Have you ever seen a glitch in a game, or perhaps on your phone and computer? I imagine so, since it is common in all computers to have a slight hiccup in the code. I am a hacker who likes to mess with the code in software and programs to better suit my needs, may it be fixing coding glitches, or possibly editing it to add a little more flare into things.
The thing is, when you start to mess with the code, you find some things like left out content that developers were too lazy to remove entirely from the program, as well as the possibility of a line of code that has no apparent meaning. Perhaps it was the only thing that survived from the deletion of code. This story is about me finding some of this code and trying to figure out what it meant... and why I should have left it alone.
It was a normal day for me. I was locked in my office space in my house working on some code for a video game for my friends. They wanted me to add some new textures to some characters and give them a little boost in their power. While editing their power stats, I realized I had to go into the base code for the power series of coding. Upon diving into this, I found an odd line of code. Having worked on many, many games, I know when something doesn't belong. I decided not to remove it, but instead copy the code over to my computer and examine it later.
I finished up all the edits and sent the file to my friends. I opened up the code– as well as the code from the game– and began comparing it to all the other lines, looking to see if it was just misplaced. I am a very curious man. Oddities always intrigued me. Solving a mystery makes my day. After searching through all the coding, I found it had no correlation with the game at all. I decided to transfer it to my decoder and convert the code into binary, to see if it perhaps made sense in its more simple form. Sadly, when I tried to translate the binary, it only came out as gibberish, no matter how I organized it. Saddened by this, I decided to leave the code alone and move on with my life.
A few weeks later, I was requested by my friend to edit another game, this time for his hand-held. I altered the game to his specifications when I noticed something that brought the code from the previous game to my mind. I saw another line of code that was similar to it. Two completely unrelated games on two separate platforms, similar odd lines of codes... This was too odd to be a coincidence. After transferring the edited data to his cartridge and giving it back to him I immediately transferred the code to binary and pulled up the other. I began to compare to see if they made any sense. Sadly, they were still gibberish, like I was missing something; a part of it.
I began to look inside all the files I had edited over the years for any more recurring code oddities to no avail. I began to explore the almighty Internet for any other hackers who might have found odd lines of codes in any games they have edited. I found a few people that said they have found odd codes in a Pokémon Red ROM another in a Conker's Bad Fur Day for the N64. The last one I found recently was in a PS2 game called Kingdom Hearts. That’s five bits of code found across unrelated games and consoles.
After much comparing and moving around, I happily found that a few bits and pieces actually fit together to form a partial complete code for possibly a JPEG or an AVI file. Sadly, that was all I was able to find on the Internet. Most people don’t make public their hacking hobbies. For many months, I was not able to find another line of code. I had been borrowing my best friend’s games and looking into their codes for more of the string, which I am called the Anomaly. I did manage to find one more a few months later in one of his Xbox 360 games.
Now that I had the sixth piece, I could tell I was close to having the entire line of code. I rented many games from video stores in hopes of finding more of the Anomaly. With glee, I found another bit a month later, in a game I bought for my PS3. I immediately plugged it in and with a huge grin on my face, knowing the code was completed. I inserted it into a program that would be able to complete the process, but sadly it would have to wait a while for the process to finish. A day later it was complete.
The code was an AVI file, five minutes long. Curious, I put on my headphones and enabled full-screen to watch. It opened up into a dark theater with a lone man looking at a screen. The quality of the video was movie-like. It looked like it was done by pros. The man turned and looked at the camera; it was apparent he did not want to be known who he was.
His face was wrapped up to his eyes which were covered by dark goggles. Upon his head was a bowler hat while he wore a long leather duster, as well as dark shirt and jeans, and tight gloves. He motioned for the camera to sit next to him and it moved as though I was in a first person view of the camera. Moving as a normal person's head would when you walk. It was as if I was in the theater with him. The camera sat next to the man and looked at him. He stared into the camera and spoke:
"Well..." he said. His voice was a little deep. I was kind of shocked by the normality of his voice. I guess I expected something dark or maybe epic.
"It seems you have cracked my code," he said.
"Naughty. You have been looking at my work and messing with it, when it should be left alone.
"I bet you are wondering what the code is, no? Well, it’s not just a video, that is for sure."
"It is so much more than that." He pointed to the screen and said, "Zeros and ones." As he said this, the numbers appeared on screen, as if he was in control of the movie. "The base code of all things computer... beautiful, is it not?" He turned and looked at me. "The code you managed to crack is one of the most complicated algorithms I have managed to create... You shouldn’t be hacking, you naughty boy." He gazed back at the screen and chuckled a little.
"I do love my games... Did you play them? The ones they were in? They are some of my favorites.
"We have been working with computers almost as soon as they were invented. We, as in, my family and I. As soon as we saw what computers could do, we knew we had to master it. So we worked with them, inserting ourselves into any project, any building projects involving them, anything that involved computers. We were there... learning.
"We began working with a government to see the psychological properties computers had on the human mind. Seeing if we could use them to control people’s thoughts, movements, and personalities." He stared back at me. I began to feel a little uneasy. I felt I should not know this. I knew I should have stopped but... I had to know what he was talking about. He continued soon after he looked at me. His voice took a darker mood:
"After much working and testing with the coding of computers, we felt that we were ready for... human trials.
"We picked up a few random people, some kids some adults. We took them to a special facility and strapped them to a chair with a computer in front of them. We then flashed the program in front of their eyes each with a special command for them to follow, two minutes after, we unstrapped them. Now, some were not affected, this was to be expected. Others…” He chuckled after he said this.
“Others responded perfectly.
“There was one particular subject that did, however, respond very violently. Jeffrey Dahmer… God, did that one turn out horrible. He killed two of the subjects before we were able to restrain him.” He shuddered a little after saying that part.
“We knew then we had to work very hard on improving the code so we didn’t have the people who were exposed to the code go crazy. We took all the subjects back in their cells and gave them a special drug that would erase all memory of this place, as well as the codes they were exposed to. Now, you know Jeffrey as the infamous killer, right? Well, for some reason he was able to recall the code when we let him go, and ended up going crazy again. Man, that was a hell of a mess. Luckily, the authorities could take him down. Saved us from having to intervene.” I was shocked at this information. What kinds of codes were these? Did they affect me some way? I didn’t know but I had to listen if I was to find out more.
“Anyway, after that, we cracked down hard on modifying the code to work much better than before. Soon after, we perfected it and after testing it on some more subjects, we started putting the codes all over computer programs everywhere. We have been guiding the world as we see fit since computers have been made. Now everything is a computer. Our codes exist virtually everywhere selecting just a few people here and there. Your neighbor, perhaps? Maybe the principal of a school? Maybe the President of the United States…?” He let out an evil laugh at this.
“Well, look at the time, the movie is about to start. I shall be going… oh, by the way, heads up.” He pointed at the big screen and the camera turned toward it.
An old time cinema "3, 2, 1" slide appeared, and as it hit zero, an absolutely overpowering shriek was emitted from my headphones. It literally blew out the speakers, directly into my ears. I threw them off and realized that one of my ears was bleeding, and all I could hear was a loud ringing.
I had to go to the hospital and have surgery on my bleeding ear. It turned out the sound burst a hole in my ear drum, and severely damaged my hearing. The doctor said… well, the doctor wrote that it would be a while for the ringing to stop, and, worse, that my hearing would be permanently damaged.
I was freaked out by all this. Did I stumble onto some big government mind control conspiracy? I didn’t think so. The way he said president made it seem like they controlled him, so maybe this was some sort of cult? I wasn’t sure, but I couldn’t find out without more code.
...I wasn’t sure I wanted to find out at all.
I returned home to find my computer still in place, with the documents folder opened, staring at the AVI file. I tried to access the video but it said it was corrupted. Figured. At least I had saved the un-edited codes in a different folder. I thought of deleting them, but something told me to keep them for some reason. I’m not sure why I felt this, but I decided to leave them be.
It took a month for the ringing to finally subside. I hung with my best friend a lot during this time. His name was Ivan Young. We have been friends since middle school. He was a great pal, and sort of my manager, as in, he got me a lot of my business. He browsed the Internet, looking for people who needed something hacked and he recommended them to me. I gave him a cut and he kept sending more my way. It was a quasi-symbiotic relationship.
I didn’t start hacking again for a long time, though. Honestly, I was scared the man from the video would break into my house or something, and kill me if I did. Eventually, though, I did start up again, small at first. As time progressed, I started getting bigger; it felt like things were returning to normal. Then, all of sudden, I was thrown straight back into the frying pan.
I found another code.
It was from the same mystery man who made the others.
When I saw it, I froze. I was scared; I thought this was behind me, as some bad nightmare. However, there it was, staring me in the face. I immediately walked away from the keyboard, and didn’t touch it again for a couple days. I thought about the code. What was I going to do? Would he come after me for finding another one? Would I be affected by the code in finding it? I freaked out for a long time, but then I began thinking… Maybe, if I could crack this thing, I could stop it! I could be a hero and save the world! That’s what I thought at the time… I was sorely mistaken.
I started looking everywhere I could for more of the Anomaly. I continued to search for almost a year before I found enough code to begin editing it together. I began trying to decipher the complex code. This is something I had never seen before… the way the numbers mixed was years above its time. I worked most of every day trying to find a combination of code for a file to form. Finally, I managed to form coherent lines of code. I decided to call it a night after uploading the code into the binary conformer and see the finished result in the morning.
I woke up, looked at my desktop, and smiled at the results. It was finished. The file was created. I sat down, and was about to open the file, when I had a pop up for my email. I don’t know why but I felt I needed to open the email. I opened it up and it said it was from my friend, so I didn’t think much of what the email would have. Probably another hack request. What I found instead was a video. Once again I felt the compulsion. I decided to go ahead and watch it before viewing the file the binary made. What appeared on the screen re-awakened the fear I had felt so long ago…
It was the man… the man from the last video.
I wanted to close the video and huddle in a corner and hide away from the world. However, no matter how hard I tried, I could not move my hand up to the "X". My hand was literally shaking from the effort.
“Well…” he sighed.
"Someone doesn’t listen very well, does he?”
He was sitting in some fancy chair in front of a black background. Moreover, he was wearing the same outfit as before. He began to shake his head slowly from side to side, while saying,
“You just couldn’t listen, could you? I must say, you are astonishing in your stupidity.” He then looked up back directly at the camera and said, “I guess I didn’t make it clear enough from before. I will try harder then.”
He then looked slightly up from the camera like he was going to talk to the person behind it.
He began to speak, “I am done here, so do what you need to.” What was he talking about? I was suddenly grabbed from behind and felt something smashed over my mouth and nose. It smelled of chemicals, and I soon found myself falling into darkness…
I awakened in darkness.
Was I dead?
“Awake, are we? Did you sleep well?”
I knew the voice… it was the voice of the man from the videos.
A light appeared from behind and lit a chair in front of me. It was the same one from the video. He scooted the chair closer to me and sat down and looked at me. “How are your ears? Hope you weren’t wearing headphones...” He laughed at his joke. He knew exactly what happened.
“Where am I?!” I yelled.
He stopped laughing and smacked me. Seems like I had hit a nerve.
“Don’t interrupt me,” he said. “Do you know how much trouble you have caused me? The Family has been up my ass about you. They are beginning to question my skills. ME! I have loyally served them for decades!”
“Not my fault your code is shit,” I said.
He punched me in the gut at that. As I was heaving, I took the moment to look how I was bound, to see if I could break free.
But I wasn’t bound at all... I was just sitting.
When I tried to move, my arms and legs just stayed there. I struggled, but nothing responded. What was going on?
“MY CODE IS PERFECT! YOU JUST GOT FUCKING LUCKY!” he screamed. He took a deep breath and sighed. “They think I should just kill you, and leave the whole thing behind. However... I have vision. I can find use in everything. Even a little shit like you.” Somehow I could sense he was smiling evilly behind his getup.
He leaned back a little in the chair and began to speak:
“I am impressed, however, that you were able to crack the code once again, so I feel you should be rewarded. I will tell you a little more of our story.
“It’s funny; I am a little surprised we haven’t been found out before now. We had a serious intel leak a long time ago. It was when we were recruiting for more people in our cause. We were working for the US government at the time performing a certain program: Project MKUltra. Heard of it? That was the beginning of our work. Of course there were many different methods being used but our group was more fascinated with the technology aspects. We even put a few of the codes in certain arcades around America.” He chuckled and continued.
“That was my first work with video games. Sadly, the results were lower than we hoped. See, the tech we needed wasn’t around, or perfected enough for our group to prosper. So, we decided to seclude ourselves away from the government and begin trying to perfect our work. However, one of our own turned in the information of our work. The project was 'publicly' shut down after that… but, of course, we continued our work in secret, to perfect its potential. The mole made an excellent guinea pig to experiment on. He’s dead now because he served no more use to us.”
He sat up a little straighter. I felt he was nearing the end of this story.
“We have not recruited since then. Felt we would get exposed. Each of us was given a certain set of tech to manipulate and sent to work with their appropriate companies to better learn how they work. I… was given control of the video games and most hand held devices. Quite useful for controlling the young minds of the world. Thanks to our control, we keep our pockets full and the world in peace. Unless of course.. We need a war between countries to break out to help stop a power problem.” He chuckled again.
“The world is our puppet, and it will do as we say. We can’t have people like you messing up our hard work now, can we?” He quickly leaned forward and stopped right in front of my face. I smelled foulness on him. He began to whisper, “No, we can’t, but I said I would not kill you. I still see use in you. You never know when you need a known hacker to be a fall guy. However… you still need to be taught a lesson.” He abruptly stood up and grabbed what looked like a tablet from a table I couldn’t see in the dark. “Sleep well, you little shit. You are going to need it.” He typed something on it, then showed me the screen. All I saw was white, but as soon as I looked at it, I blacked out.
I awakened with my head lying on my keyboard, at home. I got up quickly, and looked around my room. Nothing looked out of place, or even disturbed. I examined my computer to see if the files were still there. They weren't. In fact, none of the Anomaly was there. Was it even real? Was it just some crazy dream made up from my imagination? Since there was no evidence of the Anomaly, I guessed it was just a dream.
I felt a surge of relief flow through my body. I decided I was going to stay away from the computer for a while and go out. Maybe I would hang with my friend. My phone started ringing so I picked it up. “Mr. Charles?” said the voice on the phone.
“Yes?” I said.
“This is Officer Dewey with the Sumpter County Police Department. I’m afraid one of your peers, Ivan Young, is dead.”
I helped carry Ivan to his plot, and said a nice eulogy for him before he was lowered. I decided to stay a little longer, just looking at his casket. I couldn’t believe he was gone. The police said he was a victim of a mugging, since they found him in an alley in the city. He was shot in the head… what a horrible way to go.
I began to walk down the hill toward my car, but I decided to look back one last time, and I saw a tall dark figure next to the tombstone.
He was there. The man from the videos. The same man who probably erased all the codes and evidence from my computer.
He waved… he actually WAVED! He pulled out something small and black, and laid it atop my friend’s tombstone. How dare he come here to my friend’s funeral!
I was going to kill him.
I ran toward him at full tilt, ready to beat this man to death. He had only started to walk down the other side of the hill, but when I got to the top a few seconds later, he was gone. I looked at what he had put down; it was an SD card.
When I returned home, I plugged it into my computer and looked at what was in it. There was but one file on it… a video.
It started up with the man from the other videos adjusting the position of the camera. “Hello there, my friend,” he said. I was once again filled with anger.
“Sorry for knocking you out back at my place. I didn’t want you to know where you were. I am part of a web of secrets, after all.” He chuckled at this.
“Anyway, I wanted you to meet a new friend of mine.” He turned out of the view of the camera to show a man strapped to a chair with a bag over his head.
“I met him on his way home from his work. I believe you know him, actually…”
He jerked the bag off the man’s head to reveal the face of my best friend. I was in shock… this man had had my friend before he died.
Ivan's right eye was purple and swollen; his nose was slightly crooked, possibly broken. He had a gag in his mouth, and looked very much afraid for his life.
Tears were falling from his eyes.
“Isn’t he a handsome fella?” He walked behind him and put his hands on his shoulders. “He was a handful to get here, mind you, so you better appreciate what I had to do to get him to come to this party. See, I need to teach you a lesson for messing with the Family, and this guy here is going to help me, aren’t you?” Ivan let out a muffled scream that sounded like: Help me.
“Good.” He then walked behind the camera and picked it up.
“I would now like you to meet my second guest for this evening.” He turned to another man in a chair. His head was down, but he wasn’t strapped. I found that odd, since the man looked ruffled up as well.
“Come on, look at the camera.” The man looked up and my jaw dropped.
It was me. I didn’t remember any of this.
However, I looked like I may have been drugged or something. My eyes were fully dilated and I was breathing heavily.
“I must say, your will is strong. You normally don’t see these kinds of effects from the codes when you are weak minded. Now, you are going to assist me in teaching yourself a lesson.”
He chuckled at his poor joke. He walked over to a table and put the camera down. He turned it toward us to where I could see both of us on screen. I heard him pick up something off the table. He then showed it in front of the camera. It was a revolver. He opened the chamber and loaded six bullets into it, and closed it. He then walked back over to me, leaving the camera where it was. He held the gun out to me and said, “The Queen has given you this glorious gift."
I grew scared as I mumbled, “I accept it graciously.” I then took the gun from his hand, but remained in my seat. He then walked back to the camera and got close to the screen.
“I hope you will be a good boy, from now on. Just remember… we are watching you. We are watching everyone.” He then looked over his shoulder and said, “Would you like tea and crumpets?”
I could hear me in the background say, as he walked off screen, “I would love some, your majesty.”
I then stood up and began to stumble slowly toward my friend with the gun. It looked as though I was trying my hardest to stop what I knew was about to happen. I heard a maniacal chuckle off screen, which I guessed was from the man. The screen cut to black before I saw the gruesome deed performed, but just before the video ended, I heard a gunshot go off.
I was felt so much at that moment. I killed my best friend… I shot him in the head. He was probably dumped on the street to make it look like a robbery. My guess was that I had helped him do that, too.
I closed the video and the file somehow transformed into a text file that was named, “We are watching”.
I didn’t want to open it… I wanted to curl into a ball, and cry over the fact that I had just killed my best friend. I didn’t want to… but as soon as I looked at the file, I felt my hand move slowly toward it, clicking it open. There was some text in the middle in the page.
It said, “A gift is waiting for you under your bed, a souvenir ;). Remember, We are watching.” The file closed itself, and the SD card suddenly became corrupted.
Even though I knew I shouldn’t have, I had to look for “my gift”. I looked under my bed to see a box. I pulled it out and put it in my lap.
I took off the lid, and the gun from the video was resting at the bottom.
The gun had blood spatters on the barrel… my friend’s blood.
God.. I put it right on his head before I killed him. How he must have felt… I couldn’t help it. I broke down right there. I felt so much guilt… it was all my fault that my friend was dead. After about an hour, I finally managed to get myself under control.
I kept staring at the gun...the gun that killed my friend. I picked it up and opened the chamber. Six bullets, one fired. I just kept staring at it, trying to figure out what I was going to do. After a while, I was left with one option. I took the gun and my laptop into my bathroom and locked the door.
I am typing this very story, and am beefing it up with all the codes I know to keep it protected. I am putting it on here so the world can know of these people, and I hope that, maybe, you can avoid any signs of them, and keep you and your friends safe. I am picking up the gun now, and putting it to my head… I can’t live with what I have done. They aren’t going to use me anymore…
Top C. Cret 19:46, March 29, 2013 (UTC)