School was out for the day and I was watching corny teenage drama on TV when it started. While lying on the floor, hands behind my head, feet crossed, and laughing at a thirteen year old boy covered in popcorn; the TV first spoke to me for the first time.In a deep raspy voice it said, “Tonight your brother will die.”
At first, I didn’t do anything. I thought it was a mistake or somebody talking behind me or in the other room. But twenty minutes later it happened again.
“The knife in the kitchen will be crimson by morning,” said the same dark voice.
This time I sat up and turned around. My brother, laughing, was watching the TV from the couch behind me.
“Don’t Hal!” I snarled. “That’s not funny.”
“I’m not laughing at you stupid,” he answered through his giggles.
I looked at Cindy. “Did you do it?”
“Shut up loser,” she said, “I can’t hear.”
I frowned and turned back around. It took several minutes to brush it off but soon I was once again laughing with both of them at the completely unrealistic antics of the teenagers. Another twenty minutes and the tall nerdy boy with glasses tripped over the cute girl. He fell and the kids around him laughed, Hal and Cindy behind me laughed, and I laughed too. Then he looked directly at the camera and instead of the squeaky voice I was used to, I heard the dark sinister voice from earlier.
“Susan, you are a very bad girl.”
I screamed, sat up, and covered my eyes and mouth with my hands. The laughing behind me stopped and an angry voice filled the room.
“SUSAN! SHUT UP!” yelled my sister.
I turned and glared at her. She looked back at me and raised her eyebrows.
“Well,” she said. “We can’t hear! Stop messing around.”
“But doesn’t that freak you out?” I said. “Why did he say that?”
“What?” she said and shook her head quickly to mock me.
I stared at her for several seconds and spun back to the screen. The geeky boy was talking to the cute girl. I was afraid to ask my question but had to do it.
“Didn’t you hear him say my name?” I said without turning around.
“SHUT UP!” she said. “Geez SUSAN!”
I got up and stormed out of the room and up the stairs. I was done with the TV and I did what I always do when I’m upset and need to calm down. I went up to my computer to write in my journal. I was using the computer before anyone had a chance to teach me to type so I learned on my own. As a result, when I write I stare at the keyboard and my fingers fly randomly around and I peck each key one by one with my index fingers. Surprisingly, I can type pretty fast like this (faster, in fast, than some of my teachers).
I was punching the keys like I wanted to punch my sister, complaining about how she always teases me when something felt wrong. It’s a feeling I get when I have typed something wrong but I don’t consciously realize it. It’s a gut feeling that says…oops, mistake! I stopped and looked at my screen. What I saw made me scream and lunge backwards, which caused me to fall back in my chair onto the floor. The next thing I remember was my dad’s voice.
It was like a dream. Like the voice was coming from hundreds of miles away yet at the same time, it was right next to me. I opened my eyes and saw his face above me. For a moment I didn’t really know what was happening but then I remembered and jumped up into his arms and tried to hide from my computer.
“Woah! Sweetie. What’s going on? Are you alright?”
I pointed to my computer without lifting my head from his shoulder. He picked me up and I squeezed tighter as he sat on my chair. He read for a moment and then spoke in a solemn voice.
“Well, I can see we have a big problem here,” he said.
I nodded, knowing what he was talking about.
“You spelled arrogant and conceited wrong.”
I spun my head around and looked at the screen. The word I’d seen moments ago was gone and had been replaced with my angered ramblings.
“That’s not what I saw,” I said.
“You mean what you wrote,” he asked.
“No, that’s not what I saw. There was something else that I didn’t write. And…” I paused.
“And what?” he asked.
“It dripped down the screen like blood.”
He laughed and asked, “and what did they say?”
But I was mad and didn’t want to tell him. I stood up and walked out of the room. I started to go into his room, but then I saw the computer by his bed and I stopped. I turned and walked into Cindy’s room but her TV was just inside the door. Hal had a computer, the hallway had a computer, and I had nowhere to escape! I stepped into the bathroom and locked the door behind me.
“Susan?” my dad said several minutes later as he knocked lightly on the door. “Are you okay in there?”
“NO!” I said.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
I didn’t answer. I couldn’t talk about it. I was trying not to even think about it.
“Will you come and talk to me?”
Uneasy, I unlocked and opened the door. He picked me up and sat on the floor as he cradled me in his arms.
I told him what happened and he didn’t laugh or make fun of me. I even told him the word on my computer; “Murder.”
“How about if we turn off all the computers and the TV’s for the rest of the night?” he said. “Would that make you feel better?”
Cindy yelled in protest, but Dad made everyone shut down for the night and the house was quiet. Several hours later, we played cards to fill up the time normally on the TV and computers. Hal ended up mad cause he didn’t win and Cindy called me a cheater and said it was the worst day of her life as she stormed into her room. Dad said the game was over and went upstairs. Hal followed him and I was alone in the quiet family room.
I suddenly felt cold and afraid of the TV behind me. It was off, the room was quiet, and I felt like somebody was watching me. I felt like the TV was watching me. I couldn’t move and prayed somebody would come downstairs. I couldn’t even scream. I was too scared.
“Dad?” I finally said, weakly.
“Nope, not Dad,” the evil voice whispered me.
I jumped up and heard horribly wicked laughter behind me as I ran up the stairs.
It wasn’t easy, but I convinced my dad not only to let me sleep between him and mom, but to take the computer out of his bedroom. He said I was being really weird and we might have to make an appointment for me to see a therapist. I didn’t care. There was no way I was sleeping alone or near a computer or TV.
But even with my parents I was scared and couldn’t sleep. Scrunched in between Dad and Mom, arms wrapped around them both, I stared petrified at the ceiling for hours. In the dim blue moonlit room, I cringed at every creak and groan the house made throughout the night. But when I heard the TV downstairs click followed by static, my blood turned ice cold. I stared at the open door into the hall as my body quivered in fear.
A chilling whisper echoed through the house, “Suuuuuuuusssssannnnnn.”
“Dad!” I screamed and shook him. “Dad!”
He sat up and jumped out of bed. He stood by the bed for a minute, confused I think, and then looked at me.
“Susan! Why did you do that? You scared the hell out of me!” he said as he got back in bed.
“The TV dad,” I said.
“What about it?” he asked.
“It’s on downstairs! Somebody turned it on.”
He listened for a minute and got up out of bed and walked out of the bedroom. He descended the stairs and moments later I the TV went silent. He rattled the front door then opened and closed the garage door. After a few minutes he came back into the room.
“Why was the TV on?” he asked.
Mom was awake now too.
“I don’t know, I said. It just turned on.”
Something flashed in my dad’s hand and sheer terror filled my eyes with tears.
“What are you doing with that knife?” Mom asked.
“Oh, I just grabbed it when I was downstairs and thought somebody might be in the house,” he said and set it on the dresser. “But nobody was. The TV was on, which is strange.”
“Why didn’t you turn it off?” she asked.
“I di…” he started to say and stopped and listened. The TV was on again.
He turned and walked to the hallway and Sandi got out of bed to follow him. By the time I got out of bed to follow them, they were down the hallway.
“You are evil, Susan.” the voice said and I stopped in my tracks.
I grabbed the knife and held it in front of me. I could see partially into the hallway. The door was half open in front of me. Against the far wall a shadow flickered in the hallway as it shuffled and grew larger.
“Murderer. You evil little girl. You can’t hurt me!”
I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t move. I held out the knife. The door started to swing open. I screamed and swung the knife. It hit something and then a small body fell to the floor. Evil laughter filled the room as I stared horrified at my little brother, Hal, on the floor while red blood dripped down the knife in my hand.
That was five years ago. Hal still has a deep scar across his face. My family comes and visits me at the institution. Today my therapist thought it would be good for me to face my fears and look at a TV. I didn’t want to. I told her it was a bad idea but she pressured me into it. The voice told me I was a bad girl. It told me that by morning the night nurse would be strangled by the sheets from my bed. And I’m scared again.