The Risen King

The Risen King


Synopsis:

               While the population of Earth sleeps comfortably at night their planet teeters on the edge of destruction. A separate Universe with creatures capable of leveling cities and pushing mankind to the brink of extinction exist. Only an elite few are aware of their existence, fighting for humanities survival. With time running out the blissfully corrupt society nears its end.

               A young man by the name of Wen Feng is forced to join the fight for Earth’s survival. Growing up without a future he takes firm hold of the opportunity given to him. Every battle making him stronger, step by step his power grows. At earth’s darkest hour a king will rise from the ashes.


Author's Note:

             Hey, I'm excited to get started on this new novel and hope everyone enjoys it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I have written a few short stories before but this will be my first full length novel/series. For those that just read the synopsis I am well aware that the premise is fairly generic but I promise that there will be a unique twist. The first 10-15 chapters will focus more on setting up the world than introducing more characters. After the universe is properly set up with clear rules then new colorful characters will be brought in. I promise to bring an adventure filled with fantastical beasts, crazy powers, great conspiracies, and much much more!!!

Release Frequency: I plan to release a new chapter every other day, if I pick up enough readers this may increase in the future.

You can help support me by donating at https://www.patreon.com/AuthorLimitless
or by visiting my wordpress at https://limitlessnovels.wordpress.com/

Thank you for any and all support given!

Comments

  •                Chapter 1. The Contract

                    I tried to look outside, but the fluorescent glare on the storefront window made it impossible. I could barely make out the sidewalk because of my reflection staring back at me. My hazel eyes were sunken from a lack of sleep and proper meals. My once golden brown hair is now dull and lifeless, closer to the color of mud than the color of wheat it once was. I start work before dawn and leave after dusk making my exposure to sun scarce likely the reason for my lifeless hair and overly pale skin. Days of not showering hasn’t added anything to my situation either.

                   I’m not a dirty person, but I haven’t had the chance to go home for a few days. Staring at my slim figure in the window, it was easy to tell I haven’t had a proper meal in a few days either.

                   Something cutting across my reflection startled me. An older man with a slim waist looking to be in his late forties possibly fifties appeared suddenly. Instantly I could tell it was my boss by the annoyed look on his face. He stepped into the shop and reached out his hand holding a white envelope.
                   “Here’s your pay.” He said upon entering, “Because you gave away some food it’s been docked. I know you feel bad for those kids, but maybe take care of yourself before you help others.” He handed me my pay slip before walking back out the door. “Don’t forget to close up.” He yelled, slamming the door behind him. I looked at my pay for the week and my heart dropped. He took out $45 for a few bananas and packaged snacks that couldn’t have added up to more than $10. I wanted to charge out that door and confront him, yell at him, tell him about justice, but I stood there staring blankly instead. Thinking of the heroes I grew up watching on TV I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. If I were a hero my only strength would be the power of being poor: No matter what I do or how hard I work I will forever remain poor! He could imagine it now. The Super Poor Hero!

                   “Did you see that!” people would yell. “The Super Poor hero just won the lottery but the money combusted upon touching his hands!”

                   “But I thought he collected it in coins?” Another asked exasperated.

                   “He wouldn’t be the Super Poor hero if his powers only worked on paper money would he?” Another smugly proclaimed.

                   Letting out a collective wow, the crowd was once again impressed by how difficult it was for the Super Poor hero to earn money.

                   I let out a mocking laugh at my own delusions but it wasn’t long before my laughter turned into a sigh. My rent was due a week ago. I’ve been dodging my landlord for days now, and I even slept behind a dumpster one night. I hoped to make enough money this week to pay my landlord, even though based on my usual pay it wasn’t likely. I don’t know why I thought my shi# boss would notice all the extra work I put in this week and give me a little extra.

                   My pay this week was $305. My rent is $550. I get paid $350 usually every 2 weeks which should normally leave me $150 for food and utilities. This month however I’ve been docked both pay periods for giving away some food to kids from an orphanage down the street. Being an orphan myself I know what it’s like, and I can’t help but feel bad for them.

                  Unfortunately, neither the utility companies nor my landlord care much about sob stories. The money for utilities has an automatic withdrawal which takes out every month. A mishap occurred during this withdrawal period. They took out money for this month and next month at the same time. I called them up to see if this could be fixed but they said I would have to wait 14 days for the refund to be processed. By the time the refund processed it would be pointless so I just told them to keep the money for next month.

                  As if to make matters worse, my phone was stolen the next morning by some random hoodlum. I tried to run after the thief, but before I knew it he disappeared into an alley. I didn’t even catch a glimpse of his face, just long black hair trailing behind him. I couldn’t survive in the modern age without a phone, so after work that day I ended up buying a new one. How was I supposed to have guessed that my boss would have docked my pay twice this month.

                   If I go another 2 weeks without paying rent I’ll be kicked out. “Maybe it won’t be so bad living on the street, at least I’ll finally be able to save some money.” I murmured while locking the shop door behind me.

                   “It sounds like you have it tough,” a gruff voice sounded out.

                   Startled, I jumped back. Beside me now stood a tall man with dark skin wearing a black suit. In fact, everything he was wearing turned out to be black: black shoes, black top hat, and opaque black sunglasses. My first thought was, “Look at this idiot wearing sunglasses at night It’s a wonder he can even see me with those stupid things on. I bet he got lost walking around blinded by those idiot glasses.” While these thoughts flashed through my head, a smirk slowly spread across my face.

                   His voice interrupted my thoughts, “It is not good manners to ignore someone speaking to you.” As he spoke, he put his right hand into his jacket pocket.

                   Startled out of my inner monologue, I realized he’s right. While he looks like an idiot, that’s no reason to be rude. Could he tell I was making fun of him in my head? He just put his hand in his jacket right, isn’t that what bad guys in movies do right before they pull out a gun? If he’s some super rich jerk he might actually kill me if I’m not more polite. “Sorry,” I said giving a slight nod, a cold sweat starting to form on my back. “It’s been a long day of work and I’m really tired. I don’t even have the energy to be aware of my surroundings let alone hold a conversation. Hope you have a good night sir.” After finishing my farewell I began to walk away.

                   “Excuse me, you seem like someone who could use a few extra bucks. I have $1000 on me right now. Would you be interested in earning it?”
                   As I spun back around I could still hear his question echoing through the street. The man slowly opened his left hand to show a stack of cash that could very well add up to $1,000. That was more than enough for me to pay rent for the month. I was about to agree before I realized that this was probably a prank. A wealthy man playing with a poor schmuck on the street for fun. Before I could say anything he stretched out his hand with the stack of cash towards me.

                   “The look on you face says that you need it. This is not a joke, I will really give you the money. Here take it.” At the man’s urging I took the money, momentarily forgetting about the consequences. He continued speaking. “I will give you one warning, the task will place you in mortal danger. If you survive, your life will be very different. If you happen to die, well, there isn’t much else to say. The $1,000 won’t do you much good then. You must decide now. If yes, then I will come to you when I need you. If no, then just hand back the money, and act like we’ve never met.” After he finished speaking, an eerie silence ensued. I looked around only to now realize we were completely alone. This wasn’t the busiest street, but I had never seen it completely empty before. This doesn’t feel right, but after this week I could really use the money.

                   “Can you tell me what I would have to do? Even just a hint?” I asked, trying to figure out whether the trouble would be worth it. While $1,000 could almost pay 2 months of rent, my life was still my life. To lose it over just rent would be a bit sad, wouldn’t it?

                   “I’ve already told you all I can. Make your choice!” His tone became commanding and dignified at the same time. I could almost feel it reverberating inside my head.

                   ‘He probably wants me to move some drugs, worst case he wants me to kill someone. Fuck It. I’ve been a good guy all my life and all I’ve gotten in return is bad luck. How can I pass this opportunity up when I really have nothing else to lose? Even if I have to get my hands dirty, I can wash them later. Gold can only be found trudging through mud first.’

                   “Okay.” I nodded. “Whatever you need.”

                   An eerie smile spread across his face revealing perfect, white teeth. “Great, I just need you to drop some blood on this contract, and the money is yours to take with you.”

                   The man pulled out a single sheet of paper from within his jacket. ‘Guess it wasn’t a gun,’ I thought to myself silently.

                   At first glance it looked like a sheet of paper, but it felt more like it had been made from some kind of animal skin. Looking it over, I noticed the top of the page had some weird symbols, almost like hieroglyphics. Before I could ask what they meant the man pricked my finger with a silver needle and a bit of my blood was dropped onto the bottom of the page.

                   I felt a sudden rush of dizziness, and a strange voice rang out in my head. The odd sensation caused me to fall to one knee. “What did you just do to me?!” I yelled, my voice trembling ever so slightly.

                  The man smiled at me once again before slowly walking into the alley behind him.

                   I tried to stand up only to stumble into a dumpster. After taking a moment to regain my balance, I looked up only to find a dead end. The mysterious man was gone, leaving me with a wad of cash and a myriad of questions. “I already made up my mind before I took the money. Even if I have to climb a mountain of blades or tread through a sea of fire I must make good my word. Who knows what would happen to me if I didn’t.” An involuntary tremble coursed through me as I muttered that last line under my breath.

                   I pushed myself away from the dumpster only to find a strange and foul smelling liquid was plastered to my shirt. A long sigh escaped my lips as I looked at the mysterious liquid in dismay.  “If a shirt is all I have to sacrifice for $1000 I’ll consider today a success.” I stopped by an ATM on the way back to my apartment to cash my check.

                  “WEN FENG!” I heard my name shouted the moment I arrived in front of my apartment door. I turned around to see a large man with a baseball bat held menacingly over his right shoulder. “I’ve been waiting a week for rent, I hope you aren’t planning on sneaking away again!”

                  “Mr. Shen, I’ve been trying to find you all week!” I said with an innocent smile. “I’ve had the money for rent on me all the time in case I ran into you. In fact, I have this month and next month’s rent ready to go!” I held out the wad of cash I just received, plus a portion of my check.

                   Mr. Shen, who a moment ago looked like he was about to beat my skull in suddenly became all smiles. “Feng! My good brother Feng! Ah, I just knew you weren’t up to anything funny. Both months rent’s at once, such a generous man! Ah, but unfortunately there is a late fee of $200 for this month. I’m sure you understand.”

                 “Mr. Shen, this money is all I have, and I really have been looking for you all week.” I said a bit nervously, considering every word was a complete lie.

                 “Ah ah ah. Feng, my good brother Feng, how can you say such things? Looking for me all week, I’ve been staking out your room all week, how could you have missed me? Then on payday you suddenly come to find me? I could kick you out and keep the money. We wouldn’t want that would we, my good brother Feng? It’s just $200, how about you give me some face and just pay it now, I’d hate to lose another tenant.” A vicious smile bloomed across his face, the grip on his bat noticeably growing tighter.

                I just signed away my life for money, and now I’m trading money for life. So be it. I reached into my pocked and handed him everything but my last $5. “This is really it, I’ve paid the late fee and next month’s rent in advance. Can I go now?”

               The smile on Mr. Shen’s face widened and his grip on the bat loosened again. “Of course, of course! My good brother Feng, how can I possibly bar you from your own home? Ah, just one thing. The inside, it’s a bit messy. A few things fell over while I was looking for you. It shouldn’t be too big a deal for you though, after all, brother Feng is such a resourceful man!” after a few insidious laughs, Mr. Shen walked away.

               Looking at my door from the outside, everything seemed to be okay, but upon entering my apartment the first thing I noticed was my small TV, or at least what was left of it.  Shattered glass covered my now deflated air mattress. The few dishes and cups I had were also smashed. The fridge was open with the little food I had splattered across the floor. I just signed my soul away to keep living here for 2 more months. Maybe being homeless really isn’t that bad an idea.

              I walked over to the least messy corner, and began to push broken pieces of glass away so that there was enough room to sleep. When I was almost done, a small piece that was hidden in the carpet cut open my thumb. “Dammit, this fucking day is never going to end.” I punched the wall. A small crack appeared, and my knuckles turned red from the pain. I took a second to bring my emotions under control before I finished moving the rest of the glass.

              After washing off my thumb, I walked over to my glass free corner and curled into a ball on the floor. Tears began to streak down my face as I laid there starting at the wall. “What is a man without dignity?” I asked myself in my head. “If I had a mirror right now I could at least see what it looked like.” I said aloud mockingly.

             Lying there on the floor my thoughts wandered. Life is tough. Every day I work, I don’t do anything bad, I try to be good to other people, and this is what I have to show for it. Fuck them. If goodwill is dead then so be it. No matter what it takes I will make more money. Only when I have sufficient money and power will good nature and justice mean anything. Slowly my rage was overtaken by fatigue. I soon drifted off into a restless sleep with my new vow weighing heavily on my heart. 

  • edited February 2018
    Chapter 1. The Contract - Part 1


    I tried to look outside, but the fluorescent glare on the storefront window made it impossible. I could barely make out the sidewalk because of my reflection staring back at me. My hazel eyes were sunken from a lack of sleep and proper meals. My once golden brown hair is now dull and lifeless, closer to the color of mud than the color of wheat it once was. I start work before dawn and leave after dusk making my exposure to sun scarce likely the reason for my lifeless hair and overly pale skin. Days of not showering hasn’t added anything to my situation either.

    I’m not a dirty person, but I haven’t had the chance to go home for a few days. Staring at my slim figure in the window, it was easy to tell I haven’t had a proper meal in a few days either.

    Something cutting across my reflection startled me. An older man with a slim waist looking to be in his late forties possibly fifties appeared suddenly. Instantly I could tell it was my boss by the annoyed look on his face. He stepped into the shop and reached out his hand holding a white envelope.
    “Here’s your pay.” He said upon entering, “Because you gave away some food it’s been docked. I know you feel bad for those kids, but maybe take care of yourself before you help others.” He handed me my pay slip before walking back out the door. “Don’t forget to close up.” He yelled, slamming the door behind him. I looked at my pay for the week and my heart dropped. He took out $45 for a few bananas and packaged snacks that couldn’t have added up to more than $10. I wanted to charge out that door and confront him, yell at him, tell him about justice, but I stood there staring blankly instead. Thinking of the heroes I grew up watching on TV I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. If I were a hero my only strength would be the power of being poor: No matter what I do or how hard I work I will forever remain poor! He could imagine it now. The Super Poor Hero!

    “Did you see that!” people would yell. “The Super Poor hero just won the lottery but the money combusted upon touching his hands!”

    “But I thought he collected it in coins?” Another asked exasperated.

    “He wouldn’t be the Super Poor hero if his powers only worked on paper money would he?” Another smugly proclaimed.

    Letting out a collective wow, the crowd was once again impressed by how difficult it was for the Super Poor hero to earn money.

    I let out a mocking laugh at my own delusions but it wasn’t long before my laughter turned into a sigh. My rent was due a week ago. I’ve been dodging my landlord for days now, and I even slept behind a dumpster one night. I hoped to make enough money this week to pay my landlord, even though based on my usual pay it wasn’t likely. I don’t know why I thought my shi# boss would notice all the extra work I put in this week and give me a little extra.

  • Chapter 1. The Contract - Part 2

    My pay this week was $305. My rent is $550. I get paid $350 usually every 2 weeks which should normally leave me $150 for food and utilities. This month however I’ve been docked both pay periods for giving away some food to kids from an orphanage down the street. Being an orphan myself I know what it’s like, and I can’t help but feel bad for them.

    Unfortunately, neither the utility companies nor my landlord care much about sob stories. The money for utilities has an automatic withdrawal which takes out every month. A mishap occurred during this withdrawal period. They took out money for this month and next month at the same time. I called them up to see if this could be fixed but they said I would have to wait 14 days for the refund to be processed. By the time the refund processed it would be pointless so I just told them to keep the money for next month.

    As if to make matters worse, my phone was stolen the next morning by some random hoodlum. I tried to run after the thief, but before I knew it he disappeared into an alley. I didn’t even catch a glimpse of his face, just long black hair trailing behind him. I couldn’t survive in the modern age without a phone, so after work that day I ended up buying a new one. How was I supposed to have guessed that my boss would have docked my pay twice this month.

    If I go another 2 weeks without paying rent I’ll be kicked out. “Maybe it won’t be so bad living on the street, at least I’ll finally be able to save some money.” I murmured while locking the shop door behind me.

    “It sounds like you have it tough,” a gruff voice sounded out.
  • Chapter 1. The Contract - Part 3


    Startled, I jumped back. Beside me now stood a tall man with dark skin wearing a black suit. In fact, everything he was wearing turned out to be black: black shoes, black top hat, and opaque black sunglasses. My first thought was, “Look at this idiot wearing sunglasses at night It’s a wonder he can even see me with those stupid things on. I bet he got lost walking around blinded by those idiot glasses.” While these thoughts flashed through my head, a smirk slowly spread across my face.

    His voice interrupted my thoughts, “It is not good manners to ignore someone speaking to you.” As he spoke, he put his right hand into his jacket pocket.

    Startled out of my inner monologue, I realized he’s right. While he looks like an idiot, that’s no reason to be rude. Could he tell I was making fun of him in my head? He just put his hand in his jacket right, isn’t that what bad guys in movies do right before they pull out a gun? If he’s some super rich jerk he might actually kill me if I’m not more polite. “Sorry,” I said giving a slight nod, a cold sweat starting to form on my back. “It’s been a long day of work and I’m really tired. I don’t even have the energy to be aware of my surroundings let alone hold a conversation. Hope you have a good night sir.” After finishing my farewell I began to walk away.

    “Excuse me, you seem like someone who could use a few extra bucks. I have $1000 on me right now. Would you be interested in earning it?”
    As I spun back around I could still hear his question echoing through the street. The man slowly opened his left hand to show a stack of cash that could very well add up to $1,000. That was more than enough for me to pay rent for the month. I was about to agree before I realized that this was probably a prank. A wealthy man playing with a poor schmuck on the street for fun. Before I could say anything he stretched out his hand with the stack of cash towards me.

    “The look on you face says that you need it. This is not a joke, I will really give you the money. Here take it.” At the man’s urging I took the money, momentarily forgetting about the consequences. He continued speaking. “I will give you one warning, the task will place you in mortal danger. If you survive, your life will be very different. If you happen to die, well, there isn’t much else to say. The $1,000 won’t do you much good then. You must decide now. If yes, then I will come to you when I need you. If no, then just hand back the money, and act like we’ve never met.” After he finished speaking, an eerie silence ensued. I looked around only to now realize we were completely alone. This wasn’t the busiest street, but I had never seen it completely empty before. This doesn’t feel right, but after this week I could really use the money.


  • Chapter 1. The Contract - Part 4

    “Can you tell me what I would have to do? Even just a hint?” I asked, trying to figure out whether the trouble would be worth it. While $1,000 could almost pay 2 months of rent, my life was still my life. To lose it over just rent would be a bit sad, wouldn’t it?

    “I’ve already told you all I can. Make your choice!” His tone became commanding and dignified at the same time. I could almost feel it reverberating inside my head.

    ‘He probably wants me to move some drugs, worst case he wants me to kill someone. Fuck It. I’ve been a good guy all my life and all I’ve gotten in return is bad luck. How can I pass this opportunity up when I really have nothing else to lose? Even if I have to get my hands dirty, I can wash them later. Gold can only be found trudging through mud first.’

    “Okay.” I nodded. “Whatever you need.”

    An eerie smile spread across his face revealing perfect, white teeth. “Great, I just need you to drop some blood on this contract, and the money is yours to take with you.”

    The man pulled out a single sheet of paper from within his jacket. ‘Guess it wasn’t a gun,’ I thought to myself silently.

    At first glance it looked like a sheet of paper, but it felt more like it had been made from some kind of animal skin. Looking it over, I noticed the top of the page had some weird symbols, almost like hieroglyphics. Before I could ask what they meant the man pricked my finger with a silver needle and a bit of my blood was dropped onto the bottom of the page.

    I felt a sudden rush of dizziness, and a strange voice rang out in my head. The odd sensation caused me to fall to one knee. “What did you just do to me?!” I yelled, my voice trembling ever so slightly.

    The man smiled at me once again before slowly walking into the alley behind him.

    I tried to stand up only to stumble into a dumpster. After taking a moment to regain my balance, I looked up only to find a dead end. The mysterious man was gone, leaving me with a wad of cash and a myriad of questions. “I already made up my mind before I took the money. Even if I have to climb a mountain of blades or tread through a sea of fire I must make good my word. Who knows what would happen to me if I didn’t.” An involuntary tremble coursed through me as I muttered that last line under my breath.

    I pushed myself away from the dumpster only to find a strange and foul smelling liquid was plastered to my shirt. A long sigh escaped my lips as I looked at the mysterious liquid in dismay. “If a shirt is all I have to sacrifice for $1000 I’ll consider today a success.” I stopped by an ATM on the way back to my apartment to cash my check.


  • Chapter 1. The Contract - Part 5

    “WEN FENG!” I heard my name shouted the moment I arrived in front of my apartment door. I turned around to see a large man with a baseball bat held menacingly over his right shoulder. “I’ve been waiting a week for rent, I hope you aren’t planning on sneaking away again!”

    “Mr. Shen, I’ve been trying to find you all week!” I said with an innocent smile. “I’ve had the money for rent on me all the time in case I ran into you. In fact, I have this month and next month’s rent ready to go!” I held out the wad of cash I just received, plus a portion of my check.

    Mr. Shen, who a moment ago looked like he was about to beat my skull in suddenly became all smiles. “Feng! My good brother Feng! Ah, I just knew you weren’t up to anything funny. Both months rent’s at once, such a generous man! Ah, but unfortunately there is a late fee of $200 for this month. I’m sure you understand.”

    “Mr. Shen, this money is all I have, and I really have been looking for you all week.” I said a bit nervously, considering every word was a complete lie.

    “Ah ah ah. Feng, my good brother Feng, how can you say such things? Looking for me all week, I’ve been staking out your room all week, how could you have missed me? Then on payday you suddenly come to find me? I could kick you out and keep the money. We wouldn’t want that would we, my good brother Feng? It’s just $200, how about you give me some face and just pay it now, I’d hate to lose another tenant.” A vicious smile bloomed across his face, the grip on his bat noticeably growing tighter.

  • Chapter 1. The Contract - Part 6

    I just signed away my life for money, and now I’m trading money for life. So be it. I reached into my pocked and handed him everything but my last $5. “This is really it, I’ve paid the late fee and next month’s rent in advance. Can I go now?”

    The smile on Mr. Shen’s face widened and his grip on the bat loosened again. “Of course, of course! My good brother Feng, how can I possibly bar you from your own home? Ah, just one thing. The inside, it’s a bit messy. A few things fell over while I was looking for you. It shouldn’t be too big a deal for you though, after all, brother Feng is such a resourceful man!” after a few insidious laughs, Mr. Shen walked away.

    Looking at my door from the outside, everything seemed to be okay, but upon entering my apartment the first thing I noticed was my small TV, or at least what was left of it.  Shattered glass covered my now deflated air mattress. The few dishes and cups I had were also smashed. The fridge was open with the little food I had splattered across the floor. I just signed my soul away to keep living here for 2 more months. Maybe being homeless really isn’t that bad an idea.

    I walked over to the least messy corner, and began to push broken pieces of glass away so that there was enough room to sleep. When I was almost done, a small piece that was hidden in the carpet cut open my thumb. “Dammit, this fucking day is never going to end.” I punched the wall. A small crack appeared, and my knuckles turned red from the pain. I took a second to bring my emotions under control before I finished moving the rest of the glass.

    After washing off my thumb, I walked over to my glass free corner and curled into a ball on the floor. Tears began to streak down my face as I laid there starting at the wall. “What is a man without dignity?” I asked myself in my head. “If I had a mirror right now I could at least see what it looked like.” I said aloud mockingly.

    Lying there on the floor my thoughts wandered. Life is tough. Every day I work, I don’t do anything bad, I try to be good to other people, and this is what I have to show for it. Fuck them. If goodwill is dead then so be it. No matter what it takes I will make more money. Only when I have sufficient money and power will good nature and justice mean anything. Slowly my rage was overtaken by fatigue. I soon drifted off into a restless sleep with my new vow weighing heavily on my heart. 
  • Chapter 1. The Contract - Part 6

    I just signed away my life for money, and now I’m trading money for life. So be it. I reached into my pocked and handed him everything but my last $5. “This is really it, I’ve paid the late fee and next month’s rent in advance. Can I go now?”

    The smile on Mr. Shen’s face widened and his grip on the bat loosened again. “Of course, of course! My good brother Feng, how can I possibly bar you from your own home? Ah, just one thing. The inside, it’s a bit messy. A few things fell over while I was looking for you. It shouldn’t be too big a deal for you though, after all, brother Feng is such a resourceful man!” after a few insidious laughs, Mr. Shen walked away.

    Looking at my door from the outside, everything seemed to be okay, but upon entering my apartment the first thing I noticed was my small TV, or at least what was left of it.  Shattered glass covered my now deflated air mattress. The few dishes and cups I had were also smashed. The fridge was open with the little food I had splattered across the floor. I just signed my soul away to keep living here for 2 more months. Maybe being homeless really isn’t that bad an idea.
  • Chapter 1. The Contract - Part 7

    I walked over to the least messy corner, and began to push broken pieces of glass away so that there was enough room to sleep. When I was almost done, a small piece that was hidden in the carpet cut open my thumb. “Dammit, this fucking day is never going to end.” I punched the wall. A small crack appeared, and my knuckles turned red from the pain. I took a second to bring my emotions under control before I finished moving the rest of the glass.

    After washing off my thumb, I walked over to my glass free corner and curled into a ball on the floor. Tears began to streak down my face as I laid there starting at the wall. “What is a man without dignity?” I asked myself in my head. “If I had a mirror right now I could at least see what it looked like.” I said aloud mockingly.

    Lying there on the floor my thoughts wandered. Life is tough. Every day I work, I don’t do anything bad, I try to be good to other people, and this is what I have to show for it. Fuck them. If goodwill is dead then so be it. No matter what it takes I will make more money. Only when I have sufficient money and power will good nature and justice mean anything. Slowly my rage was overtaken by fatigue. I soon drifted off into a restless sleep with my new vow weighing heavily on my heart. 


  • edited February 2018
    Chapter 2. A Human's Will - Part 1

     

    Feeling bright light beating against my skin I opened my eyes, finding myself surrounded by sand. “A desert?”

    Slowly my eyes adjusted to the bright light, and I suddenly realized that I was surrounded by thousands of people sitting in stands, staring down at me. “Arena, this is an arena!” I exclaimed in realization. “Wait, if this is an arena and everyone in the stands is looking at me...” My voice trailed off once I realized... I’m the main event! In my confused state, I didn’t even notice the suited man from earlier today standing right next to me.

    “How are you, I hope you still remember our contract.”

    “Contract…” I thought for a moment before remembering earlier today.“Ah, yeah, the contract. Is that why we’re in this arena? What am I supposed to do?” I asked, while a deep sense of danger began swelling in my gut.

    In response, he silently lifted a thick canvas tarp.. A deep dread fell over me. Under the tarp was an array of weapons. Shields, spears, swords, gauntlets, daggers, and pretty much every other medieval weapon you could imagine.I had hardly spent a few seconds looking over the impressive selection before my thoughts were cut off by the mysterious man’s voice. ”Only one can leave this arena alive. There are three choices: Let the other man kill you, and he can walk away alive. Convince the other fighter to not fight, and both of you will die. Or, kill him, and you can walk out alive. Now, choose a weapon. The fight begins in 30 seconds. I pray for your success.” I looked over to say something but he had disappeared once again.

  • Chapter 2. A Human's Will - Part 2 


    Momentarily frozen with fear I had to talk myself back to reality. “I can’t let fear overcome me.”  Quickly I looked over the weapons and decided on a spear and a dagger I placed the dagger in my back pocket, hoping to keep it concealed for a possible surprise attack. I gripped the spear with both hands, holding the tip steady about two meters away from my body. The spear was simple and unadorned. The body was made of smooth and sturdy wood, with a few small indents and leather fittings making it easier to grip.  It weighed about 15kg, making it feel heavy, but not to the point of being uselessly sluggish. The metallic tip shined in the sun, giving off a heroic feel. Before I had the chance to get caught up in my heroic moment, the weapon rack disappeared and I found myself staring into the eyes of another man.

    Sensing danger, I felt my hands tighten their grip around the spear, doing little to prevent it from slipping through my now very sweaty palms. I could feel a faint buzzing in my ears, and my whole body was trembling ever so slightly. Trying my best to keep my emotions in check, I prepared myself for the man charging in my direction. Looking at him now I realized how bleak my current situation was. His height was at least a full head taller than my own, skin dark and bronzed as though he spent all day outside in the heat, muscles bulging from what could only be work hundreds of times more intense than my own, and a gaze filled with the murderous intent. Yeah, it didn’t look good for me. “$#%!, this guy looks like he killed the guy I was supposed to fight and just finished eating him before the fight! ” I silently mused to myself.

    While momentarily lost in thought, a thudding sound continued growing louder as my muscled foe sprinted closer. That’s right, I’m in danger! I shouldn’t space out during a fight to the death. The man was nearly upon me, a long silver gleam in the shape of a sword shown above his head. Compared to my trembling stance and irresolute gaze, the man before me was filled with killing intent. He really wants me dead.
    Growing up I always learned a number of fundamental values, the most important being that every life was created equally. Believing in this fundamental truth, I have always been good to my fellow man. With the shadow of death growing near, and anger beginning to swell from my indignation, the flow of time seemed to slow almost to a pause. Is this the so called ‘treat all life with respect?’ I thought looking at the man rushing towards me.
    Going back even further, the suited man’s image flashed through my mind. I was given $1,000 to become a spectacle in an amature fight to the death. Look at all these pieces of shit. In the stands above me there looked to be at least a few thousand people watching on, waiting for my death.
    $1000. I wonder if that’s really all my life is worth. Am I expected to win this match? No. Look at that guy.Killing me would be as simple as crushing weeds or smashing rotten wood. No! I’m not resigned! I will not lie down and die, becoming just another worthless spectacle in their eyes!
  • Chapter 2. A Human's Will - Part 3


    With years of unvented rage fueling me, I gripped the spear in my hands with all my strength. Before I realized it my body was moving for me. My left foot planted firmly in front of my body. With no more than 15 meters separating us, I did something that brought an instant look of shock to the muscled monster’s face. Using my left foot out in front as a pivot I swung my body forward. *Swish* the spear left my grip, cutting through the air in front of it at an alarming rate. My body  continued moving forward with the momentum.I almost fell over from the force I put behind my desperate pitch.

    Out of the corner of my eye I could see the horror in his eyes. He tried to slow down but to no avail. With no choice left, he frantically chopped down with his sword. A metallic ringing spread out as his sword collided with my spear. Using his powerful physique, the path of the spear was diverted away from his heart, but not enough. The spear carrying my life behind it struck true. Tearing right through the side of his body, blood spurting  out. Regaining my balance, I could see him struggling to keep his intestines from pouring out of the deep wound.

    While the scene in front of me was incredibly gruesome, I couldn’t help but feel some vindication in the adrenaline fueled moment. “Truly! Man proposes, Heaven disposes!” I yelled. “You all thought I would lie down and die, like a lamb to the slaughter. Well fuck you! You rich pieces of shit!” I vented to the crowd. Before I could continue a sad sound cut through the air.

    A deep animal like yell rang out, piercing through the silence that hung over the arena. Looking at the man I just put a spear through, I suddenly felt a deep sadness. Within his eyes I could see the desperation. From his scream, the fear of death he felt; palpable.

    *Crunch* the sound of his foot stepping forward, the sand crackling beneath it cut once more through the silence. *Crunch* he took another step forward.
    “It’s over!” I cried out, “You can’t beat me now! You won’t live much longer!” I continued shouting, unable to understand the many emotions I was experiencing.
    “You’re only dead when you stop moving forward!” The muscled man uttered through gritted teeth. The sand continued to crunch underneath him as he grew closer. I turned around and began running. I felt the dagger in my back pocket and readied myself for the worst.
  • Chapter 2. A Human's Will - Part 4


    A dull sound unlike the previous steps rang out. I looked back to see the once proud man lying on the ground, blood streaming out of him. He reached out with both arms, the sword lying beside him, and began pulling himself forward. He continued crawling until he was just a few steps away. He stopped. His eyes were open, but no life was left in them. The only sound that could be heard was the faint dripping of blood.

    The rush of victory I once felt was gone. This wasn’t something to be proud of. Like me, he too was a prisoner in this arena.

    A voice rang out from behind me. “Well done, Wen Feng.It appears you have earned the qualifications to be a pioneer.” I spun around to find the  suited man smiling at me. “How do you know my name?” I inquired. I had a million other questions, but this was all I could manage to ask because it bothered me that he seemed to know everything about me. He could toy with my life as he pleased, while I knew nothing of him. It was unsettling.

    “How I know your name isn’t important. What is important, though, is that you have been chosen.” He paused for a moment before continuing. “That man, he was twice your size. Physically, he was significantly stronger than you in every way. Even mentally he was far more prepared to kill you than you were to kill him. Why then is he dead while you live? Luck? No. Luck helps, but luck is not why you’re still standing.”

    He paused once more, looking deep into my eyes before a single word reverberated throughout my entire soul, “WILL!” The will to move forward, to endure, to break past your limits, and most importantly: the will to survive. This is why you still stand. How could you still be here if that spear never left your hands?

    “This is what we are looking for. Big men with big muscles can be found everywhere, but those with true survival instincts…. People like you are what will save us. I’m sorry, but your time here isn’t over yet, please live.” With what seemed to be a tinge of sadness in his voice, his silhouette began to flicker once again.

    As though he was never there to begin with, he disappeared again. With his monologue over, reality began to settle in for me. I’m a murderer. Turning around I saw the man’s body lying on the ground.  My entire body began shaking. The longer I looked at his lifeless body, the more nauseous I became. With the gravity of the situation finally catching up to me, vomit spilled out. I didn’t eat all day, so the only thing that came out of me was a green-yellow liquid that slowly soaked into the sandy earth. After puking I continued to stare at the man I killed. * Blergh* I puked again. I wanted to look away, but I didn’t think I had the right. After puking 3 more times, I finally averted my gaze. Tears dried against my cheek, adding to the growing collection of bodily fluids covering my body.
  • Chapter 2. A Human's Will - Part 5


    Only after standing up from the sandy ground did I realize how much my throat burned from the bile. Instinctively, I looked around for water to alleviate the pain, but there was nothing. The pain in my throat quickly intensified. Bit by bit the burning sensation worsened.

    Beads of sweat formed on my forehead. My throat hurt so bad that I tried to lick them up only to feel them evaporate upon contact with my tongue. Dizziness overtook me. My entire mouth went dry. My lips were now chapped, and the skin on my hands dried out with cracks forming one by one. I wanted to scream in pain as my entire body began to dry out, but there wasn’t enough moisture left in my mouth to utter a sound.

    “What’s happening?!” I thought frantically. If I don’t figure this out soon I will die. I clenched my right hand, causing one of the cracks in the skin to worsen. A drop of blood trickled out. The red liquid that moments ago induced nausea in me now looked oddly alluring. Without thinking, I licked it up. The burning in my throat felt slightly better as the tiny bead of blood slid down. “More! I need more!” Looking around, my eyes landed on the man I just killed. The blood that only recently finished flowing out of his body was in a neat puddle next to him.

    The burning in my throat kept getting worse and worse as my skin became dryer and dryer. Relying on instinct, I knew this is what I must do Swearing in my heart to get revenge, I started walking toward the body.

    Looking at the puddle of blood in front of me I felt like vomiting again, but I stopped myself. Using my right hand, I scooped a small amount of blood into my mouth and swallowed. The metallic taste pushed my gag reflex to the limit, but instead of letting it overpower me, I swallowed.

    Instantly my throat was soothed by the disgusting, metallic liquid. I took another scoop. This time the blood didn’t taste as disgusting as it did the first time. Before I knew it I had scooped all of the blood off the ground and the burning sensation in my throat had completely disappeared. A wave of relief passed over me, and I laughed. I sat there laughing and crying, not knowing what to feel, but hoping that it was finally all over. I kept my life, but what about my dignity?. I crawled on all fours to drink blood from the man I murdered. What does that make me?

    I tried to stand up, but a wave of dizziness overtook me. I collapsed in exhaustion, unable to get up despite my struggles.  My eyelids began to slowly close. “This must be it.” I thought to myself. Before I could think anything more, darkness overwhelmed my last strands of consciousness.
  • edited February 2018

    Chapter 3. Q & A  - Part 1


                  Suddenly waking up as if from a nightmare, I shot up out of bed.Standing up to fast the blood rushed to my head, distorting my vision and causing a sharp pain in my temple. “Was it all a dream?” I asked aloud. A cold sweat covered my body. The nightmare had been so lifelike I still felt a lingering fear.

                   “It was no dream” A familiar voice replied.

                   A familiar silhouette was now sitting at the edge of my bed wearing a black suit, snacking on some kind of pastry. A sense of dread fell over me. If that wasn’t a dream, then wasn’t I just seen committing murder? What’s going to happen to me now? Before my thoughts could run wild, the man interjected as if he could read my thoughts.

                   “That man you killed, he is really dead.” From his jacket a newspaper appeared. Handing it over to me I could already see the article I feared existed Zhang Wei, heart attack in the middle of the night, deceased. It was a short piece, anyone that dies in an unusual way receives a short excerpt. Looking at a picture of him I was sure this was the man I murdered. Before I could ask any questions the suited man spoke again.

                   “The contract you signed the other day was a contract to enter a different universe. This universe is brutal by nature, and only accepts those that have already killed before. If you sign the contract without having ever killed before, then you will be paired with someone else who is in a similar situation. After killing your opponent in the arena, you then obtain sufficient qualifications. ”

                   I sat in deep thought for a moment amidst a heavy silence that filled the room before slowly asking my next question. “How? How did I arrive at that arena? Why did he die of a heart attack when a heart attack clearly didn’t kill him? Did you and whoever you work for cover it up?”

                   The suited man began coughing before a light smile adorned his face. “I assure you nobody covered anything up. The entire battle happened in a space occupied by your consciousness alone. It is a place that feels like reality and, similarly, life and death can be decided there. How the contract forces your consciousness out is something even I am unsure of, but it is quite a mystical power. If you…”

                   Before he could finish speaking I blurted out my next question, “Why!?!? Why did you send us to fight each other? If you knew somebody had to die then why!?! Is this some sick joke, you rich fucks pit poor people against each other for a few laughs later?!” Indignation began to swell inside of me as I sat there clenching my fists. Looking at the newspaper from this morning, I was now sure the guy I killed was just another poor nobody like me. There’s no way I could get away with murder, there were thousands of people in those stands. If I’m going to end up in jail for murder anyway, one more won’t make much difference.

                   Before I took action a solemn voice rang out, “That isn’t why. The reason we needed you to sign the contract has to do with the survival of the human race.” Not letting me a chance to respond, he continued.
  • Chapter 3. Q & A - Part 2


                   “Universe B. That’s what we call it. We aren’t even sure that it’s a different universe but some of the laws of physics we know of are turned upside down there. The first thing you will notice upon arrival is nothing can travel from Universe A – our universe – to Universe B. Upon arrival you are completely naked. Then a screen will appear. It shows a series of statistics describing your physical fitness, similar to a video game. Lastly a platform you will notice a platform, and on it you can place resources to exchange for currency. This will allow you to purchase other tools for survival. I don’t have a lot of time to explain, but here is what I can tell you. You have 12 hours. In 12 hours you will be teleported to Universe B. You will be naked and terrified. You must survive for not only yourself, but for all mankind. I promise that all of your questions will be answered once you break through the limit of the third rank. I have only a few minutes left with you, so ask any questions you have.”

                   “Is this a joke?” My first question. Who would believe the fantasy story given by a guy they met the other day that forced them to murder another person.
                   “No.” A curt response for a curt question.

                   “Why me? If this has to do with the fate of humankind, why not soldiers, why doesn’t anyone know?” My second question, one I also thought to be fair. I don’t think I have ever portrayed myself as the savior of mankind. What’s the point of training elite soldiers if they aren’t useful at time like these?
                   “We chose you and others like you for secrecy. If it got out that all of humanity was on the verge of extinction there would be chaos. We don’t know the exact ramifications, but too many interest groups would get involved and only make matters worse. With all of humanity arguing our destruction would be all but assured. Someone like you who has no family, no friends, no one at all, is a perfect candidate. I know it may sound harsh, but your disappearance wouldn’t cause any ripples. A missing soldier, even the lowest rank, could have potential security threats. It would be looked into deeply, making it possible for us to be discovered. While highly unlikely, we have decided that the risk is best left as low as possible for time being.” He paused for a moment before continuing to say, “Besides, in Universe-B the training over here for military soldiers would be highly useful at the beginning, but such training would soon lose almost all meaning.”

                   “Who are you guys?”

                   “Were nobodies, all of us, just like you. Look at this as a chance. I understand the arena left a bad taste in your mouth, but where you’re going will change you forever. No longer will you be some store clerk nobody, but part of an elite force propping up all of humanity.”

                   “After I killed that man, I felt incredibly thirsty. My whole body started drying out. Was that also so I could go to ‘Universe-B’?”

                   “Unfortunately, no. That was a test from us. We have to pay a certain price for every single person we bring to Universe – B. If they don’t have a strong enough will to live they would die anyway, so it makes more sense to test them beforehand. This saves precious resources needed for the sake of all humanity. It may seem cruel, but no one life can come before the entire race.”
  • edited February 2018

    Chapter 3. Q & A - Part 2


                   “Universe B. That’s what we call it. We aren’t even sure that it’s a different universe but some of the laws of physics we know of are turned upside down there. The first thing you will notice upon arrival is nothing can travel from Universe A – our universe – to Universe B. Upon arrival you are completely naked. Then a screen will appear. It shows a series of statistics describing your physical fitness, similar to a video game. Lastly a platform you will notice a platform, and on it you can place resources to exchange for currency. This will allow you to purchase other tools for survival. I don’t have a lot of time to explain, but here is what I can tell you. You have 12 hours. In 12 hours you will be teleported to Universe B. You will be naked and terrified. You must survive for not only yourself, but for all mankind. I promise that all of your questions will be answered once you break through the limit of the third rank. I have only a few minutes left with you, so ask any questions you have.”

                   “Is this a joke?” My first question. Who would believe the fantasy story given by a guy they met the other day that forced them to murder another person.

                   “No.” A curt response for a curt question.

                   “Why me? If this has to do with the fate of humankind, why not soldiers, why doesn’t anyone know?” My second question, one I also thought to be fair. I don’t think I have ever portrayed myself as the savior of mankind. What’s the point of training elite soldiers if they aren’t useful at time like these?

                   “We chose you and others like you for secrecy. If it got out that all of humanity was on the verge of extinction there would be chaos. We don’t know the exact ramifications, but too many interest groups would get involved and only make matters worse. With all of humanity arguing our destruction would be all but assured. Someone like you who has no family, no friends, no one at all, is a perfect candidate. I know it may sound harsh, but your disappearance wouldn’t cause any ripples. A missing soldier, even the lowest rank, could have potential security threats. It would be looked into deeply, making it possible for us to be discovered. While highly unlikely, we have decided that the risk is best left as low as possible for time being.” He paused for a moment before continuing to say, “Besides, in Universe-B the training over here for military soldiers would be highly useful at the beginning, but such training would soon lose almost all meaning.”

                   “Who are you guys?”

                   “Were nobodies, all of us, just like you. Look at this as a chance. I understand the arena left a bad taste in your mouth, but where you’re going will change you forever. No longer will you be some store clerk nobody, but part of an elite force propping up all of humanity.”

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