Written by Spinsomniac.
From the age of ten, I was always a record store junkie. My father was a well-known guitarist in my hometown and my mother was a piano instructor, so I was pretty much destined to have some type of music addiction. It didn't matter whether the style was rock, reggae, hip hop, jazz or whatever; if I could get it on a vinyl, cd, or cassette, I'd take it.
I spent a good few years as a teenager working in a local record store. To say scoring that as my teenage job was a dream come true would be an understatement. It was kick ass. All the adventurous spirit of Empire Records combined with the "fuck my life" work agony of High Fidelity. I'd spend hours upon hours listening to everything in sight. Whether it was early BB King recordings that most people never knew existed to the final poetic readings of Jim Morrison; or the entire numbered collection of Led Zeppelin records and Biz Markie freestyle bootlegs to the last few songs before Kurt Cobain blew his artsy little brain cells to bits, I filled my ear canals with all the musical culture imaginable.
My boss use to call me the Eardrum Glutton. I was never satisfied and always made it my mission to delve deeper in the catacombs of music history. It was almost a type of euphoria to me being surrounded by all those records. I felt at home in the music. It was almost like every album I threw in and listened to, I was listening to that artist tell me their story, take me away to another world or just teach me a little something I never knew.
There was always something new to be found. I remember one day, I was raking through an old cardboard box of old cassettes that I could throw on a background music for the shop.
I specifically remember the cassettes in the box:
-The Best of Barry White
-Highway to Hell - AC/DC
-Blind Melon Self Titled
-some Bee Gees record with a scratched up label
-Bill Haley - Golden Hits
-Fly By Night - Rush
I frowned as I rummaged though these tapes as they were all albums I have heard a dozen times before. I didn't even care about the Bee Gees one, as I've heard most of their work. But somehow, as a scrapped my way through the bottom of the box, I came across something I had not seen before. I pitch black tape with a lime green sticker label and letters written in chicken scratch writing with a sharpie.
I had no idea what it was. Sounded like a badass name for a rock band. As a music buff, I automatically assumed KillRockDisco was the name of the band and this was their self-titled album.
Whatever the case, I popped it into the shop cassette player and hit play. Oddly enough, the tape wouldn't play. I tried hitting the player a few times over, but for some reason, this one didn't wanna play.
"Piece of shit," I thought. "Maybe it'll work on a better player."
Assuming maybe that junker of a cassette player could be the issue, I grabbed a personal walkman cassette player from the stock room. As I grabbed it, I noticed my boss in the very back of the room. His large frame (tarped over by a ratty, old Allman Brothers tour shirt) was hulking over a computer screen's glow. I assumed the sleazy, but lovable old bastard was looking at porn. Rolling my eyes, I decided to ask him about this tape.
"Hey, Dave. Found this tape at the bottom of one of the old boxes. KillRockDisco. Ring any bells?
"KillRockDisco," he repeated sarcastically. He didn't even bother to look up from his computer. "Pretty cool name. But nah, I never heard of it. Who knows? Maybe it's a winner. Knock yourself out, kid."
I smirked and headed back to the storefront and dropped down into a ripped, old faux leather wheelie chair. I threw on some high quality Sony headphones, popped the cassette in, made sure it was rewound and hit play. I was surprised, but the tape actually worked.
The tape started off pretty much dominated by static. I could hear a few bass notes being plucked under all the static, but something seemed off about it. It was as though the bassist was just carelessly hitting random notes. The static continued to crackle and the bass notes became a bit louder as the "song" progressed. About a minute in, I started to hear a voice on the tape. I couldn't make it out well, but it sounded like muffled speech over one of those cheap intercoms you hear in old hospitals.
The voice continued to babble on for a bit with the static and the cheap bass notes and I could faintly hear a snare drum awkwardly pounding out an irregular beat. Talk about poor musicianship. I spent a few minutes on what I assumed was song one and then decided to turn off the tape as I was starting to get a bit of a headache. As I took off the headphones, I noticed something very odd. My ears were ringing heavily the moment I shut the tape off. I popped my ears and tried to pick at the insides of them with my fingers and eventually got the ringing to stop. Pretty weird.
That night as I was packing up to clock out, something compelled me to take the tape with me. As I got home, I felt a bit off. I was feeling a bit of remorse about listening to that tape. Like maybe I tapped into something that was supposed to be left alone. No, that's crazy. It's just an old tape. But then I began to think.
Where was this tape recorded? When was it recorded? What purpose did it hold? Was it some shitty band attempting a practice or was this some kind of ritualitic/culty/paranormal thing?
I eventually shut my brain up and went to bed. That night, I had a weird dream where I was walking down a white hallway and some weird music was playing in the background. Wait, no. It wasn't just weird music. It was the KillRockDisco song. The first one on the tape. The hallway was barren and the more I walked the song grew louder. The bass notes became more sporadic, the static became more obnoxious and the vocals turned from a gibberish talking to the screaming and raging tongue of a madman. It felt as though he was almost yelling at me, but had no idea that I could not understand a word.
As I ran down the hallway at a breakneck speed to attempt to find a way out of the wake of the music, I could see a word painted on a wall in the distance. I darted towards it and reached the end of the hallway.
The word "Return" was written on the wall. As I read it, my eyes flew open and I shot up in my bed. I was sweating heavily and I gasped for breath. I convinced myself it was just a dream and there was nothing to worry about, but just as I felt as though I could go back to sleep a shiver went down my spine.
In the corner of my room sat a black figure with long draping hair. It's hair covered it's face, but I could see it's mouth; or at least, what was supposed to be it's mouth. It looked like someone had just cut a line across creature's face and ripped it open at both ends to make a mouth. It was like some disfigured ragdoll. As I tried to scream, I felt as though my voice itself was gone. I began to shiver as the creature opened it's makeshift mouth and spoke.
The voice that came out sounded like the voice on the tape, except distorted and in a lower more sinister tone. It mumbled it's demented speech at me and I covered my ears, but to my surprise as I did, the creature's voice still spoke through the palms of my hands as if they were headphones. Tears began to stream down my face and the creature began to scream now. It must have felt as though I was not listening.
The creature's voice left my heart sinking into my back. It began to stand up. It's legs contorted at weird angles as it began to stand. It's ankles and thighs slowly crackling and shifting as they were Satanic instruments no human deserves to hear. It was now standing up and must have been over six feet tall in height. It took one of it's long branch-like arms and clawed at it's own hair with a boney group of fingers. As the hair was grazed back, I could see it only had one piercing yellow eye. It was as if the eye coloring of a cat and the eye structure of a human crossbred into some vile specimen.
As I thought the creature would begin to slowly walk towards my bed, I was left in a state of shock as it pounced on my bed at an inhuman rate of travel. It grabbed my head with it's talon-like fingers and kept screaming over and over again. It began to bash my head against my mattress over and over again until my head felt as though it was spinning. In one fluid motion it swung one of it's arms back and went to claw at my face. I knew this was the end for me. I found my voice and cried out as the clawed grip of the creature was about to gouge out one of my corneas when I woke up.
I was frozen in my bed as the morning light blared though my window. I was baffled that this was all just a dream, but as I began to feel the relief, I notices that something was softly playing in my ear. It was the KillRockDisco cassette on the walkman. The Sony headphones from yesterday still on my head. I screamed in terror as I ripped off the headphones and threw the walkman to the ground.
As it bounced against my hardwood floor and threw up the cursed tape, I shuddered as I noticed just what the tape now showed me. With the sound fading out, I must have listened to the entire first side of the tape that night.
But what stared at me now might has well had been my deathwish. In that same lime green labeling and black sharpie on the other side of the tape read...