recently acquired a television from an antiques store, intending to
use it as a cool talking piece in my workshop. The T.V. was a 1950’s Admiral
brand, made in the USA, and had a really unique, vintage feel to it. The
salesman at the antiques store said that he had it buried in a warehouse for
decades, and that it may not work, suggesting that I could take it off his
hands for free – an offer to which I promptly agreed. After unloading it from
my pickup, I carried it into my workshop and began carefully disassembling it,
before realizing I hadn’t even tried testing it yet. I wasn’t really expecting
it to work, but to my pleasant surprise, the old CRT powered on, and after some
tinkering, I managed to connect it to an old pair of rabbit ear antennas.
picture was fuzzy, but I could make out that a movie was playing on whatever
channel I was tuned to. I squinted my eyes, and began to make out the figure of
a large ship sinking. I reached for the volume knob, enjoying this unexpected
guessing game, and tried to determine which movie it was. The sound from the
old T.V. speakers was scratchy, but I could hear the faint screams of people,
and what sounded like water splashing in the background. With a jolt of satisfaction,
I yelled “Titanic!” and leaned in closer, once again squinting,
wondering what I could do to clear up the old black and white picture. Then
suddenly – the picture became clear as day.
washed over me as I studied the details on the screen. This was not the movie
Titanic after all, I had seen the flick more than a handful of times, and I
didn’t recognize any of the scenes – nor was there any dialog. For over an hour
I sat glued to the screen, which never changed angles, or displayed a single known
actor – it didn’t show anything except the lapping, frozen, water and distant
view of the massive ship capsizing. Finally, the camera angle began to turn,
and I could make out a bearded man dressed in a white lab coat, in what
appeared to be a modern boat. He smiled, and several other people behind him,
dressed similarly, waved into the lens. The picture abruptly became static
scratched my head, and pulled out my phone, loading an image search of the
Titanic. The ship I had been watching matched every detail I could make out,
there was no doubt in my mind that the ship on the screen was indeed the
Titanic. That night, I laid awake and convinced myself that what I had seen was
some sort of documentary, and I had surely misinterpreted the imagery. There
were, after all, a few surviving video clips of the Titanic sinking – so surely
I had happened upon some public or even private broadcast of such a clip.
next day, I returned to the workshop and switched the old T.V. back on,
determined to get back to the task at hand. I was surprised to see that the
black and white image was once again as clear as day. Without hesitation, I
recognized the familiar sight of a masked plague doctor. The plague doctor was
walking down an empty street littered with the dead and dying, occasionally
stopping to comfort passerby and diseased victims. The scene lingered on for
quite some time, once again with a fuzzy audio track of distant moaning and
muffled cries for help. There was no indication that this was a documentary or
movie, and once again, I was extremely puzzled. Out of frustration, I jiggled
the rabbit ears, but the picture remained intact, and clear – even turning the
old knobs had no effect.
before the picture dropped out, I saw a man approach the lens, the same bearded
man in a white lab coat. He proceeded to hold up an old Julian calendar,
pointing to the date with a modern pen. I could barely make it out, but the
calendar year read: 1349.
Without warning, the television screen became static once again.
puzzled over this for some time, eventually deciding to return the television
to the antiques store. I spoke to the same gentleman that had given me the T.V.
and explained the situation – to be honest, I was beginning to become somewhat
disturbed, and told him as much. The salesman vehemently refused to take the
television back, insisting that if I didn’t want it then I should just throw it
away and “let them take it.” Unsure of how to take such a remark, I
left the store in awkward silence, and sat in my pickup for awhile. Eventually,
I resolved to take it back home, and disassemble it. Worst case scenario, I end
up with a bunch of old T.V. parts, and a nice cabinet to throw away instead.
half hour into taking the cabinet apart, I noticed what I can only describe to
you as a “metallic box” lodged behind the tube. The device had no
markings except for a stamp in the metal that read U.S. Navy 1951.
Having been fond of computers and electronics since childhood, I was confident
that I had never seen such a device in my life, never in any store, catalog, or
website. The device featured prominent hinges that opened to reveal a complex,
but outdated antenna system. Tracing the wires from the device, I came to the
conclusion that it must be sending a signal to the T.V. screen, though where it
was receiving such a signal from remained a mystery. I carefully removed the
device, and placed it on my workbench nearby.
later, my wife called me in for dinner, and I resolved to do more research the
night, I awoke to the sound of a vehicle door slamming shut in my driveway.
Assuming it was a burglar or vandal, I grabbed my handgun and a flashlight, and
rushed downstairs to intervene. I found the door to my workshop open, and the
light left on. My eyes drifted around before coming to a sudden stop.
T.V., and the device, were gone, but nothing else seemed to be missing. It’s
been a year since this happened, and I still wonder whose brake lights I saw
drifting into the distance that night.
Should I report this to the
authorities? I feel like I may have gotten lucky.