Monday, 15 August 2016

THE TALLULAH RECORD 001

So, I wrote this Blog post with the intention of publishing it elsewhere i.e. not on one of my 2 personal Blogs. The reason for this decision will become apparent as you read this. I had to write it, because I needed someone somewhere to read it. I also wanted to keep some form of written, published record of events in a relatively contemporaneous form. 

So I posted it to reddit - the no sleep subreddit. It was the first time I had ever posted on there, but it seemed like the best place. This is because readers of submissions are told to treat posts as if they are true - to suspend disbelief and respond in this fashion. And many people post true life stories on there and get advice or feedback. 

However, a short while after posting, I received a few comments which made me realise I should have considered if it really was the best place to share this record of events. I just don't think the people who read it understood my motivation. One person criticised the dating (a US reader who didn't like the British way of putting the day before the month), while others accused me of being a narcissist and writing something which didn't have much action. It seemed like they simply ignored the fact I had actually told them this was the case, and apologised for it in the actual post. I can usually withstand an ad hominem attack on social media and just brush it off, or reply sarcastically, but given the fact I was opening up about real life events which terrified me - and just getting negative feedback - meant that on this occasion the easiest thing to do would be to delete the post and consider how else to record and communicate the information.

I had already mentioned in this Blog itself that many people have accused me of falling within the dark triad of personality traits. I also could not help the fact that not much happened in my original post - I wrote and published it on the actual day these events happened and mentioned that I would update as soon as possible. I would post this to Creepypasta, but they are in a closed submission period right now. I didn't want to directly post this to my social media accounts for reasons I have disclosed in the post, below. 

I have therefore decided to post on this Blog. I am not linking this post to my main Blog, because I don't want to pollute my dream work with this material and detract from the theme of that Blog, even though my dream work is intrinsically linked to these events.

As this blog post was originally intended to be posted somewhere other than my own Blogs I have made references to information which you - as a reader of my Blog, seeing this posted here - will already know and wonder why I am telling you. I want to keep the integrity of this record and the form in which I wrote it, so I am retaining all of it and anything which is unnecessary to publish on my own Blog for my own readers will be struck-through, so you can still read what I had written, but know that it isn't crucial for you to read unless you are new to my work and don't know who I am. Any references to this Blog, Tallulah La Ghash, will be struck-through. 

I am not including any hyperlinks to my online spaces or social media platforms because I am not here to promote or encourage you to visit them. I have included them in my introduction to the story because they are relevant and provide date/time-stamped evidence of real life events. It is for you to decide if you want to investigate further. 

Since the time of writing, I have a few updates on this scenario. Updates and editing will appear in red text so you can distinguish between the original material and new information. 

THE TALLULAH RECORD 001

Current date/time: 11.08.2016 at 08:16 hours – Location: South-east England (approximate) Norwich - it seems pointless keeping my location secret now that I am posting this on a Blog which refers to my location.

So, I’m not sure how well this story will go down on here, because this is a genuine, truthful account – an almost contemporary one, given I’m actually writing this for the purposes of documenting events, but keeping this material away from my main means of recording my life online – my Facebook, my YouTube channel or my blog.

You are probably going to be thinking right away – this woman doesn’t have a very elegant literary style, given she’s posting this here, on a horror fiction site, but I think you guys might appreciate the gesture, anyway. Please understand I have decided to write this in my natural form of expression – the blog post style that I use every day – or thereabouts. Obviously, I don’t have my normal blog template, so I’m writing this like a fictional narrative, but with all my relevant sources cited, which will go some way to proving that these events are fixed the real world, in my real life. I guess what you will see that I lack in stylish writing will be compensated for my contemporaneity and immediacy.

Apologies in advance for the heavy exposition and autobiographical shit at the start; I get that it makes his post seem unbalanced and random. I’m going to try and keep it entertaining and treat you like I do my blog readers, sort of chat away at you, hoping you’re listening (or reading, ha!). I am actually also a writer of fiction, mostly horror, and a graduate in English literature, so hopefully will be submitting something displaying more creativity and penmanship in the near future.

When it comes to real life events worth recording, I would ordinarily post on my [dream] blog or my YouTube, but there are a few reasons why I'm unable to at present, which is why I am reaching out to you instead. So, I think for this first entry, I should introduce myself to you, so you know who’s talking, and tell you the reasons why it is impossible for me to use my usual social networks to record this and publish it on the internet. I will then go on to tell you what’s been happening and that’s all I’m really able to do at this stage. Hopefully I will be able to keep you updated as to what happens, as it actually happens, although I’m desperately wishing that this is nothing, just me over-reacting and blowing something minor way out of proportion. You can be the judge.

My ‘online’ name is Tallulah La Ghash. I won’t give you my real name, and [A]nyone I mention in this post will be referred to by the pseudonym I use for them when blogging and vlogging – for two reasons. Firstly, on my [dream] blog I always give codenames to my family and friends, to protect their true identities, because I am aware most of these people do not wish for me to breach their privacy just because they happen to be intrinsic to my blog material and also the events I’m about to tell you. I’m a real person, and so are they. You will see why anonymity is important to my blog in a just a moment.

Secondly, if I use the exact same pseudonyms in this post – the one you are currently reading – then if you so wish, you can go and do some research, to check for yourself that all of what I’m telling you is factual and backed up by dated, timestamped written and video evidence. That is what makes all of what I will tell you more terrifying and, I hate to say it -- inevitable.

Some background then. I’ve had a [my dream] blog for quite some time – a few years. I don’t want to sound at all like I am self-promoting, and I am not asking you to visit my online work for any personal gain to me. It’s just that I can’t tell you this ‘story’ without giving you the relevant information which explains the context.

It’s really up to you if you want to try and find me online, and it’s relatively easy because I use the ‘Tallulah La Ghash’ username for most of my online activity, with the exception of my jokey makeup channel, which is ‘Tallulah Zombieface’. I have a Facebook page for my blog and YouTube followers and a profile in my real ‘government’ name.

Everyone on my actual profile knows my online blogging and YouTube activity, because I post links to on there each time I update, for my closer network of online contacts, which includes ‘offline’, real life friends, colleagues, and family members, both in the UK and Iran. I have a large number of friends from the online hip hop community, or people who have sent me friend requests based on posts I’ve made on online comments sections and so forth. So I don’t know everyone on my personal Facebook and many of my ‘online’ acquaintances are from different places around the world. I try not to add too many new people who don’t have a few mutual friends and a ‘normal’ looking profile, mainly because I’ve experienced a lot of harassment, being the type of person who posts a lot of selfies and ironic statuses. Many people don’t seem to get my sense of humour.

Tallulah La Ghash is made up of my actual nickname ‘Tallulah’, which I have tattooed on my lower back (tramp stamp, ha!) in the Deftones Stylus font – there’s photographic evidence of this on my blog, Viva La Ghash! My Mum has called me Tallulah since as far back as I can recall, hence the tattoo and choice of username. ‘La Ghash’ is a variation of my real last name. My friends find it extremely hard to pronounce, so many of them would just call me ‘Ghash’, which sounds – yonic, to say the least! I’ve always had to live with the consequences of having a non-British last name which causes difficulties for people who aren’t familiar with Persian last names, so in the end, I just embraced it and added the ‘La’ to the start to make it sound more fancy. I’m giving you this forensic detail, because I want you to believe me, and if I can convince you that it is easy to search for evidence of my existence and that helps you to give me the benefit of the doubt, then that’s my goal.

I moved from English Literature and History of Art to Law, so I understand the need to ‘keep receipts’ and provide them. I’m a postgraduate researcher, so I’m always seeking to back up any claims I make. I’m an oneironaut, so I’m always trying to be consciously aware of events in my daily waking life, and analysing their psychological effect on me.

I have two blogs in addition to the two YouTube channels. One of my blogs, Tallulah La Ghash is just a dumping ground for my creative endeavours – poetry, fiction, my Sims stories (cringe!), my visual art and makeup looks etc. My main blog, Viva La Ghash, is all about dreaming and lucid dreaming – subjects I have been interested in since early childhood, hence me referring to myself as an oneironaut – dream explorer - above. I also have my online dream journal which has around 672 676 dreams recorded on this blog and that’s my favourite thing to update. Keeping an online dream journal as my main outlet for online writing means I never usually run out of fresh, unique material to blog, because my subconscious, dreaming mind generates the material for me. It seemed like a win-win situation for someone like me, who has long periods of writer’s block when it comes to poetry or fiction.

This explains further why I choose to anonymise my family and friends when I blog – because it’s the ‘them’ that appear in my dreams. Sometimes this can be embarrassing for them, especially if say, it’s an erotic (ahem!) dream. Or one which reflects something negative, because clearly it seems like I might be making a subconscious judgment of them. And when I interpret my dream imagery I refer to my real, waking life interactions and opinions of these people, which is a further layer of personal information I’m divulging, for the world at large to read about.

I’m basically publishing a somewhat ‘confessional’ blog, in the style of a diary themed around my subconscious life, as revealed to me through my dreams and nightmares. I also write informative articles about dreaming – historical and contemporary scientific research into the phenomenon of dreaming and lucid dreaming (all from a humanist perspective); the spiritual or faith-based approaches to dreaming (not my particular area of interest); and some in which I teach the techniques of lucid dreaming and dream control.

My main YouTube channel is dedicated to the same kind of material, so these two social media platforms of mine are basically interlinked and shared to the same general audience – people who are interested in dreaming specifically, so are there for the content, or people who visit because they are familiar with me as a blogger/vlogger. I get up to a thousand visits to my blog per day, sometimes more, but I don’t make any profit from my online publishing because my AdSense account has been disabled, for reasons which don’t seem clear to me at all. I don’t edit my videos and my blog is mainly text and images I’ve altered to illustrate the entry. Because I’m not tech-savvy and learn as I go, I muddle through. I just want to make it absolutely clear to you that I will not benefit monetarily from anyone visiting the social media sites I mention here. This isn’t me performing some contrived publicity stunt. I am – to use ‘lawyer-speak’ – offering proof that I’m a credible witness. This isn’t some way for me to try and take advantage of increased traffic to my online sites.

I spend a lot of time online. My postgraduate studies are part-time only and I work part-time for my university, teaching Law and also acting in a supervisory and welfare role for students in residences. I’m quite a solitary person really. I’m an only child and have always liked to spend large amounts of time alone doing things such as studying random subjects of interest or doing things which involve creativity and imagination.

I have a small handful of people – my closest friends - that I trust implicitly. Some of these people will feature in this post, so these are the only ones I’ll bother to mention at this stage: DL (male, lives in same city); RBA (male) and LD2 (male, current housemate). All of these people have been mentioned numerous times on my blog and YouTube channel because they were relevant in a dreaming or waking context.

So, I can’t post this on my blog or YouTube, because then these people will see it – and for very different reasons I’m unable to confide in them due to circumstances which will lead them to assume I’m lying. Not because they have negative impressions of me in that regard – I’m a very honest, blunt person, who speaks her mind typically and that is one of the reasons these people can trust me on just about anything. It’s because the odds are stacked against me on this occasion.

DL knows I love self-conscious, postmodern parody. That sounds pretentious, but I don’t mean it to be. I love Chris Morris and the idea of making something absurd or impossible seem genuine and authentic. We often debate whether certain rappers are a parody act or just plain awful and unconscious about it. We discuss the nature of art. He knows that when I write fiction, I have a thing for creating the ‘unreliable narrator’ – someone whose truth conflicts with reality, or objective perceptions of the same scenario. So, if I told him what I am going to tell you, then he would assume that this is some kind of – literary project, something I came up with as an ‘art piece’. He knows that I write horror fiction and that a lot of my stories involve themes of the internet and suchlike. Usually, there is the central themes of dreaming, or a character who has a visible online presence, such as a YouTuber or a blogger.  He is aware that the horror novel that I’m in the slow process of writing is based on the concept of fiction blurring with reality and the ‘false document’. DL will just assume – even if I try and convince him otherwise – that this is me trying to be even more weird and eccentric than usual, because he expects that of me.

He knows I’m a troll. Just the day before yesterday, I told him that when I was bored earlier that day, I used horror-style makeup to create a Joker face, and then went on Omegle, sitting just off camera, so only my hair, shoulder and part of one boob was visible to the other chat party. With the guys who were already wanking when their cam opened to me, I remained in this partially off-screen position, responding to whatever they typed in the chat box. I’d wait until they were edging, then jump scare them with my chalk-white, cracked, lipstick smeared Heath Ledger face. I know this makes me sound like a bitch, but it’s an illustration of why my best friends aren’t surprised when I do weird things online to entertain myself.

13.08.2016 at 15:00 hours (approx.) - I have now told DL about these events. He didn't believe me. Just as I predicted, he though I was contriving the situation, as some kind of art project. He said that if these events genuinely happened, I wouldn't have recorded them in this manner before telling him about it and the way I have approached this makes it seem fake. I guess he is right about the way it seems; I speak to DL everyday on the phone and see him twice a week or more. I am often complaining that I am bored and many of our conversations revolve around me telling him about the weird stuff I have discovered online while bored, surfing the internet; or the unusual things I do to kill time when I'm alone. It does seem entirely out of character that I would neglect to tell him about this. I typically inform him of every strange or questionable encounter I experience - even just harassing personal messages I get from men online. Hopefully I will be able to convince him in time. He knows I can be a troll, but I do not lie to my friends. Also, he often comes on forest walks with me and visits these spots. If anything else happens, he might be my eye witness. 

I can’t tell RBA either, because he’ll think this is me playing games, plain and simple. A very short while ago he happened to be in my not-too-distant vicinity and I decided to go down south for the evening to hang out with him, because he usually lives very far away. During my visit, RBA and I were discussing horror fiction and I told him about a short story I was writing about a YouTube vlogger who has a terrifying experience related to her dream-themed channel. He encouraged me to continue to write this story and I really appreciated one of my friends taking an interest in this passion of mine. Many wannabe-writers can empathise with this I’m sure: often we don’t get the same levels of encouragement from our real life friends as we do our online ones, right? Not many of my ‘real life’ friends ask me about my novel or short stories or poetry or blog or YouTube channel.

Over the past few days I’ve been feeling pretty inspired and managed to complete a fairly lengthy piece of horror fiction which I’d originally intended to post on Creepypasta, but decided it was far too long. It was about a bunch of university students and their misfit housemate, and I entitled it In Camera. I personal messaged RBA telling him that I wanted him to be the first to read it, but I didn’t disclose any information whatsoever about this story, not even the general theme. I trust his opinion and I wanted him to read it before anyone else as a way of demonstrating how much value I place in him trying to motivate me. At the time of writing this – the post you are reading now, by the way – RBA hasn’t yet seen my personal message. So I still haven’t either mentioned the In Camera story again, or sent it to him yet.

Since me telling him I wanted him to read ‘a story’, these events, which form the basis of the ‘story’ I am telling you occurred – so if I blogged about this incident and then sent him the link to my blog post, he’d think this was some elaborate piece of fiction masquerading as actual events. And because of our previous conversation, where we chatted about a horror story revolving around a dream channel on YouTube, this post will seem incredulous and disingenuine to RBA, because this very story I am telling you right now only makes sense within the context of my channel.

Like DL, RBA will think I’m having one big joke, using fiction presented as fact to get interest in this story, or as some kind of literary device to make up for a lack of plot. Blurring fiction and reality to try and troll everyone. I wouldn’t blame them for coming to those conclusions, but there’s my reasoning for not going to them first with this story, anyway.

12.08.2016 at 15:20 hours
RBA voice messaged me telling me to send him my horror story (the one called In-Camera, which is posted on this Blog as a Tallulah's Horrorshow entry, which is how I plan to post my horror fiction on here). I have had no further conversation with him yet, and therefore have not mentioned the events I am describing in this record.

Despite the fact I am incredibly slow at churning out material (being somewhat of a slacker with a bad routine who only works well under extreme pressure of a looming deadline), everyone has always assumed I’d become a writer. In my autograph book from the last day of high school, many of my school friends referred to me becoming a famous author, or wanting to appear in one of my future ‘stories’.

In particular, I always wanted to write horror or crime, because these were the first genres of ‘adult’ books I started to read when I was still in primary school. I’ve always had a very high tolerance for horror, gore, violence, the abnormal or twisted; I have a dark sense of humour; I’m fairly tough and robust. That’s why I also decided to go into criminal law as opposed to sticking with my education in the liberal arts sector – I wanted something that stimulated my mind and I was drawn to the human side of this area (as opposed to something more impersonal, such as tax or property law) as much as anything else. I’m sure many of you will understand the fascination some people have with the bleaker or deviant side of the human psyche or you wouldn’t be on this site.

Armchair psychiatrists – and some friends – have diagnosed me as possessing the personality traits of: a psychopath; a sociopath; a narcissist. I think I just come off as both intense and unemotional at the same time. I can’t help that; a while back I suffered from a period of depression, anxiety, daily panic attacks etc, and in order to rebalance my mental health, I learned to control and suppress my emotions, sometimes too much for some people to feel comfortable with. I live inside my own head a lot and because I share insights into what I glean, in an almost clinical way, perhaps to the extent people might think I was self-obsessed or an attention-seeker. Especially coupled with the fact I post a lot of selfies in sexy poses, which means there is a weird schism between what people expect of me, and what they actually get. Really, I’m concentrating on what makes me happy – practicing psychoanalysis on myself, contributing to online discussions, sharing carefully curated snapshots of my private and inner life.

I’m not especially ‘girly’, if you haven’t already picked up on that. I was a tomboy growing up, and when I’m not dressing and making up specifically to make videos or take photographs of myself (because no matter what I’m like as a person, I do want to be attractive to men), it’s fairly obvious I still am. I’ve always tried to match guys; chilli-eating, gore-watching, video games, deadlifting, poker, all of these things I like doing. I’ve always tried to be as fearless as possible and not let gender stereotypes determine what kinds of things a girl should or shouldn’t do.

This is why I don’t find it at all off-putting to go wandering around in the forest in the dead of night. I’ve been doing this for the past few years now, since I moved back to this area from my hometown on the coast. I have to go outside to smoke anyway, and the truth is, I also like to blaze, but can’t do this near my home or place of work. So, when I’m in the mood for doing that, I leave the general area and take a long walk. This provides me with necessary cardio exercise and I actually take variations of the same walk twice a day, once in daylight, and the second one in the early hours of the morning, sometimes around dawn.

The route is beautiful, and this gives me an opportunity to give you something aesthetic as opposed to backstory. On my walk, I pass the lake, which is actually a ‘broad’ – it’s wide and still, with floating lily pads and reeds lining it’s shores. Thistles and blackberry bushes add a purple compliment to the predominance of green. Trees shield little wooden jetties, which jut out at regular intervals, and are used by fishermen and anyone wanting a picturesque location where they can look out at the calm expanse of water, amongst typical British flora and fauna. On the other side of the lake, is a small river, this being part of the nature reserve, mainly populated with wild rabbits, water-birds and pheasants, foxes and so on. I live near a lot of countryside and really you could describe the surroundings here to be a rural idyll, with only the distant sounds of traffic from the adjacent roads or the occasional police helicopter (which seem to becoming more frequent), breaking the silence.

I walk across a big field, past the lake and then off into the woods, where there is no lighting or proper footpath – you have to just venture through the trees and remember your general route. Although the surrounding area is commonly used by dog walkers or joggers during daylight hours, the precise spots I go to.

It’s become my habit to favour two particular spots - a fallen tree stump in a dense thicket of the woods, and a part of the forest accessed by going across the small bridge which spans the river, then walking to the far left edge of a second field. Both of these spots are very secluded and rarely get people passing through, especially not when it’s dark. I go to these places, not only to chill, but to get inspiration for writing. When I want write poetry, I sit by the lake at sunrise or sunset and look at the moon reflected in the glassy water as the sky lightens from indigo or darkens from vanilla.

When I was to get the right mind-set to write horror, I go on a 3am walk, alone, to one of my preferred forest spots.  On 04.08.2016 I made a YouTube ‘vlog’ video about my 3am ‘horror forest walks’, which I uploaded and then shared on my Facebook and my blog. To date it’s had 39 views, which is kind of pathetic, but it’s a pretty random little video of me, recorded on my phone, showing the route I take when I go over the bridge and across the field to the second of the two regular spots.

The video was filmed at night, but while it was still light enough to capture an image on my phone camera. In a couple of places I make a joke about The Blair Witch Project – about how scary it would be if my viewers got to the end of the video and then saw a caption referring to it being ‘found footage’ discovered on an abandoned mobile phone belonging to a ‘missing’ girl. I was just being silly, because the video was about getting inspired for writing horror fiction and a means of giving a little bit of a glimpse into my personal life, as a few of my subscribers had said they liked it when I vlog stuff like that.

I did mention in the vlog that I went to the spot in the thicket, with the fallen tree stump, and pointed in the general direction that I’d normally walk to get there. I decided that it would be more fun to walk to the furthest away spot, because that would show exactly how far I walk into the woods alone in the pitch black of night, with no torch. My camera didn’t have enough memory for me to vlog both places. I’m not denying there was some element of ego or bravado about my motivation to share this, and many of my Facebook friends warned me of the potential dangers or said that they thought I was crazy when I posted the video on my profile.

So, that takes me up to today, at around 05:30. I’d gone to bed early last night, having put myself in a carb coma of sorts. I fell asleep while watching CinemaSins on YouTube at around 21:00 and my phone alarm woke me at 04:00 hours – it’d been left on that setting from the previous night, when I’d been doing a ‘Wake-Back-to-Bed’ exercise, to stimulate my dream work, because I haven’t been able to recall a dream for the past few days.

This is also not unusual for me either – anyone who has smoked cannabis will know it suppresses REM sleep and inhibits normal dreaming. Admittedly, I’m been too bothered by the fact I haven’t had many dreams to blog about, because I’ve been quite immersed in my fiction writing recently, taking full advantage of the rare burst of inspiration I’ve been gifted with. When I woke up, I couldn’t get back to sleep and eventually decided to watch some more YouTube. An hour passed and I was bored, restless and energised by strong coffee, so decided to make the most of the peaceful dawn hour to take a leisurely walk and wake-and-bake at the same time.

It was spitting with light rain, but nothing too bad. I went to the closest spot, the one where the fallen tree stump rests in the thicket. I chose this spot, because it was closer, and also a little more sheltered. The tree stump that I sit on is actually fairly massive – it’s a very tall, moss-covered tree and the stump splits into two at the base, which makes gives it the appearance of a corner-sofa, at least in my mind. Behind me is a marshy, reedy area, where the river burst its banks and swelled during heavy rainfall, and never receded. I used to sit on a different stump in the place where the flooded river water now stagnates, attracting swarms of mosquitos. Since I’m constantly being bitten in my own home, I’ve become pretty nonchalant about this; my main fear has always been getting apprehended by a rogue swan, having had a lifelong phobia of these obscene swimming monsters.

There’s algae and a bunch of decaying leaves and other foliage floating on the surface of this water, and I’ve noticed that in daylight hours, there’s always white, fluffy lint hanging in the air. Thick grass and those plants that remind me of cauliflower heads had sprouted. The recent cycle of intense summer heatwaves and torrential rain storms had led to everything in the shade becoming jungly and lush and overgrown, while the land and plants exposed to the full glare of the sun are scorched and sand-brown.

There are bird boxes on a couple of the trees close to the stump-sofa, with numbers painted on the front. No matter where I walk in the nearby forest (there are a couple of other routes I take along the river when I live in my usual accommodation, although these are actually on a footpath), I have noticed these bird boxes dotted around here and there, highlighting the fact that this a nature reserve, encouraging the habitation and preservation of wildlife.

I’ve never seen anyone venture this far down into the forest, because it’s not actually on the designated nature trail, and the true beauty of this spot, notwithstanding it’s physical charm, is the fact that I can see up towards the path that leads towards the thicket and clock sight of anyone walking in and out of the woods, but no-one from up there could possibly see me, even in my lurid pink and blue Adidas tracksuit top.

So this morning, I take my usual seat and the stump-sofa is a little damp beneath my butt, although this doesn’t bother me. I start to smoke. I can’t even remember what I was thinking about, but I was halfway through smoking when I saw a baggie under the other fork of the tree stump, the main trunk. I paid attention to this, because it meant that someone else came down here to blaze – and in all my time visiting this spot, I had never seen another person there. On the odd occasion, someone might start to venture down to follow their dog, then realise it led to more forest, then a reservoir of water and debris, but never had I seen anyone cotching down here.

The ground is covered in bark and twigs and ivy, which creeps up the trees, far higher than my height. The ground is a bit wet and mulchy because of the rain, so I don’t reach for the baggie, I bend down to have a better look. It’s one of the ones which have a green cannabis leaf motif. I then notice that there is a piece of paper further under the trunk, with something typed on it – at first I think it looks like the strip of paper you get in a fortune cookie, but it’s slightly bigger. I get a twig and pull it closer and this is what it said:

‘To the dreamiest of dreamers, if you’re [sic] dreams are wonky, look up’

No, the ‘you’re’ is not my error – that’s how it was spelled on the piece of paper. The font – and I only mention this, because I am known to be obsessed with fonts and typefaces – was in Ariel or Helvetica. And yes, this scared me, even at that point, because I’m conscious enough to recognise that this can’t be anything coincidental. I am a dream blogger and vlogger; I also read and write horror fiction. This sounds as stupid as I feel writing this.

So, I looked up, and this is where it gets worse. Pinned to the tree third in from where I usually sit was another piece of paper. Even if I hadn’t just read a random piece of paper on the ground telling me to ‘look up’ I would undoubtedly have seen this, eventually, it was in my direct line of vision, even without having to adjust my neck, and a couple of metres away at most. I could even tell that the drawing pin tacking it to the tree was yellow. The paper was tacked higher than my head, but probably in reach of my outstretched arm on tiptoes – I’m not exactly great at estimating heights and distances, because of my dyscalculia.

I actually felt sick, because - - actually, I don’t have to explain why, it should be pretty clear why I had such an extreme response to this. I went closer to the tree, but I didn’t even have to get within touching distance to be able to read the writing on the second piece of paper: the URL to my dream blog. I didn’t touch the paper, I didn’t want to. The only thing I could do in that instant was leave immediately and run home as quickly as possible, which is where I am now, typing this report of what happened. I need to share it, I can’t let this live in my head and stay silent about it.

I cannot explain these events any further than this – I know it seems futile to go to the hassle of writing this all up and then leave you hanging, but that’s literally all that had happened as of the date of this post. Given I don’t believe in the supernatural and I pride myself on being a rational, critically-thinking person, I’m racking my brain for possible answers. The only thing I can think of is that I am being pranked by someone, but given it can’t be anyone who is in my personal life – for a variety of reasons I won’t go into, but trust me on this – it must be someone who is aware of my online activity and knows I walk into the forest. But I can’t honestly think of anyone who would be able to do this – after all, I didn’t even film this spot on my vlog, so no-one would even discovered that information from anything I’ve posted online. The only person who knows both locations is DL – he’s in his thirties and has a professional career. He is not the type of person who would troll me in this way. This is why I am finding it so surreal and terrifying.

I could spend ages telling you about my mix of emotional reactions and speculations, but I’m sure you can guess that my main feelings are confusion, disbelief and fear. I have no more answers myself, than you do at this precise time. I felt that it would be best if I just presented this to you, as candidly as possible and update you if anything else happens. Please believe me when I say this is no hoax.

As I’ve said numerous times already, I share so much of my life online, I couldn’t possibly let this live inside my head. It’s helped me a bit just to write this all down. When I was in the forest, I felt the shallow breathlessness and tingling sensations in my fingers, which signal the onset of a panic attack. I haven’t had a panic attack for years now, but I know the warning signs. That’s why I left immediately, and no, I haven’t been back since. I will go back though, because as much as this has left me feeling chilled to the bone, I’m not the type of person to shy away from an investigation and an opportunity to piece together puzzles. You might think I’m mad. That’s another good reason I can’t just tell my friends; none of them would approve of me going back there again, especially LD2, who would be in a position to actually know when I leave the house to go on one of my walks.

The only other things, I include for completeness. I don’t know if they are relevant or not. I might be making a mountain out of a molehill, so to speak. I can’t remember the precise dates or times of these events, but I can make decent estimations. When they occurred, I was consciously aware of course, because I can remember them clearly. But I didn’t see any particular relationship between them, and I wasn’t looking for clues as to a chain of odd occurrences. I’ll let you make up your own minds as to whether there is any possible connection, or if these are just random things.

09.08.2016 – time: after 21:00 hours
I can hazard a fairly accurate guess with regards to this incident, because I know I’d just re-upped that day and DL had been over for dinner. It would definitely be after 21:00 hours, because it was some time after he’d left to catch the bus home. I went out to the stump-sofa spot. While sitting there, I noticed – to my left, on the other side of the main fallen trunk, what was clearly a serviette. It was the white kind that you get in fast-food places or takeaways and was smeared with what appeared to be – to me – human shit. The only reason I say ‘human’ is because it’s pretty unlikely someone would wipe their dog’s butt. But I have to admit that it is still a rational option, as would someone who maybe changed their baby on a nature walk, or a fisherman who wandered down to this secluded spot to relieve himself. Many of the fisherman who use the jetties set up camp along the banks of the lake and stay all night. It is for these reasons I didn’t regard this as too strange at the time.

A few days ago – time: after midnight
I was sitting on the steps outside my building, smoking the other night – it was after midnight and before dawn, because the sky was at its darkest. To my rear left is an office used by the local police as some form of drop-in centre and directly behind me, is the mirrored glass of a store cupboard which is just inside the entrance to my building. I was looking at something on my phone when I heard a crash from inside the cupboard. Because the window is mirrored glass (as seen on my house tour vlog video, which starts in this exact location), I couldn’t see into the store cupboard. It is one which I believe to be used by the cleaners or maintenance, so my conclusion here was that it made me jump and feel a bit apprehensive, but the noise was probably just caused by a mop falling over or something.

Last week – time: around 02:00 hours
My kitchen has huge windows on two sides, which go from knee height to the ceiling. When the lights are on, there is a clear view into the kitchen and you can see what people on each floor of the multi-storey building are doing, with good visibility. These windows can also be seen in my house tour vlog video. On one side, near the counter, hobs, kettle etc, you can look down beyond the protruding roof top of the pyramid-shaped building and see an area on the grassy field, directly below my window, which has been partitioned off by construction workers. I’m not sure what work they are doing, but there’s always a lot of construction work going on in the summer – that’s the reason I’m in temporary accommodation at present. The partitioned off area has some temporary structures – like huts, which I assumed were portaloos. There is one which is two-stories high, with a ladder on the outside. This is another reason why I assumed these were portaloos, because it wouldn’t be practical for it to be for storage of tools or whatever.

I usually looked out at the builders when I make coffee during the day – this being multiple times. The distance is small enough for you to be able to communicate from the ground level where the partition is through the open window. It’s possible to make eye contact.

On this occasion, I was making coffee at around 02:00 hours – I know it was this time roughly, because I did check at the time, just after this happened, because I found it slightly odd. I was in the middle of writing some horror fiction at the time, which could also explain why I got a bit paranoid. I looked out of my kitchen window towards the partitioned area and saw the door to the second-level portaloo was open and the light was on. I am almost certain – but not entirely so – that this door was not open and the light was not on when I boiled the kettle a short while beforehand – maybe an hour or so. I think I would have seen it, because the light was so bright against the blackness of night, and the rest of my building, and the surrounding ones, are currently unoccupied, meaning anything illuminated would stand out more and draw your attention.

I waited for a bit, to see if anyone would come out – there would be no reason to just stand in a chemical toilet after you’d finished using it. I stood there for about ten minutes and didn’t see anything at all. I wondered why on earth any of the construction workers would be on the site at this time, because they never had been before and it wouldn’t be possible to do any work. I am guessing the area is padlocked at night, but I don’t know for sure – I can check this. I came back to the kitchen around an hour later and the light was off and the door was shut.

So that’s everything now. I haven’t really got anything else to say right now, other than thank you for letting me get this off my chest and thank you for taking the time to read this. Rather than repeat anything I’ve already told you, or start over-analysing these events, I’ll bow out now and - although I sincerely hope it won’t be the case – update you if anything else relevant happens.

13.08.2016 at 15:00 hours (approx.)
DL and I did actually venture out into the forest on the day I told him about these events (see above) - it was him suggesting that we go on one of these walks which compelled me to confess, as well as the disappointment I had experienced when posting this material on reddit. I just needed to confide in someone. There was nothing unusual to see. 

13.08.2016 at 03:30 hours (approx.)
This is an approximate time, because 03:30 hours was the time I returned to my bedroom and looked at a clock. I did not have the actual time when I witnessed this, because my phone was in my room, as usual. I was in the kitchen, when I saw that the construction workers' portaloo/cabin (the second level one, referred to above) was unlocked and had the light on again. I specifically looked to see if the gates to the partitioned-off enclosure were open, but they were not - and it would be virtually impossible for anyone to climb over the mental fence as there are no footholds (it is made of vertical strips of metal). This time I noticed that the door was not fully open - it was halfway open. I waited for around 10 - 15 minutes and saw no-one leave or enter. I could hear no sounds from my open window (which is only slightly higher than this portaloo/cabin and a distance of maybe 5 metres away). I went to bed shortly after this, so did not return to the kitchen to check to see if the light stayed on. 

I should note that I have not received any weird or unusual messages or other forms of contact on my social media accounts or my email. Everything seems normal in that regard. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

IN CAMERA (SHORT HORROR FICTION)

We never liked Aaron. When I say ‘we’, I mean everyone; our entire flat of eight undergraduate students, any guests visiting the flat who happened to meet him, even the regular cleaning staff. This guy was the ultimate melt, the perpetual victim, a nasty little fucker who was to blame for anything he got in return.

Our cleaner, Jacqui, stopped me and Veejay in the kitchen one day, just over a month after the start of term, when Fresher’s Week was long passed, and the new undergrads in halls were settling down for at least half the week. We liked Jacqui – she was really mouthy and unfiltered and happy to clean up our discarded beer cans and half-eaten takeaways and turn a blind eye to the sight of a poorly hidden bong. 

As usual, we greeted her with ‘Hey Jacqui, how’s it going?’ and she had a right moan about Aaron, as if she really wanted to get things off her chest. She said he was very clean and tidy – unnaturally so, compared to most teenage boys, but his room had a strange smell. Veejay asked if it smelled like weed and Jacqui said no, she couldn’t put her finger on it, it just smelled very odd and she was glad she only had to empty the wastepaper bin so she didn’t have to put up with it for too long at a time. We couldn’t smell anything in the corridor and none of us were ever invited into Aaron’s room, so we took Jacqui’s word as gospel, because she had no reason to lie.

That wasn’t her only gripe either. She said Aaron would never be in when she arrived on Monday and Thursday mornings at around nine, to do the student dorm rooms – and yes, we knew Aaron was an early riser who always showered and ate breakfast in his room before leaving well ahead of any possible lecture or seminar. She went on to tell us that, on two occasions, she’d noticed Aaron’s laptop was open on his desk, with the screen on. 

The first time, she didn’t click that there was anything unusual until something moved, on what she’d assumed was just a still image or a screensaver of some sort, This caught her attention, and as she looked closer, she quickly recognised the dark green door with the fire safety sticker and the cork noticeboard on the wall nearby – she saw the exact same thing multiple times a day during her working week. It was an image ingrained in her mind, and now she was seeing it projected on Aaron’s laptop screen. It was the standard Cranwick House dorm room. 

She shifted to the side, in the direction of the bin, and realised it had been her moving on the screen – she said she waved her hand and watched the ‘her’ on screen do the same in real-time, like she was seeing herself reflected in a mirror. This made her panic and realising she was being filmed on webcam, she was able to now notice the small blue light shining above the screen. The laptop was positioned in such a way for the webcam to have a perfect view of the door and anyone entering the room, as if it were definitely an intentional act. 

Not knowing what to do, and aware she could get in serious trouble for interfering with student property if she touched the laptop, she hurried out without emptying the bin. She didn’t tell her supervisor, because after thinking about it during her coffee break, she decided to give Aaron the benefit of the doubt. She’d never actually met him and maybe he’d been using the internet to talk with family or friends back home, and had forgotten to turn his camera off. That would be a simple and reasonable explanation. Also, why would he want to film an overweight, middle-aged woman emptying his bin? She said she knew she wasn’t exactly eye-candy for a young guy. It didn’t make sense, so she wrote it off as one of those things.

This didn’t happen again until about two weeks later. On this occasion, Jacqui escaped being caught on the webcam, because since the first incident, she always entered Aaron’s room cautiously, looking in from the partially open doorway to check if his laptop and webcam were on. On the second occasion, the surprise got to her again, because the last few times she’d been into Aaron’s room, there’d been no sign of his laptop at all, confirming her conclusion that it had been a one-off incident – a mistake. But she felt relieved to have been semi-prepared and had been able to reach for the bin without fully entering the room, so the webcam would only have captured the door opening. 

Jacqui told us that if this happened one more time she’d be having a word with her supervisor or the Accommodation Office, because she had enough to deal with cleaning up alcohol vomit and cans and bottles and dealing with filthy kitchens and toilets without having to worry that some teenaged pervert was trying to catch her on candid camera. She asked if he was ‘a foreign student or a British one’, which made Veejay choke on a laugh, because we both knew she didn’t mean it in a racist way, but you could tell she was hinting something.

We said Aaron was a home student from somewhere provincial as fuck, like Suffolk. There wasn’t really a way of showing her a picture of him, because his Facebook account – which he only seemed to use to post weird, obscure links or share very unfunny memes – didn’t have a proper profile picture. He had about three photos on his Facebook – we knew, because we’d added him for a laugh and then stalked his profile in the hope of digging up some material on him. One of his photos is SpongeBob – that’s his profile picture. The other two are of Bruce Lee and a sad-looking puppy. He’s a total wankstain really. 

Then Veejay reminded me that he might be in some of the photos I’d taken in Fresher’s Week, this being before we realised how lame he really was and started avoiding asking him to join us for social events, or even making small-talk in the corridor or kitchen. We were still most likely making some effort to encourage him to join in with the rest of us in the flat, in those first few days.

Jacqui’s a bit of a gossip and likes to get involved with the students under her allotted area of campus, after all, she sees us three or four mornings a week and bleaches our toilets and removes the hair from the plugholes of the shower and the used condoms from our bins. It’s not really that surprising she seemed majorly keen to see what Aaron looked like, and I sort of felt that she had a right, you know? I imagined how I’d feel if I discovered someone was secretly filming me for no reason, or my reaction if my own mum – being roughly the same age as Jacqui – told me that some noncy teenage boy was spying on her at work using a webcam. So I scrolled back through the photo album on my phone until I found the pictures from the period in question. It took me a few minutes of enlarging various photographs to get a better look at who was in the background, because it seemed that I hadn’t bothered to get an actual picture of Aaron either in a group or by himself. No great surprise there. 

Eventually, I found one and actually had a vivid flashback to that night, which had been the Fresher’s Mixer. The actual subjects of the photo were the girls from the flat – or at least the three out of four who actually party, as the other one is a Chinese student who’s pretty shy and not really one for joining us when we’re drinking in the kitchen or going out clubbing. 

The girls, Sally, Misha and Felicity were doing the standard Charlie’s Angels poses and to be honest, they all looked pretty hot, dressed up and tipsy from vodka shots. And in the background, was Aaron, trying to keep his head down, but captured at just the right time, so you could see a three-quarter shot of his ugly mug. 

He’d been trying to navigate the drunkenness and debauchery of the kitchen party so he could cook some noodles; I guess he chose noodles because they were the fastest option and he could be in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. He always eats really bland, basic food though. He’d declined to join in when we’d asked him earlier, mainly out of generosity, politeness and maybe even a little curiosity. 

From the way he refused to have any sort of fun or conversation, and acted like he was embarrassed about it and wanted to avoid all contact with people his own age, it was easy to spot he was a socially-awkward, gimpy type from the off. Misha thinks he’s on the spectrum, says he’s a textbook case, but I just think he’s just a fucking freaky dude.

In the photo, his expression was clearly pissed off – or maybe intimidated by being forced to share space with normals. He looked like he was grimacing slightly, with his lips all tight, and he was wearing a fucking awful navy and red jumper which looked like his granny’s DIY project gone wrong. Even on warm days, he wears stupidly thick clothing, like that damn jumper, with other layers underneath as well and a big parka jacket when he goes outside. If we got close enough to him, we’d probably discover part of his problem was BO, but to be fair to him, he seemed pretty hygienic and none of us wanted to get within touching distance anyway.

I think Jacqui seeing Aaron’s weaselly little face eased her mind a bit, because she took a good look and laughed saying he reminded her of Harry Potter to which Veejay had said something along the lines of ‘if Harry Potter had a pizza face’, because you can’t deny that the boy has caught a severe case of the acne. I guess we laughed about it for a bit, chatted about the state of the communal stairwells, then Jacqui left to continue her sweep of the rooms. On the numerous occasions we’ve spoken to her in passing since then, she’s never mentioned the webcam or the horrible smell in Aaron’s room again. 

While Jacqui might not have experienced any more fuckery from Aaron, that’s not to say our flat as a whole didn’t. We’d already realised we were living with a freakshow, almost before we’d waved our parents goodbye and unpacked when we analyse his peculiar actions. He was always sniffing things, as if he needed to check that they hadn’t gone bad – which is ironic considering what Jacqui said about the unbearable stink emanating from his own room. He’d butter both sides of a piece of bread. He spent ages in the shower. We could look down from our kitchen window every evening at around seven and see him pacing up and down outside on the grassy lawn at the back of the building, in the middle of long phone conversations with someone we assumed must be his mum or dad, because we couldn’t imagine who else would want to talk to him for nearly half an hour each time, on a daily basis. He was a classic oddball character.

Quite soon after we moved into halls, we – this being Sally, Misha, Felicity, Veejay, Wingman Will, and of course, me – came to the conclusion that Aaron had an obsessive crush on Daiyu, the Chinese girl. Don’t get me wrong here, she’s quite pretty and shit, it’s just she never showed any more interest in Aaron than she did the rest of us, preferring to stick with other international students and hang out in their flats for the most part. Or sometimes her Chinese friends would come over and use our kitchen to cook and eat dinner, but it was no big deal to us and, with the exception of Aaron, we all got along really well considering we’d been thrown together randomly as a result of the university dorm room allocation system.

At first, we started noticing – all of us, separately, that is – that Aaron would loiter in the corridor outside the communal shower-rooms and toilets whenever Daiyu was using them. This would be either really early in the morning or in the evening, the only times we ever really saw them in the flat at the same time. Some might just see this as a coincidence, but trust me, it wasn’t – and isn’t. He was a lurker. The type of guy who you’d imagine would wind up middle-aged and still a virgin, hanging around a children’s playground in a dirty rain mac, waiting to expose himself to some vulnerable single mother with her kid. Or in an unlit section of a car park, hoping to catch some poor young woman walking by herself at night. 

The shower-rooms are shared by all eight students in the flat and there are two, each with a toilet and wash-basin. There is a separate toilet between the shower-rooms. The only time sharing communal facilities sucks is on days where a few of us have early classes or when everyone’s getting ready for a night out and have to stagger our timings and compromise a bit. In a way, it’s kind of handy that Aaron and Daiyu are usually done by eight, and Veejay often doesn’t wake up in time for his first lectures anyway, as it works out most days. 

Anyway, at first, it seemed only me, Misha and Sally had caught Aaron in stalker mode. It turned out, after we discussed it, that we all saw practically the same thing anyway, so I’ll tell you from my own perspective and you can have complete faith that everything I tell you is more than corroborated. So, around registration time, I’d been up earlier than usual, because there was some sort of mandatory all-day orientation programme for my course. On my way to the kitchen, I’d seen Daiyu head into one of the shower-rooms, with a towel and a bunch of toiletries – at that stage, most of us kept our own stuff in our rooms so it didn’t get fucked with. 

I ate some cereal or something typical like that, and then on my way back to my room, had to pass by the shower-rooms again. Aaron was standing outside the closed door of the shower-room I’d seen Daiyu go into. He looked like he was trying to listen in, with his head tilted a little too close to the door. He was holding his mobile phone, the camera function open on the screen. The second shower-room and toilet were unoccupied, removing the possibility he was just impatiently waiting to take his own turn. When he saw me looking at him quizzically – probably with a screwface expression, because I did find it creepy – he sort of straightened up, a shameful, guilty look flashing across his face. He stuffed his phone in his pocket, before rushing back into his room without a backwards glance. 

A few days later, I woke up insanely early with an insatiable thirst caused by a fierce hangover from the night before, and an intolerable need to pee immediately. I’d have bitten the bullet and pissed in my bedroom sink had it not been for the fact that today was Jacqui’s morning to clean and I wasn’t that much of a dirty, disrespectful cunt. The door to the toilet was ajar and I was kind of shocked to push it open and walk in, finding Aaron just standing there, his head pressed up against the wall, as if he was trying to hear through to the adjoining shower-room, which was clearly in use, because I’d noticed the engaged sign on the closed door as I’d passed checking for free bathrooms. He had his mobile phone in hand, and it appeared that he was either filming – or taking a photo – of himself trying to eavesdrop on the person showering next door. Again, my sudden appearance provoked a guilty response, indicating that he was clearly up to no good, and his pockmarked cheeks flushed deep pink as he mumbled ‘sorry’ and pushed past me. I guess if I hadn’t been so foggy-headed and desperate to piss, I’d have confronted him there and then, but he was too quick and I was distracted and disorientated.

Later, whilst we were pre-gaming before the Union club night, I mentioned what I’d witnessed and this was when my flatmates told me similar stories – it seemed that at least once a day Aaron was seen by one of us, lingering outside the bathroom or toilets – and sometimes even outside Daiyu’s bedroom door. Each time, he’d just bounce immediately, realising he’d been caught red-handed and knowing that there was nothing he could say to talk his way out of the situation. On almost all of these occasions, he had his mobile phone out and appeared to be filming or taking pictures of himself or the door. Sally’s friend said that at least he had the decency to look ashamed about it, but Veejay loudly disagreed, claiming Aaron was a ‘rapey cunt’ and was bang out of order in harassing vulnerable international students.

The girls were fairly shook by the conversation we had about our weirdo flatmate and most of us felt kind of worried for Daiyu, mainly as she might not even know what was going on, or maybe she did, but was too scared to confide in us which was just as bad really. I know it sounds a bit sexist, but us guys said we’d sort him out if it got worse and I suppose that put the girls’ minds at rest a bit, because seriously, Aaron wouldn’t stand a chance against any of us. None of us are rowdy, aggressive or fighting types, but this was out of order and if he continued this campaign of stalking females, Aaron would need to be told. 

We weren’t trying to be White Knights or anything, honestly – I hate that cheesy, patronising bullshit – but if some little bell-end was making the girls feel uncomfortable or threatened in some way, it’d be quite cunty of the guys in the flat to ignore it and not try and sort it out man-to-man like the grown adults we were supposed to be. We’re not kids anymore.

I’m not saying that we were all ‘feeding’ off the Aaron shenanigans, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t act as some kind of bonding experience for us as a flat. We were all really different individuals, with three things in common: we shared the same environment, we were all confident, party-animal types, and we all hated Aaron with equal intensity.

Of course, we all kept tabs on the situation and we all frequently chatted about it and updated each other on happenings. And sometimes, yes admittedly, we might’ve exaggerated stuff for comic or dramatic effect, sort of hyped up off each other’s excitement, as what tends to happen when a bunch of people get involved in some hectic situation and want to outdo each other with the storytelling and gossip.

A few days after I’d first mentioned my encounters with the perverted side of Aaron, things started to escalate, if that’s the right word. Or maybe it wasn’t really an escalation as such, but we were all just more sensitive to Aaron’s odd behaviour and picked up on it more readily. Before I’d even entered the kitchen, I could see Aaron through the glass panel in the door. He was standing, by the food lockers, bending down to peer into one of the middle ones, rummaging around inside it. Again, his fucking phone in his hand, as if he was filming himself looking through the locker. He stepped back in panic when he heard me push the door open, the same redness creeping up his cheeks and bewildered, awkward look on his face. This made me glance to the open locker he’d been rooting through. 

Almost immediately I could see it wasn’t Aaron’s locker, because I knew full well which one he used – he kept it firmly secured with a padlock after we’d raided it for clean cutlery and glasses one night and not washed and returned them before he found out the next morning. The open locker was blatantly that which was used by Daiyu; I could see the bottles and jars and packets of unfamiliar ingredients she bought from the Asian supermarket. I said something like ‘What’re you doing?’ and Aaron mumbled ‘I’m just looking for salt’, then left, scuttling away like a scared rat, rosy cheeks aglow. The thing that got to me the most was the fact that not only did he do these stalkerish things, but he actually seemed to want to be keeping a visual record of his strange behaviours. This, coupled with what Jacqui had mentioned at the start of term, led me to believe he was definitely some kind of pervert or sociopath who needed to be watched. 

Since it wasn’t obvious Aaron had stolen anything or interfered with her food stuff, I didn’t bother to tell Daiyu about what I’d witnessed, and instead just told the rest of my flatmates so I’d have something to contribute to our daily group bitching session, where we’d roast Aaron and log all of the crazy shit we’d seen or heard him doing. 

Yes, there’s more. I could spend all day describing what it’s like living with Aaron. In fact, I guess all of the flat could’ve just gone to the Residential Supervisor responsible for our block. But let’s be fair here – we weren’t snitches and none of us wanted to invite the RS to come snooping around in our flat too much, because most of us liked to party and attracting attention to us might mean we became the subject of inspections or interference. A few of us liked to regularly blaze in the kitchen, covering the fire alarms with plastic bags and exhaling the weed smoke out of the open window, so we wouldn’t get caught by the RS or Security if someone made a complaint. We had every reason to want to keep our flat off the radar as much as possible.

Soon after the locker incident, Sally started gradually mentioning an increasing number of incidents where she had come out of the showers or her bedroom to find Aaron just outside in the corridor, mobile phone raised as if he was waiting to snap a picture. On the first couple of times this happened, Aaron did what he always seemed to do; immediately put his phone away and returned to his room. But on one occasion, Sally left the shower, wrapped in a bath towel, to see Aaron standing literally right in the centre of the doorway, facing it, hands resting on either side of the doorframe, as if he was going to attempt to block her exit. Sally was more caught off-guard than genuinely scared I think, because it’s hard to imagine anyone would be physically intimidated by Aaron and Sally’s quite a tough lass who goes on rallies and plays women’s rugby. She could single-handedly defend herself from him physically, if she felt in danger.

This time Aaron did not flinch and did not run away, but he did drop his arms and take a small step backwards. In fact, Sally told us he didn’t seem at all embarrassed by getting caught out by one of his ‘targets’ this time, he just stood there staring at her, like he was transfixed, his face completely void of any emotion. 

She described it in a way which made it sound like he was trying to bore his eyes through the towel to see her naked underneath, because he wasn’t making eye contact with her, his eyes were focused intensely on her chest area with an unflinching gaze. His eyes didn’t seem to blink and Sally remarked that this made him look like he had X-ray or laser-vision or something - or maybe he was testing out his telekinetic superpowers and was willing the towel to fall off and reveal her naked body to him. He seemed more ‘predatory’ on this occasion, but still not exactly ‘dangerous’. She added that he probably didn’t even register the disgusted expression she made as she stepped around him and hurried back to her room, but as she reached her door and turned back to see what Aaron was doing behind her, she said he was still standing motionless, staring straight ahead into the shower-room. He had now taken out his mobile phone and was holding it out in his extended hand, as if filming the now empty room. She stayed in her room for at least half an hour, drying her hair and getting dressed and when she finally left, Aaron was nowhere to be seen. 

Felicity had the room next to Aaron. She said that sometimes – in the early hours, when she was still awake chatting with her American friends online – she’d hear strange noises through the wall, like a faint rhythmic knocking and sporadic grunting sounds, which obviously meant gimp-features was having a wank. 

After this revelation, the group chat we had set up for the purposes of arranging our social activities within the flat, became the official way of communicating instant updates on the Aaron situation so everyone was always kept firmly in the picture. Whenever one of us was in the flat, we’d report back on what Aaron was up to – whether that be his general comings and goings, or random shit like his sniffing, what he was wearing that day, what food he was preparing etc. Sometimes one of us would see him around campus; studying alone in the library or making his way to class. Felicity was responsible for keeping us informed of the nightly ‘Fap Report’ and sometimes we’d even gather in her room, and crowd her bed, suppressing our laughter as we listened out for the sounds of Aaron frantically beating his dick in the next room. 

I admit it, maybe we sometimes went a teeny bit too far with Aaron. On Halloween we pushed a bunch of the free condoms we’d collected from the Student Union drop-in under his door and stuck up a chlamydia awareness leaflet that we’d altered by adding the words ‘Wanker’ and ‘Cunty McCuntface’ in big marker pen capitals. Veejay removed one of the condoms from its wrapper, hacked up a big, frothy glob of phlegm from the back of his throat, and spat it into the rubber. We then tacked this fake cummy rubber to Aaron’s door, beneath his new name sign. Once, Sally put a few drops of tabasco sauce into his milk. No harm was done in the end, because Aaron’s compulsive sniffing habit ensured that he could detect there was something wrong with the spoiled milk, and those of us sitting around the kitchen table struggled to keep straight faces as we watched him silently walk past us to throw the carton in the bin, then take his black tea back to his room. These were just some of the typical things we might do when we were in the mood for acting the fool, or trying to trigger some sort of reaction from Aaron.

Not that we didn’t prank each other in worse ways sometimes – but the difference was, we could all take a joke and knew it was just drunken banter or first year tomfoolery or whatever. We were just taking advantage of our new-found freedom and the fact that our first year grades didn’t even count towards our degrees. It was the opportune time to just chill and make the most of it and not stress about minor stuff. 

Sometimes even our uni friends from outside the flat would come over and join in with goading Aaron, trying to provoke any kind of response from him if he was dumb enough to come into the kitchen. He’d never react, he’d keep his head down and just get on with what he was doing, or sometimes just look extremely fucking scared and mutter some reply, which only really exposed him to more joking around or light teasing because he’s taken the bait. Typical Aaron-baiting was just silly banter, idiotic, trivial and repetitive stuff like ‘Nice shirt mate’ or ‘Are you wearing makeup Aaron?’ and, the old favourite, ‘Got any quim yet Aaron?’

Once, when Felicity posted into the group chat that the wanking had started again, sometime after midnight, Veejay, Will and Misha banged really loudly on Aaron’s door hoping to startle him, before piling into Felicity’s room to hide and monitor the reaction. They wanted to interrupt him with a sudden scare, put him off his stroke, so to speak. Listening through the wall, they heard nothing – but the prank worked and Aaron’s wanking stopped. He clearly knew it had to be someone in the flat, but strangely, he didn’t even bother to open the door to check.

That’s the thing – Aaron seemed to tolerate a lot of the crap we did to him and never confronted us about it. Maybe it was a trade-off because he knew he was bloody fortunate we hadn’t brought up his pervy ways directly with him yet. Other than his weird-ass stalking behaviours, he seemed keen to keep all interaction down to the bare minimum. 

But, I was almost convinced that Aaron got some sort of kick from the attention. After all, even negative attention is better than being an isolated loser all the time, and it wasn’t as if he ever seemed to go out socially or invite his own friends back to the flat, if he even had any. Truthfully, if he had come up to any of us and apologised for being a psycho nutjob and asked if we could start over, we would’ve made the effort to include him. He was just as much to blame for his problems as any of us were for making the situation worse.

Callum, one of my friends from Squash, was on the same Geology course as Aaron and he’d tell me that Aaron always sat alone at the front of the lecture theatre and made lots of notes. He always did his homework and sometimes gave answers or contributed to seminar debates, but left as soon as the class was over and never seemed to talk to anyone else other than the lecturer. None of that surprised me. 

But it was Aaron’s sex life – or distinct lack of it – that really intrigued us, especially after we became aware of his wanking. Yeah, everyone masturbates, none of us were denying that or being judgmental; but with Aaron, there was just this really filthy, sex offender aura that he gave off, which sparked our curiosity. There was no question he was still a virgin, you’d only have to be introduced to him to be absolutely certain of that. That skinny autistic motherfucker, in about a hundred layers of cold weather clothing, with his posh-boy side-parting and bad skin wasn’t getting any pussy. 

We thought he probably liked girls, after all, we had plenty of evidence that he stalked and spied on females. It was the not knowing what he was into which made us desperate to find out. We wondered aloud what kind of porn he was getting his rocks off to, speculated on the freaky, abnormal fetishes he might have. Misha joked that he was such a gimpy guy, he was probably into latex and masks and suffocation; while Veejay thought it’d be something much more dodgy than that – snuff movies, nasty old grannies taking it up the ass from a someone in a Nazi uniform, bestiality – something illegal that he’d have to download from the deep web. I added that he might be using the footage of Jacqui the cleaner, which would explain the webcam incident – he’d been collecting free material for the wank-bank. 

Maybe the horrible smell Jacqui had mentioned at the start of last term was coming from the mammoth pile of stale, cum-encrusted wank-socks he was collecting under his bed. I got some satisfaction seeing the girls retching and grimacing and pulling sickened expressions at the thought of that one. Yeah, we were acting a bit immature about the whole thing, but deep down, we all wanted to find out what made our housemate tick and truly thought he’d brought it on himself by harassing the female flatmates since day one.

Then one afternoon, a couple of weeks after our return from the Christmas vacation, our chance arose, like magic. Or maybe just plain good old-fashioned luck. Will and I were in the kitchen, relaxing with cold ciders and playing around with a deck of cards at the table, when I felt my foot come down on an object, which I could feel through the sole of my trainer. I kicked at it and heard a metal jangle. It was a keyring with three keys – one for a university dorm room, like my own; another front door key; and a small key for a padlock. My heart leapt, because I instantly recognised the keyring as belonging to Aaron; it was a SpongeBob one which I’d seen him with on so many previous occasions, and if I needed any further proof, each university dorm key had an engraving which matched the block letter and floor/room number, so in Aaron’s case CC0204 – Block C of Cranwick House, Floor 2, Room 4. 


Of course – without a single doubt – Will and I were excited to come into possession of Aaron’s key without having to actually steal it, and debated whether we should use it to take a sneak peek into his room right away. I came to my senses and told Will: ‘Nah man, leave it until everyone else is back and we know Aaron’s not coming back’.

Despite how much this guy repulsed us and how he wasn’t a threat to any of us, we didn’t want to get caught searching his room – he’d automatically make an official complaint, we’d get sent to Discipline and no doubt chucked out of residences for breaching the licence or breaking the law. It wasn’t worth it. After all, it was Aaron who liked to lurk around in other people’s personal space and invade their privacy; we just wanted to get inside his head a bit so we could understand him better. And besides, it wouldn’t be as fun without Veejay and the girls being in on it.

Now, I knew that Aaron wasn’t in, because I’d seen him leave via the main entrance of the block as I was coming in from my microeconomics seminar a couple of hours ago. I’d had to pass him as he held the door open for me, saving me getting out my campus swipe card, and he’d even sort of acknowledged me by mumbling ‘alright?’ as we crossed paths. This had thrown me a bit, because – well, you already know Aaron wasn’t the most communicative of housemates. Sober and without my friends to catch jokes from, I wasn’t quite as full of bravado as I might otherwise have been, so I responded with an ‘alright Aaron’ and bolted off up the stairs towards the flat. 

Without his keys, Aaron would only be able to access the front entrance with his campus card, but not the actual flat or his room, so there was no way he’d possibly come back in without us knowing. I put the key in my pocket and told Will that I’d keep hold of it until the time was right to launch our reconnaissance mission, which we christened ‘Operation Aaron’. 

I think Will started to feel a bit guilty because he asked me how Aaron would get back into the flat without a key and I laughed it off, reassuring him that Security would come out to let him in and he could pick up a new key from the Accommodation Office before six, the worst case scenario being that they might fine him for the inconvenience his carelessness had caused. I said he deserved as much for being so fucking dumb and negligent and Will seemed to accept this. 

Indeed, later that evening, Aaron was accompanied back into the flat by a member of the Security Team and I guess he was convinced his key was misplaced somewhere in the flat, because he headed straight into the kitchen and started searching around for it, blissfully unaware that it was stashed safely in my desk drawer for future use. 

Initially, the anticipation of investigating Aaron’s room got to us all. Every time we saw Aaron leave the flat, someone would raise the topic of whether ‘today was the day’, but the timing never felt quite right. Even though Aaron would leave early in the morning, he’d often return to the flat between classes, and none of us had a copy of his timetable so we could be certain he wouldn’t walk in on us turning his room over and looking through his private stuff. 

A few times, when we were drunk or a bit stoned and in a playful mood, we’d consider using the key to properly prank Aaron and record it on a camera phone for posterity; we’d contrive a plan to barge into his room when he was sleeping, wearing masks; or maybe hiding in his wardrobe and springing out on him, so he’d totally shit himself and we’d have the footage to relive the experience and share around our mates or post on YouTube. But we’d then agree that this would mean we couldn’t achieve our real aim; finding Aaron’s porn stash and discovering his secret perversions and fetishes.

Of course, the perfect opportunity eventually emerged. Me and Callum were chilling in the Student Union bar after Squash one evening, when he causally dropped into the conversation that he had to get an early-ish night because there was a Geology field trip the next day. This immediately sparked my interest and I asked if Aaron would be going, to which Callum replied, yes – the entire class was expected to attend and Aaron would one hundred percent be there because he never missed a single class or failed to hand in an assignment on time. They’d be leaving at six in the morning and wouldn’t be back until late that night. 

It was this revelation which solidified the vague plans we had for Operation Aaron into stone. I rallied the troops on our group chat, telling them that tomorrow would be the day and anyone interested in getting in on the action should meet at the flat around three pm. As the next day was a Wednesday, most courses don’t have afternoon classes, so it couldn’t be more ideal. My last lecture was at twelve and Veejay, Will, Misha and Felicity said they would definitely be around because they didn’t want to miss out after waiting for so long. By this time, I think I’d had Aaron’s key for about two or three weeks and we were approaching the Easter holidays. 

While sitting through a boring and hellish statistics lecture, I sent more reminders on the group chat. Nothing could make me concentrate on the lecturer when I was looking forward to going full SAS on Aaron’s territory. In the group chat, there was the usual banter about what we might find in Aaron’s porn collection and Veejay advised that we get hold of some biohazard suits before entering ‘the Wank Den’. Sally opted out of our plans, because she had a netball social and Will said he didn’t think he’d make it back in time because it was his girlfriend’s birthday and she wanted to head straight into the city after classes. So it was just me, Veejay, Misha and Felicity in the end. 

We met up around three-ish and I have to say, my adrenaline was pumping and giving me that fluttery butterfly feeling in my stomach. Even though we knew for sure that there was no way that Aaron would catch us, we were all somewhat nervy and jumpy it had to be said. Misha raised the issue of what we’d do if we found Aaron’s webcam on, like Jacqui had. Veejay dismissed this, saying that if we did go in the room and find out the fucking weirdo was using his webcam to film his empty room in his absence, then we’d just switch it off and pretend we had no idea what he was talking about in the unlikely situation he confronted us about it later. He wouldn’t have any proof and anyway, we didn’t know for sure the webcam had even been recording Jacqui, as opposed to just being left on accidentally a couple of times. 

Misha seemed kind of hesitant still – she was a Nursing student, so I put this down to her feeling uncomfortable about the possibility of getting caught breaching someone’s confidentiality and being thrown off her course. Honestly, I didn’t see the issue – out of all of us, minus Veejay, she was often Aaron’s most vicious critic and it was only now, in the heat of the moment, that she started second-guessing herself. She made some excuse about feeling anxious at the possibility Aaron might be remotely monitoring his webcam while on the field trip. This made me and Veejay laugh out loud because it seemed so highly unlikely as to not even be a real concern. I reminded her that he was a Geologist, not a Computer Science dude or a hacker, and there’d be absolutely no reason why he’d need the software installed on his phone for remotely viewing his webcam. There was no way anything could’ve alerted his suspicions or paranoia. 

Our reassurances didn’t seem to work, and Misha decided she didn’t want to be involved in the actual room invasion and would wait for us to come out and tell her what we’d seen. Yeah, she was acting like a bit of a pussy, but I was so keen eager to get started on Operation Aaron that I didn’t push the matter further and told her we’d report our findings as soon as we’d gathered as much incriminating evidence as possible.

It wasn’t as if I was in any way scared, but my heart felt like it was pounding through my ribcage when it came to actually putting the illicit key in the lock and opening the door to Aaron’s lair. I guess I was a little slow in actually entering and maybe even paused on the threshold, because Veejay and Felicity impatiently rear-ended me, pushing me forward so we all clumsily stumbled into the room together, giggling nervously at our naughty game. The heavy door slammed shut behind us with a resounding thud.

The thing which hit me immediately was the spotless, ordered – almost Spartan state of the room. It was really basic and clinical. There were no clothes laying around on the floor and a quick peep under the bed revealed no wank-sock collection, or anything else. Other than the standard cork noticeboard, which all rooms came fitted with, the walls were bare. The only thing on the noticeboard was a Transformers calendar, with Aaron’s schedule marked on it in his shitty handwriting. There was nothing on the desk other than his open laptop (webcam inactive); an empty beer Steiner with German writing on it, a neat pile of textbooks, a couple of pens and one of those fluffy gonk things. His shelving unit was empty. On the sink I noted that there was a shower gel; two-in-one anti-dandruff shampoo and condition; a comb and a can of supermarket brand deodorant. Nothing exciting or out of the ordinary. His bed was made up like one you might see in a hotel – pristine, with all the sheets tucked in, the duvet pulled tight and the pillows positioned squarely. 

A glance into his wardrobe revealed nothing more than neat rows of all his horrible clothes – homemade-looking jumpers, a collection of earthy-coloured corduroy trousers, a few pairs of jeans and so on. The only notable exception was a Star Wars T-shirt, which none of us remembered ever seeing him wear, but then he was never really seen without about a hundred additional layers anyway. At the bottom, he had two pairs of shoes – a new pair of green flash trainers, which looked unworn and a pair of smart brown leather shoes. There was also an empty suitcase, some folded plastic laundry bags and a spare blanket, rolled up. We spend a bit of time having taking the piss out of what Felicity described as the ‘Granddad fashion rail in a charity shop’ until we exhausted this and the joke became tired. It wasn’t as if we hadn’t actually seen Aaron wear most of these fugly clothes over the past few months we’d been living with him. We rifled through his desk drawers of course, but found only papers, notebooks, and more stationary items. 

And of course, I have to tell you about the smell, I can’t miss that bit out. Jacqui hadn’t been lying when she said it was bad in there. Whereas she said she couldn’t work out what it reminded her of, I thought I could detect two distinctly separate odours, which seemed to hang in the stale air of the room like warm, soupy pollution. One was that smell you get when cooked rice starts to rot – sort of vomity and ripe. That was the one which registered first, and once that got up your nose, you really couldn’t ignore how pungent and rancid it actually was. It lingered, unremittingly heavy and moist, clinging to every nostril hair making breathing normally quite unfeasible. Beneath that mouldy rice pong was something slightly medicinal, like the subtle smell of a hospital ward or a school sick-bay, which wasn’t pleasant by any means, but infinitely preferable to the chunderous top-note.

We covered our noses and pulled faces at each other, glad to have more ammunition in our arsenal against Aaron, something to tell Will, Misha and Sally when we did the official debrief in the Student Union bar. I pushed open the window as far as I could, to let the cool spring air ventilate the room, saying ‘Remind me to shut this window, someone’. 

The fact Aaron could actually live with this fucking hideous stink made me hate him even more. In my own mind, I even sort of blamed him for putting me in the position where I had to experience this stench even though I’d come uninvited. Veejay and Felicity were yammering on about the rotten smell being like decaying human flesh; the weird psychopathic emptiness of the room, and suchlike, but I was kind of filtering them out, because I had one goal to focus on; that laptop. I didn’t think Aaron was a serial killer, of course I didn’t. But I did want to find evidence of something which would make this whole expedition worthwhile and provide me with some kind of bragging rights. 

I hushed the other two telling them that, while Daiyu wasn’t a friend of Aaron’s – I mean she could even be classed as his victim in a very real sense of the word - it wouldn’t do us any favours if she happened to hear us messing around in his room while he was out and called Security to check what was going on. I suppose we’d let the excitement get the better of us, like we were almost too over-confident now and forgotten that we were almost breaking and entering, and most definitely invading the privacy of our flatmate in the most intentional and premeditated way imaginable. Was this a crime? We felt justified in our actions, but fundamentally, we knew we had no reasonable or believable excuse for what we were doing in the eyes of anyone else.

And I was about to go one step further; take this investigation to the next level. There was one chair at the desk. I’d been the one who first vocalised the problems with Aaron and instigated the daily system of updates on his comings and goings. I’d been the one to suggest us guys confront him over his behaviour, even though we had ultimately never got round to doing so. I’d been the one to find his key and keep it safe. I’d been the one to plan the operation after hearing about the Geology field trip. So I decided it was only right for me to be the one to try and access his laptop. Felicity perched on the edge of the desk, taking care not to disturb any of the few items on its surface, and Veejay stood behind me, leaning on the back of my chair. 

So, my primary thought was that the laptop would be screen locked or something – because that would be just our luck, having got this far into Operation Aaron. Expecting inevitable disappointment, I opened the laptop and moved my finger over the trackpad. What the hell? The laptop screen lit, showing the desktop. 

Like his room, Aaron’s desktop was empty as fuck. The wallpaper was a photograph – like a stock photo of some red velvet cinema or theatre curtains, drawn shut. A close-up image. There was a file named ‘University’, a browser shortcut, and an icon for a game called ‘Troll Warrior’ – which gave us all have a bit of a chuckle, because that was so stereotypically Aaron. There was nothing else to see. 

I accessed the hard-drive files from the taskbar. I skipped Documents and Downloads and saw my best options – Pictures and Videos. First I opened Videos; inside that file were a number of movie downloads with the full title and date of release – some sci fi, some anime, some horror – the usual stuff, nothing special. I opened the file named Pictures and inside were a number of other files, apparently named by Aaron. The file names were basically ‘memes’, ‘screenshots’ and so on – and one which caught my attention in particular – ‘vidz’. It was just something about how it was spelled; like the way you might see it written in the window of some seedy backstreet sex shop in Soho, you know? It must have left the same impression on Veejay, because he started pointing at the screen, saying ‘Vidz bro, look in the vidz file!’

I clicked on ‘vidz’ and found there were like, dozens of videos, all named. They weren’t in alphabetical order, but rather, by date of file creation I think – or something else random like that. You know, by this stage, I’m pretty confident I’ve managed to find the motherlode. I knew I’d hit jackpot. Less than five minutes; I felt a surge of self-pride in the smoothness of all this. I started to imagine I was some top-class hacker infiltrating secret government files, on some Anonymous-style vibe. I suppose I got swept away and caught up in the thrill of it all and was letting my ego run riot.

Now, if either Veejay or Felicity told me not to watch any of these videos, then honestly, I would’ve probably reconsidered just diving straight in. But no matter what they’d say now if you asked them whether they consider what we did to be a good idea, I guarantee you they made no protest whatsoever at the time and were just as keen as I was to delve deeper into the psyche of the sociopath we’d had to live with for months. And we were horny 18 year olds facing the prospect of hacking into someone’s porn collection, let’s be real about this. No-one was putting up any kind of resistance or displaying reluctance at all. Everyone had the choice to opt out, as Misha had done. Everyone was cool with this. I clicked on the first video in the list.

This video was entitled ‘001.avi’ and was 2.42 minutes long. A media player popped up on the screen and the video started with an image of a black woman sitting at a desk in front of what I assumed was a webcam from the way the video was filmed. The room behind the woman looked like it was pretty much empty. There was just a lilac coloured wall with a mirror hung on it and I could tell it was night because the edges of the camera shot weren’t well illuminated, as if the only light sources were the computer screen in front of her and a lamp or something. 

The woman was maybe in her twenties and was like, pretty fucking hot; slim with a lot of curve on her hips and thighs, a fairly decent rack. Above average for sure. She was half-naked, wearing only a pale pink satin bra and matching knickers. And as I kind of took in what I was watching, I started to realise that she looked kind of similar to Misha in many ways. They had the same box braids, the same eyes, wideset and almond-shaped; the same gap between their two front teeth, which I could see as the woman smiled at the camera, then bit her bottom lip, staring straight into the webcam provocatively. 

Felicity inquired: ‘Do you think he fancies Misha?’ which then confirmed how obvious the similarities were; the woman looked exactly like a slightly older, sexier, sluttier version of Misha. She was obviously a webcam girl – I’ve been on the free cam sites enough myself in the past to recognise this much. It seemed like Aaron had recorded a cam session. 

The woman would lean back in the desk chair and, you know, squeeze her titties, or put her hand down her knickers to rub her clit, then transfer the finger to her lips and suck and lick it like a dick – the usual, the teasing shit you’d expect to see from a camgirl. In a way, it was pretty lightweight stuff, because even on the free sites, you get to see naked chicks fuck themselves with dildos and other objects, or like live action penetration in the couples’ rooms, especially if other viewers are tipping well. This was fairly tame, actually, but I wasn’t exactly complaining.

Occasionally, the woman would lean forward and type something – I didn’t know if this was an open room or a private cam session with Aaron. There was no audio. Other than what I’ve already mentioned, there was nothing to say about this video – it just ended as if Aaron had got bored of recording it, or just bust a nut. I’ll spare you all the discussion which was going on between us at this point, because it wasn’t really significant and the events I’m leading up to started happening pretty damn quickly from the point at which we started watching the videos, so I wasn’t fully paying attention to what was being said in the room. I was zoning in on my objective; I was in focus-mode.

One thing though, between watching the first and the second video, I had a strong, conscious thought that if all of Aaron’s pornos were like 001.avi then this was going to be a bit of an anti-climax, a total let down after all this build-up. I realised that maybe I did subconsciously want to find out Aaron had some completely mental, disturbing fetish so I’d have another little something over him on top of everything else in case I ever needed to take that motherfucker and teach him a lesson. So I could psychoanalyse him a bit, even. But his porn wasn’t even really truly pornographic, based on that first video alone. I clicked on the second video in the list.

This video was entitled ‘smoking.avi’ and again showed the same woman from the first video, in the same room, but this time you could tell from the lighting quality that it was daytime, as if there was a window just to the right of the woman, off camera. There was a large McDonald’s cup with a straw, sitting on the desk, which you could now see was an L-shape. In this 7.20 minute video, the woman was wearing a completely see-through red lace bodysuit thingy, like standard Ann Summers kinky lingerie, which showed her large, dark, erect nipples and the crack of her shaven pussy. She wore red lipstick, slightly smudged. Same type of softcore touching and finger-sucking as before. Some typing into a chat box. 

I skip the video along to the 6.50 minute mark and notice the atmosphere has shifted drastically, and the woman is now frowning as she reads whatever is being typed on the screen from – Aaron? Or maybe a random person, if this was a recording of an open cam session. The woman seems tense, annoyed, distressed; she is typing something in response, her brow still furrowed and her mouth hanging open like she’s trying to process something mentally, but can’t. She’s practically pounding on the keyboard, kind of fiercely, like she was maddened by something. She leant forward on the desk, staring intently at the screen. 

Suddenly, something makes the woman jump, literally almost out of her skin, to the extent she throws out her arms to catch herself as the somewhat unstable-looking desk chair jerked backwards. She knocks the McDonald’s cup flying, an arc of what looks like strawberry milkshake trailing in its wake. Her expression is now one of either pure terror or disgust. In the seconds it took for her to compose herself after nearly upending the chair, and spilling that milkshake, I see that she is genuinely in complete and utter shock or horror at whatever she saw on her screen in that moment. That bodysuit thing she’s wearing has come askew and her right tit has fallen out, completely, swaying like a ripe brown melon. The video ends as she hastily comes to her senses and puts her hand over the lens of the webcam. 

‘What the fuck was that?’ asked Veejay, but I don’t have any answer, so I joke ‘Perhaps she saw Aaron’s monster cock or something’. I found it odd that a webcam girl would have that kind of reaction to the sort of shit you’d imagine some guy doing on cam, unless he was on some Two Girls, One Cup type thing. I couldn’t imagine what had stunned her so much shed needed to block her own cam rather than block the person on the other end. But, there was no point dwelling on it when there were so many other videos to check for research purposes. I clicked on the next video. 

This was 13.35 minutes long and entitled ‘boned.avi’, which sounded extremely promising. The first scene was in some kind of office or interview room, without audio. A blonde, heavily-tanned woman, wearing a skimpy gold bikini, made of a material which resembled tinfoil, was sitting in a chair, pushed right up against the blank white wall behind her. Her posture, sitting upright, knees together, hands in lap, seemed quite formal and ladylike compared to her general appearance. She had those fake football-type tits, barely covered by the thin strips of the bikini top, and a bit of a trout-pout from having her lips artificially enlarged. It was pretty impossible to not get the pornstar vibe from her, so I was just anticipating some weak narrative plotline starting, which would end up with her getting ‘boned’ hard by some dude in a boilersuit while bending over than damn chair. 

The woman started off sitting still, looking at someone or something slightly off-camera. Then a hand holding a microphone would reach out in her direction and she would bend forward slightly and talk animatedly for a moment, then pause again, like she was listening to a question. The sleeve of the microphone holder gave the impression it was a man, dressed in a dark business suit. It was obviously some sort of interview, but it was impossible to lip read the woman, not least because her enhanced pout made her mouth appear to move in an odd, distorted way. She showed no expressions or signs of emotion on her face, which seemed a bit frozen and masklike, as if she’s overdone it on the botox. This was boring, so I skipped ahead. The video was just the interview continuing in the same vein. No boning. 

The fourth video, ‘gummy.avi’, was 1.17 minutes long. Veejay made some comment about correctly predicting Aaron would be into ‘granny blowjobs’ but as soon as the media player loaded, I was pleased to see it was nothing like that. A naked woman with dyed red hair and a tight, athletic body, was roller-skating around an outside environment. From the camera angle, you could only see the ground and part of a grey concrete building behind her. 

The audio was gentle piano music which didn’t seem to go well with the subject of the video, but overlaid any of the sounds coming from the footage itself. The woman was skating round and round in a small circle and I started to feel almost hypnotised by the pleasurable way her small tits bounced up and down and her peachy ass jigged about as she skated around. She actually seemed like a fairly competent rollerskater, and reminded me slightly of one of those rollerskating waitresses in the gimmicky American diners you see from the 1950s. The woman knew she was being filmed, because when she skated up closest to the camera in her looping routine, she would look up and smile really sweetly, and I suppose this was the other thing which lulled me into a false sense of security. The dimples in her cheeks were adorable.

Veejay said: ‘Come on man, find something better than this…’ and leaned over the back of my chair to nudge my hand which was poised over the mouse trackpad. I was about to oblige him, when the roller-skating woman just abruptly faceplanted onto the concrete. I almost didn’t see this, it happened in a second, a flash. One moment she was upright, skating, the next she was face down on the concrete, with no clue as to what caused her sudden accident. The woman looked up at the camera as it panned down towards her, to capture a better shot. 

Her lower face was covered in blood, which was pissing out of her exploded lips and smashed-up, lop-sided chin, like a burst water-main. It squirted like a drinking fountain, when your thumb’s pushed down hard. I felt a wave of sickness wash over me. I’m not scared of seeing blood or extreme accident footage, but this was brutal. The blood-gushing woman smiled widely at the camera, revealing every single one of her teeth had been smashed out of her gums by the impact of the concrete headbutt. There weren’t even any broken stumps of teeth left anywhere in the front or sides of her mouth, it was just a gaping, gummy bloody hole. All evidence of her pearly white teeth was clean gone, the flat planes of her gums pumped glistening red. She waggled her tongue suggestively. The video cut out.

‘What the actual fuck – go back to that a minute’ urged Veejay, his voice wavering a little. I tried to replay the video, but it wasn’t working anymore. A spinning wheel on the black media player window indicated the video wouldn’t reload. I clicked 001.avi, then smoking.avi; the same thing happened. 

‘That’s fucked up, that’s fucking horrible…’ Felicity was saying, the distress in her voice apparent. She’d moved from the desk and was standing now, somewhere behind me, with Veejay. ‘The sick, twisted…sadistic little cunt’ he said, in a tone which sounded like disbelief. He did a fake, nervous laugh. I didn’t say anything, I just nodded slowly, trying to process what I’d just seen. It’s not like I haven’t seen those skateboard slam videos before; I’d watched them with my mates back in high school even and trust me, some of them are as bad as any gore movie special effects – worse because you knew they were real. But seeing a hot, naked chick annihilate her face and not give a fuck about it? There was no pleasure in that for me.

There were so many videos left and a glance at my watch told me we’d been in there for over half an hour. Although Aaron wasn’t due back ‘until late’, Callum hadn’t given me an actual time, so we couldn’t be leisurely about this in case he returned sooner than expected. I decided to scroll down the list and pick based on title. 

I clicked on ‘smashbox.avi’, a video 5.01 minutes in length, halfway down the list. It opened to a scene which was very clearly a girl’s university dorm room. The duvet on the bed was a sort of pink floral one, and there was a stuffed panda resting against the pillow. I could see some perfume bottle and cosmetics on the bedside cabinet. I couldn’t make out where the camera filming this video was, because it seemed to be shooting the scene from a very high position, looking downwards into the room. Nothing happened. At first there was no sound. 

After about half a minute, I decided to move on to another video, but then noticed some movement to the right of the screen. The door to the room was opening and someone was coming in. Two people entered– both naked, a male and a female. They were both white and seemed pretty young, although from the angle the video was being filmed from, it was quite impossible to make out any of their features. I could notice that the girl was quite chubby though, and much shorter than the guy, who was a lanky, skinny beanpole kind of dude. The guy had short brown hair, the girl had long blonde hair worn in a ponytail. 

I wondered if this was some amateur sex tape which had been filmed and distributed by some kinky couple on campus, because the room in the video looked a lot like our dorm rooms, even down to the navy carpet, green door and white walls. It struck me that the couple must have been naked in the communal corridor and despite the fact I was anticipating seeing some students fuck on camera – a prospect which turned me on more than the thought of watching some commercial porn with professional actors. This seemed kind of voyeuristic, like it was hidden camera footage or something. But who the hell would be cool with just wandering around a university halls of residence stark bollock naked? It didn’t really make sense. Neither did the way it was being filmed, as if it were from a CCTV camera mounted near the ceiling recording security footage. The quality was pretty grainy and a little over-exposed and static crackled around the edges of the frame.

The audio kicked in just then, but it sounded glitchy and totally out of synch with what we were watching. I can only describe it as sounding like the dial tone when you accidentally call a fax line, or maybe the sound of dial-up internet establishing a connection – that kind of robotic warble. After a good few seconds passed, this horrible electronic wail was broken by the sound of buttons being pressed on a phone – like someone was recording themselves dialling a number. It would then revert back to the fax machine noise again and then continue in a loop. 

The boy was pushing the girl down into a bending position beside the bed, which she was resting her elbows on, to keep her balance. He grabbed her ample hips to bring her ass and pussy up to the right level for him to insert his cock. No foreplay; straight to doggy-style fucking. 

‘It’d be better if we got the actual sound effects from this’ said Veejay and he leant forward to get a better view; I could feel his breath on the back of my neck. Felicity didn’t say anything. I’d almost forgotten she was even in the room. The guy was kind of struggling to get his cock into the girl’s pussy, I guess because she wasn’t wet enough or something, or maybe the guy was just a little bit too tall for her to remain in the right position because she as having to stand on her tip toes and keep her ass up in the air. He had a hand on each of her ass cheeks, spreading them apart a little for better access, and was jabbing awkwardly at her pussy with the end of his cock, trying to edge it in a little more each time; she didn’t seem to be doing much to assist other than remaining in the position he’d arranged her into. I was willing them to get their act together soon and start banging or I’d be forced to move on to something else. The repetitive fax machine and phone button noise was getting on my nerves, so I lowered the volume on the laptop speakers. 

Suddenly a large red number ‘3’ appeared in the centre of the screen - I think it coincided with the guy finally managing to get his cock halfway in, but the view of the couple was obscured by what quickly transpired to be a countdown of three seconds before ‘Go!’ appeared. The camera zoomed in really fast – it must be remote controlled somehow I guess, but I couldn’t work out how this was happening, because the camera seemed to actually move in closer, like it was being handheld or something. That was when I caught my breath and felt the back of my head turn cold. 

The couple were now really going for it, fucking like bunnies; the guy was hammering the girl’s pussy without any gradual build-up of speed. The girl’s ponytail was falling forward over her face. You could see the fat on her body ripple like jelly with the rhythm of penetration. But – but, now I could see it was Will and Emma. Our flatmate Will and his girlfriend, his short, chubby blonde girlfriend, Emma. There was no mistake – even down to the way the guy’s hair was gelled and the silver chain round his neck. It was my flatmate Will, boning his university girlfriend on camera. 

Veejay and Felicity were silent for a moment, no doubt just stunned by what we were watching. I said – not really expecting a proper answer – but asking anyway, to say something to break the silence, ‘Do you think Will sent this to Aaron? Did he let Aaron watch his sex tape?’ What other explanation could there possibly be? Did Aaron set up a secret camera in Emma’s bedroom? Did he steal the footage from Will’s phone or computer? I knew I was frowning, but I couldn’t relax my face. 

Veejay responded with ‘Are you dizzy, bro? There’s no way Will would do that…’ He was right’ Will hated Aaron as much as the rest of us, there were no Aaron sympathisers in our circle. Felicity piped up, but her voice was little more than a whisper, ‘We shouldn’t watch this…it’s wrong to watch this…’ I didn’t stop the video, which had about half a minute to go. Will’s face was red, scrunched up, almost in a scowl. I didn’t like seeing my mate balls deep in his girlfriend, I wasn’t even sure if he knew this was being filmed; but I still wasn’t stopping the video. 

Emma was being shunted forward from the ferocity of the pounding she was taking from Will. Her face was smushed into the bed. This wasn’t like the porn I was used to, but then I guess, this wasn’t really porn. Emma’s big, pale titties and sizeable gut sagged downwards, her fat little legs were wobbling and looked like they couldn’t hold her weight on tiptoe for much longer. The video was about to cut out, there were only seconds left, when Will took his hands from Emma’s hips and reached forward. He was going to grab her hair, pull it, so I said: ‘Looks like he’s about to bust a nut…’ 

But it wasn’t that, that wasn’t what we saw. We saw Will grab a handful of blonde ponytail and yank his girlfriend’s head violently, so that it snapped up and back. And – and as Will did this, he literally scalped her. Emma’s hair, all of it, every last bit, ripped out of her head at once. Like one second she had long hair, everything normal, and the next she was completely bald, she was an egg-head, Will cue-balled her. She was as hairless as the palm of my hand. The screen went black, dead. Felicity screamed out in horror, the shriek cutting through my nerves and making me shudder. 

I tried to click on it again – just to make sure, just to check my eyes weren’t playing mad tricks on me. I had to see it again to believe it. But the spinning wheel was all that came up on the screen. The stunned silence in the room was deafening, you could slice through the tension in that room with a knife. I had to say something, anything. I don’t know where this came from, but I managed to stutter out ‘Does she – does she have a chemotherapy wig?’ It was the only reasonable explanation I could come up with in that moment. I suppose I was in shock, traumatised, totally baffled. Veejay added ‘Or alopecia…she might have alopecia…’ Felicity sounded like she was struggling to hold back tears. ‘No, no’ she was saying ‘No, it’s her real hair, it’s definitely her real hair’. 

At this point, it was kind of difficult to make sense of what Veejay and Felicity were trying to say, their words muddled around each other and overlapped and repeated. I felt outside of my own body, like I wasn’t inhabiting the physical being sitting there are Aaron’s desk, hand on the trackpad of his laptop, I was floating somewhere above the ground, disconnected, unreal. The way you feel when someone gives you really bad news and it knocks you for six and you think you might faint, but you need to push through and ground yourself and formulate some kind of appropriate reaction. 

I heard Felicity urging Veejay to call the police. I told her in as calm and steady voice as I could muster ‘we can’t call the police’. And we couldn’t, there was no way we could, it wasn’t even an option. For starters, we were the ones who had stolen a key and trespassed and invaded someone’s privacy. And then, more importantly, who were we reporting? Aaron for having the video on his laptop? Or Will? I mean, this video couldn’t even be real, right? We’d seen Will this morning at breakfast; he was celebrating Emma’s birthday right now. We’d seen Emma last week when she came for movies and pizza. 

Felicity was frantically trying to get through to Will’s mobile. She was doing that breathless whimpering that people do when panic is building and they’re about to have a meltdown, but can’t quite let themselves. Will’s phone went straight to voicemail. I could hear the hysteria bubbling up inside Felicity, what was rambling something I couldn’t make sense of. I could hear Veejay try to convince her – and himself – that this wasn’t real, it couldn’t be real; it was a trick of the camera, a drama project with really professional-looking special effects and editing.

And my hand, my hand, controlling the cursor, hovering over that list of videos, was on autopilot. It didn’t belong to me anymore, I wasn’t an autonomous person; I was in a trance. There was no rational thoughts, no ability to apply the brakes in my brain or send a message down to my hand to halt its actions. I couldn’t help myself, I scrolled up and down and up again and clicked – ‘mayonnaise_jar.avi’. 

I saw white tiles first, then my eyes focused. An Asian girl was sitting on a toilet, white knickers pulled down, around her knees. She was wearing a white vest. Daiyu. I could see it was our shower-room. The same bottles of shampoos and conditioners and shower gels I saw every morning were lined up on the counter beside the wash basin, just to the left of the toilet. 

The image quality was crisp and clear this time, almost high definition. Like in the smashbox.avi video, the camera seemed to be mounted high up, angled downwards towards Daiyu. Stating the obvious, Veejay murmured ‘Fucking hell, that’s in our flat…’ as if that somehow made this less acceptable, creepier. 

‘Turn it off, just turn it off and let’s go, we need to go!’ Felicity was pleading, but I wasn’t taking notice. I heard her imploring Veejay to leave with her, but her words just slipped away as I watched the video, a lump of apprehension, a hard knot I couldn’t swallow down, lodged in my throat like an unmovable stone. 

Daiyu dismounted from the toilet and stood in front of it. She didn’t seem to notice the camera at first. She was opening and closing her mouth as if talking to herself, but looking straight ahead in a disconcerting manner. ‘Is there any sound? Turn on the sound!’ begged Veejay excitedly, and I did as he asked. There was audio for this video, but it wasn’t Daiyu’s voice. It was the crackle of dust you hear when a needle is placed on a record, but without the musical accompaniment. This just continued on a loop, much like the audio track on smashbox.avi. 

Daiyu’s knickers were still at half-mast and her knees were slightly bent, legs spread wide. Mouth still moving around the shapes of silent words, she reached up to her vagina and started fumbling with something unseen which seemed to be jammed between her labia. Her unshaven public hair hid whatever it was from sight. ‘She’s taking out a Tampax’ was what Veejay suggested, but he didn’t sound convinced. I flinched as he rested his hands on my shoulders to lean over me to look more closely at the screen. 

Daiyu continued to dig around in her pussy for a moment longer, then stopped. Her face was still now. She pushed her knickers down further and stepped out of them, throwing them behind her carelessly. She straightened up her stance, tucked her loose hair behind her ears and walked towards what would be the door to the shower-room, this being the location of the camera. Reaching up, she seemed to take hold of the camera, you could see her hand partially obscure the lens for a second. She adjusted it, bringing it downwards so it picked up an image of the grubby white tiled floor and the frayed pink bathmat. 

You could now only see Daiyu from the waist down, her skinny legs and thick bush of black pubes in close-up. She squatted. It was now possible to see most of her body, at least from the chest down. Her hand reached out and groped for something to her right side, just off screen while she balanced precariously on the balls of her bare feet. When she pulled her hand back into frame, she was holding a meat cleaver with a wooden handle – the one she actually owns. The one she uses all the time when preparing meat or chopping vegetables, the one in our kitchen right now. Some part of my mind, some part which wasn’t being paid heed to, screamed out a thought: you don’t want to watch this, turn it off before something terrible happens. But I didn’t stop watching. I didn’t turn the video off. I wanted to see what I’d never going to be able to unsee.

Daiyu placed the meat cleaver blade side up on the floor. She held it in this position, with the handle facing away from her. Still in the squatting pose, she shuffled forwards, using her free hand for leverage until she was directly over the blade of the meat cleaver. It glinted a steely silver under the florescent strip lighting. I felt a layer of sweat prickle on my back, goosepimples rise on my arms. I could hear blood pounding in my ears like a dull drum. Saliva welled in my mouth from my inability to swallow down that knot in my throat. 

‘I can’t fucking watch anymore of this mental fucking shit, this is crazy, this is fucking INSANE!’ Felicity had snapped. She was crying, her breath ragged and hitching, like a drowning person grasping for the surface and gulping down air before becoming submerged again. She was loud; she was starting to cause a disturbance and my main concern in that moment was to make her shut up. 

My eyes still glued to the screen, I said: ‘Go! Go find Misha. We’ll be out in a minute -- just go!’ I was almost yelling. I didn’t mean it to sound harsh or nasty or whatever, she’s a nice girl. I just needed her to shut the fuck up so I could concentrate on the video and do what I’d come to do with the least amount of drama; yes; I was prang, anyone would be. Felicity fled from the room and I could hear her sobbing continuing down the corridor and her knocking on Misha’s door. Veejay remained there with me, I could feel him barely brush against the back of my hair. We both watched. What we saw next would be burned into a memories like a branding. We could never unsee.

Daiyu sat down on the meat cleaver. It aligned perfectly with the crack of her vagina, it slipped up between the lips. And then she started rocking. Backwards and forwards. Grinding down onto the razor-sharp blade. A torrent of vivid red blood cascaded, spewed, from her vagina. Crimson jets. Within a couple of seconds of the rocking and grinding, the floor was like that of an abattoir. As if a pig had been slaughtered in there. But I could watch a hundred pigs get slaughtered and it would still be nothing, nothing, NOTHING compared to what we were watching on Aaron’s laptop, in broad daylight, in our nice suburban university campus. 

Seesaw, Marjorie Daw

That nursery rhyme – I’ve always known it since I was a little kid. It pops into my head like a balloon rising in empty space.

The blood pooled around Daiyu’s feet and ran in rivulets down her thighs from where it had splashed upwards, outwards, everywhere. She continued to rock and grind, rock and grind, like this pornstar I’d seen fucking a sex machine, like a mechanical android dildo thing. I got this mad thought that she might actually slice herself completely in two if she kept going. I could see the cleaver had embedded itself up past the natural opening of the labia and into her public bone, uterus, womb.

Daiyu has got a new master

That rhyme…

Every rocking motion pushed that cleaver up inside her vagina further and further until you couldn’t see the blade anymore for the deluge of blood and loose flaps of vagina meat which were rapidly widening and widening. Soon that cleaver would be up in her stomach. I knew it could pass through bodily tissue, cartilage, bone. I’d seen her use it to butcher a raw chicken in minutes. Her white flesh was ripping open with the ease of running a scalpel through Play Doh. 

Seesaw Marjorie Daw

Daiyu has got a new master

What the fuck was she doing? How did Aaron have this video? Neither me nor Veejay could speak, the term gobsmacked doesn’t seem to adequately describe our reaction, but I have no better way to express it. Because, as horrific, as grotesque, as obscene as this was – we knew, we knew Daiyu was safe and well and alive. She was across the hallway, in her room, oblivious to what we were watching her do on screen. 

She shall earn but a penny a day

Because she can’t saw any further

There was no way to get your head around it. Was this some crazy performance art orchestrated by Aaron and our flatmates behind our backs? Or were these actors, just made up to look exactly like Will and Emma and Daiyu the way the camgirl from the first two videos we’d watched had looked like a porno version of Misha? Was it some sort of digital magic, like CGI or something, intended to be hyper-realistic so it would be convincing enough make people believe? 

Was this the ultimate prank which had backfired on us? Had Aaron been planning to fuck with us all along and we’d willingly walked straight into his trap? I kept imagining Ashton Kutcher bursting through the door with a camera crew, screaming we'd been punked. Our breath crackled in the air like static.

I felt drunk from disgust, fear, confusion. My head felt like it was filled with candyfloss and the sweat trickling down my back felt like long, frigid fingers of winter ice. Veejay was making noises behind me, he might have been forming words into proper coherent sentences for all I’m aware, but I couldn’t hear anything; my ears were filled with a ringing sound, a tinnitus. 

Because she can’t saw any further. Because she can’t saw any further. Because she can’t saw any further because she can’t saw any further because she can’t -- 

At 04:10 the rocking stopped. Daiyu stood up. How? How the fuck was this actually happening? I knew this wasn’t real, couldn’t be real, but I was really watching it and so the logical part of my brain still sought answers it could never hope to find, it still hoped to latch onto a small fragment of reason in this sea of insanity. She didn’t seem to be shaking or swaying despite the fact she’d haemorrhaged more than enough to pass out unconscious or even die from the bloodloss. 

Although her face wasn’t visible, from her body language, you could see she wasn’t even cowering from the pain. It was so clinical. So matter of fact. Inhumane; inhuman. 

Daiyu wiped her bloodied hands on her white vest and resumed the bent knee position, legs akimbo, fresh blood still spurting with vigour from that abominable wound. 

Again, she reached up into her vagina, although she no longer possessed anything which could be recognised as genitals. The spurting blood was almost too red; like tomato ketchup, gloss paint. Daiyu’s entire hand slid so easily into that grisly, yawning cavity and she started to pull at that mysterious something stuck inside her, trying to gain some kind of purchase on whatever it was which was evading her grip, amongst the glutinous mess of blood and torn flesh. Was she…giving birth? I could see the muscles in her legs tense and strain and contract as she delved deeper and deeper and tugged harder and harder at whatever was lodged up in that vile, mutilated cunt. Then I saw it. I saw it and I’d never unsee it. I saw it forever.

The thing emerged while Daiyu’s hand was still wrist deep in her cavernous, desecrated cunt. A greyish-blue gelatinous limb, which writhed and squirmed its way through the ragged gap and curled around her thigh. I could see, even amidst all that blood and viscera, pulsating suction caps lining the underside of this sinewy, muscular member. A tentacle.

Daiyu withdrew her hand and seized the tentacle, her hands slipping as she struggled to fix a hold on it. As she grappled with the wriggling, quivering tentacle, another began to push its way out, then another until they hung down, dangling between her spread legs, blood-smeared and lively, like a terrible, convulsing grass skirt. For a split second I had the craziest mental image of Ursula, the sea witch from The Little Mermaid --

I heard the door slam shut and turned to see Veejay had dashed from the room, leaving me alone. Maybe he’d told me he was bailing, maybe he’d begged me to switch off that laptop and join him and get the fuck out of there. I’d been oblivious to his presence for the last few minutes. I reverted my attention back to the video. The screen was blank. It was over. I took a gasping breath, but I couldn’t fill my lungs with air. I was shaking.

And I can’t give you any reason why I did what I did next. I was no longer a normal eighteen year old PPE student, from a loving family with a district nurse mum and a construction worker dad and a younger sister, Michelle, who liked ponies and boybands. I was no longer the normal, working-class kid who lived in a nice semi-detached house in a respectable neighbourhood in a leafy, low-crime commuter belt town. I no longer had a dog named Buster or a best friend-since-primary school named Charlie Marvel, or a crush on this proper fit girl, Samira, who I’d sat next to in sixth form college. I no longer played five-a-side football, or squash or GTA; I no longer liked foam parties, or getting stoned and watching horror movies, or summer BBQs or the scent of box-fresh Nike Air Max. I was no longer a nice boy.

I was just this detached, unblinking eye, a pair of useless hands I had no control over. I couldn’t unsee. These things I’d see forever.

Just. One. More. It wasn’t even my own fractured mind telling me this. I couldn’t stop myself. This wasn’t me. Something had me in a death-grip, a choke-hold, squeezing out my free will. My alien hand scrolled down that list as if I had nothing to do with it. I saw the title without really seeing, and knew without really knowing. The last one, the final insight into the fucking abhorrent, depraved, malignant mind of my flatmate. If I was thinking, if I was capable of thought, in that moment, I am certain I would have still made the same choice, even though it didn’t feel much like a choice. I’d have picked the same video because the title got me – ‘milk_da_heffalump.avi’, 14.38 minutes long, right near the bottom of the list. I clicked. Of course I clicked. 

I was standing beside my own unmade bed in my own messy room, facing towards the right side of the screen, not moving. I see the black and white poster of Notorious BIG above my bed and my collection of aftershaves and New Era hats sitting on my shelves. It seems as though the video was filmed during the day – the left side of the screen was shrouded in dappled light, which made that part of the video seem over-exposed and washed-out. Did I feel shock or fear at seeing my room – myself – on one of Aaron’s videos? No. I felt like I was supposed to see this.


And I noticed I was wearing a Stormtrooper costume – a uniform. Not an Imperial Stormtrooper from like Star Wars, a Nazi one, straight out of any stereotype of what you’d imagine. Like the zombies from Black Ops. On my right bicep, I wore a red armband, bearing the swastika. 

Nice boys don’t wear swastikas

The camera recording me could’ve been my own webcam from the way the video was framed, the angle and so on. I increased the speaker volume and waited. Something flailed helplessly on the floor beside the bed, but the camera was positioned too high to capture exactly what it was, it was just out of shot. It looked like a hand waving. I waited some more, a minute had past and the ‘me’ on the screen still hadn’t moved. Then the audio started: ‘Hi Honey, just calling to check you’re still in the land of the living…Hi Honey, just calling to check you’re still in the land of the living…Hi Honey, just calling --’ 

My hand, of its own volition, reached out to silence the sound of my mother’s voice. My mother’s cheerful, too-familiar greeting that I hear every Sunday afternoon when she conducts her weekly welfare phone call to make sure I’m going to lectures, eating healthily and not yet dead from alcohol poisoning or poverty. I couldn’t bear to hear that. I couldn’t -- 

The ‘me’ on screen bends slightly and rests its hands – my hands – on his, or my, knees. I’m looking towards whatever it was on the floor beside the bed and start to stare intensely at whatever it is as if that version of me also doesn’t know what I’m looking at and needs time to process what I’m seeing in front of me. 

I – the real me, now - saw fat pink limbs come into view all of a sudden, thrashing and jerking spasmodically like a person being electrocuted or tasered. Whoever this person is, they are becoming increasingly frantic or panicked – something has unsettled them. I saw the filthy sole of a foot kick out, hitting the mattress of the bed and that waving hand again, which flapped like a seagull’s wing. 

The ‘me’ on screen seems to grow angry and impatient, my face is set into a hard, hostile glower, as if the person on the floor is causing me some great deal of hassle or frustration. I bend down further and reach for them, wrestling with the violently thrusting body parts, trying to push them forcefully out of my way and pin them down, so I don’t get kicked or punched or swiped. The onscreen ‘me’ then seizes hold of whoever it is on the floor, struggling to drag them up towards the bed, to haul them onto the bed, the way you’d hoist an elderly dog onto the sofa because you know it can’t make it there by itself. 

For a moment my back is facing the camera and you can see that whoever I’m helping onto the bed must weigh a ton, because my legs are bowed, my back is hunched over a little, and my movements are restricted to a mere shuffling gait. The limbs are still lashing out, seemingly from all directions, I can’t keep track of the arms, legs, hands, feet. I waddle in small steps, because it’s all I can manage while negotiating the burden of this apparently giant, cumbersome, volatile person, who doesn’t seem capable of helping themselves. 

It looks like I’m shifting a sack of potatoes or a dead body from my posture and lumbering, klutzy manoeuvring. I’ve had to move a paralytic, unconscious friend on more than one occasion – move them into their bedroom from the floor of a house party, drag them out of the road away from the danger of oncoming traffic. I’d imagine this is what it’d look like if I could see myself from a third-person perspective in real-life. But this is real-life. I meant real-life where real things happen. The boundaries delineating fact and fiction, fantasy and horror are blurring, merging, dissolving. The real me seeing the unreal me do unreal things. My consciousness is filtering out, bit by bit, like fine grains of sand passing through unturned hourglass. I’m just an inscrutable eye, watching with impassive blankness. I have no more questions; there are no available answers. 

I manage to drape upper part of the person – still blocked from view – onto the edge of the bed, with great exertion. I see what looks to be a woman’s head and face, in profile. I see a cloud of brown, frizzy hair, partially obscuring her features. From somewhere in the back of my mind I hear my grandmother’s voice uttering a favourite phrase: ‘put some elbow grease into it!’ I bend and scoop what should probably be the lower-body of the woman from the floor and heave it onto the bed. I turn to face the camera, still standing in front of my bed. I raise my hand in salute to myself, staring straight into my own eyes, my face a vacant mask, devoid of expression. 

The video footage goes crackly and the screen fills with the snowy, horizontal lines you’d get on an old, overplayed VHS tape. The colours from the previous image bled into a bright, oversaturated spectrum of indecipherable jumping pixels. A message in white capital letters appeared on the screen: ‘For best quality broadcast, adjust your tracking’. I didn’t have a clue what this meant, or whether it was an instruction. I raised the volume, expecting to hear the crackle of static or white noise, but instead: 

‘—you’re still in the land of the living…Hi Honey, just calling to check you’re still in the land of the living…Hi Honey --’

I mute it again. The video is now over halfway through and the screen still displays a defective image. Without thinking, I skip it forward; only half a minute or so. I’m confronted with the crisp camera footage of before. I’m back in my original position beside my bed, looking down at the woman. But it’s not. It’s not a woman. It’s a woman, but it’s just…not…

Nothing could have prepared me for what I was seeing. You might find this unbelievable given what you’ve learned already about what happened on the day we decided to spy on Aaron and infiltrate his privacy and watch his ghastly, cancerous, inexplicable collection of ‘vidz’. But, as the sole spectator, you have to have faith in the fact that moment, what I witnessed on screen was the most heinous, repugnant vision I could imagine. No, that’s not true; I could never have imagined this. A nice boy, a carefree person, with happy childhood memories and a stable life filled with plenty of decent friends and above-average grades and sporting achievements and optimism for the future; the kind of person who looks forward to going home for family Christmases, and makes plans to go inter-railing across Europe in the summer holidays, and loves music and junk food and blowjobs in the back row of the cinema could never imagine this. 

Not a nice boy

I don’t possess adequate language to paint you this picture and if I did, you’d wish I hadn’t. I’m not one to scare easily and I’m not squeamish. I watch slasher movies, I bookmarked rotten.com for easy access to gore; I’ve downloaded the most bizarre, disgusting gonzo porn available on the surface web, for the purposes of scandalising my mates. I’m desensitised, I thought I was immune to the unwatchable. 

The thing on the bed was still twitching and lashing, lolloping feebly, like a beached whale. It was human, but only just. The woman-thing was fat, blubbery, cellulite-ridden fat, rolls of doughy, squishy fat, fat. She was naked and laying face down, her skin a pinkish mess, like sides of boiled ham that’s still uncooked in parts and leaking. Now it was easy to understand why she’d been so helpless and floundering – her body was a contorted hash of botched surgery, a reconfigured monstrosity, a mishmash of body parts, far more chilling and nauseating than any Frankenstein’s monster. 

Each limb had been crudely amputated, then re-stitched into the wrong place on her body, like a terrible anatomical experiment. You could see the brutish craftsmanship of the ghastly surgeon who’d gone to work on this beast. The limbs seemed to have been hacked at, sawn off; the edges of this woman’s severed flesh were jagged, ripped and gnarled. The camera seemed to pan in a little and I could see pale maggots wiggling lazily in her infected seams. Some of the black stitches had burst, exposing raw, mucusy meat where the reattachments didn’t align. 

A hand, amputated at the wrist had been slackly, loosely riveted to the left side of her neck; this had been the hand I’d seen flapping and waving at me from the floor at the start, the thing that’d reminded me of a seagull’s wing. Where the other arm should be, a leg was annexed in such a wonky, skewed manner that the sole of the foot pointed upwards towards the ceiling. The knee bent, then straightened and lurched about weakly. The second leg was sewn onto her back at ninety degree angle, partially wedged into a deep hole which had been gouged out of her, just below the shoulder-blades. The weight of this leg meant that it hung limply, unable to kick out like her arm-leg. 

Slimy, throbbing internal organs gleamed moistly – innards resembling the turkey giblets my mum sometimes used to scrape out of the bird and feed to the dog for a treat– oozed out of the fetid gash and ballooned around the appendage. Between the festering stumps where her thighs should have been, her other arm could be seen, stuffed into her cunt, up to the elbow, like a reverse fisting. The cunt-hand was waggling its fingers like a pianist trying to play without a piano.

I’ve seen atomic bomb blast victims, melted into human puddles; I’ve seen the deformities of Thalidomide kids; I’ve seen the atrocities of Chernobyl babies, exposed to radiation while still in the womb. I knew all these things to be real. But none of them compared to the Dali-esque mutant thing I was watching myself seeing in this new reality. 

The monstrosity was becoming exhausted; it’s movements had slowed to a convulsive palpitation and it tried to lumbers forwards, towards me, using it’s useless arm-leg as a crutch. It seemed resigned to it’s fate and the recognition there was nothing left to fight against, because it wasn’t as volatile or resistant as it had been at first. It lifted it’s head, and looked upwards towards the onscreen me, who was surveying it with a look of cool amusement on my face, my arms folded across my smartly uniformed chest. It was if the thing was imploring me to have pity on it, the mouth stretched in a torturous ‘O’ of agony and abject dread. It couldn’t see me, it was blind. The eyes had been gouged out, leaving black, barren sockets, caveholes. 

And I could see now, I could see what I’d never unsee – it was Jacqui, our cleaner, or ‘Residential Support Worker’ as it read on the nametag she wore on the breast of her burgundy tunic. It was Jacqui. This was Jacqui.

Text popped up on the screen for a brief moment – just long enough for me to comprehend the message; white capital letters which read: ‘AARON SAYS: LET’S PROBE SOME GREY MATTER!’ Then, a new caption: ‘I WANNA PICK YOUR BRAINS!’

The onscreen me unzipped my military trousers and fumbled around for a second, before pulling out my erect cock through the open fly. It bounced and bobbed around a little, standing proud and engorged, ready to fuck. The onscreen me then proceeded to grab hold of the Jacqui-monster’s head. I momentarily stopped to gently brush a swathe of matted brown hair away from it’s face, the way you might with a lover before kissing them. The mouth of the Jacqui-monster grimaced and warped and I could tell it was wailing or screaming in a fear and pain I couldn’t relate to, couldn’t possibly fathom. The onscreen me just laughed and then spat into the palm of my hand. To lubricate my dick for penetration. 

Holding onto the sides of the Jacqui-monster’s head, I knew I was about to fuck it’s face. I saw myself begin to insert my dick into one of the eye-sockets of the Jacqui-monster, tentatively prodding at first. The real me thought ‘it won’t fit, it won’t go in…’ The camera zoomed in closer and I could see my dick was penetrating the socket, poking deeper and deeper into the dreadful orifice each time. It was as though my dick wasn’t made of fleshy tissue, but something far more powerful and weapon-like, inorganic, hard as iron. Like a thick, skin-coloured pneumatic drill, boring into the skull-bone, widening the decomposing crater with each thrust until it eventually devoured my dick down to the hilt. I’d never seen my dick look so fucking powerful.

The Jacqui-monster gnashed it’s teeth in futility and opened and closed it’s mouth like a suffocating fish.

My dick was like an unstoppable pile driver, sliding in and out with ease. Blood and pus-like fluid coated my shaft and stained the crotch of my trousers as I increased my pace, my hips maintaining a frantic, vigorous rhythm, while simultaneously pushing and pulling the Jacqui-monster’s head down and up, down and up forcibly, like I was getting deep-throated from an unwilling participant. I was raping her mutilated face.

I’m a nice boy

I’m a nice boy

Maggots and pieces of loose viscera decorated the sides of my dick as my thrusting pulled more and more putrid matter from the diabolical fissure, like I was digging out a hole with soft dirt. Something spongy and pinkish-grey began to bulge around the perimeter of that eyeless hole, then recede, as I bulldozed through it once again with my unyielding, unassailable boner. 

I’m a nice boy

Clotted offal-ish matter, raw liverish meat, concertinaed around my dick. I kept waiting for something to burst, to pop, to just gush, like a dam wall busting. An impact – a climax. It was too much. Too much. Something had to give, something -- 

I’m a nice boy

I’m a nice boy

The mantra helped me breathe. Whenever fear looms, a mantra helps. Mental encouragement. A mantra helps.

I’m a nice boy

I’m a nice boy

I’m a nice boy I’m a nice boy I’m a nice boy -- 

The mantra in my head; it speeds up in time with my frenzied thrusting ass until they become inextricably bound together. I’m a nice boy I’m a nice boy I’m a nice boy I’m -- 

My face – my onscreen face - was a picture of unmitigated, ecstatic joy, mouth hanging open, eyes screwed tight shut in orgasmic pleasure, a bright flush of blood staining my cheeks. I could see sweat beading on my furrowed brow. 

I’m a nice boy I’m a nice boy I’m a nice boy

My expression was that of a man fucking the most delicious pussy, the best pussy of his life. I’m a nice boy. I kept waiting and waiting, anticipating the moment my dick would burst right through monster’s brain tissue and fragile skull, the moment my colossal, relentless, iron-clad dick would triumphantly surge through the back of its head, splintering the bone, like a battering-ram. I’m a nice boy. I imagined seeing the end of my dick emerge from the exit wound, decorated in cerebral goo and plasma. I’m a nice boy. 

I couldn’t unsee; I would see this forever. 

But that’s not the worst part. I can tell you the worst part of it all. As I sat there, in Aaron’s room, at his desk, watching his video on his laptop, I became aware of the most nightmarish, repulsive, inconceivable thing. 

I began to feel my dick getting hard.