It was horrifying to say the least. I regret it, and I couldn’t even do anything about it. The blood dripped down the walls and windows, Anya looked at me with shock and disgust on her face, as I sat on the floor, sobbing, looking at Sean’s dead body in a pool of his own blood, a steel rod from the lamp lying just beside him.

We’d been blackmailed. The machine wanted us to do things. If we didn’t, it’d print out a blank picture, when we’d tried one day to not do as it’d predicted. It printed out a black frame photo, and the next hour we all were in a terrible accident. That was 3 months ago. For 3 months, we used the machine to see what would we be doing. Unknowingly or knowingly, we did whatever the photo had shown us.

One day, the photo had shown us that we couldn’t believe. It was plainly disgusting for us to think about, let alone do. It was

Anya with me, in a compromising situation. Sean got pretty infuriated looking at it, while Anya and I tried to reassure him that nothing like that would ever happen.

To avoid it, the three of us decided to just go out of the house for the night. The truck came out of nowhere on the street when we were coming back home. It crashed onto us from the side, which impacted Anya the most and Sean the least. We were in the hospital for atleast 2 weeks, and another 2 weeks for us to learn our lesson.

We learned our lesson and didn’t dare do anything that would change the scenario with the photo taken. Today, at its regular time, it had shown a picture with and Anya standing in the corner crying, my head just above the window, on the floor as well with blood on the window and my face, and no Sean. Denying the obvious, we decided to agree that Sean must’ve been out and that it mustn’t be blood, just some red paint from my art supplies. As the clock neared 6, we were getting anxious and scared. Sean wasn’t helping by refusing to go out of the house.

Around 8, we broke into a fight with Sean shouting at me about how this was all my fault and why I shouldn’t have pried into the old man’s house. I retaliated that it was what any person would’ve done and that it was his idea anyway to use the machine and to blow away anyone who tries to contact Bob by saying that he has gone out on a vacation. Anya tried to break it up, she did, but it only got worse. Flying into a rage, I picked up the first thing that came in my hand and flung it towards Sean. Hitting him square in the head, he fell as his head made contact with the wall hard, and fell face first.

It happened way too fast and exactly as the photo had shown. 1 month had passed by, Anya and I had done things we regret, out of compulsion. We had to hide Sean’s body in the parking garage in the basement of the house, so that nobody could find it. We cleaned the whole house, scrubbed and tidied it to the point that nobody becomes suspicious. We had perfect answers ready for anyone, if asked where Sean was and what Anya was still doing, coming over.

The past month since Sean died, the picture printed normal photos, of normal stuff happening and nothing too ‘murderous’. We were calm for once but of course, that didn’t last long. The machine printed out a picture yesterday, which showed only Anya, with her head in her hands. I was nowhere to be seen, the house was completely fine, but she still looked distraught. One can only wonder what happened.

Anya and I were panicking. We were looking to get out of this gameplay, as it was getting too much. It made me kill my best friend, and based on the recent picture, it’d have me dead too. We went to Bob’s house, to search for any clues on how to stop all of this, the machine, the pictures, the deaths. We looked around the machine, at every part of it, searched for any button on it, but came up empty handed. Anya went back to our house as she was feeling light headed to get some medicine, while I stayed to continue search for anything. It was nearing 8.

I’d just decided to give up. I was sitting on the floor cross legged, my back facing the door, looking at the machine hopelessly. I had no clue what the time was, but estimated it to be somewhere around 7:30. A sudden pain erupted on the back of my skull repeatedly as shouts left my mouth and blood flowed down my head to my eyes, down to my neck, and my vision turned blurry. As it cleared slowly, Anya stood there with the same rod that I killed Sean with, tears streaming down her face, continuously chanting ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, it had to be done. You know I had to.’ As she said those words, she started going backwards, and was out of the house in a minute.

I could see her. I could see her from the window, she was sitting on the sofa, looking guilty and distraught, exactly as she did in the picture. It was exactly 8’o clock. My eyes were drooping, the remaining strength I had, I’d used them to crawl up the stairs and towards the window facing my house. Just as they were about to shut, the police barged into the house, grabbing hold of Anya.