I never found much interest in the game “Animal Crossing”.  It was never my taste.  The plot always seemed so boring.  You ran around and did jobs but for what reason?  There was nothing in it for you in the end.  When “Animal Crossing: New leaf” came out for the 3DS I figured it would be the same story, but my friends were set on getting me to play it.  I finally broke down and purchased my first “Animal Crossing” game.  I got home and popped the card into my system waiting to see just how good this game was.  A few minutes in and I will admit, I was hooked.  The characters all fascinated me with all of the individual personalities and this time you were mayor!  You had something to work for, you had to make choices.  Not only that, you had to get on often enough because you would miss things, your town would become overgrown, people would leave, etc; it gave the player a sense of responsibility.  I went on a month long vacation to visit my fiancé who had just gotten home from Afghanistan.  I decided to leave my 3DS home knowing it may only be a distraction to me.  I thought nothing of it.  I would get back, my town might be a little over-grown, but it was a game.

I finally got back to my house around 1A.M. and after getting settled in I wanted to check on my game and see what the damage was.  I switched on my 3DS and clicked on the game icon.  It started normally, nothing out of the ordinary, until I got to the main menu.  Usually you see people walking around with the logo “Animal Crossing” at the top with cheerful music playing in the background; this was not the case.  It was silent, it was dark with a moon light glow and no one was up and about.  This didn’t really bother me considering the fact it was l A.M. and since the game understands and goes by real life time, it realized it was late and people would be asleep and it was quiet because of that reason; it’s 1 A.M.  I clicked on the continue button but when it loaded up, the screen where Isabelle usually asks you what you would like to do, was empty.  It was just the light shining down on the floor where she usually stands.  My only option was “Continue”. 

Despite being a little suspicious and a little creeped out, I hit “Continue”.  This was probably a very stupid thing to do and I realized that just a moment too late.  My character emerged from her house looking sick and awful.  Her eyes were droopy and dark, when she walked, she moved with very weak steps.  She looked pale, more so then when I first created her.  I wandered around but the town was completely empty, every flower was dead, every other patch of land was covered with weeds.  At this point I wanted, no I had, to find out what was happening.  I went to every house and tried to go in but they were all locked.  Every sign said “Vacant”.  This does not happen when a resident leaves the town.  Their house vanishes and a new one is created somewhere else for the new citizen.  But they were all still standing and there were no new houses.  I ran to the Main District where the shops were located and saw that they too had all their lights shut off, even the Museum that’s always open and the door was boarded off.  Every sign again read “Vacant”.

I walked back down to my Town but when I tried to make my character run, she wouldn’t.  She just limped weakly along wherever I made her move.  Finally a speech bubble popped up saying, “You’re not feeling so good…”  I practically dragged my character to the one place I had not visited yet, the Mayor’s Office, feeling bad with every step she took.  When I walked in there in her chair was Isabelle.  She sat there, head hanging limply to the side.  I went up to talk to her but all it said was, “She isn’t moving.”  I should have shut the game off right then, but I’m sure we have all experienced a moment like this where you really don’t like what’s going on, but you can’t stop yourself from continuing.  I went back to my house and found that I had mail.  I opened the mail box and my bag filled with letters.  I read each one, my stomach growing sicker and sicker with each note.  One from Greta read, “Yumi, Where have you been?  Everyone’s sick, including me.  I don’t know what it is, but it’s very bad.  I hope you come back.  –Greta”.  Every letter mentioned something about this sickness going around that was infecting everyone.  My heart sank when I realized what happened.  In Animal Crossing, you usually have to bring someone medicine when they are sick for them to get better.  Because I had been gone, I didn’t bring medicine to anyone and this disease spread, killing every single resident in the town.  I had shirked my responsibilities as mayor and now this had happened.  I walked my character into my house to see if anything had changed.  Nothing had, but as soon as I took a few steps inside, my little mayor dropped to the floor.  She wouldn’t move, I couldn’t get her up, it just stayed like that.

I turned the game off without saving.  My heart was still racing.  I didn’t know what to do.  No, I wanted to delete that file.  I loaded the game up again hesitantly and when the main menu came up to delete my town, I couldn’t.  It was grayed out.  I tried over and over to delete my town and/or start a new one, but to no avail.  I was sickened, mortified.  What had I done?  All I could think to myself as I tossed the sickening game card into the trash was, “I was gone too long…”.



Addendum:  A few days later my mother, my dad, and my sister came down with a terrible flu.  The doctor said he had never seen anything like this before.  My family is bed ridden and shows no signs of recovering anytime soon.  I'm also growing weak and starting to feel sickly...

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