The Midnight Paper (Episode 1/8)
The Ledge Challenge
There's a strange newspaper that's only delivered at midnight...
My dad called it the “Midnight Paper.” It was exactly what it sounded like: a strange kind of newspaper that would show up at some homes at midnight. On the dot. Every Wednesday and Friday for us, but on other nights for other houses.
I loved hearing about it. We’d sit at his office, late at night, late for me, at that age. But that’s all I did. Hear about it. I never saw one, even though my dad said he had many copies. He never told me any of the stories that were supposedly printed on it. So after a while, I lost interest. Grew out of it. Until now.
After the funeral, I decided to stay at my parent’s for a while. See to their bills, think about what to do with the mountain of personal belongings that absolutely nobody would want.
It was a Friday. Before I knew it, it was midnight. I’d stayed up in the office, pouring over a pile of unpaid hospital bills, when I heard it. Three knocks at the front door.
I looked at my watch. Midnight. On the dot. Strange. I went to the front door. Looked through the peephole. Nothing. No one.
A series of likely scenarios ran through my mind. Maybe it was a kid playing ding dong ditch. But then why didn’t they ring the doorbell?
I unlocked the front door and pulled it open slowly. There, on the worn welcome mat, was a newspaper. At least, that’s what it looked like to me.
Slowly, tentatively, I picked it up with two fingers, like it was covered in something toxic. It was entirely black. Both the paper and the strings binding it into a roll.
Then I made the worst mistake of my life…I took it inside.
I sat at my dad’s office desk with a knife from the kitchen. I used it to cut the knots on the black strings, and the newspaper unrolled itself slowly. It was thin, really only one page in length.
There, on the only page, written in blocky white letters, were the words, “THE MIDNIGHT PAPER.”
This was the headline on the page and the story written below it…
“LIVING AND DYING ON THE LEDGE: URBAN LEGEND OR DANGEROUS SOCIAL MEDIA CHALLENGE?
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You may not have heard about it…but your kids have. There’s a strange building on the edge of town. It’s around fifteen stories tall, and its rooftop holds a terrifying secret.
The tenants know the story all too well. Last December, a girl (whose name this publication has chosen not to publish) attempted to take her own life by jumping off the rooftop and into the cold asphalt approximately 150 feet below.
A tragic event, but unfortunately not too uncommon. But, if you believe the word in online forums and instant messages, this was no ordinary suicide attempt. Not because of the circumstances leading up to it, but because of what happened when the girl climbed over the railing separating safe rooftop concrete and fatal plunge.
As soon as the girl lifted one foot off the edge…something strange happened. A series of images bombarded her mind. It was her father, crying in her bedroom, surrounded by his daughter’s belongings. Then it was her funeral, all her friends in suits and dresses with grief and pain wracking their faces. Then it was her own body…what was left of it. Twisted and broken and bloated and covered in stitches…yet still crammed into a dress.
The girl put her foot back on the edge. Shocked out of her fatal decision. But then, for some reason, she lifted her foot once more. The images came back, but this time they were different. It was her wearing a graduation gown. It was her in a college dorm. It was her with a boy. She hopped back over the railing and took the stairs down. The way down. The safe way down.
She told a friend, who, mockingly, told another friend. That friend told a few others. You know the rest. Someone posted it online and soon the internet ran with it. That building became a million others, in a million different towns. And for some reason, people started trying it out.
They’d go out in groups to play what soon became known as “the ledge game.” If you stood on the edge of a rooftop, on the wrong side of the railing, and stuck one foot out you could see your own future.
One such group decided to try the game out…with disastrous consequences. One of the girls in the group chose to go first. She climbed over the railing, stuck one foot out, and soon regretted it. Her friends say she started screaming, her eyes wide and looking off into the distance as if seeing something horrifying. Then those eyes turned to look at her group of friends. She tried to grab one of them, as if trying to pull them over the railing with her…to take them with her as she fell.
There was a funeral, with crying friends and a closed casket, much like the first girl saw. Instead of dissuading other teens from trying the game out, this news soon became an urban legend in its own right, growing into an indispensable part of the original tale.
But there’s something many people can’t stop thinking about. What did that girl see? Whatever it was, it was bad enough for her to ignore the visions of her own funeral and her own mangled body. Whatever it was, it was bad enough for her to try to take her own friend’s life too. Some people say it was to spare her a fate worse than death.
Maybe we’ll never know. Or maybe, like in some versions of the story, we’ll all know soon enough. Because the girl was pointing at the sky before she leapt. As if she could see something that nobody else could.”
That was the only story on the only page of the Midnight Paper. I wanted to know more, to know who wrote it, who published it, who delivered it. And I knew, like a piece of intoxicating, dangerous knowledge, that all I had to do to know more was wait for the next edition to hit the welcome mat. And I’ll come back here to tell you all what it says.
Written by u/MidnightPaper