Deadroll

Chapter 1: The First Day

20161026_141438_film1“And this is our main studio control room…..” A short, chinese woman with a hollow voice said as we walked into a room. On one wall….monitors everywhere over a counter full of controls.
“This is like something out of Star Trek,” I said with a snort.
“Close….this console was actually used in Star Wars. You know that lever they pull on the Death star?”
“Ohmygosh! Yes! Oh Wow!” I marveled at the controls – the lights, the buttons. Here was a piece of cinematic history in front of me.
“Let’s look over here” We turn to see a large studio through the windows- maybe 75 by 100 feet. The walls were grey, and lit with a blue light. Cameras arranged in front of a stage, lights dangling from the rafters.
“What the hell!?!?!” I noticed a horrific doll right at the window. It was female….it had curly brown pigtails….It looked vaguely realistic, but the paint was chipped…..like it was quite old. Maybe from the 50s or earlier.
“Oh….that….that’s just Jill. We use her for training purposes. Her tone is fairly realistic, so she’s good at teaching how to color correct cameras.”
“I swear….she moved her head”
“Hah! A lot of people say that….it’s just your imagination though.”

Later that day, in the same studio, I sit at the monitor wall. Over the intercom, someone says “10 minutes to dead roll”.
“Dead roll?”
“Oh, this is a live show. We have to end at a certain time. Dead roll is just a long ending. It has a countdown beforehand, so we know if it’s safe to cut to the ending or if we need to keep stretching the guests and host.”
“Oh….makes sense.”
“Camera one….you do realize you’re live. Stop moving around like you’re on a roller coaster!” the director, a plump, middle aged hispanic man yells.”

Chapter 2: One Month Later

The clock seems dead. Not literally. I can hear the ticking of the second hands, but it seems so slow. The minutes feel like they’ve been caught in a time warp. Ahhh. Bordem. I sit at my desk and fight the urge to space out.
Just then, a rumble. My coworker rolls by my door – a cart with Jill and her “brother” Jack” on it. Covered with a blanket, almost as the equipment cart was a gurney. Almost as he was taking Jack and Jill into surgery. I think nothing of it…..I’m used to creepy Jill by now. I’ve convinced myself the incident on my first day was nothing more than my imagination. Jitters from starting a new job. But for some reason….Jill caught my eye. I stare at her. She’s facing the ceiling with her plastic half smile.
And then she turns her head towards me…..
And then she smiles….. a toothy….smile.
I scream and lock my door.

The next day I ask my coworker if he had been playing a trick on me. If perhaps he had rigged some remote control to her or something.
“Nope, besides, her neck is fixed. No moving, come look for yourself.”
We go to the storage equipment…..but Jill isn’t there.
“Huh…I thought she was right here, someone must have moved her.”
I look at the empty space, then I look over at Jack. Still at his spot. I pick him up and examine his neck. Solid. Nothing that can move. I know the dolls are a set….made exactly alike aside from one being male and one being female.
“Hmm, must have been my imagination again. Mid day day dream fooling my brain”
I shake it off, and go about my day.

Chapter 3: Deadroll

Another live show. On cue, over the intercom, a female voice monosyllabically announces” five minutes to dead roll.”
I sit at my station, dialing knobs, dials, levers mindlessly. I hear someone behind me cue up the deadroll at the VTR station. Backwards chipmunks, forwards, backwards, backwards, forwards, backwards….they finally get it right.
Three minutes later, on cue…..another deadroll announcement….”two minutes to deadroll”.
At the minute mark however…..the voice changes to an excited little girl, hyped up on sugar.
“One minute to deaaadrollllll! HAHAHAHAHA.”
The plump, middle aged director snaps “that’s not funny! We’re professionals!”
But thirty seconds later….the same voice. The same “little girl.”
30……20…….15……10….9….8….7…6…..
We’re looking around, frightened, wonder what’s going on…..
5….4……3…..2…..1…….TIME FOR DEADROLL!!!!!!!!!!
Every monitor turns a bright red. The windows into the studio turn black. All we hear in the studio is screaming! Terror. We run to the door….but the door is locked! Someone tries the landline – but no answer. We yell over the intercom…..no one seems to hear. Our cell phones have no signal. This better just be a prank!
A couple minutes later, the windows clear up..
“Ohmygod! Ohmygod!” the audio engineer screeches. Everyone that was in the studio is now dead. Their bodies, all thrown into a bloody pile in the center of the set. 20 or so bodies….lifeless. And no clue of what happened. Just dead bodies….
Just then, the door opens. in the door….it’s…..I must be hallucinating. It’s Jill!. She’s got no arms….no legs, and yet she’s standing there. Her chipped face, smiling psychotic. Teeth showing that couldn’t exist.
She spins her head clockwise…..screeching. Then mumbling – like twenty, thirty, maybe 50 voices are coming out of her mouth.
Out of apparent thin air, she holds up a knife – with her lack of arms. It’s almost like the knife is attached to her dress. She floats to the audio engineer and cuts her throat. Her blood spills from her neck and she drops to the floor.
Jill moves to the director. He’s whimpering in the corner, mumbling “”Hail Mary full of Grace”
Jill “asks…..is this professional?” and then slits his throat. His dead body makes a hard thud as it crashes onto a counter.
And now Jill turns to me…….
“You…..I’ve been waiting for you…..”
“Why….why me”
“No reason…..boredom.”
“Ummm…..ok?”
I decide to reach for a knife in my back pocket and quickly present it.
“What the Hell do you think you’re going to do with that? My body is made out of plastic.”
“Uhhhh,”
She quickly slashes towards my throat, but I block it with my hand. I grab her dress and pull her around….throwing her against the console. She drops her knife, but somehow bites me. With all my might, I throw her against the door. Her body is in pieces, her head, still intact. I reach for a book on the counter. It’s a heavy Bible…..appropriate.
I yell, “I’ve heard of Bible bashing, but this is ridiculous.” and plummeted her head with the Bible until it was nothing but rubble.

Epilogue.

“How can we recover from this?” I ask the remaining coworkers.
“We can’t….we just move on.”
“I think we better burn the remains of Jill…..throw her into a furnace or something. Just in case.”
“Probably not necessary…..but if it makes you feel better, feel free to do it.”

Back in the equipment closet, next to Jill’s now vacant spot….an unexplained light shines on Jack. He awakens, and maniacally laughs as he circles his head…..

The End?

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