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Screaming

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The screams...

Somebody make them stop.

They all say I'm crazy... That I'm hallucinating...

But there's no mistaking what I saw.

And the screams still won't stop.

---

It all started that day when I found Pokémon Emerald cartridge at a pawn shop. I was ecstatic, as I didn't have Emerald yet, my first game being Pearl. I didn't wonder for an instant why it had ended up here, which was strange, considering that my Fire Red game didn't even save right. I should have been more careful...

After getting home, I sat down to play the game. But just before the Game Freak logo faded, the game froze, and none of the buttons worked. Suddenly, I was reminded of the Lost Silver incident, and wondered if I had found a similar game. A shiver ran through me, and the idea to turn it off crossed my mind, but it was if I was glued to the game. Even if I had my doubts about this, some part of me wanted to figure out what was going on.

After about a minute of the frozen logo and looped notes, the title animation continued as what I know now to be normal, but when it came to the start screen, there was no Rayquaza; instead, there was a sprite of a screaming face, pale white and slightly disturbing. The title of the game was 'Pokémon Scream White.' Again, I thought of turning it off, but I couldn't bring myself to turn back now. I pressed start, and it brought me to the classic 'load game, new game' screen. I selected the 'load game' option, only to find that the screen went black, and made several, glitch-like screeching sounds. After about a minute or two of this, I reset the game, and went through the entire process again, making sure to delete the current save file. At least I knew what to expect this time.

This time I selected 'new game,' and it brought me to Professor Birch's 'welcome to the world of Pokémon' speech. After he was finished, I was brought to the moving truck, and the game went on as normal. But there was one part that didn't seem like it belonged in his speech; at the very end, he had said, 'beware of the—'

I had no clue what that was supposed to mean, but it sent a chill through my spine, especially because of the way it cut off. Despite how unsettled I was, I continued playing the game over the course of the next few days, each time shivering as I saw the screaming face on the start screen. I kept an eye out for whatever Professor Birch had wanted me to beware of, but the game seemed to be normal.

As I played the game, I noticed that there was a man in the Pokémon Center of Sootopolis who seemed too dark to be in a Pokémon game. He wore a black cloak that covered most of his body, and a large hat which covered his face, other than two, blood-red dots I assumed were his eyes. I was immediately reminded of the professor's warning, and so, I naturally went up to the man, and talked to him; first, making sure that my parents weren't home. They might take the game away if they saw what the man said. Assuming he said anything notable, at least.

'You shouldn't be talking to strangers, now should you, little one? I wouldn't be talking to me again if I were you,' he said. Then a soft, chilling laugh emanated from the speakers, and I grinned. Here came the good part.

Of course, I talked to him again, and this time he said, 'I thought I told you not to talk to me again. Or am I mistaken? Maybe you should reconsider my words. I wouldn't want you to end up like /they/ did.' The same chilling laugh came, but this time it was even darker and demonic.

It took some effort to press the button again. I had read about cursed games, and I was afraid that this might be one of them. What impact would it have on me? There was only one way to find out.

The soft click of a button seemed to resonate in my head.

I didn't realize that I had pressed it, and when I looked down, my finger wasn't even on the a button, but resting beside it. It was too late now.

This time, I heard the laugh first, a cruel, maddening laugh that hurt my ears. Then I heard him talking, which was odd, since that hadn't happened before. All he said was '...', but the speakers delivered a very different message.

'I warned you. Now you will experience the wrath! (another cackle) Shame, I actually took a liking to you. But the master will enjoy this...'

I felt a strong impulse to turn off the game, but I couldn't tear my eyes away from the screen. Something about his voice was causing me to freak out. It sounded like a threat, a promise for death. Then I saw my character slowly fading, along with the walls of the Pokemon Center, leaving only the man. Then he faded, too, and the screen was shrouded in total blackness. After a few moment , the man and I both came into view, only I noticed that my sprite was pulsing, slowly fading and then becoming solid again. The man said 'follow me,' and again, I heard his voice through the speakers. My breathing was involuntarily speeding up, and all of a sudden I felt as if I were gasping for breath. I was terrified as to what would happen to me after playing this. My player followed the man, but he was walking so slowly that I wanted to scream, 'do it already!', although I had no clue what he was going to do, or if he was going to do anything.

However, I found myself unable to scream, my throat felt like sandpaper. Instead, a whisper emerged from my lips. "Get it over with."

The man turned around, and appeared to be looking at my player. Or was he looking at me? Those red eyes petrified me, though they had no effect before. 'Fine... the master wouldn't like to be kept waiting, anyways. But it's so fun to scare you children...' This time, the laugh was a soft, impish tee-hee, but it hadn't lost any of its sinister properties.

He remained stationary, but I was performing the escape rope animation, spinning upwards. It was if he were teasing me, because it was only about half the speed of the normal animation.

I felt hysteria closing its talons around me now. That man had just responded to me! This game must be cursed... Or the creator had an uncanny way if predicting the exact moment the player would get impatient. Or maybe it was just coincidence...

I found no comfort in these excuses. My fast breathing transformed into hyperventilation, and while I wanted to close my eyes, end the nightmare, I was frozen stiff.

The room I warped to had the man standing right where he had been in the last room; one tile above me. It was an endless sea of red, with darker patches, that seemed to be a flowing liquid. I immediately got the impression of a sea of blood. My sprite was still pulsing, seeming even more grisly with the dark red fading through me. The man's voice came as a whisper, although there was no on-screen indication that he was speaking. 'We are here,' he hissed, then lead me through the wall less room.

After we walked for about ten seconds, a black throne came into view, and seated on it was a humanoid figure, pale white in color, its face frozen in a scream. Its teeth were strangely visible, despite that it was an overworld sprite, and they looked sharp. it sported a long, skeletal tail, and it seemed as if it were shivering. I could hear the rattling of bones.

'Master,' hissed the man, his voice becoming more and more snakelike. 'I've brought someone...'

The creature slowly rose from its throne, the rattling noise becoming louder and louder until I thought it would deafen me. It stopped just in front of the man, who stepped aside, leaving my character to face it. It made a hissing noise louder even than the rattling, and weaved within the noise, I heard screams, and the combined sound was even worse than the suspense from before. I found myself screaming with it, although I had been unable to manage more than a whisper before. Then, the thing leaped at me, taking up the entire screen, and my eyes popped. While I'm sure I wouldn't be afraid of it under normal circumstances, the suspense led me to almost faint with fright. The only thing that kept me from not doing so was the invisible thread that tethered me to the game.

Then, the screen cut to black, and a black and white sprite of a boy faded onto the screen. I heard a boyish scream follow, and then he faded into blackness. He was replaced by another boy, and then a girl, both of which screamed. Their sprites were surprisingly realistic, as were the screams... and each of their faces was frozen in an image of terror. I didn't count how many there were, but there must have been at least fifty of them. Then the last one faded to blackness, and I thought it was over; that it wasn't a cursed game after all. The man's response was simply a coincidence. I felt myself relax. Some sick person had just decided to create a game to terrify children.

Then I saw the last sprite.

I recognized it immediately, but it took a second to register who it was. The sprite was of me! The clothes, the hair, the face... It was as if I was looking in a mirror. I heard my scream, and screamed along with it. There's something unnerving about hearing two of your own scream at the same time, and I had no doubt now that this was a cursed game. The sprite was mine, the scream was mine...

After what seemed like ages, my sprite faded, too, but simply pulsed back, as May's overworld sprite had before. Eventually it faded, and didn't come back, and I thought it was over. Finally, it was over...

But then I was disappointed again. The man's voice blared through the speakers, making me jump. It was even louder than it had been before. 'Don't think this is over yet, Amber...' I shivered as he said my name; my real name, not my in-game one. 'You'll never escape us...' more cackling and screams, and then the screen turned black, the speakers made glitchy screeches, and it was over.

It was finally over.

But the man's laugh still echoed in my head...

---

When my parents got home, they found me huddled in the corner, staring at the blank screen of my Game Boy Advance, screaming and spurting out random gibberish. They tried their best to comfort me, and they reduced it to a whimpering, but when they asked me what was wrong, all I could do was lift a shaky finger to point at the game. They scheduled an appointment with a counselor the next day, but he didn't believe a word I said. They claimed that the game didn't even play, but when they tried to show me, I just started screaming again, crying 'No! No! Make it stop, make it stop!'

They threw it away, but I know that it will make its way to its next victim... It will terrorize the next person who comes across it...

They say that I'm crazy.

Maybe I am.

Just make the screaming stop...

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