by the Dark Prince

So we begin. The evil.

I came home after a night of hanging out with my best friends in the world to notice something different from my usual entrance.

There was the sound of this music I've never heard before coming from the communal living room, and realized,
behold it was from a VIDEO GAME my virgin ears were unfamiliar with.

My brother and I had an N64 entertainment system, although funningly enough perhaps we had only one game for it
(a game where you can drop baby penguins off of cliffs) but nay it was not that game;
I laid my eyes upon a racing game with screaming animals.

"whoa what's this my brother", I asked my brother.

"Oh check the label", he replied with what looked from the corner of my eye like a stretching of the skin around his mouth.
I got on my knees and examined the cartridge label. The label has what appeared to be a monkey in a vehicle on it, titled with an innocent enough font: "DIDDY KONG RACIN-"
The label was only torn a bit at the end so that's all she said.

"I got it at the thrift store for only $5 dollars"
My brother started though I barely saw his mouth move like he was a ventriloquist dummy but then he continued,
"The man REALLY WANTED it gone for some reason. Maybe I can SEE WHY."
I turned my head like the good boy I am and lo and behold on the screen,
my poor brother who's vessel was a tiger was barely moving now in a sea of infinite virtual water. "Well its all your's because I have to make dinner now".
He said and then like that, was gone.
I didn't feel like playing this right now because the HeadRoom Max Incident was coming on soon for the 208th time this cycle.

That night I could not sleep.
I was so restless for some reason as I should be tired from hanging out with my best friends in the world.
I didn't play that game after the HeadRoom Max Incident, however a thought then wriggled and crept into my conciousness: Maybe it was actually a good game and my brother just really sucks.
So it was then decided and I snuck out of my beautiful coffin and slipped into the communal living room only wearing my Quaker Oat's Man Slippers as he is the sponsor.
I left the lights off and turned on the entertainment system.
The sound of giggling children were the only sound heard in the blanketing darkness.
I had two rows of animals to choose from, though their faces were all different completely from one another,
but it was a video game so it was probably just a weird stylistic choice.

I went with what my gut and my brother chose, and that was the tiger character.
He confirmed his name as I pressed A on the controller and the screen changed, but just before it completely transitioned
I could've sworn his eyes, the both of them, turned deadly black like they were hollow after his eyes had been scooped out of his skull,
but I shrugged it off as me just starting to become weary finally.
The next screen I was presented with three files.
The first one was initialed "AAA", the next one was "LUT", which common sense made it clear it was my brother's,
and then the last one was empty so I chose that one and named it "RAN".
Then it presummed to playing a cinematic scene of some sort and there was an island but the sky was blue instead of black.
There was also eerily no music playing and I couldn't move the tiger but there were butterflies in the distance that were moving.

This was likely to be a glitch I figured as our other game we had sometimes stopped working if you accidently touched the cartridge or licked it,
and this game was sold for $5. I shrugged my shoulders and hit the reset button.

This time however there was no sound of giggling and therefore no laughing or haw hawing when the golden logo came up. Maybe something was wrong the sound chip?
I reckoned to myself and my Quaker Oat's Slippers that were trembling just a tad oh I won't lie from this unnaturalness of it all.
The character selection came up, but the tiger was now missing.
There was nothing to replace him; I merely couldn't select ANYTHING where he was as if he never existed to begin with.
Okay...so I chose someone else; someone who looked like they were full of life and probably warm inside if not so, so I chose the mouse.

She said her name like the tiger did but the tone at the end of it suggested a question, as if she was unsure.
I pressed "a" again and at that moment I heard an unsettling piercing sound, like a computer error that might make you think of it as trying to mimic a person's scream.
It was so loud that blood was probably leaking from my ears, but I pressed on.
What was extra odd was that it was so loud but it was if I didn't hear anything else in the house stir.
The next screen loaded, and it was if the room had frozen.
My brother's file was now replaced with "AAA" like the first file.

This had to be more than a glitch, this was all too unusual. I couldn't decide what I should do now. What would happen?
So far I haven't even been able to do any racing. But why would my brother's file be erased?
At this point I could've and should've just turned off the system altogether, acknowledging the game is just unplayable,
but then why when my brother played the game is was seemingly normal?
Was I a chosen one? Honestly I wanted to believe in the darkness of my soul that this could all be summed up to be a malfunctioning game and that's it.
Truth be told I did want to see what happened next, so I selected the new "AAA" file.
For some reason as if the game could hear my inner thoughts, the game started at a race this time.
The characters were there at the race line, excluding the tiger. However I couldn't believe in what I was seeing.
My mouth dropped immediately to the floor and I could ONLY gaze upon the helpless horrors on the screen.

All these poor animals were visually shown to be physically attached to their cars;
the cars were overflowing with blood and I could see what looks like organic tubes and intestines attaching
themselves from the animals to the cars or was it the cars to the animals but that made no difference for really they were now ONE.
Their mouths, open just like mine, and just like me, we made no audible screams from them.
The camera was now set behind the mouse as a cheery voice narrated the words that came upon the screen:
"GET READY. ISN'T THIS WHAT YOU WANTED? GO!" It was truly awful.
The blood was just spilling all over the floor and walls from her car as I tried to control her, her body, her car, for the very first time in a race. How could it say I got my wish? How sick.
My mouth still wasn't closed since then and I could probably get lockhaw at this point, but that wasn't on my mind at that moment.

My character drove right into the nearest water they could find against my will of the controller.
She was probably trying to end her life, her existence and suffering and end this hellish nightmare. I could sympthasize.

On my end the only part of my body that was moving was my feet inside my Quaker Oat Slippers, and I'll let you know they were full on quaking now.
I don't think my eyes were even capable of blinking anymore, but I couldn't just sit there.
Against my own bodily frozen muscles I reached to turn off the system, but the game just didn't turn off. That cheerful voice from earlier appeared again, mocking me:
"NO NO NO. WRONG WAY. You're not going anywhere".
I ripped the cartridge out of the system. Strangely it reset instead, went to the character selection screen ON. IT'S. OWN.
for there to be no characters to even be selected, and yet, the OK? Words came up as if something was selected.

No voices were heard. As I feared the file selection was next.
I attempted to turn away as much as I could. The first and second files now both read "HAH". I was at my limit.
I unplugged the TV and everything finally went black. I couldn't handle anything anymore.

I rose to my feet and directed myself out of the living room. Despite how unworldly and undescribable those events were just now, the more I wandered outside the game,
the more it felt that's all it was. It wasn't actually real, nor had any impact to what happens outside of the screen.
I squeaked along the hallway in my Quaker Oat's Slippers as I almost, almost walked by my brother's room.
His light was on, and he was sitting up on his bed, but behind him in blood red words,
possibly with blood, was the word: HAH. He wasn't moving. Once again my mouth dropped down in silence but now a single tear dropped own my face along with my jaw.
"Oh no my brother" I ran up to him and hugged him but he was no longer who he was but just a puppet looked like him.
I lowered him down onto the bed as if to rest, and kissed his forehead.
My face turned from sorrow, to anger. And furrowed my brow. Oh now its on. I was PISSED.
I marched down the hallway toward the living room but not before stopping at the kitchen first and equipping a knife.
The catmen were also here facedown dead. Even the cats? REALLY? My anger rose and I was on fire metaphorically.

Now I was standing infront of the TV.
I plugged it back in, ready to rumble, but the game and system were off now. I bent down to turn it on and resume the hell (but on my terms), but I had to do something first.
I took my fingers near where the label was ripped off and took the whole thing off with one fell swoop. Underneath the game label, written in pen was "DIDDY KONG RACING IN HELL".
"Fuck. you." I stated then turned the system on again.
The fear I had was still there but buried deep past my skin as anger and revenge was my power now and on the front lines. The game was starting. Well that was weird,
but the laughing children sounds were back the beginning like when I first booted up the game myself.
The music was playing normally as it first had as well.
I pressed the "A" button with the side of my knife which proceeded to the character selection screen.
All of the characters were back. What was going on? But they all looked sad. It bypassed them and then went to the file selection screen.
All three file selections now when read together read "WER IS RAN".

Hell, this was a joke. I erased them all and started a new file. I thought the game frozen once more, but then I saw a model version of myself in the game, lying down on the floor of an empty room save for also a model of an n64 with a single controller cord around my neck.
My video game version of myself's eyes were open but I was definitely dead. The camera zoomed into the cartridge on the in-game n64 machine and instead of "DIDDY KONG RACING IN HELL" which was there but crossed out in pen instead, and in pen again written above that was "rugrats: scavenger hunt" in all lower case letters. As I stared into my other self's dead open eyes that's when I realized it. I had been in hell the whole time.

And that is my tale of how I have been trapped here.

The end.