Channel Ether

He told me that you can't look away, no matter how bad it gets. Jason said that this channel, it takes you places.  I wanted to call him crazy or delusional, but just the look he got in his eyes told me that what he was telling me was true.  I wanted to believe otherwise, being the skeptic that I am, but there was a detail in his eyes and tone I was able to discern.  This channel he would watch on the weekends wasn’t any ordinary channel and that he wanted me to see for myself what was really going on.  I don’t watch much television to begin with, even though there’s a high definition television in the living room of my apartment.  I purchased a plan from my television provider that gave me the channels I wanted and nothing else.  I only watch a handful of shows on the weekends and everything is recorded beforehand, the same as my friend Jason’s television, which is rather weird since he’s skipped out on hanging out at the bar or elsewhere on the weekends.  I never see him after work anymore and whenever I text him on nights he says he’s “busy” he’s usually watching that weird channel.

He calls the channel “Channel Ether” and tells me that some of the best and worst things are shown on it.  Jason and I used to be very close friends, but this channel had made him and I distant.  So I decided a plan.  “You wanna show me this channel, J?  Come over to my place this weekend and you can show me then.”  I never purchased whatever package “Channel Ether” was available under, but I just wanted to have Jason over and maybe learn more about whatever this thing was that dragged him in every weekend and most weeknights.  I invited him to come over at 6 P.M. on Saturday, and I made it a little earlier than late night since I anticipated Jason would arrive late.  But, to my surprise, he arrived early with a bag of chips and some beers.  He nearly rushed into my apartment before I could even tell him hi.

“Come on!  I’ll show you Channel Ether!  You’re in for the ride of your life, Nathan!  You won’t regret this man, I promise!”

I quickly followed my friend inside and took a seat on my couch as he turned on my television and began cycling through the channels.  What I immediately found strange was how he started moving the channels backwards and started down from channel 35, where I watch some of my favorite shows.  He continued cycling back past channels that had no shows on them and past all the network shows.  I spoke up when I saw him cycling into the negatives.  “Hey, whatcha doing there J?  You passed all the other channels?  There’s nothing being shown in the negatives.”

That was when Jason hushed me and told me what he was doing.  “I’m cycling through the negative channels like I always do when I go to watch Channel Ether.”

“But nothing shows on these channels, J.  Go back man, you’re not gonna find Channel Ether this way.”

“But this is always how I find it.  It’s never on the same channel, it always changes every time I watch it.”  Right as Jason finished that statement, he found it.  After cycling through several previous channels, we finally came across it.  The channel showed a large open title over what appeared to be the entrance to a tunnel with the large golden text “Channel Ether, you can’t look away, no matter how bad it gets.”  The text moved out of view as the camera quickly zoomed inside of the tunnel and the picture vanished for a moment.  The next moment, the screen lit up and we were shown what appeared to be a mental asylum.  It said “Greenwood Mental Institution” on the outside of the building, and we watched as a young man walked inside.  The camera angles were always strange.  It was like we were watching security footage but with crystal like clarity.  Everything was shot from strange angles and viewpoints, but it seemed to work in displaying everything that was going on.

The young man introduced himself to what both Jason and I assumed to be a doctor, only to be lead through the asylum and realize it was a sanctuary for the most barbaric monsters known to man.  It was a murderous dystopia on the inside and there were cameras everywhere capturing the gruesome scenery.  People’s body parts and blood were used to create artwork.  People made makeshift weapons and swords and were reenacting one of the brutal scenes from William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”, where everyone was encompassed in brutal combat.  Blood was all over the courtyard and there was nothing to stop the carnage.  We followed the sadistic doctor and the poor guy who followed him who was only there to seek out an internship.  When it came to the end of the tour, the young man was asked if he would stay and both Jason and I were shocked when he said yes.  I couldn’t believe that someone would agree to stay in that horrific place.  It didn’t feel fictional or fake to me.  The camera angles, the genuine show of fear and blood indicated that all of this was real and that some sick psychopath was recording all of this.  None of it made any sense, but I just couldn’t look away.

The picture flashed to black and another scene appeared on the screen.  In this scene, we followed this woman from an outer camera perspective as she drove along a broken highway through the desert.  From some of the camera angles we were able to see there was a woman and two men in her car.  There was a southern man with a cowboy hat and button up shirt, and there was another guy in the back seat, wearing a torn hoodie.  I had started to relax as they continued on down the road, not saying a word, but jolted upright when I saw what appeared to be a zombie hit the front of the vehicle.  The guard railing on the front of the car protected the passengers, but shocked me by the loud sound it made when it hit the zombie.  I continued to watch on as the group talked to each other about where they were going.  They were apparently taking the man in the back to see a disease researcher in hopes of finding a cure to the zombies that had destroyed the world.  The events that followed were tragic, as I witnessed the young guy turn into a monster himself and the other two had to put him down.  They took the boy’s body inside the facility they had been heading to and met with a scientist who knew what was responsible for having destroyed their world.  The scientist mentioned how a project under the name “Volvox” was the disease that killed everyone and how he was partially responsible since it was his apprentice who had created and released the disease.  Both Jason and I continued to watch the screen as it faded to black when what seemed like this next part of whatever show “Channel Ether” was showing ended.

I looked over at Jason who’s face was frozen in place, eyes unblinking, mouth slightly open, and him simply staring in awe at what was going on.  I tried looking around for a clock or something to indicate time, but there was nothing in my living room to help.  I tried getting up, but I found myself immediately falling back into my seat on my couch.  My legs had fallen asleep and I couldn’t walk on them.  Normally this sort of thing wouldn’t have bothered me, but my legs were completely numb.  I couldn’t support my own weight just to walk to the kitchen and check the clock.  I was starting to get hungry too.  I noticed how Jason had hardly ate any of the chips he brought.  I took a bag and opened it up.  I started to eat the chips as the next “show” on “Channel Ether” began.

This time we were watching traffic outside a large city.  The camera changed frame and showed a man contemplating as he listened to his radio.  The scene changed, as we saw from inside a studio, a woman was crying, begging over the phone for daughter’s safety.  The scene changed again as the killer prepared himself to kill one of his captives.  He brutally slammed a sledgehammer into the head of a woman that was tied to a chair, shattering her skull and spilling blood everywhere.  The killer then took the girl and drove her away from what appeared to be a warehouse.  The scene changed back to reveal the woman inside of a studio saying “thank you” over and over again that the little girl, who I assumed to be her daughter, was safe.  The scene finally changed back to the man waiting in traffic as his eyes filled with tears as the sound of his wife being brutally murdered was broadcasted over the radio station he had been listening to.  I was so upset after viewing this third “show” and wanted to step away from the television.  

I managed to get up and make my way to my bedroom to pick up my cellphone, only to find that it was 7 PM, three days after I invited Jason over.  We had sat there and watched "Channel Ether" for over three days. I rushed back to the living room to still find Jason staring at the screen.  I tried to move him away from the couch but he was as stiff as concrete.  His body and mind were fixed in one place; sitting in front of my television, incapable of movement.  I tried to shake him and move him, but there was no getting through to Jason.  I tried to grab my remote before the next part of the “show” started, but the remote wasn’t working.  I sat down and became unable to move as the next story showed itself on screen.  I was able to grab my phone before I stopped moving, so I’ve been typing this all up, just in case something happens to myself and Jason.  I’m not sure how all of this is even possible or how we were able to see all of that.  I suspect that we are watching some form of portal that peers into another universe, but I just don’t know for sure.  Everything seemed too real to have been the product of some vivid filmmaker’s imagination.  The only problem is I can’t look away, and that I feel I will die where I sit, unable to move away from the television anymore.  What the channel says at the beginning is true; “you can’t look away, no matter how bad it gets.”


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