Ever since live webcam feeds became popular, I’ve been a fan of them. It’s strangely relaxing to watch them.
I’m not talking about streamers on Twitch or other pages like that. I’m talking about live feeds of public places.
By now there are millions of them out there. You can watch a public square in the center of Tokyo, switch to a small town in Eastern Europe and after that look at a busy street in the US.
What I was most interested though were the feeds of my own city.
I often sat in front of my computer, wondering what other people were up to at the same moment. How many people were sitting together with friends and family? How many were alone? How many people were born and how many died at this exact moment?
These questions often lingered in the back of my mind. These feeds helped me to satisfy my curiosity, at least to a degree.
It wasn’t long though before I tired of the normal feeds. In the end, it was nothing but watching public places and open spaces. I wanted something different, something more intimate.
It was right here on Reddit that I stumbled upon a different type of feed.
I didn’t know they existed, but there are thousands of hacked webcams and compromised security cameras out there. Nowadays, everything is digitized. Most people have a webcam at home.
It was satisfying to watch people in secret. You could simply turn in to someone else’s life and see raw, unfiltered events.
I could see the dreadfully boring atmosphere in an open-space office or watch a happy family of three playing a board game.
All of those were only mildly interesting though. Once I started to dig, however, I eventually stumbled upon things that were a bit stranger.
One feed was from an office in my city. The walls were plastered with motivational pictures and far eastern dogmas. The moment I opened the feed, a strange productivity ritual was going on. There was no sound of course, but watching a dozen people move in unison as if in a trance was creepy enough.
Another feed showed me an old man in a wheelchair. For a while, the man was going through a book, but then a young woman entered the room. She was wearing a nursing outfit and brought a bucket into the room with her. She filled it with water and started to wash the old man’s body. The weird part began when she undressed as well and started to wash her own, naked body in front of the man.
There were many other such feeds. In one, I saw middle-aged woman hugging a life-sized doll that looked exactly like her. Another one showed a family in a perpetual argument, screaming at each other and behaving like rabid animals.
What made things even worse was the integrated chat function. If you tuned in to one of those compromised feeds, you’d automatically join a chat. People in there were going livid, poking fun at and laughing about the miserable lives of others.
I’d like to tell you that I was disgusted by it, but to be honest, I was fascinated. The people on screen, the chat, my own emotions. It all came together into a weird, strange mix that made me feel alive.
I longed to peek into people’s private lives. To see what was below the mask. I searched for feeds that allowed me to satisfy my own voyeuristic tendencies.
At first, I’d switched through these feeds randomly. Soon enough though I reverted back to my old habit. I started searching for feeds in my city specifically.
Most of the feeds I found had specific names. I guess it had to do with the set-up. As I went through the list, I saw SecurityCamera1A, Lobby-21-C, Bedroom, MyHome2, and so on.
When I stumbled upon one that consisted of nothing but numbers and letters, my interest was piqued.
The preview was nothing but a dark screen.
I clicked it and was greeted by complete darkness. At first, I frowned and thought the camera might be broken. Then I noticed something moving in the dark. I tried my best to figure out what it was, but it was too damn dark to see anything.
Was the camera indoors or outside? Frustrated, I was about to close the feed off, but then I saw more movement.
I cursed and leaned forward, trying to figure out what I was watching. Suddenly a flood light came on, and for a moment, I cringed back.
When I looked at the screen again, I saw that the broadcast came from a vast hall. No, I realized when I saw the empty shelves that lined the walls, a warehouse.
The camera had to be situated in one of the upper corners to allow a view of the whole area.
As I watched, I saw people walking around. Was this the security camera of some warehouse? Was I watching a nightshift or something?
When more people came into view, I realized that couldn’t be it. No one would need a dozen people to take care of a warehouse, let alone multiple dozen. As I continued to watch, I saw that there had to be at least fifty people there. Some were dressed in casual cloth, others were wearing more expensive outfits.
Had I stumbled upon a private party? Or hell, maybe this was a secret meet-up? In my mind, ideas about underground society and secret cults formed. Then I laughed out loud. This was real life and not Hollywood!
It was probably nothing remotely like what I’d imagined. Hell, it might be a start-up that had bought this old warehouse and planned to transform it into a make-shift office or something equally dull. Still, I told myself I’d watch for a bit longer.
When I saw people dressed up like security guards, I watched with more interest. They seemed to talk to one of the more costly dressed people and soon vanished again, off camera. Then people looked up to somewhere else that I couldn’t see. I cursed, these damned feeds never had any freaking audio. I wanted to hear what was going on, for Christ’s sake!
What’s this shit? someone typed into the chat next to the camera feed.
I always ignored the chat. I really didn’t want to interact with anyone. When I checked it out now, I saw that three other people were watching the feed with me.
Illuminati, someone else answered.
Yep, that’s precisely why I didn’t associate with these people.
As they continued to talk about what the Illuminati planned to do at an abandoned warehouse in some random city, I continued to watch the feed.
Right now a new figure came into view. He walked between the assembled people who formed a circle around him. The man was holding a microphone and addressed everyone present.
Must be a party, after all, I thought.
Suddenly there was movement from outside the circle. Two of the security guards moved towards it, dragging a third man behind them. He was struggling in their grip, trying to get away.
Alright, what the hell was I watching?
The man was thrown into the middle of the circle. He looked around, visibly agitated and seemed to yell at the attendees. Many times he tried to break from the circle, but each time the security guards stopped him.
As I watched the man’s desperate attempt at escape, I almost missed the other figure who walked towards the circle. The moment I noticed him though, I couldn’t look away anymore.
This guy was tall, unnaturally tall. He seemed to be at least a head taller than everyone else. The camera was a bit too far away, so at first, I thought he was wearing a mask. When he opened his mouth though I realized that this had to be his real face.
There was only the hint of a nose between scar tissue, and his mouth seemed almost lipless. His arms were massive, bulking with muscles and ended in hands the size of bear paws. What the hell was this guy?
People in chat went wild when they saw him. I read the words mutant, super solider, and even a reference to Resident Evil. I frowned.
The moment the man reached the circle, the attendees hurried out of his way to let him pass. When the other man saw this hulking abomination, he tried to escape once more, but it was futile.
By now, all the attendees seemed to be in a state of utter excitement. The man with the microphone first turned towards the smaller man who’d tried to escape. Then he turned to the freak show of a man that had just entered the circle.
He nodded at both of them before he turned around and joined with the rest of the attendees in the circle. People were applauding and yelling, and I finally realized what I was watching.
This was a fight, a pit fight to be precise.
Freakshow, the name I’d given to the abomination, stepped forward. With no more than a few steps, he’d crossed the distance between himself and the other man.
The man reacted quickly and escaped to the other side of the circle. Whenever he got too close to the attendees, though, they pushed him forward to the center again.
It wasn’t long before Freakshow was able to grasp the man and threw him to the ground. The man got back to his feet, but a moment later, Freakshow’s giant first connected with his face. Blood exploded into the air, and the man was blown off his feet.
“Holy shit,” I pressed out.
The audience exploded into applause again.
The man got up once more, but he was staggering. Then he leaned to his right. One of the audience members had handed him something.
Only when he charged forward, did I see that he was holding a metal rod. Freakshow raised his giant arms to protect his face, but one of the hits still connected. This sent him into a frenzy. A second hit connected as well, but there was no visible reaction.
When the third blow came, Freakshow effortlessly caught the metal rod. He ripped it from the other man’s hands and kicked him backward. This time he didn’t go down, but a swing of the metal rod finished the job.
Freakshow went forward and put his foot on the man’s chest. I saw the small frame desperately trying to get away. Then Freakshow took the metal rod and rammed it into the guy’s face.
The feed was silent, yet I could hear the man’s painful screams in my head. Blood and teeth splattered over the floor.
Jesus Christ, what the fuck was I watching? I’d thought this was just some sort of fight, but this went way too far! The fight was over now, wasn’t it? That guy couldn’t possibly fight anymore!
It wasn’t over yet, though.
With one hand Freakshow shoved the metal rod straight into the man’s ravaged mouth. Then he raised his other hand high into the air before he brought his fist down on top of the metal rod with full force.
For a few moments, the body below him was convulsing before he lay still.
I sat in front of the camera, stunned. I stared at the screen unblinking. Had I seen what I thought I had?
On the feed, the man with the microphone walked back into the center of the circle. He raised Freakshow’s arm up into the air, most likely proclaiming him the winner of the fight. The audience exploded into toneless cheering, while security dragged the body of the loser off camera.
Had I really watched someone being murdered?
Chat was slow now. Everyone must’ve been as shocked as I was.
Is this real, guys? one person typed.
Probably a movie or something, another answered.
A movie? But there was no set. No film crew, no other cameras, nothing. It had looked so damn realistic!
Right at this moment, a new person entered the chat.
Guess you’ve been watching, haven’t you?
No shit, someone answered. Similar comments by the remaining two followed.
Well, then you know that you should at least mask your IP address and cover your own camera. Otherwise, it’s really easy to figure out where you are.
When I read this, I froze. I looked at the webcam on top of my monitor. I stared directly into it and only now did I notice the tiny, green light that showed it had been active all along.
In an instant I ripped it off my computer and moments later I closed the strange camera feed.
However, there’d been one last message. I’d only seen it for the blink of an eye, yet I’d read it.
It was only two little words that drove me into a state of sheer and utter panic.