Frank is an elderly man in his 70’s living alone in a retirement community in Florida. Frank often spends his days watching the same John Wayne movies on repeat all day with the air conditioning at a mildly uncomfortable 75 degrees. He sits in his favorite motorized recliner and drinks powdered diet iced tea from a 32 oz Big Gulp cup he’s been refilling without washing for three weeks.
Frank has a computer but has never been on the internet. Occasionally he’ll use Skype to call his grandchildren, but they are often busy and since they live in another state, it’s a rare treat for them to call. It sits on his rolltop desk collecting dust across the HD LCD flat screen that store clerk told him he just had to have.
His love of Western machismo has kept him far from shows and movies that involve any other genre. As a child, he read comics, played video games, and biked through forests looking for dead bodies with his friends. Frank was often picked on for liking the things he did, so when he got older and learned to live on his own, his entire life was comprised of Western cinema and diet iced tea.
Why, you might be asking by now, are we being introduced to such a stale character? Well, what Frank doesn’t know, as he’s slowly rising from his chair to make another glass of tea, is that his life is about to become a nightmare. You see, since Frank doesn’t have the internet, and doesn’t watch the biased sissy news. He doesn’t know about black-eyed children, slenderman, or the other wicked wiles of the web.
Another thing Frank doesn’t know is that several of these beings were recently proven to exist thanks to tireless efforts by the FBI. Setting up fake houses in developments where black-eyed children are said to roam freely, swamps in which conclusive evidence of various monsters had been found and tested, and investigating spirits that have been affecting televisions in both houses with and without television services.
As Frank sits down with his 12th glass of tea for the day, the television’s picture starts to wobble.
“God damnit” he shouts in his succinct tone and growling voice. He rocks back and forth a bit to stand yet again and huffs over to the television, his life alert medallion swinging from a thin chain around his neck. Though this is also an HD flat screen television, Frank smacks the side. The picture stays the same and seems to worsen over the next few minutes of Frank pressing mysterious buttons he’s now just found on the bottom of the screen.
It can’t be said whether or not Frank messing with the brightness and contrast helped or hurt the picture. It can be said, however, that Frank’s television suddenly loses picture altogether. He stands, awestruck at the now static covered screen, with his hands on his hips.
“What the hell is this now?” he says to no one. He grabs the remote and starts pushing the usual three buttons to see if any of them work. As he’s wincing at the small buttons to make sure he’s got the right ones, a whisper calling his name emits from the television. Frank doesn’t seem to hear it, so the TV repeats it, a bit louder.
He looks up in confusion, still wincing, to see a ghostly hand pressed up against the inside of the TV. Finding the button to change the input, he does so and the TV switches from the static to live television. Another of his favorites, Bonanza, begins to play in the background; the hand still pressed up against the inside of the screen. It’s a small hand with flattened fingertips and palm to the screen that makes it seem like a window. The small fingers then grip the inside and pull themselves up to reveal a tattered face of a young boy. His hair is black and his eyes are a piercing red with large black pupils. He opens his mouth and it’s filled with sharp teeth that seem to multiply as his mouth grows wider than seems humanly possible. Frank squints at the boy, confused, and turns around to fetch his trifocals from the tray table beside his chair. In the time it takes him to find his glasses, the boy in the screen is shot by a stray bullet from the show and falls away, leaving a spatter of blood in his wake.
“Nice shootin’ tex” says one of the characters, Ben, to one of his sons.
Frank turns around with his glasses on and sees nothing. The bloodstain is soon swished away by the tail of a parked horse on screen and Frank sits down to enjoy the rest of the show. The chair shifts a bit as he plops down. After having the same chair for so long, he’s found that if he sit’s on in a certain way, it shifts and slams back down to its default state. Still upset, he grabs the landline phone sitting next to his chair and flips through his rolodex for the cable repairman’s number. Through a brief conversation peppered with laughter at the show on Frank’s part, the two set up a time to meet the next day and talk about the strange behavior.
Frank is microwaving some artificial eggs for breakfast the next morning when he hears a knock at the door. He shuffles his slippered feet across the tile floor that covers his whole house until he arrives. He spies through the peephole to make sure it’s not more of those damn Jehovah’s Witnesses and sees two children. One, slightly taller than the other, is wearing a dirty ballcap over long brown hair. The other, with short shaggy blonde hair, is carrying a box of tools. They’re both wearing child’s sized coveralls and looking down. Frank can only see the tops of their heads.
“Who the hell are you?” he shouts through the door.
“We’re here to fix your cable” the two say in unison. Their voices seem to permeate the door and speak directly into Frank’s ears. However, Frank only hears a mumbled mess because he hadn’t yet put in his hearing aids.
“What did you say? Where’s Richard, he was supposed to come personally to fix my TV.”
“Richard has been… “ they say, again in unison, this time hesitating on the last word. “Fired” they decide, one speaking slightly before the other.
“I can’t hear a damn thing you’re saying, I don’t want any girl scout cookies this year, get off my porch.” The children exchanged glances and started arguing with Frank to let them in. They shrieked and cried for him to open the door, doing their best to worm their voices into his ears.
When he didn’t immediately respond, they began pounding on the door. To their chagrin, the door opened and out came Frank with a broom, ready to attack. The three made eye contact, but in the bright Florida sun, the children shielded their eyes and were unable to convince Frank to do anything. He swatted at them until they left and called to them as they moved on to the next house
“I don’t ever want to see you in this neighborhood again, the sign at the entrance says no solicitors.”
With wheezing breaths, Frank made it back into his house. He closed the door and sat down in his chair, using the hem of his polo shirt to wipe away the sweat from his brow. The microwave then beeped to signify his eggs had cooked and he rose to grab them. So swept up in his physical activities, he reached for the bowl without a pot holder. It shattered on the floor and stung his fingers. Frank thrust his fingers under icy cold water from the tap and rested his elbows on the counter. “What the hell is going on today, it’s a freakin’ madhouse around here” he said to no one.
As the stinging pain in his fingers dulled, the water stopped flowing from the spout. The pressure built up quickly and caused the pipes to creak and groan. As Frank reached for the handle to turn the water off, something wriggled out from the spigot and sent a splash of water up into Frank’s face. The floor was soaked, the bowl was still shattered across the tile floor, and artificial eggs were scattered around the kitchen like small, soggy land mines.
Frank rubbed the water from his eyes and stared into the sink. A sleek black cobra was staring up at him, it’s hood flared out and it’s eyes locked onto Franks. It opened its mouth and let out a loud hiss. Frank backed up slowly, still wiping water away from his eyes. As he moved, he slipped on a piece of egg and tumbled to the floor. He moaned in pain and rolled around the wet floor to right himself to no avail.
Thanks to the snake’s poor eyesight, it took this as an offensive move toward it and it propelled itself from the sink towards Frank. He fell just as it soared over him and into the living room. The snake quickly slithered underneath the motorized recliner in wait for the perfect moment to strike. Frank was still on his back on the wet kitchen floor, unable to move. He pressed his life alert button which triggered a loud alarm. The snake was disoriented and slid underneath the chair for better coverage. Frank, seeing this movement, grabbed a nearby cane and smacked the chair with it awkwardly from the kitchen floor. The chair slumped down into its default position, and even through the alarm bells, you could hear the snake’s thin bones snap beneath its weight.
The ambulance arrived quickly and brought Frank to the hospital. As he explained what had happened over the last couple of days, the paramedics laughed, their too-wide smiles hiding something sinister. Thankfully, Frank wore them down from their malicious plan to harvest his organs by telling them the story of how he’d once met John Wayne, who’d pulled out a chair for him and shook his hand. He went into such excruciating detail that they drove him to the hospital to get rid of him.
Last Week’s Story: There is a Monster Under Your Bed
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