THE CREATURES FROM THE TELEVISION
a short story
by Josh Sheets
Was it really just something he’d convinced himself of? Or could he hear them, except that it was only when he wasn’t giving the television his full attention, but he could hear them talking in voices like something static filled, and in long rolling waves. One night he could hear women having orgasms and it became so loud that the living room seemed to fill with it. He had shaken his head and felt his eyes roll back. When he looked up the sounds cleared off. He had heard laughter, that seemed to rise to maniacal levels.
He had heard his name being spoken or in whispers, sometimes right next to him, sometimes very quietly and persistently in the bottom of his head, but somehow still in his ears. The ears must be very funny things, and he often wondered just what sort of frequencies the human ear can actually pick up such as when things were quiet or when the TV was tuned out while he read or tapped away at his laptop, doing this and doing that while he designed buildings late into the night sitting on his couch or in his bed. His apartment was a vacuum sealed box high up above a park. He would go down and walk there sometimes. Good looking women were always running on the green belt, it was always quiet, and even the people walking spoke quietly, some huffing and puffing as they went along. The trees were nice down here and sometimes he would sit out on a bench and watch as the sun faded, leaving the trees in gold colored light for at least twenty minutes in the summer time when there was light out until nine pm. He loved those days and missed them when they weren’t around.
Now those days were nowhere near. This was dead winter, when the trees became black skeletons that rattle in the little breezes at night if you walked down to the store. Wind blew that cut straight through him some nights. It was a wet cold and some winters weren’t so bad but then others were hard and so miserable that people could not stay out in for too long without assimilating for a few weeks first and even then you still got sick, some people, a lot of people, dog sick. He himself caught one bad cough a year, and it was always in those first damn cold and rainy weeks of November.
One night as he fell asleep on the couch, just as the room had quieted down, he heard shuffling foot steps coming toward him and someone muttering to themselves as they came nearer and nearer. He’d sat up quick and turned on the TV. For the next four months he had slept with the TV on. But now, now he was hearing these weird things in the air while he read with the TV on, or fucked around on his laptop with the TV on. Basically if he was sitting right in front of it doing something, he would eventually hear some weird voice coming through under what was going on during the programs. See while he watched what he was doing, or read, or dicked around on Facebook or whatever, he was still listening to the TV, and he could pay attention to both. He did the same thing with baseball and kept up with the games.
He was usually in dress slacks and barefoot. As soon as he walked in his apartment he started pulling loose his already loosened tie, pulling it over his head to toss it wherever to begin unbuttoning his shirt, getting out of his dress clothes by the time he’d reached the living room past the bar looking into the kitchen, all while stepping out of his shoes and kicking them over to the side. Then as he rounded the couch the belt came loose and slipped out of loops and was let go to fly further into the living room. Loosing the clasp from the slender cumber bun on his slacks so he could kick back because he’d usually picked up a six pack of beer along the way. He had the maid put them that way in a bucket in the sink so he could reach over the bar and snag one when he was heading to the couch. Click, and on came the TV. He could hear breathing sometimes and more frequently now. He had the feeling they were coming from inside the TV, or really rather through the satellite feed. Okay, so what could it be, some weird transmission between signals that wasn’t really noticed as they were picked up and rode along on the TV stations signals? Maybe.
But that theory only held water as long as you didn’t think you had felt an incredibly skinny arms reach and stretch across the living room while you sat paying attention to your laptop screen, only to look up and nothing be there, but you knew it had been reaching for you. Then, through your window, you would catch movement, something looking white and moving like a phantasm. That’s when he’d realize, again, that the movement was from the corner of an American flag flying around the corner of the building from the flag pole mounted on the side in between the floor to ceiling windows.
Now a football game was on the big TV across from where he sat. He was writing a book about the first man who had spiked a football on the professional level in his spare time, so he was dinking around with his notes, scribbling this and that, trying to figure a way to form up the first few chapters of the book. He knew he wanted to take a historical turn right off the bat, and keep the book themed properly from then on.
Voices rose from the TV. His eyes had become unfocused while he wrote or scribbled. That was it. There were digitized creatures living in the information streams beaming down from satellites, creatures that were formless, but nevertheless lived only by senses, senses stolen from humans, who had the depth and capacity to feel on much higher frequencies that others, to cross over into other worlds, if but for only brief moments.
His phone made a ting noise. The voices faded and he told himself that what he had heard was not real and only some sort of electrical and digital phenomena. It was a video message from an old friend from his home town. She lived in what accounted for as a shack near some river bottoms. She was a life long paranormal enthusiast.
Will pushed his glasses up his nose and sniffed, swiping his thumb across the screen of his smart phone and tapping in pin to unlock the screen. He tapped the message icon with his phone, the dialogue bubble. A small screen picture of a little kid fidgeting with a cell phone began to play. A new message showed under it, as if popping up from the white ether in the screen of his phone.
TURN VOLUME UP
So he turned the volume up. The kid’s mouth was closed, and the camera was on, though the young boy did not seem to notice, as if he had not turned the app on, or if he had, did not mean to. There was a voice, and a voice not of the boy’s making, making groaning noises, and noises that sounded as if the phone was in someone’s mouth and the person groaned around the plastic, sounding as if they were drugged and riding along with the phone as the kid swayed the screen to and fro, trying to find a song to listen to, which was obvious to Will from the ear buds plugged into his phone. This voice groaned and moaned for a short while and then was joined by a female’s voice, who also rode around on the phone with the male voice. Toward the end of the video the female’s voice had mounted into something like loud and disturbing ecstasy. Will turned the screen off.
He sat for a moment. He didn’t want to ask what that was, who it was from, or how Geri had come by it, but he did.
OKLAHOMA. A FRIEND OF MINE’S SON.
He asked if there was anything more to it, but she never answered.
That night he decided to sleep on the couch in his living room. He often slept there, especially when he was on a dry spell in the female department. Girlfriend? People still had those? Half of a beer bottle sat on the floor by his couch. He’d pick it up in the morning. The TV clicked off and he let the remote got to the floor, wincing because it clattered to hard on the marble. He lay still. The room settled into its new darkness. Green lights came up in a haunted glow from the street lamps five stories below him.
Will sat up and turned the TV back on. That last little voice in his ear had been horrible sounding, something from nightmares as a child about filthy people sitting up from the dirt and speaking languages he did not know and did not want to know.
Fox News slowly resolved onto the TV screen. Will lay back down to try to sleep.
“We’re gonna gettt youuuu.”
Guttural little whispers. He stood up and slung the black and gray comforter away from himself, walking to the open kitchen to take some Zquill from the cabinet. He horked down to big shots of it and stood, not enjoying the bile like taste. Now Will walked over to the fridge and drank milk straight from the carton.
“Eh, what the hell,” he said to no one and walked over to the small orange bottle of Xanax and took a small peachy from it, popped it in his mouth and dry swallowed the little helper down to head back to the couch and flop down, reaching over to click on the oscillating fan.
He slept. No more voices came to him that night. The next few days came and went as days usually do, minor annoyances, laughter, cruel or otherwise, flirting and making eyes with the occasional woman where ever they may be, then not feeling the best about his own confidence and wishing he felt better about himself, work work work on one project or another, not many friends he could really speak with, deadlines always, dreams. The people from the TV did not cross his mind until he sat back down and began work on his laptop.
It was always a live feed, that was when they came. He could hear voices rising and falling as if they were riding transmissions. High female type voices and low male’s voices, sometimes individually and other times in endless crowds it seemed.
A biker buddy of his who installed satellites sent him a few videos, one of a man above him on a ladder while the two installed a TV network satellite, and the other a continuing video of their work. The first was normal. The second was from when the satellite began working after their work was finished on the roof. The objects in the picture, man, satellite, and top of ladder were framed in a gray outline and the phone was crapping out.
Digital creatures from a fabricated digital dimension, breaking into our reality through our everyday gadgets. We had all been duped and out technology highjacked, perhaps from inception, by creatures from another world, from another reality altogether.
Now he heard the voice loud and clear with waking ears, and it sounded horrible, like a demented old woman’s intent on sexual relations. Will looked up. The creature vanished before his eyes. He hadn’t had the best look at it but its skin looked soft and gray, and their were dreadful looking leathery tits hanging from under its shoulders. Its arms and fingers were too long. He hadn’t seen the face but he could imagine it.
A voice whispered to him.
“We are legion.”