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Alone are you box art

"A one, are you?"

Have you ever experienced an irrational episode of your life? One that forever left you wondering if all of it actually, well...changed anything? I have my own story of this type to share. After all, who doesn't like a story? ...he sure does.

The StoryEdit

This began on a day much like any other I've had before. It was a rainy Friday afternoon, and I was relaxing within my eerily secluded suburban residence. It was like your ordinary small town house. Except literally in the epicenter of a tall field. Accompanied by a lone mailbox next to no crossroad and with no other example of humans...even existing in the span of eighteen miles. We had the house, the trees, and phone lines...but little of anything else outside. It's not much...but it is home. It tends to grow on you slowly. It had been a busy week, as the month of May always is, but I was about to enjoy my weekend. This one was a bit more eventful than all the others, however. The upcoming Saturday was in fact the twentieth anniversary of my parents' marriage. Sounds like a merry occasion, doesn't it? Well...perhaps not so much. Ironically, the very same day this year was my twentieth birthday. This has always been an unfortunate coincidence for me. Seeing how this mix-up seemed to push me out of favor. As usual...I was subjected to a weekend alone on my own special day. Sounds horrible, but one learns to get accustomed. My mother and father had already left for their couples' getaway hours before I even woke up that morning. Almost as if they vanished. They did this every year since I was merely the age of five, so I was used to it. I've always been left with the facts of my life...they just don't seem to have actual time for me. Though I respected their happiness as a single offspring of theirs. ...and loyally looked after the house while they were absent, having fun without me. I feel as though I'm a little too devoted for my own well being. I was bothered by the fact that they spend little time with their only child, and I was too controlled--not to mention distant--to actually bring it up. Suppose it's my fault at the base of it all. But, in a strange sense...I secretly didn't mind being left to watch the house so much. It was pretty easy, actually. There was little danger within this lone abode's surroundings, and we had no pets to take care of. It was basically just me out here. It gave me plenty of time to catch up on sleep, experiment with stuff in the kitchen, even do some writing. But at the end of all the chores and priorities, my primary pastime had always remained the same: playing video games.


After I finished up all the trivial housework, I was left with nothing productive to do. So...I did what any unamused gaming fanatic would do. I settled down inside my room and looked at my large library of games. Most of what I saw were those that I played very recently, not to mention were fresh in my mind. But as I skimmed across my assortment of handheld games...a strike of comfort swept through my head. There I saw it...Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. My favorite game of all time. One that...I haven't replayed in a good while. For over a year, I think. Blissful, I flashed back to it's launch day. I was only fifteen then, buying the game from my local commercial retailer. Of course, it was like 20 miles away from home, but we always visited that area for goods anyway. You could hardly imagine how excited my adolescent spirit was. I could just feel the wave of enjoyment it gave me throughout the years rush back; a good sign that this was the game of the day.


I pulled out the game box without haste, grabbed my light blue Nintendo DSi and sat down on my nicely-made bed. I took a moment to look at the simple yet charming box art, excited to play it all over again. I opened it, took the small cartridge out...and booted it up! I proceeded to load my previous save file up; where my progress was preserved all the way up to the acquisition of the challenge medal moments after defeating the stone blooper boss. Essentially...this medal is a gear item you can equip that shifts the game into hard mode. So from that point in the game onward...I played through the entire adventure. For hours on end, I was having the time of my life. Punching my way through the usurped kingdom as Bowser, stomping over evil with the brothers, and of course: smiling at Fawful--the main villain--and his charming engrish antics. I played, and played...and played...until I finally made it to the final boss battle. The face of my wall clock ticked slightly past eleven-thirty PM. I was about to see my thrilling playthrough pay off.


The battle started off exactly as I remember. Bowser and his dark impersonator clashed with clenched fists and their spectacular special attacks. The sight of Dark Bowser scared me, but in a thrilling...awesome way. He looked tough, as I always knew him to be. However, I still had little trouble whittling away his burly cache of one and a half thousand health. I got really excited now. I knew that this is where I finally get that climactic final scuffle with the beanish mastermind.


The second portion of the battle was set in motion. Bowser had punched out and swallowed what remained of Fawful; a mere blob of a bug that possessed amazing power for it's size. The battle shifted to Bowser's insides, where both Mario and Luigi had to disable the now-massive Fawful Bug's defenses and strike down the star's core. Because this was with the challenge medal equipped, I felt like I wanted more of a challenge myself. So...I refrained from using any special attacks. Needless to say, it took me a while to even disable Fawful's giant head. Throughout the course of the fight, I took an astounding amount of devastation from the boss. Particularly Mario. After a mistimed counter-attack, Mario dropped to the floor. What else would he do? He ran out of HP! Soldiering the remnants of Fawful's vicious attacks afterward, I used Luigi's turn to try and bring Mario back from his game over. I shifted over to the item block command and scrolled down to where my 1-up mushrooms were kept. ...I had only one left. This confused me. Because I actually checked my surplus of items beforehand. I had around twenty of them in there prior to starting this fight. Now it was reduced to only one...? Weird... I used this last 1-up mushroom to revive Mario and resume the fight.


Having not even attacked the core yet, Fawful was left with one of his insect-like legs to stand on. I proceeded to target the leg. This time...with Luigi. The successful double stomp destroyed the final leg. This, ordinarily, should've left Fawful's giant head careening down to the floor. Which...it did, but not immediately. Instead of the falling animation I remember...Fawful seemed to hover willingly in midair for about five whole seconds. His demonic red eyes were fixated to where Luigi always stands in battle, and his original expression of worry formed into a demented smirk straight at the younger brother. His lower eyelids perked up halfway through the eye socket as he grinned wide. His huge, daunting teeth that I always saw to be square-like with flat, rounded tips...were now triangular and serrated like those of a famished apex predator. It was the face of one who outwardly desired to kill. This lasted for only a matter of seconds, and I figured it was nothing more than fatigue from playing for so many hours. Fawful then predictably fell to the floor like he normally would, where he was vulnerable to damage. He, however...was immediately readying an attack.


A large shard of darkness spawned from the star's core, dangled precariously by the same ghastly black threads that held the creature's appendages together. This was an ordinary attack the battle was supposed to let happen, so I assumed what I witnessed before really was just me. Until...the attack began. The sharpened spike twirled around the mass of the core, like that of a medieval flail. A few cycles passed, and the razor-sharp needle struck the ground, swiveling around the battlefield and violently scraping against it. I coordinated my button inputs carefully, ensuring that both of the brothers avoided all possible damage. It stopped after mere moments, and retracted back towards the core...now charging for another attack. The two brothers simply watched the core charge up. I was sitting there patiently, awaiting the counter-attack commands to pop up. ...they never did. I had literally no control over the two, I was forced to watch. The core surged with a dark aura as it instantly unleashed the move. It was so fast, I couldn't detect a single frame suggesting where it was originally aimed at. The explosion caused my system's screen to glimmer an unusually bright white. I swore it appeared to be...leaking...off the ends of the top screen. It eventually faded...but my eyes still detected traces of the bright flash. Even after blinking repeatedly for a whole minute. Following one final forced blink of mine, the blinding light had dimmed down a bit. It was now looking more like the way a DSi screen is supposed to shine. I waited...and waited...and waited. The screen remained ghost white for countless minutes.


Believing that my game merely froze up, I sighed a bit and passively glanced up at my wall clock. ...it was exactly midnight. Feeling exhausted and having my DSi left in a blank state with seemingly no method of waiting it out...I figured it was the right time to pack it in for the night. Knowing I still had lights on in other rooms of the house, I set my DSi down on the old family hope chest and got up to resolve this little task...not even bothering to turn the handheld off. Walking past the front door and halting at the foot of the kitchen, I saw that I once again left the laundry room light on. Damned trivial habits. I exhaled a quiet groan, feeling foolish, and walked all the way downstairs to shut it off. I reached for the light switch. The instant I touched it, something promptly made me stop.


...an irregular sound. A frail yowl of discomfort I've previously heard from one and only one figure. ...it was Luigi. At least I think it was. The voice sample I was hearing sounded...like something was wrong. The cry was faint, but somehow oscillated as if it was right next to my face. It seemed as though my own room was the source. My heart stopped at the very idea of this. Luigi's voice sounded real...yet unnatural. It's resonance blared as though there was an echo to it. The fact that I could hear it all the way down here with such clarity haunted me. The DSi's speakers were not strong enough for this voice of Luigi's to be like this...let alone carry so well over this distance; I knew this for a fact. I was left in a mental stalemate. I did not want to find out what caused that shrill cry, but at the same time...I did.


Petrified, I flicked the light switch off and forced my shivering legs to carry my blanched self back upstairs. I creaked up to the kitchen, taking step after step; purposely pacing myself to avoid the sound for as long as I could. The crying continued. As I creeped closer, the noise gradually became more normalized. I wasn't wearing headphones...but it sure sounded like I was. Turning the kitchen light off as I passed, I slowly and silently locked my front door...intentionally looking away from the source of the distressed crying. Shivering all over, I bravely poked my head in and stepped forth.


I was expecting someone to be in there. ...but I instead saw my room looking exactly as I left it. My DSi also appeared to have remain untouched. It was still befouled with that ghoulish freeze frame of nothing but white. Not moving another muscle, I squeamishly glanced at my bedroom window out of a disturbed sense of self-security. It was closed. Literally nothing was different from before. My tense heartbeat began to regulate itself. The sight of my room calmed me down. ...but that was soon ruptured.


The abhorrent cry I heard from before seemed to be fading back in from the DSi's speakers. Luigi's hushed sobbing from before now erupted into a terrifying reverb of distorted shrieks. Sounding as real as a victim in a torture dungeon, Luigi's crying shaped into actual speech. Accompanied by an echo, Luigi screamed:


"HEEALP. M-MARIO!"


I quivered pathetically, standing still as an icebound statue, listening in horror. Luigi's words...sounded like an actual person. Like I was at the raw end of live studio recording feedback. I've never heard such a happy, gentle character of this type howl in anguish like that. That's the sound of someone...begging for mercy. Living through a pain he simply couldn't bare. This haunting, tormented screaming was soon to be accompanied by a series of loud stomping and the same exact sound effect used for the Dark Star's floating in-game. The tremor of the stomps thumped loudly within the right speaker, and was slowly shifting closer to the left speaker as Luigi wept quietly. Someone. ...or someTHING was after him.


Then...silence. For fifteen or so seconds, the audio stopped playing. I was still shocked from the sounds of poor Luigi's voice. I couldn't help myself to even move a single inch. The idea of turning the system off came to my head, but...something kept me from doing so. I couldn't bear to silence Luigi and his sombre wailing. Even though the well-being of a virtual character's life has no possible effect on my own. I was begging for the game to cease the screaming and shut itself off and end this torment. My mental begging didn't help one bit.


Out of the sustained oasis of silence, I could once again hear Luigi screaming. But this time...louder then ever. Just then, a grisly sequence of deafening sounds overlapped the scared Luigi's crying. I-I could hear...slashing. ...crunching! The sounds...of bones snapping! All arranged in a mix that could only be described as...a crocodile claiming it's prey. Poor Luigi's cries of agony grew more hoarse and muffled as the racket of disembowelment changed in it's speed.


"M-M-MAAAAAARIIIIOOOOO! ...o-o...!"


The distorted cry for help soon dimmed to nothing...right as the gruesome crunching sounds did much of the same. My eyes were literally flooded with empathetic tears for the unfortunate Mario brother. I couldn't do anything but cry...


"L-Lui...g-gi...?"


I could hardly describe the terror of what I just heard. Ever listened to someone you care a lot about...passed through a meat grinder?! I-I think I just did...


The screen was still nothing but white, leading my imagination nowhere but to run frantically. As soon as I thought it was all over...I heard one final sound. The loud...ghastly churning of someone's throat. A soft, echoing tenor that molded into a moist life-like swallowing noise. It reverberated lower and lower as if traveling down a beast's merciless gullet. Only then did the white screen fade...turning the whole system off on it's own. I meekly dropped to the floor knees-first and sobbed quietly over the velvet carpet. I clasped both of my temples and forcefully shut my eyes, trying to keep myself together. After a minute of psychological reconciliation, I soundly brought myself back to a natural standing position.


"O-okay... K-keep your head on! It's been a long night, and you. Are. Exhausted! Y-yeah! That's-that's it! You...j-just need some sleep!"


I tried convincing myself that all of this was due to lack of healthy "normal person" rest in my sleeping cycle. So...I stopped everything...and went straight to bed. Just praying that this would all blow over...


Sooner than expected, the morning arrived as early as ever. I woke up...feeling as though it wasn't for very long. Graced by the soft cushioning of my own pillow, I still had clear memories of the horror I...witnessed? But I suppose focusing on nothing but negative happenings couldn't be healthy, nightmare or not. I wanted to forget about it...but I simply couldn't. I...needed to perk up! It was my own birthday! Of course this will be a good day! ...who was I trying to convince? If everything was all sound in my life, I wouldn't HAVE to think about it. ...or is the house my persuadee? My head hurt real bad... The reason being unknown to me. Maybe I just needed to wake myself up properly? Yeah! That's just what I need. A barely audible, nervous giggle escaped my mouth for almost no reason. A shower was something that always set me straight and relaxed. So I took with me my favorite pair of clothes and departed for the bathroom.


The room's light itself soothed my worries a bit. The good old shine of this small room never failed to ease me down. Now with a smile, I set my folded attire down on the clean top of the septic tank lid. ...but I couldn't help but turn to the mirror above the sink. My glasses were still on. Suppose I was too shaky to take them off before bed. But this trivial mistake wasn't the most noticeable thing. Looking straight into the depths of the mirror...I saw that my eyes were now a different color entirely. What was originally a brownish-green hazel hue was now a dull, lifeless grey. My eyes clashed with this chilling reflection of mine for a moment longer than I could hope to keep track. Blinking, blinking, and blinking over and over again just to make the image appear normal. Even after a splash of ice cold water to the face, my eyes remained this color. I was both creeped out...and angry. Thinking as though my mind is still focusing on what I thought occurred last night.


"Look at you... Thinking your eyes have changed! Eh-HA! ...hehe... NOTHING HAPPENED?"


I cackled deliriously, glaring with a strong expression of malice right at my drowsy self.  This still didn't change my eyes back, so I just stood back upright and turned to the shower door. ...but not before taking a last minute glance at my reflection. I entered past the door, stripped of my old clothes and, took that damned shower already. A very cold one...


Thirty minutes passed, and I left the frigid washing that left me feeling so refreshed and much more awake. I promptly combed my conditioned hair, reapplied my glasses, and slipped my top choice of apparel on: A roomy crimson colored T-shirt, and tattered blue jeans that were so baggy...you could hang glide with them! I was all set for a great day of relaxation. On the way out, however, I ignored the sink mirror and what it showed me before. So sure that I cleansed my eyes of all the dull colors. Fresh air was the next best thing for me to be exposed to. So I headed straight for the front door and opened it up. I felt a cooling breeze blow into the house as I stepped out. It felt crisp...clean...and natural. The cool wind made me want to breath it in. I inhaled a bit of the freshness and took a deep breath. The next sight I saw...wasn't pleasant at all.


All the grass in our field, although swiveling to and fro from the gentle gusts, was a disturbing shade of grey. Every blade of it was the same as my eyes...completely sapped of green pigment. I was starting to get scared...but thinking about it would only make matters worse. I swiftly banged my face against the side of my house; astounded that my glasses took no damage. Gritting my teeth, I had to literally force an open smile to properly appear delighted. Even though I knew for sure...I looked like a cocky cretin halfway comatose with some new kind of sugar. Out of nothing more than paranoia, I tilted my grinning mug back and forth, swiftly looking across both sides of the tall grass. Without the bright color given off, the grass that surrounded my house seemed to be in an undead state. But that wasn't possible. ...was it? I reached out to touch it, but was surprised to feel an ordinary texture. To which I just...paused with tightened lips...and looked away from it.


Whether purposeful or otherwise, my eyes were now lined up with the dank, black hue that was our mailbox. I cut back on the forced smile and walked up to it, opening it up to see if anyone had sent me something. ...someone sure did. Inside was a standard parcel from the county post office. I reached inside and pulled the package out. I examined all sides of it, but there was no sign of any previous address or sender. My eyes locked on to the mail I received, carefully tearing the paper off as I returned to the foot of my front door. Inside was what appeared to be a lump of soft material...and an envelope. I immediately opened up the envelope and read what the card's cover said.


"To  ogan "


It looked as though this card was indeed for me, but...there must've been a problem with the postmaster's printer. The 'L' that is supposed to start the entirety of my own name wasn't there. Must have been an error. I opened up the card and saw a message hand-drawn with very formal printing.


"To our very specia  boy.  We thought that this wou d cheer you up."


~Best wishes, Mom and Dad


Despite the recurring lack of the letter 'L', my face lit up like any happy child would. Hearing from my parents, even in text, made me feel a ton more relaxed. ...but even in this happy moment, I couldn't help but notice something bizarre. That's...not...my parents' handwriting. For one, they always write their letters in cursive. ...and they would NEVER write this bold. The streaks were clearly formed by something pen-like,  but it looked like I would track ink on my fingertip if I were to touch it. But...whatever, right?


I swapped the odd card for the material underneath it. Flipping it outward...it was a Mario cap. Authentic, silky soft, and very bright red. My mother and father knew just how much I loved Mario and his games, so this brought back a sense of safety for me. I smiled brightly and slipped on the hat without delay. It was comfortable, and seemed to fit my head just right. Oddly, the bottom of the cap felt warm. ...almost as if someone had worn it before me. Still, I enjoyed my gift. I was suddenly put back into a Mario mood. I wanted to play one of his games yet again! I entered through my front door and stumbled back into my room. What I saw...was terrifying.


Something was very, very different about my room. Glancing at my possessions on the shelf, some of what I owned was now defiled. All of my Mario games seemed to have some type of change made to their covers. Those with Mario on the cover...depicted him without his hat and had a flood of tears streaming down a newly distressed face. He appeared to be...crying about something. Touching my case of Super Mario Galaxy, oh my god... The white casing felt very, very warm; and not in a comforting way. It felt like I was literally touching the face of a living, breathing, person. ...and touching the tears? ...they left my fingertips damp. I couldn't even pick up any traces of the gasps I knew to be leaving my mouth. For my heart was pounding much too loud, I could hardly think. But the depictions of Mario were songs spoken from an angel compared to what I saw next.


Every single depiction of Luigi showed his artwork to be a murky, sable figure with the same exact shape he was as before. It was the same as a fussy child coloring in a doodle he couldn't stand to see anymore with the darkest color of crayon they could find. Not a single bit of this black shading was irregularly filled in nor was any of it beyond Luigi's outline, which was now colored...a HORRID tinge of what I would call "malignant mauve". Now I knew that something wasn't right at all. These outlines were polarizing to the way Mario had been changed. Whereas touching the red brother, I felt the foreboding but frigidly warm feeling of touching someone's imprisoned face--what I would name 'a wake up call to the senses'--the variances the shapes of Luigi had been plagued with...was an essence I'd only ever felt in the darkest of my nightmares. The violet streaks seemed to have been...carved by something sharp, and imbued with a menacing evil. Glowing purple like a sun-drenched amethyst jewel, the inner lines resembled a wicked alchemist's tonic cased in a black vial...and they were pulsating like veins. With the impulse of hexing curiosity overpowering me...I slowly reached out to touch it.


The shading felt colder than anything I've ever felt before. It was like the repulsive sensation of touching...a dearly departed's gelid, hollow cadaver. My throat dry as dust, I swallowed hard as reaction to this haunting phenomena. I then touched the most insidious portion of all...the outline. Touching it caused my finger to receive unbelievable, searing agony. I screamed in pain, reeling my arm back swiftly and stepped away from it...as if to avoid a contagious disease. The vein-like frames around the silhouette left my finger with a visible, almost voltaic laceration tinted black. I-I'd imagine this is what touching the tentacles of a jellyfish would feel like. Feeling nothing but pain, I dipped my injured finger into my mouth; hoping that would help tone the unbearable burning feeling down. Then...I noticed one of my games was missing entirely. My copy of Luigi's Mansion was gone! Just knowing that I have an even bigger depiction of Luigi up on my wall, I slammed my eyes shut and quivered in a stiff stance. I was horrified to even open another eye...but I knew that I had to see it eventually.


I forcefully rotated my pathetic, shivering body back over to the head of my bed...and opened my eyes. The giant poster of Luigi I had posted up on my wall...had a collection of huge, black scratches swiped across it. Every hint of green was greyscale, which was no surprise to me at this point. However...the sight of this poster in shreds shot a grimacing chill down my spine. Something, a raptor by the looks of it...c-clawed OUT everything from head to feet. There was a scrape down the center that seemed to have been more powerful than the rest...since it glowed with the same hue of the pulsating veins. ...and the claw marks dug straight through the wall itself. My face froze solid for a long minute until I punched myself and clenched the rims of my eye sockets.


"W-what...the HELL IS HAPPENING TO ME...?!"


I began to cry, feeling more and more scared as every second passed. I desperately wanted to know...WHO would do this to ANYONE? Let alone poor little Luigi... I knew there was only one way to find out for sure. I looked over at my DSi flat on the hope chest with a sneer of illogical resentment. It was officially my enemy. ...and I had to defeat it, no matter what. I angrily gripped the heinous device and pulled it with me to the base of my bed, starting Bowser's Inside Story up once more.  No splash animation played, it brought me right to the title screen. ...a very different one from before. The word "Luigi" and the ampersand were not present in the logo. Whatever fragments of the original title left over were a trifle bolder than some of the other letters. It literally read off as: "Mario: Bowser's Inside Story". I see that it spelled out a cryptic message to me. But...I didn't know what it meant. ...'a one'? I don't...get it.


Ignoring every bit of altered material on the start up screen, I simply chose "Start Game!" with a very unhappy feeling. The standard file selection looked different too. Every icon of Luigi was missing, there was no green whatsoever...and instead, it said "Choose a save fi e.". But as I looked over to the right side, I noticed a third file pane slightly exposed to my sight. I went to select it, and...it looked like an ordinary empty file. No odd text aside from the "L" missing from the title, and it was even numbered as the third file to select...even though the game only allows two to exist. So...I selected the third file. What should've been an opening cutscene was instead replaced by the first instance of overworld gameplay. The place was Peach's Castle, except it was the version Fawful had usurped in the story. ...but still playing like the beginning of the game. Mario slowly entered the picture from the bottom screen, short of his hat and all by his lonesome. I was able to control Mario like normal, but his in-game sprite was very different. He appeared to be frowning very strongly, and his eyebrows were curved downwards...exhibiting a depressed disposition. His skin was also much paler than the usual color. It's complexion was like that of a ghost. He was not the same Mario at all.


The second icon that belonged to Luigi, that was always mapped to the upper hand corner...completely gone. I tapped the B button in vain for about an hour, just wishing it would make Luigi come back and hop once more. ...my wish never came true. Mario's icon remained untouched...except for the HP counter. It showed the number at zero, which is impossible to see on the overworld. I walked around to try and see if anything else changed. In mere minutes, I ran into a room filled with a few Toad NPCs. They were in the exact same position as before, but were now wearing masks very much like the creatures Fawful brainwashed and turned into enemies in the story. Their eyes were replaced by spiraling spectacles, and the same grin the beanish lord always has showing. ...it freaked me the hell out. I spoke to every last one of them, and...they had this to say.

"Oh, it's just you."


"Did you enjoy that 1-up mushroom?"


"Not so super...are ya, redcap?"


"...defect."


I-I...couldn't believe what I was reading. The Toads addressed me as if I were a criminal, clearly ashamed of something I did. ...and that last remark. "...defect." THAT sliced my heart strings. I was baffled by every bit of this. The game was upset with both me AND Mario, but why? All I wanted was an answer. What did I do to deserve this? With nowhere else to go but the conference room, I had no choice but to enter the top. The second I entered the conference room, I was blocked off my two guard Toads. They too were wearing those freaky masks, and they also spoke to me.


"A one, are you?"


"A pa e face...is a gui ty face."


The right-hand guard jumped squarely onto Mario's head, taking his hammer away from him.


"This is a hero's hammer. It's about time you've returned it..."


Pulling the hammer straight back, the brainwashed Toad forcefully slammed it clear against the back of Mario's head, knocking him out cold. Mario collapsed face-first onto the floor, not even shouting in anguish from the painful-looking blow to the head. The Toads began to drag Mario's limp body by his legs. The scene was ended by an iris wipe as the Toads were taking Mario into some other room.


The following scene opened up with the transition wipe I saw earlier and displayed Mario held captive by what I thought to be a giant statue of Fawful. It's arms were exposed outward, unlike the normal statues found in-game. Only Mario's head was sticking out from the grip of the hulking stone effigy. It's fists appeared to be tightly squeezing the plumber, restricting him from movement. The room appeared to be Bowser's overtaken throne room from early on in the story. Mario was unconscious, I wasn't even sure if he was alive. Nothing else went on from here, the game appeared to be frozen once again. But my past experience with this game in the last twenty-four hours struck me with grueling skepticism. I knew for damn sure that this wasn't anything planned, hacked or glitched in ANY possible way. The game, for as scary as it sounds...was testing me. Feeling unnaturally adamant about this whole freaky phenomena, I had no choice but to play this game's game. I sat as still as a building on my bed, glaring at the screen. I knew that taking my eyes off of it for even a moment meant another missed answer...or even something worse. I sat there for many hours just waiting for this scenario to change, but it never...ever did. Was I really having a staring contest with a game? Or am I just crazy? I'M NOT CRAZY. ...please believe me. As much as I wanted to look up and see the time, I forced myself not to. I clenched the rim of my gifted Mario hat, the same as a frightened child would his mother's loving hand. It was the only thing keeping my spirits up. I went well into the post-evening hours without moving an inch...hardly thinking of anything else. I stopped to blink once every minute or so, which was utter hell on my eyes...but I really didn't care at this point. Eventually...I had no choice. My human body and it's functions shut itself down to conserve energy. I...naturally passed out from fatigue.


After what seemed like only minutes, I awoke in a huge sputter. I quickly flickered my head in many directions, trying to get a clear view of my surroundings. Fearing that I royally slipped up, I looked down at my DSi still open and firm in my hands. ...it was turned off. I gasped, pulling it closer to my face. Did the battery die? I tried turning it back on, but that didn't work. It must've ran out of battery after all. I bolted out of my bed, still adjusting to my meek underused legs, and hastily went to connect the system to it's charger. I plugged it into the wall socket first. But when I tried connecting it to the system...it surged back at me, painfully shocking my hand. I dropped the system in response to the jolt of pain. Clenching my injured hand with my other one, I glanced down at the DSi with a face I don't think I've ever given; not even to my spiteful relatives. I had another "should I do it?" moment. I thought twice about touching the damn thing. ...but I gave into my curiosity. I reluctantly picked it back up and attempted to recharge it once more. Thankfully there was no shock. ...but it still didn't work. I sighed with a breath of frustration, thinking that I missed something important. The time was half past two, my weekend was coming to a close. I shut my DSi and set it down. Feeling like I could drop dead from exhaustion at any second, I weakly slumped over to my bed and collapsed into it. I decided to give up on this whole thing and actually get some healthy sleep. I took one of my pillows and lightly pushed it against my face, feeling it's soft padding. I closed my eyes, and tried falling asleep. ...it didn't last long.


Through even the fluffy innards of my pillow, I could hear a loud...piercing noise. It sounded very close. Frighteningly close. I was too scared to see what was causing it, so I instead tried making a picture of what I heard. It sounded...like something...was scratching on my bedroom window. Which was only inches away from my own bed. It was a mix of shrill, ear-shattering scrapes against cold glass...and the organic, chilling slicing noise one could only feel by carving through another's living flesh. It was one of the most terrifying things I've ever heard in my life. Whatever was making the sound must've done it with intention. No way in HELL was a sound like that accidental. My first thought was that it was a cat...or perhaps a starving bear. But even I knew that couldn't be. Putting trust in my own senses for a brief second, I had to be honest...it did not sound from any sort of reality. The grating continued for five minutes until it mysteriously stopped on it's own. I got up and squeamishly approached the window. The scraping sounded severe, yet there wasn't a single scratch on my window. I knew that I had to see what was out there, no matter how much I wanted it to go away. I picked up the burliest blunt object nearest to me, which was a steel baseball bat...and went straight for the front door.


Taking a cursory glance at what was behind me, I turned the knob slowly and opened it as silently as I could. I took a careful look out the door's small opening, but nothing was there. The glow of our porch light brought every inch of our field into clear view. There was no wind, almost no sound at all. The only thing I could hear were the sounds of my very quiet footsteps coming off of the porch. My restless nature resulted in me constantly looking around, even if no sound was to be heard. I stopped for a moment to examine the tall grass, relieved to see that the field was completely empty. I creeped with caution through it, although the rustling sound made me really nervous. Rounding the corner with my bat straight out, I was surprised to see nothing at all. But...it couldn't be that simple... Was I just imagining things? Getting closer to my actual window, my next step through the tall grass exposed something under my windowsill. The light inside my room gave enough of it off for me to get a proper visual. It looked like the same Mario hat that I was wearing, only grey. I bolted my eyes open, piecing a detail together. ...the hat was green. Not wanting to actually touch it, I eased my bat  against it...trying to knock it off the wall. The grey hat fell to the ground, showing the front view of it. There was no logo...just a blank space above the rim. But I already knew what this was. Officially feeling spooked, the view of this second cap brought a myriad of questions to my mind. Mainly things like "What the hell's going on?" and "Why is this happening?". The prolonged stare I gave to the hat lead my eyes to the bottom of it...where I could see a bit of paper sticking out from under it. I used my free hand to turn the cap over and see exactly what that paper was. ...it was a note. Written in what I believed to be black ink...as thick as fresh blood. It spelt out:


"A one, are you?"


...th-that was the exact same thing the masked Toad asked me! I shot my stance back and took several quick steps behind me. Whatever was trying to scare me finally succeeded. How in the hell could text from my game be referred to...ANYWHERE out here? I'm the only one who knows about it! ...aren't I? It was hard to depend upon even my own inner thoughts. Yet, they were telling me something. ...I'm not the only one out here. Looking back at the lurid note, I noticed one of the corners was folded in. I turned it over with my trembling hand...and saw another message inscribed with the same black writing.


"What a nice gift..."


...gift? Did it mean my hat? Whoever wrote this seemed to know...quite a lot about me. I went to touch it, and felt something underneath. Something that clearly wasn't there before. I tipped it up and reached for what was concealed. ...it was a pistol. I was freaked out, wondering how a sidearm got there in the first place. But I had the feeling I needed more to defend myself with soon... I stared eyes agape at the note, wondering if whatever figure wrote it could actually see me. I held the pistol firm in my hand, seeing that the safety was already turned off. ...what did this mean? Right from the midst of my silence, a loud metal thud bursted from where my back was turned. I dropped the bat and clenched the curious pistol with both hands, pointing it squarely at where I heard the racket. I stood my guard, gun outward like a turret for a minute or two. No other sound followed. ...it came from my front yard. I swallowed so hard, it hurt me. All I wanted to do was wait here until my parents returned, no matter how long I had to wait. But whoever's tormenting me wants just that. Me. ...and they were going to get it the hard way. I kept my entire self close to the gun, knowing it was my greatest--not to mention, only--means of defense. Rounding the corner gave me no new answer, only my barren front yard. Except...hang on. Something was different about our mailbox. The crimson metal flag on the side was flipped, normally signifying a mail clerk delivering something. Not straight up...but slanted, in the direction of the house. I was getting more and more afraid for every minute that passed. Who was sending me mail at three in the morning? The post...doesn't even RUN on Sundays.


Feeling uneasy at where I was currently standing, I rushed over to the mailbox. Stopping to see what was around me for a moment, I couldn't help but feel...as if I was being watched. I kept the pistol right by my side, just in case something popped out at me. I used my other hand to tilt the flag back to normal, and then opened the mailbox. Reaching inside caused me to feel...another note. I held my hand in there and closed my eyes, just hoping it would be nothing. I pulled it out...and read what it had to say.


"A  you need is you."


I've nearly reached my breaking point. These messages...they don't directly 'threaten' me. But instead seemed more like miniature riddles. All I could think to do at that moment was scream. ...and I had no reason not to. I angrily shouted at the top of my miserable voice.

"I READ YOUR NOTES! I PLAYED YOUR GAME! I DESERVE AN ANSWER!"


I dropped myself to ground and clenched my fists harder than ever.


"WHO ARE YOOOOU?!"


Hearing my voice echo, I knew my yell was loud enough...but still nothing. I looked at the note's message again, which didn't help me one bit. Until I turned the paper around.


"...and Fawful."


I instantly threw the paper back and gasped, shocked at what I just read. Fawful...? It was...Fawful?! No! No way in hell! He's not real! At what was probably my third decision at calling something final, I passed it off as nothing more than a SICK prank! Still down at my knees, I noticed something...else...in the mailbox. I groaned, expecting another fake note. What I found...was...my mother's wedding ring! The gemstone was cracked with a chunk of it missing, and several...warm drips of blood around the rim. I froze solid, feeling like my heart had been ripped out. M-mom... D-dad... No! A flood of tears leaked from my eyes. The closest part of me had been destroyed. I was all alone now... I bawled like an orphaned baby at the sight of the mangled ring, knowing that my loving parents suffered the same. ...then another sound played.


The first bit of sound made me jump and fire my gun in a completely indifferent direction. Then...it played again. Louder than before, but still faint. I was so devastated, I was about ready to kill whatever I saw next. This noise seemed familiar. ...and in a very bad way. I shot, once again, out into the open...hitting nothing at all. I waited for a moment to let it play again. ...I could now tell what I was hearing. That was the sound used for Fawful's speech in-game. It was coming from my room... Out of feeling so goddamn crushed at my loss, I bolted into the house with the thought of cold murder overwhelming my mind. Whoever was really doing this...was soon to be a dead son of a bitch.


I ran into my room fully armed...there was still nothing! I refused to accept such a thing. I'm not crazy!! I looked around my room, my DSi was nowhere to be seen. I violently flipped over my entire bed like a madman, pointing the gun straight at the carpet underneath. It wasn't there either. I heard the voice again. ...but it was a quiet giggle, not the same thing I heard from outside. It was coming...from my right pocket. Overflown with uncertain rage, I took a clear shot at the confines of my pocket...which only resulted in a bullet piercing through my thigh. I howled in agony, feeling nothing but. I was gritting my teeth from the unbearable feeling I just gave myself. My blood was a horrid black, the same substance the creepy notes had been written in. Miraculously, the bullet seemed to have passed completely through everything BUT the system. I could see the light blue color from out of the bullet tear. It was completely unscathed. So...I did it once more. Again, only my skin was pierced...the shot completely phased through the DSi! Not wanting to do that a third time, I pulled it out of my pocket...my bullet wounds searing with pain. I stopped to look at it, alarmed by one detail. ...the power was on. Both lights were glowing black, which is a color no functional gaming system could possibly have. Horrified of what could be inside, I opened it up and looked at the screen.


All I could see was a blank, grey background. As if the thing was actually turned off. Then something came into the picture from the left. ...it was Fawful! He was slowly walking into the scene, sporting MUCH more detail than any of his original sprites displayed. He was taller, had a longer cloak, and his legs had color to them with a realistic animation cycle. In fact...he was fully colored, even his green face. there were no grey specs to be seen on any part of his outline; something that characterizes an official Mario & Luigi sprite. He walked into the center of the screen and stopped to face me. He was...blinking! ...and smiling very unlike his permanent grin. It was a calm, purposely formed smirk with with no teeth exposed. It appeared as though he was taking a good, long look at my face. It finally amounted to him talking directly to me with his own voice.


"Piteous pity...Fawful sees that you're lonely. ...is that being so?"


Feeling too frightened to move, speak, or even close the system...I simply nodded in response to his words. They oddly seemed to be calming me down.

"That is what happens when you have the specialness. ...Fawful has it too!"


Listening to him speak and move around like that...made me feel...better. The sound of his voice made my body forget all about any pain I was having. I even ended up smiling back at the screen. He continued speaking to me, and I was enthralled with the conversation.


"You make Fawful happy..."


He stepped closer to me, and frowned for a moment.


"...does Fawful make YOU happy?"


I had to be honest with him...yes. I could feel nothing but overpowering felicity as he spoke to me in that engrish tone. I nodded happily, as if responding to a friendly remark. I had a friend with me all along... I tightly hugged my system, hoping that would please him. It turned itself off within a dead moment. I was upset that he had left me so soon. But somehow...I knew what I had to do. I set the DSi back in my pocket, and with a big smile...I shot a hole clear through my left hand. It felt...good! ...like I had been blessed with a mutual insignia! I purposefully allowed my dusky blood to leak from my new marking. It completely coated my hand, making it look much prettier. I threw the useless pistol down on to the floor, and grabbed for my friend's beryl hued prison with my enchanted palm. Clenching it firm in my bleeding grip, I stood my spine upright and closed my eyes tightly...more ready than ever.


"Alone, are you...? That is much badness! All you need is you...and Fawful!"


The chant caused my DSi to rupture itself, forming a multitude of cracks to cover it. The black cracks molded into threads that violently shot itself into my skin. ...it tickled. I could feel a new profound meaning to my life course through my veins, spreading itself to every part of me. As my spine twitched from it, I happily strolled over to our big mirror. I could see the changes taking effect. Our eyes turned deep red, with the fluid remains around our insignia molded itself around the hand...taking the shape and color of my other half's fashionable glove. It felt...amazing. I smiled widely at our merged self, wondering how my master was.


"Are you feeling well, friend?"


He snickered quietly. Quite happy to hear my voice.

"Yeess...we are being perfect!"


Hell yes we are. I felt...reborn! Although...we were wearing a flaw. That insipid hat of stupidness my imperfect self put on... My other half told me not to worry, and that he had a solution. Snickering, our right hand shaped into the beautiful form of master's lovely umbrous claw. We clenched the red smudge and ripped it into shreds. I couldn't help but cackle at it.

"We are having quite the power...!"


He laughed yet again, thinking so too.


"The mightiest of all..."


Our massive claw gripped the nape of the neck...and twisted. It did nothing. Even taking the pistol, and shooting ourselves in the head...only left a tingle! We laughed wickedly, stroking our chin with the lovely claw.


"Think the others would like our little story, master...?"


"Of course..."

----

Written by http://fawfuls-minion.deviantart.com/

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