I work as a DJ at a club. It’s in a mid-sized European city. I won’t disclose any specific information, because I don’t want to put my ass on the line, but I’m pretty sure that those who know the place will recognise it, and also, I’m curious if there’s anything similar happened in any other place of the globe.
Now, this club is nothing fancy, but it’s open during weekdays, there’s free entry, plus it’s right next to the city’s university, so it’s always crowded enough. Uni students thrown out of the halls, but keen to carrying on drinking, highschoolers who are not let in anywhere else, and creepy 40+ guys trying to pick up girls half their age are the usual crowd. Now, I know it doesn’t sound like a dream job DJ-ing there, but it pays well, easy enough, and its sort of fun seeing whatever’s going on on the dance floor while making noise, and sipping a few beers on the house.
Well, usually sort of fun, but occasionally, pretty fucking terrifying.
From time to time, we have thematic nights, which involve specific genres of music: 80’s retro vibes, hip-hop stuff or minimal, you know the likes. These are one: usually well promoted, two: they always tell me in advance, so I can prepare the music. Now, one Wednesday, late afternoon scrolling through Facebook, I see that my workplace posted something. A poster, with white background, barely visible japanese letters, a shiluette of a dark figure, like a shadow, and a text saying: “tonight only – BRIGHT LIGHT NIGHT”. In the corner the usual, drink promotion, the logo of the place, gate opening. Now I didn’t know about this, so I called my boss, asking him what the hell is going on, and more important, reminding him that I ask for extra for specific nights, as well as for last minute changes. Oddly enough, he was not arguing at all, just asked me to come a bit earlier, so he can brief me.
As I arrived, he handed me a flash drive, saying I should only play the songs on here. I was sorta pissed, as I did not have time to listen everything and prepare a proper mix, and with a set tracklist, I felt like my hands were tied. Still, I’m being paid extra, so I set up my gear, and plug the flash disk in. There was only one folder, the name of it written with Japanese characters. I really hoped that it won’t be some weeaboo themed shit, but in hindsight, I think I would have been better off playing anime intro songs all night. The songs were creatively named “Track_1”, “Track_2” and so on. I listened for a few seconds to each of them. All the songs were vaguely familiar, but I didn’t know where from, neither I had time to wonder.
The night began, people started pouring in, initially there was nothing out of the ordinary. Most of the songs were typical club bangers, nothing extra. Then we got to “Track_4”. You know that feeling when you hear a song, and you subconsciously know that you heard it before somewhere, but, not for the life of you, can you pinpoint where? Well I felt exactly like that. As the song progressed, at one point it became quieter, drums disappearing, and only a deep bass remaining. I know my way around club songs, so I knew a drop was coming. To keep the spirits up, I shouted to the crowd: “let me hear your VOOICEEEEEE”.
At that moment, I was blinded by an unbelievable brightness, something that could not have been produced by the club lights. It seemingly came from outside, bursting in through the walls. As my eyes adjusted, I shit you not, I saw noone, but a completely empty dance floor. Not a single soul. But what’s even more fucked up that I still heard them. I heard them screaming. Then, the drop came.
And everything was back to normal. What the fuck. I was scared shitless. Yet, the night went on. Eventually, I figured some old creep spiked my drink instead of whoever’s his target was, so I carried on. When dawn came, and we closed shop, I asked around the bartenders and the bouncers, but no one saw anything, which reinforced my theory that it was just a weird-ass trip. However, before handed the flash drive back to my boss, I saved Track_4 on my laptop. Call it a hunch. Then I forgot about the whole thing, went home, slept through the day. A bit later I was preparing my mix to another night. Just out of curiosity, I put “Track_4” in the playlist. And the same fucking thing happened. Bright lights, empty dancefloor, disembodied screams, and once the drop came, everything back to normal. Fuck me, I thought, this is not normal. I can’t have the same fucking trip two times. at this point, I was sure that I heard the song before, and I was not alone. Friends and colleagues from the club would all say that the tune is familiar, yet none of them could tell where from. It was time to figure out what it was. But my efforts were fruitless. Shazam didn’t find anything. I tried to upload it to youtube, post it to forums, all that. I never managed to. I only got upload error messages, or alerts stating that uploading this would be copyright infringement. I theorised that it might be a not yet released hit of someone famous, which he/she didn’t want to have leaked. With the article 13 bullshit, and content screening at every corner, it seemed to be a plausible, rational explanation for my failure of uploading it. But not for the disappearing people.
I decided that I’ll do what every sane person would… probably not do: keep on experimenting. I played Track_4, readied my phone, and turned on the camera as the drop appeared. The moment the dancefloor became desolate, I snatched a pic. On my phone screen, all the people were present. I grew even more confused, but I carried on with the party, while from time to time, I quickly glancing at the picture. Something was off, but I really couldn’t put my finger on what. Once the place was closed, I showed the pic to my photographer pal. He came up with the answer immediately: “Eh, it’s probably your HDR sensor being fucky. It made all the shadows disappear”. The people on the picture had no shadow. He carried on explaining how to recalibrate the phone camera, but I zoned out, staring at the shadowless crowd.
Last Saturday was the last time I played the song. However, there’s something happened before I did: a guy, who probably enjoyed predrinks a bit too much, and was already wasted before midnight, climbed up behind me, and demanded a picture. I obliged, waved to my photographer buddy, who came around and took the pic. Then I chased the kid away, before the bouncers would. A few hours passed, and I figured that it was time for Track_4. The usual happened. However, in those few seconds, while the floor was empty, I saw the bathroom’s door opening, and the wasted guy I took the picture with stepping out. He stared, visibly confused, at the vacant space, then look at me with terrified eyes. Then, drop, and life went on. The night ended. I went home, slept till the afternoon. When I woke up, the song was gone. I was unable to turn on my laptop. The IT guy said that my hard drive became encrypted, and rambled about some new ransomware. The laptop is still working, but I had to reformat the HDD, so all that was there is lost – including Track_4. I asked my boss about the flash drive he had the songs on, but he said he lost it. Track_4 was nowhere to be found.
However, the song was not the only thing that disappeared without the trace. Scanning through the news this morning, I saw a missing person’s report. The guy whom I took the picture with, the guy who walked out of the bathroom the wrong moment, and witnessed what I also did. I quickly went to the facebook page of my workplace, and I saw the pictures from Saturday night uploaded. I found the one which was taken of me and the guy except it was only me on the picture. Yet, I looked closer. Indeed, I was the only person on the pic, however, there were two shadows.