I am the type of person to scavenge for any junk or item I happen to find while roaming in this life, so I knew right away when I spotted those VCR tapes, I didn’t hesitate to wrap my hands around them. The saying even goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” You may never know what types of gold might be lying around your neighborhood or city.
I discovered the VCR types a couple of minutes after I left the diner. My friend, Joan, wished for me to accompany her for a lunch meal down at the Coach House near her home in Jersey City. I accepted her invitation, seeing how I lived nearby in Union City, and since she offered to pay for half of my meal. We ate, chatted, and laughed throughout the entire time, and by the end of it we went our separate ways.
As I departed from the restaurant, I gazed up at the long, steep, and momentous hill I had to walk all the way up in order to get home. I began my onerous ascent with a slouch back, and exhausted eyelids. That Sunday I spent most of the morning organizing and completing every single chore I needed to do. I looked forward to just an afternoon of relaxation and Netflix, but then Joan called, and it doesn’t kill to waste time on a cute girl like her. I thought of bringing her over afterwards for some chips and beer, but even then I felt too tired for any sexual business. Besides, she made for a really great friend.
My mind floated a millions miles away as I climbed up that hill, but somehow I managed to notice the transparent rectangular case sitting near an apartment building. The object laid next to a set of steps, and I hauled to a stop with curiosity.
I first glanced around to see if anyone stood near, but not a single soul remained close to where I was. I approached the steps tentatively, and immediately investigated whatever thing the box may be.
I opened it only to discover two VCR tapes placed right inside the clear case. They almost slipped off my hands, but I caught them before they could crumble below. The two VCR cassettes contained writing on the front part of the tape. One of them read, “Stages One & Two.” The other one said, “Stage Three.”
Excitement took hold of me the minute I grabbed hold of those tapes. Whatever content was inside the tape, it sounded interesting and worth watching. I pondered whether or not the titles were just names of some TV show or episodes of a TV show in which I never heard about, but seeing how vague and subtle the title was, I ignored whatever doubt my mind assumed.
Knowing, however, how utterly weird and perverted some folks may be, I contemplated whether or not I should bring them home. I didn’t want to return home, plop in the VCR tape, expect something epic and wonderful, but instead witness some amateur pornography filmed by some college student inside his friend’s dorm with some skank. After all, “Stage One & Two” sparked numerous suggestions as to what it may be, and only further gave me an incentive to see what the videos were about.
I enclosed the tapes back into their light case, and stomped up that arduous hill with profound motivation to reach my house as quickly as I could. As I extended up, I eyed the bus that I needed to take in order to get home. I rushed to cross the street—thankfully it was a red light—and made it in time to the bus stop. The bus pressed its break to pick me up, and once inside I allowed my mind to ruminate on and on about what mystery awaits me inside those videos.
I arrived home fifteen minutes later, and immediately stormed into my basement. I dropped off my jacket and the VCR tapes near the living room, and sprinted down my house’s stairs to reach the bottom part of my home. A brisk of cold and piercing air hit me as I went downstairs, and I regretted not bringing my jacket. I had forgotten how cold it can be in my basement.
I couldn’t remember the last time I used my VCR player. The only few memories I maintain with it involves me, as a child, drooling over SpongeBob and Goosebumps for extended hours of all the content I recorded the previous night. My parents lent me the VCR once I moved out after high school, and ever since then it had been stored inside my basement God knows where. It most likely remained inside one of the moving packages from the time I inhabited my house two years ago.
My prediction proved correct, and I discovered the VCR player inside a single large brown cardboard box along with other items I hadn’t bother to recover. As I retrieved the VCR player, a cloud of dust manifested in the air. I coughed at the accumulating powder, and waved it away with a frantic hand. The heavy and large black recorder was buried beneath piles of ancient toys from my childhood, old CD and vinyl records my dad gifted me with, and some notebooks from back in the day as an elementary student.
I brushed off all the dust settled on the VCR player as I walked back upstairs, my patience depleting the more avid I became. Entering my room, I pushed away a ton of garbage on top of my TV, and set the VCR player on top. I connected all the necessary wires and plugs, and afterwards tested to see if everything functioned correctly. Once I assured myself everything operated properly, I dashed back to the living room to pick up the VCR tapes.
While I was there, I also snatched some tortilla chips to better enjoy whatever film I was about to play. I hurried back to my room with some of the chips falling off on the floor. I told myself I would just pick them up later, being the slob I am.
Once I returned back to my room, I inserted the VCR tapes inside the rectangular opening in the front, waited for it to adjust itself inside whatever mechanisms tweaked inside, and pressed play. I made sure to turn off the lights, and to close the windows so no noise slipped inside. I fell back on my bed with the bag of chips around my arm, and prepared for whatever entertainment awaited me.
Only a black screen reflected back at me. I laid there with ambiguity, debating whether or not I should wait or check out if anything went wrong. The darkening TV screen flickered occasionally with white stripes and shaking colors, the way most old and worn out VCR tapes tended to do. A tenuous and faint clicking sound escaped from the TV’s speakers, which left me perplexed, as if the video was just a hollow screen with nothing more to it. Laying on my bed, isolated from the rest of the outside world, some silenced but uncontrollable fear rose inside me. A mixture of confusion and trepidation bundled inside my constant thoughts, and I didn’t know how to react.
Finally something materialized on the screen. The TV continued to fuzz, but the words mitigated my dismay. They stated the opening title of the first tape I decided to play, “Stage One & Two.” The words lingered on for a couple of seconds, but disappeared along with the broken black background. It now seemed as if my TV shut off by itself, and I came close to ejecting the VCR tape, placing it back in its case, and just throwing it out in the streets where I found it. But the movie snarled at my attention once more when a figure appeared on my small TV screen.
A man stood inside an enlarged room painted white. The insipid room contained no such decoration or embellishment in order to make it more attractive, but only served to centralize the distinguishable old man. He wore a large and overshadowing trench coat, coating him with not only warmth but a sense of apprehension. The buttons and zipper on his outerwear extended all the way up to the center of his chin. Little cotton balls covered some areas of the black coloring, but other than some minor imperfections, I greatly approved of its style. The trench coat reached all the way down to his shins, so I couldn’t really decipher the types of pants he wore. It looked like just regular formal pants you put on for a wedding. Fat, leathery boots protected his feet.
The person rose a fist near his lips, and cleared his throat. I also found the fedora sitting on top of his head very stylish. It covered most of his face with shade, which further bewildered me about what exactly I was watching. But still it fascinated me nonetheless. Parts of his face revealed itself, and I was able to point out that this was an old man. His chubby cheeks sagged with a plethora of lines and wrinkles underlying his facial features, and a series of moles gathered below his eyes. Some of his snow-white hair spilled down from his hat, and snuggled against his narrowing eyes.
“Hello there,” the man growled. His voice contained a roughness only an old man can produce. It sounded brusque, and his tone seemed rather contemptuous. “If you so happen to find this tape, and are currently watching it, I suggest you stop right now. Unless, of course, you want to dive into the depths of an adventure. But do not be a fool. This is not your typical expedition.” Each time the old man talked his corpulent cheeks would flap. This amused me, somehow. “This is an experience like no other,” the man continued. “You will be running into the roads and trails of true terror and horror. If you wish to join me in this adventure, all of your true fears and traumatizing memories will be extracted from your psyche, and will be displayed in the motive to haunt your very feeble mind. This is a psychological roller-coaster in which there is no returning back. You will be entering what I like to call one of the stages of horror. This is Stage One: Gruesome.
“Put this video away, and drop it off wherever you found it if you do not wish to join me in this adventure. But if you are the rare bunch who actually have the audacity and temerity to dive into such a doleful world, then come join me.” The old man levitated his right arm, and extended his fingers right on the lens of the camera. I saw in perfect detail every inch of his age just by glaring at his wrinkled and dried palm. His fingers roughened near the very tips, and his yellow nails protruded out from his fingers.
“Place your hand on your TV,” the man commanded. “Do not worry, I will not scare you, yet. But in order to join me you must do this. We must be in perfect sync to experience Stage One. Are you willing to dare?”
I couldn’t help but to snort and chuckle at his overly histrionic invitation. “Just what the hell am I watching?” I blared out to myself as I munched on some chips, and tried to control myself from crying of laughter.
The old man kept his squinting eyes locked on me, and his hand remained aiming right at my direction. This caused me to ease down, and to take this surreal situation a bit more seriously. I just couldn’t turn away from his beaming and enervating eyes studying my every move and tendency.
Was I willing to dare?
Without a second thought, I slithered out of my bed. My legs moved forwards automatically, and as much as I resisted, I couldn’t stop myself but to be so lured onto my TV screen. Even when I restrained myself from advancing, my body evaded whatever authority I placed on it. But a part of me wanted to be flattered and persuaded by the old man’s solemn gratitude and bizarre welcoming. The context in his words cast a spell on me to interrogate myself if I really sustained the guts to accept and face whatever fears roam inside my heart and soul. But better yet, his speech planted a seed on my head that blossomed with profound motivation to step up to any obstacle or examination, no matter how futile my attempts may be.
Was I willing to dare?
At this point I denied any evidence that proclaimed this video to be spurious or some obnoxious prank. I took my time stepping towards the TV screen, pacing my steps with precise coordination to make sure nothing, anything, assaulted me. The man just waited there for me to merge with him, appearing frozen in time and space. The TV still flashed bits of black and white dots, and also I heard a distinctive and harsh breathing coming right from the screen’s speakers. All of this proved that the video wasn’t on pause, and that a real old man awaited me to barge into his side of the world.
Was I willing to dare?
I stood only inches away from my TV screen. The heat from the box insulated out, and scraped my skin with an electrical touch. Without even realizing it, my arm gingerly rose towards the monitor. My nerves rattled the closer my hand reached towards the projector. At this point even my instincts seemed useless, since my head couldn’t unravel on what to do in this ambivalent situation. A part of me desired—lustfully, I should add—for this new experience. But another part of me, the more logical part, whispered the spiteful land I was about to enter inside.
Was I willing to dare?
My fingers touched the TV screen. My skin felt nothing but plastic, glass, and heat coming from the monitor. I realized then how relieved I was that none of it was true, and that my imagination took the better of me. It seemed impossible for any such thing to exist.
But then, I felt skin. Oily, shriveled, and moist fingers.
In retrospect, I wished I never dared myself.
A hopeless, faint yelp escaped my lips, but ceased to an end once the old man gripped my forearm with formidable strength. With unnatural power, the hand pulled me inside my freaking TV screen. I collided with the monitor, and sort of fused with it. I must have traveled through some vortex or worm hole, but I had no clue what exactly went on. The old man dragged me from my safe, protected, and recognizable world to his destructive, dangerous, and foreign realm.
Everything happened too fast for me to comprehend. I landed on the same exact white surface that the old man stood on. My knees and elbows ground against the solid floor, and I tumbled and rolled around for a few seconds. My head felt dizzy, and some strange weight carried in my stomach. I shook my head in order to assuage the migraine forming, and picked myself up from the floor.
The old man left me stranded in some tasteless and unknowable world. The white mass and illumination stretched all the way far beyond my sight can reach. I gasped at the awesome vision. I checked every corner to try to search for any exit or passageway that could lead me to out of here, but everything appeared the same. The room felt mildly warm, so I remained just fine with my white T-shirt and black sweatpants.
A screeching sound exploded inside my ear. I winced at the sudden jolt of shock shot straight on my earholes, and went to cover them in order to block out the noise. But I soon discovered that the eerie sound originated from inside me. A voice, not my own, spoke to me from inside my head.
“So, you decided to join me, eh?” I listened closely to the old man’s words. Each syllable echoed inside my brain. “You’re one of the few bold ones who actually chose to accept my invitation. I don’t know whether to think of you as the guy with the most balls, or a fool for entering this demented world. Anyways, the decision has been final. There’s no going back. Prepare yourself mentally, because Stage One is about to sequence in exactly one minute. Can your stomach handle the fear? Let’s see how much you can endure Gruesome.”
“Just what the hell are you talking about?” I shouted, but received no response. The voice ringing inside my mind trailed off somewhere in the distant. It left me alone in this enigmatic universe.
Hysteria tangled its panicking and anxious ropes around me. All the air left my lungs as I hyperventilated, and I felt as if the walls surrounding me began to close me in. My mind failed to ponder about a solution, and this made me even more nervous and distress.
Each second that ticked by only made the situation worse. I sprinted off to one direction, not being able to surmise a proper plan. I kept repeating to myself that the room couldn’t be infinite. If I ran long enough, I would discover some corridor or area where I can exit. But convincing myself proved harder than expected, and the more I ran into nothingness, the more hopeless I grew. My heart bulged against my chest with the constant lugubrious thought of being trapped here forever.
None of it made sense to me. I kept trying to interpret or understand exactly what the hell went on. I mean, what was the possibility that someone—from my fucking television!—managed to transfer me into this unworldly place. I tried to decipher the science or reality of my unfortunate circumstances, but nothing—not a single idea or spark—came to light. I resolved to the fact that either I was going completely insane, or that this supernatural realm actually existed.
But it couldn’t have been the former. I still held tightly to my sanity, and I knew it still stayed intact with my conscious. Rational decisions and common sense still fluxed inside my brain and thoughts. The only surreal thing happened to be my location, and the trouble I stumbled upon.
I developed a sense, however, that my sanity was about to loosen up on me.
The entire room went dark. A nebula of shadows and darkness washed over me, and clouded the entire setting with immoral nothingness. Even the air seemed drained away of all its life and vitality. A part of me believed that the old man removed my sight, and left me blind inside the still pitch-white area. I strolled around the room with my arms stretched out, trying to maneuver through the darkness with heightened intuition. I depended more on my other senses to guide me through this labyrinth of depression.
A light, however, eventually shone to life a couple of feet away from my position. It cast down on the surface like a spotlight, and I watched closely as I discovered a figure laying down on the cool floor. Her legs and arms sprawled out from her naked body in a lascivious pose, and she shivered lightly with the touch of a piercing wind. She hoisted herself off from the floor, and knelt down while gazing above at the light with luminous eyes. I slid closer to her position, intrigued by her sudden magical appearance in this melancholy world, to get a closer look at her.
I retreaded back once I caught sight of her leathery skin. She began clawing at her tan and rubbery face with her rusty nails. I watched how blood drooled out from the wounds she created, and how they dripped to her swollen lips. She licked her cheeks and nails with a long and black tongue caked with puffy flesh and a thick, purple slime. The hairs on my arms and neck stood straight and shook with a twitch at the sudden turn of events.
The woman vomited. The flushing liquid pumped out from her mouth, and hailed down on her, hitting her wrinkled face and bare body. The puke appeared moist and compressed like oatmeal, and I gazed how the excess amount of waste flooded and stamped the entire floor. More and more of the chunky throw-up sprouted out from her curled and agonizing mouth, and as this process continued, she moaned with either pleasure or pain. I couldn’t tell which.
I nearly gagged at the disgusting sight. I went to turn the other way in order to avoid any more of the foul scene unwinding itself, but the flare of another spotlight took hold of my attention. I turned towards the direction of the brightened area, and my body tensed at the sight of a man limping near me. A giant gash sliced through his entire stomach. The lip of the laceration already formed a crusty scab, but still most of the wound appeared fresh. The man held his guts as he maundered towards my direction. He kept of drifting left and right in an intoxicated pattern, maintain zero balance.
Organs spilled out from the open cut. The intestines and blood that dropped from his abdomen almost caused the man to slip and fall on his feet. A mighty groaned left his lips at the realization of his body falling apart and collapsing. The more I witnessed this man trying to recollect his fallen internal organs, the more this rising sensation in my own stomach intensified. My insides pounded and turned with this nauseating feeling, and I came close to passing out. In fact I prayed and begged to be knocked out in order to further escape from this hell I trapped myself in.
But then something took hold of my forearm. I felt the sudden touch of something elastic and buoyant.
I turned my head only to meet eye to eye with the woman painted and damped with her own vomit. I yelled in astonishment. Her beaming, rounded blue eyes stared me down until I wetted myself by her daunting appearance. A grin crept up her face, displaying her rotten and disintegrating teeth. She hissed at my face, and I smelt the loathsome and foul smell of her breath. The puke from her hand stuck to my own skin, and the heavy liquid began multiplying itself right on the surface of my forearm. It rooted its sticky and gooey spit on my hairs, flesh, and muscle. I tried to pull away from her hardened grip, but she locked her other hand on my right forearm this time.
She kicked both of my heels with insolent force, and we both staggered down on the floor. My back impacted below with a bone-breaking blow, which caused all the air inside my lungs to disappear without a trace to follow. The vomit continued to mummify my entire body. It infested my neck and chest, and began closing in around my thighs. The woman wrapped her legs around my stomach, and remained there with her salacious figure curving itself unnaturally. From behind I listened to the torn-apart man reeling closer to our position.
I rattled my body in order to free myself from this imprisonment, but the puke casted my joints to the point where I became crippled. It felt as if quick-sand blanketed my entire being, and enclosed me in a coffin tightened by a sea of crushing weight. The woman gingerly lowered her head towards my face, her eyes glowing with a pure and inducing light. I restrained myself from finding any entertainment at this frightening nightmare, but something about her almost aroused me.
I snapped out of her hypnosis the moment I shut my eyes. I wouldn’t allow such a possessive and disfigured person to seduce me in the last moments of my life. I once fear the darkness that smuggled around me minutes before, but at that moment I pleaded for it to return and to emancipate me from this chamber of doom. My skin tingled at the heat that radiated off from the woman’s dissolving flesh, indicating that her face remained only centimeters away from my own. The man with the ruined stomach snapped the air with his roar of torture. I wanted to release my own scream of discomfort, but feared for the inevitable fact that the vomit may enter my insides.
Suddenly a pair of lips smudged against my own, and at this random action, my eyes bolted wide and awake with newfound madness. The woman planted her corpulent mouth on top of my own, and edge her tongue at the center of my lips. She tried to drill her acidic tongue inside my gums and teeth, but I resisted for such a thing to occur. She proved stubborn, however, and continued to plow her mouth deeper and deeper into my lips. I sustained there as silent as an insect, but deep inside my soul coughed and yelled a wretched and horrified scream.
Her tongue eventually penetrated deep inside my mouth, and it twirled inside in order to make itself at home. She kissed and suffocated me with her enlarged lips. Tears washed my face as I endured the torment this woman rendered. The puke reached my face, and progressed to crunch on my skull and flesh. I felt every fiber on my face being pinched and twisted by the vomit, until eventually the pain became unbearable. Even the stench rose to a point where my insides couldn’t handle the foulness of it, and I plunged my own puke coming straight from my stomach. But since the woman’s lips clamped my mouth shut, barricading my lips, the vomit had no way of exiting my body. So instead a wave of throw up swirled inside my throat, and drowned me with its stinging and acidic touch.
My life slipped away from me, and I felt a weakness take hostage of my conscious. Soon an overpowering light aimed right at my eyes. All the agony subsided, but what remained with me was the gruesome vision of the woman and the man chasing after me. I knew I would never escape from their demanding hands.
I woke up from the nightmare.
My heart pounded against my body at rapid speed. My limbs and face trembled at the afterimages of what I just experienced.
“What the fuck just happened?” I repeated to myself over and over again. Never had a nightmare seemed so real like the one I just went through. Everything, from the fearsome apparitions dying, bleeding, and decaying away, to the sensation of the vomit trapping me inside its coffin, appeared close to reality. I tapped my face, arms, and stomach in order to reassure myself that not a single trace of puke stayed attached to my body. None remained, fortunately.
“Where am I?” I asked out loud, but found it an idiotic question to say. Not a single soul seemed within range. The moment I first opened my eyes, I assumed that I was laying on top of my bed, and that I had just woken up from some crazy dream. I altered my suggestion, however, the moment I noticed how mushy and cold the area I laid on felt. A warping and stacking darkness ascended up and all around me, just how my room did so as well, but the only difference was the fact that a window of light poured down all the way above. It enlightened a small percentage of my surroundings, and crossed my face and body with a straight and yellow light.
I tried to extend my arms farther in order to stretch, but they stopped due to two factors: The walls stayed so close to where I laid, and someone took the time to tie ropes around my hands and feet.
I began to truly panic at this point.
The rope restricted me from doing much movement. It allowed me to just slightly sit up on my behind, but the price to pay resulted in my wrists being scorched and pulled back. The person who dug me here buried the rope deep inside the roots of whatever area I laid on.
I felt and rolled against the setting I remained in, and found it to be too compacted, leaving absolutely no space for comfort. The ground and walls felt really moist and soft, almost like dirt…
“Oh fucking no,” I murmured. With my index finger and toes, I measured my setting in order to guess the exact perimeter of where I fell asleep on. It seemed as if the length of the walls stretched all the way to six and a half feet, barely leaving me enough space to move through. The top and bottom part of my grave only reached around four feet. This left me with an area of twenty-six feet to struggle around in. But this also concluded to the abysmal fact of something much, much worse.
Someone buried me inside a hole in the earth.
How deep the hole, I couldn’t say yet. The light illuminating above suggested that the person, whoever it may be, dropped me down pretty far. I still managed to see the diminutive specks of clouds and sky floating above, but the possibility of me clawing and climbing my way out of here equaled to a low chance of that happening, and that included if I managed to untie the ropes. Also the dirt felt too damped and slippery for me to withstand a proper grasp on.
I had no recollection of what circumstances led me to such a turmoil as dangerous as someone burying me down this steep hole. When I tried to think back of what events occurred before I ended up here, a blank image produced in my mind. The only vivid and dwelling picture that comes to play in all of this was the roller-coaster of a nightmare I rode through. I strained my damn head just to fit the puzzle pieces in this entire plot, but it felt as if my brain malfunctioned just trying to think of something.
A shadow emerged above. I squinted up, cupping the top part of my face to protect my eyes from the sun. I recognize the person standing all the way on top where the surface remained.
“Mom!” I shouted, the relief and contentment obvious in my shaky voice. “Mom I’m down here! Help!”
Her eyes gazed around her openings, but then locked down below with austerity. My mother’s stern and contempt face caused me to retreat back with horror striking my bones and flesh. I thought that she found me disappointing for ending up in such a dumb and outrageous situation, since I know my mother to be someone who always scorned me for my misbehavior. But the look she delivered made my insides shake and shiver at how cold her eyes aimed at me.
She bended down for a quick second, and retrieved something from the ground next to her. I focused my eyes on her exact position to see what she picked up. I only glimpsed at the large silhouette of what her palms and fingers took hold of, but the image said enough to convince me that my life was deemed over.
I saw a shovel. A huge, taunting shovel.
“Mom!” I yelled, this time with frustration in my tone. “Mom what are you doing? Help me, please! Can you hear me? Jesus Christ, mom, just what the hell do you think you’re doing?”
My futile words echoed and lingered on where I laid, but it barely effected my mother from her position. She dug the shovel deep inside the earth above, and swung up a chunk of dirt and soil all mixed in together with leaves and flowers.
"Mom please, NO!” I shrieked. “Don’t do this to me! Why can’t you hear me? Mom, please, don’t betray me! It’s me, your son, Thomas! It’s Thomas, mom, hey! Mommy… Holy shit mom just listen to me, please! Why can’t you fucking hear me? Mom! (Mom, wait!)”
Her face remained apathetic despite my protest, which caused the final nail in my coffin to be hammered in. My heart ached with the thought and reality of my mother stabbing my back with such cruelty. My mother, the person who I always thought would never commit such an atrocity, and who I always trusted with my life and secrets. My mother, who gave birth to me in this corrupted world, and took care of me with her gratify enjoyment and unconditional love. The realization of such a truth hurt more than the actual action of someone placing me in this torturous environment.
My mother hovered the shovel above the hole, and dropped all of nature’s accumulated feces down upon me. Most of it separated and rained down all over the place, landing on my face and neck. The pattern continued on and on, my mother a determined workaholic to bury her son. My mind failed to develop a reasonable explanation as to why my mom chose to do such a thing to me. What drove her to do this to her only son?
I did the only thing I could do, and that was scream and yell for my life. The more I yelped, the more my throat and neck burned and stung with a nasty and rigged pain. I scraped and roughened my vocal cords to the point where swallowing my own saliva caused me this agony to travel and coursed through my entire body. My voice, after about ten minutes of non-stop squealing, sounded broken and deep.
I also counted the number of times my mother gathered dirt, and turned it to plummet down upon me; thirty-three in total. By the end of it, a sheet of dirt blanketed on top of me, evened out throughout my whole body and face. I attempted to quiver my limbs in order to shake off most of the earth, but the ropes restrained me from doing so. The tight knots caused dire rashes the more I tried to loosen and free myself from their tenacious hold. My skin burned and felt incinerated by the how much the rope rubbed against my wrist and ankles.
The ominous moon emerged above, glowing and filling the night sky with a gray and white coloring. I hadn’t notice how fast the time passed by. My mother dropped the shovel next to where she first retrieved it, and made her way out from my field of view without sparing me a second glance.
“Mom…” I mustered a single, weightless croak. Either way it was no use. My witch of a mother abandoned her son, and if her ears failed to listen to me before, what made me believe that they would have heard me then?
Something touched my mind.
I heard a noise, or some type of voice. It itched at the back of my head. It sounded faint, but there. I concentrated on every single detail and specific sound surrounding me, but found no similarity to that tug inside my head.
“You-“ I heard it again, this time more articulate and fluid. I held my breath in order to tail after the voice. I didn’t want to admit it, but it was the only source of aid or life form that could offer some assistance, or explanation to my unfortunate circumstances.
“You chose this…” The voice, very manly and gurgling, whispered inside.
“What?” I called out.
“You heard me damn clear, kid. You chose this,” the voice responded back. This time it sounded clear and eloquent inside and outside of my mind. I scanned around frantically in order to catch whoever teased me, but no one appeared near sight.
The frustrating part was that I knew that voice. I recognize it very vaguely, but still its audible tone and the way that voice worded things sounded very familiar. I associated it with the reason why my mind was unsuccessful in solving the mystery behind my amnesia. The more I head the man’s voice, however, the more my brain began incorporating more factors to elucidate my situation.
“Tell me, what was it like having your mother do such a bitchy and nasty thing, huh?” the voice blurred. “Did you see her face the entire time? She looked pissed.” The man chuckled. “Remember how she used to take care of you? Remember that time she brought you to the hospital when you had to get your tonsils removed? It’s getting pretty hard to ‘remember’ things, ain’t it kid?”
“Shut up…” I moaned. This burning and enraged fire blew up inside my soul. The man’s sardonic phrases annoyed me to a point where it bothered my mind’s process of understanding everything. I realized the man’s intention involved doing so, but there was no way of censoring his clear and lively voice from inside and outside my head.
“I must say, you remained relaxed in such an insane and dangerous position, young man,” the voice complemented me, but I felt no flattery. “You are a strong one, indeed. It’s a good thing you decided to challenge yourself. This entire experience has been very interesting for me, yes.”
Challenge myself? The more it spoke, the more I discerned all of my mind’s blockage of not recalling my previous events. I wished to resent the man’s voice since it only excoriated the headache forming inside my head, but its inveigling words provided much insight and clarity.
Challenge myself. That sounds very damn familiar… All I knew for sure was that my nightmare, the one with the malodorous woman, was tangled with all of this. My stomach burped and growled with starvation, but I refused to let anything distract me from finding my damn answers.
“Don’t bother trying to remember any of this, Thomas,” the voice alarmed off. “You lack the incisive mind in order to reminisce on what you have forgotten. Besides, aren’t part of your biggest fears involve not remember a single thing? Your greatest horrors include losing all your memories and knowledge, correct? Well, isn’t that just great for me…” The haughty voice trailed off.
“Stop fucking with me!” I screamed. I tried everything in order to mitigate my acrimonious and rambunctious emotions, but the more this man inculcated my demise, the more infuriated I grew. “Just tell me what the hell is going on!”
“Don’t you see? Your mother doesn’t love you anymore. Nobody does. You’re going to be buried alive, and you will suffer through immense hell for what you’ve chosen to do. Let your flesh rot and be eating alive by all the maggots and insects accommodating the dirt surrounding you. Let your loved ones press more dirt farther and farther into your grave, filling in all the light and hope, and replacing it with darkness and depression. You will learn from your mistakes, but never be repented for your sins. Instead you’re going to be buried alive with them along with the-.”
“You don’t know shit, ya hear? You don’t know anything, your fucking scum!” I interrupted. I began panting out of stress and petulance. “If you’re so damn confident with yourself, then why don’t you reveal yourself, huh? C’mon! Letme see ya.”
“Did I ever mention my level of confidence in our ‘little’ fiasco? See, this is what I mean about your level of intelligence. You lack the clever mind in order to stir your way out of this chamber you’re in. I don’t blame you for your stupidity, no. That’s just too rude of me to comment. I guess some human beings are more adaptable than others…”
“Fuck. You.” I simply responded. I couldn’t argue any longer. As much as I resisted to swallow my pride, the man spoke the truth. I had no idea what happened to me. At that point, it pained my head just thinking about any solution or answer. I was forcing something that would never demonstrate itself, and my pertinacious personality only worsen my headache.
Just what the hell happened? I know I have enough evidence to fix the fucking problem, but I can’t determine a reliable conclusion…
Someone walked near. I heard footsteps off in the distant. Feet stomped against dirt and soil.
“Not you…” I whined. “No… How can you do this to me?” I watched as my father picked up the shovel my mother used, and began the process where she left off. Dirt and soil poured down upon me. This time it felt frozen and chilling, and it smacked and pinned against my skin with a pinching touch.
“The fun has only started, young boy,” the man’s nefarious voice returned to bully me. “You cannot see it, but there’s a line of people waiting to kill you. No one really ever loved you, Thomas, and I’m sorry to inform you to such a malicious fact. It should have probably came from someone you trusted. But then again, nobody even likes you!” The man cachinnated on and on, fueling my anger and impatience to the point where I banged my head against the rocky soil. Soon blood leaked out from the bruises and wounds at the back of my head, but I told myself to continue on and on. Maybe that would make my death quicker and safer.
A perpetual and tormenting night awaited me.
As time lapsed on, I bared the image of watching everyone I ever loved and cared for accumulate and add more dirt into my grave. As this continued on in an infinite pattern, his voice echoed and repeated inside my mind. It left me restless and distress with anxiety. I sometimes howled at the top of my lungs, even with my swelling and infected throat. I just couldn’t control my cantankerous and outraging habits.
The dirt piled up as the days flowed by. My body shrunk thinner and thinner until my skin nearly kissed my bones due to malnutrition. Each second seemed to spread longer and longer, increasing the psychological and physical torture I endured. But still I prevailed, maintaining a precarious grip on my sanity. Often I found myself dozing off, losing my sense of reality. Even my dreams only recapitulated what occurred the day or night before, which left me replaying those betraying memories.
It was when my life seemed only breaths away from finally dying that I spotted her.
“Joan…” I creaked. “Oh Joan…” Her pale and perfect face almost made me smile, and elide the fact that she only contributed to my final moments in life. The earth crushed on my entire body, leaving my head poking out from all the soil everybody dripped down. The ropes seemed innocuous now since the ton of dirt accomplish enough to not let me swerve my body. As more dirt filled the empty space, the denser the weight increased.
“Joan…” I continued on. “Why are you here now? I thought everybody finished. It’s been days since someone…”
I remembered! Those fucking tapes…
“JOA-“ I started, my voice reaching a pitch I thought impossible, but dirt landed on my lips. It muted my calling, and left grains of soil to enter my mouth. “Wait, stop… Help me…”
Everything came back almost in an instant. I left Coach House after eating with Joan, and then I found those tapes… I rushed to go home just to watch those goddamn tapes. Thinking about that VCR just pissed me off.
I watched the first video. I discovered two tapes, and I played the first one. I rocked my head just to remember the first video. Even when my temple pulsed with a pain like someone just swung a hammer at my skull, I strained my goddamn head in order to remember. I had to remember. I came this close now, and I didn’t intend on giving up.
Joan continued to drop more dirt on my face, covering my chin and cheeks. The pressure flattened and rubbed my body, and I felt my bones begin to crack and snap. Of course Joan would be the final person to end my miserable life. She was the last person I saw before I entered this hell… Before I inserted that tape, and then it all went to mayhem.
Stage One… That title rang a bell. I believed those words were inscribed on the tape’s front part. There was also something else, but I quickly assumed it must have said Stage Two since it followed the title before. That much seemed easy to find out. The only true questioned that remained was what video or audio did those tapes contain?
“Fear boy…” the voice arrived back. “Honestly it’s sad and pitiful watching you so dumbfounded…Fear.”
I thought back to the dream I experienced before I woke up inside my own grave. The woman and the man with their retching bodies and unbearable appearance. It related to all of this somehow, that much I knew, but how much exactly I couldn’t find out. Too much anger clouded my head.
Stage One: Gruesome.
“Oh my god…” I mumbled, the dirt muffling my words. “This is Stage Two…”
Joan dropped the shovel, and sprinted away from my sight. She managed to fill up my entire face expect a single eyeball. With my vision cut in half, my only option remained to just stare up at the tenebrous sky. Only darkness filled my eyesight.
But then, the old man loomed into view.
It all made sense now… Everything finally cleared up.
At that point, screaming became useless. All the effort and motivation left inside me drowned away with my sorrows and hopelessness. I accepted my fate with open arms, and only pleaded for my final seconds alive to come with peace and prosperity. Although I doubt either would be rendered.
“I hope you enjoyed Stage Two,” the old man spoke, his voice sounding all too familiar after days—although it felt like decades—of hearing him talk over my thoughts. “I guess Horror wasn’t that bad, wasn’t it?”
With my eyes dilated, he shoveled in the last bit of dirt, smudging my sight with darkness. At the end, the old man left me eternally blind.
I imagined myself waking up all jittery and flabbergasted, but instead my eyes slowly expanded themselves with a placid and drowsy motion. I certainly felt sleep deprived, despite the fact that it seemed as if I spent the last couple of hours napping. Chips and crumbs cluttered all around my bed and my clothing, most of the salt sticking on my face. I yawned with pure exhaustion, and felt as if those dreams enervated me more than anything.
Except I knew well enough that what I experienced weren’t dreams…But instead something else entirely.
This stirred me up a bit, and I sat straight up, causing some of the tortilla chips to collapse onto the floor. My room remained a mess, but that was the least of my concerns. The TV in front of me displayed a shaky and buzzing black and white screen, which indicating the first tape just finished playing whatever material it contained. I eyed the TV with distrust and caution. It emitted a raspy and crumbling noise, and this disturbed me more than anything. Usually when the TV would be done with a movie, the disoriented black and white screen would come forth. The noise, however, would be the basic sounds of something inaudible and furtive.
But this noised almost screamed at me. I dropped my legs down onto the floor, and prepared my mind and body to approach the television. I knew well enough the tape remained inside the VCR. Copious amounts of questions zoomed into my mind, causing fatigue to almost knock down my psyche. In trying to understand and define all of the hardship that fell upon me, I almost gave myself a hemorrhage on my forehead. In matters like the one I faced, logic or rationality shouldn’t be applied. Even as I attempted to use all of the the knowledge in the world, nothing could have possibly help me to figure out the confusion behind those tapes.
With clandestine footsteps, I inched closer to my television. I imagined monsters or demons escaping from the monitor, and grabbing hold of my arms and legs. So many vivid and lucid thoughts sprouted out from my mind, which left me second guessing myself if I could really confront the VCR tape. It seemed really stupid, I know, allowing a dumb, old cassette to give me the creeps. But nobody holds a right to blame me. This old man distorted my reality, and he left me permanently scarred.
I found it on the floor. The minute I came close to ejecting the first tape, I stumbled upon the second one. I jammed it with my toe, and it seemed as if it called me. I sneered down at it, my foot twitching from anxiety. I stared at the simple, misleading title with wide and alerted eyes. “Stage Three: Terror.”
I do not understand why, even till this day, but I picked it up. My room remained a hollow void consisting of nothing but darkness and shadows, and within that nothingness I snatched the tape from the floor. I started questioning my mental state, but this proved too difficult for me to tackle. I knew some form of strings or chains controlled my every movement and thought, yet I allowed that power to dominate over me for some reason. It felt…pleasant.
I quickly removed the first video, and inserted the second tape. My sweaty and clammy palms and fingers struggled to put in the cassette properly. I held the first tape with both of my hands, and just shook my head with regret and apprehension.
I pressed play on the VCR box.
A second passed, and nothing happened. But then, a little gleam of light sparked on the screen.
That ray of illumination blossomed to a giant shine, and out emerged a figure. A pair of hands held my neck in a tenacious grip. I choked on my own breath, my mouth and tongue emitted gurgling and crackling noises. Those prodigious, powerful hands lifted me off from the floor below, and carried me just like that all the way to the end of my room. I kicked and swung my legs panicking, having no clue on how to slip away from this obstacle. The room was so dark and hidden my eyes couldn’t focus on what or who wrapped their meaty hands around my throat.
I finally felt hold of some form or body part. Without pondering about it much longer, I dug my nails deep into the cloth and flesh of whatever limb I took hold of. Even as I sunk my rapier and pointy nails deeper and deeper into the limb’s flesh and muscle, the person wouldn’t give up his pressure on my neck. I proceeded to launch my arms and hands in the air, and tried to take hold of another body part to fight with. I felt something saggy and moist right in front of me. I closed my fist in preparation to punch whatever person was doing this to me.
But a slam against the wall stopped me on my tracks. The assault caused more oxygen to deplete from my lungs, and left me gasping desperately for some recuperation of air. My chest felt contracted and burning from the lack of oxygen, and a soreness ached the muscles and ligaments on my throat. All of this building pain and shock made my vision weary and dizzy. I almost didn’t notice the old man’s broad smile as he moved closer to my face.
“You can’t leave me now, boy,” I heard the old man say, his hot and tender voice breathing against my ears. Ironically this caused chills to course down my veins and skin. “I want you to listen, and to listen to me very carefully. I don’t like repeating myself.
“I command you to grab hold of both of those tapes,” the old man continued, “and to conceal them as nice as you found them in their transparent case. Then I need you to place them in an alternate location. It doesn’t matter where exactly you place them, but make sure they’re somewhere where a lot of people can notice and be curious about them. Do you understand me?”
He waited for a response, but there was no way I could communicate with him.
“You better understand, boy. You’re going to get in a lot of trouble if you don’t.
“What did you expect, huh? I told you from the start that this is a challenge to see if you can handle the tremor and fear I deliver. I demonstrated both Stage One and Two, and now I welcome you to Stage Three. This is Terror. There ain’t no vomiting ladies and men’s corpses chasing and violating you. There ain’t nobody digging your grave, and burying you deeper and deeper into the end of your pathetic life. No, there ain’t none of that. All of that was a joke compared to this. All of that was fake compared to what you face right now.
“This is Terror. This is where you know death is just an inch away. This is terror, in which you question your own morale. This is where you innocence dies. Terror is when you know you’re face to face with a man just like yourself, but deep inside that man is a demonic force that can eliminate your worthless life. Terror is when you face all of these emotions and fears in reality. Terror is real. Terror doesn’t involve any nightmares or fantasies. Terror is logic being twisted and ruined by the will of my force. Terror is me. I am your greatest fear.
“See, I made it my job in this world to bring back true fear, and this is why I created these tapes. I want to demonstrate to the world that there are still true monsters lurking in our world. But do not be so frightened, I won’t kill you. I may have permanently damaged and scarred your mentality, but it’s up to you to decide how to fix that. I heard drugs help, but that’s up to you.
“I will kill you if you do not spread my message. I’ll make sure to throw you to the pits of hell, and to make sure every single skin in your body is burned to ashes. Spread my word and horror to the world, and be proud you are a part of my true masterpiece.” He finally released his monstrous grip on my neck, and I fell down onto the floor with a hard thump. I inhaled as if I had been drowning for centuries. My lungs and heart felt the relief of air flowing back into its blood and cells.
I gazed up at the old man with no emotions expect terror. “Don’t forget…I’ll be watching you.” He chose those last words before he completely disappeared from my room, and left me traumatize for my life.
And I obeyed what he asked for me to do, but I figured regardless I would have done it. I left those taps in its proper case in a nearby park by my house. I passed around there just last week, and I grew very solemn at the sight of their disappearance. Now some unlucky fellow experienced, or is about to experience, the worst trip of his life. If anybody so happens to find those tapes, do yourself the favor and leave them immediately.
But no matter what, the guilt and resentment I feel for myself will never detach from my heart and soul. The sanity of some poor sucker remained in my hands, and because of me that person is probably dealing with mental issues beyond repairing. This was all because of my coward behavior. I’ve contemplated suicide, but I feel as if it’s not enough. I deserve something more outrageous and definitive for my punishment. I can’t help to feel but just burden in this world.
Also, the images and liveliness of those tapes still dwell inside my imagination and mindset every single damn day. I can count the number of times I’ve tossed and turned in bed, unable to sleep due to my nightmares of those hallucinations. Flashes of the grave I was dug in, or evocative images of that woman vomiting, chase and haunt me as the night rotates. On some evening I even fall into a deep hypnosis where I actually believe I am still inside that white room.
It never leaves you. I can never escape the damaged that old man caused. His voice rings and hums inside my eardrums even though he stated he’ll never disturb me again.
I’m still here. Where do you think you’re going? I won’t hurt you. I just want to scare you, that’s all. You’re going to wake up tomorrow without a single scratch. Let me just pull on your nerves for a bit, okay? It’s like watching a horror movie. It’s only temporary. I just want to SCARE YOU!
I’d wake up with my hair drenched in sweat, the blankets snuggled against my body, and the night still alive and welcoming. After those visions, I would just stare at the ceiling, unable to fall asleep again. During these moments, I found my eyes shift towards the television. At first I would only see shadows overlapping each other, but sooner or later shades would merge to live. These levels of darkness would succumb together to form a single form.
And I’ll see the man who tormented my resolution. I’ll see the man who drained me of my confidence and life. I’ll see his long, black suit, layers as thick and as dark as the ocean at night. I’ll see his gleaming eyes watching me from the distant, but aware of my presence. He wouldn’t move away from his position, but instead would stand there as still as a coat rack, waiting. For what, I do not know.
Maybe the old man waits for me to sleep so he can, trespass, harass, and violate my dreams. Maybe he keeps an eye on me to watch for any suspicious activity. Either way, there’s no escaping his spirit.
He lingers on forever, like a representation of my eternal nightmare.
Written by Thesplitpersonality710