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The year was 2006. I was a teenager in a small town in Indiana called Cicero. High school had just let out for the summer so I was bored with nothing to do. Either I skateboarded around town a lot with my friends or sat at home and played video games because Cicero had basically nothing for a sophomore in high school to do. But that changed on a warm Sunday. In downtown Cicero, there was an old abandoned building sitting next to an automotive station. We always thought the place was a spot for the shady drug deals or maybe a meth lab was in the blocked off back, but after a senior broke in and found that the building was empty all the myths stopped.

Well, on this particular Sunday, a sign went up on the front of the building, reading “SHELLSHOCK ARCADE” in big wide letters. We were more or less intrigued by this, and went to investigate. We peered in the grimy windows, and to our surprise, there were rows upon rows of video game machines. There were games like Pacman, Mortal Kombat, Guitar Hero (which was new at the time) and Galaga. An older gentleman came out the front door, carrying a ton of extension cords. He was frail looking, probably in his 80s, and very pale. We automatically bombarded him with questions. Turned out, he was the owner of the new establishment. He was very shy but very… off. I don’t know how else to put it. He told us to come back tomorrow and he would be open then. As most teenagers are, we spied on the place till the next day. Strangely, we never saw the man come out of the arcade again till Monday. We were suspicious of what could be going on in there. One of my friends suggested that maybe he’s a con artist and he’s actually selling TV products in there. Another one of my friends said maybe he’s a pro at video games and might be setting a record in there. We sat and watched, but nothing ever happened.

Monday came, and we ran into Shellshock Arcade at top speed. As expected, the old man was behind the counter with a sign behind him that said “1 PLAY = 25¢”. We walked about the aisles of machines, trembling with the overstimulating feeling of excitement to play something. One of my friends chose Tempest, my best friend went over to a driving game, and this dude that pals around with us whose name I have long forgotten played with a Frogger machine. I, on the other hand, found a game that truly intrigued me. It was an all-black cabinet with one word on it; “RUNNER”. Runner looked like a cool game, so I slid my quarter into the slot, and the game began. The only control was a joystick with a red button on top, and the screen was oddly tiny compared to other games. I didn’t quite grasp the entire plot of it, but it seemed you were a cyclist cycling down a road and avoiding getting hit by cars. It was fun until the machine just shut off after I reached level 27. I called the old guy behind the counter over to it and told him the game just shut off. He sighed and said that the game has always had problems since he bought it. He took off the back and starting tinkering with it. I walked over to my friends and told them about Runner, and they said their games worked just fine. We stayed for over six hours just playing games and having fun. When we left, the old man pulled me aside. He looked at me and said “Would you like to work here?”

“That’d be cool,” I said. “Do I get paid?” At the time, my only job was working at the local marketplace for barely minimum wage.

“Of course, let’s say… 10 bucks an hour. And you get free plays on any machine, even old Runner over there,” When he said ten dollars, I almost passed out. What a perfect opportunity.

“We have a deal!” I said as I shook his hand. “What time do I need to be here tomorrow?”

“I never close, so come in whenever you’d like,” he said. I walked out of that arcade with the best feeling in my heart.

I started the job and it was all good for about two weeks. I was able to finally buy some expensive stuff, like Air Jordan’s and a Blackberry phone. He let me work on the arcade machines, but not Runner. He told me Runner is hard to understand so he’ll work on that one. Then, one day, the old man took me into his office. I had never been in there before, and I’m glad I hadn’t. Before Shellshock Arcade was there, the building was an old service station, and where the old man had his office was a bathroom. So, his office smelled like a mixture of sewer and Febreze spray. He sat me down and said he was very proud of my work and was happy I could work for him.

A few weeks after, he started to not show up every day. He promoted me to manager and raised my income from ten dollars to twenty per hour. He also invested in the proper tools for fixing the arcade machines. Since really all I had to do was monitor the place, I didn’t have much to do. I went out and got a boom box with the little dongle for an iPod (which I didn’t have). I had also gotten a few new albums like The Eminem Show and Sexyback for the place to have some music besides the constant whirring and beeping of the machines. On a hot Tuesday, I started working on my own video game for the arcade called Uprising. I worked on all the coding and was coordinating the controls to a joystick button combo from a broken machine when I realized it was 11:00 at night. I wanted to stay, so I just turned off the aisle lights, locked the doors, and kept working. I was almost done when someone pulled into the garage.

I automatically freaked out and shut my computer and climbed under the counter. The door to the garage opened up, and someone came in grunting and wheezing. I could also hear muffled crying. I looked at my Blackberry for the time: 3:33 AM. I peeked up and saw someone with grey hair carrying a tied-up girl about my age into the old man’s office. All of a sudden, I heard chanting and a girl’s scream of pain. I couldn’t take it. I jumped over the counter and busted open the door to find the old man, with tribal markings drawn in blood on his face, standing over a girl laying on his desk; her entrails hanging out. She was still alive, staring at her exposed intestines. The old man didn’t quite look himself; his eyes were glazed over and he was grunting under his breath.

“Leave…” he moaned. I stupidly walked into the office and closed the door behind me. “LEAVE!” He suddenly yelled. The old man looked at me and started moaning under his breath words full of hate. I tried to remember what happens during an exorcism, since I couldn’t think of anything else while frozen in fear.

“I-In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen,” I said confidently. The old man looked up from the floor and glared at me.

“Do not utter those words in here,” he snarled. Since I was too afraid to run, I kept going.

“What is your name?” I yelled out. “I demand in the name of Jesus Christ to tell me your name!” He looked at me with a terrible smile of crooked teeth.

“Oz…” He moaned. “Oz…” He looked directly into what felt like my soul. “ZOZO…” I then tried to remember something that I could say to ‘zozo’ but I could only think to pray.

“Our Father, who art in Heav…”

I only made it that far. The old man slumped onto the floor, and all the lit candles in the room went out. I couldn’t take it, I grabbed the boom box and my computer and ran out. I got back home at 7:06 AM, and went straight to the basement. I threw down the boom box and my computer and grabbed a rope and a stool. I quickly fumbled a noose and threw it over a rafter and was about to hang myself when I realized I’m not myself. I fought the urge to take my own life and grabbed a crucifix that was hung over a doorway. The urge, in an instant, was gone. I ran into the bathroom and found a large, painful rash on my chest that spelled out “OZ”.

I walked back to the arcade an hour later, ready to say “I quit”, when I stopped dead in my tracks. Shellshock Arcade was gone. The building was completely empty. It was like it was never even there. It was still run down looking and appeared to be vacant for years. I peered in the grime coated windows, and all I saw was building supplies, wooden frames for rooms, and a single arcade machine pushed up against the wall so people outside couldn’t see what it was. I still had my key, so I unlocked the door. The building smelled of rotting wood and mildew. I walked over to the arcade machine and pushed it away from the wall so I could see what it was. It was Runner, scraped up and in major disrepair. I plugged it in, the red switch on the back lit up, so I flicked it on. The screen didn’t come on. “Must be faulty wiring,” I said as I pried open the panel on the back.

All that was on the inside was a bundle of wires and an Ouija board.

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