Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
You might already have heard of the TV broadcast hijacking in Seneca, South Carolina; the story’s gained pretty wide currency on the Internet, and part of the broadcast is available on youtube, assuming it hasn’t been taken down for whatever reason. For the uninitiated, the Seneca hijacking is one of the lesser-known broadcast signal intrusions. It was big news here, but the nation news media barely touched on it. Anyway, I’ve decided to jot down my impressions of the whole thing, even though other eyewitnesses have already described it more eloquently than I could.
I was home on winter break when it happened, making chemistry flashcards in front of the TV. No one else was around. After watching the umpteenth Law and Order rerun, I got bored and started channel surfing. A couple minutes later, I stumbled onto this shitty public access channel where, bizarrely enough, my old high school Latin teacher was reciting a poem while wearing this dorky three-cornered hat. I watched for a few minutes and had a good laugh—I remembered him as a pretty serious guy, not the sort of person who’d embarrass himself in public like this—when suddenly there was this static-y crackle and the screen cut to this multi-colored test pattern.
Before I had time to change the channel, there’s another crackle and this weird cartoon shows up on screen. The animation style was detailed, but kind of jiggly and rough—it reminded me of those old anti-drug PSAs. Anyway, it seemed “normal” enough at first—an ordinary-looking middle class family eating breakfast together at a round kitchen table. There was a mom with an old-fashioned hairdo, a dad, two cherub-faced kids, a boy and a girl—all very Norman Rockwell. The family is making banal small talk: the dad complains about his day at the office, the kids prattle on about soccer practice, and so on. Gradually, though, the scene starts to get slightly sinister—a green light is seeping through the open window, and the family starts to acquire a jaundiced, unhealthy look: their skin changes color and their eyes become sunken. In the background, a droning radio broadcast slowly becomes perceptible: the announcer gives the date as November 15th, 2017, and starts to go on and on about some strange crisis—you can barely hear what he’s saying. He says something about a green light, melting flesh, mutations, strange shapes emerging from the sea; again and again, the phrase “Report to the nearest shelter immediately” is audible. Still, the family keeps eating breakfast as if nothing was happening.
And here’s where it gets really macabre. The family finishes eating breakfast and the mom loads the kids into a minivan. By now they look *really* unhealthy: their bodies are skeletally thin, the whites of their eyes are a sickly yellowish color, and their hair is disheveled. The car drives through a landscape bathed in the green glow from before. Strange shapes bob in and out of the screen, but you can’t quite tell what they are, and all the buildings the car passes look weathered and deserted. Finally, the car stops at a playground and the mom drops off the kids before driving away. There are large, odd-colored rocks all over the ground and moaning can be heard in the distance. The kids hang mirthlessly on the monkey bars for a while. Eventually, the camera pans over the playground, and you see that the rocks littering the ground aren’t rocks at all but naked human forms, horribly disfigured. They seemed to be either growing into or from the ground—I can’t say which. And they are very much alive. Behind the monkey bars, a tree can be seen with a human face growing from the trunk—its features are writhing and contorted in agony.
The scene suddenly shifts to a white collar office where the children’s father is stooped over a desktop, typing away. His features are as sunken and diseased as that of the other family members, and the office is covered in a green glow. In the other cubicles, fleshless corpses sit upright at their desks, frozen in death.
Finally, we see the family return home for the evening, walking through the front door together. Their skin is no longer simply jaundiced but actually melting off—dripping from their outstretched arms and running down their faces in drops. As they are literally falling to pieces, the family sits down in the dining room and begins wordlessly to eat dinner. Their flesh becomes more and more amorphous, ribbons of skin dangling from their bodies like the tendrils of an octopus. I can barely describe it, but they somehow begin to…merge with the chairs they are seated on—or rather, their skin grows over them. By now, their skin has the consistency of melted ice cream, and they are barely recognizable as human—except for their eyes, which somehow remain intact. The camera zooms closer and closer to the table, and finally their eyes all move directly towards the camera, conveying a feeling of unfathomable sadness. The screen goes black and large white letters appear on the screen: “Report to the nearest shelter immediately. Remaining at private residences is strictly prohibited.” And with that, the screen turned to static. I stared in stunned silence for a few minutes before the banal local channel switched back on.
And that’s all I know, really. I almost thought I was dreaming until the paper reported the story the next day. God knows what really happened: a ridiculously elaborate prank? An ill-advised viral marketing campaign? The crazier parts of the Internet have their own theories. You can look up the video yourself if you’re morbidly curious.