Dec 14
fiction challenge: Red
Non Beenary's picture

Red Lights

There is a red blinking light in the upper right hand corner of the camera screen.
It’s a low battery warning, and the person holding the camera sighs, sounding mildly annoyed. “Thought I just changed the batteries in this hunk of junk,” they mumble, their voice low but soft. “Eh, that’s what I get for buying some cheap camera from a shifty garage sale, I guess. Hmm… okay, you should last for a few more minutes. Gotta make this quick, then.”
The camera is set down, and it wobbles a bit on whatever precarious pile it was placed on. There’s a scuffling noise, then a short, blond-haired young adult steps out in front of the camera, adjusting their glasses as they do so.
“Right,” they say. “Uh, need to sync up the audio…” They clap once. “...And… future me, edit out all of that. But keep that in. That’ll be funny. Would be real funny if I kept all this in, too. And now that I’ve said that, I’m definitely keeping this all in.” They smile, waving at the camera. “Happy birthday, Jo! I really wish I could be there in person, but with all of these pandemic travel bans… I mean, there’s always next year, I guess. Anyways, I’ve been working on a compilation of all our fun times livestreaming together over the past two years of our relationship, and I just need to add the intro, and it’ll be done! Which I can’t really do right now, because this is the intro. But once I’m done recording this, then I can add it to the video, and then it’ll be done.” As they talk, they gesture to emphasize their words; their hands almost never stop moving while they speak. “Anyways, just wanted to wish you a happy birthday in this intro, even though I’m going to be able to do that when we get into our video call tomorrow. Enjoy the compilation!” They pause for a moment. “And… that should be it. Right, let’s hope the battery lasted long enough to get all-”
The camera shuts off with a soft click.

The camera’s view is almost entirely black, except for the numbers on the alarm clock in the corner displaying the time in red light: 2:58 AM
The time changes: 2:59 AM. The camera does not move or stop recording. Every once in a while, a soft shuffling sound can be heard from near the alarm clock. 
The time changes: 3:00 AM
3:01 AM.
3:02 AM.
Hours pass, and the camera records. The darkness of the room fades away, replaced by sunlight streaming in through the windows, and still, it records.
7:30 AM.
The alarm clock beeps.
The young adult sits up in their bed, swatting at the alarm clock to stop the beeping. After a few seconds, they manage to hit the snooze button, flopping over backwards into their bed.
“I should probably get up,” they mumble, the camera just barely able to pick up their voice. They groan, then sit up again, clambering out of their bed. 
The camera films as they walk around their room, collecting clothes to wear for the day: a white button-up, black jeans, and a red pull-over sweater. 
The alarm clock beeps again.
“Ack!” they yelp. “I thought I turned you off!” They sprint across the room, grabbing the alarm clock and accidentally unplugging it from the wall. “Oh, well, that’s one way to solve it,” they mumble. They turn around, their eyes falling on the camera.
“Wait a minute,” they mumble, walking over to the camera. “Why are you on? I swear I turned you off after changing the batteries…” They pick the camera up, turning it around so all it can see is their light grey wall. “And you’re recording? How long has this been- over three hours?! That’s such a waste of battery and storage space. I guess I’ll just delete this once I’ve-”
There’s a click as they press the button to make the camera stop recording.

The camera rests on its side atop a table, half its view taken up by the back of a computer screen. The young adult is sitting in front of the computer, smiling and holding a mug. 
“...finished up a video for you,” they’re saying.
“Oh, really?” comes a voice from the computer. “Well, I’d love to see it.”
“I’m gonna share my screen with you, hang on.” They click around a bit, sipping from their mug while they do so. “Can you see it?”
“Yeah. Did you record that in your room?”
“Yes. Don’t, uh… please ignore that pile of dirty laundry in the corner.”
The voice from the computer and the young adult laugh. 
“I’m gonna hit play,” the young adult says.
“Go for it.”
The recording the young adult had made the day before starts playing. “Future me, edit out all of that. But keep that in. That’ll be funny. Would be real funny if I kept all this in, too. And now that I’ve said that, I’m definitely keeping this all in.
The voice from the computer chuckles, and the young adult smiles. Their smile drops a bit as they glance to the side, catching sight of the camera.
“One moment. Keep watching,” they say, standing up and walking around the table. They pick up the camera. “Why do you keep turning on randomly?” they mumble. “Stupid piece of garage sale junk.”
“Cam? What are you doing?” the voice from the computer calls.
“Just gotta put something in my room,” the young adult calls back.
There’s a click, and the camera stops recording.

The red light display on the alarm clock reads 11:47 AM when the young adult walks into their room. They go straight for the camera, picking it up and scoffing.
“You’ve been recording since I left you here three hours ago,” they mumble. “How am I not surprised? It’s no wonder you were being sold for dirt cheap.” They adjust the camera so that their face fills the view. “I’m removing your batteries.”
There’s a click as they turn off the camera.

The low battery warning blinks red in the corner of the screen as the camera watches.
It’s sitting on the counter in the young adult’s small kitchen, pointing towards their microwave. Like the alarm clock, the microwave displays the time in red light: 12:03 AM.
Every once in a while, the young adult walks through the kitchen, sometimes to get something from the refrigerator like a can of soda, sometimes to get some paper from the pile on top of the microwave, sometimes to get a snack from the cupboard. 
The camera sees them walk in for the thirteenth time, the microwave display reading 1:05 PM. They take a box of crackers out of the cupboard and open it up, turning to rest against the counter as they eat. 
They falter as they make eye contact with the camera.
“How…?” they mumble, dropping the box of crackers on the counter behind them and walking cautiously over to the camera. “You shouldn’t… I removed your batteries. I thought-”
There’s a click as they press the End Recording button.
The camera continues to watch.
“What the-”
They press the button again.
Click click click click.

They throw the camera at the wall. It impacts with a loud crash, then falls to the floor, lens pointed at the young adult. In the oven door, the camera can see the reflection of the blinking red light next to its lens, signaling that it still watches.
The young adult swears, crossing the kitchen quickly to pick up the camera. “Right, you’re going in the trash.” 
Carrying the camera, they leave their house, swiftly moving to the end of their driveway and shoving the camera deep into the trash bin.
As its sight is quickly obscured by darkness, it can hear a sigh of relief from the young adult.

When the young adult goes back inside, they see thousands upon thousands of cameras, scattered about in every part of their house.
And every camera sees them.
The little red light next to each camera lens blinks as the young adult screams.

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About the Author: Non Beenary