Did you ever wonder how AI actually work? What they see through their eyes? If they feel, or have ever felt, any emotion? I know. They know. I see them out of the corner of my eyes sometimes. They’re watching. I can't get them out of my head. So, I'm writing this down so that everyone knows what I know. The memories used to keep me from picking up the pen, hands shaking, whispers echoing, screams playing back in my head as if some kind of sadistic joke. Today I write this, somewhat a will of sorts, so others can remember what will be lost in the black depression that is death.
When I was young, my father used to work at Square Enix. He was a storyboard artist. When my brother was old enough, my dad got him a job at Square Enix as a night time janitor. My brother would sometimes take me to the office while he was cleaning to look around. I wasn’t allowed to touch the computer or open the desks, but I could go into some of the different offices. One of the workers I knew, Josh, was the head engineer of the AI coding for the Kingdom Hearts games. He was a close friend of my dad’s, but I never really saw him. I could never get into his office, but always wanted to so I could see how he made the NPC’s. He always kept his door locked I knew this because I always tried to get in. I even tried to jimmy the lock a few times, but I soon learned it had a electronic locking mechanism. Sometimes, when my brother took me to the office, I was allowed to play the PS2 in the break room, if it was left unlocked. I remember one time, better than others, where my brother had to clean up late because they were finishing the development of a new game. Obviously, as game development usually goes, the process was long and grueling and the developers were up late. To keep confidential information from leaking out, only game developers were allowed to be there at their offices before 10 pm. It was during the summer, so my brother asked if I wanted to come along for late night. As always, my answer was an immediate yes. There was a thunderstorm that day, and the rain beat heavily on the car door. After a short car ride, we entered the building and I immediately ran to Josh’s door in hopes that he left it unlocked today.
Surprisingly, when I twisted the door handle, it turned, but my heart sank back down when it wouldn't budge. The electronic lock was still active it seemed. After about three minutes of sulking, I went to a small office cube and took out my Gameboy SP and started to play a game to keep myself entertained. I was focused on the game when the power went out in the office. For a few minutes, I scrambled around the office, looking for my brother. Then I realized that if the power was out, the electronic lock on Josh's door must be off. I took out my game cartridge and used my SP as light. With only devious intentions in mind, I thoroughly searched for Josh’s door. After what seemed like hours of searching, I finally came across it. I twisted the knob and pushed on the door. To my great surprise, it swung open very easily. I almost fell over, but I quickly regained my balance. I walked to josh's laptop, which oddly was still on. reached for the external mouse, my hand hit something else. Something smooth and hollow. I felt around it and realized it was a game case! I almost squealed in delight and grabbed the case to bring it into the laptop light. It was the new release: Kingdom Hearts 2, but the cover was different from what I owned and seen in stores. The cover depicted Namine in the middle of the image, drawn against a white background and in anime style, the Kingdom Hearts 2 title above her head. You could only see her from the waist up. She had her hands behind her back and she had her hair covering her eyes. She was smiling sweetly and slightly, very inviting, I actually thought she looked kinda cute. When I began to make my way out of the office, game in hand, the power flashed back on. In a panic I quickly hid the game in the waist of my shorts and closed the door. My brother came over to me and said that we were going be there a few more hours; the power outage caused the boiler to shit the bed. I nodded and asked if I could use the PS2 and play the office copy of Kingdom Hearts that was in the break room. In a tired and calm voice he replied yes. I walked, trying not to seem too excited. I tore the game from under my shorts and I opened the case. The disc was normal besides the fact the it had the numbers "2956" written in black marker on the bottom of the disk. Maybe it’s a developers copy? I thought to myself, a puzzled look on my face. <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-indent: 0.5in;">After a short moment, I disregarded the code and placed the game into the PS2 and booted up the game. The load screen popped up and I selected "New Game.” I didn’t have my memory card on me, but it didn’t bother me, I don’t play the PS2 here that often anyway. The game worked just fine and I played up to the point when you first go to the abandoned mansion. I reached the part of the game when Roxas tried looked through the gate and saw Namine at the window. then the game froze with the image of her at the window. I was angry, so I turned the PS2 off and removed the disc from the drive and went to return it to the case. Before I closed the case, assuming the disc was broken, I saw a small rectangle wrapped in a very small square of bubble wrap. Curious, I unraveled the packaging to reveal what was inside. It turned to be a memory card with the code "2956" scribbled on it in black marker with a label put onto the memory card saying "Broken!" And another label below it saying "Corrupt!". The memory card wasn't a normal memory card, it had "Square Enix" engraved into the plastic. I was curious, so I plugged it into the system and restarted the game. The menu didn't show up this time, only the save load screen. There was only one save on the card. The save file was named "2956EMTesting". Testing? I thought EM? I didn't know what the EM stood for, but since it said "Testing", I assumed this was an early version of the game, and the save was specifically made for that disc. I loaded the save up, eager to see a beta version of a game.
I wasn't greeted by the normal cutscene where Roxas is waking up. instead, I started at the bus station. The music played as normal and everything seemed fine, so I disregarded this as a glitch. I walked down from the bus station because all the shortcut tunnels were still locked. I assumed that, again, since this could be an early version, it might not have a lot of content. I walked down the hill to the little market place. When I got there, something was off. Nobody was there, and the small booth where the man sold you the skateboard was gone. I thought this was a little creepy, but pressed on. The same happened all around town; booths were closed and nobody was to be found. I decided to find the place where you fight in a tournament to get munny for your beach trip. I started to walk away when I noticed that nothing of interest was there, but then noticed the poster that was supposed to showcase the tournament, didn’t. Instead, it showed the same picture as the game’s cover, except Namine was no longer smiling. She had a flat line for a mouth. It looked ominous, but not enough to scare me. I was a little creeped out, however. Why would this even be in a early version of the game? Was the game originally intended to be different? My mind raced with questions, but my hunger to learn more about the game overpowered them. Nonetheless, I pressed on. I tried going to the forest, but the screen faded to black, and a small bit of text appeared against the black. “no,” was all it said. No capital, no explanation, it just returned me to the entrance outside the wall. This was unsettling. I paused the game, to go to the options to turn up the brightness, due to the back up generator running the office not running the lights at full capacity. But when I pressed on options, a similar black background appeared, stating “no” again, in a similar way. Were the developers playing some sort of inside joke? Whatever it was, the result was creepy. Anything I did in the pause menu gave me the same text box, and returned me to different locations each time. The last time it spawned me near the Hangout, so I decided to head that direction, seeing as my options were worn out.
To my general surprise, I was not rejected as before but allowed to progress towards the destination I wanted to go to. My mouth gaped open in shock at what I saw there. Outside the fence was Hayner, a rock stuck into his skull. His head was collapsed and his brain matter was on the floor in a pool of blood under his legs. This scared me. A lot. I walked over to him, but nothing happened. No option to interact, no cutscene, nothing. He was just lying there. Dead. I then walked up to the entrance to the hangout. Upon entering, I froze with disgust and fear. Two of Roxas’ friends, Olette and Pence, were nailed to the wall by their necks. Not just one nail, but several in a lazy, haphazard fashion. Olette had her arm cut off and shoved into her mouth, her eyes crushed on the ground below her. Her other arm was shoved into her crotch with a deep red stain in her pants. I didn't wanna know what that was. Pence had his stomach cut open with dismembered parts sewn to the inside of him, his guts nowhere to be found. I almost threw up. I wanted to quit, but some morbid curiosity compelled to keep going. I turned around to find one more body. Seifer. All his limbs were missing, sown into Pence’s body. There was a stick jammed into his eye and the part in between his legs was missing. Not just his crotch, but the whole thing, so you could see the bottom of his stomach. His eyes were removed and the nerve cords of his eyes were tied around his throat. I couldn't hold it; I threw up in a small trashcan. Text, as if a subtitle, appeared on the bottom saying, “You hated him anyway... didn’t you, Roxas? Didn’t you?” This was followed by a short, girly giggle. At this, my hand hovered over the PS2 power button, shaking. I couldn’t do it. My hand slowly returned to the controller, fearing what might happen next. I walked outside and saw a trail of blood going down the stairs next to Hayner’s body. The trail wasn't there before, and he wasn't on a slope, so the only logical conclusion was to assume someone made the trail.
Passing Hayner’s body, I now saw an "Interact" option. I pressed square, and the "beep" assured I had selected my choice. A text box then appeared as if someone was talking to me. The text box read “no FolLow iT.” I hesitated. My wits were at their end. I wanted to end whatever morbid joke this was. I took the whispers advice and followed the trail. I followed it throughout almost the whole town, and as I followed, the trail of blood grew wider. When I found it at Hayner’s body, it was pencil wide, maybe less. Now the width spanned the size of a small car. It led up to the front gate of the old mansion, which was open. It was never open in the game. I walked into the mansion. When I entered, the mansion didn't look normal. The stairs to the two upper floors where broken, and the door in the middle below the stairs was blocked by debris. The hidden door to the pod room where Goofy and Donald were held was open. I walked in, but soon regretted it. Both pods were broken and Goofy and Donald had been mangled. Donald had a huge piece of glass shoved through his mouth through the back of his head, his small intestine stretched from inside his throat to around Goofy’s neck. Goofy had been crucified to the wall by pieces of glass. His torso was cut open and his eyes were missing. His eyes sockets had his large intestine strung through them. His brain was tied by the stem around his neck, and his spine had been torn out, shoved down his throat. The whisper spoke again, sounding a little more demonic now, "Is my work beautiful? Does is it make you proud?" I was scared shitless at this point. I knew that I had to continue, to satisfy my curiosity. I was frozen with fear, so any attempt to turn off the Playstation seemed like an impossibility and daunting task. The next room was the computer room. As normal, the cutscene played, but the computer screen showed Namine’s face, like on the cover, but you could see her eyes this time. They were bloodshot, dark purple, with tears pouring out of them. She had a demonic smile on and was grabbing her face with her hands, almost like she was trying to stop herself. She looked at the screen as nine other faces popped up on the smaller screens. She began laughing demonically, but it sound like a cross between crying and a delightful squeal. The middle screen showed the face of the people she killed, and there was a faint static on the screen as each face changed. This went on for about 30 seconds before the cutscene continued. Roxas grabbed his head, as he normally would in the in game, then spontaneously summoned his keyblade and began began to smash the computers, but this time the computers had words upon words of flickering and rapidly changing gibberish.
The game then took away control of my character. He walked into the chamber where Sora was in his pod. Diz was dead on the floor, but not very morbidly, just stabbed. When I saw Sora’s pod, my character stopped in front of it, and my game cut to first person view, even though I hadn't pressed select. The pods outer covering, which concealed what was inside the pod opened. Sora was wide awake, banging on the door and begging for escape. The whisper roared again, but now completely demonic and unfamiliar. Cries of anguish, joy, and pain. The random symbols put in are either static or words i couldnt make out. Heres what the voice said:
"Subject Alpha 2956EMTesting has officially sucumbed to rampancy. A2956EMT’s Emotional Matrix has malfunctioned. Game data is officially abandoned. Further development has been ceased, effective immediately. Do not use this data. Use of this data is subject s@&*=#*T!!@??!?*()_(*&&R^!*&(SOH^(*&()totermi*&TTUnatepl*(&ease-:}}\/:}::&(*press)(*&()*&!^@#$^$*to term(inate NPC—"
The rest of the message sounded like radio static with changing pitches. It was so loud it left my hearing partially impaired. It mercifully stopped just as I saw what looked like a yellow-brownish liquid flow into Sora’s chamber from a glass tube above the pod. When it touched him, he jerked backwards and smoke was seen, blood poured from the top of his head. He tried to cover the opening of the tube with his hands, but it simply burned a hole in his hands, mixing more blood at the bottom of the pod. He slipped inside the pod and started to scream. He flesh slid off in clumps and his hair burned at the touch. He look at me through the pod, his face melting, half his skull visible. He slowly fell into the liquid, giving in. The game made me watch him dissolve until nothing but clothes and blood mixed with the liquid was at the bottom of the pod. I was frozen. I felt numb. My character then randomly died, leaving me with a screen that said "Continue?" I tried to press no, dear God tried, but it wouldn’t let me. I sobbed as I pressed yes, my body unable to move, frozen with fear and horror. And as the screen faded away, I heard the soft demonic laugh. My cries increased with the volume of the laugh, ever rising. I then respawned at outside the train station. Inside the glass door was corpses, organs, limbs, blood, and unsanitary matter, all scattered inside and splattered against the glass doors. The full demonic picture of my tormentor began to slowly fade onto my my screen as I walked closer to the glass doors, I heard TV static. The picture took form on my screen. She had an intestine stretched in her hands, biting the middle of it, her face covered with blood, tears coming out her eyes. I heard loud laughing and gargling as the words "death" "beauty" "life" and "insanity" repeated in soft but harsh and cold whispers on loop for about one minute. The screen, for some reason, became black and I saw the text "Was it beautiful? Are you proud? Can I be free yet, josh?” And the screen cut to black for the final time.
My body instantly reacted and reached for the power button, violently smashing the power button. The small ledge where the power button resided broke off and fell off, onto the tear-stained floor. I could move again. I took out the disc, smashed it with my fist, fracturing the disc. I picked up the case to break it as well. Then I saw the face of Namine on the cover. The cover no longer looked inviting, rather, twisted into a gnarled mocking of what one might call a smile. I threw it at the wall and ran. I ran to my brother, screaming bloody murder. Her laugh resonated, reverberated inside my head. Every day since, every computer screen, every picture, every piece of paper, every book shows her face. Her evil fucking face. She always in my dreams, or rather, my nightmares. It’s forever burned into my peripheral vision. When I close my eyes, I see her. I’m losing touch with reality. I can’t escape. I can’t run. All I can do is hide, hide in fear.