Prompt Day #241: Go to a local “rental center” and browse the tools, appliances, and furnishings. Choose an interesting object. Rent it if you’ve got money to squander; if not, remember its details. Later write a piece that pretends that your chosen object was possessed in some way.
Ok, yes I am behind on my prompts, but I swear I am writing everyday, just not finishing everyday. The problem–no not a problem–the reason is I am on vacation with my family and time with them is precious, more precious than anything. So, I am trying not to stress these prompts. I am thinking about them, making notes, and I won’t miss a single one. I just may not get them posted every day. I’ll do my best. And they won’t always be long, they may just be scenes or lists (brainstorms) and the like. I have to remind myself while, yes, I love that I have readers and that many of you are supportive and encouraging and so amazingly awesome to me, the reason I do this is for me, my growth as a writer, and so, I need to give my brain rest and peace once in awhile too. Thanks for understanding. Love you all.
It was the plethora of obscure 80’s horror movies on VHS at the Goodwill store that prompted our visit to Rent-A-Center. We couldn’t pass up twenty-five cent cult classics like House and Angel Heart but the thing was, we didn’t exactly have a VCR to watch them with. So what else were poor, college girls with nowhere to go on Spring Break going to do all week? We didn’t have Netflix so we had to MacGyver the situation; we would binge watch something for God sakes. We had enough money pooled for pizza, margaritas and Starbucks runs to last at least four days so we made the logical sacrifice; Starbucks cash went towards this sweet 24” TV/VCR combo at Rent-A-Center. I’m sure it was funny watching three girls try to tote that dinosaur out to the car. I can honestly say I did not realize it’d be that heavy. We almost dropped it twice.
There was no remote for it, so it was pretty cheap. The weird gold painted stripe around the black frame was almost completely worn off. Did people at one time actually think that made them look classy or something? We laughed the whole way home. The primitive times our parents lived in frequently astonished us but after struggling with the VCR buttons and trying to figure out how to find the start menu on a movie that started halfway through, we actually felt bad.
We set up our little pity theater in Kendra’s parents’ basement. They were out of town for the week and so, it was a no brainer. Ami and I lived in a dorm on campus, both living too far from home to commute like Kendra. After a rousing game of eenie meenie miney moe, we chose House, mixed up a batch of pomegranate margaritas, settled down with a couple deep dish pizzas, a bowl of M&Ms and pushed play.
Ami was a horror movie freak. She was the one who found the VHS tapes in the first place and admitted (under the effects of two margaritas) that she had the biggest crush on William Katt. Kendra and I who did not find his blonde fro as attractive as Ami seemed to were talking and missed the first glitch.
“What the…” Ami said “You guys, did you see that?” She asked and ran to the VCR. She hit a button and then another cursing at the archaic electronic beast. We watched her and laughed, assuming it was some strange scene with a shirtless Katt.
“Guys, I’m serious, something weird just happened. Wait a sec, let me show you.” She rewound the tape, watching it in reverse and then hit play. She ran to the couch and plopped down beside me. “Now watch closely.”
We watched, and saw a lot of bad special effects, some questionable acting but nothing more.
“I swear, there was some kind of glitch. It broke in like right in the middle of the movie and it was like a black and white surveillance video of a girl sleeping, like in her bedroom or something.” She was staring at the screen with a furrowed brow. We just laughed at her and told her to have another margarita.
And then it happened again.
“See! Look!” She pointed but didn’t need to. We saw it. And this time, we saw the girl a little clearer.
“That’s my room.” Kendra said as if she’d just been punched in the stomach.
“And that looks like you.” I said in a whisper. We all just stared, our jaws hanging open. Kendra got up and turned off the VHS.
“Let’s watch a different movie. Something’s wrong with this one.” She said and put one in called Pin. Starting a freaky movie with an underlying creepiness already in the room, we jumped at everything. But we stopped entirely when another black and white scene interrupted, this time with a sleeping Kendra and an unknown stranger standing beside her bed. Just standing there, staring down at her. He never moved and I think that was worse than anything else.
“Oh my god” Kendra said. Her voice cracked. “Who is that guy?” Ami and I shook our heads, this was unbelievable.
“Just turn this off.” Ami said and then to Kendra “Sleep down here with us tonight.”
“There isn’t enough room. We’ll just lock all the doors and it’ll be ok.” Kendra said, trying very hard to sound like a rational adult.
“Well, I’m coming up with you tonight, you’re not sleeping up there alone tonight.” Ami said. I should have said it too, I should have at least agreed that was a good idea, but something about that man standing there, motionless above an obvious Kendra in her actual room told me I should get out of this house as soon as possible. So I said nothing and instead got up to make us all another round of margaritas and had a shot of tequila to try to calm my nerves.
We sat on the sofa and tried to talk about superficial things. We had an unspoken rule to avoid anything stressful, upsetting, or sad. Somehow, I think, we thought if we avoided that type of talk, we would be protected against anything bad happening to us.
That’s when it happened again, on the TV which was turned off. The scene popped up again. Kendra, her room, the stranger standing there. We watched silently and in a split second, the scene burst into a frenzy of movement when the stranger lifted a kitchen knife and began slashing at Kendra. Again and again he tore it into her until what was once Kendra, was now a bloody pulp on the bed.
At this point, we were all either screaming or crying or some combination of both. Ami was holding Kendra who had her face buried in Ami’s chest sobbing. I was trying to decide if I had the courage to get up and walk away from the safety of the group in order to make us a round of shots. The man on the screen threw the knife to the floor, bent over and began to rip and tear her body further into pieces. It was gruesome and appalling. Ami held Kendra hard against her lest she see what Ami and I were watching on the screen. I swallowed the gorge that was threatening at the back of my throat.
“Ok,” I said having enough of this. I stood up and unplugged the TV. “Let’s go. We’re going to walk through this house and check every closet, every window, every door and once we know it’s secure, we’re going to bed. Tomorrow, first thing, we’re taking this damn TV back.”
The girls obeyed without word. We walked the house, Kendra still leaning on Ami for support. When we were satisfied that the place was clean and there was something very wrong with the TV set instead (we’d talked ourselves into believing that someone had rigged some kind of technological prank on us), Ami and Kendra went to bed in her room. They took the whole block of kitchen knives up with them and their cell phones.
“Call or text me if you need anything. Just set it so that all you have to do is hit the button” I told them. “I’ll call 911.” They nodded and went upstairs. I curled up on the couch and tried to sleep.
At 3:03am, I woke up to the flickering light of the TV. It was on again. I sat up, my heart pounding. I could barely breathe. There was Ami standing over Kendra. She had one of the knives. I shouted.
“Ami No!” yet I couldn’t move. I couldn’t tear myself away from the screen. I know I should have, I might have saved Kendra. But I didn’t. I just watched, horrified as Ami brought the knife down again and again. Kendra fought at first, her arms flailing up and out blindly at Ami but the battle was lost before she could do anything. I stood frozen knowing what would come next. Ami tossed the knife and dove into Kendra.
Now, I could have called 911, I could have done that in the very least, but instead, I grabbed my stuff and left. I left Ami and Kendra to whatever force had possessed them, I left the TV playing its morbid movie, not knowing but somehow still sure that what it showed was happening in real time. I drove the whole way back to the dorm where I sat and waited for the call.