"this is not canon. i'm going to be completely honest it was for an assignment and obviously based off of 2012 creepypastas (with a not-so-subtle reference to one). i don't like it very much but i'm sure someone will lol"

I know you might not believe my story, but… something really weird happened the other day. Ironically, it had happened right on Halloween. I wasn’t really the type for trick-or-treating, so I was sitting at home playing on my 23DS. I had cracked it a couple years back with a tutorial from 2005, so it was pretty normal for it to not behave correctly all the time. It’s just part of the deal. I could deal with it to have fun backgrounds and Xii games on my tiny little 23DS. But that day… Something unusually weird happened.

See, the way you download “new” games onto the console is by downloading it through a USB connection, then installing it from the eShop. I was trying to download a relatively new Xii game called “The Wacky Adventures of Barkfunkel”. Downloading it was fine… but when I went to the eShop to install it, there was a different game there. It was very simply titled “APTSIM.EXE”, and it had a red and blue icon. I knew it should be fairly expected to find some sort of joke game that comes with a hack of a different game, but for some reason, it still unsettled me. Something about the pure capital title and the crude icon just didn’t feel right. The logic of the situation overpowered my paranoid doubts, however, and I just rolled my eyes and kept going to install the Barkfunkel game.

Now, if the story ended here I wouldn’t be telling it in the first place. I feel like it’s really dumb to act like a mysterious game all on its own is a creepypasta of some kind. That’s just bad storytelling, real or not. But, the story does not end here, because once I finished installing the game, I went to the home menu to play it… and the app had been replaced. By APTSIM.EXE. Despite its corniness, it sent shivers down my spine to see that strange red and blue icon again without warning. I quickly closed my 23DS and went back to the website I downloaded it from, guessing that the whole hack itself was just a troll of some kind. But the reviews were decent, and any negative ones were just commenting on the game itself, not the hack. It seemed to be high quality. And none of them mentioned this “secret game” at all. Maybe it came from a different hack, and I had just not noticed it until now?

I sighed, opened my 23DS again, and decided to launch the program anyways. I was REALLY excited to play the Barkfunkel game. It was probably just a glitch where the IDs got swapped somewhere, anyway. Nothing to worry about. After all, it was pretty normal for it to not behave correctly all the time. It’s just part of the deal. Right?

The game opened with a black screen and a single line of text in rainbow gradient: “Strange Complex Productions”. Weird, I thought to myself. I thought Nonten was the company that made Barkfunkel games. Maybe it’s a 3rd-party game. Is this even going to be any good? Suddenly, a burst of light and sound coming from the console interrupted my doubts of quality. A bright and upbeat song started playing, and some brightly-colored characters popped up from the bottom of the screen. Another line of text, significantly more decorated, popped up from the bottom as well, sitting above the characters as they bobbed up and down as if they were dancing, but not really dancing. The line of text said,”APARTMENT SIMPLE: THE PARKING LOT”.

Okay, this was very obviously not the Barkfunkel game I wanted to play. The characters are completely different (they’re actually humanoid, for once), the music is nothing like it usually is, and, less subtly, the title is for a completely different game. I still really wanted to play The Wacky Adventures of Barkfunkel… but… this game… it was calling me. Something about it, something about the music, the glassy-eyed characters, the way they stared at me… eyes begging to play the game… It was hypnotizing. So, against my better judgement… I hit start.

The loading menu was a plain black screen accompanied by the small robot from the main menu that, frankly, looked more like a unicycle than an actual computer. It rolled along the bottom of the screen, and as I waited for it to load, I quickly began to regret my impulsive decision. A profound sense of dread with no real explanation set into my body as I watched the robot move. I sighed loudly and leaned onto the right side of my chair, and right on cue, as if they could actually hear me, the robot stopped. They looked around, then suddenly looked up towards ME. It scared the absolute crap out of me, but then it got even worse. They started waving at me. Not in a general direction towards the front of the screen, me. If you’ll recall, I said I leaned to the right of my chair… and that’s exactly where they were looking. Right into my eyes with their own glassy, plastic ones. The dread was replaced with horror, and I froze. After a couple seconds of them staring up at me, though… I felt an unexplainable urge to wave back at them. I slowly lifted my hand and wiggled it back and forth, unable to muster the energy nor the courage to do any more than that. I sat in utter disbelief at what I had just done, as if some other force had taken control of my body. Once again, right on cue, the robot smiled back at me.

(By the way… The 23DS is rather famous for its lack of a working camera in the first batch they made. I got mine the day it came out. So no, it isn’t from some sort of detection software in my camera. It doesn’t even work.) The loading screen quickly disappeared before I could fully process what had just happened, and it was replaced by another one of the characters from the main menu sitting in the middle of a black and pink room. It looked like some sort of single-room apartment (which, I mean, makes sense given the name of the game). The character himself had a simple hoodie and shorts on, the only outstanding factor being the cat ears on his head and his rainbow mask that had a small blue smile on it. He seemed nice. I hesitantly picked up the 23DS, and as soon as I did, the character stood up from where he was sitting, ready to move as soon as I was. At this point, I just chose to ignore the strange happenings (maybe it used motion sensors in the hardware) and tried moving him around.

Other than what had happened so far, the game performed mostly normally. It looked and played like a Paper Linguini game, and seemed to have basic platforming and RPG qualities. I eventually left the room he started in and found a hallway. … That was it. A hallway. It was just that door, a couple of other doors, and a long, long, long hallway that seemed to stretch forever. As the completionist I was, I chose to walk down the hallway instead of opening any of the doors. As I kept walking, I quickly realized this game didn’t use basic looping behavior. Normally, for something like this, the game would loop the pathway back to the beginning to give the illusion of infinity. But… this game didn’t do that. The doorways I had seen before had completely disappeared, and turning backwards, I couldn’t see them at all. This hallway really did seem to go on forever. I’m already this far, I thought, might as well keep going.

If curiosity really did kill the cat, I hoped that this little guy would be ok.

After what seemed like forever of walking, I looked away from the 23DS to see what time it was. 2:59 AM. God, have I really been playing for that long? I kept my hand on the DS. I kept walking. It was like my hands were glued to the console. Had to keep walking. What would I even find if I did? Eventually the game’s gotta crash from how long I’ve been walking, right?

3:00 AM. I looked back to the 23DS. Like clockwork, I had reached the end of the hallway. It seemed to end in a completely blank wall. No, no, there’s no way this was it. Are you kidding me? I’ve been spending hours on this? I walked closer to the wall. Closer, closer, and closer yet. Still trying to believe I spent so long of my life on this. It felt like days. It almost felt like weeks. As I moved closer towards the wall, the character pressed his hands up against the wall… almost, organically. Like he was meant to do that. I paused. Why was he doing that, and why was it so baffling to me that he was?

As I sat in disbelief, I eventually realized he had started staring at me. He didn’t have any emotion or expression in his eyes (or, eye - only one of them was really visible over his hair), but I could somehow tell he was waiting for me to do something. Why the hell was I going along with this absurd belief? Do I really think the game is alive or something? I didn’t know anymore, and honestly, I was too tired to care or think logically. I was already waist deep in this strange game.

Might as well kill the cat already.

I slowly eased my hand over the joystick, moving it in the direction of the wall. His gaze drifted back towards it, walking into it as if he was pressing on it to make it move. I kept moving the joystick forward… and he kept pushing the wall forward… It felt as if we were both about to reach a breaking point of some sort. I don’t know why, but my heart was nearly pounding out of my chest. What exactly does this man want to happen with the wall? Before I could even finish that thought, it was answered - he fell through it, clipping through the wall like it wasn’t even there, or like it was one of those paintings from Super Linguini 64. I jumped and almost fell out of my chair, dropping the 23DS on the floor, making a nearly deafening noise at the quiet hour of 3 in the morning. I took a second to regain myself, then with shaky hands, picked it back up. It seemed that the camera had followed him without my input necessary. He was in a pitch black… room? Plane? Who knows. It was so dark I couldn’t tell what was going on, even when I squinted. I quickly noticed another man standing in front of my character, though. I think it was a man, at least. He was facing the other way, but it didn’t really matter… He was invisible, and I could clearly see the red and blue glasses he wore.

The game’s icon. This must be what it was referencing. … Was there even anything else to the game but this? What even was this?

Hands shaking, I once again slowly moved the joystick towards him… But the character didn’t move. He just stood there. I sat for a second, then tried pressing other buttons. Something, anything to even try to find an answer to this mystery. I almost pressed the power button, when he spoke. “Pal. We’re here.”

I think that was the character I was controlling. Pal? Was that… the invisible guy’s name? What a weird name, I thought.

As if he had heard my thoughts, he quickly swiveled around to face the camera. He pointed(?) straight at it, straight at me, assumedly, and shouted “YOU THOUGHT KOOPA WORKED ALONE?”

I couldn’t help but giggle a little. This game really did just reference an old creepypasta. Way to put it on the nose. It helped me relax a little. Maybe this really was just a weird little creepypasta game trying its damn hardest to seem like it was haunted or something. I felt a little silly for getting so worked up earlier over this. What was that weird grip the game had on me even for?

“Pal” cleared his throat and continued. “My apologies. Wrong game. What I had MEANT to say, my fine gentleman, is I’d like to strike a deal with you. Yes, you.”

The statement almost seemed accusatory. Like he wasn’t really speaking to this other character… What was his name, anyways?

“Oh, by the way - Thank you for bringing him here, Nine.”

Well, that answers that question. “Nine” must be the guy with the cat ears… and he must’ve been talking about me. Bringing me here to this game, this place.

The strange man continued with his “deal”. “My request is simple, my friend. All I’d like for you to do… Is play my game. Just play it properly! Go and meet all of my friends, recruit them to your party, and help them work together to stop the beasts in the parking lot from overtaking the local restaurant. Oh! I don’t believe I’m meant to tell you that. Forget everything I just said. And what I want in return… is to play YOUR game. An eye for an eye, so to speak.”

I had no idea what he meant by “my game”, but I decided to entertain this idea of his. I waited for some sort of dialogue box to pop up for me to make my decision, but I quickly realized I wouldn’t need that.

“Are you going to answer me, Jason? Or are you just going to gawk at me and my dear friend?”

Nine turned around to stare at me as well, with his blank, emotionless eyes.

The fear very, very quickly returned and my heart sank. That was my name. He just said my goddamn name. I had never, EVER input my name into this console, not my real one. It was always my screen name. Is this really it? Am I really living in some crappy creepypasta written by a 12-year-old in 2012? Is that all my life is now? I had half a mind to just close the 23DS and go to bed. I’ll be completely honest… I don’t know why I didn’t. Maybe I was just scared something was gonna happen if I did, like he was gonna come out of the console and kill me while I was sleeping. Maybe I was so delirious from lack of sleep, I couldn’t even bring myself to do it. I really don’t remember.

“Well, I believe that’s a yes. Do you think that’s a yes, Nine?”

“Hm. I don’t think so. He didn’t say anything.”

“Well, you know what they say! Silence is, the, uh… True, confirmation?”

“... Eh, good enough for me.”

If I was too sleepy to pay attention before, I was wide awake now. I spoke out for the first time this whole session, yelling and shouting at the characters like a crazy person, talking to his game like it could actually hear him. Not that there was any doubt in my mind that they could.

“Did you say something, Jason? Oh well! Too late!” Pal said excitedly.

Nine stayed silent, and slowly but surely, a dark liquid started dripping from his mask. He didn’t cough, or shout, or say anything about it. He didn’t even react at all. It kept dripping, and dripping, and dripping, until it eventually became a steady pour. The area they had been standing in seemed to be filling up with the liquid, engulfing them in pure darkness.

… And that was the last thing I fully remembered seeing. My memory of the rest of the situation was really foggy. Now, it may seem like an anticlimactic conclusion… but I’d say getting trapped in a video game all alone would be a pretty alright ending to this crappy creepypasta. Yes, that’s what happened. No, I’m not a lunatic. I’m just… stuck here now. None of the other characters I saw on the main screen are here. I guess Pal took all of his friends to my world… My game. And I guess I’m just going to live here forever. I don’t even know if anyone’s going to see this. I found a computer in one of the characters’ rooms, and I’m typing this out on this dumb Reddit-kockoff called “Greenit” to hopefully tell someone about my experience.

What a dumb game.

Maybe… If someone else finds the console… Hm…