shaggytestbox

Timeline:

The following is the recorded history of all anomalous phenomena relating to "Prodigy, Priest, King" since its release. Included are the research team's findings of events prior to Foundation involvement as gleaned through interviews, notable breakthroughs and claims made by the game's fan community as tracked through Usenet, and phenomena observed by playtesters in a controlled Foundation environment.

For ease of reference, subjects shall be color-coded according to the empathic role ascribed to them by the anomaly.

Key:
Profile - Alpha
Profile - Theta
Profile -Omega

29-Nov-1988:

  • Axl Rotemier (age 9) of Loyalton, CA experiences feeling of numbness in his hands throughout the school day. He is permitted to rest in the nurse's office for an hour, and loses all sensation below the wrist by noon. Axl is checked out of school at 12:33 by his mother. While en route to the hospital, Axl's condition improves. The pair travels home, with Axl's mother attributing the condition to the previous night's extended play session.
  • Tod Wilson (age 27) of Dallas, TX returns his copy of "Prodigy, Priest, King" to the Babbage's where he purchased it. Mr. Wilson asserted that once entering the main location, "Labyrinth", all audio cuts off, with the silence being punctuated by a prolonged, low rumble. A replacement copy was provided.
  • Dee Hammond (age 12) of Durham, New Hampshire is spotted standing by the side of the road in front of her home in the pouring rain, fixated on the full moon. Her neighbor ushers her back towards her house and alerts her parents.

30-Nov-1988:

  • Ken Klein (age 18) of Colorado Springs, CO experiences an uncharacteristic, severe depressive episode, and is only assuaged by the embrace of his father.
  • Triplets Marcus, Micheal, and Matthew Cook (age 15) are reported absent from school. They have locked themselves in their bedroom, where they have scrawled a top-down representation of a map to the game's main location ("Labyrinth") on the walls. The phrase "This is where I died." is carved in the corner of the room.

1-Dec-1988:

  • Mary Blevins (age 33) of Bristol, PA destroys her son's copy of "Prodigy, Priest, King" owing to the latter's single-minded preoccupation with playing it, to the point of soiling himself during play. At around 3:00, she enters the basement to fetch laundry, and falls down the stairs. She suffers a fatal cervical fracture upon landing.
  • Axl Rotemier is unable to get out of bed on account of full-body numbness. He is rushed to the emergency room.
  • Leo Rasmussen (age 3) of Idabel, OK seizes and becomes comatose while watching his elder sibling play "Prodigy, Priest, King". He is hospitalized.
  • "alt-binaries-ppk" newsgroup is established on Usenet for the purpose of pooling knowledge about the game. Several users express frustration in being unable to find the Mirror, the Jewel, or the Sword.
  • User "trè" uploads several photographs of their computer screen showcasing a glitch of the "Ghoul" enemy sprite [ENTITY A]. This glitch makes the enemy appear much shorter compared to other sprites, and gives it blackened skin with flecks of red. "trè" claims it can neither be killed nor interacted with, but may block access to crucial areas of the game (necessitating a reset). Six other users claim to have experienced the same glitch.

2-Dec-1988:

  • Gina Wilson arrives at her son Tod's home after he misses two days of work at the family's shop. She is unable to open his bedroom door and hears a low, blaring, monotone chiptune on the other side. Police arrive by 2:33 and force their way through the barricaded door. They find the mattress propped against the windows and all lights shattered. The only remaining source of light is from the monitor displaying a "Game Over" screen. It does not respond to attempts to turn it off and must be unplugged. Tod is not found.
  • User "J3anLucPiccard" uploads four image files to the ppk newsgroup, revealing a hidden tunnel in the southeastern corner of Labyrinth. The path therein leads to a small, colorful room resembling a child's bedroom — which is anachronistic to the game's fantasy setting. In one image, ENTITY A stands in the corner, facing a wall. The Jewel item, representing the Prodigy, can be found on the nightstand.

3-Dec-1988:

  • Several users in the ppk newsgroup that have attained The Jewel report the presence of a new enemy [ENTITY B] encountered in the Crypt portion of the game which is not referenced in the game manual. The dark-robed humanoid flees from the player upon approach. Players find that ENTITY B can be attacked if cornered, and if killed, will collapse into a quivering heap on the ground. It regenerates after three seconds, which players exploit for easy experience points.
  • Dee Hammond is found by her mother sitting in the fetal position in the corner of her bedroom, crying and shaking.
  • Ray Gonzalez (age 24) of Brunswick NJ is found by the police in his home. He has been bludgeoned to death. His eyes, hands, and genitals were violently removed pre-mortem, and a quarter-meter rod is found inserted in his anal cavity. Bryce Stefanson (age 6) is rescued from the basement.

4-Dec-1988:

  • User "trisarahtop" begins a subthread to the ppk newsgroup to discuss her experience with the game, stating that the Ghost enemies are vocalizing her name (as opposed to default soundbites). Most users respond with skepticism, with one exception ("tripleH") who claims to experience the same issue.
  • The parents of Marcus, Micheal, and Matthew Cook invite Father Emmett Clarke into their home for counsel regarding their sons' erratic behavior. When the priest enters their bedroom alongside the boys' father, Stephen Cook, [DATA EXPUNGED] (fulfilling Profiles Alpha, Theta, and Omega). Mrs. Cook's 911 call is intercepted, and Mobile Task Force "Tyrfing Black" arrives ten minutes later. They are able to discreetly shift the mass into a mobile containment vehicle for study at Site-99. It spontaneously combusts once placed on the examination table. Father Clarke and Mr. Cook survive for several minutes afterward, before the former expires due to cranial trauma. Mr. Cook then grips the edge of the table and pulls, causing the mass to fall to the ground. It lands in such a way as to sever his cervical vertebrae, killing him instantly. A copy of "Prodigy, Priest, King" is extracted from the abdomen of either Micheal or Matthew Cook.
  • Ken Klein's speech is rendered near-incomprehensible outside of simple phrases, and his motor functions have become impaired. A large tumor is discovered growing behind his parietal lobe.

5-Dec-1988:

  • Jeb Swiftwater (age 15) of New York, NY relates to his psychiatrist a recurring nightmare and accompanying sleep paralysis he has been experiencing over the previous few nights wherein he expires in a house fire.
  • User "thric3Deni3d" claims that he had to restart his game, as all text and dialogue had been replaced with the phrase "This is where I died.", inhibiting their ability to solve a puzzle in Cavern.
  • User "trè" is the first player to have reached Hedge Maze. They claim that the music on this stage is bugged, as it is periodically interrupted by a loud snapping noise.
  • Subject D-999 retrieves the Jewel item. The screen goes blank. The phrase "This is where I died." appears on the monitor. Subject convulses and expires. Upon dissection, malformed organs (heart, left kidney, right lung) are discovered that are not a genetic match of the subject.

6-Dec-1988:

  • Progress updates from the ppk newsgroup drop off considerably due to the product recall, but a few members retain their copies of the game. User "trisarahtop" is the second player to reach the Hedge Maze and uploads several images of an indiscernible object, [ENTITY C], up in the night sky.
  • User "trè" obtains the Sword, representing the King. They are able to progress to the final area of the game but do not communicate what this new area is.
  • The remains of Dee Hammond are discovered by Doctor Geffert. The body is preserved under a layer of hot ash. "This is where I died." is charred into the linoleum.
  • An audible snap is heard throughout Site-33. Researcher Amelie, who had overseen the previous night's playtesting, is found to have hanged herself in her quarters.

7-Dec-1988:

  • Operatives in Kansas arrive at the home of Sarah Whitaker (Usenet handle "trisarahtop") to retrieve the second-to-last copy of "Prodigy, Priest, King" in civilian possession. Agent Myers suffers third-degree burns on his hands in trying to separate her from the monitor. Whitaker is terminated at the discretion of the team lead.
  • Using information gleaned from the ppk newsgroup, Subject D-072 reaches Hedge Maze. Researchers are able to corroborate claims of audio abnormalities and the presence of ENTITY C above the maze. This humanoid sprite can be seen to be hanged by the neck, with a rope extending up into the sky beyond what can be viewed by the player. D-072 refuses to play any further. When prompted to answer why he states "This is where I died.".
  • Subject D-856 acquires the Mirror in his play-through, [DATA EXPUNGED]. Mobile Task Force "See No Evil" arrives on-site thirty minutes later to restore order and isolate the creature. Sector-3 is subsequently evacuated and scuttled. No disciplinary action is taken against the researchers and guards involved due to their loss of agency; several are treated for fractures in their metacarpal bones. Samples of the creature's seminal fluid are sent to Bio-Site 87 for study. The Ethics Committee issues a mandate prohibiting the use of test subjects with a history of sexual offense.
  • Three distinct character profiles are formulated for affected persons, each correlating with a different range of anomalous effects.
  • Subject D-009 acquires the Sword. He is able to progress to the final level of the game, titled with a nonsensical assortment of characters and symbols. Sound-cancelling headgear is required for the research staff.

8-Dec-1988:

  • Subjects D-072, blue|D-147, and D-009 are found to be absent from their respective cells. Sloppy trails of blood and viscera lead across the ground in the direction of the test chambers, terminating at the point where the floor meets the wall. Shattered glass, a class ring, and a shiv, respectively, are discovered in the remains.
  • Axl Rotemier is pronounced dead by Foundation clinicians following a grand mal seizure. Despite the lack of brain activity, his body twitches over the next half hour. It then stands, approaches the attendant doctor, and embraces him before collapsing and ceasing all activity.
  • User "trè" makes a post detailing what they believe to be the dungeon holding the game's singular boss. Several screenshots are included depicting a darkened, winding staircase within a stone corridor. User "trisarahtop" responds to this, saying "This is where I died.".
  • Ken Klein expires in Site-42's medical bay. Necropsy reveals the brain tumor to be in actuality a second, smaller brain.
  • User "trè" posts an update to their progress. They claim to have been traveling the spiral staircase for the past three hours, and in spotting an irregularity on the inward-facing wall, they are able to "clip" their avatar partially through the stone. They upload a screenshot of their findings: [DATA EXPUNGED]. All testing is subsequently aborted. Efforts are increased to find and identify this user before they can confront the anomaly.

9-Dec-1988:

  • Despite never having any form of contact with the anomaly, D-126 begins to regurgitate shards of reflective glass and dies of blood loss.
  • Leo Rasmussen shows the first signs of activity since he fell unconscious. He cries out "Hot! Too hot!", as his body's temperature rises above 38°C. He expires minutes later.
  • The "Game Over" soundbite plays over the PA systems of seventy individual secure Foundation locations, as well as countless civilian institutions, recreation centers, and shopping districts nationwide.
  • Several dozen ropes manifest over the primary test site. Site Director Swanson, Task Force Commander Sheardon, and Senior Researcher Otega are hanged until dead upon attempting escape. The remaining senior staff are similarly killed as the ropes infiltrate the site through various means. Clerical and custodial staff are not targeted.
  • User "trè" makes his final post to the ppk newsgroup, consisting solely of the phrase "I found where he died."
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