There are only a handful of events in your life that you remember where you were. For many Americans such as myself, 9/11 was one. For the older generation, the assassination of John F. Kennedy was another. For me? The day my parents died.
I hope no one has to go through the pain I went through that snowy January evening, and if you have the unfortunate luck to have experienced that kind of trauma, then my thoughts are with you.
I was close with my parents. My father, a college professor, always told me about the importance of getting good grades and staying in school. My mother, a nurse, always told me to help others in their times of need. They were perfect role models for me and the day they died was the day a part of me died as well.
Their car slid off an embankment in the snow and ice and crashed, killing them almost instantly. I was at the bar with a few friends and my fiancé at the time when I received the phone call from the local police. I was away at college when it happened, and unfortunately, nearly 400 miles away. The news hit me like a ton of bricks and all I could do was stare endlessly into the background. The lights were on but nobody was home, if that makes any sense.
After the funeral, my brother Joe and I were going through their house to get their belongings out so the home could either be sold, rented out, or become property of the bank. The familiar smell of the home reminded me of better times; times where I woke up on Christmas morning to see a Nintendo 64 and Pokémon Stadium waiting for me. You know, those good times.
Like an episode of Scooby Doo, Joe and I split up to make the job easier. I would be in charge the basement and main floor, while Joe would be in charge the top floor and attic area. I started on the main floor, mainly because I still had this irrational fear of that basement. When I was younger, I fell down the steps and broke both of my legs, and my right wrist in the process. All these years later and it’s still implanted in my mind.
Hours went by, and after taking a break to sit down, rest, and enjoy a cold beer, I opened the door to the basement. As I looked down the narrow flight of stairs, memories of 8 year old me falling down and breaking bones flashed before my eyes. I gulped and took it one step at a time. Once in the basement, the old musty smell became familiar with my nostrils. I looked over toward the single window in the basement, where a framed photo of my mother and father hung below it. There was a time where my father wanted to make the basement a lower level family room, but the hanged photo is as far as he got. Under the stairwell there were a few boxes from previous years that have yet to be unpacked. I pulled up an old wooden chair and began to search through the boxes, hoping I’d find something worth keeping.
The first box were just holiday decorations: Christmas, Halloween, hell, even Thanksgiving; my mother was very festive, no matter the holiday. I set it off to the side and pulled the next box closer to me. There was an old white binder that had hundreds of Pokémon cards in the sleeves. I felt like I had just discovered gold in the form of these little paper cards. I flipped through the pages, just smiling from ear to ear. For those of you who are too young– or too old– to appreciate Pokémon cards, it was the greatest thing for an eight year old kid in the 90s. Hell, I even went to a few tournaments and won badges.
The rest of the box was almost uneventful. There were some old pieces of art that Joe and I drew in class, but nothing worth keeping. As I searched through the remaining boxes, I thought for sure there was nothing at all worth keeping. The last box just had old silverware and plates, half of which were cracked and broken. I pulled out my phone to turn the flashlight on the search under the stairwell if I missed anything, and that is when I saw a small brown box, tucked into the back corner. On my hands and knees, I crawled under the stairwell to grab the box.
The box was covered in dust, seemingly untouched in at least a decade. As I wiped the dust off, I opened the box to see a set of video tapes, unmarked. Intrigued, I grabbed the Pokémon binder and the other materials that I deemed worthy to keep, put it in the box of video tapes, and headed upstairs.
Once I exited the darkness of the basement and embraced the light of the room, I saw Joe sitting on the couch, smoking a cigar.
“Took you long enough” he said sarcastically.
“Where did you get those cigars? You don’t even smoke.”
“I found them upstairs. They’re high quality stogies, TJ. I think dad was saving them for a special occasion”
I couldn’t help but feel disgusted that my brother would smoke a cigar that our dad was saving for a special occasion, knowing damn well that less than a week ago he passed away. I sat next to him on the couch and placed the box on the coffee table in front.
“Why in the fuck would you put that dusty ass box on this good table?”
Good question, but I just smirked and shrugged it off.
“Look, dude. My old Pokémon binder. I bet some of these cards are worth a good penny, especially since they look to be in good condition”
“Yeah, you could sell them all and make a 5 cent profit from all the money mom and dad wasted on those things. Good investment.”
I set the binder to my side and pulled out the first video tape I saw.
“Check these out. Want to watch some home movies and laugh at how fucking cringey we were?” I said, waving the video tape in front of my brother.
“Yeah, let’s pop those right into the VHS player. Oh wait a minute, it’s two thousand and fucking seventeen — no one uses those anymore.”
He had a point, but I knew something he didn’t; the secret compartment I made when I was younger in my room upstairs. I hopped up and ran upstairs to my old room. It was empty, but I knew what to look for. In the floor in my closet, I made a make-shift compartment to hide, well, adult-themed movies and magazines. In the compartment was an old VHS player that I would hook up to my TV when no one was home and watch said movies. I ran down stairs with the VHS player in my hand and a giant grin on my face.
“Thank God I was a smart little pervert,” I said, holding the VHS player above my head.
“Oh look, you found a VHS. But please, tell me how that ancient thing is going to plug into this new TV. Are you going to science the shit out of this, too?”
Again, another good point, but I knew better.
“When you were searching upstairs, did you find an older television?”
All I needed to know. I told him to follow me upstairs while I went to the attic to find my old television. I brought the television back downstairs and plugged it in, along with the VHS player.
“Alright, wanna’ take bets on what the first video is? I’m gonna’ guess your 10th birthday party where you pissed your pants from the clown”
“Shut the fuck up.”
I guess old wounds never heal. I popped the first tape in and walked backward, making sure it was loading up. The all-too familiar blue screen appeared, shortly before the video started up.
I took a seat on the couch next to Joe as we watched the video begin to play. It was grainy and dark, but we could make out movement from the side.
“What the fuck is this? Some kind of backward-ass snuff film?” Joe said in a mocking tone.
The darkness soon disappeared as a light kicked on without warning. There, we saw a male and a female in white coats with white masks covering their faces. In the middle of the room was a lifeless body of a young boy, laying on his back with a black tarp over his body. We saw the feet and arms dangling off the side.
“Okay, what the fuck” Joe said, leaning forward. “Turn this shit off, dude. This is some kind of illegal shit.”
I was a bit confused what I was watching. I gulped and continued watching, despite Joe’s pleas to turn it off.
There was no sound to the video, just the video itself. The two white-dressed individuals nodded as a third individual came out from the background. It had to be at least seven feet tall. It was lanky and looked as if he hasn’t eaten in quite some time. Its arms were very long, almost touching the ground. Its neck was elongated as well, but its head was very small, almost comically small. It did not look human at all. The creature began to slowly surround the lifeless body of the boy before he placed one of its long legs onto the bed where the boy was laying. It had only three toes from what we could see, but that could just be the bad quality of the video.
Joe and I watched in horror as this creature surrounded the child, but the real horror happened after it mounted the child and began to drag its tongue across the boy’s cheek. The tongue was purple in color, very long, and very skinny, almost like a serpent.
“Turn this shit off, TJ!”, Joe screamed.
I didn’t listen, I was almost in a trance. I had no idea what I was watching, but whatever that creature was, it wasn’t human, nor anything I’ve ever seen before.
The creature dragged its tongue down the face and neck of the child, before placing its hands on the child’s face. The creature was in a squatting pose above the child, but its arms and legs were so long that it looked as if he were standing. Joe got up without hesitation and turned the television off before we saw what was next.
“Dude, I fucking told you to turn that shit off. Whatever this is? It isn’t legal. We need to show this to the fucking cops, man. Where did mom and dad get this shit and why did they have it?”
That’s the 64 thousand dollar question, isn’t it?
“Joe, we have to watch these before we give them to the authorities. What if they’re just some home made horror film or something? We have to watch to make sure it’s real and not something made up, or else the authorities are just going to laugh at us for being scared by a work of fiction.”
Reluctantly, Joe sat down and agreed, as we turned the television back on. I rewound back to the part where we last left off on, which was the creature squatting above the lifeless child with its hands on the child’s face and head. The creature dragged its finger across the cheek of the child, and its nail was so sharp it left a visible cut across the child’s face. That is when my eyes widened and looked at Joe.
Joe’s eyes widened. The cut across the child’s left cheek was very similar to a scar across Joe’s face that apparently happened after he fell off of his bicycle at a young age. He never remembered it, but that’s what we were told.
“What the fuck?”
Maybe it was just a coincidence, but things were starting to add up. The creature grabbed the leg of the child and began to drag its tongue up and down the left leg, as if it were enjoying the taste and smell of the child. I gulped as I jumped up and paused the tape from the VHS.
“Joe, look in the background. What do you see?”
“I don’t see shit, dude. It’s so old and grainy.”
“Look in the background by the window, then look under. What does that look like?”
Joe leaned closer into the television and squinted to get a better view.
“Shit, it looks like a picture or something”
I gulped my fear and remembered the picture hanging below the window in our basement; the basement directly below our feet. I hit play, against my better judgment, mind you, and sat back down. The creature continued to drag its tongue across the leg of the young child, before hopping down from the bed. It stood straight up and held its arms to its side. Its knuckles touched the ground and it was so tall that its head was out of view from the camera. The man in woman dressed in white nodded their heads as the creature bolted out of camera view. The man in white proceeded to walk toward the camera and turn it off as the screen turned to static.
“What the fuck?! What the fuck?! What the fuck was that, TJ?! What the FUCK!”
I tried to calm Joe down, but hell, even I was perplexed. I looked down into the box and realized there were more videos, but I did not want to look what was next. I popped the first video out and put it to the side as I sat down on the couch next to Joe, who looked as if he had just seen a ghost.
“There’s three more videos, Joe, but Jesus Christ, I’m afraid of what they show.”
He hung his head into his hands and began to stomp his feet in disbelief.
As we sat in silence on the couch, our attentions turned somewhere else.
We heard a noise that was similar to something dragging across the floor.
It was coming from the basement.