There are generally three main reasons one doesn’t talk about their job in polite company. The first is that the job is dull or hated to the point that talking about it is almost painful, or at least pitifully boring. The second is that an employer has set down rules about what can and can’t be told to ‘outsiders’. The third is that one does not have a job that can appropriately be discussed in polite company.
My job, I suppose, is a little of all three. After ten years of reviewing illegally imported audio-visual material, I have seen pretty much all there is to see of humanity’s sickness. Perverted sex, murder and mutilation have all become routine. Of course, I can’t talk much about the things I’ve seen, nor would most people want to hear about it.
What may interest you though, dear reader, is a little urban legend I heard, back when I started in this job, back when the sight of violence and death still had a profound impact upon me.
I was told, by a gentleman I will refer to only as ‘George’ that, amongst our kind (the guardians of moral decency, who keep the filth of less scrupulous countries off our street), there is an urban legend.
The legend of Amy’s video.
According to George, the story goes that after so long on the job, ‘our kind’ can become desensitised to the extreme violence and cruelty that we witness every day. This phenomenon happens around the world, apparently, wherever our job is undertaken.
When one of our people really loses it, George told me, they create their own videos, their minds poisoned by all that they have witnessed. They then send their video internationally – through the post, or by giving it to some poor unsuspecting soul who brings it across the border.
These videos are filled with violence, perpetrated by the one of ‘our kind’ who has gone over. Their content – murder, torture, rape, mutilation – and their victims – men, women, children, animals – changes between videos, reflecting the maker’s preferences and tastes.
There are, however, two distinguishing features of the videos. First, a symbol of a stickman, painted in blood somewhere during the course of the carnage – a ‘secret handshake’, George said, of those who had ‘gone over’.
Second, the video was always disguised a normal video, containing the name Amy. The title could be ‘Amy’s Wedding’, or ‘Amy’s First Steps’, or simply ‘For Amy’. This way, they could be identified by others of our kind.
I didn’t really believe the story, at the time. I was young and naïve, believing that I could never become accustomed to the horrifying images that I witnessed on screen, never mind consider that one could be convinced to create such carnage themselves. And as the years went by, I became more and more convinced that it wasn’t real. We were the protectors, after all.
It was six months ago that the DVD came in. A young man with an extensive stash of pornography from Thailand had it, amongst other dubious content. It was called ‘Amy’s Awakening’, and judging by the broken English on the cover, was the standard bland porn fare.
It was the name, though, that caught my attention. When it fell to me to check the DVDs for illegal content, I held that one in my trembling hands, wondering, for the first time, if it could really be true.
I studied the cover, sitting in my ergonomic computer chair. I turned the case over and over, looking for some way to ease my anxiety. My gaze settled upon the blurb, the usual claptrap that passed for a plot. Three words were in bold, and I was drawn to them, like a moth to the flame.
YOU ARE ENTITLED
That wasn’t what made my heart pound, though. No, it was the copyright symbol at the bottom – © Stickman Enterprises.
It had to be a coincidence, right?
With unsteady hands, I put in the DVD.
It had been taped over a legitimate porn movie. Or maybe the movie had been made for it specially, who knew? I relaxed, thinking that everything was okay, until the screen flickered and changed.
The two young girls were Asian, 15 or 16 years old maybe, but I couldn’t tell anything about where the movie was filmed. The camera didn’t move, unless manipulated by the man in front of it, a tall, well-built man in a ski mask. It seemed he was the director as well as the star of this little snuff film.
I can’t tell you, dear reader, what unspeakable acts took place on camera, what atrocities were committed to film. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty. The stickman on the bathroom tiles, though, was what made my heart really race.
It was true. It was all true. I sat back, watching the blood flow, watching the bathtub fill with it. It was like a revelation, dear reader, a sign that ‘our kind’, the moral authority, could subvert the norm, could inflict upon the world what we have had to endure ourselves for so long.
Remember, dear reader, if you ever become one of us, you are entitled. It may take years of training, but eventually, you will come around.
I didn’t believe it either, at first. I didn’t think it was possible, that I was capable. But the divorce papers my husband served on me today, they made my heart sing.
It’s a sign.
A new chapter in Amy’s history is coming soon.
And I will not miss it.