Originally posted on GGL Wire on 10/25/07.
And now… the final five tales of videogame TERROR:
When Brittany awoke, every part of her lithe, tanned body ached. She tried to move her hands and feet, but they were immobile. Terrified, she opened her eyes.
She had never been inside the shack, but she recognized it from hiking through the Schwarzwald. It sat alone in a dark dell full of stunted, black-skinned elms. She had assumed it belonged to some local poacher, but now she realized the terrifying truth.
Brittany was bound hand and foot, strapped to an ancient dentist’s chair. Various implements of torture were hanging from the walls – specula, knives, drills and other shiny stainless-steel horrors of unimaginable purpose.
She vowed not to scream.
The door swung open, and a man entered – short, stocky and balding, his face hidden behind a mask which amplified the raspy wheeze of his breathing. He closed the door.
“Let me out of here!” Brittany yelled.
The man laughed, low and quiet. He walked over to a television set with built in DVD-player that sat against the wall in front of Brittany.
Slowly, with relish, the man slipped a scratched and mottled DVD into the player.
“What are you doing?” Brittany demanded.
The man spoke with a thick German accent. “Soon you vill know a horror unlike any other,” he hissed.
The screen came to life. It was a movie. Brittany didn’t recognize it at first. Was that the chick from Terminator 3? And the guy who played Ghandi?
The realization crashed down on her. Someone was screaming, screaming at the top of her lungs; and it was a moment before Brittany realized it was her.
The movie was BloodRayne. The man was Uwe Boll!
“Oh god please don’t do this to me! Why? Why?” she screamed.
Brittany had the will to survive. She made it through BloodRayne and Alone in the Dark. But by the end of Postal, her lifeless body had slumped in the chair, her face contorted into a permanent rictus of terror.
Boll dumped her body in the peat bog, and went back to lurking along the hiking trails, watching for hapless young people to kidnap and torture. So the madness continued.
The Pits of Despair
Bobby always wanted to be a game tester, and now he had his chance.
The campus of Electronic Arts was a beautiful cluster of buildings in Playa Vista, a stone’s throw from the Pacific. Bobby’s heart tintinabulated with excitement as he parked and was checked in by security.
“So you want to work in QA?” the woman asked. She seemed pleasant enough, just another ordinary HR drone.
“Then sign here and we’ll get you started.” The woman pushed a complicated-looking form across her desk.
Bobby reached for a pen, but the woman handed him a strange silver implement with a sharp tip. “Use this?”
“What do I use for ink?”
The woman took the implement and jabbed Bobby in the finger.
“Sign in blood,” she demanded.
Well, that’s weird, Bobby thought, as he bled onto the silver pen and scrawled his name across the bottom of the page with his own sanguineous humours.
The woman snatched the paper away, and locked it in a steel man-sized safe that lurked in the corner of the office. “Come with me, she said.”
Bobby followed her through the offices and down a long hallway lined with paintings of Mediterranean scenes. At the end of the corridor was an ancient freight elevator, the kind with the iron gate. That’s funny, Bobby thought, this building looks only a few years old.
They stepped into the lift, and the woman pulled the gate closed and flipped a giant electrical toggle switch.
The elevator car plummeted at an alarming rate. The sides of the car were open, and Bobby first saw several floors of the EA offices, then a long stretch of dank bedrock. The further down they went, the hotter and wetter the air became.
Suddenly they came out in a massive chamber, an ancient rent in the uttermost depths of the world. Strange gasses spewed from lava-filled rivulets. The whole cavern was lit from above by massive fluorescents that buzzed audibly. The pale white light gave Bobby an instant headache.
“Where are we?” he asked tremulously.
“QA,” the HR woman replied.
The lift hit the floor of the chamber, and two burly shirtless men in turbans grabbed Bobby forcefully and dragged him toward a cubicle. They wore cruel-looking whips on their belts.
“What’s going on?” Bobby screamed.
“You will work 20-hour days,” the HR woman intoned, like an ancient Druidic priest offering a human sacrifice to satiate a bloodthirsty deity. “Eight a.m. to 4 a.m. No bathroom breaks, no weekends, no vacations.”
Bobby wriggled, panicking, as the guards wrapped a red-hot manacle around his ankle. The cooling metal melted his flesh, and he wailed in agony.
“We’re two months behind schedule on Mail Order Monsters 2,” the woman continued, “so we’re withholding gruel and water until you catch up.”
“Let me go! I don’t want this!” Bobby cried as he was forced into his work chair.
“You signed a contract,” the woman replied coldly. Then she leaned in, and spoke with more feeling. “Besides, if you ever want to be a game designer, you have to work up through QA. Don’t you want to be a game designer?”
“Yes.” Resignedly, he put his hands on the keyboard and mouse. He cried out as a guard lashed his back.
“Get to work, slave!” the guard bellowed.
Bobby never saw his friends or family again. And it was years later, his crippled frame wracked with years of labor, he realized the truth – they would never promote him out of QA!
The Last Man
Robert Frisco boarded his flight in Philadelphia, eager to begin four days of fun, sun and gaming in beautiful Southern California.
He would return to his small Pennsylvania hometown impoverished – between the cost of the flight, the hotel, and the convention passes, Frisco had very little money left. But this was E for All, the biggest event of the gaming year.
Frisco was never able to attend E3, but this trip would make up for all those disappointing years reading about all the E3 action on the Internet.
The first sign that all was not as it should be came when the plane descended over Los Angeles.
The city was burning. Massive fires poured plumes of reddish ash into a sky already choked with car exhaust fumes. What had happened while Robert was in the air? Why hadn’t the pilot made an announcement?
But it’s when Frisco approached the actual convention center that his panic began.
The place was EMPTY.
E3 got 30,000 visitors a year! Where were the people? Was it a terrorist attack? Famine? Plague?
Frisco stumbled across the convention floor, looking for any sign of life. No Xbox, no Sony. Nothing at the Nintendo booth of interest but Super Smash Bros. Just a pitiful few survivors playing RockBand, undoubtedly to drive from their minds the horror of whatever cataclysm befell this place.
Something shambled at Frisco from around a darkened corner. He gasped – it was a booth babe, or what was once a booth babe, shuffling forward in her high-heeled shoes, wearing little but a tight t-shirt and skin-tight short shorts. She languidly offered Frisco a flyer for some no-name videogame resale site.
“H-haaave a flyyyy-er,” she groaned.
Frisco ran, as hard and as far as he could. He burst through a black curtain and into a vast unused space – the remainder of the convention floor that the E for All organizers couldn’t sell.
“Why?” Frisco called out to whatever foul gods still hearkened to the prayers of men. “Why????”
Alone in a vast and empty space of total desolation, Frisco fell to his knees. The despair was too much for his fragile mind, and he slumped to the floor, dead.
The Red Ring of Death
Angrily, Susan finished packing her brand new Xbox 360 back in the box. After only two days of playing Geometry Wars, her console overheated; and the button on the front lit up with the dreaded Red Ring of Death. Now her console was completely bricked, and she would have to wait weeks for Microsoft to repair the damn thing.
She left the box on the porch for the FedEx man, and went back into her apartment to watch TV. But when she pressed the “On” button on her remote, she was greeted by a terrible surprise.
At first, the TV wouldn’t some on at all. Then the screen warmed up, and an image appeared. It took Susan a moment to realize the image was not from some television program.
It was a giant Red Ring of Death.
But how is this possible? Susan asked herself. My TV shouldn’t have a red ring!
She went to the phone to call her brother, the tech expert. But when she picked up the receiver — there it was again, the red ring! The phone was otherwise dead, no signal.
Suddenly, the lights went out. Looking up at the ceiling lamp, she saw the red ring, glowing brightly in the near-dark.
Susan ran for the front door – but the red ring shone out from the doorknob. She tried to open the door, but it would not budge. The door had been bricked!
Losing her mind with terror, Susan ran into the bathroom, where natural light from outside made it possible to see. She struggled to catch her breath – there was a red ring on the bathroom scale, one on the shower faucet, even one on the bath mat. How do you brick a bath mat?
Susan turned to look at herself in the mirror, and the monstrousness of what she saw there drove her mind over the edge of insanity. There in the mirror staring back at her was herself – with two giant red rings around her eyes.
She dropped to the floor, dead. She had been bricked.
The Coral Gables Slasher
Dawn broke through the tiny cellar window, and Brendan decided to try opening the cellar door. Still clutching the tire iron he found, he moved the barricade of boxes and old furniture away from the door.
It had been hours since he last heard the Slasher, pacing in the kitchen above, muttering to himself and occasionally singing bits of hymns. Brendan hoped and prayed the lunatic had become tired of waiting, and left.
Brandishing his weapon in one hand, and fiercely clutching his copy of Manhunt 2 in the other, Brandon nudged open the cellar door. Morning light illuminated the dust motes in the stairwell leading up to the kitchen. He heard nothing.
All his friends were dead. Nikki and Elijah, strangled and burned while playing Grand Theft Auto; Clancy was found hanged, with his smashed copy of Quake 4 lying at his feet; Tim and Monica were stabbed and shot with arrows, their eyes sliced out using a broken CD of Bully.
Brandon slowly climbed the stairs, straining his ears for the slightest sound, the tiniest evidence he was not alone. Forcing himself to continue despite his terror, Brandon reached the top of the stairs to face the horror of the kitchen.
There was blood everywhere, especially on the center island, where it looked like a boar had been slaughtered. But Brandon knew it was Corinne’s blood – Corinne, the beautiful French exchange student, whose only crime was bringing the unrated French version of Indigo Prophecy into the U.S.
“Japanese videogames are the next Pearl Harbor!”
Brandon spun around to find the voice. There he stood, the Coral Gables Slasher, his absurd white hair stained with blood, his cheap suit ripped apart by the clawing human hands of his victims. His eyes burned with insanity, or at least with a serious personality disorder. He held a machete in his had.
Holding aloft his tire iron, Brandon tried to back away – but the Slasher stood in the only exit door (there was no way out through the cellar, or Brandon would have escaped hours ago).
“The Sims 2 contains nipples, penises, labia, and pubic hair!” the Slasher hissed.
“What?” Brandon could not understand the old man’s ramblings. He looked about the kitchen frantically, hoping to find a better weapon.
“God is in this battle, and I am privileged to be a foot soldier!” The Slasher leapt forward, chasing Brandon around the bloody central island of the kitchen.
Brandon tried to make for the door, but The Slasher was too fast. He caught Brandon across the face with the machete, and a crimson spray shot across the wall. Brandon slipped and fell, and then the Slasher was in top of him.
“I love the smell of burning gamers in the morning!” The Slasher cried as he raised his machete for the kill.
Suddenly the front door burst open, and in seconds the kitchen was filled with armed police officers.
“Alright, what’s going on here?” one cop demanded.
“Thank God,” Brandon cried out. “This lunatic killed all my friends! Get him off me.”
To Brandon’s horror, the cop laughed. “I guess you don’t get it. We’re with him.”
The cop turned to the Slasher. “Will you finish this one up, Mr. Thompson, or shall we?”
In answer, the Slasher plunged his machete through Brandon’s neck. The last thing the young man saw before death was the Slasher smashing his copy of Manhunt 2 while the cops laughed and laughed.
Note: all Coral Gable Slasher quotes used in this story are real.