It was January 23rd. It was snowing lightly, and there were some snow piles in the yards of several houses in the neighborhood I lived in. I was on my couch watching TV, while my Mom was putting on her winter coat and scarf.
My mom told me, "Dave, get dressed! Johnny's family is having a yard sale."
I replied, "Okay mom!"
Johnny was my best friend. I always went to his house to play video games. I put on my winter coat and snow hat and embarked to Johnny's house. It was a short but cold 4 block trudge to get there. When we arrived we saw a whole menagerie of items to buy like books, shirts, and other yard sale mainstays. I talked to Johnny for a while about what he had sold and the noticed the games rack. There were some sports games, an copy of Nintendo Campus Challenge, and a few Ness Amiibos, but what caught my eye was a dusty box behind the other games. My eyes started to widen, and I gave out a joyful smile.
I picked it up and Johnny said, "Hey, I remember this!"
"Really?" I replied.
The game was Zoo Tycoon 2: Ultimate Collection. I loved that game when I was 10.
I asked Johnny if I could buy it.
Johnny replied, "Sure! I don't want it anymore."
"How much?" I replied.
"25 cents", Johnny said.
Instinctively, I checked inside the box to see if the discs were all present and accounted for. Lo and behold there was no disc two. I showed it to Johnny to see if he knew where it was. He said, "I'll go check inside, but I don't remember any spare discs."
A few minutes later he arrived with the second disc. He told me it was just sitting on his couch for whatever reason. I gave him a quarter and took the game as my Mom took me to leave.
When I got home I took off my coat and started up the game on my laptop. I went through the installation and loaded all the discs up. I clicked on the shortcut and the game began.
"Welcome back," I said to myself.
I started the game and heard the Ultimate Collection music. I sighed in blissful nostalgia. I clicked 'New Game' and created a Large Grasslands zoo. I downloaded animals, objects, and also a mod called 'Radical Remake', that makes the animals from the Ultimate Collection more realistic. After making the entryway and architecture of my zoo I decided to begin with an exhibit of flamingos. I spent 5 days on the zoo and only got halfway done. While constructing on the 5th day I suddenly got a message on the top of the screen, saying, "Flamingo 1 is sick." After changing to Guest mode to heal the flamingo I got a flood of messages, "Flamingo 3 is sick," "Lion 2 is sick," "Asian Elephant 1 is sick," the messages would say.
They kept coming in, some even about animals that had just been healed. Adding to my confusion was a message box that said, "Your animals are sick. You're not healing them, and you refuse to give them food, water, or shelter." It continued, "If you do not care for these animals like a responsible keeper, we will be forced to shut down your zoo and have your animals moved or euthanized."
I had given them their food and water, I was curious as to why the game was acting like this. The screen flashed black for a second. When the image came back, the zoo was different. It looked darker, more contrasting, hostile. The animals were all gone, their cage doors seemingly broken open from the inside. All sounds were gone except a constant wind, droning on. The camera panned through the zoo. The further it went, the darker the screen became. The trees were all dead and I swear I saw a cow's skull on one of the fences.
After a while of panning, a message box came up. "This is what you get, you monster," it read. The camera panned over the first flamingo pen I made. The sole tree inside was burnt to ashes on the ground. Singed feathers surrounded the broken gate. The brightness scaled up to a blinding level.
A couple seconds later, the game played a video that seemed to be shot in real life. The camera was still on a pen of flamingos ambling about. The screen went black for a split second while a gunshot sound was heard. The video returned to show a close up of a flamingo ramming his body into the gate. The sound was just distorted animal cries on repeat. The flamingo hit the gate with its head over and over again, its body getting more and more disfigured with each blow. A few other flamingos joined in as the first one's head had nearly caved in. The first flamingo fell over, his pink feathers tainted by his self inflicted wounds.
The screen went black again. The gate could be heard breaking. When the video returned, all I could see was fire. There wasn't even a zoo anymore, just a fire on a pure green backdrop. The last thing I noticed before the game crashed was a mysterious black figure walking through the fire.