29 Jan For a Better Audience
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"For a Better Audience"Written by Alice Thompson
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Estimated reading time — 11 minutes
When I think back on my life so far I find that one of the things I can’t stop thinking about, no matter how hard I try, is MagikTrick.
Right off the bat I should say that I have no answers here. What I’m about to tell you is a true story and all I can say is what I know. And in the end I never did find out much about what was going on here or what exactly I’d stumbled upon. There are maybe people out there who can tell you more than I can. But this, right here, is the story of my experience, told as best as I can remember it.
I first found out about MagikTrick thanks to a friend of mine. Sophie was one of those people who could spend literally HOURS on YouTube, not even looking for or at anything in particular, just browsing through whatever random clips caught her eye and seemed funny or interesting to her. From what she told me, she’d been trying to find a clip of that scene from ‘The Dark Knight’ with the Joker and the pencil when she first found this channel.
The users name was MagikTrick and there was only one video on their account, one that was simply titled ‘Do u want to see a Magik Trick?’
Sophie had been curious and she’d clicked on it. This is a description of the video that she showed me later that day when she came ‘round to my house.
The video starts with about six seconds or so of lousy quality footage of a man, naked apart from a pair of boxers, sat on a wooden chair. He’s in a red room and when I say that this room is red I mean the walls, the floor and what can be seen of the ceiling are ALL the same shade of red. He just sits there, doing not much at all and then the screen cuts to black.
The words ‘Do u want to see a Magik Trick?’ flash up on the screen. Footage of a dog sitting beside the now empty wooden chair appears here, panting heavily. The dog looks to be a Pitbull or something like that.
The screen cuts to black again and the word ‘Abracadabra’ appears against the black background.
When it cuts back to the room the man’s body is still sat in the chair.
His head and hands have been cut off. Where his hands were there are now the dog’s paws. And the dogs head has been attached to his neck crudely. This is where the video ends.
I had no idea what to make of this. I didn’t know if I’d just seen an art student’s lousy film project or if Sophie had just shown me a snuff film.
I asked her where the hell she’d found this and she told me about how she’d stumbled across it. I told her she should get in touch with YouTube and tell them to take that shit down or at least look into it. The shot of that stitched together corpse had looked far too real.
I tried to put it out of my mind and didn’t think much about it until a few weeks later. Sophie told me that MagikTrick was ‘Back’ and explained that the account had been taken down a couple of days after she’d shown me that video. But here they were, back with a new account and a new video posted on it. I can’t say I had any desire to watch it but Sophie promised me that this one wasn’t gory in the least.
I reluctantly agreed to check this one out and so I sat down to check out what MagikTrick had posted this time. The video was called ‘Now u see him’
It was footage that looked like it had been filmed on a pretty cheap handheld camera. The cameraman or woman was never in shot and seemed to be focused on a man walking down a crowded street.
The man wasn’t anything special, just some blonde guy in a T shirt and jeans. The person behind the camera followed them along, sticking pretty close behind them.
The footage went on like this for about a minute and I started to get bored. Was this just something some stalker had posted?
When it was nearly at the two minute mark the screen went to black and the words ‘Now u see him’ appeared before cutting back to footage of the guy in the T shirt being filmed walking down a long alleyway and then simply….not being there anymore.
He didn’t fall or dart off to the side and there were no flashy special effects. One minute he was there in front of the camera and the next he was simply gone. I hate to use a cliché but the phrase ‘Vanished into thin air’ is the only way I can think of to describe what I saw. The person holding the camera swung it side to side to show and up and down to show that the man was nowhere to be found.
The screen cut to black once more and the words ‘Now u don’t’ appeared. And that was it.
I told Sophie that it was just done with some kind of technical wizardry.
They’d taken the guy out after filming, something any teenager with a decent knowledge of computers and video editing software could probably pull off. In a way I was relieved. This wasn’t some sicko posting snuff movies; it was just some bored guy somewhere uploading weird stuff on the internet to creep people out.
Sophie seemed almost disappointed when I told her how easy it was to throw something like this together. I think she genuinely wanted it to be real, to have found something sinister.
So it probably shouldn’t have surprised me a month later when she demanded I come and see what she and her girlfriend had found.
I found out that once again MagikTrick had been taken off YouTube and once again they’d popped back up. I told her that I really wasn’t interested in looking at another stupid video but she and her girlfriend Helen insisted that I had to see this, that it was the most messed up thing they’d ever seen. That didn’t exactly win me over but I didn’t want to argue with them over nothing so
I agreed to give this thing a look.
This new video was called ‘Presto Change-O’ and right from the start it was different than the previous two. It began with footage of what looked like a theatre stage and there was a woman stood in the middle of it. She was dressed in a black tuxedo, with a featureless white latex mask over her face and white gloves.
Text appeared on the screen. It’s funny how I can remember it so clearly.
‘What a great crowd we have here tonight
For my next trick
I will require a lovely volunteer from our audience’
The woman pointed at an empty seat in the front row of this theatre.
‘Would this lovely young creature please take to the stage?’
In an instant there was a woman sat in the chair beside the woman in the white mask. She was dressed up like a magician’s glamorous assistant…a sparkly red and black number with fishnets and make up plastered on her face. The makeup was applied far too thickly and her mascara was running. She was tied to the chair and despite there being no sound it was clear that she was sobbing.
The words ‘Let’s give her a hand folks’ appeared.
The screen flickered and suddenly the scene was of the girl in one of those boxes you see in that trick where the magician cuts his or her assistant in half.
I didn’t like where this was going.
As the woman in the white mask watched on, a buzz saw began to descend from above. The box was shaking violently and the girl in the box’s head was jerking side to side, making it clear that she was struggling quite violently.
As I watched, the saw blade came down and began slowly cutting into the box as it shook more and more violently, as the camera zoomed in closer and closer to the girls face.
In the end the screen was dominated by a close up of the girls’ eyes.
The screen cut to black and the words ‘Presto Change-O’ appeared. It cut back to a shot of a series of boxes. Each box had a painting of a human limb on it, one box had an arm painted on top of it, and another box had a hand, a foot, a leg.
The word ‘Alakazam’ was displayed. And the next shot was of the girl’s body.
It had been cut to pieces and reassembled, with no real surgical skill from the looks of it. Her head was now sown to the end of one leg, while one of her feet now was attached to a wrist. An arm had been attached to her neck stump while in place of her left arm there was now a leg.
The body was on screen for perhaps ten seconds and then the screen briefly cut to black. When the picture returned the stage was empty save for the woman in the white mask. From somewhere, there was the sound of applause or a recording of applause and she took a bow. The video ended.
I felt physically sick. But it turned out that the video hadn’t been all that Sophie and Helen had wanted me to see.
This video was different from the previous two in another way. This video had a link in the video description and like an idiot; Sophie had actually clicked on it.
But it didn’t lead to anything dodgy or to a site infested with viruses. In fact what it leads to was neither disturbing nor dangerous but just…baffling.
It was a web site that looked like little work had gone into putting it together. It was a black background with a childlike drawing of a frowning face, like the kind of thing that a kid in kindergarten would draw. And beneath it were written the words ‘Better Films’
And beneath that, in smaller text ‘For a Better Audience’
And the rest of the text on the webpage was all in what looked like Japanese.
The only other words in English were
‘Our Titles’ and ‘Auditions’
Sophie had apparently had no luck clicking the buttons for ‘Donate’ or ‘Our Titles’ but when she’d pressed the ‘Auditions’ button it had led her to another webpage. This one was just an address, for some place a good few miles away. And she and Helen wanted me to check it out with them to see what was there.
I told them in no uncertain terms that was NOT going to happen. Sophie insisted that it was all fake and that this was probably some kind of marketing stunt or game. Some kind of online scavenger hunt, just some weird creepy bit of fun that someone had cooked up to promote a new horror movie or something. That it would be a laugh.
I told her that I wanted nothing to do with any of this anymore and that if she and Helen wanted to go play Nancy Drew that was up to them. But I told them I had a bad feeling about this whole thing and that they’d be better off forgetting all about it.
It will probably come as no surprise that they did the exact opposite.
I got a phone call from Sophie about a week later, sounding like she was in hysterics. I asked her where she was and she gave me the address for some crappy motel where she and Helen were apparently staying at right now. I headed over there, not sure WHAT I would find or what the hell had happened.
It turned out that Helen and Sophie had done just about the stupidest thing they possibly could. They’d gone to that address. You know when you’re watching a horror movie and you’re screaming at the screen for those idiots to just RUN and not make the obviously horrible decision they’re making?
Imagine having people like that as friends and you’ll maybe see why this latest bit of stupid from these two didn’t surprise me.
Maybe I’m being overly harsh but when I think back on this I still get so damn angry. They could have been killed or god knows what else. As it was the two of them were white as sheets and looked utterly terrified.
They said it was an old house, front lawn overgrown with weeds and grass at the end of some dull little slice of suburbia. The door hadn’t been locked and they’d gone inside. I listened to their story as I scrolled through the pictures they’d snapped of this place.
The inside of it had no carpeting, all of it having seemingly been torn up.
The walls were filthy and there was a horrible smell filling the house they said, which they soon learned was coming from the kitchen. Filthy pots, pans and plates were literally everywhere and some still had half eaten, rotting lumps of food on them, mould overrunning most of the cups and glasses.
The living room had been just a grim. I saw pictures of a couch covered in a variety of unpleasant looking stains, filth and grime covering the old wood floorboards. Across the wall someone had scrawled ‘For a Better Audience’ and beneath that was an old TV set with the screen kicked in. A bunch of tapes were all over the place and they’d snapped pics of those too.
They looked like tapes of a TV show I guess, something called Sunshine Street.
They’d gone upstairs and the weird factor had gone right off the charts.
The first bedroom they’d come across had been like something a mental patient would call home. No mattress on the bed, just a rusty old wire bedframe with a couple of pillows tossed on it and what looked like hooks dangling from the ceiling.
Big, thick rusty hooks with what they were pretty damn sure was dried blood on them. And what looked like a pool of it beneath that wire frame bed.
But the walls were what really made me shiver. Someone had written ‘For a Better Audience’ on them. All four of them. The same words repeated over and over again, rows upon rows of text with the same four words repeated again and again. Sometimes big, sometimes small, sometimes with no gaps in-between them.
The next room they’d tried had looked like it might have belonged to a kid at first. Bright, cartoony wallpaper and a few scattered and broken toys on the floor. Helen said she’d picked up a Barbie she’d found lying on the ground only to drop it pretty quickly when she turned it over and found out that its entire front was covered in thick, old blood. Holes had been punched where the eyes should be.
That big cartoony frowning face had been painted on the wall. The words ‘For a Better Audience’ were written underneath it again.
But that wasn’t what made them turn and run. What had made them turn and run was when they’d come to the third room. When they’d pushed open the door and felt an awful stench hit them. When they’d recognised it as the red room from MagikTrick’s first video. When they’d realised the source.
It wasn’t paint on the walls, floor and ceiling.
They ran and didn’t stop running until they were in the car and breaking every single speed limit to get as far away from that house as they possibly could.
They didn’t have any pictures of the red room so I only have their word for that last part. But the way they looked when they told me about it, I don’t think they were lying. And the fact that they were with me when we filed a police report about the whole thing makes me think that they weren’t making the rest up, either.
Of course I could be wrong. The whole thing could be an elaborate practical joke. Their little attempt to scare me.
I’d certainly find it a lot more comforting to think that it was that they made up MagikTrick, that it was just them and a few friends trying to give me a good fright. If it was, they certainly succeeded.
I tried googling Better Films once or twice and got nothing back that seemed relevant. When I tried to go back on the site it was gone. I just got an error message. I’ve never been able to find any movies made by ‘Better Films’ though from what I’ve seen they probably don’t make the kind of films that play at the local cinema.
None of us felt like playing detective here after this, not even the pair of idiots I have for friends. What they’d seen had put them off delving any deeper down this rabbit hole and I am deeply thankful for that.
The police never contacted us to ask any follow up questions and I’ve never tried to talk to them about it so I have no idea if that house was real, what they might have found there or what happened next.
If any of you feel like looking further into this I can’t stop you. Hell, this might have encouraged some of you and if that’s the case I’m sorry for that.
Because having seen the look on Sophie and Helen’s faces in that motel room and looked at some of the photos they took in this place I’ve got to say, when it comes to whatever this is?
I think ignorance is bliss.
Credit: Alice Thompson
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