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Frame by Frame

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Play the video. Watch. There, right there, rewind it, you missed it. What is that? Not that, that there. Look at it, see here's the body, right? There's the eyes. They're dim but they're there. This is my wedding video, from several years back. My husband, the one in this video, he died last year, it was really sad. I'd like to think I've moved on.

This one frame, you can barely see it, but it's there. They zoom in on me and him, and he spills wine on my dress. It was a long time ago, I still have the dress, I still have the stain. Right as the liquid touches the fabric, a figure can be seen, if very faintly, a body an inch from his. It is not clear, but it's as though a hand of light, with thin nails outstretched, had crawled its way from behind him and out towards me. It was only a camera flash! It had to be.

Rewind the video. The wine spills again, and I can still see the flash, along with several others immediately after. They were camera flashes, but the first took a form. Move forward, slowly. Frame by frame. Each flash was that of a camera, and on the sixth flash, there was the same shape again, that same hand. It was touching my shoulder. Of course, I thought to myself, it was only the glare of the light reflecting off of his cup. Rewind, watch again.

I looked at the timestamp on the frame of the film in which the shape can first be seen, it read twenty-two seconds. I moved back two frames exactly, the wine leaves my shirt and recedes into the cup. The timestamp reads twenty-four seconds. How can that be?

I roll back the footage to the original twenty-two second mark, and there I see it again, but different. It was a hand there, yes, but the hand was attached. It was flesh, blood, thin, and veined like that of an old woman's. The person it belonged to was off screen, and I rolled back a single frame, and immediately was rushed with a vicious feeling of terror. For only a moment, the face of the woman the hand belonged to was upon the screen, peeking out from the edge, only the side of her face apparent. Her face was old, her mouth was open in a scream, no doubt in reaction to the wine spill. I flipped through the frames, but could only see her face in the one, as the camera flew by her so fast that it hadn't had time to catch her image. Or had it?

Her face was one I did not recognize, it was strange. You could not see her eyes from the blur of the camera's movement, but you could see every single one of her teeth clear as day.

Zoom in! I studied the blurred image, staring intently. Where had I seen this woman before? Was she a relative? A guest? I rewound the tape to the beginning and watched the whole scene in detail a second time, searching for the woman's face in the crowd.

At the fifteen second mark, I saw her for a moment, her body in full-view of the camera for exactly a second. She was pale, skinny, and had her face turned from the camera. She was talking with my friend Heather, who seemed to have the strangest, wildest look on her face as the two stared. The frame on which the camera panned away to my brother Earl, there was that hand again, in the form of a camera flash, reaching out from off screen where the woman had been. Only for a moment did the image appear, and in a second it was gone. What was it?

A loud feedback noise ran through the headphones I was wearing, scaring the hell out me as I flailed in surprise. I threw the headphones off onto the desk, shaking my glasses off my face. The hell was that?!

An image on the screen startled me. The frame that showed was of the woman from the back as it was before, although the timestamp, instead of a time, read, "HELLO."

I look at this, and moved the film forward a frame. The message switched back to the normal timestamp, but unlike before, the camera did not pan. The people moved ever so slightly, but the camera did not move. The timestamp had stuck at the fifteen second mark. As I tried to flip from frame to frame, in the film my cousin's stare twisted slowly, then dramatically into a horrible scream, although the headphones had been shot and did not work. In an attempt to fix the timestamp, I hit the fast forward button, sending the film into a frenzy. Heather began to gag at a high speed and was grabbing at her face with her hands as she stared at the woman, no one in the background paid any notice. The woman turned at a sudden pace and I caught a quick and horrible look at her face.

I cringed as I observed her, if only for a second, as her face had been scratched and sliced to the left, her eyes split and leaking, her mouth a crooked mess of bent teeth and tongue. The second she showed herself, the footage began to pull and twist in the player, the tape coiling and crawling out from the VCR with a horrible scraping sound. I switched the thing off quickly and ripped the tape from the player, the thick bundle of tangled film crawling from my fingers. With my hands gripped in fear, I tore the damn thing to shreds and bit and scratched at it until it had been absolutely obliterated.

Hell on earth that was, that hell was wrong and it was a monster of a sin to live and die its own way. Nothing that looks as that can exist in such a hell as this, it needed to die and it did, by my hands. Destroyed and desecrated as it deserved.

I sat for a moment, horrified that I had just ruined our wedding video! The film had been torn to shreds and almost obliterated. How did this happen? I thought to myself.

I didn't want to get another copy from a friend to replace it, but it looked as though I had no other choice.


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