The Definition Of Madness
rating: +40+x

Indiana, 1994

"Seriously, dude? Now?"

"Yeah, I'm sorry man. Alexa's sick, I gotta head straight home."

"Damn. Yeah, okay, no worries. Shit happens."

"I'll catch up next time, though. I'll even pick the movie."

"Hah, alright. I'll let you go now - Tell her I said hi."

"Will do."

Daniel walked back into his living room, tossing his Nokia onto the couch and sitting down. It was snowing outside, the first snow of the season. The heaters were on, Dan was wrapped up in a blanket, and the evening was suddenly free.

He and Jake had their tradition - once every month, they'd select an X-lister Z-movie from the bargain bin, order a ton of food, maybe light up some bud, and spend the night pissing about and making fun of whatever heaping pile of trash they'd happened upon. The pair had been doing it since college, and only cancelled a handful of times.

The microwave beeped from the kitchen. Dan sighed, reaching across the coffee table and picking up the VHS tape. "Return of the Suburb Slasher" - it had been sitting in the corner of the Goodwill's movie section, right between "Attack of the Seven-Legged Astronauts!" and "Guns, Babes, and Steele". Between the title and the admittedly-sparse jacket, he concluded it was a cash-grab sequel to some forgotten minorly successful slasher flick. More importantly, it was only three dollars. Good enough for him.

Oh, well.

He slid the cover off, popping the cassette free from the plastic casing. It went into the VHS player with a clunky whine - I should really replace that old thing, he mused as he went into the kitchen. Pull the popcorn bag from the microwave, nearly drop it, empty it into a bowl, grab a beer (or two). By the time he got back the movie had started.

Some blonde teenager setting up a party on the anniversary of a murder - it had all the hallmarks of a poorly-made B-movie. Shoddy lighting, shoddier writing, not to mention a cameraman slightly less stable than the average Jenga tower. He stretched out on the couch, dimming the lights.

He was cracking open the second beer when he heard the voice.

"Hey, mister!"

He popped the cap, lifting the bottle to his lips.

"On the couch! Please, listen to me!"

He paused. The camera was facing the blonde girl - she was kneeling under a table in the basement, whispering wildly. Her eyes were wild.

"I don't know who you are, but you have to help me! Please! There's some crazy guy at the door and he killed all my friends and I'm trapped and he's right outside and I'm-"

"W- is this some kind of VHS game? The fuck?"

"No, no! Please, just, help me-"

He brushed the blankets off, sitting up.

"Can… can you hear me?"

Yes, I can hear you. I don't know why you're just watching, but-"

"Tap your nose twice."


"Just do it, I need proof."

The blonde girl hurriedly raised a hand to her face, tapping her nose twice with her ring finger.

"What the actual fuck?"

"Please, I did what you asked! Help me!"

"Uh, shit, Jesus, okay. What can I do?"

"I don't know! Just - do you know how to get out of here?"

"Um, I - okay, no, are there any weap-"

He heard splintering. The girl blanched and the sound of thudding footsteps get closer.

"Oh Go-"

A shadow fell over the camera. The girl opened her mouth - and in a split second, before any sound could escape, she was pulled out of the frame, leaving the camera facing a brick wall. Then there was a scream and then there was nothing. Just a black screen, reflecting Dan's wide-eyed open-mouthed face back at him.

"Mister! Mister!"

"Hey, yeah, I'm listening."

"I don't know you, and I don't know why you've just sat there watching this without doing-"

"Wait- do you not remember?"

"I- Remember what?"

"I was just talking to y-"

"Please, sir, I don't know what you're talking about but I need help right now, please, I'm really scar-"

"Okay, alright. What's your name?"

"H-Heather. Heather Campbell."

"Okay Heather. I'm Dan. I'm a 911 operator. I need you to listen to me, okay? You're in the basement, right? Do you see any tools or things you could use as weapons?"

"Um, yeah, my dad has a crowbar-"

"Okay, grab that. Do you see anything heavy you could use to block the door?"

"Yeah, yeah, there's a metal bar thing here."

"Okay, try to wedge the door shut."

"I-I'm scared."

"That's okay, but you need to do this."


The camera panned up as Heather climbed up the stairs hesitantly. Five steps left- four, three, two, and- she hurriedly slammed the iron bar down angled to the wall. At the same moment, something shoved against the door from the other side - Heather screamed and jumped back down the stairs. The knob rattled, but the door stayed shut.

"Oh, oh my god-"

"Okay, good work. Deep breaths. Is there a phone in your house?"

"They're all upstairs…"

"Okay. You're gonna need to leave this basement sooner or later. Be ready for that."


The sound of glass breaking cut her off. The camera whipped around to show the basement window knocked completely out of its frame to shatter on the floor. The bottom half of a dark pair of coveralls was sliding through the newly-created hole.

The camera flipped back to Heather.

"Oh god, the windo-"

She screamed. The screen cut to black.

He looked at the cassette player. He hadn't touched it in the three days since. But he couldn't stop thinking about it.

"Sir! Hey!"

"Hey Heather. My name's Dan, I'm gonna need you to listen to me, okay?"

"Can you block off all the entrances to the basement? The door, windows, everything?"

"I-I'll try."

She screamed when the door was torn from its hinges and the camera cut to black.

"Use the stepladder, see if you can wriggle out of the window."


She squeezed out - right in front of a pair of dark work boots. The kitchen knife glinted in the moonlight. She screamed - the camera cut to black.

"Grab the crowbar. Throw open the door, run for the front yard. Don't stop for anything."

"I'm scared…"

"Trust me."

"… Alright. I trust you."

She made it to the front door without stopping. Not even when a knife was shoved out in her path from the corner. She screamed as it impaled her. Cut to black.

He slammed the door shut, hung his coat on the hook and took his place on the sofa. He slammed the cassette into the player - he had to save her. No one else was going to.

Officer Laura Thompson gingerly stepped into the living room.

"Nothing in here," her partner called from the bedroom.

"Yeah… I think I found him," she replied.

The floor of the living room was covered in trash. Beer bottles, water bottles, snack wrappers and microwave meals. There was a figure on the couch, wrapped in blankets. The TV was on.

She stepped through the sea of refuse to the sofa. She pulled the blanket off. "Sir? Mr. Leane? Are you alr-"

It came away sticky and red-brown. She froze as she registered the gun on the coffee table next to the VHS box and remote. She grimaced.

The TV was paused on a static-ridden frame of a blond girl. She was huddled under a table, looking directly at the camera. Whoever she was, she was a good actress - the terror almost looked real.

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