I finally saw them yesterday.
I'm not sure if that makes it better or oh god so fucking much worse, to be honest. There's a part of me that still wishes I was off in the land of paranoia and conspiracy theories, because at least then I had the comfort of being able to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and decide I was looking back at a crazy woman and not a crazy world. All the files on my computer, all the bookmarks on my browser, all the videos I found at the end of a twelve-hour deep dive down the rabbit hole of 'suggested content' algorithms... it just told me that there were other people who shared my delusions. It didn't mean I was right.
And I mean, fuck. Everyone's got access to the kind of video editing software and special effects technology that would have been hilariously expensive just five years ago, and every major Hollywood studio loves doing these viral fucking marketing campaigns for whatever their latest shitty horror movie is. Just because the dumb conspiracy theories I saw online just happened to resemble stuff in my real life doesn't mean--
Didn't. Didn't mean. I don't have the luxury of pretending that I didn't see what I fucking saw. Not anymore. Not if it might keep me from winding up like Ermalinda.
I'm sorry. I know I probably sound pretty fucking messed up right now. I'm all over the fucking place at the moment--it's mostly sleep deprivation, I haven't been able to close my eyes for more than about five minutes before I wake up slapping the air in front of me like there's a wasp in the room or something. I keep dreaming about those dead white eyes rimmed with cold gray flesh. Staring down at me. Reaching for me with their long bony fingers. It's... I put a chair in front of my bedroom door, but it didn't really help. In my dreams, they just came right through the walls.
But at least I know now, right? At least if I can see them, I can get away from them. I can make an excuse and leave the room, or cross the street, or turn around and go the other way, or... just run, I guess. I don't know what else to do. There's some videos about that, ways to banish them or ward them off or... or hurt them, but I don't know whether any of it works. There's a lot of bullshit going around right now. For all I know, you probably think this video is part of it. I don't blame you. I didn't believe most of what I saw until yesterday.
But I do now. And I need to talk about it. So yeah. Let's talk about the Ventriloquists.
I know some people first hear about them online--there's a bunch of websites, a couple of wikis and some forums and stuff, I'll put the links in the description--but I didn't know about any of that stuff until after Ermalinda started acting weird. Now, I know a lot of skeptics are saying shit like, 'Hey, people change, you become more conservative when you get older, sometimes women just get to a point where they get tired, you know? They just give up on feminism and go with the flow because they can't keep swimming upstream against the bullshit every day.' And I don't know, maybe some women do. But not Ermalinda.
She taught fucking classes on women's studies. And not off in some goddamn Harvard classroom, spouting academic jargon to legacy students who were just going to take notes, spout all the right words about oppression, and then go back home to marry their high school sweetheart and get them a job under Daddy in the family business. She ran a community education program that explained the underlying social causes of wage and job discrimination to the women who experienced them every day. She was out there pounding the pavement for political causes, handing out pro-choice flyers in the middle of fucking Texas to people who didn't even like the color of her skin. She was uncompromising. Right down to the bone.
And that's why the second she brought Noah to meet me, I knew that something was wrong with her. Really wrong.
I'm not going to say I ever liked Noah. He always gave off this smug creepy vibe like he'd figured out how to stare at your tits without looking like he was staring at your tits, and he did this thing where he would say hello to you in Spanish and then look at you like he was expecting little stars to flash in your eyes just for making the effort? Like, just the most condescending bullshit you ever fucking saw. I grew up in Texas, and so did my parents and my grandparents, but Noah saw brown and assumed he needed to 'connect with my heritage'. It put me on edge even before Ermalinda started talking.
But when she did... oh man. We were out of 'why are you dating this asshole' territory and well into 'blink three times if he's got a gun' before the end of the second sentence. She told me that she liked Noah because he was a real gentleman, because he opened the door for her everywhere they went and treated her like a lady. Keep in mind, I met Ermalinda when we both went out for field hockey. I have seen her, with my own eyes, smack a bitch in the tits when the ref wasn't looking. I have watched her stare a man dead in the face after he wrote his phone number on a napkin and slid it across the bar to her and eat the fucking napkin. Without even changing her facial expression. Just hearing her talk about being treated like a lady felt like a trip to the goddamn Twilight Zone.
I am going to need to bleep so much shit out of this. Sorry.
Um. Anyway. So yeah, Ermalinda was suddenly talking about how great it was to have a guy who pulled out her chair for her and who always paid, and how it was so nice to not have to worry about money when she went out and it made her feel really relaxed about her financial situation. 'It's kind of nice to have a man take care of me like that,' she said, and then she giggled. She actually fucking giggled. I... I don't even remember what my responses were. I didn't even argue, it was just, my brain shut down. I probably said something stupid and weaksauce that she laughed off with another one of those stupid little titters that had suddenly developed after every vapid sentence that came out of her mouth.
And the whole time, Noah was looking over at her like he was proud of her. Not like he loved her, or like he adored her, you understand. I know what it looks like when a guy only has eyes for you. No, Noah was looking at her like she was a pet who just learned a new trick and he was showing her off. I couldn't stand looking at it. I called it a night after about two drinks and I went home feeling kind of sick and freaked out, and I started looking around online for advice on what to tell someone who's in a controlling relationship.
I didn't find anything about the Ventriloquists that first night.
Honestly, it's a lot easier to find stuff about them now than it was. That makes me feel a little better, now that I know that it's true and not just some kind of chemtrails gay frog Internet conspiracy bullshit. Maybe it means that we're learning about them just as fast as they're spreading, adapting to the new reality as soon as it happens so that we can defend ourselves against the shit that's going down. I know that the 'how to see them' videos are popping up all over social media now, and even though a lot of them get taken down within a few hours there's another one uploaded five seconds later. I don't think they can suppress the truth about this no matter how hard they try.
That doesn't stop me from worrying about what's going to happen when I upload this, but hey. Ignorance never made you safer.
Anyhow, yeah. I found some good advice on what to do if you think your friend is in a potentially abusive relationship, and it was mostly stuff I already told my patients. Set firm boundaries, don't get confrontational about their partner because that just drives a wedge in your friendship and prevents them from confiding in you, be honest but not judgmental... your basic therapy stuff, translated down for the layperson. It was good advice, but the more I read it the more I realized how out of place it was trying to apply it all to Ermalinda. She wasn't developing these patterns over time, she showed up for what she flat-out said was only her third date with Noah already sounding like a Stepford wife. It was weird.
And it got weirder every time I saw Ermalinda. A week after she introduced me to Noah, and Ermalinda was explaining to me how Noah respected women so much that he didn't want them to have to spend their whole lives working. Two weeks, and she had a far-off look in her eyes and a plastic smile on her face every time the conversation turned to anything more complex than the latest romantic comedy. A month later, and she was wearing nothing but miniskirts and crop tops and talking excitedly about her first boob job. That's how she described it to me. Her first.
By then, though, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on. I think I read the first post about the Ventriloquists right around the time Ermalinda told me she was thinking about taking a break from teaching. It described almost the identical situation--a strong, independent woman who met a dude and suddenly dropped all her plans for her career and completely changed her politics--but there was something about the way the person described their friend's behavior that fit Ermalinda perfectly. They described some very specific details, things I didn't even consciously notice until I saw someone else talk about them.
Things like the way that Ermalinda had a hard time sitting still anymore. She was always squirming in her chair like a little girl who needed to go to the bathroom, and her breath kind of hitched in her throat every once in a while whenever she got that far-off look in her eyes and that vacant smile on her face. I figured that maybe Noah had convinced her to wear one of those remote-control sex toys and he was using it on her whenever they went out together... but it wasn't the only thing that fit.
They also described an odd habit their friend had developed, one that I realized as I read it that Ermalinda had picked up too. She always glanced up and to the right before speaking, and she always paused just a moment with her mouth open before she said whatever she had to say. I'm kind of ashamed to admit that once Ermalinda started spouting patriarchal bullshit, I more or less wrote off any signs of confusion or diminished mental capacity as just a bad case of 'dumb bitch syndrome'. It took this post to get me to see that it wasn't possible for Ermalinda to drop forty IQ points in two weeks.
That was still pretty close to the beginning, back when people were talking about drugs or some kind of microwave transmitter that scrambled women's brains and made it hard for them to think straight. The woman who made the post thought that maybe there was a chip in her friend's brain and she kept glancing up and to the right because it was in her right temple and it was prompting her to say certain things. Nobody knew about the Ventriloquists then. But that's the thing about the Internet. You hook up seven billion people together and they can solve problems fast.
By the time Ermalinda had her boobs done, people were already connecting the dots and describing a common set of behaviors typical for people who had been affected. All the women were romantically involved with a guy, usually one who pretended to be sympathetic and feminist but who didn't take long to betray a patronizing attitude. All the women seemed perpetually distracted, unable to concentrate on anything for very long and (according to the people who knew them better than I knew Ermalinda) acting like they were horny all the time. And they all paused before they talked. Like they were waiting for a prompt from some invisible handler who told them what to say.
Like a... well. I don't need to explain it, do I?
Even after Ermalinda sent me a selfie with her new 'blowjob lips', I still thought that maybe I was just buying into all this because I didn't want to believe that someone as straight up badass as my best friend could wind up wanting to be a full-time trophy wife. I'm a psychologist, after all. I know full well what an unhealthy coping mechanism looks like when I see one, and spending your weekends reading conspiracy theories about men who had uncovered a ritual to summon and bind the spirits of subjugated women and were using them to get chicks was setting off a lot of red flags in my brain. No matter how obvious it got that this was real, it was kind of comforting to believe that I was just finding something comforting to believe.
I got good at ignoring the warning signs. When my practice started dropping off because so many of the women I counseled explained that it was probably their fault that their husbands got frustrated with them, I felt bad, but I didn't believe that they were the victims of supernatural intervention. When I saw the video from the guy who said that his friend let him in on 'this big secret that only rich guys used to know', and he had to tell everyone before it was too late, I told myself that it was probably all a promotion for a new Jordan Peele movie. When the video fucking cut out *mid-goddamn-sentence* and the page crashed, I... well, I had a few drinks that night. But by morning I was sure I was just getting paranoid.
But then the new crop of videos started popping up. A few at a time at first, but then spreading and going viral faster than they could be taken down. Videos made by bleary-eyed, haggard women with haunted expressions. Videos that said that not only was it all real, but they could prove it. Videos that... hell, not to put to fine a point on it, that looked exactly like this one. Videos made by people who'd actually seen the Ventriloquists.
The trick is to look away. You won't want to, believe me. I always thought that I was just skeeved out by Ermalinda because, well, she was skeeving me out, but... no, deep down there was something inside me that knew what was constantly hovering over her shoulder, and it didn't want me to turn my back on it for even a fraction of a second. When I made the conscious decision to shift on my stool and glance at Ermalinda only out of the very corner of my eye, I was surprised at how long it took me to coax my muscles into action. And how very, very terrified I was when I did it.
You might not see anything at first. I know I didn't. I sat there, staring out the window, feeling like a total idiot as Ermalinda rambled on about how excited she was to finally get Noah's cock all the way down her throat. I thought that I'd finally maybe hit rock bottom, that I was really and honestly doing some bullshit Internet Ghost Hunter Challenge just because my friend had turned into a sex-crazed airhead who wanted to get married and clean her husband's bathroom three times a day. I figured this was the point where I finally went looking for the help I usually offered.
But then I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye. A tiny flicker of motion, pale white in the darkness of the bar. And instinctively, just like any animal who spots the movement of a predator, I looked for the source of the danger.
I don't know why that's what does it. Maybe it's the adrenaline changing something in the way our brains process information, maybe we just need to really know deep down that we'll die if we don't look, maybe there's just something magical about that sidelong glance that looks just a tiny bit past the veil into another world. But when I looked back at Ermalinda, I saw her Ventriloquist. And once I saw it, I knew I'd never be able to unsee it ever again.
She was gaunt--I could just about tell she had been a woman in life, but that was all. Her skin had a pasty gray complexion, and her eyes were clouded white orbs that stared sadly at nothing I could see. She had long white hair, wispy and brittle, and her face was set in a perpetually mournful frown. And she was hugging Ermalinda from behind, holding her with long bony arms that reached down and directly through the fabric of my friend's short skirt to rub away at her soaking cunt.
I'd been trying to look away from Ermalinda's pussy--the skirt she wore didn't make much of a secret that she'd stopped bothering with panties, and I didn't want her to get the idea that I was thinking about taking her up on that 'threesome with Noah' suggestion she pretended wasn't his idea. But now I was staring at her like some dude at a peep show. The spectral fingers were buried inside her cunt, somehow tangible there even though the hand passed through the fabric of her clothing as if it didn't exist, and it kept wriggling in and out, around and around. Making Ermalinda squirm and whimper and keeping her too horny to think.
And the ghost kept whispering in Ermalinda's ear, feeding her dialogue with a sad look on that dead face that made me want to cry even as I tried not to scream. Ermalinda glanced up at it without realizing, nodded with tiny, subliminal motions of her head and repeated everything the spirit told her while she rocked her hips in time with the constant stimulation of her pussy. She was nothing more than a puppet for it. All it needed to do was put a hand inside her, and she repeated whatever her Ventriloquist said.
I didn't even make an excuse. I slid off my stool and stumbled out of that bar like... heh. Like I'd seen a ghost, I was about to say.
I've been watching videos ever since, at least when I wasn't trying to sleep and waking up from dreams of undead women reaching down to fondle me through my bedding. I want to do something for Ermalinda, something to free her from this, this, this fucking nightmare that Noah summoned up to brainwash her into an empty-headed fucktoy. I've made some notes, and I guess the next thing to do is to try to test it all out. If it works, I'll make another video explaining what I did to get it away from her. I hope that--
Oh shit. One of them just came through the wall.
It's not coming closer yet. It looks kind of, um, tired? Maybe it's hard for them to go through solid objects? It's looking at me, though. It knows I can see it. It knows I know.
I, um... I don't think the camera can pick them up. I'm going to just move the webcam over a little, and... yeah, no. Nothing. I can see it when I look over at that spot in the room, but when I look at my screen, it's just empty space. You, uh, you're going to need to take my word on this one.
I'm sorry, I was going to edit this and bleep out all the swears and stuff, but I think I'm just going to have to upload it, and then maybe lock myself out of my account before I take it back down. I think I can do that before it moves. It doesn't look that fast. And if I'm wrong, well, hopefully I can keep my head together if I know what it's doing to me.
I've got my notes. I've got some things I can try. If it works, I'll let you all know. If it doesn't, please. Keep trying. Don't give up. On them or on us. They were women once too. God, how bad does it have to be, spending eternity forced to perpetuate the terrible shit that happened to you?
Shit, it's moving. Sorry. Got to go. Gonna hit stop and upload and AAAAAAAAIII--