Located at the edge of the suburban areas of the hustle and bustle, I hopped out of the train, prepared to take on my new part-time job in the dead of the night. The stars were clouded by the smoke billowed from the heart of the city, the air was filled with the acrylic scent of the leftovers from the busy day. I took out the map that they gave to me attached with landmarks in order to get there and behind it was the acceptance letter for the job.
It was an odd job but highly paid. I was desperate for some cash in order to pay off my student debt. There were stories about odd jobs but I did not care much about it. Plus, the odd job was orchestrated by one of the major tech companies in the world, I believed that they would not screw things up and destroy themselves when the eyes of the world were scrutinizing them.
The building was hidden in between two apartments, it was dimly lit and moss-covered, presumably a cheap mortgaged building, enough to serve its purpose- to act as a workplace for people like us. A pang of fear sent a shiver down my spine, it’s for the money. I coaxed my anxious heart. As I approached the derelict metallic door, I gave the sequence of knocks as instructed in the letter. Within a few seconds, the door flung open and I was greeted by a solemn distorted voice. “Come in, Johnathan.” I followed suit.
The place was as dark as outside, it was difficult to navigate around the inside. I skimmed around my surroundings just to notice some flickering lights at the background and nothing else but darkness. There was no one who welcomed me, just the voice from the darkness. “Your computer will be right in front of you,” the voice directed me, I paced myself forward, “The pin is 4869.” I was rather confused at this point as I did not have any chance to be exposed to the technology presented in front of me.
As I moved to my computer, there was a plastic chair, no keyboards, an LCD-monitor, a number pad and two buttons were attached to the computer. I took a seat and settled my eyes unto the blank screen. The voice spoke, “Key in your pin please.” I tapped in those numbers as instructed. The screen came to life with a video of a child playing. “Please wear the headphones.” I did not notice that until the voice told me. I clipped it unto my head, there was happy music from the 70s playing at the background.
“Your job is fairly simple.” the voice said, the screen split into two sections, one was filled with instructions and the other was the video playing. “Follow the instructions and guidelines as shown on your screen. Accept the video by pressing the button with a tick, reject the video by pressing the button with a cross. Do you understand?”
“Yes.” I nodded. “How is the pay…”
“We will pay you in hard cash after you had reviewed the videos.”
“At least 1000 videos, on average one video must be watched a full 20-seconds, and only you click those buttons.” the voice said, “for every extra 500 videos watched, we will pay you 75 percent more.”
“This job is new and you are one of our test subjects, namely our filtration board. You will be the protector of the eyes of millions,” the voice asserted, “Do not mess up.”
Silence painted the gap of anxiety built in me. I nodded and meekly started to filter those videos. The first one passed the guidelines and was awarded with a tick by me. The second one, the third one, the fourth, nothing much just a bunch of random videos that were filmed on bad quality cameras or the first generation of ‘smart phones’.
As I was reaching the 50th, something wrong popped up, there was a corpse laying in the middle of the room and a man walked in stark naked, approached the corpse and started fucking it. I immediately pressed the cross button and the video switched to the next one. It was the same guy, doing it on a chicken, I instinctively pressed the cross button once more. Another one with the same guy, this time with an infant. What the fuck is wrong with people? I hit the cross button again, grossed out by the videos.
Nausea hit me like a truck as the subsequent videos were propaganda, gory stuff where people purposely slicing themselves up, some were cannibals feasting upon blood red flesh, sex tapes popped up every 5 videos, torture was done mostly by the extremist, some were experimenting with animals, virtually anything that you can think of, they were there.
The counter on my screen hit the 215th, the video started off with pitch black darkness, and right at the 10th second, there was some deafening screeching and horrid blood covering a room. There was nothing that violate the guidelines yet. The video resumed with someone speaking in an incomprehensible foreign language. I had to call in for assistance as instructed in the guidelines. The video was sent for further pending. Videos which were in the gray area must be sent for further digging by the higher-ups.
It was 1.45 a.m. from my wrist watch. I stretched my back for a little and resumed with my job. There was a series of videos of children in tight suits, mostly ballerinas. Initially, I thought it was a parent happily filming the cheery moments of their children. However, as the series of videos resumed, I realised that the camera angle was slightly off, it was from a peeping point-of-view. I called in for assistance once more, and notified them about a suspicious activity of a pedophile. The voice prompted that they would look further into these videos as listed by me.
I was halfway through the 1000th mark and I was shocked by some people screaming for their very lives before being executed on camera. I had to watch until the killing part for most of these videos as seconds before the killing, the video still had not violated any clauses mentioned. My head was aching by the thought of how horrible human beings can be and how disgusting being the same species as them.
The mass killing resumed with an orgy in a room filled with people of all ages. They were all at gun-point, it was a sadistic pity party. As one of the participants rebelled, blood was spilled across the room after a gun-shot, the video did not shoot the act of killing, so I had to continue watching it, listening to the horror of people shrilling in fear. After a full 20 seconds of terror, only then I could press the cross button.
The slug-fest continued with those horrible videos, the pleasant and harmless ones were diminishing in numbers as I proceeded with my 800th video which was a reverse-rape on a child. Something inside me was budging me to stop but I needed the money. The experience so far had left a scar in me, shifting my perspective of humans drastically.
My mind went automatic as I skimmed through the videos. Nothing new. Just the bland evilness residing in every human being. One of the videos nearly got my hypnotized but I managed to hit the cross button in time before I turned awry.
My job for the day capped off with a massacre of killings and gross sex, beyond my imagination. “Fuck this.” I sighed after the 1000th mark. I got out of my seat and was handed with $1000 of cold hard cash.
“Hope to see you tomorrow for the next session.”
Fuck. I thought, the deal was for a month. Or else… “Ok.” I wrestled my through the dim walkway. I stopped at the side to puke for nearly 15 minutes, questioning about life and reality itself. My palms contacted my forehead, checking that my life was beating.
As I walked, my head was spiraling in sporadic circles, a massive migraine hit me out of nowhere, perhaps it was the overload of information into my head. I was spinning around and went numb.
I was back at the plastic chair in front of the computer. The counter stopped at the 800th mark. Something is off. It’s like a limbo… I slapped myself a couple of times, making sure I was still conscious. Apparently, I was already under the spell of the hypnotic video. Brushing myself off as quickly as possible, I realised a sinister reflection was on the screen. As I turned around, my head was cleanly chopped off and my vision landed on the ground.
My mouth tried to utter my mixed emotions, but the limbo effect struck once more. I was sitting by the plastic chair, realising that I was reviewing my own death video. Fear gripped my soul and adrenaline cruised through my muscles, springing me out of this nightmare. I grabbed myself out of this place, leaving with only nerve-racking, bleak realism of how cruel life can be.
Something is really off…
The limbo effect…
I was back at the plastic chair. Reviewing the remaining videos. Realising that my time was almost ending. Not knowing that I had the roller-coaster ride of thoughts buried at the back of my very mind.