Let me be honest, I'm a thief. No, I'm not the kinda guy who smashes your window and steals your TV to get a PCP fix, I'm the guy who's more interested in the high-price pieces. For example, one of the things I've longed to steal is this old flintlock rifle out of a museum near my home, it was carried through the civil war and inspected by some bigwig general. I know what you're thinking, why the hell would you wanna steal some old gun like that? Well, it's expensive and if you know who to sell it to- and I do know who to- then you can make a loooooota money.
But that's not what we're here for, we're here to discuss the reason I turned myself over to a mental hospital, I'm not here because I saw slenderman and now my brain is cottage cheese (which is disgusting, by the way), I'm here because I'm fairly sure I'm insane.
You see, a while back (a month? Aint sure, sleep schedule's been off) I heard about this piece in a museum near me. I had only broken into a museum once before, and it was a disaster, if it wasn't for the shotgun I had on me- security cameras, they arn't bulletproof- I would've been arrested. But I heard this museum was fairly unguarded, so I figured I'd check it out. Turns out, while I'm not the guy who smokes PCP, my informant is. It wasn't a museum, it was the Nintendo World Store. But I had to agree, the place wasn't all that guarded. I did the checks I should've, noting where the cameras are, checking up when the place closed, and a week later- gotta wait that long so they don't see you in the crowd- I busted in and nabbed the piece I was aiming to steal.
I should back up, I'm getting ahead of myself. The thing I was trying to- and did- steal was a Gameboy. Not just any Gameboy, mind you, it was a gameboy that a soldier had with him during the Gulf War. It survived his barracks being bombed- he didn't, but I've stolen dead men's things before. It was a quick operation, I busted into the place, shot out the cameras, smashed the glass display case with the butt of my shotgun, grabbed the gameboy and ran like hell. I'm not sure if it was just the fact that it was midnight and I was stealing something, but when I was running to get back to my car, I had this feeling of dread overtake me. Not the usual 'oh-my-god-im-gonna-die' dread, nor the dread you feel when you have a homework assignment due and you haven't even started, I'm talking a deep ache. It felt like I was in the hospital and the doc had just told me I've cancer, and I had maybe a month left. I brushed it off, I'd felt it before, not to this extent, but you get used to weird feelings when you break and enter.
I stopped on the way home to grab some food (taco bell sliders for the win), but I didn't go anywhere else that night. I damn near ran someone over though, stupid fuck was J-walking, but what do you expect for new york? I couldn't help but notice the bastard's face. He looked homeless, long unkept hair, a hollowed look to his eyes. He was wearing this old army coat, looked like one of those homeless vets you always see in the movies, the kind that just get back from Veitnam and get spit on. I swerved pretty damn hard to avoid hitting him, but when I looked back to yell and flip him off, he had already slipped into an allyway. Uttering several words that would make a sailor blush, I stepped on it and soon 'nuff I was home.
I stepped into my apartment- nothing fancy, just a cheap hotel room- shrugged off my coat and tossed my boots into the mud cabinet. I was a touch more careful with the Gameboy, it might've survived a bombing but I wasn't gonna take any chances. I set it on the kitchen counter and poured myself a shot of vodka to celebrate. I had just stolen a piece of history, I was gonna celebrate dammit! I couldn't help but glance at the Gameboy between shots. I'm a fairly hearty drinker, so I'm sure the booze wasn't getting to me when I had the thought to make sure the thing worked. It already had a game in it- melted to the plastic- Tetris. Ah, tetris, I loved that game when I was a kid. I plugged the gameboy into the wall- it had been plugged in when I stole it, took the cord- and I fired it up.
The game played normally at first, there was a line in the screen that made things difficult to see, but the game ran fine. I found myself clearing a few lines when things started to change. As I cleared four lines with a well-placed long block, the game seemed to hang up for a moment. I let out a curse, before the game snapped back to running proper again. I live in the city, as you can tell. I'm used to odd noises around me, the creaking of a bed as a couple helps the Human race keep going, the sounds of a fist-fight as a druggie is denied his fix, I've heard it all. So when I heard the faint rustling of wind against a tree, I figured it was a neighbor using one of those stupid 'fall asleep to nature' tapes. I paused the game to turn 'round, but the sound was gone.
When I unpaused the game, there was that rustling again. Figuring it might just be the damage to the handheld, I kept right on playing. I'd forgotten how addicting the game was. Soon enough the game was starting to get to fast for me to keep up, I lost. I uttered a curse, and I swear I heard someone else say something. I was tired, but I found myself in that weird state where you're wide-awake but sleepy at the same time, so I put it off to my brain telling me to go the hell to sleep. Fuck you, brain. I kept on playing, starting a new round.
I cleared a few lines and I fucking swear, I heard another voice. I snapped the pause button down- I'm surprised the crusty old thing didn't break- and called out, "Who the fuck's out there?"
I was spooked, never had anyone break in before, so I set the gameboy down and walked over to the umbrella rack and grabbed my shotgun. I'd modified it so that I could control how loud the racking sound was- squeeze down extra hard, silent, loosely hold it with two fingers and pump it with one hand, and you wake up the neighbers with the hearty CLICK-CLACK. I went for something in the middle, pumping it and calling out, "Last warning, answer me!"
I was pissed. I stepped back into the kitchen, holding the shotgun tightly, I suppose the racking would've been silent then, eh? I sat down, staring at the gameboy. I heard the same voice, clear as could be now.
"John, put the damn nintendo down, you should be cleaning your rifle!"
I found myself responding in a voice that wasn't my own.
"Jack, shut the hell up. I dont even know why we're over here."
"To fight the damn Reds!"
I looked up from the Gameboy, my heart pounding at this point, I'd never experienced anything like this.
I wasn't in my house, I was in a building with a low roof. All around me were bunk-beds and men- all well-built and in shape- sleeping, cleaning what looked like M16s, reading magazines, sipping glass coke bottles. The guy who was talking to me, Jack, was sitting on the bunk next to me. My shotgun had become an M16, just like the others. The gameboy in my hands looked new, like I had just bought it. It was hot as hell, it felt like I was in a desert, and judging by the amount of sandy dirt on the others boots, I was.
"Jack, I've told you a thousand times, they arn't Reds. They're Iranies."
"Yeah, but the Reds are backin' em!"
What the fuck was going on? Why couldn't I move? Why was my mouth moving without me-
"John, you hear that?"
This 'Jack' guy had pointed out the sound of jets. I found myself laughing against my will, and answering;
"Just our flyboys goin' overhead, Jack. Aint nothin' to worry about-"
That's when I heard the first explosion. It was like someone had set off a cannon in the lobby. I was staring at Jack now, and I'm quite sure his startled, blank expression matched mine.
Then the second bomb went off. This one was closer. Close enough I felt the shrapnel penetrate my legs. I screamed, rolling off the bed, just in time- the third bomb went off two bunks down on the other side, the explosion sent shrapnel into Jack, who hadn't moved. He had a piece of shrapnel about the size of a golf ball sticking out of his eye- more accurately, sticking out of the bridge of his nose, but a decent amount of it was in his eye. He sat up for a moment before he slumped over, next to me. He was dead.
A forth bomb went off, right next to his bunk. I felt even more metal enter my body. I stared down at the Gameboy in my hands, it had been fried...but the screen was still working, a line running across it, right where... The plastic had melted to my skin from the heat of the bombs so close, but I couldn't feel it. Everything was cold. I heard more bombs going off, but I couldn't count, I was having trouble breathing, having problems focusing. My gaze finally went down to my chest. I couldn't see through my shirt, but it was soaked with blood. I realized, with a cold feeling of dread- much like the one I had when I stole the game- that it was my blood. My vision was fading. I couldn't hear the bombs anymore.
Everything went black.
When my eyes opened again, I was sitting at my kitchen table. The gameboy was in my hands, and the game had been lost- blocks to the top- but instead of the words 'Game Over', there was nothing. Just blocks to the top.
I stared blankly ahead for a moment, and in the entrance to my room, I saw the same man, the one I had nearly run over. He stared at me, those sunken eyes piercing as he stepped inside. I couldn't move at all. I stared dumbly at him as he stepped to the table. He leaned on it for a moment, staring at me, before his glance fell to the gameboy I still held. A faint smile broke out on his face as he spoke.
His voice was the same as the one I had spoken in before the bombing.
"You beat my highscore."
I couldn't do anything. My heart felt like it was going to explode. He reached over, taking the gameboy from me, not snatching it but gently tugging it from me. The cord was gone. He gave me one last look, piercing as could be, before he turned and slowly moved out of my apartment. He walked like he had serious damage to his legs, like they were full of...shrapnel.
I stared blankly at the door where he stood. I felt numb. I suppose at some point I fell asleep, because when I awoke it was morning.
I thought over my experiences, and decided I've hallucinated the whole night. The news paper that day reported how the Nintendo building had been broken into, but nothing had been stolen, just a smashed glass case.
I turned myself into the local asylum that same day.
I'm still not sure what happened, if I was dreaming it, if I had hallucinated, if I had broken the glass and went home, I don't know.
I still have nightmares about what it felt like to be hit by shrapnel. I hope I recover, but...
I don't know.
Authors note: The game boy mentioned here is real, you can look it up.