Not many people knew this but Harvey Barnes was a burgeoning horror narrator on YouTube or until the market became oversaturated by horror narrators who saw how lucrative it was and wanted in. Eventually, his name became buried under by more popular narrators who used special effects like doors slamming, approaching footsteps, creaking hinges and there were even some channels who used the sounds of rain and thunder to enhance the listening experience and another who creatively used the sounds of a crackling fire to stoke the flames for their narrations. Due to his budget, Harvey could afford none of those things. He could barely afford the illustrator he hired, Petyr. But in order to give viewers something original to look at while watching his videos, he had to fork up the money to keep the illustrations coming.
Things were going smoothly for Harvey for a while there. Though not a big hit, his channel was doing good enough to bring him a few bucks now and then, but then the YouTube Ad Attack slammed right into everything he worked so hard for like an oncoming train, smashing his dreams and aspirations into a million different pieces and pretty much leaving his channel in limbo ever since.
YouTube was trying to shift its content to become more “family-friendly” and this greatly affected the horror community. Since a lot of the subject matter that Harvey and his fellow horror narrators posted concerned unwanted advances, creepy men walking up to underage girls, and strange encounters along with paranormal, urban legends, and other horror-related stories, it was only a matter of time before YouTube started to crunch down on some numbers and began to restrict their ad access.
It got to a point, where even some of his content was being taken down, pushing his revenue stream to an all-time low. Shortly before the “Ad Attack” as he liked to call it, he had quit his job to pursue YouTubing as a full-time job. But seeing how his wife Jules was about to divorce his sorry ass and take their kids with her, he knew that back to the grind it was. He got a temp job at some marketing agency and had been working there ever since. Even though he still had his channel, he now had less time to work on it. As his content dwindled so did his number of subscribers so that eventually only a few of his most die-hard fans stayed around.
One day, Harvey got to thinking about what made his channel stand out from all the other cogs in the system and he discovered: nothing. Basically, Graveside Manner was just like any other YouTube horror narrator platform. He would find stories posted on Reddit’s ‘Let’s Not Meet’ forum, the creepypastas section, or horror stories found on other subreddits, contact the OP (to get their permission to narrate their story), and once permission was granted, do some light proofreading before reading the content out loud and posting. He could not discern anything that made his channel different from the rest. What did he need? What was it? Something like an X-factor to draw more viewers to his channel. Since most of the horror narrators out there on YouTube pulled out stories from the ‘Let’s Not Meet’ section of Reddit, the stories were pretty much all the same. Some subscribers even complained that most of the stories he narrated had already been read on other channels. What he needed was a real story, not that the other stories weren’t, but something that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats and hanging on to his every word. Simply getting his stories off Reddit won’t do. He had to think of something quick.
Then he did think of something. Maybe he could share his own story, something he experienced. Having narrated tons of stories and seeing all kinds of walks of life and characters all across the world, what does he have to bring to the table as a person narrating these stories? There must be something worthy of note that personally happened to him, right? Something that will scare his audience out of their willies? Or perhaps make them gasp so loudly the person in the other room can hear them? Something that will have those lurking in the comment section come out of hiding and burst into accolades over his story.
But as he racked his mind, he could come up with nothing. He basically lived a very mundane life. He worked a nine-five job at a temp agency and went home to a wife and three kids. His kids were all young. The oldest was a seven-year-old named Jesse, his five-year-old Aidan, and the youngest was his six-month-old James, who was proving to be the rowdiest of the bunch. Already at six months, he was proving to be a little terror. Sometimes getting out of his crib and getting into all sorts of trouble at 3 a.m. He’d have to watch out for that one for sure. There was no doubt about it.
But this was all handled by his wife. She was a stay-at-home mom who pretty much had everything under control. She was a busybody, who usually walked around the house in sweats and a messy bun tied on top of her head. Jules worked out every day and this showed on her skinny frame, still fit after having three kids while he was a little round in some parts due to her delicious cooking. Even now, Harvey would think to himself every now and then that he was one lucky bastard. How he ever caught her was beyond him in many ways. Harvey knew that that was what other people thought too whenever they saw them together. It was certainly what his mother-in-law thought anyway. She and Jules’ sister Grace that was. The two hens would always have a three-way on the phone with Jules and he always had a weird feeling that they were talking about him, trying to convince Jules to break things off with him – that she deserved better. He hated their gossip. Hated them, in fact.
But other than that, Jules and Harvey usually got along great, even though it had become such a chore when he had to stay home during the whole course of the Ad Attack and had to deal with her whole getting on his case because he was basically out of work and wasn’t bringing in any of the dough. If he had anything to rant about that was horror-related during this time, it would be his wife’s terrible attitude. Now that things were relatively back to normal and he was now back to working a real job again, she was finally directing less of her focus on him and more deservedly on their boys.
Back at his desk, Harvey stared long and hard at his computer. In order to spike his viewership and to make up for the loss in revenue over the past few months, he would need to think of a story quickly.
Coming up with nothing, he decided to go outside and experience something that would be “horror-related.” Nothing could happen sitting around at home all day. Although he remembered narrating some stories where the person would be at home minding their own business and the “horror” would come straight to their door, he thought that the likelihood of this occurring to him was very slim.
Harvey and his family lived in a two-storied house in a neighborhood in Queens. The sound of sirens was a common occurrence in this side of town so that when he heard them that afternoon, he didn’t put much thought to it. Eventually, it occurred to him that he should be actively looking for his own subscriber story and that checking out what was happening outside might be a good idea. Harvey had left work early with the excuse that one of his kids had gotten sick and needed him. But the real reason he had taken off was because he wanted to work on his YouTube channel. After realizing that his channel was pretty much another clone of all the others out there, it was up to Harvey to venture out and find a subscriber story that would beat them all.
It took him a good fifteen minutes before he finally got up from his computer and a good another ten minutes to get out the door. It really seemed like he needed to get more exercise, Harvey thought to himself as he was walking out of his house. Just as he was stepping outside, he saw that the police were wrapping things up and the ambulance had just taken off moments ago.
Great, just when a story like this fell in his lap, he was actually late getting to the scene of the crime.
He walked closer to get a better look. A neighbor of his, (he thinks his name is Chad), was standing next to a police officer. Before the cop turned back to his police car, he caught the perfunctory, “… if you think of anything else, let us down at the precinct know.”
Harvey ran to catch up with Chad. He shouted, “Fill me in, Chad.”
Chad appeared to not have heard him and was rushing back to his apartment. Harvey took note of the building and the man’s apartment room number.
On the edge of the crime scene, Harvey could see a local Channel 7 news reporter and her news crew finishing up their segment and were now busily gathering their equipment. He hurried back to the house, hoping to catch the last dredges of the news report in time.
Harvey was able to catch some of Channel 7’s news segment, but it still left a lot of questions unanswered. In order to fill in the blanks, Harvey decided to turn to the Internet for more answers. After looking through some of the news sites, this was what he got: “What appears to be a suicide now has the police suspecting of foul play. Days after the death of media magnate, Dante Krane, the family is in the throes of more drama. A neighbor found the dead body of 24-year-old Mia Krane in her apartment in Queens, NY. Ms. Krane was found hanging from the wires tied to the beams in the ceiling. It appeared to be ruled a suicide by authorities. But more evidence has come up showing that the suicide may have been staged. Downstairs neighbors report hearing a scuffle shortly before the victim’s time of death. Also, as a possible motive for the murder, it is being made known that Ms. Krane was set to inherit a large percentage of the Krane fortune. The Kranes are one of the richest families in NYC and her father, Dante Krane, also known as the head of Krane Corp had left his entire empire in Mia’s name, leaving her older brother Hugh completely out of the picture…”
With so much to lose from what was his sister’s big gain, the suspect who was fighting the legality of this inheritance in court, is now the same man who is going to be on trial for his sister’s murder. The article went on and on like this.
Never would he have thought that something like this would’ve happened in his own backyard. And never would he have thought that he would be neighbors with an heiress to an entire media empire. Thinking back to the crime scene, he tried to go over anything that would scream of “murder.” Harvey wanted to smack himself for not running out of the house the minute the sirens sounded. The one time things were happening for him and he had to miss it like some idiot!
Maybe that way he would have been able to catch something other than just the tail-end of things. He tried jogging his memory to bring up any details. All he could remember was the ambulance leaving the site and one of his neighbors (Chad was it?) talking to the cops. He remembered taking note of Chad’s apartment number after he ran off all of a sudden, hoping that he wouldn’t sound like such a stalker if he stopped by to have a chat with him later on.