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The Apartment Complex

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I played a text-based adventure game on the dark-web. I can’t undo the things I did.

Thriller / Mystery
Age Rating:


I love playing games, specially old-school one’s. I’m talking games like *Zork*. I wasn’t alive when *Zork* came out, but I got really into it in high school. When I made it to college, I took an even deeper dive, playing all the sequels, all the knock-offs, and every shitty game that people had cobbled together and released online. I had to refocus a bit, adding work on top of college courses so I could afford my shoebox apartment, but eventually I came across a post called “The Apartment Complex.”

Not a super promising name.

But I was bored, and it was free, and the fact that it was hosted on some weird site that I couldn’t access from regular browsers appealed to me. It added an element of mystery. So I opened a Tor browser, entered the link, and got to a profile creation page. Basic stuff: username, preferred resolution, etc. It didn’t ask for any personal info, so I kept going.

The screen went blank, then a text box opened up.

“Welcome to Apartment Complex! You have been assigned your very own apartment building to run. But this isn’t any apartment building, because the tenants are going to be experiencing some pretty scary ordeals. You get to decide what happens next. Will your tenants survive? Will you accidentally butcher them all? The power is in your hands! Are you ready? \[Y\]/\[N\]”

*Why not,* I figured. I typed in a Y. More text appeared.

“Excellent. We’ll start you off with an easy management level. You have six tenants, numbered 1-6. None of them know each other well. Enter a number to learn more about a tenant and begin to make decisions.”

I grabbed a 6-sided die off my desk and rolled it.


“3,” I typed.

“Intriguing choice! The tenant in apartment 3 is Cherie. She’s 19 and a sophomore in college. All her friends know her to be outgoing and flirty, and she brings new guys back to her apartment multiple times a week. She doesn’t want a commitment. She enjoys sex, but mostly she just likes not being alone. It’s possible it’s related to how she was repeatedly abandoned by foster parents. Tonight, she brought home a young man named Thad. She plans to have sex with Thad, and he will pressure her not to use a condom. She will say yes because she doesn’t want to scare him off. But you can help her out! Should tonight be the night she stands up to Thad and tells him she won’t sleep with him without protection at the risk of spending the night alone? \[Y\]/\[N\]”

I didn’t realize this game would be so...domestic soap opera? *Whatever,* I thought, *let’s see how this plays out.*

“Y,” I typed.

“Intriguing choice! Thad and Cherie start to get hot and heavy. When they are naked on her couch, Thad starts to try penetrating her, but Cherie stops him and says he needs to use a condom. Thad complains that it doesn’t feel as good. Cherie tells him that it’s more important that both of them are protected from STDs. She’s feeling a little tense. Thad calls her a whore and a tease and throws his clothes back on. Cherie cries as Thad goes to storm out. Unfortunately, Cherie’s door won’t open. Thad checks, and the door isn’t locked, but it refuses to open. Furious, Thad storms back to where Cherie is still laying naked on the couch, crying, and begins to scream at her. Would you like to continue making decisions for Cherie, or try another tenant? \[1\] for Cherie, \[2\] for new tenant.”

This game was weird and pretty retro, but I also found myself pretty intrigued by Cherie and Thad’s story. The clunky stories in these games had a certain charm that made them very engaging. Fuck it, lets keep going.

“1,” I typed.

“Intriguing choice! Thad continues to scream at Cherie, who can’t stop crying. She’s afraid he might hit her. Thad hasn’t decided if he will or not, but plans to let his anger and lack of concern for Cherie as a human being guide his behavior. If things continue as they are, Thad will most likely beat Cherie to the point she will need to be rushed to the emergency room. Should Thad be stopped? \[Y\]/\[N\]”

“Fuck,” I mumbled out loud to myself. “This got intense.”

“Y,” I typed.

“Intriguing choice! A ceiling tile falls off. The edge cuts across Thad’s jugular. Blood gushes everywhere. He is dead in seconds.”

“What the fuck,” I said to myself. “This game is whack.” The text continued to appear.

“Cherie is horrified. Much of the blood sprayed all over her. She’s so scared, she starts to shut down. Cherie won’t be taking any more actions for a while. Choose a tenant: \[1\], \[2\], \[4\], \[5\], \[6\]”

*Damn,* I thought. *Looks like I’m not going to finish this game with a decent score. Keep plugging away though…*

I rolled the die again. Five. I typed it in.

“Intriguing choice! The tenant in apartment 5 is Clyde. He is 35 and works at the local First State Bank. His hobbies include snowboarding, tennis, recreational murder, ‘90s sitcoms, and fishing. He’s home alone tonight after his girlfriend, Alicia, texted him and told him she was leaving him for his brother. He bought a gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and is working his way through that and the third season of *Frasier*. He feels the itch to strangle someone. It’s been a while, and he’s trying to kick the habit, but the deep well of emotion seems to be so deep that ice cream alone can’t fill it. He’s hoping to quench the urge with a tv binge, but just as he’s settling in, he starts to smell gas. Should he investigate? \[Y\]/\[N\]”

Not investigating would be boring, so of course I typed in a Y.

“Intriguing choice! Clyde gets off the couch and follows his nose to the kitchen, where a heavy propane smell is blasting out of one of the burners. He’s familiar enough with gas leaks to know that he’s one spark away from Clyde flambé. Should Clyde leave, or keep sucking up the fumes? \[1\] Clyde leaves or \[2\] Clyde stays.”

*Seems weird to release the murderer,* I thought, *but it would be boring to just gas him to death*.

I type a 1.

“Intriguing choice! Clyde exits his apartment and heads down the stairs to the front door. When he makes it to the floor below his, he sees that the the stairs are blocked by fallen ceiling tiles. There are stairs on the opposite side of the floor. On the way, he would pass two other apartments, which would likely have phones to call the fire department to handle the gas leak. Should he stop at the first apartment \[1\], the second apartment \[2\], or take the stairs \[3\]”

“1,” I typed.

“Intriguing choice!” That was it. No more text.

“What the hell…” I said under my breath. And then there was a knock on my door.

I froze.

“Hey, anyone home?” a voice called from the other side of my door. “My name’s Clyde, I live on the floor above you. My phone isn’t working and my apartment smells like gas. Can I borrow your phone?”

I sat as still as I could, making no sound.

“Seriously, it’s an emergency. I’m pretty sure I heard some noise in there. I need help!”

On my screen, I saw more text pop up.

“Should Clyde keep trying the first apartment \[1\], try the next apartment \[2\], or take the stairs on the far end of the floor \[3\]”

As gently as I could, I pressed 2. The clack of the key sounded like a gunshot in my head.

“Whatever, asshole. I know you’re home. I hope you enjoy being a piece of shit,” Clyde said. Then I heard his footsteps go down the hall. The apartment building I’m in is new and pretty well insulated, but I could faintly hear knocking on the apartment down the hall from me. I knew a college girl lived there. Hopefully she isn’t home.


College girl?

No, it couldn’t be.

Text started filling up my screen again.

“Clyde went to the next apartment and knocked on the door. He heard sobbing from inside. When the tenant inside didn’t open the door, he tried the knob. It turned, but the door wouldn’t budge. It looked like it was misaligned, and with the heat wave, the wood had swollen and jammed the door in place.”

Suddenly, I heard a smash from outside. I tore my eyes to look at my front door, but it was still solidly shut. The sound had come from down the hall. I looked back at my screen.

“Clyde used his shoulder to slam the door, and it popped open. He stepped in, calling to whoever was in the apartment. Walking further in, he saw a shocking sight: a man on the ground, his neck slashed open. A ceiling tile on the ground next to him. On the couch, a completely naked young woman. And, covering everything, a massive splatter of blood. Clyde grinned. Are you going to help Cherie \[leave your apartment and go to hers\] or do nothing while Clyde murders her \[1\]”

This was so messed up. I couldn’t just let someone muder my neighbor, even if I barely knew her. But I was terrified. I got up, ran to my kitchen, grabbed the biggest knife I could find, then went to my door. I took three deep breaths to steady myself, then I unlocked the door, threw it open, and ran out into the hall. I looked over to where the other apartment was, and I could see where the door had been broken in. I ran as quietly as I could over there, and when I reached the door, stopped short and stuck my head around the door frame to see what was going on.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t see what was happening from where I was. I crept in as stealthily as I could. The first thing that hit me was the bitter stench of blood. Then I got close enough to see what was happening. Cherie was on her back on the couch, Clyde leaning over her with his hands around her throat. She was scratching at him, but the blood made everything slick and it looked like her nails were sliding around more than doing damage.

I ran up to them and drove my knife straight into Clyde’s back. He roared and whirled around.

“You bastard,” he yelled, and dove at me, tackling me to the ground. He started pummeling me with his fists. There was little I could do to stop him. With each blow, I felt myself getting weaker, my vision going darker.

And then Clyde screamed.

I focused as best I could. Above Clyde, Cherie was raising the knife for another blow. She stabbed Clyde over and over until he collapsed on top of me, and then she stabbed him some more. I screamed at her to stop, to let me up, and eventually I broke through her terror. She helped me push his body off.

I threw a blanket around Cherie and then called the cops. We spent a lot of time going over our stories with them. I left out the dark web stuff because I didn’t want to get in trouble. Finally, the cops left. Cherie went to go stay with her parents and I went back to my apartment.

When I got back, words were flashing on my screen.

“Remember: Everything that happened tonight was your choice.”

And below that:

“We hope you play The Apartment Complex again!”
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