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Grade
7

SIGN-OFF INTRUSION

By Sharon Segev

Disclaimer: COMMUNICATIONS and its characters all belong to GHOST.  In no way am I claiming her characters as my own.  This is a story I decided to write to fill in the blank space that is Case Two Part Two.  Thank you for reading this.

Stephanie Glass expected to wake up to see her parents, staring blankly at the colorful television screen, as they had been for most of yesterday.  Last night, she had decided to do her homework instead of watch the television, so she had gone upstairs mere seconds before the broadcast had started.  When she came back downstairs for a quick drink, however, she had seen her parents, mindlessly staring into the colors.  Scared when they didn’t respond to her questions, she fled back upstairs, and hid in her room.  As Stephanie was getting dressed, she thought back last week, when she and her former best friend, Kennith Simmons, had the argument.

Stephanie was getting ready to leave the classroom, when she noticed Kennith was leaving a lot quicker than usual.  That was odd, considering that he was always the last to leave.  Eventually, she caught up to him in the hallway.

“So, how was school?” Stephanie knew how to read sign language, and so she communicated to her friend with it.

“Pretty normal,” Kennith signed back to her.  “But still bad, nonetheless.  I think I’m gonna drop out soon.”

“But why?” Stephanie tilted her head slightly.

“I have no reason to stay here.  I mean, school itself is pretty useless.  I can just fix electronics, and boom, there’s my life right there.  It’s better than sitting in the middle of a room where everybody hates you.” He sighed, not that Stephanie could hear.  But he made sure she knew what he was saying.

“That’s not true!” She blurted out.

“Sure it isn’t.” Kennith threw the backpack over his shoulder and walked ahead.

Stephanie’s usually cheery smile faltered.  “Kennith, you’ve been getting kind of… Edgy lately.  Is something wrong?” Stephanie asked, concerned.

“Nobody wants me around, everything’s been going to shit, why wouldn’t there be something wrong?” Kennith snapped back.

“Well, I mean… I caught you cutting yourself in the bathroom yesterday, and-” Stephanie began, but Kennith cut her off.

“Only now, you’re noticing this?” Kennith hissed.  “You saw all these signs that maybe, just maybe, I might be depressed, and hurt, and all that good stuff, but only now you’re noticing that there may be something wrong with me?!”

“Well, I mean, this was the only time you’ve made it obvious-” Kennith cut Stephanie off again.

Obvious?!  It was already obvious to you, and you just disregarded it as me being sad or lonely!” Kennith yelled, attracting the attention of a few nearby classmates.

“Kennith, this isn’t going to help at all.  You’ve been doing all this dangerous stuff and hurting yourself with no explanation whatsoever, and that’s not okay.  You’re not going to get anywhere like this.  Abusing drugs and alcohol isn’t gonna get you anywhere, Kennith!” At this point, Stephanie was getting slightly irritated.

“Well, maybe I don’t want to get anywhere!  Why do I have to explain myself to you?!  You wouldn’t understand what I’m going through, what helps me and what doesn’t!  You’re only going to make things worse!”  Kennith was shrieking at this point, attracting more and more students.

“Well, maybe if you would stop abusing these drugs all the time, you wouldn’t-” But Kennith had heard enough.  He hit Stephanie in the face, and then stormed off, muttering under his breath.

“Oh, what did you do to piss off Pretty Boy?” One of Stephanie’s classmates sneered.  She ignored him, and walked off in the opposite direction.

Even that morning, Stephanie shuddered.  She had just lost a good, long friendship, and just left said friend incredibly vulnerable to the world.  Stephanie went downstairs anyways, trying to shake off the empty feeling inside of her.

Stephanie wasn’t surprised when she saw her parents seated on the sofa, staring endlessly at the colorbars on the television.  She swiftly opened the fridge, grabbed a pudding cup, and left the house, leaving the blue glass door wide open.

She ran down the eerily empty streets, her footsteps hitting the pavement harder than a hammer.  Finally, she arrived at the white house of the Simmons.  A blue-white light emitted from the upper right window of Kennith’s room.

“Kennith!” Stephanie banged on the door, hoping that he would hear her. “Kennith, open up!”

The front door swung open, and there was Kennith, leaning on the door frame, with a more than chilling grin on his face.  “I knew you’d come here,” he mouthed to her.

“What are you talking about?!  What the hell is going on?!” Stephanie cried.  She was starting to grow worried for her friend.

“Come inside, let me show you.” Kennith beckoned to her to come inside the house.  Cables were strewn everywhere, and the television screen in the living room, as Stephanie saw, were on, displaying the same colorbars that were shown on her parent’s TV.

“What is this?  Where are your-” Stephanie began, but Kennith placed a hand in front of her mouth before she could finish.

“Upstairs,” He whispered, and started climbing the stairs, which also had cables strewn across them.  The same blue-white light shone from the left of the hallway, through a crack in a door, where Kennith’s room was.  The door to his room was slightly open, releasing light into the otherwise pitch black house.  If it hadn’t been for that, you would think that Kennith’s house was deserted.

What lay inside Kennith’s room was astonishing.  Stacks on stacks of TVs, all showing vibrant, colorful bars, placed in front of a camera, with large speakers on either side of them, all placed in front of a camera that Kennith had supposedly tinkered with.  A computer was sitting on his desk, with a bright pink background being the only color in the room other than blue, green, yellow and red.  On it, words were blinking on and off the screen, reading:

 

AWAITING INPUT

 

“Kennith?  W-what the hell is this?” Stephanie stuttered, absolutely shocked by the sight before her.

Kennith merely smiled and handed her a note.  It would take too long to explain, so let me sum it all up: These colorbars you see?  I made that.  They’re able to emit a frequency that creates an electromagnetic field strong enough to brainwash someone.  I always wanted to know what would happen if the country shut down- Hell, if everyone died at once- I’d be willing to see that, now!  I mean, nobody wants me around, so why should I care about them?  Of course, since you’re deaf, you’re practically immune to these frequencies, so consider yourself lucky.  

“Kennith, what the fuck?!”  Stephanie cried.  “You’re bullied for being gay, and you get revenge by brainwashing the entire goddamn country?!”

Kennith wrote something else on the strip of paper, and handed it to Stephanie.  Calm down, the broadcast ends in about eight hours, unless I decide to kill off the country.  Then everything should be back to normal.  Stephanie, however, grew angrier.

“You’re controlling the entire country, too?!  I mean, I get that you’re a little over dramatic, but this is too far, Kennith!”  Stephanie grabbed Kennith by the arm, but he only pulled away.

“You can always leave,” He sneered, making sure Stephanie understood what he was saying.  “After all, how would you understand why I would do this?”

And she did.  Stephanie stormed down the stairs, but not before grabbing Kennith’s journal out of spite.  Kennith did not let this slide, however, as he lunged at Stephanie, tackling her to the ground.  Stephanie shrieked and kicked him off of her, and bolted out the front door, not looking back.  She knew that Kennith was chasing her down the streets of her neighborhood, so she took as many twists and turns as possible, ending up on unfamiliar streets, each one as empty as the next.

Finally, when Stephanie thought she’d lost Kennith, she sat down behind a tree, opened the journal, and started reading.

The first few pages were blueprints for modifications for microphones, radios, headsets, and television sets.  None of these seemed to be related to the broadcast, however, so Stephanie disregarded them.  The first few entries didn’t have anything to do with it, either, just Kennith complaining about his life.

Then, Stephanie found something interesting.

11/10/87

I’m about to start my first big project, and oh boy, am I excited!  A national broadcast hack that lasts for 24 hours?  Sign me  right up!  I’m glad those motherfuckers at school mentioned that broadcast hack last night- I finally know how to gain control of my life!  The electromagnetic waves might take a little while, though.  Oh well.

-Kennith Simmons

Stephanie flipped through the journal, but for the next 50 pages or so, there were nothing but blueprints for expertly modified speakers, televisions, green screens and a microphone, all to make one program, titled COLORBARS.  There was a small entry next to a scribbled out blueprint, but there wasn’t much to take from it.

I can’t broadcast this through radio, though.  Shame.  Could’ve gotten a few of them old timers.

And then, Stephanie reached the final entry.

11/22/87

It’s almost time!  Oh, god, I’m so excited, I can barely contain myself!  What should I do first?  Should I make them cut themselves?  Best I make them feel the same way I do, too.  Make them understand.  Oh, I can barely contain my excitement!  I could start right now if I wanted to!  No turning back now!

 

I’m still scared, though.  What will everyone think of me if they remember?  What will I become then?  What will Stephanie think of me as?  A monster?  A freak?

...Oh well.  Let’s just get this over with.

Stephanie was very unnerved.  What sort of mind would decide to hurt an entire country for something so minor as being bullied?

Stephanie camped out near the tree, making sure that Kennith wasn’t still searching for her.  Every hour crawled by like a sloth, with Stephanie growing more and more tired.  But she managed to keep her eyes open, watching the broadcast through someone else’s window.  Kennith didn’t seem to be doing much, but Stephanie kept on watching.  She turned away when the person in the house held a knife to their arm.  She couldn’t stand to watch someone hurt themselves, no matter what.

Finally, in the late evening, just as the final hours of the broadcast were about to end, something on screen finally caught Stephanie’s eye.  Kennith was holding what appeared to be a knife to his neck.  He seemed to be smiling and waving, as if saying goodbye…

“No!” Stephanie suddenly cried.  “NO!”  She bolted down the streets, taking all sorts of twists and turns, trying to get back to Kennith’s house.  It didn’t matter if Kennith was being selfish before, he didn’t deserve to die, especially not by his own hand.  Despite how many turns she took, she couldn’t find that strange blue light coming out of the upper left window.  Even when she did, she had a sinking feeling that it was too late.

“H-hello?” She croaked uneasily as she entered the eerily empty house.  No-one came.  One shaking step after another, Stephanie made her way through the kitchen, into the hallway, up the stairs…  Yet no response.  The light still leaked through Kennith’s door.  Stephanie’s heart sank even lower.

Slowly, Stephanie opened the creaking door, praying that Kennith was still alive, praying that he was just screwing around before.  She entered Kennith’s room- And fell to her knees, crying at the bloodied scene before her.

NATIONAL BROADCAST HACKED, THOUSANDS DEAD

On November 22nd, 1987, a national broadcast was hacked for 24 hours by an eighteen year old boy named Kennith Simmons.  The program used to hack the broadcast, titled COLORBARS, was capable of brainwashing and controlling anyone watching the television, according to those in charge of the television network.  According to these individuals, Kennith Simmons, towards the end of the broadcast, slit his own throat, and instructed those watching to do the same.  This resulted in 7,396 fatalities and over 684 injuries.

While officials are still working to get to the bottom of the case, reports of a much stranger suicide down in Chicago have been plaguing recent news, as a woman named Frances Elsner, whom officials have attempted to contact for years, was found hanging in the Elsner mansion, presumed to have died upon seeing the colorbars, her suicide note claiming that they “Only brought back hatred long forgotten.”  Nobody quite understands what this means.

 

Stephanie sighed again as she read the paper.  Her parents were both at work, her mom being a reporter and her dad working at the office, leaving Stephanie home alone.  Taking another swig of milk, she tried to find an article on the paper that didn’t talk about the broadcast.  It was the talk of the entire country now.  And those who had watched the broadcast were considered heroes.  

She eventually found a picture on the paper of Kennith’s dead body, bloodied beyond recognition.  Blood seemed to have stained the green screen behind him.  His vest and even his shorts had the red liquid dried into the fabric.  And, finally, there was the neck wound  Stephanie closed the paper, angered and saddened by the sight.  This was the second time now that she’d seen his body.  Tears welled up in her eyes as she turned to the television, which was finally turned off last night.  She had never felt so much sorrow because of something as simple as a television set before.  Finally, she went back upstairs and sent Kennith one final text, a text he would never receive.

I’m sorry, Kennith...

State
MI
Zip Code
48130