straight. But people fucking took to it.

We would say police tried to stop it, but honestly, police were involved. The veins of this issue ran that deeply.

Within a week, four people were dead, and no one was sure if it was the teens doing it to each other, or some sicko just stalking us and killing us off, one by one. We became a gated community of killers. But the feeling you got when you got a note that said those three words: Surprise, You’re Dead, was a feeling that no one could describe. An irrational, gripping fear that some masked weirdo was watching you from the shadows, waiting to see if you killed, and continued the cycle, or they needed to kill you.

But you all need to understand, something irrational happens when you think you might be killed. A response in you, a fight or flight that you never knew was there.  And you quickly rationalize taking someone else’s life, so that you may continue to live your own. Not only were people killing each other over a game, people were using this game as an excuse to kill people they have vendettas against. Like I said, the most fucked up part wasn’t the note itself. It was that a whole community adapted it immediately, without question. Suburbia stocked up with serial killers, all wearing the same smiling masks called their faces. And to think, this was just a game that resulted from bored, uninspired kids, and it turned it something far darker and far more perverse than any of us could have predicted. You think you wouldn’t kill, we all did at first, too. That is how the game works. That is WHY the game works.

It wasn’t uncommon to see your neighbors doing something like this, nonchalantly.

I will tell you, even the sanest of us can buckle and do the extreme if under the right circumstances. Most people reading about this will wonder how someone could even flirt with the thought of taking someone’s life, let alone do it. But you need to understand, fight or flight is a survival response. And if you are wondering why there wasn’t more “flight” responses, there actually were. Two friends of mine went North, and died in a car accident within an hour of leaving. Do you think any of us thought that was a car accident? No, we were convinced that this game was real, that it had legs, and that we had to observe it or we would die.

I also feel it essential to tell you how John was found when this whole game started. You see, if people were just being shot in the head, that would be fine. Not fine in the sense that it would be okay, but fine in the sense that being shot in the head wouldn’t have made people as irrationally crazy as the thought of being stabbed, over and over, and dying in slow agony, like John did.  You see, John had thirty-seven stab wounds, all over his body, yet all aimed to miss vital organs. In other words, he was stabbed slowly so he would suffer and bleed out. Try sleeping for even one night knowing someone has a fate like that in store for you, I dare you. You can’t even close your eyes. Suddenly, every noise you hear is someone coming to kill  you. So THAT is what made everyone into murderers. The fear of being killed. And once you did it, that was it. The cycle went on somewhere else. Thing is, no one knew how to end it. We still don’t know how to end it, actually. Which is what brings us here, to this letter. And to you.

I heart you. Get it?

So right now, you are probably wondering why I sent this letter to you, and more so, who I am.

Truth be told, I am everyone. Look around right now. I am the man walking by your window with khakis on. I am the guy who comes in the morning and jogs with your Mom. I am that nice lady, down at the grocery store, who always compliments your food choices. I am the reason your Dad stays late at work some nights. I am the strange man, who sits in that black car at the end of your street and never seems to go anywhere. I am your friends who you talk to online, and I am the people who have dinner with your parents. You see us, everyday. And we are everywhere. And you, you are just as essential an ingredient in all this. How did you not see this coming? So do you REALLY want to know what part you play in this confession? Well silly, it’s not confession at all. Just another link in a world-changing chain-letter.

Funny how insignificant everything suddenly feels when you are gazing down the barrel of a gun.

In case you didn’t know where this was going, tag. you’re it. Go spread the disease.

SURPRISE, YOU’RE DEAD.

And the stellar song that inspired the game, which has changed SO MANY lives.

Editor’s Note: Guys, this is a fiction piece inspired by an awesome Faith No More song, drug use, and a vivid imagination. Please do not go kill anyone.