I remember I was on YouTube; it was probably around three o'clock in the afternoon, and I had been searching for videos and footage of ghosts and extraterrestrials, when I saw a video called “Smile for the Camera.” It didn't really catch my eye because of the thumbnail (it was just black) but eventually I clicked on it because I had watched every other video that was on the related videos list. When the video came up, I paused it and checked the comments to make sure it wasn't a screamer, because I had always hated them. The comments said nothing except for “creepy” and it had people talking about how they couldn’t watch it to the end. Many comments also notified me of the fact that the view count was stuck at 29 views.
Satisfied, I scrolled back up to the video. I set the video quality to its highest setting and made it full screen. It started out black with a bit of static in the background, nothing I couldn’t really handle, and then a light was shown very far away. The quality of the video was that of an old camera and the sound wasn’t much better. The light slowly came closer into focus and then it became apparent to me that the light was actually shining off of a person, sitting in a chair with a light shining on them.
At this point I didn’t think that much of the video until I saw that the person was tied to the chair. It was a boy sitting in the chair, who looked about sixteen or seventeen, around my age. His eyes were closed and his brown hair was matted to his head from sweat. The camera cut to a different angle in front of him, just as he was waking up. He looked at the camera, his eyes red from crying.
“Why are you doing this?”, He cried out.
The voice on the other side of the camera creaked out as a deep moan.
“Smile for the camera,” it said in a sickening way.
At this point I could hear a quiet chuckle from behind the camera, and really started to feeling sickened by the video, but continued watching in sick curiosity. A gloved hand grabbed the boy from the bottom of his face and squeezed it until the boy's mouth curled slightly upward.
“Looks like you need a little help,” said the voice, cutting through the static violently.
The hand retreated from the screen, and the sound of ruffling metal filled my ears. The next thing I saw was the hand flying quickly from one end of the screen, forcing something into the boy’s mouth. I didn’t realise what it was until I saw the blood forming at the edge of the boy’s lips. It was a knife, being forced up into the side of the boy’s mouth. The boy began to scream as the dull blade slowly ripped and tore through the boy’s cheek, making the sound of shredding leather.
The boy was shaking in his seat from the pain until it finally stopped at the boy's jaw. Tears were streaming from the boy’s face and the knife was taken from the side of the boy’s mouth to be put back between his teeth. The boy clamped down his jaw before the knife could get between them and a sigh of impatience was heard from the man off camera.
“I never really liked teeth anyway,” the voice said.
The sound of metal tools clinked around just outside the camera's view again, and then a large metal mallet struck the boy in the face. I could hear his teeth shatter inside of his mouth, and then they fell out from between his lips and down his chin like his blood.
When a pair of pliers went into his mouth and caught one of the remaining teeth, he began to scream. Slowly the tooth started to rip from the boy’s gums. The crack-like sound of the gums being pulled apart was barely heard through his screams. Then the tooth came out, still connected by a nerve, when was then separated by a quick pull of the tooth causing the boy to convulse in his seat. Just the thought of the man grabbing his nerve with the pliers and pulling on it and what it would feel like almost made me convulse too.
One by one the teeth were removed from the boy’s head, and yet somehow I forgot it was a video and that I could have turned it off. Once the all the boy’s teeth were gone and his mouth now oozing blood, the knife came back into frame and between the boy’s lips, this time it slowly carved up the other side of his mouth, only he didn't scream this time. He accepted it and let it happened, with hollow look in his eyes.
“Was that so hard,” the voice said.
The man dropped the knife and struck the boy in the jaw, dislocating it. It popped, making me lose the contents of my stomach onto my lap. Strange that nothing else had made me vomit before this point. The boy’s body crumpled back into the seat, his face now fully exposed by the light, his now dead eyes looking into the camera. His jaw sat sickly below the boy’s face, resting against his throat. His tongue was falling out of his mouth, red saliva dripped from it, thick from the blood in his mouth. His newly cut cheeks opened widely to create a wide bloody smile.
The hand came back into screen with a ruler this time in hand. It was stuck between the boy’s lips, forcing them to open more.
“Such a pretty smile, don't you think,” the voice asked, sounding like it was talking to me.
My internet browser suddenly froze, which gave me slight relief until my webcam popped up, showing my horrified face. For a second I sat just staring at my face, thinking it was someone else’s. Once I realised that it was mine, I wondered why my webcam opened but then I realised that I never opened my webcam. On instinct I closed my webcam box, then opened task manager and forced my browser to close.
As soon as it closed, almost on cue a notepad file opened up with the text “Last chance, smile for the camera,” only for it to close and to see my face back on my screen. My mouth was open, and my eyes were wide.
I then closed my mouth my force and stared seriously into the lens and said “leave me the fuck alone.”
Once again the notepad opened up this time saying “I think we both know how I can give you a smile.”
I quickly closed the notepad file only to see a man standing behind me with my webcam. His right eye was made of grey stained glass, and he had a smile, stitched into his face, with black thread just at the corners of his lips, forcing them to stay up in a smile. Then everything went dark.
The next thing I knew was I was staring into the lens of an old camera. I tried to move but then noticed I was tied to the chair. It was completely dark around me other than the man standing behind the camera and a small metal table with red stained tools on it.
“You're number thirty,” he said smiling. Slowly he walked behind me, still holding the camera.
“Now, smile for the camera,” he said very gravely.
I was completely frozen in fear, just as he came around from the side of my view, camera still fixed onto my face. I just stared blankly into it, no expression on my face.
The man clicked his tongue twice. “I can help you with that.”
He shuffled around on the table for his knife, not breaking eye contact with me. He slipped it between my lips, and pressed the blade against my cheek. I felt pain and started to taste my blood. My eyes shut from the pain, when I felt my facial muscles curl into a smile. For a second nothing happened, and then I felt the pressure ease up on my cheek.
“You’re smiling,” the cameraman said, sounding like he enjoyed it in a sickening way.
I could feel his body give off an energy of satisfaction. Then I felt a real smile, one that was against my will, like I just heard a funny joke and couldn't stop myself from smiling to it. I opened my eyes and saw the man's face, no longer behind the camera, which was now pointing down.
Inside my throat I started to feel a tickle, a small feeling that felt strangely good. Then from nowhere I heard just a single “ha” leave my lips, then another then another. I couldn't stop, I couldn't control myself. Soon I was laughing harder and harder, until I realized that the cameraman was also laughing.
I continued laughing, uncontrollably, seeing my vision go blurry from tears. I started to shake from laughing so hard, when the camera man started to walk away. He seemed to fade into the darkness only leaving his laugh behind, which even faded as well, but I continued to laugh. I started laughing harder and harder. Smiling. Feeling happier than I had ever felt before, the only problem was nobody else was smiling. I really just want someone else to smile. I can't be the only one to smile. Can you smile?
I want to see you smile. Smile for me, and smile for the camera.