Call me outdated, but Counter-Strike is still at the top of my all-time favorite video games.
Late night at the dorm alone, playing up until 3 am, with full volume on. Yeah, that’s my style. Today was supposed to be no different.
I turned on my MacBook Pro. The glossy screen made a clear reflection of my long, narrow room. The dorm’s rooms were all made just for one person, so I was always alone. My laptop was propped up on my desk at the end of the room, opposite the door.
It was almost too routine. After a long, boring day of classes, I’d get back to my room at 10 pm. I’d go Facebook, Twitter, 9gag, up until I’ve surfed every nook and cranny of the net. Then, bored as fuck, I’d open Counter-Strike, and go firing deep into the night.
But tonight, while surfing, a friend suddenly messaged me on Facebook.
“Hey dude! Check out this sick CS Map! (Download link)”, Kevin messaged me.
As he was a CS addict just like me, I opened the link. The map was called ‘de_darkness’. With my 10 mb per second internet, the map downloaded in a flash. Excited, I immediately opened Counter-Strike to try out the map. I set it up to play a good old fashioned, 5 v 5 affair.
The map, living up to its name, had many dark areas. Set late at night, only the pale blue shade of the night sky and a few lamp posts gave light to the area. Stone walls lined each corridor, filled with long, green vines. Dark hallways and tunnels snaked at the center of the map.
Around it was an elevated area, perfect for sniping unwary players on the bottom, through ceiling holes in the tunnels. Bridges also kept the map interesting, hovering across the width and length of the vicinity.
‘Darkness’ seemed to have nothing special to it. There were two ways of getting kills in the map. The first one, which I like to call the ‘pussy’ way, was camping and sniping in the elevated areas of the map. It was almost too easy, as the darkness gave you instant camouflage. You could rack up tons of kills immediately.
The next one was the more interesting part of the map, which was running the maze of tunnels at the center. It was perfect for sneak attacks or point-blank kills.
As usual, I racked up more than half of my team’s kills in the first few rounds, even while switching between the 2 ways to play.
It was after the first 5 rounds that I started to notice things.
One time, while roaming the map, I started to hear creaking noises; they were nothing like the usual sound effects I hear in CS maps. Some players’ footsteps also started to sound different. Instead of the usual thud of military grade shoes, a metallic clink and clank would be heard, even when no player seemed to be in the immediate area.
And then, I started to notice an extra character in the map.
While staying in the elevated area, a shady figure appeared in the outskirt forests of the map. It was impossible to get up there. Curiously, I zoomed in my crosshairs on the human-like figure, but he disappeared.
Next round, the figure appeared again. This time, he was only a few paces away, so I was able to get a better look at him. He wore a brown overcoat, extending to the knees, fully buttoned up. A matching pair of brown slacks completed his outdated fashion statement.
The only thing more puzzling than the man’s clothing was the face that rose above it. He had dark, round eyes, with an empty stare straight at me. A sinister smile accompanied it, but the man didn’t seem to have any lips. A grey, faded complexion covered the rest of the mystery man’s face.
Just like any other opposing character I see, I fired at the guy. Bullet after bullet, aimed straight at his thin, 6 foot body, all seemed to have no effect. Before I could try other ways to kill him, another player killed me.
Wow. This map has something special after all. An extra character, almost impossible to kill? A sense of excitement hit me like never before, like it was just the first time I got my hands on this game.
I spent pretty much all of the remaining rounds trying to find and kill this character, even if it meant lowering my kill-death ratio. I noticed that the man only appeared in dark spaces, randomly across the map.
Many times, the man would toy with me. When I try to run at him, he would stand still, but no distance would be made up. Other times, while firing at him, the man would contort and shake rapidly, like thousands of bullets showered his body all at once. But one thing remained: I was never able to kill him.
It must have been an hour or two already, as I was starting to get sleepy. Trying to kill the mystery man was now a boring, futile effort. It was great fun while it lasted, so I closed the application. Shutting down in 3…2…1…and my Macbook’s screen shut off.
But something remained on the screen. The same shady figure wearing brown was still on the right hand corner. Is my Macbook glitching now?
Then the figure came closer, and closer, and closer. Now, his grey face, empty eye sockets, and sinister smile occupied most of my screen. Then I realized.
I was staring at my laptop’s reflection.