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Sleeping Pills and diatribes.
Short stories about drugs, monsters, serial killers, and poetry about fear and self loathing.
VHS tapes. Once such a common part of our life, a revolution in film in our own homes. Yet now they fill me with dread. Those decayed, warped, stretched documents of cinema and sometimes our lives. It's always felt so odd to me to watch those fleeting glimpses, moments of other people's family, intimate moments. Odd, but not totally terrifying. And yet now, now I cant even look at one of those old casettes without shuddering, a tremor of revulsion

I suppose now I've mentioned this, it is only fair, if I explain to you, whoever you are, reading this the root of my terror.

It was not until relatively recently that it emerged. The first sign of what to come came one day. I cannot give a first hand recollection of this, only a discussion of what I know happened, and hope you can take my word. A friend of mine, employed in removals and house clearances was working one day at an isolated house outside of the small town I live in. It was in one of the small hamlets that dot the valley around my home. He said the house was thick with a sickening odour, a pile of trash of all kinds in the front garden. Long obsolete software discs, soft furnishings covered in dust and apparently the occasional tremor, as if something, or things were living in it. Rats, most likely. And yet the house was still full, as if the owner was comfortable in a state of decay, patina of dust and damp on every surface. The owner not long departed, both the house and this world. Suicide. It happens.
What is odd is what happens next. Halfway through the day, the police arrived. Not any officers recognisable from the area either, though they were in the livery of the county.
They were told to leave, or else be arrested for disturbing government property. When I heard this, it interested me. I had no idea the government had any sort of ownerships like that. I'd have thought they'd prefer grander properties, as well as refusing to let things become so squalid.
My curiosity piqued, I convinced my friend to guide me out there. Since we both felt so brave then, it was no issue. We biked out there, stopping every so often for a joint or a piss or any number of small distractions. It was a bright evening, a warm summer. When we arrived, there was no sign of the government ownership so proclaimed. Not even any taping off, nothing to suggest the police watching. Nevertheless we walked around the back door, though no neighbours seemed to care. Finding the rear of the house unlocked, we walked in, putting on dustmasks to avoid any risks. We made our way to the previously unexplored upstairs, finding it sparse in comparison to the mess downstairs. A mold covered but otherwise intact bath and a surprisingly clean toilet and sink. A single room with anything in. A matress and bed on the floor, fetid sheets gone half yellow where you could see the man had slept. An overflowing ashtray, a few empty bottles of gin and white cider. A TV, a VHS player and a box of tapes. Seeing no point to investigating the rest of the house, we rummaged through the box of tapes, finding only one still reasonably intact. Labelled as “home video #192843244 (chrismas 89)” we resolved to leave, riding home slowly. The adventure done, we had no idea what we were getting into. Bloody fools we were.
Arriving back in town, we went to see the one person we knew who still had a VHS player. Arriving at his house, we found him willing to let us watch, but not wanting to join us. Settling down out in the garage, we decided not to waste time.

I see now why that house was off limits, that the government was trying to protect both the public and itself from great trauma. Old shames brought up, and new terrors emerged. What I saw on that tape, at least what I remember still now is as follows.
A corporate hospitality christmas party it seems at first, a mass of men in grey suits. Though I cannot say for sure, the faces of the men were those of many senior government figures of the time. I place it either the late 1980s or early 1990s. They were speaking lowly, the voices hard to make out properly, the tape warping and decaying with time, as they all may have done.
It seemed as if they were waiting for someone, the camera weaving around, through the crowd as the operator tried to speak to the odd person, gaining only a few words of laughter. This went on for twenty minutes, a slow, dull process. Grey suits, grey people. Though obvious in its way that they were important and this video was meant only for narrowest circulation. Not a home movie in the truest sense, but still an intimate portrait of a world most people would never know.
What followed though was a call from the front of house. “Gentlemen, the entertainment has arrived!” A sleazy, leering voice cried out this proclamation. The camera went off, and the timeskip was hard to judge when it returned to life, the scene now drastically different. The tape, worn as it was still showed well enough for us to see what was happening. These government figures, businessmen, old money nobility or whatever they were, for those are the groups that to my mind, produce grey men in grey suits who have power and their life handed to them on a plate were now much more active. And worse. They were consorting with terrifying figures. I cannot say what they were for sure, perhaps some experimental special effect the men had consented to, if I rationalise it, but they had the characteristics one minute of reptiles, the next a decaying corpse. Their movements were odd, jerky and blasphemously suggestive. Some of them were gnawing balefully on some kind of flesh, some dancing or grinding up against the men. It progressed, with the men gradually being moved to undress, pairing or grouping off with the entities, with the action moving to a circle on the dancefloor, a mix of laughter, shouting and other, inhuman voices. The figures seemed surprised by the camera, but not afraid. Instead, and slightly horrifically the waved and approximated a sickening blowing of kisses.
By this point my friend had turned white and I myself was shaking. But we could not move ourselves to stop the viewing.
It seemed a clothed man, perhaps the one who had announced the arrival of the figures and acted as master of ceremonies, ushered a small figure, wrapped in a sheet in, the man smiling.
“And, now, distinguished gentlemen and our guests, I present the centrepiece of our evening. Without further ado.” He said, the voice crackly now. His hands pulled the sheet off. Underneath, a young girl. I couldn't place the age, and indeed, couldn't bare to watch. I know she was naked, though my hands finally covered my eyes in time to prevent sight. It didn't help. I could hear screams. Tearing. A pulpy squishing and finally, a chorus of monstrous, alien laughter and orgasms. It was done, thankfully. I turned to apologise to my friend, but no words would come to either of us. The last thing we did that night was to set a fire in the woods and melt the tape. Destroy what we had seen, though it was burned into our minds. All we said, as we smelt the melting plastic and the burning smokiness of the young, green wood that was mixed in with the other firewood.
The two of us, we never wished to speak of it again. So I write this now, a moment of disconnect from this life, and I hope the story drifts from me, is never linked to my name.

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