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Messages - Slimebeast

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Slimy Stories / Re: Mario is a Monster
« on: 09:23:13 AM 02/04/22 »


My stories are released under an NC-By-SA license.

This means...

NC - Non-commercial. Cannot be used to generate revenue.
By - Credit the author.
SA - Share-Alike. People who adapt my work can't then claim ownership of the adaptation or adapting it in general.

Slimy Stories / Re: You
« on: 03:25:51 PM 05/19/21 »
Yup. I had one of the old 4-issue mini-serieseses until the dog we had at the time ripped them up.

Slimy Stories / You
« on: 06:54:12 PM 05/07/21 »
You don't remember.

You woke up and got out of bed, even though you didn't particularly feel like getting up.

You heard someone at the door soon after, almost as if the person on the other side was somehow waiting for you to regain consciousness and pull back your blanket.

You found a package just outside the door. It was wrapped in brown paper and twine, as pristine as a prop from a movie. Your address was on the top side, but there was no return address. No postage. No postmark.

You put the package down and thought hard about it. Was it an order you forgot you made? A gift from someone you knew? Maybe it was just a shipping mistake, something meant for a neighbor... but then why would it have your name written with in unremarkable black pen?

You slid the twine away from the center of the package, tore open the paper carefully, and revealed the ornate wooden box within.

You decided someone had definitely made a mistake, but you didn't know who.

You studied the box, felt along its surface with your fingers. It was etched with intricate patterns, set with dark jewels that you were sure had to be fake. The whole thing looked too expensive, too authentic... too important to be in your hands.

You lifted the lid, and for a moment it seemed as if the box inhaled the air around you. Surely, just a trick of your imagination. You assumed you shouldn't be opening such an old and expensive thing, but the contents might solve the mystery of its existence.

You found a mask and some cloth. Drawing both out of the box with trembling hands, you were unable to stop yourself. With the cloth - a red and black robe - draped over your body, you placed the wicked, grimacing gold-leaf mask over your face.


You became you.

You, the real you.

You heard the voices call to you from beyond a hazy veil of self-control and social restraint. Each voice was yours. They whispered lurid things, yelled demands, and coaxed you to commit atrocities.

You wanted to do what the voices asked. You always did.

You took what you needed. You hurt everyone who had hurt you. You hurt others that you simply wanted to see in pain for no solid reason. You cut, stabbed, strangled, and bludgeoned through an imaginary to-do list of blood-stained depravity. You ate forbidden flesh. You sucked in dying breath. You fractured minds, blackened hearts, and then provided eternal release only when it was begged for.

You reached week's end, and repackaged the contents of the box. You filled out a name you didn't know, and address you'd never heard of, and you placed the shipment outside your door. There, it disappeared from your life once more.

You don't remember, but...

You're welcome.

Slimy Stories / TAN
« on: 04:31:09 PM 12/23/20 »
I work the cliché nine-to-five job at an office.

You can picture my workplace before I even describe it. Stark. White. Cubicles that hold you in place like inhumane cages. Removable ceiling tiles and florescent lights that feel like a cruel mockery of open sky.

My boss is an idiot. His father held the position before him, and when the old man retired, the moron he sired took over... despite having little to no business skill whatsoever.

Every day, like clockwork, the same doughy coworker stops by my cubicle and asks the same inane questions he's bothered me with a thousand times. I always offer to write the answers down, but he just says he'd lose them. When he leaves, the smell of his sweaty armpits hangs in the air like bad gas.

The messy-haired guy from the IT department stands in the same spot every morning. It's right between the entrance and our work space. There, he annoys every single passerby with diatribes about how overworked and underpaid he is. We all call him "Panic" behind his back, due to his constantly frazzled demeanor.

Big deal. We all are.

When I get home after a long day of staring at a computer screen and keying in data, you might assume I like to lay back and relax. Pop open a beer, or pour of glass of wine. On the contrary, I just sit down and a different keyboard and get right back online.

Somewhere along the line, I guess I forgot all the skills necessary to detach myself from virtual life. Maybe it was trained out of me by an employer that was so soulless, it needed to steal mine.

I spent most nights playing games, staying up late and sabotaging my work ethic the following morning. Being half-asleep almost made the office more tolerable.

When my friend group got into playing Among Us, I wasn't a fan of it. It was way after the original hype of the game died down, and everyone sort of treated it as the default game for people to play together.

I didn't like the tasks. It felt like work. Running here and there, doing meaningless busywork that did nothing but slow the inevitable, oncoming threat of death... I guess it just felt a little too real. Too close to how my life was actually being spent away.

Still, I gave it a fair shot. The fact that everyone I knew insisted on playing the game made it hard to refuse, after all.

I became adept at avoiding others. I trusted no one. I kept my eyes open for odd behavior, and I was the first to call out anyone acting suspicious. After a while, I actually became good at it. I could usually tell who was playing an impostor within the first few minutes, just based on how the players moved.

I also learned that no one likes a know-it-all, so I had to find clever ways to catch impostors in the act of killing another player, or hopping into a vent to fast travel. Just saying what I knew right away seemed to ruin the fun for others.

I must've been twenty hours into the game, spread across a few weeks, when something unexpected happened.

The most surprising thing at that point was just being surprised at all. Everything in the game had become routine, and I was mostly on autopilot. It was my natural state, really.

A random player entered the round, joining myself and the few friends who were still hanging around by that time of night.

His name was a series of three question marks.

Hey, that happens sometimes. Among Us is a glitchy game, and there are plenty of kids who run hacks with various strange effects.

What was unexplained, however, was the player's color.


Not brown, not white, but semi-beige middle ground between the two. I'd only ever seen players glitch into one color that wasn't normally available, and it was always "forest green", a placeholder the devs used for the split second between joining a round and being assigned a real color.

Naturally, the chat lit up with questions and comments.

How did he get that color?

Was he hacking?

Where was his name?

Why wasn't he answering?

Should the host start the round or ban him?

The timer counted down as the round started. You'd be hard pressed to find Among Us rounds where the host actually cares about much more than playing as soon as possible.

The map was Mira HQ. For the three forest-dwelling tribesmen out there who haven't been flooded with Among Us information by now, it's a sky base with relatively few ways for crew mates to avoid impostors.

My favorite tactic for that map, when I was on the good team, would be to immediately run and hide behind the reactor. There, I would wait until I caught an impostor killing, venting, or doing something suspicious.

However, in that round, I was randomly chosen to be one of two impostors.

It's simple enough at that point. Get people alone. Take them out. Don't get caught. Most random Among Us players are little kids on smart phones, so you don't really need to be too careful beyond that most of the time. My few remaining friends that night would be the only ones to worry about.

The kill timer hadn't even counted down when I saw the first body.

There were two reasons I found that confusing. First, if my cooldown wasn't over yet - how did the other impostor kill? Second... the victim WAS the other impostor.

Again, if you've never played the game, let me clear this up for you.

You cannot kill impostors. Not like that. Ever.

Even if it were possible, who would have done it? I was the only other one capable of the act.

I reported the body, calling an immediate meeting ingame.

"Okay," I typed, "I know I shouldn't reveal I'm the Impostor, but something is broken and we should start a new round."

I was insulted and jeered, of course. Admitting I was the bad guy would seem to be a troll tactic to ruin the game for everyone.

Before I could fully explain that the other impostor had been killed - the only person dead so far - I was voted off by the rest of the players.

Everyone voted me out, except for Tan... who didn't vote at all. He never even spoke throughout the process.

Since both impostors were dead, that should have resulted in a crew mate victory. Game over. Everyone's happy, good guys win.

That didn't happen.

The game continued, and for all anyone knew there was still an impostor left to find. Everyone ran off to do their tasks and have fun as if everything was completely normal.

In the ghost chat, invisible to living players, I asked the other impostor how he died.


That was the answer, after which the other impostor rage quit the game.

It made sense right away. I felt stupid for not realizing something so obvious immediately - of course the impossible kill was carried out by the hacker with the impossible color.

As an unseen ghost, I followed Tan around the map as he followed the other players, pretended to do tasks, and waited for his time to strike.

Snap. He killed Purple in the office.

Snap. Green died trying to shoot asteroids.

Snap. Pink never made it through the hallway to medbay.

With each reported body, more and more accusations flew. People were accused, and votes were held, but no consensus could be reached. Every vote was skipped, and one by one they died to an oxymoron - a fake impostor.

You might be expecting some sort of unnatural, demonic twist at this point. My PC exploding in a ball of fire, or the stumpy little tan crew mate climbing out of my screen or whatever.

I don't blame you for thinking that's what I'm going for, but this isn't one of those posts. No, the round simply ended once enough players had been killed, and we were treated to a "DEFEAT" screen with Tan standing alone on a black backdrop.

Even I saw the losing game-over screen, and I was supposed to be on his side.

Tan was gone once everyone rejoined the lobby, and nothing unexpected happened for the remainder of the night. If he hadn't left, he would've been banned anyway.

My friends and I discussed the odd event for a short period of time, but left it at that. Mostly, we shared a mutual frustration over the fact you can't report anyone in-game.

I had completely forgotten about the incident by the time I arrived at work the next day. I was just as tired as always, and planned to catching some sleep during the quiet moments of the day, as per usual.

I entered the office, walked straight to my desk, and plopped down and listened to the boss drone on and on about the Mandalorian in the distances. The dunce actually thought he had discovered some kind of hidden gem and was describing it to everyone who was too afraid to correct him.

The big, sweaty guy stopped by to ask where printer cartridges were kept for the hundredth time, and I put my shirt over my nose and mouth to cover the stench as soon as he lumbered away.

I'm usually so good at spotting the suspicious behavior... but not that day.

"Panic". The messy-haired bundle of nerves that liked to complain to anyone who would listen each morning. He had been absent, and I walked past his usual spot without so much as a thought about him.

The scream woke me from my workday haze. It was one of the girls from human resources.

I poked my head up above the cubicle walls just enough to see the front door closing behind Panic. He had a duffle bag slung from his shoulder, and a pump-action shotgun in his hands.

As he opened fire on the shrieking, scrambling crowd of employees, a spray of blood spattered across his tan suit.

Slimy Stories / The Haver of 1980s Aesthetics
« on: 02:57:41 PM 12/23/20 »
In any city, in any state, in any country, anywhere in the world, walk into any abandoned Blockbuster Video or Toys 'R Us store. Once inside, look for a homeless drifter who appears to have taken residence in the dilapidated building. You may have to search behind empty shelves, or even in the break room.

Approach the drifter and, in a shrill, nasally scream, ask, "WHERE'S THE BEEF?!"

The drifter's eyes will widen, his lips will smack, and his nostrils will dilate. If you have come at the correct point in time, a small insect will drop from his facial hair. The facial hair can be a full beard, a mustache, a goatee, or even muttonchops.

The drifter will lead you to the stock room, and he will unlock the doors by humming the Punky Brewster theme music.

Once you are beyond the stock room doors, run full-tilt, as fast as you can, and do not look back. This room does not expand into a long hallway or anything like that, so you will run straight into a cement wall rather quickly. Don't rub your head and don't exclaim "Ouchie-ma-ma!" no matter how much you may need to. Stay completely silent until you hear the sound of synth music gradually rising around you.

Open your eyes (fuck I should've told you to close your eyes earlier) and you will see the Haver of 1980s Aesthetics standing before you. He will be wearing a Members Only jacket, stone washed blue jeans, and a pair of Air Jordans. His t-shirt will bear the phrase "FRANKIE SAY RELAX", but you must not read it or dire consequences will befall you at some point in your future.

You must now offer him a can of Tab and say "Raphiel is cool, but rude." Upon hearing this phrase, the Haver of 1980s Aesthetics will remove his Aviator sunglasses, pull aside the headphones of his walkman, and look directly into your idiot face.

If he says "Bogus", you must immediately turn and run out of the room without ever looking over your shoulder again for the rest of your days. If you ever, at any point, accidentally look over your shoulder, you will instantly shit your pants and Stacy will point and laugh at you.

If he says "Radical"  and plays a tasty riff on a sick keytar, you will have succeeded in your quest. Everything around you will turn to static, with the vertical hold waaayyy out of whack. You will blink twice, then find yourself in an open neon green field. The sky will be purple, and the sun will have horizontal lines through it.

At your feet, you will find a Rubik's Cube that cannot be solved. Don't even try. I'm not saying that because something bad will happen if you try, I'm just trying to save you the time.

This Rubik's Cube is item 1980 of 8000.

Slimy Stories / Carved With Care
« on: 04:21:49 PM 10/23/20 »
Small town life was never bad to me.

A lot of people will complain about living in a closed-off, kind of backward little town. For me, personally speaking, it was never really an issue. I didn't yearn to go out into the world and find adventure, and I wasn't going stir-crazy by seeing the same familiar faces again and again at school, stores, and on the streets.

If anything, I found it comforting as a young man. Disagreements rarely ended in fights, because otherwise every meddling elder in town would force you to talk it out anyway. Break-ups had to be painless, because you'd see your ex for years afterward and no one wanted the drama. The crime rate was almost zero. You could easily identify a thief when you caught them with property no one saw them buy.

So, naturally, the real characters stuck out like sore thumbs. For example, everyone knew not to leave their kids alone with Mr. Clariet, even though he'd never gotten the chance to do anything wrong, yet. Alternately, guys my age knew they could always rely on Dianne, the check-out girl down at the supermarket, if they were feeling romantically frustrated.

Another such character was Mrs. Tracey, the 70-something lady that lived in the dead end off of Mineral Road. She was a pretty average, cliché shut-in. Her home was all but in shambles, though she always made the attempt to decorate spruce things up as much as she could. Her flowers we kept nicely, and she could often be seen hunched over the front step, beating the non-existent dirt out of a welcome mat no visitors ever stood on. Her lawn maintenance was provided by the local church, as part of their outreach to older, forgotten town residents.

A clowder of cats had taken up residency in and around the house. Mostly black or tuxedo cats, though the random tortoise shell or tabby would appear in the mix occasionally. She named each one "Sweet Pea", I guess to keep it simple.

She wasn't known for her depressing lifestyle or for being a "crazy cat lady", though.

She was known for her astounding artistic skill, expressed though the carving of ornately detailed Jack O' Lanterns.

The first time her artwork affected me, I was in 4th grade. I had a really wonderful science teacher named Mr. Burker. He was short, stocky, with thick glasses and a comb-over that told you right away he loved particles and chemical reactions.

He was always happy, always funny, and loved immature kids' jokes. He was perfect for elementary school, and he was probably the only science teacher I actually listened to, before or since.

That made it all the more disturbing when my class arrived to his room one day and found him crying. No one knew what to say or what to ask, we all just exchanged looks of cold, dreadful confusion and quietly sat at our desks.

Mr. Burker explained, tearfully, that he wouldn't be teaching us much longer. He held back sobs as he spoke, blowing his nose into a handkerchief several times throughout his halting speech.

A couple kids started to cry, as well. The kid who sat next to me didn't, though. A knowing look came over his face as I stared at him for no particular reason. He then turned to me, noticed I was watching him, and leaned in to whisper something.

"Mr. Burker got carved, I bet."

I had no idea what that meant, and I wrote it off as slang I wasn't aware of. That happened a lot, kids would pick up a term form the outside world and use it incessantly until it became common.

Weeks later, Mr. Burker died from undiagnosed stomach cancer.

Amid everyone's concern over Mr. Burker, I heard the term used to describe a few more citizens over the school year. Eugene Wallace, the bait shop owner, was "carved". He left immediately town in the middle of the night, and was run off the road by a drowsy truck driver. Pastor Green was "carved" as well, and had a heart attack in bed with one of his parishioners. The youngest I heard of was a toddler who choked after being "carved", after which her parents moved two towns over.

I heard the stories in passing, and with each tale I grew more and more afraid of asking people what it meant. It wasn't until a couple grades later that curiosity won out over fear, and I started asking around.

If you ever want all the details about small-town secrets, don't ask the oldest residents, or the authorities, or your parents.

Ask teenagers. They love that stuff, and they don't hold back any punches. Random teens had told me more information on puberty than my parents, and certainly more than any health class. I figured they had pretty much all the answers in life, and would tell you bluntly.

I was about 12 years old, and though I didn't necessarily have any older friends, I knew where to look. Everyone did. "Exhibit Discs & Tapes", the music store in a dying strip mall by the highway. The unassuming, bland beige storefront bearing a paradoxically edgy sign, complete with a giant graffiti-style "X" in "Exhibit".

I wandered into the shop cautiously. Mostly because I knew I didn't belong anywhere "cool", but also because it was owned and operated by the aforementioned Mr. Claret. I was probably old enough to watch out for myself at that point. Probably.

I approached a group of somewhat-kind-of-goth teens at the back of the smokey, odd-smelling building and pretended to sort through a box of vinyl records as if I had a single clue what they were.

The group were discussing a band called "Victor Victorious" and whether or not the musical group "ate shit out of an ass". By eavesdropping, I worked out that this was a turn of phrase, and not literal. The conclusion seemed to be a four to one decision that they did indeed eat it, with the dissenting opinion of "fuck you poseurs".

Seeing the majority's opinion, I broke into the conversation effortlessly by lying about having heard the band and enjoying their music, as well. The group laughed, except for the dissenter, and I was welcomed into the conversation. Not so much as a peer, but more as an amusing little mascot. Looking back now, I think they must've assumed I was desperately trying to make friends with them.

Just as awkwardly as I had injected myself into the conversation, I quickly turned the topic to "carving". Basically, I straight-up asked "So... What's up with that carving thing, am I right?" in a manner of speaking.

That topic got them excited. A lot of "Aww, dude"s and "Like, wow"s went back and forth as they went through every bit of knowledge they had on the subject in rapid-fire succession. I soaked up every drop of it.

The only interruption came when Mr. Claret passed by, asking if we were having a good time, and reminding us that there was a couch in the office if we were tired of standing.

By the end of the conversation, of which I was merely a spectator, I had everything I needed to know.

Mrs. Tracey was the carver. Every year, in or around October, she would carve a single pumpkin to decorate her front step. The Jack O' Lantern would depict someone from the town, and within no less than six months, the subject would be dead.

It was that simple. That direct.

End of story.

I stupidly asked for phone numbers so I could talk to the teenagers again some time, as if we were scheduling a play date. One of the girls snickered excessively as she gave me hers. I never got up the nerve to call, but I assume it was a fake, anyway. Probably "867-5307" or something similar.

That was pretty much all I needed to know, and whether it comes as a shock to you or not, I was more than willing to accept the idea that a crazy old woman was killing with magical pumpkins.

Small-town, life, I guess. I heard more fantastical stories in church, and everyone told me they were 100% factual. I had no internet, no smart phone, so who was going to tell me "the carving" was an unbelievable concept? Certainly not the parents who never technically got around to telling me the truth about Santa.

Fast forward several years once again. I was a freshman in high school, struggling to get through each day due to some radical changes in my home life. My mother fell ill and spent three weeks in the hospital before coming home for bed rest, and my dad was working overtime to barely cover bills. Most of the housework, including dinner, became my job. I hated it, but I never let it show out of respect for my parents and especially because my mom was sick and needed to stay positive if possible.

All of this lead to lots of sleeping in class and on the bus.

Things got really bleak. Mom wasn't really ready to be home yet, but the local hospital was understaffed, outdated, and needed machines that weren't nearly a decade old. Dad didn't want her there, and was sick of yelling at the already-stressed nurses for ignoring her. Dad and I did the best we could to keep her comfortable and we prayed nightly, side-by-side at her bed, for her safe recovery.

October had come.

I spent the first nights of the month sleepless, though I was exhausted. An idea had popped into my head, and rolled around in my skull no matter how hard I tried to push it out. Obsessed and half-demented from fatigue, I borrowed the car one morning. I said I was driving up to the supermarket to get some essentials, and I eventually would do just that, but first I planned to take a detour.

As I left the house, Dad answered a phone call. I could tell from his side of the conversation that the caller wa was related to the hospital, and from the tone in his voice, I could tell it was bad news. Focusing on the task I had laid out for myself let me ignore it, I couldn't handle it at that time, anyway.

I pulled up to Mrs. Tracey's house a short time later.

Everything was just as I'd seen it in before, when my family would drive past and I'd peer at scenery through the backseat window. Similar state of disrepair, same thoughtfully placed decorations, but a different host of feline faces.

I didn't knock on the door. Instead I carefully, stealthily peered through the window next to it. Beyond the dusty, yellowed lace curtains, I could see a dark, hunched figure walking through a distant room.

Mrs. Tracey. She had on a worn nightgown, blue with white flowers. She also held a large pumpkin in her hands. I watched as best I could, angling myself over the trailing of the stairs as she shuffled slowly to a table, sat down with a look of pain, and slowly, meticulously began carving the gourd.

I gnawing sense of horror gripped me as I imagined her carving out my mother's face. The dim lighting and the angle of the table made it impossible to see what she was creating.

I didn't know what to do. Should I stop her? Should I shove the pumpkin to the floor and smash it? Maybe if I asked Mrs. Tracey nicely, she would just not carve it at all. For all I knew, though, she was some vengeful psychopath who would carve me into it, instead.

I stood there, frozen, for the duration. Cramps and muscle aches burned through my body as I hung half-over the rail, my eyes focused hard and accustomed to the darkness in the house. When Mrs. Tracey lit the candle and placed it inside the pumpkin, that brief flash of light, however small, blinded me for a moment.

I blinked a few times and let my eyes readjust, just in time to see Mrs. Tracey making a slow, yet unstoppable journey to the very front door I stood at.

Flustered, my mind still racing with dark possibilities and "what if"s, I stumbled down the steps. My feet met the grass just as the door creaked open.

Mrs. Tracey gasped in shock, as I stood with my back to her.

"Oh!" she declared, "My goodness, you gave me a start. Are you here for the church?"

I turned around slowly, fearful of not only the woman and her supernatural aura, but also just being caught snooping on someone's property.

"Uh, yeah I go to the church." I replied. It was true, after all.

She hobbled down the stairs, the Jack O' Lantern lit, but its imagery turned inward, toward her.

"Well, God gave me another message." she pursed her lips as she watched her steps carefully, "Also, the hedges need trimming again when y'all can get around to it."

I took a deep breath that didn't seem to do anything to help my light-headedness.

"Who is it?" I asked, my voice audibly cracking.

"Oh, I can't rightly recall", she answered, placing the pumpkin on the steps, "Too many names, I just did the whole thing."

As she stepped away, I looked at the image on the Jack O' Lantern.

It was the hospital, glowing so brightly from within that it almost seemed to be on fire.

Hell Rising / Re: Is that it?
« on: 10:28:29 PM 10/11/20 »

Hell Rising / Re: Is that it?
« on: 01:46:48 PM 10/09/20 »
If I ever figure out how to make the Hell Rising directory use an older version of PHP, I'll set that up. Until then, nothing I found works.

Hell Rising / Re: Is that it?
« on: 02:15:29 PM 10/05/20 »
Yeah, I mean if anything was moved it'd be without user accounts.

As an aside - I've fallen victim to "make this and we'll all play it" way too many times (DragonSpires clones, Scroll Wars, Hell Rising, Camp Cadaver and more) to go for it again.

Hell Rising / Re: Is that it?
« on: 01:16:46 PM 10/05/20 »
Look dude. If you are having trouble with it (not the coding but rather the running of the game) I'm fairly certain there are multiple of us in our discord who would be willing to pool money together to buy it from you fyi.

Anyways, just a thought.

That's a very sketchy scenario due to multiple people working on it over the years. There are three or four people who contributed slivers of code that I don't even have contact with at all by now. Additionally, I tried to work with someone suggested in the past, but they just disappeared and quit the Discord without a word. :lookaround:

I wouldn't be opposed to any number of options, but the fact remains it's messy, old, deprecated code and shit.

Starting over was the best option for like 10 years now. (You have the original programmer, Mammon, right here... hint hint. Make something that isn't years-old and wrecked by meddling and call it Heck Ascending.)

I don't even know why it suddenly decided to download a file instead of loading the site.

Hell Rising / Re: Is that it?
« on: 02:03:55 PM 10/04/20 »
I copied the www directory to www_BROKEN and made a new index page explaining it's down, but all the URL does is download a blank mystery file, now. Super fucked. RIPski.

Hell Rising / Re: Is that it?
« on: 07:39:08 PM 10/03/20 »
Yeah, I have no idea what's wrong. It's likely a very extensive problem and the whole game needs to be updated to the new version of PHP - which of course is a fool's errand.

Hell Rising / Re: Is that it?
« on: 06:39:51 PM 10/03/20 »
It's not deliberate, no one told me and I didn't check this forum until today. (There's always a sort of idea that I check Hell Rising every day, but I literally never do anymore. It's been years and the whole process was heartbreaking. A lot of work for a small reception and a lot of drama.)

The host updated PHP/MySQL and some shit got deprecated. I assume it's that. I'll look into it.

Slimy Stories / Severed Connection
« on: 05:25:03 PM 09/16/20 »
Playing Minecraft was a sort of calming escape, for me.

The serene, simplistic environment made my world seem a lot less complicated, even if it was for just an hour or two. The repetitive motion of mining, farming, and building allowed me to concentrate on something other than my parents arguing in the next room.

Hunting Endermen and deftly avoiding Creepers gave my younger self a sense of power and control that I lacked in the real world. It was a world where I could be sent to stay with an Aunt or Uncle at a moment's notice. A world where Dad would disappear for days at a time as Mom would slowly trade sleepless worrying for black-out drinking.

Of course, at the time I didn't realize just how important these digital vacations were to my mental well-being. I just thought I was having fun.

I played on a lot of multiplayer Minecraft servers, and I did so with absolutely no parental supervision. I don't even think they realized the games I played could include other people. Mom and Dad weren't the most tech-savvy people, and had only bought me a computer because it would help with home-schooling.

The teachers had gotten a little too nosy about my dirty clothes, tiredness, and anxiety attacks.

The "Crafter Hours" server was where I spent the most time. It didn't have the dungeons or mini-games that usually attracted young players, but I was always more interested in the survival aspect.

If you've played Minecraft, you know how the process plays out. Dirt hut, survive the first night, wood tools, stone tools, iron tools. Eventually, I had a reasonably well-designed little castle in the middle of a birch forest. This was back when your stone options were basically ugly cobble, plain-ass stone, or badass stone bricks... you can probably guess which option I used for the whole thing.

Mom was having one of her less-than-sober nights when I met "Hexagony". The edgelord name impressed me, but I had registered "SwordKid4", so my standards were low. He was another player that had built one of the aforementioned dirt huts near to my ever-expanding estate.

At first, I was annoyed to find someone was making their home so close to mine. However, the idea of bringing a helper in to my existing projects seemed enticing. I had brought diamond armor and a sword when I went to clear him out, but after we chatted for a little bit, I ended up giving him food instead.

Hexagony appeared to be using the default "Steve" skin at first. The fact that he was likely a noob was part of my decision not to cast him out of my lavish kingdom.

However, when I looked more closely, I saw that his skin was indeed edited. Each surface of his cube-shaped head displayed a face. He had apparently copied the Steve image to every side. It made it hard to tell which direction he was looking in, and to be honest it struck me as a kind of nonsensical design choice.

As time went on, I joked with him about finding a new skin, and even offered to make him one - though I wasn't exactly a child prodigy myself. Hexagony always declined, however. Sometimes politely, sometimes with a rude refusal.

That was the thing I most remember about this kid. He was unpredictable. Erratic. He raised sheep and dyed them his favorite color... then he would re-dye them his new favorite color... and eventually he'd slaughter them because he "sheep are stupid". After it was said and done, he would start over again.

There were countless things like that. He would agree to help with something, then refuse to do it, then pretend I had never asked him at all. It got annoying over time, but I wasn't exactly rich in the friend department, so I always let it slide.

The weirdest experience was when I visited his finished home. I call it finished, but it looked anything other than complete. Every room was completely random and illogical. The design changed from wall to wall. Cobble, jungle wood, sandstone, clay, the blocks didn't make sense.

Despite the unpleasant jumble, I typed positive compliments into the chat box.

Hexagony, who had by this point edited his clothes into a myriad of mismatched colors, didn't seem to realize I was giving false platitudes. He was proud of his build, and didn't seem to see anything wrong with its structure.

Then, we got to the trap door.

In the corner of one of the rooms... a kitchen, or bathroom, or both... was a single wooded door into the wool floor. It lead to a ladder that descended into darkness.

I asked Hexagony what was in the basement. He flipped open the trap door and looked downward, then to me.

It wasn't a basement, he explained - it was his bedroom.

We exchanged a few awkward and thoughtless jokes about not wanting to go into the bedroom together, but curiosity won out, and I started down the ladder. He followed closely above.

The room below-ground was dark. I mean, it was completely unlit. My settings were not optimized for that level of pitch black.

Taking the initiative myself, I slapped down a few torches. One on a wall, two on the floor. They were placed mindlessly, but then again, so was everything in Hexagony's house.

I expected to see a jumbled-up hole in the ground filled with sloppily placed beds.

Instead, my heart sank with dread when I looked at what the torches had illuminated.

Bare walls of blank stone. A featureless ceiling and floor of the same. Against one wall, a stack of six chests. On each chest, a sign with a single letter.







I specifically remember writing "Talmak?" in the chat. Hexagony shot me a look with one of his many faces and walked over to the chests. He didn't even seem to understand what I was asking.

He opened some of the chests and seemed to stare into them for a moment, then walked back to me.

I'll never forget what he said at that moment.

"Dare you to see."

I didn't look. I didn't even approach the chests. Something about the whole scenario just rubbed me in a very wrong way. From the jumbled-up kid, to the jumbled-up house, to the dark cellar... and his insistence that I "see" something I was no doubt completely unready for.

I didn't know how to get out of the situation politely, and I considered just logging off right there.

Before I could make a decision, Hexagony turned his head again, a different side and a different face peering at me.

He demanded to know how I got into his room, and started throwing a fit about how I was invading his secret space. He all but chased me out, bow in hand, as I climbed back up the ladder, sprinted to one of many doors, and retreated back to the perceived safety of my fake castle.

That was the last time I saw him on the server. I figured he had gotten mad at me, even though he was the one that invited me in. Eventually, after griefers blew up his home (and part of mine), I finally just admitted to myself that he was an imbalanced, rude friend and I was better off without him.

It wasn't until years later, when I was a teenager living full-time with an older cousin, that I thought back to my younger years on Minecraft and the weird character who had spent maybe a month or two in my life.

I had finally been taken out of my abusive home after my mother succeeded in drinking herself to death. In the ensuing investigation, my father was arrested for the domestic abuse that had gone unchecked until a death forced the authorities into action.

The police asked me a lot of questions, and I didn't understand any of them.

My cousin, though, seemed to know everything as far as I was concerned. He was in his 30s, made a modest fortune in internet development, and wasn't much for keeping old family secrets.

Apparently, I wasn't Mom and Dad's first attempt at raising a child.

All told, they had six previous children.

Thomas, Alice, Lauren, Micheal, Arthur, and Kyle.

None of them made it past the age of five.

All of them had been "sleeping" in our basement.

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