22 Dec If you Find a VHS Tape Titled Professor Egghead’s Adventures, Don’t Watch it- CreepyPasta
Teddy’s VHS collection never really came up in conversation. Sure, occasionally I’d say something about the oblique pop culture reference t-shirt he wore, and I recall having a discussion or two about his obsession with 90s sitcoms, but most of our time together was spent talking about the strangeness of the locals.
I originally moved to Prague to squeeze out as much fun out of my 20s as I could in a cost-effective manner. Beer was cheaper than water, rent was infinitely more affordable than San Fran and there’s something to be said about dating in the porn capital of the world. Teddy’s reasons for moving to Prague on the other hand were a bit more cryptic.
Whenever I would ask him about his departure from the states he would wax poetic about the dark gothic streets, about the strangeness of the city, about how he could feel Kafka’s perpetually confused spirit drifting through the subways, but it wasn’t until one rum soaked evening that he gave me something concrete.
‘You can also find some pretty niche VHS tapes here,’ he said, ‘and I like collecting VHS tapes.’
Maybe he wanted me to press the subject further, maybe he wanted to show me his collection, but to be honest I didn’t care.
I liked the dude, he was weird, but I liked him. Frail and covered in adult acne Teddy was funny looking and meek, but the guy had a heart of gold. Whenever I found myself lost in the absurd bureaucracy of the city or was looking for an explanation to the strange customs of the Praguers Teddy was more than happy to help. He moved to the city just a year before me, yet somehow he had managed to get a grasp on the strange consonant filled lingo of the locals and knew of just about every expat friendly gem hidden around the dark alleys.
We were on friendly enough terms to be conflict free roommates and occasionally grab a drink together. I liked the dude. I just didn’t want to enter check out my weird hobby territory.
It wasn’t until he went missing that I saw his collection.
A regular VHS tape fits about four episodes of a twenty-minute show. Judging by the sparse amount of space available in Teddy’s room, he had enough tapes to stay occupied for weeks.
Whilst Teddy was privy to all the drama of my personal life I didn’t know much about his. I never met any of Teddy’s friends, but I presumed he had some. For the first two weeks of his absence I assumed that Teddy just went on some spontaneous hiking trip with some friend I never heard about. One worried phone call from his father dispersed those illusions. Teddy was missing and Teddy only had one friend in Prague – me.
His father flew in from Maryland and for six months he stayed in his son’s cramped room. It was miserable rooming with a grieving father, but the guy continued covering Teddy’s share of the rent and I didn’t want to be soulless. For six months he searched the city for some sort of evidence that his son was alive, but Teddy’s disappearance was total. I had no leads, the police had no leads and after half a year of searching Teddy’s father ran out of hope. Long after it became clear that his son was not coming back Teddy’s father flew back home to hold a memorial service.
They invited me to come and speak at the service, even offered to cover my airfare to Baltimore, but I declined. I didn’t know Teddy well enough to speak to his grieving family and traveling across the Atlantic is about as pleasant as a sleep deprivation experiment. Instead, as his family gathered to mourn, I made my way to Teddy’s VCR.
I was going to put on a random Friends episode, Teddy seemed to have really enjoyed that show, but when I tried to pop in the cassette there was resistance from the machine. The slot was already filled with a different tape.
ADVENTURES OF PROFESSOR EGGHEAD SEASON ONE ep 1 – 4
To pay my respects I figured I’d do my best and try to indulge in Teddy’s weird hobby. I pushed the tape back into the machine and pressed play.
A coffee shop flickered to life on the screen. On first glance there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with it; a group of teens gathered with laptops in what looked to be a study group, out by the window two friends had an animated conversation, a small line of people dressed in gray office garb stood in line waiting for their coffee. Yet the longer I watched the coffee shop scene play out the more I noticed something was off.
The teens relentlessly typed away at their computers, but the screens of their laptops were off. The conversation by the window was filled with excited hand gestures and bouts of laughter, yet the two friends made no sound when they moved their lips. The line of office workers stood patiently in line, but no orders were ever filled. The whole coffee shop seemed stuck in the same thirty-second loop that repeated over and over. It was as if everyone was waiting for something. Sitting behind the thick screen of Teddy’s television, I waited as well.
It was faint at first, I even paused the tape to see whether the sound wasn’t coming from my neighbor’s apartment, but soon enough it became clear the noise was originating from the television. Somewhere off screen a live studio audience was clapping and cheering, anticipating the arrival of a beloved character.
Then the door opened and he entered.
The studio audience hollered with joy as he appeared on screen, but my stomach went flush with discomfort. This man, this creature, this thing that stood at the entrance of the coffee shop defied all reason. A face of a human, a desperately tired human, drooped from his egg-shaped body. Over his stubby limbs he wore a dirty lab coat and the sparse nest of hair on his pointed scalp looked like it hadn’t been washed in years, but it was his eyes that stoked true discomfort in my core – bloodshot and lined with yellow grime they stared straight into the camera.
‘I AM PROFESSOR EGGHEAD!’ the abomination screamed in a queer accent drenched in anger, ‘I HAVE COME HERE TO AWAKEN MYSELF FOR ANOTHER DAY OF SCIENCE!’
The studio audience’s joyous clapping turned to wild laughter, yet no one in the coffee shop found the creature’s outburst funny. They all seemed scared.
With rage filled stomps the egg-shaped being lumbered his way past the frightened business folk to the front of the line. ‘I DEMAND BOILED WATER!’ he screamed, ‘I DEMAND BOILED WATER THAT HAS BEEN STRAINED THROUGH CRUSHED BEANS OF THE COFFEE PLANT! IF I AM TO GET ANY SCIENCE DONE ON THIS DAY I MUST HAVE CAFFIENE COURSING THROUGH MY POWERFUL VEINS!’
Everyone in the coffee shop seemed wholly uncomfortable with the existence of the egg-man; his presence radiated a fury throughout the entire establishment, but it was the young barista he was facing who received most of his ire. She looked to be on the edge of a panic attack. ‘I’m sorry sir,’ she mumbled, biting her lip in discomfort, ‘I don’t understand you.’
‘NO ONE UNDERSTANDS THE EGGHEAD!’ he screamed, raising the nubs of his arms to the sky, ‘NO ONE WILL EVER UNDERSTAND THE EGGHEAD!’
This drove the studio audience wild. A deafening bout of canned laughter boomed from the television. With a deep-seated confusion in my heart, I cut it off with the remote and went on the balcony for a cigarette.
For a while I tried to make sense of why Teddy would watch something so unhinged but those thoughts didn’t stick around for long. Teddy was a weird guy who was into weird things, trying to understand his tastes was just as futile as the six-month search effort. A part of me wanted to believe that he was still hiding somewhere in the smoggy city that stretched out beyond the balcony, but I knew the truth. Teddy was gone, and somewhere out in Baltimore his family was gathered around a corpse-less funeral saying goodbye.
His father cried a lot – just about every night for the first couple of months. It wasn’t until I had to put on headphones to drown out a grown man’s sobs that I realized how thin the walls of the apartment were. Even muffled through blaring music, those two AM howls were scratched into my memory.
Standing on my balcony, alone, hearing faint echos of the man’s wails I realized I needed a drink.
As I rushed out of the house in search of company, however, the television screen in Teddy’s room caught my eye. The screaming egg-creature was still staring at the camera, stuck in an angry shout. If Teddy was around and he sat me down to watch that madness I probably would have lasted longer. A twinge of guilt sparked in my chest for never humoring Teddy’s obsession.
As soon as I resumed the tape the café was replaced with a barbershop. Much like the previous scene, there was an air of artificiality surrounding everything on the screen. A heavy middle-aged woman hovered over the single customer that the barbershop had with scissors in her hands, yet she never made a single cut. Another employee was using a broom to clean up the remains of a previous haircut, but he never actually disposed of the hair. He just pushed it around the floor in a circle. Even the bright colored fish in the barbershop aquarium seemed to be swimming around in a steady formation.
The barbershop was stuck in a familiar 30-second loop, waiting for something to happen. After a minute or two the cheering of the studio audience started to reverberate through the quiet room.
‘I AM PROFESSOR EGGHEAD!’ the mad creature raved as he burst through the door, ‘I DEMAND THAT THE DEAD CELLS BE REMOVED FROM MY SCALP WITH SHARP KNIVES SO THAT I CAN BE BORN ANEW!’
His words were much angrier than before, the egg shaped monstrosity was foaming at his mouth with rage, but his eyes still seemed comatose. ‘I AM PROFESSOR EGGHEAD AND I DEMAND YOUR ATTENTION!’ he yelled, impotently waving his short arms. The studio audience found his frustration hilarious.
Everyone in the barbershop was doing their best to look away, but the malformed scientist would not be ignored. He wobbled up to the occupied chair and started to nudge it, making the hairdresser’s job impossible.
‘Please, sir, could you just wait for your turn?’ she finally said, doing her best to look away from his horrible suffering eyes.
‘NO!’ Professor Egghead screamed, ‘I DEMAND ATTENTION NOW! I DEMAND MY SCALP BE CLEANSED OF FILTH SO THAT I CAN WHOLEHEARTEDLY COMMIT MY EGG-SHAPED BODY TO SCIENCE!’
With one swift motion the nightmarish creature grabbed the man in the chair and threw him to the ground. There was stunning force in those stocky limbs of his. With a spine-chilling crack the innocent customer slammed skull-first into the floor. He lay there, unmoving. The studio audience saw the random act of violence as the pinnacle of comedy.
‘THERE ARE NO MORE CUSTOMERS FOR YOU TO SERVE!’ Professor Egghead screeched as a faint trickle of blood crawled across the white floor, ‘IT IS NOW TIME FOR YOU TO SERVE THE EGGHEAD! IT IS NOW TIME FOR YOU TO CLEANSE MY SCALP!’
With clumsy effort the creature climbed up on top of the chair. The hairdresser was extremely distressed, but the audience found the egg-man’s climb to be deserving of raucous applause.
‘BRING OUT THE KNIVES AND ALTER MY APPEARANCE!’ he screamed, kicking his stubby legs in frustration, ‘I AM A BUSY MAN AND THERE IS SCIENCE TO BE DONE! DO WHAT I DEMAND!’
For a moment it looked like the hairdresser was going to say something, like she was going to decline the malformed maniac service, but she reconsidered. With shaking hands she grabbed ahold of the greasy tufts of hair on his oval scalp and started to cut.
‘I AM PROFESSOR EGGHEAD!’ the creature screamed, looking straight into the camera, ‘I ALWAYS GET WHAT I DESIRE! ALL SHALL BE GIVEN TO ME IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE!’
It was as if he could see me, as if his tired eyes were reaching past the television screen and trying to bring me into his demented world. The glimpse into Teddy’s confounding media diet was enough for me; I still didn’t understand why the guy would watch the tape but I was certain I wanted to turn it off. I reached for the remote with my sweaty hands, but before I could turn off the television the scene changed again.
For a moment I was sure my eyes were playing tricks on me, that I was having some sort of psychotic break with reality, but the longer I looked at the screen the more certain I was of what I was seeing.
I desperately scrolled through my phone searching for Teddy’s father’s number, but I kept my eyes glued to the screen.
A colorful fast-food restaurant flickered to life on the television. The line to the counter stood still, the customers held their burgers in anticipation but never ate and somewhere off in the distance a studio audience started to clap.
Two rings. Teddy’s father picked up right away.
‘I found your son,’ I said.
The red uniform was an unusual choice of clothing, and the beginnings of a patchy beard were starting to grow on his face, but I recognized Teddy right away. He was standing behind the counter, nervous, as if he knew what was awaiting him.
‘You… You found my son?’ said the voice on the phone, shaking with breathlessness, ‘Where? Where is my boy?’
I tried to explain what was happening, but I kept on tripping over my words. The tape, the egg-man, the insane eyes; I didn’t know where to start. Before I could gather my thoughts into something coherent the television exploded in another wave of celebration.
‘I AM PROFESSOR EGGHEAD!’ the fever dream boomed from the screen, ‘I DEMAND THE GRILLED CARCASS OF AN ANIMAL BETWEEN TWO PIECES OF PROCESSED WHEAT! I MUST RECEIVE NOURISHMENT BEFORE I INDULGE IN THE SCIENCE!’
‘I’m sorry sir,’ Teddy whimpered, unsure of how to speak to the monstrosity which waddled towards him, ‘There are other customers, if you just wait your place in line-‘
‘THERE ARE NO OTHER CUSTOMERS THAN ME, PROFESSOR EGGHEAD!’ the creature shrieked as he shoved the innocent bystanders to the floor, ‘I DEMAND FLESH AND BREAD! I DEMAND FUEL FOR MY BODY SO THAT I CAN COMMIT MY MIND TO SCIENCE!’
One by one they crashed head-first into the floor to the crackling joy of the studio audience. Soon enough the egg shaped abomination was face to face with Teddy.
‘You have found my boy?’ cried the voice from the phone, ‘Please, please tell me my boy is safe.’
‘I WILL DESTROY ALL THAT IS IN MY PATH IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE!’ the walking nightmare hollered, ‘BRING ME A FEAST WORTHY OF A PHILOSOPHER KING!’
With each uncomfortable twitch of Teddy’s face the audience on screen exploded into another fit of hysterical laughter. I tried to turn down the sound of the television so that I could hear the grieving man on the phone but it was to no avail. With every press of the remote the egg-man shouted louder, with every decreased decibel the studio audience became wilder. Leaving a desperate Teddy flickering on the screen I escaped to the balcony.
‘Please, please do not joke about this,’ he whimpered into the phone, ‘My heart cannot handle cruelty right now.’
I took a deep breath, lit up a cigarette and explained myself. I told him about the tape, about Professor Egghead, about Teddy. All I got in response was silence. I tried to imagine how I would respond if I was on the other side of the phone, how I would make sense of it all, but I couldn’t. I waited for the man’s response with echoes of canned applause playing in the back of mind.
‘This is not a joke?’ Teddy’s father finally asked.
‘No,’ I said, ‘It all sounds crazy but –‘
A wave of dizziness washed through me. My cigarette plummeted down to the streets below. Suddenly the overcast city in front of me was impossibly bright, as if someone had turned on a thousand fluorescent bulbs across the sky. The applause, the canned applause that I thought was a simple memory in the back of my skull had grown to a tangible volume. My legs felt weak. Fearing the balcony railing I stumbled back into my apartment.
‘I AM PROFESSOR EGGHEAD!’ boomed the television, ‘I HAVE ARRIVED TO EXCHANGE MONETARY TOKENS FOR GOODS! I MUST STOCK MY DOMICILE QUICKLY SO THAT I CAN COMMIT THE REST MY TIME ON THIS PLANET TO SCIENCE!’
The audience clapped and laughed but suddenly they went silent. The only thing that I could hear was a gentle, repetitive beep – the beep of a supermarket checkout isle.
‘WHAT IS THIS?’ he screamed, ‘IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE! WHAT IS THIS?’
Past the buzzing lights in front of my eyes I could see a spot of dark. I blindly crawled towards it, desperately hoping to regain my sight.
‘WHERE IS HE?’ Professor Egghead demanded, ‘HOW AM I MEANT TO MAKE A PURCHASE WHEN THE SALES CLERK IS MISSING?’
As I felt my way towards the one part of my universe that wasn’t drenched in eye burning light a tower of cassettes collapsed against my back. I was back in Teddy’s room and I was looking up at the screen.
The television was calming to my eyes but it stirred fear in my heart. I was looking at the florescent-lit checkout line of a supermarket. A trail of blood and bodies led up to an unattended register. A defiant Professor Egghead gripped his shopping cart and stared into the camera with dead eyes.
‘I HAVE TAKEN TEMPORARY LEAVE FROM THE WORLD OF SCIENCE TO PURCHASE GOODS AND THIS IS HOW I AM REWARDED? WHERE IS THE SHOP ASSISTANT? I DEMAND THE SHOP ASSISTANT!’ he screamed. The studio audience was in complete silence, all that could be heard was the gentle beep of a far off checkout machine and the professors labored breathing.
‘WHERE IS HE? I DEMAND ANSWERS! WHERE IS HE?’ spit was flying from his mouth onto the camera, in a show of rage he started jabbing his shopping cart in the direction of the audience. ‘I AM WORLD RENOWNED SCIENTIST PROFESSOR EGGHEAD! I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS!’
He wheeled his cart back and forth, foaming at the mouth as if he were a rabid dog, but something behind the camera caught his exhausted eye.
‘Oh,’ he said, his voice losing all its fury, ‘There you are.’
His sudden change of tone made me flinch away from the screen, but his dull eyes followed me.
‘Professor Egghead can see you,’ he said, his eyes still dead tired but his mouth forming into a thin-lipped smile, ‘Come back where you belong. Let me pay for my goods so that I can return to my work in the field of science.’
The clapping resumed again. It was quiet at first, but as the abhorrent grin on the television grew the applause became louder and louder. Whatever was happening the audience loved it.
‘Come on back to Professor Egghead,’ he said, flashing a smile of thin yellowed teeth, ‘I demand attention.’
The light around me reverberated with growing strength, the clapping and cheering and whistling was so loud it felt as if my eyes were about to pop out of my skull.
‘I DEMAND ATTENTION!’ the egg-man screamed, the rage returning to his voice, ‘I DEMAND IT! I DEMAND IT! I DEMAND –‘
The screen went dark, and so did the blinding light. I was back in Teddy’s room; alone and drenched in sweat. For a moment I just lay on the floor, staring up at the cracks in the ceiling, trying to find a loose thread of sanity in an insane world, but before I could even begin to process the madness I had witnessed my phone started to ring.
It was Teddy’s father.
He begged me to turn the tape back on, to rewind and find the image of his lost son, to bring some semblance of hope back into his life, but I couldn’t. I refused to be in the same room as that tape, let alone to watch it again. Whatever was on that cassette was cruel and dangerous. I didn’t want to end up like Teddy.
He offered money, he wept, he got angry, but nothing that he could say or do could make me go back to that hellscape. I offered to mail the tape to him, but the idea of entrusting the footage to the postal service drove the man furious. After two hours on the phone Teddy’s father informed me that he would be flying to Prague and retrieving the VHS tape himself. I didn’t argue with the man, the thought of not being alone with the confounding reality of Professor Egghead even eased my mind somewhat. With a last-minute flight Teddy’s father would be back in Prague in less than two days. I figured I could hold out that long. For a moment I was calm.
But that moment didn’t last long. As I went to sleep that night I couldn’t escape the vision of those dull eyes and that angry mouth. Even as I write this, with the morning sun quietly peeking into my room, the visage of the egg-shaped man still haunts me.
Yet it’s not the mere idea of Professor Egghead that is stealing sleep from me right now, no, there’s something much worse that is keeping me awake. Throughout the night, as I found myself leaving behind my worries and nodding off to sleep, I started to hear things.
I hear beeps. Whenever I am about to fall asleep I hear the gentle beeps of a checkout machine, and beneath those beeps, I hear steadily growing applause. I fear that if I fall asleep, even for a second, I will be transported into the same demented reality where the egg shaped man makes his demands. I fear that I will disappear just like Teddy.
I don’t know how long I can stay awake. I don’t know how to make this stop. All I know is that I don’t want to go back there. I don’t want to witness another one of Professor Egghead’s adventures.