Other People’s Cable

James’s Note: Even though spooky October is past, I thought I’d throw one more creepy tale out there. This is another in the spirit of creepy pastas, with inspiration from a couple of Neil Gaiman stories. It’s also a commentary on how freaking weird TV can be sometimes.

I practically stumbled up my front porch steps as I came home after a long and crappy day. I’m pretty sure my boss and customers had been involved in some kind of screwed up competition to see who could crush my spirit first. All I wanted to do what’s strip off my work clothes, meld into my sofa, and stare mindlessly at the television for a few hours before bed.

As I was opening the door, I noticed a small yellow paper notice taped to the door. 

It read, “Your cable service has been repaired and upgraded. Please enjoy your new premium service”

Huh, that was weird. Not only had I not paid for any upgrade, I had actually been thinking about dropping cable all together and just going with straight streaming. I figured they must have gotten my house mixed up with someone else.

Oh well, I figured I would call them eventually and let them know that there had been some mistake. In the meantime, why shouldn’t I enjoy a little free cable? After the week I’ve been having, I figured it was the least I had coming to me.

After divesting myself of my uniform and settling down onto the couch in my tighty whities, I started perusing all my new channels. It was pretty cool. All the premium stuff that I never paid for was right there at my fingertips. I figured I had finally caught a lucky break. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Everything went pretty well that night, I stayed up late watching an unfamiliar sitcom that I don’t really remember any details about, before finally passing out on the couch. In the morning, I woke up to a morning show with a reasonably attractive man and woman sitting on a couch in a fake living room discussing the news of the day.

It seemed pretty normal, except the longer I watched it, the more strained and fake their smiles looked. I mean, even faker than usual. By the end, the woman looked like she was pretending not to scream while the Man’s eyes silently begged for his life.

What the hell was that about? I shook my head dismissively, turn off the television, and got ready for work.

Over the next two weeks, the television shows just got stranger and stranger.

I was watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother, and the tone just seemed off. For one, while I haven’t watched a lot of the show, I really don’t remember the episode where Barney is diagnosed with terminal AIDS.

I tried watching a football game, which seemed pretty normal, until after one particularly brutal tackle all of the linebackers just began stomping the running back. The camera lingered on him as a pool of blood started to leak out onto the field. When one of the defensive lineman grabbed another player’s helmet and snapped his neck with a sickening crunch I switched it off. I know there’s a lot of violence in football, but there was no way this was normal.

I ended up with pro wrestling on one night, even though I haven’t watched it in quite a while. Everyone in the audience was wearing black hoods and holding red candles. After a particularly violent match involving saw blades and barbed wire covered baseball bats, the losing wrestler had his heart cut out while the audience chanted.

I do remember watching wrestling in the late nineties, so this really could have gone either way. But I still thought it probably wasn’t normal.

As time went on, the show’s got weirder. A Japanese game show were the losers had to cut off a finger was interrupted by a news story about dream parasites having been found in Washington, DC. A kids show involving puppets taught the alphabet by working through the Lesser Key of Solomon. The song , “A is for Abaddon, B is for Balial” was pretty catchy.

When I tried to watch a reality show that turned into 13 people standing on an island staring at the camera and screaming continuously for the full hour runtime, I decided this was enough.

I called up the cable company to complain. At first they had no idea what I was talking about but when I gave them the reference number off the note that had been left on my door I was immediately transferred.

” We are terribly sorry about the mix-up, sir. That upgrade was intended for someone else, not you. We’ll have someone over right away to take care of that,” said the voice on the other end of the line.

They hung up before I could ask them what in the blue hell was going on with the television programming.

In less than a minute after hanging up, there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find a blank faced repairman in blue overalls.

“Thank God. Maybe you can tell me what in the hell is going on.”

The repairman opened his mouth like he was going to answer, but no sound came out at first. His mouth just kept opening wider and wider revealing a black abyss inside. A sound that reminded me of television static started emitted from his maw getting louder and higher. I felt like my ears were starting to bleed, and then I passed out.

When I came to on my porch, there was a new note on my door. This one read, “Sorry for the inconvenience. Normal cable service has been restored.”

I canceled my cable service immediately. I don’t really watch television anymore.

But do you want to know the really scary part? The part that keeps me up at night?

That cable service obviously was not intended for me. So who was it intended for?

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