Monday, August 4, 2014

Spam up your Life

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Spam up your Life

Spam Mails

> SmexyHexy (18) has sent you a message!
> Wanna last longer in bed?
> Too short? We've got the solution!

Spam, spam, and even more spam. It's the same shit every day.
How do these fuckers get my address every time?”
I took a sip from my coke and deleted all but one mail from my inbox. It was getting worse again, even though I'd changed my address not long ago. I didn't participate in sweepstakes, had no personal contacts over mail, used an alternate address for all accounts, so how did they still find me? Do the providers themselves sell me out because I refuse to take them up on their bullshit offers?
Wouldn't surprise me ….”
My stomach grumbled and I slammed my hands onto the wheels of my wheelchair, hurriedly whirling around. I hated being paralyzed, not only because of my inability to walk, but also because I couldn't control my bladder and bowel movements. All because of one son of a bitch who thought that he could take a call while driving his truck through a narrow street ….

I sighed in satisfaction when I returned to the living room, but it turned into a frown when I heard my computer utter the “mail received” notification.
Please, don't let it be another one.”
The metal frame of my wheelchair slammed against the desk, my right hand descended onto the mouse, and I maximized the mail-client.
> Are you sick of being paralyzed?
Wha …?”
My attitude was to never look at the contents of spam, but my hand moved as if controlled by some outside force. Another window popped open. It showed a crude drawing of a man in a wheelchair, as well as an arrow that pointed from him towards a horribly drawn dancing animation.
> Fate can be a cruel bitch, but you don't have to suffer for the rest of your life. We have developed a procedure that will allow you to overcome your paralysis, and you have been selected as one of the first citizens to receive it.
What's the catch? There's none! We guarantee a 100% success rate, all for the price of a mere signature.
Utter bullshit! You couldn't even afford to hire a proper artist.”
I moved the cursor over the delete-button, and there it remained, hovering uselessly. I knew that the mail's contents could not be true—I would have heard of such a procedure—but something deep within me refused to waste this once in a lifetime-chance. What did I have to lose?
Wait … could this be some type of organ scheme? I give them my signature, get wheeled into a makeshift operating room, and wake up with a missing kidney?”
Yes, that had to be it! I smiled at my own ingenuity and pressed delete. Then I reached for the coke, took a huge gulp—
You've got mail!”
and coughed it all up, splattering my entire monitor.
Fuck, fuck, fuck!”
My wheelchair crashed against a kitchen cabinet, cracking its wood, and I grabbed huge chunks of paper towels before racing back. The coke was about to trickle onto the desk, ruining all the notes and bills spread across its surface, but I was just in time to catch the first droplets.
But I couldn't possibly work with an icky monitor that smelled like lemonade, so I ignored the message displayed on the screen and turned everything off.

My couch was full of junk and I smelled like sweat when I was done, but the screen looked as good as new. So I righted it up again, plugged it in, and turned the computer back on.
You better not be another spam-mail!”
I took a deep breath and opened the mail-client.
> Don't be so hasty. We can cure you!
I sat there for a moment, motionless and confused. This couldn't possibly be a reaction to the deleted mail, could it? There shouldn't be a way to track my reaction, unless my computer had contracted some kind of malware.
How about this?”
The new mail was marked, I clicked on delete, and waited a moment.
You've got mail!”
> Do you want to be stuck in your wheelchair for the rest of your life?
No, this couldn't possibly be true. Was I dreaming? Was someone pulling my legs? Maybe an old friend who I hadn't contacted in ages? But that didn't explain the timing.
A shiver rippled through my spine and I whirled around, as if expecting someone to stand behind me. Yet there was no one here but me. And there was no way to look at my screen from the building across the street.
Maybe ...”
There was a mirror next to the entrance door. The right angle should have allowed anyone to see my monitor through its reflection, but that angle shouldn't have been possible to achieve, as there was a wall right next to it.
I still wheeled towards it, grabbed the frame, and removed it from its mounting. It was surprisingly heavy, so I had to drop it onto the floor and turn it around. A non-paralyzed man could simply have draped a blanket over it, but there was no way for me to reach the top of the mirror while it was mounted.
Let's see ...”
My wheelchair slammed into the desk once more and the mail was trashed within seconds. Then I waited, with my eyes glued to the screen.
Cars were honking on the street outside.
A nearby clock was counting the seconds.
The fans of my computer were turning in a steady rhythm.
And the beating of my heart seemed to fill out the room.
Nothing happened. Had someone actually been watching me from across the street? It seemed ridiculous, but what do I know? This might as well have been some kind of hidden camera hoax.
In the end, I simply closed my mail-client and spent the rest of the day playing games. I rarely had to leave my apartment, as I was earning more than enough money from streaming gaming-sessions. The perfect job for someone who isn't qualified for anything else.

I seldomly remember my dreams, but the mail must have screwed with my head, as I imagined all the possibilities that would open up before me when I could finally walk again. Not that this would ever happen. The dreams were strangely vivid, though, almost real to the touch.
My feet were moving swiftly across dance floors throughout the city and I was flirting with dozens of women, even though I wasn't exactly handsome. Speaking with them in real life wasn't much of a problem, but their awkward glances were enough to piss me off every time.
Yeah, I'm paralyzed. So what? Does that mean I'm not worth spending time with? Sure, I might not be able to do much in bed, but that's not all relationships are about, right? We can still spend time with each other, watch movies, play games, and shit.
It would still be nice to walk again …

You've got mail!”
I slammed my head onto the desk and groaned. Why did this have to the be first notification upon start-up? Or rather, why did I even bother opening the mail-client?
> You've been marked on a photo.
> Hey, remember me from last night?
> A new technique to last longer!
> You could be earning $1000/day right now!
Just the usual stuff. Whoever sent me the other messages must have given up. So I deleted everything and went back to work. Or at least tried to, but the game was minimized as soon I entered the menu.
You've got mail!”
Come on! What is it now?”
> You will be able to walk, to dance, to jump again, all for the price of a signature!
My jaw dropped and I must have stared at the screen for a whole minute before I even thought about what was happening. Since deleting the mail seemed pointless, I opened it up, started my browser, and spent an entire hour looking through countless sites.
The mail itself didn't contain any links or details, so there wasn't much to go on. I didn't find any similar occurrences, though, and neither were there any news about scientific breakthroughs. Could it be that I was the first victim of this scam? But why me? I wasn't even an exceptional case.
I scratched my head and did the only thing that would help: change my address once again. Such a feat would have taken about a minute, but I couldn't be sure how these guys were keeping tabs on me. So I scanned my computer for viruses and malware—nothing came up—and then decided to use an encryption service, so as to hide what I was doing.
It took about five hours for all the scans to be finished, and a few more minutes to create my new address, as the encryption slowed everything down.
I spent the time watching TV and preparing food, with the mail-client closed, so that I didn't have to listen to any additional notifications.
When everything was done, I adjusted my mail-settings and finally went back to work. I could have earned a lot of money in the hours I wasted, but if that was what it took to get rid of the scammer, so be it.
You've got mail!”
I froze, with the cursor hovering over the icon of the game I had been about to play. How could I have received mail? Sure, there's your standard “Welcome”-message and stuff, but I'd already deleted everything before closing the encrypted connection.
What … this can't … how?”
I pressed my hands against the back of my head, slowly lowering them towards my neck, unsure of what to do. Call the police? No, they'd never do anything just because of spam. I'd have to fall for the scam before they'd even think about getting involved … if I even survived whatever these guys had planned.
Answer the mail and gladly decline? No, they'd just send more and more messages, hoping to break me eventually.
God,” I groaned. “I haven't even looked at the message. It's certainly not the same mail again.”
And so I took a deep breath and opened the mail-client.
> This is your final notification. If you delete this mail or don't respond within the next forty-eight hours, you will remain paralyzed for the rest of your life!
Impossible. There was no way they could have known. And yet they did, somehow. But would they actually stop sending messages if I declined? It couldn't be that easy, could it?
But what if it was legit? I'd throw away the only chance I'd ever get.
I clicked on the mail. Still the same crude drawing and animation. Still no link to any official website. As fake as it had always been.

The hours ticked away and I did nothing. I didn't play any games, I didn't watch TV, I didn't delete the mail, and I didn't reply either. But I was inclined to. All because of that first sentence.
I didn't want to throw this chance away, but everything screamed scam. No one would give an operation away. No one would send a mail that looks as if a child did the artwork. And no one would be able to know when I deleted the mails or find my new address within minutes, and yet it had happened.
My wheelchair was standing next to my bed, just waiting for me to get back in, almost urging me to return to the computer, to get this over with.
Bam, bam, bam.
I turned my head, not sure if I had heard correctly.
Bam, bam, bam.
Someone was knocking on my front door.
I glanced at the clock. It was almost midnight.
Who's there?” I yelled.
The walls of the apartment building were thin enough to hear people screwing two floors above me, so I didn't even need to get up.
Bam, bam, bam.
No answer, just more knocking.
I asked you a question! Who's there?”
Bam, bam, bam.
Bam, bam, bam.
Bam, bam, bam.
I growled. Must be some punks or a drunk neighbor.
Bam, bam, bam.
Bam, bam, bam.
Sighing, I heaved myself into the wheelchair. Then rolled through the doorway and towards the entrance hall. The pounding continued unabated.
The door was standard-issue, meaning the peephole was too high for me to look through. I'd asked the landlord to install one suited for my needs, but the asshole refused.
Bam, bam, bam.
The knocking sounded too consistent to belong to a drunk.
Yes, who's there?”
Still no answer, still more knocking.
I grabbed the door handle, pressed it down, and rolled backwards.
The corridor was deserted, but I could hear someone running down the stairs. Since the elevator shaft was filling out the entire central area of the staircase, it was impossible to see who it was.
I knew it. Stupid kids.”
But I might have been mistaken after all, as a note had been placed in front of the door. I rolled towards it and picked it up. It showed the same drawing displayed in the mail.
Who are you?”
My voice echoed through the stairwell, shattering the silence of the night, and someone ripped open a door a few floors above.
Shut the fuck up!”
Then it was slammed shut again.
I stared at the note, even more confused than before.

I'd be delighted to receive your treatment, but I cannot agree just yet. I want you to send someone over, someone who explains how the procedure works. And I want to have a good look at the contract before I agree to anything.”
I signed the mail with my name and clicked on send. Then I glanced at the clock. Only a few more minutes and the time limit would have run out.
They replied in less than an hour.
We'll do everything to make sure that you know what you're getting into. Expect our representative tomorrow, at four in the afternoon.”
And that was about it. No signature, no company name, no nothing. Still very suspect, which is why I sent yet another message.

The following day, me and my father were engrossed in a seemingly endless discussion about this mysterious mail when the doorbell chimed.
Some guy in a suit,” said my dad, who had come to make sure that I wasn't attacked by a group of thugs. “He looks nice enough. Neither nervous nor uncomfortable.”
Then let him in.”
We pestered the guy with all kinds of questions, but he was always smiling, always answering with ease. He claimed that the crude drawings were just a test, to see if I was willing to believe. It could have sounded horribly silly, but his delivery was spot-on, easily calming my doubts.
Two or three hours must have passed before he actually pulled out the contract. An impressive logo was printed at the top, displaying the company's name: Sulazar Incorporated. The tagline “The future is now!” was printed below.
Don't forget to read the fine print!” whispered my father into my ear.
I know!”
My eyes moved over the contract time and time again. A few passages seemed suspect, but the Sulazar representative managed to alleviate my worries.
Despite their strange way of communication, everything seemed perfect. All the expenses would be paid for, I'd receive one year of free checkups, and in the unlikely case of a mishap—
The method works 100% of the time! But the law forces us to include such a passage.”
I'd receive generous compensation for having wasted my time.
So, what do you think, dad?”
Well, it's not my decision to make, but everything seems to check out.” He raised his head, looking at the guy in the suit. “Can me and my wife be there during the procedure? Just to make sure ...”
That this isn't some kind of scam? Sure, Sulazar will take care of your travel expenses.”
It seemed to good to be true, but there was no reason to worry anymore. And so I signed the contract.

It's been ten years since then. And what should I say? It worked perfectly!
I've been able to walk, to jump, to climb mountains even. And I didn't have to stay in the hospital for more than a month. It was like a dream come true.
I continued to spend a lot of time at home, playing games and earning money that way, but I also went out every night, visiting clubs and bars and cinemas … everything you could possibly think of.
Honey, dinner's ready!”
And I've actually got a girlfriend—soon to be my wife—now. She's a wonderful person. More than I could have ever imagined.
I always shudder at the thought of how bleak my life would have been if I hadn't responded to the mail. Not that my doubts weren't justified. I still don't know why Sulazar Incorporated would treat people for free, and I haven't heard of the procedure hitting the market, but it's not like I kept up with the news. No point in reading up on something that doesn't concern me.
You coming?”
Yeah, yeah!”

I watched the formerly paralyzed man rise from his garden chair and glanced at the stop-watch in my hand.
Five seconds.
Four seconds.
Three seconds.
Two seconds.
One second.
The man faltered, his face contorted with pain, and he slammed his right hand onto his chest as he toppled over, crashing onto the wooden terrace.
His wife cam running, screaming his name. Then she kneeled down and shook his motionless body. And then she fell onto her ass, her face a mask of pure horror.
I dropped the stop-watch—it shattered upon hitting the boardwalk—and pulled out a small, empty vial.
Your time has run out.”
Fine mist rose from the deceased's body and flew towards me, gathering in the confines of the vial. I could hear the man's soul scream in denial, in incomprehension, but I couldn't care less and sealed the vial shut.
Never sign contracts that seem too good to be true without having a magnifying glass ready. You never know how small the fine print might actually be, and where it its hidden. Just because it looks like a decorative line to you, doesn't mean that it actually is one.

The End

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