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Everyone has a childhood hero. A beloved charachter from the realm of fantasy. From a cartoon, or tv series, some from a comic. Most of them however, grew up on video games. Sonic, Mario, Zelda, Crash Bandicoot… those were the games of my generation. But the game that I remember from my childhood is Serious Sam.

I assume you never heard of it. A low- budget indie FPS title from CROATIA. How should you know about the game if you never heard of the land it comes from… Well that's my homeland. The game was actually quite popular there. The entire premise of Serious Sam was simple- here's a gun- kill the monsters. Hordes and hordes and hordes of monsters, to be more accurate. And the creativity behind these was astounding. The game had everything from mechanised dinosaurs to zombie skeleton cows. And everything set in ancient Egypt. What's not to love?

Gosh… it all feels so far away now… I left Croatia a couple of years ago in 2012 . Went to a college in Switzerland. Everything was great there. I was getting good grades, found some great friends- everything was perfect. But for a while now I've been feeling homesick. I haven't had enough money to visit my mother and father in Zagreb (Croatia capital) so I guessed the best thing I could do is to revisit my all time favorite game.

I searched every local store that sold video games in the hope of finding a copy. Nothing. So it was time to turn to piracy!

I was searching the web to find a download link. I soon found one at some small web page in a dark corner of the Internet. I downloaded the game and cheked it with my antivirus. It appeared to be clean, so I started playing.

I was playing for four hours straight.And it was a real trip down nostalgia lane. The badass guns, the crazy monsters, Sam's humourus comments- it was all just like in the old times. Two days later I completed the game on highest difficulty. But it still wasn't enough for me. Then I remembered something... there was a secret area in the game. At one point in the game you were presented with a bridge. Normally, the bridge would collapse as you walk over it. You would fall down into a river and then progress to the next level.

However, if you were lucky, you would be able to cross the bridge. At the other end there would be a passage that would take you to ˝ Moon Mountains ˝

The area itself was nothing to special. Everything you would find there are lots of harpie enemies and some pickups. But I was so excited by the mere thought of reliving one more nostalgic location from the game that it didn't matter.

I loaded up a safe file from right before I was about to cross the bridge. It took me several tries, but in the end I made it. I was standing right before the entrance to Moon Mountains.

I was slowly  heading towards the passage. I was standing right next to it.

Suddenly, the game crashed.

For no apparent reason, the game just… crashed.

˝We are very sorry for the inconvinience. Serious Sam.exe has stopped working.

-Close program

-Check for solution online˝

I closed the window. I didn't concern myself with the crash. It was a low budget game and it had the tendency to glitch out  from time to time. I was just annoyed because I had to cross the bridge again…

I booted up the game. But this time something was different. No developer logo, no opening cinematic. It just cut straight to the game.

I found myself in a place I've never seen before. And I've completed the game several times. I have seen every location in the game. Apparently not this one.

It was simply a path.

Everything around me was dark. Completely black. There was nothing on the screen besides the path that I was standing on. I had all of the weapons and precise number of ammo I had before the game crashed. I started walking down the path. I fired a few shots in front of me, but nothing happened. After about two minutes of walking I realised that the path won't get me anywhere. I tried to get off the path but there were invisible walls running down the entirety of the path. Suddenly I recived a message on NECTRISA.

NECTRISA was a help interface that opened whenever you rappidly pressed the right mouse button twice. I t contained information about enemies, weapons, and the enviroments you encountered throghout the game. Every time you encountered a new enemy, picked up a new weapon or entered an important area, you would get a notification. This notification would appear at the top of the screen.

This was wierd because I did not do anything to trigger a message from NECTRISA. I mean, it could be because of this new dark- path area I found myself in, but I've been here for three minutes already. That notification should have appeared before.

I opened NECTRISA. And yes, It was a new location.

THE PATH

This stood in the description:

WELCOME TO THE PATH

HE WILL BE THERE SOON

HE IS THERE NOW

HE IS BEHIND YOU

:D:D:D:D:D

This creeped me out. What was this? Some kind of sick joke?

I tried to calm myself down. I took a few deep breaths. Then I tried to explain it to myself.

Was this an initial part of the game? No, not possible. I grew up on this game. And I knew every single level inside out. I figured it was a joke. Some kind of mod. I did download the game from a rather suspitious site…

Yes… that's it. Someone hacked the game. That would be the logical explanation. Someone is playing a joke on me. I pulled myself together and closed NECTRISA. But right after I did, another notification appeared. I took a deep breath and pressed the right mouse button twice quickly.

Then I saw it.

That face. A pale, almost completely white face. It had enourmous eyes and a twisted, disturbing smile. Infact, it wasn't smiling. It was laughing. Laughing straith into my face, showing it's yelowish teeth. Despite the giant eyes it had very small pupils. And it was staring at me. The face looked like it was cut out from a photo taken by a low resolution camera. It didn't fit into the graphics of the game. In the field where the names of the enemies would be there was:

:D

And the description box said:

DO NOT TURN AROUND

At this point I was properly scared. I closed NECTRISA and decided to shut the game down. First I tried to press the escape button to bring in the pause menu. Didn't work. Then I got another message. I didn't dare to open it at first… But my curiosity got the best of me yet again.

This time it was in the ˝tactical data˝ department.

FORGET IT

YOU ARE ON THE PATH NOW

YOU CAN'T ESCAPE HIM

DO NOT TURN AROUND

My heart was racing. I kept telling myself to calm down. ˝It's just a stupid joke, remember? A sick joke by some asshole who thought this was funny.˝ I didn't even know why I reacted this way. I'm usually not such a… well…- pussy! But that face… that sick face…

Then I started to think about the things the game was telling me. It kept mentioning the path…So, the place I was in. But who is ˝he˝..?

HE WILL BE THERE SOON

HE IS HERE NOW

HE IS BEHIND YOU

What did this mean? Is ˝he˝ that face?

And there was one more thing the game kept telling me.

DO NOT TURN AROUND

The game kept warning me not to turn around. Because ˝he˝ is behind me.

I closed NECTRISA yet again, and started moving forward. At this point, I knew it was utterly pointless, as the path was obviously endless…

I couldn't stop thinking about what it said…                                           

DO NOT TURN AROUND

HE IS BEHIND YOU

So what if I do turn around? Would I trigger some kind of jumpscare? I can see it already- that face appearing suddenly, loud screaming… that kind of thing. This was obviously a hacked game, those cliched jumpscares wouldn't surprise me.. maybe then I could exit the game.

I took a deep breath and put my hand on the mouse.

Why was I so scared of this game? I mean, this was just some stupid hack! Why am I being such a pussy?

It was just that I felt this… strange sensation… this unexplainable feeling of terror the moment I put my hand on the mouse with the intention of turning around.

I slowly started draging it to the right.

I turned the volume on the speakers down.

I was thinking about closing my eyes. I didn't, though.

I turned Sam around.

I saw it.

The path.

The path I came from.

There was nothing there.

What the fuck? What was this supposed to mean? Why did somebody go through all this effort and scare the shit out of me and then have there be… nothing behind me? What was the point of the warnings? I was confused…

I heard a sound.

Footsteps? Floorboards cracking?

That wasn't coming from the speakers.

Then I realized. A cold sweat shot through my skin. What am I, a moron? How could I be so blind? It WAS rather obvious.

By now, I guess you realized it too.

Those warnings didn't refer to the in-game Sam.

NECTRISA meant ME, sitting here in front of the computer.

Someone was in my room. I was frozen in place. The footsteps were getting closer. Oh, how I wanted to run away. But I couldn't.

It made a step forward.

˝MOVE YOU IDIOT WHY AREN'T YOU MOVING?!!˝

And another.

˝PLEASE MOVE I'M BEGGING YOU!!!˝

I felt it's breath on the back of my neck.

˝I DON'T WANT TO DIE˝

˝I DON'T WANT TO DIE˝

˝I DON'T WANT TO DIE˝

˝I DON'T WANT TO DIE˝

˝I DON'T WANT TO DIE˝

Then someone pushed me. I opened my eyes as a bright, yellow light filled the room, blinding me.

˝Dude, wake up! How long have you been playing that?˝

My head was laying on something very uncomfortable… only when I raised it I realized it was my keyboard. I had a huge headache. The light was coming from the window on the right. I should also mention that the guy who woke me up was my roommate Florian.

˝You've been playing that for the entire night? Man, you have issues.˝

And it looks like I have been. The keyboard was covered with drool, my right hand was still on the mouse when I woke up… But what was that… the path…? And that face? Someone was in our room last night!

I told Florian everything that happenned last night. At first, of course, he thought I was screwing with him, but when he realized that I was serious, and scared half to death, he dismissed it as a nightmare.

˝Look, man, it's simple- you were playing the game until late at night, and when you fell asleep, you dreamt of it. Now let's go, the guys are waiting for us.˝

It was Saturday morning, we had no classes, and we were supposed to meet some of our friends over at the basketball court. Anyways, as I got dressed, I was starting to think about the events of last night. And frankly, Florian's theory sounded quite reasonable. Just a nightmare. Nothing to be scared about.

Over the course of the day, I forgot about it. We shot some hoops at the court, then had a drink. We came back to our room at two o'clock. Florian dragged himself over to the couch, sat down and turned on the TV. The news were on.

Meanwhile, I turned on my PC. I wanted to check on the game. I still felt a little bit uneasy about that dream I had yesterday…

When I turned it on, however, something weird happened.

˝Hey, Florian, have you been fiddling with my computer?˝

˝No, dude, I didn't touch it. Is there a problem?˝

˝The hard disk… It's been wiped clean!˝ - I whispered in disbelief.

˝How did that happen? Did you download anything suspicious?˝

˝Yeah, I guess so… but I cheked it twice, how…˝

Luckily, I always back up my files (at least the important ones) so no serious damage has been done… Still, it was a rather unpleasent experience. And somehow, I couldn't shake off the feeling that this had something to do with that dream of mine…

Florian returned to the couch. While I was still trying to figure out what the hell happened to my hard disk, the voice of the anchorman caught my attention.

˝Yesterday night, the dead body of a 30-year–old man was found in his apartment in Zurich. He was brutally murdered, beat to death by a blunt object, while he was sitting in front of his computer. The police are looking into this crime, as the…˝

At that moment, they showed a picture of the crime scene. A disturbing sight. The man's lifeless body was sitting in the computer chair, his back turned to the computer, with a large wound on the head.His blood was splattered all over the computer screen and the surrounding walls.

˝A cryptic message was displayed on his computer screen. The police suspect that it was left by the killer.˝

Then, they showed a close-up of his computer screen.

I will never forget that scene for as long as I live.

My knees started shaking, my heart was pounding rapidly, and my vision began to blur. Three words, and they disturbed me on a level deeper than anything before in my life...

I will never be the same again.

YOU TURNED AROUND :D

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