Point & Shoot

📅 Published on August 10, 2021

“Point & Shoot”

Written by Kyle Harrison
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 9 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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Would you believe that three simple gold tokens changed my life?

They clattered to the bottom of the arcade machine, and the screen in front of me turned from dark blue to a splash of pixelated orange and yellow.

Rhythmic sounds beat out from the speakers on either side of the old system, enough to shake my whole body.  It gets me into the zone.

I even made a soft holler as the game started up, and I gripped the trigger of the plastic gun that was attached to the machine.  But no one else was really paying me any mind, too busy in the back rooms gambling or trying to play billiards to win real money.

I found the place on the dark web.  A shady out-of-the-way arcade that no one knew about where dangerous games were played, or so the ad said.

But first, you had to prove yourself to the owner before you got a chance to really taste what sort of entertainment they were offering.

So every afternoon, I would come and test the limits of this simple shooting gallery.  It was my little escape from reality.  I figured that despite how I had found the place, it seemed perfectly harmless.

Appearances, I guess, were deceiving me.

The game itself was pretty straightforward; if you’ve ever gotten a chance to download the mobile version of “Among Us,”  this is pretty similar.  At the start, the computer randomly decides if you are part of the crew or the imposter.  And then you roam around the 16-bit ship, trying to figure out which of the other computerized characters in bland jumpsuits are the enemy.  Oh, and of course, there’s the alien menace that is attacking the ship.  That’s what the gun is for.

Aim and shoot; rack up the high score.  Every correct hit gives you about 500 points, along with a dazzling explosion of alien goop on the screen.  But you can also accidentally fire on the other crew members, and that’s game over.

I’d studied the patterns of the aliens pretty well to avoid getting killed by them.  It was the erratic nature of the crew members that always threw me for a loop.

Today was going to be different though, I could feel it in my bones.

Gradually the score climbed as I moved my in-game avatar through the corridors, my memory kicking in as to where to turn next.  Left, right.  Duck.  Easy.  I kept one eye on the game in front of me and the other on the increasing number of hits in the left corner.  I was close to actually beating this.

A few of the other gamers around the arcade are starting to notice now.  I’m starting to sweat.  It’s finally happening.  I aim the gun one more time and take out the last alien.  Suddenly the music rises to a crescendo, and the entire machine lights up.  The screen went black, and I panicked.  Did I do something wrong?

Then a moment later, a single word takes up the entire screen.  Congratulations!

Suddenly I matter to everyone around me.  I hear a few cheers of approval, and I step away from the game.  I had worked months to beat that score.  Having it happen felt unreal.  But I enjoyed every minute of it.

As I stood there marveling at my accomplishment, I felt a cold hand hit the back of my shoulder, and I turned to see the arcade manager standing there.  He was wearing a beige blazer with golden buttons and a wave of cigar smoke swirling around his head.  It was unsettling to see that his skin tone was about as bland as the characters from the game.

“Well, well!  What a surprise.  You certainly have a knack for those kinds of things, don’t ya, son?”  he said as he encouragingly patted me on the back.

“Just a hobby,”  I said softly.  Something about him gave me a weird vibe.  Then when he chuckled, his belly fat jiggled, and I realized why.  He reminded me of a worse version of my lazy father – someone who always had money and never appreciated it.

To my surprise, though, the manager made me an offer.  “Listen, son, I can tell that you want to take this to the next level, so here’s what we can do.  Come here to the arcade on Friday right after closing.  Ask for Arthur.  He can show you something I think you will flip for,”  the owner told me.

He passed me a business card that had the normal name of the arcade scratched out and replaced by what looked like Norse runes.

I told him I would think about it and ran home.

Truth be told, I knew something about this was wrong.  Meeting a complete stranger at an old grimy arcade with no one around was a huge red flag.  But I loved the intrigue.  And I loved playing shooting games like that even more.  So I went.

When I parked my bike outside the building, I couldn’t help but feel a sinister air about the place.  I had never come here so late.  It gave me a very bad vibe, but it didn’t deter me from going toward the darkness.

The place definitely looked deserted with the metallic grating in front of the door and all the lights off.  But as I approached, I saw the movement of a shadow, and a well-dressed man with a wrestling mask appeared not but a moment later.

“Are you…Arthur?”  I asked softly as I showed him the business card, and then he unlatched the door and ushered me inside the empty arcade.  I felt like I was a kid being let into the candy store after hours.  All the machines were available to me, and I could play any of them.

But Arthur turned my attention toward the back door and instructed me to follow.

It was a dark stairwell that led to the basement of the building.  Willingly, I followed to another even darker room, waiting for my next assignment.  In the middle of the room, a series of lights came on, and I saw what looked like a virtual simulation headset hooked up to a massive chair.  It was large enough for a man three times my size.

“You’ve been wanting something a little more challenging, correct?”  Arthur asked as he pointed toward the headset.  “This will be unlike any normal game you have ever experienced.”

I hesitated to place it on.  Virtual reality has always given me a headache, and I had a feeling this would be no different.  But the way Arthur was looking at me told me that no wasn’t an answer.  As I sat down in the chair and placed the headset on, I tried my best to get comfortable.  The entire world suddenly felt very dark and very cold.

I felt a cold metallic surface hit my hands, what I assumed was my game weapon, and then the simulation began.

At first, there was nothing; an endless landscape of stars filled the screen.  If it wasn’t for the tingling sensation in my body, I would have told you I was falling.

Then the room filled in with grey colors and an occasional computerized version of a window or a corridor.  I realized immediately this was a virtual 3D representation of the game I had been playing.

“How did you get all this accurate info about Among Us?”  I asked out loud as I guided my character to the center of the map.  A display on the right side of my head told me that I was the impostor and that 6 crew members remained.  I met them a short time later in the galley, all wearing jumpsuits with their faces obscured and introduced myself.

There was no response, and I briefly wondered if this sort of game would ever catch on to be multiplayer rather than CPUs.

“You would be surprised what you can accomplish with tech off of the dark web,”  Arthur’s voice shouted into my headset as I saw an internal clock begin to count down.  It was nearly time.

I squeezed my weapon and waited, watching as the other players ran to hide and then I did the same.  Then the countdown hit zero, and I was running through the simulated halls searching for blood.

I figured it had to be about as straightforward as the arcade version.  Aim and shoot.  Easy.

As the impostor, my job would be to eliminate the others and not get caught.  I saw the red suit run in front of me and aimed.  A moment later, he was dead, and his virtual blood was covering my visor.  There was something unsettling about the way he screamed, though.  It sounded…almost real?

I convinced myself it was just the authentic feel of a virtual experience and kept hunting.  Every step I took, I could feel my heart beating faster.  The virtual world was dazzling to explore.  And I knew an enemy could be lurking anywhere.

Blue was next.  I aimed high because they were taller.  It went straight through their skull.  As it blasted and killed them, they jerked and fell to the floor, cussing and flailing like a mad man.  Honestly, it shocked me so much that I felt obligated to investigate.  Amid the broken glass of his helmet, I saw green eyes.

This didn’t look like a simulated avatar, though.

It looked exactly like a real person.

That couldn’t be possible, though, I told myself as I took his weapons and ran to hide.  Two other opponents came from around the corner as I found a place to not be seen, and I listened to their conversation.

“Your comm working?”

“Yeah, I had to hack the system, but I think we have a few minutes.  Can you move?  Do you know where you are?”

I frowned.  What were they talking about?

“Only a limited space.  It feels like a cage.  This suit is impossible to take off.  But it’s definitely cold and wet where I am.”

“I think I’m in a warehouse.  I came here for a job interview.  Said it was the military.  God, this shit is insane.”

Was this part of the experience, too?  Why would the arcade go through so much effort to make CPUs sound lifelike, I wondered.  Then the second one said something that made my blood feel colder than ice.

“I don’t think the guy in the green suit realizes what is going on.  We might have to take him out to make it out of this place alive.”

They were talking about me.  Like they knew I was a player.

Did that mean…they were, too?

“There he is, I see him,”  the first said.  Again, I panicked and aimed and fired sporadically.  As the shots hit them full of bullets, the second jumpsuit managed to aim toward me and fire.  It hit me right in the shoulder.

And I realized I could feel it.  For real.

This wasn’t just a simulation, I realized as I started to run.  They were right on my heels as I felt my heart begin to beat right out of my chest.  I could hear myself breathing harder as I dropped the weapon and struggled to take off the headset.

It wouldn’t budge.

“Is something the matter?  Aren’t you enjoying the game?”  Arthur’s voice chimed in.

“This is real.  You’re hurting real people,”  I said desperately as I crawled under a table and tried to catch my breath.  Every move I made in the virtual world was being mimicked somewhere in real life.

Did that mean that there was a real person in this suit somewhere, and I was the one controlling their movements?

I dreaded to think of how frightened they were as I was forced to make them kill those people.

Then I felt a knife at my back and I froze.  But it wasn’t from the game.

“Don’t move,”  the voice whispered.  I obeyed and waited as I felt them cut something at the back of my neck.  A second later, the simulation ended, and I was staring into the face of a blonde girl.

“What…what about the others?”  I asked anxiously.

“We need to get out of here,”  she instructed.  I didn’t hesitate to listen and jumped from the chair to leave the basement.  I didn’t see Arthur anywhere.

Up at the main arcade, I felt a wave of relief wash over me and asked, “Who are you?  How did you find me?”

Then she pointed a gun straight at my head.

“It’s nothing personal.  I just need to get into the game.”

She slammed the base of the weapon against my skull, knocking me unconscious.

I woke up in the back of a police cruiser.  The entire shady arcade was now being quarantined with police tape as I was handcuffed and I saw the blonde girl working the homicide scene.

“We’ve been watching this place for a few months now.  Lots of victims get caught up in this game without knowing it.  Lucky for us, when you logged online the first time, you didn’t do it discreetly and led us right to it.”

My mouth felt dry as I realized I was likely responsible for a dozen deaths because of the arcade.  “I… I didn’t know it wasn’t real.”

She nodded as medical examiners brought the victims out of the basement.  One was wearing a green jumpsuit.  That had been the person I was controlling.

I managed to push through the tape and get a look at them, just to see who was the person that I had so callously tossed their life away because of a stupid game.

I recognized his cigar-stained teeth immediately.  The arcade owner?

“But if he was the victim…who was running the game?”  I wondered.  Then I remembered Arthur, and I asked the cop if they had arrested any employee from the arcade.

She gave me a hard look.  “You’re joking, right?  When we came back to lock this place down, the whole building was already empty.  Someone knew we were coming.  Whatever they were up to, they’ve taken their business elsewhere.

I felt a sick twist in my stomach as I thought of how I had found this place originally.

It wouldn’t take much for another similar advertisement to pop up.

I looked at the body bags and swallowed a gulp of air.

I don’t think I will play a game off the dark web again.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Kyle Harrison
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Kyle Harrison


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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