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I Can't Breathe

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Oak

My tormentors.

As a young boy, I was addicted to video games. While my "friends" were outside playing sports and exercising, I spent most of my time on the computer and playing on my game consoles. I was first introduced to video games through my dad, who had recently purchased an Xbox around the time of my third birthday. At that time, I was a huge fan of the Star Wars series, and he had bought me a game. I remember playing it for hours upon hours, hacking away at anyone who opposed me.

The first console that I had called my own was my Gameboy. I was instantly in love with it, playing games such as Super Mario, the Legend of Zelda, and Pokemon. My favorite hands down was Pokemon. You could say my ways of beating the games were unconventional, to say the least. I would only train my starter Pokemon, neglecting the other 5 in my party. I eventually grew out of Pokemon, but it would come back to screw me over.

About a year ago, my friends had started playing ROM hacks for Pokemon on their computer. They explained to me that ROMs were hacks of the original games, and that changes could be made, whether it be a whole new story to an entirely new set of Pokemon. Interested, I asked them to send me different ROMs that they enjoyed.

Once I got home, I immediately went to my email to see what they had sent me. My friend Charles was an expert at online gaming, and sent me all I needed to play the games. After installing the VisualBoyAdvanced, I immediately dived into some of the ROMs. I played games such as Pokemon Glazed and Pokemon Light Platinum. Charles had also sent me three "horror" games, including Pokemon: Nightmare Version, Pokemon: Creepy Black, and Pokemon: Stranded. Me, being the scardey cat that I am, first watched videos of the games on YouTube and read the creepypastas of two of the three games. I couldn't find anything on Pokemon: Stranded.

After completing both Pokemon: Nightmare Version and Pokemon: Creepy Black, I decided to give Stranded a try. I opened the file on my computer and noticed that there was a text file with the title READ ME on it. I opened it and found three words repeated over and over again: I. CAN'T. BREATHE. Thinking that it was only a game, I proceeded by putting the .GBA file into the Emulator. There was nothing peculiar about the game until I got to the title screen. I noticed that the game was a hack of FireRed, but instead of a picture of Charizard, there was a picture of a noose. Excited, I opened the game. Professor Oak was standing there, and said his normal speech. However, at the end, he said, You are alone John. Its survival of the fittest. Do whatever it takes to win. I immediately shrunk down and entered the world of Pokemon.

Everything played out the right way. I got my Charmander and proceeded to add members to my team. I found that the wild Pokemon were extremely hard to beat, and I didn't have the patience to train all of my Pokemon. I went through the game by only using Charizard, which came to bite me in the ass. I only wanted to give credit to him, so I went into the Elite Four with only one Pokemon. I had trained my Charizard to level 100, so he easily swept through their Pokemon. I had unfortunately ran into trouble with the Champion, Gary. He completely destroyed my Charizard with his Blastoise. When I lost, instead of fading to black, a text box popped up. Oak's words echoed,"Do whatever it takes to win". Because I had no remaining Pokemon, I came out onto the field. Instead of the normal Fight box, it now said, Strangle.

Each time, Red would go over to the Pokemon and choke them until they fainted. Some of his Pokemon were faster than Red, but to no avail. Whenever one of them would try to attack, a text box would appear saying

It doesn't effect John....

I strangled his whole party. Without any Pokemon, Gary came out onto the field. The only move he knew was Struggle. The same thing happened to him when he tried to attack me. He couldn't hurt me. I chose to strangle him, and as his health bar plummeted to 0, he said, I cant breathe...You're a monster...You treat Pokemon like garbage and you'll do whatever it takes to win...

Ultimately, I won the battle. Afterwards, Oak came. He ran over to his grandson's lifeless corpse. I heard sobbing through my speakers. After three minutes, all sounds stopped and he lead me into the Hall of Fame. Instead of putting my Pokeball in, he stopped me in front of the recorder.

Are you proud of yourself? came on the screen.

It was a YES or NO selection. I chose NO, but every time I did, a text box came up saying, Don't lie to me.

I chose yes. Oak said, That's what I thought. You're a sick bastard who mistreats Pokemon. You're exactly like Team Rocket.

A text box appeared saying Oak stabbed John. John is dead.before fading to black.

I couldn't load my save. I was completely in shock. I knew that the game was right. Was I just some fucked up being? Did I use things to get me to the top? I deleted the hack off my computer.

A few weeks later, I confronted Charles about it. I had come to the conclusion that it was a fucked up prank that he had tried to play on me. However, he said that he had never even played that ROM before, and he didn't send it to me. I went back and checked the email, and there was no sign of Pokemon: Strangled anywhere. I was glad. Because of that day, I can no longer play any of the Pokemon games, and I try to avoid hacks all together. Every time I see Gary on the anime or in a game, I think back to this day. Maybe I am fucked up. Maybe I am a monster. But I have to do whatever it takes to get to the top. It's survival of the fittest. I have to do whatever it takes to win.

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