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Clearriver community> Parent-to-parent forum>
Issues and concerns
Subject: Jeers/Cheers for staff
Mom_Mel wrote: Creepy bus driver?
Alright so I don’t know where to put this, because honestly I’m not trying to get anyone in trouble. My five year old daughter just started 1st grade so you know how it is, new year, new school, new teachers, etc.. But I can’t help but feel uneasy about her new bus driver. I think I’m being paranoid, so I don’t want to name any names, but he gave me an odd vibe when I saw him. Has anybody else had this experience?
Re: creepy bus driver
Are you talking about the old guy with the glass eye that drives route 56?
Yes! That’s the one! You know I don’t even know the poor man’s name. But I just don’t want my daughter scared to go to school.
Re: creepy bus driver
Hey momma Mel, I noticed your concern and just wanted to give you a heads up, I’m sure you are just over thinking it; my son rides his route and hasn’t ever complained about it. Of course he did just start this week too, but when I walked him to the bus everybody on there looked asleep to me.
Re: creepy bus driver
My son told me his name is Mr.Charlie, sounds friendly I suppose. But I got a better look at him today, I can see why he creeps you out. The burns on his face and right side of his body would probably give me nightmares if I was a kid.
As it turns out Chloe has been having a few restless nights since she started school. I thought it was just new school jitters, but what if you’re right?
Guys, I think you are both twisting this out of proportion. I know when I was younger I had a few teachers that scared me, but my parents told me that everybody was a person no matter what they look like on the outside
Re: creepy bus driver
Ok, so after reading what Robin wrote I felt bad and decided to go up to the bus and talk to Mr Charlie, but I didnt get very far! Why you ask? Something on there stunk, and I mean bad! Like an animal had died or something. After I got over that, I tried to chat him up but didn’t get much out of him until the afternoon. He turned to me and asked casually, “Is your child riding tomorrow?”
I’m not sure why. But I didn’t like the way he said it.
I am so glad somebody else said something! I know this is just the first week of school but I’m a single mom, and my son is scared of the building already. After he saw this bus driver he bit his tongue so hard it caused him to bleed in his mouth! I instantly made him a car rider. It’s a few more minutes out of my day. But that guy seriously has problems
Re: creepy bus driver
Okay, now I’m really concerned Chloe hasn’t gotten much sleep at all this week and she is walking around almost in a catatonic state. I took her to the doctor and he said it was like she had experienced some kind of trauma! I’m going to talk to the school and complain.
I feel sorry for him and all of you who fail to see he is just a senior citizen that is trying to eek out a living. Probably a Vietnam vet that deserves our respect. Y’all should be ashamed.
We’re just concerned about our children and their health, is that a crime?
I’m just saying leave it be and teach your kids to respect elderly one’s and disabled people
Re: creepy bus driver
I left a message for the office, but I got a better look at the bus driver today. Maybe I was seeing things. But I’m almost positive when I saw his reflection in the mirror his face looked more like a skull. I think after this week is up I’m going to make Chloe a car rider too.
So I just needed to get on here right away and post this. I got a curious email from the school today.
To the parent(s) of Jeffrey Tomlinson,
We are sending you this message out of concern for your son’s absence at school since the beginning of the semester. We hope all is well, and trust that if you have any issues or concerns you will send a private message to our secretary or to the principal. If you need anything please let us know,
So… I know for a fact Jeff gets on the bus every morning…. I walk him there.
I got this email too. Odd. I see my boy get on everyday… so. Where is the bus dropping them off at??
Re: creepy bus driver
Its almost six and Chloe isn’t home yet, I have been sitting at the bus stop for hours. I called the cops and they gave me the usual BS. Runaway blah blah. I’m like, she’s five! Jesus! Please somebody tell me their kid is okay.
Nick didn’t come home either. I called the school. They told me they didn’t have a bus driver that worked there by that name.
Jeffrey isn’t home. Guys, PM me, lets get to the police together maybe they will do something.
Re: creepy bus driver
Evening everyone, Im a retired officer up in Newton, and in my spare time I try to tackle unsolved cases.
This may be just coincidence but your story reminded me of an incident we had back in 58.
A bus crashed on the side of the road and tipped over with 12 kids inside it. All 12 managed to get out though, and there was only one casualty: the driver.
The burns made it near impossible to recognize his body, but there was one distinguishing characterestic: he had a glass eye.
I waited for twelve hours. Maybe it was even longer than that. It was the dead of night. I was just about to give up, go home and cry my eyes out. Maybe do more than that. And then the air felt so still.
I saw the bus arrive, the headlights piercing the fog. I ran up to it, I don’t know what I was thinking, I saw the children still trapped onboard sitting there staring blank eyed and unmoving. I begged him, I must have been on my knees. Please, take me instead.
That got his attention, he turned toward me, and had a look on his face that will haunt me for the rest of my days.
“I’m sorry, we’re all full right now,” Mr. Charlie told me, and then smiled and asked, “But do you have any other children at home?”
On cold and clear Sunday night’s I often find myself meandering to a body of water on the outermost reaches of civilization. For this is the best way to catch a glimpse of a water spirit that has grown rarer with the spread of man. If you should wish to see it too then you should heed my warning. Find a river or stream surrounded by dense woodlands and observe from a distance. The creature itself may seem unstartled at your presence and may very well be friendly but it likely does not understand the danger that it poses to you.
I must elaborate on my first encounter with one of these fantastic creatures which occurred some time ago. A night which I had stumbled across a small village in the northern most reaches of the country. In a clearing not far from the village, what appeared to be every man, woman and child who resided there was gathered at a lake. There were all kinds of accusations being thrown and the whole ordeal seemed very much like a trial. Not wanting to upset these villagers or to get involved in their affairs I turned to take my leave. However I was halted by a sound somewhat similar to hooves. I dared to creep ever closer and hid behind the tree closest to the crowd. There I saw the magnificent black beast standing like a proud horse with a mane of snakes. It trotted so casually through the crowd of villagers and each of them backed away. When it had reached the center of the clearing the village folk pushed a young girl towards the animal. They urged her to climb upon the horses back. The girl refused. She was obviously scared, I couldn’t help but wonder why. In an instant two burly men separated themselves from the crowd and lifted the girl up onto the horse being cautious to not touch the creature themselves. She screamed. The men backed away. For a moment the being upon whose back she was placed seemed confused. It stood there, head held proudly. A calm fell upon the girl and the crowd. Then without warning the creature bolted towards the lake and both were gone. The girl didn’t even have time to scream, the last noise she made being a gurgling one.
Once the villagers had dispersed I picked up my courage and approached the lake to investigate. I crept up to the edge of the water and peered into the darkened depths. I could see neither the animal nor the girl. I doubt I was staring into the lake for very long or with much concentration but I suddenly felt like I was being watched. That was when I heard what sounded like hooves hitting the ground behind me. I spun round to see the beast staring at me tapping what looked like a reverse hooved foot on the floor. Upon seeing it at such a close distance I could tell clearly that it was a black stallion not much bigger than a regular cart pulling horse. Its eyes were somehow magical, black in colouring but there was a depth and shine to them which seemed it would pierce a man’s soul. The mane of the creature was not snakes as I had initially thought but rather some form of water weed that floated as if the air was water. Its face was so close and in all it appeared to mean me no harm. If anything the stallion appeared lonely, I use this word only because I could not find another that described the solemn air about it. The more I drank in its features the more curious and charmed I became with this fantastical beast. I had resisted until then to reach out and touch the beast but I could fight the urge no longer. Slowly I raised my hand. As my hand came up the horse like creature displayed the side of its neck. I stretched the tip of my fingers and gently brushed against its fur, if that really is what it was. To my surprise it felt like no fur I’d ever touched before, not exactly soft or wet but something entirely different. Quickly the horse head rose up back to its proud position. I jerked my arm away only to find that the water weed mane had encircled my arm. I was trapped to the beast. It turned towards the water. I pulled away. The mane tightened. I realised instantly that I was to end up like the girl before me. My survival instincts kicked in. I pulled the blade from its place on my belt. The creature began to pull. Sinking my heels into the floor I tried to slow the movement while I attempted to cut the weed. Both efforts were useless. My prospects were looking bleak. As hope appeared to thinning I quickly severed my hand. Then I merely watched as the beast literally disappeared into the lake.
The next morning, after a somewhat restless night and doing my best to hide my arm, I approached the lakes edge once more. The water was crystal clear but there was nothing living in the lake aside from a few aquatic plants. Upon the shore near to me I discovered a mess of clothes and water weed, which had been washed up there at some point. As I pulled them free from the lake I believed I recognised them. They looked similar to what the young girl was wearing the previous night. That was when a young boy approached me. He looked at me with sad eyes and said something that would haunt me.
“They belonged to my sister. Everyone thought she was guilty. So they brought her here to be judged by the kelpie…”
Joan Blake lay fast asleep in her bed. The dust from the early sunset floated around the room, being penetrated through the scarlet curtains. She awoke at 6.20am, rolled out of bed and pulled the curtains open. The sun rested just above the houses on the street opposite. Joan seized the opportunity for a photo. She threw on some clothes, walked down the stairs, grabbed her disposable camera from the table at the bottom of the stairs and walked out of the front door.
Her house being at the beginning of the road, she was in the perfect position to get a good snap at the sunrise. Looking through the lens, she saw the empty pavement, the houses on the opposite street and a gorgeous sunset. With no-one around, she took the pictures with no interruption.
Walking back into the house, she fed her dog, dusted the mantelpieces and then decided to get the photos developed. With still nobody around, she put a coat on and left for the local printing shop.
Walking home, she held the envelope with the photos in her hand, wanting to know how they had turned out. Greeted by her dog at the front door, she walked over to the table and grabbed her gold letter opener. She lifted out the photos and looked at them in horror. The picture was the photo that she had taken- the sunrise. However, at the end of the road, where there should have been nothing, like there was when the picture had been taken, Joan Blake saw herself. Saw herself standing at the end of the road with gnarled arms and hands and an eerie artificial smile. She stared at the picture with utter terror, not knowing what to do. She looked at the other pictures. They were the same. The same sinister smile and arms that every small child makes when they want to scare someone- arched just below shoulder length with gnarled bent fingers. Joan Blake, perplexed, walked upstairs, went to bed and never woke up. A peaceful end to a life tinged with murderous rage.
Do you ever lie awake at night, trying desperately to fall asleep? And when it seems that you’re finally going to pass into the world of dreams one of your limbs jerks a bit without your permission? It means that you’re lucky.
You may be thinking “How can I be lucky if sleep evaded me?” Well, you don’t have to believe me, but you are. You see, our world isn’t the only ‘world’. Most people can’t see, let alone comprehend it, but there are different planes surrounding us. You can think of it as there being different levels, or layers if you will to existence. There could be someone occupying the very same space as you are right now.
I know that this doesn’t make a lot of sense to you right now, so just let me finish. These layers of existence overlap in certain ways. Have you ever put down something in a certain spot and then when you want it again, it’s moved? Or maybe it’s gone completely and you never see it again. That doesn’t matter too much, but the point it wasn’t you that moved it. You can blame this phenomenon on a lot of things, but only one explanation is really true. Something on another plane moved it.
It could be you from another point in time, or an alien creature. But I’m not here to explain why your favorite shirt is suddenly gone. No, this is a lot more serious than that. Those alien creatures I mentioned? Some of them don’t know that we’re here too, and some of them just don’t care, but there are others. Others that want to take what we have. Others that want to enslave us.
At this point you probably think that I’m batshit crazy. I promise you that there is a reason for this though. Every time one of those involuntary twitches occur, it’s them. They’re trying to come through to our plane. That twitch was them trying to take control of your body. Fortunately for you, their timing was off just a bit. You were still awake and that little twitch alerted your brain that something was wrong. They have to wait until you’re asleep because your brain can’t fight back.
If you had been asleep, well to put it simply, you wouldn’t wake up. Your body will, and it will go about your day as usual. It will get up, eat breakfast, go to work or school, and do whatever you would. It copies your routine so well that no one, not even your friends and family, will notice that something is amiss. They might think you’re acting a bit distant, but they probably won’t bother with it too much. But make no mistake, this isn’t you. This is your body being taken over by one of them. And during all this you’re helpless and can’t do anything than watch while you’re confined to a dark recess of your mind.
I couldn’t tell you exactly what they’re doing or what they want or why. But believe me when I say you’re lucky. You’re awake now and we can’t get to you.
Did I say we? I obviously meant they. You believe me, right? I’m not one of them, I’m really not. Why would I be telling you the process for how they operate if I was one of them? That would be a rather silly mistake for me to make, don’t you think?
Oh well, it doesn’t really matter now, so I guess I’ll drop the act. Are you surprised? Although that doesn’t matter either, now does it? Just be seeing this you’ve opened your mind to the possibility of the different planes and that means we can come through.
How does it feel, knowing that you’re being hunted, that your demise is inevitable, and that no one would believe you if you asked for help? And even if they did, they couldn’t do anything to save you. Are you in denial? Unnerved? Scared? Terrified? I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.
It might be right now, tonight, tomorrow, next week, but never forget: we’re coming.
My dad has always been a nice person, making a living for my mom and I by painting houses, with the occasional construction work. However, it recently became a difficulty after he had a heart attack a month ago due to him always using to eat junk food. As a result, he tends to be around the house more, as his doctor recommended. He is a very nice man, always being able to make people laugh, minus the occasional stubbornness. But he always had a weird quirk that he did since we moved into our house.
Every day, right before it complete gets dark outside, he always looks out my window. See, we live in a house where the woods of New York is our backyard, and my room happens to have a window showing a perfect view of the woods. So if you want to see the woods, you need to look out of my window. So each evening, I am greeted by my father looking out of it. He never tells me why though, simply looking out for about 5-10 seconds, then leaving my room, off to watch TV or lay down.
I always wondered why he did this though. No one can come from the backyard, say for maybe a deer, raccoon, or any other animal you expect to find in the woods. As a result, I decided to take a crack at it one day. So while my dad was watching a episode of Cops in the living room, I let him know that I would check the window for him. My dad though for a few seconds, then gave me the thumbs up. So now I can finally see just what the hell is making my dad so paranoid for the past 6 months.
When it came to 6 P.M., the time my dad usually checked the window, I went to my room, and decided to take a peek out of my window. Nothing peculiar, just the same old plethora of trees, wrapping our house with their arms of wood. Seeing that my work was done, I decided to just report to my dad of it being nothing wrong. But just as I was about to turn away, I could’ve sworn I saw something go into the woods, a pale…thing crawl back into the overgrowth of pines. I couldn’t let my dad know about this. He would throw a fit or even have another heart attack. So when he asked if there was anything wrong, I lied that there was nothing. Surely there wasn’t a possible unholy abomination outside our house!
So the next day, I decided to quell my paranoia with DeviantArt and Youtube. But it was not very effective. I kept thinking, what was that thing. Surely it could’ve been an albino deer, but it’s eyes would’ve shined when I saw it. What I saw was only white legs retreating into the pines. Humanoid legs. To tell my dad, or not to tell my dad? That is the question. Feeling thirsty, I decided to go to the living room for a drink of water. After getting a cup of water, I checked the newspaper that happened to be on the table. The headline almost made me spit my drink: MAN MUTILATED IN OWN HOME. Apparently our neighbor’s body was found mangled in his bedroom by his wife after she returned from the bar. People suspected a homicide, but the marks on his body were like an animals, and the doors were closed. As a result, the police ruled it a cold case.
Maybe what I saw last night was the killer? It might have wanted to attack my family, but since I noticed it, it attacked easier prey. As a result, I needed to make sure we were safe. My dad has to work extra late today, and I was going to the movies with my friends. As a result, no one would watch the window. As a result, I asked my mom if she can check my window later tonight. Knowing Dad’s quirk, she agreed to my request. Now I would be able to go to the movies knowing my house was safe. So when my friends picked me up, I had no signs of dread.
I came back home at 9:17. The movie was very good, it being a horror flick. I unlocked the door, and entered my house. But all the lights were off, and there was a disgusting odor that nearly made me gag, a mix of blood and feces. Wondering what the hell was in the house with my mom, I went to the kitchen and opened the drawer. My dad always kept a spare handgun under the knives, in case there was ever an intruder. Well, even though I was only fifteen and never held a gun in my life, not even a BB, this gun would finally be used. But my moment of safety was shattered when I heard a ragged breathing noise coming from my mother’s room.
Taking the gun into my right hand, I slowly walked into my mom’s room, where the thing I saw would probably be. As I looked into the room, what I saw would stay embedded into my nightmares: my mom, on the floor in a limp state, the thing on top of her. Now I can finally see what it was. It was about a head taller than me, probably bigger due to it being crouched down and its back facing me. It was naked, being ghost white, a gray in the dark. The breathing was sickly, similar to what you would hear from a heavy smoker mixed with that woman from The Grudge. Between my mother were two, sharp rake-like claws, probably ready to hit its prey. I then coughed, the most dumbest thing I would probably do. The thing then turned its neck an unnatural angle, almost turning completely towards me. Remember how I said deer’s eyes glowed? Well, this thing’s eyes were black, all pupil, like empty pits starting into my soul. It had no nose, resembling a skeleton’s nasal cavity. Its mouth looked like it was partially melted, pale skin being where its teeth should have been. The mouth was also in a permanent smile, as if it was mocking me.
Knowing I was a threat, it began to walk towards me on all four’s, resembling a human acting as a dog. Remembering the bathroom being the only locked room in the house besides the front door, I made a run for it. The thing then followed, never making any noise except for that infernal breathing. Somehow, I was able to get to the bathroom door. As I closed the door and turned the lock, I quickly pulled out my cell phone, the thing now beginning to bang on the door. I dialed 9-1-1, telling the operator how there I was being my mom being unconscious and myself almost getting attacked by a creature. After being told the police and ambulance were on their way, I prepared the gun in my other hand. As soon as I had both of my hands on the gun, the thing made a hole in the door, it’s cadaver of a face silently grinning at me, now producing a fusion of a growling dog and a growling human. Knowing it can be my one chance, I shot it.
Emitting an abrupt screech, it fell on the floor, limp just like my mother, a bloody hole where it’s heart would’ve been. Hearing the police sirens come, I ran to the front door, feeling a sense of relief, knowing that my mother and I were not dead.
But as the ambulance took my mother and I, I saw through the bathroom window something that was impossible.
The thing was gone, only a trail of blood where its body used to be.
Credit: Vaddix Umbran
There is a church in the small town just outside of Avignon, France known as the La Dames Blanche Cathedral. The cathedral is the largest building in town, and due to the well-kept regal appearance, it has become a must-see for tourist passing through. The attraction remains very popular, despite the townspeople’s fears surrounding the pipe organ on the second floor, and the organist who plays it.
The second floor isn’t used, and not much is up there. Not long after the church was built, a priest noticed that there was only one window on the second floor, and it was the only one in the whole church that wasn’t stained glass. It was an old, dirty round window, about three feet around, and was near enough to the dusty and dilapidated organ that one could sit to play the organ and see out of the window. One of the priest went towards the window to see if it could be easy to remove and replaced. As he got close to the organ, the wood below him broke and he fell through the floor, and the heavy cushioning of the pews below him broke his fall. He survived, but was paralyzed from the neck down. They sealed up the room, boarded up the floor, and left everything on the second floor as it was. The priest insists that the organ not be left up there, as it was dangerous to leave something that big and heavy in such a high place, with risk of the weight of the instrument causing the wooden floor it rests on to break and crush church-goers below. He requested this too late, however, as it was made nearly impossible to get back in to get to the instrument.
It was three years after the church was built that the small town started to grow in population. More and more people attended service at the cathedral. Weddings were held there twice a month. This is also the same time that nuns would claim to hear organ music being played in the middle of the night.
The priests dismissed it, as the second floor where the organ stay had been sealed off for long enough that it should be too covered in dust and grime to work properly. The nuns stuck with their claims, and it wasn’t until that Sunday’s service that the priest believed them.
There was the body of a man found near the church, within earshot of the window on the second floor. His eardrums had burst, and his ears were bloody. He had marks down the side of his face that look as though he was trying to tear out his own ears, which were overstuffed with cloth. The coroner at the scene assumed the death was probably accidental. It had been raining the night before, and the man probably tripped and hit his head on the pavement. The sudden impact is what caused his eardrums to burst, and in a last stitch effort, he plugged his ears due to try and stop the bleeding.
Many of the townspeople were not satisfied with this, but did not question it. The following night, a similar death happened to a woman on her way home from the store. She died in a similar spot, near the church, within earshot of the window on the second floor. As it did not rain that night, they could not claim this one to be an accident. The third night, an old beggar woman, unkempt and unsightly, made a huge fuss, getting the attention of anyone who would listen, that there was someone in the second story window, sitting at the organ and playing music. No one else could hear the music but the woman. She danced in the street to the song. The police told her if she wanted to make a fool of herself to do so elsewhere. She told them she would stop dancing when the pretty music stopped playing.
The music did not stop. The woman had stopped dancing hours ago, exhausted. The song still rang in her ears. She covered them with her hands and moved herself to the far end of town. If she were away from the church, she couldn’t hear the tune, she thought to herself. Three more days she heard it, never stopping. She returned to the church, and went inside. She begged the priest and the nuns to make the organist stop playing the song. They told her there was no organ player. She pleaded with them a bit more before they had to escort her out. She was in tears at this point, ripping out clumps of her hair.
The following morning, the police found the poor old woman, still on the grounds of the cathedral, directly below the window on the second store. There was a patch of blood staining the grey bricks on the wall. It looked as though she had smashed her head against the wall, numerous times. One of the priests says he heard her there, yelling at the window upstairs, but he disregarded her as it was the middle of the night and that her angry rant stopped by the time he had gotten outside.
The body was cleaned up and the police started to worry about the threat of a serial killer. They requested the cathedral be closed off for today so it could be investigated. The head priest agreed. When they investigated the stairs leading up to the second floor, they found them loose, and able to be pried off with a crowbar. Officers Altier, Martine, and Rosamunde were chosen to investigate the upper floors. They said the floorboards were too worn down for someone to be walking around. Everything was covered in dust. Officer Altier pressed a few keys on the organ sitting alone in the room. Dust spewed from the pipe related to that note, but no sound came out. The window beside the organ was very dirty and the officers could barely see out of it. They left the second story and said there was nothing suspicious about it, aside from the loose boards blocking off the stairs.
The following day, the wife of Officer Altier awoke to find her husband’s body in the bed with her, his eardrums burst and bloody, staining the pillow his head rested on. His eyes were rolled back in his head, and his hands were pressed against his ears.
People were afraid to go to church. The nuns stayed in the inn nearby, refusing to sleep in the hotel. The priests stayed in a smaller church the next town over. Police blocked off the entrance to the church, and had covered the window on the second floor. Alternate routes were made so nobody had to walk in front of the gates. They questioned anyone in town that knew how to play an organ. One man broke into the church and smashed up the organ. Children threw rocks at the window. They did everything in their power to make sure this stopped.
It did not stop. In fact, it got worse. One person dying outside the gates of the cathedral grew to five. Three shop owners near the church jumped from the roofs of their stores. Eight people were driven mad, one even almost drowned trying to block her ears out with river rocks.
Each new person who said they heard the music no one else did stated that the man in the window was angry. They said he could see them, even without the window. He filled their thoughts. They could only think of organist, playing his tune, staring not at his sheet music, but directly at them. His eyes, cold and uncaring, did not blink, and lacked any hint of remorse or sympathy for the people begging at his feet. His fingers were thin and skeleton like. He did not speak to them. He would not stop playing.
The song plays on.
I live in Norway, and I enjoy viewing things under my microscope. The ability to see things so small and far from human reach intrigues me. Yesterday I was looking at the plant cells from a leaf I found on the street. Within the cells of the leaf I could see the vacuoles, the chloroplasts, the cell wall, and at the centre, the nucleus.
It was like the centre of its own little universe. I zoomed out to check on another cell, but suddenly zoomed out way too far, it was like the sensitivity of the dial was turned up to max. I was looking at myself through the microscope. I looked above me to see if there was a camera video taping me as if this was some sort of prank, but found none. I looked back through the microscope and still saw myself sitting in my chair, in my home, in real time. My breathing was synchronised with the image of me in the microscope.
Usually the microscope I use stops zooming in or out after 5 or 6 rotations of the dial, but I zoomed out and dial kept rotating until first I saw my neighbourhood, then the country, and shortly after that, the entire Scandinavia.
I am at this point perplexed, more than I have ever been or ever will be in my life, but I’m only human, my curiosity gets the better of me, so I keep rotating the dial. I see the earth first after the first rotation, then I see the solar system after another rotation, the milky way, another and another and another until I reach the galaxy cluster. I keep zooming out into the cosmos and now find myself viewing a cluster of galaxy clusters. Half a rotation of the dial brings me millions of light years more than science will be able to see, and the speed of zoom is rising exponentially.
My journey through the universe felt so short, but when I looked up to see my clock, 30 minutes had already passed. I begrudgingly looked back into my microscope, hoping my scientific breakthrough was not simply any illusion, however when my eyes finally adjusted to the lighting inside the microscope I notice something, out of place. I saw a line, a border impossibly big that it surrounded our entire universe like wall. I turn the dial another half rotation. I now see many rectangles huddled together. they all look the same, like cells in a leaf, but there are some other circular blobs displayed in the microscope. As one of these blobs moved towards a dimension like ours. It ate the dimension like a defensive cell eats an invading bacteria or fungi, or parasite.
My eye, glued to the microscope, I suddenly realise of our universe’s fate. It motivates me to get this cosmic journey over with. I keep zooming out. The dial stops turning and I am once again zoomed in on the familiar leaf that I picked up on the road earlier that day.
It was nearly ten when the comet first appeared across the western horizon. The channels broke the news like wildfire. For once, the Desanges did not have to rely on the network coverage as they could easily view the spectacle from the balcony terrace. It had a bluish hue and was surrounded by an orange smoldering ring that culminated in a tail.
The sun was low in the east, shining bleakly through the foray of heavy clouds, even though the west side was clear. Hand in hand, Alan and Zara Desange stared, their hearts alight with excitement and an indeterminable sense of peace. Not the kind where the world is a better place but the kind that alcohol brings, the kind that pushes all your worries into a void. A soft warmth emanating from their hearts and culminating at their interlocked hands.
Zara’s phone had been ringing for nearly five minutes and finally Alan nudged her to answer it although he would have liked to spend a few more minutes with her. He almost knew who the call was from. His wife worked for the regional branch of NASA in San Francisco. The comet was their business and they were the ones who had to provide the answer to the awed or the hysterical public. Most people thought he was joking when he mentioned his wife was working in a psychologist capacity for NASA.
His hypothesis turned out to be true when she returned. Her face was slightly grim. With anticipation and perhaps fear, thought Alan.
‘It was the office. They’re calling everyone in.’, she said as she approached.
‘I assume they weren’t expecting it’, he said, not taking his eyes of the colored orb.
‘Nope’, she replied definitively.
They stood for a moment more before she said apologetically. ‘I’m sorry honey. I have to go’
‘Yeah, Yeah, it’s not a problem. Go on. Do your job and make me proud’. He gave a soft smile.
Zara was in her Prius ten minutes later and speeding along the interstate towards her destination. The comet appeared to be cutting an exactly horizontal path through the horizon, like a halo, neither dipping nor rising. Somehow the clouds always cleared away before it approached. The region around it was completely devoid of white puffs while the rest was literally blanketed in white.
The call had been from Gary Paulson, the Chief Medical officer of the regional section. He was also the head of logistics. His main job was Pilot evaluation; determining their mental health status and their fitness level for a particular mission. He always had the final say in that. A calm person by nature, which is why his call bothered Zara so much. He had sounded on edge, as if on the tip of hysteria. She even thought his voice broke a few times. Something was up.
The traffic looked calmer than usual. A slow repetition of a continuous slog; similar vehicles passing by over and over. Like a programming loop repeating itself at a fixed interval. It was rather bizarre. In one case, she was almost sure she had passed the same vehicle with the same occupants three times.
When she reached her destination, she was met with a huge swarm of people gathered in front of the main entrance to the building. It wasn’t the general public. She recognized familiar faces and realized it was the entire staff of the building gathered around the humungous, iron-wrought gates that were now firmly closed upon them.
‘What the hell’s going on?’
Katie, her redhead friend, who was a floating head amongst the teeming sea of spectators, saw her, extricated herself from the mass and came jogging over to her side.
‘You won’t believe this.’, Her voice was brimming with excitement and her eyes were gleaming. Zara had rarely seen her so animated.
‘We were in the large auditorium, being briefed, you know, on that’, she pointed at the comet in the sky, ‘They had just informed us that the nearest weather satellite, had gone completely haywire, that the comet was interfering with the electronics. And other satellites in the vicinity were malfunctioning too. Then they showed us that they had actually picked up a transmission from it’
‘From what?’ asked Zara.
‘From the comet’
‘Picked up… a transmission. From a comet?’, she asked, seriously doubting Katie’s mental stability.
‘They said they were receiving continuous signals from a certain source that they were able to determine was the comet’s surface; communication like, you know. Alien Transmission, they said.’
‘But how could they possibly know that it was from – ‘
‘I know right!’, she nearly barked. ‘It was totally ludicrous. But he was going to explain. Gary, I mean. He was showing us the data on the big screen. But then, out of nowhere, Theon Rainfield barges into the hall. You won’t believe his face. I mean, he looked, like, completely deranged.’ Katie Emphasized this by holding her hands aloft at the sides of her head as though mimicking electrocution.
Theon was the head of the whole unit. He was rarely seen around here and only visited on special occasions. A head-strong but painfully meticulous person when encountered, so it was a blessing that he was mostly absent.
‘What did he say?’ ,
‘He screamed at us. Told us to get the hell out. All of us. Then he walked over to Gary and said something to him quietly in his ear. It was almost like he was threatening him while we are all filing out. They were in there for nearly half an hour, while we waited outside, before Gary walked out alone and told us all to go home. I mean, like, What the hell?’
‘Just like that?’
‘Yep. Head on home. By the time he told us this, his face was really ashen. Like someone had punched him in the gut. He was agitated. We could tell’
The crowd was slowly thinning as people were finally getting over the shock and getting in their vehicles to depart for home. They had apparently stayed for a while in the hope that this was all some big misunderstanding.
‘How come everybody got here so soon?’
‘What do you mean?’, asked Katie.
‘I mean, I got the call just forty minutes ago and got here as fast as I could.’
‘How come? I got the call at nearly ten. And everybody was here within the hour so…’
‘Well so did I and its barely – ‘. Zara glanced at her watch and stopped mid sentence. ‘Hang-on. This can’t be right.’
‘What time is it with you? My watch is broken I think’.
‘It’s – uhm – two-thirty-three’
‘WHAT? That’s impossible’
‘What do you mean?’
‘It was hardly ten-thirty when I got the call and I left almost immediately’.
Katie smiled roguishly. ‘Go home sweetie. You don’t seem right’
‘Stop it’, Zara threatened her.
Katie snickered manically, hugged her and then jogged off to her car. Zara stood rooted to the spot for a few minutes while the throng thinned out and eventually she was only one of a just a half dozen people left ambling about the vast courtyard and the parking space. The building was magnificent in many aspects yet today it just looked foreboding; tall and menacing. It almost seemed ancient.
Eventually, she couldn’t think of a good enough reason to stay anymore and headed towards her Prius. The sun was beginning to lower down in the west and she still couldn’t fathom how so much time had gone by. She must have read the time wrong at home. That seemed like the only plausible explanation.
She was heading along the highway, when she suddenly became aware of something even more bizarre than the inexplicable time loss she had experienced. She could see a looming structure in the distance that she couldn’t recognize but was sure that it did not belong in this part of the world let alone in this moment in history. She could see faded, stone cold, grey walls, pointy turrets and great towers, stretching up into the abyss. What was a eighteenth century, Celtic castle doing in this landscape. She had never seen it before. It didn’t make sense.
A little less dramatic but no less baffling was another phenomenon which was also apparent to her. There was something wrong with the road she was travelling on. It was not the fresh, smooth as a tongue, concrete she had travelled on earlier or travelled on every other day to work. It was cracked and jagged beyond recognition. She could even see green forcing up out of the cracks; weeds and shrubs crawling out like an alien invasion of a once sophisticated.
And then she noticed that she was completely alone. There were no other vehicles, no passersby. Was she drunk? Had she gotten so inebriated that she couldn’t even distinguish reality from an odd, although uniquely vivid, dream.
The year of our Lord, 1764.
Jonah Williams, the duke of Yorkshire, noted it down in his ledger for it was the happiest day of his life. Although the day was dank and the chill was beginning to creep up on him. But it didn’t matter. Even the peculiar constellation in the sky couldn’t deter him from his happiness. If anything, it only energized him.
The Lord has chosen to mark the day of this union with a sign. We are indeed blessed, he thought.
She was in the carriage in front of his, drawn by four black beauties. He could picture her in that beautiful dress that he had specifically chosen for her. Her face had become radiant with joy the moment he had presented it to her. He did hope that the cold didn’t bother her. The horses’ breath was sending out misty steam into the air. It was growing colder.
The convoy for the marriage procession was very large. He couldn’t even see the tail end. They had moved on from the muddy earth and were now on hard ground, for he could hear the clattering of the hooves. He wouldn’t dare open his door in this bitter frost.
Then he heard a few raucous calls up ahead and with a sudden jolt, the coach suddenly halted.
He waited a few moments before the one of his guards came up to his side and opened his door.
‘What is the matter, Eustace?’
The guard looked rather clueless about what to say. He stared at the duke for a few moments before hesitantly responding.
‘Sire, there seems to be a certain problem with the path up ahead.’
‘What do you mean?’, asked Jonah impatiently.
He could see the guards hand stretched tightly across his spear, his knuckles stark white.
‘Sire, begging your pardon, but you should see this for yourself.
Apparently Jonah had no choice.
He stepped out into the mist. It took him a moment to grasp his atmosphere and then he gasped in shock.
What he was seeing was beyond terrifying.
‘Where in the world are we?’
What he saw were towering structures, taller than any castle he had ever seen, just erupting out of the bare desolation, like behemoth creatures. Up ahead was the road that led up to a bridge. Except it wasn’t the road he was supposed to be on and this bridge was unlike anything he had ever seen. This road was like a sheet; dark grey bordered by yellow lines with white lines running along its center.
He started to move ahead. Eustace along with a group accompanied him.
As he was passing his wife’s carriage, he signaled to Eustace.
‘Post a half a dozen men here. Do not let her out of your sight. The rest of you, come with me.’
He also took out his pistol from the holster in his belt. As they proceeded to the front of the convoy, more things became apparent. It was a baffling spectacle.
The bridge was like a gateway to heaven itself. There was not a single bridge but a myriad. Like countless snakes intersecting one another, up ahead he saw many crisscrossing ones, shrouded by the mist. Some running deep below the ground and others on top.
Then he heard a strange noise. A whirring. The horses started whinnying and stamping their feet.
‘What devilry is this? ON GUARD MEN !’
He could see lights. Strange beams project from the mist. The noise was growing louder.
The monster suddenly broke free of the fog. A silver metallic formation on small wheels.
Jonah and his guards, all nearly jumped out of their skins. They recoiled in horror and crouched down holding their weapons aloft as the beast approached. Some cried out in alarm and other dived to their sides. Jonah held his ground, pointed his pistol at it and fired off.
To their relief, it evaded them. It’s wheels turned just before collision. There was terrible screech and before they knew it, it had whizzed past them at great speed.
They watched astounded, as it blended into the thick mist. Before he knew it, Jonah was running in the same direction, to his wife’s carriage, for she was the one thing that mattered.
Zara was in a trance. As soon as she had passed the fantastic parade or whatever the hell it was, she screeched her car to a halt and bolted out onto the cold pavement and fell onto her knees, gasping. She could hardly see ten yards in any direction.
Was there a carnival in town? Some civil war re-enactment? Nineteenth century pageant walk? What the hell was going on?
Her hands were going numb because of the extreme cold and her heart was hammering inside her ribcage. She let the cold wash over her. It somehow made her calm enough to let a small sane thought form amidst the chaos.
Getting back inside the car, she revved up the engine and raced ahead. She had to get home.
Very soon she was able to determine her location. She could finally breath. It was only a ten minutes ride left. She was well above the speed limit, but she didn’t care. And besides there was nobody around to hit. Not unless some fancy Englishman ghost appeared out of nowhere. In that case, she wasn’t planning on being much considerate anyway.
The sight of her home was like the most welcome thing she could ever lay eyes upon in her current predicament. She pulled into her driveway and ran inside without locking up.
The front door was open.
‘Alan’, she called softly. Her voice didn’t allow her to scream. Her throat was nearly jammed.
She called once again, without reply. He wasn’t in the kitchen or the dining room although the dirty plates were still on the table, stained with egg whites. She did remember cleaning them and putting them away, though she didn’t care much for that now. She started to head upstairs and paused near the top.
She could hear voices. Multiple voices. One was definitely Alan’s. The second, a woman’s, she couldn’t determine; although it was strangely familiar.
She proceeded on tiptoe and peaked into the bedroom. There was no one although the sheets were ruffled. On the other side of the room, the door to the balcony was open. She headed towards it stealthily and saw two people on the balcony staring up into the cloudy sky, at the comet, which was right where it had been this morning.
Their hands were interlocked. It was Alan and… her.
She was looking at herself. It took less than a second for her to realize this.
But no, this couldn’t be her. She had to wait for the woman to turn around. It was probably some kind of prank that her husband had cooked up.
The phone on the nightstand started ringing. Her phone.
She waited behind the door, peering through the crack, waiting for her them to turn around. She waited nearly five minutes before Alan sort of nudged the woman and then she turned around.
Zara gasped silently. It couldn’t be. She pressed herself against the wall behind the door and held her breath as the other entered and went towards her phone. She reached towards it but it went silent before she could answer it.
Zara heard her curse and then a few seconds later, heard the bathroom door close. Zara peeked out cautiously and saw the coast was clear. She was in the bathroom.
Zara sat on the bed, picked up her phone and checked the call history. Gary Paulson was the last missed call.
She put the phone down, opened the lowest drawer on the nightstand and picked up the hammer lying inside. It was heavy. She felt the cold, dented metal surface in her palm. An indeterminable sense of rage had filled her up; replacing the previous cold, constricted feeling in her chest.
She gripped it more tightly, walked to the bathroom door and rapped softly.
‘Just a sec’, came the response from inside. It sounded as if her mouth was full of toothpaste.
There was lot of gurgling and flushing. Almost a minute passed and then the door opened.
It was like staring into a mirror, except Zara was sure that her expression wasn’t as terrified as her counterpart. The stare lasted a few seconds before she brought down the hammer with brute force on her head. It lodged inside the skull with a sickening splat as blood oozed out and pink brain matter appeared amidst the mass of hair.
She let go of the hammer and the other toppled inside the bathroom along with it. She closed the door as quietly as she could.
The phone rang.
She walked to it, picked it up, glanced at the caller ID and answered.
‘Gary, Hi’, she answered in a cheerful tone.
The voice at the other end was muffled and sounded distressed.
‘Listen Zara. It’s urgent. Its emergency protocol. You need to come in…’
Five minutes later, she went out on to the balcony.
‘It was the office. They’re calling everyone in’
Credit: Salman Khattak
– – –
This is a story from work. I work at a mall, and I work nights. It’s pretty well-known, so in the interest of not breaking any non-disclosure agreements, I’m not going to name it.
I don’t think sharing any of this is technically illegal, but I’m sure my mall wouldn’t appreciate me sharing any of this.
Our mall has over ninety different shops spread across different levels and has a huge fountain in the plaza. Most of the stores are big chains that operate out of outlets or smaller kiosks. They range from clothing stores, to outdoorsy stuff, to pizza places, and there’s also a movie theater.
I’ve been working at this mall for over five years now in security and surveillance, but I’ve only been working the graveyard shift for the past eight months.
And the way that I got my current job – being the lady who watches the cameras in the dead of night – is also a little unusual.
My job has the highest turnover rate. That’s not weird. I work long hours in the dead of night and I come home very early, usually midnight to seven in the morning, but there are times when the lady doing five in the afternoon to midnight will ask me to switch with her because she has a date. Part of the reason people quit here so often is because usually I don’t have the luxury of dating or socializing at normal hours.
I go to work around eleven at night and I don’t get back until about eight in the morning. Many people have had my job before but opted out because they wanted a social life of some kind. The pay is pretty good for my education level, and I don’t have any better options lined up, plus I have full benefits. I’ve worked here for a long time and I get more perks than most. Also, my job isn’t particularly dangerous since I watch cameras and don’t patrol anything, and I don’t work alone. I know the system better than most, and it doesn’t involve manual labor. In short, my job is mentally draining but not physically involved or very risky.
Before this, I was working day shift which had more people, but it was still the job of watching cameras. A lot of us watching the cameras here tend to be women.
I’m not sure if it’s a quirk of our particular mall, or if they’re really trying to get brownie points for hiring women. It’s probably because there are cameras in our changing rooms to keep people from shoplifting, and being that we have a lot of ladies’ clothing stores I assume women would feel better having another woman watching them through the fish-eye lens than some random guy. To keep the weirdos out.
There are security guards who check in with me and some of them are pretty funny. Our favorite thing to do in the dead of night is to pretend that we’re spies on a secret mission; I’m the one feeding them intel having “taken control of the system” with my “amazing hacking skills”, and they’re the secret agents. We try to have fun.
My call sign is Lady Liberty.
And the story behind that is the security guards hazed me the first night I took over the monitors, barging in on me to give me a jump scare wearing ski masks from the sporting goods store and all I had to defend myself was a book and flashlight.
The guys I work with are Nightblind and Radio Silence. The ladies I work with in the control room are Big Ben and Hungry Eyes.
I can’t say I know the people working in the stores themselves except for occasional food vendors, but I do know some of my bosses since I used to work days.
The real problem with this job is the monotony and boredom can play tricks on your mind. The other problem is that incidents at night are usually of the scary variety. Occasionally kids will break in to vandalize things, or we deal with trespassing homeless people or sometimes the elderly or people with mental issues. I don’t deal with them myself, but seeing a stranger in the mall is after hours feels like watching a home invasion from a panic room.
A small aside, Nightblind got that call sign when he was patrolling and couldn’t see very well and I got a front row seat to watching him stumble into the fountain in the main plaza thoroughfare. Radio Silence got his name when he wouldn’t check in at the scheduled intervals, only to find out later that he’d left his walkie-talkie in the security booth.
Hungry Eyes got her call sign from the song that’s her ringtone. She always has a boyfriend calling her at work. I hear the song Hungry Eyes at least twice every night.
Big Ben literally can’t shut up about the time. “What time is it?” is her catchphrase at this point. Sometimes she’s like the time channel, reminding us what time it is or how many minutes or hours until we leave. Usually it’s informing us what time we need to check in, or just mentioning the exact hour. She’s always wearing a watch.
If I’m honest, we’re bored and probably what you would consider unprofessional. We sometimes get called in by the bosses because we’re also monitored by security cameras. The only thing more boring and unsettling than watching empty rooms is watching the one you’re in already.
Big Ben and Hungry eyes work alongside me, and sometimes we work in shifts.
I’d say we’re all a little weird in different ways. Working nights for months means finding something interesting to do is a challenge. When nothing happens for six hours, you make up games or projects for yourself. Counting tiles on the floor or ceiling, having saltine eating contests, trying to scare Nightblind and Radio Silence with our creepiest voices or softly singing nursery rhymes in the creepiest way possible…
Boredom and morbid curiosity are the enemy here. As annoying as it is to hear Hungry Eyes’ ringtone, I’m jealous she has something to do that’s fun like talking to the flavor of the month.
This story is really about the video tape though. This is how I found it.
We have a break room and it has a TV with a VCR, because, for some reason, we never made it over to the modern age even when there’s an electronics department in the mall.
We’re really just glad that it’s a color TV even though our TV is a square behemoth on a dusty black dolly you can wheel around like they do at schools.
There isn’t much to do for fun aside from the movies on VHS, basic cable which is usually late night infomercials, or if you happen to read a book. Sometimes I wheel the TV out because the break room is boring and claustrophobic.
We have a handful of Disney movies, the Wizard of Oz, and old reruns of MASH recorded unprofessionally. “Be kind, rewind” is a way of life.
One day, I was bored and decided I’d look in the archives room for any other tapes.
It was a stupid idea. It’s probably illegal and I know I’m being taped. I didn’t read anything in the files. That’s almost definitely a fireable offense. I opened drawers on the filing cabinet, ran my fingers down the line to see if any VHS-like shapes were visible. No luck, and then I’d close it.
Bored, pull, check, nada, push. Rinse and repeat.
As I was going, the frantic boredom of it was making me pull drawers open and slam them closed harder than I should have. As I got to the bottom of one filing cabinet tower, I pulled it out so hard that I actually pulled the drawer out of the cabinet and nearly dropped it on my toe. It crashed with a loud metallic boom that nearly scared the shit out of me. It was a lot like trying to sneak in or out while your parents are asleep, everything is the loudest sound.
At once, Big Ben came rushing in to see if I was okay. Thankfully I was already Lady Liberty at this point, otherwise I might’ve been Noisemaker by the end of the night.
I was a little bashful as I tried to explain that I was fine, though it came out as a joke, saying that I was bitten by a radioactive spider and couldn’t control my super strength.
Big Ben rolled her eyes, reminded me of the time, and went to help me put the drawer back.
It was then that we were crouched over that we saw the VHS tape. It was a standard VHS tape that was placed in the back of the cabinet tower. We only barely saw it, an odd shape in the back of the tower standing upright with black and white. In a way it reminded me of the drawers in my kitchen and that sometimes some utensil would get stuck behind the drawers and I’d have to pull one completely out to get back in there. Except that this wasn’t a dish towel or a spatula.
I was more excited by the VHS tape than skeptical. I didn’t care how it got there. It felt like I had just discovered buried treasure.
The original label on it had been scratched away and a new one had been placed over it, unevenly. It read “The Greatest Hits of the 40s”.
I didn’t know exactly what that meant. Maybe it was music? Maybe it was a movie marathon? I didn’t know how much film was on the tape or how long it would be.
Big Ben and I shrugged and took the tape because we had nothing better to do and put the drawer back in place. At worst, we’d probably listen to a lot of Ella Fitzgerald. There are worse things. Maybe it was Snow White. We didn’t have that movie.
We went back. Hungry Eyes looked at us like we were crazy and half-interestedly lowered her phone. One of us rolled out the TV and tried to set up the VCR.
“What are you doing?”
“We’re going to watch the ‘Greatest Hits of the 40s’.” I said it holding up the video tape, showing it off with a mockingly celebratory shake, sort of the same motion you do when screwing in a lightbulb.
“What, is that like, porn?”
“Yeah. We’re going to watch Judy rub her Garland.” Big Ben rolled her eyes and started to rewind the tape. She checked her watch briefly and then pulled up a chair as I tried to get it all set up.
I think the tape started at the beginning. Be kind, rewind and all. But I admit I didn’t check or hesitate before I just hit play. Fuzzy white lines occasionally rolled up the screen and back down like tides of foam in the ocean.
“I’ll call you back, sweetie. The girls and I are going to watch granny porn.” Hungry Eyes laughed into her phone and then gave a jokingly scandalized tone to something her boyfriend must have said. “No, I’m not going to take pictures.”
She hung up on him, still laughing as she scooted closer to the TV screen just like how our parents used to tell us would ruin our eyes.
The first ten minutes of the tape were actually not bad. It was almost disarmingly pleasant. It was an old-timey nostalgia, black screen and stuffy live introductory trumpet music that felt awkwardly imposed. Think trumpets introducing royalty or Caesar and it’s that kind of music, only for two or three seconds. I half-expected a lion to start roaring or an FBI warning.
We’d stumbled into a recording of a Bing Crosby Christmas album or something like it. Christmas songs continued and we were enraptured by the novelty of it, even though it was only September.
The tape would periodically go to other singers, but it was spliced badly with a few of the ending notes cut off as if the recording had been imprecise. I realized this wasn’t an official copy very early on.
Halfway through a Frank Sinatra song is when it started.
I’ve watched it twice now. The first time I was so dumbstruck but curious that I didn’t even know what to do or say as we watched, completely ignoring the cameras. These are my basic notes on the second viewing. They’re mostly word for word from my notes but they’re not as professional as they should be.
My notes on each segment are written in the order they appeared, but I don’t really know why they’re in the order they are.
The Sinatra song abruptly cuts off and we see a familiar site, and we (myself, Big Ben, and Hungry Eyes) know it’s familiar because it’s shots from our mall’s security cameras. We recognize the plaza instantly.
The first video on the tape is dated August 11, 1989. The camera says it’s 3:52AM
It’s the main thoroughfare and the fountain where Nightblind had fallen in. I remember there was an awkward and unsettling realization that this was our mall. We didn’t say anything then. It was unnerving but that went away when we saw the first video segment in the queue.
– – –
It’s the plaza, and there’s the fountain.
There’s an older woman who’s on screen by the fountain. She’s a little pudgy and wearing an unfashionable grandma style one-piece swimsuit with frills of a lighter fabric at the waist. It’s the kind of swimsuit that only really looks good on a little girl or an old lady, the kind that looks part wetsuit, part ballerina tutu. She’s wearing a swimmer’s cap and goggles. She has a towel draped over her shoulders. She’s as giddy as a small child.
She coyly pokes her foot into the water of the fountain and gives a theatrical shiver like a cartoon character. The fountain isn’t more than two feet deep and I’m afraid that the woman is about to do a cannonball and break her hip or something.
Instead, she confidently steps into the water which is only up to her shins or thighs. Then, like she’s a vaudeville dancer, she shimmies through the fountain using the towel like a dancer would a feather boa, pulling it back and forth in her shimmy in a kind of flossing movement. She rhythmically kicks and splashes the water, as if it’s a musical number. And then she turns coy again, like she’s performing this routine in front of a crowd, and turns her back on the “crowd” walking back the way she came, giving rhythmic and exaggerated hip sways.
Her routine continues for over four minutes, though it doesn’t look like it’s unpracticed. Finally, the old woman takes off the towel she’s been wearing at a boa and tosses it lovingly to her adoring public (which lands in the water) before blowing a kiss and waving at absolutely no one.
With an exaggerated flop, she lets herself lean backwards and a huge splash is seen before the video cuts out.
– – –
Throughout the first video, we’d been laughing and giggling to ourselves. It was amazing to see someone having so much fun, even if it was probably considered trespassing. The three of us are still controlling our giggle fits when we check in with Radio Silence (because Big Ben reminded us it was time to do it).
We can hardly contain our laughter when we tell him to be on the lookout for an old woman in the fountain. Big Ben has to explain it’s an inside joke he wouldn’t get when the next video comes on.
These seem light-hearted and the fact that it’s our mall no longer gives us an eerie feeling; instead it’s more of a conspiratorial “this is our mall, we know where that happened!” kind of thrill.
– – –
April 4, 1995 4:23AM
We see a view from what looks like a menswear outlet. We assume it’s our mall. It doesn’t look like any of the current layout, so it’s possible it’s not a store our mall has anymore. I could be wrong. Maybe they just changed the layout. Who knows. Judging that it IS a mall, and that the first video was from our mall’s fountain, we’re assuming that it’s our mall in this one too.
For a few seconds, nothing happens. It’s a view of the changing area and some aisles of clothing. Slacks and jeans are hung up on their little metal island racks.
A man literally slides his way onto screen, but the angle is a bit awkward for seeing the next performance.
A very attractive man, probably in his mid to late thirties, comes dancing into screen in a pink-ish shirt, white socks, and tighty whities. I assume that his shirt is pink and the socks are white because the man is doing the dance from Risky Business with a golf club.
He knows the dance by heart.
– – –
We’re loudly cheering and whistling from our seats when the next video begins to play. This is gold to us.
It looks like someone’s found and spliced together footage of the funniest things that have happened in our mall after hours. It was such a good idea I wish I’d had it myself. I’ve seen some funny things I wish I could show you guys.
We try to think of who it could have been that made this tape because we clearly need to buy him or her a beer.
But as we talk to each other about who it could be, we realize we don’t know. It was before my time probably (though I didn’t know for sure with only just two clips to map out a timeline).
It was possible the person who made it was looking through old footage. A lot of our stuff was on tape before we switched over to computer-controlled things. I wondered if the person had done it while watching tapes and then made their own compilation.
And all of this was assuming that it was our mall, but the person had to have worked here or was still working here to put the tape in the filing cabinet. My mind practically did an acrobatics routine before the next video started up that left me cold.
– – –
June 28, 1994 2:08AM
The next view is a furniture outlet with all kinds of furniture in the background. It looks like the living room section of the furniture store because there are a line of chairs in view. Reclining chairs from the look of it. Really ugly fuzzy chairs or saggy leather ones.
There’s a very large man who looks too big for the chair he’s in. It’s a leathery-looking armchair, the kind your grandfather would have that your grandmother would wrap in plastic.
At first, the video looks like maybe it’s glitching but as it continues, we see the man is shaking in the chair. As it continues to shake, we realize it’s a vibrating arm chair.
The man is butt naked in the chair as he looks in a mirror, though I’m not sure where the full length mirror came from.
– – –
We’re quieter now. We don’t really know what we’re seeing. It’s weird.
We pass the few minutes of the armchair dude in stunned silence.
– – –
October 1, 1987 1:40AM
A young man – maybe a teenager – with a punk spiked mohawk is in the women’s clothing section as evidenced by the mannequins in assorted dresses or jackets and skirts though the jackets look like they have large shoulderpads and some look very warm. It kind of looks like they were dressed in the style of the movie Heathers.
They look like something a secretary would wear.
The punk is soulfully doing a slowdance with what looks to be a woman in a knee-length evening dress and a scarf tied wrong her neck. She’s wearing a wide-brimmed black hat with a lace bow. It looks weirdly out of fashion to me.
The dancing continues but the woman’s not moving – she’s being moved. And it was then that we realized that the punk was slow dancing with one of the mannequins.
The slowdance continues with the punk speaking inaudibly to the mannequin. After two minutes or so, he starts to pull the mannequin’s dress up and slip his hand up what would be the mannequin’s backside under her dress to fondle her. Or, fondle IT, I mean.
A bright light contrasts the video footage as it shines in from off screen but is getting closer and the punk seems stunned by it. He stops the slowdance abruptly and begins to run. A security guard comes into focus.
The punk launches the mannequin at the security guard and she sails through the air like a pool noodle. The punk is looking backwards as he runs and doesn’t notice the glass store window display until he crashes through it, upsetting three additional mannequins in casual fall-winter wear, staged to look like they were talking to each other.
The security guard chases after the punk until they both disappear up the top right of the screen.
– – –
Hungry Eyes can only give an uncomfortable sharp yelp of laughter when the punk breaks through the glass. We’re really not sure what to think or feel.
– – –
October 17, 1999 3:16AM
An old woman – I’m not sure if it’s the bathing suit woman since she had been in the cap and goggles and since it’s a ten year gap, but the build is similar – is in a pizza place. The woman is chubby and has permed light hair, maybe blonde or white, but you can’t tell from the video, just that it’s not dark hair.
She comes into frame from the side. The camera view is such that it’s facing out to where the line of customers would be, so the woman is coming in from the back of the storage area.
She’s carrying a wooden purse that looks like someone made a purse out of someone’s Venetian window blinds. The woman is carrying a large bag of shredded cheese and a few large onions with the onion paper still on them.
The woman sits at a plastic booth table and is now facing the camera. She opens the bag of cheese and begins to shovel handfuls of it in her mouth, though some is clearly falling from her hand and her mouth and falling onto the floor and table. She continues to eat shredded cheese right out of the package for a full eight and a half minutes.
As she eats, she leisurely swings her legs back and forth like a child. She looks over to her left and then places her purse on the table. Something seems to be leaking from her purse through the slats of the wood, but she doesn’t seem to notice, though it looks thick and goopy as it drips.
She grabs the salt shaker and the Parmesan cheese shaker. She places the cheese shaker into her purse. She takes one of her onions and gingerly sprinkles it with salt.
She then puts the salt shaker in her purse too. And then she bites into the onion like it’s an apple, paper and all. It takes her another two minutes to eat an onion. I know this because I was trying my best not to watch her eat the onion so I stared at the time stamp.
The woman then places her face on the table and begins licking the cheese she had missed off the table like a child licking their plate clean.
She takes another onion, pulls out the salt shaker from her purse to sprinkle it and then puts it back in her purse, and then pulls out a handful of shredded cheese and piles it on the onion. She continues to put piles of cheese on the onion until you can’t see the onion anymore.
And then the woman puts her arms behind her back and puts her face into the pile, chewing. She plays a game with herself of trying to eat the onion with no hands.
She eats cheese and tries to get her mouth around the onion, making a mess of cheese and onion paper everywhere until she get the onion in her mouth and gloats as if she’s bobbing for apples and has just caught one.
She crunches right through it and it falls with a huge bite mark in it, and rolls off the table.
The woman puts her left hand on the table to steady herself, reaches down with her right hand and pulls the onion off the floor and takes another bite of it.
– – –
It was then that Hungry Eyes looks uncomfortable and more than a little nauseous.
She offers a weak excuse that she needs to check in with the guards again and leaves the room.
Big Ben and I don’t stop her.
We share an odd but knowing look, that we’re going to continue to watch this even though we can stop at any time.
We really don’t have anything better to do. And we’re curious to see what’s going to happen next.
– – –
July 4, 1999 2:58AM
We both recognize the young man from before, partly because we can see his face, but also because he’s still dressed like Risky Business with the golf club.
Obviously, some time has passed, but Risky Business is doing his routine again.
This time, he’s doing it in front of two people. Another man, this one in a suit, and a woman who’s rail thin and dressed provocatively with high heel boots and a cocktail dress.
The woman turns to look over her shoulder a few times as if she’s expecting trouble, but when she does you can clearly see she’s an older woman, maybe in her early forties or mid fifties. She looks a little wrinkly.
The man in the suit doesn’t turn away so I don’t know what he looks like except that he has dark hair.
When Risky Business is done his routine he comes up to the man in the suit like a puppy. The man in the suit kisses Risky Business and that seems to really excite the woman in the cocktail dress because she looks like she’s adjusting herself, but when it doesn’t stop you can tell she’s masturbating.
Suit then tears open Risky Business’s shirt and it’s then we see Risky Business is trussed up in intricate BDSM rope designs.
Suit must say something because Risky Business kneels in his tighty whities and ripped shirt. Suit must be saying something because Risky Business has his eyes on the man and seems to be saying the same thing over and over.
Risky Business kowtows, hands Suit the golf club, and starts to kiss Suit’s shoes.
– – –
August 18, 1990 3:36AM
A young girl who looks like a teenager is nervously looking around a sporting goods store. She couldn’t look more guilty if she tried.
She grabs what looks like a coil of something and unwraps it. It’s a plastic jump rope.
The girl sits down in the middle of the floor, crosses her legs Indian style, unrolls the jump rope, and begins to chew on it from the middle, gnawing on it like a rodent.
An almost orgasmic expression of relief floods her face as she chews it like a cow chewing cud.
At one point she throws it down and is shaking. She looks like she’s crying because she keeps wiping her face.
She wipes her face with the palms of her hands, picks up the rope and continues to chew it.
– – –
January 31, 2002 11:18PM
A janitor in coveralls is mopping the main foyer of a movie theater. There are still some people around here and there that walk through the screen, but the janitor seems to be alone for most of it.
He’s middle aged and skinny except for a noticeable paunch like a beer belly. He looks… greasy and his hair is a comb-over. He continues to mop and smiles, gestures, and says something to someone who is off-screen. He seems to be saying something and laughs inaudibly, but after a few seconds, he is back to mopping.
There’s a comically large bladder buster plastic cup that must be the largest size cup for soda sitting on the counter of the movie theater. No one else is around or working the counter, so you can assume either the theater is closed or this particular counter is not accepting customers. There’s a popcorn machine in the back so it’s probably by the concessions stand.
The janitor pauses mopping to drink from the plastic cup and continues.
After almost a full twenty minutes, the man takes a long swig from his cup and then takes it off-screen. The man comes back shaking the cup. I assume he’s filled it with ice.
He places the cup on the ground, and, after making sure no one’s looking, he takes the lid off, gives some dunking plunger-type movement to the mop in the water bucket, lifts it from the bucket while it’s dripping, and then lets the dirty mop water fill the cup. Some of it drips onto the already wet floor. He continues this a few times but I had to fast forward it the second time because it was making me feel ill.
The first time I watched it, I had my hands over my eyes and would steal a glance from in between my fingers from time to time to see if it was over.
I think I remember he drank from the cup again when he was done but I didn’t want to watch it again so I didn’t make a note of it.
– – –
February 15, 1994 12:20AM
A woman is holding a baby and is talking to someone in a shoe store.
The woman is in her mid thirties, average weight, and is holding a baby in her arms. As she speaks, she’s trying to soothe the fussy baby, periodically patting the baby or doing a bumpy rocking motion.
The conversation seems to be quite intense. Twice the woman holds up her index finger, pushes it forward, pulls it back, pushes it forward, pulls it back. She’s aggressively arguing her point, and it makes the baby fuss and whine more. Her rocking becomes more and more aggressive.
The woman is now in tears and does the finger motion again, gesticulating with her free arm. The woman is now seething with anger and the baby is full-on crying after minutes of arguing with the person (I assume it’s a person but I never see anyone else so who knows, for her sake I hope there was a person).
It seems to be a one-sided fight.
The camera angle isn’t clear, but the woman puts her baby down on a counter next to some shoe displays and then really goes in on this other person.
She’s wailing hysterically now, screaming, pointing behind her emphatically while looking straight ahead.
In a split second, the woman’s expression tightens until her all her facial features meet in the middle of her face. She snarls and winds her hand back and then brings the full force of a slap to bear on whoever she’s speaking to.
When she slaps whoever it is, she instantly recoils, afraid for some reason. Her reaction of fright is so severe she stumbles backwards, breaking into a sprint.
She tumbles over a chair in the shoe store but keeps running.
Nothing follows her. The baby continues to scream from where the woman left it.
– – –
November 10, 1998 12:03AM
A man, though you can’t really see who they are or what they look like except that they have dark hair, is standing outside of a clothing store.
He’s up against the display of a store window, where the mannequins are displayed behind the glass. The mannequins are modeling underwear so it might be a Victoria’s Secret.
The man’s pants and underwear are pooled at his ankles and he is pushed up against the glass.
He kisses and licks at the glass. Twice, he slams his palm on the window glass streaking it downwards slowly. I swear I can hear the glass squealing in my head when his hand slides down.
– – –
June 7, 1997 5:08AM
For no apparent reason, a woman with long dark frizzy hair runs through the main thoroughfare barefoot holding a mannequin and a CAUTION WET FLOOR sign in her arms.
She jumps off one landing and onto the other, clearing the stairs completely. Her landing is shaky and she knocks herself off balance, and then tumbles down the next set of stairs, ass over teakettle.
The mannequin’s head dislodges and rolls down first with the woman following after. The video cuts out before she makes it to the bottom of the landing.
– – –
March 29, 2001 2:11AM
In the electronics store, a large woman in curlers and a tacky polka dot dress with a frilled hem is throwing boxes of some kind of electronics around. One looks like a box with an older radio/stereo with the huge antenna folded in (the picture of what it should be is on the front of the box). It goes flying and bits of black plastic pour out of the box when it impacts.
There’s broken glass or plastic around her, and a boombox, the kind people used to hold over their shoulders, near her that may or may not be broken too.
She continues on her tirade, until three security guards (or possibly police) come in to apprehend her.
The woman kicks and spits at the guards/officers until she pushes free of them, only to trip face first in front of the camera view over the boombox.
When the woman sits up, you can see she’s cut her lip and is bleeding. She starts to scream in panic and you see that she’s lost her two front teeth.
The guards/police scramble to restrain her.
– – –
December 22, 2004 4:55AM
A fat man (presumably a man) dressed as Santa Claus has three little people dressed as elves around him, and by little people I mean actual little people as in people with dwarfism.
They all appear to be noticeably drunk because they are swaying and unable to walk very well.
They’re in an eyewear outlet of some kind. There are spinning towers of glasses that one elf is spinning as fast as he can get it to spin.
Drunk As Fuck Santa has put on an ill-fitting pair of sunglasses and does the hand gesture for “Rock On!” with both hands directly at the camera. His fake beard is starting to fall off. At this angle you can tell that his pants are wet.
While the elves try on glasses, a newcomer enters the frame.
A skinny old woman, dressed as Mrs. Claus in a (presumably) red skirt with white fuzzy lining on the bottom hem seems out and is very agitated. She may not be exactly drunk, since she isn’t staggering, but the antics of Drunk As Fuck Santa and the elves with glasses don’t seem to affect her.
She’s drawn to the posters on the wall. They’re happy smiling fake people with glasses on as if to say, “Look how great we look in our new glasses ha ha ha!”
She screams, shaking her head, and puts her hands over her ears but everyone else ignores her, and Drunk As Fuck Santa continues to mug for the camera, grabbing his crotch and sticking out his tongue.
Mrs. Claus hugs herself, dropping to the floor, and rocking herself back and forth.
One of the elves throws up, and another elf (the one who had been spinning the glasses tower) points and laughs.
A female elf moves to hug Mrs. Claus and pet her wig (which is falling off) while Drunk As Fuck Santa drops his pants to moon the camera.
– – –
I was sickened but still very curious. Big Ben was getting more and more agitated though.
“It’s almost three. We should call in to Radio Silence.”
I was about to respond but the tape hadn’t finished playing yet. We were frozen by our own morbid and masochistic desire to see what else the tape had in store.
– – –
July 28, (the present year) 2:46AM
There was someone sitting in a chair in a smaller room, the TV was on and something was playing. I recognized it as being the Knife Channel. And I thought I recognized the room.
The Knife Channel was our go-to for something so interesting but so bizarre, to see people that excited about knives and swords. It was fascinating.
Someone else walked into the room. It took a moment, but I was startled when I realized that it was me. And this was our TV room.
I realized that that someone was Big Ben sleeping in the chair with the TV on. I know that because I lived it. The girl in the chair – Big Ben – was slumped over, arms crossed with her head laying on top of them.
She was reading a book at the time and had fallen asleep.
The girl who just walked in – me – walked over to Big Ben and shook her gently. Big Ben woke up and I apparently said something smart with a sarcastic tone the way my eyebrows knit together and turned up, mockingly sympathetic.
Big Ben rolled her eyes and said something smart back.
I remember I had said, “Hard at work?”
And Big Ben had said, “Me and what dick?”
I think I rolled my eyes at the dirty joke and I don’t remember exactly what I said after that, probably something about it being Hungry Eyes’ turn to go on break. And then I left the room.
I saw Big Ben’s face morph into a grotesque exaggerated face with her lips curled and moving mockingly as she made a “mouth” with her hand and did the international sign for “blah blah blah” to an empty room.
Big Ben stood up and stretched, apparently very deeply because she clutched her side for a moment. After another stretch she took the book she had been reading and picked it up. I remember that book because it was mine and I had let Big Ben borrow it.
Big Ben seemed to have a thought and then cautiously tiptoed to the door, opened it, and looked around outside before shutting the door again.
Then, unaware of the camera angle, she began to pick her nose.
Not just pick her nose. Big Ben was practically digging for gold.
I watched in abject horror and slight fascination as I saw the Big Ben on screen open up the book and smear her boogers on a random page. With an impish look on her face, she closed the book, licked her booger-digging finger, and wiped her spit and booger covered finger on her pants.
– – –
I don’t know if it was the surreal and frightening feeling of being watched, or that I had witnessed video evidence of Big Ben being disgusting but she immediately got up and ran out of the mall. I was so dumbfounded I didn’t even know what to say or how I could stop her. Before I realized what had happened or that the video was over, Big Ben was gone.
I never saw Big Ben again after that.
Radio Silence and Hungry Eyes said they helped clear out her desk and return her things to her. She didn’t want to see me again, I surmised. As egregious as that was, it wasn’t run away and never return bad, was it?
I think it had more to do with someone had been watching her. Us.
And I can’t say I blame her for that. But I think the mystery of who and why still fascinates me. There hadn’t been any other videos on the tape though.
I remember that when it was done, I dumbly rewound the video and put it back where I found it. I’m quite sure I would show up on camera that night, taking the tape from the filing cabinet tower and putting it back. I guess whoever made the video knows I watched it, assuming they’re still here.
For the next few weeks I found myself thinking about the tape and what it meant. Had they watched it since? Did I know them? As weird as it was, it was the most interesting night of my life.
I also had a thought.
I’ve worked this job for a long time and I have seen some strange and funny things. I know where the 40s tape guy (or girl) keeps their stash. Maybe I should show them some of my favorite stories? “Greatest Hits of the 50s”? I have no way of knowing if the person who made the tape in the first place would see it and watch it, but maybe someone else will find the tape and watch it?
I have so man stories… It might be hard to choose, and I’d need to go through the old videos and see if I can remember when things happened. I could always start with Nightblind falling into the fountain and go from there?
Credit: S. Alphonse
It all began when someone left the window open.
First it was the birds.
Evan pulled the covers over his head, enveloping himself in darkness. He shut his eyes and tried not to scream, the birds were out again. Small, snow-white birds the size of saucers flew about outside the safety of his blanket. Evan shut his eyes even tighter and he covered his ears, he didn’t want to to hear anymore flapping of their ivory wings.
“They aren’t real, they aren’t real, they aren’t real…” Evan chanted to himself, trying not to choke on his own words. He knew they couldn’t be real. They couldn’t be! It just wasn’t possible. So why was he so scared? So frightened? So terrified.
Rationality told him to stay calm and try to fall back asleep but fear controlled the little boy. The chaotic fusion made him throw the covers off of him and scream “I’M NOT SCARED OF YOU!”
And he was met with nothing.
It happened again, the vines were curling.
Evan had once again hid himself under the covers of the bed, whimpering. He felt the silvery-gray vines twist and caress the fabric that was protecting him. Evan bit his lip and peeked through his eyelashes.
He almost missed the time when it was the birds that terrorized him.
The bright blue nightlight he had insisted on having now outlined the silver vines. He could see them grow in number, weaving into a hellish cover. His eyes widened as he realized that the eerie blue light was diminishing as the vines started to block his vision. Soon he would be blind. Blind and doomed.
Evan squirmed, feeling more claustrophobic now than ever in his life. He curled up into a ball, mumbling to himself as bitter tears fell from his eyes.
“They aren’t real, they aren’t real, they arEN’T REAL!” The little boy started screaming, the ever-so-slow but ever-so-terrifying vines driving him to near-insanity. He threw off the covers and screamed “YOU AREN’T REAL!”
And the silvery vines were back on the wall with their avian companions.
It happened again, the thing was mocking him.
Evan had his head resting on the pillow while the covers lay comfortably at his shoulders. He wouldn’ t be scared this time, he couldn’t be. The woman in front of him wasn’t his mother, just the thing under his bed trying to fool him.
“Honey, you need to go to sleep. How about I read you a story?”
Evan shook his head. “Mommy never gave me a nickname, you aren’t my mommy.”
The woman frowned. To Evan, his mommy was beautiful even when she frowned, the woman in front of him, was nothing but ugly with such a forced expression. The young and healthy skin started to darken and his mother’s imposter took a step closer. “Evan, don’t you want to go to sleep?”
The forced calm in her voice made Evan feel the fear he was trying so hard to suppress. The step forward made him realize how dangerous a situation he was in. Once more Evan hid under his covers. “You aren’t my mommy…” He said more feebly.
A wicked grin grew on the imposter’s gray lips. She walked nearer, placing a now wrinkled and gnarled hand on the lump that was Evan’s shoulder. Evan started to whimper and chant quietly. “You aren’t my mommy…you aren’t my mommy…you aren’t my mommy…”
That evil grin turned to a smirk as the gnarled hand caressed his shoulder through the cover. “Oh, Honey, you-”
“YOU AREN’T MY MOMMY!”
Evan flung himself up and at the imposter, chest heaving and sweat dripping from his forehead. This was his room, his alone! No birds or vines or imposters allowed!
The cool air settled on his skin as he realized that he was all alone in the darkness.
Credit: Regicidal Rex