THE OZARK CABLE INCIDENT
As a child, I grew up in a small Southern Missouri town just north of the Ozark Mountain Range. There were about ten thousand people living there and, for the most part, they preferred to keep to themselves. It was a weird mentality you never ran into often in the south. During the summer following my second year of elementary school, all of that would change.
In this town, there was only one provider for television. It was an old cable provider known as “Ozark Cable,” which served southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. It only broadcasted ten channels and, given that satellite wasn’t available within a hundred miles of my town, I had to make the best of it. In fact, the only children’s programming available was Tom and Jerry reruns which broadcasted out of Little Rock on Saturday mornings. Needless to say, my options for cartoons weren’t particularly extraordinary.
At the beginning of summer vacation, following second grade, my family received a notice from Ozark Cable, as did the other ten thousand residents in town. The statement noted that a new, high-tech broadcasting station was to complete construction just north of town. In addition, my town would now be receiving thirty new channels, including Nickelodeon. I was as excited as any child my age would be; hell, I would finally be able to watch new cartoons any time during the week!
During the third week of summer vacation, the broadcasting station went operational, and my small town finally entered the digital age. Static no longer interrupted regular programming, show line-ups no longer switched without notice, and, of course, I finally had “Rocko’s Modern Life.” Overall, I was a pretty happy seven year old kid. That’s when it started.
I heard it first from one of my friends. Apparently, his parents had been watching late-night entertainment around midnight or one in the morning when sporadic interferences in the broadcast began to occur. Images of an “eyeless man” flashed on the screen for seconds at a time, accompanied by startlingly loud white-noise. Apparently, it was loud enough to wake my friend up. Unsettled, his parents contacted the cable provider and notified them about the incident, and were subsequently told that it would be looked into. However, the problem persisted. Eventually, it became so frequent and widespread throughout the town that my parents actually prohibited me from watching any television between midnight and dawn. Not that I was interested in doing so, anyways.
Soon, no one watched any late-night television. There were rumors of televisions sporadically turning on and displaying the “eyeless man” seeming to reach out towards the viewer. They were just rumors. One Thursday morning, while my Dad was at work, my mom needed to run into town and pick up a prescription from a local pharmacy. Normally I was forced to accompany her on her daily expeditions into town but, after begging to stay home to watch the new episode of “Ren and Stimpy,” she surrendered, and left to run her errand. After sneaking a few cookies, I sat in front of the TV and waited for the episode to begin.
The episode began as usual, with the catchy theme-song and glimpses into the antics of the characters. Then, the picture went black. You can only imagine how enraged I was; I had been waiting all week for this new episode, only to have the channel go out. After parading around the tTV room in a fit of childhood frustration, I sat in front of the television and I waited for the broadcast to resume.
A brief spark of static appeared on the screen, and I sat in eager anticipation for the episode to resume. Images of decomposing and disemboweled bodies filled the screen, accompanied by ear-piercing screams that filled the house. I immediately ran out of the t.v. room, but not before looking back at the television. A man with bloodied holes for eyes seemed to approach the screen with his livid, decaying arm reaching out. I hid under the dining room table and began to sob hysterically. In my fit out nauseated terror, I vomited onto the floor.
When my mother came home, she seemed to jump back at the noises that consumed the house, and immediately dropped her bags and pulled me out from under the table. I was hysterical and my face was pale with fear. Before I could answer my mother about what was going on, she entered the TV room. The screaming stopped; she unhooked the television. When I finally told her what happened, we heard a knock on the door. It was my friend and his parents. He was sobbing and was hiding his face against his against his mother’s shirt. They experienced the same thing I had. Everyone in town did.
Almost immediately, local law enforcement became involved due to the nature of the images. After a week of no television and sleeping in my parent’s bed, the local police department issued a statement. It wasn’t as conclusive as we had wished. About five months before the original notice in regards to the new broadcasting center, Ozark Cable bought a piece of land that belonged to a long abandoned sanitarium and on-site burial ground. In addition to demolishing the decrepit building, over two hundred bodies were exhumed and cremated without warrant to make room for the miles of underground cables. Ozark Cable was immediately fined and its owner was prosecuted. After three months of legal battles, the cable company eventually shut down, with satellite television taking its place soon after. The source of the images remains unknown. It is also unknown how the broadcasts even happened in the first place.