98.8% of people can’t watch this video for more than 5 seconds

2014, Aug 11    

Some more clickbait-inspired fiction. I really enjoyed writing this, and I love the premise (heavily Ring-inspired, of course) but I don’t think it came out very well. I present it to you as a second draft, favouring productivity over perfection.

98.8% of people can’t watch this video for more than 5 seconds

“Looks like another one,” said the detective, pausing to inhale deeply from a small electronic device. It glowed in time with his breath. “What does that make it now, 10 this week?”
“At least,” said the technician beside him, his camera flash casting the crime scene into bright white light, “It’s the 7th I’ve worked on, and I know that there are more across town.”

They were standing in a large open-plan office, low-walled cubicle after cubicle stretching off across the floor. It was night outside, but the fluorescent office lighting destroyed all sense of natural light and time of day. The office was deserted apart from the police staff who had cordoned off the area; before they arrived, it was only occupied by the man who sat before them in the office chair. He was slumped back, his head hanging backwards, tongue out, eyes wide. Same as the victims in the other cases. In front of him, the screen showed another familiar sight: the black rectangle of a video player on a web page, button in the centre inviting the viewer to play the video again.

“What’s on the video, anyway?” Asked the detective.
“More than my job’s worth to find out, boss,” said the technician, “The guys at the lab can tell you all about it, I’m sure, but I just want to stay away. I do the crime scenes, that’s all.”
“How long do you think he lasted?”
“Hmmm…” The technician put down his camera, and with white latex gloves covering his hands, took the head, and tilted it left and right. “Neck isn’t too stiff…” he pulled at the deceased man’s eyelids, “Eyes are bloodshot… I guess he lasted 3-4 seconds.”
“Not bad.” Sighed the detective, taking another drag on his e-cigarette.

“Sir?” Came a cry from across the office, down a corridor to the right. “Sir? You’d better come and see this!”

The detective turned and walked towards the voice. The technician grabbed his camera and followed. They passed meeting rooms, chairs neatly aligned and tables cleared ready for the next day, and then the doors of private offices, each adorned with an executive’s name and job title. Eventually they reached an open door.

“Through here, sir,” called the man who had shouted to them. It was a police officer. “I found him like this. Haven’t touched anything.”

The computer screen had been kicked off the desk and was broken on the floor. The keyboard had been swiped clean across the room. There was a corpse sat at the desk, facing the door. He was slumped forward, but his neck was pulled back, as if someone had grabbed his hair to raise his head. His hands were set just wide of his shoulders, fingers spread and tense. His legs were curled under the chair.

“I haven’t checked, but I’d guess that he’s not going to be moved easily…” Said the police officer.
“No way,” said the technician, “He’ll be fully locked up like that. We’ll probably have to crowbar him off the chair.”
“Have you ever seen anyone this advanced before?” asked the detective, turning to the technician.
“Nope, never.“ he replied. “I mean, I’ve heard of it, but never seen it. I don’t think it’s ever even happened in this city. You have to watch the video for maybe 8, 9 seconds to get like this.”
“9 seconds? Jesus christ!” cried the policeman. “I’ve heard stories, but… How?”
“Some people are made of strong stuff.” replied the detective. “Come on, let’s process him and get out of here. Send the hard drives to forensics, see who they’ve emailed links to. Let’s get out of here before the bar closes.”