It all started around 3 days ago. I was there having fun with the Halloween event, when suddenly my IRL friend calls me on Steam. He's Brazillian as well, so this is just a rough translation of our conversation:
Friend: Hey Léo (my IRL nickname) are you there?
Me: Yep, why?
Friend: I... I need you to look into something...
Me: Uh, what exactly?
Friend: You see, there is something wrong with my TF2
Me: imba weps?
Friend: Anyway, it’s all fucked up
Me: Texture glitches?
Friend: I don’t know what to call it anymore; you have to see it for yourself
Friend: No... I tried uploading some, it just didn’t work
Friend: Just do it on your PC
Me: Oh, as long as it doesn’t require any dls
Friend: no... just go to your load-out screen, equip the mackerel, then the bat, then the mackerel again, then the sandman...
Me: Must be some awkward graphical glitch
Me: Wait, I don’t have a mackerel
Friend: I would give you mine... if I could
Me: I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for telling me
Friend: Thanks for listening... and sorry for telling you...
As I was about to ask him what he meant, he disconnected. That was one hell of a weird conversation, though it wouldn't have been had I gone back in time to warn myself.
At the end of the conversation, I was thinking my friend was a major n00b that found some fancy graphical glitch and wanted to show me. What was, however, bugging me, was the tone of the conversation. You may read it as your average dialogue, but my friend was the kind that would almost always type in some smiles. This time there were none; something seemed off.
I decided to try it anyway, so I disconnected, crafted a mackerel, and went to try the glitch.
I carefully did the steps: Mackerel -> Bat -> Mackerel -> Sandman.
As I equipped the sandman, my screen suddenly froze. It was rather unusual, since I was playing on my brand new high end PC, but I knew TF2 had the tendency to lag, so I just ignored it.
That’s when an ear-bursting beep came out of my ear buds. It was around 2:00 AM and I pretty much flew out of my chair. That’s when TF2 returned to "normal." Or at least I thought so...
The first thing I noticed was that all of the load-out slots were gone. It was just a dark-gray background with two gray buttons below it (all text was gone). Then I noticed the scout was looking at me. It’s eyes had no pupils, and there was no gun on his hands. I remember having these sorts of glitches when I used DX 8.1, so it was no big surprise.
I clicked the button I guessed that was "Back." The class load-out select screen was glitched, just like the previous screen. All icons below the classes were gone, and all the class icons were upside down; they also wouldn’t zoom in as you moused over them, as usual.
I pressed ESC, since the "Close" Button wasn’t there, and what came up was what finally alerted me this was not just another graphical glitch.
The title screen was the boldest title screen I’d ever seen. It was just a black screen, with the words "Team Fortress 2" written in white at the top of the screen. It wasn’t written in TF2’s theme font, but rather Times New Roman, like it was rushed out out something.
Below it were three options: Play, Options, and Quit.
As it was kinda late and I had to sleep, I decided to just jump to play. As the server browser opened, my sub-consciousness was already starting to realize what I was getting into. I suddenly felt a fear I never thought I would ever feel, irrational or not.
I was shocked when it could only find one single server. Minutes ago it found over two thousand servers, so how could it find only one now? I checked the filter and they were all turned off; turning any of them on would make the server disappear from the list. What crept me out the most were the details of this single server.
The name of the server was just "Team Fortress," so I instantly suspected it was a listen server; the Game tab was empty, the player count was 1/14, the Map was just "Manor" (it was written like that, not "cp_manor_event," just "Manor"), and the ping was 10.
"That’s what I call a ping," I whispered to myself. I kept staring at the player count for around 30 secs; I was trying to figure out what was someone doing there, lonely, on a remote server, isolated from the player base.
I reluctantly entered the server. The loading bar was just a long white stripe, with no text.
It connected. I wasn’t greeted by the usual blackboard welcoming screen; instead, it just went straight to the class selection screen.
I had just crafted the Horsemann's Headtaker, and I really wanted to try it out, so I instinctively chose Demo. I spawned as a BLU Demo, but in the middle of the map. I also had no weapon. I checked out the score, my name was the only one there. There was no one in RED neither in Spec. Wasn’t there supposed to be someone here? I opened up the server browser again, and now the player count was 2/14. The name of the server suddenly switched to "get out." I got freaked out by that one, but kept going.
Before even moving from the odd place I spawned, I typed "Who are you?"
I got no answer.
I just supposed he didn’t speak English and casually walked out. That’s when my demo suddenly burst into flames. At first, I thought he was just a lone pyro, but that’s when, with a scream of agony I had never heard from any demo-man before, he blew up.
By this point I was already scared to death, so I quickly disconnected. The server browser automatically opened a few moments after my "scare-quit." This time the name of the server was "come back I want you." I decided to step up and go in again, now prepared for anything.
As it connected for the second time, it just skipped everything and upon fully connecting, I spawned as a Demo with no weapons again. The location, however, was different. I spawned over the gap around the third CP, instantly falling to death. As I waited the respawn, the camera went to a fairly odd looking place I had never seen before. All I could see was a large white stripe with a red and a blue stripe next to it (one on each side).
The place I re-spawned was the bottom of the well for me. It was a dark, disturbing room, with a single locker on the right of the exit. I had already played quite a few matches on the map, but I didn’t remember ever seeing such a room. When I walked out, all I could see was a bright white, like what you see when you walk out of bounds on some maps. After roaming around the vast, white desert for a while, something appeared on the chat box:
"You are good to go."
It had no player name behind, but it couldn’t be any mod or plug-in. I was already losing my sanity. Nothing of it was all that creepy. But it was just so off, that it was creeping the hell outta me. Right after that message came up. I saw a steel gate in the distance. I walked all the way up to it, and quickly got in. I didn’t even think twice. I just wanted to get over with this mind-fuck.
What I saw when I walked in scarred my mind so deeply that it’s like I see it every time I dare think of the words "Team Fortress 2":
All of the classes from both teams hung up, their mangled faces looking at me and some of their limbs missing. Between the two teams was a large white stripe with smaller red and blue stripes on the sides matching their respective teams, forming a large hallway. So that’s what I saw while re-spawning. That’s where the camera was, still in first person perspective, as the Demo-man.
Every time I looked at the hanged demo, the screen would start to get grainy and an image would start slowly fading in to my screen until I looked away. It changed each time I looked.
But as far as I could tell, they were all mangled bodies.
As the image fully formed for the 4th time, it covered up the entire screen, and kept starring at me for around 5 secs. After that it abruptly disappeared, and when I looked at the hallway again, all the bodies had disappeared. It then froze again, and I could see only one last message on the chat box before I lost connection:
After disconnecting, I checked the server browser for one last time; the server had just vanished. TF2 (if I can call it that) then closed itself. I opened up Steam and saw there was a new update for TF2. It was, simply, called "-Fixed."
I knew what that meant, but still found it unsettling.
I wasn’t able to sleep at night, so I just spent the night playing another games… anything but FPSs.
Next morning I asked my friend WTF was that. He said he hadn’t logged on steam for about a week.
Since then I haven’t played TF2. I was unsure about what to do, so I just decided to note this down and post it on TF2’s SPUF, just to spread the word.
I can’t sleep, I’m not eating or drinking well, and I can’t step out of my apartment.
Whatever that was, it’s haunting me. I see it in the corners of my eyes, inside my PC, at the street outside my building. it’s there, I’m sure...