Thursday, June 13, 2019
DON'T WATCH IT
DON’T WATCH IT
By Randy Romero
I struggled for weeks to come to terms with the death of my friend. Brandon was so cheerful and full of life. He always wore a smile. Such a positive and uplifting individual. Nobody had a clue what could have pushed him over the edge. Nobody could figure out why Brandon chose to take his own life.
We tried to tell the cops about what we found on his email account. But they refused to hear us out. After they saw what Regina had done to herself, the cops weren’t interested in hearing our stories. They wanted to close the case as soon as possible and write Brandon’s death off as a suicide, and write Regina’s “accident” off as a case of temporary insanity.
It was just a few short weeks after Brandon’s funeral when Evan, Regina, and I (Kathleen, but all my friends called me Kat) gathered at Regina’s place. Her parents were out of town for the weekend and she didn’t want to be alone. I couldn’t blame her after everything she’d been through. I thought Brandon and I were close, but Regina and Brandon were inseparable.
It was a fairly uneventful night. We ordered pizza, watched a couple of movies (mainly romantic comedies, which Evan wasn’t too crazy about), made a bowl of popcorn, and talked after we finished the movies Regina had rented.
Inevitably, our conversation gravitated towards Brandon. None of us really wanted to speculate, but it was gnawing away at us. We wanted to understand why he did the unthinkable.
I’m not a nosy person. I’ve been one to pry or snoop. But Evan was a different story.
Evan was using Regina’s laptop to check his Myspace page when he asked, “What was Brandon’s email?”
“BrandonSkywalker223,” Regina recited it from memory. “Why?”
“I know it’s none of my business, but I’m going to check his email account. Maybe there’s something there, a clue, a private conversation he had with someone. If I don’t find anything there, I’ll check his Myspace account.”
“How are you going to get into his email account? You don’t even know his password–”
Before I could finish my thought, Evan said, “Done. I’m in.” Evan was a wiz when it came to computers. I’m not going to lie, it was a little unnerving. If he could hack into someone’s email account in under a minute, what else could he find out about his friends? But I cast those thoughts aside for the time being and let Evan do his thing.
Evan sifted through Brandon’s inbox and found a peculiar message from an unidentified account. He opened the email. There was a link to a video, accompanied by three ominous words: DON’T WATCH IT
Of course, Evan’s first thought was, “Hey, let’s watch it.”
“Do you really think it’s a good idea to go snooping through his emails?” I asked.
“This could be the key to his suicide, to understanding why he did what he did.”
“Or it could be nothing,” Regina said, sounding skeptical. “Why would anyone send a video link and then leave a message saying not to watch it?”
“Maybe to trick them into actually watching it,” Evan said. “It’s like when you were a little kid and you’d see a sign that said ‘Adults Only’ or ‘Do Not Enter’. You always wanted to take a peek and see for yourself, right?”
“It could be a virus,” I pointed out. “I wouldn’t open it.”
“You guys aren’t the least bit curious?” Evan said, trying to egg us on.
“I’m very curious,” Regina said. “But I’ve got a funny feeling about this. What do you think, Kat?”
“I don’t know,” I said. Part of me really wanted to know what was on that video. And part of me wanted to leave it alone and forget all about it.
“Fine, let’s take a vote,” Evan said. In the end, we outvoted him two to one and he finally let it be.
We went to bed just after midnight. Evan stuck around and slept on the couch downstairs. I crashed on Regina’s floor since her bed wasn’t big enough for two people.
I fell asleep fast and woke up some time after 3AM, a cold sweat trickling down my forehead. The room was dark. But through the darkness, I could see the faint glow of Regina’s laptop screen. I sat up, my eyes still half closed. “Evan, what are you doing messing around with Regina’s laptop again? Just let it be.”
That’s when I heard that horrific noise, that intense scratching sound. It sounded like an animal scratching at the door. But Regina didn’t have any pets. And it took a few seconds for me to realize that the sound wasn’t outside her door, but in the room with us. Regina stood in the corner by her computer desk, her back turned to me.
“Regina? You okay? You sleepwalking?”
Regina twisted around, her hands at her face. The sound that I had heard was Regina’s nails, scratching and clawing at her own eyeballs.
“I watched it!” she screamed, loud enough to curdle my blood. Evan had never signed out of Brandon’s email account and curiosity had gotten the best of her. “I watched it! It’s worse than I thought! It’s worse than you can ever imagine! The things I saw…I can’t unsee them! Don’t watch it! For the love of God, don’t watch it!”
Her eyes sounded like two soft, squishy grapes as she dug her nails in deep and gouged them out of the sockets.
All I could do was scream for help.
Evan ran up the stairs and stood in the doorway, aghast. He saw the open laptop and snapped it shut before either of us could see what was really on that video. And I’m forever grateful that he did. Whatever Brandon saw on that video was disturbing enough to make him take his own life. And whatever Regina saw on that video was enough for her to permanently blind herself.
She’s still alive, if that’s any comfort to whomever is reading this. Though she refuses to speak a word about what she saw that night.
And the video spread like wildfire and was attributed to a rash of suicides and acts of senseless violence and self-mutilation. The police could no longer ignore our story. But they were never able to locate the original source. The internet providers were unable to track the IP address. The original sender was a virtual ghost.
So now, all I can do is share my story with anyone willing to listen. I implore you, if you ever receive a strange email with a link to an unknown video, do what it says. Don’t Watch It.