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Messages - Skill Flea
Ah, Ms. Clemens! Just the woman I wanted to see! Here, just take a seat here. So how are you doing on your first day? I hope the children are not too tough for you.
Splendid! Glad to hear it! I knew hiring you was the right call! Now tell me what happened today.
Now Jamie. Remember to watch that Brandon kid and make sure everyone is taking good notes. You understand?
Good, you can leave my office. And hey, Jamie! If you keep this up, I might have to give you that bonus I promised you!
Oh my god you guys! You are soooo good at drawing! Brandon is that a dragon? That looks really cool.
Oh what’s that? I’m so sorry, I can’t read what you wrote sweetie? Can you write that again?
Ohhhhhh!! You want a crayon from Jake? Let me ask him.
Hey Jake! Can Brandon borrow one of your crayons? I think a red one will work best.
Awww! You’re so thoughtful Jake! Here’s a sticker of a golden cow for you!
Alright Brandon, here you go.
Now Brandon. That dragon is going to look so cool in that red color. Right?
Awesome! You are so good at drawing Brandon! Here’s your golden sheep sticker. Enjoy it.
So let’s look at the problem closely and make sure to take your notes as you do it. Now, we have 8 apples and pick 5 more apples from a tree. So you should use your notepads and take 3 away from the 5 to get 2. Then add 8 and 2 together to get 10.
Jeanine, what is this?
You can’t just skip ahead and write down 13, Jeanine. Why didn’t you add the 8 and the 2 first and then add to 13? You’re going too far ahead!
You need to let your other classmates learn too, sweetie. What if you go too far ahead? Can you please promise me you wouldn’t do that again?
You’re so smart and cute! Where’s that sticker of a golden chicken! I think you should have it!
Hello children! Welcome to your very first day of 1st grade! I am your teacher, Ms. Clemens, and we are going to have so much fun together! I can’t wait to get to know you guys! Now I know summer is over and it’s hard to feel too happy today, but this my first day teaching. So we are all going to get through our first day together! Ok!
Now, first thing is first. Does everyone have a working notepad?
Excellent! Alright I can’t wait to chill out with you and um, just get to know you. Ok! Now is there an Elissa Aikman here!
That’s a cute bow you got on your head! And wow! You wrote your name perfectly! I hope the rest of the class can take notes like you can! In fact, you get a gold sticker! Ok! Let’s keep going. Is there a Marcus Brentwood here?
Marcus please! Don’t raise your hand like that sweetie! Just use the notepad next time and you can get a gold sticker like Elissa!
Much better, here’s your golden goat sticker Marcus!
I work at a gas station in rural Pennsylvania. It's a boring job, but it's pretty easy and it pays all right. A few weeks ago, this new guy started; I'll call him Jeremy.
Jeremy is weird. He's about 25 or 26, and he hardly speaks, but he's got the creepiest laugh I've ever heard. My boss and I have both noticed this, but it's never been a problem, so there's not much we can do about it. Customers have never complained about him, and he's always done his job fairly well. Up until a few weeks ago, anyway—that's when things started going missing. Employee theft can be a problem at any business that sells consumer goods, and there's only one person working at a time at this gas station (it's a pretty small place). About two weeks ago, my boss started noticing that we were short on motor oil. At first, it was a few containers at a time, then entire shelves and boxes from the back room. Pretty soon entire shipments would be gone the day after we got them, and it would always be right after Jeremy's shifts. My boss has checked the security camera tapes from every single night he worked, but he could never catch him in the act. Jeremy would lock up at closing, then the motor oil would be gone the next day.
My boss usually takes the tapes home with him to try and catch Jeremy stealing, but his daughter had a softball game last night, so he asked me to watch the tape for him. He offered to pay me overtime, under-the-table, so obviously I took that offer. There are three cameras, so he gave me three different tapes to check. I figured it would be a long night, but I'm trying to save up for vacation, so I really needed the money. I took the tapes home, popped them in an old VCR and sat back.
Two days ago (the last time he worked), Jeremy started at 4 PM. Everything seemed pretty normal at first. He counted up his drawer, switched off with the girl who was working before him, and waited for a customer. The first person who came in was Mrs. Templeton (the timestamp on the video read 4:03), a regular. She picked up her cigarettes and a newspaper, and paid with a twenty. Nothing unusual there. The next customer was some local guy named Ron. He drives a motorcycle, usually comes in every few days. He filled up his tank, got a bag of beef jerky, paid with his credit card, and then left. Next was some guy with a cowboy hat. I'd never seen him before, but we get plenty of strangers passing through, just like at any gas station. He got forty dollars worth of diesel fuel, paid with a hundred dollar bill, and went on his way. I sat back and sighed. The only thing more boring than doing this job is watching someone else do it.
My boss's offer was enough to keep me watching though, so I left the tape on. Everything seemed pretty normal. I had a feeling that if Jeremy was stealing motor oil, he knew we were suspicious of him by now. I didn't expect him to be dumb enough to let us catch him on camera. Things stayed boring and routine until about five o'clock.
At 5:03, Mrs. Templeton came back in; she must have forgotten something. But she didn't. She bought the same pack of cigarettes as before, and the same newspaper. She paid with another twenty. That's odd, I thought, but then again, she's a little absent minded. I thought Jeremy should have told her she already got her smokes, but it's not against the rules to sell somebody the same thing twice. That's when Ron came in again. He bought another tank of gas (for his motorcycle again—I later checked the outdoor camera because I thought maybe he had another car he wanted to fill up) and the same pack of beef jerky. He paid with his credit card again.
No big deal, I figured this was just a weird coincidence. Mrs. Templeton is forgetful and Ron probably owns more than one Harley. That's when the guy in the cowboy hat came back in. I felt a chill run down my spine. "Don't get diesel, don't get diesel," I found myself whispering to my empty living room...but he did. He got forty dollars worth of diesel fuel and paid with another hundred dollar bill. Every move he made was identical to his first visit, right down to the way he scratched his nose before he walked out. Either this guy is rich, owns a lot of trucks, and just moved into town, or something really bizarre was happening. I kept watching.
Every customer for the next hour was the same as before. Every single one. I was seriously freaked out, and then at 6:03, Mrs. Templeton walked back in. She bought her cigarettes and newspaper again, and paid with a twenty again. I thought I was going to lose it. I only watched another half hour before I started fast forwarding through the rest. It was all the same. Every customer would come in at the exact same times, exactly one hour apart.
Now I know what you're thinking. That sneaky motherfucker Jeremy had messed with the tapes. He had run a loop of his first hour of business over and over. That wasn't the case. There are windows around the cash register area that the camera covers, and I watched the sunlight fade as time ran on. Jeremy's routine didn't loop over—he swept, mopped, restocked, and did all his duties exactly how you would expect. But the same customers kept coming in.
I was panicking at this point. Something was seriously wrong with what I was seeing, and I had no explanation for it. I skipped ahead to when he locked up and walked out to his car. He hadn't stolen anything, but I kept watching, just to make sure. I fast forwarded one last time, to about midnight.
At exactly 12:03, out of nowhere, Jeremy's face pops up on camera. I don't mean he moved his head into view, I mean that one second the store was empty, the next second his face was all I could see. He wasn't looking at the camera, he was looking at me, I was sure of it. I screamed and fumbled for the remote. By the time I grabbed it, he was gone, just as soon as he had left. One frame he was there, the next he wasn't. My hands were shaking like crazy, but I popped in another tape. The other indoor camera shows the back area, by the cash register, and I would be able to see how he got up to put his face in the camera like that. I skipped ahead to 12:03, but there was nothing. I would have been able to see him standing on a chair or something on this tape, but he wasn't there. I didn't see him enter the store at all after he left. It's like he wasn't really there. He doesn't know the security code, and no alarms were triggered that night after he locked up.
What I did see, however, was that at 12:03, the motor oil vanished off the shelf. All of it. Same as Jeremy's face, one second it was there and the next it wasn't. I turned that tape off and went to bed, but I didn't get a wink of sleep. My body is exhausted right now, but my mind is racing. That tape was undoubtedly the creepiest, most disturbing thing I've ever seen in my life.
I work in a few hours. My boss asked me to bring the tapes back in and let him know what I found, but really, what the hell am I going to say? Jeremy works the night shift tonight, directly after me, and the plan is for my boss to come in just before I leave and confront him with me (as I'm supposed to be the one who caught him stealing). I have no idea what I'm going to do. I suppose I'll have to show my boss the tapes, but I don't want to watch them with him. I never want to see something like that again. I can't get the image of Jeremy just smiling directly into the camera out of my mind; it was the creepiest look I've ever seen on another human being's face.
Anyway, I'm gonna try again to get some last minute sleep before I have to go in and deal with this. I'll let you guys know what happens...
UPDATE (2:49 PM): Updating from my phone, apologies in advance for errors. My boss just finished watching the last of the tapes. I told him what to expect, but you really can't prepare someone for something like that. He's scared shitless (I still am too) and Jeremy is due to come in at 4. We've got a little over an hour to get our shit together, but neither one of us knows what to say to him. Is he just a fucked up guy who likes to steal motor oil and scare the shit out of people? Or is he something else? I don't know if this is crazy, but does anyone think he could have anything to do with the time loop? My boss said he never noticed anything like that in the other tapes, but the way he popped up in this one made me think he knew I would be watching. It's like he wanted me to see what he could do. Like he was showing off or something. The way he smiled into the camera was like a little kid showing you a sandcastle they just built or something. I don't know, I probably sound crazy. I sure feel the part. I'm going to talk to my boss some more. We have to calm ourselves down and figure out how to handle this. I'll update again tonight, but I have a really bad feeling about how this is going to play out.
UPDATE (4:33 PM): No sign of Jeremy. Tried calling him, but his phone has been disconnected. We're calling the police.
UPDATE (5:33 PM): No sign of Jeremy. Tried calling him, but his phone has been disconnected. We're calling the police.
UPDATE (6:33 PM): No sign of Jeremy. Tried calling him, but his phone has been disconnected. We're calling the police.
UPDATE (7:33 PM): No sign of Jeremy. Tried calling him, but his phone has been disconnected. We're calling the police.
UPDATE (8:33 PM): No sign of Jeremy. Tried calling him, but his phone has been disconnected. We're calling the police.
UPDATE (10:58 PM): Holy shit. Holy shit holy shit holy shit. I just got home and saw my previous updates. Things make less sense now than ever. Here's what I can tell you. I went to work, Jeremy never showed up, my boss and I decided to call the police, as you're well aware. When I picked up the phone to call, though, the sun went out. I shit you not, that's what I thought happened. Apparently I blacked out for exactly five hours, because when I looked at the clock, it was 9:33. I think I got stuck in Jeremy's time loop, and then I snapped out of it at the exact point I blacked out, if that makes sense. But that's when things got really weird.
My boss was right next to me when I blacked out, ready to corroborate my story to the cops. When I came to, the phone was in my hand, but it was dead. Not even a dial tone. My boss was still right there, but he wasn't moving. He was standing up, but frozen. I looked at the clock again, and it wasn't moving. The second hand was stuck on the 12. It was 9:33 exactly. The clock on the register (computer screen) wasn't moving either. My phone was frozen. There was even a customer at the register, waiting for my boss to get him cigarettes. I'm betting that would have been his fifth pack of the day.
I got the fuck out of there. Didn't lock up, didn't turn the lights out, and sorry guys, I didn't grab the security tapes to upload on the internet. Believe me, that was the last thing on my mind. The gas station is on a major highway, and cars were parked all along it, except they weren't parked, they were frozen. The people inside were sitting still as wax statues. I got in my car and prayed that it would start. Thankfully it did.
About halfway home, time started up again. The static from the radio turned into music, like it's supposed to be, and from what I could tell by listening to the host talk in between songs, no one noticed the time freeze, or whatever it was. I was the only one. Well, I'm sure Jeremy noticed as well. I still have no clue where he is or what he's doing. I'm hiding in my room and calling the police again in the morning. I don't know if I ever got through to them before, or if I did, whether they took me seriously. I'm scared for my life at this point. I'll update tomorrow, if I can.
FINAL UPDATE (10:33 AM): I finally fell asleep last night around 4. I have no idea how I did it, I guess exhaustion finally got the best of me. This morning, I woke up to my phone ringing; it was my boss. He'd been calling me since about 6. He woke up when time turned back on last night and immediately called the cops. They came by to see what was wrong and he told them everything. The police around here are all small time guys; they were more concerned with the missing motor oil than anything, but my boss figured he would take it, as long as he had their attention. They decided to go looking for Jeremy.
We keep all our employees' applications on file, and since Jeremy just started working here, his was easy to find. They checked the address on it and headed over to his house. You're not gonna believe what they found.
The address Jeremy listed on his application was an empty lot. Or at least now it is. There used to be a house there, but it burned down in 1993. Being a small town, almost everyone remembers that fire. A family of four used to live there way back when. Rumor has it that they had an estranged son who they never really talked about, but I can't say for sure if that's true. What I can say is true is that after an insurance investigation, the fire was ruled an arson. The entire house was soaked in oil and torched with a Molotov cocktail. The entire family was sleeping when it happened; none of them survived.
They never caught the guy who did it. Rumor has it that when they tried to contact the estranged son, no one could find him.
Anyway, my boss called and told me this, and I freaked out. Then he asked me to come to the gas station. "What are you, crazy?" I said, but he assured me that the cops were there with him. Then he dropped a bomb: the FBI were also in town and they were going to talk to me one way or another, so I might as well come in. It was about 7:15, and I wanted to go back to bed, but I figured I wouldn't be able to sleep much more anyway, so I went down.
Four men in suits greeted me and told me to have a seat. We went over everything two or three times until they got all the details down. I told them about Jeremy, the security tape, last night at work. Everything. Finally, after I finished, one of the agents said, "Oh Christ, we've got another one on our hands." Then they made me sign a bunch of papers saying I wouldn't tell anyone about what happened, so I can't say much more. I might be breaking the law just by posting this.
So now I'm home. I'm not sure what to do with myself. That agent's words when I told him the story are going to haunt me for the rest of my life.
Anyway, I've got to go. I have some errands to run today, and then I have to go in to work to pick up some tapes. My boss and I think this new guy Jeremy (he's a complete creep) is stealing motor oil and I have to watch the security footage to see if I can catch him doing it. I have better things to do, but my boss is paying me overtime, under-the-table, and I'm trying to save up for vacation so I could really use the money. It should be pretty simple; the oil always goes missing right after his shifts. I figure I'll just watch the tapes, catch him in the act, and that will be that.
Have you ever had an experience that suggested someone else was in your house, and just thought “I don’t wanna know” and left it? Sometimes, fear of the unknown just seems like the preferable option than facing a real, concrete danger. Normally it’s nothing, though. One time, the beeper function of my wireless housephone went off, when I was the only one home. It could only be called from the living room. Another time, I swear someone took some change from my desk. They’re all probably just slightly disconcerting tricks of the memory.
But what would you do when something truly suggestive happens? Would you run, or just ignore it, like I did?
Last Monday was a normal day. I got up, brushed my teeth, changed into school clothes… All little parts of my morning ritual. It seemed like it would be another totally un-noteworthy day, until I saw the strings.
There were three or four thick twine strings in my room. They criss-crossed between the walls around my bed, one attached to the door. No way would I have missed them before; I should have tripped over them. They were tied to pins in the walls, which had also not existed before ten seconds ago.
Nobody could have been in my room while I was in it, let alone set this up. It was early, and my brain wasn’t processing correctly. I simply discredited the sight, untied the strings and left for school, leaving them balled up on my desk.
It didn’t get any better later. Outside my house there were hundreds of them, tied between houses, around cars, across streets… This had to be some super elaborate prank. One of those hidden camera shows, or a comedy improv blog. They had gotten everyone else to play along too; passer-bys were tangled in them, tying them to objects they were walking towards and away from, as if they had been and were continuing to follow the course laid out for them.
I nervously continued my journey to school. On the bus, every except me was tied to the door. At school, groups of friends were tied to each other; teachers were tied to their desks and boards. Oddly enough, at this point all I could wonder was why I had been left out.
When my friend Lucy sat beside me in first period, she simply plonked her bag down on my lap and rested her chin in her hand, looking right past me to the window outside.
“Come on, I didn’t expect you to be in on this too. “
She sighed and started taking books from her bag. All the books were tied to her hands. I grinned, and yanked one of the strings off a book. She didn’t seem to notice, instead simply disregarding the book completely, letting it drop to the floor without a moment’s hesitation.
“Um.” I leaned down, picking up her book and placing it back on her desk. She took no notice.
“Well, if that’s how we’re gonna play it.” I smiled, trying to look playful, but really just trying to hide my nervousness. I bundled all the strings attached to her together with one hand, then pulled them all free.
She blinked, turning to stare at me.
“Holy crap, Martin. You’re like a ninja or something.”
“I’ve been sitting here for maybe ten minutes.” I smiled again, relieved my friend had finally “noticed” me.
“Where did all these strings come from??” She gasped, seemingly noticing for the first time.
“I assumed you were all fucking with me…”
She stood up, backing into a corner. No one else in the class noticed.
“They weren’t here just a minute ago! Do you see them too??” Her tone made it clear she was genuinely scared.
“No. Didn’t you-. “ I was interrupted by my teacher slamming the door behind her. Everyone except me and Lucy murmured a good morning, and still, no one seemed to pay either of us any notice.
“People have been ignoring me all day.” I said to Lucy, before turning to our teacher. “Hey! Dumb bitch! You can’t teach for shit!”
“I’m getting away from all this shit.” Lucy pulled a few strings aside and left the class. I followed, and surprise-surprise, no one else noticed.
We wandered the corridors, leaving and entering classes as we saw fit. Whenever we untied a chair or book from someone else, it was like it suddenly didn’t matter to them. It didn’t exist.
I showed her the street outside; there were more strings than when I came in this morning. Twice as many. We carefully picked our way through the tangle, making our way to a nearby coffee shop. Not particularly grand, I know. But what would you do in our situation? As I said, fear of the unknown sometimes seems like the safer option. On a few occasions, I suggested we untie a few more people. Lucy was opposed to it, remembering how terrified she’d been.
In the coffee shop, we grabbed a couple of sandwiches and drinks from the fridge. We found a table, untied all strings attached to the chairs, and sat down. We both ate in silence, both of us too scared, both of us distracting ourselves by watching the strangers in the shop, oblivious to the strings.
After twenty minutes, Lucy spoke up. “Now she’s gonna take that sandwich.” She said, pointing at a woman across the shop. Sure enough, she walked to the fridge and took the plastic wrapped sandwich she was tied to. “She pays for it and leaves.” She did so, according to the prophecies of the strings. “That guy doesn’t intend to pay.” I watched as a man took his coffee and ran out of the store, the two servers just looking too exasperated to go after him.
“This is horrible.” She whimpered. “Let’s go. Please.”
Outside wasn’t much better. Everyone just followed the strings’ instructions, going about their daily lives. Lucy announced she was going home to sleep this off, and I agreed to walk her home. She only lived ten minutes away.
Away from the busier part of town there were fewer strings. It was nicer; we could pretend it wasn’t happening.
When we turned onto Lucy’s street, she stopped, her mouth falling open.
“What now?” I broke the silence, my voice sounding surprisingly small.
”Look.” She pointed outside one of her neighbours houses.
I saw it clearly, and I’ll take my memory of that moment ‘til the day I die. A little dark imp, maybe three feet tall, walking along with its knuckles on the ground, almost like a monkey. It had two bulbous yellow eyes taking up about half its face, and no mouth or any other facial features. It was holding a hammer and a ball of twine, which it was letting out behind it.
It walked quickly and quietly from the front door of the house to the mailbox. It stopped, hammered a nail into the side of the box, and tied it’s string around it. It turned to face us, and stopped when it spotted us.
My bottom fell out even further than it had already been, but it just stared with a look of surprise and curiosity. You could almost say it was the more frightened one. Suddenly, it beckoned to us with its tiny hand.
I looked at Lucy, she hadn’t moved. I looked back at the imp, which stared at me.
I halved the distance between us, and then halved it again. This wasn’t fear of the unknown anymore; it was fear of this little guy. Didn’t seem like anything to be scared of. When I was a meter away from it, it extended its hand.
“Uh. Hi.” I shook it. It nodded in approval, blinking its massive yellow eyes up at me.
“So you’re the ones in charge of the strings?” It nodded eagerly. I called Lucy over, but she stayed where she was.
“There are more of you?” Another nod. I wanted to ask it so many questions, about what it was and where it came from, but it seemed for now I was stuck with only yes or no questions.
“Do we even have free will?”
It just looked at me, almost sadly. I immediately felt sick to my stomach, and couldn’t bear looking at the little monster anymore. I grabbed Lucy, who had been listening to our exchange, and now sat on the curb with her head in her hands.
We entered her house, and I made her a cup of tea. When I found her in the living room, she had untied her dog and was curled up with it, crying. I set the tea down and sat beside her.
“I’m so scared.” She whispered after a good ten minutes of sobbing. I didn’t answer. I couldn’t.
“I’m going to sleep” She mumbled suddenly, and was under within the minute. Sleep was starting to sound pretty good all of a sudden, my eyelids suddenly felt like they were being weighed down.
I collapsed to the rug, and the last thing I heard before I fell asleep was the scurrying of several sets of little feet nearby.
I felt much better the next day, as if the whole affair had been a dream. I’d probably have believed that if I hadn’t been awoken by Lucy’s mother that morning, wondering what I was doing sleeping over without permission or something.
Over breakfast, Lucy asked me why I looked so pale and nervous. I turned to her and smiled, mumbling something to her about feeling sick.
But the truth was, I was scared because I couldn’t see any strings, and was wondering whether my actions were truly my own.
« on: 10:00:44 PM 08/29/16 »
You wake up one day and go into the bathroom.
You wipe the sand from your eyes and look in the mirror.
You notice that your nipples are completely gone.
You run downstairs with tears in your eyes.
You approach the kitchen and see your mom with tears in her eyes.
You see her surrounded by police officers both far and near.
You can see a dead body in the kitchen.
You can make out his face and collapse in a heap.
You know this corpse was the father you seek whom had died last night while you were asleep.
You feel an officer's hand on your shoulder.
You cry harder, not able to cope with this day any longer.
You see the officers take your father away,
You know they may find his killer but who can say?
You sit down with your mother as she begins to explain.
"You were born without nipples and your father was ashamed."
"You would be sleeping in bed and he would come into your room."
"You were given two hickeys every night on your chest."
"You must know that he loved you and only wanted for you to fit in."
I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, here... so if you believe in haunted "Lost Episode" legends and enjoy living in that world, maybe this isn't the post for you.
Don't get me wrong - I hate when people complain about "lack of realism" in entertainment, and I think all kids need to believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy for as long as possible, but... this is different.
Back in the 80s I met this dude, Sid, who used to cut old VHS tapes and shit. It was more than a hobby for him - it was pretty much his entire life. His parents were a bit more wealthy than I'd been blessed with, so when we were teenagers and I was slaving away at a "Skats" (Yes, Skats) fast food restaurant, he just hung out around the house, cutting tapes. All day. All night.
Of course, as you get older things in your past become a bit clearer and I think he might've been borderline Autistic... or maybe he was a very high-functioning person with Asperger's... but of course I'm no expert and I'm not saying that was the case. It's just the best and quickest way I can think of to explain his personality and this obsession with cutting tapes, cutting tapes, cutting tapes.
It started when he saw "Old Yeller" as a little kid. For whatever reason, his parents let him watch that shit. If you're unfamiliar with it, it's the tale of a boy and his dog. I hope I don't have to announce the spoiler on such an old-ass movie, but in the end the boy has to shoot his own dog because it's rabid.
Sid didn't appreciate this. His dad photographed and video-taped weddings, so he showed Sid how to operate some of the machines... and Sid cut out the ending, replacing it with an earlier, happier scene as if Old Yeller just suddenly "got better" offscreen.
He watched the tape obsessively after that, even into his early teens when I'd first met him. He made me watch it once to show how he "fixed" it, and I could actually picture him as a little boy once he started applauding and cheering his own faux-ending.
I don't want to say I was a bad influence, but after I saw it I asked if he could do that with other movies.
My major interest was perhaps taking a film or two and cutting in some nude frames the actresses hadn't really done... Don't worry, though. I never had the guts to actually ask if he would. I just imagined how cool it would be. Often.
Sid told me that, yes, he could "fix" any movie he wanted. In fact, he had done it with a few others. He had a copy of a Ghost Busters cartoon and - I shit you not - every single ghost was completely removed. The story made no sense, there was no continuity, but he had accomplished it and I was very impressed.
I guess in the time of VHS, these things seemed more magical than they do nowadays.
As time went by, I encouraged Sid to edit more movies, but with different purposes. Instead of whitewashing all the scary stuff like he'd wanted to do, I got him to "see the light" on how awesome he could make things.
Somewhere out there, this chubby Star Wars nerd from our highschool has all three original films flawlessly cut together, with edited-in effects that would've made George Lucas himself cry out: "Enough meddling!!"
We charged him like twenty dollars for the only copy, because we were idiots.
Anyway, this went on for a while before I lost most of my interest in it. It was more of a goof for me than it was for him. This is the point where I started working, started driving, started taking bases with local girls... while he just got more and more involved in cutting those tapes.
I think his favorites were cartoons. When The Simpsons came around, he went ape shit with those. Now his edits weren't so much fixing things as just breaking them in interesting ways. Another thing that sticks out in my mind is when he recorded an episode of M*A*S*H and cut it with a gory old war flick. Halfway through his version, the camp gets bombed... soldiers invade... everyone dies. At the end, he specifically worked in freeze-frames of each cast member's face. Eyes closed.
He had completely reversed his interests and embraced what had once terrified him... scary endings. He seemed to love things like long, drawn-out sequences in terrifying silence. He'd make me be quiet while they played, too.
You may have heard about this mysterious fellow named Banksy who goes around creating interesting graffiti and whatnot. At one point, he went into a music store and replaced some Paris Hilton CDs with his own fakes.
Banksy had nothing on Sid. Every other week, he'd tell me about some store or a video rental place he'd snuck some of his tapes into. He swapped out the real ones for his versions, and then he'd start all over by cutting the ones he had stolen.
At one point, when I hadn't heard from him in a long while, I stopped by his parents' house and found him in the garage. He'd set up his own little movie studio there, complete with a drawing board.
He was actually animating entirely new content.
All at once, I was both blown away by his artistic skill I'd never seen before... and very concerned about when this guy was going to come out of the dark and start acting "normal" like me.
He barely looked up from his drawings as we spoke. I asked him what any kid, now in his late teens, would ask...
"What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"Seriously, dude. This is some crazy shit."
"It's work. I'm working. My work is just as important as anyone else's."
"Are you even selling these anymore, or are you just sneaking them into places? How much is all of this costing your Dad?"
"I don't care."
I looked at what he was so fervently illustrating.
"Is that a headless body? Dancing?"
"That's pretty dark, man."
"I know. That's the point."
"I don't get it."
"Those tapes. I thought they were wrong, but over time I figured out the truth."
"The scary stuff is right. The happy endings are the lie."
He just kept drawing as I stood there. The silence was disturbing, and in that moment I could smell the B.O. coming off of him. It wasn't just sweat, either. It was a mingling of that and a foul ass and piss-soaked cloth.
I hate to say it, but I gave up on him right then. It's that moment when you look at someone... someone you thought you knew... and all that you can think is... "Holy shit, I never realized they were this far gone."
It wasn't until I was in my 30s that Sid crossed my mind again. I was pursuing the internet, just aimlessly wandering the web, when I came across a series of "urban legends" about strange VHS tapes, re-cut movies, and lost episodes.
Some of these I recognized. I'd watched them with Sid, or I'd actually seen him in the middle of working on them. Every disturbing scene, every unbelievable anecdote... I believed it, because I had been there.
Others... SpongeBob cartoons, episodes of iCarly or whatever, those shows came long after I'd made my break with Sid, but the style was all too familiar. Even the ones that didn't sound like his work seemed like they could've been broken copies or attempts at mimicing his work.
He was still doing it. My God, it boggled my mind.
I called up Sid's old number, not entirely sure I'd still find him there. It rang for minutes on end, and I knew that the search was hopeless. Even if he still lived with his parents, it wasn't likely they'd all still be at the same house by now.
I made it a point to drive out to his old place... to see if he was still in that garage, cutting tapes, or manipulating them via computer, or whatever he would be up to. When I passed by the house, the unkempt lawn was overgrown with huge, waist-high weeds. The dilapidated facade of the building, with its peeling paint on the shutters, missing roof tiles, and muck-filled gutters told me no one had lived here for a long time.
I saw a note on the door, but couldn't read it from the road. Maybe it was something I could use to locate Sid and see if he'd ever gotten the help I now realized I should have given him.
Pulling into the driveway, my headlights illuminated the garage door. It was windowless and vandalized with the gangster tags of some traveling band of assholes.
The note on the door, as one might expect, spoke of a certain bank now owning the property. It noted that trespassing was heavily discouraged, and that at a certain point someone would be out to make sure the house was "winterized". Whatever the Hell that is.
As I walked back to the car, defeated, something was nagging at me. I knew that Sid's parents kept a spare key under a false rock by the back stairs, basically by virture of Sid locking us both out on several occasions.
When I found that key, a sense of cold, gnawing dread swirled in my stomach.
Who would move out and leave everything in place like this? The key was the most obvious thing, but flower pots and lawn decorations were still there. Sid's old, rusted-out Huffy bike was leaning against the house, and had created thick rusty streaks along the aluminum siding.
I don't even know what I expected to find, but using the key, I entered the house.
The smell was overwhelming.
Not a putrid smell, nothing rotten or decaying... just the smell of... I don't know if this would make any sense to you, but... the smell of electricity. Like burning dust on a lightbulb or a heater giving off a peculiar warmed metal odor.
That was the least of my concerns, however, as I saw everything just as I had left it. Everything Sid's family owned was frozen in time. The dining room table we'd all sat at on many occasions was dust-covered and supported an emiaciated dead rat which had all but turned to dust.
The television... that bulky, oversized television set we'd all sat around to watch Sid's tapes and laud his creativity... it sat where it always had been, silently displaying a violent bombardment of black and white static.
As I moved through the rooms, the sense of panic and discomfort within me only grew. Every fiber of my being was shouting RUN... RUN, you fucking idiot!
Still, I pressed on into Sid's bedroom. It was now empty and in disrepair, his prized action figures and blank video tapes... hundreds of video tapes... stale and water damaged.
I almost wanted to call out... to shout "Sid!" and wait for him to appear as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
I went into his parents' bedroom.
There, lying in bed, were two motionless bodies. Gaunt. Gray. Half turned to dust, just like the rat in the dining room.
I could scarcely believe what I was seeing with my own eyes. Not only were two dead bodies slowly dissipating within the confines of this once idyllic suburban household... but nobody had even checked on them. Nobody had discovered this until now.
My mind raced. My heart raced. The only things that wouldn't move were my feet, which remained glued to the spot.
Sid, I thought, must have done this. There was no way the two of them would just lie down one night and simultaneously DIE of natural causes! Sid had said he didn't care about his parents, and...
When was the last time I had seen them? God, I hadn't seen them for days, maybe weeks BEFORE the last time I talked to Sid...
When I finally left the room, I took out my cell phone and began dialing 911. However, as soon as I lifted it to my head, an ear-splitting shriek of interference nearly caused me to fling the object across the room.
I rushed to the kitchen phone. Squealing static.
I tried the living room phone just to be thorough. Static.
It wasn't until I put the receiver back down that I heard it. Music. Faint, barely audible music that I hadn't noticed before. It seemed to be some repeating melody... happy and light... some flutes, maybe a whole horn section.
I followed the peppy tune to the in-house door to the garage. Pressing my ear to the door's dirty surface, I determined that the music was indeed coming from just beyond.
"Sid?" I called out, barely managing to form the name with cold, bloodless lips, "Sid, are you in there? Are you alright?"
I tried the door only to find it somehow locked from the other side. It was no matter, since one wild kick nearly knocked the rotting wood off its hinges.
"SID?" I shouted as the dust slowly cleared.
Through the haze, I could only see the light of a television screen. Vibrant colors. Blue, green, yellow...
Soon, I could make out a cartoon playing on the screen. Then, the silver wires running from the set itself to some dark mass. Then, the dark mass took shape as my eyes adjusted to the odd lighting.
It was Sid... or rather, his body... not dead nearly as long as his parents, seated in an old office chair. The wires from the television set lead directly to his body, eventually disappearing into several old, crusted-over holes his leathery flesh. Through a small worm-eaten opening in his ribs, I thought I could see more metal inside of him.
I walked to Sid's side, holding my hand over my mouth for fear of vomiting. His face was twisted into a hideous, wide grin... his empty eye sockets almost seemed happy, hooded by a pleased brow line.
"Hi there!" I heard a jarring voice.
The voice was upbeat. High-pitched. It sounded almost like Sid, but... different. Bubbly, cartoony.
I turned to the screen. The green grass, the blue sky, the yellow flowers... and Sid. A perfect caricature of him. It strolled along the infinite loop of that utopian cartoon background.
It waved to me.
"Sid..." I whispered, "Oh God, Sid..."
He... the cartoon version of him... turned his attention away from me and continued to merrily stroll across that unending cycle of the same backdrop. He passed a shrub... then passed it again... and again... The same bluebird, chirping happily, flew through the sky in a figure eight.
"Sid..." I shook my head, unable to comprehend the scenario, "I never should have let you leave reality."
I thought about what Sid had done to his Mom and Dad. I thought about how the bank would come by soon and this would all come to light. I watched Sid walk along for nearly a half hour.
Then I unplugged the set.
C-467 (Code Name: Beats) Audio Entry #9
Can we please talk today Mr. Michaels? It's been 2 months. Please do your best to speak.
Ha Ha. You are just one tough cookie to crack aren't you Mr. Michaels? Very well, I'm going to try something different for you.
Now take a look at this picture. Can you tell me the first thing that comes to mind?
What!? What did you just say!? Knee?
High. Boots and Cats and Boots and Kats and Boots and Knee High. Boots and Knee. Boots and Knees.
Knee High. Boots and Cats and Knee High. Higher! Higher! Hig-AAH!
H3lp! Protocol R3d! $om3one get in here!
Sir! We need to get you out of here. Now.
What! You can't do thi$! Don't you dar3 touch m3!! NO! NO! Get the pati3nt! Do not l3t him br3ak hi-
BOOTS AND CATS AND BOOTS AND KATS AND BOOTS AND KNE-AAAAHHHH!! AHH! AAHHHHH!!
BOAAHHH! ANAHH! CAAAHHH!