Come Follow Me
During the first few days of the release of Pokemon Red and Green in Japan, back in February 27, 1996, a peak of deaths appeared in the age group of 10-15.
The children were usually found dead through suicide, usually by hanging or jumping from heights. However, some were more odd. A few cases recorded children who had began sawing off their limbs, others sticking their faces inside the oven, and choking themselves on their own fist, shoving their own arms down their throat.
The few children who were saved before killing themselves showed sporadic behavior. When asked why they were going to hurt themselves they only answered in chaotic screams and scratched at their own eyes. When showed what seemed to be the connection to this attitude, the Gameboy, they had no response, but when combined with either Pokemon Red or Green, the screams would continue, and they would do their best to leave the room it was located in.
This confirmed the authorities suspicion that the games, somehow, had a connection to these children and the deaths. It was a strange case, because many children who had the same games did not show this behavior, but only a few. The police had no choice but to pursue this, since they had no other leads.
Collecting all the cartridges these children had purchased, they kept them sealed away as strong evidence to look over later. They decided the first thing to do was to talk to the programmers themselves. The first person they met was the director of the original games, Satoshi Tajiri. When told about the deaths surrounding his games, he seemed slightly uneasy, but admitted nothing. He lead them to the main programmers of the game, the people responsible for the actual content.
The detectives met Takenori Oota, one of the main programmers of the game. Unlike Satoshi, he did not seem uneasy, but very kept. Explaining that it was impossible to use something like a game to cause such deaths, and also bringing up the point that not all the children were affected, he brushed it off as some kind of odd coincidence or mass hysteria. It seemed like he was hiding something, but he wasn't giving way. Finally, he did say something interesting.
Takenori had heard a rumor going around that the music for Lavender Town, one of the locations in the game, had caused some children to go ill. It was only a rumor, and had no real definite back up, but it was still something to look into.
He directed the detectives to Junichi Masuda, the music composer of the series. Masuda had also heard of these rumors, but again said they had no evidence that his music was the cause. Even to prove a point he played the exact song from the game completely through with no effects to anyone, the detectives nor Masuda himself, feeling anything different or odd. Although they still had their suspicions of Masuda and the music of Lavender town, it seemed they had reached another dead end.
Going back to the cartridges they had seized from the homes of the children, they decided to take a slightly more direct look at the games. They knew that it was these games that gave the children the ill effects, so they took extreme caution. Popping in the cartridge and turning the console on, the game screen booted. The title screen appeared, and the option to continue or create a new game appeared.
When they chose to continue the game, stats of that game appeared. They saw the names of the children who had played, usually "Red" or another simple name. However, the interesting thing was the time played and the number of Pokemon they owned. On every game, the time was very low, and all of them had only a single Pokemon in their inventory. They came to the stunning reality that it could not have been the music from Lavender town that had caused such ill effects in the children, since it was impossible to reach that part of the game in such small amount of time and with only one Pokemon in their inventory. This brought them to the conclusion that something early on in the game had to be the cause.
If it wasn't the music, nor the title screen, it had to be something within the first few minutes of the game itself. They had no choice but to turn off the game now and go back to the programmers. Asking for a list of all the programmers from Takenori, they found, surprisingly, that one of the programmers had committed suicide shortly after the game was released. His name was Chiro Miura, a very obscure programmer who had provided very little for the game. Even more interestingly, he had requested his name did not appear in the credits of the game, and so it was not.
Looking over the evidence found at Chiro's apartment, they found many notes written in bold marker. Most of it was crumbled, or marked out, making it very difficult to read. They few words they could find in the mess was "Do not enter", "Watch out" and "COME FOLLOW ME" in bold. The detectives were unsure what these meant, but knew they had to have a connection. Further searching, they discovered Chiro was good friends with one of the map designers, Kohji Nisino, and this was probably the only reason Chiro had given a part in making the game.
Kohji Nisino, since the release of the game, had locked himself in his apartment, barely leaving in the dark of night to fetch anything he might need. He told his friends and family he was mourning for his dear friend Chiro, but they didn't believe this, since Nisino had locked himself up the day the game was put in stores, a few days before Chiro had killed himself.
It was troubling, but the authorities finally persuaded Nisnino to sit down and speak with them. He looked as if he hadn't slept in days, dark rings under his eyes. He stunk, his nails had grown black and his hair was greasy, sticking to his forehead and neck. He spoke in stutters and murmurs, but at least he had something to say.
When asked if he knew anything about the children who had died after exposure of the game and if it had any connection to the game, he answered them seemingly carefully, choosing his words thoughtfully before answering. He told them that his friend Chiro had an interesting idea with the game, something he had wanted to try since he heard the project was starting. Nisino himself knew Takenori, the director and main programmer, for a long time, so he could easily get a mediocre programmer in on the project with a little persuasion. It seemed Chiro had convinced Nisino to get him in on the project, and it had worked.
The detectives knew they were on to something. This unknown obscure programmer, Chiro, had to have something to do with it, something... They asked what Chiro's idea was, why he wanted so badly to have a part in making this children's game. Nisino told them that Chiro never told him much about it, other than a few details every now and then. He wanted to insert a special Pokemon in the game, one completely different from all the others. It would serve as an extra, a kind of out of place thrill for the player. It wasn't, however, Missing No. It couldn't be. With the gameplay time recorded on the cartridges, it was impossible for the children to have time to meet that Pokemon.
Nisino, throughout the entire conversation, seemed to break down even more with every question. The detectives pushed him more and more, searching through his mind for any and every scrap of knowledge this man had no game and Chiro... and Chiro's intentions...
It was when they asked about the notes found in Chiro's home that he snapped. From under the couch Nisino was sitting on he whipped out a pistol, pointing it straight at the police while backing away a few steps. Then, just as quickly, he brought the pistol to his face.
"Don't follow me..." muttered Nisino as he stuck the pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger. It was too quick for the police to react. It was done. Nisino had killed himself, repeating slightly differently what was written on one of Chiro's papers...
It seemed all leads had finally died. The team who had created this original game were splitting up, becoming harder to find. It was as if they were keeping a secret. When the police finally managed to talk with anyone who had parts in the game, even the obscure character designers or monster designers, it seemed they had nothing of interest to say. Most of them didn't even know Chiro, and the few who did only seen him once or twice working on the game itself. Throughout all of this the only confirmation they had was that Chiro was indeed the one who had worked on the very early parts of the game.
It had been a couple of months after the original children suicides and the death rate had dropped dramatically. It seemed that the game was no longer giving any ill effects to any children. The call back of the games that was planned was canceled, since it seemed the game was no longer harming any children. They had began to think that maybe Takenori was right and it was all just a very odd coincidence or mass hysteria... Until they received the letter.
It was given to one of the detectives himself, quite directly out on the street. It was a woman who gave him the note, a very frail, thin, sick looking thing. She gave him the letter quickly, telling him it was something he needed to see, and without waiting for a response or another word, she disappeared into the crowd. The detective brought it to his office, and calling the others in, he brought it out and read it aloud.
It was a letter written by Chiro himself, but it wasn't one found at his apartment. They had thoroughly searched and cleared out the place, so wherever this letter had come from, it wasn't kept at his home. It was signed to be given to Nisino. It started off quite formal, a hello, how are you, regards to the family, and such. After one or two of these normal paragraphs, they reached a section that requested Nisino to get him into the game team, to get him a programming position in Pokemon Red and Green.
As the letter continued, the handwriting seemed to grow more jittery. He talked about a glorious idea he had, a way to program something unseen in any game before. He said it would certainly revolutionize not only the gaming industry, but everyone. He went on to say that it was a very simple procedure to program this idea into the game. He did not even have to add any foreign programming, but could use what was already given in the game itself. This would, the detectives agreed, make it impossible to notice any obscurities in the programming itself. It was a perfect way to hide whatever this was.
The letter ended abruptly. There was no goodbye, no say hi to the family, no write back, or thank you. Nothing like that. It was just his name, written hard in the letter where the paper almost broke through. It was only his name. "Chiro Miura."
This was the nail in the coffin for the detectives. They had no more suspicion about the cause. Chiro had programmed something into the early parts of the game, something maddening. To further increase this streak of success, they discovered that the programming team had worked in pairs, even Chiro himself. He had worked with another programmer, Sousuke Tamada.
If anyone knew what the secret in this game was, Sousuke Tamada would be the man. This was their final hope of unraveling this mystery once and for all.
They learned Sousuke had provided a lot of programming to the game, and seemed to be an average, good guy and worker. They were easily allowed into his home, a fair place, and they entered his living room where they sat. Sousuke did not sit, however. He stood by the window of the second story floor, looking out onto the busy street. He was smiling a little.
There is no direct witnesses to the events that followed. The only thing from this conversation that remained was found on a voice recorder sitting on the table in front of the two detectives assigned to talk to Sousuke. What follows is the unedited recording:
"Sousuke Tamada, what part did you have in the games Pokemon Red and Green?" asked the first detective.
"I was a programmer." His voice was light, friendly, almost too friendly. "That's all."
"Am I right in knowing that the programmers working on the game worked in teams?" asked the detective.
One could hear the voice of feet moving on the floor slightly. "You would be right," said Sousuke after a moment of silence.
"And your partner, his name was--" The detective was quickly cut off by Sousuke eerie voice.
"Chiro Miura... That was his name. Chiro Miura."
Another silence. It seemed the detectives were a little uneasy about this man. "Could you tell us if Muira ever acted strange at all? Any particular behaviors you observed while working with him at all?"
Sousuke answered them. "I don't know him that well, really. We didn't meet up frequently, only every once in a while to trade data, or when the entire group was called up for a meeting... That's the only times I really ever saw him. He acted normal, as far as I could tell. He was a short man, and I think this affected his consciousness.. He acted weaker than any other man I met. He was willing to do a lot of work to gain recognition, this I do know. I think..."
Silence. "Yes?" asked the detective, pushing for him to continue. "You think what?"
"I think he was a very weak man. I think he wanted to prove himself regardless of this point... I think he wanted to make himself known for something special, something that would make people forget about the way he looked and pay attention to the powerful mind that lay inside his skull.. Unfortunately for him, however.. heheh.. He didn't have much of a mind to back up that reasoning."
"Why do you say that?" asked the second detective.
"Well it's the simple truth," answered Sousuke quickly. His feet could be heard moving across the tiled floor. "He was nothing special, even if he wanted to believe so. You can't become greatness, even if you believe it. It's impossible... Somehow, I think Chiro knew this himself, somewhere deep in there, he knew it."
The detectives were silent again, not sure how to steer the conversation. After a moment, they continued. "Can you tell us what Chiro's part of the game was? What did he work on exactly?"
Sousuke answered more quickly than before. "Nothing... I mean, nothing important. He worked on some obscure parts of the beginning of the game." A pause, then a little more information. "It was Oak's part to be exact. He worked on some of Oak's parts... When he's seen first, you see.."
"What else?" pushed the police. They could hear it in Sousuke's voice. He knew something. "We know you know about the children and the deaths. We know it was Chiro who did it. He programmed something in the game."
"What are you implying?" asked Sousuke. It sounded like he was trying to maintain his voice.
"We're implying that since your his partner, if you're hiding something from us then you could just as much be responsible for those children's deaths as Chiro is himself!"
"You can't prove anything!" Sousuke shouted.
"Tell us what Chiro did to the game!" they shouted back.
"WHAT I TOLD HIM TO."
Silence. Complete silence.
"You want to know, huh?" asked Sousuke finally, breaking the eerie silence, but replacing it with his voice. "You want to know what is this all about? Chiro was an idiot. He'd do anything for a bit of attention, anything at all. He couldn't program worth a shit either. The one thing he could do, however, was be manipulated. You could tell him what to do, and he'd do it. He wouldn't even question it, he'd do it. Just to hear that "thank you" when you received the finish product, that was his reasons. That's all he wanted."
Two clicks from the detective's guns could heard.
"I could control his flawlessly. He's a lot like Takenori... Of course none of you knew this, but I was the one who brought up the idea of the game, the idea of the entire operation. I just told the fellow what to do, and he followed me without doubt. He knows nothing, just like Chiro."
A sound of a window opening could be heard, follow by the detectives.
"Don't move or we'll shoot!"
"Let me tell you about a mechanic in the game," continued Sousuke. His voice was more rushed, but it still held that slyness. "Consider it a hint, alright? If you walk around in grassy areas enough a Pokemon will appear, and you'll have the chance to go into battle with it. It's a necessary part of the game overall, you see?"
"Step away from the window! We won't warn you again!"
"At the start of the game you have to walk into the grassy area before Oak appears and you receive your first Pokemon, understand me? Under normal circumstances, it was programmed that even though you're in a grassy area, no Pokemon will spawn... I made it different. I manipulated that Chiro, told him what to put in the program, gave him all the instructions on how to do it, and he did it flawlessly. It's rare, but it can happen.. Stepping into that grass, one can spawn..."
"Sousuke, we don't want to shoot!"
"Shoot me?" asked Souske, laughing at the same time. "Shoot ME? You're as dumb as Chiro was! Once he found out the truth, he had to end it! It was his fault after all! He shot himself because of it! If you're so determined to finish that case of yours, if you want to know, play the damn game for yourself! Roll the wheel, and who knows? Maybe you'll learn the secret for yourself!"
A shot could be heard, loud enough to distort the audio. Sounds of screaming, murmuring could be heard. The table the recorder was on crashed. Ear shattering distortions. Silence. Then laughing. Sousuke was laughing, and then words. "Come follow me... Come follow me..." And then nothing.
The recorder continued to record until the tape ran out. There was nothing else on it. The police arrived on the scene quickly, and to their horror they discovered Sousuke and the two detectives dead. They had all been shot, but not after struggling. The detectives had been shot multiple times, at least ten each, before dying after being shot in between their eyes. Sousuke himself had clearly died of two shots to his chest, straight through the heart.
This game was causing a massacre. At least a hundred children were dead. Nisino, the unsuspecting friend, dead. Chiro, the manipulated toy, dead. The two detectives, dead. And now, even the creator, the cause of this atrocity, Sousuke, dead. This game was stretching far over it's original intentions. It was killing anyone and everyone who got involved.
The lead detective had decided to put this case away. The man who committed the crime was dead, so there was no longer any reason to continue the case. All evidence, all the cartridges, all the notes, all the letters, they were locked away, kept in the darkness where they belonged. There were talks about the entire thing, small conversations every now and then, but over the years even these began to fade away. Eventually, the case was only a memory in the minds of those who experienced it first hand.
Ten years passed. February 27, 2006 was the date. The lead detective, the man who locked away the original evidence ten years previous, was reminded of the awful event that occurred. Although he was no longer in the force, he still had access to files and was helped when he could. The reminder of the event caused him to look back, to open the sealed container that held all the evidence collected.
He read through the letters and the notes. He remembered the woman who had appeared to him on the street that one day and handed him that letter that lead to the change of the entire case. He wondered who she was, and where she had come from. Perhaps she was Chiro's mother... or maybe Sousuke's. It was far too late to pursue any of this. Far too late..
Sealing the container again, he saw a second one directly behind it. Pulling it out, he read the note on top of it. "Evidence #2104A" He opened it up, and looked inside. Filling the container were exactly 104 Pokemon Red and Green cartridges, each one in perfect condition, untouched since the day they had last checked them ten years ago.
He reached in and pulled one out, Pokemon Red. He hadn't seen one in a long time. He didn't know what he thought next, but he reached in his desk and pulled out an old Gameboy. He received it a long time ago, but it still worked. It was his son's, but he had died a few years ago. His wife was gone too. That was then though. Popping in the cartridge in the back of the Gameboy he turned on the system.
The title screen. Then the option to continue or start a new game. "Tanaka." That was the child's name, the one who played it first. He was probably dead, along with all the others. He pressed New Game, and started a new game. It was normal, average. He walked around, talked to his mother, went outside. He started walking towards the grass.
In his head, he could still hear Sousuke's words. Even though he was not there, even though he had never seen the man in his life, he could still see him, hear him. "Come follow me."
He was getting closer and closer, only a step or two away.
"Roll the wheel, and who knows? Maybe you'll learn the secret for yourself!"
He entered the grass. The screen did nothing at first. Nothing at all. It just sat there, and so did the detective, completely frozen, as if time had stopped just for them. The screen went black. and then lit up again, the iconic green background with black text appearing.
The lead detectives weary eyes grew wide. He couldn't help but read out what was there in front of him.
"Come follow me, come follow me, come follow me. I miss you dad, I miss you my husband, I miss you so much."
Tears formed in his eyes, falling down his cheeks. Screens and screens of text appeared and he rapidly clicked the A button to continue it. It was his wife and his child. They were speaking to him, calling to him, crying with him. They wanted to see him, they loved him, he loved them.
"I love you too," muttered the man in a hoarse, scratching voice.
"Come follow me, become new again. We want to see you and hold you, and be with you forever and ever and ever and ever."
"AND EVER AND EVER..."
"Don't stay away. You can see us too.. We miss you.. Come follow me. We love yo--"
A black screen. The detectives eyes grew wide, his jaw dropping. The screen lit back up, and Oak was leading him out of the grass. "Come follow me," said Oak.
"NO!" shouted the man, dropping the game onto the floor. He quickly fell forward, reaching for it, bringing the screen back to his face. "Bring them back, bring them back to me!" The game continued on as usual, not responding to the detective at all. "My wife, my child, listen to me! Bring them back to me, I said!"
Voices... He heard voices, hundreds of voices. He turned around from his seat, looking behind him, and standing in his small room were children, many children. Some had no eyes, some had rings around their throats, some were burned all across their body. They were screaming, reaching towards him.
"Bring back my mommy, bring back my daddy, bring back my pet!" they all screamed out, reaching for the game, their mouths agape with horror and pain. "I don't want them to go away, bring them back to me, bring them back to me!"
"No!" shouted the detective. "It's mine! My family is here, don't touch it!" Horror was across his face.
"Come follow me..." said a voice. The lead detective looked over, and in the corner of his room, next to an old desk, was Sousuke. He stood in the corner, tall, handsome, clean. A smile was on his face, stretching across his face. "Come follow me..."
The lead detective jumped up, stepping back, trying to force away the children crawling towards him, reaching out for the game held tightly within his hands. "Wh-what's going on here!? What's going on!? Where is my family!?"
Sousuke smiled generously. "I'll show you. I'll help you get away from them, you see? Just follow me." Sousuke reached down, and opened a drawer on the old desk. The lead detective, pushing through the crowd of children, trying to get away, looked inside.
Sitting there, covered with dust, was his old gun from when he was on the force. He had not used that gun in many years and had put it away, not wanting to remember the things he had to do with it. But right now he didn't see it as something that caused pain or that killed. It was shining, it was light. It was something that could set him free.
"Just follow me," said Sousuke, picking up the gun and putting it in the lead detectives hand. He formed his hand to hold the gun, then brought it up to his temple. "Just pull the trigger. That's all."
The lead detective turned around. The children were crawling at him, grabbing his legs and pulling at him. They reached for the game. He turned back towards Sousuke, and smiled.
"My family... I'll follow you." He pulled the trigger. Bang. His brains spread the wall as he fell to the ground, dead.
It was a few days before the body was discovered. It lay on the floor, blood everywhere. In one hand held an empty gun, and in the other was a classic Gameboy with Pokemon Red on the back. The battery had long died, and only an empty, black screen was left.
This was the final murder that the remaining authorities would allow. The last detective who was ever a part of this case personally carried all 104 cartridges away, and burned them all, making sure not a single one survived. There would taunt no more.
However, this is not the end of the story. The code was said to have survived, and was even passed on to other language versions of the games. If you have an old Pokemon game, you can place the cartridge in the back of the classic Gameboy, turn on the system, and roll the wheel who knows? Maybe you'll learn the secret for yourself.