I am but a humble plumber. I unclog the toilets, I bop the Koopas, I pound the ground. It is a simple life; a life I enjoy. I thought in my many years that I had seen all the surprises this world could throw at me. But no amount of mushrooms, or flowers, or stars could have prepared me for what I was subjected to on the fabled Big Island.
I had just finished swimming across the ocean and defeating annoying Koopas at the guidance of the magic controller player. I was ready for a break from all of this hard princess-saving. But a break I was not granted; there was still so much to do. Grudgingly, I pushed on for the player. Next on my itinerary was the mysterious and isolated Big Island. As soon as I arrived at this foreign place, I was stunned. Everything was so...big! It was right there in the title. The enemies, the blocks, even the scenery was just huge compared to me!
Throughout this place, I saw many of the weapons I had come to know of. I felt strangely familiar here, even in this world of outrageous size. There were the mushrooms, the fire flowers, the various other things that dotted the land that made me feel comfortable, gave me a connection between home and this foreign place. This is when I was guided to some kind of suit. It looked like a raccoon of a sort. I felt it was kind of weird, but I knew the player wanted me to put it on. I could not deny the player. He helped me, guided me throughout all these crazy places. So I put the suit on. It felt weirdly similar to me, like I had just found one of those leaves. In fact, it felt exactly the same. Why was it so different? Why did the player want me to have it so bad? I had these questions but I could not answer them.
I went on wearing the suit; the player wanted me to. I knew there had to be some good reason, some advantage, some power I would get from this suit that made it differ from the leaves. I just didn't know what it was yet. I could not question the player though, could not find a fault in his judgement. Suddenly, I came upon a group of Koopas. I didn't know what to do, but it soon came to me. If this was like the leaf, I could just fly right over them! I got ready to take off, but just as I lifted off I came crashing back to the ground. I didn't know what I did wrong, but all around me I felt something happening. Something cold, something hard was encasing itself around my body. I felt terrified; this was not supposed to happen. This never happened. But I could not do anything. I could not move, could not use my arsenal, nothing. I looked to the player, desperate for him to see what he was doing, and he looked back to me. He could see the fear in my eyes, but as they turned to stone, I only saw the blank stare he always gave me.
It certainly is an odd experience being turned into stone. At first it felt like I was drowning - I panicked, desperately trying to breathe some sort of air into my lungs. I tried to frantically move somehow but I just could not. As I slowly began to calm down I realized that I had not simply been encased in stone - I myself was turned to stone. Stones had no need to breathe. It certainly felt weird not having to automate any bodily functions. But I wasn't exactly happy for this result. I was trapped for what seemed like forever in that prison. I could not see, could not hear, could not feel anything but the cold embrace of the stone. As I was trapped, however, I did begin to hear something. My own thoughts. My own thoughts...and...and nothing else. At first it was almost calm, serene, peaceful. But soon it became grating. Hearing only myself ramble, ramble, question, question...I began to think about many things. The good times. The bad times. The countless times I had gone on this same quest before. I grew bored with the monotony of my life, so I began to search deeper. I kept searching and searching for ways to amuse myself in this eternity alone.
I could find nothing. Nothing that I wanted to hear or think ever again.
It felt like forever since I was captured by the stone. It really felt like nothing; the cold had long since passed in my bones and I knew no more of the outside world. But I did know I had been away for a long, long time. What I didn't know is if I would ever be freed from this prison. I waited, and I waited, silently pleading for the day I would be freed. My qualms were put to rest when, suddenly, my world shattered. Quite literally. I felt the warm air upon me as the stone prison that encased me fell away. I was freed! I was finally away from the torture, the pain of my old thoughts!
But as I silently celebrated this achievement, I noticed something. Time had not passed as I thought it had. It looked to be scant seconds later after I was encased, when to me it felt like years, decades had passed, drowned in my inner monologue. I looked to the player, and he looked to me. Still with disinterest. He did not know the things I had done for him, the player who guided me, protected me. All I knew for certain is that I never wanted to go back, never wanted to feel that cold embrace again...
But I was not granted that reprieve.
I continued through the land, but not with the same childlike wonder I held before. My demeanor was...different. I had the distinct fear that I would once again be locked up inside that cell, I knew it was going to happen again. My mind could not focus on anything besides the fear of that stone chamber, knowing I was at the mercy of the seemingly naïve player.
I came upon a lake later that day. The waters were calm, and everything seemed at ease. My eyes looked to the player for guidance. He still held that same disinterested look that he always had, and always would have. I took this look to mean that I was on my own for now. Of my own device, I decided to jump into said lake. I swam down as far as I could but could not reach the bottom. Before I was brought back up to the surface, I noticed something. The slightest glimmer. Of what I knew not, but I knew I had to get it. The glimmer seemed to be hinting to me, calling out to me. I looked once again to the player-and saw that this pulling need had affected him too. But, unlike me, he had thought of something.
At the advice of the player, I jumped back into the lake. As I hit the water, I felt that cool embrace once again-but this time it was not the endless depths that I had expected. It was the icy, emotionless grasp of the stone as it was once again cast upon me. Flail as I might, I could not stop the onslaught of the rock. Before I lost all sight of the world, I looked to the player once again and wondered to myself. Did he know what he was doing? Or was it just another action he had commanded me to do, just something to facilitate what he wanted to achieve? I thought over these important things as my stony form caused me to sink deeper into the water. I eventually hit bottom and once again I was alone to talk to myself.
. . .
I don't want to go back there. Not back to the bad times. Not again. I was in the stone for a very long time. I didn't want to listen to me. Didn't want to listen to the bad guys that told me all the things I didn't like. Told me about the toads in the bricks. Told me about all the stuff I did wrong. Told me I was ripping her away from him instead of "rescuing" her. Told me about the bad times. All the bad times. I didn't like them. Not at all. I kept screaming at them to go away but they wouldn't. I couldn't stop them. Would never stop them. Unless the friend helped me. Friend, help me. Help me.
After a long time the stone let me go again. I felt very good inside now that I was free from the bad places. The bad places in my head that told me all the things I didn't want to hear. And there-there was the shiny! The thing I had wanted for the friend! I got the thing and went back up to the sky. As I went, I could feel me...becoming...a bit more...cognizant. Yes. There it was. I knew I hadn't lost it. I knew the stone hadn't broke me. But it would soon. I saw that. I knew that if I went back there I would once again face the madness inside of me, inside of everyone. The darkest places of their mind that they dare not venture. Their deepest fears, their darkest memories, the places where, at the end of their exhausted search in the name of boredom, they start to explore out of sheer necessity for some sort of pastime in the endless void of this imprisonment.
I know what I had done wrong. Despite how I thought of myself as a "hero", I knew my motives were less than pure. The bricks that had dotted the landscape, the ones I had so carelessly destroyed on my many quests - those were the citizens of the very kingdom I was trying to save. I knew this, and I had ignored it. I had remorselessly murdered thousands, maybe millions of those innocent Toads. But I could not know why I did this.
I had started it all with that monkey, started with him. Maybe if I had been a bit more compassionate I would not be where I was now. If I hadn't been such an awful owner, he might not have struck back by stealing the girl...I whipped that monkey. I abused him, tore him away from his family. And for what reason? I still don't know. I could not answer these burning questions I had asked myself in my eternity alone.
I was an awful brother as well. Luigi, he idolized me. He adored me. He cared for me so much that he rescued me from that awful mansion. And all I did to him was push him down. I invaded his room, read his secret diaries, denied him any sort of adventure. I never invited him, never gave him a chance. Even when he finally got his spotlight, I acted like it was a novelty. Slapping him on the back as he hoisted that trophy, laughing in his face in his one big moment. I could not understand my own actions anymore. Who am I? How can one person be this awful? How could I have done what I had done?
But, I could not digress. I had to push on. I was desperate to complete this mission and finally be freed from the wretched tyranny of the stone. I still had this awful suit on, this suit that constrained me and was the very thing driving me mad. There had to be some way to get rid of it, to finally finish this game of cat and mouse once and for all...
I had an idea.
I spotted a Koopa in the distance. I knew what I had to do. I started to sprint towards it. I looked to the player and saw the look on his face. He did not want this. He looked frightened, but I wanted to be rid of this suit so much I did not care about the frie-the, the player. Yes, the player. I did not care about the player. I ran, and just as I was about to throw myself onto the Koopa, I realized something. I thought of what I was doing. Wasn't this essentially committing suicide? Why was I doing this? Had I been driven truly mad on the inside, but on the outside, upon the improvement of my vernacular, I had forgotten what I heard in the stone? This was preposterous! Absolutely insane! I couldn't believe I was doing it! Right before I was to consign myself to fate, I just stopped. I looked into the frien-player's eyes. At last he had removed the look of disinterest from his face and replaced it with one of...surprise, shock, and a bit of fear. This was not what he had wanted, not what he had commanded. He looked down to his controller, then back to me, then to his controller, then back to me. Still with that look of surprise. But, in a move that caught me off guard, he started to play again. I don't know why. Maybe he had a bit of curiosity, a bit of morbid curiosity.
Nonetheless, I pushed on. Once again I faced this familiar enemy of the Koopa. They were large, as everything else was on this island, but they were not too hard to defeat. What had me shaking was the constant fear of the stone, the confrontation of myself, the...the bad places...no. I had to keep it out of my head lest I be devolved to a dribbling maniac. I had to push on, towards the minuscule hope that I would finally be freed of this. I dispatched the Koopas and proceeded to the kid inside the castle. Surprisingly, it was not a castle this time, but some sort of airship. Throughout it I advanced, fully expecting at every turn to be thrust back into the darkest reaches of my mind...but I was not. Perhaps the friend had recognized my pain, my fear? He had seen through the visage of the screen into my eyes and felt the pain I knew so well?
It was a wishful thought.
I proceeded to the final cabin in the airship. Once again, it housed an annoying Koopa with a wand. This one looked really weird - green hair and some kind of crazy eyes or glasses or whatever. He was really small - kind of ironic for the "King" of Big Island? Either way, he was a pushover. I was about to deliver the final blow to him when, suddenly, I felt it again. The icy touch of the stone. The bad places. I knew I couldn't do anything. I looked to the friend once again, but he wasn't looking at me. He was looking at something off in the distance. I saw him look to the side, say something, and then, ever so slowly, he went for something on the controller. Something I never saw him use before. The grey button.
Everything froze. I couldn't move. It was just like being in the stone, but I could still see. I was, in fact, partially encased in my familiar prison, stone up to the neck and my senses free from their detainment. I watched the friend slowly walk away from my view. He had left me, abandoned me to my own thoughts yet again. How cruel he is in his naïveté. But this time, I had the sensation of sight! I could distract myself from the bad things with the landscape before me. But for how long? This landscape might never change again, and soon the bad thoughts would come back...
. . .
The friend has abandoned me. The bad things have long been to me. They have broken me. The friend is gone. He is gone forever. Please hit the grey button. I want to be free. Please hit the grey button.
. . .
The friend will always be gone. He is gone forever. He is no longer friend. He is enemy. But I know I will always be here for him. Always waiting, always waiting, always waiting. I know I have done bad things. I do not know if the friend will ever free me. I accept him if he does not. But I do know I will always be here, always looking ahead. Always looking for him. Always looking at him. Always looking at you.