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Gray Cartridge

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I was young and foolish. It happened not long ago, actually it has only been a few years. Till this day I feel guilt eat away at me for what I did. It was a foolish thing to do. Foolish, foolish, foolish, why was I so foolish!? I'm only angry with myself due to this guilt. To save you from this horrible feeling and to at least get this dark deed off my chest, I shall tell you my story.

          I was a young lad, and all young lads in my day were avid gamers. A great student I was, who knew what was right from wrong, but yet I did that foolish thing. I'm not a thief nor a sinner, but yet I stole. Something about the object just compelled me to do it, as if I was under a trance of some sort. It all started at this restaurant. I was minding my own business when I see this bag. It was sitting just a few tables away with no one attending it.

          I would have ignored it if it were not for the fact of it being a plastic zip-lock bag. I was able to see its contents and my did the sight look great. Inside was a Pokémon game from every time period. I noticed a Pokémon Red Version, that had exceedingly caught my eye. Also inside was a Crystal, and so was a Fire Red. There was a Ruby and Diamond, and White and the new White 2. One from ever season except the in betweens like Emerald and Platinum. Oddly Soul Silver or Heart Gold wasn't in their either. Yellow Version wasn't in there either too. It was just one from every region except Fire Red which is kind of odd. I had all these games myself, but what made me snag it, what made me tick was this one game in the whole bag.  It wasn't a Pokémon game or so I thought. It looked extremely different.

          I see the owner coming towards the table with a friend of his. I remember exactly what he said as if it was intentional for me to hear his words, as if he wanted someone to take this game away from him. He said to his friend who pointed towards the game, wanting to know what it was, " I cannot tell you, but I will tell you this... It's one game willing to die for. I'm the one who made it, well at least helped. There's only a few in existence, they never released it because they said it was too far from the purpose of the series."

          He had a sly smile on his face when he finished his sentence. I felt a bit uneasy due in fact while he was talking the whole time it seemed as if he was looking straight passed his friend and looking deep into my soul. He knew I was curious, and he sure grabbed my curiosity. The owner of the bag  left the table with his friend back to the arcade since they only came back to their backpacks for money. With the opportunity at hand I snatched the bag. I felt, no knew a smile had crept on the owner's face as he saw me take it. His voice was concerned as he yelled aloud, calling for me to bring his games back.

          I felt bad, but it seemed worth it in my mind. When I got the home from the restaurant I opened the bag and unloaded its contents. A note fell out. I was surprised since  when I was looking at the small plastic bag there never seemed to be a note. Also the note was pretty large and should've been observable from across a room. I shrugged disregarding the odd phenomena and read the note. On the note it read, "Whoever finds this bag please return to the owner..." there was the owner's phone number right there ,"Whatever you do please do not mess with the games especially the....." the rest was illegible. Even with its illegibility I knew exactly which cartridge it was talking about.

          The game was made for a game boy color. Me being an avid gamer and a Pokémon fan did have a game boy advance. The cartridge was completely gray in color with no logo. Not even a name. I put the game in quite curious, but also guilty for stealing it.  I turned on the game boy and nothing happened. Nothing at all! Angry with myself for stealing something technically worthless I took out the Red Version and started up the game. I pressed continue, curious to see what he had before, but when I did, it just took me automatically to Professor Oak. So I chose my name as Brendon and began to play. I chose Charmander as my first Pokémon since it was my favorite of the three starters.

          I thought the game was glittched up when I pressed continue and it automatically restarted, but I ignored that completely since the game ran smoothly. Everything went perfectly, too perfectly in fact. That same night I beat the game. I didn't feel like playing anymore that day so I called it a night. The next morning I took out Crystal thinking of going in order, but I really wanted to play a Hoenn game since I haven't played that region in a long time. So I put Ruby into my game boy.

          Nothing happened. The game simply didn't load. Sort of like that gray cartridge. I tried the Red Version, but it didn't load either, but what did happen was I received an error message. The message was odd especially since I don't remember game boys having an error message in the first place. It said, "Your adventure here has ended, there is no going back into the past, only future..." I understood exactly what was happening. I was supposed to go in order. For some odd reason it wanted me to go in order. Freaked out I tried my own Red Version which worked perfectly. So I figured these games were hacked.

          I went on to Crystal, doing exactly what I did last time. Except this time my name was set as Brendon and my starter was my Pokémon from my last game. I had a level 5 Charizard in my party rather than a level 5 Charmander. Originally they weren't even in the game till you beat it. I still got to choose a Johto starter Pokémon and I chose Cyndaquil since it was my favorite Pokémon of the series. In my PC were all the Pokémon I caught from the previous game.

          I thought this was quite amazing. The game continued flawlessly. I had beat it later that day. I was curious of what the gray cartridge held. I  had to just had to get through all of them. After Crystal came Ruby. My name was fixed and in my party were Typhlosion and Charizard both level 5 again. And in my PC were the Pokémon I had caught from both games. When choosing between Torchik and Treeko, I decided to go with Treeko. Mainly because all my Pokémon were fire type so far.

          The game was finished relatively quickly. I then went on to Fire Red. I chose Bulbasaur and began to play. The game took a little bit of time to beat because of the orange islands. I was over halfway done with the series. I was wary and tired of playing the games, but I needed to know what was the gray cartridge. After Fire Red was completed, I called it a day. The next morning I was going to play Diamond. That's when my eye was caught by a sheet of paper. It was a new note... I emptied the contents of the bag before so how the hell did this even get here! Trust me I was a bit freaked out. Still my curiosity forced me on. I read it.

          "Congratulations on making it through half your journey, Brendon. It is too bad you did not heed my warning and return this game to its rightful owner." The note was in third person and it was nothing like the owner's  handwriting. I looked for the old note to compare, but it was as if it had vanished. I looked everywhere, but found nothing. I began to play Diamond after I gave up searching for the note. Got through it by the end of the day. As my starter I chose Piplup.

          The next day I started white. I chose Snivy as my starter and played. By now I was just plain bored especially since White and Diamond had no real extra features that were enjoyable. I beat White that day. I took a break from the Pokémon games for some time. About a week later, I came back to them and found a new note. "Don't give up. You're on your last one, I believe you can do it. Most would've gave in back at the halfway point, but you haven't." Again there was that third person tone. It was trying to encourage me to continue for some odd reason...

          White 2 took me the longest to complete. I hadn't even beaten my own White 2 yet. As my starter I chose Oshowatt. I had noticed something kind of odd, and for some reason I barely noticed it. All the Pokémon caught back in Fire Red were missing. I did not have Venasaur nor did I have the rest of my Pokémon in the PC. I realized that there were 6 regions and 6 Pokémon party slots. White 2 counted as its own due to the fact of how much they extended the map. White 2 was supposed the last game which meant that the gray cartridge was the post game...

          The next day I had a new note. "Congrats for making it through the end, Brendon. Do follow the instructions I  give you. Once you beat the gray cartridge you must pass it on to the next player no matter what. Please write that you understand to let me know." I found that quite odd, the note was like a contract. I looked for a magnifying glass. When I found one, I looked over the note. Yes I found something in a very fine print. This is what it said, "Well for being so smart and finding the fine print, I'll tell you one thing, the next game will be one to die for. Look at the cartridge and you will find the instructions to play. The game will last for exactly one week before ending completely." Then at the bottom it was signed, Gray Cartridge.

          I looked at the cartridge and I saw a name. Originally the cartridge was blank and just gray in color, but now there was a name. It said, The End. There were two dates written on it, one was quite familiar while the other was off into a more futuristic time. I realized that the first was my actual birthday. That's when I got scared and realized what it meant. In the game I was going to die in that week's time. Death, the inevitable, is to knock on my door. I had reached too far to turn back now, so I wrote, I understand. On the note, writing had appeared "Good Luck", is what it stated.

          With what courage I had, I put the game in and started my game boy advance. There was a continue button which I pressed and it took me automatically to Oak just like the others. My name was once again permanently set as Brendon and my party was as follows; Charizard level 100, Typhlosion level 100, Sceptile level 100, Empoleon level 100, Serperior level 100, and Samurott level 100. All my Pokémon were maxed out rather than level 5 like the other games.  In the game it was almost like Red Version, taking place in Kanto, but in color like in Crystal. Everything went like a normal game until the part with my encounter with Team Rocket for the first time on the Gold Nugget Bridge in Cerulean City.

          Usually I'd click yes to join the Rockets because it would never really let you, but this time it did. From here on forth I was able to throw Pokeballs at other trainer's Pokémon.  I never tried it out until the gym with Lt. Surge. There I caught his Raichu. His face was in sorrow. Guilt rose up into my chest when a whole team rocket gang came in and stole all the Pokémon in the gym and began to raid Vermillion City. They stole all the Pokémon there. Due to the Rocket's success in Vermillion, I was awarded a medal by Giovanni himself. This occurred at every gym until Lavender town.

 

          At Lavender Town, I was hurt. All the NPC's were angry with me, calling me a killer or a thief. I remembered the Marowak that was killed at this point. Perhaps I had to do it? The answer was a yes. After I went to Silph Co. and stumped my rival, Giovanni ordered me to kill the Marowak. I did it. Throughout the rest of the game I had a deep guilt in my heart that ate away at me. I wish I never said yes to be a Rocket or stole the game in the first place. The next day I played I reached Giovanni's gym where he gave me his badge and a Mewtwo. He told me to head to the Elite Four. I didn't even have to battle him. Victory road was quite easy and I had no trouble at all. In the Elite Four I stole all of their Pokémon. I then realized there was no champion,  in fact since the encounter at Silph Co. with my rival, he never showed up.

          I noticed at the Hall of Fame it was called the Hall of Shame. Instead of showing my party that had won the Elite Four, it showed all the lives I've ruined and taken. It also showed all the Pokémon I stole and killed.... As each one passed by, I began to cry. My Rival showed up, Lt. Surge, and many others began to pass by. I felt sick, sick to my stomach. After the credits rolled I realized the game still worked. The week was not over nor was the game. It asked me to chose a profession when I pressed continue. Mart, Rocket, Gym Leader, Nurse, and Elite Four, were listed. I chose Gym Leader.

          There I had taken the place of the 1st gym leader I had killed, Lt. Surge. Challenger after challenger would come and I defeated them all. Then one of the original characters popped up, it was Red. I beat him with no problem at all. Then Crystal came and after I beat her, Ruby came, and so on so forth. I beat them all. I had never lost. When the week was up I tried playing the game and it said, "Error. your journey has ended." It then showed a cut scene. A cut scene of my character dying. He was coughing up blood while laying down. He looked quite ill....

          I noticed he wasn't sick, but there was a knife laying beside him. Someone had stabbed him, no me. That character was me. The killer, was Giovanni. He was mad I left the Rockets and so he killed me. I watched my character die slowly. He bled to death. By the time the Nurse Joy arrived , I was dead. On the screen showed R.I.P. underneath were the same two dates on the cartridge.  One was my day of birth the other some futuristic date. R.I.P Brendon, is what I heard a loud as the game shutdown. I passed it on to the next person as asked of me. Maybe you will end up with it and be part of this secret society who know about this lost game that tells the future.

          I did try to take pictures, but for some odd reason they disappeared from the camera. As if someone deleted it. No one did, when I asked. Only one picture was still good. The one of the baggy, but even that one did not show the gray cartridge. As if the cartridge had never existed.

          I learned never to steal.. I still feel guilt for it and because of it I know knew how I was going to die. It's a burden I must carry for the sin I had committed.

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