Extract: The Dead


When the video is posted on YouTube it’s an instant hit. Within days everyone is talking about it.

‘Have you seen the “Scared Kid” video?’

‘It’s really freaky.’

‘At first I thought it was a joke, but it looks so real.’

‘It’s definitely fake, but it’s still scary.’

‘I can’t watch it. It’s too frightening.’

‘Who is he? Do you know who he is? Who’s the Scared Kid?’

‘Nobody knows . . .’

Maybe it’s a clever trailer for a new horror film. Maybe it’s a viral ad for something. A new car or a chocolate bar? Or, just maybe, it’s real . . .

The thing is . . . There’s something about it. Something about the kid. No ten-year-old is that good an actor. And if someone’s playing a trick on him they are really sick and they’ve done way too good a job. Who would do that? Who would deliberately scare a young kid that much? And why has nobody come forward to explain it all?

Even after everything that happens, when the whole world changes forever, when everyone knows that the video wasn’t a hoax but the start of something terrible, people remember the Scared Kid. His poor frightened little face.

It’s like the last thing everyone saw before the lights went out.

He sits there at his computer talking into a webcam. It’s clear he’s been crying for ages: his eyes are red raw, his face streaked with tears. He’s shaking uncontrollably and his teeth are actually chattering. You can hear them. It would be funny if it wasn’t so weird. He can hardly get his words out; they tumble over each other.

‘I don’t know what to what to do I don’t know they’ve killed Danny and Eve they killed Danny and Eve Danny and and Eve and Eve and and . . . they’re outside now I can see them I can see them outside there are three mothers and a father . . .’

That’s the freakiest bit, the bit that sticks in people’s minds, that he calls them mothers and fathers.

‘They came to the house and they killed they killed Danny and Eve there’s blood omigod omigod there’s blood three mothers and a father they’ve killed Danny and Eve make them go away please make them go away . . .’

Then he picks up the webcam and turns it to point out of the window. It veers all over, lights smearing the screen. Now you can see the street. It’s night-time. The picture’s awful but you can just see these four people under the streetlights – three mothers and a father – three women and a man, and near to them what looks like a dead body. The body of a child.

There’s something not right about the people. They don’t look like actors. The way they’re standing. And one of them looks up at the camera and it’s the most awful thing . . . a dead-eyed look, like an animal. Are they actors? The picture’s so bad its hard to tell.

Then the Scared Kid’s voice again.

‘Can you see them? They’ve gone crazy – three mothers and a father – they’ve been trying to get back in into the house but Danny and Eve they’re dead they’re dead and I don’t know where my mum and dad are there’s nobody else here they’ve all gone it’s only me . . .’

The camera moves again. You can hear crashing and smashing in the background. Shouting. Now the kid’s back at his desk, staring into the lens, like he’s staring into the grave. Even more terrified than before. Shaking. Shaking.

‘I’m going to post the video Danny showed me how they killed him three mothers and a father I have to do it quickly I don’t know what’s happening I don’t think anyone will help me I think I’m going to die like like –’

And that’s the end of it.

Some kids do impressions of him, and post them. There’s a remix of the kid done to a death-metal soundtrack. But the thing is – the video is scary because it seems so real. People watch it over and over, trying to understand it. And when adults start dying, when it becomes clear that some terrible new disease is striking everybody over the age of fourteen, the Scared Kid begins to look like some kind of prophet.

Within a very short time ‘Scared Kid’ becomes the most watched YouTube clip ever. After a month it’s taken down. There’s a message saying it’s been removed. The day after that the whole YouTube site is taken down without any explanation, and the day after that the Internet stops working altogether.

It just disappears.

That’s when people finally realize that something serious is happening.
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