The following story is fictional and any resemblances to any person is entirely coincidental.
MeganASMR is poised to make a long-overdue return to ASMR after months away. When someone starts posting her videos on their own page, she’s outraged. But when she looks at the videos, she realizes something: She doesn’t remember doing them.
I stole a glance up at the clock behind the camera as I snipped at the wig I’d taped under it. The clock read 2:46 A.M. A pile of blonde hair sat in my lap. I smiled and pulled the scissors away, giving the near bald wig a good scratch with my fingers. “Now were done there.” I set the scissors to the side and reached for the razor and shaving cream. “So now that we have your beard cut down to a more… manageable size,” I said as I shifted my legs under me, “We’re gonna lather you up with this,” I held the shaving cream to the camera, “A nice Barbasol shaving cream with aloe,” Took a good five seconds to tap my nails against the metal. “and,” I said as I put the can down. Next up came the razor, “a nice Schick hydro razor,” I tapped with my finger against the blade, “with five, nice little blades. Get a nice close shave. So you’ll look good for your date tonight.” I set down the razor and shook the can of shaving cream. I held it close to the camera, to its side- and promptly smacked it against the side of the camera.
“Damn it!” I said loudly. I reached for the off button on the camera, praying I hadn’t just broke something important in it. I set down the camera and tried not to think about how many times I’d had to cut the footage. I looked up at the clock, frowned. Theodore padded across the carpet towards me, curious at the noise his food source was making. He sat down three feet away from me, looking at me with dispassionate, stoic eyes. “What the hell are you looking at?” I said to Theodore.
I pointed the can at him, “Remember who feeds you, fatty.” Theodore meowed at me and stepped forward, quickly shoving his face against the nozzle of shaving cream can. I smiled down at him scratching his face against the white plastic. “Momma loves you too.” I smiled. I set the can down and turned to my camera. The hit hadn’t been too severe on the casing. No scratches, dents, and no buttons were loose. I turned the camera back on and saw myself pop up on the screen to the side of the lens. I let myself sigh with relief and leaned back against my beanbag chair. Exhaustion dragged me closer to sleep every time I closed my eyes. Hell with it, I thought to myself. I turned the camera back off and gathered my things. I picked most of the hair off of my lap, gently rolling it up into a ball to be put into the wastebasket. I got the rest with a lint brush. The great comeback of MeganASMR will have to wait until tomorrow night, I said to myself.
Cleaned up, I stepped into my bedroom and quickly moved to shut down my computer. I shook the mouse to bring the screen back up. My upload page on YouTube was up, just as I had left it. There was a notification telling me my video upload had failed. That made me pause. I had been hoping to upload that night but that was obviously bunk. I was suspicious, but I was also tired. I shook it off, clicked the page shut and turned off my computer. YouTube glitches could wait for after work.
“All of our assets are now dead. We cannot continue.”
“We can continue. You know that. We have to.”
“All assets we sent out to you are now dead. Their cause of death was an event we have no knowledge of happening. Further research has shown several people involved that did not exist in our timeline. The link must be severed and severed quickly as to prevent chronological damage. We’re sorry.”
“If you have to leave, give us something to use from here. Something.”
“No. Nothing we give you would be of any significance to the task at hand. Our assets are dead. We have to go.”
“You have a new channel?” the text message from XanaduASMR asked me. Xanadu, in real life an English professor, had been one of my biggest supporters since I had come into ASMR two years back –and decided to leave for six months.
I set down my coffee and banged out a reply on my phone. “No. Why do you ask?”
“Saw a new channel this morning with your face in the thumbnails. Only three so far, and only around 100-250 views each. All of them posted within the last twelve hours or so. Get in contact with YT asap.”
“I will. What’s the channel?” I typed out, resisting the urge to let my head sink onto the desk. Having to be back at work in fifteen minutes was icing on the cake for me.
And they were using a near-copy of my name too. I thanked him and quickly pulled up my YouTube app. I typed the username into the search bar, and tapped my foot against the break room floor as I waited for it to load up. The sounds of the office were drifting in, I had a client due in at three to review his return from last year. Finally, just as my screen was dimming from lack of use, the name came up, as well as the three videos. I clicked the first one: ‘Snackfood Tingles.’
The video started up after a moment. I saw my face on screen and I felt my hairs stand on end. I watched myself greet the audience, talk about the foods I had sitting around me. She sounded like me, down to the slight nasal inflection. On screen, I lifted up the first one, a bag of flaming hot Cheetos, opened the bag, and started chewing on a handful. I started ticking off all the things that shouldn’t have been there. My eyes were brown, not the green I saw on screen. On-screen, my skin was too pale, hair a darker shade of red than my own. The hands that opened up the Cheetos bag were too long, and the mouth that crunched down on them bigger than mine, with teeth that would have cracked my skull to fit them all in.
To top it all off, I had never done a video like this. I had never eaten snack foods for tingles before. I exited out of the video, and started up the next one ‘Ironing ASMR.’ There she was again, with her different colored eyes, off-color skin and hair and lanky fingers and Julia Robert’s mouth, talking about, holding up five dresses I recognized as my own. She told stories about them as she smoothed the fabric with her hands, folded them and unfolded them. They were my stories. The red dress I had my first kiss in. The green dress I went to my best friend’s wedding in. The black dress I had worn to my grandmothers funeral. I watched right up until she got started ironing them. I hit back on my phone and pulled up the last one. I felt my heart stutter like it was sputtering on a chunk of platelets. ‘Playing with Theodore ASMR.’ I had to set the phone down I shook so hard. I hit the screen to start it up. Sure enough, there she was, “Hello everyone.” She said with that mutant mouth, smiling as she did. “I have a very special friend for you all to meet today.” She ducked out of the way of the camera, and a few seconds later pulled up Theodore. “Say hi to Momma’s friends Theodore.” She cooed at him as she held him with his paws on her shoulder and back paws in her hands. Just like I did. Theodore, with his gray fur and black stripes down his back, pawed at the camera.
He was even de-clawed. I watched as she made kissy faces at him, as he nuzzled her face against his. Abruptly, Theodore leaped out of her hands and scurried away. “Oh damn.” Not-me whispered. “Come back here you fatty.” She grabbed the camera — and I saw my living room on screen. She turned the camera back on herself. She was close enough that I could see every detail of my-her face as she said, “He’s scurried under the table. He’s been so skittish lately. Give me a minute to lure him out.”
“What’s wrong Meg?”
I jumped up, my phone clattering to the floor. I looked up to see Darlene, one of the older tax professionals at my job. “Everything alright? You look terrified.” She pulled up a chair next to me, setting down her coffee on the table. I struggled to put what I had just seen into words. I reached down for my phone. Not-me was holding Theodore again. Was he scared now? Had he smelt something off about her? I closed the video, I couldn’t bear looking at it again. “I’ll be fine.” I said, wiping at my eyes, “Just got caught up thinking about something sad.”
“You sure?” Darlene asked. She wasn’t buying it.
“Yeah.” I got up, trying not to tremble as I did. “If my client shows up, tell him I’ll be a minute.” I walked into the bathroom and closed the door behind me, locking it as hard as I could twist it. I sank against the wall, put my head into my hands, and wept as the black gravity of the situation pressed down on me.
To be continued…
(Image used under Creative Commons license. Credit to nora.d.)