S H A T T E R

She could have sworn she turned off the television set before she’d gone to bed the night before. Her brow furrowed as she stood in front of it, stooping down, moving closer. Something definitely didn’t seem right. Her mother wasn’t up yet, so it couldn’t have been her–and she definitely remembered switching it off.

She felt drawn in, her breath swirling out to meet the static. It left a steamy circle behind, the static prickling back against her lips with a tingling sensation. She dragged her teeth over her lips to stop the tickle, blinking softly and straightening herself up again. Her gaze changed to a gradual stare as she looked at the screen for a full five minutes.

That’s when it happened.

The screen looked fluid. Screwing her eyes shut and blinking rapidly, she tried to clear her sight thinking her eyes were playing tricks with her. She’d been staring for so long, it had to be the same sensation she felt as a kid when she sat too close to the set. She tried to look away, but felt a flash of pain behind her eyes in her attempt.

A single soft ripple moved outward from the centre, moving slowly toward the edges, only to disappear.

She leaned in again, raising her right hand slowly, reaching out to the screen, her fingertips feeling the static millimetres away. Her hair, as yet unkempt and a little fluffed up, reached toward the static like fine tendrils twisting to wrap around something.

It grabbed her, beginning with a sharp pinching sensation in her hand, trickling its way up her arm. It was viciously cold, and she panicked, her breath quickening, turning into a strangled whimper. It crept painfully up over her shoulder, her skin tightening, draining of all colour. It moved up toward her face, oozing across her jawline, and up to her lips. She was completely rigid with fear, unable to move or make a sound for help. Her lips parted and cracked in a silent scream, the teeth in her mouth shattering like tiny crystals, each feeling like burning needles driven deep inside her. Blood built and seeped over her greying lips, trickling down her chin and onto her nightdress. The blood vessels in her nose exploded, pissing down over her feet and onto the carpet. She tried to look down, but her eyes were frozen in their sockets.

Reaching up for her eyes, the irises turned a stark white, sucking the life from her pupils to leave nothing but a glassy stare. More blood spilled over her face as the capillaries broke, leaving bloody tears running over her seemingly lifeless skin. She stood completely motionless; a stiffening statue with every molecule in her form freezing and twisting. It continued to move down the other side of her body, pinching and biting all over, the static ripping more of her into its field.

It finally took control of her completely, pulling her into its void. She could hear thousands of screaming voices, old and young alike, all clawing at her mind relentlessly.

Her eardrums ruptured, and joined the other streams of blood coursing over her body. The pain was horrific, and it only seemed to build. From the other side of the screen, she could see her blood from the carpet pool together, lose its colour and seep upwards into the screen to join her.

It was as if she was never there; she was completely gone to the world, part of the white noise on-screen. Something shifted in her throat, and she let out a piercing scream. It sounded like someone tearing nails down a blackboard, and with every scream came a splatter of blood, draining of colour and settling on-screen.

Feeling an overwhelming presence behind her, she turned around and saw thousands of bodies in the same state, reaching out with their cracked skin and shrieking voices. She screamed again, turning back to the screen, pounding her fists against it.

The creak of a door upstairs signalled the arrival of her mother, who padded softly down to the living room. Frustrated and terrified she banged harder, desperately trying to scream for help. All that came was blood and that sickening shrieking. She watched in horror as her mother picked up the remote, shook her head and turned off the set.

She obviously didn’t hear her.

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