by Johnny Compton
Holding the unlabeled black video cassette somehow reassured her of the legitimacy of its contents. With that reassurance came effervescent nausea, an ugly, unreal sensation befitting the place she was in and the sight that awaited her.
There were thousands of purported “ffuns flicks” online, some more believable than others. Some were made for a laugh with puppets or shoddy animation, some made with award-worthy care and effects by aspiring filmmakers. None, however, were authentic. The big man with a gravel-lined throat and a measured manner of speaking, “Mick,” had guaranteed her this.
“We do not tolerate leaks. Cannot afford to. Confidentiality is critical to us. As for our buyers, they are not likely to spend a fortune on a ‘one-of-one’ item just to share it freely with strangers. And our suppliers—even those who never make it past the prospective stage—know better than to share our business.”
She nodded, confident in his truth and—as a prospective supplier—understanding the warning within said truth. One of Mick’s colleagues had met her at the door, frisked her and taken her phone before bringing her inside the building, a not-yet-gutted science building on an abandoned college campus. The man had escorted her to a first-floor classroom full of stained and weathered lab tables, empty or shattered glass beakers and vials, and overturned stools. The hand-smeared chalk scrawl on the blackboard appeared to be the remnants of an unfinished lesson.
At the front of the classroom was a television cart the likes of which she hadn’t seen since elementary school, and on the second shelf of the cart, underneath a tube television set, was a VCR. Both the television and VCR were plugged into a portable power bank on the floor. Static played on the television screen. She stood in front of it, video cassette in hand, every type of stinging, winged insect in the world flying in her stomach.
“Whenever you are ready,” Mick said. “If you are still not sure after what you see, we will part ways.”
Again she nodded. She put the tape into the VCR, pushed the play button, and straightened her posture to steel herself for what she was about to see. (Continue Reading…)