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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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Skyrim’s Secret 2

November 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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This is a sequel to Skyrim’s Secret.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Guys, what happened?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What are you talking about?” She responded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is this real?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I can’t.” she responded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who are you?” Crum demanded.

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

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

“What are you talking about?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit To – Sean Blevins

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