When I was a kid, I had spent most of my childhood in the small town of Port Townsend, Washington before my family and I had moved to Seattle due to financial problems at the time. (I still regret that decision for obvious reasons.) Port Townsend was small, but housed a lot of luxury attractions which my Parents didn't have the money for. But the arcade I spent most of my middle childhood at was something I still remember.
Since I grew up in the very late 90's, I typically had nothing to cure myself of boredom at home. I was an only child without any siblings to look after or even play around with. My parents would both work, leaving me at home with a babysitter that I liked, but had a completely different idea of fun than I did. (She'd always make me play these weird board games like "Mouse Trap" and "Operation" with her.) My parents also didn't have enough money to buy me a Playstation 2, which was the craze at the time.
I didn't fully realize my gaming passion up until my Parents took me to the local Arcade for my 7th Birthday.
The Arcade was a small derelict-looking building on the outside, with multiple tipped-over garbage cans near the structure's alleyway that would often house stray cats and god-knows what else. Graffiti stained the building's windows with the usual bright-red, purple, or vibrant black stained into the walls often forming Street-Gang Gibberish. There were also multiple beer-stains on the sidewalk and even discolored stains where drunken homeless people would take their time to bend over and vomit on. It looked like a building that nobody would even think to be housing a business, let alone people.
On the inside however, the building was everybody's version of a gaming paradise. The interior consisted of wide, dark hallways filled with Arcade Cabinets that illuminated the room. There was also a snack bar where you could order Pizza, Soda, Wings, and other succulents. There was a separate room with an Adult bar which housed everything in the kids bar, but with a Pool Table, Slot Machines, and other forms of gambling such as Poker Tables. (Kids aren't normally allowed into the adult bar, but I'd managed to sneak in there sometimes.)
As you can already tell, I fell in love with the place when I first went there. I would constantly beg my parents to let me go there when I was little. Eventually when I became of age my Parents began letting me walk over there alone with my allowance with my friends, who also liked the place.
You're all probably wondering why any of this matters, and I'll explain it all in just a second.
One day around the time when I was about 14 years of age, I was walking to school in the morning when I passed by the Arcade and noticed a foreclosure sign on the front of the Arcade, along with a group of People and Construction Workers talking with each other. I had recognized a few of them as some employees from the Arcade, including the teenage kid who had used to run the Bar now grown up with his typical piercings all over his face. However, one of the men I didn't recognize was a man appearing to look in his 40's, spouting a large bald spot and wearing a grey trench coat with matching striped pants.
I was confused. Why were they shutting down the Arcade? Everybody in town clearly liked it, with the Arcade even being once featured in a Newspaper article talking about Port Townsend's Top 50 places to visit.
All I remember was that I strolled up as casually as I could towards the group of men talking to each other, who turned to face me as they ceased their conversation immediately, seeing as I was younger than them.
"Hello", I asked. I felt a bit hesitant just sputtering out the word due to my intrusion.
I saw the men look at each other before the Man in the grey trench coat walked towards me.
He glared at me for a minute before he finally spoke.
"What do you want, kid? Place's closed, and don't you have school?"
"Why’re you guys closing the place?” I questioned. “Just curious.” I quickly added seeing as they looked a bit peeved.
The man turned away and talked in a hushed voice with the men for a bit, before turning back to me. I looked the man in the eye as he coughed loudly; making sure I had his attention.
As the man eventually told me, the Arcade was a family business that he had owned for about 21 years, even before I was born. He indeed did make a huge amount of money due to the Arcade's popularity; He had eventually decided to pass the business down to his younger brother, who sold the estate to Chuck-E-Cheese's for a large sum of money in return.
After the man relayed this information to me, I slowly nodded, slightly saddened about the fact that the Arcade was being shut down. I turned around and began to continue walking to school until I heard the man's voice stop me.
"Hey, don’t feel so bad kiddo.” He told me from behind.
“Since you appreciated my business for so long, I’ll lend you somethin’ to make it up yeah?”
I turned around skeptically. What did he have left to give me after the Arcade was shutting down, a quarter?
“What’re you talking about, sir?” I asked, now intrigued.
Before responding, he took a fresh cigarette out from his Suit Pocket. He took his time raising the cigar to his mouth and inhaling the fresh smoke before puffing it out again. The motion made me feel like the man was trying to steal money from me.
“It’s a spare Arcade Machine; Brother let me have it because it’s a spare or so he claims.”
That got my attention fast. At the time, it was every kid’s life dream to have their own Arcade Machine. I was jolting with excitement inside, but I was still skeptical in reality. My own Arcade Machine? It felt too good to be true.
“Does it still work?” I questioned doubtfully.
“Sure does, It’s out in the back if you want me to get it for you.” He replied. “Just come get it after you finish school.”
I could no longer hold it in. A grin formed on my face, as I shook the man’s hand frantically. The man just smiled back shyly, a bit unnerved by my sudden excitement no doubt.
I won’t bore you with what happened the rest of the school day; As soon as I got out of school for the day, I ran over towards the Arcade where sure enough, the man was standing there with an Arcade Machine next to him.
As soon as I got close enough, I thoroughly examined the machine. The cabinet I got contained the game “Mario Kart Arcade GP” and in near-perfect condition might I add. I could even still smell the cleaning alcohol that the cleanup crew used to wipe down the machines with.
In order to get the thing home however, I had to call my mother and briefly explain what had happened. At first, I argued with her because she did not want a “giant bulk of metal” inside the house. After a few minutes however, she finally succumbed to my begging and drove over to help me attach the machine to the back of the truck. After that, I just went home.
The "Hidden Image" Edit
That's how I got my own arcade cabinet at the time. I played with it every day as an adolescent inside my basement (My mom got tired of seeing it in the Living Room) but eventually, I managed to purchase a Playstation 2 and forgot about it.
The last time the arcade cabinet ever came up in my head was during a College course. At the time, I was training to be a Cyber-Security Expert for my career. At one point, I was assigned to do a project based on hacking which is what eventually led to me finding this image hidden in the game's files.
The details of the project were simple: Find an exploitation in a common System that makes it possible to change the way it functions. After asking my teacher, he said that common systems would include common devices such as Phones, Radios, TV's and even Video Game Systems. At first, I thought about hacking the games on my PS2. I did hours upon hours of research on how to access a game's files through a PC and a Memory-Transfer to an external device. (Due to the rules of this site, I can't exactly go into details about it.)
The incident occurred during another one of my research sessions. I had been talking to my friends on a forum website and relaying some of my information to them since they had never personally hacked into any type of device and needed help doing so. While I was browsing a website for information on how to port PS2 Data to the PC, I suddenly spotted a new link.
ARCADE ROM HACKS - HOW TO PORT ARCADE DATA TO PC
At first, I thought nothing of it since I was wrapped up in my Project. But after thinking it over, I realized how interesting it would be to potentially port arcade data to your PC. I'd never tried it myself and at the time, nobody really did since arcade machines had become semi-obsolete.
I remembered that I had taken the Mario-Kart cabinet with me when I moved into my temporary home and had placed it in the attic of the house. I begrudgingly got up and walked up the stairs to the attic. It took me about a half-our to get the thing down the stairs safely, which pissed me off quite a bit since the machine was very heavy to lift.
As soon as I set up the machine in the Living Room, I hopped back onto my laptop and clicked on the link. I was taken to a brand new website containing more instructions on how to port arcade data to the PC and modify it. It took me another hour and a half to decipher and fumble through the instructions, but I eventually figured out exactly how to accomplish this. (Again, I won't give instructions due to the Wiki's rules.)
I eventually managed to get the Arcade Machine's data onto a USB, which I hastily inserted into my PC. I opened up the USB and was happy to see that my hard work had paid off; All the files from the game were finally on my Computer. I took my time browsing through a few of them, and began to get a bit Curious.
Forgetting all about the project in my curiosity, I began looking at all of the game's files and eventually scrolled down to try and see more. That's when I found... these.
From the file names of the images, I could tell that these were clearly used to test the capabilities of the Camera attachment on the cabinet. The first image looks like a jumble of inexplicable lines clearly being used to test position.
The Second image is no strange source to me either, it's highly likely that the team designing the game needed a real-life image to make sure that the camera's abilities were working properly.
However, the last image is what stroke me odd when I first saw it. To me, it appears as if there's a soldier hiding behind a wall from... Something. Somebody next to the soldier is staring at something off-scene. A man carrying what looks like a... Naked child is running by as the shot is taken.
Like I said, upon first seeing it, I didn't know what it was or what it meant. As I began to inspect it on my Photo-Viewing Program on my PC however, I began to feel a sense of dread. Something awful must have been happening to those people when the image was taken, but the cropping of the image makes it incredibly difficult to tell.
Incredibly interested and at the same time startled by the nature of the image, I opened up the forum website where I had been talking to my friend moments earlier. Sure enough, he was online and had apparently been trying to reach me since the past hour.
"Where have you been? I've been trying to get your help for the past fucking hour, man." ~ IJohnsonThe1ST
"Sorry, I just made a kind of weird discovery while messing around with my arcade machine" ~ LouisT905
"Wait, you hacked an arcade machine? Isn't that illegal or something" ~ IJohnsonThe1ST
"No it's mine. I had it since I was a teenager and I found something really odd on it" ~ LouisT905
While my friend was busy replying to me, I quickly opened up dropbox and uploaded the image so I could show my friend.
"Why does this even matter right now man we need to work on the project you know" ~ IJohnsonThe1ST
I typed in the Hyperlink to the Dropbox as soon as it finished downloading and waited about 5 minutes for a response from my buddy.
"OK what the literal FUCK is that?!" ~ IJohnsonThe1ST
"I had no idea, that's why I wanted to show you." ~ LouisT905
"I think you should call the police that looks like some kind of underground shit" ~ IJohnsonThe1ST
"No seriously call the fucking police it really does look like criminal shit" ~ IJohnsonThe1ST
"Relax it's just an image it wont kill you when you look at it" ~ LouisT905
IJohnsonThe1ST has signed out.
"Fucking pussy." I muttered angrily. I really wanted to find out the source of the third image, but no matter who I talked to on the forums I'd always be accused of photoshopping it, taking it from a news article, or would be greeted with negative responses from the local forumers.
Over the next couple of weeks, I kept on searching everywhere for answers. I just had to find out why such a disturbing image was in the arcade machine let alone in a children's game. It made no sense to me, unless somebody knew how to hack machines when the Arcade existed. (Which they didn't, clearly.)
Sadly to say, I eventually became more and more uninterested seeing as no matter what I did, I'd always be greeted with negative responses. Over the course of time, I gave up my search for answers. I returned to my normal college life (I managed to complete my project from earlier during the first week of the search) and never gave the image another second thought after that.
It was during a cozy Saturday when I received an E-Mail from an Anonymous User whom I was not friends with nor did I know in real life. I clicked open the message, expecting spam or a chain-letter hoax when the following text contradicted my beliefs:
[From] - AWD0ggE91@hotmail.com
[To] - TerryLouis@hotmail.com
[Title] - Mario Kart Image Origin SOLVED
[Subject] - Look up "Beslan School Hostage Crisis"
I opened my search engine thinking that it was probably a troll attempting to lead me into a dead end, but I figured it'd be worth a try.
I typed the words from the E-Mail into the Google Search bar, and clicked on the first link.
The Image's Origin Edit
The Beslan School Hostage Crisis was an event that took place in 2004, in which a School in Beslan, Russia was seized by armed Islamic-Nationalist Terrorists. Approximately 1,100 people were taken hostage during the tragedy which included children.
The Russian Government attempted to send Soldiers to extract the Hostages, but that's when the Terrorists shot and killed the Soldiers and some of the hostages in retaliation. It wasn't until three days later that the remaining amount of children and people were found alive, but severely injured due to multiple gunfights with the Russian Soldiers and a blazing inferno among other things.
Why Nintendo put such an image of disturbing nature in a kid's game let alone a Mario game? That is still one question that I have unanswered that will perhaps remain unanswered as long as the Image remains inside the game.
To me however, It's clear that Nintendo never wanted that Image to be found by anybody.
Author's Notes Edit
The "Hidden Image" I used for this Creepy Pasta is very real and the origin of it is the same as it is in the Story itself and can be found in almost every Mario Kart Arcade GP Cabinet and even its ROM's.
I honestly do not have an real answer to why Nintendo would put such an image into their games, but its origin is highly controversial.
Whatever the case be, this image was used to test the Image for the Camera Function in the Arcade Cabinet, and that's the only conclusion I can come to as to the purpose of this image.