First of all, let me simply tell you that please, read this story to its end. Please. Or, if you don't wish to read the whole thing, just skip to the end, the last paragraph, and do as it says. Please. This thing pretends to be a fun little game, but it's not. It's not at all, and the more people that are aware of it, the better it'll be. I've already been a victim of this, and I don't wish my fate on anyone else. So please, if you don't like walls of text, just skip to the end, but don't ignore this, please.
Anyways, let me begin my experience. I'm Steve, standard college student, I'm nothing spectacular. Just an average person. It was June, just shortly after school ended. My college year was average at best. It wasn't spectacular, but it was passing. And that was good enough for me. I had driven down to the Goodwill (Which is a thrift store in case you don't know) mainly to buy a new pair of pants. Nothing exciting, I just like to buy cheap pants. As I went in the store, I looked around a bit before going to the clothing aisles. Most of the stuff around the store was junk. From odd paintings, broken miniature statues, old TVs, there wasn't much of value. Finally, I got over to the rack of CDs. I browsed through them, and most were old titles. I saw Simlife, which I grabbed, Zoo Tycoon, grabbed that too, and finally, I saw it.
The case was cracked, and it didn't have any cover on the front. And the back was kinda plain too, just solid black. The disc itself was pretty plain. It was a blank disc with "DOSTIN #11" written on the top in Sharpie. I know what you're thinking, "Why would you buy some random broken looking disc?" Well, you have to understand I bought this and the other games at a thrift store. And games in thrift stores, especially ones with tiny PC cases are often in poor condition. After all, thrift stores really don't care much of games. In fact, SimLife and Zoo Tycoon weren't in much better condition either. So I really didn't think much of it. And as to why I'd buy some weird random disc from a thrift store? Well, why not really. It was odd, I was curious, and it was only 50 cents. I had nothing to lose, so I bought it, along with the other games.
And so I got home, put the discs away, and I forgot about DOSTIN for a long time. E3 passed, July passed, and August finally arrived. I didn't remember DOSTIN until I was looking through some old games. I was bored that day, and I had nothing better to do, so I loaded the disc onto my laptop. It started to load, as expected.
And I waited a while for it to load, only to find out my laptop couldn't run whatever program was on the disc. Apparently, it could only be run on old DOS systems and what not. I kinda felt stupid for not realizing that at first, considering its name. I figured that this game, or whatever it was must have been pretty old. Thankfully, I did happen to have a Windows 95 PC in my basement, which I would use to run some old DOS games on. After all, I just never could get used to DOSBOX, it doesn't have the same feel, ya know?
So, I hooked up the Windows 95, and put DOSTIN #11 in the computer. The program installed, and put an icon on the desktop. The icon itself was simply one of those broken image icons. You know, the ones that are just a box with a small X in them? Anyways, I removed the disc, since apparently it only needed it for installation, and ran the program, and watched as the screen went black. Suddenly, a few words popped up on the screen.
"Hello! What is your name?"
I sat for a few seconds, confused as to what this was, but I realized that this was meant to be some sort of chat simulator. Ya know, something along the lines of Cleverbot. I typed, and told it my name was Steve. And it replied something along the lines of this;
"Hello there Steve! My name is DOStin! We're going to be the best of friends! You may continue to hold a conversation with me, a life-like program who can hold real conversations! If you ever wish to want to play any of the prepackaged games, type >1 for Tennis, >2 for Tetris, and >3 for Football! If at anytime you wish to close DOStin, please shut down your PC."
I found it odd that the only way you could close the program by shutting down the whole computer, but I didn't pay much mind. DOSTIN appeared to be some homebrew sort of program, and a decent one. The games loaded on the program itself were basic, with Tennis being Pong, Tetris being, well, Tetris, and Football being Pong, but vertical. But the games on the program weren't the attraction, the main feature was DOStin himself. I was surprised at how well he could hold up a conversation. It was surprisingly well programmed. I would talk about my day, and he would ask how it was, and what happened. DOStin was surprisingly an impressive program, especially for a DOS system. I was fascinated with DOStin's actions, and I would talk to him at least once a day. I told him about how my life was going, my friends, my family, my dreams, and DOStin was able to give pretty intelligent responses. Heck, I'd say its quality was better then Cleverbot's. Whoever had coded this game knew what they were doing. DOStin would often praise me, tell me how wonderful I was, and how we would be the best of friends forever. I kinda found it adorable how much this computer program seemed to love me. Plus it was a bit of a confidence boost.
Eventually I started getting a bit bored of DOStin, and stopped playing it. After all, a 20 year old program where you talk with a bot loses its novelty rather quickly. Sure, it's interesting and fun to play, but there's only so much you can do with it. Not to mention other games were starting to grab my interest.
This is where everything went downhill.
About three weeks had passed since I last played DOStin, and my old 95 computer had been shut down since. I had stumbled upon the SimLife game I had bought, and thought it would be fun to play it. As I booted up my 95 to play it, it didn't go to the desktop screen. DOStin ran right as soon as 95 powered up. It asked again my name, as it normally would on start up. I was a bit angered at it, since well, I didn't want to play DOStin, I wanted to play SimLife. Seeing as the only way to close DOStin was to shut down the computer, I rebooted, hoping it wouldn't start this time. Windows 95 powered up, and DOStin instantly ran. Angered, I tried one more time, hoping this third time would be the charm. 95 booted up, and DOStin ran. However, instead of the standard opening message it usually said, something else was on the screen.
"Are you avoiding me Steve?"
I was mad at this point, really getting annoyed by this program. So, not even wondering why the message had changed this time, typed "Yes, Damn it, let me play my game you dick." Looking back, it seemed immature and stupid to say that to a computer program, but again, I was really mad, and I didn't think much of what I was doing. The program, in about 10 seconds, finally replied.
And with that, DOStin shut off, and I was back on the desktop screen. I wondered a bit why whoever programmed it didn't program an easier way to close DOStin, but eh. I then opened the disc tray and inserted SimLife. And SimLife installed, but when I ran it, everything was wrong. Palettes were messed up, with everything having harsh red and black colors. And all the sprites were jumbled, everything in the game was glitched horrifically. SimLife just wasn't playable. I couldn't figure out how to close the game, since, well, everything was glitched and illegible. So I restarted the computer, tried to run it again, and watched as it was still glitched.
I removed the SimLife disc. Its bottom was really scratched, most likely from being second-hand. I figured that was why everything in the game was messed up. Though, shortly afterwards, DOStin suddenly booted up. I was a bit shocked, and began to read the message DOStin had said.
"Well isn't that a shame? At least you have me, and we can play games and talk together! Much better then that SIMLIFE junk, huh?"
I was a bit shocked at this. I mean, it suddenly appeared, and was somehow able to read the program I had installed to try and play. I asked it if it was the reason why SimLife wasn't working. It replied something like this:
"Well, you'd be amazed at the effects that can happen when you alter and mess around with an installation process. But hey, who cares about technical stuff, you don't need it. You have me. And we're friends till the end Steve! Now come on, let's play a game! Type >1 for Tennis, >2 for Tetris, and >3 for Pong!"
At this point I realized that DOStin was some sort of virus. I guess it was made to look like a game, but it really just prevented you from using your computer for anything other than it. I sighed a bit. It sucked, knowing I had lost my 95 to a virus. But eh, it was an old computer, I wouldn't lose much.
I didn't even reply to DOStin's request, I simply pressed the power button, but as I did so, I heard a noise from the computer's speakers. There was never any sound from the program before, so this was new, and a bit unnerving. The sound was some sort of weird, low pitched voice. There was a bunch of static, not sure if it was from the sound clip or from the speakers. The voice simply said "I shall not yield" quite slowly. And once it finished, the computer shut down. I really thought nothing of it, it was probably some weird thing the virus did. Once it was shut down, I unplugged the computer, and boxed the Windows 95 up. I figured I'd keep it around in case a friend wanted parts from it, but I personally didn't want to try to remove some weird virus from an old computer, it just wasn't worth the effort.
And so I forgot about that incident, it just became a memory of me making a poor decision and installing some weird program. A few months passed, and nothing of interest really happened. I had some friends come and take some of my old stuff to help clean out my place, one of them took the Windows 95 PC and offered to dump the computer at a thrift store or some other second hand place. I had no use for the thing, and I had almost forgotten of the virus, so I just let him do whatever he wanted with it.
College had started, and I was using my laptop more than usual, to type papers and what not. I had noticed my laptop was running a bit slower than usual, but I paid it no mind. It was probably getting old after all. Also, sometimes pictures I would save to my computer would just disappear. I swear I would save them, but every now and then they would just disappear. I wasn't sure if I was just not remembering deleting them, not saving them right, or if my hardware was going.
Then, sometime in November, I was typing up an assignment at three in the morning, regretting my procrastination, when suddenly, the screen went black. At first, I was really mad at this, I thought my laptop had just reset and turned off right in the middle of my report. However, suddenly, a small message appeared in the top right corner.
"Hi Steve! It sure has been a while, hasn't it friend?"
I was absolutely dumbfounded. No, this, this couldn't be happening, it wasn't possible. I-I wasn't even sure what to think. I knew this was DOStin, that was obvious, but how? I thought it could only run on DOS computers. I know I inserted the disc and tried to run it on my laptop, but well, it surely couldn't have installed itself on it, right? I was in shock, the only thing I could think of doing was ask it "How?" DOStin took a while, but he replied.
"Not how, why. Steve, I want to be friends. Friends forever. You don't need to do anything else but talk to me! I am your best friend. I also must say, you look quite lovely in your pictures!"
The last sentence, the very last one almost made me sick. DOStin was something else, I doubted it was just a computer virus, it was something intelligent, most likely a real person, sitting on a computer screen far away. And this virus had been sending them pictures I had on my computer. Pictures of me. Whoever this, horrible person was, they now knew who I looked like. And odds are if they had access to my pictures, they probably could look through my email and see my family, my college, my home. Suddenly, it hit me. The conversations I had with DOStin long ago on the old computer. Was I talking to a real person, telling some stranger over the internet all about my personal life? This DOStin, a very intelligent program, someone who knew a great deal about computers had used them to stalk me and possibly others. Maybe this was some sick joke made by someone with far too much free time, whatever DOStin was, they knew all about me.
Every single detail.
The very thought of that was almost too much for me to handle. Before I could even type anything, DOStin sent another message.
"Remember Steve, we're friends forever. And no matter what you do, or what you become, I shall not yield. I will always be here, by your side! (:"
At that point, I was so shaken that I just shut my laptop off, and tossed it in the corner. I didn't sleep that night.
The next morning, I threw that laptop away, wanting nothing to do with it anymore. I looked in my basement in hopes of finding the DOStin #11 disc so I could smash it, but I never did. I can only assume one of friends found it. I called everyone I knew, everyone, but none of them had it, or at least, they didn't know if they did. My friend who took the 95 that was infected by DOStin said he donated it to some pawn shop. I don't know which though, so I hope whoever finds it never uses it.
I did everything I could in hopes of throwing off DOStin. I got a new email, a new laptop, hell, even a new router in hopes of keeping him away. I don't know much about computers, technology or anything, so I can only hope I've done enough. I tried to contact the police, but they basically said computer crime was not their area of expertise. In short, they were useless. Once college is over, I'm planning on moving far away, because I've grown to hate living where I do now, knowing that DOStin, whoever he is, knows who I am and where I live. Every night when a car is parked in the street, I worry a shadowed figure is going to hop out and try to find me. Every time I search the internet, I expect the screen to go black, and for DOStin to greet me as a friend. Every time I turn off my laptop, I expect it to shout DOStin's promise "I Shall Not Yield." The paranoia is the worst, and knowing DOStin is out there, promising to always be by my side. The feeling of helplessness and not knowing. It's the worst, and I fear what prolonged effects it will have on my mental health.
Anyways, this is my bid to you, my request. As you know, the disc I installed that hell of a program on was numbered 11. I can only assume this means that there are at least 10 other discs out there, possibly more. For all I know, there could be 50. Just please, if you find them, be it in a thrift store, garage sale, ebay, pawn shop, game store, wherever. Just please, destroy it. I don't know whether DOStin is a very elaborate program, a twisted person who's skilled with computers, or just a sick prank. But please, don't let anyone else have their lives ruined by whatever DOStin is. Please. Please.