Alright, some weird, freaky shit happened to me recently and I just had to talk about it. At first, I believed that the store clerks were playing a really bad prank, but now I just don’t know what to believe. I apologize for how long this post is, but there is a lot for me to tell.
It all started about 4 months ago. I was on my way home from college when I decided to pop into the game store on the way. This store is a small shop that sells old games, such as NES, SNES, Genesis, Game Boy, Original PlayStation, etc. I pop in about once or twice a month to browse and see if they’ve gotten any new games. Sometimes I find some real treasures, like Metal Gear Solid, Xenogears, Secret of Mana, and the like, but I digress. I walked into the store and started to browse through their new stock. I’m there often enough that the guys at the store pretty much know me, so they let me know of some of the better stuff that they just got in.
While browsing through their GameCube selection, my eye caught hold of something, a copy of Paper Mario: the Thousand-year door. I remembered the game from my childhood and remembered how amazing the game was, and wanted to re-capture that moment. I took a quick look-over of the case, and saw that it was pretty bear up. There was a chunk of plastic missing from the top-left corner of the case, where the front and the back are bound by, the plastic was scratched in a couple places, and the paper-cover of the game was slightly faded, probably due to the game being 8 years old. There was also a red, circular sticker attacked to the top-right corner of the front of the case.
I opened the case and looked inside and, to my astonishment, the CD was in pristine condition, as if it had never been touched. I tried to look for a price sticker, but there wasn’t one on the case, as there was for every other game, and just chalked it up to it being a new arrival, and they hadn’t had a chance to put a sticker on. I turned and asked the clerks how much for the Paper Mario game, and they just look at each other in confusion and shrugged. One of them piped up and said $30.00. I felt that was rather excessive for an old GameCube game, and with me not having a job, and having to save every dollar for my college textbooks, I put the game down and left the store disheartened.
For the next couple days, I kept thinking about the game, and how much fun I had playing it a child. After the fourth day, I finally caved in and went back to the store, hopping they still had it in stock so I could buy it. I entered the store and asked the clerk, but they said they sold it the day after I had inquired about it to one of their regulars. I cursed at myself for not picking it up sooner, but knew that there was nothing that I could do, so I went home, eventually forgetting about the game.
The next month, I stopped in for my usual browsing. I glanced through the GameCube pile again when something caught my eye. It was a game case where one of the corners had a chunk missing from it. I thought back to the Paper Mario game and pulled the case out and looked at it. Sure enough, it was Paper Mario: the Thousand-Year Door. It appeared to be the same case as before, the only difference being that there was a second circular red sticker on the front. I opened it up to look at the CD, and it was in pristine condition, just like before.
I couldn’t believe my luck. I turned and started joking with the clerks, commenting about how I found it funny that he would return a game like that, and even how I knew it was the same one as before, due to the quality of the case. When I said that, they both looked at each other with a confused look on their face again before talking to each other.
“Did you see Rick return that?”
“No man, I haven’t seen him in weeks, what about you?”
“I haven’t seen him either.”
This went back and forth for a couple minutes before they shrugged it off, thinking that maybe one of the other guys working the store had bought it back. After having that discussion with each other, I occurred to me that if neither of them took the game back, then neither of them knew the condition of the disk, and was able to use that to haggle down the price a bit, since the copy had been used, and wasn’t pristine as it was a month ago. I bought it, and took it home to start playing it.
I didn’t have a GameCube to play the game any more, but I did have a Wii, and my left-over memory cards from when I used to have the game, so I inserted the disc and plugged in an old controller and memory card, made a new game, and started playing. The opening played and I started to feel nostalgic about the game. I skipped ahead and selected new game, selected the first slot, named the file, and started playing.
The game started out normally. Parakarry flies in and drops off mail and calls into the house for Mario and Luigi, the letter from princess peach talking about treasure in a town called Rogueport, them traveling across the sea, everything played out normally. Then it showed the curtains and the screen-transition it does between acts. The spinning coin was there, and showed Mario’s, Peaches’, and Bowser’s faces, and the X-Nauts symbol, and the word “Prologue”, as usual, but something seemed a bit off from the scene.
Once the coin had spun past the X-Nauts symbol, it cycled through two other 2-D, cartoon-like faces that I had never seen before. it was weird, but I shrugged it off, thinking someone just messed around with the game data and added in two extra sprite faces to mess with people. I continued, and everything played through normally through the majority of the game.
When I beat Hooktail, I went through the transition to play as Princess Peach. When the X-Naut base loaded it, it just seemed more eerie than before. the lights in the background were flickering, the room seemed darker, and the X-Nauts, especially Grodus, looked slightly twisted.
The two white X-Nauts that escorted her into Grodus’ chamber had their ears pointed upward, as if in the position of horns, Lord Crump’s eyes were darkened, and his cloak, which is usually a bright, vibrant red, was more crimson, and Grodus staff was black, with a red crystal orb, and rather than the blue glass on the top of his head showing his cranium being metallic, it showed what appeared to be a brain. I looked at this scene confused, knowing that this wasn’t what the game was meant to look like, but I, again, shrugged it off to someone messing with the code in the game data.
I continued to progress through Peach’s side-mission thing, talking to TEC, and sending the E-mail to Mario. After completing that, I went through Bowser’s little side-story, and it proceeded uneventfully back to Mario. I proceeded through the small cut-scene in the Koopa village and left, receiving the mail from Peach as normal. I skipped through it and continued along more when I received a second e-mail notification after taking three steps.
Mario automatically opened it hand-held e-mail device and a strange text-bubble popped up. It was the bubble used for the Shadow Queen, the pure purple, uneven bubble with the shaking white letters, but the message read:
“H..e l.P…. M..e… Pl eA..s..E H…e..L p”
I was confused as to why I was receiving a second e-mail, why it was in the Shadow Queen’s speech pattern, and why it was asking for help. I started to get a bit creeped out at the game, but decided that it was just a game, what’s the worst that could happen?
I continued through the game at a steady pace, the creepiness continuing to grow, from the levels music being eerier than I remember, to Cortez still having bits and scraps of bleeding flesh stuck to his bones, to Gloomtail talking about seeking revenge for his sister by ripping the flesh from Mario’s bones, roasting it, and then eating him, and every time I would receive an E-mail from peach, I got another one with the same Shadow queen speech bubble, asking me for help.
I finally reached near the end of the game, but I remember how tough the shadow queen was, so I spent plenty of time farming out levels from Amayzee Daisees, and got as many Zess Delux’s as I could before heading in. everything played out as scripted until the Shadow Queen is supposed to make her offer to Mario to join her. Rather than inviting him to be her servant, she talked about how her purpose was to kill anyone who would dare enter her chamber, and the fight started.
She was dealing much more damage than she should have, and she also seemed to have more health than usual as well. However, with all of the levels I had gained, and all the items I farmed, I was able to clear her first phase. During the transition to her second phase, she screamed, saying that she would not be defeated, and that I would become like the other two, trapped for all eternity in the game. It’s at that moment that everything stated to click into place in my mind. She wasn’t talking to Mario, she was talking directly to me. And that those two extra faces on the coin in the act intros were the other two she was talking about. I just laughed and thought this was just the guys who modified the game adding in a fourth-wall breaking part to really freak out players. She shifted into her second form and screamed about how I will die in that room. She fully healed herself as scripted, but skipped the entire cutscene and just continued with the combat.
It took several minutes and all of my items, but I slowly chipped away at her health until she reached 0. She screamed again and started to curse, stating that she can never die, and that I only managed to save my own soul, but she will be reborn, and she will attack again, and she will make sure it will be someone I care about. She then exploded in the usual way and the game ended as it usually did, with the cheesy ending and credits. I turned off the game and ejected it from my Wii, putting it back in its case and stashing it on the shelf with the rest of my games.
A couple weeks later, I was in desperate need of cash for the next book in my college course, so I decided to sell some of the games I never play. I went over to my shelf and rooted through my games to find any that I wanted to sell. I soon realized that my copy of the Paper Mario game wasn’t on the shelf. I looked all over my room and couldn’t find it anywhere. I was confused, since I had not had any friends over since I had put the game there, and nobody would have been able to take the game off of the shelf. Confused, I just carried on with my business, thinking that it would show up sooner or later.
A few days later, I got a call from my friend Jeremy. He said he went to the game store I was always bragging about and decided to pick up some games. He said he was able to find a few games, like a copy of Sonic Adventure 2, Pikmin, and Metroid Prime 2. He invited me over to come play some games, so I decided to head on over. When I got there, I asked him if I could see the pile of games he got at the store, so he showed them to me.
I looked through them, and what I found shocked me. It was the same Paper Mario: the Thousand-Year Door game that I had gotten a month ago, in the same condition as before, with the same markings, the chunk of case missing, ripped plastic, faded cover, everything. I checked the upper-right corner for the two circular-red stickers, and noticed that there was now a third sticker; only this one was white with blue writing on it.
It was tiny writing, so I had to squint to see it, but it spelled out “James”… my name. I looked at him and asked how he got it. he said he got it at the game store, just like the rest, but when he picked it up and asked the clerks about it, the both looked at each other confused, like neither of them even knew it was there. Confused at how it possibly returned to the store, I told him how I owned the game not too long before him, and it somehow disappeared from my room. He laughed and said I was just making shit up because I wanted the game. I shrugged it off and played games with him until I got too late, then I went home.
A week later, I got a call from Jeremy’s mother, asking me if I had seen her son. I told her that I hadn’t, and asked why she was asking me. She told me that Jeremy had gone missing, and that the police are looking for him. She had entered his room two nights prior to call him down to dinner and he wasn’t there. His TV was on, and so was his old GameCube. The disc tray was open, but there was nothing inside the system, but the screen was frozen into the image of the game-over screen from the game he was playing. I was worried, and even joined in the search efforts to look for him, but to no avail.
It’s now been two weeks since Jeremy disappeared, and nobody has seen him anywhere. I went to the game store to see if Jeremy had been in since he bought the copy of Paper Mario, and they said they hadn’t seen him. as I was turning to leave the store, I saw something on one of the tables near the exit. It was the copy of Paper Mario: the Thousand-Year Door that we had both purchased with the same markings on the case. I looked at it and noticed that there were now three red stickers, and the white sticker looked different. I squinted to read the blue writing again, and it said “open”. I opened the case to see what was inside, and there was a scrap of paper. It was purple paper with the edges all torn and shredded, with white letters spelling out a message. The message read:
“I told you it would be someone you cared about next”
I dropped the case as I read the message. I was frozen in terror. One of the clerks came up to me and asked what was wrong. I suddenly though of something, and I told them that I needed to see something in the game really quick, it would take no more than a few minutes. They hooked up a GameCube to one of the TV’s in their store and turned it on. I created a new file, I didn’t care about a name or anything, I just had to see the Prologue intro scene so confirm something.
As the intro loaded, and I watch the coin flip and flip, it cycled through the images;
Unknown guy 1
Unknown guy 2
Then the coin flipped one last time and the game froze as it flipped. I stared in horror, as the face on the coin was a flattened, 2-D, cartoon portrait of Jeremy.
When I came to my senses, I heard one of the clerks mention that one of the other two men’s faces on the coin was Rick, the guy who owned the game before me, and I started to connect all of the dots. The faces on the coins were, indeed, the victims of the game, like I had thought earlier, the stickers on the front represented the people who played the game, red for victim, and white, my sticker, for the only survivor, and the case was probably so banged up from people trying to destroy the disc and the case together. As to why the disc continues to be in pristine condition, I don’t know, but one thing’s for sure, this is not some ordinary game.
To this day, I’ve never entered that store again, much less picked up a game again. I fear the Shadow Queen is lurking, waiting for the moment to take me.