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Heading into my senior year of high school, I was introduced to the news that the school would be provided with the technological mistake that was the iPads. Go ahead and tell me about how “I’m an Apple hater” and how I’m part of the “PC master race”, it won’t bring this anywhere. That's not what I'm here to share. This story isn’t about the iPads themselves, but more so what I found on mine.
About three weeks into my first semester, the iPads were distributed to each student of the school, and I was left with time to experiment. I wasted some of my afternoon trying out web browsers, downloading useless apps and games, and of course, dreading when I would need to write an essay on the damn thing.
When it came to knowledge of the iPad’s programs, I was in the dark, along with my friends. The only recommendation I received was to check out the tablet’s Garageband app, as it was “improved” and “smart programmed”. It would’ve taken a lot to get me legitimately interested in the device, but the idea was enough to briefly draw my attention. I loaded up the Garageband app, ready to start my first project, to find that there were already five projects saved.
The school had acquired the iPads from another high school, who no longer required use of the technology. All of the iPads should’ve been wiped clean before the transition, so the fact that some files survived on mine was surprising. Shows how much of a good job their tech team did, I guess.
There were five projects saved, each with the default title of “my song”. They were numbered one through five, and their screenshots didn’t detail anything intricate or creative.
When I opened the first project “my song 1”, it was more of the same. There were no loops, instruments, or anything that would piece together an actual song. It was just a voice recording, with no effects or edits.
I played the track from the beginning, which began with silence that continued for a few seconds. Then a voice began to speak, calm, at a low volume. I had to max my speakers to hear anything that was being said, but the voice was of a boy. I couldn’t put down an exact age, but he had to be at least in his teens (between fourteen and fifteen, I’d say).
As far as what the boy was saying, he was essentially talking about his experiences in school. He talked about how he was “getting to know people” and was “a bit uneasy about the year.” He talked about his classes, the different kinds of students, and some of his goals for the semester. He never mentioned his name, or anyone else’s, for that matter. He also never mentioned where he or his school was located. None of his words provided any essential or meaningful information.
By the time the repetitive recording ended, I was convinced that some student got bored and decided to record himself ramble for about ten minutes. I was still confused about how these files still existed, so I didn’t pay much attention to the details of the first recording. Most, if not all of it, was irrelevant.
Curiosity was still strong for me, so I went straight to the second recording in the sequence. It appeared identical to the first: a strip of an unaltered, recorded voice, with no other sounds. Unsurprisingly, it started and continued exactly the same. The same boy spoke more about his average school life. After hearing the voice twice, I found that it was very... emotionless. He sounded very disconnected with whatever the hell he was talking about, despite the details. I never compared any of the recordings next to one another, so I can’t be sure if the voice had this tone in the first.
Sorry if I seem to over-analyze at points. This is the first time I’ve spoken about this finding in months, so I have a fair amount of ideas to speak out. I’ll try to keep this as organized as possible.
The boy talked about similar topics to in recording one, almost the entire way. The behavior was more strange near the end. The boy was talking again about his school life, and then he abruptly stops speaking, as though he covered his mouth on the spot.
Then, he started talking to himself. Not like before, where he was explaining his life. He was asking questions, and he responded to them as though they were asked by someone else. It was easy to miss what he was saying, as he was talking very quickly near the end. I can’t recall any exact words, but I do remember a few instances of “I don’t know” and “what can I do?” When the second recording ended, my attention was better focused.
Recording three was next, of course. It sounded as though it started where the second left off, when the boy began to talk with himself. The words were still quick, and his speech mumbled frequently. After a minute or so, his speech slowed, and the words were clear. What I remember may not be a hundred percent accurate, but then again, I don’t think a perfect recount matters:
“This doesn’t feel as I expected it to be. I didn’t think it would be easy, this concentrated thinking. It’s stressful, but this feels like a lost cause. Is it really possible, seeing you?”
“You can’t expect these things to be too simple. The mind is too intricate. Are you thinking of giving up, after all this progress?”
“No… no. Of course not, hehe.”
“Then get a grip on yourself. You want me to be real, or not?”
“Yes! I want to see you. I dream of looking at you. I have dreams of what you might look like. Are you the same as me? Are you just a mirror of myself?”
“That will be answered, if you do your job right. Keep focused, think.”
“Yes… I know. I keep shaking, can’t keep sit-"
The recording then ends, making it much shorter than the rest. I was quite weirded out, and hesitant to move on. Keep in mind that conversation was one voice, only the boy. When switching roles, it sounded as though his voice was trying to be different, but there was only a small change in pitch.
After trying to make sense of this finding, there was nothing to go by except the two recordings that remained. I wasn’t greatly disturbed at this point, but it was confusing nonetheless. There were numerous reasons that these recordings could’ve been created (some of them understandable, for that matter), but none had actual support. The most feasible idea was that the iPad belonged to a mentally disturbed student, who used the device and recorded his fits. This still left many questions unanswered, but curiosity still overshadowed my fear.
I opened the fourth recording, and played it. Again, the boy was speaking with himself, asking questions and providing answers. Truth be told, I still had no clue what he was talking about in his conversation. I can’t remember how it began, but I can recall most of the middle and onward:
“Am I getting close? I have to be. I can hear you, even FEEL you. Why can’t I see you, still?”
“It’s simple: You don’t truly believe. You want to, but even now you can’t. I can only be visible when your mind is in the correct state.”
“But I’ve done everything you asked! I’ve believed! I’ve hid myself away, stopped talking to others, stayed silent in school, even stole the meds you talked about! Nothing’s helping. I’m not sure how long I can keep doing this.”
The boy sounded very distraught, by this point.
“Are you afraid, boy? Afraid of doing what’s right, for both of us? Are you afraid of me?”
“I’M NOT AFRAID! How could I be afraid if I’ve done everything so far?! What if you're just… giving the wrong instructions? You are me, after all.”
“I know you're afraid. I’m your subconscious. I know your emotions before you’ve even experienced them. Don’t think of me wrong, boy. I’m the only guidance you have, now.”
There was a silence. The boy breathed deeply, moving away from the mic at intervals. His voice(s) returned after some time.
“My parents… god. They were worried. They were only trying to help me.”
“Quiet! They were distracting you, deceiving, and you know that! That’s why they’re silenced now. We did it together, and there’s no turning back now! You're close, trust me. But tell me: Are you willing to go to the end, to do whatever it takes to see me?”
“Yes… yes I am.”
There was silence for another minute. When I say “silence”, I mean that there wasn’t a single sound. No breaths, movement, or mic feedback, just dead air. I was already on the edge of my seat, even though I had no idea what was going on. A voice returned, and I nearly threw my iPad across the room. “Good. I thought so.”
Now, at the time, the speaker volume was still completely maxed. The voice that spoke sounded about five times louder than it had been all along, like it was being spoke an inch from the mic. But that’s only half the reason why it scared the shit out of me.
The voice was completely different to the boy’s, like a different person had walked into the room. Despite its volume, it was still calm, spoken softly yet powerful. It was deeper, sinister, and sent a piercing chill through my body with the one sentence.
Most importantly, the voice belonged to a woman.
I was so jumped by the new voice that I may’ve missed a portion of the recording, but I listened closely again. The boy’s breaths were frantic, frightened. He didn’t speak for some time, but he calmed down near the end, and spoke once more:
“My God. You’re so… beautiful…”
I was stuck with what to do next. The two options in mind were; to continue to the final recording, or to replay the fourth, and determine if what I really heard near the end was legitimate. Looking back, I should’ve done the latter, as I might've been able to remember it all a bit better. However, my attention at the time was directed to finishing the story; to see exactly where the whole strange, eerie finding went. Of course, there was the possibility that I was being successfully scared by a group of elaborate pranksters. I was actually hoping for that, by the end.
The fifth recording began, and the boy’s speech was nervous and jumpy. It was clear, but again, my memory may not be perfect:
“I don’t understand. You’re supposed to be a visual clone of myself, right? Why do you look this different? Why are you a girl?”
The new, chill inducing female voice was still there:
“Subconsciously, I’m what you wanted. Do you think that’s true, now that I tell you? After all, you wanted someone else. Someone beautiful? Hypnotizing?”
“I suppose so. I’ve felt so lonely, after all. There’s nobody that understands me, my thoughts.”
“Who better to understand you than your own mind, boy? I’m here now, in front of you. You concentrated, and you succeeded. Are you aware of what is next? We’ve been talking about it many times, up to now.”
At this point in the recording, some of it faded at random intervals. Portions were incomplete, despite the fact that I was keeping pinpoint attention on the words. I’ve marked the incomplete areas with dots for the best clarity:
“Must we”…..”this? I can see you, now. Can’t we just”…..”alone, from this point?”
“You”….”what needs to be done! You said”….”yourself, they”….”understand you! They were distractions, they didn’t believe. Some even laughed, “…..” and for “…….”they”…….”pay.”
As the woman’s voice grew loud, the recording suffered further quality issues. A static slowly grew in the background, even as words weren’t being spoken:
“But”…..”don’t deserve”…….”. Most of it’s my fault! Like you”…..”last time, I didn’t fully believe. Blame me, not”…”
“How”…….”blame you? I am you. The only reason the idea is even there, is because”….”thought of it.”
“……okay. You’re right.”
Both voices stopped, and the static transitioned into a painful ringing. My volume was near-muted, and the sound was still completely fucking with my ears. I didn’t want to silence it and miss something, though. By the time words came back, I thought I was close to bleeding from my head.
The next, final portion of the recording entered with another moment of complete silence. The ringing and static ceased, and all sound halted. Then, the boy and the woman spoke again, at the same time. Believe me when I say that not a word was out of sync:
“I will walk into the crowd, and punishment will speak for itself. I will show no excitement, fear, despair, or arrogance. I will shed no tears, say no words, and make no expression. They will look into our eyes, and see no life, a soul without a single shade of color. I will reveal no emotion. All eyes in front of me do not see. Any life that doesn’t see is a life wasted.”
An immense, inhuman voice responded:
“Sweet child, you are ready.”
It was clear to me: none of this had made enough sense to be a fucking joke.
A few days after listening to these recordings, I started sharing them with my friends (who listened to them alone. I had no desire to listen through them all again). We tried to develop ideas as to what they could’ve meant (or who they belonged to). We all had our own speculations: a mental patient’s ramblings, audio samples for a strange film, an iPad owner who started a joke, but went too deep. There were theories that could be possible, but didn’t bring us anywhere. About another week of talk went by, and word of my bizarre finding had gotten to the principal, who then confiscated my iPad because of the reputation it had gained.
Now, what happened to the iPad then was unknown to me for almost the remainder of the year. Talk of it degraded after a month, though I still thought about it often. I wasn’t left sleepless over it or “endlessly haunted until suicide.” But, it damn well frightened me, hearing those voices. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have the occasional nightmare about it.
I’ll fast forward about six months.
I had made good relations with the principle over the course of the semesters, to where I almost began to consider him a close friend. We were having a casual conversation after school one day, and I brought up the case of my iPad. I brought it up as more of an inside joke, but his face turned rather serious at the subject. He sighed, thinking of the best way to explain what he was about to cover. Because we were in a private setting, he wanted to tell me why I shouldn’t speak about the device much more.
My school’s first supply of iPads had been shipped from another high school in Iowa, who had abandoned the program because the devices had been deemed “obsolete.” Even if the program is ended, however, the school still keeps a usage record for every device, matching students with their assigned iPad’s model number. In short, the school knows what student used what specific iPad, even after they’ve been shipped away.
The iPad I had used had belonged to a freshman, in that school. His name was never told to me (I wouldn’t have revealed it anyway). The student had started the year without issue, connecting with other students, getting used to classes, etc. However, weeks into the first semester, he began to take many days off. On the rare occasions he came in, he was very detached from others, and became aggressive when anyone tried to so much as speak to him. The student had no history of mental or emotional illness, and had not illustrated any violence in his past school years.
After some additional time, he stopped showing up altogether. One month later, and he finally returned, with a fully loaded handgun.
He had fired a total of thirteen shots in the school, killing two students and injuring six others. He used the last bullet to take his own life. Given his constant absence, his reasons for the heinous crime was unknown. The only possible lead was to question the freshman’s parents.
When the police arrived at the freshman’s secluded, rural home, the parent’s were found dead in their bedroom. They were both lying in bed, with their throats carved open. The bed sheets were still over their corpses. What’s more, is that their bodies showed signs of early decay, as though they’d been dead for at least a week.
In the end, the only evidence available was the recordings, which I was the first to find.
Before I end (as I’ve already shared all I know), you might be wondering why I’ve titled this “Wasted Life Recordings”. Truth be told, the recordings had no real titles. I suppose the ending of the fifth recording continues to echo in me, like it’s trying to embed its way into my head.
Now, I’m thankful I only heard it once.
Written by Emeryy