12 Jan “If the screen of your Nintendo Switch cracks, stop playing” – Creepypasta
I decided to download Link’s Awakening for the Switch a couple weeks ago. I’d had the game as a kid, on gameboy, but I don’t remember getting very far. I think I mostly cut grass in the starting area until I found enough money to buy all the items. The remake looked cute, though, and nowadays I could just look up a guide if I got stuck.
The game downloaded while I crept upstairs and microwaved myself a burrito. My upstairs roommates were working from home; I was still going out on the “front lines” every night. We’d settled into a kind of half-assed quarantine system. I snuck around during the night like some kind of ghost living in their basement, and they didn’t try to find me.
The microwave clock, after I heated up my food, said it was close to seven in the morning. I’d finished my shift about an hour ago, come home, and known as soon as I’d gotten into the shower that I was looking down the barrel at another sleepless night. I was tense and twitchy, a band of not-quite-pain pulling my back muscles tight. The warm water had done little to help, even when I turned it to scalding.
So I’d pulled my Switch out from where it was charging under my bed and blew sixty dollars on a remake of a game I could have emulated for free. Now I took my burrito, wrapped in a paper plate, back down to my room. I pulled the blankets up around me one-handed as I stepped onto the bed with my food held high.
I heard a clatter, and grimaced. I put the burrito down on a corner of the bed and knelt over the other side. Yeah, I’d knocked my Switch to the floor. I picked it up and turned it over. I want to say that I barely noticed the crack, but it was unmistakable. A web of cracks, about the area of a house key, in the bottom right corner.
The screen was still lit up and working just fine, though. I tapped the crack with my thumb, and it didn’t seem to crumble or electrocute me. Still, I snuck out of my room again and found a roll of clear tape in a kitchen drawer. I returned to my room and covered the crack in tape. Good as new.
The download was only half-finished.
Paranoid about little shards of glass sticking to my fingers, I washed my hands and shook my sheets out (after setting the Switch carefully back onto the floor). Then I got back into bed and read news on my phone while I ate my room-temperature burrito.
The game finished downloading as I was chewing the dense wad of tortilla that signifies the ending of any microwave burrito. I picked up the Switch and ran my finger over the tape. At least it wasn’t a big crack.
I started up the game and soon I was able to forget about the crack. It’s kind of a weird game, I found out. Most of the surreal stuff and references to other games must have flown over my head when I was a little kid. It wasn’t quite as hard as I remembered, though.
I got through the first dungeon easily, and played through to somewhere near the end of the second dungeon, where I finally hit a miniboss I wasn’t able to instantly destroy.
The sun was bright around the edges of my blackout curtains by this time, and I was finally starting to feel tired. I cleared out a room on the way back to the miniboss and left Link facing the next door while I went to go brush my teeth. I’m sure I left him facing the door at the top of the screen.
When I came back to make one more attempt on the miniboss before trying to get some sleep, though, I found him facing down, his little cartoony face pointing up at the “camera.” It must have been an idle animation, I thought, and picked up the Switch without pressing any buttons to see what he would do.
Instead of kicking his feet or stretching, though, Link lifted a hand, pointed straight at the camera, and screamed.
I watched, fascinated. Was this a cutscene? A special enemy? Had the game seen me die a bunch of times and then stop playing, and this had prompted an event?
Link’s scream used the same sound effect as when he fell down a hole. A short clip, but it was playing over and over as he pointed and screamed. After a solid minute of this, I started to feel creeped out.
I’d hit a glitch, I realized.
I was sure of it when none of the game buttons seemed to work, and Link kept screaming at me. The home screen button still worked, and when I pressed it the room was suddenly quiet of Link’s repeating screams. I closed the game and powered off the console, hoping it had saved my progress.
In the dark of my room, only glints of light from outside danced across my ceiling. I lay in bed, unable to sleep, barely able to close my eyes.
I woke to my alarm that night. I almost trampled my abused Switch, which I’d set down on the floor the night before, getting out of bed. I shook my head and plugged it in. My eyes were burning and my tongue was dry.
I went through the motions of getting ready for work, putting on my uniform shirt and a company jacket. I still felt groggy, so I decided to wash my face before leaving.
When I turned on the bathroom light, it was overwhelmingly bright. I squinted my eyes closed and warmed up the water, then scrubbed it over my face, willing myself to wake up enough to drive.
Gradually, my eyes adjusted to the light. When I finally opened them, I looked down into the sink to see that the water running off my face had a pink tint to it.
My gaze whipped up to the mirror, and I realized I had some kind of split lip. Right at the corner of my mouth, a trail of bloody water dripped down. I grabbed a dark towel and wiped it off, checking my clothes for stains before I checked my face for the extent of the damage.
I thought my lip had just cracked from the cold overnight, a scab opened up by the water. But when I brushed my finger over the split, I felt something small and hard.
On the tip of my finger was a tiny shard of glass.
I stuck my head under the faucet, trying to flush out the wound as much as possible. I filled my mouth with water and spat it out about eight times, probing every inch with my tongue to find glass in my mouth. I didn’t find any more pieces.
Eventually, my second alarm started playing from my phone and I had to leave or be late for work.
I dried myself off, thoroughly awake now. I leaned in toward the mirror and looked at my lip. It was a pretty bad split, branching off along my cheek and still oozing blood. At least I would be wearing a mask at work. I took some toilet paper to keep dabbing at it as I drove.
When I got to the gas station, I saw my coworker through the lighted window, anxiously checking the darkness outside for my arrival.
I pulled on my cloth mask and tossed the bloody wad of toilet paper into the trash before I hauled open the door and went in. My coworker heaved a sigh of relief upon seeing me, breath fogging up his glasses. He was already clocking out on the computer by the time I reached the counter.
“You’re good, right?” he said, eyes on the screen. “I gotta go. Greg’s in the back.”
The franchise owner hated customers. Hopefully, he would stay back there and let me handle them all night, for all our sakes.
“Yeah, fine,” I said, tonguing the corner of my mouth under my mask. It still stung.
Coworker was out the door in seconds. I clocked in and pulled a stool up to the register, hunching over my phone. We would get another hour or so of late commuters, then I’d get started on cleaning up the shelves and mopping. Greg stepped out once to check on the shift change, grunted at me, and disappeared again.
I almost fell asleep on my stool in between customers. Just as I was about to step out into the store to clean, the bell rang again. A man and a child came in, almost identical except that he was wearing a hoodie and jeans and she was wearing a little pink coat. I settled back onto the stool and called a greeting.
The man dropped into the back toward the coolers of beer, and the girl hopped over to a candy display closer to my counter. I watched her slap a palm onto every pack of candy she could reach, like she was playing the final level in a rhythm game with twenty buttons. She stopped with her hand on a pack of M&Ms, squeezing it.
Then she looked at me.
I was lifting my hand to wave at her when she screamed at the top of her lungs, an ear-splitting scream that shattered the quiet of the store.
I clapped my hands to my ears but still heard the rattling of a case of beer falling to the ground as her father rushed to her.
“What’s wrong, baby?” he asked, voice raised over her continuous scream as he picked her up in his arms.
She pointed straight at me. All I was doing was trying to will my eardrums to stay intact.
The man opened his mouth, gaze turning to me, but he didn’t say anything. He seemed to stop short, eyes wide, bewildered. He opened and shut his mouth a couple more times, but never managed to say anything.
He pushed through the door back into the night, carrying the screaming child out of the store. After the door thumped shut, it was quiet again, and I cautiously lowered my hands. What had that been about? I didn’t look that bad, did I?
“What’s all that, then?” Greg called from the back room.
Nice to know that he would leap into action in the event of an emergency. “Just a kid throwing a tantrum!” I yelled back, but I was shaken. If it hadn’t been for the half-remembered glitch in Link’s Awakening, I could have shrugged it off.
I touched my face, wondering what the girl had seen, and my hand came away sticky.
The blood was bright against my palm. Oh, God. My mask was completely soaked through with it. I pulled it off and looked at it, repulsed. How had I not even noticed the cut on my lip bleeding so much? It must have just split open again.
I checked out the window for approaching cars, and when I didn’t see anyone I stole away to the bathroom to rinse the mask and wipe off my face.
Forget about the little girl, I almost shrieked when I saw my face in the mirror. Taking off the mask had left me with blood smeared over one half of my cheek. I started to wipe it off with wet paper towels, and realized with a hiss that the cut had spread, branching over my cheek along several stinging lines.
Worse, I found more bits of glass, tiny and sparkling in the yellow light of the bathroom. I cursed under my breath, hands shaking. How could this happen? I was so sure nothing had come off of the Switch screen.
I took several breaths, trying to make them deep ones. I would make sure, when I got home. I would clean everything and put more tape on the cracked screen. After buying the game, I didn’t think I could afford to pay someone to fix the screen until my next paycheck, but maybe I could get a kit and try it myself.
The blood was mostly cleaned off my face, but my white mask seemed like a lost cause. It was stained a splotched pink and red even after all my efforts with the warm water. I hesitated for a minute, then squeezed it dry and pulled it back on. I told myself it would just look tie-dyed, instead of gruesome.
The rest of the night passed in a painfully slow crawl. I kept a stack of paper towels under the cash register and kept wiping off the blood under my mask as my network of cuts continued to ooze. I barely cleaned, straightening the beer display and making a half-hearted pass with a mop over the floors. I was watching the clock, and I punched out and left as soon as my relief stepped through the door, brushing past her, head down so she wouldn’t notice what was wrong with me.
The sky was turning from black to gray when I got home. The house was silent, all my roommates still asleep two floors up. I threw my stained mask away and washed my face again. I was hungry and thirsty, but the thought of swallowing anything made me balk, so afraid of more shards of glass. Eventually I managed to drink a few mouthfuls of water from the bathroom faucet, after sticking my whole head under the stream and rinsing my mouth out several times.
There was a black towel in the bathroom closet, and after I changed my clothes I draped it over my shoulder as I took my next steps. First I slathered more tape over the Switch screen, covering the cracks and the surrounding two inches in cloudy tape. Then I tore every bit of linen off my bed and dragged it outside to shake out until my head spun. I hiked it all upstairs and shoved it in the laundry machine on a double rinse cycle.
Finally I took my roommate’s vacuum from the upstairs closet and vacuumed every single thing in my room, including the blinds and pillows. It probably woke my roommates up, but I couldn’t wait. I was left with a clean room and an exhausted body. I laid down on the bare mattress with the towel between my face and the pillow.
I slept fitfully, uncomfortable and anxious, the light through the curtains always seeming to cut through into my eyes just as I was drifting off.
My roommates moved around on the floor above. Talking, laughing, playing music, coming and going. I could usually tune it all out but now every footfall pounded into my bones. I lay there with the towel draped over my face and waited to either die or fall asleep.
I awoke with a start in the dark of the night, confused and panicked that my alarm hadn’t sounded. It took me too long, looking at the calendar on my phone, to remember that I wasn’t scheduled to work today. I had the night off.
The bare mattress wooshed as I dropped flat onto it. So I had the night off. Why wasn’t I more happy about that? I could hear my roommates thumping around upstairs. I dragged myself to the bathroom and rinsed the clots of blood from my face, picking more shards of glass out of my skin dully, almost routinely. I dumped the black towel into a basket and dug out the rattiest replacement for it I could find.
I returned to my room and sat with my back against a wall, reading articles on my phone, as I listened to the sounds of my roommates upstairs trail off and quiet. I would wait a while more before going back up and drying my sheets. Maybe I could even bring myself to eat something. My Switch was on the floor near me, and my resolve to pointedly ignore it was waning. I’d bought the game. I wanted to play it.
Finally I put down my phone and picked up the Switch, looking it over suspiciously for flakes of glass. My tape seemed to have contained it, but then, that was what I had thought the last time, too.
I turned it on and started up Link’s Awakening. The game seemed normal, except for the big foggy area on the third of the screen covered in tape. Despite that, I managed to beat the second dungeon while sitting on the floor in my room. I stood up and scratched at the cuts on my face, still dripping onto my new towel, and wandered around in the game a little more.
Trying to explore the map, I was starting to run into problems with the taped-up screen obscuring things. I looked at the ceiling, then at my phone. It was past one. The house was silent again.
Before I went upstairs, I put the Switch into sleep mode. I didn’t want to see any more glitched-out idle animations. Then I walked slowly up the dark stairs, alert for any sign that one of my roommates was still hanging around. But all the lights were off on the middle level.
I went to the living room and removed the Switch there from its dock, replacing it with mine and sliding a controller out. I sat on the couch, feeling as though I was getting away with something. It took a moment to find the remote, stuck between the cushions of the couch. I fished it out and turned on the TV, squinting against the sudden light of the Switch home screen there. I turned the volume down and resumed my game.
I zoned out playing, forgetting my laundry and my hunger. I made a fair amount of progress before I had to return to the village area and everything went to shit.
As soon as I entered the town, I got a weird feeling. The music wasn’t playing, I could tell even with the lowered volume. And as I ran Link past NPCs, the NPCs stopped and turned toward the screen. All at once, each of them raised a hand to point at me, and screamed.
The volume wasn’t quiet anymore. The screams were as loud as the little girl’s in the shop had been. Every single NPC I ran past did it. In a panic, I made Link run past them. I ran to the north side of the town but there wasn’t an exit to the village and there were more NPCs screaming at top volume there.
I entered the house there as lights started turning on upstairs.
The TV was mercifully quiet. The house had a NPC in it that was a woman holding a baby, and she wasn’t pointing or screaming.
One of my roommates started coming downstairs when a dialog box popped up.
It said, Hey, what’s going on?
“Hey, what’s going on?” My roommate said from the bottom of the stairs.
I tore my gaze away from the TV to look at her. “What?” I said.
She was standing on the bottom step holding the railing, clearly half-asleep. Her girlfriend was following her down, and our other roommates were on their way, I could hear them.
A sound effect, and a new box popped up on the screen.
Are you okay?
“It’s nothing,” I said, just as my roommate said, “Are you okay?”
I was already pulling the Switch out of its dock. “I’m fine,” I said. I could see the blood on the towel on my shoulder. I could feel it itching as it dried on my face, even as more dripped down my chin. “It’s fine. I’m sorry.”
I fled, leaving them all standing in confusion in the light of the stairway. I closed myself in the basement bathroom and saw myself wild-eyed in the mirror. A whole side of my face was cracked and bleeding, all the way up to my eye.
The Switch was still on, and sounds indicated more dialog boxes were popping up.
Are you okay?
Are you okay?
What’s all that, then?
What’s wrong, baby?
I turned on the shower and climbed in, still in the oversized clothes I had worn to bed. I dug at the cuts on my face, feeling the grain and bite of glass there. I looked at the pink water pooling around my feet, and then back at the Switch on the edge of the sink.
There was a stopper in the drawer there, and I dug it out and plugged the drain. The tub started to fill.
What’s all that, then?
Just a kid throwing a tantrum!
When there were several inches of water, I stepped out, took the Switch, and peeled the tape off the cracks.
Just a kid throwing a tantrum!
I lowered the Switch into the water by one corner as it continued to ping with the sound of new dialog popping up. Tiny bubbles floated up from the cracks and the ports.
What’s wrong, baby?
I dropped it and gripped the edge of the tub, kneeling on the floor.
In the moment before the screen went black, I thought I read: I’m sorry.
I sat there and watched the tub, full of my bloody water and ruined Switch, for a long time. I dozed there, head pillowed on my arms, but snapped awake every time.
I didn’t die, or catch fire, or spontaneously start coughing up water. I didn’t dissolve into a bloody heap.
My cuts are getting better. I’ve thrown away everything I couldn’t get the bloodstains out of, and scrubbed every inch of the basement bathroom. My roommates never asked me anything more about that night.
The Switch is still in my room, wrapped in a garbage bag under my bed. I wonder if I’ll ever bring myself to get rid of it. I don’t know which is worse: someone else getting it and trying to use it, only for the same thing to happen to them, or the rest of the screen getting crushed in a trash compactor.
As my face heals, I know this will seem stupid and superstitous, so I made myself sit down and write it all out now, before I convince myself I made it all up. I don’t know if it was just my Switch. I don’t know if what happened to me was some weird combination of a defective screen and a glitchy game, or something harder to explain.
Whatever it was, I’m still afraid to look at myself in the mirror. I hesitate before I wash my face, afraid to feel the grit of glass embedded in my skin.