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Rick's Red Cartridge:

Hey, my name’s Rick and I LOVE Pokemon. I’d played all the games over, and over, and over again. My favorite game was the first Pokemon game, Red. I ended up getting possession of it after my brother passed at the age of 16.Being 14 at the time, it probably hit me the worst. He died of “unknown causes” while playing the very game I loved in his room. My parents took his things into the basement, not wanting to see them, but also not having the courage to get rid of them.

Well 2 years passed and I had turned 16. I was diagnosed with clinical depression a year earlier, and spent most of my days in my room playing Pokemon. I had cycled through all of my games and the next one wasn’t coming out for a while, so I decided to go looking for my brother’s old game in the basement…

The basement hadn’t been touched since my brothers passing. Video games, and old posters filled the floor. I leaped, hopped and tip-toed through the piles of junk, till I reached his old Gameboy, sitting on top of his old TV. Sure enough, the cartridge was still in it. I gave a quick fist pump for my ninja navigation skills, then repeated what I had done a couple moments before. I exited the basement, and proceeded to enter my room. I pulled out the game cartridge and blowed out the dust from the game slot. I popped the cartridge back in, and away I went. Or at least I should’ve……

I sat there for a moment, waiting for the glow of the screen after turning it on. After a minute of waiting I was about to give up and assume it didn’t work when the screen lit up and was given an unusual welcome. It showed a VERY dark red Charizard against a black backdrop. It simply said in white words at the bottom of the screen “start to begin”. I assumed he must’ve somehow gotten a hold of a hacked version of the game. I proceeded anyway, expecting to find save file options, when instead it went straight into the game. I was a little irked by this because one of the main reasons I wanted to play my brothers game was to see his progress. But nonetheless I continued, deciding I wasn’t going to let something as small as that ruin my fun. The game loaded up and the first thing I noticed was the strange environment. I was in a cave of some sort, but not the kind you find in normal Pokemon games. The walls were a nasty red, and the floor beneath me pitch, black. The sprite wasn’t quite right either. Instead of a hat on his head he was wearing some sort of bandana, and was missing his backpack. This disturbed me greatly as I wasn’t playing on a Gameboy colour making these colours impossible. Nonetheless I pressed on. The changes of the game just made me more intrigued to find out what kind of hack my brother enjoyed enough to play for days without talking to anybody. As the cave went on the scenery became more and more disturbing. The walls started contorting and twisting and the floor started to weave. I became uneasy and was about to put the game down when I saw a sliver of light. The end of the cave! Finally! I ran towards it and was greeted with a large flash of light. A person was standing there, seemingly waiting for me. He was wearing a blank shirt and shorts, with a bug catcher hat. He ran up to me and said the following words that I can never forget…

“There’s no leaving now…”

I began to get scared and decided it might be better not to play this game. I turned it off and went to bed, having a dreamless sleep…

The next day I awoke to a Charmander toy and a glass of milk on my bedside. It was accompanied with a small letter from my mum that read “Out to go grocery shopping! I know how much you love Pokemon so I got you this toy! Hope you enjoy it!”

It kind of annoyed me my mom bought me a toy at the age of 16 but ever since I was diagnosed my parents had been putting in the extra effort to make me happy, so I let it slipI went to take my daily dose of Xanax. I was only supposed to take one a day but the game had me feeling especially depressed so I took 2 instead, and picked up the stuffed Charmandar. I could tell it had been used before from the dirt and scratches it had collected. I didn’t really mind, so I threw it on my bed and decided I’d keep it. I drank the milk and noticed the Gameboy I’d left sitting on the floor. I stared at it for a couple of seconds… Contemplating on whether or not it was worth playing. Whatever hack that it had before had really scared me. But at the same time I wanted to know what it was about. In the end my curiosity won and I picked it up again. You know that saying curiosity kills the cat? Well I’m the cat in this scenario.

I was greeted by the same eerie screen as last time except this time the Charizard was a Charmander, its eyes an unsettling red, and as wide as a full moon. I gulped and used my shaking hand to press the start button. I had this lump in my throat. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I felt like the game had changed me somehow. Like at any second I would randomly convulse, or spontaneously combust…

I wasn’t where I left off this time. I was standing face to face with a Charizard sprite that was twice the size it should be. We were in the middle of the field with grey, dead grass and an old rugged sign that read “the valley of fear”. I felt a sense of dread loom over me as a text box that appeared on the screen read “Do you think you’re safe? Every day I’ve waited for you… and now you’re mine…”

A large menacing noise came from behind me. I slowly swiveled my head. I was trembling in fear for my life. What I saw was horrifying. A large pile of flesh was seeping out of the Charmander’s mouth, creating some form in front of me. There was more than what was physically possible coming out of it, and

Bad Char

this lasted for a good twenty minutes. I watched Blood oozing out of it, forming together. Flesh stretched out to form limbs, and fingers. I could hear the popping and creaking noise as bones snapped into place and together. When it was done transforming it was identical to a Charizard. I tried to move, to scream, to breathe, to do anything really.

But to no avail. As it's eyes began to form, a red, sinister glow appeared where pupils should be. It violently outstretched a meaty arm, its claws digging into my neck as it whispered in a deep, EVIL tone some mumbles that went like this “maledicta haec anima”. Then the world slowly faded away.

That’s all I remember… I live in a mental hospital now. My mom told me she found me shaking and muttering jibberish on the floor. They say it was bound to happen, that the disease was just waiting around the corner and that I was lucky she got home when she did. My mom thinks I took too much Xanax, thus causing the convulsions and hallucinations. The doctors say I’m crazy. The voice of the creature comes back to haunt me sometimes, whispering into my ear at night. I know it’s real.

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