My husband, Thomas, is a writer of short horror and I'm very proud of him. He crafts these unique little stories about horrific situations and people really seem to like them. I won't name-drop here, but you may have read some of his work if you've been in the community for a while. He writes a lot and his stories have been read by a lot of different narrators, but recently things have changed.
He's been thinking of narrating his own stories for years, but he just never thought he was up to the task. His voice won't play well with the audience. No one will want to hear someone read their own stories. His stories aren't very good, even though he makes money writing them. He has a thousand and one excuses, but finally, I told him to just try it out and keep his expectations realistic.
He gave it a try, and from the first video, things have been great for him but very strange for me.
You see, when my husband records videos he becomes someone else.
It started with Doctor Winston and the Hospital of Horrors, a series my husband writes. Doctor Winston is a stuttering little guy, someone who's afraid of his own shadow, and when my husband does his voice it doesn't even sound like him anymore. I've never actually seen him do the voice, not really. We have a two-bedroom apartment, so he set up his studio in the bedroom since our son has the other room. He bought one of those green screen curtains from Amazon and some wall foam to cut down on the reverb and he pulls the curtain and sits behind the screen as he works. Sometimes I'll sit in bed and listen, hearing the story unfold, and the first time I heard that whimpery little voice come from behind the screen, I had to get up and peek to make sure it was just him back there.
His voices are spectacular, and soon he had a dozen or more of them.
Lenny Drover, Doctor Winston, Ozark Uncle, Ramon W Sanders, and Doctor Summer, just to name a few, but it's The Terrifyer that I hate to hear.
Tommy Terrifyer is a recurring villain in his stories. Tommy is a creature that hunts children after dark and sometimes leaves them skinned alive beneath trees or on benches or somewhere where people will find them. He's the antagonist of Corbin Banner, Atlanta Detective, and has become a fan favorite. The people just love the voice he does, the deep resonate voice that speaks of horrible acts and terrible deeds. I sometimes put my headphones in when he reads stories about Skinner Park, but I find that the voice of Tommy Terrifyer still bleeds through my AirPods.
"Don't worry, little one, I'll make it quick. You won't feel a thing. I'll snatch your skin so fast that you won't have time to,"
"Stop! Stop! Please no," I shouted one evening, andThomas threw the curtain back and looked at me in alarm.
"What's wrong, are you okay?" he asked, his chair falling over as he stood up.
"I, uh, yeah sorry. I must have dozed off and had a nightmare."
He snorted and gave me a cuddle, going back to work as I turned up the volume and tried to ignore that horrible voice he used.
We went to bed not long after, his audio finished for the evening, but when I woke up sometime later, I saw a light out of the corner of my eye. There was a ghostly glow from behind the curtain and the edges billowed slightly in the breeze from the AC. He had left it set up, the curtain usually covering his workspace, and the chair was lit in the backdrop of his computer screen. I could swear there was something more behind that curtain, but I didn't have my glasses on and couldn't see it clearly. As I watched, the chair seemed to glide as it swiveled around. The curtain rustled ever so slightly at the bottom, and behind that gauzy barrier, I could see someone hunched in the chair. I couldn't see his face, but I could feel his eyes on me. They saw me seeing them, and when he smiled, it was like bugs on my skin.
"Hello, poppet. Fancy a stroll by the old canal?"
I felt my breath hitch, my throat cramping as the terror spread through me.
It was him, it was Tommy Terrifyer.
It was him, and he was just beyond the curtain.
When he stood up suddenly, his height imposing despite his obvious age, my throat opened up and the scream I loosed sounded like a tornado siren. My husband came awake violently, reaching for the bat he kept beside the bed. He believed that there was an intruder, that something had woken me up and scared the hell out of me. He was out of bed and looking for the source of my fear, and when I pointed to the curtain, he seemed confused.
He pushed the curtain aside with the bat and revealed nothing but the chair and the glowing screen of the monitor.
I tried to explain to him what I had seen, but he just kissed my forehead and told me I must have been dreaming.
I didn't sleep the rest of that night.
I found myself watching the curtain, waiting for the creature to return, praying it wouldn't get me if it did.
As the sun came up I finally slipped off, waking up a little later when the smell of lunch being cooked hit my nose.
The bed was empty, except for me, and Thomas had packed up his green screen after last night's scare. I could hear him in the kitchen, whistling as he cooked something on the stove, and I crawled out of bed as I reached for my robe. It was Sunday and our son was likely out at someone's house which would leave the two of us with the day to ourselves. I would have plenty of chances to rest, the night before already just a hazy memory, and as I crept up the hall, I tried to cover my mouth as I got ready to scare him.
My husband, for writing such scary stuff, is kind of easy to startle. He puts on a spooky deep voice for his videos, but he's a big ole scaredy cat in reality. My favorite thing to do is to startle him, something I probably do too often, but as I came into the kitchen, he must have heard me.
He never looked up from what he was cooking, but I heard a terrifyingly familiar voice just before I reached out to grab him.
"Careful now, Poppet. You wouldn't want to startle me at my work."
I don't know if I slipped when my foot came down, but when I hit the floor I was already back peddling. I was scooting away, my fear returning, and when he turned to look at me, I could swear his face had changed. Gone was the beard and the glasses I had grown accustomed to, the thin lips and green eyes I loved. His face was pale and clean-shaven, the skin pockmarked and cratered. His teeth grinned sharklike from his mouth, thin and needlelike, and I screamed and covered my face as he took a step towards me.
I flinched and struck out with my fists as it touched my arms, and when I saw that Thomas was looking down at me with concern I felt confused.
When I saw the trickle of blood coming from his nose the confusion turned to shame.
"Jesus, I'm sorry. I didn't think you'd react that badly. I didn't mean to scare you. I heard you creeping up on me and thought I'd startle you a little."
He apologized as he helped me up, but that was only the beginning.
I didn't sit in the bedroom while he recorded anymore, but that wasn't the last time I heard the voice of Tommy Terrifyer. I heard it wafting from under the door, inserting itself into my ears as I tried to block it out on the couch in the living room. More terrifying still, in my husband's voice as he went about his day-to-day. It was little things at first. Tommy Terrifyer had a noticeable British accent, and I began to notice the way my husband said certain words. He never noticed, but there was an inflection on certain words sometimes that made my skin crawl. When I mentioned it to him he just looked at me strangely and said it must be something he wasn't aware of. Our son, Nathaniel, didn't seem to be able to hear it either, though. When I mentioned it to him, often right after it had happened, he would shrug and say that he couldn't hear it. No one but me seemed to be able to hear the odd inflections he put on, and I began to feel like they were messing with me.
The other thing was that he started calling me Poppet. At first, I thought it was something he was doing on purpose, but when he kept looking at me strangely anytime I brought it up, I began to doubt. It was like he didn't realize he was saying it, and my upset confused him. We were having problems at this point, fighting over my perceived treatment, and his lack of understanding honestly made it worse.
The straw that broke the camel's back, however, was the sleep-talking.
Thomas had never talked in his sleep, he barely even snored, but suddenly he was talking in his sleep almost every night. Well, it wasn't really him talking. Tommy Terrifier was talking to someone as Thomas lay sleeping beside me. He always just called them Poppet, the name Tommy gave to the kids in the stories before he killed them, but it was also the name he had been calling me for weeks now. As I lay there listening to him talk about all the grizzly things he meant to do, I realized he might have been talking to me instead of some random child he was dreaming about. Sometimes he would turn his head and look in my direction, and I could feel his eyes behind his lids looking at me. I wanted to wake him up, but by now I realized it wouldn't do any good. He would just think I was having mental problems or something and the fights would continue.
I moved to the couch that night, and when he found me there in the morning, I told him I was having bad dreams and didn't want to wake him up.
Not long after, he told me about a new angle for the show.
"The fans have really been liking the series, especially Tommy Terrifier. I'm thinking of changing the show up so Tommy reads stories sometimes. It might get more audience interaction, kinda shake up my listeners a little."
I tried to be supportive of this, but I was not pleased to hear that Tommy would be making more appearances in his makeshift booth.
After that, every third or fourth story was narrated by Tommy Terrifier.
Then it was every other.
As the voice became a regular part of his show, the night talking got worse. He would say the most depraved things, things I couldn't believe my normally sweet husband would say. He would talk for hours about skinning people alive or pulling out their teeth, and I would lie there in terror as it all just played out around me. I had taken to using sleep meds so I could get to sleep before him, but sometimes that voice would follow me into my dreams, and I would spend my nights in a state of constant terror. Sometimes I couldn't get to sleep before him, but even from the couch, his dark words seemed to find me. I came to realize that this wasn't something he could help, and bringing it up did nothing to curb it.
He was so excited about his channel that I hated to put a damper on his enthusiasm by telling him how it was affecting me. Engagement was way up, he would say. He had more subscribers than ever, he would say. People were commenting how much they loved Tommy Terrifier, he would say. Revenue was up and maybe he could take a break from work and really work on his stories, he would say. On and on and on about how much people liked this terrifying voice of his, and I would nod and agree and tell him how great it was.
Meanwhile, I was a nervous wreck in my own home, waiting for my next encounter with Tommy.
Before long, the show became Tommy Terrifier's Terrifying Tales, and Tommy began to make an appearance in every episode.
That was when I began to notice a physical change in Thomas.
He was spending more and more time in our bedroom, the door closed and that terrible voice creeping from beneath it. It isn't just me hearing it now. Nathan has begun avoiding the back of the house, spending more time in the living room than usual when he has to be home. I asked him why, but he won't tell me. He says he hasn't been sleeping well lately, and I can relate. He's been sleeping on the couch with me lately, and we both shudder when the voice of Tommy Terrifier slips down the hall.
That was a week ago, and now the only time he leaves the house is for evening runs. He says it's when he does his best writing, but I've come to doubt his words. He always comes back sweaty and disheveled, and his stories have taken on a very dark cast. They have become less horror and more horrific. The mutilation and violence have reached a new level and all of it is delivered by Tommy Terrifier. He doesn't even sound like himself when the mic is off now. His normal voice has begun to appear less and less, and I'm afraid that one day that pale creature will come out of our bedroom instead.
It's getting late now, and though he hasn't come back, the police have come asking questions.
They questioned everyone in the neighborhood at the start of the violence, but they had some very probing questions about my husband tonight. Where does he run? When does he run? Had I noticed any strange behavior? Did I notice a change in his personality? Apparently, some of the "stories" he's been writing lately have been a little too similar to the murders in the park and the police want to bring him in as a person of interest.
I told them he was out running and that they could find him in the park.
After they left I put the chain on and waited for him to come back.
He hasn't returned, but I woke up to hear a familiar voice coming from the bedroom.
It seems there's a new story to be told tonight, and the sounds of Tommy Terrifier sound almost gleeful.
I don't know what to do, I'm not even sure how he got back inside.
I want to leave, but I'm frozen in fear as I sit on the couch with my son.
I don't know if I'm more afraid the voice will continue or if it will stop.
If it stops, I'm not sure if I might not become just another one of those tales he reads for his audience every night.
About the Creator
Writer, reader, game crafter, screen writer, comedian, playwright, aging hipster, and writer of fine horror.
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