Brains, Bees, and Batman
Group: Elder Things
Member No.: 233
Joined: 10-September 10
The conversation with the man was still burned into my mind, and I doubted it would be leaving anytime soon.
"Ya sure you want this?" He had waved the tape around as if mocking me, but his face held nothing but worry. It seemed that just the presence of the tape discomforted him extremely.
"I'm pretty sure, yeah." I hadn't listened to all the stories and go so far out my way to this old movie theater just to give up now.
"Ya know what this shit is, right? It's terrible. Some kinda weird experimental film. Flashin' screen, horrible noises, scenes of violence. Hell, no one's ever made it past-"
"-the forty-five minute mark, yes, I'm aware."
He peered at me from behind his outdated glasses. "So you know what you're getting into here. You're not like the others who I've seen about this thing." He held it up again. It was plain enough, an old VHS with a white label, 'Hypochondria' written across it in handwriting that approached chicken scratch. "Honestly, there's nothin' I want more than to get rid of this thing. I don't even know why it's on VHS. It came in with the reels. Whoever made this atrocity coulda put it on DVD, but I guess that woulda been too easy." He laughed a little. It was nervous. "I wasn't workin' here when they got this movie in. If I had, I wouldn't have let them show the damn thing. It was the last owner who made the decision to bring in this film. A' course, he was gone soon after. You know what, follow me. I got somethin' to show ya."
He stood up from the pile of packing boxes and walked across the room to a locked cabinet. He set the tape down and pulled out some keys, which he had briefly fumbled with before getting the cabinet open. Inside were some old electronics, including an answering machine, which he pulled out and hooked up to some outlets on the wall.
"It's not true that no one's ever watched past the forty-five minute mark. There was one guy, when we first got the movie. He came to about the third showing of the thing or so, which it so happens, was our last."
I frowned. "Really? How come I haven't heard about it?"
"Because no one wants anybody to hear about it. Same reason they ousted the old owner and left this tape buried under boxes of old reels."
"Why not just get rid of it? Throw it away or burn it?"
He sighed. "As much as I hate this thing, I just can't bring myself to do it. Yeah, it's horrible, but it's a piece of history as far as I'm concerned. I don't wanna have it destroyed, I just want it outta here."
He walked back over to the answering machine. "In this machine, there is only one saved message. The one guy that made it all the way through called out to the lobby on a cell phone, I'm guessing around fifty minutes or so in. Whenever it was, it was after everyone else had left the theater, even the guy working the projector office. Now listen." He looked at me with a more serious glance than I thought possible. "I fully intend to give you this tape. But first, I want you to listen to this creepy fucker so you truly know what you're getting into."
He pressed some buttons on the machine, and the thing had started playing.
The high pitched buzzing noise that suddenly came out of the machine was painful. I looked at my companion in the room.
"Don't look at me. it always starts that way."
Before too long, I heard a nervous voice. Probably whatever employee was nearest the phone. "H-hello? Who is this? And what is that awful noise?"
Suddenly, a laugh. Deranged and hysterical. "You'd better tell all those pansies to get back in here! They're going to miss all the good parts!"
"In where? W-where are you?"
"In the theater that everyone left, of course! But don't bother coming back in here. I don't think you could handle it. Too bad! I'm getting to see what no one else ever has! This is good shit, real four-star stuff! Hell, I may come back and see it again!"
With that, the message stopped.
"When they went in later, they found he had gouged through his eyes with a ballpoint pen and killed himself by stabbing his own brain." He sighed, and handed me the tape. "If you still think you can handle it, then take it. You told me you loved horror films. Well, this is the best one out there."
I took it and started to leave. Then, I remembered something.
"Hey, everyone who hasn't left already always leaves by the forty-five minute mark, right? Why is that?"
He turned to look at me. His eyes were sad, ones that had seen something that could never been forgotten. "It's because at about forty-five minutes, they brick the cat."
I was confused. "I'm sorry, what?"
"You heard me. At forty-five minutes, they brick the cat."
Now here I was, digging out my VHS player and hooking it up to my television. I still don't know what he meant by that last statement, but I intended to find out. I must admit, the story about the guy who killed himself had freaked me out. But that guy had sounded insane, completely unstable. There was no way I was going to kill myself over a poorly received experimental horror film.
Eventually, I had gotten everything hooked up. Popping in the tape, I noticed it was already rewound to the beginning. So I pressed play and went to sit in my chair. Time to see what all those people had been afraid of.
At first, the screen was white. Nothing else, just white. Soon, a single word appeared on the screen in simple, cold, precise letters: "HYPOCHONDRIA".
The screen went blank again. Without any warning, a horrid cacophony erupted from the television. The screeching of violins and banging of pianos pervaded over what sounded like nails being rhythmically banged into a metal wall.
An audio scare, I thought, that's a little cheap. However, it didn't take very long for the noise to become near-unbearable. It was clear that this noise would be playing for most of the time. But I wasn't going to stop. I wanted the full experience.
Before long, stock footage of Nazis marching began to play. After a few minutes, it switched to footage of prisoners marching through a jail. During these videos, I noticed the screen had begun to occasionally flash white. I figured it was just an error with the footage. But then again, the guy had mentioned it earlier. There was some sound playing to accompany these shots, but the 'soundtrack' was drowning it all out.
After more footage of various groups marching, it switched to showing footage of a war. I don't remember which one, but eventually it zoomed in on a soldier who had been shot. As he lay on the ground, face covered in blood, he slowly turned to look at the camera with pleading eyes. No one came to help him. It played the footage until he died before switching to a similar scene in a different setting. Then it switched to an inmate being electrocuted in a chair. There were more execution sequences to follow.
As all this continued to play, an uneasy feeling began to grow in my stomach. Maybe it was the music, or maybe it was the increasingly rapid flashing on the screen. I still had no plans to stop.
Soon, the footage grew more and more gruesome. Lions taking down a gazelle and eating its corpse. War footage in which brains were splattered instead of just shots to the chest. Prison riots in which blood was spilled. I noticed that despite their content, most of these were footage that had been taken from somewhere else. In addition, they were all rather predictable. I expected someone to die because it was from a war. I expected the lion to eat its kill. I expected prisoners to riot. That didn't stop the sick feeling from growing. The flashing had become more rapid, the sound more atrocious. The footage kept coming even faster, and just kept getting worse. A surgery. Now there were Nazi experiments. I was sure I was going to vomit. In the background, the nails-on-metal had synched up with the bright flashing. A furious heartbeat. I could feel the bile coming up my throat. Faster. Faster. Faster.
Suddenly, it all stopped.
The screen had gone white. The music had stopped. Text slowly faded into the screen, the same font as before:
"BREAK THE CHAIN"
The noises suddenly returned, louder than they had been. The heartbeat permeated into my brain. I was sure my ears were bleeding. On the screen, new footage began. There was a cat and a mouse. I looked at the clock, barely managing not to expel the vomit that was almost out of my throat. It was almost the infamous forty-five minute mark. And now my heart was beating as fast as the one on my TV.
I watched as the cat sneaked up on the mouse. I watched as it caught it under a paw.
I watched as it slowly tore the mouse open with its' claw, gently pulling out its' glistening innards as the mouse struggled to get away, still very much alive.
I had a bad headache.
I watched as it slowly began to devour the mouse as it squeaked in pain, still trying to escape.
The music had kept building.
Suddenly, in the back of the shot, I saw what looked like a man walk into the frame. He was holding something red and rectangular.
As he walked closer, he raised whatever he was holding out of the shot.
The music was reaching a crescendo.
The man brought his arm down, sending his red something hurtling through the air.
It was a brick.
Stringy gore spattered across the camera from the cat's now-imploded head. It's limbs twitched as the man reached down to pick up his brick. He soon brought it down again, crushing the rest of the cats' body. It had become a bloody furry pulp. The mouse still twitched.
I wanted to stop, but I-
-had finally thrown up, when did that happen? God, this is-
-chaos, music is back on, that certainly wasn't the end of-
-gore, is that a vivisection? This is no longer stock footage of anything, but I'm still-
-thoroughly enraptured, since when have intestines been that meaty? Fuck, there's no more order, I don't-
-feel my ears anymore, but I can still hear that infernal (beautiful?) noise, is this what Hell is? I've always wondered-
-where did I get these scissors? So beautiful, just like this film. Such rapid flashing, like a seizure. The last few rape scenes have been nice, but I-
BREAK THE CHAIN
-know I've got to do something while there's still blood flowing from my ears and bile in my mouth, I've got to-
BREAK THE CHAIN
-end this understanding-
BREAK THE CHAIN
-of my surroundings-
BREAK THE CHAIN
-of this four-star stuff-
"Sometimes I think we'd all be better off without our organs; less heartache." - ScutigeraColeoptrata