I’ve never been the type of person to write experiences down, or record anything, really. Not because I was disinterested in the activity, or didn’t care enough, but because I was never really good at it. That was always my brother, Ben. He never missed an opportunity to capture something on film, or write something down. In fact, I remember him keeping a very detailed diary. Whether it was just us playing Scrabble (a game in which he often thrashed me) or a family reunion (an event that happened far too frequently in my opinion) or even the weather outside. Actually, the weather was what he seemed determined to keep a record of the most. This habit seemed unique and maybe even annoying, but never really odd. No, that’s not right… it did get odd. More than odd, in fact; it became downright terrifying.
That’s why I’m writing this now. Me, the one who never kept so much as a day journal. But it seems necessary now; actually, it seems to be the only way to make sense of what my life has become, especially to me. Seeing the words on paper seems to validate my sanity (or what’s left of it) because I can no longer trust the images in my head. I hope I can still trust my memories to be true, because they’re all I have left. And I’m leaving them here, in the hopes that some sort of good can come of this. So allow me to explain, please.
Even as children I could never really see us as siblings; me with my brown eyes and blond hair, shorter and just a little stocky, and him with his tall, slender frame, blue eyes and raven locks. I’ll admit that my brother was beautiful, with that dark and elegant look to him that I would have given almost anything for. Despite this, I don’t think I was ever truly jealous. Even in our high school years when Ben would spend countless nights out on dates and parties I never envied him; I liked my own company, and my privacy. As siblings go, I think we were pretty close. We rarely fought, and were each other’s best friends. Although, Ben’s habit of recording everything did get on my nerves more and more as we got older. Despite my best efforts and constant complaints, I couldn’t get him to stop recording me. I knew it was harmless and really a loving gesture, but something about it made me squirm. Ben would often just smile at this and say, “The camera loves you, Joe”. And maybe it did. All I knew was that I hated it.
This became especially true in the winter of 1995, right before I turned eighteen. Ben had been out at a party, and I had the house to myself for the night. I had always liked being alone, and I was in a good mood as I was deciding how to spend my night. I was pacing the living room floor in contemplation, going over my options. I looked outside and immediately knew that going outside was out of the question; the world had been whited out by a snowstorm. Between the black of the night and the snow, it almost looked like static. Suddenly my thoughts turned to Ben in a flare of concern, but it passed as I reasoned he would just stay the night at wherever he was at. I mean, no one would be crazy enough to try to travel in that blizzard. Walking towards the staircase at the left of the room, I resumed thinking of what to do with myself. As I rounded the corner off the top of the stairs and turned into my room on the left, I sighed in indecision. My eyes widened and my heart beat a little bit faster when I noticed the object completely alien in the design of my room; Ben’s camera, a small, compact, and black box. And it wasn’t just that the camera was there, on my dresser that shocked me.
It was on.
I didn’t know what to think. This wasn’t something that Ben would do, no, he would never be so careless. I didn’t know how his beloved camera had wound up here, but I decided to return it to his room when a better idea struck me; the blizzard. Ben had always loved recording the weather outside, especially the extreme kind. So, I went downstairs and placed it in its usual spot, in the middle of the table adjacent to the window. I checked the battery, not knowing how long it had been on, and set it to record.
I spent the rest of the night in my room, only going downstairs once to fix myself a snack. On my way down, I remember walking right past the camera, not sparing even a glance. After I got my food, I turned to go back upstairs, but something caught my eye; the camera. It didn’t look like anything was wrong, but I looked closer anyway. I realized what was off; it was pointing the wrong way, with the lens now focused on the staircase. This definitely creeped me out; I remember specifically aiming it outside. I decided that I had probably captured enough of the storm outside to satisfy Ben, so I picked up the camera and went upstairs to Ben’s room. I placed it on his neatly made bed and shut the door behind me, still thinking of how the camera could possibly have been turned around.
The storm dissipated not long after my discovery of the camera’s new position, and Ben staggered in as I was getting ready for bed. Now, this was unusual to me, because Ben didn’t drink (not as far as I knew, anyway) but I didn’t think too much of it. I walked out of my room to go to the bathroom and met him in the hall. My hair immediately stood up on end as I took in the sight of my brother: he was obviously quite drunk, swaying on his feet, sweat plastering his hair to his forehead, but it was his eyes that really startled him. They were bloodshot, wide and darting, as if frantically trying to find something in the gloom of the hall. I spoke to him, “Ben?”
And his eyes snapped to mine. His words were slurred, but understandable, as he said to me, in a quiet but strong voice, “Where is my camera?” This was another oddity; he never moved it out of his bedroom except to film. He hadn’t moved it before he left, and he knows I would never touch it if I could help it, so why was he asking? Instead, I simply said “On your bed”. He turned around sharply and started to sway towards his room. Once he was inside, he slammed the door and I didn’t hear from him for the rest of the night.
I lay awake that night going over all the strange events; the camera in my room, it moving towards the stairs, and Ben showing up drunk and his strange question. I shrugged it off as just one of those nights, and went to sleep.
It was one of the last times I slept soundly.
After that night, Ben became more withdrawn and increasingly obsessed with his camera. He’d been coming out of his room less and less, and my family grew more and more worried. After all, he’d always been quite social and quite happy, and no one knew what the cause of this drastic change was. It was…heartbreaking, really. My sense of loss and pity slowly turned to one of fear, however: Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night with Ben’s camera on my dresser, lens pointed directly at me, its small little red light looking almost insidious. He started recording my parents when they weren’t looking, often hiding in a corner. I’d try to confront him about this, but when I did, the look on his face always silenced me. It was beyond an expression of malice; it was murderous. Soon we stopped talking altogether, and it felt as if my brother had died. I didn’t know how right I was.
I found my brother’s body on a Thursday morning in November, lying face down in the middle of his room, limbs sprawled. He was fully clothed, and there didn’t seem to be any injuries, but there was something that did unsettle me even past seeing my brother dead; his eyes were blank. Not glassy or unfocused, but completely white. I stared for a few seconds.
I finally screamed then and my parents came running. They, too, screamed.
Life wasn’t the same after that. My parents fought more and more, and I was too sad to care. I was bored one day and was feeling especially conscious of my brother’s absence, so I went to his room. I wanted to remind myself of how Ben was before the winter, so I picked up his camera. I heard something rustle around when I picked it up, and noticed a piece of paper had fallen to the floor. I unfolded it gently, and almost dropped it. My eyes widened as I read its message, probably Ben’s last.
Written in what looked like blood were the words “DO NOT CHECK THE CAMERA.”
I threw down the camera and ran out of there with the paper still in my hand.
Eventually, as Ben’s loss became less sharp and life went on, I came to forget that camera. I immersed myself in a work program at a local youth centre, I was paying the bills and still living in that same house, with my parents having passed away a few years after Ben. It was winter again, I had a few days off with nothing to do and I wasn’t feeling up to much. Boredom and nostalgia slowly set in, so I visited Ben’s room again. The moment my foot passed the doorway, I stopped. Something felt…terribly wrong. Not unusual; wrong. Frightening. Menacing. The growing dark outside did nothing to abate this feeling.
I said to myself it was just the aftershock of Ben’s death, if something like that can be felt all those years later. I walked slowly, almost reverently, deeper into the room. I looked over all of Ben’s possessions, still there, and came upon that same camera. It was on, and I wasn’t all that surprised. Remembering the warning I had found, I considered simply putting it back, but I argued that it was probably best to know what the hell was going on, and was soon going over the recordings.
I’m sorry if this is getting hard to read, but my hand is shaking badly right now. I can see the video playing in my head, almost painfully clearly, and I think that this letter will be the last thing I ever finish. I can hear it coming, now; I can hear it laughing. I can hear Ben’s voice laughing with it, and under it, his screams.
The first videos were normal enough; me and Ben laughing outside, eating ice cream in the middle of summer, him winning at Scrabble, relatives we never saw, that kind of thing. Then they started getting darker. The film skipped to me, lying on my side in my bed, fast asleep. About 30 seconds into the video, the audio cut out. There wasn’t much noise to begin with, but no sound is as noticeable as absolute silence. Then, something moved along the edge of the camera’s sight. I say something because after seeing its shadow, there was no other possible way to describe it. I almost threw the camera across the room when it finally entered the frame; it was a tall, humanoid thing with arms and legs much too long for its body, dragging its limbs along slowly, almost like limping. Its skin looked to be an insane pattern of black and white, and my eyes began to sting just from looking at it. Then, as it approached my bed, it turned to the camera. Its face appeared to be burned, and it had black teeth that almost seemed to shine. It was smiling, no grinning, with the ends of its rotting mouth stretching up towards where ears should have been. As insane as it sounds, the most horrifying part of this home video from hell were the eyes.
They were Ben’s.
I forced myself to watch the other tapes, and it showed up in all of them, starting with the one I filmed the night Ben went to that party. The first time on camera, it seems, was right outside the living room window when I set it to film the blizzard. Its face was pressed right up to the window, smiling that insane smile directly at the camera, directly at me.
I burned the camera that night. I didn’t sleep easily either, imagining it to be right at the foot of my bed, looking at me with my brother’s eyes and those teeth ready to rip my flesh apart. I thought I heard it in the hallway, dragging its elongated limbs behind it towards my door, laughing softly.
The night before I moved out was the worst. I woke up at 2:45 AM, everything unusually quiet, letting my eyes adjust to the gloom. I decided to go to the bathroom, reasoning that this thing probably wouldn’t attack in the light. There, I got a glass of water, and leaned over to the faucet, splashing cold water on my face. When my head rose again, in the mirror, I saw it standing there in the doorway, still smiling that smile that didn’t reach its eyes (my BROTHER’S EYES). I turned around to look at it, and found nothing but empty space. My heart is beating so fast that it must surely be ready to burst or give out. I turn back to the mirror, and there it is, standing right behind me, its face inches from my shoulder. I’ll never know how, but I managed to speak. “What are you? What did you do to Ben?” Then I screamed, “WHY US?”
Then it whispered in my ear, “The camera loves you, Joe.”
It was Ben’s voice.
I turned and ran out of that bathroom as fast as I could. I turned on every light in my house and smashed every mirror I could find on the way to my bedroom. I packed a few clothes, my wallet and was about to run down the stairs when I remembered: Ben’s diary. I found it beside his bed and ran to my truck outside. His last entries will stick with me along with that video until the day I die.
Friday, November 24th
The camera is acting up again, this time showing nothing but static. Considering replacing it, but it’s so dear to me. Maybe I’ll just try to fix the lens again. Besides the camera, everything is great. Amy is treating me so well, and my friends are a lot of fun now that the holidays are coming. And then there’s Joe…
Wednesday, November 29th
Joe is acting more and more strange. He claims that my camera was on his room last night, so I’m going to watch the tape after I finish this just to see what he’s talking about. I’m starting to think he might need help…
That was the last time he wrote in that diary.
I’m having trouble focusing now. All I see is that video, that thing that killed my brother and will probably kill me. I’m not going to give it the chance.
I’m in a motel now, waiting for night to come. It looks like it’s going to snow.
I brought a camera with me, thinking I might say something, feeling the urge to record something.
After all, the camera loves me.
Credit To – Grim Writer