The Taylor family has over six million subscribers on YouTube. The
Taylor family consists of the parents, David and Evelyn, and their three
children: Cherry and Berry, ten-year-old twin girls, and a boy, Perry,
who’s five. David’s a real estate agent, Evelyn sells jewelry on Etsy
that she plugs in every video. Their children are homeschooled.
They are a nice family. They live in a nice house in a nice
neighborhood. They have game nights and pool parties. They go on lots of
trips, to Disney World and SeaWorld and the Caribbean, and live vlog all
of it, capturing every detail. When Cherry vomits after getting off a
rollercoaster, Evelyn zooms in on it, on the chunks of food and
Cherry’s wet mouth.
A few viewers are uncomfortable.
did you really have to show all that???
you’re a bunch of weirdos. why would you film your kid puking?
The comments are swiftly deleted. As Evelyn always says, there’s no
room for negativity.
The Taylors love Halloween and post several videos leading up to it.
They decorate their house, hang up spider webs and plastic skulls and
ghosts, string up bats from the ceiling. They place a skeleton on their
roof and an inflatable tree in their front yard.
“This year, we’re going to do a haunted house,” Evelyn declares,
showing off a flyer they made: Get ready to be scared!
One video is dedicated to pumpkin carving. Cherry and Berry are old
enough to do it on their own, but Perry’s too little so David carves
his pumpkin for him. David’s knife goes in, the juices and insides go
Berry takes her pumpkin’s guts and throws them at Cherry, who shrieks
when they land on her cheek.
“That’s gross,” she says, before hurling them back.
It looks like a fun game at first, siblings teasing each other, but when
Berry retaliates, there’s a look of genuine rage in her eyes. She
shouts, “Bitch!” and throws not just the guts but the whole bowl, and
then they’re fighting for real, pulling hair, clawing each other’s
Evelyn doesn’t intervene. All she says is, “Uh oh…”
It’s David who rushes to separate them.
He sets his knife down on the table. Perry grabs it. Evelyn isn’t
concerned, instead focusing on their dog Pickles chasing a butterfly,
until Perry screams. Then she goes over.
“What’s wrong?” she asks.
Perry shows her the cut on his palm. Dark red blood oozes from it,
dripping into the grass. He’s crying, but Evelyn doesn’t comfort him.
She zooms in on the cut until it fills up the screen, spreads it open
wider with her fingers. The inside of the cut writhes. Evelyn sees
something and gasps.
The video cuts to the Taylors showing off their jack-o’-lanterns,
grinning as though nothing happened. Perry picks off his band-aid and
A comment reads:
Four years ago my son went missing. He went to a friend’s house and
never came back. I miss him more and more each day. I’ve been searching
for him, constantly asking the police if they’ve made any progress and
putting up posters everywhere, but no one’s seen him. It’s been so
long without him. Sometimes I forget what he looked like.
But in your video, I saw him, inside Perry. I have no doubt about it. I
saw him, and for the first time in four years, I felt joy. My heart
swelled. I called out to him, and he called back.
In the next video, David and Evelyn decide to scare their daughters at
night. David dons a hockey mask and wields a rubber machete, spotted
with fake blood.
Evelyn giggles as David bangs on their bedroom door. “I’m going to get
you,” he shouts, flinging it open so hard it hits the wall.
Inside the bedroom, Cherry and Berry are wide awake, sitting up in their
beds, looking terrified. David grabs a fistful of Berry’s hair,
brandishing his machete with his other hand. Berry screams and tries to
Cherry jumps out of her bed. “Oh my god,” she cries as she runs
towards the open door. On her way out she bumps into Evelyn. “Mom?”
Realization dawns on her face, but instead of being relieved, she looks
Evelyn laughs. David releases Berry and removes his mask. They come
clean: this was all a joke. A prank. The girls don’t think it’s funny.
“Mom, Dad…” Berry squirms. “I … peed myself…”
David’s smile disappears. He feels her bedsheets, grimaces when he
touches them. “Jesus, you’re too old for this,” he says, in a harsh
tone he hasn’t used before in the vlogs. “You’re a big girl, not a
baby. Big girls don’t pee themselves.”
For the next several minutes, he berates her, calling her weak and
immature. She whimpers. “Dad, I get it, just let me change,” she says,
but David ignores her.
In the background, there’s a frantic knocking sound, and another noise,
like weeping. No one mentions it, but it gets louder, until it drowns
His tirade ends only when Evelyn taps him on the shoulder. “Enough,”
she says firmly. “Berry, give me your sheets. I’ll wash them.”
I was a police officer for twenty years and saw some things I’ll
always be haunted by. There was one case where a sicko kidnapped a girl
and tortured her for hours before killing her. He recorded the whole
thing, and I watched all of it. What I remember most of all is her
That weeping at 7:25 sounds just like her. I recognized it immediately.
I heard her voice, too. She said “stop.”
That footage or the audio hasn’t been released. Why is it in your
The next video is a Halloween live stream.
While David’s in charge of the haunted house, Evelyn takes the kids
trick-or-treating. Cherry’s a princess, Berry’s a witch, and Perry’s
a vampire. They walk through the neighborhood, knocking on people’s
doors and filling their buckets up with candy. Uneventful.
Perry can’t wait to eat his candy. As soon as they’re in the car, he
sifts through his bucket. At the bottom is something that looks like a
blood pack, but is really just red juice.
Perry tears it open with his teeth. He gulps it down, not even trying to
be neat. Red stains his chin and costume, sticks to his lips.
“Geez, Perry, you’re a pig,” Cherry says, visibly disgusted. There
was a video about her new diet a few weeks back, where she was weighed
on camera and teased for being twenty pounds overweight.
Back home, it’s time for the haunted house to close. There are a few
kids milling outside on the street. Evelyn asks how it was, and they say
things like, “Pretty cool.” One boy says, “Your house is big. How
rich are you?”
Evelyn enters the house. It’s dark and foggy. The walls are covered
with black tarp. Moans can be heard.
She wanders through the halls, the children following close behind. The
farther she walks, the more the house changes. The bats and dolls
hanging from the ceiling turn into hunks of meat and severed limbs.
(Someone comments: are those limbs real? that arm had david’s wrist
tattoo.) The walls warp and shake. Blood appears on them, then eyes,
wide and unblinking, watching.
Evelyn keeps walking. Keeps walking and walking and doesn’t know where
she’s going. The hallway is endless. “David?” she calls. “David,
where are you? Where am I?”
Berry says, “This isn’t our house.”
Finally, Evelyn finds a door. It leads to the bathroom. There’s a body
bag in the tub, a hand coming out of the toilet. A boy lies face-down on
the floor, a neighbor who volunteered.
“Hey,” she says to him. “Where’s David?”
She kneels down next to him and turns him over. “Oh—” His neck has
been slashed so savagely that he’s nearly decapitated. Blood pools
around him. He’s dead: eyes cloudy, body stiff.
Evelyn stands up and backs out of the bathroom. “Don’t look,” she
says to the kids.
In the hallway, footsteps approach. Perry says, “Someone’s coming,”
but when Evelyn turns, there’s no one else there.
“We’re alone,” she says. Her rapid breathing is audible. The camera
Cherry exclaims, “Mom, behind you!”
Evelyn whirls around. “David—”
For a split second, there’s a blurry face—no, several faces mashed
into one being, one large misshapen head—followed by a flash of white.
Her phone is knocked to the floor.
The stream ends.
It had my son’s face.
And: It had that girl’s face.
And: It had my murdered girlfriend’s face.
And: It had my grandmother’s face.
And: It had David’s face.
And: It didn’t attack her. It approached her with its arms
outstretched, like it wanted to hug her, like it wanted to take her
And: Wherever Evelyn is now, I don’t think she’s coming back.
And: At least the children are safe.
Luz Rosales is a nonbinary Mexican-American fiction writer and college student from Los Angeles. Their work has appeared in Okay Donkey, HARSH, and Misery Tourism. They can be found online @TERRORCORES.