Nobody remembers this elementary school game
Sometimes nostalgic things are best left forgotten.
Tuesday was Computer Lab day. The best day of the week.
Mrs. Henson’s fourth grade class would line up, single file, and march down to the end of the hallway. We would shuffle into the computer classroom and take our seats at the colorful Macs. Typically, we would spend the first half of class learning the names of hardware parts, followed by an educational spelling or math game. There were rare occasions where we had the entire hour to ourselves, free to play the games we wanted. Most of my classmates spent their time traversing the Oregon Trail, rolling around in Bugdom, or racing cars as cavemen.
The game I played was not very popular. In fact, I think I was the only one who played it, mainly because it was incredibly simple and somewhat childish (as if 4th graders had the right to call anything childish).
It was called Shop Til U Drop. The whole premise was to go through different stores in a shopping mall and collect little trinkets before the mannequins caught you. It was set in the first person, and your score would increase as you picked up teddy bears, clothing items, shoes, etc., all worth varying amounts of points. The mannequins all stood in silly poses, like a ballerina dancer or a guy flexing. They would slowly move towards you if you spent too long in a store, and you would have to maneuver around them to reach items worth more points. The goal was to get to the mall entrance with at least 1,000 points and not have any of the mannequins touch you.
I never got to the end.
As easy as it was to get the points, I was always caught making a break for the door. Every time I would hold down the ‘R’ key to run for the entrance and a mannequin would come out of nowhere and block my way. It was always the same one - a male figure in a black suit, tipping his top hat towards me. His other hand was outstretched, palm face up, and he was bent over in a graceful bow. No matter which route I took, the suit would pop up in my path and I would be forced to start over.
Despite my frustrations with the game, I played it every chance I could. I even had it installed at home. Every day after school I would get off the bus and race to our desktop, eager to get in a few tries before dinner time. I doubled clicked on the purple shopping bag icon labeled S.T.U.D. and the welcome screen appeared.
One day, however, something was slightly off.
Instead of the normal screen that said “PLAY” in big yellow letters, there was a text box that prompted me to enter my name. I did so without hesitation, thinking it was some new feature that had been added.
The screen faded to black and then opened in the mall, as usual. Only this time, all the stores were closed. Every entrance was barricaded by one of those metal gates that closes down like a garage door. I was facing the escalators, which were always roped off to give the illusion that there was a 2nd floor without actually having any content that existed there. This time, the escalators were running. Again, I was assuming some new version of the game had been released.
I moved the character forward and began the ascent to the second floor of the mall. As I reached the top, I noticed that there weren’t any shops on either side of the floor. The walls were completely bare, stretching on forever in both directions. I started walking for awhile and found it incredibly boring. There was literally nothing. It got to the point where I could not see an end behind or in front of me. Even when I tried to turn around and retrace my steps, the escalator was nowhere to be found.
I was trapped in this never ending hallway.
I closed out of the game and decided I would look it up on Google later. I was probably doing something wrong. Maybe the second floor had an exit where I could finally get past the man in the suit.
On the next lab day at school, I decided to test a different approach. As soon as I clicked on the icon, I received a message saying, “Welcome back Josh!” I stared at the screen for a minute and wondered how it possibly could know my name. I was only nine, but old enough to know that my home and school computers were not connected, and I had not created any kind of account for it to remember my name. As strange as this was, I forgot it in about five seconds because I began the game in an entirely new area.
This time, I was in some kind of storage room. I could tell by the boxes piled up everywhere. They were overflowing with merchandise: all kinds of toys and apparel, everything I had to collect in the game. There must have been 10,000 points right in front of me. 100,000 even. I was ecstatic. I could satisfy my score immediately and focus my attention on finding the exit. I did not know if there was a point to scoring above 1,000, but I sure did love to see the numbers go up. I moved the character around the room, clicking the mouse on every box to find the contents inside. The room seemed like it was never ending. My score had skyrocketed to over 500,000 points before I noticed the first mannequin.
It was facing away from me. Well, its body was, anyway. The head was turned around slightly, and it had a hand in front of its lips, almost in a “Shhh” fashion.
I tried to avoid the mannequin at all costs, not wanting to lose my record score, and not knowing if the next time I played I would be in this room. However, it got to the point where its location was my only way forward.
I started moving closer and then I heard a sound that gave me goosebumps.
It was the sound of someone saying “Shhhh!” very forcefully, as if the consequences of making any kind of noise were strictly forbidden.
Let me explain that it was against computer lab rules to have the volume on. We would get in trouble if there were any sounds turned on in the games. I will swear on my mother’s grave that my computer was on mute that day.
The sound was loud. It was loud enough that anyone in the lab should have heard it, but all of my classmates continued their games like nothing had happened. The teacher did not even look up from her desk.
I inched the character closer to the mannequin, and it suddenly whipped around at lightning speed, its whole body spinning like a top and facing me. The hand was still pressed to its mouth. Then I heard a great, booming voice that echoed off the classroom walls.
“WHAT DID I TELL YOU JOSH???” It shouted.
“DO YOU WANT TO WAKE THEM UP???”
I immediately closed out of the game and pushed my chair away from the computer. Nobody around me seemed phased by my reaction. I was terrified. I went home and went straight to my room, not bothering to even try the game again. I could not understand why I heard what I did, and for everyone else not to hear how loud the mannequin yelled. I was both scared that this cartoonish game had turned dark, but also frustrated that I had lost such a high score and made no progress at finding the exit.
I did not play S.T.U.D. for several weeks. On computer lab day, I opted for Number Crunchers. I was nervous to try the game again, not knowing what I would find, or what other scary things were in there.
About a month later I decided to suck it up and try it again. When I clicked the icon, another text box came up and read: “Welcome back Josh! Where have you been?”
I read the words for several minutes, trying to process how it still remembered me, and how it had a concept of my absence. I decided to ignore it and I clicked Play.
I regret that decision to this very day.
I began the game as normal. I was in the middle of the mall, surrounded by open shops on either side. I could see the collectibles floating and spinning across the floor, and the usual amount of silly mannequins patrolling around.
I started picking up the items, doing my typical pattern of avoiding the outstretched arms and jumping over counters to access the higher scoring trinkets.
Everything was going according to plan, until I left my last shop with 1,000 points and started toward the exit.
The mannequin in the suit was already there.
It had its arms crossed, or as best a mannequin could cross its arms. They were overlapped and stiff in an unusual way. There was no sign of a silly pose or any indication that its appearance was “friendly” as the game always was. The top hat was pulled down slightly over where its eyes would be, and I could make out the plastic shape of the mouth that had curved into a frown.
Then it spoke to me.
The voice was nowhere near as loud as the mannequin in the storage room. It was calm, almost soothing, but there was a tinge of disappointment in its tone. I began to feel scolded, as a parent would when they tried to give a lighthearted lecture.
“Josh, you didn’t go upstairs, did you?”
I froze. My eyes flashed to the top of the escalator. I could make out the top of a mannequin head overlooking the railing. Its plastic skull was all that was visible, peering down to me. Then I saw another. Then another. There must have been hundreds of them. Thousands. Just the tops of the heads looking down at me in the mall, like spectators at a stadium.
I looked back at the suit and realized that it was slightly closer to me.
“You woke them up you little shit. You went upstairs, and they heard your little feet stomping around. Then you were snooping around the storage area. You were told to be quiet and you didn’t listen!”
The mannequins on the second floor began to pour over the railings. The lifeless bodies rained down from above, piling up around me, landing in the fountain, crashing through shop windows and shattering upon the ground. The sound was deafening. It sounded like the worst hail storm ever, a pounding, thunderous noise. I looked around at the class and no one had reacted. They were glued to their screens.
I looked back at my own screen, and the suit was now inches from my character’s point of view. Its plastic face was gleaming, it burned like the sun in front of me. And then I looked at its mouth. The frown it had before was replaced with a terrible black void. Rows of razor sharp teeth engulfed the screen and then there was darkness. The game crashed. My computer screen went black.
I faked a stomach ache and was sent home.
Several months went by. I finished the fourth grade and began a normal summer, spending most of my time outside and away from any electronics. Somehow the game left my mind, a distant memory that faded into nothingness. Through my fifth grade year I played Oregon Trail and Bugdom like everyone else. Into middle school I started getting into Minecraft, then eventually Call of Duty, and then the Fortnite craze.
A few months ago I got an email from one of my childhood friends. It was an invite to our tenth high school reunion. I RSVPed and attended the get together last night.
It started out awkward, old friends trying to make small talk and former relationships introducing spouses to each other. After a couple hours, and a lot of alcohol, everyone started to relax.
A group of us took a bottle of wine and found a spot away from the party. We started sharing stories of our lives, and eventually started reminiscing about school.
“Remember Oregon Trail???” Dave blurted out. “You have died of dysentery,” he mocked.
Everyone laughed and started throwing in phrases from the game. It was very nostalgic. It was overpowering. It made me remember.
When it was quiet a little later, I chimed in with my own memory.
“Hey, anyone remember Shop Til U Drop? That old mall game with the mannequins?” I asked.
Everyone looked at me, puzzled. They shook their heads.
“You would walk around collecting stuff,” I added.
No one seemed to remember. I explained more about the game, and not a single person recognized it. I pulled out my phone and searched the title, but there were zero results. It was like it never existed.
“I think you’ve had one too many buddy,” Dave said.
We got up and made our way back to the party. I immediately noticed that the music had stopped. In fact, I couldn’t hear anything. No voices. No laughs. I looked around.
Instead of my high school class dancing and having fun, I saw hundreds of mannequins. Every single one of them was facing away from me. I turned to my group of friends, and they too were now lifeless statues. They were also not facing me, their clothes and appearances the same, but now stiff plastic instead of flesh.
I started shaking in terror. A cold sweat broke out and I felt every hair on my body stand on end.
In the middle of the sea of mannequins, there was one facing the wrong direction. It had on a top hat. Its mouth was pulled downward into a frown. I could see its arm raised slightly above its head, a clenched fist except for a thumb stuck out, pointing me towards something.
I looked into the direction of the thumb and saw a neon green exit sign above the door to the building’s entrance. I looked back at the suit.
“You never came back Josh”, it croaked, the voice of a tired old man.
I took a step backward.
“Don’t you run. They’ll get you. They always get you.”
I looked at my group of friends and they were all a little closer to me, their plastic arms slightly raised.
“Time to go shopping Josh.”
At once, the mannequins disappeared. The room was replaced by a mall food court. I was in the middle of rows of tables, looking out into an empty shopping area where little trinkets floated above the ground. In the distance, I saw the same green exit sign.
My phone battery is at 7%. I’ve collected over 1,000 points. I need to get to the exit, but I can feel them watching me.
I can feel him watching me.
submitted by sircore
My Top Apps for making Windows look cleaner (and some apps that i use on a daily basis to make my experience smooth af)
| || | submitted by Longshoez to Windows10
Im gonna start from the bottom and then i'll stop caring and throw everything that comes to my mind first.
I can assure you i use this one every single time i turn on my computer haha, for me this is a must have, i honestly cant believe the dev team behind windows hasn't added this feature, its the most simple app yet i find it pretty usable, not only because you can set it up to change from light to dark theme using the sunset & Sunrise time, but the fact that many Apps and Websites like Reddit, YouTube, Whatsapp, Apple music and many more. have a "System default" feature which takes your system current theme and mimics it. https://preview.redd.it/ufy75mwj5wq51.png?width=597&format=png&auto=webp&s=ce6a5ef837af78ef374f67a38596b442229c8965
TaskbarX (by Chris Andriessen)
if you have a screen bigger than 27 inches (or a wide screen) then you might have experienced the pain it is to move your head to the bottom left every single time you wanna open an application from your taskbar, well, this taskbar not only allows you to place all your apps at the center, but it also brings other features like Transparency, and many more.
This one is small but useful nonetheless, it brings pretty much full customization to your taskbar date, the only downside of this app is that it totally ignores the theme used by windows, which sometimes makes it look outstanding and even hard to see.
I discovered this app today while browsing reddit, it's hella dope, i had it for a few minutes and when i started listening to music it started reacting to the sound, it took me by surprise, that just made it a lot cooler (not all the default wallpapers have this enabled). you can even load your own wallpapers (Video, gif, and i think some wallpaper engine ones work too, haven't really got into that) by just dragging them to the "Wallpapers" tab.
I've been using fences for years, and i just love it, it allows you to create iOS Like folders (i dont know how else to describe them) on your desktop called fences, it has a bunch of features, for example, it allows you to hide all your icons by double clicking anywhere on the screen, or create multiple pages (kinda like in iOS), it has great customization and imo it's totally worth it.
this one and the next are more useful when you are on a Laptop, it switches from the outdated looking squared flyouts and replaces them with these new and beautifuly designed Flyouts for your Windows 10 Volume, Brightness, Music Player, Airplane mode indicators, like i mentioned this only work better on Laptops.
Modern glance 2 lets you customize your "Glance" screen, the one that appears when you lock your device.
Its like chrome tabs for your file explorer but with many more features, it even ads a small preview option for videos and pictures, dont let yourself be fooled by the website which looks like is from 2010 and the pictures from Windows 7 haha, it works great with Windows 10.
file tree section in the explorer
PowerToys is the best thing Microsoft hasn't released for their OS, it honestly feels like features that should've been introduced years ago. PowerToys has many useful features like a color picker that popups and follows your mouse and lets you pick any colour of the screen, an image resizer or the ability to rename multiple files, to name a few, but the star of PowerToys is PowerToys Run,
If you have used a Mac before then you now how helpful the spotlight search bar is, it's basically the same but with less features, you can open apps and find files, even do simple math calculations. its still in development and i hope they add more features to PowerToys Run. they can even ditch the other ones and make it separate product for all i care. https://preview.redd.it/sqri9ypi6wq51.png?width=604&format=png&auto=webp&s=d85382a22c7a1208e7f1d0b151e1168d31314024
If you are a developer this might be of your interest, i'm an Engineer student and a self taught front end developer and designer, i can't begin to tell you how unpleasant it is to use the default windows command prompt, i mean, it works as it should and all but it's just too plane for the times we are living in haha, i always thought it needed a redesign, well that's where WT Preview comes in, it looks and feels so gooooood, it even lets you create more instances of a terminal right from inside the app. https://preview.redd.it/upyfy4vq6wq51.png?width=599&format=png&auto=webp&s=78dd6540f67660bc0eceb533bd9aee2282b04164
Same as the previous app, this one makes the file explorer feel like an up to date app (design-wise) that wasn't designed in 2006 (yep, it has been the same since Windows Vista, minus the extra features that were added on later releases), just like QTTabBar, it ads tabs to the explorer which is nice, tho since its in an early stage of development it lacks many features, sometimes it crashes and freezes for no reason but for a casual windows user i think it is an upgrade from the default one.
This one is for the ex Apple users that miss Airdrop, i use a Macbook Air for college and currently have an iPhone as my main device, but when it's time to make bigger projects or game i switch to my Gaming PC and one thing i always miss is Airdrop, there's nothing like that quick exchange of files, its just quick and seamless. Snapdrop
is a website that connects to other devices that are on the same network (that also have the website open) and lets you share your files as easy as Airdrop, it even has a similar interface. i personally have it as a desktop app (made possible with chrome), and use it a lot for sharing pictures and audio files.