FixYou Dot Org

cars on road near bare trees during night time


My father died in 1999. For years, I thought he might still be alive.

The phenomenon is not that uncommon. A lot of young children struggle to understand the finality of death. How can a loved one be here one day and gone the next? Maybe it was just the suddenness of it all that struck me the most. I convinced myself that Dad only went away for a while. He would be back someday. Just not today.

The priest who spoke at the service only amplified my misguided idea. He seemed like a nice-enough guy. He shook my hand hard and held Mom while she cried. He talked to the guests about my father’s life. He mentioned Dad’s time in the military, and how much he loved family, and how much he loved basketball. Go Knicks, right? That last bit got some muted applause. Then he ended it all with one final line.

“Someday, we will all be reunited with Timothy. Amen.”

And that part stuck with me quite a bit.

You see, in my exhausted, adolescent mind, something about those words made sense, just in all the wrong ways. The entire experience never felt real to me. Dad had promised to take me to Disney for my tenth birthday. He promised to take me to a bar on my twenty-first. We had plans. Dad would come back; he always did. Who would walk my cousin down the aisle? Who would be there at my graduation? How could someone so crucial to my existence just…disappear? How could everything just end?

I told myself the priest had to be right. Dad was still around.

We just needed to find the right way to see him again.

In the weeks that followed, phone calls and visits from extended family and friends started to flicker out. My mom went back to work. My cousins flew back to Boston. Family routines evaporated. Holidays turned into a hassle. Most days it was just me at home alone with a basketball and a brick wall. I started to like it that way.

I read about death a lot on the internet.

Some sites spoke of forbidden ways to bring back the dead. Others insisted they were always with us. But none of them gave detailed instructions on how to see them or how to bring them back. I checked every avenue available to me at the time. Eventually, months after the funeral, I found the answer to my questions. The community called itself

And I can still remember the neon lettering and corny graphics. The site had two tabs: Incantations and Contact Us. I clicked the former and waited about twenty minutes for it to load on our tin-can dial-up connection.

Red text appeared.

“FixYou employs both technology and spell-work to enable communication between living souls and the dead. All information is to be used with extreme caution. Please view the next page to see if you qualify for disclosure.”

I clicked past the warning without even hesitating. The following page showed a form requesting my name, age, and address. I entered it all honestly and selected “Next.” More loading. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, a green checkmark appeared.

“FixYou requires a specific object for the charm. This object should have a specific connection to both the individual conducting the spell as well as the individual who has passed away. Please locate it before continuing.”

I grabbed my basketball. Dad taught me the infamous family hook-shot just two months prior. That had to be enough. I scrolled down the page.

“Repeat the following words six times aloud. Hold the object and spin it once for every repetition.”

I didn’t recognize the language, and it felt weird chanting it out loud, but it’s not like anybody was home to judge me.

“Surge Lazarum. Dicere Lazarum.”

“Surge Lazarum. Dicere Lazarum.”

“Surge Lazarum. Dicere Lazarum.”

“Surge Lazarum. Dicere Lazarum.”

“Surge Lazarum. Dicere Lazarum.”

“Surge Lazarum. Dicere Lazarum.”

Nothing happened. I searched for a nonexistent Next button. Frustration built up like a powder keg.

“Now what?” I shouted to the empty room. “I did your stupid thing! Where’s my dad?”

The website seemed to respond to my anger, crazy as that sounds. I didn’t click anything, but the page automatically refreshed. A cartoonish genie with a word bubble displayed on the screen.

“Tonight, you will dream about your loved one. Think about them in greener pastures. Hold the object close. If the spell is done correctly, and the individual would like to communicate, first contact will take place in your dreams.”

I followed the instructions and tucked myself into bed at nine o’clock sharp. Excitement replaced frustration. I clutched the basketball harder than ever before. I thought about all of the best times with my father: at the park, at the mall, at the movies. Naturally, when I fell asleep that night…I did dream about him.

I dreamed that Dad lived in a cabin in the woods. I visited on a dark, rainy night, and he explained everything once we got out from under the weather. He and my mother had gotten in a fight, you see, and she just didn’t want him around anymore. He had to hide from the government, and nobody could know where he lived, because he was a spy. Death never even became a topic of conversation. It felt too ridiculous to even suggest. Dad sat right in front of me and I told him about school, about the upcoming summer, and everything that was going on in my life at the time. He smiled and listened. He made me dinner. We ate. We drank.

And then, as suddenly as the dream started, it ended.

I woke up in a cold sweat and cried for an hour.

The horrible, teasing visceral effect of the whole situation haunted me. It all seemed so real. He laughed exactly the way I remembered. He smiled the same way I remembered. I could still taste the roast beef from dinner. I could taste the alcohol. He never let me drink before then. He even mentioned that Mom would be pissed if she found out.

I wondered whether the website manufactured my dream. I wondered if they knew something I didn’t. All of these wishes and dreams collapsed on the mind of a child in ways that can’t be totally quantified. If I was confused before, I don’t know what to call this part, but in my present recollection, it was clarity.

We just needed a little more time.

I rushed back to the old computer in my bedroom immediately after breakfast. I loaded up and waited for the dial-up modem to connect. When it did, I nearly fell off my chair.

“You have completed level one of contact!”

“Meeting time confirmed. Two o’clock Tuesday morning, 5/5, at your home. Please bring any cursed objects to ensure connection.”

I bit my lip through the whole weekend. In retrospect…I probably should have told my mother. But the story seemed too unbelievable. I knew she would take away the computer the second she heard it, and that could not happen. She would expect me to live wondering whether there was a way to see my father again. That was unacceptable. What if the dream was real? What if he was outside, waiting?

The alarm woke me up at one forty-five on Tuesday morning. The added time gave me a window to change out of my PJs, find warm clothes, and slip outside through the back door.

It was cold that night. Bits of white snow slipped down from the sky at a record-breaking pace. A blizzard had teed off a discussion for cancelling school. That fact only added to my excitement. Maybe my dad would let me stay for the day. Maybe we could build something in the snow.

I shivered in my father’s boots while waiting on the front porch. I hoped they still fit him, even if they didn’t fit me, because I thought he might need them for wherever he was going. So many questions flooded my mind. I made sure to write them all down. We would not be dreaming this time. Who knew when we could talk again? I wished for a tape recorder and wondered if the website would allow it. Maybe next time.

I heard the squeal of shaky brakes and ice crumpled under tires at exactly two o’clock. The street sat about twenty feet in front of our house. A flash of blue stuck out between hallowed trees and white waves of sleet. The van slowed down as it approached.

And then it stopped.

I looked around. I stared for a minute or two. Nobody seemed to move. Something about the situation started to feel odd. I considered my second thoughts and forcefully shoved them aside.

A door to the van popped open.

The quietness of the snowstorm seemed to add to that eerie feeling. A white light somewhere inside illuminated an empty and quiet cabin. I wondered whether Dad sat in the back or the front. I wanted to see him, more than anything else in the world. Was he driving? Was he in the passenger seat? Where should I sit?

I walked toward the car.

The hill in front of my house was perfect for sledding and not much else. I slipped a couple times going down. On the second or third tumble, I heard another van door open. A shape approached from the side. I rushed to greet them.

Suddenly, my mother’s shrill voice pierced the night.


The next few moments were a shock for all parties involved. The white light turned off inside the van. The door slammed shut. The driver slid down the street like a burglar leaving a crime scene at the sight of my mother flying out of the house and screaming like a banshee.

I told my mother everything. She nearly fainted on the phone with the police.

You see, there was a story on the local news that night. I hadn’t seen it, but she did. Two young boys were abducted in a neighboring town a week prior to our incident. The cops refused to release many details, but they did mention one.

The kidnapper lured his victims online.

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