TAPES: CHAPTER ONE

Who knew the Apocalypse would look so dated?

We had come so far, turned so many pages but, in the end, none of that mattered.

The tapes had taken over and that was that.

Looking back, we should have expected it, especially with the rise of the Internet all over the world. We thought CD’s and DVD’s were the next step and, for a while they were, but physical media soon crumbled under the awesome weight of the virtual, the unseen. The tapes remained, old and dusty, waiting for a chance to rise again. The world would embrace VHS once more: or else.

It happened on a Sunday.

I was walking home from the studio where I was catching up on some editing when something fell from the sky right in front of me, startling another passer-by. I leaned in closer to the object to find a pulverized VHS tape of the movie Anaconda. The man next to me and I looked at each other, not knowing what to say. There was a beat and, suddenly, I saw the man’s face change from a look of incomprehension to one of pure fear. I turned back and what I saw was surreal. The film in the fallen tape had risen off the ground, like a snake, and it was now hovering in front of us. Without warning, the string of film jumped across from me and wrapped itself around the man’s face, squeezing it tighter and tighter.

A car alarm goes off.

Around us, chaos had erupted. Video tapes were falling down from the sky everywhere, crashing into cars and people. It was now raining tapes and there was nothing left to do but run and find shelter. Luckily for me, I was near my building and the pavement leading to it was covered. While I ran, I turned back briefly to see what was left of the man the Anaconda tape had attacked. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much left of him to look at.

Home, finally.

I lock my door, close the windows and turn on the television. Of course, the news is covering the event, trying desperately to make sense of it but in vain. Footage of tapes spinning out of control around people like tornadoes, flying at full speed across American cities, destroying anything in their path. We’re told audio cassettes are forcing their way into innocent victims’ throats, the most horrible things you could ever imagine. None of it made any sense yet all of it was real.

Why was this happening?

The best explanation “the experts” on screen could come up with was some kind of break in time and space causing all sorts of anomalies. Apparently, it would most likely stop soon. Conspiracy theories about a laboratory in Switzerland trying to re-create the Big Bang, a possible mass hallucination caused by something or other. Truth is no-one knew what was happening and no-one would probably ever know for sure. Visibly alarmed, usually bright and snappy TV hosts urge us to stay home and hope for the best. The tapes, we’re told, have invaded some southern state and the army have been sent in to look for survivors. Just as I was about to turn the TV off and make a call, it cut to white noise. The network station must have been taken out.

I make a call to my mother as I hear screams coming from outside.

“Yes?”, she answers.

“Mom, are you ok?”

“Oh John, it’s you. I’m alright, good to hear from you!”

She didn’t sound concerned.

“Mom, do you know what’s happening?”

“What do you mean, John?”

“I mean… have you heard anything? About tapes. Have you seen the news?”

“The news? You know I don’t watch the news, John.”

“Look, mom…”

She interrupts me.

“Did you say ‘tapes’?”, she asks, “Ha, I knew it was you!”

“What?”

“Someone left a tape of Jumanji on my doorstep and I thought it was a mistake. You know, I haven’t seen that film in years. Thank you John.”

“Mom, tell me you didn’t bring the tape inside.”

No answer.

“Mom?”

No answer.

This can’t be good.

On the phone, I hear an animal roar. My mother screams and the last thing I hear is a crashing sound. Someone or something had smashed her phone and all I could do was pray that she was alright and had been able to escape before the tape, I’m assuming, came to life.

This was going to be a long night.

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