So I started writing a story a few days ago, and I thought I should make a topic about it so I wouldn’t take up space in the Imagination topic and so that my chapters aren’t spread out all over the place (that’s one of my pet peeves).
Vanessa sat on her bed, staring at her iPad. There was nothing interesting happening on the Hopscotch Forum. But, as a moderator, she felt she had to be on at least a few minutes longer, just until Kiwicute2016 or BuildASnowman got on.
All of a sudden, there was a new topic titled “BAS, what was that?”. She got interested and clicked on it.
There was already two posts, the first was from Tankt2016, but the second was an audio file from an account called “met_sys_is_boss”. As soon as she clicked the play button, she screamed.
It was a normal summer Saturday. I woke up at 8:30, ate breakfast while listening to the radio, and then got out my iPad and opened up Hopscotch.
I checked my activity bar. Corvus and VanillaOwl💛 had liked a couple of my projects again, so I took a screenshot, because that’s what I do.
Then I checked my following tab. At the very top was a project from Poptart0219, and all it was was a text project that said, “Beware system”.
I wondered what it meant, so I took a screenshot and went to her profile to see if there was anything else. But then Hopscotch crashed, and when I entered back in, it showed an error message.
Usually when it shows a message, it says “Do you want to report this problem”, so out of habit, I clicked the bottom button that usually says “Don’t report”. But the split second before I clicked, I saw that it wasn’t the usual message, and it said something else. The only thing I had time to see was the word “control”.
I smacked myself on the forehead for being so hasty, and then thought about that word. “Is that what Poptart meant? That system will control everything?” I went to Poptart’s profile, but the mysterious project was gone! Why did she unpublish it?
Everything looked normal again, and she had even published a new drawing on her Octopad. I thought I saw some words hidden among the designs, but I couldn’t tell for sure.
I looked at a couple more people’s profiles, and then I went to the forum to check up on things. I saw a new topic about BuildASnowman, so I clicked on it. Apparently, he had done something similar to Poptart and published a warning about system.
I read through the posts, and several people were suggesting different theories. It could’ve been a prank, or a dare, or something really was going on. I didn’t see anyone talking about Poptart, so I posted something about it.
Not long after, even more theories started. I even started coming up with some. But the most common one for everyone was that system was doing something, and it was no coincidence that two mods posted similar projects about system within an hour of each other.
Just then, Poptart posted something, apparently in reply to my tag. She said, “It was just a dare that BAS and I did, don’t worry about it.” There was an audio attachment with her post, but since I didn’t have headphones, I didn’t listen to it.
A few minutes later, people started saying that they were glad nothing was up, while I still thought that it was suspicious. But what made it even more suspicious was that shortly after, certain people started deleting their posts in the topic.
“Ok, that can’t be a coincidence. Two mods publish projects about system, then Poptart says it was a dare, and then random people start deleting their posts? There has to be something up.”
I tried to remember who deleted their posts and see if there was any pattern. “Tankt2016, PixelMaster64, I think Malie, IcePOP, and Anonymous? That’s weird. I don’t see anything. If there’s a pattern, it must be hidden or something.”
A few seconds later, Kiwicute closed the topic with no explanation.
“What was that for? Nobody did anything wrong, and it was Hopscotch related and on topic. Sheesh!”
I started wondering what that audio attachment was, so I went to get my headphones. I plugged them in and went to the post with the attachment.
I hesitated, and tried to think of bad things that might happen because of listening to it. Obviously my imagination was running wild, because most of them were very clearly fantasized, so I clicked the play button.
At first, it was nothing. Then, soft music started and gradually got louder, and I could hear something else in the background.
As I tried to focus on the background sound, everything started getting blurry, and I felt numb. I also started to feel really sleepy. I knew that I was doing something, but I didn’t know what.
I saw a few clear-ish blips here and there, but I couldn’t really think about what I saw, much less remember it. Then everything went black.
When I woke up, I was on my bed. I sat up and just stared for a while. I knew something had happened, but I couldn’t remember what, and whether it was important or not.
I decided to check Hopscotch to see if there were any more art challenge entries, but when I opened it, it was logged on to a different account. It was called /6/53’ 28@@ 47@3, and it didn’t make much sense.
There was nothing in drafts, so I took a screenshot and logged out. Then I facepalmed. “Shoot! I forgot to check if anything was published.”
I quickly logged into my account and went to the search tab. I tried remembering what the username was, but I didn’t get it right, so I went to my photos. Then I saw the picture. “Beware system.”
Slowly, the memories started coming back. Memories of the mysterious projects, of the topic talking about it, about Poptart and Kiwicute, about the deleted posts.
“Now it’s important that I find out if there was anything published on that account.” I found the picture, got the username and typed it in. The only thing that was published was a text project. It said: “There is no escaping the system.”
“Oh great. Now system is going to take over the world. I bet this is all a huge prank. The mods had this all planned out that they’d make suspicious projects, make a topic about it in the forum, get everyone all worked up, then make a new HS account and publish a mysterious and foreboding project about system. It has to be a prank.”
I sincerely hoped that it was, but somewhere inside, I just knew that it was for real. For example, if they wanted everyone to see it, then why’d Kiwicute close the topic?
“Speaking of which, I wanna check on the topic, see if there’s anything that might give a clue to what’s happening.”
I logged on to the forum, and I checked my replies. I didn’t see any from the topic. Then I checked my likes given, and there was one of KVJ’s posts from in that topic!
“Yes! The topic didn’t get recycled yet. Now, is there anything…” I looked through the posts that were still there, and I didn’t see any of mine, even though I knew exactly where they should’ve been.
“Man, a lot more posts are gone! At least now I think I know why, though.” I started remembering the little blips from earlier. I remembered deleting all my posts! “But why?” I started thinking it through.
“Well, if system really is going to try to take over, he would want the main threats out first, which would be the mods and leaders. Then, he’d try his hardest to make things seem as normal as possible, but BAS and Poptart must’ve messed that up with their warning projects. So he had to close the topic and make people delete their posts. Although, why make them do it? Why not do it himself?”
I glanced over at the clock. “Where has the time gone? It’s already almost noon? I’d better hurry!” I grabbed my backpack, shoved my iPad in it, and ran to get my bike.
As I pedaled to the McDonalds down the street, I hoped that I wasn’t late. When I got there, I saw three familiar bikes already chained up.
“Yup, I’m late. Or else they’re early.” Amber was waiting for me at the door. “Late again? What’s your excuse this time?” She playfully punched me in the arm and led me to a booth in a corner where Chris and Mia were waiting for us.
“Hey, where’ve you been? We almost ordered without you!” Chris teased. Mia nudged his arm. “Stop it. So, how was your morning? Ours was awfully weird. Well, mine was.”
I started to pull out my iPad. “Well, this morning I was looking at Amber’s topic about BAS, and after I tagged Poptart, she replied and had an audio attachment in her post, if you didn’t see. Well, I listened to it, and apparently it wasted half the morning for me. Did any of you listen to it?”
Chris pointed to Mia. “She did. As soon as she put her earbuds in, it was like she was in a different universe. I tried talking to her, and I even took the earbuds out, but she wouldn’t even look at me. She took the iPad and wouldn’t let me see what she was doing.”
Mia nodded. “And the worst part is, I don’t remember what I was doing. I don’t remember anything at all, except feeling really sleepy. When I finally woke up, it was half past eleven, and the time I remembered seeing before was just past nine.”
I started to unlock my iPad when I saw the time. “I guess we should probably order something now, and then we can talk more later. K?”
Everyone nodded, so we headed up to the counter and ordered. I got a McBiscuit, because I was still in a breakfast-y mood.
Then, as we all sat down and started eating, I unlocked my iPad and showed them the screenshot. Amber stared at it for a bit. “So that’s what you guys were talking about. ‘Mysterious projects’…but why? What are they for?”
Amber, Mia and I started throwing ideas around, when we were suddenly interrupted. “Look!” Chris held up his iPad for us to see. It was an email from system! Mia read it out loud:
“To Amber, Chris, Mia and Honey, also known as Hero Dino, tankt2016, MiracleShoutouts and t7lks. I personally invite you to attend the opening ceremony for a new Hopscotch era: The reign of the system. There will be guest stars, some of which are BuildASnowman, Poptart0219, Kiwicute2016, and many more. Perhaps some of you may even want to participate. You will know when it begins.”
Amber shivered. “Oooohhh, system is creepy! What does he mean by Kiwicute, BAS and Poptart will be guest stars? And that we’ll know when it begins?” I shook my head. “I guess we’ll have to wait and find out.” “But do we really want to find out?” Mia interjected. “I mean, we could try to find a way to stay out of it…”
We finished eating and went outside to get our bikes. We agreed to meet at the park to hang out and talk more. But as we rode there, every time we passed a stoplight camera, I got the feeling that we were being watched. Even when we got to the park, I couldn’t shake it.
As soon as we chained our bikes up, Chris and Mia got out their phones and walked around, playing Pokémon Go, and Amber and I sat down in the shade. “How can they stand being in the sun on a day like today?” I wondered.
Just then, Amber got a text. “Hey, it’s from Catie! She’s ColourfulBlack.” I looked at her, wide-eyed. “You know ColourfulBlack? Since when?” “For a long time. I just found out a few months ago that Catie was ColourfulBlack, and then I was like, ‘I’ve known you for how long, and you never told me that you are her?’”
We both laughed, and then she looked at the text. “You’d better hurry. The party is almost ready to start.” She responded, “What party?” All of a sudden, Mia called us. “Hey guys, over here!” We ran over to where they were standing.
Chris showed us his phone. “So, there’s a ton of Pokémon over there, which is weird.” He pointed to the spot on his screen.
“But what’s weirder, they’re all in the same place. I got closer to them, but they didn’t run away. It’s like they’re stuck or something. And it shows the same thing on Mia’s phone too.” Then Amber’s phone buzzed.
“The party I invited you four to, of course.”
“When did you invite us to a party?”
“How did you know there were four of us?”
“I have my resources.”
“Catie, stop it. You’re freaking me out.”
“Who ever said I was Catie?”
What? We all stared at each other. Did that mean that system had her? I shrugged. “Well, that would make sense, because system obviously hates the drawing topics, and ColourfulBlack is an artist. Get rid of the artists, and no more drawing topic.”
But Chris was tired of it. “That’s it. I’m tired of this prank. I’m going to find out what’s really going on.” He started typing something on his phone.
“Not to long ago, I got an email from Discourse about some virtual world they were creating for all their sites. In the email, it had an audio attachment, but I didn’t listen to it. Maybe it tells how to get there!”
I turned on my phone and looked through my emails. “I think I remember getting an email like that too! But I can’t seem to find it. Could you forward it to us?”
He forwarded it to us, and then he turned up the volume on his phone and played the audio. It was music, more beautiful than I’d ever heard before. And as it played, it turned into a kind of mist and started swirling around us.
As the music got louder and more complex, the mist got thicker until it was as thick as fog. We couldn’t see a thing, and the fog started feeling tingly on my skin. The music slowly started getting softer, and the fog thinned until there was nothing left of it.
As we looked around us, we noticed that almost everything was white. We were in a huge hallway, with rooms on both sides. Each room had tall double doors leading inside, and above the doors, there were signs with neon turquoise lettering. “The Drawing Topic”, “Annual Hopscotch Summer Contest”, and “Pix’s Topic” were just a few of them.
“Woah! We’re inside the forum! Cool!” I started to walk around, but fell flat on my face, and I heard the others gasp. I sat up and looked to see what I tripped on, and then I gasped too.
I hadn’t tripped, I had lost my balance. When we were in the music fog, it also changed us into 3D stick people! “That must’ve been why it felt tingly. How in the world are we supposed to walk on tiny feet like these?”
I turned and looked at the others. They were all stick people, but instead of eyes, nose and mouth, they had their username initials on their face. Amber had HD, Chris had MS, and Mia had tt, and I assumed I had t7.
We also were wearing capes. Chris, Mia and I had mid-length green capes, and Amber had a short yellow cape, and our capes had our full usernames on them.
I got up and figured out how to walk without face planting, and ran to catch up with the others. They were just coming out of the Annual Hopscotch Summer Contest topic, and there was another stick person with them.
He had Hfb on his face and a yellow cape. “You found Huggingfluffybear?” I looked at him. “How’d you get in here?”
“I don’t really know. One moment, I was looking at the Summer Challenge winners topic, then all of a sudden I was surrounded by music and fog, and the next moment, I was in the Summer Challenge winners topic as a stick person. Weird, huh?”
“Yeah, well, that’s kinda my fault.” Chris said. “You see, we’re trying to find out what’s up with the Hopscotchers who are warning about system and stuff. I thought that it’d be a good idea to start in the forum, because it’s where the discussions started.”
As we headed towards the drawing topic, Huggingfluffybear asked, “So, how long do you think we’ll be here? 'Cuz I’m hungry. A big bowl of ramen would be nice.” As soon as he said that, a bowl of ramen appeared in his hands. “Woah! How’d that happen?”
Everyone turned around to see what he’d done. “Maybe that’s what your Member powers can do.” Chris looked at Hfb. “If Member powers can do that, then I wonder what Regular powers can do! I want a Super Deluxe Mega-sized guacamole hotdog!” Immediately, a three foot long hotdog smothered with guacamole appeared in front of him.
Mia shook her head. “Boys. Always hungry.” Chris laughed. “Well, growing boys need food. How else are we supposed to grow?” Amber crossed her arms. “I’m not wasting my powers on food. I’d rather have a hoverboard so I won’t have to walk everywhere.” Nothing happened.
“What? No fair. Mia or Honey, one of you try it. Maybe Regular powers can get a hoverboard.” We both tried it, but it still didn’t work. “Maybe you have to be a Leader in order to summon a hoverboard. Let’s try a scooter. Maybe that’ll work.”
It did, so we summoned four scooters and one RipStik (for me), and Chris summoned a wagon for his guac dog. Then I randomly summoned a bunch of Fortune Cookies and opened one up. “‘You will befriend a magic restless duck.’ What’s that supposed to mean?”
It got quiet for a few seconds, and then almost simultaneously: “CreativeCoder!” Chris thought it out aloud. “Restless, jumpy, Jumpyduckz! And magic, wizard, Master Wizard Jumpyduckz! Cool! I guess that means we’re going to meet up with CreativeCoder soon!”
“Did someone call me?” Another stick figure walked out of the drawing topic towards us. She had a green cape and the letters CC on her face.
“Um, I guess? Hi, I’m MiracleShoutouts, and this is my sister, tankt2016, and my friends Hero Dino and t7lks, and that’s Huggingfluffybear.”
CreativeCoder waved at us, and then looked at our scooters. “Hey, where’d you get scooters? And ramen, and…a guacamole hotdog?!? Ew!” “Just use your Regular powers! They can get you almost anything!” Mia summoned a Dr Pepper to demonstrate. “All you have to do is think or say what you want, and there it is!”
“Like this? I want…cotton candy!” It instantly appeared in her hands. “Cool! So, where’re you headed?” This time, I told the story.
“We’re headed to the drawing topic, because we’re trying to find out more about the 'Scotchers who’re acting weird.” CC looked confused, so I explained about the projects and the topic and the texts. “Hm. Sounds mysterious.”
We all headed to the drawing topic, and the moment we were inside, it was like a rainbow had flooded our eyes. There were colors everywhere! “Wow! This is a huge improvement from the white hallway. I wonder why it’s white, anyways?”
As we wandered around, I saw a few familiar artists; Maltese, SmilingSnowflakes, Roller Blade, MissFluffyHusky, and several others.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a group of bulletin board type things, so I ripped (on my RipStik) over to see what was on them. They had all the pictures that were posted in the topic. I was glancing at them, when I noticed someone putting up a new one.
I turned to look at whoever it was, and if I had a mouth, my jaw would’ve been touching the floor. It was SmilingSnowflakes! I stared at her picture for about a minute, and then I turned and shook her hand.
“Hi! I’m t7lks! Your art is so amazingly awesome, and all your projects on Hopscotch are the best, and I can’t believe I’m actually talking to you and shaking your hand, and your cape is so wonderfully blue…I think I’m gonna go now.”
As I ripped away, I looked back at her, and she was obviously confused/amused. “Well, that went terribly wrong. What in the world, me?” I rode around looking for other artists I’d be familiar with.
I found SuperGirl3Acer, and I introduced myself without embarrassing myself this time, and then I remembered why we were there in the first place, so I asked her if she knew anything about ColourfulBlack or the Mods. She said she didn’t, so I moved on.
There were actually a lot less people in the topic than I had first thought, so I just started asking anyone I came across. Then, all the way at the back of the room, I saw someone with a black cape. “A black cape? I’ve seen grey, yellow, green and blue, but this is the first black. Hmm.”
I rode over to whoever it was, hopped off my RipStik, and was about to tap on their shoulder, when I noticed something weird. They weren’t white, like everyone else. They were silver, almost metallic.
Something just didn’t seem right, so I picked up my RipStik and started to back away when they turned around. Whoever it was, actually had a face! He took one look at me and then showed a creepy smile. “Is something wrong?”
He started coming closer, so I turned and ran. As I ran, I heard Chris yell, “Everyone, cover your ears!”
No sooner were the words out of his mouth, that I heard music. But it wasn’t like the sweet, gentle mist music. This music was harsh and cold, and I realized it was very similar to the music that Poptart posted!
I immediately covered my ears and went as fast as I could to the door. But it was too late. I started feeling tired and dizzy, everything got blurry, and I lost my balance and felt my head hit the ground.
As I opened my eyes, I saw that I was in a big cage in a dark room. I saw some red lights dotted around the room, which I assumed were from machines of some kind. Then, I saw a pair of glowing white eyes coming towards me, and a light turned on.
“Well, well. Look who’s finally awake. You’ve been out a lot longer than I expected.” As my eyes got adjusted to the light, I was able to look more closely at the mysterious person. He was metallic silver, had a face, and was wearing a black cape. “I bet you’re curious about who I am.”
He held out his cape for me to see. I gasped. “KVJ? What did System do to you?” He laughed. “Technically, he didn’t do anything. I realized that we need someone to take charge of the forum and get rid of the troublemakers.” I crossed my arms. “And how exactly do you plan on doing that?”
He showed the same creepy smile that the other guy had shown. “Suspend anyone and everyone who doesn’t follow the rules. And before you ask, the rules are no more drawing topics, no flame wars unless System allows it, and feel free to flag random stuff.”
I frowned and turned my back to him. “This isn’t the normal you. The normal you should be crazy and Le XD-ing and dematerializing.” Silence. I looked back at him, and he was just staring into space, and he had a blank expression.
But after a couple seconds, he gave me another creepy look. “You’re getting annoying.” Then he played some creepy music. As the music played, I heard him chant a rhyme.
“Where the monsters gather 'round,
There, a passage can be found.
But take care, as you shall see;
From there on, you cannot flee.”
I sat bolt upright and looked around. I noticed three things: One, that we weren’t in the drawing topic anymore, two, there were some more forumers with us, and three, Chris was gone.
My head started hurting. “Ow, what happened?” As I rubbed my head, Amber started to explain. “After the music stopped, you fell and hit your head, and Anonymous picked you up and disappeared…” “Wait, Anonymous was there?”
She nodded. "He was the silver guy with the black cape. Anyway, next time we saw you, you were with Anon, and you were also silver, and then you and he started attacking us with wrenches.
"As we defended ourselves, one of you apparently summoned backup, because soon Gilbert189, KVJ, GysvANDRegulus and ColourfulBlack appeared and started throwing wrenches.
We figured out that we couldn’t summon a force field, but we could summon shields, and we definitely used them. We started summoning wrenches and throwing them, and somehow we were starting to get the upper hand, when Anon started playing his music again.
"SuperGirl3Acer, Maltese and SmilingSnowflakes didn’t cover their ears in time, and they got taken by Anon and KVJ. We kept on fighting, and you and Gilbert189 were down, when all of a sudden, System appeared out of nowhere and said, “Nobody touches my Mod Bots!”
One by one, he demoted us to Basic, but before he could do anything else, Chris ran up to him and punched him in the face while the rest of us carried you and Gilbert out of the topic. But not long after we got out, System closed the topic so we can’t get back in. And Chris is probably still in there…"
“Being tortured and controlled and whatever else System does to people!” Mia burst into tears. I put my hand on her shoulder. “It’ll be all right. We’ll get him back, I promise.”
I stood up and looked around. Besides Huggingfluffybear and CreativeCoder, I saw MissFluffyHuskyz, PixelMaster64, Mathgirl, and Bubbles4Ever929. “Where’s Gilbert189?” “Right here.”
I jumped and turned around. “Dude, you startled me! Where’ve you been?” “The Nominations for Featured topic. I found Bananadog and Dude73 hiding from System.”
I studied him for a bit, then looked at myself, then turned back to Amber. “So, how come we aren’t still silver? And why do we have red capes?”
“First question, all we had to do was take the helmet off. The helmet had somehow covered you with some kind of armor, which was what made you look silver. And second question, I don’t know for sure, but I think that since you two were “Mod Bots”, System promoted you to mod, and he didn’t get a chance to demote you when we saved you.”
Just then, Bubbles4Ever929 tapped on my shoulder. “Hey, uh, do you think you could get our normal trust levels back? Because Basics can’t really do anything. We can’t even summon s’mores!”
I pulled my iPhone out of a pocket in my belt. “When did I get a belt? Sweet.” I went to the forum website and tried to promote everyone back to their normal trust level, but it wouldn’t work.
“System must’ve locked your trust levels or something, because I can’t promote you.” I closed Safari and went to my emails. There, at the top, was the email from Discourse.
I opened it up to see if it had anything that could help, but all I saw was the audio file. So, I played it. The music started turning into fog, and my skin felt tingly again. As the fog cleared, we all covered our eyes, because our eyes were used to the forum light, not sunlight.
As soon as I could, I looked to see where we were. It was the same park we had left. Good, I thought. Then I did a headcount of everyone. I counted twelve people, including myself.
For a while, I just stared at everyone and how different we were in real life. For example, Bananadog and Huggingfluffybear had red hair, while Mathgirl, MissFluffyHuskyz and Dude73 had black hair. Bubbles4Ever929 and I were shorter than most everyone, and CreativeCoder and Gilbert189 were taller.
It was weird to actually see them (and myself) as normal people, since we had been in the forum so long. As I looked, I started remembering some of the rhyme that KVJ recited.
“Where the monsters gather 'round…” Suddenly, I got an idea. “Mia, can I borrow your phone? I just remembered something, and I want to check it out.” Mia handed me her phone, and I opened up Pokémon Go. I looked for that one place where the Pokémon had been stuck, and eventually I found it.
Then I got out my phone and looked at Ingress. Sure enough, there was a portal there called ‘System is waiting’. “Guys, c’mere!” As soon as everyone had gathered around, I told them about KVJ’s poem thing, the Pokémon, and the portal.
Shortly after, I got an email from the forum, so I logged into my account and looked at my notifications. I had earned a badge called “Invitation”. As soon as I tapped on it, a black, red and gold portal opened up in front of us.
The description for the badge read, “You have chosen to accept my invitation, so here is the way to my place. Don’t forget, System is waiting.”
I looked at everyone else. Gilbert189 had already went through the portal, and the others were following. As I jumped through, I got a presentimental feeling that we were diving straight into trouble.
People in the story so far
@PopTart0219 as Vanessa
@tankt2016 as Mia
@t7lks as Honey
@MiracleShoutouts as Chris
@Hero_Dino as Amber
@ColourfulBlack as Catie
If you want to be tagged when I release a new chapter, just add yourself to my tag list.