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The Man In The Screen[]

Forgive the bad handwriting, it’s never been good. But I wanted to write down what I could remember about what happened in my journal. It was a few days ago when my three friends and I went into the woods to film a video for our YouTube channel..

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“Hey, are we supposed to be out here?” Evan asked as he walked alongside me, video camera in one hand and his cane in the other. I shrugged, casting him a glance. Evan was a tall, dorky seventeen-year-old with mousy brown hair and bright green eyes. He always had some sort of bandaid somewhere on his face because he was always getting hurt on things and it wasn’t uncommon for him to have to leave early because he got hurt by something. He was a worry-wart, too, so his questioning didn’t surprise me in the least.

“I mean, dad’s out hunting tonight so I’m not technically supposed to be out, but what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him, yeah?” I asked, giving Evan a half-grin before looking back at June instead. “You got the flashlights, right?” I asked, to which she nodded, taking one out of her backpack to show me before putting it back. June was a short girl with equally short coily hair dyed bright pink and dark, freckled skin. Despite the color of her hair, her clothes were always black and she always had heavy makeup on. In her words “go big or go home” which was fair.

I looked over to my third friend, Ivy, who was ginger with hair pulled back into space buns and dark brown eyes. They were one of my oldest friends and we even had similar clothing styles; band tees and ripped jeans with wallet chains and button-up shirts. It wasn’t really an original style, but we liked it and that’s all that mattered.

“Do you have the audios and shit?” I asked them, hopping over a root sticking up from the ground. Ivy’s response was to play one of the audio recordings on his recorder which was an unsettling monstrous noise like growling mixed with static screaming. I jumped a bit at it, but otherwise wasn’t phased, instead chuckling and nudging them with my elbow. “Awesome, we’re good then,” I mused, then sped up a bit to take the lead through the forest, looking around for a good spot to set up.

After a bit of time walking, I slowed to a stop and put my hands on my hips, turning my head to look around while I did. “This looks like a good place, yeah?” I asked, looking back at my group of friends and blinking when I saw Evan with Ivy in a headlock ruffling their hair.

“This one here tried to take the camera,” Evan elaborated, noticing I had looked over.

“You two quit your fighting and c’mon, we’ve got a show to film,” June reminded with an elbow nudge to Evan’s arm. Evan grumbled in protest but did release Ivy, adjusting his grip on his cane right after and readying the camera.

“We ready to do this, then?” He asked, looking around at everyone for a moment. When he got confirmation from all of us that we were, in fact, ready, he lifted up the camera and instructed us to get in our places. At the instruction I turned and ran off into the woods to get ready, picking a spot and slowing to a stop before crouching down and swinging my backpack off my back. I set it on the ground and unzipped it, taking out my mask before putting it on and zipping back up my bag. My mask was one of those stereotypical zombie masks that I DIYed to look more realistic and creepy. Now to just put on a compelling performance.

I stood back up and left my backpack on the ground, looking back in the direction I’d come before pausing when I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. I quickly snapped my head over in the direction of whatever I’d seen but all I saw were trees and bushes. The sun was setting so light tricks weren’t all that surprising. So, I shrugged it off and looked ahead again, waiting for my cue. Then, I heard it, the voices of my friends headed my way talking back and forth about what they were doing here with the occasional sound from the recorder. That was my cue.

I took a deep breath and then stepped out from behind the tree, slowly dragging myself in the direction of my friends, making disgusting noises with my mouth as I went. I heard June scream this admittedly not very convincing scream as I came towards the three of them and I had to hold back a snicker, trying to focus on being a scary zombie ghost-like I was supposed to.

“Cut! Cut, jeez guys, c’mon, put a little effort into it,” Evan spoke up, squinting at all of us in disappointed judgment. I paused, then reached up and pulled off my mask. “I thought I was pretty convincing,” I muttered in my defense.

“Yeah, me too,” Ivy piped up with a huff. The three of us bickered back and forth for a minute about things, not realizing June had gotten distracted by something nearby, and wandered off until a few minutes later when we heard her call out for us.

“Hey, guys! Come look at this!” She called and I paused my arguing, instead looking over to the left where I heard June at. I looked back at the other two and shrugged before turning and jogging over in June’s direction, slowing to a stop once I got there. June was standing by a large tree with one of the flashlights in hand, pointing it at what looked like an old box TV that the tree had ground around and suspended in the air like an odd TV stand.

“Woah,” I heard Ivy say from somewhere behind me, coming to a stop as well. “What’s an old TV like that doing in a tree?” They questioned, to which June and I both just shrugged.

“Dunno. But I say we see if it works,” Evan hummed,

“Works?” I repeated, “it’s a TV in the middle of the woods in a tree, it’s not gonna ‘work’,” I pointed out with a scoff, crossing my arms. But, then again, wouldn’t that make for a great recording.. “Y’know what? Get the recorder out,” I told Evan as I uncrossed my arms and cracked my knuckles, “I’m gonna try that TV and if shit happens I want that on film and ready to be posted,”

I slowly walked over to the TV once Evan had the camera out and gave me the signal to start. I reached out towards the button to turn it on, hesitating a moment.

“Just do it already!” Ivy exclaimed, to which I squinted, but listened, pressing the button on the TV and immediately stumbling back in surprise when the TV switched on to a static-filled screen. It wasn’t much, but it was definitely enough to raise confusion between us all, Evan nearly dropping the camera in surprise.

“Woah-shit it actually turned on,” he blinked, not expecting that in the least,I assumed. Then again, this was the perfect setup for something paranormal and way better than our original video idea. It didn’t take long for me to grin and step towards the TV, though June grabbed my arm and shook her head.

“Don’t, it could be haunted or something,” she muttered, eyeing the TV with suspicion and caution. I shrugged this off, though. If it was haunted then so be it, I was curious. So, I walked fully back over and reached out for the channel dial, slowly gripping and turning it and I watched as the TV changed the channel to something different. It was a channel-not-found screen now, except there in the middle superimposed onto the TV was the greyscale face of an adult man in a tophat.

I paused and took a step back, not liking the look on that face. I didn’t like it even more when a then face started moving, started pushing itself through the TV, the screen bending to the man’s facial features as he began to force his way out. That’s when I dropped my mask and stumbled back a good few feet, then just turned and ran for it, Evan and June not far behind. Evan and June..

“Where’s Ivy-?” I suddenly asked, looking behind me to see if I could see them anywhere but to no such luck.

“I don’t know, they were right behind us!” June exclaimed, her breathing quick and unsettled. She was scared, we all were.

I frowned and looked ahead, though immediately snapped my head back to look when I heard the sound of shattering glass, and there I saw him, the man from the TV. He stood tall, tall as the smaller trees as he chased after us, his grey pinstripe suit looking worn and torn and his impossibly long limbs swayed side to side as he walked, glitching in and out of existence and dragging on the ground as he walked, blank, empty sockets where his eyes should be and his skin was paper white. As he chased us he didn’t bother to run, it was as if he knew he’d catch us, in the end, either way.

I was torn from my thoughts on the man when June tripped and fell, her ankle twisted in a horribly uncomfortable way around an outstretched root and she shrieked in pain, frantically pushing herself up and yanking her ankle free from the root, trying but failing to stand on it and only wound up falling back down when she tried to get up.

I debated turning back to get her, but I didn’t, I was too scared of that thing chasing after us so I turned away and kept running with a muttered apology, Evan running along with me, cane in hand and we both ignored her screams for us to come back as well as we could until there was this sickening, cracking noise, then silence. June was gone, we didn’t need to look back to know that much.

Evan and I kept running through the woods as fast as we could and eventually, I spotted something, my dad’s hunting cabin,

“Evan!” I quickly said, pointing the cabin out to him as I spoke before veering left to go right towards it. It didn’t take the two of us to get there and I quickly skidded to a stop at the door, frantically fishing the key out from under the mat before standing and unlocking the door, pulling Evan in with me before slamming it shut and locking it back up.

I took a few deep, shaky breaths before looking back at Evan and frowning. “June-”

“I know,” he cut me off. I could see he was visibly shaking and his face looked paler than usual. Slowly, I nodded and just went silent for a moment. “This is your fault, you know,” Evan spoke up again after a moment, and I paused.

“How?” I questioned, furrowing my brows.

“This whole thing was your idea; coming out to the woods, trying to film that stupid video-this is your fault,” Evan muttered, furrowing his brows and sitting down on the floor. I was.. I was at a loss for words.

“None of us could’ve known this would happen, this isn’t any of our faults!” I exclaimed, throwing my hands in the air in frustration before letting them fall back to my sides. This was bullshit, I couldn’t have possibly known some man in a hat and shit would come killing us. Complete bullshit.

“Yeah, whatever,” Evan muttered, then turned away from me and hugged his knees to his chest, hiding his face in his knees right after.

I decided to look through the cabin to see if there was any food left in the kitchen and cool off a bit, still very much pissed about what Evan said to me. The audacity! I entered the kitchen and looked around for a moment before heading over to the pantry and opening it up, looking through it right after. All I found was a box of saltines but that was better than nothing. So, I took the box and opened it up, taking out a cracker and trying it. Kind of stale, but it worked.

I headed back into the living room a moment later and froze, dropping the box on the floor and staring wide-eyed at the scene in front of me. There on the floor was Evan, now laying on his back where he’d previously been sitting except his entire stomach and chest had been ripped open, his rips spread out and his organs were strewn about around him in a mess of blood and gore.

I felt sick, dropping to my knees and covering my mouth with a hand before quickly having to move it to throw up the crackers I’d only just eaten, panicked sobs escaping my mouth. This couldn’t be happening this couldn’t be happening this couldn’t-my thoughts were cut off by the sound of dragging and I lifted my head, looking over into the living room where I could now see the TV man dragging himself out from the living room TV, those limbs falling to the floor with a thump and my face paled. This was it, I thought. This was the end.

He slowly made his way towards me, body swaying side to side as he walked and his hat sat lopsided on his head. He came to a stop directly in front of me and lowered himself down to my height, staring at me with those cold, empty sockets. He then opened his mouth, slowly, the skin of his cheeks slowly ripping open as his mouth kept opening further and further, rows of razor-sharp teeth now visible and I nearly threw up again at the sight of all the blood in his mouth, but I couldn’t bring myself to move. I was frozen in place with terror at the very sight of the man.

A gunshot rang out through the house and the TV man let out this horrid shriek of pain, triggering me to finally move I scrambled back away from him, my back hitting the kitchen counter as another shot from the shotgun rang out, the bullet piercing the TV man’s body and ripping through it as if he were made of ash and that bullet instead went straight through my shoulder. I think I screamed, I don’t quite remember, it was all too fuzzy, but the next thing I knew I could see my dad and Ivy through my tear-filled vision standing behind the TV man, my dad standing there with his shotgun raised and ready to fire again the second the TV man moved. And move he did, rushing at my dad with astonishing speed, then another shot rang out, then silence.

Everything from this point on was fuzzy, but I can remember my dad running over to me and pulling me close to him as he examined my wounds. I remember Ivy puking at the sight of Evan in the living room, and I remember being picked up and carried out of the building, but that was it. I think I must’ve passed out at some point because the next thing I knew I was in my dad’s truck being driven to the hospital with Ivy sitting beside me holding me close and keeping my arm elevated, probably under my dad’s instruction, I assumed. He’d skipped the lecture about being in the woods, I assumed he was just glad I was alive, unlike my friends.. I wonder if he found June, and I wonder if she was in as bad a state as Evan was. I hoped she got spared that. The next few days went by in a blur, lots of time in the hospital, several visits by police officers, and even at one point my dad was suspected of being the one who did all the killing, but there was inconclusive evidence on that so charges never stuck. Me, my dad, and Ivy will remain the only ones who truly knew what happened then. It wasn’t until I was released from the hospital days later that I finally sat down and wrote all of this down in my journal. And that brings us to now, where I sit in my room at home writing down everything I can remember about what happened. I don’t know how much is legible, but this is the story of what happened.




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