The second-most horrific experience of my life started on a day like any other. The sun rose, and the sounds of dying creatures returning to the abyss echoed outside my house. It was always a cold day in the snowy biomes, so I tossed some coal in the furnace and held my hands in front of it. I put on my warm and cozy leather armor and opened the front door, peering around for any stray Creepers.

A soft bark and a furry friend greeted me at the door. I knelt down on the snow and patted my wolf on the head. My baby slime came bouncing over to me as well, and I picked it up in my arms. Closing the door behind me, I sat on the steps, thinking the same question I think every day in this place:

What should I do today?

An open-ended question, but it'd been nearly a year since I'd woken up in this strange world, my family, job and my lifestyle rudely stripped from me in a night's time. To this day I don't know what happened that brought me to that point, and I'm so comfortable I'd rather not know.

The baby slime began to get restless, and jumped out of my arms to go play among the trees. I watched it hop away and smiled, reaching into my pockets and pulling out a cooked pork chop. I broke it in half, tossing some to my wolf and keeping the rest for myself for breakfast.

Another beautiful day in my world.

Shovel in hand, cookies in pocket, house safely secured from enemies, and pets at my side, I went out on a hunt for mushrooms, as I do every day. Some days I find none, other days I find many. A good hunt results in some special Mushroom Soup for dinner, and I loved the taste of my own recipe more than anything in this world.

Naturally I found myself searching caves and crevices for them, and at last I stumbled upon some red mushrooms that were hiding from me within a small crack in the ground. I hopped down into it, my wolf and slime deciding to stay on the surface. I lit torches as I went, the mushrooms popping out of the ground as my shovel scooped the dirt beneath them.

A strange ambience I'd never heard before echoed throughout the cave. Sometimes I heard ambience within caves, and it was only natural. It scared me, sure, but I'd gotten used to it. This one, however, was different. It was almost as though the wind was crying, and I could just barely hear the words "get out…"

The red mushrooms were safely stored in my pockets, and I searched deeper into the cave in hope of finding more mushrooms. I checked my clock: not even noon. I was making good time, and I might just have had enough mushrooms for soup every night that week.

The ambience played again, and this time I was more confused then scared. Why was it echoing so often?

As I hunted, I found a sign on a block near the ceiling. It read "Mushroom Caverns - Keep Out." I couldn't recall putting the sign there, but I'd remembered putting others like it in caverns that had stopped growing mushrooms to remind myself not to bother. I wondered if I'd been here in the past, and, as I thought about it, I realized I'd never worded it so harshly.

I tried to put the thought out of my head, and proceeded on, breaking block after block, placing torches as I went, even finding some coal and iron here and there. This was a nice place, and I liked it. I didn't want to keep out.

Another sign greeted me further in, and just beyond was a circle of red and brown mushrooms that I couldn't wait to dive into. I ignored the sign completely, and had I read it more closely I would've seen that it read "Proceed and fall into darkness."

Ignorant as I was, I harvested the mushrooms, and just as the last one was harvested, the ambience again, loud, burning itself into my ears unlike any other had done. Clearly within it, I heard a whisper.

"You've been warned."

It ended as quickly as it began, and there was complete and utter silence for a moment. Not a single sound in the caves. Then a slam, as though a door had been shut. A foreboding sound of rocks falling, and I turned to see the entrance had been sealed and soaked in lava. The lava wasn't normal, though: it was black. Strange lava I'd never seen before. It flowed and flowed, burning all newly-grown mushrooms to a crisp. I quickly lit the area around me and placed stone up into a barrier to keep the lava from reaching me. It worked, and I was somewhat proud of my instincts.

Something was different now, though. I didn't hear any plopping sounds or rough barks from outside the caverns. Where were my pets?

I began to sweat nervously. Where exactly was I?

All of a sudden a profuse wind began to blow, and the room became pitch black as all my torches were extinguished. I shivered, terrified at what lurked beyond. Me, a grown man, standing in the darkness, holding only a stone pickaxe, shaking like a leaf with pure fear.

For a split second in the darkness I saw two white frames, almost like eyes, but too soulless to hold any life behind them. I shut my eyes for a moment, and when I opened them, signs lined the floor in a note. The further I walked, the more the floor became illuminated in a mysterious violet glow.

I warned you. You should've known better. An intruder upon my world, just as the last ones have been. Each mushroom appears just as I do, in the places people are too cowardly to search. I own them. I eat them instead. My meals are being stolen by a human. Come home with me and see your punishment.

At the end of the signs, a portal sat. The portal glowed a bright swirling indigo color, and from behind me I heard hissing sounds. Many of them.

A Creeper swarm was right on my heels, and I had no time to think as I leapt headfirst into the glow.

I opened my eyes to find myself on the ground, struggling to get up. I was in shock at what I found myself gazing at: a world seemingly carved in blood. Lava poured from the skies, the ground had been replaced with red rocks, and zombie-like pigs roamed with swords, their skulls half exposed. The most disturbing part was for sure the mushrooms everywhere. Within a small ring of brown mushrooms lay several red ones, forming together to spell a single word: "RUN".

I crept about carefully: this new world was strange, and probably dangerous. There were no enemies I'd ever seen before. No zombies, no skeletons, no spiders, not even any Creepers. No water was to be found, and-

In the midst of my thoughts, a terrible explosion sounded behind me. When I turned, the ground was aflame, and a sound like that of something screaming, dying and pleading for its life swarmed my ears. I whipped out my bow and arrows, and with no thought for fear, just that of survival, shot frantically at the massive floating jellyfish-like creature above me.

I rolled left and right, dodging its shots and attacks narrowly. One fireball it spewed barely missed me, and still managed to singe my clothing. At last, an arrow took it down from the skies, and it crashed into the ground, dead at last. I turned back, hoping the Creepers were gone and I could leave, only to find the portal was gone.

Was I trapped here by some unseen enemy?

I saw a sign in the distance. Carefully weaving out of the line of sight of the strange creatures (Ghasts, as I dubbed them later on), I edged ever closer towards it. The lights seemed to get dimmer and dimmer the closer I got, no matter how many torches I placed. When at last I reached the sign, it was so dark that mushrooms surrounded it on either side. I had to squint to read it, as at this point my torches wouldn't even light.

Welcome to Hell. Won't you stay with me forever?

I heard a footstep behind me, and I spun around to meet face-to-face with myself. A being exactly like me, but with soulless, empty white eyes. I felt a crippling pain all throughout my body and slumped over, and as I looked back up, he was gone. A Ghast had replaced him, and took me for prey.

I screamed as the fireball tore through my flesh.

"OH GOD!" I came to in my bed, my items gone as they had been that morning. When I checked my chest, they were nowhere to be found. My slime and my wolf never returned home after that day, and I felt more alone than ever.

Was it a dream or reality? Since that day I've never felt as though I was truly alone, and whenever I heard ambience I could swear I saw two white eyes glaring at me in the darkness. I felt as though I was hallucinating, but the feeling of being watched never left me. The being had never shown itself fully in front of me again like it had on that day. Ever since then, I've found myself routinely waking up at night and checking around the house for fear of it returning. I look behind myself every few minutes now, always fearing to find something.

A week later I mustered up the courage to return to the Mushroom Caverns. To my surprise, they were nowhere to be found, and a small path underground, a single pathway straight down with a ladder leading into the darkness, was the only thing to replace it. Nervously I followed, finding that torches could not ignite again, but I placed them there for a false sense of security. Questions tripped over one another in my mind. Who was this man? What is he called? Where did he come from…how long has he been here?

I reached the bottom of the shaft, and found myself in absolute silence and darkness again. Terrified of a repeat of last time, I began to whistle a tune, but it felt as though my song had been swallowed in the void. I trembled, the same question appearing in my head over and over, repeating itself like a broken record. Who are you, who are you?

I squinted in the darkness and made out a sign. Below the sign was a single brown mushroom, and the sign had only one word on it, a word I still do not know the meaning of.

Herobrine.