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One Word Story

October 28, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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Have you ever played One Word Story? It’s a very simple game: a few people take turns, going around to make a sentence. Each person adds one word, until the sentence is complete, then someone says “period” and it’s read back. It’s actually pretty fun if you play with the right people, but I’m pretty anti-social and only have one or two friends. They don’t like the game as much as I do, so I use a random-chat site to play with strangers. It’s completely anonymous, so my identity is supposed to be safe. Anyway, it was late afternoon on a Saturday, and I was in the middle of a game when my apartment went dark. It was probably caused by the weird heat; all week, other tenants in my building had complained about the power cutting short around this. It only lasted a few minutes, but when the power came back on, I saw had been disconnected from the site. When I tried to reenter, I couldn’t, it kept crashing or something and I kept getting disconnected.

I’m easily bored, and was a little more than pissed that I hadn’t finished my game. So, I took to Google, and searched “Chat Room, Anonymous, One Word Story.” After “0.18223 seconds,” I had 23,000 results. I scrolled down the page and tried a few sites out, but either the players weren’t very good, or I was led to an anonymous sex chat site. It wasn’t until the third page of results that I found something interesting: I clicked the heading and entered the site, then I logged in as a guest. I was really surprised to see how dedicated this site was to an overall simple game; mystery, parody, anime, music, cartoons, horror, film, superstition, and superhero were just a few of the categories that people could use to play One Word Story. For no particular reason, I went to Mystery first and played a few short games, then I went to Horror, then to Music, and to a few others. Eventually, I went to take a bathroom break, and made sure to bookmark the site, so I could visit it in the future. The site was pretty well managed; under each main heading -for example horror- there were subheadings. These were games being hosted by members. Some games only had a few people in them, others had thirty or forty. Some were open to anyone, others were private games that you could only get into if you had a password that the host had sent you. I played for a few hours, really enjoying myself because everyone here took the game just seriously enough to make each sentence interesting, and also had enough fun to make the whole story funny to read out loud, while still making sense.

It was ten now, and ten thirty was my self-imposed bed time, so I resigned to play one more game before going to sleep. Going to Mystery for the last time that night, I found a private game. Being a guest on the site, I couldn’t message the person to ask to join, and I would’ve kept looking for a Public game, except that the page froze. I refreshed it, and saw that the game had been changed to Public, with room for one person. I thought about that: a one-on-one game of one word story, and I felt excited at the possibility that this guy would be just as good as I was, and we could create something really unique. So, I joined. The host, username Doppelgänger1221, went first; “I,” appeared on the screen almost instantly. I was impressed with this guy’s bravery, as using “I” in this game usually led to embarrassing sentences in the long run. So, I rewarded him with a simple enough word that would keep the sentence going: “see.” He responded almost immediately with “you.” This was honestly a very amateur tactic. It would make the game harder to finish, and the “unsettling” approach was never enough to make me quit. I decided to humor him though, and typed, “through”. His response: “your”. I thought about where the sentence was going, and noticed that my living room window was still open from the afternoon; I typed “window.” His response was a period, signaling the end of the sentence.

“I see you through your window.” I chuckled to myself, realizing this guy was a “creep,” a player who tries to make unsettling or disturbing sentences to scare his opponents into leaving the game. He probably had a friend with him, and they were thinking up ways to scare me. I didn’t blame them, my sister and I did that last Halloween when I babysat for my parents. I started the next sentence: “You.” His reply: “are.” My reply: “not.” His reply: “safe.” My reply was a period, ending the sentence.

“You are not safe.” Again, I chuckled, and watched as he started the next sentence. “I” appeared on the screen. I typed “am,” which was followed by “coming”. I thought about ending the sentence there, as a slight punishment against the guy for not taking the game seriously. Instead, I typed “for” to see if he would type what I thought he would. He typed “You.” I was right on the money, and typed a period.

“I am coming for you.” It wasn’t funny anymore, just boring. There was a chat, so I used it to tell the guy to cut the “creep” stuff. I told him it wasn’t funny, and if he didn’t cut it out, I would leave the game. He actually replied.

“Look out your window.” That caught me off guard, but I did what I was told. Across the street, a light post had burned out its bulb, which I hadn’t noticed before. It was pretty dark, and I couldn’t really make out any shapes. I turned back to the monitor. Doppelgänger had typed “I,” and I saw in the chat that he had posted another comment. Basically, he was telling me what to write. I was becoming fed up with him, but ten thirty was just five minutes away, so I reasoned to just finish, and did as he asked. I typed “Have.” He typed “A.” I typed “Gun.” He typed “To.” I typed “Your.” He typed “Head.” I finished the sentence with a period.

“I have a gun to your head.” I sighed aloud, and closed my eyes, stretching at my desk. I just wanted this game to be over. It was my turn, and he had sent me another list of words, so I typed “I.” He typed “Am.” I typed “At.” He typed “Your.” I typed “Window.” He typed a period.

“I am at your window.” Reading it aloud, I realized the game was over: we had made the “story” relate to our first sentence. Out of habit, I read every sentence out loud.

“I see you through your window. You are not safe. I am coming for you. I have a gun to your head. I am at your window.” I finished reading, and rested my head against my chair, yawning. I was drowsy, and thought about sleeping in my chair when a loud, cracking sound echoed across the empty street outside and I noticed the crack that was spider-webbing from the center of my computer monitor. I blinked to full alertness and saw it: the glint of a bullet, sticking out of my screen. I turned my head behind me, and screamed as I saw someone in a mask staring in through my window. Out of panic, I dashed out of my chair and into my bedroom. I hid in the closet, under a thick pile of dirty laundry, and waited, trying to control my rapid breathing as my eyes adjusted to the uncomfortable darkness.

It was a few minutes before I heard soft footsteps. The maniac was in my bedroom; I could see his dark boots and leather pants. He fired the gun again at my bed sheets; he must have thought I was hiding in the covers. He rummaged through my drawers, and took something that I thought was money or my prescription medicine. I saw him stalk towards my bathroom, and fire a shot into the shower. He looked around in there, before turning around, and looking under my bed. He was almost level with the floor, so I could see his features: he was at least six feet, and dressed in all black, except for his mask, which was white with red tear-tracts under the eyes and a painted set of crooked, beast-like teeth; he seemed to see perfectly in the dark. I could really only see him because his clothes seemed to be darker than the already lightless interior of my bedroom. After what felt like hours, he stood up, and walked out of my room. I stayed in my closet all night, eventually falling asleep, covered in my unclean socks and underwear. I smelled horrible in the morning, and the first thing I did was take a shower; I stepped on the bullet that had torn a hole in my shower curtains.

Afterwards, I called the police, who told me to come down to the station. I got ready to go, but couldn’t find my keys anywhere. While looking through the drawers of my desk, I complained internally about my monitor being busted. I could still see the site, the chat room, and the game, and took a picture of it with my phone for the police. Now, in the kitchen looking for my keys, it hit me that I had kept them in my dresser-drawer, and ran into my room to see that what the psycho had taken was my keys. I groaned, and was about to call my buddy for a ride when I accidentally opened my photo gallery. I was very annoyed with myself, until I took another look at the picture I had taken. Something was different in the picture than I had remembered from last night. There was a new line in the chat. A single word. A simple question. A word I had used so many times over the words, after a game was over. I never thought that this word would send shivers down more spine nor turn my blood to ice in my veins.


Credit: Anthony Naranjo

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The Haunted Game Boy Camera

October 4, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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“I’ll never ask for anything else again, I swear, Mom!”

As kids, we’ve all said it at one point. We find something that seems the most amazing item in the world and we just have to have it, no matter what. For me, it was the newest handheld, a Game Boy Color. It was the most beautiful thing to a six year old, especially when all my friends were getting theirs. Growing up with four brothers and sisters and not especially well off, my parents did their best, but we struggled to get by most of the time. They did their best to give us comforts and toys, but new electronics were out of the question. Hell, we were still working off an old television that still used rabbit ears. I was the youngest of the five of us, so that meant a lot of hand me downs as well. I was used to it, but still held some resentment to my siblings and of course, still begged for the Game Boy Color. They said they would do their best, bless their hearts.

Shortly after my birthday, my mom and dad presented me with a box. I was surprised, but they said they had found something they knew I wanted very badly and I had been good. My heart raced with excitement as I tore into the box, but sank into the pit of my stomach. It was not a Game Boy Color. This poor excuse for a handheld was a badly abused original Game Boy. It looked like it had been bitten and melted by something in the corners, as well as stained. Up on top, a strange camera stuck out of the cartridge inserted inside. When I picked it up, it read Game Boy Camera. They’d somehow managed to find it with the crappy little printer as well, complete with fading printer paper.

“You see? Daddy and I found it at a garage sale, it’s exactly the kind you wanted. It even has a cool little camera to take pictures!” They said, far more excited than I was.

I’m not sure if it was the fact that this was the first thing that had ever been given to me first and it still was someone’s used piece of junk, or that they had no actual idea what I had wanted, or maybe they had and just decided it was too much so a replacement would suffice and I’d never know the difference, but in my utter disappointment, I threw the worst tantrum I’d had since I was a toddler. I tossed the box on the ground and cried my eyes out, screaming how they were awful and I didn’t want this and I wanted my Game Boy Color. Well, you can imagine how that turned out. I got a good whooping from my father in front of all my siblings and a long lecture on gratefulness and how hard they work. In punishment for my selfishness, they gave my gift to my brother Ryan, only a couple years older than me. I was so angry, I didn’t care though and was happy to be rid of the thing. Ryan, being the jerk he was, teased me about it endlessly.

It was a few days after that that he figured out the camera and printing on it. He would tease me from his room, talk about how he got to play with the cool system and I was too little and bratty to ever touch it. I would either yell back at him or slam the door to my room and ignore it. Shortly after though, I heard him leave his room and call out to our mom, claiming the printer was acting weird. She was busy making lunch and told him it was probably due to being used, and to keep trying and see if it would fix itself. I heard him go back into his room, then go back out a little while later, saying it was probably busted and that he was going to go to his friend’s house.

Wondering what was wrong with it, I snuck into his room and found the papers lying on his bed. He’d taken photos of himself, making weird faces into the camera. The game system had been turned off, as expected. The first few pictures were normal, then they changed into those strange faces that everyone knew about. The way the printer paper was stained, they looked even weirder. As I looked down at the later pictures though, they looked…different.

Obviously, the camera in the game was not the greatest, so it was sometimes hard to see details of someone’s face or it would look blocky or blurry. The later pictures however…seemed to change. It wasn’t just scribbles or silly words written on his face. His features seemed to change, and there were dark spots around his eyes and mouth. His expression didn’t look goofy anymore; instead it looked scared. Each picture seemed to change it more and more. Eventually, the pictures changed to where it didn’t even look like he was holding the camera anymore, but that…someone was taking the picture of him. He got farther and farther away and what seemed to be a horrible story unfolded. It was showing Ryan running from the camera. The last picture was showing Ryan’s face half missing, dark pixels spilled out from the side of his head, and lying on the ground.

I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t even know the little camera was capable of things like this. It frightened me immensely and I jumped from the bed and ran to my mom, telling her about the pictures. She didn’t believe me and got angry I was playing with it after my behavior. She scolded me and sent me back to my room. I was too nervous to be angry though. I wondered what was wrong with that Game Boy. Why did it print those pictures?

I was immensely relieved when Ryan came back home that night for dinner. He seemed fine and after that night, I convinced myself it must have been a problem with the system since it was so beaten up, some kind of error. At some point later in the week, Ryan tried again to take pictures. I heard him call it a piece of junk and then chuck it into a drawer. He threw all the pictures he had taken in the trash can.

I didn’t think much of the Game Boy and the camera until the week after. I had been coloring in my room when I heard a terrible scream from outside and the sound of brakes squealing to a stop. Immediately, we all jumped up and ran outside to find out what had happened, along with our neighbors. The sight that greeted us all still is burned into my memory.

Ryan had gone to walk across the street to his friend’s house, just as he would any other day. A man had come speeding down the street and hit him. He’d been pulled under the car and his head half crushed under the tires as the man hit the breaks. My older brother’s brain and skull were splattered under, a pool of blood soaking into the street. I still remember the cry of agony and horror my mother let out, and the rage and grief in my father’s eyes as he pulled the man from the car and shouted at him, asking him what in the hell he had been doing to hit a child. My sisters pulled me back inside, trying to comfort me and shield me from the sight, but the damage was done. I’d seen exactly what the picture had showed me and I knew that Game Boy had been the cause. In my naivete, I tried to tell them, hoping they would believe me. They didn’t believe me at all and it made one of my sisters fall apart.

The next few weeks were miserable. My parents were inconsolable and my mother could barely take care of the house and us. My eldest sister Andrea took over her role and struggled with it, angry with us and dealing with her own grief. She also took over cleaning out Ryan’s side of the room that he shared with my other brother. At some point, she found the Game Boy and the Game Boy Camera and asked if I wanted it. I told her it was cursed, that it had killed Ryan. She said that I was being cruel to our parents by turning their gift that was meant for me into a guilt trip and that I needed to stop being so selfish. The funeral for Ryan caused even more money stress on the family and slowly, even at the young age I was, I could see they were not able to handle any of it well. I did my best at that point to keep out of trouble and didn’t say anything more about the Game Boy Camera.

I don’t know when she took them, but at some point, I guess she’d needed a distraction from trying to hold up the house. I went into my sisters’ room to find a missing sock and thought maybe it had landed into their clothing. Her trashcan had the same printer paper in it. An ice cold sweat came over my body when I realized. I couldn’t stop myself. I reached in and looked at the pictures. They were the same. Andrea’s face was slowly transformed into looks of horror and fear before showing her in a grotesque and terrifying position that I could only assume was a clue to how she would die. In the ending pictures, her face was barely recognizable and her skin was black.

I was definitely sure now. This thing had to be destroyed. I thought to myself that maybe if I could destroy it, I could save my sister from the same fate. I tore her room apart searching for the Game Boy. Eventually, I found it and the printer. As I held it in my hand, something chilling happened.

It turned on.

The screen flashed the logo before it began to make noises and music. The sound was wrong, as though it were being played backwards. I had been looking straight at it and suddenly, my face appeared on the screen. It began to print. In my panicked state, I went to shut it off, but found the button was down already. It should not have been running. I then proceeded to rip the printer paper out and the game out of the system. The Game Boy began to spark and error while the printer spewed out ink all over my Andrea’s bed. I felt it heat up in my hands and dropped it, watching the screen begin to smoke and the sparks fly out from both the Game Boy and the printer. After a minute or two, it seemed to die.

Needless to say, I got in major trouble when my sister came home and found her bed sheets stained with ink and the system broken. My parents were furious and forbid me from going out with friends at all, as well as no tv. I was now considered very irresponsible and not allowed to touch any of my siblings’ things. It didn’t matter though. I had saved her from a horrible fate and the cursed system was gone.

Or so I thought.

I think back and realize that of everything I did, the thing that may have saved me was not letting the printer finish. Six months later, my sister was killed when she was driving home and slipped on something in the road, crashing her car and being trapped inside as it caught fire. When the police came to my parents, they had told them that she was burned beyond recognition and the only reason they knew it was her was because she was driving my dad’s car. I couldn’t save her. I didn’t dare tell my parents about the pictures. I don’t think they would have believed me anyway.

Years have passed and we’ve grown up. My parents never really recovered from Ryan and Andrea’s deaths and they have struggled immensely. The three of us take care of them now, though we still have the old rabbit ears television for comfort’s sake.

There’s still one thought that haunts me though and makes it hard to sleep at night.

I never found out what they did with the broken Game Boy, the camera and printer. I pray to God every night that the damned thing made its way into some kind of trash compactor or is tangled with the plastic floating in the ocean. I fear that they still wanted it to have use, and donated it, or sold it for parts. And someone, somewhere is repairing it and putting in new paper. And they will see what it was trying to print of me.

Credit: AMD

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A Figure in Gray

July 15, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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A Figure in Gray

If you have spent any length of time in the United States, you owe it to yourself to play the 1985 arcade classic, Paperboy. In it, you assume the role of a preteen boy tasked with completing his daily paper route. For whatever reason, your hero’s beat is a particularly rough neighborhood. Its streets teem with aggressive drivers who would rather hit a cyclist than their brakes. On the sidewalks, bratty children steer kamikaze RC cars into passers-by — modern-day drone pilots in their larval form. Elsewhere, skateboarding adrenaline junkies find their greatest thrill in demolishing live obstacles like your paperboy. In some cases, your character will be accosted by a knife-wielding madman who comes charging out of a house and pursues at tremendous speed, inevitably catching your hero and robbing him of a precious life.

Taken as a whole, the game makes for an effective satire of Reagan-era America. It captures the needless paranoia of the suburbs, where people fear the harm some stranger or foreign power will inflict on them, without realizing the vanity — in all senses of the word — behind such a phobia. It shows the violence and cruelty of the average American percolating behind the facade of white picket fences and well-maintained lawns. Most importantly, it reveals how far some people will go to make a buck — or be compelled to go, for socioeconomic reasons beyond their control.

It would be troubling to consider these situations if the game didn’t make it all so damn funny. Odds are you will laugh too much while playing to think about many of the concerns the game raises. Perhaps it succeeds too well at its own satirical objectives.

You would be forgiven for assuming that the same merry cynicism found in Paperboy would carry over to its ’90s console sequel, Paperboy 2. Indeed, the second entry in the series contains every bit as much unnecessary peril — and consequent weird humor — as the first. You guide your choice of paperboy or papergirl through a suburban gauntlet featuring a whole new cast of memorable hostiles. A hermit holed up in a moat-ringed castle bombards you with cannon fire as you pass. Overzealous guard dogs chase you down the street. Roasting pigs, knocked off the spit by a misfired newspaper, do the same — evidently being grilled alive before your intervention, and none too happy with your interference. Runaway baby carriages, in a nod to the overpopulation worries of the modern world, mow you down if you are not attentive enough. Scarecrows, once hit with a paper, break from their stakes and ambush you, one hand raised in a Fascist salute all the while. The absurdity in Paperboy 2 runs high thanks to the game’s colorful cast.

Although perhaps “colorful” is not the right word…

As you play through the opening stages of Paperboy 2, you will notice one character who does not seem to belong, for he is, literally and figuratively, anything but colorful. He will first catch your eye because his palette is without color — he is the only person in the game rendered entirely in monochrome. He wears a gray sweatsuit. His neat and unremarkable hair is black. His stark white skin, however, is especially arresting, given the more nuanced flesh tones seen everywhere else in-game. His actions, too, are comparably bland. If left undisturbed, the figure in gray simply walks down his driveway, deposits a garbage can at the curb, then turns around and walks back to his house. If struck with a paper, he only freezes in his tracks. No attacks, no surprises. He is shockingly mundane in this world of cannons and mobile scarecrows.

If you have some knowledge of ’90s news curiosities, you might be able to excavate the unusual case of one Dennis R— from your memory banks. Assuming the national news outlets had the story straight, and reported it accordingly, Mr. R— was an actuary — or some other specialist whose profession hinges on the unchallenged yet specious assumption that the future will be like the past — who woke up one night, dismembered his infant twin sons and his wife of eight years, and brought their remains to the curb in a metal garbage can alongside all the other refuse of suburban life. The mechanical arm of the waste collection truck had not detected the can’s abnormal weight, and the landfill, too, was none the wiser. It was entirely possible that nobody would have noticed the absence of Mrs. R— and her children, had the local library not begun to seek compensation for a long overdue book that Mrs. R— never had the chance to return. Alas, Mr. R— was never properly sentenced, as he was killed in prison by other inmates before his trial could be finished.

Recalling this story, you might begin to sense a resemblance between the late Mr. R— and the figure in gray; indeed, after a cursory image search for his photograph on the internet, you would be impressed by how uncanny a likeness a few pixels can produce. You might even begin to suspect that the satire of the Paperboy series is alive and well in the second installment. Here the game designers have given you a world of crime and violence and fright, and yet the most horrible thing in it is something as innocuous as a man taking out his trash. Here all the paranoid suburbanites target a kid on a bicycle, as if he or she posed any actual threat, while the real danger lurks next door. You might speculate that Paperboy 2 is a satire of complacency, where prosperity and habit inure the average American against diligence and introspection, where the idealized image of the suburb discourages its residents from looking beyond the glistening veneer of civilization, and scrutinizing themselves or others. Even you, the attentive player, were fooled — did you think to inspect the gray figure’s garbage can for pixelated limbs? Of course not. Why would you? The world you find yourself in does little to suggest you should have. Therefore, through the inclusion of this nonchalant figure in gray, the game makes you complicit in the poisonous mindsets that suburban America incubates — a mature critique indeed for such an early video game.

Yet if you were to praise the developers of Paperboy 2 for their clever stunt, not one of them would take credit for it. For none of them would admit to drawing or programming the figure in gray. In fact, none of them would remember putting him into the game.

Credit To – Lex Joy

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Ikidomari (Part 2 of 2)

July 13, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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This is part two of two in the Ikidomari series. Please read the first part here!

Ikidomari 1

The doll stood motionless in front of the door, waiting to be invited inside, as the light from Jake’s flashlight shined upon its dusty wooden face. “It’s that damn creepy doll!” He yelled, quickly walking back to the table. I really didn’t understand how the doll was standing without anybody to hold it up. Most or all ventriloquist dolls required someone to hold it up but this doll stood on its feet with no problem. Maybe someone was holding it up, someone or something we couldn’t see. I believe the doll was alive somehow, either that or someone or something was moving it from place to place without any of us noticing.

Joel was up next so he spun the wheel. His game piece moved five spaces to another gray space. Kenzie spun the wheel and her game piece also moved to a gray space. It was then my turn so I spun the wheel. We just wanted to get the game over with so we were getting through quickly. We barely even talked to each other. I spun an 8 and my game piece moved slowly until it stopped…on a red space. I looked around at everyone, they all looked frightened, except for Joel who I guess still had the mentality that it was all just a game. I pulled a red card from the deck and took a deep breath before reading it.

Don’t be scared, we have just begun
The doors are now locked and there’s nowhere to run

Creepy riddles. I don’t know why but the fact that they rhymed was very unsettling to me. We all looked at each other, stuck in fear for what seemed like an eternity. We heard footsteps echoing through the halls, it sounded as if someone were running relentlessly around the building.

“What the hell is going on?” Jake asked, looking at me. Everybody looked at me as if I knew the answer. I had no idea what was going on, the only thing I knew was that we were in deep trouble. Jake suddenly got up and scampered outside the room and down the hall. We all followed him out, I tried to convince him that we couldn’t leave until the game was finished. It was frightening to find out that even if we wanted to leave, there was no way we could. The doors were locked and the windows were boarded. We were stuck there with no way out. The only way was to finish the game. While Jake and Joel furiously wandered the building in search for a way out, I was right behind them, trying to get them to understand that we had to finish the game or we would never get out. Things were starting to get out of control, Jake and Joel were arguing and it got to the point where I had to yell for them to shut the hell up.

“We have to finish the damn game,” I explained.

“That damn game is cursed and there is no way I’m playing it,” Jake said.

They were finally understanding how serious and real the game was. The melody started echoing through the halls, it was calling for us. It took me a while to get everybody to understand that if we do not finish the game, we’d die either way. It was a frightening situation we were in but finishing the game was the only way out. We all walked back to the room and back to the game. I noticed the doll sitting back in the rocking chair, I don’t think anyone else noticed.

We took our seats, didn’t say anything at all as we finally continued the game. One thing about this game is that it can literally drive you to go insane. That was happening to all of us. Since I drew the red card that locked the doors, It was Jake’s turn. He spun the wheel and landed on a gray spot. Joel was next and he spun the wheel. His game piece moved up five spaces, landing on black. He drew a black card from the deck and read it.

“Don’t be afraid…but there’s someone on the furnace.”

The only thing I liked about the black cards was that they didn’t rhyme. We flashed our flashlights at the furnace that sat on the other side of the room and what we saw will give you nightmares even if you aren’t asleep. Her face was insidious and she was just sitting there on the furnace, tapping it with her fingers. Her eyes were dark, you couldn’t see anything inside them but evil. Her skin was pale and rotten, you could actually smell her. There was blood lightly dripping from her mouth and It seemed as if her jaw was broken because it hung unnaturally low as her neck tilted to an angle that no neck should ever be, unless it was broken. She had a rope hanging from her neck and she wore a white gown. I swear, she was looking at me. I couldn’t really tell because her eyes were dark but I know she was looking at me. She still does. Every time I close my eyes…I see her. Her dreadful face and vile smell will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.

We continued the game, trying to ignore the smell, the tapping on the furnace and the fact that something sinister was just behind us. Kenzie was next and she spun the wheel, ending up on a gray space. I was next and also ended up on gray. Jake spun the wheel and we watched restlessly as it stopped on red. We were so worried about what would happen next that we didn’t notice the tapping and smell was no longer lingering and that whatever that thing was, was no longer there. Jake took a red card from the deck, I could tell how scared he was by the emptiness in his eyes and how slow he was moving. We were all scared about what would happen next.

She sits in the dark and she feeds on fear
Don’t be afraid or she’ll appear

Everything was silent, you could’ve heard the sound of our hearts beating against our chests if you were there. They were beating and begging for the fear to go away and no matter how many times I counted to three, the fear was like a never ending curse upon us. Our flashlights started flickering until they went out completely. The room was black and I was convinced that we were already dead and in hell. We heard the sound of heavy breathing and it most definitely wasn’t any of us. It was something more demonic and haunting. We heard the tapping against the furnace and the music started playing from the game, the creepy melody that echoed through the room. We felt a pulse and that pulse was coming from the heart that sat ghastly at the center of the board game. After a minute, everything became silent again but it was still completely dark. We sat in silence for about fifteen seconds before the hopeless screaming of Jake echoed throughout the room and out into the hall. The door slammed shut and we were stuck helpless in the room listening to the screaming of Jake as it faded out into the halls. Something dragged him away.

Joel pounded on the door as he yelled for his brother but there was nothing else we could do but continue the game. I tried to convince both Joel and Kenzie that Jake was probably fine even though I knew very well that he wasn’t. I just wanted to finish the game. We sat back down, saddened by the empty seat at the table. I didn’t know if anyone else was seeing what I was seeing because they said nothing about it but I saw that thing again, that woman, sitting on the furnace, tapping away. I ignored her and we continued the game, still traumatized by what had just happened. To make matters even worse, Jake’s game piece, his tombstone, moved suddenly to the bottom right of the board where other tombstones resided. He was officially out of the game.

Joel was next. He spun the wheel and barely missed the red by one space. Kenzie spun and her tombstone stopped on gray. I then spun the wheel and my tombstone moved six spaces to black. Black cards no longer scared me, compared to the haunting red ones, they were harmless. I took a card from the deck and read it, my voice, becoming frail.

“She’s watching you.”

I flashed my flashlight around the room, not really sure what I was gonna see. I saw the doll, sitting against the wall of the bedroom door. She was looking right at me. Her evil stare pierced into my mind as a memory. I ignored her, turned back to the game and we continued. Joel was next, he spun the wheel and landed on 6. We watched as his tombstone stopped at a red space. He took his time before drawing a red card from the deck.

They’re calling from the graveyard gates You’ve disturbed the dead
Lock the doors and stay away
They’re something you will dread

We looked around at each other, confused and worried. We heard the footsteps and the moaning, echoing from the halls. The smell of their rotten skin could be smelled from miles away. They were coming toward us, their footsteps and moaning getting louder as they got closer. The door was opening when Joel and I slammed it shut, just before they were coming in. We moved the refrigerator over to the door to keep them from breaking through and it worked out well. They were moaning, growling and hungry for flesh. There had to be at least ten of them. I wasn’t exactly sure what they were but they were clearly something possessed and, something dead. After a while, the moaning and pounding at the door had stopped and I guess whatever those things were, they were just entering the graveyard and laying back into their dreadful graves.

Kenzie spun the wheel after everything calmed down and we were finally able to breathe. Her game piece moved to a gray space. I spun the wheel afterwards, meeting a gray space as well. Joel was next and he spun the wheel, just missing red by one space. Kenzie spun the wheel, and her tombstone moved 8 spaces and stopped just in front of Joel’s. She landed on red. We looked at each other, the dead silence adding to the suspense as she took a red card from the deck. She read it slowly, her hands were noticeably shaking as she held the card in her hand.

She waits behind the bedroom door
Under the sheets, she walks the floor

“What the hell is that supposed mean?” Joel asked as if anyone actually knew the answer. The bedroom door creaked open, shining my flashlight, I saw a hand reach out of the door and it made a gesture that was basically saying “come here.” What happened next, I really didn’t understand. It was as if Kenzie was possessed or something because she got out of her chair and slowly walked over toward the door. I saw the emptiness in her eyes, it was like she had no soul. She was like a walking corpse.

“What the hell are you doing Kenzie?” Joel asked, worriedly. “Get the hell back here Mackenzi!” He stood from his chair and tried to stop her but it was too late. She was pulled inside and the door slammed shut. It was silent, other than the sound of Joel pounding on the door. We couldn’t hear a sound coming from the room. We managed to get the door open a few minutes later. We were hearing a creaking sound and that sound was coming from a rope that was wrapped around Kenzie’s neck and hung from the ceiling. She rocked slowly back and fourth and her jaw hung low in an unnatural position as if it was broken.

Joel pulled her down and tried to revive her but there was nothing, not even a trained doctor could do. She was dead. He was oblivious to the breathing sound that echoed through the room. There was something in there with us. Something sinister. The room wasn’t completely dark, we were able to see without our flashlights due to the moon that shined vividly outside the window that wasn’t boarded. We couldn’t see anyone but we heard it breathing. The smell was unbearable and it wasn’t coming from Kenzie’s corpse. It was coming from the thing that suddenly walked out of the closet and sat at the side of the bed. Joel and I just stood there in fear as she turned her head toward us, our minds, traumatized by her deadly dark eyes. She was tapping against the nightstand next to the bed and she had some dusty sheets that were once white wrapped around her shoulders. I realised it was that same woman or…thing that sat on the furnace. She just stared at us, the room was silent in the most horrifying way. The only thing we could hear was her heavy breathing.

“Shhhh,” she whispered, her finger pressed to her lips. “I love this song.” The music from the game was playing. She got out the bed and she danced around the room, the terrible smell followed behind her. Her voice was probably the most creepy part of it all. It was her creepy tone and the way it echoed.

I turned over to Joel, trying to understand why we hadn’t left the room yet. “Let’s get the hell out of here, Joel,” I said. He stood up off the floor and looked at me.

“My brother’s out there somewhere,” he said, wiping the tears from his eyes. “I have to find him.” He seemed unfazed by the creepy dancing woman in the room. He scampered out of the room and I helped him move the refrigerator from the door before we walked out into the hall.

“Jake!” His screaming echoed through the halls, probably waking anything that lived within. We searched through some of the rooms for about twenty minutes before that creepy melody from the game started playing again. I knew it was just a matter of time. He thought it was a good idea that we split up and that’s what we did. He searched the fourth floor while I searched the third.

I was searching through a room when my flashlight started flickering before it turned off. I heard footsteps, at first believing they were mine until I stood still and the footsteps continued. It was dark, the windows were boarded, blocking out any light from outside. Somebody else was in there with me and I know it wasn’t Joel because I heard his calls for his brother echoing through the hall. The door slammed shut and I felt a cool breeze run through me.

“Jake?” I whispered. “You in here?” Everything was silent, the only thing I heard was Joel yelling. I then heard a voice but it wasn’t very clear.

“He’s dead.”

It was a deep, dark and sinister tone. I couldn’t see anything or anybody but I felt them. I felt their presence. I was lightly tapping my flashlight, trying to get it to work. I closed my eyes and I started counting to three. I was lightly shaking and every part of me, it seemed had a pulse. 1…2(deep breath)…3.

The flashlight finally turned on and it flashed directly at some old dusty mirror…I saw her standing behind me. I felt her cold breath as it dissolved into my skin. I ran out of the room, literally as fast as I could. I was surprised my heart didn’t jump out of my chest because it sure did feel like it would. I walked back down to the first floor to the game.

When I stepped in the room, I noticed someone standing over by the windows. It was Joel. He was just standing there, in a fixed position, completely immobile. “Joel?” I walked toward him slowly. “You okay, man?” He turned around slowly, his face was so pale and he had bags under his eyes as if he hadn’t slept in days. I wondered if I looked like that.

“Did you find anything?” He asked, finally dropping back to earth.

I thought about the devilish woman I saw. “No…sorry.”

He sat back down at the table. I had a feeling that he didn’t care what happened next. Like he didn’t care to die. He didn’t seem scared or worried he was just…I don’t know. Two seats were now empty as we continued the game. Kenzie’s tombstone, I noticed was moved to the bottom right of the board, right next to Jake’s. I spun the wheel and landed on 2. That kept me on gray. Joel spun the wheel and was forced to draw a black card. He took a card from the deck and read it.

“She’s watching you.”

He wiped the tears from his eyes with his shirt and looked over at the bedroom door where Kenzie’s body still lay. “It’s her,” he said, crying. “It’s Mackenzie.” I turned around but I didn’t see her. Either he was losing his mind or she was actually there. I wouldn’t be suprised if she was. I spun the wheel and landed on the same space as Joel. That meant I had to draw a black card. I took a card from the deck and I read it.
“There’s somebody at the door.”

A loud knock echoed through the room as Joel and I froze in fear. Joel and I stayed put as the knocking continued until the door suddenly creaked open. We heard the footsteps but we didn’t see anybody. Joel spun the wheel, desperate to end the game. He was safe from the black and red cards as his tombstone stopped on gray. I spun the wheel, also safe from the cards. As Joel spun the wheel next, I saw Jake. He was sitting on the furnace, tapping away. His jaw hung low as if it was broken and his eyes were dark but I knew that he was looking at me. Joel had his back turned so he couldn’t see him and I guess he couldn’t hear the tapping. He was completely oblivious to Jake’s presence. I pretended like I didn’t see anything and eventually the tapping had stopped and he disappeared. Joel and I continued to land on gray until eventually, Joel was forced to draw a red card.

“This is it, isn’t it?” He said to me, his voice becoming weak. I didn’t say anything, I wasn’t really sure what to say. He took a deep breath and read the card.

Under the floor, you must peek
There’s something there beneath your feet

I remembered the hole in the floor where I first found the board game. I showed Joel to the door and he lifted it up. We flashed our flashlights inside to see what was under. What we saw can unfortunately never be unseen. Joel immediately looked away in distraught when he saw what was down there. It was Jake. His corpse was already being infested with flies and maggots as it lay down there, against the wall. There was no blood but it was clear that his neck was snapped and his jaw was broken because they were each in unnatural positions. Joel just stood there, his back turned from the ditch. He wasn’t crying or showing any kind of emotion. He just looked empty and exhausted. I sensed that something was going to happen and…it did. Something down there grabbed Joel by his ankle and tried to pull him down. I tried to help him but there was nothing I could do. The game wanted him and they got him. They pulled him under and the door slammed shut. I was all alone.

The melody started playing from the game and I walked over to it, not knowing what to do next. My game piece started moving to the center of the board and it stopped directly at the heart. The heart started beating, it had a pulse. The music got louder and louder, it was piercing through my head until suddenly, it stopped. My game piece moved all the way back to the beginning, where I first started. That was it. The game was over.

I left the building without ever looking back. I didn’t want to go back to my dormroom where I would be alone so I walked to the grocery store that was just a couple minutes away and I cried to everyone there that my friends were all dead. I know they all thought I was crazy but they called the police and the bodies of my friends were found later that night. I told them the story, I told them everything that happened but they never believed me. The game was never found but I know it was somewhere in that building, somewhere either within the walls or under the floors. Haunted by the demons within. I can hear the melody playing right now as I sit alone in my room, surrounded by white walls and cameras. They’re watching me. I can hear them, I can feel them, and I can see them. That game is somewhere in this world and I pity the poor soul who finds it. I learned to live with the haunting melody that echoes wherever I go. I sometimes put on my dancing slippers and I dance to the melody. I dance around and around and around. I dance to the sound of fear…because it’s the only sound I hear.

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Ikidomari (Part 1 of 2)

July 12, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Note: This is Part 1 of 2 in the Ikidomari series. The second part will be uploaded tomorrow!

Ikidomari 1

I hear voices, they’re all around me. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to never play that damn game. They say I’m crazy and maybe I am. Maybe whatever it is that haunts me, took my sanity and hid it away. Somewhere where it’s impossible to find it, somewhere dark and sinister. Maybe they buried it deep down into the core of the earth and it’s just sitting down there, waiting to be found. I sound crazy don’t I? You think I’m crazy and it’s okay because I think I am as well. I’m gonna share this story and I’m gonna share it as much as possible. I don’t care if you believe me, all I ask from you is to read this story and don’t make the same mistake I made. I’m sure you’ve heard of true hauntings such as The Haunting of Connecticut and Amityville and maybe you’ve seen the movie “The Conjuring” that was based on true events. You never heard of this one. Those hauntings cannot compare to what I’ve witnessed. Nothing can.

It was in 2005 when I came across some old abandoned apartment building. I had just finished the first semester of my senior year of college and was walking alone to my dorm from the bar. I was always alone, I didn’t have many friends other than Jake and his brother Joel, my roommates. But they were always busy doing something else with their girlfriends and I was always alone, hoping that a bottle of whiskey would solve my problems.

When I came across the old building, I heard this creepy and demonic melody playing from inside. It sounded like a music box and it was echoing somehow. I had this strange urge to go inside and find out where it was coming from. I threw my bottle of whiskey and it broke against the curb. I walked inside the abandoned building, something I would never do if I was sober. My footsteps echoed throughout the building as I walked the halls. Most of the windows were boarded and dust filled the air, clinging onto every object that existed. I could actually taste the dust as it broke into my mouth and into my throat, causing me to cough.

I moved at a leisurely pace, dust spiraled up into clouds as I wandered the halls, searching for wherever the music was coming from. I know it sounds stupid but I was being drawn to the sound. It had some weird effect on me. I walked into a room and the music had stopped. The room was just like the rest of the building. Old, dusty and dark. I used the light from my cellphone to examine the old paintings that hung on the walls. I noticed how weird it was that most of the rooms had furniture left in it. It looked as if whoever were living there just got up and left, leaving behind everything.

As I searched the room, I had this overwhelming sense that somebody or something was watching me. I felt like if I were to turn around, something would be there. I turned around but I didn’t see anything but, I still had a sense that something was there. Something was watching me. I then heard the creepy melody echo from beneath the floor and I had to find out where it was coming from. I don’t know why…it just seemed like I was being forced to the sound, like I had no choice in the matter. The melody was coming from underneath a dusty rug. I pulled up the rug, dust scattered in the air like a dust storm. I felt the floor lightly shaking and it made a sound similar to a heart beat. This sounds crazy but It was almost as if the floor had a pulse. There was a door on the floor that opened up, leading to some storage area. It was a deep hole, around 12 feet which is why there was a ladder made from rope. I climbed down the rope, another thing I wouldn’t do if I were sober. There wasn’t much in there, just some old books, a box and a creepy ventriloquist doll with long black hair and big round dark eyes. I noticed the strange melody was coming from the box. I picked up the box and started to climb the rope. I couldn’t help but to fear that something would grab me and pull me back down. I made it back up and I placed the game on the floor, shining light over it with my phone.

It looked like a brief case but it was made of what seemed like black stone with some strange word, “Ikidomari,” carved into the center. I brushed the dust off with my hand and I opened it. I noticed it wasn’t a box or a brief case, it was a board game. The structure of the board game was similar to The Game of Life but it had a cemetery theme and in the center of the board, it had what appeared to be a human heart inside a small glass dome. I’ve never seen anything like that before. It had six game pieces that took on the shape of tombstones and were made of real stone. On the right side, it had a deck of red cards and on the left, were black cards.

I noticed there were small writing carved in the inside of the game. “If you dare to play…beware of demons.” I figured it was all just for scare and so I did something that I wish I hadn’t done. I was just curious. Lonely, drunk and curious. There was a wheel at the bottom right corner of the game that had numbers ranging from 0-9 and the objective was to spin the wheel and move your game piece to the amount of whatever number you spun. I placed a game piece to the starting point and I spun the wheel. I watched as it spun around and around until eventually, it stopped at four. I was going to move my piece up four spots when suddenly, it began to move on its own. 1, 2, 3, 4 and then it stopped. I froze in fear for a few seconds, normal people would of probably ran off by then but for some strange reason, I just kept on playing, assuming there was a logical explanation for it. I’ve always been that way. I’ve always lived by what my father told me. “Believe in nothing you hear and only half of what you see.”

Aparently, when I spun a four, I landed on a black space. According to the game, black spaces meant you had to draw a black card. Black cards were more like tips or secrets, they weren’t always bad. I picked up a black card from the deck. The words were in Japanese but at the bottom of the cards, in smaller letters, they were translated in English. I looked at the card and read it out loud.

“Keep an eye on the doll.” I looked over at the hole in the floor and I stood on my feet. I slowly walked toward it, lightly shaking, my teeth were grinding against each other as I got closer. I leaned over the hole and I felt as my heart knocked on my chest, begging to come out. There was no doll. She was just…gone.

I quickly left the old building and ran to my dormroom which was just five minutes away. My roommates were all there with their girlfriends, sitting on the couch when I burst through the door, suffocating in sweat and fear. I told them about what had happened, without leaving out a single detail. They didn’t believe me of course, I’m not really sure if I expected them to but I sure did hope they would. They called me crazy, said I had way too much to drink and they helped me to bed. I hoped they were right, I’d rather be crazy than to know that what had just happened was real.

Almost a week went by and I had forgotten about it all. I figured maybe it was nothing after all and that I made a bigger deal out of it than I needed to. I stopped drinking, believing that it would never cure my loneliness. It was almost a whole entire week since the incident and I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about ever going back to that old building. I thought that my troubles were over but I found out that they weren’t even close to over. They were only just beginning.

Something strange happened to me, something only explainable in a Twilight Zone episode or a Stephen King book. I was in school as usual, walking down the hall to my class. It was strange because I was the only one in the halls and the lights were dim and flickering. I heard a whisper as it echoed from behind me.

“Ikidomari,” I didn’t know what that meant at the time. I had no idea what was going on or why it was happening until I heard the music. It was that same haunting melody and it echoed through the halls. I started walking faster, scampering down the hall but it seemed like I was just walking in circles. Everywhere I went, no matter how fast I walked, I was going no where. I kept walking until I saw somebody or something at the end of the hall. I couldn’t really see who it was because I was too far away but it looked like a woman. She was in a white dress and her head was titled at an unusual angle.

“Ikidomari,” she said more than once in a very unsettling tone that echoed through the halls. She had a Japanese ascent and I thought I was dreaming but I was very much awake. She continued to whisper. “Come back, Gordan. We’re waiting for you.” I felt like I was stuck in a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. She kept talking to me, I had no idea how she knew my name. “Gordan, I see you Gordan…come baaaack.” The most creepy part about her voice was the somewhat happy tone and the way it echoed. I turned to my left and noticed I found my classroom. I walked inside, everybody was looking at me like I was crazy. I guess they saw the fear in my eyes. I looked out into the halls and everything was normal as if nothing ever happened. My teacher scolded me for being late and I took my seat. I was clearly the only one who was experiencing that nightmare so I didn’t want to bring it up because I know that everyone else would say that I’m crazy and that I’m losing my damn mind. They wouldn’t have been wrong anyway.

I waited until I got back to the dormroom to bring it up with my roommates. They again thought I was crazy and was no help at all. I’ve heard the haunting melody every night while in bed and every morning while in school. Something was haunting me and I know that this sounds crazy but it was the board game. I didn’t know if it was cursed, possessed or what but it was haunting me and it was driving me to the brink of losing my sanity. It was nothing but that melody for a whole entire week until one day, something strange happened.

I was alone in my dormroom, the other guys were out on dates like every Friday night. I heard the melody as it squeezed through the cracking of my window. It echoed off the trees and right down to my soul. I then heard a knock at the door and it startled me because it was a knock that I’d never heard before. Every one of my roommates had a certain knock but that knock was more like a pound and every time I heard it, I felt my heart pounding along with it. I slowly walked to the front door and I took a deep breath before opening. My father used to tell me to count to three if I were ever scared and then fight the fear with all I’ve got. I took another deep breath, the knocking continued and I slowly began counting. 1…2(one more deep breath)…3. I opened the door, there was nobody in sight. I looked to the floor and there was an envelope. I picked it up and examined it. There was no name or anything. I opened it, my heart was knocking as I pulled out a black card. “Ikidomari” was written on one side and on the other, “We’re waiting for you.” They were haunting me, probably watching my every move for the past two weeks. They wanted me to finish the game and they weren’t gonna stop until I did. It was as if I ran into a dead end I couldn’t back out of.

I kept the card in the sweaty palm of my left hand and I waited impatiently and desperately for my roommates to arrive and they were just as annoyed as I was when they heard me talking about the melody again. I told them about the knocking, I told them about how the game was haunting me and the only way to get it to stop was to finish what I started. I guess showing them the black card was proof enough because I was able to get them to agree to go back to the apartment with me. They said the only reason they were doing it was to get me to shut up about it but deep down inside, I know they were doing it because they knew that something strange was going on.

We gathered some flashlights and headed out to the old apartments. Joel brought his girlfriend, Kenzie along with us. I didn’t think they all knew exactly what they were getting into. I didn’t even know really. The only thing I knew was that I had to finish the game or it would probably haunt me for the rest of my pathetic life.

When we arrived at the building, I had this strange feeling that something was watching us as we ambled our way inside. They followed me to the room, jokingly calling out to the ghosts that I believed resided in there on the way. I was startled by the appearance of the doll sitting against the wall, next to the old furnace. Her cheeks, if I weren’t imaging this, were smiling at me as I walked by. The game was just where I had left it and had started playing that creepy melody when I picked it up and placed it on the table. I was suprised to find that they were hearing it along with me. That was when I knew that I wasn’t going crazy. I wasn’t the only one. In a way, it was a huge weight taken off my shoulder.

“Ikidomari? What is that supposed to mean anyway?” Kenzie asked, looking at the carved writing on the board. She looked at me expecting an answer, I had no idea what it meant and I still don’t but, it can’t be anything good. We all took a seat at the table and all eyes were pretty much on me. I flicked the wheel and it spun, landing on 6. We all watched my game piece but, it wasn’t moving. Not like it did the last time. I spun again, landing on 4. Still nothing. I tried moving the piece manually but it was stuck to the board. It was like trying to pull a nail from a wall with your bare hands. I figured there must have been a reason for this so I read the rules that were written at the bottom left corner of the board. I wish I had read them before I played. The rules were very horrifying and they pretty much went like this:

Welcome to the game of Ikidomari. For your safety, it is highly recommended that you read the rules BEFORE you play the game. If you place a game piece on the board and you spin the wheel, there is no going back. You hit a dead end and there’s no way around it but to finish the game. The game will not end until there’s one person left alive, other wise it can NEVER end.

Note: This game is designed for more than one player so if you are alone, do NOT start the game. Consequences will be dire.

Note: The game pieces tend to move on their own so there is no need to move them manually. Not that you could anyway.

Warning: To whomever dares to play the game, be aware that there can only be one winner and that winner shall win the ultimate prize that sits in the center of the board. To those who fail along the way…Rest In Piece.

Warning: Cheating is NOT tolerated and will result in dire consequences and an automatic ejection.

When I found that the game meant everything that was said, the rules made it seem like this game was a death wish. I still to this day, wish I had read the rules first. I wouldn’t be here right now, surrounded by demons if I had. Everyone else I guess thought it was just a game. They had no idea how real the situation was. Since I aparently already took my turn, Jake volunteered to go next. He placed a game piece at the starting point and spun the wheel. He rolled a 7 and his piece slowly moved up seven spaces, landing on a light shade of gray(which by the way meant you didn’t have to draw a card). Joel went next and he spun a 5, landing on a gray spot.
Finally, it was Kenzie’s turn. She placed her tombstone on the board and spun the wheel. 4.

I knew instantly, that would be a black spot because I spun that the first time. Her piece moved up four spaces and she drew a black card from the deck. I took a deep breath, probably more scared than she was. When I saw her reaction, I saw the fear crawl within her.

“Look behind you,” she read out loud. We all took our flashlighs and pointed them behind her.

“What the hell is that thing?” Joel asked, not really expecting an answer.

“Wasn’t that thing over there?” Jake asked, looking at me and pointing to the furnace.

It was the doll. She somehow moved from the furnace to the rocking chair that sat behind Kenzie without anyone noticing. She was just sitting there, the chair rocking lightly back and forth. At that point, I’m sure everyone realised how serious and real the situation was. I heard their heart beats echo throughout the room. They were just as scared as I was. I agreed to switch seats with Kenzie who of course wasn’t very comfortable with a creepy doll sitting on a rocking chair behind her. Not that I wasn’t uncomfortable with it either.

We got back to the game, trying to ignore the creaking of the rocking chair. It was my turn. I spun the wheel and landed on 7. My piece moved slowly, I counted the spaces before it could stop. It landed on gray. Jake was next. He spun the wheel and landed on 5. His piece slowly moved and stopped directly in front of mine.

“Shit,” he muttered. He landed on a black spot so he pulled a black card out of the deck and read it out loud.

“It’s okay to be afraid…because you should be.”

We were indeed afraid and yet we were just getting started. The worse had yet to come. I took a deep breath, hoping nothing would viciously pop out at us. It was Joel’s turn so he spun the wheel and landed on 4. A gray space. Kenzie spun the wheel and landed on 0. Her piece did not move and it stayed put on the black space. According to the rules, that would still result in drawing a black card. She pulled a card from the deck, took a deep breath and read it out loud.

“She’s under the floor.” We were all silent and we listened as a voice echoed through.

“It’s dark down here,” The voice was echoing from beneath the floor. “I can’t sleep, Gordan.”

They all looked at me as if I knew what was going on. This woman or thing was haunting me. We heard a knock from under the floor, right beneath us. The air was so cold and we actually felt a presence run through us. It was a horrifying experience but we knew we had to continue the game. It was my turn and I quickly spun the wheel and thankfully, my tombstone moved to a gray space. It was Jake’s turn next. He spun the wheel, landing on 9. His game piece moved up nine spaces and…it stopped on red. We hadn’t had a red space so we had no idea what would happen next. All that we knew was that the red cards were considered dead ends and were unpredictable and possibly dangerous. We didn’t know at the time how deadly they’d be. Jake took a red card from the deck, we all took a deep breath as he began to read it.

A knock will rumble the room
Open the door or be doomed

We all looked at each other, our faces frozen in fear. Then came the knock. It was loud, more like a pound similar to the knocking that took place earlier that day in our dorm. It did rumble the room, and it echoed right through us. Our hearts, becoming vulnerable and frail.

“Open the door or be doomed,” I said, looking at Jake. “I’m sorry man, but you have to open the door.” He looked at me and I saw the fear leaking from his eyes. His face was pale as he took a deep breath and stood up. We watched as he slowly walked to the door. I realised nobody had shut the door and yet, somehow it was closed without anyone noticing. I had an overwhelming sense that something bad was about to happen. The room rumbled again as there was another loud knock.

Jake finally reached the door after what seemed like an eternity and he looked back at us. The longer he took, the more frightening the situation seemed. I couldn’t blame him though. There was no telling what could have been behind that door. It could have been something demonic, something sinister. He took another deep breath as he slowly opened the door. I listened to the sound as it creaked open and I swear, everything was in slow motion.

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The New Arcade In Town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m going to die here.

Credit To – Isaac Cook and John Cook

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