Detective Kenneth Purdy pursed his lips as he looked over his notes. This was the fifth time this month Juliet had come into the precinct to see if there had been any developments with her mystery stalker.
The Internet sensation, Juliet Gamble, sat across from the detective with her hands clutched, and shaking very slightly. It had been a long week for her. She’d spent the past week living with a different friend each night, but she never stayed for much longer than that.
“We’ve had an officer posted outside of your apartment the past few nights,” Purdy said looking over some assignment notes. “There’s been no sign of anyone there, but if we do see someone we’ll make sure you’re the first to know.”
“At least you believe me now,” Juliet said angrily. “Once you had some photos, I knew you’d follow up on it.”
Juliet eyed the photograph the detective had printed out. The face of the man was slightly blurred as if he was wearing a sock over his face.
Purdy sighed. “We’ve also put out some feelers to see if we can get him identified, but you’re sure you’ve never seen him before?”
“I don’t know who he is,” Juliet said worried. “I sent the image to a bunch of friends and of course I had a few people say they’d find out, but no one actually seems to know.”
“I’ve asked you not to do that.”
“They’ve been more helpful than the police have been so far! And I haven’t seen him at all for the past few days.”
“He probably knows that the jig is up,” Purdy said. “I wouldn’t doubt that all of the attention spooked him, so he likely won’t be showing up again.”
“I don’t know,” Juliet said. “I go online, he’s there. I stay offline, he’s there. I can’t seem to escape.”
Purdy took back the photo and glanced at it. Whoever it was the guy definitely knew there was a camera watching. Purdy grunted as he sat up.
“Would you like some coffee?” he asked.
“Yes, please,” Juliet responded.
“How do you take it?”
“Black. Is that all for today? I’m not feeling that great.”
“No, sit tight. I want to talk to you about a few more things.”
The detective left the room and went to the small mess just down the hallway. His partner, Rosa Ambrose, was sitting at the small, stained table looking over some notes about the case.
Ambrose had just made detective a few weeks previously, so she’d been assigned to Purdy who was one of the most experienced there. Most of the other detectives knew the deal though. Purdy was close to retirement, so he got the whack jobs.
“Looking over the Facebook messages?” Purdy asked.
“And every other social media channel Juliet has maintained over the years,” Ambrose replied. “She’s got a serious following that’s for sure.”
“What’re we looking at erotomanics?”
“It’s a little more than just unrequited loved, although there’s a lot of that going on.”
She flipped a page over to Purdy whose eyes widened as he read it.
“That’s more than I make in a month,” he said flabbergasted.
“There’s more where that came from, but after a little bit of research I’m not really surprised by the numbers anymore.”
“It’s mostly young men from what I see here. They really like her videos that much?”
“Some do. The connection that they can make with someone like Juliet can be pretty strong. There are fan sites and Facebook pages dedicated to her from looking at the clothes she’s wearing in each video to noticing the changes in her weight. It’s equal parts people obsessed with her and infatuated with her.”
“Is it only men?”
“Some young women too, but that’s the pattern that emerged from looking into the records she’s kept from her various accounts.”
“Are any of her ‘patrons’ especially generous?”
“There’s one, a Richard Starling, who lives up in northern Ontario.”
“Think he could be our stalker?”
“Don’t think so,” Rosa said flipping over another sheet. “I had an officer do some digging for us. He’s a hedge fund manager and at-home venture capitalist—”
“Seems like he has the money to fund someone like Juliet, but why would he stalk—“
“He’s a quadriplegic,” Ambrose interrupted. “Hasn’t left his house in years, according to the officer who we sent out to talk to him. He’s a little concerned over her stalker only because the officer couldn’t keep his mouth shut about why he was there.”
Purdy stretched. “Ok, we’ll do some more digging, but let’s get back on track with some of our other cases too. An online star being stalked by a nerd shouldn’t be our top priority.”
The detective walked back down the hall with the two steaming cups of coffee in hand. When he reached the room, he looked in to see it empty.
Purdy looked around inside and placed the coffee cups down onto the table. He went out to reception and checked in with the person there.
“Hey, did Juliet leave?” he asked frantically. “The girl in 220. We were in the middle of something.”
“Her boyfriend came to pick her up,” the receptionist said. “She said you gave her the ok to leave anytime she wanted to.”
“When did she leave?”
“Just a minute ago.”
Purdy knocked on the desk testily. “She doesn’t have a boyfriend.”
Kenneth Purdy rubbed his eyes and looked back at the computer screen.
Over the last three months, he and Ambrose had been going over everything from their investigation into Juliet’s disappearance.
The cameras within the precinct had captured images of her “boyfriend” coming in and taking her away, but he had the same blurred features as the images she had taken of her stalker.
The story had been all over online. Some speculated that this entire thing was a publicity stunt, at least until the end of the first month and the appeal from her family in Boston.
A few tribute sites and Facebook pages had been opened to help find her, but most of the tips they’d received from their members were dead ends.
Purdy waded through all of her videos looking for any hints where someone may have taken her. She always began and ended her videos in the same way. He didn’t even know what half the things were she talked about, but he kept watching.
“Coffee, four sugars,” Ambrose said walking into the small office. She placed the cup into Purdy’s hand. “Anything new?”
“None unless you count some ‘Easter eggs’ about Pokemon,” Purdy said.
Purdy had lost a lot of weight over the last few months. The disappearance right under his nose had taken its toll on him.
“I could have just locked the room on my way out,” he said with a sigh. Juliet looked at him through the screen. Ambrose turned the monitor off.
“Kenneth,” she said. “We’ve got other people who can follow up on this.”
“I know,” he said. “I know it’s just… I don’t know.”
“It’s about quitting time anyway, we should head on home.”
Purdy went to his car around the back of the precinct.
It started to rain by the time he got settled in and got the car started. He’d started taking the long way back to his one-bedroom apartment. His new route passed him by Juliet’s apartment.
He always craned his head when he went past, but this time he hit the brakes as he went past. He sat in his car a few minutes looking up into the apartment.
A light was on inside of the bedroom.
“Couldn’t have rented it to someone else,” he whispered.
He sent a text to his partner and waited for her to message back.
“Apartment is still sealed,” she responded.
Purdy left his car and stood in the rain across the street. There was someone inside of the room. He knew it. He’d told Ambrose over text, so she’d be here soon.
He stalked up the small set of stairs that lead to the front door, which was open. The couple that lived on the first floor had moved out soon after Juliet’s disappearance. The ground floor was practically empty.
He carefully opened the door to the second floor and made his way up the creaky stairs with his Taser drawn. The police seal over the room had been broken.
A light was flickering inside of the room. He breathed in and opened the door to the apartment. It was empty inside save the knick-knacks that had been left by the family after they had visited earlier in the month.
Inside the bedroom was the light he could see from the street. Purdy turned the corner and went inside. The bright screen of the laptop blinded him at first, but as his sight adjusted to the light a creeping hollowness filled his stomach. The laptop had been left inside of the room, but it had been left off.
It looked like a video had just been uploaded to Juliet’s website.
He played it.
Hey everyone, Juliet here with an important update for subscribers! It looks like I’m going to be taking a bit of a break from the channel due to a few reasons. It’s probably best not to go into details online, but suffice to say you’ll all be seeing me again very soon. If you want to get into contact, be sure to send me an email at the address below – it’s the same as usual – also you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, MySpa—
Purdy watched it again and again, but it didn’t make any sense. The recording’s file on the computer had been dated a day after she had disappeared.
Ambrose called out from below. Purdy stuck his head out of the door and beckoned her up. They both watched the video.
“People are already commenting on the video,” Ambrose said pointing to the comments section on the website.
You’re back! Wait, no you’re not D:
— Marcus at 11:51
We miss you!! When are you coming back <3??
— Genie at 11:52
Whose that guy in the back LOL?? Major creeper!
— Walsh at 11:52
Getting a real Creepypasta vibe from this! Didn’t she disappear a few months ago??
— Amie at 11:52
We miss you!!=
— Rich at 11:53
“We need to get this video down,” Purdy said.
Ambrose sat down at the computer. The backend to the website’s content management system was still open. She pulled down the video and the post, but it had been played over a thousand times.
“Someone is messing with us,” Purdy said.
“Blurry Man,” Ambrose said.
“I told you not to call him that it freaks all of the—“
“No,” Ambrose interrupted. “He’s in the background of the video. Look!”
Barely visible in the background was the image of a man. He was standing just feet away from her the entire video obscured only by a coatrack. The man stirred only once or twice, but it was easy to see how Purdy had missed him the first few times through the video.
Purdy checked over his shoulder and shook his head. “We need to get this bastard,” he said angrily.
Ambrose clicked through the backend of the website. There were a number of draft posts had been made over the last hour. Each of the posts had an associated video. She tried out the URLs for the posts and found them all to be private links.
“Someone has already uploaded a gif from the video that went up on her site,” Ambrose said. “Lots of speculation over the man in the background.”
“What about the other videos?” Purdy asked.
Ambrose found them inside a file folder on the desktop. They were marked with dates well past her disappearance. She clicked on one listed as “Make Up Tut”.
Hey everyone, Juliet here with an exciting tutorial today. We’re going to learn how to do a proper cosplay for—
“He’s in the background again,” Purdy said pointing him out. “Check out another video.”
Hey everyone, Juliet here with my tips and tricks to make your Halloween this year just a little spookier—
“He’s there again,” Ambrose said.
They checked every unpublished video in the folder, but something strange was happening. The further along the watched, Juliet started to change.
The lines underneath her eyes began to darken, her makeup started to run, and her voice started to become slurred.
The final video in the folder was created just days ago. Juliet’s eyes were darting around the room by the end. She was shaking. She was scared. It ended abruptly.
Ambrose looked through the computer for the original files, but they were gone. The files were still available over the cloud service the editing software used. The actual recording ending played on the screen.
Purdy’s pulse quickened as he looked at the Cloud. The videos were still uploading. Somewhere out there, the sicko was forcing her to make videos.
“Holy shit,” Ambrose whispered.
“I know, we’ve got to get back to the precinct and get everyone in on this.”
Ambrose and Purdy rushed outside to their cars. Ambrose took the laptop and all of the portable hard drives in the room for a second look.
“I’ll meet you back at the precinct,” Purdy said as he hopped into his car. “I’ve got some notes I need to bring in.”
Purdy rushed up the stairs to his apartment and locked the door behind him.
“Hey honey,” he whispered to himself. “Busy day at work?”
“Yeah, we had a break in the Juliet case, so I have to rush back.”
“Do you have to go? I just finished recording another video just for you.”
“I’m sorry babe, maybe tomorrow morning we can go over it together and you can leave the editing to me this time.”
“I know I should have waited, but I was so excited to share it.”
“I know, I know. You’re getting a lot better at it too, but you should be more careful or they’ll find out about us.”
“They can’t find out! I can’t have anyone taking me away from you. I need you to protect me from the Blurry Man.”
“I will don’t you worry. So long as you’re in here, he can never get you.”
“You know I love you the most, Ken.”
“You’re the best, I love you and I’ll be right back.”
Purdy rushed out of his bedroom taking the laptop that was inside with him.
He closed the door behind him being careful to make sure it was locked.