For our seventh tale, Mat receives a game in the mail. Strange things happen when he tries to play it.
Meanwhile at the Lair of Dr. Callyco
“Okay so I’m holding a game controller…” Dr. Callyco was sitting on a couch. The mouse known as Dr. Cutie Pup was on his shoulder. “Why am I holding a game controller? The games we play was last year’s theme.”
“Squeak.” Was all Dr. Cutie Pup could answer with.
“I suppose you’re right. With this year’s theme of Whodunnit we’re bound to touch on some of the old themes. Everyone has their own style of doing things, and their own ways they enjoy seeing transformations inflicted. After all, the biggest hint as to who did each of these is the transformation itself and how it was done. For example, if we could figure out who would want to turn Dr. Cutie Pup into a mouse, we’d easily deduce his culprit.”
“Squeak.” Dr. Cutie Pup didn’t even roll his eyes this time. He was actually impressed the kitten’s attention span had lasted long enough to keep the bit going this long.
“Tonight’s guest is Mat, a bat-fox who is a bit of a gamer, and one of the more sensible guests we’ve had in these tales.” Dr. Callyco began.
“Squeak?” Dr. Cutie Pup was curious what the kitten meant.
“He has enough sense not to bother with clothes.” Dr. Callyco replied. This just got a face palm from the mouse. “Anyway, we hear stories of cursed video games on the internet all the time. Like, seriously, there are so many of them. It’s kind of impressive. But all of them are obviously fake, but we don’t read them because we think they’re real, we read them because it’s fun to believe they’re real even if we know otherwise. But… Mat is about to learn that not every story of a cursed video game is fictional. At the very least, his isn’t. I bring you, our seventh tale. The Tale of the Game That is Definitely Not a Creepypasta.”
Thirteen Tales 2020
The Tale of the Game that is Definitely Not a Creepypassta
Honestly, the package really should have been a giant red flag when it first showed up on Mat’s doorstep. A package delivered to him with no return address. And the contents inside wrapped up in some kind of green and white cloth. That should have been red flag number one. The package itself was just a manilla envelope with Mat’s address written in pen. When he picked it up though he felt a very familiar weight, one that had been in several packages like this before, they just weren’t a surprise like this one was. However, the bat-fox opened the package to confirm his suspicions that there was a brand-new video game in its case with the plastic wrap still on. The thing was, he didn’t remember ordering anything. And it wasn’t his birthday so it wasn’t like there was any reason for someone to be sending him a gift. To make it stranger, it was some game he had never even heard of. In fact, he wasn’t even sure what the game was titled as it was written in an incomprehensible font that might have technically been letters.
He had the day off to play, as he decided it best to take some time away after the last lab test. Mat retreated indoors with the game. Inside the dark of his home he was barely visible thanks to his dark black fur. There was just the green membrane of his wings attached beneath his arms, his orange and white tail, white foot tips and green and white triangles that made him just barely visible. He wore no clothing, and not just because he was at home but as a general rule. As for why his apartment was so dark,aside from the fact he was a bat it was just to help get that theater-like quality for when he was watching a movie or playing a game.
Mat was of two minds on the strange game that showed up. On one hand, it could be a virus. But it was also for one of his consoles, and he had never heard of a console virus, at least not one that came like this. He was also very curious what this game was and who had sent it. Perhaps one of his friends sent to him just because, or some random family member he hadn’t heard from suddenly realized they missed a birthday several months ago. It was hard to say when the package didn’t even come with a note. He wasn’t going to figure out who sent this thing to him unless they contacted him first.
But he could at least figure out what game it was. And so curiosity overcame caution. He popped the disk into his console, turned the TV on, grabbed a controller and sat down on the couch to play. As the game came on it didn’t go to a title screen. However, that wasn’t exceptionally abnormal. A lot of games went for more cinematic openings these days and through you straight into gameplay before getting to a title screen.
But usually, those games weren’t 8-bit platformers.
The screen that came on showed a black cat, the normal type that walked on four legs napping peacefully in a spot of sunlight in the forest. Actually, it was likely meant to be a kitten rather than a full-grown cat. It was hard to tell with it just being a sprite, but its tail was pretty short and its body more round. Of course, this could have just been the limitations of whoever made the sprite. Either way the kitten was sleeping peacefully in the forest as a dream bubble appeared above its head displaying a sea of fish. As it slept it had its paws wrapped around some kind of crystal ball.
Suddenly, the forest grew darker, and the sunlit patch was gone. The dream bubble popped as the kitten woke up and looked around in confusion. A moment later, a rat leaped down from the trees, tackling the crystal ball the kitten had just released and knocking it away. The black cat jumped to its feet and hissed, preparing to pounce up the rodent but the rat held aloft a strangely shaped twig and as the cat leaped for the mouse lightning leaped out from the twig striking the cat. The cat’s sprite suddenly shrunk smaller until it disappeared before reaching the rat. Then the rat cackled before running away, rolling the crystal ball with it.
The screen changed and showed the kitten again. But now the background was of tower sized blades and giant leaves and vines. The kitten looked dazed, laying on its back for a few moments before jumping back up onto all fours. It gave a meow before dashing over to right and jumping up onto a leaf. Then a few words appeared in the middle of the screen.
1-1: The Giant Forest
Mat took a few moments to examine the game’s UI and get an idea of what was going on. He could see a life indicator in the corner. There were three images of the black cat’s head indicating three lives. Or maybe four. It could be one of those games where that showed the extra lives beyond your current life and so 0 counted as one more life. There wasn’t a timer anywhere in sight, but on the opposite side of the screen from the life marker was the score. He pressed left and right, watching the kitten run from side to side. Then he tried tapping each button. He found the jump button and discovered he could do a double jump. Then quite by accident discovered if double jumping into a wall, or in this case a plant stalk, the kitten could quickly climb up it. Another button did a little scratch attack. If he held it down the kitten would crouch, and then start to flash a few seconds later and do a pounce attack that leaped forward. A third button did a dash, and holding it down let him run faster. Then the fourth button just made the UI disappear and reappear.
“I’m guessing this is some kind of indie game.” Mat was certain it wasn’t a AAA blockbuster title at least. Maybe the developer had sent it to him to get someone to play it? Come to think of it, he had often heard friends discuss wanting to make a video game. However, those ideas never really went anywhere, as most people never got past the fact that building a game takes more than just an ‘idea man.’ If one of his friends had actually done some follow through maybe they had sent the game to him anonymously to get someone to test it but didn’t want say who they were in case Mat’s feedback was negative. Granted, that would mean they were gambling on the fact he’d bring it up in a conversation that they were privy too. But, if some time during the next week someone started asking Mat about any new indie games he played recently it’d reveal the sender.
For now, he was going to play the game. Sure, it was retro. But making any video game was a huge accomplishment and so Mat was going to give the game a fair chance. Confident in how the controls worked, he began to run through the level. Platforms mostly took the form of giant leaves that he’d have to jump between. He was guessing if he missed a leaf it was treated as a bottomless pit. Eventually he encountered enemies. Mostly in the form of giant bugs. Or Mat supposed normal sized bugs considering the opening of the game. But there were ants roughly the same size as his character he had to fight his way through. They died in three normal scratch attacks, or one charged pounce. So far pretty easy. At least until he encountered a beetle bigger than his character. He tried doing a pounce attack, but bounced off the beetles shell and fell off the leaf plummeting into a hole. One of his life markers disappeared, and he was back at the very start of the level. Okay, not very enemy could just be freely attacked, he’d have to be careful for that and…
And something weird was going on. Mat felt like he was sinking into the couch, as if it was getting bigger on him. The controller also grew larger in his hands and his fingers were becoming stubbier? His overall frame became less muscular and a little more round. Mat dropped the controller and quickly stood up looking over himself. He was barely more than half as tall as he used to be. He started to panic a little bit about what was happening. He forgot about the game and quickly ran to the bathroom to look at himself in the mirror.
It wasn’t easy to see over the counter at his new height, but he could make out most of his body in mirror. He was still his normal bat-fox self, just much younger. He had to be five or six, looking like he belonged in kindergarten right now. How the heck did that happen? People didn’t just magically get younger for no reason! He didn’t know what to think. It had just happened while he was playing the game. Right when he had lost a life actually. A cursed video game? That couldn’t’ be it? Could it? That was the type of thing that only happened in cheesy creepypastas.
As Mat continued to try to figure this out his ears twitched as it picked up a distinct sound from his living room. It was the tone that had played when he lost his first life. He quickly ran back to the living room and saw what happened before the level restarted. His character had just been standing in one spot and one of the ants from early in the level had eventually reached and bumped into the tiny kitten. Now the kitten lay upside down on his back with stars floating around his head. Then, another life disappeared from the bar.
And Mat began to change again.
This time it was a lot more dramatic than an age change. The membrane beneath his arms was soon gone, and his tail grew thinner and longer. His ears shrunk slightly becoming more pyramid shape and whiskers sprouted from around his now shorter muzzle. Mat would have made for the bathroom to get a better look at what was going on, but it was at this point that he fell down onto all fours. His spine had realigned himself, and though he made a valiant effort, he couldn’t walk on two legs anymore. The best he could do was hobble up on his hind legs for a couple of seconds before falling over. He looked down at his hands as he landed on the ground on all fours again. Except they weren’t hands. They were normal paws now.
Mat couldn’t get a look at his entire body. But he could tell he was a normal cat now, well a kitten considering his age. Just like the character in the video game. However, he hadn’t specifically turned into that character. The triangle pattern was still all over his body, the tips of his paws were white and his pawpads were green. He was himself, just as a kitten. It was just a coincidence both him and the video game character happened to be predominantly black in color. That, or by design of whoever made created this.
But it was definitely not a coincidence that he had become the same species and age as the video game character after losing two lives.
And he had one life left? What would happen if he lost that? Mat was panicked, but he forced himself to concentrate. He found the controller on the ground and set it right side up. He couldn’t afford to lose another life. He had to at least find a way to pause the game. But pressing the start button didn’t do anything. He tried every button he hadn’t used yet and nothing paused it. That was bad. The next best option was turning it off. Or was it? Would turning it off reverse the changes or make them permanent? If he earned extra lives in the game would that undo these transformations? There was no way to be sure. As he debated, the same ant that had claimed his last life climbed onto the screen. Determined not lose a life to the first enemy a second time Mat quickly mashed down on the gamepad with his paw. But that was the problem. He had a paw and didn’t have the fingers necessary to manipulate the controller. Instead of attacking, he jumped and dashed at the same time. This at least made him fly over the enemy sparing him from losing another life.
Okay, good, he was safe. Now he had time to think about what to do. Except, as the enemy hit the edge of the screen and the start of the level it turned around and started walking towards the game character again. Mat had to get his character to a safe platform with no enemies. Then he could try to get the game turned off or something. But playing with paws was difficult. The joystick was easy enough to manipulate, but pressing just one button for his actions was going to be difficult. It was hard to get enough of his paw over the button to apply enough force without hitting a second button. Last thing he wanted to do was overdo the jump and fly right over the platform.
Wait, one button just turned the UI on and off. If he hit that one on accident with another button there’d be no consequences. The bottom button was jump, right controlled the UI. Pressing his paw down in the corner Mat was able to aim his jump and land on the next leaf safely. This one had no enemies on it so he was safe. Now he could rest a moment and figure this out and what to do since his character wasn’t in danger. Turning off or resetting the game might change him back since the transformations were part of the game. But there was no guarantee. It was a hard debate with himself on if he should do it or not. After some deliberation he made a decision. He was going to turn the console off. Even if it made him stuck in his current form it would at least prevent any future transformations. Mat pulled his paws back from the controller and began to walk towards the console. Then his character began to move right on his own.
Shoot! That was right! He has a drifting joystick issue. Most games it wasn’t bad enough to be a problem, he could easily correct it. And it only drifted right after he moved right, meaning tapping it to the left was enough to fix it. Mat pounced upon the controller to stop the character from moving. But it was too late. The kitten walked right off the edge of the leaf into a pit and he lost his third life.
Mat began to shrink again. But it was far more dramatic than his age or species change. He wasn’t getting younger, just smaller. And he was getting smaller fast. The controller soon towered above him, and his entire apartment turned into a giant landscape as if right out of a fairy tale. The shrinking happened so fast Mat barely had time to register it before it was done and he was standing atop bristly carpet fibers. He was the same size as the game cat, which meant he was no bigger than an ant. And from where he was right now he couldn’t see the TV, so had no idea if there was a life 0 or not. If there was, who knew what would happen if he lost that?
Well, he was a cat, and cats were natural climbers. It was time to put his little tiny kitten claws to work. He began to crawl up the side of his controller, finding small groves and imperfections to hook his claws into as he made his way up. It was actually really fast and easy. Which was good, because as long as he was like this, he’d be doing a lot of climbing.
Once atop the controller Mat could see the TV. He looked up at it and was thankful to see the game was no longer going. Instead, there was a game over screen that just listed two options. Continue and Reset. Reset! That was what he needed! Probably! Mat rushed over to the joystick and pushed on it, but his weight wasn’t enough to move it. And of course, this menu was navigated with up and down so the drifting joystick wasn’t going to select it for him. He ran to the D-Pad and tried pushing down on it with two paws. He couldn’t put enough pressure on it. He climbed up onto the D-Pad and began to jump up and down repeatably. Nothing happened. He didn’t weight enough. Just to test it, he tried jumping on the other buttons, but there was no way for him to do anything. Instead, the game just continued to sit there at the continue screen. Mat was stuck like this. Well, maybe the power would go out or the console would go into sleep mode or something would happen to turn the game off and he’d change back. That was all he could hope for. Right now, he realized another problem. Navigating his apartment was going to be a real chore like this. And if he wasn’t big enough to press a button he probably couldn’t use his cell phone to call a friend for help. Hopefully whoever sent the game would show up looking for him and could fix this. Then again, he no longer thought this had come from his friend. While some of his friends had some pretty wild ideas he was pretty sure create cursed video game was outside there field of expertise. Maybe in the lab he could figure out a way to reverse it, but that was assuming he could get there, and that science could undo a magical transformation.
There was a rumble at the door, and suddenly Mat could hear the doorknob turning. He hadn’t locked the door after getting the return. Someone was here! Could it be the culprit? Whoever it was, they were inside soon as Mat tried to hide beneath the controller. However, the controller was lifted up exposing Mat and the stranger very gentle picked up by his tail using a pair of tweezers. Mat didn’t get a very good look at who it was only seeing a pair of pointed white ears gold stripes before he was dropped into a pocket. He didn’t know what was going on or why he was being taken.
But there was some good news, even if he didn’t know it. He was about to become someone’s tiny pet. Which meant at least he wouldn’t have to worry about how to pay rent and get food. But that was something he didn’t know yet.