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CHILLS
5.
Have you heard the story of the secret NES
game Ladder to Oblivion by Max Shephard?

The internet says there are 91 unlicensed
NES games, but I know that's not true.

There's one more, and I've seen it.
It's real.
At the end of this story, I'll show you
a picture of it.

By then, you'll understand why I will NEVER
play it.

But first, the backstory.
As you probably know, when the Nintendo released
its Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in

North America in 1986 it created a worldwide
phenomenon.

It had already sold over 2.5 million units
in Japan and the success of the system in

America single-handedly revitalized the struggling
video game industry.

By 1990, 30% of American households owned
the NES, beating the percentage that owned

personal computers by 7%.
Mine was one of those households.
I remember my Dad bringing the NES home for
the first time, beaming with pride.

I was in complete awe.
I remember sitting in our sunken living room
and playing Super Mario Bros. for hours upon

hours, never sitting too close to the television
for fear that my eyes would be damaged.

That's what my mom said, at least.
What I didn't know then that making games
for the NES was big business.

Part of the reason the NES was so successful
is because Nintendo actively courted third

party developers for its fledgling system.
And because it possessed a near monopoly on
the video game market, it was able to enforce

its standards and policies with an iron fist.
So much so that the United States Department
of Justice actually started looking into Nintendo's

business practices.
When the FTC got involved, Nintendo changed
some of the strict terms of its agreements.

By Nintendo's count, there are 671 licensed
games for the NES.

That list grows to 677 if you include the
three Tengen games that were only temporarily

licensed, plus the several others like Miracle
Piano which were left off of Nintendo's

list.
To enforce its licensing standards, Nintendo
created the 10NES authentication chip.

When the chip in the system detected the chip
in the game pak, the game would be playable.

Otherwise, no dice.
As you can imagine, many companies either
didn't want to pay the licensing fee or

were rejected as officially licensed partners
by Nintendo based on the quality of their

games.
Hence the 91 unlicensed games.
You can see the list of them here.
To skirt the protection of the 10NES chip,
some companies configured their hardware to

create a several millisecond voltage spike
that “short-circuited” the authentication

chip for just a moment and allowed the game
to be played.

Interesting stuff, right?
I thought so.
And so did my Dad.
He worked for Nintendo in their development
and icensing department during the late eighties

and early nineties and got to experience all
of this as it happened.

But the story of Ladder to Oblivion does not
begin with my Dad; it begins with Rob, the

founder and original President of LTO, LLC,
and his idea for a new video game.

Rob was in his senior year at West Lafayettle
High School in Indiana when Mario Bros was

released for the NES.
Like thousands of other kids around the country,
he became obsessed pretty quickly.

When Rob graduated, he decided to attend Purdue
University to study Computer Science.

He wanted to make video games.
Purdue's Computer Sciences department moved
into a newly renovated building in the fall

of 1985 and Rob took full advantage of it
when he started college the next year.

Four years later he graduated at the top of
his class.

With honors.
My Dad told me rob was one of the smartest
people he'd ever met.

Even so, Rob dealt with some personal demons.
His mother raised him alone after his father
was murdered in a home invasion when he was

young.
His mother was home when it happened, but
her life was spared.

The resulting trauma sent her careening through
years of alcoholism and depression.

Rob was neglected, as you can imagine, and
eventually went into the custody of Child

Protective Services.
He acted out at first, but eventually rose
above the shitty hand he'd been dealt.

When Mario Bros came out his senior year,
he found it to be the escape he'd been seeking.

My Dad has told me the story about the day
he first met Rob a dozen times.

It was May 25, 1992.
He remembered the date because the Friday
prior was Johnny Carson's final Tonight

Show and Jay Leno was announced as the new
host that Monday.

“Johnny wanted Letterman to replace him,”
he said every time.

“Not that Leno fella.”
That Monday, he was sitting at his desk when
the phone rang.

The voice on the other side hesitated for
a moment.

“How'd you like to be rich?”, the man
said.

My Dad had heard a version of that question
a hundred times and typically hung the phone

up immediately when he heard it.
This time was different.
Something in the man's voice intrigued him.
“I'd love to,” he joked.
“Do you have a secret to winning the lottery?”
The man didn't laugh.
“I've got something much better,” he
said.

“And what's that?”
my Dad shot back.
“A new type of game.
One the world has never seen before.”
“I'm listening, “ my Dad continued.
Rob introduced himself as the President of
LTO, LLC, a game company.

At the time, my Dad had no idea Rob was the
only member.

Rob went on to describe the game he was working
on.

It was a platform game where the main character
moved across the screen from left to right,

collected items and power-ups, and fought
enemies.

At the end of each level there would be a
boss, with an ultimate boss at the end of

the game.
My Dad explained that Nintendo already had
a game like that.

It was called Mario Bros.
My Dad said Rob told him the “differences
were in the details.”

The game would start with a young man who
finds a strange wooden ladder protruding out

of the ground.
When he climbs down the ladder, he realizes
he can't go back up again.

The only way is forward.
At the end of each level, the young man must
fight a demon who appears in the form of someone

from his past.
It could be a teacher, a parent, or a friend,
but the player would find out it was always

someone who had harmed the main character
in the past.

After defeating the demon, the player climbs
down to the next level.

There would be nine levels total.
In each, the screen would become darker and
the enemies more powerful.

By the ninth level, Rob explained, the player
would barely be able to see his way through

the darkness.
At the very end, the ultimate boss appears.
The player finally learns who he's been
fighting to reach the entire time: a mirror

image of himself.
Defeating the boss reveals a new ladder that
leads back up to the surface.

“What happens when the player fails?”
my Dad asked.
“You don't want to know,” Rob said cryptically.
“Can you tell me what it's called?”
“Ladder to Oblivion,” Rob almost whispered.
Eventually, Rob convinced my Dad to meet with
him in order to show him the game.

It wasn't quite finished yet, but the first
seven levels were playable.

“I was mesmerized,” my Dad told me.
“The game made me feel like no game ever
had before.

The bosses at the end of the levels – I
started seeing them as the people in my life

who had wronged me.
A teacher in fourth grade who humiliated me
in front of the class.

An old high school friend that had stolen
my girlfriend.

It almost felt like that game….changed,
depending on who was playing it.”

When my Dad brought the game to Nintendo,
they refused to approve LTO, LLC as an officially

licensed developer.
Nintendo had very strict rules about the type
of content that their partners could include

in their games.
No nudity, no gore, no cursing, and no religious
symbols, among others.

Ladder to Oblivion's theme and content didn't
fall under the recognized restrictions, but

it was rejected anyway.
“It's too dark,” was the only explanation
given.

Rob was crushed, my Dad said.
Understandably so.
He'd worked on Ladder to Oblivion for the
better part of three years.

My Dad told me the day of the final rejection
was the last time he'd ever spoken to Rob.

He never saw him again.
I begged him several times to try and get
in touch with Rob.

Maybe he still had a copy of the game and
we could play it together.

“Maybe,” he'd say, averting his eyes,
“I'll see if I can dig up his number.”

I believed my Dad all these years.
For all I knew, the story of Ladder to Oblivion,
the NES game that never was, ended the day

my dad said it did.
Yesterday I found out I was wrong.
It's hard to even type this, but yesterday
my Dad committed suicide.

It was a shock to my entire family.
He seemed happy and never acted like he was
depressed.

My mother found him in the woods behind our
house, the shotgun he'd used several inches

from his outstretched hand.
I was devastated.
Still am.
Last night, I went to the one place where
I felt closest to my Dad: his study.

We'd spent hours in there together playing
old NES games and reliving his days at Nintendo.

On a whim, I ended up grabbing Marios Bros.
ouf of its case.

I was going to play a final game in honor
of my Dad.

When I flipped the door open, I found there
was already a game inside.

My Dad NEVER left games inside the console.
He said it made them wear out quicker.
It was Ladder to Oblivion.
The art was just how I'd pictured it all
those years.

An 8-bit image of a ladder descending into
a raging fire.

A note was taped to the back.
The note contained the real story of Ladder
to Oblivion – the NES game that did come

to be.
I considered transcribing the entire thing,
but realized that would be disrespectful towards

my Dad.
The note was addressed directly to me; he'd
meant the words within for my eyes only.

Plus, the words are dark.
They aren't a proper representation of my
Dad at all.

I hope you don't mind that I paraphrase.
The day of the rejection, my Dad went and
saw Rob.

He was already obsessed with Ladder to Oblivion.
After a lengthy discussion, Rob asked my Dad
to join LTO, LLC as a partner.

It was Rob's plan all along and was the
reason he'd asked my Dad at the beginning

if he wanted to be rich.
Together they'd complete Ladder to Oblivion
and release it as an unlicensed game.

My Dad knew all about Nintendo's authentication
chip and how to work around it.

They both understood that many of the companies
that produced unlicensed games, like Tengen,

Atari's software branch, and Color Dreams/Bunch
Games/Wisdom Tree (they changed their name

every so often so people would forget about
how crappy their previous games were) actually

did very well in the market.
They knew the risk – that Nintendo could
come up with a solution that would lock Ladder

to Oblivion out of the NES forever – but
were willing to take it.

Of course, my Dad would be a silent partner.
He still needed his job at Nintendo.
It's what paid the bills, after all.
In seven months, Rob finished Ladder to Oblivion.
The two were ecstatic, but their joy would
be short-lived.

The night Rob completed the game, he called
my Dad and told him it was finally finished.

My Dad was excited beyond measure.
The next day, my Dad had the game loaded onto
two pre-production cartridges.

He had a friend in the art department whip
up a label, complete with Nintendo's Seal

of Quality.
That way, they'd think he was working on
something for the company.

Once they were ready for a large production
run, he'd have them made off-site.

He didn't want to take any chances.
Rob told him not to play the game yet - he
still needed to do a complete play through

from start to finish.
To catch any remaining bugs.
My Dad reluctantly agreed.
Rob agreed to call him when he'd finished
so he could meet my Dad and do a play-through

with him.
Five days later, my Dad showed up at Rob's
house unannounced.

He hadn't talked to Rob since the phone
call and in his paranoia was worried that

Rob had decided to release the game on his
own and cut my Dad out of the profits.

What he found was much worse.
Rob was dead.
I assume by suicide, but the note is unclear.
There's a lot of rambling at this part about
God and the Devil and a lot of sentences have

been scribbled over so heavily, the words
are mostly illegible.

It looks like Rob left a note.
The only words were “Never climb the ladder.”
More scribbled out words.
At the end of that page, my Dad writes, “He
finally faced himself.”

My Dad moved on undeterred.
He was terribly upset at Rob's death, but
the game had taken control of his life.

Ever since he'd played it that first time,
he said, he'd been battling a secret depression.

The only thing he believed would make him
happy again was to release Ladder to the public.

The very next day, my Dad brought on a new
partner: a friend from Purdue named Eddie

who was always looking for business opportunities.
That night, they got together to play the
game.

My Dad started, but ended up leaving after
the 7th level to grab some pizza.

When he returned, he found Eddie dead, “Game
Over” flashing on the screen.

Eddie had taken a kitchen knife and slashed
both of his wrists.

The note gets harder and harder to read, but
I think he carved something into his arm.

“UXXy inXXXe.”
I'm not sure what that means.
He says at that point, he was convinced the
game was responsible for both Rob and Eddie's

deaths, as well as his worsening depression.
He tucked the game away, vowing to never play
it again.

He couldn't bear to get rid it though.
I was 5 at the time.
I obviously don't remember any of this happening,
but I do remember us moving around that time.

My Dad quit his job at Nintendo and we moved
out of town.

For 24 years, my Dad kept his promise.
He never played Ladder all the way through.
Until yesterday.
I'll include the end of the note here.
You can draw your own conclusions.
I for one believe my Dad, no matter what you
all might say.

And my Dad never told me what happened to
Rob's copy.

For all I know, it's still out there.
Have you seen it?
Here's what my dad wrote:
Twenty-four years of guilt finally caught

up to me today.
I climbed the Ladder.
Something I said I'd never do.
I faced myself and I was judged unworthy.
Just like Rob.
Just like Eddie.
There's something wrong with the Ladder.
Almost like consciousness, it's more than
just the sum of its parts.

It looks deep inside you.
Too deep for light.
To the places you didn't know existed.
Son, I don't want to die.
I XXXX to live.
But my shot gun is sitting on the floor beside
me and I can hear it speaking to me.

It sounds XX sweet.
It's voice is a XXXen's song.
If I can ignore it, I'll tear up this letter
and you'll XXXXX XXXX the difference.

I'm sorry I lied XX XXX.
I'm sorry XXX X lot of things.
Please know that I love you.
XXXXX move on.
I'm going outside.
I can't XXXX it.
Please
4.
Change is terrifying, especially when you're
young.

For an eight year old boy like me, moving
across the country was the biggest change

imaginable.
When you're young, leaving the few friends
that you've made behind feels like the end

of the world.
I don't remember the move to Giliman very
well, I just remember crying the whole way

there.
My parents repeatedly tried to console me.
They assured me that I'd make new friends,
and that the town of Giliman had much better

parks and open-spaces to play in.
I refused to listen.
“Bryan, you're going to love it in Giliman,
I promise!”

My dad was driving the moving truck we rented.
“No.
I hate Giliman.
I want to go back to Springfield.”
“Oh Bryan, I'm sure you'll love it when
we get there.”

My mom echoed this sentiment.
“Roger doesn't seem to mind moving, does
he Bryan?”

Of course my younger brother didn't mind
moving.

He was four years old and was too young and
dumb to understand what was happening.

He just sat in his car seat next to me, playing
with his little stuffed alligator toy.

“Ugghh.
Mom, Roger doesn't care because he's still
little!

If he was my age, he'd want to go back to
Springfield too!”

Roger protested the fact that I'd called
him little, but quickly went back to playing

with his toy.
I continued to cry and moan for as much of
the drive as I could.

The drive from Springfield to Giliman is around
thirteen hours, so we didn't arrive until

it was almost midnight.
Another moving truck had already dropped off
our beds and moved them inside, so we could

go to sleep when we arrived.
As angry as I was about the move, I was happy
to be able to sleep in my own bed, even if

I would have preferred it to be in a different
location.

I went to bed full of resentment and sadness,
directed at my parents, of course.

Knowing what I know now, I wish I'd appreciated
them more.

They tried so hard to make me happy.
I wish I had been nicer to them, and complained
less about the move.

I wish I'd been a better son, while I still
had the chance.

When I think about the fall we moved to Giliman,
I think of what could have been different.

That horrible game ruined everything.
Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself.
I grew up in the 90's.
The year we moved was 1995, and like every
other eight year old, I was infatuated with

my Super Nintendo Entertainment System (which
we called an SNES, as I'm sure everyone

knows).
I plugged more time into that gaming system
then I'm proud to admit – it was truly

my prized possession.
When I woke up, the first thing I noticed
was the game cartridge that was plugged into

the SNES across from my bed.
For those of you that remember the Super Nintendo,
you might remember that almost every game

cartridge was exactly the same.
They were all plastic, slate grey cartridges,
with black or white stickers on the front.

But this one wasn't.
It was bright blue, and had a bright red sticker
on the front.

I didn't recognize it – I'd never seen
anything quite like it before.

I was ecstatic, to say the least.
I figured that my parents must have gotten
me this game to make me feel better about

the move.
My reservations about the new house faded
away the second I saw the game cartridge.

Before I could turn on the SNES, my mom called
from downstairs.

“Bryan!
Come get breakfast!”
Reluctantly, I pulled myself away from the
console and wandered into the new kitchen.

It was far nicer than the one I had grown
up with in Springfield.

My mother was standing at the stove, flipping
eggs.

My father sat at the table, buttering a slice
of toast.

Roger was planted firmly in his high chair,
clutching his alligator toy close to his chest

and spooning oatmeal into his mouth.
“Good morning Bryan.
Did you find the present Dad and I got you?”
A smile filled my face.
“You mean the new game!?”
“I take it you found it then.”
“Yes!
Thank you thank you!
It's awesome!”
My dad ruffled my hair and motioned me to
sit at the breakfast table.

“I'm glad you like it Bry, I got it from
my new job.

I figured you'd enjoy it more than I would.”
My dad winked.
He had recently accepted a job as a programmer
at a technology company named “Kalivaki

Electronics”.
His recent employment had been the reason
for our move, so I was certainly happy I was

benefitting from it.
Although I was itching to play my new game,
my parents made me stay at the table until

I'd eaten several pancakes and a plate of
eggs.

When I had a chance, I snuck back up to my
room to play the SNES.

Up until this point, I hadn't actually had
a chance to look closely at the game cartridge.

As I said, it had bright coloring, but otherwise
it looked like a standard game cartridge.

The sticker on the front was red with bright
yellow letters.

It read:
“WORRYLAND”

The letters were superimposed on an image
of a cartoonish ray gun, like something Marvin

the Martian would have carried.
I'm sure that it sounds underwhelming for
anyone from the Xbox-Generation, but I was

practically bouncing off the walls with excitement.
With almost no hesitation, I switched the
console on and turned on my small tv.

The screen stayed blank for a full thirty
seconds, and I was about to turn the console

off and try again, when my TV suddenly lit
up with bright yellow letters.

“WORRYLAND”
An upbeat 8-bit tune began pouring out of

the speakers – imagine the music from the
original Megaman games.

As it beeped and booped, the game shifted
into a credit sequence that read:

“KALIVAKI ELECTRONIC CO”
“SOFTWARE LIKE YOU'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE”

Like every eight year old boy, the thought
of playing a new video game was overwhelmingly

exciting.
That excitement was cut short when a small
set of white letters appeared in the top left

corner of the screen.
“YOU HAVE NO WORRIES.
PLEASE TRY AGAIN LATER.”
I was frustrated.
I tried restarting the game several times,
but was met with the same result.

I pulled the game out of my console and shoved
into under my bed.

The stupid game didn't work.
I was annoyed with my parents, but I knew
that it wasn't really their fault.

They wouldn't have tested the game or anything.
Luckily, I hadn't beaten Megaman X yet,
so I had a different video game to take my

mind off of it.
I forgot about Worryland, for a while.
School started the next morning.
I was nervous about going to a new school
and starting the third grade.

A lot of kids enjoy the start of school, but
I was never one of them.

It usually took me awhile to make new friends,
and I hated how lonely the first few days

felt before I had.
Third grade started worse than I could have
imagined.

When I was getting off the bus, I tripped
and fell off the step.

I landed with a thud on the hard sidewalk
in front of my school.

Beneath me, something cold and wet was soaking
into my clothes.

I had landed on my sack lunch, which exploded
underneath me.

As I stood up, I brushed yogurt and sandwich
crumbs off of my shirt.

Then I heard Ryan's laugh.
Ryan was an older boy.
He was the kind of kid that gets sent to the
principal's office once a week, usually

for terrorizing some younger kid.
He was an asshole.
“You're supposed to eat your lunch, not
wear it!”

Ryan's childish joke provoked a cluster
of laughter from the rest of the kids getting

off the bus.
I stared at Ryan, who was easily a full foot
taller than me, and had at least 60 pounds

on me.
“Aww, are you gonna cry?”
Ryan teased.
As it turned out, I was.
I ran toward my new classroom, tears streaming
down my face.

I spent the first half of my day wiping tears
out of my eyes instead of meeting new friends.

No one in my class wanted to talk to me since
they knew I was the kid who tripped getting

off the bus.
They knew I was a loser.
To make matters worse, Ryan confirmed any
doubts about my unpopularity at recess.

As I attempted to climb onto our playground's
swingset, I heard Ryan laugh behind me.

“Look, the cry baby is trying to take my
swing.”

Ryan was surrounded by a group of no doubt
loyal cronies.

They all laughed.
“It's not your swing.”
The laughter stopped.
Ryan closed the distance between us in a matter
of seconds, and grabbed me by my collar.

“What'd you say?”
He asked, between gritted teeth.
“N-n-nothing.”
I quivered.
Ryan punched me in the stomach.
Hard.
I began crying again as Ryan let go of my
shirt.

I ran away from the swing set, back towards
the school.

For the rest of the day, I hid in the back
of the classroom, alternating between crying

and trying to look busy.
I hated my new school.
I hated Ryan.
Everything was ruined.
When I got home, there was no one there to
greet me.

My dad was at work, and my mom and Roger were
nowhere to be found.

There was a note on the fridge.
“Bryan,
I've run to the store to get groceries.

Please do your homework while I'm gone.
Mom.”
The frustration and sadness I'd been building
through the day remained.

I retreated to my room, still crying.
When I walked inside, I saw the edge of something
blue peeking out from underneath my bed.

It was my new game.
It was “Worryland”.
The game didn't work the day before, but
I felt the need to try it again.

Almost without thinking, I removed Megaman
X from the SNES and I plugged in Worryland.

The same title screen appeared as the last
time, and 8-bit music poured through the speakers.

But this time, instead of seeing the white
text telling me I was worry free, I heard

a voice from my TV's speakers.
It was a soothing, female voice.
“What worries you, child?”
The tv screen remained black.
I didn't say anything.
“Bryan, you have to tell me what's wrong.”
The game had said my name.
I was awestruck with the technology.
Clearly, this game was going to be better
than I had originally thought.

I looked for some cue of what I should do.
Hesitantly, I tried answering the game.
“Umm…
I had a bad day at school.
There was this bully, named Ryan.
He hit me.”
Those were all the words I could muster.
The game's screen slowly changed.
It became a small, pixelated school building.
I could tell it was a school because I could
see a school bus through the glass doors on

one side of the screen.
On the left side, there was a little character.
He was wearing a red shirt and blue shorts,
but his clothes had stains on them.

After a moment, I realized I was wearing a
red shirt and blue shorts.

They were stained from when I had fallen on
top of my lunch.

The little character in the game was supposed
to be me.

The only difference was that this character
had something in his hands.

It was the little ray gun from the front game
cartridge.

I pressed the directional buttons on the controller,
and the character moved accordingly.

I navigated the little pixelated version of
me through the school.

After a moment, I came upon two pixelated
children.

They had speech bubbles over their heads,
and their crudely animated mouths were flapping

open and closed.
The speech bubbles read:
“Look at the crybaby!”

“Nice shirt, loser!”
Reading the text brought back my frustrations.
I pushed the X button on my controller, hoping
something would happen.

It did.
The little ray gun that my character was holding
fired.

It didn't make a noise like a ray gun, it
sounded more like a real gunshot.

A cartoonish laser blast pierced through the
kids.

Instead of disappearing, like in most games,
their characters exploded into a gory shower

of blood and gore.
The gore was surprisingly detailed, especially
for a lower resolution game like this.

I was a little confused about the objective
of the game, but I pressed forward.

My character moved through an open door way,
onto a playground.

The playground hadn't been rendered in much
detail, and the only clear piece of equipment

was a swingset.
In front of the swingset, was a little pixelated
person.

He was taller than my character, and he looked
older.

This little person also had a speech bubble
above his head, but it seemed to alternate

what it was saying.
“This is my swing.”
“Look at the little crybaby” “You're
supposed to eat your lunch, not wear it!”

The character was supposed to be Ryan.
I had no idea how the game was able to capture
the situation in such detail.

I was beginning to feel sick to my stomach.
Suddenly, a female voice came forward from
the speakers, once again.

“Bryan, don't you want to be worry free?”
I sat on my bed and stared at the screen.
What was this game?
“Bryan, press X to end your worries!”
I hesitated.
This game must have been for an older kid.
I was starting to get that nagging feeling,
like I was doing something that I wasn't

supposed to be.
I began to reach for the off switch on the
SNES.

Then I heard another voice come through my
speakers.

“Aww, are you gonna cry?”
It was Ryan's voice.
I pressed X.
The little ray gun fired, and Ryan's avatar
exploded.

There was a cartoonish scream, and the same
graphic gore exploded on the right side of

the screen.
The screen went black again.
Little white text appeared in the upper left
corner of my screen.

“YOU HAVE NO WORRIES, TRY AGAIN LATER.”
I went to bed feeling twisted-up inside.
I felt like throwing up.
My dad must have been able to sense my guilt,
because, when he was telling me goodnight,

he asked, “Bryan, is something wrong?”
“No Dad.
Just tired is all.”
“Okay.
You'd tell me if there was something wrong
at school, right?”

“Yes dad.”
“Okay.
Goodnight, Bryan.”
“Goodnight dad.”
I didn't see Ryan on the bus the next day.
I didn't see any of his friends either.
In fact, I never saw Ryan or his friends again.
For years I didn't know what happened to
them, but I always felt like it was my fault.

I always felt guilty.
A couple of years later, I looked up Ryan's
last name from our old school directory.

I was trying to find out whether he had moved
or been taken out of school for some reason.

I figured that his sudden disappearance was
strangely coincidental.

All I found was a news article, dated September
1996, almost a full year after I moved.

“BODIES FINALLY FOUND IN MISSING PERSONS
CASE Sep. 16, 1996

After a year of waiting, the bodies of Ryan
Ruvey, Sam Mcarlott, and Ashton Freebur have

finally been recovered.
The three boys disappeared from their homes
on August 26th of last year.

There had been no leads as to their whereabouts.
All three had a previous history of delinquency
and behavior issues, so it was expected that

they ran away from home.
However, Sheriff Lopez has stated that three
bodies were found near the edge of Giliman

Reservoir several days ago.
They were identified by their school ID's,
which were found in their pockets.

Sam Mcarlott and Ashton Freebur were both
found fully intact, save for minor cuts and

bruises.
Ryan Ruvey's body was found severely mutilated
and dismembered.

All three appear to have been shot in the
head.

The investigation into their disappearance
has been reopened.

All three families have declined to comment
at this time.”

August 26th was the first day of school.
That was the day I played Worryland for the
first time.

After that I could barely bring myself to
look at it, let alone play it again.

I buried it underneath my bed and quickly
pushed it out of my mind.

I wish I could say that was the only time
that someone played Worryland.

But that isn't the case.
My mom was out of town at the time, so my
dad was the only one in charge at our house.

My dad was a good man, but wasn't an expert
when it came to child rearing.

He wasn't as patient with Roger or I as
my mom was.

One night, Roger and I were acting particularly
unruly.

Roger had refused to eat all of his dinner.
Dad had made spinach, which was something
Roger particularly hated.

Dad had grown tired of arguing with my four
year old brother.

He grabbed Roger's alligator toy and told
him, “I'm taking this away.

You can have it back when you eat your dinner.”
Roger, being only four years old, didn't
fully understand why his favorite toy was

being confiscated.
He immediately burst into tears and, the second
my dad turned around, fled the room.

The phone began ringing and my dad picked
it up off the hook.

He motioned for me to go get Roger.
I followed Roger out of the kitchen, and turned
the corner just in time to see him reach the

top of the stairs and run into my room.
The only reason Roger ever went into my room
was to play the SNES.

He wasn't any good at it, but I think he
liked the music and colors.

I called after him, “Roger, you have to
come eat dinner.

You can't play videogames right now!”
There was no response.
I heard my door slam shut and lock.
“C'mon Rog, just eat your dinner and I'm
sure dad will give you back your alligator.”

As I approached the door, I heard a familiar
8-bit theme begin playing.

I struggled to place exactly what the music
was as I fumbled with the locked doorknob.

Then I heard a voice.
“What worries you child?”
In a panic, I began pulling at the door.
I tried and I tried to force it open, but
it was too strong for my eight year old body.

I heard Roger answer.
“My dad is being mean.”
I listened intently as the game's music
quieted.

I heard Roger pressing buttons.
I heard my Dad's voice come from downstairs
as he talked on the phone.

I heard the game speak again.
Its voice was calm and even… almost peaceful.
“Press X to end your worries!”
Panic flooded my brain.
I screamed for Roger not to press X. I screamed
for my dad to stop talking on the phone.

I was too late.
A cartoonish scream came from my room.
A real one came from the kitchen.
I ran downstairs.
The kitchen was empty.
The phone, which had been at Dad's ear just
a second before was lying coldly on the ground.

A dial tone poured out from the receiver.
The back door was open.
They never found Dad's body.
I'm not sure I want them too.
I don't think I want to know what happened
to him.

Ever since then, it's just been me, my mom,
and Roger.

We stayed in Giliman, but we had to move to
a much smaller house, since my dad wasn't

around anymore.
A couple of years later, my mom ended up selling
my Super Nintendo, and all of my games, including

Worryland.
We needed the money to make ends meet.
And besides, I didn't really want to play
videogames anymore.

They made me feel sick.
Still, I wonder sometimes who has that game.
I wonder if they've played it yet.
I hope to god that if they did, they were
worry-free.

3.
It all started on a gray, rainy April evening
in 1992.

It was a Friday.
I know this because my parents only allowed
me to make my way down to the local video

library and rent a new video game on Fridays
after I had gotten out of school.

It was like my reward for being a good boy
and making good grades.

So, six-year-old me had picked out 'Top Gear'
for the Super Nintendo.

The black sports car on the front of the box
surrounded by a blaze of what I assumed was

fiery nitreous oxide propellant called to
me.

And so did the tagline adervtising "TWO PLAYER
SIMULTANEOUS RACING!"

I'd often spend weekends over at my friend
Brett's house.

We'd make our way to his third floor room...
I called it the "blue room" because the carpet
and all the walls were blue... and make his

fold-out bed into a couch, grab a snack, and
play video games for hours.

It was surprisingly spacious up there, too.
Sometimes we'd take breaks and turn out the
lights to have glow-in-the-dark nerf gun battles

or play a game of hide and seek.
But tonight, we were going to race around
the world!

USA, Brazil, Japan, Germany, you name it.
And instead of switching off the controller
like we normally did, we could play together

the whole time, in glorious split-screen.
I stepped out of my mom's car as she dropped
me off at Brett's house and kissed her goodbye.

The rain pelted gently against the top of
my navy blue raincoat and my little Velcro

shoes sloshed through puddles as I waded to
Brett's back door with the game rental box

clasped to my chest.
His parents let me in.
I gave them a quick hello and bounded up the
steps to the blue room.

Brett swung open the door.
"What'd you get, Kevin?" he asked with wild,
excited eyes.

"Top Gear!
They just got it in today.
This was the last copy.
It's a racing game.
2 players!"
"Coooooool!
Let's pop it in!"
With that, I ripped open the case and Brett
mashed the cartridge into his SNES.

He plugged in both controllers and gave me
the Player 2 one, as was customary.

"Hey," I said.
"Before we play, let me go grab some drinks
and snacks."

"OK, but hurry up!"
I returned in a jiffy with a couple of peanut
butter and jelly sandwiches his mom had already

made for us in advance and some Kool-Aid.
As we ate, I thumbed through Top Gear's instruction
booklet.

What happened next makes my skin crawl when
I think about it.

I flipped to the very last page of the manual.
Everyone familiar with old-school gaming will
know that this was typically the "Notes" page

where you'd jot down passwords.
I looked at it closely.
In the middle of all those blank lines, something
was scribbled in red pen.

"Huh?"
I looked at the scribbling quizzically.
Brett glanced over.
"I thought you said this came out today."
"It did."
"Then how'd this get on here?"
"No clue, man."
We both looked at each other in confusion.
"Well what does it say?"
Brett asked.
I leaned in.
"It's a poem.
It says:
MUSTANG SALLY
OR SHOULD I SAY MICHELLE

WHAT'S HELPLESSLY SCREAMING?
YOUR TIRES, THEN YOU, IN HELL
-JJB"

I shot a look to Brett.
"Should we tell your parents about this?"
"We can tell them later.
It's probably just some dumb joke.
Don't you want to play?"
"OK, we'll tell them later."
With that we booted up the game.
Everything about Top Gear was mesmerizing.
The sense of speed, the music, the tight controls.
Hours flew by effortlessly.
We played in a trance, racing across Vegas,
Rio, Tokyo.

Checkpoint after checkpoint, finish line after
finish line, the white dotted lines zoomed

past us at a blistering pace.
Pretty soon we had finished the whole game.
To our dismay and disappointment, we didn't
experience any glorious cutscenes.

What we got was a message displaying the following:
CONGRATULATIONS ON COMPLETING
TOP GEAR BUT CAN YOU WIN ON

CHAMPIONSHIP LEVEL
Brett and I looked at each other and let out
exasperated sighs but then nodded.

We changed the difficulty to "Championship"
in the Options screen and set out to beat

the game again.
Meanwhile, the rain intensified outside.
It was gray as ever, turning dark, and we
were in the midst of a roaring thunderstorm.

Thunder cracked loudly outside the back window
as Brett started the next set of races.

We did well on the North America, South America,
and Japan, courses but we kept getting stuck

on Germany.
God damned Germany!
There was one track in particular in Germany
called "Dark Forest" where we'd accidentally

run through the Pit Stop area, bogging us
down and allowing the other cars to pass us.

Every time we failed the race, we were told
to try again and given the level password:

"WRECKAGE".
After a few times of retrying this level,
we finally beat it, or so I thought.

I came in first place, and Brett finished
second.

But when the post-race results screen came
up, it showed me in second place and Brett

in third place.
Who was in first place?
"JJB".
I looked to Brett.
"What the heck?"
"I know you came in first, man.
You were right ahead of me.
I saw you pass the finish line."
"Yeah...weird..."
I pushed a button to advance to the next screen
and the game froze totally.

The music kept looping, but we were stuck
on this results screen.

I was used to NES games messing up, but errors
like this were fairly uncommon on the Super

Nintendo.
Brett reset his system, and I reminded him
of the password.

He entered "W-R-E-C-K-A-G-E" and pressed Start.
Just as he did, a female's scream came blaring
out of his television speakers.

I looked at Brett.
Puzzlement filled his face and he shrugged.
At the time, I think we both figured it was
some kind of strange password confirmation

sound effect.
We continued playing...
3 laps down.
Then 4.
OK, now the final lap.
About one fourth of the way to the finish
line, the game began flickering back and forth

very rapidly between the main game and what
looked like a pixelated head shot photo of

a pretty blonde woman.
She could have been a model.
The pulsing intensified to point that it distracted
me and Brett from the game and we both hit

lamp posts.
But at this point, we didn't even care about
winning anymore.

We were so curious and weirded out that we
both set our controllers down and got right

up to the TV screen to examine what was going
on.

The game music ceased and in its place was
a weird, deep droning sound.

The woman's image continued to flicker.
The droning got louder.
And slowly, the photo of the woman's face
began to split into pieces and get pulled

apart to every corner of the screen.
At this point I was genuinely scared and told
Brett that I was going to go tell his mom

what was going on.
He nodded in agreement.
Just as we began to walk away, we heard a
high-pitched squeal followed by a sickening

crash, and the power went out.
Brett and I walked over to his window.
Though it was now pitch black outside and
there was a thick veil of rain, a streak of

lightning illuminated the sky long enough
for us to make out a red Mustang completely

wrapped around a telephone poll.
We stayed up there and watched out his window
for the next thirty minutes or so.

Cops, firefighters, and an ambulance arrived.
When the body was recovered and placed onto
a stretcher, I peered down and squinted to

make out what I was seeing.
All I saw was a mess of blonde hair and red,
chunky flesh where a face should have been.

Later that night, the power came back on.
Brett and I were both downstairs getting something
to eat when we walked past the living room,

where his parents were watching the local
news.

A reporter appeared:
"Late tonight on Juban Rode, 21-year-old Michelle
Wilkinson was on her way home from her boyfriend's

house when her car's tires lost their grip
on the road.

Forensic detectives say that the former prom
queen and local model was unsuccessful in

regaining control of her car and collided
head-on with a telephone pole.

Medical teams were dispatched but were unsuccessful
in saving the young woman's life.

She was pronounced dead on the scene.
Weather conditions and speed are believed
to have been factors.

Our hearts go out to the Wilkinson family.
We here at Channel 9 news are truly sorry
to hear of this terrible, terrible Tragedy."

The news reporter frowned solemnly.
"Back to you, Lisa."
2.
"X-Box, Stop"
I wouldn't call myself a gamer.

I don't play too many games, or maybe I should
say I don't like many games.

I play a lot, but because of the sheer quantity
I need to filter through, I must be frugal.

I've been playing the same old Counter-Strike
matches for the past ten years.

That being said, I don't get many new games,
and about 2 years ago I purchased my first

XBox 360 from Craigslist.
There was nothing strange about it, no ominous
air of death or any sort of shady dealings.

I met a broke kid and didn't even haggle with
him.

He was polite and the whole thing took place
pretty quickly on his front porch.

He lived in a pretty nice part of town, but
probably didn't get hand-outs from his folks.

It felt like a pretty standard trade, exactly
the way you would want it to be.

There was only one slight problem.
The controller he gave me didn't work.
I still got a pretty good deal on the console,
but had to get a new one.

I was in luck and got a pretty good price
on a used one.

(There's me being frugal again...)
Since I saved a few bucks, I picked up a headset
and a 3 month subscription to Xbox Live.

Luckily, they were both also on sale!
When I got the console, he included a copy
of Modern Warfare 3, so I wanted to play that

online.
I was pretty excited to get my game on after
unlocking the "Thrifty" achievement.

I had only tried to turn the console on twice
before I realized the controller was broken,

so there wasn't much I could do without a
new one.

There were 2 profiles left on there, so I
did I system restore or format or whatever

that is called.
Having erased everything, I created a new
profile and made an avatar that looked like

me.
I didn't put much effort into it, though.
After a few frustrating minutes of network
configuration, I punched in the code on the

prepaid card I purchased and was online for
the first time.

Finally, I was connected to a world of "current"
gamers and excited to try the latest shooter!

I wasn't up-to-date with modern games, but
apparently my skills were.

In Call of Duty, I was getting first place
in nearly every match I played.

It almost felt like I was cheating.
Was I doing something different that no one
had thought of?

I started uploading videos and posting on
forums.

Some people would message me and invite me
to join their "clan" and I felt like a mini-celebrity.

One group even asked me "if it would be cool
to use my strategy?"

After two months, I had over 300 new "friends"
just because I was good at a video game.

It started to eat into my personal time as
I turned down plans to game.

I broke up with my girlfriend.
I considered quitting my job and took a serious
cutback on hours.

To account for the loss in income, I monetizied
my videos and had a surprisingly large influx

in cashflow.
I quit my job.
I made more money by playing video games than
I would make in any job my resume could land.

In less than three months of owning an Xbox
and playing this game, I had become a highly

respected CoD player and a new game in the
franchise was about to come out.

Black Ops 2 was hitting stores in one week
and I had the potential to rise up the leaderboards

if I jumped on it the day it came out.
I remember waiting in line at midnight.
I remember running out of the mall, not starting
the car, but certainly ripping the shrinkwrap

with my teeth while driving home.
The smell of the new disc was heavenly.
I sped and should have been ticketed, but
managed to pop that disc in my tray less than

15 minutes after the time printed on the receipt.
There was a problem.
My Gold subscription was up.
No big deal.
I punched in my debit card numbers and was
online in a few minutes.

After 4 days and 12 hours of total sleep,
I had made it to the top 50 on the player

leaderboard for Black Ops 2.
I needed some rest and took a day off from
playing.

This was the first time I really fiddled around
with the Xbox.

I had been playing Call of Duty non-stop since
I discovered my skillset was perfect for that

game.
I signed up for Netflix, watched some shows,
then connected to my Facebook.

I didn't really share my successful game-related
YouTube channel with my friends, and a few

people commented on the status update that
said I linked to Xbox.

After watching a movie, I checked Facebook
again via XBox and saw I had 30+ friend requests.

Someone had recognized me from the "linked
to Xbox update" and now my personal Facebook

was widely known to my YouTube channel.
This was slightly annoying, so I went private.
The problem wasn't really solved.
I still got a lot of requests, so I made a
Facebook profile for the YouTube page.

After a few weeks and hitting the #10 spot
on the Black Ops 2 leaderboards, I had more

friends on that profile than my personal one
that I've had for as many years...

It was only a short matter of time before
I was invited to a tournament and before long,

I was on a cross-country flight to play for
$10000 in Los Angeles.

I was set to play in front of a crowd.
People cheered when I walked to my station.
I had been playing the damn game for 6 months
of my life and I was somehow famous.

An article released before the tournament
called me a prodigy and titled the article

something like "why I'll win."
Then we started.
And I failed.
Miserably.
I played the worst I ever had.
Total loser, I placed dead last by a long
shot.

"I choked under pressure," they said in video
commentaries.

As quickly as I had risen to e-success, it
was all gone.

The fame.
The fans.
The viewers.
The money.
I didn't change anything about the way I released
videos or played, but no one wanted to watch

them anymore.
I even ranked up to #7 on the leaderboards,
but it didn't matter.

The dream was over.
I needed to get back to reality.
I needed to get a new job and re-boot my life.
I did so pretty quickly, and just like that,
my short-lived life as a celebrity gamer was

over.
My new job was in the same field as my old,
but at an office with a lot of younger folks.

They would talk about Call of Duty and I wouldn't
say a word.

Little did they know, they had probably watched
some of my videos before - unbeknownst one

of the game's best players worked in an office
down the hall.

Or was I?
The console that had brought me fame sat beneath
my giant TV that I purchased with the ad money

from Youtube gathering dust.
I would occasionally use it for Netflix, but
for the most part, I was done.

I wasn't a gamer anymore.
It was fun, but it was over.
I even used a different account for Netflix
so my old "friends" wouldn't message me and

ask to play.
Frankly, I never recovered from the failure
at the tournament.

Despite not playing anymore, it always bothered
me how the huge disappointment in the tournament

occurred.
I didn't change my strategies for the tournament
at all.

In some ways, playing in the tournament felt
unnatural.

It wasn't the same as playing at home.
Perhaps that's just it, I thought.
I'm sure some gamers who smoke would do better
at a tourney if they had a cigarette in their

mouth.
Despite this, I still should have done alright
- but I didn't.

I was #7 in the world but #40 in a tournament
of forty people.

Time went on as I led my normal life, but
then, on November 22 of last year, things

changed.
It was a Friday, which I had off, and slept
in to the sound of someone at my door.

It was FedEx with a large package.
I signed and accepted because sure why not.
I was suspicious, but opened it to find a
brand new XBox One and a copy of Call of Duty:

Ghosts.
It was from Amazon.
I didn't order it.
I checked all of my bank statements, my Paypal,
my Amazon account and anything I could think

would have proof of this purchase.
Maybe I pre-ordered during my gaming fame?
Nope.
I couldn't find it anywhere.
I'm not sure why I thought it would explain
anything, but I booted up the 360 and logged

into my former XBox Live account.
There were a bunch of friend requests and
messages from fans, but nothing seemed out

of place.
Then I received a system message.
It asked me if I would like to link my account
to my XBox One.

This was a little strange, as I hadn't unboxed
the thing yet.

I powered down and set up the XBox One.
I logged into my account.
It asked me a similar message to the one I
saw on 360, but seeing it here made more sense.

I had my profile available on the new console
and thought I would check out the new game.

After all, it was Friday, I had nothing to
do.

My Call of Duty Elite profile carried over
some stats from the two other games I played,

but it looked a little suspicious.
These results said I was the #4 player in
the world for Black Ops 2.

How could I have gone up the ladder while
not playing for months?

I checked my YouTube channel.
It was full of new videos I didn't post, but
in the vain of ones I would.

Was someone using my account and keeping up
with my gameplay?

Even the gamertag in the videos was mine.
It was my account.
Was I Jekyll and Hyde?
Was something broken in my brain?
Did the loss of that tournament cause me to
divide my own life in two different worlds?

No.
I am sane.
This is absurd.
Someone was using my XBox Live account and
recording videos to my YouTube as if they

were me.
On top of that craziness, my bank account
routing information had been changed.

I was still getting a cut from ad revenue,
but not nearly what I should have been.

Some of the new videos have more views than
my best ones.

Not only did they take my money, they made
it seem as if I was still getting some - just

not much.
The passwords were still the same, but my
e-mail was no longer associated with either

account.
I hadn't even noticed that I wasn't getting
billed for XBox live.

I guess I had thought the service lapsed.
However, my account was active and paid in
full for the next 9 months.

I contacted YouTube to discuss what happened
and they suggested I find a lawyer.

This whole situation was not what I expected
to get myself into after starting the day

with a random new game console showing up
at my door for free.

I guess it wasn't free.
After some investigation, I found that the
ad revenue from the videos I didn't know about

was put into a savings account that I also
didn't know about.

It was my own account, associated with the
checking account I normally use.

I never set it up, but it's in my name at
my bank.

It has more money in it than I have ever seen
or made in my entire life.

Every day, there are deposits for thousands,
sometimes over ten thousand dollars.

The amounts in no way match the profit from
YouTube.

That's maybe one or two percent.
At this point, I had no idea where the rest
was coming from.

During my game fame, I alienated a lot of
my close friends and didn't have anyone to

really confide in.
This was all hitting me pretty hard.
I was so confused.
I broke down and started crying.
Then the XBox One made a noise.
It was a faint beep, but the tone was so consoling.
It made me stop crying and I didn't know why.
Nothing at all was making sense.
I looked at the Kinect sitting in front of
my TV and said to it, "XBox, what is going

on?"
It didn't do anything.
Part of my was actually convinced it would
answer.

Suddenly, a new message notification appeared
on screen.

I checked to find a message with the sender
field blank.

It was a list of 50+ bank accounts and their
web login credentials.

I checked them and they seemed to match up
with the amounts in my newly discovered savings,

but I still had no idea where the money was
coming from.

I turned my head to look at the Kinect.
"XBox, where is all this money coming from?"
Again, nothing happened, but after a few moments
I received another similar message.

This was a listing of other websites and login
credentials.

The list included brokerage websites, bitcoin
wallets, online casinos, poker sites, and

even adult webcams.
I logged into the accounts to see even more
unaccounted for amounts in each of the respective

accounts, including six-figure balance in
one of the casinos.

I felt like any minute the police were going
to kick down my door and I still wouldn't

understand how.
Yet again, I turned to Kinect.
"XBox, how?"
I asked hesitantly.
There was another brief pause and another
new message.

I didn't understand this one, though.
It was garbled machine code and looked like
the results of opening an image with a text

editor.
Going through the list of websites again,
I found one that was certainly the most strange.

It was an accountancy firm with the same last
name as me.

I logged in to that account and the website
greeted me as the company's CEO.

The inbox and outbox were both full of messages
running the company.

They were all signed with my name.
I called the number that was listed in the
site's "About Us" section to reach a soft-spoken,

young secretary.
I told her I was a doctor, needing to speak
to the CEO about his mother.

She asked his mother's name and I told her
my mother's name.

She told me to wait a moment and put me on
hold.

An incoming call notice sounded on my phone,
but I ignored it.

She returned to tell me he was unavailable
and asked if I wanted to leave a message.

I told her it was urgent and she read me his
cell phone number.

Rather, she read me my cell phone number.
I thanked her and hung up.
At this point, I was convinced that I was
crazy.

I looked at the Kinect as I had done before
for answers, saying "XBox, am I crazy?"

After the usual wait, a message popped up
as the others had, only saying "No."

Then what was it?
Where was this secret life coming from?
Who was doing this?
Had this computer taken on a life of its own?
It's the only thing that made sense.
Grasping at my hair now, struggling for sanity,
I looked into the Kinect like I was begging

for mercy to whisper "Xbox, stop."
None of those accounts or passwords work anymore,
and all of the videos I didn't upload on my

YouTube channel are gone.
The money is no longer in my savings account
and the bank tells me I never had one.

I think I could have been rich, but I chose
and preferred to be sane.

I sold that XBox One from my front porch just
how I bought the first one.

I hope one of you frugal gamers out there
got a good deal.

It was like new, and only used for one day...
Before we get to number 1, if you've ever
been curious as to what I look like in real

life, then follow me on Instagram @dylan_is_chillin_yt,
with underscores instead of spaces.

I also have Twitter @YT_Chills where I post
video updates.

I'd really appreciate it if you followed me
and feel free to send me a DM if you have

a questions or suggestions.
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1.So after a year of nagging from some of
my gamer buddies, I caved, and finally got

myself one of those virtual reality headsets.
I was soon about to find out that there was
nothing "virtual" about them.

At first I was indifferent towards them, but
once I started using it I realized that it

truly does live upto the hype.
I even went ahead and got myself a swivel
chair.The experience was so immersive I often

forgot I was sitting on a chair in my apartment
and not really soaring across the sky looking

down on prehistoric animals and what not.
Fast forward a few weeks and it became a habbit
of mine to come home from work and lay a bag

of chips next to me and watch netlix on it
until dinner time.

Okay so, for those of you who have no experience
with a VR headset, let me just tell you that

its identical to a real theatre when you watch
movies on it.

Youll see yourself sitting in the middle of
a cinema hall or whatever setting you choose,

but all the chairs are empty, you can even
look behind you, like 180 degree behind to

empty rows of chairs.Id always wondered what
itd be like to own a personal cinema hall

and this was the closest id ever been to it
so it was pretty cool.

So one day I come home as usual and followed
tradition and decided id binge watch true

detective, it was weekend so I wasnt worried
about sleeping late and my girlfriend was

out of town so I really had nowhere to be.
Im down 3 episodes of season 1 and really
gripped with the whole series.

Half episode in and I hear a light "thud",
as if a door just closed behind me.

I take the set off and look around wondering
who mightve walked in.

And i realize that there is no door behind
me, im sitting against a window on my couch.

I still get up and make sure that my door
was locked, and to my satisfaction, it was.

I shrug it off and continued to sit down and
watch.

So my weekend is up and im back to work.
I walk in and to my delight, kim is already
there (my girlfriend).

I chat with her for a while and catch up with
her before our shift starts.

After a day of listening to entitled brats
and putting on fake smiles when they try on

clothes, im beat ( I work at a Zara store
and we get a lot of people come in who think

they own the store and the people working
there).

Kim and I grab dinner and we decide to spend
the night at my place since we'd been apart

for the weekend.
Its about 1 am and I wake up to have water.
As im making my way to my room I hear a light
"thud" behind me.

I turn around and notice the window in the
hall is open.

I figure the wind mustve blown the bathroom
door close or something.

But to my surprise, it was open.
Now, I didnt give it much thought partly because
I was too sleepy and partly because knowing

someone else is there with you in the apartment
makes you less likely to think negatively

of such minor occurences.
I slowly drag myself to bed and fall asleep
once again (to give you an idea, my apartment

is "L" shaped, the smaller head is where the
hall and bathroom is and the longer head has

two bedrooms opposite to eachother with a
storage room in between).

The next day I get home from work and watch
a million watch to die on the VR.

Im laughing and really enjoying myself when
I hear the all too familiar "thud" behind

me.
I instinctively turn my head with the VR on
and stare at the end of the hall, at the entrance,

I see something.
Its a dark patch a little darker than the
surroundings.

You guys know liquid black?
Like the ink?
Ye, that kind.
I restart the device and look up again, still
there.

I figure it mustve always been there since
I never really looked up there.

I continue watching the movie and im laughing
and suddenly stop.

Im overwhelmed by this realization that im
alone in my apartment with a headset over

my eyes and I feel like im being watching.
Now im not one of those paranoid types but
the feeling was just too strong.

So I take it off and decide that ive had enough
of virtual reality for one day.

For the next few days I stayed away from it
and spent more time with kim.

Fast forward a few more days and its weekend
again, and kim has to be away, again.

I prepare myself for another weekend without
her.

I get a call from a friend and he says theres
a new bar that opened up across the street

to where he lived and we went to check it
out.

We had a few drinks, chatted a bit and went
our way.

I figure its only 11pm and ive nothing to
do tomorrow, so I think ill finish the movie

I left off.
I wear it over my head and start the movie,
but my gaze is suddenly directed towards my

extreme left on the last seat of the row ahead
of me, I see a liquid black.

I recalled the ink blot id seen over at the
back and turn around, but it isnt there.

Now im geniuenely freaked out and just take
it off.

I decide ill contact the company about this
first thing in the morning assuming its a

glitch.
So I wake up and contact them and they ask
me to come over to their help center.

They checked it out and said that it was fine.
I checked it, and it was.
They said sometimes stuff happens thats really
hard to pindown and just fixes itself.

I figured it was a fair enough explanation
because that usally is how most technology

behaves.
Satisfied with my visit, I return home.
Now I wont bullshit around and cut to the
chase.

It was there again, but closer now.
It sat just a few chairs behind me, and I
could almost make out its features.

It didnt seem like an ink blot anymore.
I suddenly felt like someone touched the back
of my neck and whispered in my ear.

It was getting too real too soon and I flung
away the headset from my face and looked around.

No one.
Obviously, I was alone.
I chuckled and thought about how silly I was
being and looked over at the corner of the

room, I seemed to have broken the headset.
I frowned thinking I wasted all that cash
due to a little paranoia but a little part

of me was glad it broke.
The weekend is up and im back to spending
time with kim and working.

We went to grab dinner after work and I notice
something in my peripheral vision while eating,

and it slowly becomes clearer, ink blot.
Now im not stupid, so I instantly made the
connection and realized I wasnt even wearing

the headset.
I tell Kim were leaving and pay at the front
desk and leave.

She asked me what that was all about and looked
at me weird.

I tell her to just be quiet for a while and
we go back to her place cuz im certainly not

staying at mine after what just happened.
So here I am, scared out of my mind and not
sure what to do, ill update if anything happens.

Thanks for checking out this video.
Be sure to subscribe because I upload a new
scary video every Thursday.

Or if you're still not convinced, here are
some of my other videos that I think you'd

like.
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5 GAMING SCARY STORIES

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David Chou published on January 7, 2018
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