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.
((The following passage was found on an abandoned jump-drive two miles outside of Philadelphia. Though a somewhat longer passage, it has been passed on to, edited, and submitted by K.B. Miller. Original sources refused to disclose the exact location where such jump-drive was found. Therefore, certain names and events have been changed or redacted.))
I can’t believe I’m doing this.
Let me begin by saying I’m not sure how much time I have. I’ll try keep it short, to be as detailed as possible. The cowardice inside screams for me to get away, to not just sit here. But the author… she wants this written down, almost like a final verse in this sick play. All I just know is that the world needs to understand. They need to know the secret behind Spring Grove. I’m not good at writing this kind of thing. The more I speak of it, the more ridiculous it’s going to seem. But please. Just listen to me…
… I guess I should start where it counts: are you a fan of children? I was. I was never really fond of newborns, but any child beyond the state of toddler held a certain weakness of mine. Their deep, vibrant eyes, constantly sweeping the world; but nothing fascinated me more than their mind. Their minds are the image of purity, blank as a white canvas until our vile black paint stains it like poisonous ink. I witnessed that tainting. Right before my very eyes.
My whole reason for getting myself mixed up in this crap was for a project, one that would assure my graduation from Art Institutes. It was simple enough: a short, meaningful documentary on a subject of our choosing. I was a film student, you see, and was no stranger in approaching random people and asking for a moment of their time in front of the camera. But I wanted to branch out. I wanted to be different, to be brave. I wanted to do something that no one else thought about looking into.
My brother had recently picked up his Play Station 4. All the better, since he hadn’t shut up about it since it was announced. A few weeks in, and he discovered that Red Barrels had posted a free download of Outlast, a horror game whose gameplay I couldn’t get enough of on YouTube. As I sat quietly in a corner after begging to observe his reactions like it was a staged comedy, I turned my attention to the game itself. Man, places like Mount Massive Asylums got a bad reputation through media like this. I had never truly entered an asylum myself. What could be the harm? Things like this were victim to Hollywood bull.
That’s it. I can expose an asylum for what it is. I could do more than present this as a project; I could pull a Steven Spielberg and publish this baby straight to Netflix.
Being the spastic, excited fool I was, I immediately began research for my first blockbuster. It had to be someplace close, since my car had a tendency to chew out my savings every tire rotation. They would also have to be comfortable in front of the camera. Avoiding lawsuits and invading privacy wasn’t exactly my forte. Any psychiatric facility would do. I didn’t ask for much.
Of course, all asylums in the immediate area refused any and all requests to even an interview. I never asked questions, and it never crossed my mind any of them had anything to hide. They probably figured I was still a student, and places like that could be dangerous for those without proper training. Yet, so were prisons, and I’ve seen plenty of cameras in places like those. I just flowed with whatever rolled my way, and one day… it paid off.
The First Day
Spring Grove Hospital Center was what they called it. I could care less of what it’s called, now. To me, it was Hell on Earth. But not then. Then, I was ecstatic that they even considered me, and I grabbed the first opportunity I had to begin my trek to suburban Baltimore. The drive was unpleasant, but the views were astonishing. I had only before experienced the great city, but Spring Grove’s campus was a breath of fresh air.
I swore at first I was driving to have a meet with a queen before pulling in. The buildings were spread and massive, almost medieval with a touch of modern technology. In fact, it almost resembled a few college campus’ that I had previously visited. But I knew better. This asylum was going to provide more experience than any education would. Speaking of which, I was quickly put in my place for even mentioning the word ‘asylum’. Apparently, I had to use the term ‘psychiatric hospital’ at all times during my stay, but whatever. Being politically correct is irritating as it is. A woman stood waiting for me at the door, as though my arrival was that of some kind of celebrity.
“You are Jacobson, yes?” She addressed me formally, with a broken accent I couldn’t exactly put my finger on. “Come. We show you around. You film camera whenever you like.”
She took me into the bowels of the building. Well, I can’t call it the ‘bowels’, exactly. It seemed quite pleasant at first, with plenty of light and fresh air amongst the living space. I was already having my doubts on this whole assignment. I was expecting medieval torture and massacres. This place was downright comfortable. Maybe it was just bias getting in the way. Filming this place as it was, whether it’s insane or a sanctum, was my mission. The truth. I took out my camera and already began getting some footage. The thought nagging at the back of my mind was that this was going to be a bit of a letdown back at the Institutes. Maybe I should just film a horror attraction instead, if that’s what they expected.
“Spring Grove was established in 1797. Is second oldest operating psychiatric facility in the nation.” The woman explained to me. “Is known for its research in schizophrenia.”
It wasn’t far into the asylum before she wanted to turn back. I knew in my gut we hadn’t seen the whole facility, and I hadn’t gotten nearly enough information for my documentary. She disregarded any attempts to go further, stating that was all she had to show me. I researched for days, drove for hours, for only ten minutes worth of material? It was NOT going to end like this. My college education (and my portfolio) were at stake.
So, I devised the ultimate plan: before we journeyed back to the entrance, I excused myself to the restroom. There, I waited patiently, faking whatever bowel movements I could, before I could slip out undetected.
I was feeling pretty good about myself, until it slowly began to dawn on me that the patients were becoming more and more scarce. I knew I was in the woman’s wing. About where we started, patients were pretty common, aimlessly roaming the halls or simply lounging outside their quarters. Save the occasional nurse or assistant, these halls were barren. It was somewhat unsettling, but not nearly as so when I came to a sign that read “Violent Patients” above an archway in the middle of the corridor. I had the distinct feeling in my gut that I had gone too far. I turned to begin my walk of shame back to the entrance…
“NO, NO, NO! MY GAME! PLAY THE GAME! PLAY THE GAME!”
At least, that’s what I thought she said. It was unholy shrieking like I’ve never heard before. It sounded much closer than it really was, as though the bloody wails were right next to my hear, blasting my eardrums to dust. I whipped about frantically, and found something not so dissimilar to a gremlin sprinting toward me. My first instinct was to take flight, but something rooted me to the ground. The creature stumbled and scrambled on the slick linoleum, foaming at the mouth and clutching something in the claws of her left fingers. As it slipped, it left a trail of blackish mucus behind it, like aged blood. It didn’t take long in my panic to notice that this was a young, hairless girl, no more than 5 years old, dressed in only a slim robe. I felt my heart pound in my chest, the blood pulsating in my skull. Oh god! Keep this creature away from me!
Though I swore she was mere feet from my face, employees tackled her a good ten yards down the hall. She fought, raking her razor sharp nails across the faces of her assailants and dropping the little device on the ground. It flipped open, revealing the duel screens that I recognized belonged to a Nintendo DS. She screamed at the top of her lungs, and I finally mustered enough strength to take a step back. One of the employees scooped the thing up, and pressed the others to return the patient to her quarters. I took the moment to wrench myself away from that place. I whipped around, turning the corner and trying to wipe the terrible images from my-
“What are you doing?!” I almost jumped from my socks. I had nearly forgotten about my escort. “You must leave! NOW!”
But I held my ground. I pleaded. Why did I plead? Perhaps the simple change in direction had knocked my brain stem loose. My mind was now hellbent on finishing this documentary. “W-What about her?! Can I see her?! Please?!”
“You leave! NOW!”
I was pressed out the door before I had a chance to take a second breath. The woman barred the entrance. I never even got her name. All the better, I didn’t care. I was angry. I was promised more than information, I was promised truth. This crap I picked up on my camera was nothing; I didn’t even get footage of the hairless girl. When I reviewed my results, any and all footage of her was obstructed and replaced with static. I figured in my panic I must have hit a button or some kind of bull. Everything I had traveled here for: gone.
I didn’t take my leave right away. In a fit of rage, I placed another dent in my otherwise ramshackle car. How could I have been so damn stupid?! There was a reason no one tread these kinds of waters: it was a complete waste of time and money! I took up my camera and shoved it back into its case. To hell with it! I wasn’t going to waste another moment in this fucking ‘mental hospital.’ I’m just going to go home and avoid trashing my cash on some gross hotel room. I got behind the wheel, nearly tearing my door handle off its hinges as I slammed it shut. Ugh, come ON! My keys fell to the carpet floor. I twisted myself in the most awkward of positions before hooking it on my finger.
As I rose, there was a loud KNOCK KNOCK of glass on boney knuckles. I startled, once more letting my keys escape my grasp. I sat there a moment with an exasperated sigh, before giving in and rolling down my window slightly.
“Ms. Nicole Jacobson, am I right?” The woman extended her hand in greeting through the window. It took a moment before I acknowledged and shook it. “I couldn’t help but notice what keen interest you have in our little asylum away from home.”
I perked up somewhat. “You use the word ‘asylum.’ Why?”
“It doesn’t much matter what we call it. It’ll always be home to the insane.” As ridiculous as I found it to keep the right terminology, her nonchalant attitude put me on edge. “How’s about you step out of the car and we talk about getting you the footage you want.”
I didn’t budge. “And just who are you?”
She smirked. It wasn’t a playful or devilish smirk. I couldn’t tell what it was. “The name’s Doctor Denise Waters, Clinical Director and Chief of Staff. So. Do you want that footage or not?”
The Second Day
It was a rock and a hard place. That night, Dr. Waters directed me to stay on campus in dorms normally reserved for medical students in training. It wasn’t very inviting, I must say. The dorms were poorly kept, and cobwebs dominated the corners of every room. I swore I caught a whiff of mold or mildew. Considering my other options, however, staying on campus was the only one that didn’t reek of failure, or rather, burn a hole in my wallet. The night was rough, nonetheless. As I lay with my gaze piercing the singular window, I could not shake from the back of my mind the creature that bed not a mile from me. The creature that I would have to face again come dawn.
The blood red sun had barely begun to peek over the horizon by the time I met Dr. Waters once more by the same building. I wasn’t fond of mornings, but then again, you can’t wake up early if you never slept. I shut my driver’s side door before I turned to get my equipment from the back. Waters held up a finger, halting me.
“Not today.” She bluntly stated. “She must get to know you first.”
“’Not today?’” I repeated in disbelief. “How long do you think this is going to take?! I only need an hour’s worth of film!”
“Six.” She said. “Days. No more. No less. You must prove to us, to her, that you are who you say you are.”
This woman was crazy. What do I have to prove?! They’re the ones who need to prove something to me! And there was no way that I was going to stay here for another five days! I turned around, ready to hop in my rusted Nissan for the long journey back home. No documentary was worth this.
“Remember, Ms. Jacobson!” Dr. Waters yelled after me. I wasn’t sure why her words had me freeze the way I did. It was though I was silently desperate for there to be a reason to stay. A reason… that would make the difference in everything I stood for. “If you run now, the world will never truly know what lay beyond these doors! You’re the final hope for this girl!”
“Or else what?” I glanced over my shoulder.
She needn’t answer me. I could tell by the mere dullness of her soulless eyes what fate await that young, innocent girl. Were these people really willing to stoop that low? Was the girl truly that dangerous? And… how was I being here going to change that? I had too many questions to ask at once. I did my usual thing, kept my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open, as she once more took me past that forbidden sign that read “Violent Patients”. Into the jaws of the beast. What have I to lose at this point? She was lucky that I had a week to spare during spring break.
I followed closely behind, head down, as I began to stride lightly. Pleasant wooden doors were slowly replaced by iron behemoths that could take a nuclear strike. Whatever the stoic guardians kept at bay did nothing to shield the sound that came from within: quite often we passed patients in the middle of their tantrums or inconsistent muttering. Some doors were solid; others held heavy viewing glass or barred windows. It was almost like prison in my eyes, and every step felt more and more like the corridors of Mount Massive Asylum. I took my eyes off my surroundings for one second to see the lonely door at the end of the hall… the one that held my destination.
My heart leaped into my throat. My collar had been grabbed onto, and wrenched to the side. My head met cold hard metal, the metallic noise echoing through my skull. Untrimmed nails raked into my neck. The woman’s warm breath seeping into my mouth and nose like smog. By the time my vision leveled, Dr. Waters had taken a hold of my shoulders, dragging me back in the opposite direction. It all happened so fast, I stumbled before regaining balance and looking my assailant dead in the eye. I didn’t even have a moment’s notice to scream.
“Don’t GO!” The patient shrieked, clawing the metal through the iron bars. Dr. Waters helped me to my feet, giving me a moment to compose myself. She began to walk me to the door, though my ears staggered behind. “The cursed child lives! She lives beyond that door! That cursed child! That CURSED child!”
Her voice gradually muted as we passed through the door, leading into a small transition room with yet another door. Dr. Waters fussed over me, checking my head for any signs of injury. “I’m terribly sorry about that. She’s one of our advanced cases of schizophrenia. Patients like her are the reason we don’t often let guests back here.” She gestured to the door. “Come, through here. This is the transition into the nursery.”
Nursery? I never thought of an asylum housing a nursery before. It was like any other, only with a little more padding. Nurses were constantly on watch in every corner of the room. Every toy, play thing, or activity was completely impact resistant, with little to no blunt edges whatsoever. Even the wallpaper was designed with air pockets, like entire sheets of bubble wrap were plastered to the walls. It was pretty spacious, and gave the children plenty of stimulus. The children themselves were all around the age of 10, though didn’t seem to have the mental capacity of a child over 8. Even with a scant amount of observation, I could tell that they were getting the best care possible here.
“Why is this room in the Violent Woman’s Wing?” I asked as the thought struck me. “I see both boys and girls here.”
Dr. Waters strode past me, gesturing for me to follow. “We believe that the presence of children are more soothing for the women here. Sometimes if they show enough good behavior, they can visit this room under heavy supervision. They are much safer here than in the Men’s Wing. Usually maternal instinct kicks in, and the children are quite safe.”
She took me to the far corner of the room. It wasn’t until now that I spotted it-… no, her… huddled by some blankets with her eyes locked on her Nintendo DS. She was pale, like her skin never knew sunlight, and frail like she never knew a good meal. A couple other children were sat immediately behind her, their focus only broken by our arrival. They stood, their intense eyes boring into my flesh, before trotting past to look for something else to do. The girl, almost instantly noticing the absence of her audience, took a glance around before looking up at her new visitors. Her eyes were bloodshot, but sparkled like none others in this godforsaken place.
“Faith…” Dr. Waters addressed her. “This is Ms. Jacobson.”
Faith’s eyes never left me. It was though she was sizing me up, or completely awestruck by what I was. I couldn’t think of anything else to do but smile. Maybe throw in a little finger wave. When she finally broke the searing visual contact, her gaze swept immediately back onto her hand-held. Her fingers didn’t resume their usual pattern over the buttons as I anticipated. Instead, her fragile palms lifted in my direction, presenting me with her greatest treasure.
“Play the game?” She asked, in a sweet, delicate voice.
I halted. Images from the other day swamped my mind. Was this really the same girl? Without so much as a hesitation, I put my hand up, grinning nervously. “Um, not today, dearie.”
She didn’t budge. In fact, she pressed the DS towards me more firmly. Before I had a chance to say anything more, Dr. Waters intercepted. “Ms. Jacobson is going to be your new friend and play with you for the next few days.”
“I am?” I frowned, only to pick the act back up when I saw the heartbreak in Faith’s face. I didn’t sign up for this. “I mean, yes, I am.”
Faith shut her DS and put it to the side. Somehow, this made me more comfortable. She spoke in a voice that sounded much older than it should. “So you’re here to replace Ms. Annabelle?”
“No, no.” Dr. Waters cut in again. “Not replace. No one can replace Ms. Annabelle. She’s just going to keep you company. Now, we’ll be right back.”
She took me back into the transition room, careful not to let any children slip through the cracks. I took a fleeting look back over my shoulder, half expecting Faith to scoop her device back up and resume whatever she was doing. But she didn’t. Her eyes never left me, and even as I saw her smile for the first time, I was not reassured. I could already tell this girl was going to test me in every way she knew I feared. It was not a sinister look. It was merely the look every student gave their substitute teacher. After the door was shut, I let the doctor see clearly my irritation.
“I came to make a documentary, not babysit!” I can’t remember exactly how this conversation went, let alone everything else, but this interpretation comes close.
“This is our deal, Jacobson. Take it or leave it.” Waters grew firm. “She is our youngest schizophrenic case we have ever received. You’re lucky to have even gotten a glance at her, let alone the interaction I’m giving you!… Look at it this way: you document her. You try to understand her. And while you do that, I believe you can help her!”
“How?! What can I do?!”
“That’s for you to figure out!… We’ve done all we can, Jacobson. She’s become a danger to herself. If Faith doesn’t make a breakthrough soon, her suffering may cause her to do something beyond harmful… maybe even fatal.”
“Isn’t it your job to make sure that doesn’t happen?”
Waters shook her head, prepared to put this dispute to rest. “This is different, Ms. Jacobson. You might not understand now, but this child is beyond our control. You either take this chance, or walk away now. Any questions?”
Too many, I thought. None of this made the least bit of sense. How did simply getting a few more minutes of footage plunge me into this? Every argument I had against this woman was null and void with my sense of humanity. I was too kind. I wanted to help Faith more than anything. How I was going to do that, I really had no idea myself. If the professional couldn’t help her, how could a film student? I wasn’t even really sure what my goal was. How was I to know if I had ‘helped’ her or not? Why was I asking myself all these hypothetical questions never to be answered? I don’t know. It was all bullshit.
“Well?” Waters growled. “Questions?”
I scoffed in frustration, grabbing a random thought from the back of my head. “Her DS. What is that for? She’s the only child who has one, it looks like.”
“That game thingy?” The doctor was somewhat confused at first. “I’m not really sure what it is or what she does on it. A nurse brought it in from the lost-and-found. One of the students left it behind.”
“So why does Faith have it now?”
“Well before, Faith was a very cold and spastic child. We figured all she needed was interaction with other children, but they were afraid to approach her, and she wanted nothing to do with them. When the nurse let her see the game, she calmed down, focused on it. She was made approachable by the others. So we figured, what the heck. Let her keep it. Since then, her outbursts have slimmed from constant to once every few days.” Waters turned with a flip of her brunette hair. “Now if you don’t mind, I have more important things to attend to.”
“You’re just going to leave me here?”
“Of course. I was called to a conference in Washington last night. You’ll be fine. There are many trained nurses around to lend a hand if need be. I wish you luck on your documentary, Ms. Jacobson.” She said, opening the door. Before slipping out, she turned back one final time. “You may or may not like what you find…”
… And that’s it. Thus would end as much as I can recall to that point in time. It’s somewhat scant, but so are the memories. It doesn’t help that every word I type builds on my rapid heartbeat. Thankfully, I don’t need to remember every detail. I thought ahead. After the second day drew to a close, I scrambled to grab whatever spare paper I brought along. I may not be a reporter, but I knew how to organize my thoughts like one. I found a small, clean notebook hidden among my knapsacks, and jotted down as much as I could on that every night. A log. I guess at the time I had figured I would use it as a narrative for the documentary-never-to-be. Now it’s just a hellish chronicle of the real horrors that lie beyond their doors.
And I’m about to share every word of it:
- April 14th, 2014. Today was the first day spent with Faith.
- Shortly after being left to my own devices by Doctor Denise Waters, I joined her in the nursery. The first few moments were spent sitting there beside her, silently, observing her play on her Nintendo DS. I recognized it almost immediately, as I am a proficient gamer. It was one of the first games I ever played on DS myself. It was Kirby Super Star Ultra, and I must say she was pretty far into it for someone her age. She was already tackling the consecutive boss battles in the stage known as ‘The Arena.’ That particular stage took me forever to complete myself.
- After watching her get taken down by the boss Wham Bam Rock, she finally turned her attention to me and said, blunt as a stone: “I don’t like you.” I asked why. “You’re here to replace Ms. Annabelle. I liked Ms. Annabelle.”
- I had heard this name a few times now. My curiosity spiked. “Who is Ms. Annabelle? What happened to her?”
- Faith closed her DS and looked away somewhat wistfully. “He got hungry the other night. She fed him.”
- I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant by that. I’m guessing that when Ms. Annabelle took her leave, she mentioned to Faith that a pet of hers at home needed feeding. I settled on that theory, considering the fact that I couldn’t get anything more from her.
- Faith is a classic schizophrenic case. Luckily, I have brought my laptop to conduct research when I can. Unable to sleep last night, I searched up schizophrenia on Google to give myself a quick rundown. Like what I saw, Faith wasn’t exactly the most focused individual I’ve spent time with. Sometimes, it was thought she wasn’t even speaking to me. She was somewhat spastic, and constantly changing the subject to something random, most of the time having to do with that game. I was at least glad I knew what she was talking about; I’m sure anyone else in this hospital who managed to speak with her couldn’t hold a conversation about King Dedede’s hierarchy or the fundamental basis of the Heavy Lobster. She’s a smart kid, given her mental state.
- She began to take more of a liking to me after these conversations on her game started. At first, she was fixated on one thing and one thing only: getting me to play it. I held my ground and refused every time. I wasn’t very familiar with schizophrenic cases, and I was afraid of the consequences for touching her DS too long. Perhaps she may forget she lent it to me, and attack me to get it back. She certainly wasn’t too fond of the nurses taking it away from her the other day. Whatever the case, (as so many scenarios ran through my head), I wasn’t about to take a chance with this child I barely knew. She was persistent, but once she knew I had some kind of knowledge of the game itself, her pleads all but melted away.
- Even though she was through most of the game, she often asked me for tips on how to get further. Her whole world transfixed on this game. It seemed to be the only thing giving her life meaning, connecting her to those around her. The other children were fascinated by this little device that made her a local celebrity. I see why it is so dear to her.
- Once we got comfortable with one another, we began to do more together. A simple game of catch with a plush ball proved entertaining to her; somewhat surprising, considering the kind of stimulation she gets from her game. I suppose it wasn’t the game itself she craved, it was companionship. Maybe this is what Dr. Waters meant when she said I could help her. To be a filmmaker means to keep an open mind. It meant persistence and hard work, with little bias behind it. She might have made the right choice, calling to me. The rest of the day was spent doing random activities about the nursery, and soon, she even forgot to mention the game at all.
- I took it very slow, to the very end. By dusk, Faith was even sad to see me go. I didn’t find out much about her, but at least she is more comfortable with me now. She’s not who I thought she was. Unlike the other patients, she’s smart. She’s level-headed. She appears more and more… human, every second I spend with her. She knows what’s going on. She’s not mad like they say. She’s a child, like many I’ve seen before. Something seems out of place here… and I’m going to get to the bottom of it.
The Third Day
- April 15th, 2014. Two children were missing today when I got to the nursery.
- And that wasn’t the only odd thing to happen right at dawn. Last night about 1 PM, there was a severe power outage that lasted until noon the next morning. The wind hardly blew, and rain has been nonexistent since I arrived. I didn’t bother getting out of bed to ask how it happened; I just wanted to steal a single damn moment of sleep. Despite having made myself more comfortable in Faith’s presence, sleeping in the dorms still waft a feeling of dread. So, I lay there, motionless, until the sun finally sliced through the darkness.
- I decided to walk to the building today. The morning was crisp, and after all the bull I’ve had to put up with in the past few days, I needed some fresh air. The hospital campus is beautiful, after all; nothing like rest of Baltimore. As I strode over the lush green moor, I noticed a construction crew nearby, working around the clock to bring the grids power back online. Even from a distance, I could see they were in the process of hauling away a transformer, to replace it altogether. As the workers moved aside, I saw the extent of the damage like it came straight from a Spielberg film: it was though something had ripped straight through the center, like great claws had taken hold of it and raked through it like butter. Though I walked by without hesitation, it left me dumbfounded. No natural occurrence last night could have done that.
- When I walked through the front doors, I headed straight to the front desk and asked if they knew what caused the outage, taking note that the power was already restored in this building. The man behind the desk merely stated that there was a construction accident that caused one of the grid’s lines to be severed. Lies. All lies. Not only did I see the damage myself, but I ventured all over campus the other day. Not once did I see any construction taking place whatsoever. I turned away without another word. What do I know? It could have been just some fluke incident they were trying to cover up.
- When I made it to the nursery, I instinctively looked over in the same corner Faith was in the other day. There she was, fixated on her DS. Unlike yesterday, however, she perked up the moment I opened the door, as though she was expecting me. I smiled. It made me feel loved to have made a new friend. For her to drop everything and greet me was astounding from what I saw just a few short hours ago.
- It was then a nurse approached me with the grave news. Many cameras were set up along the corridors and positioned in every room, something I took note of but never really felt the need to point out. It WAS an asylum, after all. According to the nurse, the cameras naturally went offline during the outage, and in the short period of time spent getting the auxiliary power online, two children mysteriously disappeared.
- “I don’t understand it.” She said to me. “We kept such a close eye on them while the cameras were out. We don’t know if they slipped out on their own or if someone took them or what.”
- All she told me was to keep an eye out for them at all times, like everyone else was instructed to do. They two boys were brothers, as I could tell from the photos she showed me. Even Faith took a look a the photographs, but didn’t give any indication she knew who they were, at first. It was only until the nurse left that she spoke up.
- “They played the game with me.” She said. “But they didn’t really like it.”
- That was it! Those were the boys that were looking over her shoulder yesterday. Knowing this didn’t do me any good on finding them, but it still felt good to know.
- I finally got the chance to bring in my equipment today. I hadn’t even set up my tripod before Faith began pestering me once more. “Play with Marxie! Play the game! Please?!” She would say. I wasn’t as strongly opposed to it as the other day, but I still rejected. I still didn’t trust Faith enough to touch her DS. She did, however, add Marx to the plea, or ‘Marxie’ as she liked to call him. For those of you not Kirby-savvy, Marx was a prime villain in Kirby Super Star and Kirby Super Star Ultra, the game she had now. I guess she wanted me to play Milky Way Wishes, the stage he was on. By the time the camera was set up, Faith finally gave up once again.
- She was less fixated on the game today, and more interested in spending time and doing things with me. Of course, even though she didn’t focus on it directly, I could tell her thoughts on it were latent. In the midst of having some fun, she grabbed two foam noodles from the toy box. She hand one to me, telling me that I was Kirby and she was Meta Knight. We were basically reenacting a battle from the game. I thought nothing of it, really. It was typical fan-girl hysteria, being a fan-girl myself. Our playtime even attracted the attention of the other children, and it wasn’t long before every child in the room was armed with a foam noodle, much to the dismay of the nurses who had no sense of fun. Our shenanigans lasted about an hour, and it wasn’t long before most of the children were tuckered out to the point of a nap.
- Faith, however, was a never ending wad of energy. She’s quite honestly the most fun I’ve had with any child her age. I even forgot at times that I was neck deep in an asylum. While helping the nurses clean up noodles, I was ambushed by her as she climbed onto my shoulders. She was surprisingly light.
- “You know, Faith…” I said to her then. “You’re a very fun girl. Why didn’t you want to play with the others before you got your Gameboy?” It was around this time I also discovered she liked calling her DS a Gameboy, something I myself do at times.
- Faith grew somewhat down-trodden when I mentioned that. “They thought we were weird. They said I looked weird.”
- I’m pretty sure she said ‘we’. I’m not really sure why. “Why do you think they said you look weird?”
- She began rocking back and forth. She normally does that when she gets nervous or uncomfortable. “Because I got rid of my hair. I used to have really really pretty and long black hair that went down to my butt.”
- I grew even more puzzled. I never thought about her hair before. I initially thought it was somewhat rude to ask about it. “Why’d you get rid of it?”
- She stopped rocking, with the most matter-of-fact tone. “He thought it looked dirty, so he told me to pull it out.”
- I stopped whatever I was doing. I took her off my shoulders delicately to stare her straight in the face. As much as I tried to squeeze out of her, she wouldn’t tell me anything else. Each time, she merely said it was her ‘friend’ that was telling her to do this. I took her to the other children, and asked her to point him out, since at least I know he’s male. She shook her head and refused. She didn’t want him to get in trouble.
- I’m not sure why this made me as furious as it did. I suppose I’m growing attached to Faith, or something like that. The thought that some bully was telling her to put out her own hair while the nurses sat back and did nothing made my blood boil. It was the maternal instinct, I guess. As the day drew to a close, I told one of the nurses about it, and asked her to keep an eye on whichever boy may be the culprit. Faith’s self-esteem was bad enough. She didn’t need this.
- Oh, and I didn’t get ANY footage today, as if my luck couldn’t get any worse. When I went to turn my camera off and stop the recording, I found the entire thing had just shut off. When I took it back to the dorm, the batteries were FRIED. That afternoon was spent running into town for more, along with a couple of other things. On the bright side, I’ve never really spent time in rural Baltimore, and enjoyed finding a strip of window shops. We never really had a lot of those where I lived. After I found my pack of batteries, I took some time to take a look around.
- I wasn’t going to write this down, but I suppose since it’s about the asylum, it’s relevant. I walked into a medium’s shoppe during my small vacation, since I’ve never been in one before. I mainly wanted to check and see if she had any incense; I enjoy the smell. When I walked in, she immediately looked up and greeted me.
- “Everything is half off today.” She informed me. “You looking for a souvenir?”
- It took a moment for me to process it. “How’d you know I’m not from around here?”
- “Normally, people who come in here don’t browse. They either have questions or know what they want. Tourists browse.” She tried to make small talk. “What brings you to Baltimore?”
- I listened as I found the incense I was looking for, and began sniffing the boxes to find the best smell. “I’m doing some work over at Spring Grove Mental Hospital. Filming.” I felt the woman stiffen up, and looked over when I didn’t get a response. “Why?”
- “Hmm…” She looked a bit uncomfortable. “The air about that hospital has grown thick over the past few weeks. I visit my sister there every once in a while.”
- I asked the medium about her sister. Turns out, it was the same woman who gave me a concussion just the other day. Though both sisters were mediums, she explained, only one was unfortunate enough to catch the trait from their schizophrenic grandfather. Her sister has been in the hospital for nearly five years.
- “They treat her well.” She told me. “But the air, I tell you… It’s unlike anything I’ve felt before.”
- “Well,” I suggested, taking care to watch my terminology, since she may be offended if I said her sister was in an ‘asylum’, “it is a mental hospital. Some patients may have died there.”
- She shook her head. “No. This is different. This is VERY different. It’s like something just manifested out of thin air.” She took my incense, bagging it before coming around the front desk and flipping the front sign to ‘CLOSED’. “I wouldn’t spend too much more time there, dear. Don’t spend too much more time.”
- Then I came back to the dorms to begin writing. I’m not sure what the medium meant exactly. I’m an open mind, but I don’t think spirits are the answer to anything happening at the asylum. I’ve heard too much between asylums and hauntings, and I’m not about to let media bias get in the way. She has stroked my curiosity, though. My mom and I used to watch shows on the Discovery Channel about hauntings. I’ll probably watch a few episodes tonight while I work on some artwork on my computer.
The Forth Day
- April 16th, 2014. Maybe I should consider spirits here at the asylum. I saw some creepy-ass stuff today.
- It started when I woke up. When I woke up. I haven’t got a wink of sleep since I got here, and all of a sudden I fall asleep while working on a piece of artwork. I guess I did a bit more in my sleep than just art, because when I woke, my web browser was up. I don’t remember, but apparently I was Googling pictures of Kirby characters. A Google Image search of Marx was up. I closed it out, and got my stuff together. Now that I have new batteries, it was the mission of the day to get more footage.
- When I made it back to the nursery and set up my equipment, Faith didn’t barrage me with pleas to play her game like she normally did. She openly sees me as a friend now, and even apologized for the day she said she didn’t like me. We resumed our usual playtime, only today I tried to make the documentary count. Between our activities, I asked her meaningful questions.
- “Do you like it here?” “It’s okay.”
- “Do they treat you good?” “Yeah.”
- “What about the other children?” “They’re fine now.”
- “What’s your favorite thing to do?” “Play my game.”
- “What do you like most about your game?” “The other kids like it too, sometimes.”
- “How high can you count?” “To twenty.”
- “Can you count for me, please?” “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen… f-f-fourteen! Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen… nineteen, twenty!”
- “That’s really good! Can you read, too?” “I can read stuff on my game a little. He helps me read.”
- “Who helps you read?” “My friend.”
- “One of the boys?” “Yeah.”
- “Can you point to him?”
- That’s when I finally got the gist of what was going on: when she pointed, she pointed at nothing. So that’s it! She had an imaginary friend! This was the friend that was talking to her! That was the friend who told her to pull her hair out! It all made sense! There are plenty of schizophrenic cases that involved imaginary friends, since patients have trouble identifying what’s real and what’s not. I finally worked a goal out in my head. She’s probably to the point where she channels her inner thoughts through her ‘friend’. She uses him as an excuse, to justify things like pulling out her hair. I’ve finally figured it out!
- I asked her to tell me more about her friend. She told me he was very nice to her, even before when the other kids found her weird. He was always coming up with goofy ideas, and was always hungry. He loved her very much. Even when she made friends, he stayed with her. He liked it when she made friends. She even told me that he like ME a lot. That was good news. At least that way, I know that even in her subconscious, she considered me a friend. I’ve gained her trust.
- But then she said: “He thinks you’re useful.”
- I wasn’t sure what that meant. Maybe she knows I’m helping her. With that, I knew I had to push the boundaries. With some persuasion on the nurses behalf, given I was Faith’s current guardian… I took her out.
- Allowing her DS to tag along, I took Faith across campus. I knew this was the first time in so long that she had seen sunlight; she was scared to even step out the front door, as though the asphalt road was going to swallow her. When we got out there, she began covering her eyes and complaining about the sun. I thought fast, and she went the rest of the day wearing my sunglasses.
- By the time we reached the dorms where my car was, she was riding on my shoulders. It had been such a long time since she walked so far, stuck in that nursery. I let her down, and opened the trunk of my car. It still had a lot of the supplies I had planned on taking for Spring Break. I took out a soccer ball that I hadn’t messed with for years. Careful not to startle her, I carefully rolled the ball over in her direction. Putting her DS carefully to the side, she picked it up. First thing, she squeezed it.
- “It’s not soft!” She said excitedly. “It’s not puffy!”
- I showed her how to play soccer; how to kick the ball around with the inside for your foot, how to aim where you wanted it to go. We even used the space under my car as a goal, which wasn’t really well thought out considering every time she got it under there, I had to crawl under to fish it out. The excitement of the new game fueled her, and we played until the sky turned gold. I’ve really grown fond of her… I almost can’t believe why she’s here in the first place. Around me, she’s a person; not a number, not a patient, not a case. She’s a child, like all the children I’ve seen before her. I came here to make a documentary… but… I think Waters was right. I’m here for another reason.
- “So.” I said once we were out of breath, laying on the lush campus grass. “What did your friend think of that?”
- Faith smiled. She was enjoying the fact that I was including her friend more. “He had fun watching us. He likes it when I’m happy, and he likes games.”
- She had grabbed her DS and joined me on the ground. She took off my sunglasses and gave them back, claiming it was dark enough now for her eyes. I lay there, drifting off somewhat. She began rocking back and forth again as she looked up at the sky. She had always been so straightforward and pushy about it before, but this time, it was like she was nervous. When I opened my eyes again, she waved her DS above my face.
- “Y-You…” She said tentatively, “You want to play the game?”
- I sat up, not really sure what to do this time. I had rejected her so many times out of fear… but now, I’m not scared anymore. I trust her completely. So, I grabbed my laptop and brought up the DS Capture program I used in my days as a YouTuber, and found among my bag of tricks the USB to hook the DS to my computer. I wasn’t sure why I felt the need to record it… but I’m glad I did. I guess I wanted to find a place for it in the documentary, though I’m not really sure where it would fit. I just wanted to make her happy.
… Looking back on this part of my notes is painful. If only I knew how this simple act was going to turn my world upside down… What the hell was I thinking? I guess it doesn’t matter anymore… All that matters is that I finally played the game.
- When I booted up the system, it immediately went to Milky Way Wishes. It startled me at first; a bit creepy it didn’t even show the title screen. But whatever. The stage already looked near-completed, the planets having already been visited. I guess Faith had done it for me. I started recording, and headed for the Galactic Nova. There, I watched a cutscene I had seen time and time again. The dialogue was a bit different from what I remember. I never completed the entire game myself, (the True Arena stage is brutal), so I couldn’t be sure. It was when the cutscene was over that caught my attention. It skipped across the mission where I had to take out Nova, and went straight to the next cutscene. Odd. It looked like I was fighting Marx straight away. Sadly, I had only the Bomb Ability, which I sucked at. I scrambled around a few minutes, trying to remember all I could, before the game glitched out.
- I sat there, a bit dumbfounded, and listened to the strange noise coming out of the speakers. It sounded a lot like the sounds my old Gameboy Color made when a cartridge was taken out before turning it off. Unlike my Gameboy, the DS wouldn’t turn off for the longest while. It was a full minute before it finally cut off on its own.
- Then it got really strange when I handed it back to Faith. “Sorry, Faith. I think it’s broken.”
- “No it’s not.” She said, before turning it right back on, the system starting up perfectly like it should have in the first place.
- Afterward, I took her back to the nursery. I gave her a ride in my car the short way, since both of our feet ached. She had never ridden in a car before, she told me, and bounced in the seat the whole way. When we walked inside, I immediately noticed that the hall leading to the right (the Men’s Wing) was blocked off with sliding metal bars and police tape. Two security guards belonging to the hospital itself stood on watch. I asked them what happened.
- One shrugged. “Not sure, some incident in the Male Wing. Even if we did know, we don’t have the authority to tell you. And quite honestly, I don’t think I would even WANT to know.”
- But I wanted to know. When I looked down the corridor through the iron bars, I wasn’t sure what emotions were suppose to run by me. A door was ripped off its hinges. Lights were busted and flickering. A winding trail trickled down the linoleum and onto the opposite wall. There, though it was carved into the concrete with a knife, dripping with fresh blood:
“YOU WILL BELIEVE IN ME”.
- I turned Faith away before she could look at it. I could barely look at it. The guard was right. As much as I would like to know what happened in there, I would much rather walk away and never see it again. The metallic stench was already assaulting my sensitive nose. I hurried Faith down to the nursery and dropped her off for the day. Before I left, the woman that once attacked me, the medium’s sister, called out to me.
- “Please…” She cried. “I’m sorry… You need to leave, child… You need to leave now!”
- I let her mutter. When I came back to my dorms, I opened my computer and played back the footage I captured from Faith’s DS. I listened to the sounds toward the end. They were just… too odd. I searched up the dialogue for that particular cutscene as well. I was right in it wasn’t correct. Where Marx should have said: “Well, I want to rule all of Popstar!” Instead it read: “Well, well… I was wondering when you’d show up…” This is some scary stuff right here. The game DOES look a bit screwed up, though. I’m going to go ahead and give it the benefit of the doubt.
- In the meantime, I’m sending the video to a buddy of mine out in California. After playing the recording over and over, I concluding there’s something off about the background noise. It sounds too rhythmic to be static. I’m hoping my friend could help me find out what that’s about. She works the soundboards for big movie deals like Dreamworks and Sony Entertainment. Hopefully, she can play with it and find something out.
The Fifth Day
- Oh god! Jesus Christ, a boy is DEAD!
- Oh god, I can’t write this down. I’m crying. I’m hanging over a wastebasket. Every time it tries to wriggle into my mind, I can’t hold down my guts. I can’t think of it, but I’ll never forget! I can’t write this down, but I have to write it down! Dear god, help me. Dear god, protect me. I went in this morning and a crowd of nurses were blocking the door. I could only open it slightly at first, but the moment I heard that first bloodcurdling scream, I had to get in. I had to see if Faith was alright. I pressed the door open as hard as I could, and knocked a few of the nurses out of the way. I fell on the floor. A few of the children rushed past me and into the transition room, banging on the door. I looked up. Jesus Christ, I looked up. I’ll never forget.
- The boy was just standing there, facing the wall. But god, all the blood! The wallpaper was ripped away. There was nothing left but solid concrete. His face was just digging, just digging into the concrete! You couldn’t see his face! It was all blood! All of it! The skin was ripped away, the nose was gone, it was just nonexistent! It had been smeared across the concrete wall with his blood! The front of his skull just caved! But he just. Kept. Going.
- I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything but just sit there and watch the damn horror again and again! Right when you expect the boy to collapse, to just be done for, to just die already, he pulls back and slams his face into the wall again and again. He wasn’t doing this. He couldn’t have been doing this. He was a lifeless carcass. There’s no way in hell he could have been doing this! He was dead!
- And that’s when I looked beside him. Why did I look?! What possessed me to look in that direction?! Of everything that was going on right in front of me, why did I look away?! It doesn’t matter. The moment my eyes moved in that direction, I saw him. If only for a split second, it was like something in my screwed up nightmares from the days I was a prominent gamer…
- I SWEAR TO GOD, WHOMEVER IS READING THIS, BELIEVE ME! I SAW MARX!
I wrote this while I was in my car, while the memory was still fresh and burned into my mind like a brand. It was the last of my notes. It had all escalated so quickly. I was already set, packed up and on my way out. No way in hell I was going to hang back. Not after that. The description isn’t as thorough as I want it to be. That’s why I’m writing this down to fill in any blanks. With every fiber in my body screaming to let it rest, I can’t let it rest. I need to let the world know. But to be honest… I’m not sure what I saw. My eyes screamed that it was Marx, the jester from her godforsaken game. But I don’t know what it is. Whatever it is, the bastard is using Marx as a veil. It’s using an image we know.
But what it did to that image… it’s just sick. I only saw him for a split second, his smile curling into a toothy sneer. He had been waiting for me. He wanted me to see this. His soulless, black eyes bore into my own. He wanted to watch every moment of my terror. This wasn’t Marx. This was a monster. Claws extended from his signature brown leather shoes, like a hawk. These claws protruding from his left shoe wrapped about the boy’s head, digging into his skin each time his skull was pulled back before plowing once more into the concrete wall like a grater. I watched in utter horror as, in some kind of sick finale, he raised the tip of his wing, placing it on the boy’s throat. Where there were once the images of hearts tipping his wings, there were spires sharp as a knife. I watched it slice through the boy’s neck. I remember every… single… detail.
I can’t remember if I screamed afterward. The next moment, I was rushing down the corridor like a madman. I can’t remember if the medium’s sister said anything. I can’t remember if any of the children ran out after me. I just had to get out. I didn’t even think about Faith. I was blinded. The only second my eyes were open was when I reached the front door. There: that woman. It was that woman from the first day, who escorted me halfway down the hall. She grasped in each hand a suitcase, and had pulled on a coat like she was prepared to leave that place forever. Seeing her like that, at a time like this; it was pure hatred.
I grabbed her scruff before she slid out the door, and pulled her to the side with the demand. “What the hell is going on?!”
“Please! Let me go!” She pleaded. But I didn’t let her go. I screamed in her face like nothing I’ve done before. I can’t remember what I said. I held her there as she cried like a infant, until she gave me all I wanted. “She had a friend! Before she got game thing! SHE HAD A FRIEND!”
My rage grew by the second. “What’s that suppose to mean?! TELL ME!”
“I don’t know!” Tears were actually streaming down this woman’s face. “She always talk about friend! She got game! Things start to happen! That’s all I know!”
It made me stop a moment to think. This was suddenly sounding so familiar. My mother and I were always fascinated with anything paranormal, so we pride ourselves in what we know. I suddenly began to take the medium’s warnings seriously. I shouldn’t have been so close-minded about this. I’m sorry, to the medium AND her sister. I didn’t believe them at first. I should have left. I shouldn’t have provoked this demon to this point. Demons feed of of that! Yes! They feed off of fear, off acknowledgment!
… Acknowledgment… “What was her friend’s name before she got the game?!”
I already knew the answer, I was just praying to god it wasn’t true. “Marx.”
… You idiots! You goddamn idiots! Do you have any idea what you’ve done?!
The day Faith was given that damn game was the day she was convinced Marx was real! It was the day he was given an image! It was the day whatever demon, whether attached to the game or Faith herself, got some kind of acknowledgment! Oh my god… that was what he wanted. That bloodied message from the other day: “YOU WILL BELIEVE IN ME”. It all makes so much sense now! Dear god… and I’ve given him what he wanted. I played the game.
I left the asylum that day. I left straight for the city of Baltimore, and got the first affordable hotel room I came across. I stayed there the entire day, through the night. I didn’t even leave to find some kind of food. I felt as though the moment I opened that door, Marx was there waiting for me. I believed in him. I believe in him now, and there’s no changing that. Seeing is believing, and I cannot unsee something like… that. I spent the day pacing, trying to calm myself down, drowning my thoughts with television, distracting myself with my artwork. But it never went away.
I suddenly got an email from my friend over in California, the one I sent the footage from the DS Capture.
Message: Wtf r u messing with, Nicky?! Is this some kind of prank? Whatever u r doing, its not funny! I found this at the end of ur crazy ass recording!
When I first listened to this, I didn’t believe her. Though it didn’t make any sense, I wanted to believe she was pulling some prank of her own. But she wasn’t. I never once told her about Spring Grove, or what I was doing there. It took me time and time again to make sure what all I was hearing was clear as day.
He spoke to me.
“Such a smart girl.” He/she/it says. “Such a… curious girl. To have come all this way to uncover a secret that’s not… Yours. Curiosity comes with a price, and rewards. So… Is this reward worth it? Are you willing to pay the price, and discover the truth behind Spring Grove Asylum? Because you’ve found it. I hope you’re happy. I hope you enjoy our little game. Because you can span the earth ten times over before you realize… once you play the game… there’s no escaping when the game decides to play with YOU…”
How the hell something like that came from the original recording, I had no idea. My friend was the sound expert, not me. But I swear it: comparing the before and after, there were a couple sounds I KNOW weren’t there before. Nonetheless, the recording didn’t terrify me like I expected it to. If anything, it made me angry. That THING was back at the asylum, right now. That murderous demon was still there, and so was Faith.
But what could I do?
The Sixth Day
I had fallen asleep with my artwork again. Doodling on the GIMP program was a pastime of mine, and I used it to calm down. This night was no exception, only when I woke up… there sat an image in my art style that I had no recollection in drawing whatsoever:
It was him. Marx.
It was noon by the time I decided I had to go back. Whether he was planning to hurt Faith or not, I wasn’t going to take any chances. Both she and the innocents at the asylum were in danger. And I loved Faith. I would do anything to make sure she was safe. I knew in the pit of my gut that she was still there. She had mentioned Marx loved her very much, something I knew was only half true. What he really loved, I know, was the attention she got him. Almost like an incubus. The more people she got to play the game, the more people would know the name Marx, a name he adopted. But I had to hurry. I’m not sure how many of the nurses actually saw his ghastly image. Every one that did was in danger. I wasn’t sure what I was planning to do, but I had to do it fast. Either he had hid himself to this point on purpose, or he had grown in strength since I arrived.
When I reached the asylum merely an hour later, clouds had rolled in and blocked the sun. I was really hoping that coming this time of day meant more daylight, being the wuss I was. I liked to convince myself it gave me an advantage, when really it gave me a shred of peace of mind.
I entered the asylum. My worst fears were realized right when I stepped through the door, which I noticed was ajar in the first place. There was no man behind the front counter. The bars that once protected the Men’s Wing was ripped from place, and the message still bled at the end of the hall. It was like walking straight into Mount Massive Asylum itself. I wanted to turn back. Every fiber in my being wanted me to turn back, but I couldn’t. I had to get Faith and get out.
The hospital wasn’t in as bad as a condition as you thought it would, with a bloodthirsty entity roaming its halls. It just seemed… barren. It was though the nurses had just abandoned ship. When I made it to the Violent section of the wing, some of the patients weren’t even scathed, just quiet. Before I entered the nursery, I turned to check on the medium’s sister. When I poked my head through the bars, I braced myself in case she made a lunge toward me again. I pulled out for a completely different reason. There she sat, in the corner… her throat slit.
Fearing for Faith’s life, I rushed into the nursery. My eyes immediately went to where they did the day before, and they weren’t disappointed: though the body of the boy was gone, the wall was still dyed a deep crimson red. The children were gone. The nurses were gone. I had to search around frantically before I heard the little voice:
Thank the gods! I turned around as Faith met me, curled around my legs in a hug. I scooped her up in my arms. I hugged her and cried. But it wasn’t over yet. I pulled back and told her we needed to leave, NOW. She asked me if her friend could come. I told her no, he couldn’t. She was upset, as I hobbled down the hall towards the front door. She was confused. She began to threaten that she wouldn’t go with me if her friend couldn’t come. I told her no again. I told her we were going on a little trip, and we would be right back. I told her to leave her friend here until we got back. I stopped. I turned around. I swear to god I heard a light bulb short-circuit down the hall. I began running. Faith looked over my shoulder. Her friend was following us. He wasn’t going to let her leave.
When we got outside, out to the parking lot, I quickly strapped her into the back seat. The moment I clicked her seat belt, however, was the moment my heart stopped. There, grasped in her little claws, was the Nintendo DS. Despite the horror that I knew was at my heels, I hesitated. Marx didn’t manifest out of nowhere. This demon had to be attached to something, I thought. It was 50/50. He could be attached to Faith… or he could be attached-…
“Faith, honey,” I begged, “I need to see your Gameboy.”
As I reached for it, she snatched it away. “No!”
“Faith, please! I need your Gameboy!”
I turned around as I felt a quick gust of wind. The front doors were open. Though I couldn’t see him, I felt his eyes boring into mine. I felt his anger as the air grew thick. I could sense his ghastly image hovering over my shoulder. I only had one shot. Mustering every bit of strength I had left, I relaxed. “Faith, can I play the game again?”
I could see she was prepared to deny me again. But she didn’t. I knew she couldn’t deny me, and she wouldn’t. Because that’s what her friend wanted: to play the game. She slowly handed it to me. When I took it, it only took me two seconds to lock and close the car door. I heard her screaming behind me, banging on the window, but I didn’t listen. I needed to face this. So, in a quick move less than graceful, I flung the DS at the asylum wall. I didn’t stay long to watch it shatter, breaking apart into two separate screens. He hadn’t got to me. Not yet. He was as bewildered as she was, I know. I leaped into the driver’s seat, and tried to start up my car.
“Marxie!” Faith’s voice cracked between tears.
The car sputtered. It roared to life, but not without effort. Before I even had a chance to put it in drive, I heard the deafening screech of scraping metal. I didn’t let it faze me. I punched the gas harder than I ever have before. And so… with Faith squealing in the back seat… I left the campus of Spring Grove Asylum forever.
I wasn’t sure where I was going at first. I decided ten minutes into the drive to just head home. There was really no where else to go. Besides, my family was away this week, on a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge. I’d have a day to rest before taking off again. I remembered Marx’s warning. He wasn’t going to stop. We had to keep running for now.
I tried speaking to Faith on the way. It took minutes for Faith’s voice to grow weak from her wails. It took hours for her to stop crying. She hates me, I thought. After all that’s just come to light, I still felt bad for ripping her away from the one being that gave her love before anyone else dared, even if that love was fake. I tried speaking to her, trying to explain that I couldn’t let her friend hurt anyone else. She wouldn’t listen. I eventually put on some music, and tried to forget. It didn’t feel like it was over, but I was going to pretend it was. It took nearly two hours to get home.
When we made it home, I was unsure whether or not to let her out. She had been so calm up until now; it was a bit unsettling. I got out of the car, first taking note of the huge scrape across my left front wheel, as though something dug into it with his massive claws. I disregarded it. When I reached her window, she didn’t look at me. I opened her door. Thank god, she was still strapped in. I almost expected her to make a charging leap out of the car. We just… stood there a moment. I wasn’t sure what to do at this point, but thankfully, I didn’t need to. She looked up at me, and began crying. I knelt down and unbuckled her for her to throw her arms around me. I carried her inside, and tucked her into my bed.
Then I sat down and began typing. Even though my inner instinct screamed to keep moving, I just sat here, and typed.
As I sit here, pouring out my heart in as much detail as I can, I realize how absurd this all sounds. I mean, wouldn’t something like this make some kind of news? It’s been nearly two days now since Marx killed that boy, and I’ve checked Spring Grove website. Nothing. In big red letters on their front page, it reads: “AS OF APRIL 18th, 2014, SPRING GROVE HOSPITAL CENTER IS CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE”. Bull. I checked the staff roster. There was no Doctor Denise Waters to speak of; looks like someone’s in trouble. The damn hospital didn’t waste a moment’s notice in covering their tracks. I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t the first time they had an incident like this.
But there’s something else… something I didn’t really consider until a few moments ago. If Marx had the freedom he did, then why was I still here? It didn’t take the drop of a pin for him to murder those children, those nurses, those patients. The moment they knew his image, his name, they were as good as dead. What made me so special? Why keep me alive? Why hold back, when I was the one closest to his precious cargo? Why was I, the one who was digging, also the one who was spared? WHY ME?
… Well, maybe it’s because I’m his goddamn puppet. Maybe I heard a sound in the other room. Maybe I went to check on Faith. Maybe she was standing there, her eyes lit up like stars, a smile on her face, as she held a perfectly functional DS in her hands. Maybe, for the past hour, I’ve been forced to type every single word as a knife I cannot see digs into my neck. Maybe, as his claws pierce my bloody shoulder blades, I’ve begged him not to let this document see the light of day. WHY? Maybe it’s becau
mAyBE He waNtS tHeM to bEliEvE. MaYbe He wAntS THem tO plAy tHe gAme.
The usual stories about MineCraft will always go to Herobrine, about how he lives and he’s a lot more than code. But have you ever wondered about the Endermen, and whether there are any secrets about them? Everyone who has played MineCraft is well familiar with them by now, and while they can be hard to find in the overworld, many have visited their home in the End. Of course, they aren’t hostile unless you look at them or attack them. For this reason, quite a few people consider them friendly and like them. Personally, I’ve always found them creepy and killed them whenever i could. They are based off of Slender Man, after all. Well, being as strong as they are, regular players know that if you run into one right after you spawn, you run for water. For some reason, Notch decided to code them with a fear of water, and whoever thought anything bad could happen with water, right?
Well, water is the whole reason this mess started. I haven’t even attempted to start up my game since then. I was playing on my regular world, a server that my friends and I had started. We had plenty of houses built, a seemingly unlimited supply of diamond and gold, and the Ender Dragon was defeated. There really wasn’t much to do in the world anymore, so you had to get very creative. My friends and I, we were creative enough, and we understood the game very well. Aaron was our redstone guy. If you needed anything powered, he found a way to build it and make it better than any tutorial could ever tell you. Myself, I made a majority of the buildings, and even started working on a city. We had a few guys who would work on supplies, planting, and harvesting anything that was needed. Lastly, we had Graham. He did all the magical stuff. Potions, enchanting, and he had us build him a mob trap so he could get an outrageous amount of experience whenever he wanted to. Of course we had the randoms who would join, the occasional troll, and sometimes we would have someone new join our group as a regular. We had all fought the Ender Dragon before, and we could do it fairly quick. Aaron, I, and majority of the group would take out the crystals and fight the dragon. Graham, however, would stay underground working up potions for the battle and have the rest do deliveries. He wasn’t too fond of Endermen either. That’s why he made us bring water buckets to the End. He stayed in the middle of the water, where the Endermen couldn’t get him. That’s where I got my whole idea from.
One day when I was had nothing else to do, I decided to get on the server. It had been about two weeks since the Ender Dragon was beaten, and we hadn’t really gone to the End since then. We had a little trap that was set up with torches and sand that would send anyone who walked onto it into the End, but it was mostly just to make them panic. Well I had the great idea of using the End to farm Ender Pearls. I was planning on using Graham’s idea with the buckets in order to do it, but on a massive scale. I had every intention on flooding the End. With the help of an inventory editor and the /fly command, I started. Of course this was the only time I was using such things, as I made sure our whole server was legit. However, I was the only person on, and I figured everyone would have a good laugh out of the fact that I flooded the home of the Endermen. As I started going, a good portion of the floating island they called home was filling up quickly. You would hear them panic and teleport away every time they would get splashed, and the occasional scream from when they decided to go swimming for too long. It’s amusing how much determination to live a simple computer AI can give a being. As the rest of the island started to fill up, they became very crafty on their spawns. Many were going under the island on little ledges, but as soon as I saw them, they would be swept away from the water and fall into the Void. I kept going until there was a little square in the center, and the obsidian platform I spawned in on. They were pushing each other for what little, precious space they had left, and one would fall off the platform or into the water every few seconds. I made a few more trips around the island, filling up any spots I missed and finishing off any stragglers that found a comfy spot to sit in. One had even found a spot buried in the ground, in a four tall tunnel, until I flooded him out. This all took till about 1 o’clock in the morning, and I was happy I was able to finish by the night’s end. After I was sure I had filled every dry spot up, I filled up the square in the center. Many of the Endermen just swam until you heard the death scream and they fell, while a few of them managed to teleport to the platform. I decided to have a little fun, at first flooding the edges and watching them push each other into the water and off of the level. This left only four. This just compelled me to get it over with and flood the center, which I did, causing three of the four to fall off the platform. The one remaining Enderman stayed jumping in the center, and slowly his health was being chipped away. Finally, he fell to the floor and screamed. But it wasn’t the normal death scream I had grown accustomed to during my trip. It was glitching. Slowed down. Then it would start over, skip, and drag out even more. Eventually the rest of the game took suit, and I was unable to move. The sound repeated itself, as did his body falling to the floor, that is, until, “MineCraft has run out of memory.” MineCraft then crashes, as does Java.
As many people do when something like that happens, I started up both the server and MineCraft again. I figured it was just a glitch due to the massive amount of water running and the loot that was on the ground from the Endermen dying. I put in my IP address in the multiplayer and click connect. “Error: World not found”. Shit, I thought, as I knew that the crash had corrupted the files. Luckily I backed up the world right before we fought the dragon. I grabbed my external, copied over the files, and loaded it right up. Even though I couldn’t fix all that was lost, I figured I’d go back and fight the dragon again before bed. Thanks to Graham, I had armor and weapons with any enchantment possible, as well as potions that would last me years of battle. I get over to the portal, jump down the hole, and the End loads right up. However, something is wrong. As I look for the Ender Dragon, I see nothing in the air. The crystals are on the tower, but no dragon to feed off of them. I notice next that the Endermen are gone as well. I get on the island, walk around a bit, until eventually I’m hit. I look up and see that the crystals are chaining to what I would presume to be the dragon. He was invisible. So the world just didn’t load properly. I save, exit both programs, restart my computer, and get right back into it. The dragon is there, but the Endermen are still absent. Easier fight, as I don’t have to worry about looking in the wrong direction and having to ward off a pissed off Enderman. 20 minutes later, I shoot the last arrow into the dragon and he floats in the air, and the egg drops onto the fountain. I run over there so I can get out of the End, but another strange occurrence. The End portal that usually fills the fountain is now just the same texture as water. A bucket wouldn’t pick it up like normal water though. This just led me to think my .jar file was corrupted, and I hop in. Eventually it functions just as the normal End portal would, except I hear the death scream to the Enderman again. Not just once, but over, and over, and over. The portal finally works, but it isn’t what I expected. Black. Then, “MineCraft has run out of memory.”
I reinstall all the files, including the world for another time, and the game starts up without a hitch. I get back to the portal and hop in. This time, it is not the End that awaits me. Instead, it seems like an endless room. I can still see, but it’s just a faint glow around me. I walk forward, thinking it could be the End and something like a potion of blindness is stopping me from seeing it. The faint globe of light is all I can see, and the only source of light in my room as well. The platform doesn’t end in a few blocks though, and the obsidian continues, shattering my hopes of being in the End. The obsidian floor keeps going in all directions, so I follow a straight line. I walk, and the sound start. My footsteps first, but then the sound of blocks being placed. As I go forward the faint sound of Enderman begins, and increases. First, just the normal grunts. Then, they sound as if they are agitated. The sounds become much more frequent. It gets louder as if there is a whole hoard chasing me but they refuse to catch me. I start to see the purple pixels as if they are teleporting themselves and me. Then it stops. A few seconds and steps later, one comes flying at the screen, and the death scream goes at full volume. This makes me literally jump and let go of the keyboard and mouse. Silence. It doesn’t start up again until I move the mouse. One more sound, a light grunt, as if they are letting me know they are in the darkness, just out of my sight. I go forward again, clicking my mouse, hoping to hit one of them, or a wall, or anything. The pattern starts over, the sounds, the pixels, and the scare. I didn’t stop moving though, and neither did they. It continues. Escape, alt+f4, they don’t have any function. Unplugging the computer is out of the question, as I refuse to risk my equipment. I keep going, hoping it ends. After about three minutes of the cycle, it does. I’m teleported one last time, unable to move. The Enderman on the screen stares straight into my eyes. Water surrounds my character, and after the 20 seconds, he begins to drown. “You are dead.” In the background, the Enderman still looks with his stoic appearance, not even flinching as much as an inch. Five seconds later, the computer powers down without warning, and I’m left in the dark.
The next day, I send my friend the files for the world. They play the game without any flaws, gone to the End and even got a few pearls. I refuse to. I don’t even have the files on my computer anymore. Did a complete wipe of the hard drive. MineCraft became more than a game that night. It’s a lot more than a simple AI controlling a few entities. Definitely more than a glitch. These games and entities that form on our fears, they do that and much more. It’s a lot more than just simple coding now. The Endermen, they do hold a grudge. They have a fear, and it is not something to taunt them with. They are aware, and they will make sure you become well aware of them and their presence.
Call me outdated, but Counter-Strike is still at the top of my all-time favorite video games.
Late night at the dorm alone, playing up until 3 am, with full volume on. Yeah, that’s my style. Today was supposed to be no different.
I turned on my MacBook Pro. The glossy screen made a clear reflection of my long, narrow room. The dorm’s rooms were all made just for one person, so I was always alone. My laptop was propped up on my desk at the end of the room, opposite the door.
It was almost too routine. After a long, boring day of classes, I’d get back to my room at 10 pm. I’d go Facebook, Twitter, 9gag, up until I’ve surfed every nook and cranny of the net. Then, bored as fuck, I’d open Counter-Strike, and go firing deep into the night.
But tonight, while surfing, a friend suddenly messaged me on Facebook.
“Hey dude! Check out this sick CS Map! (Download link)”, Kevin messaged me.
As he was a CS addict just like me, I opened the link. The map was called ‘de_darkness’. With my 10 mb per second internet, the map downloaded in a flash. Excited, I immediately opened Counter-Strike to try out the map. I set it up to play a good old fashioned, 5 v 5 affair.
The map, living up to its name, had many dark areas. Set late at night, only the pale blue shade of the night sky and a few lamp posts gave light to the area. Stone walls lined each corridor, filled with long, green vines. Dark hallways and tunnels snaked at the center of the map.
Around it was an elevated area, perfect for sniping unwary players on the bottom, through ceiling holes in the tunnels. Bridges also kept the map interesting, hovering across the width and length of the vicinity.
‘Darkness’ seemed to have nothing special to it. There were two ways of getting kills in the map. The first one, which I like to call the ‘pussy’ way, was camping and sniping in the elevated areas of the map. It was almost too easy, as the darkness gave you instant camouflage. You could rack up tons of kills immediately.
The next one was the more interesting part of the map, which was running the maze of tunnels at the center. It was perfect for sneak attacks or point-blank kills.
As usual, I racked up more than half of my team’s kills in the first few rounds, even while switching between the 2 ways to play.
It was after the first 5 rounds that I started to notice things.
One time, while roaming the map, I started to hear creaking noises; they were nothing like the usual sound effects I hear in CS maps. Some players’ footsteps also started to sound different. Instead of the usual thud of military grade shoes, a metallic clink and clank would be heard, even when no player seemed to be in the immediate area.
And then, I started to notice an extra character in the map.
While staying in the elevated area, a shady figure appeared in the outskirt forests of the map. It was impossible to get up there. Curiously, I zoomed in my crosshairs on the human-like figure, but he disappeared.
Next round, the figure appeared again. This time, he was only a few paces away, so I was able to get a better look at him. He wore a brown overcoat, extending to the knees, fully buttoned up. A matching pair of brown slacks completed his outdated fashion statement.
The only thing more puzzling than the man’s clothing was the face that rose above it. He had dark, round eyes, with an empty stare straight at me. A sinister smile accompanied it, but the man didn’t seem to have any lips. A grey, faded complexion covered the rest of the mystery man’s face.
Just like any other opposing character I see, I fired at the guy. Bullet after bullet, aimed straight at his thin, 6 foot body, all seemed to have no effect. Before I could try other ways to kill him, another player killed me.
Wow. This map has something special after all. An extra character, almost impossible to kill? A sense of excitement hit me like never before, like it was just the first time I got my hands on this game.
I spent pretty much all of the remaining rounds trying to find and kill this character, even if it meant lowering my kill-death ratio. I noticed that the man only appeared in dark spaces, randomly across the map.
Many times, the man would toy with me. When I try to run at him, he would stand still, but no distance would be made up. Other times, while firing at him, the man would contort and shake rapidly, like thousands of bullets showered his body all at once. But one thing remained: I was never able to kill him.
It must have been an hour or two already, as I was starting to get sleepy. Trying to kill the mystery man was now a boring, futile effort. It was great fun while it lasted, so I closed the application. Shutting down in 3…2…1…and my Macbook’s screen shut off.
But something remained on the screen. The same shady figure wearing brown was still on the right hand corner. Is my Macbook glitching now?
Then the figure came closer, and closer, and closer. Now, his grey face, empty eye sockets, and sinister smile occupied most of my screen. Then I realized.
I’ve had some people ask that I set up a page with recommendations for scary books, movies, video games, etc – but since I’d surely leave out some quality stuff if I compiled the list completely on my own, I figured that the best way to do this would be via discussion post!
So please, this month, tell us about your favorite creepy video games! Zombies, general paranormal, horror, murder mysteries, psychological thrillers – if you can conceivably consider it a “creepy” game, feel free to recommend it and please do tell us why you chose that game in particular!
As people suggest their favorites, I’ll turn this OP into a master list of the community’s favorite spooky video games (with links to download or buy said games if possible, so if you’re recommending an indie or fanmade game that can’t be easily found on Amazon, please leave a link to its official website/download page to make things easier for me, thanks).
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
JU-ON: The Grudge
9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors
Dementium: The Ward
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward
PlayStation One: LSD Dream Emulator (The link goes to a ROM, but be aware that it’s only legal to download and use if you already own the game. If that doesn’t apply to you, the game is also available to download and purchase via Japanese PSN) Hellnight (can’t find a ROM for this, sorry)
Siren Blood Curse
Requiem: Memento Mori
The Secret World
Not Yet Released:
The Evil Within
YMMV Creepy Nominations (anything prefaced with “not really a creepy game, but…”):
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
This list is still being compiled as people leave more comments with suggestions.
If you know of a reputable seller/download site for a game that doesn’t have a link of that type yet, feel free to comment and let me know.
Hey, I’m still kind of new here. My name’s Matt, and I’m looking for an old game that my dad and I used to play together on the SNES, taking turns switching the controller over after the other died. I remember the game-play pretty well, I just can’t seem to remember the title of the game or what the cartridge looked like, aside from having the main character on it. Figured I’d play the game for old time’s sake when my dad was still here…=/ All I remember in the title is it had the word Mayan somewhere in it, I think.
The game itself had a kind of darker background and atmosphere to it, and that’s probably why I remember it so well, compared to all the other brightly colored games from Nintendo, like the Super Mario Bros games. In the corner of the screen, there was a crocodile that’s mouth gradually closed down on your character as you got closer to dying. To progress, you climb up vines on trees or jump on spider webs, and find your way around like a maze of of the jungle, and they had some sand traps that opened and closed on the ground, as well as different animals that would attack you on your way, like snakes, monkeys, crocodiles, a boar and I think a jaguar at the end that was like the boss in the first level. You collected things like rocks or pouches full of them that you sling at the animals, and I think a bomb and whip as well. I thought it was something like Indiana Jones at first, but turns out it wasn’t.
My dad and I used to play for hours to get away from the little annoying chores around the house and school work for me, we were really close then. =) But after a while… he moved out after a big fight with my mom and I only got to see him once in a while, but sadly, each time I saw him, he seemed to be losing touch and his actions became more and more rash, and just oddly out of character for him…He left one day without even saying anything about why or where he was going. And I moved into his old apartment when it was available, since he had left some stuff there that I was hoping he would come back to.
So, this is really important to me, we haven’t spoken in over two years now, and its the only thing I have that’s still a good memory with him that my mother hasn’t ruined that I can hopefully share with my son in a few years. He was just born October, I named him after my father, Allen. =) I’ve tried looking through the few boxes of games he kept in his room, but no luck finding it. I wonder if he took it with him, wherever he went. But I just got a call from a storage company in the next town over that says payment for his bin is overdue, which I didn’t even know he had. So I’m going to check that out within the week, or they might auction it off, so I’ll see if there’s anymore games or family pictures or anything of personal value in there. It would help out a lot if any of you could tell me what the game was called, so I know what to look for. It would be very much appreciated. I don’t know what happened to the SNES either, maybe its in there, if not I could probably just buy it on eBay or something if I find the game.
Posted: January 13th 2013, 5:33 PM
Well, I’m back…and I found it, Pitfall. I’m a bit shaken up after all the weird shit that’s gone on from this though. I couldn’t very well have typed all this out in such little time, so I’ve started up my voice-to-text program to tell what’s happened. Which brings me to ask this, since I don’t remember having these experiences from the game ever before…Has anyone else had strange experiences with this game that they couldn’t find an easy explanation for? I mean, I know some of it could be explained if its just a hacked game or whatever, but truth be told I wasn’t scared by most of the images, or texture changes in the game. There were however these really odd noises that I’ve never heard before, that didn’t even sound human. And there were strange things going on around me, with my senses, and in my dreams…I’ll be honest, because I must sound like some kind of hippy right now, I don’t really believe in ghosts or paranormal phenomenon or anything like that, but I can’t find any rational explanation for what this game seems to have done, it’s gone far beyond breaking the fourth wall and I don’t know what’s going to happen next, which terrifies me. Maybe I’m just going crazy, I’d just be happy to know that that was true. But considering I’ve recently seen a psychologist for a routine check-up, since I usually have alot of stress in my job and daily life, and having been told a couple weeks ago my mind was just as sharp as any other person’s, I just don’t get it. What’s happening to me, it’s not normal, it can’t be.
Okay, let me try to explain what I’ve experienced in a bit more detail if that helps. See, I didn’t have a car to go check the storage containers a couple days ago, I usually just borrow my roommate’s car to get to and from work, and to see my wife and son sometimes. But he’s been away for vacation this last week. And…I just couldn’t wait to play the game, so I found a download for a Super Nintendo emulator that worked fine, and a download for Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure.exe on Piratebay the next morning after my last post. It took a while to download, because I’m using a crappy Asus laptop. But it played fine at first, just like I had remembered it. Aside from my father not being there, I was having fun figuring out the tricks to the game again and the controls on my computer were simple enough.
I would go into more detail of the gameplay at the beginning, but just play the game for yourself and you’ll see its not the most complicated game there is, I don’t want to bore you with detailed explanation of hours of gameplay, and don’t feel I have too much time left before my turn is up, so I’m speaking to my speech-to-text program and just going to use the spell-check with it, while its still fresh and clear in my mind. Here’s hoping it gets it right. But I have to know if anyone else has experienced any of this and if so, how to stop it, or at least I can hope to help other people avoid the same fate I fear my dad and I are going through now. I know he’s still alive, he has to be…I know it now.
Well, if you’ve ever played this game, you know that every time it froze on a Super Nintendo system, whether from the cartridge having dust, or you accidentally moving the system an inch, you would have to reset the game and start over no matter where you were. After I had been playing for a while, I was trying to be thorough playing through the levels and as soon as I got up to 443,550 points, with three pouches left, and two lives, the game on my laptop froze and the game crashed altogether. I was pissed off at first, but I noticed something when I went to the files to launch the game again, there was another file added that said, “HeyBuddy”. I hadn’t really thought about it at the moment, but that’s usually how my dad would address me as a kid. Out of curiosity, I clicked the file and it opened a box of text that said, “Your turn is up.” Which I remembered my dad and I used to say to each other when the other had died.
It was a bit strange for me, to say the least, but it…the program, started itself up after I went to close the text-box. I noticed the three lights on the bottom of my laptop, that were usually white, green, and flashing white from left to right were now all solid red, which I’d never seen before as my computer started making that noise it makes when it gets heated up after being on for a while, but it was louder than it usually is. I didn’t mind it much, it just sort of stuck out in my mind for a moment. The screen was just black for a while, so I figured it was going to crash again…but then the animation before the title screen of the game popped up and played like it does whenever you reset. The text played normally, as I expected, but when the shadow of the boy’s father shows up at the doorway, it isn’t grabbed by anything, the shadow actually looked like his dad was stabbed and he fell to the floor. The boy didn’t exclaim “DAD!” he asked “Dad?” and ran towards the door. He was pulled through the door by something I couldn’t see on the screen and red lines ran down the stone face in the room the boy was in as static started playing…it was obnoxious. I didn’t realize until a little later that the red lines were supposed to be blood. Until red ran in through the door in a small puddle I guess it was, from where the boy’s father fell to the ground and where the boy was abducted. It was a bit odd, and unexpected.
Honestly, at this point, I wasn’t very scared though, it did seem odd and nothing like I remembered, but I thought it was pretty cool that someone was making this a more interesting game-play experience and potentially changing the story line, though this was a Super Nintendo game…there wouldn’t be much story line anyway. And since I’d pretty much beaten it in the previous play-through before it crashed, I actually hoped there was more, and unfortunately I was right. I moved over to options at the title screen, because I wanted to see if the controls were as I had set them before it reset, but the static sound picked up, as if the game was getting angry with me and the cursor moved itself over to play and it was selected.
At this point, I was just hoping my computer didn’t have some kind of virus from downloading the game. It wouldn’t be the first of my computers getting a virus from something like that. But this was an entirely different virus from anything I had seen before, if it was a virus that is. Maybe just an exceptionally good programmer.
The static sound stopped as soon as the screen transitioned to black and came up with the screen that said the first level name, “Ceiba Jungle”. Once it showed the play screen with the character, I saw the character wave to me, I paused for a moment and awkwardly waved back…I don’t know why I did, I just felt compelled to for some odd reason. The level looked exactly the same. But then, I noticed something, the main character looked different, he looked like he was trying to talk to me, and like he was in a panic at the same time. I felt the same for a split second, and when he tried to talk to me I realized…that was a sprite of my dad on the game. This brought a mix of emotions to me that were disturbing, part of me felt hatred for him leaving, partly was happy to see him there like we were playing the game together again, and the last part was the onset of genuine fear and paranoia. I thought, maybe someone was messing with me, and who was watching my life and doing this to me and why?
I pressed escape over and over again, trying to close the game and even tried to manually turn my computer off by holding down the power button, but nothing was working. And the character on the screen, he was still silent, there was no sound as he ran to the left of the screen, he ran straight into a tree trunk with a thud and fell to the ground a couple times. What scared the fuck out of me was that every time he did, I heard a slam against the door down the hall, in time with the game. When he stopped, it stopped. My heart was racing by now, and I rushed to look out the window overlooking the front door, but there was nothing, absolutely nothing and no one at the door, and I was the only one in the apartment. I was pretty scared to say the least, and half-expecting him to be there. I stood there for a minute, baffled, thinking I was going insane.
I ran back over to my laptop and wanted to see more of what was going to happen, but the character was gone. And as soon as I sat down, the game crashed again, and when I went to re-launch the file, it gave me another phrase that said; “YourTurnSon.” I clicked it, it read: “You’ll soon find out why.” I was a bit confused at that, but I didn’t want to restart the game, I was done with this weird shit. It did the same as before, it launched itself, went to black, then skipped the intro and went straight to the menu. And again, it wouldn’t let me press escape or manually turn off the computer. So I figured I’d outsmart it, I closed the laptop and unplugged it, hoping the battery would die soon and the next day I’d have it reformatted to get rid of the obvious virus. But it wasn’t that simple, even though I had muted my sound the last time it crashed, I heard a loud scream coming from my laptop, it was a scream of torment and torture, and it sounded like it was in my dad’s voice. I panicked and threw the laptop at the wall, but it got louder. I’m surprised my crappy laptop still works to be honest. It didn’t stop until I opened it up again and pressed play.
When it came to the first level again, I immediately noticed the level was different, everything was black and white, the only thing separating the black things and background was all the outlines traced in white. I couldn’t really tell if my character looked the same as before or not. But I also saw my health, it usually always started you at three lives, but it started me with two this time. I heard something that sounded like a record playing something in reverse…That didn’t bother me so much as the in-humane screaming and crying I heard from the left speaker, leading me to go where I’d last seen my dad’s character. I walked back to the left of the screen where the open tree trunk was, it looked like the hole in the trunk was all red though, and it looked sort of like a portal.
I didn’t want to go in yet, so I turned back and walked to the right, I went as far right as I could. And as I did, I started to see white things sticking out of the ground, I thought they were spikes or something like that, that I just jumped over. But when I stepped on one, I heard the cry of a wild boar that sounded like it was being tortured. And suddenly I realized, these were the skeletal remains of the animals that I had faced before on the ground. I heard some strange noises from my speakers that sounded like low laughter. Like that of something not human, demonic almost as I ran to the left of the screen again, towards the red portal. It got louder the closer I got.
The game crashed again when I went through. I was relieved. This time I could avoid clicking the files and reading whatever ridiculous things it had to say and try to shut down the computer without the game running at the same time. I checked again to make sure my speakers were muted, and I took the laptop and stored it under the stairwell outside between some blankets and old pillows next to the trashcans. Hell I would have welcomed someone trying to steal it. But I needed to get some sleep, it was a lot later than I thought it was by now. I knew the limits of my speakers and I knew I wouldn’t hear it from my bed at the least, I just wanted to forget about that game and give my laptop away to any unfortunate random pawnshop owner the next morning.
But that night, last night, I had some very strange dreams. I heard the screams again, the crying, and distorted laughter. I saw everything in the game play in my dream over and over, but I was seeing through the eyes of the character and it all seemed so real. But I heard my father, he said; “Help me Matt, buddy I need your help. Find it.” I didn’t know what he meant by that ‘find it’ part, but I knew in that dream exactly where he was, he’d gone to find the Mayan ruins from the game, to find something that I wasn’t clear of. After that, I saw him, and his body violently purge his skeleton from his flesh, there was blood and organs scattered everywhere around the pile of bones mostly mangled together, as he screamed and to my amazement started to laugh too. I don’t know why, or how he would have found them, but I knew I’d find him there and maybe there was a chance I could still help him and get him back before anything like that happened to him. Now I knew where to look.
So, at about 3 AM I was startled awake with tears down my face, then went to get the laptop and plug it back in to find out more. It had already brought up the game files, with a message that read: “WelcomeBack” and when I clicked it, the text-box said; “Come find me, you’re ready.” Then, I didn’t give it the chance to launch itself and I launched Pitfall myself and just pressed play, and the game let me this time. Now there was nothing, but my dad’s character, and pitch-black all around. There was this quiet music playing, that sounded like a pipe organ, and some low dark chanting or hymns or something, there were a lot of words I couldn’t quite make out. But I started feeling a burning sensation throughout my body, I almost couldn’t stand it as I heard flames crackling, I wanted to claw my skin off and I smelled fire for a split second. I got up when the sensation faded and checked around the apartment, I was the only one here, I never smoked, and our apartment can’t even facilitate fixtures for a stove of any sorts. The windows were all closed and we had no air vents, I still couldn’t imagine where that smell came from. When I got back to it, the last life went from one to zero and the game crashed for the last time and, when I checked, it had deleted itself completely from my computer. I had also used my Windows audio recorder to record some of it, but the files were either deleted or renamed and moved when the game crashed the last time. I’ll keep looking for that audio file. I tried to find the name of the author of the file download today, and I remembered the name was “Hourglass11″, but the file was just gone and I couldn’t download it again to find out more of what was going on. I have to see what’s on that damned cartridge…maybe it will give me more to go off of.
Posted: January 14th 2013, 12:11 PM
I’ve calmed down a bit now, as I type this last part myself. But that will only last until the next dream haunts me, and calls me to find him. But I realized today, that I am actually becoming my father in a way, as much as I don’t want to accept it, I’ve been rapidly drawing away from my family and becoming more reclusive because of all this. As much as I want to stop looking and break the chain now, I just can’t…I already took a vacation from work and went to the storage container when my roommate got back. I didn’t bother explaining to him, I knew he wouldn’t believe me. And I found both the game and the SNES in the same box with nothing else in it. Everything on the cartridge sticker were blacked out, except the character, that looked just like my father…a lot of people say I’m a mirror image of him. I’m going to find out where exactly he is and buy tickets to Mexico to find him and those ruins.