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"BooTube: Recommended Channel for You".
That's what I saw on my Youtube feed. It looked harmless enough as I looked at the thumbnails below. It looked like some sort of weird, cheap, ghoulish puppet on a black backdrop. I love (or rather, loved) goofy old shit like that, as my subscriptions to the "Everything is Terrible" and "The NEW Uncle Gregory Horror Hour" channels could attest to. So, why the hell not check it out.
I clicked onto the channel. The logo looked cheap enough, like something a first-year web design student would cobble together, with a pixelly .jpeg of that weird ghoul and a title done in Comic Sans. The phrase, "We all like to watch," was written beneath it, as if meant as some inexact innuendo.
I pressed one of the videos, titled QQA27, and the video popped up.
"Greetings fraidies and mental-men," the thing on the screen said.
This was the first time I looked at him very closely, in that shitty video quality that looks so real it looks cheap, if you get my meaning. His face looked like some leering, distended mix between Ghostface and Mr Punch, spray-painted a shiny metallic silver, likely taken from the mold of some rubber, overpriced Halloween mask repurposed to create this crappy puppet. His lips flapped barely in synch with the words he spoke.
The rest of the puppet looked no less cheap either, a red cloak-like shroud, with the two arms obviously the gloved hands of a puppeteer sitting beneath the desk where the thing sat. Air from what I presumed was a cheap fan billowed beneath him, presumably to make it look oh so spooooooky you guyse seriously.
"Today," the ugly thing continued, "we've gotten TRACK of a very special video, a showing of what happens when one whistleblower hears another whistle a-blowin'."
Its voice had a screeching, nasal quality to it, like that one guy from the old GI Joe cartoons.
Then, there was a jump-cut to a stark grainy video, obviously a low-quality camcorder rip, taken from what looked like a hilltop. It was of two men, one wearing a crude green monster mask, the other bound and gagged and being tied to what looked like train tracks.
There was a much clearer silhouette movie in the corner of the video of what I assumed was the host, watching like the peanut gallery at a theatre.
"I've heard of someone getting run out on a RAIL, but this is ridiculous!" At that awful pun, the sound of canned laughter came from all around him.
The man in the video struggled against his binding, with muffled screams obviously captured on a crappy microphone.
"Looks like it's time for him to complete his TRAINing!" the host said smugly. Again, more canned laughter. Two lights on the track came into view.
"Looks like our guest of the hour is poking his headLIGHTS into this fellow's business. But what LOCOmotive does he have? Let's watch!"
Just as suddenly as that shitty puppet host said that, a train came into view, and in a split second, it plowed right through the man on the tracks, a wet meaty sound coming from that shitty microphone intermixed with the train's whistle.
"Now that's what I call a GRISTLEstop tour!" the host said, as the audience erupted in an uproar. I pressed pause.
Holy shit. Those were not special effects. I'd seen special effects before. I'd also seen real deaths on film before, with none of the splatter or rubber intestines, just the crunch of steel through meat and bone, and the subtle squish of gore and blood. I pressed pause on the video. And that's when I noticed something. In the windows of the train, a passenger train, as it passed by, all of the passengers were wearing the same green monster mask as the person who tied the man onto the tracks. Every single one of them. All of them looking straight into the camera.
Holy shit. I was watching a snuff film, probably for some sort of fucking insane death cult, that had somehow wormed its way onto Youtube.
Oh Jesus Christ, this was horrible! I immediately clicked the "Flag Video" button. Nothing happened, but a tab popped up. I clicked on it.
It looked very crude, like something out of a 90's Angelfire or Geocities website. But the website was written in some sort of novelty Halloween font that I couldn't copy. The background was a clipart .gif of a dancing skeleton, repeated over and over, with that same crappy .jpeg of that host in front. And there was text below it.
It read: "So! You thought you could give us the AXE, did you? Gave it your best STAB? But you did a real CUT RATE job of it! Maybe you should bury the HATCHET and stop trying to CUT TO the heart of this matter before you SLICE off more than you can chew! Or should that be ARE SLICED OFF?!"
I closed the tab. I couldn't believe it. These motherfuckers were not only running a snuff film operation in plain fucking sight for whatever shitty-pun-death-cult they were running, but they had the fucking gall to break into Google, so no one could whistleblow on their operations.
I couldn't just do nothing. So, I hooked up to a VPN server, turned on the necessary security programs, and turned on my video capture program. By God, if I had to take this thing down myself, I would. But first I'd have to get evidence.
I attempted to take a look at that previous video. It wouldn't play, and most of the methods I tried took me to that stupid "warning" site. Fine, I thought to myself, play it your way. I'll capture the rest of your shit.
The next video I looked at on the channel was titled 304AR. I pressed play. That stupid fucking puppet popped up yet again.
"Greetings fraidies and mental-men, tonight, we have SMORE special footage for you! Yes-sir-ee, it's gonna be a bonfire tonight! Though, for this poor schmuck, it's looking more like a BONEDfire! Because, you all like to watch, now don't you?"
The video switched to the same shitty quality of video as before, but this time in a dingy basement. The poor subject this time was a woman tied to a wooden chair, rope holding her from head to toe and her mouth gagged with rags. She looked wet, covered in something oily and caustic.
"Boy, this looks like it could be a real GAS!" that fucking silhouetted host said, that laugh track still there. I swore as he spoke, I could see something twitch in the background. A cat? No, those legs looked too long for a cat.
As I was thinking about this, something lit on a trail of gasoline, the fire spreading far slower than it should on raw gasoline. The woman struggled and kicked in fear, and even through that shitty microphone I could hear her muffled screams.
"What's wrong? I thought you could use a spare PYRE!" the host said. The thing in the background shimmered a little. It was looking more like a man. But human limbs didn't move like that. Human limbs didn't glow like that.
"Well at least his should bring out a whole new FLARE in your style!" the host said as the fire inched ever closer. The man-cat thing in the background twitched even faster as flames licked down its body.
Finally, she burst alight all at once. I felt like I was going to vomit, seeing her skin scab and peel and burn and burn and burn as she kicked against ropes that refused to yield. And as her flesh burnt deeper and the gag fell apart, I could hear her scream louder and louder.
"I guess we should rename him BURN-ie now?!" that stupid fucking puppet said, laughing uproariously at his own joke as the canned laughter howled along. The thing in the background just looked. With its white, hot eyes. I couldn't shut off the video fast enough.
I switched to another video. Special effects, I thought, that cat-thing must be a special effect, for whatever death cult they're running, Occam's Razor demands it. God I wish that was the case.
The next video was titled 70AL5.
"Greetings fraidies and mental-men!" flapped that ugly fucking puppet through its ugly fucking lips, "Today's entry is especially inSPIDERed, an entry so beautiful that it makes me want to STING! Let's watch!" The picture shifted to a dingy, one-room, seemingly abandoned, apartment, same grainy video, same shitty mic. This time it was a man, tangled up in what looked like thick, gooey ropes, more of which were strung throughout the apartment in an angular; mazelike pattern. He was struggling, trying to get out of the gooey strands entangling him.
"Don't ARACH your brain too hard trying to get out guy, you might hurt something!" the host said. And again, there was that fucking laugh track.
Suddenly, something crawled into frame. A spider. No, it only looked like a spider. But spiders didn't have shaggy hair like an eight-legged mutt. Spiders didn't have blunt, humanlike teeth. Spiders didn't have only two, human-like eyes.
"Boy, what BUG got up his butt?" quipped that leering puppet host as the victim-to-be was yelling curses at the spider. It wasn't a puppet. Puppets could never move that fast. Puppets never moved that freely. Puppets couldn't wrap people up in silk like that as they struggled, screaming and gasping for air as it looked into their eyes with cold cruelty.
"Whoah, whoa, it's too early to call it a WRAP buddy!" the host said as it finished wrapping.
It scuttled, pausing and looking about. Then it sank its human-like jaws into the squirming, wriggling "cocoon", green, sizzling spit oozing out of its chin as it tried to chew it in. Deep red blood trickling slowly out of the wound until the wriggling slowed down, and then, came to a stop.
"I guess she really wanted something to VEN-nom on!" the host said, and the audience howled with applause.
I pressed pause as the spider started sucking. But then I noticed something. There was a mirror where the filming was taking place, in which the camera was reflected. But there was no one behind it.
I spent the rest of the night looking through and recording the rest of those fucking videos, until about 2 AM. As I looked through them, trite intro after trite intro, more weird things about that horrible, horrible puppet host. Like how that "cloak" of its moved in synch with when it talked. How it sometimes added, "Because you all like to watch, now don't you?" to the end of its quip-monologue. How no matter how shoddy and fumbling the gloved puppeteer of the hands' movements were, you never saw his uncloaked arms. How sometimes, before the monologue, it'd just be staring at the camera or talking to someone just offscreen.
And the deaths. Oh God there were so many. A few of them were mundane, power tools, blunt instruments, heavy machinery. But most of them were monsters. Monsters like anything a Roger Corman could've shit out or worse. Monsters like a man-eating piano with a cow's legs, a giant crab filled with piranha-toothed human babies, a clown that turned into a giant man-eating worm, a great pink; razor-tongued washing machine spewing out endless organs; septic filth, and those were only a few. I think that I've stumbled onto something far more insane than I originally thought.
I was about to go to bed, when I saw something come up on my window. A new video from the channel. A live stream. In front of my door. With that horrible fucking puppet. It was auto running.
"Welcome fraidies and mental-men, I'm afraid we have an intRUDEer in on our show, trying to CUT us off. But don't you worry, fraidies and mental-men, we're not going off the SCARE yet! In fact, we have a very FLESHal treat!" He grabbed a knife from offscreen, dripping with some dark brown, blood-like substance and gestured towards my door.
"We're going to have a nice STALK with the interloper, and you all get front row seats. Because you all like to watch, now don't you?" it said. I looked behind me. I could see the door rotting in front of me. I could feel a fell wind blowing through the cracks, vomiting the rotten timbers on top of me.
As it turned out, the stuff the thing's knife was covered in was chocolate syrup. Like in the old horror movies. But the thing wasn't a puppet. Puppets didn't flow like cloth through the air. Puppets didn't float on a wind from nowhere. Puppets didn't have an endless, gnawing darkness floating behind them. Puppets didn't drool chocolate syrup out their mouths in anticipation.
It stalked towards me, bonelessly flowing, face contorted into that horrible leer, and as it came, it said, "KNIFE to see you!
And I laughed.