First Story :
This is a reprint of X-Men (1st series) #124.
The mad assassin Arcade is sleeping… and his dreams are not pleasant. He dreams of himself as a young boy, being chased by, amongst other things, a grotesque clown and a carnivorous car. He screams.
Arcade awakens with a jolt. “No!! I don’t wanna play with you,” he cries. He realizes he is alone in his bedroom and that his pursuers are only figments of his imagination. He sees forked lightning strike outside his window, and the warped reflection of a rocking horse leering at him. He’s seeing things and needs to relax. A beeping noise attracts his attention. It’s his computer, which means someone is operating Murderworld. He storms off towards the control center. No one runs Murderworld except him!
He arrives in his pyjamas, asking all kinds of questions. Who’s being chased through Murderworld? Who programmed the computer? Who designed the program? Who’s being murdered tonight? This isn’t fair. It’s his toy and, when he finds the rotten egg who did this, he’ll smash him.
He fiddles with the controls, but finds he is locked out of the program. This infuriates him and he has a childish tantrum. He peers into the entrance to Murderworld and figures that he’ll find the culprit himself, in person. Dressing in his trademark white suit and bowtie, he enters Murderworld, armed with a rifle. Normally, he gets paid a million bucks for this kind of thing. This he’ll do for free.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a gigantic walking axe falls, missing him by several feet. It raises itself again, so Arcade uses this opportunity to scamper through its legs. Unfortunately, a second creation appears with an electric saw in place of a nose. He ducks and realizes that Murderworld is one dangerous place. Luckily for him, the buzz saw cuts the axe in half and he blasts the saw with his rifle, totalling it beyond repair.
He continues into Murderworld, now aware of the inherent dangers in his mission. He notices strange shadows, and nervously asks who’s there, as a missile flies past him. Not realizing he is standing behind a fairground duck shoot, he turns to see three large cuddly toys; a dog, a rabbit and a panda, all aiming weapons at him. The panda recognizes him. This is the brat who used to try and twist his head off. The rabbit agrees. He used to pull half his stuffing out. The dog adds angrily that he used to have a tail until Arcade yanked it out.
Arcade looks at them. They’re his old toys! He pleads with them not to shoot. “Remember - we used to play together,” he adds. The response is a hail of gunfire, peppering the duck shoot with dozens of holes. Arcade runs for his life, taking cover in a corridor behind the shoot. He catches his breath, and now knows who’s programmed to be murdered; him!
He hears a strange nose down the corridor and asks who it is. No one replies, so he opens the door slightly and sees a small red-haired boy playing with his toys. The child turns, and Arcade realizes that it is himself, only much younger. He picks up a toy clown and rubs the child’s hair. How sweet, he says, so sweet. Look at the happy clown, he says, but the child simply grabs the clowns red nose and rips it from its face. This infuriates Arcade, who calls him a mean little brat. He raises the clown above his head and proceeds to beat the child with it. “You rotten kid. You ungrateful brat. You horrible snot-nosed horror-show!”
The young Arcade cries and asks him to stop. Arcade remembers that this is him. He was such a rotten child, and now he’s terrorizing himself. Behind him, the door opens again and his father enters the room. “You rotten kid. Always wasting my money!” He crosses the room towards them but doesn’t even see Arcade. His anger is aimed towards the younger version and he picks up a model airplane, telling the child that he told him to put away his toys and do something productive. He then proceeds to show the child what these toys are good for. He raises the plane, ready to strike, but the adult Arcade smashes him over the back of the skull with a model train.
His father lies on the floor, blood oozing from his scalp, which is revealed to be full of robot parts. The child says Daddy’s dead, and Arcade picks him up to comfort him. He assures the boy that everything’s okay and he won’t hurt him anymore. They hug each other and Arcade promises to protect him. He wishes he could go back in time to protect him.
A thunk surprises Arcade, and he notices that the boy’s right leg has fallen off. The child then disintegrates and ends up lying on the floor next to his father. The nightmare dissolves into a faded memory and Arcade returns to the control center to see just who programmed this appalling scenario.
He taps away at the buttons, breaking the codes. Which of his enemies created this brilliant sick joke? The code is unlocked and he looks at the monitor. The program was created at two ‘o clock in the morning; while he was sleeping. He taps away further asking who wrote the program. The answer turns out to be Arcade. He had written the program himself, in his sleep. He did this to himself. “Why?” he asks, confused, “Why?”