My name is Carl, that’s all I’m going to say, people who know me will instantly realize who I am and people who don’t know me will be unable to research my case (trust me, it’s for the best). I am writing hoping that if something happens to me, you would know the curse that probably brought my death (by my hand or by something else). There is a part of me that still has hope that one day I can read this and relax knowing this will only be a bad memory, but most of myself has already resigned to what seems to be my fate.
I am a 16 year old boy who has one known hobby, video games. I love playing games of all kinds, action games, horror games, adventure games, simulation games, etc. I played hours a day and locked myself in my room with my computer, it wasn't the ideal life of my society, but I enjoyed it, so I didn't care of what the others thought about me. My parents more than once showed their concern of my lifestyle, but I always left them at ease showing I haven’t changed my attitude or my personality with the influence of video games. Before you start jumping to conclusions, I had a normal school life outside my house, of course I didn't go out much but that didn't stop me from making good friends (no girlfriend though). I was happy and lived a very relaxing life, but that all changed with the curse.
At the start of this year I was introduced by the internet to the Touhou franchise. For those who don’t know, Touhou is a series of BulletHell games made by this Japanese man that goes by the name of ZUN, it has about 21 official games and even more fanmade games out there. I was instantly hooked up with the series, the games represented a challenge I never faced before (BulletHell shooters) and the fanbase was very friendly to me in the forums. It’s been months since I did some research on Touhou out of curiosity and now I consider myself a big fan of the series, I've beaten every official game from the PC-98 to the windows era, I know all the characters and even picked favorites, I participate in a lot of Touhou communities and I've been exposed to a lot of the fanmade content around the internet. I had never been so fond of a franchise until I discovered Touhou, it was simply an awesome experience.
One of my favorite characters of the games was Mima, in my opinion one of the most badass characters in the entire Touhou universe, the master of one of the protagonists and the first final boss of the BulletHell based Touhou games (Touhou 1 was not a BulletHell), who also mysteriously disappeared in the transition from PC-98 to Windows along with a lot of other characters. Because of that disappearance and the fact that some PC-98 characters returned in modern Windows Touhou games, many are hoping for her return every time a new game is announced, but she never came back, leaving a lot of fans like myself depressed. After yet another game without Mima (Touhou 13.5) I was left in my usual state of depression until I realized (late like the damn slowpoke I am) that the new Touhou 14 was announced. It was another opportunity for her return.
I didn't even play the demo so when the full game comes out I could experience it without knowing anything of it before (a “fresh” experience). When the game was finally released I decided to wait for the English patch before playing it so I could understand what was going on. I wasn't aware of the new patching mechanic so months passed with me unable to find a patch, but I had a lot of stuff to do so I wasn't anxious about it. Finally, in an anime/games event I found something I regret ever buying. It was a CD of Touhou 14 with a plastic cover in one of the shops, probably in Japanese since it seemed official.
I had waited long enough for an English patch that never came so I decided to buy it. The lady managing the shop looked really anxious when I asked about the game and where she got it, responding with “somewhere” to my last question. It was weird, but a lot of people are, so I shrugged it off and bought it. When I looked back to the lady in the shop while walking away I noticed an evil grin on her face, but that was probably a bit of paranoia for her weird behavior. After the event I returned home eager to play my recently bought Touhou game, so I ripped the plastic open and inserted the disc in my PC. I've never bought a Touhou CD before so I didn't know how the installation process worked. The installation process was like any other game, except it was in Japanese so I had to improvise. Either way I installed the game and was ready to play.
One thing I didn't notice while installing could have saved me from my curse: the Terms and Conditions bit that I (and I think everyone) skipped, with more reason since it was in Japanese, had a warning about the game and insisted that I shouldn't play it, that I had to get rid of the disk as fast as possible. I only realized this warning when I re-installed the game while investigating and traduced the Terms and Conditions text from Japanese to English, it was too late. After the installation a folder named “TH14” was created in my desktop, inside I found the application to start the game and a bunch of .dat files. It was 1:00 am when I started the game since the event lasted until midnight and I didn't want to wait until tomorrow. The game went full-screen and started like any other Touhou game bringing me to the menu with Reimu on the background.
It was then when something caught my attention: the Extra stage was unlocked already. The extra stage is a special stage you get by completing the game on normal or harder without continuing, a “one credit run” like we call it. Did someone else play the game before I got my hands on it? It was a possibility, I got it from a random shop inside the anime/games event I went that day, the CD I bought being a used disk wouldn't be surprising. I clicked the unlocked extra stage text to see which characters had beaten the game. I was surprised when the game gave 2 options: Extra Stage or Phantasm Stage.
The Phantasm stage was an exclusive stage for Yukari in Touhou 7 PCB, harder than that game’s extra stage and the only one in existence. What character could be the boss of this Phantasm stage? It would be lazy having Yukari as the boss again and a new character that rivaled Yukari with her power wasn't very plausible. A thought echoed in my mind: It could be the return of Mima!
I didn't think twice before starting the Phantasm stage hoping I could finally see the return of one of my favorite characters. The only character unlocked for this stage was Marisa, Mima’s student. What would happen when she finds her old master who mysteriously disappeared? I was more hopeful than ever and started playing. The stage took place in the Hakurei Shrine (the place where Mima was supposed to be sealed in) and the enemies where those ghosts from the old PC-98 games, I was even more sure that Mima would finally come back.
I fought through the stage with Marisa’s lasers barely making it to the boss and, God bless ZUN, it was Mima! It was a shame I couldn't read the dialogue but Marisa’s character showed a visible face of surprise when Mima made her appearance. Her sprite was very well made; ZUN must have put a lot of effort in this game’s graphics. There was a bunch of incomprehensible dialogue between the two characters but I could at least watch their facial expressions like Marisa’s surprise and Mima’s evil grin. It was then when after a bunch of lines from Mima Marisa’s face changed to an expression of absolute terror that was obvious to me. Mima kept talking while I watched Marisa’s face wondering what Mima could say to make one of the most fearless characters almost start crying from sheer terror (the tears in her eyes were clearly visible). Suddenly Mima began transforming into her “demon” form. I had seen that transformation before in TH02 when fighting her but as characteristic of the PC-98, the graphics weren't able to show much and the form wasn't very detailed.
Now with the upgraded graphics the form had clear details. It was disgusting to say the least, there was no trace of Mima in that monster that just appeared, it had some strange fangs, a jaw-less face with green hair and her hat, her huge bat wings, what seemed to be 3 huge feet barely coming out of her dress and her moonstaff had also grown to twice its original size. If she was describing her transformation to Marisa before I would understand her terror-filled expression. The fight started abruptly and I couldn't react fast enough to prevent a bullet from hitting me in the face. I was left with no lifes and my bombs didn't do any damage at all, so I had no choice but to pull myself together and dodge the best I could.
I managed to dodge her non-spell attack and prepared for her spellcard. “Twilight Spark”. “Wow, ZUN really checks the works from the Touhou fanbase” I thought and started dodging the 3 giant lasers on the screen. Dodging those fast lasers was difficult but when bullets started coming at me from the sides even with the skill I managed from all the other extra stages I wasn't able to dodge all those bullets and ended up caught in one of the lasers.
I screwed up and was impatient to retry and try again when I noticed the screen had gone entirely white. It slowly became visible and I was watching Marisa and the monstrous “demon” Mima talking more incomprehensible moon speak (Japanese text). I would have shrugged it off and kept playing if I hadn't noticed that Marisa’s character was severely burned, there were burn marks in her face and arms and part of her clothing was burned off. Marisa was giving Mima a painful look while the talk was going on but Mima didn't seem to care, I thanked God “demon” Mima didn't have character art inside the game and just the boss sprite was visible. I felt a strong sense of guilt about Marisa’s condition, I was the one that screwed up and Marisa was paying the price, so I skipped the dialogue as fast as I could so I could restart the stage undoing everything up until now. The dialogue ended, but there wasn't a menu to restart the level or even quit.
Instead, after a few seconds of silence Mima’s sprite pointed the flat end of her moonstaff to Marisa and, before I could think what she was going to do, she rammed Marisa’s sprite and stabbed her with it. To my horror the staff went through Marisa’s body with a sound of guts being pierced (the only thing I could relate to that sound) and left her impaled. I spent half a minute astonished at the scene before me and just then realized the game froze. I tried pressing buttons but I ended up using the administrator tool to end the application. Once the application ended I realized something was wrong, my wallpaper had changed from my Mokou image to an image of Mima standing over Marisa with her staff clearly penetrating Marisa’s body, or corpse like the blank stare indicated. What the hell happened? A lot of possibilities were showing inside my head. Was it a hacked game?
A distasteful prank from ZUN maybe? I had no means of knowing with my little programming knowledge. And what about the image suddenly appearing in my desktop? I searched the images folder where my wallpapers are and it wasn't there, I searched around my computer for any newly downloaded files and there was nothing about that image. In the end I calmed myself and concluded the image was probably inside of the .dat files and the game made it my wallpaper as a prank, I didn't care if it wasn't even possible as long as I could find some sort of rational explanation to that event. I looked at the game folder and wondered if I could get some answers by launching the game again. I opened the folder and immediately noticed the game application was renamed to “SHE IS COMING” and the .dat files read “TURN-BACK-NOW”. Believing it was part of the prank (Japanese people using English isn't rare in the slightest) I ignored the warnings and launched the game.
The game started normally and took me to the menu where I realized the Extra stage was locked. Since I couldn't replay the Phantasm stage I looked through the options and manual, but I didn't find anything unusual. Finally I decided to start a new game to see if I could find something else. When it took me to the character select screen I immediately tried to pick Reimu but the “locked” sound played at a volume so high that it reached ear rape levels. Well, Reimu was locked so I tried with Marisa, but she wasn't even there, there was no sprite of Marisa and the description screen was blank. I tried picking the empty character but I was greeted with the same annoying sound.
I moved to Sakuya and had the same result. There was, however, a 4th character: Mima. Phantasm boss AND playable character? This was obviously the work of hackers, Mima fighting herself in the Phantasm stage is stupid and ZUN would know that. Either way, playing with Mima again, even if it was a hacked game, would be awesome so I decided to give it a go. The first stage had the Hakurei Shrine as the background and the common fairy enemies, none of them a match for Mima. It would be impossible to describe the soundtrack since it was normal by Touhou standards, nothing wrong about it. After a few minutes of fighting I stumbled upon the first boss. I was expecting Reimu since this was her shrine but instead I found Suika the oni. The conversations were in Japanese so I skipped them and began the fight. For a first boss Suika was pretty tough, but I beat her with no trouble whatsoever.
When I beat Suika instead of the dialogue between boss and player after the victory, Mima quickly went upwards and slashed Suika. I watched as her sprite split in half and slowly disappeared leaving behind a pink spirit like those in TH13 which Mima took before leaving the screen from the top. It felt somewhat bad “killing” Suika but I had to admit the concept was pretty cool. What was that spirit Mima took though? I didn't win an extra life or a piece for it like in TH13 so its purpose was unclear. I thought its purpose would be explained later so I continued. I was surprised when a “victory” screen appeared like the classic Touhou games with an image of Mima in the background, but I was even more surprised at the fact that Mima’s hair changed from green to black. What is the purpose of changing Mima’s hair color to black?
It annoyed me since I liked her green hair better, but it was unimportant so I kept on going. Stage 2 took place in the Yakumo residence with cat eared fairies as enemies. I effortlessly blasted my way through the stage to find Ran as the boss. I didn't notice it right away but Ran (and Suika before her) had angry looks all the time while talking with Mima, like they hated her. Mima wasn't around when they were first introduced so I didn't have a clue about what could have happened that made them so angry at her.
I ignored the conversation in Japanese and proceeded to beat the shit out of Ran who I never liked that much. The battle was difficult but not enough to make me worry. After I beat Ran I was expecting Mima to go and slash her like she did with Suika, but instead she fired a giant laser at her until none of Ran remained, except for a pink spirit which Mima took immediately. I was happy they added variety to Mima’s “finishers” and proceeded to the victory screen. It was the same as the first victory screen with my score and all except for one thing: Mima’s sprite changed again, this time her skin color became pale white, a stronger white than any other character in the series.
What were they planning to do changing Mima yet again? I was sure I’d find out when if I progressed in the game. Stage 3 took place somewhere called “The Gap” (written in English): A dark place with hundreds of creepy red eyes and disturbing music. It was definitely inside Yukari’s gap (no sexual innuendo); the red eyes and disturbing soundtrack were proof of that. The enemies were Evil Eyes: eyeballs with wings that made me feel a strange sense of nostalgia even with the fact that I played the PC-98 games AFTER the Windows games.
This stage had a big difficulty spike that even an experienced player like me had a lot of trouble with. Strangely, with all the bullets going my way and the difficult patterns I had to avoid, I didn't lose a life or wasted a bomb. Finally I arrived at the third boss: Yukari. Yukari, who was always portrayed as a relaxed and calm youkai, was visibly angry at Mima. What had Mima done? I didn't know, but my objective was to beat Yukari so I started the fight. Yukari was, as expected, a really difficult boss, some of her patterns required a lot of skill and were terrifying to look at.
Regardless, I beat her without losing a life or wasting a bomb. I thought my performance in the stage was a mixture of skill and a lot of luck, but something was wrong with my flawless fight against Yukari, it felt as if the game was helping me dodge the attacks. I felt uneasy, but I disregarded that feeling and watched Mima finish Yukari by sending a swarm of ghosts against her until only the usual pink spirit remained. The victory screen appeared and, yet again, Mima’s sprite and character changed, her clothes replaced by brownish rags and her hat disappearing. “They better have a good explanation to why Mima is changing so much” I thought to myself as I continued to Stage 4.
Stage 4 took place in the Hakurei shrine again, only this time it was completely destroyed with debris everywhere, some of which would fly from the top and hit you if you weren't careful. The enemies appearing in this stage were ghost fairies, like those used by Rin, except these ones didn't come back. The level difficulty made the theory of the game helping me even more plausible, as I dodged my way to the stage boss: Reimu. Reimu was filled with rage and started shouting at Mima (who possibly destroyed the shrine after fighting Suika) but Mima didn't seem to care about her anger, she only grinned and waited until Reimu finished screaming. The dialogue was in Japanese so I couldn't understand the plot of this game, the only thing left was to enjoy the gameplay. Reimu’s battle was by far the hardest in the history of Touhou, with almost impossible patterns that would make Koreans give up. Still, I beat her without losing a life or wasting a bomb.
There was no doubt about it; the game WAS helping me dodge the bullets. Why? Probably because the hackers wanted the player to make it to the end of their game, or so I thought. Reimu suffered the same fate as Marisa: a staff going through her stomach. From her corpse another pink spirit appeared and Mima did not waste any time getting it. I was expecting another change in Mima’s appearance, but never thought of what I got. Mima’s face was disfigured, her eyes and mouth replaced by two big holes and a toothless smile. A chill went down my spine after seeing what Mima had become and I read a phrase written in English: We’re almost there, keep up the good work in the last stage! I had come far already, I wanted to see this through to the end.
Just like TH02 this game had only 5 stages. The last stage took place in the world of Makai and to my surprise there weren't any enemies, instead lasers and bullets came from each direction trying to kill you. It was so easy I didn't even need help from the game to go through this level, very disappointing for the final stage. With no problems I made it to the boss of the level: Shinki, the goddess of Makai. The dialogue started and I was about to skip it when I realized: Shinki was talking in English. Thinking it was a way for the hackers to confuse Japanese players I read through the now understandable dialogue. Gensokyo (the world where Touhou takes place) was destroyed and the last thing preventing Mima from going to the Human world was the existence of Makai. I helped Mima and somehow destroyed Gensokyo, the sudden news made me laugh a bit, not understanding how killing a few bosses would bring the end of that world.
“This is serious Carl!” Shinki replied. I stared with my jaw opened at the dialogue box where Shinki was talking to me. How? I haven’t got any record of my name in my computer! My username is obviously different and I have no personal information in my data, I only use this computer for gaming! Yet there it was:
“This is serious Carl!”
While I was shocked by the sudden mentioning of my real name, Mima started talking.
“Carl, we've gone so far to back down now, don’t you want to finish this? I’ll help you out!” A sudden urge of finishing the game started growing inside me, I was about to take control and fight when Shinki stopped me.
“Don’t let her control you! When she gets out the first thing she’ll do is kill you!”. Kill me? How? This is only a video game, right? How could a fictional character kill me, a real human being? Shinki gave me the answer.
”We are not fictional characters, we show like this because of the nature of the place we are sealed in”. Sealed? I asked. I wasn't expecting an answer but, as if it was listening, Shinki replied. “A vengeful spirit is sealed inside the disk, one powerful enough to withstand exorcism. If the seal is broken this spirit would be free to roam the world and take revenge on the human race!”
"The human race? Why all of us and not a specific person?” I asked.
“This spirit is from a girl who had a slow and painful death at a young age, abandoned by her parents she lived alone, no one knew about her and no one realized she was gone; she died blaming everyone for her suffering and accumulated so much hate her spirit is doomed to seek revenge and never rest.” It makes sense she chose Mima to represent her, she’s also a vengeful spirit aiming to take revenge on all humans, and, according to speculation, killed herself in a state of depression.
“If this game’s Mima is the spirit, who are you exactly?” I had so much questions but I was afraid there wasn't enough time to ask them. “I am the last barrier of this seal, if I die the seal will be broken and she would be able to escape, you helped her destroy the other barriers already.” I managed to make sense of all that happened until now. The characters Mima killed were the ones ensuring the survival of Gensokyo. If Reimu dies Gensokyo is destroyed, unless Yukari finds a replacement quickly enough, but with Yukari dead no replacement can be found, Ran could’ve done something as Yukari’s subordinate, but she was killed too. Finally, if Gensokyo were to disappear, Suika could use her gathering powers to create a new (but smaller) Gensokyo, so Mima killed her.
That was it, Gensokyo represented the seal and the bosses represented the barriers. Makai was the only remnant of the seal, but being separated from the main seal made its power decrease, showed with the reduced difficulty for the stage. I felt guilt like never before; I was the one that helped breaking the seal and was about to finish the job if the barrier didn't find a way to contact me.
“But, why was the spirit sealed in this dis-“I was interrupted. Mima, who surprisingly didn't say a word when Shinki was explaining the situation, finally talked.
“If you are not going to help me break the seal, I’ll have to do it myself!” Saying this Mima ended the dialogue sequence and started moving on her own.
“Stop her, quick!” begged Shinki. Shinki tried to defend herself, but her power wasn't enough and Mima dodged her attacks easily. Mima also wasn't as fast and looked clumsy on her dodging, it seems I was really helping her against the other bosses. Looking at the fight going on inside the screen I looked for a way to help Shinki. Panicked as I was I decided to take the plug off my computer so the fight couldn't finish and Mima would be unable to break the seal, seemed like a perfect plan, but I looked with horror at the computer that was still working without electricity.
Shinki was losing the fight, I tried to do everything in my power to stop Mima but I failed. Mima would win and break the seal, freeing herself from any impediment for her revenge. I looked around my room with a mixture of terror and anger and noticed the controller I used to play with my brother a while back. Call it a hunch, but I instantly plugged in the controller and started pressing buttons. A raising feel of superiority had taken over me when I noticed Mima was moving the way I wanted her to move. I immediately rammed her against the bullets on the screen, killing her.
I was about to sing victory when I watched Mima come back, life bar intact. It was over, I couldn't keep killing Mima for long if she returned without losing a life, and she would eventually damage Shinki before I could kill her again, killing her sooner or later. I sighed in defeat, asking Shinki what I should do as I lost hope. I watched the screen fill with text:
“There is a way to end this and fix the problem you helped create. Wound yourself and offer your blood to the haunted machine. The spirit will be sealed, but you will carry our burden for the rest of your life.”
I didn't think twice about it, desperation and guilt were driving me crazy, so I grabbed my trusty knife and cut deep into my finger before immediately pushing it against the USB port like it was a girl’s special place. I felt an intense shock of electricity through my finger, a painful sensation that lasted until the computer suddenly turned off.
I sat in my chair, put my hands on my face and started crying. I was tired, my finger was hurting like a bitch and my mind wasn't sure if all that happened was real or just a hallucination. After a couple of minutes sitting there doing nothing, I decided to plug my computer and start it. My wallpaper was back to normal, showing an image of Mokou that made me relax a little. It was there, the TH14 folder, right there in my desktop. I thought of deleting it to forget what happened this night, but a thought stopped me. Was the spirit really sealed? Did I really stop it? Was all that happened even real? The doubt was eating me from inside so I took a deep breath and opened the folder.
The applications were named correctly at least, I started TH14.exe. The game started normally, the Extra stage was locked and when I started a new game all the characters were selectable, Marisa was back and now I know there wasn't supposed to be a 4th character. I felt so relieved after seeing the game play normally that I closed the application and decided to go have some sleep. I turned the computer off, stood up and watched the always beautiful flowers in my backyard. I screamed so loud even the neighbors woke up. There she was, the girl Mima transformed to in the game, the spirit that was supposed to be sealed.
I was petrified, she had holes instead of eyes but I could tell she was looking at me, giving me a look so full of hate that made me want to cry. My father quickly rushed inside my room to see what all the fuss was about. Unable to speak from fear I pointed at the pale girl outside staring at me. My father looked outside at the girl for what seemed like an eternity, then looked at me and said:
“I don’t see anything that isn't a flower out there.”
“You probably saw a cat or something move and got startled, just go to bed already you 16 year old baby.” My dad said before laughing and leaving the room. I went to bed and collected my thoughts. After some thinking everything was clear: When I offered my blood I was accepting to seal the spirit by becoming the new seal, like the text said:
“You will carry our burden for the rest of your life.”
Because of that I’m the only one able to see the spirit and until I die the spirit will be unable to act freely, thus preventing it from harming anyone else. But, why is it not harming me? As the new seal, am I in danger of being killed by this vengeful spirit? Unable to answer these questions I looked at the window only to find that pale eyeless face looking at me. I couldn't sleep that night.
It’s been a week since I became the seal preventing Yuyu (I gave the spirit a cute name so it would seem less scary when thinking about it) from wreaking havoc with her vengeance against humanity. I made a lot of conclusions this past week. Yuyu hasn't tried anything to harm me, nothing at all, she’s been giving me mean looks and sometimes grinning for unknown reasons, but that’s about it. That doesn't make her presence less creepy, knowing you are being watched by something that wants you dead (and looks hideous) will make your life miserable. When I had enough of her “stalking” and decided to confront her, Yuyu disappeared as soon as I lost sight of her, only to appear looking at me from another window. Out of desperation I tried throwing things at her, I even shot her (after making sure my family and the neighbors were out), but the bullet just went through her. The fact that I’m the only one who can see her is the worst.
I can’t tell anyone, not even my family, since they’ll just think I’m seeing things or even that I've gone insane. It doesn't help that they notice my strange behavior and ask me what’s wrong when I can’t tell them I’m being stalked by a damn spirit. I also decided to play the game again, but excluding the fact that there is no Phantasm stage nothing interesting happened. I re-installed the disk and it’s like it was never haunted before.
Now you know about my curse. It’s been only a week since I started seeing Yuyu all the time so I’m not certain what will happen in the future, but I hope I can retain my sanity and not kill myself, because if I die, the seal will be broken and who knows what would happen then. It feels like a great responsibility without great power, just a creepy looking spirit and a lifetime of misery.