A friend of mine Ryan (name changed for anonymity) and I have always been into reading horror stories, so it's bizarre to have... well... ended up in one.
Ryan has been into computer programming for as long as I can remember, and within the past couple of months has expressed an interest in game design as well. I don't consider myself a gamer but when I heard he'd finished his first text adventure, I was actually pretty interested in giving it a try. The title he gave it was, "Floating Away". All I knew before hand was that he and "someone else interested in computer programming" put the game together.
Ryan proceeded to meet me in person to give me a flashdrive with the game's data, and a couple days later, asked me to join him in a Skype chat so I could ask him questions while I was playing. Neither of us are very talkative while on the computer, but I had a feeling I'd be asking for his help every now and then.
When the game turned on, nothing stood out as visibly incredible; it was just white text with a black screen.
-Floating Away: Text Adventure.
-You've failed to save her, game over. Continue?
I was a bit surprised to see a Game Over screen immediately after starting my play through, but I assumed Ryan wanted it there and kept going.
-Sarah is convulsing and coughing up black fluid. Will you continue to try to save her?
As creepy as the content was, I remind you that both Ryan and I are big fans of horror, so dark imagery wasn't out of the ordinary.
-You enter the bedroom. Sarah is laying on the ground. Take a closer look?
-There are four rooms you can enter: The Bedroom, The Kitchen, The Basement, or The Bathroom.
-You can't enter The Basement right now.
-You can't enter The Kitchen right now.
-The locked door opens when you kick it in. Will you enter the house?
Now I was starting to see a weird pattern. Was the game progressing in reverse? Again, I just told myself it was a creative touch and continued playing.
-You have no key to enter the house. Will you pick the lock, kick the door in, or leave?
-How could you leave her there?
Kick the door in.
-You wash the black sludge off your hands and run to Sarah's House. Do you enter through the door or a broken window near it?
-It's broken. You don't want to hurt yourself, do you?
-Black fluid has dripped on your hands through your eyes. You can't breathe. There is a sink near you.
Wash black fluid off with the sink.
-Injecting the substance into your arm has caused black fluid to drip from your eyes and mouth. Lay down and accept death or continue?
-You find the syringe. Injecting yourself could have one of two results: cure of the disease, or extreme and immediate worsening of it.
-You found it for nothing?
-You found it for nothing?
-You found it for nothing?
After typing "Don't inject" for the forth time, the game shut off momentarily and turned back on to, apparently, a point far later in the game... or earlier I suppose.
-You try to walk through the pack of dogs. Their eyes have filled so intensely with blood and black fluid that they seem to be on the verge of bursting. They see you and attack, knocking you and Sarah to the ground. One dog bites you on the neck and drags you several feet before falling over deceased. You've been infected with the disease. On the ground, the other dogs are still surrounding you.
Since I'd been playing for a short time and had a general idea of what the game would be like, I used Skype to report my progress to Ryan.
Me: It's not bad so far. Kind of weird but I like it.
Ryan: Thanks. Has it been running alright?
Me: Well kind of. It's going in reverse, like starting with a Game Over screen and going backwards from there. I'm not sure if you wanted it to do that or if it's a mistake.
Ryan: What the hell, it's going backwards? What part are you at?
Me: The dogs infected me with the "disease".
I waited for a while for a response but didn't get one, so I told myself Ryan was distracted by something and couldn't immediately get to messaging me back. "Might as well get back to the game," I told myself, and that's exactly what I did... tried to do. When I turned my attention back to Floating Away, a completely different message was there than before:
-Under the house is a note: “Don't be afraid to hurt the dogs. They feel nothing anymore.” Will you take the note?
Part of me was wondering how much of the plot was supposed to be there, versus how much of it was happening because of possible unseen glitches. Whatever the answer, I was into the game and tried to once again dismiss the story's linear error.
-There are three places you can check: under the house, the mailbox, and in the car.
In the car.
Under the house.
My progress through the game was interrupted by Ryan returning to answer my question from earlier.
Me: So yeah, is it supposed to be going in reverse?
Ryan: it isnt going in revrse
Ryan: going foward
Me: It's going forward?
Me: ... are you feeling okay?
Ryan: yes. typ: show me the entrance
Me: Uh.... yeah okay. In the game?
My thoughts were more about Ryan than the game for a few moments. He's the type of guy who's always careful about his grammar, even with casual conversations like this. Whatever was going on was beyond me so I did as he asked and typed "show me the entrance".
-Are you sure?
-You've made it to the Entrance.
There was no instruction on what to type or what to do to get past that screen.
Me: Now what? It doesn't say anything else.
I waited for what felt like forever before Ryan finally responded.
Ryan: why did you do that?
Immediately after his message came through, he disconnected. I wasn't sure what was going on, but one possibility came to mind. He was just messing with me. It wasn't normal for him to play pranks on people but I also knew it wasn't out of the question either. I tried to get back to the game, which had now turned completely black except for the space where I could type a response.
Another message popped on the screen.
-You run to your car and drive to pick up Sarah. She sounded hurt. In. Pain. Are you also in pain?
-Yes. You are. But you don't know it yet. But you will. Very. Soon.
What did that even mean? I didn't have enough time to type any response before the next screen appeared on it's own.
-You agree to pick up Sarah. How will you get to her?
-Sarah screams that she needs help. You're the only one who can reach her. Will you?
-The woman asks you to call her Sarah. She refuses to tell you anything else about her identity. Listen or hang up?
-It's too late for that.
A loud "ping" rang from my computer to signal that Ryan had come back online.
Ryan: Yeah. Sorry about that, my dog was making some weird noises. I just wanted to make sure everything was okay. Also, when I got back I'd been signed out of Skype for some reason. It's no big deal I guess. What part are you at?
Me: I got my first call from Sarah... I think. I'm not sure, everything's still in reverse.
Me: Yeah, the mystery woman.
Ryan: There's no "Sarah" in the game.
Me: Is that a joke? She's been one of the central characters.
Ryan: Hmm, I'm gonna check something really quick. Keep up playing.
Me: Will do.
Back to the game I went.
-Your phone rings. You've never felt so uneasy in your life. Will you answer it or ignore?
-Answer the phone.
-Answer the phone.
-You've already said yes and you don't even know it. Answer the phone.
-You sit confused, wondering how the recent events will affect you. Continue?
-Three days pass. Three. Days. Pass. Infected dogs are spreading a disease. At this entrance of deterioration, you have a choice. You will have many choices, and to all of them, the result is already known.
No matter what I typed, I continuously got the message: At this entrance of deterioration: You. Have. A. Choice. What if this was the end of the game... or in this case, the beginning? I reported my possible success to Ryan.
Me: I think I beat it but I'm not really sure.
Ryan: Dude, stop playing the game. It's got a virus or something.
Me: It's got a virus?! Isn't that something you would have seen before hand when you were programming the damn thing?
Ryan: Of course it is! Look I know it sounds weird but it wasn't there when I gave it to you. I don't know how it got in the game but I know who might be responsible. That guy who helped me is the only other person who had access to the original programming. I called him to ask about the story going in reverse, and who "Sarah" is, but he said he "did something I didn't know about" and started screaming at me, like really intense bloody-murder sounding screams, and disconnected the call before answering much of anything. Just close the game and don't play it again; hell, trash the damn thing.
Even through the chat I could sense how frantic Ryan was. He had NEVER asked me or anyone else to throw his programs out before because he thought no matter how damaged they were, they could be fixed somehow, so I finally accepted this wasn't some joke of his. I didn't waste much time hitting the Escape key to quit the game, and quickly was returned to the title screen:-Deterioration Onto Entrance: Text Adventure
This wasn't the same game I started playing, was it even ever there to begin with? The idea of taking a photo of the screen popped up, so I snapped a picture, closed the game, and deleted it permanently. I wasn't able to ask Ryan for more clarification because he had to head offline once again, and this time, it would be for the rest of the day. Heck, I haven't been able to get a hold of him since. All that's left is one last message before he went away.
Ryan: Damn. Sorry I've got to go. My dog's really sick or something, he coughed up some black junk. Talk to you later.
As I said, “later” never happened. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the hell is going on, but am fully aware of the three day warning the game gave to me.
These events happened two days ago.