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I suppose I should start this by telling you why I bought System Shock 2. It's simple, really. I bought it because it was cheap, and I’ve heard good things about it — a boring reason to buy a game, but trust me, what happens next is anything but.
About 15 minutes after buying it, the game had installed, and I was ready to play. I started it up, set the graphics options on high, and selected a new game. At this point, everything was going fine; the game loaded the tutorial level, which ran without issue. It wasn't until I started the main game that I noticed something was off.
After about an hour into the game, I saw a message in the PDA repeated throughout the Logs and Notes sections. At first I ignored it, as I thought it was just part of the game, but the strangeness of the message and the frequency of them felt abnormal and didn’t fit with the way the game seemed to work. The messages themselves were very off-putting, as if someone was trying to talk to me using just two words, “I’m knocking.” Instead of coming to the crazy conclusion that my game was haunted, I just brushed it off as a weird bug. I wanted to find out how to get rid of it.
So I checked all the options in the game settings — which unfortunately didn’t do any good — and I reluctantly decided to look deeper into the game files, even though I didn't expect to fix anything. Staring at what felt like a different language, I tried looking for things I could do to the games files to fix the problem, but found nothing. I was hoping for some kind of corrupt file I could replace or something as straightforward as that, but the only thing I noticed was a few of the file names occasionally flickering, which I mostly ignored. I settled on just reinstalling the game, which in hindsight I should have done in the first place.
About a week had gone by, and the game had shown no sign of trouble, until the next three days I will never forget.
July 18th 2013
I had decided on playing System Shock 2 to completion, since I had almost finished it the week before. I started the game and was ready to play from where I left off, but there was something new this time — a sound that wasn’t there before. It was a repetitive dull beat and the longer I played the easer I could make it out. Within minutes I could hear it clearly. It was as if someone were knocking. But seconds later I couldn't hear anything except for an eerie silence that cast itself across the entire room. remembering what happened on the day I bought the game I checked the PDA for anything. To my horror the messages had returned, only this time they were different, darker and more frequent.
“I’m still knocking.” was posted throughout the note entries. Before I could realize how terrified I was, new messages appeared:
“Don’t look, but I’m home. So can I come in?”
I didn’t know what this could mean but the moment I read it I felt a deep pain in my chest as my heart began to race and I could feel my mind beginning to slip, giving in to fear.
This game was twisting my sanity. It felt as though the whole world had tilted. I had to stop playing, but that wasn’t enough. I had to uninstall it and get as far away from it as possible. But it wouldn’t let me uninstall it. Every time I tried, a box would appear with text, reading, “Knock, knock, knock.” My heart was racing, “What’s going on?! Is this some kind of sick joke?!" I thought, hoping it was. I desperately searched through the games directory trying to find some kind of anomaly which would explain what was happening, but all I found was that my nightmare has yet to finish.
Although unnerved, I was determined to find out what was going on. Whilst searching through the games directory, I noticed the file names flashing again, but this time I could make out words blinking back and forth. I focused intently, trying to read each flickering word. Each time I made out a word I wrote it down. Together, the words read, “Let me tell you a secret.”
That’s all it said. I couldn’t find anything else, but I had to find out what it was trying to say. And I had an idea that might work. I hesitantly launched the game, loaded my save file, and opened the command prompt. But before I did anything else, I sat there in silence, wondering to myself if what I was about to do was anything short of insanity. I took a deep breath and typed:
My screen went black, and before I could comprehend what was going on, my screen returned, this time showing a very basic interface with one word in the top left corner: “Hello.” Using my computer, I managed to have a conversation with whoever was trying to mess with me, and this is it in its entirety:
Me: What the hell do you want? This isn’t funny.
Me: Answer me.
It: Answer you?
Me: Yes. Who are you, and why are you messing with me?
It: We are special; we match.
Me: Match how? What are you talking about?
It: We are the same
Me: What do you mean?
It: Do you want to know a secret?
Me: What secret? Tell me.
It: I don’t know if I should; it’s a big secret.
Me: quit messing around and just tell me.
It: You might not like the answer.
Me: Fine, then stay out of my computer.
I immediately turned off my computer. This was made harder by my trembling hands. I kept my computer turned off for the night; I couldn’t bring myself to go near it.
July 19th 2013
Strangely enough, I found it easy to fall into a deep sleep, and upon awaking I didn’t remember having any nightmares, save for a fleeting image of me staring into a mirror. For some reason, it didn’t bother me. I had pretty much prepared myself for a nightmare when going to sleep last night, and I felt I had more things to worry about than a hazy memory stuck in my head. After coming back from college, I decided to go back on my computer, which probably wasn't a good idea, but curiosity got the better of me.
My computer turned on like normal, and once I signed in, I was greeted with my regular desktop. This calmed my nerves. I went to the website YouTube, which I spend most of my time on, and checked my subscriptions tab to see what new videos had been uploaded. I decided on watching a new video by a new guy I just subscribed to. Nearing the end of the video, I scrolled down to read the top comments, and just as I was beginning to read them I began to sweat and tremble violently. I couldn’t believe what it had done.
Every comment, every single one, had been replaced with “Please let me in again.” I couldn’t control myself; I began screaming, “Leave me alone!" like a lunatic. I didn’t know what else could do. I just wanted this thing gone. Once I started to calm down, I thought to myself, “Maybe, if I let it in one more time, just one more time, it will leave me alone.” Since it could change a web page, I thought it wouldn’t need to talk through the game anymore. So I opened Notepad and typed.
Me: You win, come in.
It: Why do you get to live?
It: Why do you get that body?
It: It’s not fair.
Me: What are you talking about?
It: I want to live, but you just ignore me, even though I’m always here.
It: With you.
Me: You’re not making any sense. And what about that secret? Can you tell me now?
It: For the answer, you’ll just have to look closer.
My computer suddenly shuts down.
July 20th 2013
1:17 AM- It was past midnight, and I was struggling to get to sleep. I couldn’t forget about him, and everything that’s happened up till now.
2:10 AM- After about an hour of struggling, I finally drift off to sleep, and the worst nightmare I have ever experienced begins.
I find myself sitting in a blackened room, my arms slouched over my lap, accompanied by a feeling of emptiness looming over me. I start to look around and notice a large, old-fashioned mirror hanging on the other side of the room. I slowly stand up, and begin to walk towards it. Whilst making my way over, I began to hear faint laughter in the background, which got more intense the closer I got to the mirror. Once I arrived, I just stood there, staring at an absent reflection, with terrible laughter blaring in my ears for what felt like hours. Then, within a single heartbeat, all my fear returned in what felt like a fatal stab to my sanity. What was once absent had returned, both my fear and my reflection, but my reflection was twisted; I had no eyes, no ears, or a mouth.
I wanted to scream. I wanted to run. But I couldn't pull my gaze away from that horrific image. A few moments later I could see a new reflection, someone was behind me. It began to slowly move towards me, except it wasn't walking. It was just moving closer, allowing me to see what it was. It seemed to be some sort of mannequin.
As it got nearer, I noticed its mouth was moving. It was laughing. But more than that, it had my face. I couldn't take it anymore. I had to scream. I forced my face as much as I could, tearing it open, releasing the loudest sound I could muster. The laughter stopped. He began to speak.
While tears streamed from my empty face, I tried my best to reply. “Please, please just tell me! What was the secret?”
He quickly responds. “Look closer.”
Terrified, I desperately reply, “No, please, just tell me!"
He loudly and slowly responds. “LOOK. CLOSER.”
I hysterically began to shout. “WHAT ARE YOU? WHAT ARE YOU? WHAT ARE YOU?”
4:56 AM- I awake staring at my computer screen, my hands positioned over the keyboard. A large block of text covered my computer screen:
“I'M YOU I'M YOU I'M YOU I'M YOU I'M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU I’M YOU”
I repeated a thought over and over again in my head. “AM I GOING FUCKING INSANE!?" Because I couldn’t tell anymore.