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The darkest secrets in Grand Theft Auto 5

Look, any game that forces you to torture a federal agent if you want to proceed is already pretty disturbing, but if you want to uncover Grand Theft Auto 5's deepest, darkest secrets, you're going to have to veer off of the obvious path. There are tons of vile stories hidden on Los Santos' sunny streets, but you'll only find them by gathering collectibles, solving mysteries, and exploring each and every one of San Andreas' festering nooks and crannies.

As a reward for your efforts, you'll be treated to some of the most depraved tales in Grand Theft Auto history. If you've been playing the games for a while, you know that's not a claim to be taken lightly. From doomed housepets to cannibal cults to grisly murders (so, so many murders), Grand Theft Auto 5 has enough disturbing, depressing, and just-plain-gross stories to keep you busy for hours. Start hunting, but keep that bottle of Prozac handy. You're gonna need it.

A frozen visitor from the stars

Humanity has been searching for decades — maybe even centuries — for incontrovertible evidence that we're not alone in the universe. At the very beginning of Grand Theft Auto 5, we find it. You can see a real live alien during Grand Theft Auto 5's tutorial mission, which trades the sun-soaked glamor of San Andreas for the dark and snowy plains of North Yankton. Just drive off of the road and under a bridge while you're making your big escape. You can't miss it.

Wait, sorry, did we say "live" alien? Scratch that. Oh, North Yankton definitely has a visitor from the stars, but by the time that Michael Townley (later known as Michael De Santa) finds him, he's frozen solid in the ice. Ugh. Humans have dreamed about first contact for years, so to have it come down to a turncoat gangster stuck in the middle of a botched sting operation and an extraterrestrial corpse? That's a huge bummer.

If that doesn't have you down in the dumps, here's an even darker read on the situation: as fans have noted, the creature has the same design as the alien costumes that pop up at Los Santos' movie studios. So, maybe it's not an alien at all. Maybe it's just an actor playing dress-up who fell into the river and drowned or froze to death. You know what? Just avoid this Easter egg altogether. No matter how you read it, it's just too depressing.

Cannibal cult roadside assault

Grand Theft Auto 5 contains some of the most sordid, depraved, and disgusting acts in video game history, but even for GTA, this one is pretty dark. When you're cruising around San Andreas, sometimes you run across strangers who ask for favors. A woman who needs a lift after a horrific accident. A drunk barfly who needs a ride home. That kind of thing.

This event is different. In this event, a naked man (well, basically naked — he's wearing shoes, and even a hat!) pins a young woman to the ground while his clothed compatriot watches. Does that sound a little, well, rape-y to you? You're not alone. Look, Grand Theft Auto doesn't have the best reputation when it comes to female characters, and mid-day sexual assault really doesn't help things. Thankfully, you can help the woman if you choose to, which you really should — not so much for the $80 reward as because it's simply the right thing to do.

Now, as some people have pointed out, the naked guy is most likely a member of the Altruist Cult, a group of crazed nudists who live in San Andreas' hills. They surmise that the man isn't trying to rape the woman. He's trying to "recruit" her. Somehow, that's supposed to make things okay. It doesn't. Kidnapping is a major crime on its own, and, oh, by the way, the Altruist Cult eats people.

Eighth time's the charm

Los Santos is home to all kinds of mass murderers — just how many people do Michael, Trevor, and Franklin kill during Grand Theft Auto 5's campaign, exactly? — but if you're looking for a good old-fashioned serial killer, the Infinity Killer is your guy. He has everything your run-of-the-mill serial killer should have. A mysterious gimmick? Check. A rambling, nonsensical manifesto? Check. Clues left behind to taunt police and his victims' families? Check. A sizable collection of undiscovered bodies? Check — well, kind of.

According to a newspaper clipping found in Sandy Shores, the Infinity Killer is none other than one Mr. Merle Abrahams, a deeply disturbed Los Santos resident who murdered eight joggers back in 1999. Abrahams, like the Infinity Killer, was obsessed with the number eight, which he claimed was just infinity turned sideways. The prison where Abrahams spent his final days holds a clue too, in the form of a short poem that hints at the whereabouts of the "infinite 8."

In Abrahams' prison poem, he makes a reference to a place "where water meets land and fire once spewed forth." That led some GTA-playing sleuths to Paleto Bay, which sits at the foot of Mount Chiliad. Chiliad resembles California's Mount Shasta. Mount Shasta may not have erupted for a while, but it is a volcano. See where this is going? Dive into the water near Paleto Bay, and you'll find a bunch of bodies. How many, exactly? You guessed it: there are eight of 'em.

Black Dahlia, eat your heart out

Grand Theft Auto 5 is a big game, and tracking down 50 letter scraps scattered across its map takes a lot of work, especially if you don't use a guide. Gather them all, however, and you'll get a pretty great reward — great if you love dark and gruesome murder stories, that is.

Not that you need to locate all of those collectibles to get the basics of Leonora Johnson's story. A website devoted to her killing and The Underbelly of Paradise, one of Grand Theft Auto 5's in-game television shows, lay out the basics pretty well. Leonora Johnson was a pretty but not particularly bright Vinewood actress who came to Los Santos in the late '60s in search of fame and fortune, who starred in a few commercials and at least one feature film, and whose mutilated corpse was discovered by the press in 1975. To make things even worse, the anonymous killer tormented Johnson's Midwestern family for years by sending them pieces of her body.

If you piece the letter together, you'll learn that former director and current Vinewood pariah Peter Dreyfuss abducted, tortured, and killed Johnson for his "art." You're also given the option to visit Dreyfuss and dole out some justice, although it may not be earned. See, the only real evidence against Dreyfuss is that the typed, unsigned confession sports his letterhead, and some fans think that film exec Solomon Richards, not Dreyfuss, did the deed. Is Leonora's murderer still out there? Sadly, we'll never know.

"Old Fred acts nice, but it ain't so!"

If you're hankering for a good whodunit, the aptly named "Murder Mystery" quest will cure what ails you. Heck, even unlocking the quest itself is kind of a mystery. The only way to start it is to stumble across one of the clues while playing — no map markers here — and, if you're Grand Theft Autoing on the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, you'll need to play GTA 5 on a last-generation console first and make sure that both versions of the game are linked to your Rockstar Social Club account. Whew!

Anyway, once all of that is taken care of, you'll find pieces of some graffiti scratched into the side of some walls. Two of them implicate a fellow named Fred, another fingers old-timey studio head David Richards, and the final one flat-out says that a woman's been murdered. Once you find all four clues, the game will tell you to find the aforementioned victim. Only then does it help you actually solve the crime.

If you don't care about spoilers, here's the gist: back in the '40s, Fred Quincy, head of the Disney-esque Fred's Pictures, murdered a filmmaker named Isaac and hid his body in an old mine. When Fred's secretary tried to blackmail him, he wrapped a bag around her head, put cement shoes on her feet, and dropped her in the ocean. Think that's dark? The real-life Walt Disney cozied up with actual Nazis. By comparison, a pair of homicides ain't that bad.

Even death can't keep Jolene down

Jolene Cranley-Evans didn't ask for much. A home in scenic Blaine County. The love and respect of her husband, Jock. Time to take care of her elderly parents, and to manage their popular guest house. But Jock had other plans. He wanted to move to Vinewood to become a stuntman. One day, while hiking, the two started arguing. By the end of the discussion, Jolene was dead at the bottom of the cliff and Jock was free to pursue his dreams.

While the police took Jock into custody on suspected murder, he was quickly released due to a lack of evidence. He told the local paper that he didn't do it, too. "I would never throw her off a cliff, despite her desire to destroy my dreams of success and happiness," Jock says, protesting a little too much. Jolene clearly disagrees with that statement, too. You can find out by visiting her at Mount Gordo at 11:00 PM, when she appears as a wide-eyed, sobbing ghost.

You can't get too close to Jolene (unless you keep your weapon drawn, which is probably a bug), and she doesn't stick around too long. When the clock strikes midnight, she's gone. And yet, that won't stop Jolene from returning again the next night, furtively wailing for justice that'll never come. Oh, and how do we know that the ghost is Jolene? Because nearby, there's a flat rock that sports the name "Jock" written in blood. Yeah. It's kind of a giveaway.

This is why your parents told you never to talk to strangers

Most of Grand Theft Auto 5's hitchhikers are relatively harmless. There's the stockbroker whose car broke down on the way to the airport. The lady who wants to see the Vinewood sign up close and personal. The runaway bride who needs to make a very, very quick getaway. Then there's Ursula, who is either the unluckiest woman in the Grand Theft Auto universe, or who has a very dark secret and doesn't hide it all that well.

See, everyone that Ursula knows seems to die. Her mother passed away recently. Her gardener, who used to visit her regularly, became mysteriously ill and fell off a cliff. The last person that she hitchhiked with "choked to death on his own hand," which isn't really a thing that happens. If Ursula is crazy, at least she comes by it honestly. When Ursula was a child, her mother dressed her like a boy, shaved her head, and locked her in the basement. So, y'know. It's a family thing.

After you take Ursula home, she gives you her number and starts sending you some saucy texts. You can call her for a quick hookup if you're feeling randy, and nothing violent ever happens (although, for some reason, it's always raining once you're finished). Still, it's probably best to stay away. Better safe than sorry and all that.

The world's cutest con artist

The Vinewood Cemetery's furriest visitor might look cute, but behind that all that fuzzy-wuzziness lurks one of Grand Theft Auto 5's most tragic stories. That Skye Terrier that you'll find wandering the cemetery grounds? Follow the little guy for a bit, and he'll lead you straight to an anonymous headstone, where he'll sit, little tail wagging, waiting for his late owner to return.

So, it's sad, but is it dark? Oh yeah. See, Grand Theft Auto 5's best boy isn't just paying his respects. He's going to die in that graveyard. That's what happened to the real-life dog that the Easter egg is based on, anyway. In the 1800s, a Skye Terrier named Bobby sat at his master's gravesite at Greyfriar's Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Scotland — home of Rockstar North, the studio behind GTA — for 14 years. Bobby passed away in 1872, but he lives on in statues, children's' books, movies, and now, video games.

Of course, there's a twist that makes everything much more sinister: Greyfriars Bobby is a fraud. According to researchers, Bobby was just a stray dog that hunted in the nearby church. He didn't have an owner, and he wasn't really mourning. Instead, his tragic tale was invented by the cemetery curator and a local restaurateur in order to drum up business. In fact, when the first Bobby died in 1867, the two co-conspirators callously replaced him with another one. Using a dog for a cynical, manipulative cash grab? No wonder Rockstar loved it. That has GTA written all over it.

A new frontier for junkies, or just plain old junk?

Grand Theft Auto 5's in-game internet isn't quite as big as the real thing, but it's so toxic, addictive, and flat-out weird that it's awfully hard to tell the difference. That means that firing up your phone and browsing the web is a great way to pass the time. It's also a good place to hunt for secrets. GTA 5's send-up of everything online has sites that range from Twitter parodies to pyramid schemes.

If you're a discerning partaker of hard drugs, you might find the Elektrotoke website of interest. There, you can learn all about the newest innovation in narcotic consumption-technology, which its inventors call "the healthy, socially-acceptable alternative to freebasing in public." Crack, heroin, PCP, meth — the Elektrotoke can handle 'em all, thanks to its fun (shall we even say, child-friendly?) cartridges, which come in flavors like grape bubblegum, raspberry ripple, chocolate cheesecake, clam chowder, and more.

Even for Grand Theft Auto, the Elektrotoke website is a particularly dark joke. You can vape hard drugs, but you really shouldn't, and despite what the Elektrotoke website says it's never a good time to get hooked on PCP, even if the Elektrotoke makes it easier than ever. Besides, the Elektrotoke is only "probably" safe, and may not actually do, well, anything. Like they say, if "it looks like a base pipe, feels like a base pipe, and better yet, tastes just like a base pipe…." Seriously. Their words, not ours.