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Video Phantom

Nebraska, USA
February 2001

Working at Video-Rama was a real treat during the day. But at night, the cavernous building with all it's unused offices and storage rooms, made me a little shaky when I was there by myself. I was always very alert when I would close by myself, because there were so many places for a thief to hide until after hours.

I dreaded shutting off the lights when I would leave at night. The switches were scattered all over the place and walking through dark rooms was unavoidable. The owner of this video rental store retired when his health declined. But it was hard for Harold to stay away from the store. He would come in early each morning, hours before anyone showed up to open the store. I only encountered him once, and as soon as he saw me he split (not much of a people person). So the mornings were his time to be alone and do whatever he wished. When he died we closed the store for the afternoon and attended his funeral. Immediately, peculiar things started happening to me around the store.

One of Harold's early morning hobbies was taking care of this old-fashioned popcorn machine. For the next week every time I would attempt to make popcorn the electricity would go out. Naturally, the circuit breaker was off in a dark unused room. My tiny Bic lighter only seemed to make the atmosphere more dreadful as I crept through to switch the the power back on. I never mentioned to my co-workers that these goings on were beginning to make me think that Harold hadn't totally passed to the other side quite yet.

Instead I started talking out loud to him as I would run the gauntlet of light switches at closing time. It made me less nervous about the possibility that I wasn't alone in there. I don't know for certain that Harold had anything to do with what happened next, but whatever or whoever did this was definitely out to scare me.

I spent the evening clearing away a small section of obsolete video titles. It was near closing time so I decided to leave the wall empty. I would start replacing it with new titles when I opened the next morning. I closed up the shop, set the alarm, and left. The next morning I froze as I approached the supposedly empty section. There was a video sitting right in the middle of it. The title of this film? "Fear". I didn't know if I should laugh or run screaming. It just seemed to be too much. Nobody besides myself had a key to this place so there is no way anyone was in there after me.

Thankfully, that was the last curious thing to happen. But from then on just the thought of that video floating through the store when no one was watching would send me running from light switch to light switch at closing time.

Nebraska, USA
00:00 / 01:04
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