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Channel Zero

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It was the winter holiday and my family was visiting for December. One of my favourite past-times was playing video games with my cousins. We weren't a well-off family, so we would often play older games on what seemed like an antique television. Switching on the TV, it immediately cut out with a flash. The TV died. We decided to go into town and get a replacement the following day.

Visiting a few pre-owned electronics stores, we chanced upon a curious little set. It looked about ten years old. I was pretty sure it still worked, so I took the chance. When my cousins and I got back to my place, we set it up, checking which channels worked. I found in the remote compartment, it still had its original warranty, which expired on the 31st October, 2003. That amused me. The TV channels were crap, despite the set having its own aerial. We soon learned all the channels had "snowy" reception, except for channel 0, which was for video input.

I played some multiplayer games with the cousins for awhile. They had since gone home when I moved on to some more atmospheric games. I loaded up Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. To those unfamiliar with the game, it's a horror game based around the effects of the protagonist's mental health. The very instant I powered up the game, there was a flash of lightning followed by some thunder outside. I thought nothing of it, as it had been raining on and off throughout the day.

Admittedly, I was new to this game so my character died a few times to begin with. The sky crashed with thunder and lightning outside, but what was really strange was that I could swear the TV started to leak a bit from the top-corner of the screen. I wiped it away and the tissue revealed a wet, red substance. What was this? Blood? No. Maybe this was some kind of technical defect, but why red? I played more of the game and my character died a few more times. The TV started to leak again, but the fluid was a light green this time. I wondered if maybe the circuitry of the TV was melting from overheating, but the set wasn't hot when I touched it. The red could have come from an LED light or something. I never noticed this problem when I played games with the cousins before. The lightbulb in my room died. I thought about replacing it, but decided it might be fun to play in the dark. I played more of the game and my character's sanity was still quite high. A jump-scare flashed on screen of a skull with eyes screaming. At the very same time a flash of lightning and thunder occurred outside. The sanity meter on-screen had decreased to just over half. With all that was going on, I was pretty freaked out, but most by how the character's sanity seemed to mirror my own.

I gave it a rest for awhile. I paused the game to get myself a drink. I thought it odd how the sky flashed and thundered outside only as I played the game. I had a break from the game almost as long as I had been playing it, and yet, nothing. No thunder or lightning. Not even once.

I returned to playing the game and eventually ran into a group of living skeletons. I was doing well to hold them off, but they seemed to keep coming from nowhere. Eventually they closed in on me, but they stopped. They stood there for awhile before suddenly turning to the camera and screaming! Their scary, leering heads zoomed towards the screen, I jumped and screamed. The channel cut to static. It occasionally flashed between red and green colours and another screaming skull right up close. My door slammed shut, the window locked and the curtains swiftly drew themselves together. I couldn't open either. And among the red and green flashing images on the TV, it suddenly cut to black with a subtle droning noise. Confused, I went up close to the screen. One final skeleton head rushed towards the screen and screamed. The TV switched itself off.

I was the most scared I had ever been. This was the kind of thing that only happened in my nightmares. Waking from sudden images and screaming sounds to dead silence. I got a torch and shone it on the TV's on/off switch. It didn't appear to be on or off, but as I tried to press it, it wouldn't move at all. I figured it was best to try and get some sleep. As impossible as that seemed, I eventually drifted off.

I was woken to a loud crash of thunder and lightning outside, with what seemed like a small earthquake starting up. The tremors grew rougher and louder to the point where even my bed couldn't stay still. The roof was shaking and all the tiles broke away to reveal a dark purple sky with a black vortex cutting right through it. It pulled me up into the void. All I could do was watch the house get smaller and smaller, the town's lights get dimmer and dimmer. I was pulled above a sheet of clouds and had trouble breathing. The clouds and purple sky faded, the colour beneath my feet getting darker and darker until little glowing balls of light began to emerge. Choking profusely, I realised I was now in space. I turned around to see a skull as big as a planet. It screamed and zoomed toward me. That was the last thing I saw.

Or so I thought. I felt a sting in my arm before awaking in a bright white room, my arms crossed over each other. I was happy. So happy that I laughed. And laughed... and laughed... and laughed... and laughed...

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