The Shattering



Chapter One: A Shadow in the Office


            As Everyone was panicking outside, I had found a nice corner in the bathroom to cry in. Outside I could hear my coworkers yelling the names of people who they were looking for. I was just sitting there, praying not to hear my name. That hope didn't last long as I heard my manager calling my name.


         "Lillian, where the f*#$ are you!?"


        My stomach dropped as I contemplated how I even got here. This last week had simply been too much. I had been having a good year, that was until last week. I got a job in game development. It was fun at first, sure the workplace culture left a little to be desired. I was constantly being asked to do things that had nothing to do with my job, it was always "Lillian, grab me some coffee would you?", or "Lillian, would you be a dear and make a copy of these?", but it wasn't all bad. I LIKE coding, I LIKE games, and I had worked worse jobs while getting my degree. This last week was a problem because it was release week. The launch was scheduled for last Friday, even though my team leader Jarald had told corporate that there was no way that they could finish on time. Corporate decided that they really didn't care.


        I had been working long hours at the office. Twice this week I didn't even go home, I just tucked myself in under the desk and slept there. The week had been hard, but it had been done, the game was shipped, and I could go home and sleep. I don't think I had ever fallen asleep that fast in my life. I was starving, I hadn't eaten since breakfast, but I would have time in the morning.


        That was until Saturday morning. I got a call, apparently, people had found bugs. I had dragged myself out of bed, onto a bus and started to cry out of sheer exhaustion. I got a lot of looks, but I didn't care. I had worked over Eighty hours last week and I barely got a good night's sleep before I was asked to go back. The bus ride felt like it was taking forever and not taking long enough all at once.


        Entering the office and seeing everyone rushing around I didn't know how they are doing it. After a quick meeting where we were told about all the known bugs, we got split into teams. I got stuck with a hotboxing glitch that caused NPC's to sometimes fall through the floor as they got spawned in. For some reason, the NPCs weren't given a hitbox until after they were spawned in. this gave them a small time when they would free fall through the floor. Depending on how far they fell before they were given a hitbox, they would either jump back up or they would free-fall forever. When I figured out that much I tried to change around load orders but no matter what I do nothing seems to help.


         In the mid-morning, my mother called, I had told her last week that I was going to finally be done with my first big project by last night. She had waited for me to get a good night's sleep before calling to see how it went. When I told her that I was at work now trying to fix bugs, she responded by telling me that I should refuse to work after the week I had. I know that she was just being supportive but at that time I was on the edge of breaking down. I'm not proud of how I responded to that, in fact, I really don't even want to think about what I said.


        It took all of four hours for me to give up. I had no idea what the problem was, and I was making no progress in my sleep-deprived and starved state. After that, I was demoralized. There was no way that I could keep going. I went to the bathroom so that I could get away from everything for a bit.


        There are next to no advantages to being a woman in the field of game development. Being one of five women that work in this office has not been a good thing overall. It had, in fact, been kind of shitty. At this moment, however, it offered the one advantage of being able to have a place to hide for a moment.


        So, here I am. Sitting in the bathroom with my boss yelling my name while I pray to a god I don't believe in to please offer me a way out. In retrospect, this was my mistake.


         All of a sudden the sound of shattering glass rang out from every direction and a warm feeling came over me. I stood up and looked around, but didn't see anything. All the windows seemed to still be intact. For a moment everything seemed to be fine until just moments later when someone started screaming back in the office, along with what seemed like the sound of a desk being pushed over. The screaming started out as a scream of panic but quickly morphed into a scream of pain. Soon even that faded only to be replaced with more screaming from different voices.


         I start running to the door but before I get even halfway out of the bathroom something pops up in my vision.


Essence has entered your reality for the first time, as a result, all sapients are given a system to help them integrate essence into themself allowing them to level up and grow stronger.


         As the window appears I feel how to manipulate it, like a muscle that I never knew I had. I can feel more notifications that will appear if I will them to and I can feel the ability to dismiss notifications.

Due to the projected end of the world as a result of the invasion of creatures from the void all natives will be given random gifts to help prevent their extinction. accept this gift?




         I quickly select yes and with a flash of light, a small crystal sphere the size of marble appears hovering just centimetres from my face. Whatever it was it sparkled like diamonds, light both coming from within and refracting through it casting rainbows all around. Mesmerized I reach out and take it, gravity only seeming to take hold when my hand is firmly around the orb. whatever this is made from it feels impossibly dense, feeling like around 100g it is far from heavy but considering its size it seems impossible that this thing could exist.


         I'm snapped out of my reverie by more screaming starting from the office. There are still dozens of notification still to be read but now didn't seem like the time to be going over those. Rushing out into the hall I look down into the office, the first thing I noticed was the blood. All across the visible wall streeks of red, more blood than I would have thought would fit in a person.


         I hesitated not knowing if I should push forward and figure out what is going on or run getting as much distance as I can and hope I can find someone capable of helping. I know that the right move would be to run, it's not like I could do anything regardless of what is going on, but I couldn't help it. I needed to know what was happening consequences be damned. I know that I am doing something stupid but there is no reason to do it in a stupid way. I move slowly down the hall keeping my back to the wall. I have to stop myself from rushing or running away as I hear the screaming and sobbing continue. Now that I have gotten slightly closer another sound can be distinguished, the snarling of some great beast, crunching, snapping and other sounds of destruction. The trip of only a few dozen meters seems to stretch on forever as I inch forward.


         Making it to the end I peek my head around the corner. My eyes were immodestly drawn to the large dog-like creature in the center of the room. While it was the general shape of a dog it definitely wasn't one. The first thing I noticed was the fact it was around the size of a horse allowing it to tower over the cubicles. What was even more surprising and what probably should have stood out more than its size was that it seemed to be made of shadow or some sort of black smoke. The only part of it that didn't seem to be made of this shadow material is are red glowing orbs that seem to be what it has for eyes. In its mouth, I see where at least some of the blood is coming from, the body of my manager being shaken like a toy in a dog’s mouth. Strewn around the room are bodies of people who I work with torn apart. On the other end of the room where the remaining coworkers huddled around scared.


         The sight of this sent me reeling back, my body betrayed me. I had never had the strongest stomach and I had never been around a corps before, let alone a corpse of someone I know. All of this was too much for me. I bent over and vomited, my body collapsing from the force of it. The creature stopped and dropped my manager. I knew it noticed me but I let myself hope for just a moment until it turned around and looks straight at me.


         I stumble back clutching the orb that is still in my hand. I close my eyes and clench my fist, this was it all I could hope was that it would be quick. A moment passed and then another, I keep my eyes closed but I notice the quiet. I hear nothing, I smell nothing, by now I would have expected to have heard some more screaming maybe the destruction of more desks and computers, I defiantly should be smelling the vomit on the floor by now.


         Slowly I open my eyes, and to my surprise I not in the office anymore. I seem to be in a gigantic room made of polished white stone. I seem to have shown up beside the only door which seems to be ornately decorated and made of iron. The room is a circle hundreds of meters in diameter, the ceiling far above me has what looks like the night sky painted onto it. Along the walls are suits of armour made of rough stone.


         Turning around I put my hand on the handle for the door behind me. It seems to be in the shape of an eastern dragon. Pulling the door open I find it surprisingly light. Beyond the door, I see the office I was in just a moment before. The same dog-like creature made of shadows was still there but something was wrong. Nothing is moving.


         The world seems to be from the perspective of where I had fallen over. I can see my coworkers frozen in place, looks of panic and horror painted on their faces. The office is a mess, I could now take in details that I didn’t have the time to before. I could see limbs disconnected from their sockets thrown all over, it was clear that more than one person had died already. I couldn’t seem to figure out who without a face but I didn’t think I wanted to know.


         This was all too much I slam the door shut and collapse against it. Tears start falling down my face, memories of my coworkers keep popping up only for me to shove them down. I didn’t have the best relationship with them but it wasn’t all bad none of them deserved to die and a few of them I actually liked. I kept crying for long enough for me to lose track of time. After what must have been hours crying lead into sleep and I was taken into dreamless darkness.


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