Erase Your Harddrive Before You Sell Your Devices

I just got a new laptop–but they didn’t wipe the harddrive before they sent it to me. There is a really strange video on the desktop. I hope it isn’t real…

When it begins, there’s a man out by his pool. It’s nighttime. The water is rippling behind him, lit from beneath like a calmly undulating blanket of blue. He’s attractive, in his mid-40s, average build. He’s dressed in all white and barefoot.

There. It’s on.

I’m recording this so when they find us, they’ll understand what they find. Does your head hurt? Mine too. I’m so tired. I’m sorry. To you and to her. This wasn’t supposed to be how we died.

He seems to be speaking to someone off camera.

You always told me I’d be a good father. I always told you that you were wrong. Well, now I’ve gone and proved that. I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to forgive either of us. This way I don’t have to worry about that, I guess. I don’t have to live with it.

Adalynn was our pride and joy. I remember the day she became part of our family. We met her at the airport in California. Do you remember? 12 years ago: you and I anxiously awaiting her arrival in that office run by customs. You cried when you saw her. I said, “see I told you she’d be incredible.” Her first day as an American citizen and the first day as our daughter. We probably saved her life that day. Now I have to do this or I’m probably going to go to jail. I told you I wasn’t going to be a good father.

You always knew just what to do when Ada was a baby. Who’d have thought you’d be such a natural at this? Skinned knees? Let Daddy Danny kiss them. Daddy Danny’s kisses are magic. Not like Da-da Graham’s. Da-da Graham can’t fix shit. No. I’m not good at fixing anything. I couldn’t fix her and neither could any of those doctors.

I might have thought I was doing a bad job, but at first, I couldn’t hold a candle to the kind of father you were. You taught her how to read. How to write. How to sing. She could have been famous. She was that good. Just a kid, but with a voice like honey. You were so involved at first. Of course that all changed as she got older…probably it changed as I got older too. Our novelty wore off. You started looking at me differently. I didn’t notice it at first, then one day all at once did. I knew. You didn’t care about this family anymore. Started spending so much time at work. You lost interest in us.

I’ll admit, I never should have taken her swimming in that lake. You know, I didn’t even want to tell you we were doing it, you’re such a worry-wart, Daniel. I figured you’d tell me it was irresponsible or say something dumb.

I could just hear your stupid voice: “What about alligators Graham? What about moccasins?” You idiot.

Turns out I’m the dumb one. I did this. I caused it. It’s a public park. The lake is fed by natural springs. The water is crystal blue. You can see right to the bottom. See the way the sunlight ripples from the surface all the way to the sand. It was supposed to be safe.

Then she started screaming. She was screaming and screaming. At first I thought she was drowning. There were a hundred kids in that water. Well, maybe not a hundred, but at least a dozen or two…but they were all swimming away from her, making the water froth with their frantic dog-paddles on the surface, looks of terror twisted across their face. They spread out from her in a circle in all directions. She was the only one swimming in a cloud of pink mist, spinning like smoke just beneath the surface. Of course, I thought we didn’t prepare her enough for “the big change.” She was 12. What do two dad’s know about periods? Then I saw her face and I knew. It wasn’t fear in her eyes. It was pain and pleading. Her face was twisted in torture and her eyes were begging me to come save her. I jumped in right away. I don’t know what it was and neither do you. I don’t know why these things happen. I don’t know why it picked her…

I wasn’t going to tell you about it–the trip to the springs, but then I had to, because we were going to the emergency room. So many tests. Awful tests and she was crying and asking where you were…and then you came. Why did it take you so long to come? And then, Daniel, instead of trying to comfort her, after I told you everything that happened, you were mad at me. How dare you. This was our daughter. Our daughter was in pain and you were mad at me for causing it. Even the doctors didn’t know what it was. This wasn’t my fault. If it wasn’t her, it would have picked some other kid. How can you blame me?

They took so many samples, blood, bone marrow, spinal fluid, cat scans, x-rays. She was there for weeks and every day you blamed me more like I caused it. Finally they sent her home and we had to keep her so drugged up she couldn’t speak. Whenever we tried to wean her off the medication she kept complaining about how much her bones hurt. She kept saying something was ‘inside her’ but the doctors never found anything.

Then yesterday, the doctor called me around noon to tell me that the marrow samples had liquefied. They’re supposed to be spongy tissue and they’d deteriorated into a thick red liquid, like blood.

Of course I already knew that. I found her like that. When she woke up yesterday for the first time in weeks she told me she didn’t think she needed her pain pills anymore.

“Why are you looking at me like that Da-da?” She asked.

Why did you get to be Daddy? Why did we pick such a stupid name for me? It was cute when she was a baby but it sounded like something from an awful horror movie coming out of her, the way she looked then.

“What’s wrong, Da-da?”

Finally I collected myself enough to leave the room, “Nothing Ada-baby. I’ll be right back.” I told her. “I gotta call Daddy. Tell him you’re all better.” I forced a smile at her. It probably looked more like a cringe.

Well, Daniel, you know what was wrong now. She was flat as a pancake, spread out all over the bedspread. It reminded me of that commercial from the 90s. Too much marijuana… You know the one? She was spread out like someone had taken a spatula and pressed her around the bed like she was frosting. The worst part was that she didn’t even really seem to notice…that’s why I was so shocked I couldn’t speak.

I could see all of her veins, blue and ropey. Tied everywhere inside her beneath the skin. It was like a root system lumping up and out at the base of the tree changing the ground around it to accommodate. That’s what the skin was doing, embossing up to accommodate the highway of veins inside or her. Her lungs moved up and down like two living mountains on a desert of pink. Her intestines looked like a snake coiled under a thin bed sheet. I tried to call you and your phone went straight to voicemail.

You know, your voicemail should say “This is Daniel, I’m off having an affair with my fuckboy assistant, leave a message,” instead. It would be more truthful than, “I’m probably in a meeting.”

What? You look so surprised. You thought I didn’t know about Taylor? I’ve known about that little shit for a while now, Daniel. He doesn’t matter though.

I didn’t know what to do and I was all by myself. When you got home you started calling every doctor you ever heard of. I bet you would have called Doogie Howser if you’d have had his number. Nobody was going to fix this though. This wasn’t a medical anomaly. This wasn’t science. This was some other worldly bullshit. Something that didn’t belong on this planet was inside of her. Some strange amoeba from someplace else got inside her that day…melted all of her bones. I don’t know. That’s the only things that I can think of that make sense. She woke up and everything that was supposed to be keeping her shape…her whole skeleton was liquefied.

It wasn’t my fault. You blame me. I know that. Shhh. Don’t try to talk. This will all be over soon and we’ll be with her.

I couldn’t believe it when you took Taylor’s call and said there was an emergency at work and you had to go. You were gone for over a fucking day. Our daughter was laid out like a giant human pancake and you leave? Fuck you, Daniel. I hope that stupid boy was worth it. I couldn’t do all of this alone and here you were leaving me by myself again.

I told her it was bath time. Scooped her up in my arms. She was slopping around in every direction. Sliding through my fingers the whole way. Eventually I had to throw her over my shoulder like a sheet. I already had the water all filled. I hope it was warm enough for her. I hope she didn’t feel any pain. They say drowning is very peaceful. I hope that’s true. Without her bones, she couldn’t turn over. She just kind of flailed around like a fish on the surface. I left her there until she stopped. Then I let the water out and she went down the drain too…I know. I was surprised it worked also.

When they find all the blood in the bath, that’s what that is. Most of her went down but the organs were just sitting there like they were inside of a big lumpy skin-balloon, bubbling up out of the tub drain. I smooshed the rest of her down with my bare feet. Left footprints all the way through the house.

The next part was easy, Daniel. When you came home, the house was dark. You turned on the light and followed the footprints…a red trail all the way from the door to the bathroom…but I was waiting for you. I snuck up behind you in the hall. I hit you over the head with the cast iron, then I brought you out here and tied you up.

I always told you we were going to be bad parents. Especially me. What do I know about kids? I know what I did was a mercy. I’m good with that. Adalynn shouldn’t have had to live like that… Anyway, I love you. You loved me too once. I’m sorry that things came to this.

The man comes up to the laptop and types something in…then he leaves the screen momentarily, returning to push a heavy, wrought iron deck chair across the pool deck. There’s another man tied to it. The sound of it scratching the ground as it’s forced along is painful and makes me cringe, gritting my teeth hard. He pushes it right up the edge of the pool and without even hesitating, he kicks it in. You can’t see the other man for long. He sinks out of view in the teal ripples of the water. A shadow passes over the water, I assume as he sunk down past the underwater light and a cluster of bubbles rises to the surface.

The man from the video comes back into view. He has a cinder block in his hand. There’s a short chain attached to it. He walks to the edge of the pool and you can see the short chain is wrapped around his waist. He looks back.

He stares back at his laptop. Now MY laptop. He whispers: “Adalynn, I love you.” He looks down into the water and to the man beneath he whispers, “I loved you too.”

The block crashes through the surface with a splash. There’s a second, larger splash as the cinderblock’s length of chain pulls the man in behind.

I’m not sure if it’s real or not…But I can tell you that this is only the first ten minutes of the video. It goes on for another three hours. I’ve watched the whole thing, dumbfounded. The rest of the footage is just a shot of that pool and the rippling light shining teal from beneath.

I’m not sure why this isn’t in an evidence lockup someplace. Someone must have gotten ahold of it, thought they’d make a quick buck, before it could get cataloged. I’m not turning it in. I won’t have a computer then….

I just wish everyone knew that you have to erase your computer’s harddrive before you sell it…I paid good money for this thing, and now it feels kinda dirty. Oh well…

I’ll probably use it mostly for watching porn anyway, so what’s a little more dirt? The camera on this thing is actually pretty good. Maybe I’ll make some of my own…

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