Book version – Chapter 1
As you know I’m writing the book version of this story and here’s the first chapter.
Please support the Kickstarter campaign: A new unwanted world
I will be doing a Facebook live tomorrow at 6pm GMT+4 on the project page: Sunrhae writes
… please… leave…
…monster… how could you…
… why… I beg you…
… never… hope we never… meet again…
Broken memories and voices from a distant past. Nightmares, she was used to them. They were lullabies to her tainted soul. She told herself she wanted to forget, to start anew, without the echoes of the past. And yet there she was, stuck in limbo, unable to move forward but too afraid to look back. She wanted to keep the regrets and guilt close to her heart, afraid that if she forgot them, she would become something she couldn’t recognise. Nightmares, she was used to them. In this comfortable darkness, she wondered if, one day, she could be like others, like those who walked under the light…
“What?” A deep and raspy voice answered the phone that couldn’t stop ringing.
The young woman looked at the time. 2:45 pm. Who the hell was calling this early?
“Why can’t you answer the damn phone?” A man asked.
“Why are you calling?”
“Do you know how many times I’ve called you?” The man nagged.
“Do you think I care?”
“Where are you?” The man asked. He had been trying to reach her for a while.
“Somewhere on Earth. Unfortunately.” The young woman sat on her bed, a bit dazed.
“Are you okay?” The man was worried, even though he knew how useless it was.
“Of course I’m okay! Why shouldn’t I be?”
“You cut contact and you left without…”
“If my memory serves me right, I got fired.”
“You ran away after – ”
“Anyway!” She cut him, “I believe I told you to call me only if the Earth was about to blow up. Is the Earth going to disappear in the next ten minutes, Charles?”
“Enough. I’m fine. Really. I don’t want to work. I also don’t want to talk to you, your kind, nor anybody that could breathe in my direction. Nothing personal, Darling. So don’t bother calling ever again.”
“Darling… When I left, I was clear, wasn’t I? There are no more ties, no karma left between us. Give it a rest. Tell them to give it up, too. I’m being nice right now. Let’s make sure I stay that way. You don’t want me to be upset, right?”
“Why are you so…” The man grumbled, “I’m worried about you-”
“I’m more than fine. I have a life to live, things to do, places to be, air to breathe. I’M FINE!”
She hung up and clenched the phone in her hand. She sat there, unmoving, for a long time before a frustrated sigh broke out. Why was it so complicated to live around people? Why was it so complicated to be human? She reached out toward the nightstand and grabbed a glass. Empty. She tried the bottle on the side. Empty. She grumbled a bit before leaving the bedroom.
Treading through this apartment was as difficult as usual. Mountains of empty bottles reigned over hills of dirty clothes and rivers of cardboard boxes. The dust had settled in and the air was stale. Pushing through the garbage bags with a rabbit slipper on her left foot that kicked away whiskey bottles, and a bear slipper on her right foot, she made her way to the living room. How long had it been since she last cleaned up? She didn’t even remember what day it was, nor the last time she ate. Why should it matter anymore anyway?
The living room was less dirty and messy than the rest of the apartment. The piles of clothes on the sofa were clean, or at least she thought they were. The mattress in the middle of the room was empty. The constant glow of the TV gave it a certain sense of desolation. Her lonely figure clad in old pyjamas stood in the middle of the bleak room. Black circles, empty eyes, and tired eyelids. She couldn’t help but complain. She was okay. She was just fine. It was just another dark and rough patch; it wasn’t the first and it wouldn’t be the last. It hadn’t been long since she’d started over; she just needed to give herself some time and take things slowly.
Why is everything empty in this house?
Why are the walls so close?
Suddenly, she felt trapped. She needed air. She needed space. Jumping here and there, she went to the window hidden behind thick black curtains. She parted them a little and reached out. As the sunlight shone on her hand, she realised how pale she had become. The bright light stung her dry eyes, making her frown. Standing in the shadows in a daze, she looked at the street below.
Summer had arrived early again this year. It was a hot and sunny day like any other day. Legions of tourists kept striding along the crowded streets of a suffocating city. Echoes of conversations and shouts spread through the air, which added a chaotic tempo to the shops’ music. The delirious crowd was full of life and laughter, the wave of bouncing bodies, the unbreathable sun, and joy in the air.
Stunned and bewildered, she stood there, her frenzied heartbeat being carried away by the crowd that soared and danced in this mad farandole. From her third floor window, she felt her breath shortened, chest crushing down her heart, and shivers spread down her body. Panic. Anguish. Despair, that made her feel so disconnected from the rest of the world. She stepped back further into the shadows. Away from the sunlight. She regretted opening even an inch of that window that had stayed shut for so long.
She wanted to hide. She needed to run away. She felt lost and afraid. More than anything, she felt angry. Angry for being this weak. Angry for being her. Angry… for being. She couldn’t help but let out a hoarse cry. She shook her head in an attempt to make her dark thoughts go away, but unshed tears still threatened to drown her.
She needed time. She needed to remember what she really was and figure out what she wanted to be. Time, her only wealth. It was all she had, anyway. She had told herself that she had lost everything, that she wasn’t part of the world nor was she worth it. Maybe… Just maybe…
She dragged her feet towards the mattress laying bare on the messy floor. Maybe if she slept some more, the dark thoughts would also be lost in nothingness. A nap. Yes, she needed a nap. Or an ethylic coma. She hesitated for a moment. The second option was incredibly tempting.
A smoky whiskey or dark rum?
She rummaged through the pile of empty bottles, through the empty cupboards and the warm fridge. But all she could find were more empty bottles and boxes. Not even the shadow of some dry ramen. She grumbled as she threw herself back on the mattress.
Forget it. Let’s give my liver a chance today.
The next couple of days went by in peace. She watched cartoons and animal documentaries until early mornings while eating take-out and frozen meals. She went to the shop and bought enough liquor to open a bar; she even joked with the cashier. She bought useless stuff on the internet, saw movies she didn’t find interesting, talked to people she barely cared about. She enjoyed herself with people she didn’t even try learning the name, laughed with others, and at herself. She wandered out. Breathed.
There she was, walking under the sun, living. A seemingly normal life for a person pretending to be normal. But wasn’t that how life really was? Pretending to be happy, to be nice, to work hard, to feel alive. Those plain days were what she longed for. A boring life made of fake smiles to please others, half-heartedness in work, and hidden anguished and loneliness. Wasn’t it what she wanted?
Was it really what she wanted?
Was it what it meant to be human?
Being moulded by the expectations she had of herself and her notion of what a normal human was like? This kind of life…
Was it really what she wanted for herself?
To be walking under the uncomfortable light while surrendering her soul to the darkness?
It was exhausting… Truly…
Lying on her back, her eyes closed, the young woman was still half-asleep. She had watched way too many programs on prairie dogs this week and had found it hard to fall asleep. Through her muddled thoughts, she felt weird. Her mattress felt harder than usual and the air warmer. Why was the room this bright? She grumbled without even bothering to open her eyes.
A clear tingle of bells and some divine chorus echoed out of the blue.
“Shut up! People are trying to sleep here!”
She didn’t know where the sound came from nor did she care.
“Welcome, O Chosen One.” A delicate and emotional voice resounded.
The young woman clad in old pyjamas and mismatched animal slippers yawned, her eyes still closed.
“Not interested.” She rolled on her side.
Up high, the slender figure of a woman appeared. Floating into a white sky, silver hair, and azure eyes; she bathed in a divine halo, a slight smile hanging on her lips.
“We need your help, O Chosen One. Our world is in peril and only you can save it.”
The sleepy woman didn’t answer. With a graceful wave of her hand, the divine woman threw a spell. From the floor, one could hear a shriek.
“I am the Divine Avatar, Lyres. You are on your way to another world to become a hero.” The slight smile on her face grew bigger and warmer.
The young woman in her pajamas glared up. She then looked around. All she could see was white empty space. She sniffed the air and frowned.
“Send me back.” She glared at the so-called divine avatar.
“Hero, I know it’s confusing and…”
“What don’t you understand in ‘send me back’? I don’t have time to deal with this bullshit.” She interrupted sharply.
“Hero, you are our only hope.” The avatar’s smile stiffened and her gaze grew colder.
“Do I look like some ignorant idiot to you? I don’t have much patience, so send me back at once.”
The avatar waved her hand, the light around her gathered, and with another gesture, a ray flew at the woman standing below. The young woman sidestepped and the ray crashed near her foot. Lyres snorted and before the one below could react summoned a cage. When the young woman tried to touch the bars, an electric shock jolted through her hand.
“Hero, a lifetime of glory and adoration awaits you. In this new world, you will be able to use magic.”
“Let me out! What the fuck?!”
“Thanks to you, we will be able to fight against the threat of our enemies.” Lyres looked down on her, uncaring about her cries.
“Don’t you dare force me! I’m no hero. I don’t want your shitty powers or whatever magic. Send me back!”
“This new world will…”
“I don’t give a shit about your isekai or whatever fantasy world. I don’t give a shit about other people’s lives! LET. ME. OUT. NOW.” She snarled.
The avatar didn’t take her threat to heart. Now that a Hero had been summoned, there was no way to let her get away. However, it bothered her that someone didn’t give her the respect and admiration she expected.
“I, Lyres, am the messenger of the Gods. I came here to welcome you and offer you this grand destiny and this new fate. Why would you make things difficult?”
“…” The woman inside the cage clenched her teeth. What she hated the most was to have her hand forced.
“You will have whatever you desire, you will be adored by the people, you will serve your master and become his pride.”
“Am I a joke to you?” Her gaze became frigid.
“You have the chance to leave your miserable self and pitiful past behind. No one misses you. No one is waiting for you. You are a weak human. Why so reluctant?”
In front of the caged woman, a video game-like window appeared and flickered. But she could barely see it. In her mind, scenes from the past were playing on repeat.
… you are weak…
… miserable self… pitiful…
… no one…is waiting anymore…
… never meet again…
The young woman froze. She felt her heartbeat quickened, pounding so hard that it was the only sound she could hear. She felt as if the cage was shrinking and the bars were pressing down on her. She curled down on the ground, ears ringing with the echoes of distant memories. She felt lost, desperate, and angry.
Lyres sneered at the sight and sent another spell. The woman didn’t even feel the electric shock; it barely numbed the voices in her heart. Little by little, her gaze lost its lustre and darkness clouded her mind. Her breathing quickened, and so did her heart. From the depths of her soul came pouring out memories. Through those, the emotions she tried so hard to control, to tame and extinguish were set ablaze with violence. Wave upon wave of repressed emotions crashed down her heart and ground the thin walls she had built.
Up high, Lyres scorned. Puny humans. She had thought that she could summon a valuable hero. So disappointing. If she could, she would have summoned several. How nice would it be? A group of heroes. Four or five? Hell, if she had ten or so nothing could stop them. Those Earthlings always had so many good ideas and creativity, what if they could…
Lost in her fantasy, Lyres didn’t react on time when a tide of unknown energy swept her way. The strange power flooded into her system and shook her to the core; wreaking havoc along its way. The white space trembled. She fell, crashing down as signs of distortions appeared in the sky. The space became unstable?
Terrified, she tried to look for the source but all she could see were floating windows.
|New command needed…
Searching for new command…
|New command detected…
Would you like to summon more heroes?
Lyres was completely flabbergasted. What was going on? Another wave of power poured into her body. She jolted and howled in pain. She cradled her head in her hands; something was messing with her mind.
|Start summoning procedures…
|New status preferences detected…
Please wait during the update…
Expansion of the extraction perimeter in progress…
The ground shook and statics spread around the cage and throughout the space. The avatar tried to struggle against the foreign invasion. She felt herself being slowly ground away.
Searching for a new power source…
|Unknown power source detected…
|System update in progress…|
Lyres’ pleas and tears slowly faded. Her delicate face lost its warmth and her eyes lost their light. Kneeling on the ground, she was like a marble statue; an ethereal frozen elegance. Inside her cage, the woman was oblivious of the storm raging outside. Gently, her body became cold as she slouched down. She closed her eyes and let herself be taken into the darkness. Maybe… Just maybe… This time… Things will be different….