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So sit back, relax, and enjoy "Project_M"
Picture this: you just got home from a long and exhausting day at school/work, so you sit down and rest in the only way you know how: conversing and gaming. This was practically how I felt the week of midterms. It was December 19th, 2019, and I come home to the usual chatter. However, the moment I opened my laptop was when things became more so unusual.
Typically, when I am done with a long school day, I use Skype to calm my nerves. The only problem: there was no one out there to calm me, as every single person on Skype was gone! At first I thought it wasn’t a big deal, so I scrolled up to see that the last thing that was sent was a link. I disregarded it for now, as it didn’t seem relevant at the time. Of course, that all changed over time.
Next I went to check the Discord, since there were people on there that weren’t on the Skype. However, when I checked the status of everyone, I was the only one online. I was given @Scientist status in hopes to keep the Discord alive (although I knew jackshit about running a server). What shocked me is that in the channel #lighthouse-announcements , there was the exact same link as before. Once again, I disregarded it, as there was still one place for me to check:
The Pastel Forums! Last I checked, there were over 200 people on this talk page, so surely, I thought to myself, there should be someone that I can ask what the fuck was going on. There was only one person apart from me that was on the forums: Mateusz Skutnik. Not even a guest was around, which really bothered me, as there is always at least 3 guests on the forum. The last thing that was posted on the forums was by him, and it was the same exact link on the Skype and Discord. I was convinced that the reason that everyone left was because of this link. I left 3 messages on the Forum for Mateusz, all of which were answered one after another:
Sun: What is this game?
Mat: It isn’t a game.
Sun: Why has it caused so many people, including LT, Ant, and even Apoc to leave?
Mat: The real question is “Why are you still in this realm?”
Sun: That isn’t the issue! The issue is that everyone is gone. Why?
Mat: Play for yourself and find out…
The “Mur” in that final post told me everything: This was not truly Mateusz I was talking to. I was talking to Murtaugh! If it were Mateusz, he would have just used “m”. Many thoughts flooded into my mind, but the main one was this: “what did Murtaugh do this time?” I was determined to figure this out. Even if death was a possibility, it was a risk I had to take. My determination led to clicking that link, but little did I know that one click would lead to a world of hell.
This link led to a typical web page (Mateusz’s itch.io page) with the most unusual message: "Explore." Seeing that I was dealing with Submachine, I counted the word as normal; however, here is the thing: just that word itself was normal. Everything after was unusual for a description of a Submachine game. While I was reading, I realized it wasn’t the description of a Submachine game at all; in fact, these words described the death of the man himself: Mateusz Skutnik. The description given was more graphic than not and because of this, none of it will be shared in an attempt to keep the minds of whoever reads this healthy.
After the descriptive death, I began making quick speculations, as I usually do. "Murtaugh killed Mateusz? How?
Why? I thought video games could only come alive in movies!” Many more thoughts arrived, but they were negated due to relevancy. I knew the only way I could have these questions, and more, answered was by scrolling down further. What I found was darkness, which was followed by more darkness. Until suddenly, 2 downloadable files appeared. One was labeled “Sub_M” and another was labeled “Note_to_you”.
I downloaded the Note first and immediately started reading, in hopes to find more answers. Instead, what I found brought up more questions than before. The note read as follows:
Welcome “Sundex”, if that is what you are truly called by your peers. You may be wondering where everyone is, why I am here, and if you are next. All I have to say to all of those questions is, "Yes" Now, here are my demands: you play my game, carry out my tasks, solve my tests, and you will live. However, there are consequences for not following my demands. You do not want to figure those out. You’re on my turf now. Don’t screw this up.
Of course, realizing the severity of the current situation, I spent no time waiting. I immediately downloaded the next file: "Sub_M" However, it wasn’t 1 game, but 2: Submachine 1 and 2. These games had different titles, which I sort of remember being "The Murder" and "The Ritual". They were significantly harder and creepier than their respective "Mateusz" version. Granted I didn’t know that before, but now that I do, it’s for the best that I start by telling you this: see where this game took me… see where he took me.
In one day, I went from knowing nothing about the Subnet to knowing nothing… about anything really. I didn’t even know the real-world implications of anything. That being said, I didn’t know why anything “Subnet” related was invading the real world with the intent to kill! Regardless, I couldn’t think much longer, as my tasks have already begun from the moment I clicked “download”. Now I have been forced to carry them out as I explore what the Subnet has become. For me, and more than likely everyone else, this started with Submachine 1: The Murder.
This series created by Murtaugh himself started with a bang. The puzzle behind the basement was a lot harder and utilized many aspects of the main series, such as karma portals and layers. Only 2 layers were available via usage of a navigator: Layers 1 and 6. The 4 tiles were hidden around the entirety of both layers, 2 in each layer. While I beat the Basement in about a minute, it took me an hour to complete this version. From what I recall, I can easily split this game into 3 portions: Basement, Infernal, and Ending.
First up, I spawned in the usual position of the normal basement. The puzzles seemed the same at first, and the diary page was in a similar position. There were subtle differences here and there, such as choppy music and blood dripping out of the gem energy pipes. Then I noticed the main difference with this portion of the game: 2 of the tiles were missing! These were the tiles at the bell puzzle and switch puzzle. One was replaced by a navigator partially covered in glowing blood, which I assumed to be the case due to karmic energy, and the other was replaced with… another note? In fact, now that I think of it, there was, in fact, another difference: the notes had different writing on them and were called different things.
Diary 1 was actually a “note to me” written in late 2018. It talked about The Big Game using its real name, which I will not give out for reasons known by the community, or what is left of it at least. It even talked about future projects, such as Submachine: The Engine, Submachine: The Explorers, Where Is 2018, and Covert Front 5. There was one project that I didn’t know much about by just looking at the title, and it was dubbed “project_M.” That was where more speculations came into play. “Am I playing project_M?”, “Why advertise your own game within said game?” What was odd about this particular note is that it was signed by Mateusz himself. In fact, the extra note was also signed by Mateusz and was specifically about project_M. It talked about how it would be a spinoff of every Submachine game in the main series such that it was in Murtaugh’s perspective. Obviously, just by looking at the first game, that wasn’t the case. I took a look at the navigator and took myself to the 6th layer to realize that it was the infernal basement.
The puzzles in this layer were pretty much the same. Get switch handles to release a karma portal from its concealment. The only thing was that it wasn’t a karma portal, but rather another note, which read as follows:
So you made it, Sundex. Here comes your first task: you are to leave this Submachine using layer 6 and not layer 1. If you disobey, your exit will not arrive, and you will never be able to leave. Don’t disobey now, or you’re a dead man.
Once again, I took into consideration the severity of this situation and followed his tasks. It took a while to do so though. I found a karma portal in the Infernal Basement where one of the lights were, and when I used it, it took me to a familiar location: Hell. This is where I found the next tile, and another note, stating only 2 words: “Leave Now!” I did so, obviously, but it made me question the nature of this project, and if it was even a project at all. Soon, I figured out that the spoon could be obtained again after its first usage and be used again to obtain the last tile.
Now that I had all 4 tiles, I could call the slotted door… but there was one problem with it: the entirety of the “elevator” was red, and could only be used with a source of energy. I went to obtain the wisdom gem and realized that even the gem had a red hue. I went back to the slotted door to power it up and immediately noticed that instead of going up, I was going down! I tried to stop it but I couldn’t and the further down I went, the darker it got. I tried turning off the application, and as soon as I did, a new file was downloaded onto my PC. It was a notepad message, which read: “How does it feel to be a virtual murderer?”
I shut down my PC for the rest of the night and didn’t bother touching it for a while. Maybe that “while” was too long for Murtaugh, as the next day was a day of unnecessary lethality.
December 21st, the Winter solstice, the day with the shortest amount of light. For me, that amount was mere seconds, as I woke up to blood stains on my walls. Based off of those blood stains, I already knew that somebody was dead. In the beginning, I was asking myself, “who?” when really, I should have been asking myself, “how many?” My answer: everyone. My younger brother and sister, along with my mother and father. All dead with a small M carved into their still hearts.
I was only 18, and already feeling the loneliness of an adult.
I needed consolement, so I grabbed my phone and contacted my girlfriend. She told me that she would be right over. While I waited, I needed to see Murtaugh’s motive to do this. All I found was a file labeled “Strike_1”. I feared reading it, as I was already traumatized enough by the death of my immediate family. The only question I ever have for Mateusz’s corpse to this day is WHY THE HELL DID YOU MAKE A PROJECT SO LETHAL IT KILLED MY FUCKING FAMILY!
I was convinced. The only way I could get this fucking demon out of my life was if I played his games of hell. So I moved on to Submachine 2: The Ritual.
My first thoughts were that since I practically killed off the player in Submachine 1, there would be a new player in Submachine 2. My thought was correct, as there was no wisdom gem for the player to use, nor was there a “note” that the player had to begin with. While the real version of this game took me only two minutes to complete, this version took me 2 hours with 1 of those hours being speculation about the nature of the notes.
First up, since there was no wisdom gem in my inventory, I assumed that I would have to find one. When I explored what I could, there was the usual cog wheel and a hammer. I asked myself, “Why would I need a hammer?” Then I remembered a conversation with fellow Discord members.
November 19th, 2017:
Chryoyo: Oh yeah! You'd be shocked how much I’ve learned from doing this. just looking over different kinds of arcades alone was fun. By the way @Faustas, I can confirm that arcade machine is a fake
Sundex: ??? I am interested now!
Faustas: What really?
Chryoyo: Wellllll, in terms of the lore, I can’t really tell you why, but I can say it is meant to look real.
Sundex: Was it meant to conceal the karma portal within?
Chryoyo: I couldn’t tell ya. Faustas, I noticed that it had two buttons on one side and two analog sticks on the other thus starting the idea. Every detail of this arcade cabinet is slightly off, not making sense or matching with anything in the past. Almost as if someone was trying to build a fake.
Chryoyo: From the type of cabinet to the title, interface, wiring, coin slot, structure, control panel, and everything you can imagine, none of it is correct or accurate. At least not if we compared it to reality. Of course, Mat probably just doesn't know what an arcade cabinet looks like. XD. And I’m just over thinking that!
Faustas: Everyone knows what an arcade is, so I can disagree on that (well in my opinion).
Chryoyo: You're probably right. Maybe it was meant to be obvious. And if that's the case, then what was this fake arcade cabinet used for?
Sundex: To conceal the looks of the karma portal that brought us there in the first place.
Faustas: It's most likely false that it's fake and unusable. The player used it in submachine 1.
He got to the end. Then, the machine became unusable.
Chryoyo: Welp ^_^ there ya go. Looks like we all agree. Time to make a wiki page about the arcade lmao
“The arcade machine is a fake,” I said to myself. “That could only mean—” I knew what to do. I used the hammer on the arcade machine, and it broke, leaving only a karma portal behind. Stepping into it led me to a bloodshot red basement exit. The circular stretch of rooms was surrounding nothing more than the red slotted door. Upon re-entering, I could finally obtain the red wisdom gem and leave that location. From there, the game played normal for a short time. The cog wheel and wisdom gem powered up the two ladders, and that was it. Nothing after that small moment was normal. In fact, this was where the “Ritual” portion of the title really kicked in.
6 notes, 5 puzzles, and a whole Lighthouse to explore, including its literally endless sewer system. The worst part about this was the severity of the notes. Only 5 of them had a date: January of 2019, and the same 5 talked about Project_M. The 1st one talked about how the development of it was going, and how Mateusz hit a roadblock while making the game and has moved on to Submachine: The Engine. The 2nd talked about how something was compelling him to move back to project_M, and how he didn’t know what that force was. The 3rd described the release of Submachine: The Engine, but also states that the force compelling him to work on Project_M is getting stronger. The 4th note states that he is now back to work on Project_M, but has discovered a bug. The 5th is actually a Youtube link, which I watched only to find a visual depiction of Mateusz’s death.
All I remember about the mid-game travels is that they were AS LONG AS BLOODY HELL! The end-game, however, I remember more of. So I got this card labeled “Mateusz’s ID”, a “Karmic Coil” and “Anti-karmic Coil”, along with a “Fuse”. All of these should have powered up a karma portal that is the light at the top of the lighthouse. Instead, their respective slots are gone and they were set down around a pentagram of some sort. The problem was that I was missing an item and I didn’t know what it was. Supposedly, I had to collect all 20… no, 25 secrets! Finally, when I got through all of that, I went back up to the spot of the Pentagram and started setting them down, slowly counting as I did.
“1, 2, 3, 4—” A knock at the door interrupted me.
“5, 6, 7, 8—” From that knock came a voice.
“9, 10, 11, 12—” The most familiar voice!
I shut my laptop, ran up to the door, opened it, and gave my girlfriend a hug, crying both tears of sadness and joy as she replied with a hug of her own. “What is the matter?” she asked, confused at my tears.
I told her everything I knew for certain about: The link, the website, the games; everything. Then, I told her about the death of my family, and I burst into tears again. “I already felt lonely enough,” I cried, “Never seeing you is painful enough … but never seeing my family again … do you know how that feels?”
At this point, she was emotionless. Then all of a sudden she burst into tears as well and hugged me harder than before. “I would never be able to know how you feel,” she said, “but I can say that this too shall pass. If you want, I can stay for a while and help you cope.”
“What about forever?” I asked in a whisper, as I was too sad to speak with pride.
She rubbed my head and gave me a kiss, saying, “Sure thing. Anything for you to be happy in this time of great despair.” Afterwards, we sat down on a couch and held each other tight as we watched TV throughout the night, solely to keep our minds off of everything, and help us both drift off to sleep.
That day will not only be a “day of grievance” for me, but also a “day of regret.” In fact, that kiss was not only my first, but also my last.
For 2 days after that eventful solstice, everything was normal, and I was glad that it was such. My girlfriend and I enjoyed those days like they were our last. We both forgot about our struggles; our pain; our sacrifices; our needs.
We were happy; we were free; we were in love.
When we went back home on the 23rd, we realized that Christmas was only days away. She told me before that she had a gift in store for me already. I did too. It was a diamond ring. Save it for Christmas Eve, I thought to myself. That was the biggest mistake of my life.
On Christmas Eve, I woke up to lost hope, as my girlfriend lay dead in my own arms. Just like that, all of my sorrows and more returned, and there was no one to turn to now. My tears had no limits, and they fell even as I said these words:
“What are you gaining with this never-ending tyranny? Are you here to gain the recognition that you had before, or are you here to prove that you are a fucking sociopath? If Liz was here, you would be acting differently to how you are now. You wouldn’t have used this game with the intent to kill. You would have used it with the intent to reveal! Reveal the lore. Reveal fucking anything. Not as a bloody trap. I have no choice but to truly discover your purpose. Even if that means I have to send myself into your world to do so. My message to you is COME FIND ME YOU WHORE!”
I went to my laptop to be revealed to two things: Submachine 2 where I left off and a notepad that read “Strike 2”. I went back to the pentagram and continued placing secrets, counting them as I went.
“13, 14, 15.” I went to eat and drink something, for I knew what was coming next.
“16, 17, 18.” I told my girlfriend I loved her, for I didn’t know if I was coming back.
“19, 20, 21.” I pulled out the diamond ring I would have given her, if she were still alive.
“22, 23, 24.” I put the ring on her fourth finger, to show that I would always remember her.
“25.” Everything stopped…
Suddenly, a blinding white light appeared on my computer screen. Everything I placed was gone and a note was left behind. When I clicked it, all my screen showed was this picture: Immediately, I thought of Chatroom 98, so before I did anything, I closed my laptop. When I did close it, a dark and mysterious figure grabbed me by the arm and threw me down to the ground with such a strength, that I blacked out, with the last thing I heard that day being 2 words spoken by a deep, disturbing voice: “Found you.” For the longest time, there was darkness. When I woke up, I knew what had happened solely based off of the looks of where I was at:
I was within the Subnet, and it would be a long while before I made it back out.