Monday, September 21, 2015

Fragments of Memory

Ah, lost episode stories. They've been done before, right? They're passe. Everyone hates them.

But there's a reason they were popular for a while. Everyone has a story about that one thing they saw on TV years ago that they barely remember and cannot explain...

...And yet has still caused them to wake up in a cold sweat years later.

In my case, there's more than one.

Summers when I was a kid were spent at my grandmothers's place. At the time, my parents didn't have cable, so I spent a lot - and I mean a lot - of time in front of her TV watching whatever I could find that was even a little entertaining. I remember a lot of it, but there's other stuff that exists as fragments of memory and to this day I have no idea if I was hallucinating or if this stuff really exists somewhere.

Mostly it was pretty innocuous stuff that I probably can't find because I don't remember more than a line or two from it. But twice, something came on my grandmother's television that I happened to watch, and it scared the unholy fuck out of me.

The first was a scene with several old men sitting around the table. It looked like it was filmed on video, and I remember the men having British accents, though, since I lived in the south, it could very well have been New York accents and it would have sounded just as foreign to me. Anyway, they're just having a meeting of some sort or another when one of them suddenly says "...what's happening to him?"

I don't remember the name of the man he was pointing out. All I remember is that the camera cut to the man in question and his face was melting. As in, falling right off his skull. It looked like a mudslide with an eyeball or two thrown in. The effects might have been cheap and cheesy, and if I saw it today, I probably wouldn't think much of it. But at the time it sickened me, and in my memory it looks more realistic than the Nazis having their faces melted in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not to mention slower, so you have more time to absorb what's really happening.

To this day that face-melting just shows up in my memory. I have no idea what this is from. Google, again, was no help. As far as the world at large is concerned, this scene did not happen. It was never on television. No one I've talked to remembers it, even on websites all about trying to pin down various movies and TV series and putting names to them. But I remember. I can't stop remembering, and I remember just enough so that, while I can't forget it, I can't figure out if it was real, either.

A similar experience concerns a much longer scene that I saw in its entirety, but, again, I don't recall much of it.

My memory says it's a short film that aired on TV just before, or perhaps just after, the behind-the-movies TV show Standbye: Lights, Camera, Action! that was hosted by Leonard Nimoy. I remember because I blamed that show on this short film.

It takes place on a minimalist stage that contains a single, round table and two people sitting at it, their chairs turned so that they're facing the camera, holding newspapers up so that you can't see their faces. I've seen junior high stage productions that put more effort into their scenery.

A young teenager comes in and sits at the middle spot, also facing the camera. He begins "Well, Mom, Dad..." but I don't really recall what he says after that, or even really what the parents say in response, except that they seem increasingly dismissive of him, almost to the point of pretending he's not there.

I do remember the mother saying, to the father, "Sometimes you slay me", but in response to what, I don't know.

The son becomes increasingly creeped out by his parents' behavior, and so did I. But then, finally, the parents drop their hands from the newspapers...

...And the newspapers stay in the air, hovering before the parents, still refusing to let us see what they look like.

"You're not my parents!" shouts the teenager. "You can't be! Somebody help me!"

He then leaps to his feet and runs out, while the father says something else dismissive and then laughs, mirthlessly, "Ha. Ha. Ha."

End scene.

These aren't nearly the only programs I vaguely recall from my youth, but in each other instance, I have been able to find online proof that these films and/or TV series are real, even in some cases popular or even award-winning.

Just not these.

Let's go over the facts. The scenes in question have the following in common:

-They were disturbing in nature.
-I saw them once and once only as a child.
-I saw all of them at my grandmother's house.
-Even in the age of information, I have yet to uncover any evidence that these programs ever existed.

But here's why I'm bringing all this up.

My grandmother died recently. She was over 80 and Grandpa died a long time ago, so it was time to go through her estate, get it all divvied up and put the house on the market. I wasn't responsible for most of that, but I did travel upstate for three days to help clear out the attic, basement and bedrooms and help get the house looking sellable.

All three nights that I slept there, I kept hearing voices coming from other rooms in the house. Not dreams, because I hadn't fallen asleep yet. I'm not the type who generally hears voices, and these were not voices of people I knew.

They were the voices from the programs. I would be laying in bed, and from my grandmother's den where the television was, I would hear a sudden shout of "You're not my parents! You can't be!". I would hear robotic, monotonous laughter. "Ha. Ha. Ha." I would hear "What's happening to him?"

And here's the kicker, the reason I decided to make a post about it; each time I heard these voices, I would go into the den and the TV would be on, showing static. The voices would be silent at that point, but I never turned the TV on. I turned it off each time, only to hear the voices moments later, and realize it had turned back on.