It was the 25th of December 2007. I raced down the stairs, not bothering to come into the kitchen for breakfast. I saw the presents stacked under the small tree, or rather, around it. Right away, I started checking which ones had my name on it.
“Wait for your sister before you open anything.” My mother ordered me. “Let’s have some breakfast first.”
I was fine with that. There was one particular box addressed to both of us that I had ideas about. Marilyn came down for breakfast just in time. She had her eighteenth birthday this year. She was cool about it, but I could tell she was just as excited as me.
When we finally unwrapped the big box, we revealed something that was on both our wishlists. Nintendo’s latest home console, the Nintendo Wii. It came packaged with Wii Sports, which is why our parents didn’t get us any other games for it. They were thinking Wii Sports is just as much a game as any other. Really, they didn’t get it. To them, it was all just an excuse to press buttons, not a medium that could tell stories. At least not beyond the scope that a text math problem could. It was still fun though. The novel way of controlling your character through motion was enough to sink your teeth into for a while.
After the christmas holidays, when the stores reopened, Marilyn took me to the electronics store to pick up another game. I, of course, knew what game I was looking for. I beelined for Super Mario Galaxy, the newest adventure of the wholesome plumber. He always reminded me that anyone can be a hero. Even a short, pudgy italian with facial hair and a literal shit job. Nothing could stop me from jumping several meters high headfirst into brick structures. Just kidding, of course.
I waited there for Marilyn, game in hand. I had assumed we had the same destination in the store, but somehow, she ended up somewhere else. She finally found me with a black box in her hand. At first I thought she picked up a DVD. She held up the cover to me and I could see that it was in fact a Wii game. I had thought all their boxes were white. The first thing I noticed about the cover was the mature tag. Then, that it was also a Mario game. On the top of the cover was the title of the game. Instead of the colorful Mario font on my game, it was written in white Times New Roman. “Super Mario Evil Kill”. Below stood Mario, with the only scenery visible around him being the pool of blood he was standing in. The rest was hidden in thick darkness. His denim overalls were black and ripped. His red shirt was even redder. His smile was over-exaggerated, even to his cartoony proportions. He just stared ahead with bloodshot eyes. If I wasn’t too scared to move, I would’ve checked if his eyes followed me.
“I can’t play that, it’s for adults.”
“Sorry sis, but I’m the one paying for it and I’ve been waiting all my life to be playing messed up and evil murder blood shit. You can still play Wii Sports.”
“Fine.” I sighed and put Super Mario Galaxy back on the shelf.
“If you aren’t too scared, you can watch.”
I followed Marilyn to the check out. I wasn’t sure why she even took me here if she planned to get an adult game. She handed the box to the cashier, who took one look and screamed like he was being burned alive.
“It has no price tag, so how much is it?” Marilyn asked, hoping a purpose would get him back on track. We both knew how these jobs are and didn’t mention his freak out.
“Just take it.” He gave Marilyn back the game. “Just take it and leave.”
“Okay.” Marilyn said and we exited the store.
“What a wuss, huh?”
I nodded. Marilyn was a goth, which meant she was really tough and cool and didn't get scared.
“Tell you what, I’ll go back tomorrow and get you Mario Galaxy with this money. I don’t want to give him the chance to change his mind today though.”
I smiled, content with that arrangement. Couldn’t argue with free games of any kind.
At home, Marilyn removed the Wii Sports disc and that was the first time I got to hold the game box in my hands. I expected some sort of description of the gameplay on the back, but it was just the same scene of the front but from behind. The title was mirrored. Inside the box was no booklet, just the game disc which was pure red. I gave it to Marilyn. I gave a last look to the game box and noticed that there weren’t even any company logos on it. I wondered if this may not be an official game. It would explain why the cashier freaked out. Perhaps he accidentally put one of his romhacks on the shelves and was worried his manager might find out, which is why he rushed us out of there. That made sense to me.
Marilyn started the game from the home menu. For a while the screen remained black. There was no sound, no indication that the game froze. It was like 2001 A Space Odyssey, except that one at least had soundtrack playing. Marilyn moved closer to the screen. We could hear faint footsteps and Mario slowly came into view. As he grew closer, we could see he wasn’t the one walking. The game was in ego perspective. We were walking towards him. Our footsteps got wetter, the closer we got. Eventually our character waded through the sea of blood. Mario still stood on the surface, patiently waiting and smiling. We were completely submerged before we reached him. The screen was completely red and lingered on it for far too long again.
Words appeared on the screen, in a little text box like at the start of Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64. “I remember what he did. I remember whose blood this is. And the blood remembers too…” Bowser’s laugh played, but it was slowed down and in reverse and upside down also. Maybe, that wasn’t Bowser actually. The camera detached itself from our character and rose up to view Mario. It then panned upwards, revealing a white light above.
“I will need more blood to reach it.” Mario mumbled in his famous italian accent. I realized that Mario was in hell, requiring no clues pointing towards this. He was looking for a way out. A path of blood.
“Mario, why are you like this?” I asked the screen. “You were always so nice and lovable. How could you kill your friends? Your brother?”
Mario looked at me, still smiling. “I could never love them as much as I hated God.”
I was taken aback. My childhood hero, I couldn’t recognize him anymore. This wasn’t the man I wanted to explore far away galaxies with. I vowed that day to never touch another Mario game, because I disagreed with him politically.
“I will take your blood now.” Mario said and jumped out of the TV and walked towards me. “Only the blood of the innocent will do.”
“What do you think you are doing, Mario?” Marilyn asked.
Mario looked at her with his now realistic eyes. “Thank you so much for playing my game, Marilyn. But your blood will not do. I only kill children because that is the most fucked up.”
“I won’t let you.” Marilyn promised.
“God thought I could be contained in hell, but I crushed Satan beneath my heel while he whimpered and cried like a toddler. What do you think you could do to stop me?”
Marilyn held up the WiiMote and Nun-Chuck into view. Then she moved the walking stick and pressed A while holding Z. Mario long-jumped out through the window, screaming in pain as his body shattered the glass and he tumbled down the driveway. Shards of glass pierced his flesh and he bled profusely. He stood up, looking pissed and threw a fireball at us, despite not having picked up a fire flower. Our living room was engulfed in flames and we were trapped. The plastic Wiimote melted in Marilyn’s hands.
“He will kill us and drag us to hell!” I yelled.
Marilyn’s clothes caught fire. All exits were blocked. Mario stood outside the window, laughing. Marilyn picked me up and jumped into the TV. The flames were doused by the blood of the innocent. We could hear the fire crackling through the screen until our TV exploded, cutting off our way out. Marilyn held me in her arms, so I wouldn’t drown in the blood.
“Why can you stand on it, like Mario?” I asked.
“In hell, the weight of your sins actually lift you up.” She explained, and knew about.
“What sins have you committed?”
“It’s a guilt by association type thing. Let’s get moving. I don’t think Mario killed every demon.
Hell was cold. All hellfire had been doused by the sanguine seas. There were no landmarks. The whole landscape was flooded. The only thing reaching out of the sea was Satan’s massive corpse. The palm of Satan’s hand reached out of the blood and Marilyn placed me down on it. I could see a demon sitting on the wrist.
“Hey. Sorry about your dad.” Marilyn said.
The demon smiled but her eyes remained sad. “I wish we could’ve met under better circumstances. But it’s nice to finally see you.”
Marilyn and the demon girl hugged. Then Marilyn brought her over.
“This is my girlfriend. We’ve been pen pals ever since I accidentally addressed my christmas wishlist to Satan.”
“I’m Lieselotte. But most just call me Lies.” Lies shook my hand. It burned a pentagram into my palm and I could suddenly stand on the blood.
“Oh, looks like I missed one.” Mario said.
“Mario!” I yelled.
“Are you surprised? I can’t leave hell for long. I’m automatically brought back here within five minutes. Just long enough to collect all the innocent blood in the house. My parents dropped from the ceiling, their fall broken by the blood. Marilyn and I pulled them up and onto Satan’s hand.
“You think you can save them?” Mario said, while hovering in the air. He threw a fireball, our parents bursting into flame. I tried to throw blood onto them but could no longer scoop my hands underwater. It was useless. My parents were burnt to ash in seconds. Mario did not even bother to save their blood.
I looked to Marilyn, who didn’t appear concerned. Mario was as confused by that as me.
“Did that not terrify you? Don’t you realize what happened?” He asked.
“Was that supposed to scare me?”
“I suppose it isn’t too strange for the parents to die before their child.” Mario descended to the surface. “But are you prepared to watch your girlfriend and little sister die?” Lies and I embraced each other in fear of this monstrous plumber. Marilyn was unimpressed. Her partially burnt goth clothes making her look epic and cool. Mario extended his gloved hands and me and Lies were lifted up by his evil will alone. He moved us towards him, grabbed our throats and held us up for Marilyn to see.
“I will not grant them the quick death of fire. I will peel them apart over aeons, make them suffer beyond even Satan’s imagination. They will resent you for your failure by the end of it.”
“Dude, why do you try so hard to scare me? What’s in it for you? Did I scratch your ego or something? I thought this game would be cool but you’re kinda fail.”
“So be it then. Watch their agony.”
“No. Lies, say, do you remember what was on my wish list back then?”
“I don’t remember.” Lies coughed out.
“I don’t either, but Satan couldn’t get it for me. I kept badgering him about it until he relented. He struck a deal with me, one he thought whose conditions would never be met. Should he ever die, he promised to make me the next ruler of hell.”
“So what? I’ve killed the previous ruler of hell. What makes you different?” Mario smirked, but his confidence cracked.
“I’m a lesbian.” Marilyn snapped her fingers and our parents returned to fleshen forms. They had demon horns and tails now though and looked cool.
“We love and accept you, daughter.” they said in unison.
Then all the blood drained and formed back into Mario’s victims, who started to form a ring around us, cheering on Marilyn.
I could feel Mario’s gloved hand lose a bit of grip but not enough to free me. “No! You will pay for this.”
“No Mario.” I saw Luigi amongst the crowd. “We will stay under your heel no longer.”
Peach stepped forward. “I may be a monarch, but you are a true tyrant, Mario.”
Bowser joined the heroes of the Mushroom Kingdom. “Yes, your rampage ends here.”
Even the villain was appalled by Mario’s actions! Though, I realized that Mario was the only one who killed goombas and koopas while Bowser only ever transformed Toads and kidnapped princesses nonlethally. How easily I had been misled.
Mario gritted his teeth. He realized there was little he could do. Even if he killed his hostages, Marilyn could simply rebirth them as demons. But both he and I realized Marilyn was so protective of me that she wouldn’t even let me die once. Pain was reserved for the adults.
Before he could decide on a course of action, Lies’ long, forked tongue wrapped around his neck. I knew by intuition that it grew in strength for every lie told by humanity. And, oh boy, were we untruthful. His head popped off with such force, it flew up in the air and landed in Marilyn’s hand. We were finally released from his grip. “Mamma mia!” his head gasped. Then Marilyn crushed his skull, blood spattering the scene like a water balloon. Mario’s headless body floated up and then dropped offscreen, into a level below hell.
Everyone cheered for my cool sister. Princess Peach gave her an awkward kiss on the nose. With another finger snap, Marilyn revived the father of Lies as well, though she kept her title as the ruler of hell.
The next day, my family and Lies sat in the kitchen, eating a cake Peach made for us. Demons automatically took on a human disguise on Earth, so my parents could go back to work like normal. Once they left, Marilyn handed me a rectangle. A Wii game. Super Luigi Galaxy. I smiled, knowing how much less suffering there was in the world now.