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Heading back home with a sweating plastic bag full of cold energy drinks, Jasper kept his head up, gazing at a passing airplane. His cheap little apartment was just nearby enough to the airfield that the massive, low-bellied passenger planes drifted by, making the air shake and rumble; they passed between the canyons of the high-rise apartment towers, their reflections mirrored across the endless windows and the darkened apartments beneath.

He bumped against someone. They cursed, and before he could even look down, a hand shoved into his chest.

“Watch it greaseball.” The attacker mumbled, already pushing past.

Jasper bristled.

No sense of style.

“France must have sucked.” He called out to the man’s back.

The man half-turned, looking at him, deeply confused.

“I mean, it really must have been such a disappointment. Flying all that way to France, going to the biggest clown college in the world, only for them to open the door and go HONK HONK MON-SEWER, no, we have nothing left to teach you.

For a moment, a mix of confusion and anger lurched across the man’s face. He seemed more surprised than really insulted; it was taking a second to sink through his meaty head.

Jasper could see the precise moment the joke registered. The mental lightbulb flicking on.

And then Jasper got punched.

 

 

Jasper rolled an ice-cold can of cheap, toxic caffeine against his bruised face. He’d deserved that punch, honestly. He’d worked hard for it.

He could say the same for most of the punches he’d taken.

He didn’t mind that most people in this world didn’t particularly like him, or even went out of their way to be hostile. What he minded was the lack of style. Frankly, most people were bad at insults, they were bad at being angry, they probably even used Discord in light mode. Amateurs.

His apartment was dark, and creatures of the night crawled through discarded cans and buzzed around an overfull trash container. Jasper nursed his bruises as he sank into a luxuriously padded chair and began to drift through the Internet– not really focusing on anything, not experiencing anything, just wallowing in a haze of content that was the sole bright light in the darkened cell of his apartment.

And as he drifted, things got darker.

Without Jasper noticing, the dim creep of midday light through the closed shades of his window went away, as if a shadow had moved in front. The dim cuticle of warm, golden light from underneath the door out into the hallway flickered and was gone.

Total darkness except for the glow of his screen.

And with a sudden jolt, that was gone too.

“Oh, goddamnit…” Pulling his headphones off, Jasper turned. The total quiet of the room settled over him; he couldn’t even see the familiar shapes of put-off laundry and trash-stacked furniture. It was as if he’d been plunged into the abyssal dark at the bottom of the sea.

He stepped out of his chair and reached for the light.

He’d taken twelve too many steps by the time he started to wonder what was going on. He should’ve reached the wall twelve steps ago.

The floor didn’t feel right underfoot. It was smooth, almost glass-like…

Everything was the same tone of utter dark, except for a distant shape, something huge like a hill.

One by one, tiny stars bloomed around him. They came on like electric lights, but each of them had a hazy, diffuse air, like a streetlamp in the rain churning its dim glow through misty vapor. Some of them were miles away. One of them was so close he could reach out and touch it– and without thinking, Jasper did.

The fiery star danced in the palm of his hand.

“This can’t be real…”

IT CAN AND IS.

An eye opened in the dark. The shadow ahead of him was a face. As it moved, he saw fires burst from behind its teeth and massive tongue. The inside of its mouth was gold; its eyes were blue as the morning sky with no pupils or iris, only a single blank color.

“Oh.” He felt the sheer scale of impossible things kick him right in the gut, and he just fell backwards, stunned.

I AM THE GOD OF FOOLS. It said. Its voice was like the ringing of a bronze bell, all dark, metallic undertone vibrating through the air. It reminded Jasper of a plane, actually.

“Well, thanks for my life, I guess?” Jasper said, in a weak voice. “Actually, I might have preferred if you didn’t.”

YOU ARE MY PERFECT CREATION.

“Oh, uh, wow–”

A WASTE OF ALL THINGS GIVEN TO YOU; BLESSED WITH EVERY GIFT YOU COULD NEED AND UNABLE TO DO THE LEAST THING TO BETTER YOUR LIFE. ANGRY AT THE VERY SUGGESTION YOU SHOULD. SELF-CONSTRUCTING A DOME OF TOTAL MISERY.

“Starting to feel less like a compliment. Actually, am I allowed to just call you an asshole?” It felt a little like blasphemy.

IT AMUSES ME GREATLY.

“Well then, from the bottom of my heart, you are an asshole, and if you really are god, that explains a lot.”

MMYES IT DOES. NOW, AS TO YOUR FATE.

“Fuck. Am I dead?”

BETTER TO SAY YOU NEVER LIVED.

“Fuck you, again. Just hurry up with the hell already, I earned it.” False bravado. His heart was beating awfully hard in his chest for a dead man, and all of hell’s flames couldn’t have made Jasper sweat any harder.

YOU ARE NOT DEAD; I AM MERELY CHANGING YOUR LIFE. I HAVE DECIDED THAT WATCHING YOU WASTE YOUR POTENTIAL IS NOT AS FUNNY AS WATCHING YOU TRY.

“I-” It hit him with an unpleasant certainty. A kind of sinking feeling…

“This is an isekai.” Jasper said numbly. “You’re trucking me off.”

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THAT MEANS.

“Oh no you fucking don’t! I’m staying here! I like it here! Fuck you, shut up about wasting my life, I’m enjoying myself!”

IRRELEVANT. I WIN THE ARGUMENT, BECAUSE I AM GOD, AND YOU LOSE, BECAUSE– WELL– I SUPPOSE AT THIS POINT IT’S A HABIT.

And the darkness broke open. It fractured like a mirror breaking, splitting into shards of night that tumbled through an open, clear-blue sky. They dissolved, smoking away at their edges till nothing remained but streams of smoke.

Whatever strange and liminal space he’d been dragged into to meet his maker, it was gone–

And Jasper was plummeting rapidly through the air.

The wind roared and pushed the scream back down his throat. He saw beneath him an impossible world; a definitely-not-earth world. Pyramids rose from endless green waves of jungle; the forests crawled up the sides of mountains so massive they could’ve been continents. A river cut the earth apart like a scar of mirror-cool blue…

It was breathtaking.

And Jasper just kept screaming.



Integrating…

Mana Nodes corrupted…

Soul fragmented…

Divine Origin unknown…

… How are you still alive?

 

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NoDragons

Bio: Author bios are for the mangy dogs who think they write literature. I write trash, and I am the king of the trash.

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