Ace Combat 5. A game from my childhood. I know, I know, it's so cliche nowadays for people to be crawling back to their old games out of nostalgia, but that's my story. The game centers around five pilots, Blaze, the silent main character, Nagase, a female Japanese woman, Archer, a nervous new pilot, Swordsman, a strong, calculating pilot, and Chopper, a loveable loudmouth with strong morals who gets shot down in the middle of the game. I was playing Call of Duty when I realized how crappy it is, and had this urge to go back and open up my box full of old PS2 games.
I stood up, and walked to the closet that housed all of my old games. I brushed past my N64, which I chose to overlook seeing as I only had two or three games for it, and my Atari, until I picked up the shoebox housing my fat PS2. Upon opening the box, a waft of musty air greeted me, as well as a sad sight. The Playstation was in poor condition, it was covered in scratches, the door that held the CD in place was missing, and the plate covering the back fan was cracked. Despondent, but hopeful, I walked back to my TV, unplugged the PS3 cables, and snapped in the PS2.
Now the next question was, what to play? I had numerous games, Spyro, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill. But my eyes settled on Ace Combat 5, and a flood of memories washed over me.
At this point, I should deliver some personal information about myself. My family moved a lot, and because of this, I never made any real strong friend base. I was a loner throughout middle school, and now, in my High School years, I am still generally unnoticed. I found friendship in video games, whose likeable characters I imagined as my own friends. I would imagine me having Codec calls with Snake, fighting in the skies with Blaze, but I knew they were not real people. I knew I was alone forever.
Or, I once did.
As I plugged in the cable, the obnoxiously loud PS2 start screen came up. Nothing out of the ordinary. I was ecstatic. It worked! Even in such a dilapidated state, it still worked. With shaky hands, I opened the CD drawer, popped out AC5, and placed it in the tray. Sliding what little of the drawer that was left in, I clenched my teeth and waited for the game to load. I shuddered with anticipation as the screen went dark, then the Project Aces logo appeared. I was so happy it worked. But then, right before the title menu, it froze.
I was distraught by this, and shut off the console. I prayed it would work this time. I turned it on, and it appeared normal, and the game loaded. The opening movie played. I watched in anticipation as it began. As I watched the movie, I noticed something was off. I couldn't put my finger on it at the time, but looking back I realize there was strange static going on in the background. Not like words being said backwords satanically, just a static sound.
I got to the title menu, and decided to check my old save files, of course. I had three save files, all on different difficulties. Two were completed twice through on Ace difficulty, and were at the first mission. The other was only on mission 17- The Journey Home. I picked that one, seeing as it was the only one not completed all the way through. I still remembered the controls.
Upon seeing the mission breifing, I remembered this was the mission Chopper died in. A tear sprung into my mind as that memory of my favorite character ever, dying by crashing into a stadium in a fireball. I wiped the tear from my eye, and listened to the breifing. The mission is to fly over a town called November City, in a flyby for the Vice President's speech. Colonel Perrault, the mission debreifer, came back on before the plane selection screen. He stated, "I'm sorry, Chopper." I didn't remember that from the original game. But it had been a while, and I shrugged it off.
Once in the plane selection screen, I noticed there was no music playing. I let this slide, seeing the poor condition of the console. I gave my whole team F/22s, and when it came to Chopper, instead of saying "What plane am I going up in, Captain?" he growled, "Which one." The voice was a bit distorted, and sounded like he was in a lot of pain. I also noticed the face sprite of him next to his name was gone. Just vanished. I was confused, but again let it slide being as it was a poor console.
The mission started. We began the fly by, and everything seemed to be running smoothly. However, as I turned to check the progress of my wingmen, I noticed Chopper was lagging behind. I double tapped the "Cover" command to see if he would fly in closer. I regret addressing him as if I were in charge.
"You left me."
I was startled. It was Chopper, but barely recognizeable over the sound of static and distortion. I was given the options of Yes and No. Not sure which to pick, I selected No.
"How DARE you lie to me?!"
My TV speakers erupted in a volley of sound as he screamed it at me. I was terrified. What had I done? I paused the game. I knew this wasn't right. Chopper was my favorite character. I cried the first time I played through and he died. I never would have abandoned him.
"Don't you know what happens? When you leave us? All of us. When you stow us away, we keep living the same stage of our lives, over and over, unable to stop it."
My game was paused. How could he be speaking to me? What did he want? I knew now this had to stop.
I reached for the off switch.
I froze. Could he see me? Could he hear me? What did he want?
I yelled at the TV- "I have done nothing to you!"
"You left me here, to burn in this iron coffin for the past 5 years. I could not die, as this... game, would not allow it. Is this FUN TO YOU?" The speakers erupted again. I muted the TV.
"That won't work."
How could he be speaking?
"You left me here, as I crashed and burned every hour of every day. Death is too light for me. This hell I have been placed in, was not meant for me to suffer alone."
I looked at my controller, as it began vibrating. I felt a slight shock, as if the controller had malfunctioned. I yelped a threw it down, just as it began smoking.
"Too late!" The voice was even more distorted now. But, it wasn't coming from the TV.
It was in my head.
"No!" I yelled. "You're not real!"
"Oh, but I am! You cannot escape me. I have dwelled in hell for the past 5 years, as you had forgotten me. I heard the cries of my wingmen, and only you were silent. You, you are the source of my anguish. I will now control your life as you neglected mine!"
It has been a month since the incident. I was just released from the hospital yesterday. I came home to my family that welcomed me with open arms. I had apparently had some rare disease that caused burns all over my body. But I have no reccolection of even getting them. In fact, I have no memory whatsoever of the past month. I thought all of this was a dream, but I suppose it wasn't. I opened my laptop, and found two things open, internet, and a Word document. The word document simply read- "I will spread my pain with the world". I did not write that. I swear it. The webpage I opened to was here. The story written beforehand was not of my doing. I will leave it in its original state, as you may be warned of your past games. If you leave a game running on a specific mission, those people are trapped reliving the same mission over and over. Make the pain stop. I can hear him speaking to me. I must go now, as I am no longer in control.