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A note from Skaeger

This story has been edited. For those of you here for a new chapter alert on 6/26/19, that chapter is 8.5. It is a scavenging piece that was originally in chapter 14 that I changed and expanded on due to accurate criticism. As @Stepen noticed, he gave up trying to access the game's menus too early. I have included that more in the earlier chapters of the story. As @Slee202 pointed out, gathering food should have taken precedence over cleaning. I got distracted, and truly that should have happened sooner so I shifted chapter 8.5, and edited other chapters like this one to include more scrounging as well. Finally, as @shaggy pointed out, the fire code in the region I am using does, in fact, require emergency exit doors to open in the direction of egress (into the stairwell). Thus the barricading in this chapter could not have taken place and was replaced with more scavenging.

For those who do not want to re-read, the only things truly relevant to the plot were that he has about 2 months of food and a single important moment that was moved to chapter 13 from 14 which I will include at in the header of the next chapter for the next few days.

Thank you all for your feedback, criticism, and support. I want to learn how to be a writer, and I can only do that with honest critique and the support of all of you to inspire me to keep going. Thank you.

~Skaeger

I woke up to an awful smell. “Goddamnit!” I yelled as I coughed and retched. I had crashed without showering or changing clothes. My tan sheets were stained with dried blood, and it smelled horrid.

 

Ability Improved: Hibernation
Hibernation has reached level 5

 

How long had I been out this time? “Thursday, April 29th, 2027.” was the header on my phone. ‘Shit. What day did that fight happen?’ I needed to start keeping track. It was either Monday or Sunday. So I was out for 3 or 4 days.

My left forearm itched and ached, and I was awfully dizzy. I unwrapped the bandages, and while the bite wound had scabbed and was on its way to healing, it was red and inflamed. It had gotten infected, ‘Nasty fucking goblins…’ luckily, I could still use my arm, but it was going to hurt. I rebound my arm and sighed. Today was going to have to be a slow day.

I had two things I needed to do. The appearance of more goblins reminded me that I needed to stockpile more food. Until it was secured in my room where I could protect it, it could be stolen at any time while I slept or hibernated. It wasn’t that much safer in my apartment than another one while I was unconscious, but if a goblin broke into my apartment and I didn’t wake up, having food stolen would be the least of my concerns. The second thing was to clean up my latest mess. I looked at my sheets and sighed. I showered, ate, and gathered my sheets, blankets, and my bloody clothes, and then I was off to the housekeeping room. I dumped my laundry in and set off down the hall.

I searched the couple’s room, broke through into two more apartments, and stocked up on more of the same things I already had. There were boxed meals, frozen food, staples like rice or oatmeal, and all the condiments I could ever want. The couple had a fairly large variety of vitamin supplements that I should probably start taking. I wished I could get a bigger freezer, but I would have to make do. I brought the food back and stowed it in my cupboards and the empty room’s freezer. If my math was right, I had about ten weeks’ worth of food tucked away, especially if I kept “hibernating.” Even though I ate like a pig when I woke up, it wasn’t nearly enough to equal four full days’ worth of food. I didn’t find anything special like a bag full of rice or a well-stocked freezer.

I also scrounged some clothes, mostly oversized jeans and shirts, but I found sweats, a pair of good running shoes that fit well enough, and a fake leather jacket. The jacket belonged to the man whose corpse I had fed to a monster, so it felt a bit strange to wear it, but I needed any protection I could get. The shoes were also a big bonus, so I could run without worrying about slipping,

The first room I broke into had been quite ordinary, but the second was very impressive. The corner rooms were much larger than the regular rooms and had more than twice as much window space. They were far more expensive to rent, and the contents far more valuable than anything I could afford. There wasn’t a whole lot that really seemed important given everything that was going on, but I sat down on their bed, and I was in love. I laid down and basked in the luscious comfort and hugged the decadently fluffy pillows. I needed to bring this back with me, but I was still hoping to keep my holes between rooms small enough to cover up with furniture. The alarm for the room was on, but I just smashed the box and opened the door. I’m sure there was now yet another alarm blaring down in the security office.

I dragged the mattress out and saw the door the goblins had been trying to claw through at the end of the hall to the south. I couldn’t help but stare and picture those little goblins scratching at the door when there was fragile drywall right beside it.

I was grateful the damn things knew what a door was. The moment they figured out the drywall next to the door was so much softer than the door itself; I would be overrun and gutted in my sleep. They understood doors well enough to open the stairwell’s fire-proof metal door, but they never opened one from the inside once they had bored in. I could only guess they had learned their lesson about opening an alarmed door on another floor, or they just never bothered once they had carved a goblin hole.

I put my new mattress on the floor of my room and grabbed sheets for it. I would need to move the bed frame in here at some point because my little twin frame had no chance of fitting a king bed.

Then I grabbed trash bags and emptied out all the rotten food inside the refrigerators of the rooms I could get into. I was about to dump them down the trash chute in the housekeeping room, but I realized that my corpse disposal might enjoy rotten food. He didn’t mind the slightly rotten corpses from his first feeding, so it was worth a try.

I whistled as loudly as I could again, but I still got no response. I dumped everything down and heard a delighted grunt and then the usual racket as it lumbered into the stairwell. It was completely insane, and the beast would undoubtedly devour me in a heartbeat if I ever gave it a chance, but it wasn’t trying to eat me now, and that meant it was the closest thing I had to a friend right now.

I took a lap around the floor to check and see if there was any goblin activity, and I took a break near the corpse disposal stairwell. I was getting even dizzier, and I needed to lie down.

 


 

I woke up on the floor of the hallway, curled up against a wall with a horrid stench swirling in my lungs. For the second morning in a row, I was heaving like I’d eaten tainted fish from the shady sushi shop on Grant Avenue again. It took me a moment to remember where I was, and then I started to panic. A goblin could have walked through the stairwell door and killed me without any effort!

My arm still hurt, but I felt a bit less dizzy than I had. I checked my phone and groaned a bit as I saw the date. “Friday, April 30th, 2027.” It looked like I couldn’t hibernate my infection away. I’m glad I didn’t do it here, but I still wished I could.

I glared at the source of the stench that continued to fill my nostrils, the goblin’s den I hadn’t cleared out yet. I really didn’t want to deal with that. So I didn’t. I got up, prepared myself for the day, and got out the steam cleaner. The hallway on the other side of the building was caked in blood from my three latest victims, and I spent the morning restoring it to proper order.

 

Skill Improved: Cleaning
Cleaning has reached level 3

 

I was starting to feel like a laborer class instead of the conquering hero I used to be in games, but as my infection showed, illness could be much more lethal than a blade, and it was a weapon I was far less equipped to handle. I desperately wanted to work on something else, and there was so much to do, but that room needed to be purged. If I allowed it to fester, there would be mold, bacteria, insects, and lots of things that could kill me in horrible ways. The best that the housekeeping room had to offer were thin medical masks, but it was going to have to do. I layered five of the masks over my mouth and nose, rubbed mint-scented soap inside the masks, put on thick black rubber gloves, loaded a cart up with bleach and other supplies, and pushed the door open again.

I thought I knew what to expect after dashing in to break the alarm. I was wrong. I didn’t imagine the smell could get worse, but it did. I didn’t imagine that the sight could be worse than I imagined, but it was so much worse. There were piles of shit in the corners of each room, massive piss and blood stains everywhere, and gnawed bones littered around the floor. I had wondered what had happened to the goblins I had killed and left in the hallway, and now I had my answer. They ate them. The bastards were cannibals. My feeble, mint-scented mask utterly failed to protect me from the stench, and I had to quickly pull it down to puke on the already stained floor.

The place had been ransacked. Food packages had been torn apart left where they fell. I had a feeling the nine other rooms they had broken into were equally trashed, although hopefully with less stained carpets. I considered disposing of the garbage, shit, and bones and cleaning this as I had everywhere else, but it was just too far gone. I grabbed my knife and cut up the carpet into square sections. I rolled each one up and tossed it on my shoulder. The smell was almost unbearable, but I had to get this over with.

I carried each carpet to the far stairwell, the one that my corpse disposal wasn’t in, and dumped them. I didn’t know what the beast at the bottom of the stairs liked, but I doubted it included feces and urine-soaked carpets. I was also worried about putting them down the trash chute. If the trash chute got clogged, I would have no way of knowing until the smell and rot wafted up to my floor. I hoped that dropping it down 37 floors would get it far enough away that I wouldn’t need to worry about it for a while. Even after drying for days, bits of sludge, liquid, and debris dripped from the carpets.

 

Skill Improved: Cleaning
Cleaning has reached level 4

 

Skill Improved: Cleaning
Cleaning has reached level 5

 

Skill Improved: Cleaning
Cleaning has reached level 6

 

As the day came to a close, and I settled into my bed to sleep on my fresh sheets after scrubbing myself raw in a steaming hot shower. I felt like I had made real progress. My territory was nearly clean, and my cleaning levels were rising at a slow but steady pace.

 


 

I got to work again early the next morning. The swelling in my arm had gone down, and I felt like I could finally use it properly again, even if it ached.

Now that I had disposed of the carpets, I moved on to the furniture. The mattress, couches, and anything soft and porous had to be thrown down the stairwell. Then I began scouring the surfaces and walls. One of the goblins had made himself a toilet, which was impressive given what I had seen. The problem was that it was a drawer in a dresser, and he just shit in it and closed the door. Given the size of the piles… at least one goblin had used it for a full week. That drawer and the dresser it was attached to were tossed. The apartment was finally getting to be somewhat clean, and I started mopping the bare, stained floor to clear the filth that had seeped under the carpet.

 

Skill Improved: Cleaning
Cleaning has reached level 7

 

Skill Improved: Cleaning
Cleaning has reached level 8

 

The improvement of my cleaning speed was finally noticeable. At level eight, it boosted my productivity by 40 percent. Each scrub with a rag wiped away more grime, and those hard, stubborn stains surrendered faster than before. I didn’t know why cleaning had a five percent boost while all of my combat skills had a mere one percent, but it was incredibly useful at the moment.

 

Base Stat Improved: Endurance
Base Endurance has reached level 4

 

‘My endurance was only 3!?’ I couldn’t help but yell. Yes, I had spent my days seated at my desk in VR, but still… Wasn’t that a bit too low? I didn’t have much to compare it to, but three sounded pathetic. I guess this was the most physical labor I had done in years.

I cleaned as much of the stained flooring as I could, and after nearly two full days since I began, I was finally content with the apartment.

 

Skill Improved: Cleaning
Cleaning has reached level 9

 

I opened the other five doors the goblins had broken into and smashed a few alarm panels. Luckily, these rooms had only been ransacked rather than lived in. I scooped up the few piles of dung and steamed the carpet stains, and then a smile split across my face. Yes, these rooms were trashed, but they were clean. This entire floor was clean of foul odors and refuse, and just before I had finished, I reached level ten in cleaning!

 

Skill Improved: Cleaning
Cleaning has reached level 10

 

Cleaning Bonus
Level 10: Cleaned objects gain %10 resistance to undesirable substance buildup for one week

 

Oh damn. I get skill bonuses at level 10. That’s awesome!’ I had celebrated. What was even better was that the skill gave me the ability to enhance an object just by cleaning it. While keeping something clean was relatively minor, just imagining what would happen with my other skills was exhilarating. I had a big, stupid grin on my face as I went to sleep that night. I had many plans and so much to do. I had needed a clean, safe place to come home to, but now it was time to explore and fight.

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About the author

Skaeger

Bio: New writer, exploring my new passion. Currently working on my second story, please enjoy my work! :)

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