Before "Paranormal Activity," There Was "Whisper," The Original Sleepcam Horror Story

Illustration for article titled Before Paranormal Activity, There Was Whisper, The Original Sleepcam Horror Story

Did the sleepcam in Paranormal Activity freak you out? Then you need to read Ray Vukcevich's short story "Whisper," published by Small Beer Press in 2001. It's not always a good idea to find out what happens while you sleep.

People have suggested that this story might have been the inspiration for Paranormal Activity, but I think the two stories are fairly different. They do share a really scary idea, however, which is that things scarier than nightmares are happening to you while you sleep. And they can be captured on camcorders.

After our main character's ex-girlfriend accuses him of snoring, he decides to set up a sleepcam to see if he is, in fact, snoring. But he finds out more than he ever wanted to know about what's happening to him while he sleeps. Here's an excerpt, where he first watches footage from his sleepcam:

There was a long embarrassing fart an hour or so into the night, but absolutely no snoring. I heard something move in the kitchen like stuff settling in the plastic trash bag, a totally familiar sound. In fact, I couldn't tell if it was on the tape or had just happened in real time. I heard the house creaking and the distant sounds of traffic and once an auto horn. Several hours later, a siren screamed in the distance, and my sleeping self moaned. The 3:00 a.m. train went by, five miles to the south. I had stopped hearing that whistle a long time ago. It was comforting somehow to hear it again. I speeded the tape forward.

I was home free.

Joanna had been jerking me around.

But then a woman said, "Shush!' and giggled softly, and I gasped and jerked my hand up and drenched the front of my shirt with my drink.

I looked around wildly, thinking it was Joanna talking, thinking maybe it hadn't been on the tape, thinking maybe she was standing right behind me, but most of me knew she wasn't there. And the superspeed scenario I played in my mind where she'd sneaked into my bedroom last night to talk on my tape was stupid. Besides it hadn't even been her voice.

"Just look at him," the voice whispered.

I could hear someone moving around in the room. The rustle of clothing, the bump of a leg maybe hitting the side of the dresser or the chair by the window.

"Sure," a man whispered, "he's adorable."

The woman giggled again.

Then nothing.

I carefully put my glass down on the floor. I felt cold. My ears were ringing and my breathing was fast and shallow. I pulled off my wet shirt and threw it at the bathroom door.


And it only gets creepier from there, folks. Definitely worth reading in the afternoon - you know, when it's still light out.

Read the whole story for free at Small Beer Press. Thanks, Gavin!

Image of Bre Pettis sleeping via Bre's sleepcam!

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


Dances with Peeps

My husband denies that he snores. Hah! But this is exactly why I have no intention of ever setting up a tape recorder to prove him wrong. I've heard things I haven't wanted to hear ever while awake, for which there was no explanation, but none of it in my home. I prefer to keep it that way.