The New Arcade In Town

April 22, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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The New Arcade In Town
Isaac Cook

This is the first time I’ve told anyone this story, and it may be the last, because they’ve found me.

The year was 1994. I was a 15 year old who lived in a small town mainly dominated by church goers and elderly couples who didn’t get along, so there was never much to do. The only things that captured my attention were video games. They were pretty basic at the time, but my family wasn’t well off enough to purchase such a luxury as a home gaming system. It was the middle of summer when talk started to spread of a penny arcade moving into the building where the old video tape store was. My friend and I…we’ll call him Terry, were beyond excited, seeing as it was a much more economically friendly option for us (and our parents) to get a chance to play a videogame, straight out of my gaming magazines! The posters all around town, all bright and playful, detailed that the arcade was to open sunday at 9 AM, which was incredibly convenient, because Terry and I had already planned a sleepover that saturday night.

I brought my magazines to Terry’s because his mom wasn’t willing to spend money on “gimmicks like that”. We stayed up into the early hours of the morning, flipping through them over and over, until we had drilled every game made to date into our heads.
Eventually we both passed out on the floor, lights on, magazines out, and minds full of wonder.

I awoke to the sound of Terry’s mom leaving for her weekly church service, looked to the wall and read the clock; 8:06 AM. Wanting to get there early so we could be first in line, I woke Terry and told him to get ready. We both took showers, changed out of yesterday’s attire and into something more fresh, and snagged some change that Terry’s mom had left for us on the kitchen counter. Before we ran out the door, I looked at the clock; 8:47 AM.

It took us about 10 minutes to walk there. When we approached the line up at the door, there were only a handful of people there. No kids our age, just some older social rejects who had nothing better to do. We jumped into line to secure our spot as the fourth and fifth people to enter the arcade. We cupped our eyes against the arcade front window to block our eyes from the sun, and what we saw blew our 15 year old minds. Rows and rows of arcade games.

Something caught my eye, though- two large double doors with the writing “The Virtual Reality Experience!”. To hear those words virtual and reality in the same sentence back then made absolutely no sense to me, so it intrigued us to the point of making it at the top of our agenda for what to do at 9 o’clock when the doors opened.

The arcade games sprung to life in a fantastic display of lights and colour, and the doors opened. A bald man with a scar on the side of his head walked out, and gestured to the small lineup that we could now enter. As I walked past him, he gave me a blank stare that gave me an extremely uneasy feeling. We continued through the doors and into the fantastic space full of lights and sounds that excited Terry and I even more.

Without saying a word, we ran to the large double doors and pushed them open. They were surprisingly light, and we both stumbled into the room. There was a bald woman with a scar on her head standing next to a table with multiple bulky circular gadgets on it. We both stood up straight, slightly embarrassed, and proceeded towards her. She held out her left hand, and silently pointed to the paper on the table with her right. Two quarters per player for the most immersive gaming experience in this day and age! Fight off the alien race that is attacking the moon base! You are its only hope!

Terry took out his mom’s coins and handed over one dollar in change to the bald woman. She blankly took the money and grabbed one of the bulky circular gadgets on the table, gesturing for us to do so as well. We both grabbed one and watched as she placed it on her head, surrounding it like a helmet. We went to do the same but she gestured for us not to. She went through a side door and came back with two Star Wars blaster looking devices. Terry and I excitedly snagged them from her hands and examined them in awe. They were surprisingly heavy. The woman pressed a button and a thick metal door slid open. She walked through it and we followed attentively. Walking down a flight of stairs, we came to a long, narrow hallway, which led to even more stairs.

We came into an incredibly large room. Other than a black and red striped door on the other side of it, the walls of the entire room were covered in an opaque glass-like substance. Terry and I shot each other excited glances and proceeded to the middle of the room. The woman helped us equip the helmets and blasters. We couldn’t see anything. Thinking this was some sort of joke, I was about to take off my helmet, when the it came to life.

The screen inside the helmet lit up and I looked around to see a totally different place than the strange room before. We were on the moon, outside a building with Canadian flags on it. I looked towards Terry and he was in an astronaut suit, bearing the same blaster as before. I heard a screech ring out through my helmet that made Terry and I jump. Sound on the moon? Ah, well. It was a video game, after all. We turned toward the origin of the horrible sound, to see what I can only describe as a true monster. It was lanky and crawled on four legs. My first thought was that its face was made up of only two deep black holes, presumed to be eyes. It looked sickly and injured as it moved toward the two of us. Its face opened up to form a mouth that bore rows of razor sharp teeth. It paused its advance, and stood up on its hind legs, exposing claws that looked as if they could slice through human flesh like butter. It lunged towards me with surprising speed.

I froze. Time felt slow as I watched the monster gracefully soar through the air towards me, mouth open and claws outstretched. It was suddenly violently knocked to one side as a rod of red fire blew a chunk out of its torso and sent it flying. I looked to Terry, and saw his barrel smoking. This brief moment of surprise was interrupted by more shrieks from other monsters arising in the distance. Shaken up from almost losing the game in the its first moments, it took me a second to understand the situation. Protect the space station, kill monsters, stay alive… easy enough. A burst of adrenaline hit me as the monsters came into view over the craters and hills. There were at least twenty, and they weren’t crawling like the last one, but rather running toward us on two legs, spastically waving their claws around, every limb on their body seemingly twitching every second or two. Without hesitation, Terry and I started to use our weapons against them. They got about ten metres away before the last one collapsed to the ground, motionless.

More monstrous screams came from behind, nearly upon us. Too many to specifically say. Terry and I began to fire uncontrollably into the mob of creatures as they stampeded toward us. Terry was firing at the ones in front of me, as was I. I realized too late that Terry’s actions were foolish, as monsters poured onto him, covering him from view. He screamed in pain. Firing wildly into the crowd of creatures, I managed to take down enough of them that they started to back up, realizing that I was a threat. They crawled back over the hills and craters, revealing Terry’s body, motionless, on the ground. I had stared at him for a minute or so, contemplating what to, when I much deeper, groggy, shriek echoed through the air.

I turned to see a creature, larger than the others, slowly striding on two legs across the lunar surface toward me. Its claws were noticeably longer, and its teeth were curled inwards. I switched my focus from Terry to the monster, and just as I did, it stopped advancing on me. It turned to the right and started walking towards the horizon. It stopped, lifted up its nightmarish claw, and slashed into nothing, but as it did this, what I can only describe as a rip in the air formed. It kept striking until the rip turned into a hole.

It disappeared into the hole. I stood there, confused. I heard screams, both from humans and ruined electronics. For a split second, the message “ERROR:00001\POWERREMOVED” was displayed in front of me. Then, everything went dark.

I waited a few moments before taking off my helmet, and saw what I can only describe as absolute carnage. Creatures with chunks blown out of them were scattered everywhere across the large room, surrounded by pools of yellow ooze. I looked to my feet to see Terry laying on the ground with various lacerations littering his body. Crouching down, I took off his helmet. He was dead.

The shock of my best friend’s death was interrupted by the walls opening and more monsters surging out. Instinctively, I raised the blaster and started firing. It worked just as well as it had in the game. Dropping them as they came out of the hole kept them at bay. Finally, they stopped coming. I stared at the gap in the wall. No more emerged from the darkness beyond the glass opening. I looked around the room, to notice that the black and red stripped door had been ripped down. Realizing that this was my only exit, I moved to it, and walked through the remains of the door.

I was now in some sort of control room. Bald male bodies were scattered across the room, with blood covering most of the floor. All the electronics in the room had been destroyed, all bearing huge claw marks. The silence of the room was interrupted by movement behind me. The largest of the creatures emerged from a dark hallway, hunched over to fit through the gap. Baring teeth and claws, it approached, with the same deep, groggy scream I had heard before. Without even questioning my actions, I pulled out the blaster and sprayed across the room at the horrifying creature. It cowered into the darkness from which it had come, and I heard it scamper down the hallways until the sound faded to nothing. I walked towards the darkness, blaster drawn, and was swallowed by it.

I felt my way through the black hallways and up staircases for what felt like an eternity, occasionally feeling long scratches in the walls left by the monster. Low growls and metallic bangs echoed through the unexplored corridors. My curiosity was cut short when I turned a corner to see light coming from a smashed window high above the floor. The wall and floor was littered with long scratch marks, yellow ooze and broken glass. I moved up the staircase to come into a small room filled with blasters and a slightly open door. Peeking through, I saw the woman who had directed Terry and me into this horrible mess. I burst through, aimed my blaster and held the trigger until she was unrecognizable, my mind numb with the pure rage of my best friend’s death. From nowhere, more bald men swarmed to the scene.

I stood there, with cuts, bruises, yellow ooze and blood covering my body, as they all blankly stared at me. Shoving through the crowd, I ran out of the Arcade, blaster in hand.

That was 21 years ago, and the bald scarred men have been pursuing me ever since. I often think about the time Terry and I spent in the game, how it could’ve played out so differently. If not for him, we both would have died in that horrible place. I’ve tried telling others, but I gave up long ago, for everyone thinks I’m mad.

I went out west to the coast but it doesn’t matter how far I go, they always seem to catch up to me. I see them walking on the streets, in restaurants, even on TV. I swear one of them looks like Terry. Sometimes at night I hear the shrieks of that monster in the distance. I fear that my time may be short. As I write this, there is a bald, scarred man sitting under the light of a bus stop across the street, blankly staring at my house. I can hear scratching noises at my back door, accompanied by the occasional low groggy moan.

I’m going to die here.

Credit To – Isaac Cook and John Cook

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Skyrim’s Secret 2

November 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Rating: 7.7/10 (799 votes cast)

This is a sequel to Skyrim’s Secret.

Sometimes in life, you have certain experiences that completely twist your perspective of reality. Things that you think could only happen in pure fantasy turn out to be the most sobering truths ever to hit you. This is what happened to me, hell, to everyone. The events recounted in these paragraphs would be among the most trying that the human race had ever experienced, and I was caught smack dab in the middle.

I guess I should start from the beginning. I was in my senior year of high school and had just finished a lengthy research paper for my AP physics class (yeah, it was about as fun as it sounds) and was mentally drained for the night, so I decided to unwind by visiting one of my regular online haunts: a YouTube channel called Egg Beaters. Egg Beaters featured an eccentric video game nerd named Jeff Crum who would look for Easter eggs in games, and also debunk popular video game myths. A lot of the things he found were actually pretty cool! Tonight’s episode looked especially interesting, it was entitled: “The Curse of Skyrim: True or False?”

Being a huge Elder Scrolls fan, the title alone captivated me. I clicked the video and the usual flash intro played with loud rock music and various action clips from a bunch of different games. You know, typical theatrics for this type of thing. Then, Crum came on, seemingly wired on caffeine as always, and wearing his rather large glasses and tacky bowtie, his horribly unkempt blonde hair almost blending in with the tie-dye background.

Jeff Crum was quite the character all right. He used to be a pretty radical environmental activist, once protesting a company in New York for not using all fluorescent light bulbs in their offices. Another time he even tried (unsuccessfully, of course) to get a petition signed banning the use of gasoline in cars, in favor of “clean” ethanol fuel. To be honest, his antics just served to hurt his cause; I think he actually just got on people’s nerves more than he made any real progress. Then, out of nowhere, he dropped his eco-craze and started taking an interest in video games, which led to his creation of Egg Beaters.

“The Curse of Skyrim: True or False?” Crum began by repeating the title. “Undoubtedly most of you have read the recent Creepypasta Skyrim’s Secret, detailing a supposedly cursed Easter egg hidden in the game’s outer reaches. This secret location, known as Husfortap Manor, is alleged to house a mysterious woman in a blue gown, who delivers a harrowing fate to the player upon visitation. According to the story, the fate she hands down in the game will occur in real life shortly after.”

“The curse seems to get progressively worse with each visit and appears to follow a pattern, each doling out a more meaningful loss: Loss of Wealth, Loss of Work, Loss of Home, Loss of Love (or a Loved One), and finally Loss of Life. Now, to this date, no one has actually proven Husfortap’s existence, though many claim that on the overhead map, you can see a rectangular white structure on the side of a mountain directly south of Markarth, which some believe to be the manor. And of course, there are rumors flying around the Internet about how the manor has actually killed people, but so far Husfortap remains just an urban legend.”

“Well I’ve decided to finally put this myth to rest.” Crum continued. “Over the next day or so, I’m going to explore the alleged site of this mysterious mansion and see if there’s any truth to the tales after all. I’ll let you all know what I find in my next video. For Egg Beaters, this is Jeff Crum signing off.”

I’d heard of this one before: in the original story, some poor guy discovered the mansion and it slowly began to eat away at his life until he ended up homeless and welcoming of the final curse. Now, I’m pretty sure that this was just a made-up tale, though I would have no way to prove it myself because apparently you need a console command to reach the mansion and I only have Skyrim for Playstation 3 (yes, I have suffered the infamous Rim Lag). Besides, most of these urban legends and Creepypastas are just fictional stories. Why would this one be any different?

In class the next day, my AP physics teacher completely busted my balls. He failed my paper for “not citing my sources properly”. I had all the information, but I didn’t indent the second line of each source, like that was a big fucking deal. Of course, being the kind soul that my teacher was, instead of just marking off a few points, he flunked me for the whole thing! Suffice to say, I hated AP physics with every fiber of my being.

After class, I knew I needed to cool down. I decided to pull out my phone and check Egg Beaters once again, and immediately saw that Crum had a new video up: “Skyrim’s Secret Found!” The new video was only posted just this morning yet had already amassed over 1,000 viewers. Intrigued, I clicked the video to see Crum a bit more ecstatic than he usually was (if that was at all possible).

“Hello everyone, Jeff Crum here for Egg Beaters with some exciting news! In my last video, I said I would debunk the urban legend of Husfortap Manor in Skyrim. Well just last night, I found out that the mysterious mansion actually exists, just like its origin story says it does!”

Crum showed footage of himself climbing over the mountain and dropping into the courtyard of Husfortap Manor, its bare, low-res facade staring down intimidatingly at the camera as its wooden sign waved gently in the breeze.

“So as you can see, here’s the mansion exactly the way it’s described in the story.” Crum carried on. “Let me just step inside here…sorry about the long load screen, my system was acting funky yesterday for some reason. Damn thing crashed twice right before I got to the mountain. Okay, here we go! Now, you can see that the mansion is completely bare on the inside except for that ominous black book. Let’s jaunt up here and read it, shall we?” He opened the book and, sure enough, there was only a small number 1 in the top left corner. However if the real Easter egg followed the story, this would soon change.

“Alright, there’s our mysterious book.” Crum continued. “Now I bet if I turn around…bam! There she is!”

There, in the center of the room, stood the infamous Woman in Blue, the deliverer of the supposed curses that plagued the mansion. Yet, I can see why the guy in the Creepypasta was smitten with her: she was quite beautiful, with her smooth pale skin and flowing black hair. Crum directed his avatar to walk past the woman, whose head turned to follow him. As he came level to her, she uttered her famous line.

“Wealth is temporary, what is here today will be gone tomorrow.” The woman stated, though I thought I saw her mutter something else inaudibly, but I couldn’t make out what it was. She looked slightly angry, though.

“Uh-oh! Hear that, everyone? Guess we all better watch our wallets!” Crum joked, clearly skeptical about Husfortap’s powers. “I’ll keep coming back to the manor to see if anything within changes, and I’ll post what I find in future videos For Egg Beaters, this is Jeff Crum signing off!”

So, this Easter egg was real after all, now this was cool! As for its mystical powers of misfortune, however, I was as skeptical as Crum; I never believed in all that “oogie boogie” stuff. But still, it was a pretty big deal that the mansion actually did exist after all the buzz passed around about it. Excited, I decided to share the video on Facebook to my friends, who were all a bunch of Elder Scrolls nuts just like me. In the near future, I would come to regret that action.

When I got home, my parents and sister were huddled around the television, all of them bearing a look of concern on their faces. Curious, I dropped my backpack and came to take a look, and what I saw shocked me.

“For those of you just tuning in, the United States Department of Defense has uncovered what they describe as one of the most devastating economic crimes in the nation’s history.” The news anchor reported. “Earlier today, hundreds of thousands of bank accounts were hacked into, their contents completely purged. Investigators are unsure of the identity of the culprits or the means they used to pull off this cyber heist, but they do know that this was done with absolute precision by a professional or team of professionals, and is not specific to any one bank chain.”

My heart nearly stopped. Was there a connection to Husfortap Manor after all? Granted, only a few thousand people watched the original Youtube video, but what about everyone who shared it on social media to their friends? I started to have second thoughts about my skeptical outlook, this was just too sudden to just be a coincidence. I thought my parents were going to have a heart attack when they checked their accounts only to find them completely empty, along with mine and my sister Emily’s. Of course, they all have me on Facebook, and I just shared that video like an idiot, so I basically fucked my family out of all our money.

Heart pounding, I darted up to my room, pulled up Facebook, and hurriedly deleted the video to stop it from spreading. Then, I went to Youtube to look up Crum’s email: he always posts his contact info in the description tab as a conceited attempt to receive personal complements. I sent Crum an email explaining the bank hack that had just occurred and that I thought it was linked to Husfortap. I also warned him not to post any more videos or visit the manor again. Okay, I thought, hopefully he’ll get the message and this is as far as it will go.

That night, I was unable to get to sleep; what if Crum didn’t heed my warning, or even if he did, what if one of my friends discovers the Manor on their own and posts the footage? I knew enough now to never watch it and surely not to repost it, but not everyone did. Not to mention, sometimes videos on Facebook auto-play, meaning they’ll play whether you click on them or not! I was afraid that, one way or another, this was going to get out. Then, as I was lying there pondering, I saw a familiar face on the other side of my bedroom window (which was on the second floor, by the way). Peering in at me with one hand placed firmly on the glass, was the Woman in Blue.

I jumped up in a fraction of a second, grabbed my flashlight and shone it at the window, but by the time I did, she was gone. I wasn’t imagining this; she was there, staring right at me! I opened the window and looked out, but still saw nothing, except one of the neighbor’s dogs giving me a weird look. Shaken, I closed the window, put the flashlight up and collapsed into bed. This experience didn’t help my insomnia much.

The next day, I just sort of vegetated through my classes, having not gotten any sleep last night. I barely remembered any of it, just sort of a blur of science, calculus, and history. Oh, and I think there was a fight in the hall, but two guys may have just tripped and fell. That’s how out of it I was. That afternoon when I got home, I found my sister in the kitchen attempting to comfort my parents, who had a look of utter despair on their faces.

“Guys, what happened?” I asked.

“We lost our jobs.” Dad stated. “My company filed bankruptcy and had to lay everyone off.”

“Same thing happened to me.” Mom said with the same disparity.

No, no, it couldn’t be, could it? I switched on the television, turned to the local news and sure enough, there it was on the bottom of the screen: “Rampant Job Layoffs Sweep the Country”. That son of a bitch, I told Crum to stop posting those videos, but he didn’t listen! Now someone close to my parents’ bosses must’ve shared the video to them, causing the company to go bankrupt and everyone who worked there to lose their jobs. These videos are beginning to affect people who didn’t even WATCH them!

I stayed downstairs to support my folks, though I was just as worried as they were now about our well-being. We now had NO money coming in: first all of our bank accounts get hacked, then mom and dad lose their jobs, we were screwed! Later that night, I dialed up Crum to give him a piece of my mind. I was seething with anger, this guy fucked up our lives due to his sheer negligence. I punched his number so hard into my phone I half expected the screen to crack. The phone rang once, then twice, three times….then voicemail, as expected.

“Crum!” I shouted into the phone. “You HAVE to stop posting those videos of Husfortap Manor, do you hear me? The curse is real, I swear to God I’m not making this up! All of my family’s bank accounts got hacked and my parents lost their jobs because of the videos. I sent you an email yesterday, which you obviously didn’t read, so now I’m telling you where you can’t ignore me: stop posting those videos!!!!” Then, I hung up, slammed my phone on my desk and collapsed in my chair.

I didn’t know what to do now. I could tell my family about the curse, but honestly, would they believe me? Even if so, what good would it do? If other people watching the videos now affected what happened to us, and Crum was ignoring my pleas, there wasn’t much I could do. I had to think of something though, I couldn’t just let my family’s lives fall apart right before my eyes! Emotionally exhausted from yet another devastating day, I drifted into an uncomfortable sleep right there in my computer chair.

When I opened my eyes, something was immediately different. I couldn’t see the light on my computer desk, or any light for that matter, except for the gleam from the moons outside the window. Wait, moons? As in plural? That couldn’t be right, yet there was no mistaking the white and red orbs staring back at me through the large window. But how could this be? The only place I knew of that had two moons was Tamriel, more specifically, Skyrim. I held my breath and prayed I wasn’t where I thought I was. Let me be in Jorrvaskr with the Companions, I thought, or the College of Winterhold. Please, just let me be anywhere except…where I realized I was when I turned around: Husfortap Manor.

Even in the dim lighting, there was no mistaking Husfortap’s interior. Its bare wood frame, its wide featureless single room, and its plain black book in the back of the room that recorded what ill fates befell those who visit this place. Yet as I looked around the room, I saw no sign of her. Good, as long as I didn’t speak to her, I wouldn’t be cursed. I hurried towards the large wooden door at the front of the manor and attempted to pull it open, but to no avail. I twisted the doorknob frantically, trying to get the door to open, but it was unfortunately locked. Then, a flash of lightning lit up the door’s window, and I saw a reflection behind me that made me freeze solid.

It was her, the Woman in Blue in her young form. I turned around to see her in her position in the center of the room. She stared through me with a look of horror and appeared visibly shaken. Her mouth trembled as if she was trying to say something, but no words came out. She stood there muttering for about five seconds and then reached a hand towards me.

“JOSEPHINE!!!!!!!” The Woman screamed in a shrill tone that sounded like death itself, aging each second of the cry until finally she decayed into a rotted corpse, not unlike the one described at the end of Skyrim’s Secret. As her body fell to the ground, her skull snapped off and rolled towards me, her empty eyesockets looking up at me and staring through my soul. The mansion then shook and fell down all around me, and a large beam of wood fell right on top of me.

I shot awake, almost out of breath, and looked around to see only my bedroom, warmly illuminated by my desk lamp. Of course it was all a dream, but it felt so real. For some reason, I couldn’t help thinking: what was the significance of that name the woman shouted, “Josephine”? Curious, I booted up my computer and ran a search for the name, along with various other paranormal keywords. I scrolled for a while through various irrelevant links until I came across an article that caught my eye.

The article included a photograph of a woman who looked exactly like the Woman in Blue. Pulling it up, I found that the woman’s name was Josephine Palmer. According to the article, Josephine was born in 1896 and was a third generation citizen of the United States, her family having immigrated from Norway. She was known by the townspeople as “the Blue Lady” for her tendency to always wear a deep royal blue gown. It was believed by her house servants that Josephine was a member of a small cult that worshipped a deity named Uheldig, patron of misfortune and strife. Uheldig was infamous for cursing nonbelievers, for no other reason than his personal amusement.

In 1921, on the night of her 25th birthday, Josephine committed suicide in her bedroom by drinking poison. Clutched in her hand was a note to her family detailing her motives. She had killed herself in order to appeal to Uheldig, who she claimed had promised to cure her infant daughter’s tuberculosis if Josephine took her own life and pledged her servitude to him in the hereafter. Mysteriously, the servant who tended to the baby noticed that her symptoms had vanished later that day. This was all starting to make sense now.

Suddenly, the signature ping of my email interrupted my train of thought. Odd, who was emailing me so late into the night? Pulling up my account, I was surprised to see that the message came from Jeff Crum’s address. Hmm, I guess my heated voicemail got through to him! I opened the email and immediately my screen was engulfed in a video player. The video that popped up scared me out of my skin.

It showed footage of Crum’s avatar entering Husfortap Manor and speaking to Josephine, who was late middle aged by this point. This was the sign of the third curse: Loss of Home. The scary part was, before the video opened, I got a glimpse of the message’s details: it was allegedly sent to “multiple recipients”. I desperately attempted to close the video, but to no avail. The email must’ve contained a virus preventing me from controlling the computer, or shutting it off for that matter.

“Your home is your sanctuary,” Josephine spoke at full-volume as I had a near panic-attack. “And you do all you can to preserve it, but what happens when others aren’t as responsible?” After the message was delivered, my computer completely shut off.

“What the hell are you doing in here?” Emily opened my door, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

“We have to get out of here now!” I told her in a panic.

“What are you talking about?” She responded.

“I don’t have time to explain, just go wake Mom and Dad up and tell them we have to get out!”

Emily sauntered downstairs to mom and dad’s bedroom while I waited anxiously; I wasn’t leaving without my family. What was going to happen to us though? According to the curse, we will lose our home due to someone’s irresponsibility, but none of us did anything to endanger our homes, did we? Unlike the kid in the Creepypasta, there’s no one else living here, so what could it be? As I ran through the scenarios in my head, Mom and Dad came around the corner, looking irritated and groggy.

“You want to explain to me why you’re having your sister wake us up at six o’ clock in the morning on a Saturday?” Dad demanded.

“I can’t right now, we just have to get out of the house before-” My sentence was interrupted by a loud boom from outside, followed by a low, intense rumbling. I ran to the window and looked outside just in time to see a mass of water slam into our house, which crashed through the windows and knocked me backwards. Disoriented, I attempted to regain my bearings, but could barely see in front of my face in the murky brown depths. Following my instinct, I swam upward, pushing past debris and furniture, until I surfaced at about the level my room would be.

Grabbing hold of a large piece of drywall, I called for my family. I found them holding onto various chunks of the house further down and regrouped with them. As we floated, we noticed other survivors had managed to escape the wreckage; from them we learned that the nearby dam had burst, causing the entire river to flood our neighborhood. One of the maintenance crew must have neglected to notice a crack in the dam, and that’s what caused it to burst.

Eventually, the National Guard flew in and airlifted us to a sanctuary, where we learned that several disasters like this had happened around the entire world, each a different case of catastrophe due to human negligence: house fires started by lit cigarettes, bombs accidentally detonated by one country or another’s military, faulty construction sites toppling and taking out nearby homes, you name it. Basically anywhere in the world you looked, it was one thing or another.

I couldn’t believe Crum, how could he do this to innocent people? Of course, as I thought about it, the possibility crossed my mind that he wasn’t even responsible at all. For all I knew, he received the final curse a long time ago and now Uheldig was using his account to spread the recorded videos. Whoever was responsible for this, I knew I had to put a stop to it, though I didn’t know how. Crum’s address was the one piece of personal information that he didn’t irresponsibly disclose to billions of people on the Internet, so I had no idea how to find him. I had to do something though, and I was running out of time.

“One thing I don’t understand,” Dad suddenly spoke up, breaking my train of thought. “How did you know that this was going to happen?”

“That’s what I’ve been wondering.” Concurred Emily.

“Alright you know what? Fuck it, you all deserve the truth.” I didn’t have the energy to think up a lie, I didn’t even care if they believed me or not. I told my family everything about Husfortap Manor, from the curses to Crum to Josephine Palmer, I laid it all out for them, and how if someone didn’t stop this soon, people were going to start dying, fast. To my surprise, none of them rolled their eyes or looked at me like I was nuts, they just…listened.

“You all probably think I’m crazy.” I stated at the end of my story.

“Sweetie, after all the weird things that’ve happened the past couple days,” My mom answered. “I’d believe just about anything.” Dad and Emily nodded in agreement.

Despite the urgency to stop the curses, I knew that none of us could do it in our current state of exhaustion, so we each grabbed a cot and settled in for a much-needed (if uncomfortable) sleep. As I drifted off, I suddenly felt a cold breeze lash my body. Opening my eyes, I saw I was now on a tall mountain, overlooking a vast winterland, with snow blowing past me in a sharp wind. Turning around, I was met by a great ancient structure built into the peak of the mountain, staring down at me. I recognized where I was immediately: I was on High Hrothgar, Skyrim’s highest peak. As I stared up in awe at the structure, I heard a familiar female voice off to my right.

“Even though it’s been my prison for so long,” Josephine said, trudging through the snow towards me, smiling. “I must admit this game is quite impressive.”

“Is this real?” I asked.

“It depends on what your definition of ‘real’ is.” She replied. The Woman in Blue always did speak in riddles.

“How are you able to talk to me here?” I asked. “Aren’t you bound to Husfortap Manor?”

“The passage of time has allowed me to build up my strength.” Josephine replied. “I’ve managed to escape Uheldig’s custody, and now I realize I made a horrible mistake by selling my soul to him. I want to try to make things right, if I can.”

She extended her arms, and words appeared in the snow, much like the glyphs do when the Greybeards teach you a Shout, only this time they spelled out an address: 1743 Oak Drive, Topeka, Kansas. This could only be Jeff Crum’s address.

“I’m choosing to help you because I believe you can do what must be done.” Josephine spoke. “Don’t prove me wrong.”

“But what do I do when I-” I started, though my sentence was interrupted by the most horrible noise I’d ever heard echoing across the winds. It sounded almost like a human shout combined with the roar of a lion.

“Uheldig!” Josephine exclaimed. “He’s noticed I’ve escaped and he’s coming! You have to go now, don’t waste a single second. Go!”

I sat up in my cot, heart pounding. Looking out of the shelter’s many windows, I noticed the sun was already up. Immediately waking my parents and Emily, I told them of the dream I had, and of the address revealed within it. The four of us left the sanctuary, lying that we had relatives we could stay with, and wandered into the nearby town. My God, the place literally looked as though a twister hit it. Buildings were ripped to shreds, debris and abandoned vehicles littered the streets, and stray dogs were seen scouring the wreckage, looking for any scraps of food they could find. It was like something out of an disaster movie.

Before long, we came across an abandoned SUV with the keys still in the ignition. The engine worked and it had half a tank of gas, so we took it. My father entered 1743 Oak Drive into the vehicle’s GPS and we were off. We drove for quite a long time through the great plains of the Midwest. Every once in a while, I would catch glimpses of distant towns devastated by various disasters, and on occasion an army transport carrying survivors would pass us.

“So this Crum guy,” my Dad said after a while. “You think he’s doing this, you know, on purpose?”

“I don’t know.” I answered. “I’m not even sure if he’s still alive.”

“Well if he is, he won’t be once I’m through with him.” My Dad half-joked, making the rest of us chuckle.

We drove in silence for a little while, before the skyline of Topeka revealed itself to us in the distance. Of course there was some obvious damage, but the city still looked reasonably intact.

“About time.” My Mom breathed in relief. Right as we started to celebrate, however, the GPS began to sputter and lose its image.

“What the hell’s wrong with this thing?” Dad asked, tapping the screen. The image continued to flicker and distort, until it displayed a new image. Immediately recognizing Husfortap Manor, I sprang out of my seat and tried to turn the GPS off, to no avail.

“Cover your ears, now!” I shouted. My dad slammed on the brakes and we all shielded our ears. Through my hands, I heard Josephine’s fourth message, Loss of Love, very muffled. However I could still make out the words: “Love is a powerful feeling, but it is so fragile in this chaotic world, which shows no mercy to even the closest of lovers”. I attempted to hum a song to drown it out, maybe that would negate the effect.

Finally, there was silence. We all removed our hands from our ears, and noticed that the GPS was back to normal. Dad immediately put the car back in drive and continued down the road; we started off at a normal speed, but I began to notice that we were gradually speeding up.

“Uh, Lewis, slow down a bit honey.” Mom said. Dad didn’t respond, the car continued to accelerate.

“Dad, slow down, we don’t need to get there that fast!” Emily said, a little scared. Again, Dad said nothing.

“Lewis, stop the damn car!” Mom shouted, the vehicle now going so fast that the outside world now simply looked like unrecognizable blurs of color.

“Dad, stop!” I yelled, though looking in the rearview mirror, I saw the lifeless, empty expression on my father’s face and knew he wasn’t at fault: it got us. Knowing better than to remove my seatbelt, I attempted to pull Dad’s leg off the gas pedal from the back seat, while Mom tried to wrestle the steering wheel from him. Dad pushed us off and then floored it, jerking the rest of us back in our seats.

“Look out!” Mom shrieked. I only caught a glimpse of the tree before our car slammed into it full-force, and I blacked out.

After some time, I opened my eyes and raised my head up. My forehead was wet with what I knew to be blood. Looking into the front of the car, I did not need to guess the fate of my parents: the front end of the car was completely crushed in and blood was seeping through the seats. I gasped in shock and devastation, barely able to breathe, and began shouting through tears. Then, I heard a low moaning in the seat next to me, and Emily began to move.

“Emily!” I gasped. Using a chunk of broken glass to cut off her seatbelt and mine, I dragged my sister from the wreckage of the car and onto the grass. She slowly came to and sat up, then noticed the car.

“Mom? Dad?” she muttered. Standing up, Emily darted towards the car, though I caught her before she could get close.

“MOMMY! DADDY!” Emily cried, bawling uncontrollably.

“Emily…they…they’re gone.” I said, holding onto her as tightly as I could. We both stood there in an embrace for several minutes. We couldn’t believe it, we couldn’t believe something like this just happened. Standing there, I wished more than anything that this whole experience was just a horrible nightmare that I would wake up from, but I knew better. After a few minutes, I said the most difficult sentence of my life.

“We have to go.” I said through sobs, to which my sister shook her head in defiance. “Emily, we can’t stay, we have to keep moving!”

“I can’t.” she responded.

“Emily, listen to me: if we don’t get to that address, everyone is going to die. Do you understand me?” I affirmed. Emily finally relented and agreed to keep pressing on with me, and the two of us made the long hike to Topeka.

After what seemed like hours, we made it, but the sight of the city was truly nothing to celebrate. Topeka had clearly been hit hard by the fourth curse. Left and right, bodies dangled from streetlights, burn victims littered the streets, as did those who’d obviously died from falling. Meanwhile surrounding them, loved ones mourned those they had lost. National guardsmen could be seen cutting people down off streetlights and clearing the bodies out of the streets. Emily and I were almost afraid to walk through the city, but somehow found the strength to push through.

“Excuse me,” I stopped a soldier passing through. “We’re looking for 1743 Oak Drive. Our, uh, cousin lives there and we want to make sure he’s alright.”

“Oak Drive? That’s all the way on the other side of the city, on the very outskirts.” The soldier said. “I can give you a lift there if you’d like.” We obliged, and the soldier took us to his jeep, which we rode through the nightmare. It seemed like half the city was dead by one means or another, and their relatives’ expressions of grief were unbearable to see. After a while I just tried to avoid looking at the streets, I’d seen enough death and sadness for one day.

“Never seen anything like this before,” the soldier remarked. “Mass suicides springing up all over the damn world in literally a few hours. Don’t know what’d cause something like that. At first we thought it was some kind of behavior-altering virus, but this has just spread too quickly, it almost seemed like it hit everywhere in the world at the same time. This is definitely a weird one.”

That’s an understatement. Eventually, we exited Topeka and drove until the jeep came to a stop in front of a small dirt road with a rusty street sign in front of it that read “Oak Drive”.

“Well, here we are.” The soldier said. “I hope you guys find this cousin of yours!”

We thanked the soldier and got out, then started walking down the long dirt road. Oak Drive didn’t have much to it, just a few rusted trailers that looked like they hadn’t been inhabited for years. The only life we saw on that road was a sluggish looking Rottweiler laying on the porch of a small shack while an equally sluggish looking old man dozed in a rocking chair.

The two of us walked for some time until finally we saw a mailbox with “1743” on it. The adjacent house was a white mobile home with a silver Prius parked outside of it. There was a large satellite dish around back, which appeared to have been recently installed.

“Wait here, I shouldn’t be long.” I ordered Emily as I made my way up the stairs. I knocked on the door, no answer; then I rang the doorbell, again to no response. Finally, I tried to turn the doorknob, but the door was locked. Coming back down off the steps, I grabbed the garden gnome at the foot of the stairs and approached the left-hand window. Using the gnome, I busted the glass, reached my hand through to undo the latch, and opened the window.

Climbing into the dark interior, I pulled out my cell phone and shone its flashlight around the living room, which looked abandoned. Every piece of furniture was covered in a fine layer of dust, and the carpet was decorated with empty beer cans, the remnants of food, and the occasional dead mouse. Spider webs were strewn along the walls, some still supporting their eight-legged craftsmen. This place looked like it hadn’t seen life for quite a while. It didn’t take me long, though, to find where I needed to go. Above the main hallway was Skyrim’s signature dragon symbol, drawn in something red I was hoping was permanent marker.

Going down the hallway, I saw on either side of the walls all the symbols the protagonist in the story saw in the black book, each signifying his fate: the Thieves’ Guild emblem, the beggar, the burning house, and the broken heart. Finally, I came to a closed door at the end of the hallway, which bore another symbol, but this one very large: a cloaked figure holding a scythe. It was a symbol of Death.

I reached down and slowly turned the knob, then very cautiously pushed the door open. It revealed a large room with several television monitors on the walls. In the center was a desk with a laptop and two computer monitors resting upon it. All of them were linked to a large, blinking server in the back of the room. This was clearly where the videos were coming from, and how they were being spread through the Internet and satellites. As I stepped inside, the laptop and all of the monitors suddenly clicked on, and an image appeared upon them.

I instinctively looked, and what I saw filled me with horror; it was the note that delivered the fifth curse: Loss of Life. I attempted to look away, but the image was everywhere. I closed my eyes but it was too late, I had already seen it. The words upon the note burned in my mind like a hot coal: Life is fleeting, and before we know it, it will be plucked suddenly from us. Truly the one thing no man can escape is the cold touch of Death. Filled with terror, I fell to my knees and shook my head in denial. How could I have come so far and let myself fail so easily? Then, I heard a voice to my left.

“It’s about time.” The voice uttered in a solemn tone. “I knew someone would come sooner or later.” Out of the shadows stepped Jeff Crum, looking worse for the ware. His clothes were torn to shreds, his glasses were missing a lens, he had a crazed look in his eyes and his face was caked in dirt, as if he hadn’t bathed for some time. He was definitely a sight for sore eyes. Though the one thing that worried me the most was the pistol tucked into his jeans.

“Who are you?” Crum demanded.

I told him my name and asked, “What is all this?”

“This is the end.” Crum responded. “Of you, of me, of everyone.”

“What are you talking about?”

“This planet is sick.” Crum said. “And mankind is the disease that’s killing it, with our pollution, our littering, and our squandering of natural resources. But this Manor, oh yes, this Manor is the cure. Finally Earth will be rightfully returned to the hands of Mother Nature where it belongs.”

“So you knew all along that the Husfortap curse was real!?” I accused, outraged. “You knew what you were doing to all those people?”

“Of course I knew! I’ve known for some time about things like this.” Crum said. “See, spirits and deities have been hiding cursed messages in art since the beginning of time, starting with cave drawings, then moving to stone tablets, then books, then movies. I knew it was only a matter of time before one made the jump to video games, that’s why I started that stupid Egg Beaters show, so I could try to weed out one of those messages and use it to finally cleanse the Earth of our parasitic species! At first all I found were dumb inside-jokes and weird random shit left by developers, but then I started hearing about this ‘Husfortap Manor’, and knew I had found my pot of gold.”

“You son of a bitch.” I said, my rage overflowing. “My parents are dead because of you!”

“Don’t worry.” Crum replied. “You’ll see them again soon. But now the both of us will bear witness to the greatest mass extinction since that of the dinosaurs: the extinction of man!” He turned to the laptop and began clacking at the keys. The monitors around the room showed that he was attaching the cursed note to a file, and uploading it to what looked like every web page on the Internet! He pressed enter, and the file began to upload.

“No!” I shouted, rushing forward, though Crum stopped me in my tracks by drawing his pistol and aiming it at my face.

“Stay back!” he ordered. “After all the trouble I’ve gone through, I’m not gonna let it fall to shit now!”

Suddenly, the monitors on either side of the laptop began to flicker and hiss static, startling Crum. Then, Josephine’s face appeared on the screens and she let out an ear-splitting scream. The glass on the monitors shattered and blew outward, sending shards flying into Crum’s body and knocking him off his feet.

“Hurry, the laptop!” I heard Josephine’s voice say in my head. I ran for the computer, but not before I was almost knocked over myself by a violent trembling. The entire house shook back and forth, and it sounded like a train was rumbling by outside. Finally the roof of the mobile home tore off and flew into the air, the rest of the house slowly following suit. We were in the middle of a cyclone!

“You’re too late!” Crum shouted, lifting his head up. “Our fates are sealed, along with the rest of humanity!”

I pushed forward, inching towards the laptop against the violent winds, and shielding my head from flying debris with my arms. Momentarily peeking out, I saw that the email upload was now at 35%. Then, before I had time to react, I was knocked to the ground by a wooden nightstand that flew right at my body. The wood shattered as it hit my arm, sending splinters deep into it; the sting of the impact blurred my vision and almost caused me to lose consciousness.

As my vision returned and I sat up, I was just in time to catch Crum crawling towards me. He grabbed me by the throat and forced me back to the ground; even through his bloodied face I could see a look of pure insanity in his eyes. Clutched in Crum’s fist was a shard of broken glass, which was clearly cutting into his hand. He raised the shard into the air and went to bring it down on me, gritting his teeth as he did so. Acting fast, I grabbed hold of a piece sticking out of his shoulder and twisted it as hard as I could. Crum yelled in agony and fell backwards, giving me time to scramble to my feet and head for the computer, which was now 85% finished. I had to hurry.

Finally reaching the laptop, I hammered the “Cancel Send” button, which prompted for a username and password. I tried shutting off the computer next, but got the same prompt. This computer was locked down tight with security. I finally decided that the only thing to do was destroy the laptop. Picking it up, I raised the computer above my head and prepared to slam it down on the desk, but something caught my eye. Through the winds, I could make out a large, shadowy profile looking in my direction, its glowing yellow eyes piercing the gusts like brights on a car. It was Uheldig, and he was angry.

The entity opened its mouth, revealing rows of razor-sharp teeth, and then lunged at me faster than any natural thing could. Instinctively, I shielded my face with the laptop just as Uheldig struck; the force of the attack tore the computer in half and knocked me hard onto my back. Looking up, I saw Uheldig flying away, carrying a struggling Josephine over his shoulder. As the tornado continued to rip the house apart, I crawled towards a piece of intact wall and leaned against it. Looking to my left, I saw Crum glaring up at me with a look of rage and contempt, before the floor below him was ripped away, and he was gone.

I sat back and let out a heavy exhale, knowing full and well my time was also upon me. Yet my thoughts were not about me in that moment, but about Emily. She’d lost the house, Mom and Dad, and now me. What would happen to her in the future? Where would she go? Just as I was thinking this, I noticed my sister through the cyclone, crouching in a nearby ditch. Her eyes and mine met for a brief second, before a chunk of roof flew towards me, and I saw no more.

I gave my life so that humankind could live. During the years that followed, I silently observed their progress: humanity would recover and thrive again, but it would never be the same as it was before. I’ve made sure to keep a close eye on Emily through all this. She’s come a long way, by helping others recover from the disasters, starting a charity organization for those who’d lost everything, and even finding love in the process. She’s grown into a woman I’m proud to call my sister.

As for Josephine, I can’t say what’s become of her. I’d like to think that if she escaped Uheldig’s clutches once, she can do it again, though realistically I don’t think he’s stupid enough to let that happen. Now every once in a while, I can almost swear I see her out of the corner of my eye, but every time I turn to look, she’s gone.

Humanity dodged a bullet this time, but we all must be more careful in the future. That is why I’m here now, guiding Emily’s hands as she types this. My message must be heard. Uheldig is still out there, and it is unknown what he has in store for the human race; he may return to Husfortap Manor, or he may plant a completely new curse entirely. This is why if you happen upon anything strange or out of the ordinary while playing the newest video games, approach it with caution. It may just be a harmless Easter egg and if so, enjoy it. However, if you notice anything peculiar in your real life shortly after its discovery, leave the thing alone. This message must be adhered to so that Uheldig will never again pose as great of a threat to mankind. The world need never again see anything like Skyrim’s Secret.

Credit To – Sean Blevins

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Metroid 2: Secret Worlds

November 6, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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A few months ago I was busy preparing to move to a new house when I came across something from my past.

I was going through my belongings, trying to figure out what to keep and what to discard, when I found an old shoebox stuffed down the back of my closet. Curious, I opened it up and found that it was full of CD’s. I flipped through them and realized that these were backups of files from over ten years ago.

I remembered that this was how I used to back up stuff before external hard drives became affordable enough for me to just start backing up with them.

I stopped packing and started checking out the CD’s on my computer. They were mostly full of stuff I’d collected off of the net like mp3s, roms and animated GIF’s.

I then came across a CD that was labeled ‘Conversations with Pahn’. I stared at the CD with some reservation for a moment before loading it into my computer.

The CD contained a bunch of images, a couple of audio files and some text dumps from a message board.
Looking over these files made me recall an incident that had occurred many years ago. It was an incident that had slipped from my mind until I saw that CD again.

Honestly, I was glad to have forgotten about it. It was a pretty freaky experience and to this day I still don’t know what to make of it.

It was 2004, I was in my last year of high school and I spent most of my free time being an admin for an emulation message board.

It wasn’t a particularly taxing job, I was one of three guys who were admins and the board itself was pretty niche, so we usually didn’t get a great deal of traffic.

Back then there wasn’t the bot problems you find on boards these days. Most of the time I just had to log in, check my messages, then browse through the forums to see if anyone was breaking any rules or just being a dick.

It was a pretty fun gig, I got the most enjoyment out of messing with persistent trolls.

Being an admin allowed me to change their avatars(I had pics of crying babies for such occasions) or edit their posts.

Usually I’d have them say stuff like “I suck”, “I cry into my pillow at night” or my personal favorite “I left my brain in the womb”.

Basically I used to get a real kick out of administrating justice on the board.

So one night a new guy registered to the forum and created a thread called “Need help to pull apart my nes”.

The following is from that thread:

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I was slightly mystified by his question and I had some time to kill so I thought I’d ask him.

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I almost laughed at this. I explained to Pahn what roms were and he got really excited.

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I got the gist that he really wasn’t very technically savvy. Which was fair enough, we all had to start from somewhere.

After explaining to him about roms and emulators I didn’t hear back from him for a few days.

He then came back to the board and became a bit of a regular. He would mostly start threads in which he was asking questions about emulation problems he was having.

A lot of people didn’t have any time for him.

They felt that he was just an annoying person who asked dumb questions. I remember one night he started a thread about how he couldn’t get an emulator to read games he had downloaded. We then had to explain to him what a zip file was and how it worked.

One of the other admins was thinking of banning him. He didn’t like the fact that Pahn was starting up new threads about stuff that had been already answered in earlier threads.

I told him not to do that, I’d have a word with Pahn.
I don’t know why I decided to step in, I sort of felt bad for the kid I guess.
 I also felt a bit of a connection to him because he was one of the few people I’d run across who was also a fan of the RPG Suikoden.

So I told Pahn to check through the board before posting any questions that might have already been asked and answered. I then told him if he got really stuck to just private message me.

It wasn’t long before he started messaging me. At first he would just ask me questions.

Lots of questions.

Fortunately he seemed to be a quick study, I didn’t find myself having to explain things to him over and over again. So I wouldn’t say he was stupid, just green.

Soon enough he asked me for some game recommendations and this lead to us talking about what games we were playing. It was from there that we started having a correspondence over the next few months.
We only really talked about games and movies though, the only personal stuff that I knew about him was that he was 16 and he lived in London.

One night we were having a conversation about Metroid games. I’d just clocked Super Metroid for the millionth time and was thinking about dusting off the original Metroid and giving that a go.

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It was a pretty well known glitch. Basically how it works is, if you are falling down a long shaft in some places in the game and then press the select button repeatedly really fast, you can make wall tiles disappear. If you go through the tunnel that is created you’ll end up outside the map.

You can then find rooms that are tile swaps of regular rooms, rooms that scroll repeatedly forever and rooms that look like they have been randomly thrown together.

Apart from using it to sequence break, it’s pretty pointless. It’s more of a novelty then anything else.

Some people started up a website devoted to the ‘Secret Worlds’. They were obsessed with mapping the whole thing out. Like they were explorers braving uncharted territory or something.

I tried it out myself once on my gameboy. I quickly got frustrated though after I kept getting stuck in walls when I moved between rooms.

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I didn’t hear from Pahn for a couple of days after that. Then one night he sent me a message.

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I taught Pahn how to take snapshots and upload them so that he could show me the stuff he was finding.

A few days later I got a message.

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After that I didn’t hear from him for about a week. Then one night I was on the message board and got the following message:

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Pahn sent me the links and I looked over the images he had uploaded.

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I knew straight away that this wasn’t a glitch.

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I asked him where he had got the rom from and he gave me the address. When I checked it out, the page wasn’t there anymore. Which wasn’t really surprising. Back then rom websites were frequently popping up and being taken down almost immediately.

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Just before I was about to go to bed I looked at the pictures again. It occurred to me that the words might form a sentence. I wrote the words down on a piece of paper and started trying out combinations. Eventually I came up with;

“HOW DARE YOU. STOP STEALING MY LEGACY.”

I thought it was a rather strange sentence. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would even bother hacking that message into the game, I didn’t even understand what it meant.

A few days later I got another message from Pahn.

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I taught Pahn how to capture the audio and gave him my email address. I told him to attach the file there if he did manage to record any sounds from the game.

I thought about what Pahn had described to me and I had to admit that I was pretty impressed by the hack.
I also agreed with Pahn’s reasoning. If someone had bothered to put this much effort in, then it was likely that they had done more. It was just a matter of finding it.

Though I was surprised that I had never heard of the hack before. I started browsing through rom hack sites, trying to find the one that Pahn was playing. I didn’t have any luck so I asked around in a few IRC channels but no one had seen anything like what I was describing.

The following night I was browsing the message board when I noticed I had a new private message. I saw that it was from Pahn and opened it up.

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The audio file finished downloading and I listened to it while I waited for Pahn to come back.

I didn’t know what to make of it, I’d never heard a gameboy make that kind of sound before.

At first it just sounded to me like a foghorn, but then another sound started to play over the top of the foghorn noise.

The other sound did seem familiar to me somehow, but I couldn’t quite place it. I found myself getting spooked so I quickly closed the file.

I got up and made myself a cup of coffee and a snack. By the time I got back to my computer 15 minutes had passed.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 16

I waited a few more minutes but I didn’t get a response from Pahn. I got worried for a moment but then just figured either a friend or family member had come by and he was busy.

I surfed the net for a bit, did some Admin duties then checked my messages again. Pahn still hadn’t come back. I was pretty tired by that point so I shut down my computer and went to bed.

I got up early the next day and checked to see if Pahn had left me a message.

He still hadn’t gotten back to me.

I headed off for school and didn’t get home till the evening. After I grabbed a bite to eat I sat in front of the computer and checked my email and private messages. There was still nothing from Pahn.

I left a few more messages and waited for his response. Over the next few days he still didn’t get to me and I really started to freak out.

I skipped school for a few days and stuck pretty close to my computer. One afternoon, after performing some minor admin duties, I re-listened to the sound that Pahn had sent me.

I still couldn’t make out what it was so I started playing around with it in sound recorder. I sped it up a few times and realized that the foghorn sound might be the the music that plays right before you fight the Metroid Queen. As I continued to speed the sound file up I realized what the other sound was, someone was talking over the music.

I had to speed the sound up over ten times to get it to sound like it was playing at the right speed. Once I had done that I tried to make out what the voice was saying. I had to listen carefully a few times before I got it.

The first part was an introduction. Someone was saying “I am…” and after that was presumably their name. I couldn’t catch what it was though, it wasn’t an English name.

The second part of the sentence was clear enough though.

“Knock Knock, I am here.”

Needless to say I was quite unnerved at that point.

I hit the internet again, trying to find out anything I could about the version of Metroid 2 that Pahn had been playing. I emailed people at the “Secret Worlds” website, I posted messages on numerous emulation websites and I spoke to people on various IRC channels.

Most people though I was joking, the rest thought I was crazy.

It seemed no one knew what the hell I was talking about.

Then one night I got a private message.

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I was a bit startled. When I’d been going around asking questions about Metroid 2 I hadn’t been using Pesmerga as my username. Nor had I mentioned what message board I was from.

I replied back to the message, wanting to know who was messaging me and how they had found me. But the user never got back to me. After that night I kept an eye on the logs of user activity to see if he came back to the site, but he never did.

I then took the message’s advice and looked up the name Gunpei Yokoi.

It didn’t take me long to find out who he was.

It turns out that he was hugely influential at Nintendo. Some of the games he worked on included the original Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, Kid Icarus, Metroid and Metroid 2.

But what he is best known for is arguably his greatest creation, the Gameboy. It’s often described as his legacy.

I kept reading the article in fascination when I got to a section that was about his life after leaving Nintendo. Not long after he left Nintendo and started his own company, Gunpei Yokoi died in a car accident. I glanced at the date of his death and that gave me a shock. It was October the 4th, 1997. The same day that I got my last message from Pahn.

I listened to the sped up version of the audio Pahn had sent me and that’s when I knew that the first part of the message was “I am Gunpei Yokoi.”

It was after this realization that I went through a period, which went on for about a year, in which I flat out refused to answer a door unless the person identified themselves.

Over the next few months I scoured the internet for any news stories concerning a missing teenager in London.

There were several stories that would pop up but the details were so vague that any one of them, or none of them, could have been Pahn.

There was one story that did catch my attention. It was about a missing teenager who had been last seen at home.

His mother had left for work and she said that he had been on the computer in the lounge room.

When she returned several hours later the lounge room was empty but the computer and various other electrical appliances were still turned on. At first she thought that he might be in another part of the house, but when she checked she found that it was empty.

She then tried to call his mobile phone and that was when she discovered that his phone and wallet were by the computer. It was at this point that she called the police. They investigated and found no sign of disturbance in the house and nothing was missing, well except for the teenager. He had vanished without a trace.

I looked for more information online but couldn’t find anything else.

I contemplated getting in touch with the police in London. But one thing stopped me, there was no way I could think to word my story without sounding like a crazy person.

Even if I could figure out how to word it properly, and if this missing teen did happen to be Pahn, there was no information that I could give them that they wouldn’t get off of his computer anyway. And if it wasn’t Pahn then I would just be wasting their time and possibly end up in some sort of legal trouble.

The words ‘hindering a police investigation’ popped into my mind.

I went back through my conversations with Pahn to see if there were any clues to his real identity that I hadn’t noticed before. But there was nothing there that revealed anything I didn’t already know about him. It was then that I realized that I always just assumed that he was a ‘he’ in the first place.

But there was nothing in our conversations to dismiss the possibility that Pahn had been a female. The possibility of Pahn being female instantly made the task of finding Pahn twice as hard.

In the end I had to give up, I just didn’t know what I could possibly do. I took screenshots of all of my conversations with Pahn, copied the pics and sound files he had emailed me and burnt them onto a CD, just in case I ever needed them again.

Not long after that I finished high school and then started working.

Within a month I stopped being an admin. I still stuck around the board for a few more months, but by then I no longer had the free time to post with any regularity. Over the following years I got busy with life and everything that happened with Pahn drifted further and further from my mind.

I decided to write this all down and put it online in the hopes that after all these years someone might know something about what happened to Pahn, or know of the version of Metroid 2 that he found.

As I said at the beginning, I honestly don’t know what to make of this.

Is there a copy of Metroid 2 floating around the internet that’s haunted by the ghost of Gunpei Yokoi? And if you have the misfortune to stumble across it does he come to your door, angry that you have dared to defile his legacy?

I try not to think too much about it.

When it does cross my mind now I like to imagine that the whole thing was an elaborate hoax perpetuated by Pahn. That he set the whole thing up months in advance. He created the images and the audio files. He came onto the message board, pretending to be a technically inept teenager, when really he was brilliant with a pc.

He was user12345, he was the one who told me to look up Gunpei Yokoi.

I like to imagine that he is somewhere out there, still laughing about the wonderful joke he pulled all those years ago.

Sometimes I can almost convince myself that it was just a hoax.

I think that was how I was able to get to sleep at night in the months after I lost contact with Pahn.
And I think that telling myself that it was all a hoax now is going to come in real handy on those restless nights in the days to come.

Credit To – Yuber Neclord

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Iquarus

October 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I don’t know how to start my story but I guess I’ll begin with the basic information and work my way down.

I used to be a computer junkie, so I tended to spend a lot of time surfing the web… reading blogs, articles… Facebook… the whole nine yards.
But my main focus was gaming. I loved to game. World of War Craft. League of Legends… Diablo III. ESO. I could go on. I’d spend most of my time playing games when I wasn’t at work, which was just contracting work that my dad helped me find to get me out of the house. I always caught myself wondering if I’d ever break out of my borderline lethal addiction to do something with my life that actually mattered to other people, mostly because I just wanted everyone to piss off and mind their own business. My sister would say “I don’t understand how you can spend so much time on something with no actual rewarding outcome besides a couple of measly points and theoretical money.” I didn’t let that bother me though.

It was more than that. I like the graphic satisfaction of being something I’m not. Having ultimate power over actual people who are just disguised as creatures, but who are trying just as hard as I am and not getting anywhere near as close to my greatness. It was real to me. And I loved every minute of it.

I never thought that one day I would throw my computer away. And not just throw it away. Throw it so hard into the dumpster, it shattered, sparked, and caused it to catch fire. Just thinking about it brings me anxiety. I trust right now my once very expensive, custom designed computer is sitting somewhere, destroyed in a landfill collecting trash scum. Good.

A few months back, I upgraded my system. I had just downloaded a new MMORPG game and I had to buy an entirely separate processor because I had modified my game so much (plus I have multiple games on my system). I’ll admit right here and now: I had done some dark things to get my computer to where it was then. Nothing evil or inhumane. Just illegal. Okay?

Normally having several games will slow your game system down dramatically but I wasn’t having that. I had spent all my hard earned money modifying my system so I could continue to rein power over all the n00bs and wanna-bes. I was king. I was to have the best system. Slow wasn’t an option. I named my system “Iquarus” because it was my favorite name. It was an older name, and it was ironic to have a modern system with an old name. It was always in my username too for my games. Granted I almost never got just “Iquarus” for my username so it was usually like “Iquarus32049812” or “IquarusKingOfLands” or something like that.

My best friend Joel and I played together all the time. We were both ranked up pretty high, and were competing for a chance to play for actual money in a tournament. And a lot of money too. So naturally, we spent so much playing that eventually people began to worry about us. We were obsessed. Hooked. The computer was our drug. Thank God we weren’t using anything stronger than coffee.

One day I was in the middle of a battle I had been going at for about an hour and a half. I was doing so well, I almost had it beat, when a black spot appeared on the screen. It was like a giant pixel that decided to block the way of my health and points. At first I assumed it was a little glitch. But it wouldn’t go away. I swore heavily at the spot, ignoring it best I could until eventually I lost the battle because it was in the way of site. I heard Joel swearing too. He was on my team, and we’d just lost an important battle that could place us in the finals. “The fuck happened, dude?” He asked with a pissed off tone.
“God damn glitch. I have to get Iquarus looked at.”

I called Geek Squad and had them take a look at Iquarus. “Well,” the tech said, “your system is overheating. When’s the last time you turned it off?”
I looked away with slight shame. “Well… probably 2 or 3 weeks.”
The guy laughed. “Gotta give her a rest kid. You could ruin this beautiful thing if you don’t turn it off once in a while.” He was right. He said sometimes the screen can get damaged if overheating occurs but it should go away in time.

The next day I turned the computer back on. The spot was still there. I felt myself get angry. That geek better be right…. I thought, I paid him $100 to give her a good look.

But the spot never vanished. It stayed there. In fact, the following day, it seemed to get bigger. Only by a few millimeters, but it was noticeable. Fuck it, I thought, and logged into my game. I wasn’t about to let a little pixel ruin my chances of winning a couple thousand bucks.

When I was on team speak, Joel gave a huge sigh. “Dude… we’re never going to make it into the finals. We might as well give it up.” I was offended by his tone. The only reason we’d lost was because of me and this stupid fucking spot. I wanted to win some money for being the best god damn game king to exist. “No,” I said angrily, “we’re going to win this thing. Come on, man.”
We began battle. We were kicking ass. We almost had the fuckers beat again. Then the spot began to flicker. But not like you’re probably thinking. The best way to describe this flicker is a slow every 3 seconds flicker… then once a second… then once a minute. Then switching between dark red…black…white…then almost like a blinding, glowing red.

I thought I was going to lose my mind. My brain was flooded with hate thoughts towards the computer company. That’s when I heard Joel say “Fucking mother fucking screen is messed up!” I guess Joel was experiencing some screen trouble too.
“Your screen’s got issues too, man?” I asked suddenly, glad I was no longer the reason of failure. “You Failed!” Appeared on the screen and I overheard glass break on Joel’s end. My guess was he’d thrown some kind of cup or bowl in a burst rage. I turned away from the computer and put my hands through my hair. Damn it was greasy. It must have been at least a week since I’d showered.

“Fuck this game, dude. My computer can’t handle the graphics and the pace of the programing is just too much.” He said, sounding like he was moments from going mad. “Let’s try a different game.” I grunted in approval then turned and looked at the screen. I leaned in closer because I wasn’t sure if I was seeing it correctly but sure enough I was. The spot had multiplied. Like chicken pox or poison ivy. It was spreading. I decided to ignore it, hoping it was some temporary glitching. I removed some other software games in hopes this would stop.

For the next few days I switched to another game and played with Joel a few hours a day. But Joel was slowly starting to distance himself from the computer. Since we lived a few towns away from each other, it was our only contact until school started up again. So naturally I was missing his presence in the games we played together. I called him one night after shutting Iquarus off and noticed his voice was dreary.
“I can’t sleep dude…” he said with a troubling tone, “I wanted to win that game. It’s haunting me. I can’t get over it.” I sighed.
“I wish the game wasn’t so lame that it was messing with my computer.” Joel stopped breathing.

“The game messed with Iquarus? Are you sure? Isn’t Iquarus like… top of the line hardware? Even…sort of illegally?” I laughed. “Yeah. But sometimes computers just can’t handle everything no matter how fancy or expensive they are.” Joel laughed. “Okay.”

Joel decided to take a bus over to my place the following weekend. He was obsessed with finding a way to play the game and wanted to figure out why my computer specifically was rejecting it. He couldn’t seem to believe that my computer would reject it.

I was worried about him though. Something wasn’t right with him. He’d claimed to be having dreams about being in the game and killing everyone gruesomely in his path so he could just win. His face was pale. His eyes were dilated. He smelled pretty bad. He wasn’t doing well. I was glad he’d decided to come over so we could spend real time together instead of obsess over this stupid game.

I’d mentioned that I hadn’t turned Iquarus on for a few days. He was thrilled about this. He begged me to turn it on since maybe that would make all the difference and maybe we could even get it up and running again. This made his eyes brighten and his face regain some color. I didn’t want to do this but if it would cheer him up, I was more than happy to give it a whirl.
When Iquarus turned on, though, the both of us had the same blood draining reaction to the computer screen. The spots had multiplied into a bizarre shape. It looked like some sort of evil pagan look a-like symbol. It gave me the chills, because the last time I’d seen it, it was only a few dots. Now it almost entirely covered the bottom half of the screen and was too obscure to shake off as a glitch. “The fuck…” I said trying to click around. When I clicked, the computer made an awful, pitchy noise but also sounded like when something electronic is malfunctioning… low pitched and almost like a whine.

My stomach turned so badly I took my hand off the mouse. The moment that sound started, Joel jumped up and fell backwards over his chair. He began to hyper ventilate and sweat profusely. I looked over at him in shock and stood up as well. “Wow…Joel are you okay?” He shook his head and I could see tears in his eyes. “Not you too… not you too…” he said over and over. I stared blankly at him for a moment and started to reach out for him but he stood up and ran out the door. “Joel wait!” I called after him but he didn’t respond. I scampered over to the window and watched him race off towards the bus stop.

When he stopped to wait for the bus, I saw him talking to himself. Occasionally he slapped his head a few times and shook while looking around suspiciously as if there were people watching him. I don’t know if it was Iquarus that had scared him but something suddenly drove him mad. I stood there for a moment and zoned out from the bizarre nature of what I had just witnessed. I wondered if I should call his dad or if maybe he was just having an episode. It was very bizarre and quite disturbing to witness.

I had begun to forget about Iquarus until she started making that terrible sound again. And it wouldn’t stop. It was continuing without reason. I tried to turn the computer off but it didn’t seem to want to shut up. In fact, trying to turn her off made the sound even worse. I even pulled the plug out but it wouldn’t stop. My dad came into the room and asked me if I was smoking cigarettes in my room again. (I had once made the smoke detector make a similar, less creepy sound by trying to unplug it when I was going through my pack-a-day phase my freshman year of high school).
I showed him the computer and he said the sound would probably die after some time, like the smoke detector. So I threw a blanket over Iquarus, put on some sound blocking head phones and fell asleep. Before falling asleep, I had texted Joel, telling him to call me when he had a chance, and that I hoped he was all right.
I woke early morning to a red glow from Iquarus. At first I thought I was dreaming until the sound was faintly resonating throughout the room. The symbol was slowly pixelating from black to red and it was flashing. It could see the shape perfectly from beneath the blanket. It was beginning to really freak me out. I pulled my blankets over my head and tried to think of something else. But I couldn’t fall asleep. It was terrifying.

Not even an hour later, I received a phone call. It was my dad, who was an EMT for the county.

“Hey sport,” he said, there was a really dim tone in his voice, “did I wake you?”

I got out of bed, shielding my eyes from the red glow, and walked out of the room downstairs to grab some milk from the fridge. “No. No I’m awake. What’s going on dad?”

He sighed heavily and cleared his throat. “I received a call this morning… to 55 Lake Drive…” At first I didn’t recognize the address.
“I didn’t realize where I was headed till I got there. It’s Joel’s house.” My stomach turned a knot. I almost hung up on him because I knew what was coming next. “We think… Joel committed suicide..” I dropped the phone and thought maybe I was going to pass out. I had just seen him. Not 24 hours ago. I heard my dad’s voice shouting so I quickly picked it back up. I’ll admit.. I’m a guy, and I have some pride. But I couldn’t refrain from the tears and shouting. “You’re out of your fucking mind, dad! Joel was a happy kid, he’d never do that! He’d never do that!” saliva and mucus drained from my nose and mouth. “I’m sorry kiddo. He was a good kid.” I hung up the phone and sat at the kitchen table for a long time. Crying. Thinking. Wondering. How could he do that? How could he kill himself? He couldn’t have. Then I wondered how he’d done it. When? He would have told me things. We were close. Best friends since first grade. The fuck Joel?

Dad didn’t come home for a few hours. I was still sitting at the table when he walked through the door. My face was swollen with misery. Joel was my only best friend. I had other friends but none like Joel. He was cool. We had so much in common. Dad sat down at the table and looked at me. “I kow you’re probably taking this harder than ever…but… there’s an investigation going. The sheriff is on his way over to speak with you,” he said sternly. I felt myself make a confused gesture with my eyebrows. “The sheriff? Thought it was a suicide?” I said shakily. “Well… they think there could be some other factors that you personally may know about.” I angrily put my hands in the air. “Like fucking what?!” I shouted, assuming they thought maybe I had something to do with it directly. My dad slammed his hand down on the table.

“You listen to me,” he said, eyes so solidly gazing into mine, it made the hairs on my neck stand up, “You just better calm your ass down. I know this is hard. I know. I saw the poor kid’s dead body, you hear? Now when the police are involved, it don’t matter what they’re trying to get outta you, you tell them everything you know, you understand?” I stared blankly at him and looked away. “Yes, Sir.”

Around 12 the police arrived at my house. The Sheriff made quite the entrance, if you know what I mean. Smacking on a piece of gum, keys jangling with every step his clunky boots made. Mustache right out of a Dirty Harry film. He tilted his sun glasses down and nodded his head towards me. “You must be Damon.” I nervously nodded and put my hands together. “Yes, Sir.” He whipped out a file from seemingly nowhere and sat down across the table from me. He opened the file and removed his glasses.
“You were close to Joel, yes?” He asked. I nodded. “He was my best friend.” He grunted.

“When is the last time you saw him?” I looked right at him and leaned forward. “Yesterday, Sir.” He gave me a questionable look. He was going to try to intimidate me, and it was insulting. I tilted my head to the side. I knew he was going to drag this out and quite frankly, I was in no mood to be fucked around with. “You gunna cut to the chase or we gunna pussy foot around all day?” I said with a cold tone, waiting for the interrogation to begin.

“Damon, you watch your fuckin tone young man-“ Dad began but the Sheriff silenced him with a gesture of his hand.
“It’s alright, Dan, if he wants to be treated like an adult, I’ll respect that.” He said tossing a series of photos onto the table. “Your friend brutally murdered himself in his bedroom at what we believe to be around two in the am.” My heart almost stopped at the sight of the photos. Red. Bloody. Terrible. Horrifying.

The Sheriff stabbed a fat finger onto the one of Joel’s bloody face. “He stabbed himself in the eyes, the ears, and finally, the throat. He bled out within the hour.” He said with a strong southern accent. “We understand he was having some anxiety towards his obsessive computer use. Know anything about that?” I held back my tears as long as my manhood would let me, but it was only so long before the lump in my throat became so painful my voice was unbearable.
“He was upset about not being able to win a tournament. But I didn’t know how obsessed he was. Not to this extent.” My tears couldn’t be held back. I felt them fall and then winced when I realized they had fallen onto one of the photos. I looked down at the photo and felt my face go white when I realized I was staring at the same evil black pattern that my computer had displayed this morning. “You done look like you seen a ghost young man, that photo mean anything to you?” I picked it up and stared at the blood spattered computer. The pattern was the same. Half red. Resembling an evil, demonic spiraled symbol of some kind.
“Was there a sound?” I said staring at the photo. The Sheriff uneasily snagged the photo from me. “What do you know of the sound?” My dad and I stared at each other for a moment then parted gazes. I turned to the Sheriff and tried to make logical sense of this. I lied and told them Joel had mentioned it to me. I told them I was convinced it was some sort of potentially untraceable hacker, and that Joel was just obsessed with his game that perhaps he was slowly developing a mental illness. So when the virus spread into the only thing that was making his life worth living to him, he lost his mind.

I’ll never forget that night Joel came over and saw the same image on my screen. I wanted to mention it but instead, I kept it to myself.
Dad suggested I get rid of Iquarus. So I did. I threw her in the dumpster and watched her catch fire, slowly burning in her evil aura from hell. With a sound so awful you’ll want to go deaf. A sight so horrible you’ll want to go blind. A presence so dark, who knows what you’ll do with yourself.
I couldn’t bring myself to post this online, I’m too afraid I will attract whatever it was again, so I forwarded this to a friend to repost. I will end by saying this: Demon. Hacker. Virus. Whatever it was. It may still be out there. Please be careful. Rest in Peace Joel.
-Damon

Credit To – Damon

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Bad Skyrim

October 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Bad Skyrim

This is an audiopasta hosted on YouTube. If the embedded video does not display for you, please click the link above to load the pasta on its YouTube page. Enjoy!

Credit To – Ciaran Lovejoy / CreepyPastaSr

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Skyrim’s Secret

August 27, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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If there are any Skyrim players on here, beware of a place called Husfortap Manor. It exists just outside of the playable area in the southwestern most end of the map, directly south of Markarth. You’l see it on the edge of a mountain as what appears to be a clearing with a rectangular white structure at one end. I found it one day while playing around with the console commands on the game. See, I was bored and decided to explore beyond the playable boundary of the game, as developers tend to leave some interesting Easter Eggs or unfinished concepts in the “Great Beyond”. So I used a command allowing myself to clip through the invisible wall that prevents you from leaving the map and explored around a bit.

For the first hour or so, I didn’t really see much besides empty forests and mountain ranges. I did come across the model for what looked like an early concept for the Falmer, and one of the developers apparently carved his initials into the side of a mountain, but that was really about it. Finally, while approaching the southwest mountain range, I thought I saw what looked like a structure on the other side. My curiosity sparked, I clambered up the mountain with surprising ease and landed in a large grassy yard in front of an enormous white mansion. In front of the mansion was a simple wooden sign that read “Husfortap Manor”.

The mansion itself was surprisingly low-res for a game this recent and lacked a lot of graphical detail aside from two large rectangular windows on either side of the door, and four featureless columns lining the porch. The lawn was also very rudimentary, lacking any sort of decoration or graphical texture and existing instead as little more than a wide sea of green. This must have been a planned location that was abandoned early on in development.

I entered the mansion, which turned out to be nothing more than a bare frame on the inside. No furniture, lamps, or trophy heads were present to decorate the wood walls; the only decoration this place had was a small podium on the very back wall with a featureless black book resting on it. I approached the book and pressed the prompt to read it (which oddly didn’t give the title, it just said “Read”), though disappointingly the page was completely blank except for a number 1 in the upper left corner. Placing the book down, I turned to leave and was unexpectedly greeted by an NPC I hadn’t seen on the way in.

It was a young woman, apparently a Nord, with jet-black hair and wearing a long blue gown. She sort of looked like Lydia but thinner and with longer hair. The woman stood in the center of the mansion, just staring at me and turning her head to follow me as I walked around her. As I came to about even with her, she said bluntly: “Wealth is temporary, what is here today will be gone tomorrow.” I wasn’t sure exactly what this meant, maybe some unrealized quest involving retrieving this woman’s stolen gold?

I determined there was no more to see here and left the mansion. This was certainly an interesting find: an entire location and character forgotten in the code of the game, and I had just uncovered them! And speaking of the character, I intended at some point to find that woman’s code so I could bring her to the main game and make her marryable: she was kinda hot!

Unfortunately, this high point would be overwritten by a horrible next day. On the way home from work, someone came up behind me, knocked me over, grabbed the wallet out of my pocket and ran off. I didn’t see their face, only that they were wearing jeans and a black hoodie. That wasn’t really a tremendous help to the police, who said they’d try to find the suspect but without an actual physical description, it’d be difficult. This definitely sucked: even though I can call and cancel my credit card, I had about eighty bucks in that wallet, and I’m damn near broke as it is! For some reason, I couldn’t help but recall what that woman in Skyrim said: “Wealth is temporary, what is here today will be gone tomorrow.” I knew it sounded silly, but I couldn’t shake that phrase from my mind. Maybe there was a connection?

I ultimately dismissed this thought as ridiculous. After all, whoever heard of a “magic fortune-telling video game”? However, I did need some cheering up after this. I fired up Skyrim and decided to return to Husfortap Manor, as last time I neglected to find out the mysterious woman’s name, which would be helpful if I’m going to hack her code and marry her! After journeying back to that end of the map (and killing a very persistent dragon along the way), I climbed back over the mountain and reached the mansion. Something was different about it though, the bright white that had cloaked the mansion yesterday had now faded into an almost “dirty white”, and the windows were coated in a thin layer of dust, making the view inside slightly translucent.

I approached anyway and stepped inside; to my surprise, the woman had seemingly undergone a change as well. She was a few inches taller, her hair was also a lighter shade than before, and she had more noticeable frown lines. It was almost as if she had aged to some degree. Not drastically, but she definitely wasn’t the hot young twenty-something I ran into yesterday. The woman’s deep blue gown also looked a bit faded, as though it too had aged. As I approached, I noticed that the prompt to talk to her never appeared, making it impossible to know the woman’s name. When I looked to face her, she offered me a faint smile coupled with a slight sigh, almost like she was faking being happy to see me.

“A man works hard for his coin,” she said suddenly. “But when he ceases to be useful, he is cast away to starve.”

Great, another cryptic message from an unmarryable NPC of unknown name in a bare house with nothing but a useless book. Disappointed, I left Husfortap Manor for what I intended to be the last time: it was a neat find, but there wasn’t anything of real value there.

The next day, I was hit with another whammy. As I came into work at the corner gas station, my boss pulled me into his office and told me that the place had gone over budget and he had to let a few of us go, and sadly a certain someone was among these few. I tried to explain my financial state, as well as the little incident yesterday with my wallet, but my boss merely apologized and said that there was nothing he could do, that he “simply didn’t have enough money to pay me.” Whatever, that was a crap job anyway.

As I walked home, a thought came to me, besides my hatred for my boss, that is. This was twice that the woman in blue had predicted my fate. The other day, she said something about the “loss of wealth” right before I get mugged, then just now she mentions workers being cast away, and here I am unemployed the next day. I know I just dismissed this thought as silly, but what if the mysterious woman was predicting my future?

That night, I decided to show the Easter Egg to one of my friends, who’d also been trying to explore the outer fringes of Skyrim with no luck. I had explained to him all the weird things that had happened including being mugged, losing my job, and the cryptic messages that predicted both.

“Dude, that’s so weird.” My friend said when I told him what happened, though I wasn’t sure if he fully believed me.

“I know,” I replied. “I’m kind of afraid to go back, but you know, maybe I can use this as a heads-up from now on.”

I started up the game and returned to the mansion, which was now in even worse shape than yesterday. It looked like the white paint was actually starting to peel off, revealing a stony gray undercoat. Tiny cracks were also beginning to form here and there, if nothing else giving the mansion some texture and personality, albeit an unpleasant one. When I entered, I saw that the woman had aged again as well. This time, her hair was beginning to gray and she had noticeable wrinkles on her face; she looked like she was about in her fifties this time around. Her dress was also beginning to tatter and lose its color.

“I thought you said she was a young woman?” my friend said.

“She was last time, she ages every time you visit the house.” I replied. My friend was confused by this, and with good reason seeing as how NPCs in this game don’t age. As I approached, the woman exhaled and her face almost looked sad.

“Your home is your sanctuary, and you do all you can to preserve it.” she spoke. “But what happens when others aren’t as responsible?” Her tone sounded very melancholy.

“Did you hear that?” I asked my friend in an alarmed tone.

“I didn’t hear her say anything, dude.” he said. “When she opened her mouth, all I heard was static.”

I packed up my computer in a hurry, ran out the door as fast as I could and tore down the street towards my apartment. Maybe I could get home in time to stop whatever was going to happen. Just because the game predicted it doesn’t mean it’s happened yet, right? There still might be time, I thought to myself. There might still be time.

I didn’t need to get close to see the flames. What used to be my apartment building was not a glowing orange inferno; firemen were already at the scene attempting to quell the fire, but it wouldn’t be enough to salvage my burning home. Speechless, I could do nothing but look on in despair at my room, crumbling and falling to pieces before my eyes.

“I’m gonna have to ask you to stand back, sir!” one of the firemen ordered me.

“What the hell happened!?” I cried.

“One of the residents left their stove on and gas spread into the air. We think that they went to light a cigarette and the entire room went up in flames.” The fireman explained. “Did you live here?”

I nodded, and the fireman apologized and offered his condolences. I didn’t know what to think. On the one hand, I was glad I wasn’t inside the apartment, thanks to my discovery of this Easter Egg. However I had just lost everything I owned in that fire, all except for my laptop, and this copy of Skyrim.

Luckily, my friend let me stay at his place for a while, so at least I had a roof over my head. For the next week or so, I focused on trying to find another job so I could rent a new apartment room, yet I was having no luck whatsoever. I told my girlfriend, Susan, the whole situation, from the mugging, to me getting fired, to my apartment burning down. However I did leave out the part about the Skyrim fortuneteller as she is neither a gamer nor superstitious. Susan was overcome with sympathy towards my situation and offered to talk to her boss to see if I could get a job where she works. She really is one-of-a-kind, I thought to myself.

Of course, I still put out what must have been eight job applications that day, just to be safe. Afterwards, I was mentally exhausted and ready to get lost in my video game once again. I decided not to visit Husfortap this time though; I just needed a normal session of escapist fantasy to relax my mind. All was going well for a bit: I took on a few random quests, raided a bandit camp, and brought down a few bears. Then, mysteriously, a courier approached me in the forest.

He did his usual bit about having a letter “for my hands only” and then handed me a note called “SkyrimNote367.esp”. This was made especially bizarre by the fact that I was in the wilderness when this happened, and typically couriers only hand you messages in cities. Regardless, I decided to read the odd note. I pulled up my inventory, opened the note, and saw that it only had one sentence: “Do NOT come back.”

This had to have come from the woman in blue, and I understood why: each visit causes her to age, and we both knew that, eventually, she would be aged to death. Be that as it may, this woman had a gift that could mean the difference between life and death for me. If her predictions could help me prevent possible disaster, I needed to know them regardless of the consequences to her. The needs of a flesh-and-blood human being are above those of an artificial intelligence, sentient or not. I was definitely going back to the manor.

I decided to immediately head for Husfortap after all. Reaching the edge of the map, I entered the console command and scaled the out-of-bounds mountain until I reached the mansion, which was now almost completely dilapidated. One of the support columns had fallen over, littering the front porch with rubble. The windows had all now been busted out, revealing an interior that was dusty and riddled with cracks. The exterior of the house was also checkered with spider webs, their inhabitants eyeing me cautiously.

The woman inside had, as usual, aged along with the house, but a bit more drastically this time: her hair had turned completely white, her face was heavily wrinkled, and she was beginning to hunch over. She looked like she was in her late sixties or early seventies. Her blue gown had now faded into more of a bluish gray, and was littered with rips and tears.

As soon as she saw me, the woman outstretched her hands in protest and shook her head, her face conveying a look of both fear and desperation. However, she did not back away or run, as though she was fixed to that one spot in the middle of the room. I approached the woman in defiance of her protests, causing her to lower her arms and hang her head in defeat.

“Love is a powerful feeling.” The woman choked out, her eyes glassy, as though she was about to cry. “But it is so fragile in this chaotic world, which shows no mercy to even the closest of lovers.”

My heart dropped. The person I loved more than anyone in the world was Susan. We’d been going out for three years and were practically perfect for each other. If anything had happened to her, it would destroy me. I slammed my laptop shut, grabbed the keys to my friend’s car (who luckily was asleep), and floored it to Susan’s house. During my drive, I could only pray that I would get to her in time. I had waited several days to return to Husfortap, what if I already found out too late? Arriving at my girlfriend’s house, I could see through the window that her kitchen light was on. Good, I thought, at least she was home. I approached the door and pounded on it several times. No answer.

“Susan, are you there?” I called, my voice shaky from sheer terror. After a few seconds, I knocked again, my strikes louder and more frantic this time.

“Susan, please open the door!” I called again, pounding furiously, to which there was no response. I was mortified now.

Unable to waste another second, I rammed the door as hard as I could with my shoulder. Once, and then a second time. Finally, I charged full force at the door causing it to give way. I hurried to the kitchen only to find that my worst fear had come true: I was too late. The love of my life lay motionless on the kitchen floor, her mouth dripping foam and her head lying in a puddle of blood. I knew Susan was an epileptic; she clearly had an episode and hit her head on the kitchen table.

I literally felt my soul shatter into a million pieces. Not able to remove my gaze from the dead body of my girlfriend, I staggered forward and fell to my knees. If I had been here just a few minutes earlier, she may still be alive. I lifted Susan’s head out of the puddle of blood and held her to my chest, sobbing uncontrollably. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than for her to reach out and hug me back. In a way, I died that night as well.

Nearly a week had passed since my girlfriend’s death, yet that horrible night still burned fresh in my mind. Why wasn’t I quick enough? Why hadn’t I gone to receive the woman’s prediction earlier? I just couldn’t bear this guilt any longer; no matter which way you look at it, Susan’s death was my fault.

Or was it? That fortuneteller had to have known for some time that this would happen, yet she waste all that valuable time with far more trivial predictions. I could have live without the eighty bucks stolen from me, or that crap job of mine. Hell, even my apartment could have been replaced! But Susan was my love, my soulmate. I had plans to marry her one day. Yet this woman, she chose to tell me the least important fortunes first, knowing what would eventually happen. Had she revealed Susan’s fate from the get-go, or even informe me in her note (that she hacked the game to send me, no less), I could have saved my girlfriend. This was all her fault!

Hastily booting up my laptop, I could see nothing but red. I was gonna kill her, I was gonna bust down that mansion door and break her old body with the strongest weapon my character had. When the game loaded, I was at the very far end of the map as far away from Husfortap as I could be. Plant me wherever you want on the map bitch, it won’t save you!

I barreled through the land faster than I thought my character could, mowing down any unlucky AI enemy that crossed my path; nothing was going to get in my way. My mind was fixated, I could think of nothing more than avenging my girlfriend’s death. The forests and holds of Skyrim flew past my vision in a blur of color; I literally stopped for nothing. At last I reached the mansion, which had completely collapsed into a pile of unrecognizable rubble now, and equipped my warhammer. I was just itching to bash the old woman’s brains in.

I ducked under the fallen beams and clambered over the piles of collapsed marble to find the woman in her usual position in the center of where the building would be. This time, she was older than I’d ever seen a human being. She was hunched and trembling, looking like she was hardly able to stand up. Her arms looked more like skin stretched over bones, her hair was nothing more than thin wisps of white, and her gown existed simply as ragged strips draped over her crippled form. To be honest, the woman looked barely alive at all. In this moment, my rage and hatred gave way to almost pity; her advanced age was clearly putting her in a great deal of pain. I put away my hammer and just stood there, at a loss for what to do.

“You came back.” The old woman breathed in what was little more than a loud whisper. “Why did you come back? Why couldn’t you just stay away?” I could tell she was sad, but simply too exhausted to convey it. At this time, a moment of clarity came over me. I fully understood for the first time that this woman was not a simple mindless AI acting out programming, but rather a living and thinking being who existed within the game. I didn’t know where she came from or who put her there, but there she was nevertheless.

“What are you talking about?” I caught myself asking out loud. The woman, almost as if she had heard me, raised a trembling arm to point to the book at the back end of the mansion. I was confused: the last time I looked at that book, it was blank except for a single number, what would be different now?

Still, I found myself overcome by curiosity and opened the odd book once more. To my surprise, the contents of the book had completely changed. Rather than one simple number, there were now the numbers 1 through 5 running down the page, each with a different symbol by it. The first symbol was that of Skyrim‘s Thieves’ Guild, the second was a silhouette of a beggar, the third of a burning house, the fourth of a broken heart, and the fifth entry…blank.

Wait, if this place knew my future, why was the final entry blank? Then a horrifying realization hit me: what if the woman in blue wasn’t predicting my future after all? What if my visits here were actually causing all those things to happen? They did seem to happen very shortly after speaking to the woman in blue. Yes, it all made sense now: the woman wasn’t at fault, she was simply the messenger of whatever was responsible for the atrocities plaguing me, yet I had to hear her message for them to take effect. That’s why she never wanted me to return here! She knew that my visits would eventually lead to Susan’s death and tried to stop me, but I just wouldn’t listen. Now, my girlfriend was dead and my life was in shambles because of my arrogance and stupidity. Shaken, I closed the book and turned to leave, only to see a horrifying sight.

The woman was dead, and her body was completely decayed. She honestly looked like a draugr with the now-gray rags thrown over it. Clutched in her skeletal hand was a small note, which I dared not read, for I knew what it would say. This manor had taken everything from me, and now there was only one thing left it could take. Terrified and still furious, I switched the computer off, ripped out the game disc, and tossed it in the trash, ensuring the manor’s final curse went undelivered.

Nearly a month has passed since I threw the game away. I am completely broke now and still without a job. My friend’s sense of charity is gone and he kicked me out, and I have no family who can take me in, so now I am completely alone. The only possessions I have now are the clothes on my back and my laptop, which I intend to sell after I type this so that I can finally get some fresh food for once.

I still have no explanation for what happened to me, or where Husfortap Manor came from in the first place. All I know is that there are forces in this world we can’t even begin to understand and, when tampered with, they will destroy us. I had to learn this lesson the hard way and I hope that none of you make the same mistakes I did. If you happen across that mansion in your game, do NOT enter it and do NOT speak to the woman in blue!

As for me, though I will always revile that place for what it did to me, every night when I go to sleep, I toy with the idea of going to the landfill and finding that copy of Skyrim, so that I can return to Husfortap Manor and receive its last message. After everything Husfortap has taken from me, maybe now it could finally give me something: peace.

Credit To – Sean Blevins

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