Project: #Novel365 2018 – Week 4

de-bunker-button

#Novel365 2018 Week Three

CHAPTER TWO

I was blissfully unaware of the subway shroud and the internet fascination surrounding it as I was out of the country, in an unspecified part of the world working a corporate case that I was contractually obliged never to discuss. Truth be known, even if I wasn’t preoccupied with work, the chances were high that I would still have been in the dark as I have never been a frequenter of YouTube or any of the ever-expanding social media sites. It was only when my business associate, Madi Wasnofski, picked me up at the airport that I was brought up to speed during the car ride to our Manhattan office. Madi carefully documented the entire event in chronological order and organized them in numbered folders on her tablet that she handed me.

When she first began describing it to me I was prepared to write the matter off as a nonsensical hoax but as I started reading and rereading the materials and watching the original videos and the more insightful breakdown videos, I became intrigued. This was a proper mystery that baffled me. Not ever a man given to braggadocio, I always prided myself on having the gift to spot fakery and offer rational explanations of how the trick was accomplished and no reasonable explanation came to mind.

“Why are you showing me this?” which was a question I should have asked straight away before finding myself knee-deep in an internet enigma. Blame it on the jetlag, I suppose.

“You need to be briefed,” she said matter of factly.

“Short version,” I grunted. Clearly, I was too tired for Madi’s usual tendency for cat and mouse.

“There are people waiting to meet with you at the office,” she said. “Official people. The kind of people, knowing you as I do, that you would rather not be unprepared when you meet with them. Why else did you think I came to pick you up personally instead of arranging an Uber?”

We rode the rest of the way in silence. I realized that I had somehow offended Madi. This was something I did quite often with her without recognizing my supposed infractions. It would blow over quickly as she was not the sort to hold grudges, real or perceived, and the quiet allowed me the opportunity to commit the salient bits of the mystery to memory.

We were greeted by the beaming smile of our administrative professional (a title drilled into my brain by Madi to replace the word secretary) Penny, who always reminded me of the Little Orphan Annie, not so much for her auburn locks or diminutive size but for the lyrics of Annie’s 1931 radio show, “bright eyes, cheeks a rosy glow.” Penny was easily the most consistent, outwardly happy person I knew.

Madi looked around the tiny reception area and frowned, “Where are they, Penny?”

“They looked like they were getting antsy so I put them in your office, Ms. Wasonofski,” Penny used her ballpoint pen as a pointer. “I would have put them in Mr. Quaice’s, but…”

“Perfectly understandable. Thank you, Penny. Hold all calls, please.” Madi shot me a look I didn’t much care for though I was well aware of the unkempt state of my office.

Madi’s office was practically identical to mine in size but where mine seemed downright claustrophobic, hers accommodated the two men, who stood upon our arrival, Madi and myself, quite comfortably.

“Gentlemen, this is Darius Quaice,” Madi said and maneuvered another chair behind her desk as I shook hands with our potential clients. Both men, without fail, exerted a grip stronger than was necessary for a consultation visit and attempted to turn their hands over mine in the power position. By the handshake, the ill-fitting discount men’s store suits with yellow and teal dress shirts, ties that matched too much and their immaculately polished dress shoes, I knew these men were government, military, most likely, associated with the Department of Defense. They introduced themselves as Mr. Duffy and Mr. Thompson and hadn’t even bothered to show any form of identification, which undoubtedly would have been falsified if they had.

“We’re fans of your work,” Duffy said and as if on cue Thompson produced a copy of my book, The Quiet Lies Miracles Tell. “Big fans.” The book itself was nearly pristine which meant it was recently purchased for presentation only and perhaps to stroke my ego. I was certain their unnamed agency owned a dog-eared copy that some low-level employee was made to read through and bullet point all the passages of interest.

“Very kind of you, gentlemen. Now, how may I help you?”

“Are you familiar with the subway shroud?” Duffy asked.

“Initially, no, but Ms.Wasonofski has done an excellent job in catching me up.” I caught the slightest curl of the corners of Madi’s mouth for the recognition.

“And your thoughts?”

“Genuine or hoax? Genuine. Organism or device? Device. I have no evidence to support my opinion because whatever it is defies my limited knowledge of the current technologies available to us. But even beyond understanding its purpose, the more important questions are who built it, where was it built and how did they manage to build it?”

“You suspect a foreign government?”

“If I suspected a government it would include domestic as well as foreign, but as you’re sitting here with me, the former rather than the latter seems more plausible. And if it was built by a government, it most certainly is a weapon of war. The problem with that assumption is how has it been kept secret? Leaks are all the rage these days, particularly when it comes to possible war machines, and there hasn’t been any breaking news of a technology that could be linked as a stepping stone to this. So my gut instinct leans toward either the private sector or a lone inventor.”

Both men remained stone-faced and made no attempt to confirm or deny my theory. Duffy broke the momentary silence by asking, “How versed are you in the area of time travel, Mr. Quaice?”

“I have a layman’s familiarity with certain theories, possibilities and paradoxes…”

“Such as?” Thompson interrupted.

“Einstein believed time was a fabric that could be bent and torn with the right energy and some experts speculate that dark matter or negative matter could be the key. Then there are black holes but one would have to be the size of a subatomic particle if they had any hope of surviving the journey, and so forth.” I hoped they wouldn’t ask me to continue because that was the extent of my knowledge.

“As a debunker, we were wondering if you’ve ever had to deal with time travel and/or teleportation in any of your other cases?” Thompson asked.

“Debunker?” I could tell from Madi’s expression that my tone reflected my annoyance.

Duffy put a hand on the crook of Thompson’s arm to stop him before he spoke further. He himself chimed in, “Forgive my colleague for his poor choice of words, Mr. Quaice. He meant as an investigator of the…” Duffy searched for the proper word. “…fantastic.”

“Gentlemen, I am not at liberty to discuss previous confidential cases with my clients the same way I will not discuss our meeting today with anyone outside this room. So, if you don’t mind, I’ve had a long trip and I’d like to get some rest so please get to your business or make an appointment with Penny for a more convenient time on your way out.”

To be continued…

Welcome to Week 4 of my personal 2018 writing challenge to turn my daily tweeting habit into something productive. This story is an experiment to write a stream of consciousness book with no outline or plot in mind, just a year’s worth of whatever-pops-into-my-fragile-little-mind tweets without edits or the fancy flourishes that will come in the rewrite. Although I have finally introduced a few characters, I still have absolutely no idea what their importance in the greater scheme of things are, or how many others there will be, what the story will ultimately be about or how it will end, and that terrifies and thrills me at the same time. And you get to watch me either create something (hopefully coherent and good) from thin air or fall flat on my writerly face.

So, if you can spare a moment, I invite you to either cheer me on or tell me what a colossal mistake I’m making. I’m good either way.

©2018 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

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Sunday Hashtag Story Tweets

The missiles were on their way. Cleo and the rest of North America’s world would soon begin falling apart, and despite the impossibility, all she wanted in the moments before impact was for her late mother to hold her and tell her everything would be all right.

#saidsun

“Everything seemed to happen all at once but in the midst of the car crash, reality was frozen in position for a moment; the still life of a dramatic, devastating second. And I somehow knew this was the final moment that I would ever see my family alive.”

#sunscribbles

No one could understand why Laurence was fixated on Patricia because they could not view her through his eyes. To him, her raven hair was the night sky, her alabaster face was the moon, and he was the lone astronaut forever caught within her orbit.

©2018 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Saturday Hashtag Story Tweets

Morgan’s drinking drove Jessica away. He did the only thing he could think of to bring her back. He drank. It was an illogical plan but it worked. His ex-wife did return to visit his deathbed with a bottle.

“One for the road?” she smiled with tears in her eyes.

“Do you love me? Tell me true.”

“More than all the stars in the sea.”

“Not at all, then?”

“What?”

“Stars do not exist in the sea, sir. Any fool knows that.”

“Oh, my sweet darling, allow me to illustrate how very incorrect you are.”

The hardest part of introducing people from your past is encapsulating their importance at a particular point in your life, so the anecdote I boiled Declan down to was, “He’s a friend from elementary school who made me un-die after a fatal car accident.”

©2018 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Thursday Hashtag Story Tweet

#writethurs:

I am not a man who knows many fears, but the softness of Lady Rosamund’s lips troubles me because her kiss is so very deep that each time our mouths touch I lose more of my balance and feel as though I may slip from my mortal shell and plunge into her bottomless love.

#thurds:

Hortense warned that her family was old fashioned but I didn’t realize how outdated they were until I got a toothache. For relief, her father wanted to hammer a nail into my tooth and when it bled, I was to remove nail and drive it into a tree to transfer the pain.

©2018 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

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Wednesday Hashtag Story Tweets

#WineWords:

It was all coming to an end. With the asteroid only hours away, Gigi and Daryl let their legs dangle over the sides of the hammock as they watched the burnt orange of the last ever sunset that highlighted the beauty of their tanned, naked bodies.

#1linewed:

“Welcome to the Food Network! Pitch us your show!”

“It’s called The Quantum Chef.”

“And what’s it about?”

“Preparing delicious scientific dishes that allow you to om-nom-nom your way into cyberspace, the astral plane or even alternate realities!”

“All gluten-free?”

#TalesNoir:

The psychic rapport successfully bridged the gap between both men but as the telepath spotted a patch of sanity, he was attacked by his client’s psychosis. There would be no time to explore the malicious mindscape. This was going to have to be a snatch and run.

©2018 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

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Tuesday Hashtag Story Tweet

#TuesLine:

Aggie’s anger was a genetic thing, passed down from parents she never knew. It was a curse feared by the townsfolk for when her temper exploded it created a crater that scorched dirt, trees, and small animals for a hundred meters in every direction.

#bookishtues

Maylene disobeyed her parents’ wishes and visited the “so-called” haunted house of Jaan DeCoumar, the soul cartographer, because she needed the assurance that her one true soul mate existed in a fixed position relative to hers just as the stars in the sky.

©2018 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

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Project: #Novel365 2018 – Week 3

Print

#Novel365 2018 Week Two

On December 30th, 2017, all of this changed. A Queens-bound J local train derailed between the Myrtle Avenue and Kosciuszko Street stations, at least it was listed as such. The train was traveling at five miles per hour and the track running between the stations was elevated above ground so a true derailment would have resulted in a jack-knifing of the train, sending cars toppling into buildings and the street below. Since the train had just departed Myrtle Avenue it hadn’t reached its average speed of thirty miles per hour, which probably saved the lives of the train crew, the one hundred and fifty-four passengers and pedestrians below. The truth was an event occurred within the fourth car from the front that caused it to cant several degrees, lifting one side of its wheels slightly off the track.

The incident happened roughly eleven thirty in the evening, in a car that suffered mechanical issues with the doors not responding to controls. Passengers were asked to move to one of the adjoining cars as the train crew locked down the faulty car, which was preferable to taking the entire train out of service. While the latter would have resulted in fewer injuries in hindsight, the action taken meant luckily there were no fatalities within the car in question.

According to eyewitness reports, as the train was leaving the station there was a slight rocking that might not have raised any alarm had it not been for a passenger, illegally standing outside the train between the fourth and fifth cars. He claimed he was not riding between cars to urinate, despite statements from other passengers that when the man rushed back into the fifth car, his fly was undone and his right pant leg was wet. The man yanked the emergency brake cord, yelling, “It’s a bomb! We’re gonna die!” At first, the other passengers were angered by the seeming lunatic but one of them looked through the windowed door into the fourth car and confirmed, “We gotta get out of here!” This statement caused a panic as passengers pushed and shoved one another to get through the door at the other end of the car. Fear spread like wildfire throughout the train as the fifth car passengers forced their way through car after car inciting their fellow passengers with speculations of another New York City terrorist attack. Eventually, the eighth and final car was jam-packed with passengers eager to escape, who took turns trying to smash out the windows and pry open the sliding doors. The Metropolitan Transit Authority crew tried to reassure them everything was under control but it was far too late by then.

The MTA acted quickly in cutting the power of both the downtown and uptown tracks and passengers were evacuated from the train station, some having to be rescued off the tracks when they had fallen between cars during the passenger stampede. Of the one hundred and fifty-four passengers all but seventeen were sent to the hospital with injuries sustained from the panic resulting after the activation of the emergency brakes.

Despite being told of the unlikelihood of the incident being a terrorist attack when the police and fire departments arrived it was investigated as such. From the outside, the only sign of distress to the fourth subway car was the bloating on one side that pushed against the station platform which caused it to cant. The initial thought was an improperly detonated explosive device. The inside of the car told a different story. On the side facing the platform, striations ran along its entire length, floor to ceiling. One investigator reported, “It was like looking at stretch marks on a pregnant belly from the inside out.” Another investigator thought the striations looked like watermarks, as if tides over the course of years had pushed against the car wall at decreasing levels. What the investigators did not find were signs of an explosive device, evidence of human tampering or vandalism, or even traces of unusual and/or toxic chemicals or gas.

The train was taken out of service and at the train yard, engineers were at a loss to explain the condition of the fourth car but one of the engineers knew a colleague who was a theoretical physicist who was more than happy to take a look and venture a supposition. And though the visiting expert was fascinated by his own findings, the MTA was less so. Somehow, a passage from his report was leaked online in which he wrote, “The investigator who said these striations looked like watermarks was closer than he realized, only these aren’t watermarks, they’re timemarks. I’m willing to wager that the metal between these linear marks are of a different age than the metal within the marks themselves.”

It did not take long for public opinion to link this new piece of evidence to the subway shroud, but now the theories shifted from it being a monster or alien to a time machine. The shroud now claimed responsibility for train delays, subway accidents, and even missing persons who were last spotted riding the rails.

And just as before, a new series of speculation threads, fan fiction stories and memes cropped up seemingly overnight. One clever NYU film student who beat everyone to the punch created a Doctor Who-inspired web series about a time-traveling subway rider with a quantum Metrocard, who encountered the likes of Agatha Christie, Leo Tolstoy, and Leji Matsumoto while solving train-based mysteries. Shortly after, The Hollywood Reporter ran an article about the filmmaker currently being in talks with Steven Spielberg to take the show to network.

To be continued…

“Is he still at it?” you ask and my reply is, “Damn skippy!” Welcome to Week 3 of my personal 2018 writing challenge to turn my daily tweeting habit into something productive. This story is an experiment to write a stream of consciousness book with no outline or plot in mind, just a year’s worth of whatever-pops-into-my-fragile-little-mind tweets without edits or the fancy flourishes that will come in the rewrite. I still have absolutely no idea who any of the characters are, or how many there will be, what the story will ultimately be about or how it will end, and that terrifies and thrills me at the same time. And you get to watch me either create something (hopefully coherent and good) from thin air or fall flat on my writerly face.

So, if you can spare a moment, I invite you to either cheer me on or tell me what a colossal mistake I’m making. I’m good either way.

©2018 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

Saturday Hashtag Story Tweets

“Why do you have to be like this? Can’t you see how much I love you?”

“You ruined my reputation, costing me my job, blew up my house and shot up my vintage 1970 Datsun 240Z with a Desert Eagle .50. You call that love?”

“Don’t be silly. That’s just foreplay.”

Aida stood in the black slashes of shadow, watching him, ears full of the howling of her own rough breathing, as her mood turned in a slow circle, searching for a familiar sign that would lead her back to loving the man she married… who savagely murdered her.

She had braved love once and though it nearly destroyed her, she would do it again. This time, she would clean her heart properly, boiling away as much resentment and hate as she could manage and step unencumbered into a new relationship. That was the plan, anyway.

His breath came in frantic little gasps as he smelled the hot, sickly sweet, fragrant cloud of burning sulfur that singed the edges of his nostrils. Long white fingers spidered on his shoulders and a mouth with crowded sharp teeth kissed his neck. Mother was home.

It was the ninth week of the gender nonconforming strike in Rhode Island when the armed skirmishes began. After the Governor called in the National Guard, sexual orientation guerrilla battles escalated to the point where the state was officially declared a war zone.

He was born pug ugly and it only grew worse as he grew older. “Ya better get rich cause not even a blind girl’d wanna be with you!” his schoolmates teased. But they were wrong. He had eventually found someone, a sighted girl who only saw his heart through her own.

Telepathy was Annabelle’s internet porn. One peek at a stranger’s seemingly innocent thoughts led her down a delightful rabbit hole of dirty little secrets and it was all fun and games until she accidentally peeked into her aunt’s mind and found herself in bondage.

The newspaper ad read:

GET YOUR BIOLOGICAL NEWBORN BY CORRESPONDENCE

You can reap the benefits of motherhood without the need for pregnancy or leaving the safety of your home! Complete with DNA confirmation!

100% money back guarantee if not completely satisfied!

©2018 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

Project: #Novel365 2018 – Week 2

Subway Train

#Novel365 2018 Week One

The negative backlash for B.U.L.L.’s pirate broadcast video in addition to the spam and flame wars for the initial subway video had filled YouTube to the point where a denial of service (DDoS) attack had been launched out of protest. The American video-sharing website suffered an outage in the United States and most of Europe and remained offline in excess of two hours. As a result, Google suspended the “Ya Can’t Unsee S#!t Like This” account but by then it was too late. The moment YouTubers received the error message: “500 Internal Server Error. Sorry, something went wrong. A team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with this situation” the subway video began appearing on Vimeo, DailyMotion, Metacafe, flickr, and Veoh.

Then it multiplied. At first, it started popping up on accounts attempting to confirm or disprove the video’s authenticity, then it was examined by film students, video editors and special effects artists and then by bandwagon jumpers who wanted a spike in their account’s view count. In less than a month, the subway video had been analyzed and broken down as much or more so than the Zapruder film.

The attention paid to the video would have subsided and been forgotten, replaced by some new fad or other, if not for the other videos. New cell phone footage from various sources sprang up from subway riders who encountered what had come to be known as the shroud, the tall, almost column-like, objectless shadow that appeared and disappeared when it moved as if short-distance-teleportation was its mode of transportation.

Some speculated the shroud wasn’t teleporting at all, that it was a two-dimensional entity, having length and breadth but no depth, that rotated as it moved which gave it the appearance of momentarily vanishing. This theory was quickly dispatched when an eagle-eyed viewer noticed the trash on the subway cars, food wrappers, empty paper coffee cups and plastic water bottles, being pushed away from the shroud when it appeared and being drawn into the void left by the shroud’s absence.

The next big question tackled: Was the shroud a life form, a cosmic event or some supernatural occurrence such as an apparition?

Someone online pointed out for something to be considered organic it required traits shared with all the living things that exist on Earth. Of the six traits, the shroud only checked one box: Movement, but even that was a source of controversy as people debated whether teleportation of a stationary object counted as true ambulation. But was the shroud truly stationary? In the brief video clips, it never appeared to bend, wiggle, expand or contract. Perhaps there were slight movements imperceptible to the human eye or it moved at such a snail’s pace that it gained the ability to leap short distances faster than the eye could follow. The five remaining traits:

  1. Living things being made up of cells
  2. Organisms using energy and receiving energy from a source
  3. Growth and development
  4. The ability to reproduce and respond and adapt to their environment

could not be verified without a sample or test subject.

Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, physicist Brian Cox, and theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, as well as several other noted professionals, were invited to weigh in on the matter of whether the shroud was truly a cosmic event. Each, in their own way, expressed the notion to be unlikely as cosmic events better known as astronomical events typically occurred off-world and though the planet may experience the effects of certain events, none of the recent eclipses, comet encounters, close planetary pairings, or other celestial wonders could have been reasonably connected with the subway shadow. They would not comment on the notion of the shroud being some form of extraterrestrial communication without examining the evidence further but appeared to think it was highly unlikely.

Now, when it came to the paranormal aspects of the shroud, so-called experts were crawling out of the woodwork with explanations as to what it was and how it came into existence. No one exposition matched or supported another so they were easy to dismiss. A popular one that garnered more attention than it should have was that the constant rumbling of New York City subway trains over the years had worn down the barrier that separated us from the underworld and eventually created a vibrational rift that led straight to Hell.

On October 14th, 2017, an MTA worker on a refuse train running on the J local line that operated from Jamaica Center in Queens to Broad Street in Manhattan, claimed to encounter the shroud between the Alabama Avenue and Broadway Junction station stops. Refuse trains, as the name suggested, bagged garbage collected from each station’s trash receptacles and stored them on six flatbed-like cars between engineer car and the caboose. The worker, who wished to remain unidentified, thought at first one of the black garbage bags had burst open and was flapping in the wind and as he prepared to make his way to the bag to secure it, he saw that it was no bag. He described it as a mysterious object that was there one time and gone the next, just to appear somewhere else and it was moving in his direction. Bags of garbage exploded when it appeared and the trash was sucked into nothingness when the object disappeared. Trash bags erupted like geysers and the refuse inside vanishing a moment later as the object drew nearer and nearer. Then it was close enough for the worker to feel the blast of air when the object appeared, pelting him with garbage and having the breath temporarily sucked from his lungs as it disappeared. He scrabbled back and fell over trash bags as the object advanced so close he could almost touch it. He kicked out with his feet and threw his arms up to protect himself and then… nothing. The mysterious object was gone. The worker later tested positive for alcohol, even though he admitted to having one drink after the incident to help calm his nerves, and was placed on suspension.

The very same day at very nearly the same time, on the very same subway line but on the track going the opposite direction between the Gates Avenue and Halsey Street station stops, a commuter captured the shroud on a video which showed trash being spat into the air when it appeared. Trash that wasn’t there a moment before. Connecting the two sightings gave light to the possibility that the shroud wasn’t simply teleporting itself in short distances but teleporting back and forth between two (or perhaps even more) locations. This revelation opened several scientific threads online, which reexamined older shroud videos to see if there were simultaneous time coordinations linking any of them, and calculating the distance of the two most recent trains and the speed they were traveling in order to map out a teleportation range.

Apart from the theory and amateurishly fake sighting videos, some done for comedic effect, the shroud became the topic of fan fiction, appearing in Reddit threads and on Creepy Pasta. DeviantArt was also plagued by shroud drawings, from pencil sketches to manga pin-ups to full-blown CG portraits. It then became a meme with Hollywood stars like Harrison Ford from his 1993 film The Fugitive running from the approaching shroud. There was even a first-person video game in which the player entered an abandoned subway. Once inside, the entrance collapsed and the player had to investigate a derelict J train, car by car, to collect seven pieces of a device that when assembled created a teleportation device to transport the player to safety. All this while avoiding the deadly shroud which always appeared out of nowhere.

When the memes had run their course, interest in the shroud had waned and the subway shroud joined the ranks of Slenderman, NoEnd House, Polybius and The Smiling Man.

To be continued…

What the hell is this, you may be asking yourself. It’s none other than my personal 2018 writing challenge to turn my daily tweeting habit into something productive. This story is an experiment to write a stream of consciousness book with no outline or plot in mind, just a year’s worth of whatever-pops-into-my-fragile-little-mind tweets without edits or the fancy flourishes that will come in the rewrite. I have absolutely no idea who any of the characters are, or how many there will be, what the story will ultimately be about or how it will end, and that terrifies and thrills me at the same time. And you get to watch me either create something (hopefully coherent and good) from thin air or fall flat on my writerly face.

So, if you can spare a moment, I invite you to either cheer me on or tell me what a colossal mistake I’m making. I’m good either way.

©2018 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

Project: #Novel365 2018 – Week 1

cult

You may ask, “Why this project?” and my simple response is, “Why not?” A new year calls for a new writing challenge and the one I set for myself is to turn my daily tweeting habit into something productive. I have many unfinished works in progress that I could chop up into tweet-sized bits to give myself a head start but where’s the fun in that?

So this story, that does not as yet have a title, is not only brand new, it is also an experiment to write a stream of consciousness book with no outline or plot in mind, just a year’s worth of whatever-pops-into-my-fragile-little-mind tweets. I have absolutely no idea who any of the characters are, or how many there will be, what the story will ultimately be about or how it will end, and that terrifies and thrills me at the same time. And you get to watch me either create something (hopefully coherent and good) from thin air or fall flat on my writerly face.

So, if you can spare a moment, I invite you to either cheer me on or tell me what a colossal mistake I’m making. I’m good either way.

And so it begins…

PART ONE

CHAPTER I

As the countdown heralded the arrival of 2018, my personal new year was marked by a mysterious phenomenon that would inevitably alter the course of my life and brought into question whether I would survive to see 2019. But before I delve further into my involvement with the phenomenon, perhaps I should explain the phenomenon itself or at least share the rumors I stumbled upon from online social media sites and less than reputable news outlets. To provide background, if nothing else.

It all began, as a great many viral things do, with a YouTube video. The initial cell phone-captured video, posted to the Ya Can’t Unsee S#!t Like This account, ran exactly one minute and fifty-four seconds, the average length of a movie trailer. Within twenty-four hours it reached nearly four billion views, making it the second most viewed item on YouTube, just under the Despacito music video. Needless to say, the post divided viewers instantly, with comments ranging from WTF did I just watch? to Is this real life??? to #FakeAF! Even celebrities and politicians were not immune and weighed in with their thoughts and opinions, igniting a slew of new flame wars and insane speculations. So what was in this web video that excited the global public mind and made anyone who watched it deeply interested in the matter, you ask?

The shaky vertical video begins with the cell phone’s owner capturing a female performer on a crowded New York City subway car singing a song I am not familiar with so I cannot say whether it was a rendition of another artist’s song or an original composition but she was definitely talented. She was not the reason for massive internet interest, though. Fifty-three seconds into the song, something appeared in the background. Something as tall as the car itself. Something shadowy and out of focus though the passengers behind the shadow were in crisply visible. The shadow appeared to blink in and out of existence in the middle of the car and when passengers noticed it, they shrieked and scrambled over one another to get out of its way, some even ignoring the “Riding or moving between cars is prohibited” notices on the sliding doors at either end as they risked safety by rushing into the adjacent subway cars. The shadow then began advancing toward the singer, increasing speed and then… the video ended.

A week following the video posting, when the video’s comment thread took a turn from negative to downright abusive to positively frightening, eighteen users of the online bulletin board, 1nt3rFich3, met in an IRC channel and formed the Bureau Uncovering Ludicrous Lies and hacked Ya Can’t Unsee S#!t Like This’ YouTube account and made the video private. The group then uploaded a new video featuring a puppet that bore a striking resemblance to Billy from the Saw franchise films. The puppet explained fake videos that incensed viewers and incited negative interactions, bullying and even death threats should never be created or posted online. The internet has to become a safe place for all to visit. By the end of the video, the puppet disclosed the account holder’s personal information so he could experience first hand the fear that many commenters felt when expressing an unpopular opinion on the video’s thread.

Needless to say, neither the puppet nor the video were well received.

To be continued…

©2018 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License