Estimated reading time — 5 minutes
My brother Jake always wanted to be an actor, it was his passion. In fact, he had just graduated from university with a degree in the arts, and was searching for a job. Last week, he asked me to take him to an audition for a new children’s show, “Morgan’s Morgue”, which is one of those spooky, Halloween-themed shows they make for kids. Being my baby brother, I agreed to drive him up to the studio.
It was a new, freshly painted building. The windows where cleaned spotless, and we where greeted by a very affable director, who shook both our hands and told us his name was Jerry. Jerry seemed very eager to see us, and offered my brother a tour of the building. In short, everything looked legit, so Jake went inside to try out. Meanwhile, I went for a bite to eat at a nearby McDonald’s.
About an hour or so later, I went to pick Jake back up, and boy was he excited. He described how he nailed the performance and that they where going to give him the lead role. I congratulated my little bro on his accomplishment, but he did have one request. Now, Jake didn’t own a car, so he needed me to drive him to all his shootings until he saved up enough for his own ride. I agreed, but made him promise to pay back all the gas once his first paycheck came in. This routine of hauling my little brother back and forth became pretty old after a while, but I stuck with it.
Things got a little odd after the third day of filming for the pilot to “Morgan’s Morgue”. My baby brother looked a bit ashen when I picked him up, yet he seemed as dapper as ever. Concerned by his pale appearance, I asked Jake if he was coming down with anything. While he admitted to minor fatigue and a very mild stomach ache, he linked it to a slight stomach virus.
The fifth day was far worse. When I stopped by Jake’s cramped apartment, he was waiting for me like always. But something was very off. For one, my brother’s eyes where extremely blood-shot, and he seemed even paler then before, almost deathly white. I put my foot down.
“Jake, cancel today’s shooting, I’m taking your ass to a doctor.”
“No dude, I’m fine. Just a small case of the flu, that’s all.”
“Small case my ass, just look at yourself! You look like you’ve got pneumonia, you need some antibiotics or something.”
“Come on, I’m not even congested. Just a bit fatigued, and maybe a stomach ache.”
“Then you’ve probably got a bad stomach bug, either way, you’re going to a doctor asap.”
Despite my urgings, Jake was steadfast against seeing a doctor. He claimed this was the final day of the shooting, so he couldn’t miss it. After all, he was the star.
After taking Jake to his shoot, I was overcome with worry. Now, I’ll tell you something; when somebody is that pale, there is something incredibly wrong with them. However, when I picked up Jake, he seemed as happy as a Lark. Even though he looked like a ghost at this point, he clutched a small tape with a look of up-most pride. On that tape was the pilot to “Morgan’s Morgue”.
I’ll admit, I didn’t know much about the show proper at this point. All I knew about it was that it was an anthology, kind of like the twilight zone, where each episode tells a different, unrelated story. Each of these stories would be tied together with a ‘framing device’.
As we rode home, Jake was frantically telling me the plot of the show. The framing device was apparently a large laboratory/morgue run by a mysterious caretaker called ‘Mr. Morgan’, who lived with two talking bats. Since the show as fairly low budget, the bats where just puppets. Jake played Mr. Morgan, thus making him the star. In addition, he did the voice of one of the bat puppets.
On that ride to my apartment, I again urged Jake to see a doctor, but he first wanted me to see the pilot ‘real quick’. Reluctantly, I agreed.
When we got to my place, we both plopped down on my big, musty sofa. Jake was quite literally walking on sunshine, even though he looked like a phantom of the opera. Even though VCRs are obsolete, I still had one plugged into my boob tube, mostly because I’m too lazy to get rid of it. With a jump in his step, Jake put the tape in and sat back to enjoy his first masterpiece.
There was no theme song or intro of any kind, most likely because they hadn’t done the final editing yet. The show just skipped right to Jake, dressed up in lab coat with Frankenstein hair. I couldn’t help but notice that, at this time, Jake was pretty much his normal color.
Jake, as Mr. Morgan, looked directly at the camera and said “Good evening, and welcome to my Morgue.” He walked over to a nearby bookshelf and picked out a black, rigged looking book. Mr. Morgan said “For our first story tonight..” and then he was cut off in mid sentence.
The camera cut to an obviously fake bat puppet. I’m not gonna lie, that thing was hideous. It looked like it was made from one of those cheap gorilla masks you see at party stores, with yellow eyeballs that where obviously re-purposed ping pong balls. It was so greasy.
It called “Wait!” in a voice that sounded like Jake doing a fake Transylvanian accent. Mr. Morgan looked back to the bat. In this shot, I noticed that Jake was somewhat pale. Normal for a show to be filmed out of order, but still jarring.
Then, another bat flew into picture. This one was far, far worse. It looked almost real, and talked with Jerry’s voice, but with a deeper, almost evil infliction. It’s eyes where pitch black, with practically no shine to them, and hair that was so greasy, so matted that I felt somewhat queasy.
Suddenly, real life Jake gave out a long, labored wheeze. I burst out of my chair, grabbed my brother by the arm and said “Fuck the show! We’re going to the hospital!”
Jake didn’t seem to have the strength to object.
I must of did twice the speed limit as I drove Jake to the urgent care, at least. Poor thing, he looked so pale. We rushed into the building, with me almost holding Jake. The doctors could see that something was very wrong with him almost immediately. As they took Jake to be examined, I decided to return home, to relax myself.
That stupid tape was still playing when I got back. Seeing that shit made me sick. You ever have a gut feeling about something, even without evidence? I know I did. And that feeling was Jake got sick at that stupid studio. They probably ignored some kind of safety protocol and got him poisoned. A sudden urge to go down to the studio and grill that Jerry fellow overcame me.
When I got to the studio lot, however, something was seriously amiss. I walked up there with extreme caution. The building was different now. It didn’t look inviting at all, in fact, it looked downright deprecated, with broken windows and chipped paint. Then I heard a loud shriek.
I drove the hell out of there, faster than when I took Jerry to the hospital. No way in all of hell was I sticking around there. When I got back to my apartment, I looked the tape over. Nothing unusual there. With slight hesitation, I put the tape back into the VCR.
There was only static.
Later that night, I got a call from the hospital.. My brother had died.
They said his cause of death was odd, the lady said it was ‘almost supernatural’.
Jake had no blood.