Monday, December 5, 2016

Ben Drowned

{We at Alone at Night love some creepy pasta. A reader sent in a link to this story, and though it isn't the type of story we normally post, we still wanted to share it with the lot of you. Enjoy
-Alone at Nigh staff}

I need your help with this. This is not copypasta, this is a long read, but I feel like my safety or well-being could very well depend on this. This is video game related, specifically Majora's Mask, and this is the creepiest shit that has ever happened to me in my entire life.
Having said that, I recently moved into my dorm room starting as a Sophomore in college and a friend of mine gave me his old Nintendo 64 to play. I was stoked, to say the least, I could finally play all of those old games of my youth that I hadn't touched in at least a decade. His Nintendo 64 came with one yellow controller and a rather shoddy copy of Super Smash Brothers, and while beggars can't be choosers, needless to say it didn't take long until I became bored of beating up LVL 9 CPUs.
That weekend I decided to drive around a few neighborhoods about twenty minutes or so off campus, hitting up the local garage sales, hoping to score on some good deals from ignorant parents). I ended up picking up a copy of Pokemon Stadium, Goldeneye (fuck yeah), F-Zero, and two other controllers for two dollars. Satisfied, I began to drive out of the neighborhood when one last house caught my attention. I still have no idea why it did, there were no cars there and only one table was set up with random junk on it, but something sort of drew me there. I usually trust my gut on these things so I got out of the car and I was greeted by an old man. His outward appearance was, for lack of a better word, displeasing. It was odd, if you asked me to tell you why I thought he was displeasing, I couldn't really pinpoint anything - there was just something about him that put me on edge, I can't explain it. All I can tell you is that if it wasn't in the middle of the afternoon and there were other people within shouting distance, I would not have even thought of approaching this man.

He flashed a crooked smiled at me and asked what I was looking for, and immediately I noticed that he must be blind in one of his eyes; his right eye had that "glazed over" look about it. I forced myself to look to his left eye instead, trying not to offend, and asked him if he had any old video games.
I was already wondering how I could politely excuse myself from the situation when he would tell me he had no idea what a video game was, but to my surprise he said he had a few ones in an old box. He assured me he'd be back in a "jiffy" and turned to head back into the garage. As I watched him hobble away, I couldn't help but notice what he was selling on his table. Littered across his table were rather… peculiar paintings; various artworks that looked like ink blots that a psychiatrist might show you. Curious, I looked through them - it was obvious why no one was visiting this guy's garage sale, these weren't exactly aesthetically pleasing. As I came to the last one, for some reason it looked almost like Majora's Mask - the same heart-shaped body with little spikes protruding outward. Initially I just thought that since I was secretly hoping to find that game at these garage sales, some Freudian bullshit was projecting itself into the ink blots, but given the events that happened afterward I'm not so sure now. I should have asked the man about it. I wish I would have asked the man about it.
After staring at the Majora-shaped blot, I looked up and the old man was suddenly there again, arms-length in front of me, smiling at me. I'll admit I jumped out of reflex and I laughed nervously as he handed me a Nintendo 64 cartridge. It was the standard grey color, except that someone had written Majora on it in black permanent marker. I got butterflies in my stomach as I realized what a coincidence this was and asked him how much he wanted for it.

The old man smiled at me and told me that I could have it for free, that it used to belong to a kid who was about my age that didn't live here anymore. There was something weird about how the man phrased that, but I didn't really pay any attention to then, I was too caught up in not only finding this game but getting it for free.

I reminded myself to be a bit skeptical since this looked like a pretty shady cartridge and there's no guarantee it would work, but then the optimist inside me interjected that maybe it was some kind of beta version or pirated version of the game and that was all I needed to be back on cloud nine. I thanked the man and the man smiled at me and wished me well, saying "Goodbye then!" - at least that's what it sounded like to me. All the way in the car-ride home, I had a nagging doubt that the man had said something else. My fears were confirmed when I booted up the game (to my surprise it worked just fine) and there was one save file named simply "BEN". "Goodbye Ben", he was saying "Goodbye Ben". I felt bad for the man, obviously a grandparent and obviously going senile, and I - for some reason or another - reminded him of his grandson "Ben".

Out of curiosity I looked at the save file. Eyeballing it, I could tell that he was pretty far in the game - he had almost all of the masks and 3/4 remains of the bosses. I noticed that he had used an owl statue to save his game, he was on Day 3 and by the Stone Tower Temple with hardly an hour left before the moon would crash. I remember thinking that it was a shame that he had come so close to beating the game but he never finished it. I made a new file named "Link" out of tradition and started the game, ready to relive my childhood.

For such a shady looking game cartridge, I was impressed at how smoothly it ran - literally just like a retail copy of the game save for a few minor hiccups here and there (like textures being where they shouldn't be, random flashes of cutscenes at odd intervals, but nothing too bad). However the only thing that was a little unnerving was that at times the NPCs would call me "Link" and at other times they would call me "BEN". I figured it was just a bug - a fluke in the programming causing our files to get mixed up or something. It did kind of creep me out though after a while, and it was around after I had beaten the Woodfall Temple that I regrettably went into the save files and deleted "BEN" (I had intended to preserve the file just out of respect of the game's original owner, it's not like I needed two files anyway), hoping that that would solve the problem. It did and it didn't, now NPCs wouldn't call me anything, where my name should be in the dialogue there was just a blank space (my save file name was still called "Link", though). Frustrated, and with homework to do, I put the game down for a day.

I started playing the game again last night, getting the Lens of Truth and working my way towards completing the Snowhead Temple. Now, some of you more hardcore Majora's Mask players know about the "4th Day" glitch - for those who don't you can Google it but the jist of it is that right as the clock is about to hit 00:00:00 on the final day, you talk to the astronomer and look through the telescope. If you time it right the countdown disappears and you essentially have another day to finish whatever you were doing. Deciding to do the glitch to try and finish the Snowhead Temple, I happened to get it right on the first try and the time counter at the bottom disappeared.

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