Do you remember those old televisions that everyone’s grandparents had in their basements? Those old bunny ear t.v.’s that turned to static whenever there was a storm or even a little wind? I do… All too well. Children have very vivid imaginations. We all remember seeing things that our parents told us weren’t really there. The monster under the bed, the beady eyes in the closet that were really just your jacket’s reflectors, the ghost in your basement that would “get you” if the lights weren’t on… just childish and imaginative stuff that made your parents laugh. Well my greatest fear turned out to be the static on the television. We all imagine stuff that’s “not really there” and dismiss it, but what happens when there is really something there?
When I was 7 years old, my family lived in a town deep in rural Alabama. This was the definition of a “swamp water” town. There were only a few houses in the immediate area, so I didn’t really have any neighbors. As a child, I mainly had to entertain myself. My dad was a miner so he was never home and my brother was always focused on his school work. My mom wasn’t very much of a playmate, and she was always cleaning the house. The majority of the time, I was left alone to entertain myself. I wasn’t exactly a normal kid, seeing as there were no friends to play around with, so I was left to play and do kid stuff by myself. My favorite activity was to explore the house and the wonder that was my basement. All kids are born with that innate feeling that they need to explore the house and find all the “treasures” held within. Treasures like the rusty old Ford emblem my parents pulled off the heap of junk in the back when they moved in. There were all kinds of things down in my basement: Grandpa’s old trunk with all his WWII memorabilia, the cardboard box full of vintage vinyls, and hell, even my dad’s old yearbooks. But at the epicenter of it all, was an all too familiar tube t.v. from the 60’s. This was my favorite artifact in my basement of oddities. I was absolutely enamored with it. Everyday when I got home from school I ended up back in the basement playing with the knobs and antennas, and finally to my astonishment, it flicked on with a dim glow followed by a rush of static. I sat there bewildered as I had done nothing that I hadn’t tried before, yet it simply sprang to life. Everyday I was down there, just staring at it. People say that kids are glued to t.v.’s nowadays, but nothing else could draw my attention from this screen. It may seem weird because the screen was only static, but something about it beckoned me as if it craved my attention. If I had known at that point what was to come I would have unplugged the damn thing and left well enough alone. But I didn’t, and oh how I wish I had.
One day I returned home after an arduous day of school and my teachers riding me hard about my schoolwork, so I just felt like settling down in my usual spot in the basement. But something was different. The air seemed colder and the environment more hostile. I saw the t.v. was already on and I called to my mom to see if she had been down there but I received only an earful of static. That’s when I noticed the t.v. growing louder and brighter, and among this chaos there was an ever so faint voice calling for me. I dismissed it at first as the static just getting to me. It rang out once again, but more aggressive and distinguished. Suddenly I was bombarded by a plethora of voices, all calling out to me. It truly startled me because it was the first time in my life that I had thought about the concept of the paranormal. I had simply never thought about it before, for nothing out of the ordinary had ever occurred in my house. I can say I was glad that I had never thought about it before because it would have certainly made the moment all the more horrifying. I stood there on the stairs in awe for a few minutes that passed like hours, and as fast as it had started, it ended. The voices and even the static had receded into a deafening silence. I was alone once again with my thoughts, and my heavy breathing combined with my thundering heart beats were the only things that broke the silence. It was so eerily quiet that I wondered if I had imagined it all. For what felt like years I stood on the stairs watching the blackened basement filled only by the silence and myself. I dared not approach the t.v. so I backed out of the basement and went to my room, nearly taking my mother out on the way. Once there, I sat down and cried. My mom came in to try to console me but I refused to tell her what had happened. She wouldn’t have believed me anyway. I didn’t even believe me. If nothing like that has ever happened to you it is nearly impossible to believe it to be true.
For the rest of my childhood years in that house, I never again approached that television. I only went downstairs a few more times and strayed as far away from the t.v. as I could.
As time passed and I grew up, the memory of what had happened that night in the basement had evacuated my mind and I had completely forgotten about it. Then, I found out that my parents had left me the old house in their Will. That next week my wife, my son, and I returned to my childhood domain to clean it out for the move. It was a very incredible feeling returning to that house again after so long, though the one thing that I didn’t remember was the one thing I wish I had.
The move went very cleanly, and within a week we were in the house. We had placed most of my parents old stuff down in the basement to be sorted through, and many of our things too. You would have thought that being down there would have sparked my memory to the incident. Maybe if I had noticed the t.v. I would have remembered, but somehow we had just placed the things all around it. Then, after a couple of weeks of living there, an incident arose.
I had just came home from my job at the factory when my son ran up to me, screaming about something happening in the basement. He said, “Daddy! Something is talking to me through the t.v. downstairs!” Right at that moment, it hit me. I remembered what had happened that night when I was 7. I immediately linked the two incidents. I told my son to stay there and I ran downstairs. I was once again met with the wall of voices as I had been in my childhood. The voices of my relatives streamed from the static, and overwhelmed me beyond comprehension. I almost wish I didn’t go down there, but I was the man of the house. I knew I had to. I had to put down my childhood demons, and ultimately, I had to protect my family. Something inside me pushed me forward toward the television, and I ran up to it and picked it up, quickly deciding that I would smash it in the backyard. I bolted up the stairs, wishing this hell could just be over. By this point, the spirits were obviously angered, and the volume of the screaming and static was incredible. Once I reached the backyard, I smashed the t.v. with all my might onto the cement. The sound of the broken glass and smashed wood engulfed everything. The screaming, which had grown to it’s loudest and most earsplitting level immediately came to a halt. It was the loudest silence that I had experienced since my first encounter with the t.v. when I was 7. I stood there, for what seemed like an eternity, and when I snapped to, I realized that the a very low frequency of static was audible. I went back to my family, but something was odd. Their voices were droned out by the static. How could this be? I destroyed that television and whatever was inside it. Right? Right?…