's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"Channel Eight"

Submitted by Filthypeasant

Think for a moment; when is the last time you were unable to sleep? Maybe you woke up in the middle of the night, and couldn't drift back to sleep. Maybe you just couldn't sleep at all, due to anxiety, stress, or any other number of problems, or maybe you just started feeling ill in the night. It happens to just about everyone every once in a while. And what do you do when you can't sleep? Well, maybe you just use your computer, or sit up playing games until morning comes, or until you finally feel tired, and fall asleep.But, chances are, a lot of you just go out to the couch, sit down with some toast or whatever you have to stave off the late-night hunger, and turn on the TV.

   You don't even care what you're watching, as long as it's something. And that's the other thing; what the hell is on at three in the morning? You've got the real oddball public access stuff, the channels that air their really obscure stoner cartoons and skit shows, and, strangest of all to watch when you're only a quarter awake, kid's shows. Oh, you know exactly  what I'm talking about. The really old cartoons, the crappy hana-barbara ones, educational shows for the absolute youngest possible child. After a while, they just blend. One bright, cheery image leads to another, similar image.

   You watch channels you've never watched or cared about in your life; shitty reality shows, old Scooby Doo knockoffs, adaptions of old newspaper comics you've never even heard of before. And, inevitably, something catches your eye; something weird. Something out of place with the other broadcasts.

  You don't know what channel it is, and you don't care. It looks like it was recorded in the 90's; the quality is grainy, with cheap stock jazz music. It sounds like the inside of a local chinese buffet, or a self-help tape; smooth saxophones playing over blue and yellow title cards, announcing the upcoming shows and times. The music stops, and the screen goes black, fading into the next program. There's a low quality, looping sound of caliope music, like what you hear on a merry-go-round, in the background. What's really strange though, is the nature of the show. It doesn't have a name. The space that was on the 'coming up next' block for this time was blank. The show itself is just one, simple set; a stage, sort of like the one from The Muppets. Actually, it's a lot like that. Red curtains behind a round wooden stage, with the camera placed above the second row of seats, all of which are clearly fake, and empty.

   Then, the puppets come out. But that's just it; it's not puppets. Out onto the stage pour three, identical, and astonishingly ugly 3-D models, the early kind, where they look like plastic, and you can see the rough grainy outlines of each one. They have short, tear-drop shaped bodies, with striped torsos, similar to the look of Piglet from Winnie the Pooh, with pale white arms and legs, like a doll. But what really makes it strange are the faces; crude, polygonal, textureless white heads, clearly modeled after a human, but so poorly made that they resemble Andross from the original Starfox game more than a normal human. The eyes and mouths are flat and ugly, modeled almost in diamond shapes due to the terrible animation. The music loops, and they dance, simply lifting their legs and moving slowly from side to side. It's been about five minutes of this, and still nothing has really happened. No titles. No change in the music. Just dancing. Then, startlingly, it zooms in on the middle creature's face, his polygonal lips moving wordlessly. The letter eight appears on the screen, and the music stops. A loud, deep voice chimes in. "Eight." It says, in a stern tone. The show turns back to normal, the figures resume dancing, a large, white number eight hanging above them.

  It takes you a minute to realize it, but there's something wrong. There's a man in the audience now. A proper, human man. The camera turns to him. He's crying, bound and gagged to the chair, naked. "Eight." The voice repeats. The man moans through his gag, and a hand wearing a thin latex glove places two dice in front of him, freeing one of his hands so that he can roll them. "Roll eight." The man is weeping now, shaking his head in terror. He rolls the dice. Eight. He breathes a terrified sigh of relief. The camera pans up again, showing the dancing figures, now frowning and twitching angrilly. The screen goes black again. "Eight."

  Another man is in the chair now. The process repeats. He cries, thrashing against his restraints. The camera man holds up a needle, full of some green chemical, pressing it against his throat threateningly. "Roll eight." He glares at the cameraman, and rolls the dice. Five. He screams, and the cameraman drives the needle into his neck, injecting him, the chemicals making a horrible sizzling noise as they drip down his throat, muting his cries of agony. "Roll eight." The voice yells this time, now sounding angry. The man weakly rolls the dice again, the cameraman holding a still half-full syringe to his neck, the entrance wound smoking slightly and weeping blood. He rolls a nine, and the cameraman tosses away the syringe, panning back up and placing the camera still on the three figures, who have resumed smiling, and dancing.

  A tortured scream echoes out, and something massive rustles behind the curtain, slowly opening a crack, a burned-looking human arm reaching out onto the stage, slowly dragging whatever is attached to it onto the stage. It's too dark behind the curtain to see the rest of it, but you can make out an iron cage, a toothless, raisin-like head, and a silky smooth woman's leg.
The blue title cards come back up, the smooth jazz playing again. The next show is simply some italian cooking class, no name or mention being given for the previous program.
'Next up is La Italiana. Thank you for watching Channel Eight.'