Recently, my family had moved to the town of Belleville, Illinois. There was a school there, Belleville East High School, which I'd started going to. Everything was normal enough. I'd made a few new friends at the school, but my closest friend so far was named Elizabeth or Liz for short. We’d usually hang out after school, laughing at each other's jokes or watching television. We had a lot of common interests including books, video games, and television shows.
Well, once, I took a trip to Florida with my family. That is where we lived before we moved to Belleville. We visited some family down in Florida and also had a lot of fun at the beach and some amusement parks. There were a lot of thrift shops and garage sales that we also visited. When we came back home after a week, I looked through my bag and noticed that there was a VHS tape in there that I didn’t remember having. I pulled it out and my name was written in a pen of some sort.
"That was sort of strange," I thought. I came to the conclusion that maybe it was placed in there by a friend, or maybe some sort of obscure advertising technique by someone who had overheard one of my relatives call me by name. Curious, I went up to the attic where we kept an old VHS player. I took the VCR downstairs into my room and hooked it up to my TV. I carefully placed the tape in the VCR and pressed play.
At first, nothing happened. I felt a little crestfallen because I was honestly curious about whatever the tape contained. After a few minutes of taking out the tape and placing it back in, the screen went static. The sound was very loud and startled me, so I covered my ears. The static muted after a few seconds and I lowered my hands to my lap, watching the screen intently. The screen showed a woman, sitting in some sort of rocking chair and smiling. She smiled at the camera for a good fifteen seconds before it faded the upturned corners of her mouth suddenly dropping and her eyes full of dread. She stared at the camera, her rather dull eyes piercing my thoughts, unnerving me. Her head tilted to the left slightly and her face showed hints of melancholy.
“I- I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” she said as tears streamed down her face.
I felt bad for her, although I don’t know why.
“Harold, I hope that you can forgive me.”
She reached for the camera, and the view slowly rotated until it showed a creature, and then it rested there for a few seconds. The creature immediately terrified me. It had huge, black eyes, a mouth which was perfectly round with razor sharp teeth all pointing towards the center. Its limbs were long, like tree branches. Its skin was showing in more than one place where its fur was missing. The thing’s body seemed to suddenly convey anger as its back arched and it looked past the camera.
The woman started speaking again, “No! I did it how you wanted it done! No! You can’t!”
The thing suddenly started walking- I don’t feel comfortable calling it a walk. It was more of a hobble of some sort- towards the camera, and went straight past it. All that could be seen now was the bare wall, and all that could be heard was the woman’s shrill scream of terror. The camera seemed to fall off of its podium, and a blur followed by the body of a man showed on the screen.
My mom yelling from downstairs was what snapped me out of my hypnotizing interest in the television. I popped the tape out and stuck it back into my bag. I quickly ran downstairs and met her.
“Liz is calling for you.”
Liz! I had almost forgotten about her… I would have to tell her what happened. I picked up the phone.
“Hello? J-John…” She seemed to be crying.
“What? What’s wrong?”
“I came home from Anna’s house, and I just… My mom and dad are on the floor… and… I don’t know what happened.” She started sobbing.
“Hold on, I’ll be right over.”
When I got to her house, I noticed that Anna was there (another friend of Liz), and a few police cars and ambulances were parked out in front. Two people were being carried into ambulances. I asked her what had happened, and she told me that she had come home and found her dad on the floor as well as her mother who was all bloodied and had some sort of marks on her body. I felt an overwhelming sense of terror, and I grabbed her hand.
“You need to come to my house, now.”
“Just trust me.”
We went back to my house, and I showed her the tape. She started sobbing and explained that the people in the video were, in fact, her parents.
"I just... I don't know... How is that possible? What is that thing?" she asked between sobs.
I answered, "I don't know... I'm really sorry." I was about to pull the tape out when I heard a clicking noise and I felt a blunt object hit the back of my head.
I woke up in my geometry classroom from my school. My head was throbbing with pain as I looked out the window. It was completely dark out, save for the few lights that were on in one of the houses. A thought suddenly went into my head, "Liz. I need to find her." I looked around, seeing the door. I tried to open it, but it was locked, and I wasn't about to jump out the window because then I definitely would not find Liz. I looked through the teacher's desk in the room to try and find a key but to no avail. I noticed that there was a vent above the chalkboard. I went into the closet and found some scissors, a screwdriver, and some metal rulers. I used the screwdriver to take off the metal grate covering the vent and I kept a pair of scissors in my pocket so I had some form of protection.
I was crawling through the vent shafts. The noises of my hands and knees seemed to reverberate and echo to an almost deafening roar. As I was crawling, I noticed another metal grate, this time below me. I tried carefully crawling over it, but it wasn't completely secure. I fell into one of the restrooms, the metal grate clattering against the tiled floor. I cringed and sat up, sore from the pelvis down. I walked with a little difficulty and managed to get the bathroom door open. I started walking down the dark corridor.
As I was walking, trying to find an exit, I heard a soft clicking noise coming from behind me. I froze and slowly turned around, but the end of the hallway was dark and I couldn’t see anything past the pale illumination emanating from the window. I turned around again and started walking towards the other end of the hallway. I heard the clicking noise again, followed by a soft hissing. Frightened, I started to speed up my walk. The clicking grew a bit louder and I could feel a warm breath on my neck. Completely disturbed, I broke out into a sprint, the clicking noise following me the entire time. I hit the end of the hallway and turned around. I saw the creature from the video, with its huge eyes, razor sharp teeth, and long arms. I noticed some more details, such as the razor sharp knives attached to its 'fingers' that made a clicking noise whenever they touched the floor. I knew that I was as good as dead.
Suddenly, Liz ran out from a nearby hallway and yelled, “John!”
The thing turned around, running at Liz. I was frozen in shock, not able to react. I looked at the beast, which began chewing on Liz’s legs and arms, ripping apart her chest with its fingers. I cried. I cried harder than I ever have. I tried to look for a way out and noticed a fire extinguisher. I knew that the thing would outrun me if I tried anything too sudden, but I had to take a chance. I broke the glass on the fire extinguisher’s case, and the fire alarm went off. The thing turned around and ran towards me, so I threw the extinguisher at a nearby window. The glass shattered, and I jumped out. The last thing I could think of was the memory of Liz’s mangled corpse before I blacked out.
I awoke in a hospital bed a few days later. My mother was so glad to see me awake. But when I asked her about Liz, she looked away from my gaze.
“Liz, she went missing. They haven’t found her yet…” she said. “I know how much she meant to you…”
I can still see this thing outside of my window every night as I sleep. It's judging me. It knows that I am being tortured by its presence... It's deriving pleasure from my situation... I know it.
Please… I just want this to be over. I’m so afraid.