August 16, 2022

I was playing video games with my friend in the basement. They were like other games played dreams before: they had bright colours and low-poly graphics, with characters and objects that easily stood out from the background. They were similar to GameCube games such as Smash Bros. Melee, Monster Island, and Medarots Infinity (ones that I never actually played myself).

My friend decided to play a game that we have never played before. We both stared at a metallic gray loading screen set to a black background. There was a neon display of a familiar robot's head, with the same colour as the loading screen.

My friend became very impatient and took out the cartridge and replaced it with another one. This would modify the appearance of the robot's head and even change it to a different colour. She did this a couple times. I tried to find the instruction manual for the game, but all I found was a blank sheet of paper that came with it.

When the loading screen was finished, we saw something that I would never forget.

It was Dixie Kong from the hit video game Donkey Kong 64.

But it was not the Dixie Kong we all knew and loved.

She had an angry expression and no limbs. There was red everywhere on the screen, as if it was from the Virtual Boy 3D. Even the palm trees behind her were red. Could it be rage? The rage that stems from removing a cartridge while the game is still on?

When I saw the tentacles crawl over the bottom of the TV monitor, I panicked. I grabbed the paper and ran behind a wall. I heard my friend asking for help.

"How can I turn it off?" "Press the power button."

"But the power button isn't working!" "Try the escape button."

"There's no escape!" "Press the zoom out button."

"But it does the exact opposite!" "Run!"

I could hear her confused screaming behind the wall, followed by television static. I then wrote "DONT TRUST DONT TRUST" on the piece of paper, to warn others of the danger we just put ourselves in.

As I took a peek behind the basement wall, I saw not the room we once played games together, but a void of red and black static.