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The Television

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My parents had gone out to see a movie and left me at home. I was bored and kind of lonely, so I turned on the TV so I could watch a comedy show to lighten the mood. The TV turned on as normal, but what was on screen was strange. It appeared to be a horror movie, but was filmed from just one angle. The camera was in the corner of a white, tiled room, and in the center of the room lay a man in a t-shirt and jeans. He was completely still and looked dead. In the corner opposite him, there was a TV. The TV seemed to have little blue letters on a red background flashing on it, but I couldn't distinguish them. This was already beginning to creep me out, so I quickly changed the channel. It was exactly the same thing. I thought this was just a coincidence, even though the two channels were on completely different stations.

I changed the channel again, this time to a news station. The same image appeared on screen, just this man lying in an empty room with the TV. "What?!" I exclaimed. I checked the newspaper to see the list of programmes on tonight, and everything looked perfectly normal. Apparently there was news running on the news channel right there and then. But there wasn't. I heard a man's scream coming from the TV, and looked up to see the picture had changes. This time there was a different man, but in a room that looked identical. This one was crouched in a corner, cowering away from another small TV screen lying on the floor opposite him. The TV had exactly the same thing on it: little blue letters on a red background. Then the picture changed. This time there was a woman, scratching her nails against the white tiles, screaming and crying for help as she tried to get away from the same TV that was in the other clips. Again, there were these little letters. What was so horrible about these numbers that made these people so terrified? The picture then stopped and cut to red.

Above the red, a tiny sentence appeared in blue. I looked in closely to see a short phrase:

"Nothing to fear, nothing to hide, don't be afraid, it's all inside, your mind."

Suddenly I knew what the words were on the TVs. They were these words. I stared at the text glaring on the screen, and it stared back at me. I felt a shiver run down my spine. I turned off my TV immediately. Or at least, I tried to turn off the TV. No matter how many times I pressed the "off" button on the remote, the TV wouldn't switch off. I got up and ran to the phone. My heart was racing, and I was starting to get frightened. I dialed my mum's phone number and waited for the ringing. But there was no ringing. There was just an automated voice saying something. I found it hard to concentrate, but eventually I made out what it was saying:

"Nothing to fear, nothing to hide, don't be afraid, it's all inside, your mind."

The automated voice repeated the phrase over and over again. I dropped the phone, ran into the bathroom and locked the door. My breathing was becoming out of control. I was having a full-on panic attack. I began to get claustrophobic, so I turned to the toilet and threw up in fear. I started to cry. I knew the people on TV were real. I knew they were all genuinely reacting to those numbers. My mind was a scrambled mess of trying to figure out what was going on while trying to calm myself down at the same time. I sat on the floor, took some deep breaths, and let my eyes close. I could feel myself relaxing. I slowly laid down and drifted off to sleep.

I woke up in a white, tiled room that was completely empty except from one thing - a small TV sitting in the corner. It was off, but I looked at it for a while anyway. What was it doing here? What was I doing here? Where am I? So many questions rolled through my mind at once. And then, out of nowhere, the TV turned on. There was something on the screen, in little blue letters on a red background. But it wasn't what I thought it would be. It was a message.

"Did you know that a person can die from fear? It's true. The mind can only take so much stress before it shuts down altogether. Quite interesting. Thoughts that our minds produce can become so real that we'd rather die than carry on.

Then the picture flickered to the image of the man lying on the floor. Then back to the text.

See him? He was killed by his own imagination. His thoughts got out of hand, one thing led to another, and his body self-terminated. What I find most interesting about this physiological phenomenon is that the mind simulates a reason for your death just before you die, so you are essentially hallucinating your own death. After the huge build up of fear and uncontrollable terror, the mind imagines something killing you that is not really there. Often, because of the previous paranoia and stress, the mind forms an image of some kind of horrific person or monster attacking you, but really this is just a release of all your thoughts beforehand. The victim also cannot move when in this state, or fight back. When you have reached this point there is no return. You are definitely going to die.

The TV went blank. I felt another panic attack coming on. No, no! I can't get scared. I have to keep calm. I know whoever was writing that text on the TV wants me to panic, wants things to get out of control. And then, they want to watch me writhe on the floor, trying to stop my own imagination from destroying me. My breathing got heavy again, but I stopped it. I stayed calm and tried my best to think rationally. Again, I let my eyes slowly close and relaxed. Then a terrible screeching came from the TV, showing that phrase again.

"Nothing to fear, nothing to hide, don't be afraid, it's all inside your mind."

Suddenly it made sense. It was exactly what the other message said, about self-termination or whatever. I screamed and turned away, trying to block out the constant noise. I was freaking out. I could hear my heart rate increase massively and my vision started to tunnel. I felt sick, like I was going to throw up again. I started to weep, just wishing it was over, screaming again and again. Suddenly my muscles seized up and I dropped to the floor. I couldn't move or make a noise. I could hear my heart, thumping faster than ever. I tried to scream, but it came out as a muffled gurgle. Tears streamed down my face.

Suddenly someone appeared in the room. I didn't know how they got in or what they were doing there, but I felt comforted by their presence. Their face was just out of view; my neck was frozen into place so all I could see was their feet. But I still felt at rest with them standing there. The mysterious feet slowly walked towards me. I didn't make a sound. The feet crouched down beside me and I felt a hand gently push my shoulder over, so I was facing upwards. I saw who it was. It was me. I knew it didn't make any sense, but I felt at peace for the first time since last night. My other self reached into his back pocket, and he took out a kitchen knife.

"What are you doing?" I mumbled. He didn't answer. He just raised up the knife and struck it down into my chest. I panicked again, and grabbed the knife, trying to pull it out, but he held it there firm. I could feel the cold metallic blade cutting through my flesh. Blood was pouring out, staining all my clothes, and dripping into a small puddle on the floor. When I tried to talk, blood spurted out my mouth.

"Why are you doing this?" I desperately gasped. My other self leant down close and whispered into my ear:

"Nothing to fear, nothing to hide, don't be afraid, it's all inside, your mind... your mind... your mind..."

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