Well, I was at a time of disappointment in my life. I had become very ill and forced to drop out of college. I hated having my dreams put on hold and I’d been suffering from a mild case of depression because of it. But there was still a comfort that can only come from being back home that reassured me a bit. But there was still the boredom I had to deal with. No job, no college, and I hate to say it but, little friends, most still in college themselves, made each day drag by. The days spent watching TV and old VHS movies in that familiar living room gave me some inspiration to find a way to ease my ever increasing tedium. My VHS and DVD library had dwindled down to only my old worn out Disney movies left unwatched, so I decided to watch one of my all-time favorites: The Lion King. The colorful, cute lion cubs reminded me of an almost forgotten piece of my past. It was the old 1994 Lion King PC video game I used to play constantly as a child. My mom and I used to spend hours trying to win that old game.
The flood of old memories sent me walking to my old bedroom to the ancient computer that still sat on a desk in the corner. I’d been so proud of that old computer when I first bought it. At the age of 11 I’d saved up enough of my allowance to buy it myself. It was heartwarming to see the old start up screen and hear the old jingle as Windows XP started up. The bulky old Compaq Presario groaned to life and I clicked the start button to search for my old games. Sadly the game folder was barren and empty. Disappointed I walked in to ask my mom what happened to all our games. She looked a little sad, probably seeing the dissatisfaction in my eyes. She told me since I had purchased a brand new laptop a month or so ago my dad was going to sell the old computer. He had taken all the old games and documents and removed them. She then suggested I asked my dad if he’d saved any of them.
Later that night my dad returned from his job at the factory, tired and worn. He flopped on the couch to do what he did to relax, look up stuff on his laptop. So I walked over and asked him what the fate of my childhood memories had been. He regretted to say that he didn’t think I would care about them anymore and had deleted them. I was clearly saddened by that, I had been really looking forward to skydiving into an ocean of nostalgia. Hating to see his little girl (all 19 years of her) upset, he said he’d go online and try to download as many of the old games as he could from freeware sites and things of that nature.
Gladly my dad did find and download the 1994 Lion King Sega game, my old favorite. Now, this game isn’t like the modern Disney games out there. It wasn’t a babyish activity center or story book game. It was a story, yes, but it was an action game. The gist of it was that you started out as young Simba as he defeats innocent villains and animals such as chameleons, porcupines, frogs, spiders, vultures and the harder villains: hyenas. Young Simba could defeat these adversaries by simply jumping on them (except the porcupines. You had to growl to flip them over then jump on them). Older Simba was oddly more violent. He could slash, maul, and flip his enemies, some of them even showing small amounts of blood flying from them with each hit. Nothing gory and you could never see any injuries on his enemies, but at the age of four, that seemed like major carnage.
The next morning I was glad to have the whole house to myself to play the game again. My dad was at work and my mom was off to Lexington, Kentucky to help my almost eighty year old grandma. It was times like this that it pays to have no siblings. So I grabbed a bowl of M&Ms and some sweet tea and retreated to my room for the day. My dad had installed the game into the bulky old gray and black computer the night before but hadn’t seen if it had worked or not. I prayed it did as I clicked on the file. It worked to my delight and when I saw the grainy start up screen, a picture of Priderock with Rafiki holding up baby Simba, I pressed enter to start the game. Timon appeared on the screen and said the old familiar words “It starts.”
I worked my way through the colorful levels with ease. I remembered every trick and bonus. Everything went well and I was having good old fashioned fun like I used to as a little kid. I made it to the last level. The Priderock Level where Adult Simba battles Scar. I made it halfway through the level, battling Scar two of the three times and killing off hyena after hyena and many Federation soldiers. I was having a perfect game until I made one mistake. I misjudged a jump and missed the platform I was aiming for, sending Simba plunging into the darkness in between. That’s when things started to go wrong. Instead of just fading to black and starting the level over like it was supposed to, the screen began flashing random colors, mainly red, black, and purple, and a sound that isn’t supposed to be in the game. I should know, I’ve played it hundreds of times, and memorized every part of it. The sound was from the movie. It was from the infamous Stampede scene when Mufasa fell to his doom. It was Simba’s scream “No!” Then there was a screeching sound so loud I jumped and turned down my speakers.
I figured that this was just a hacked version of the game and someone thought it would make the game better to add sound clips from the movie. But then instead of returning to the level I was on, the game restarted from the beginning. That made me annoyed since I’d gotten so far. But then the start up screen changed. Instead of the cheery screen I remembered from my childhood (or from two seconds ago for that matter) it was dark, blurry and odd colored. Red, black and blue. It almost looked like a night shot of the original screen. But I thought it might just be a glitch and pressed start anyway. Instead of Timon saying his normal phrase there was a strip of red writing which seemed to flash and twist on the screen. It said a quote that I recognized and actually loved. “The boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and the other begins.” A quote from my favorite author, Edgar Allan Poe. I was actually a little happy to see my favorite quote but couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy. Why was it on a Disney game? And I knew for sure it didn’t belong there. But I played anyway.
The first level was all wrong! First off, I had no lives left when I should have had eight. And the sky was pitch black. The first level was usually a cheery, sunny level. Worst of all, young cub Simba was lying down in an unnatural, crumpled position. He was bloody and shaking. This wasn’t the Disney norm at all! For the heck of it I tried to move him with the arrow keys and he reached his arm out slowly and dragged himself along the ground, leaving a trail of crimson blood behind him like a slug leaves a trail of slime. The progression was slow but the crisp Autumn weather outside made me excited for Halloween so I decided to try and play this disturbed version of my favorite game. When I needed to jump the half dead lion cub jumped almost like normal, except each jump he lost a body part. The bloody part of him fell into the crevice he was jumping. Each jump made our crumpled hero bloodier and bloodier. At the end of the level the hyena was different too. His eyes glowed red and he looked as if he’d been slashed multiple times. I defeated him with two jumps, just in time as Simba’s last leg fell off. I wondered what awaited me on the next level as the first one faded to black.
The “I Can’t Wait To Be King” level was upside down and seemed to be melting on the screen, as well as being darker colored than it should. Simba was back to the original state he was on the first disturbed level. He dragged along as he made his way to the rhino. He jumped on the rhinos head, his tail falling off along the way and the rhino flipped him up into the trees into the arms of the monkeys. This is the part when Simba was supposed to jump on the heads of giraffes over water to the other side. But there was a problem. The giraffes were beheaded. Bloodily with amazingly disgustingly detailed. I could see the bone sticking out. I thought, “Whoever hacked this game had even more of a dark side than me!” But I wondered how battered Simba could get across the water, which was in this version red, blood. But he jumped from giraffe to giraffe by clinging to the necks. The blood made him slip off quickly so I had to jump quicker and quicker to keep from falling in the water. Later in the level the ostrich he is supposed to ride was beheaded and skinned with frightening realism. It looked more like a photo I had seen taken at fur farms of dead animals. The ostrich lurched in an odd, distorted way as it ran. The rest of the level was about the same. The monkeys beheaded and the tree on fire and Simba crawled through the upside down madness. As that level faded the screeching sound returned as well as something completely unexpected. It was Mufasa’s face. But instead of the gold color he should be, he was black and his eyes glowed green. He opened his mouth and said in a hissing voice. “Scar is innocent, it was me.”
What did that mean?! Was this twisted game trying to pass off that Mufasa was supposed to have let go of the cliff on purpose? I don’t know why but I was disturbed by that thought. “Don’t be stupid.” I thought, “Don’t let a stupid game make you upset about fictional cartoon lions!” Despite the nervousness I was experiencing I continued to the Elephant Graveyard level. This one was right side up, thank goodness. And Simba was surprisingly normal! Standing up straight like he’s supposed to. Hmmm… maybe the hacker got bored and decided to leave this level alone. My thoughts were proven wrong as soon as I thought them. The Elephant Graveyard was strangely devoid of life. No hyenas came to attack me like they were supposed to. I just thought of that as an easy out and began to run through the game. As I moved I realized it wasn’t going to be that easy. I scream ripped loudly through the speakers and the monitor, not just the screen, but the whole monitor shook. That freaked me out but I figured it was probably just vibrating from the loudness of the screams. Anyway, I had a new thing to worry about. The ground was literally crumbling under Simba’s feet! I had to keep running through the desolate graveyard to keep from falling into the unknown black below me. As I ran I noticed that the spots that were supposed to have hyenas instead had bloody skinned corpses instead. And the same hissing voice of Mufasa I heard before sounded as I passed each one. “Death is cruel to the just and the unjust.” He repeated it over and over as a scream built up louder and louder behind it. Then the whole monitor started shaking again. More and more violently.
Then very realistic blood started dripping down the screen. So realistic I was tempted to reach out and touch it. I indulged in my temptation and was petrified as my finger became covered in sticky crimson blood. As can be expected, I screamed and ran from the room. I ran into the bathroom and slammed the door shut. My hands were trembling as I reached for the light switch. I half expected that distorted Mufasa face to be in front of me as I flipped on the light. Of course it wasn’t. So I just sat down and curled into a ball. I suddenly hated being alone. I yearned for my parents to come home. It didn’t help that I could still hear that scream from the other room. My room! Where I had to sleep! As frightened as I was I decided I had to go back and turn off that game. So I mustered up whatever courage was left in me and walked slowly back into the room. I was almost afraid to turn and look at the computer in the dark corner of the room. But when I did I saw the blood was gone! Maybe I had just let the disturbing game get to my head and I’d hallucinated the blood. I mean, it was just a game, right? Weirder still is that the game had paused on its own. As if it had known that I had fled the room. Maybe in my panic I had hit the enter button on the keyboard and just hadn’t known it. But I sure didn’t remember it.
That thought was proven false as soon as my bottom made contact with the seat. For as soon as I sat down the game started up! The screaming, thankfully, stopped for the time being and curiosity was urging me to keep going. I knew my dad would take away the defective game off as soon as he heard about it so this was my only chance to see what happened next. So I kept going. I finished the crumbling elephant graveyard level and prepared for the Stampede Level and whatever dark twist was next.
But to my surprise everything was normal in this level! The sky was blue and the rocky canyon was a bright tan, just as I remembered it. Half of me was thankful and the other half, the darker half I hide from most people, was bored. It was at the end of the level that things changed. After Simba escaped the wildebeests the screen cut to black abruptly and then continued to play a scene from the movie. Well sort of. It was the scene where Mufasa was climbing up the rocks after saving Simba from the stampede. But then something different happened. It cut to Simba staring at his dad struggling to climb up the canyon. This scene wasn’t in the movie though it was animated in just as good quality as the real movie. Simba was crying as if he knew his dad wasn’t going to make it. Sobbing realistically. He then stopped suddenly, and turned his face toward the screen. His eyes were empty, emotionless as he stared at me. Then he stood up and walked forward. The camera angle switched to behind him and revealed what he was walking to. The edge. The cliff. What is this?! I could only watch in horror as he just walked off the cliff, to the stampede below.
Then the screen cut to Mufasa’s face. He saw it. He saw Simba fall to his death. His eyes were filled with tears and he looked up at his brother, Scar, grinning down at him. “What are you going to do, brother?” Scar asked menacingly. His eyes glowing an odd red and his paws dripping with blood. “What have you to live for?”
“Nothing,” Mufasa answered, then turned his face to the screen, “No one does.” Then he let go of the cliff and fell. Then it showed Scar laughing, his face slowly morphing into a hideous skull, pieces of flesh clinging to it. His eyes started to drip blood as the screen faded black around the skull. Then he whispered, “It’s true for you too, Heather.” Then chuckled and disappeared.
Once again I found myself running from the room. This time in hysterics. If I thought I was trembling before then this was my own personal earthquake. In the bathroom I ended up vomiting into the toilet. Then I just sat there, whispering, “It’s not real, it’s not real.” Tears ran down my face like the blood had from Scars’. How did that game just say my name?! That’s not normal! Not right! But I was the adult in this house at the time. It was up to me to go back into that room and turn that demonic game OFF! IMMEDIATELY!
So I stomped into my bedroom angrily. I will NOT let a GAME, A GAME, control me! I glared toward the screen and noticed that Scar was gone. It was sitting there on the Simba’s Exile Level. Very normal looking. It even had the appropriate sound for the game. Once again, curiosity got the better of me and I dismissed the movie clip as my imagination getting the better of me. So I continued to play the level. I was stupid, I know that now. But I wasn’t one to get freaked out that easily over things like that. I was the type who craves scary things. Loved them. So I played the game with a cautious but curious attitude. I was just waiting for something else strange to happen. Not hoping for it like before, more like watching a video online and waiting for the screamer. The level was perfectly normal. “Whoever hacked this game had a twisted sense of humor.” I thought, warily. “Lulling you into a false sense of security then freaking you out in a whole new way.”
I knew it was coming, but I still jumped when it happened. The Simba’s Exile level ended normally as the hyenas watched Simba escape through the thorns yelling, “If ya ever come back, we’ll kill ya!” But then it happened. Something freaky. The Hakuna Matata level started but Simba couldn’t move. It was like the game was locked up except he was moving. Not running like I wanted him to, but shaking his head, over and over and over again. As if he was trying to shake the bad thoughts from his head. Then suddenly, he looked straight ahead, then fell to the ground. Like he passed out only his eyes rolled out of his head and across the green jungle grass. Then the image twisted in on itself and faded to black. Then abruptly it switched directly to the next level, skipping Hakuna Matata completely. It would only seem fitting that a game as dark as this skip the happiest level.
So now Simba is an adult. This was the level representing him going at night to see Rafiki. As an adult he had his new powers of slashing and mauling. I mentioned before the brief, mild violence that normally was in the Adult Simba levels. Well, this was much, much worse. When Simba mauled a leopard, the leopard was ripped to pieces, and its body was left in a bloody mess, in pieces piled on top of each other. Each one he killed off was murdered in the same merciless, violent way. I should have known something like that was coming. Then at the end when he found Rafiki at the pool of water and Mufasa appeared in the sky, Simba started shaking. Not randomly but in a pattern. And sobbed sounded in beat to the shakes.
Then Mufasa reached down and opened his mouth wide and Simba just walked in and disappeared. Rafiki then looked into the screen and whispered, “The Circle of Life is a lie. All die, all perish. Your time is drawing nearer.” At least he didn’t say my name again. That was a relief. The game skipped two whole levels and I found myself at the start of the last level. Pride Rock. It seemed normal until I moved Simba forward. Instead of immediately fighting Scar as he is supposed to, he just ran through an empty level. No hyenas, no fire, no Scar. It was like this until I got to the very top of Pride Rock. Where Simba and Scar are supposed to have their final battle. I was shocked at who was waiting at the top. Mufasa?! He didn’t even have a character in the game.
I wondered for a second if I was supposed to fight him. He was Simba’s father after all. But Mufasa leapt onto Simba and began to maul him. Violently, ripping off Simba’s right foreleg. He flung the leg off of Pride Rock. I moved Simba and he hobbled to his dad and jumped, mauling him as well. The battle was pretty even, Mufasa and Simba ripping off piece after piece of each other. After about ten minutes of fighting I lost control of them. Nothing I did effected the fight. They were fighting on their own now. Suddenly Simba jumped onto his father, causing them both to summersault off the edge of Pride Rock, to their doom. Then the screen flashed several times, the scream returned, and the screen switched to a very realistic picture of Mufasa and Simba’s mangled bodies lying in a heap under Pride Rock.
Then the screen twisted on itself again, and Scar’s skull appeared in front of the picture. I screamed when the skull spoke. “Heather. Satan lives in the depths of each good soul. You can’t escape him. You can’t fight him. Give up before he tears you apart.” Then the screen flashed and showed a new picture. It was me, sitting in front of the screen. Then the computer went black and shut off. As much as I tried, the computer wouldn’t turn on again. I still can’t get it to turn on. Every night I see those images. I hear those words. “Give up before he tears you apart.”
Sometimes in the middle of the night I look at the computer and that skull is there on the screen. I can feel something in my house now. It’s present. My mother and father can’t feel it. Their innocence hasn’t been taken from them as mine has. This is why I’m writing this. My dreams have turned to nightmares. My sweet memories, into traumatizing ones. Nothing is left of me anymore and I’m going to take Scar’s advice. These are my last words and I feel compelled to ask you, “What are you going to do? What do you have to live for?”
EDIT: Hello there! This is ShadowVixen also known as Phantomfox777. My original pasta was stolen and edited. It was posted here without permission. So I just edited it back to the original. So my apologies to the one who stole my work, your Nazis are not welcome here. :)