When Basil Bohen woke up, the world had gone mad.

The day had started like any other: with Plato waking him up at eleven o’clock by howling like a condemned man on a pyre. The black Bombay cat never made a sound unless he was hungry; in which case, he became even louder than a dog.

“Enough, you’ll get your breakfast.” Basil grumbled, his Nintendo Switch occupying the cushion right next to his face. He always kept the device within arm’s reach, to play as soon as he woke up. “Two minutes.”

Since he had never learned to count, Plato hopped on the blanket and kneaded his owner’s back to make him prepare the breakfast faster.

“I should have gotten a ferret,” Basil complained as he rose from his bed, his pet immediately following after him. “I’m starting to understand why some people eat cats.”

There wouldn’t be much to eat with Plato though. Basil still didn’t understand how his pet managed to remain slim while spending eighteen hours sleeping and the rest eating.

Ugh, I got something in my eye, Basil realized as he noticed a red crux-shaped form at the very edge of his vision. Did he have dust in his eyes? He rubbed them to no avail and eventually gave up. I’ll go to the doc if it doesn’t pass.

After leaving his master bedroom behind, Basil moved to his well-stocked modern kitchen. His window gave him an impeccable view of the stream bordering his house and the marshes beyond. Basil found it relaxing to cook behind the counter while watching nature outside, although the morning mist obscured the skies today.

“There, Plato, I’m buying your silence.” Basil gave his cat a bowl of food and filled up a coffee cup for himself.

“Thanks, Basil,” his cat answered before ravenously burying himself in his breakfast.

“You’re welcome,” Basil replied absentmindedly before freezing in place. He looked down at Plato, his coffee cup steaming on the kitchen counter.

His cat sensed something was wrong and looked up at his owner with his big yellow eyes. “What?” Plato asked with an all-too-human voice. “What is it?”

Am I hallucinating? Basil wondered. “Since when can you talk?”

“Uh, since I was born?”

Basil realized that he had asked the wrong question. “Since when can you speak my language?”

His cat squinted at him. “Wait, you didn’t understand my meowing before?”

Basil frowned and grabbed Plato by the back of the neck. He didn’t like that at all. “Assassin!” The cat shrieked as his owner checked him up. “Assassin!”

“I don’t see any microphone,” Basil muttered with incomprehension as he released his pet. “It doesn’t look like a hidden camera prank.”

“Of course not!” Plato growled. “Does it matter if you can understand me? I say it was about time you learned a sophisticated language!”

“And now that’s just condescending.” Basil pinched his own arm to wake himself up, but only hurt himself for his trouble. It doesn’t look like I’m dreaming, he thought. Maybe he had finally gone mad from the isolation? Basil hadn’t seen a fellow human for weeks. “Weird.”

Plato wagged his tail. “Will you rub my belly at least?”

Basil settled on scratching his cat behind the ears, which he liked very much.

I’ll go to the doc sometime soon, Basil decided as he put on some clothes and enjoyed a slow breakfast on his living room’s sofa. The stuffed heads of boars, deers, and pikes decorated the wall above his chimney right next to an overpriced plasma screen and a picture of Vasil Levski. Most of the animal trophies belonged to the house’s previous occupant, Old Man René, though the fish and the Levski picture were Basil’s additions. They reminded him of his native Bulgaria, which he had left almost five years ago for France in search of better economic opportunities.

Which he didn’t find.

Two fully stocked shelves faced each other near the entrance door, each holding a different library: one of books and the other of video games. An unused wood table stood between them like an inviolable frontier; the house had originally been built for a large family, but since Basil lived alone, he rarely made use of all the available amenities.

So good not to share with anyone, he thought. His previous lodging experience had involved sharing a flat with three students, each of them poorer than the last. Basil still kept a sour memory of working his ass off late into the night to escape the rat race while his neighbors partied until morning. His hard work had paid off in the end, but he had sworn never to live through those times again.

Basil switched through the TV channels and grumbled when all of them turned out blue. Even Netflix didn’t work. It didn’t surprise Basil considering the area’s poor internet coverage, but it still annoyed him. At least he had his Playstation 5 to fall back on.

Now if only that strange crux symbol in his eye didn’t obscure his vision… Basil focused on it, trying to get whatever caused this mess out of his eye.

And then the crux expanded into a translucent screen covering his field of vision.

Whoever will reach level 100 first shall become Earth’s new Overgod.

What the—

Basil raised a hand to touch the message, only for his fingers to go through it. Was it a hologram? Another hallucination?

Warning: The Dungeons appeared 6 hours and 57 minutes ago. Please select a starting Class as soon as possible.

“If this is some kind of brain ransomware, fuck you I’m not paying anything,” Basil complained. No one answered and the screen didn’t vanish. “Okay, what’s happening? Can anybody answer?”

Classes are jobs where you can assign levels. They will grant you extraordinary powers.
Based on your past history, stats, and elemental affinities, you can access the following classes, divided between the five families:
Fighter Classes: [Berserker], [Brawler].
Spellcaster Classes: [Runesmith].
Rogue Classes: [Ranger], [Poisoner], [Gambler].
Crafter Classes: [Alchemist], [Trapmaker], [Merchant], [Chef].
Monster Classes: [Tamer], [Fisherman], [Gardener].

His past history? Basil knew he had a… short fuse… but [Berserker] struck him as exaggerated.

The screen looked like some kind of role-playing game menu. Basil had played many of them but he had never expected one to pop up inside his own eyes. Nor did he recognize the game this selection menu came from. Why were [Fisherman] and [Gardener] considered monsters of all things?

This was definitely a lucid hallucination of some kind. As if a talking cat hadn’t been bad enough. Or had he been hooked to some kind of virtual reality in his sleep, Matrix-style? “Is this real? What must I do?”

Please select a starting Class as soon as possible.

Of course. Goddamn unremovable pop-ups, if only his mind had an adblocker…

“Which Class is best?” Basil asked without receiving an answer. He was about to pick an option at random and be done with it when Plato joined him on the sofa. The cat had finished his meal and swiftly took over a cushion.

Inspired by the sight, Basil chose the [Tamer] option. “I pick Tamer.”

You selected [Tamer], a Class focused on taming and recruiting monsters. Growths: Strength (B); Agility (B); Vitality (C); Skill (D); Magic (B); Intelligence (C); Charisma (A); Luck (C).
Level 1 Stat Gains: + 1 AGI, +1 VIT, +1 SKI, +1 INT, +1 CHA, +1 LCK. Your Health Points were raised by 30 and Special Points by 15.
New Perk: Monster Charmer I (Passive): You can recruit monsters into your [Party]. The monster’s level must be equal or below yours to join, and they cannot outlevel you afterward. Monsters in your party gain a 20% boost to stat growth on level-up, but will also die if your HP hits 0. Recruited monsters cannot leave your party unless you allow them to. You automatically form a party with an original partner selected by the Trimurti System.

Basil shivered as a pleasurable jolt went down his spine. The sensation reminded him of the first time he kissed a girl, though it didn’t feel quite as strong.

Selected monster partner: Plato the Housecat.
Dismaker Labs wishes you a happy apocalypse! Good luck on your journey to Overgod!

Dismaker Labs? The name sounded vaguely familiar, though Basil couldn’t put a reason on why. He promised himself to investigate the lead and find out the responsible party as soon as the internet worked again.

The screen shrunk back into a crux-shaped icon at the edge of Basil’s vision, though it didn’t fully disappear as he had hoped.

“Hey, look,” said Plato. “There’s a weird blue screen all over my face. It says I joined your ‘party,’ whatever that means.”

To each their own. Since Basil didn’t see Plato’s screen, he assumed it only existed inside his cat’s head. “Did other weird stuff happen lately? Like, say, seven hours ago?”

The screen said ‘dungeons’ had appeared at that time, whatever that meant.

“Oh yes, I forgot to tell you.” Plato rubbed his belly. “The ground shook and I saw little green men in the woods.”

“The reptilians?”

“No, no, I mean little green people the size of human children. First time I saw anything like that. I tried to warn you but I would have had better luck waking up a stone.”

“Says the cat who spends eighteen hours of his time napping on my sofa.”

Plato gave his owner a dark look.

“I’m not a cat,” he said, weakly. “I’m a dwarf panther.”

Basil raised an eyebrow with a chuckle. Though he found it amusing, nothing so far explained why he could even understand his cat at all. To his surprise, the screen reappeared again to provide an answer.

To improve cooperation and coordination, the Trimurti System automatically translates the language of monsters and fellow players. You can disable this option in [Settings] if you wish.

“What’s a Trimurti System?” Basil addressed the elephant in the room.

The screen changed form again.









None of this answered his question. Didn’t this weird game have a tutorial of some kind? Did it even matter? Basil would either wake up from this weird hallucination soon or a trip to the hospital would give him a medical solution.

After some trying, Basil returned the screen back to its icon status with a thought. This strange virtual reality interface appeared to somehow answer his thoughts.

“Plato, prepare yourself,” Basil said as he set his empty coffee cup aside and moved to his home’s door. “We’ll go to the city after I feed the chicken and the rabbits. I need to meet a doctor soon.”

“Can you buy fish while you’re at it?” His cat asked as he hopped from the sofa to follow him. “I would like some tuna.”

“We’ve got enough canned fish, what more do you—”

Basil stopped in the middle of his sentence. He had opened the door to his garden and taken a look as the morning mist cleared up.

At the age of twenty-five, Basil lived alone in the house of his dreams in the French countryside since Old Man René bequeathed it to him. The two-story building was located in the middle of a pine forest close to the Barthes swamps in the Landes, half an hour’s ride away from the closest settlement. Basil had never liked noisy cities and preferred a quiet life of comfort away from civilization.

Still, his home was located in France rather than Finland or Siberia.

So why was there a goddamn aurora borealis in the skies?

In the middle of the day!

Basil knew global warming caused some strange weather phenomenon, but still!

“Oh right, I completely forgot about the lights.” Compared to his confused owner, Plato sounded quite unfazed by the sight. “They’ve been up there since last night.”

Basil walked into his grass garden to take a better look. The green northern lights formed a circle in the heavens above, centered around the swamps behind his house. Maybe it was some kind of electromagnetic anomaly? It would explain his hallucinations if it scrambled his brain.

Basil decided to investigate after checking on his animals. His property covered a vast area bordered by a wooden fence and provided him with enough space to set up a greenhouse, a chicken coop, and a rabbit hutch. He usually fed them in the morning and let them walk around in the afternoon.

Basil’s rabbits and chicken both looked at him from behind iron grids, all of them hungry for food. “I suppose you don’t know what’s up with the skies?” he asked them.

His animals didn’t answer. Nor did they seem to understand.

Basil glanced at Plato, to his cat’s confusion. “What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I can only understand monsters,” Basil replied, putting some emphasis on the last part.

“Hey, what does that mean? Come on, you cat racist, tell me what’s on your mind!”

Basil paid his angry cat no mind as his eyes wandered to the wooden fence.

Something had made a large hole in it, close to the greenhouse.

Basil was half used to boars and the occasional deer chipping away at his fence, but considering all the strange happenings since he had woken up he assumed the worst. He slowly approached the hole and examined it.

Whatever had gone through was big and left traces. Basil’s gaze followed them first to the Platanus tree right next to his greenhouse. He had left an axe against the trunk to chip wood for the chimney yesterday, and to his relief, the weapon was still there.

However, the intruder had broken into the greenhouse by shattering one of the glass panels.

Basil’s fear instantly turned to rage at the sight.

“Uh, what is this?” Plato sniffed the air. “It smells like bugs!”

The cat froze as noise came out of the greenhouse. Basil grabbed the axe. Another screen message appeared the moment he touched the weapon.

Old Iron Axe
Family: Weapon (Axes)
Quality: D
Power: + 8 STR
Crit: + 5 %
Accuracy: 50 %
Effect: [Plantslayer]: supereffective damage against [Plants] (x3 damage).
This rusty veteran of a hundred garden battles has over twenty confirmed tree kills.

Basil didn’t understand half of what he saw, and didn’t have the time to ask questions.

A monster crawled out of the greenhouse through the opening, fearsome and terrible.

The creature resembled a centipede over two meters in length. Red, chitinous exoskeleton plates protected its back while its underbelly was a soft yellow. Purple saliva dropped from its blade-sharp mandibles.

Red Centipede
Level 1 [Bug]

“What is that?” Plato hissed threateningly, ready to leap at the intruder on a moment’s warning.

“Finally, a human.” The centipede spoke with a deep, guttural male voice. Its green eyes glared at Basil with keen intelligence… but not to realize he had picked a fight with the wrong man. “Your death will be my ascension to level 2.”

“You broke my greenhouse.” The fact he was facing the biggest bug in the world and that it could talk back didn’t even register within Basil’s mind. His blood boiled in his veins, his hand’s grip tightening on his ax. “And my fence.”

“Yes, I have.” The centipede snapped his mandibles and raised his antennae, trying to appear tough and threatening. “And once I have murdered you and devoured you feet-first, I will make this place my nest—”

Basil struck the bug before he could finish his sentence. A message flashed above the creature.

Critical hit!

The centipede was taken aback by the sudden display of violence, and Basil’s axe hit his face with enough strength to send his head hitting the dirt. The human’s jaw clenched in rage as he raised his weapon again, blinded by fury.

“This greenhouse cost us two-thousand euros! Two thousand!” Basil struck again. His axe’s blade found its way into the centipede’s back this time, splitting his red carapace in half at the impact point. “You think money grows on trees?!”

The centipede snapped his mandible and hissed as he tried to raise his head to strike. Basil stomped the bug’s face with his shoe before he could retaliate and the bug ate dirt.

“You little shit!” Basil said as he kicked the bug in the underbelly multiple times, the monster letting out growls of pain each time he did. “You don’t respect people’s private property, uh?! Uh?!”

“Aim for the eyes, Basil!” Plato encouraged him. “And the belly too!”

The centipede roared in humiliation before spitting venom at his attacker’s chest. Basil was lean as far as men went, but he exercised a lot and was no stranger to street brawls. His sharp reflexes let him dodge the spit by stepping to the side. The centipede’s saliva melted the grass where it landed.

“Die!” The bug lunged to bite Basil with his mandibles, the human narrowly avoiding disembowelment by taking a step back. “You stupid mammal, you dare strike a member of the [Bug] master Type—”

“Dwarf panther to the face!” Plato chose this moment to join the fray, hissing ferociously as he leaped at the centipede. He landed on the creature’s head, clawing and biting and raging. The bug shook like a tree trying to get the smaller animal off his face.

Taking the opportunity, Basil tossed his ax aside and grabbed the centipede’s antennae with both hands. Plato leaped off the bug’s back right as his owner slammed their foe’s head against the Platanus. The tree’s trunk cracked at the impact and leaves fell into the garden;

“Uh…” The centipede struggled to form words, the blow had left him dizzy. “What… what…”

“You tried to harm my cat!” Basil snapped as he punched the bug in the face. He then tossed the centipede onto the grass, sat on him, and pummeled him one punch after another. The monster spat blood. “You think hitting animals smaller than you makes you look tough?!”

“I… I yield!” The centipede wagged his antennae in surrender, his arrogant eyes now full of fearful tears. “I yield!”

Basil kept his fist raised mid-motion, but didn’t finish the bug off. “You threaten me with death after invading my home and now ask for mercy?”

Plato licked his lips. “I say we just slit his throat and eat him for dinner.”

The centipede whined all the louder, his tiny legs wiggling helplessly. “I’m sorry… I didn’t know you were the area’s boss… I thought it would be easy EXP… Please don’t kill me… I just wanted to become an Overgod…”

Basil observed this cowardly wreck of a bug, trying to decide what to make of him. A question had been bugging him for a while. “The fuck’s an Overgod?”

The screen appeared before his eyes once more to offer an explanation.

The Overgod is the supreme administrator of a planet as selected by the Trimurti System. The title will be awarded to the first creature on Earth to reach level 100, whether they are a player or monster.
Experience points are awarded by killing players or monsters, fulfilling hidden achievements, and completing quests. They can then be traded for levels in different classes to grant players extraordinary abilities.

“What constitutes a player?” Basil asked.

Every human on the planet.

And if they could all gain power by killing other people…

Basil suddenly remembered Plato’s words about little green men in the woods and worrying thoughts crossed his mind. “There’s more of you out there?” he asked the centipede. “More monsters wanting to become gods?”

“Countless! Goblins, ogres, bugs… the dungeons gave us life so we could grow strong by eating humans!”

“You’re quite poor at it,” Basil said with heavy sarcasm before pointing a finger at the aurora in the skies. “And why are there northern lights in my country?”

“It’s the local dungeon,” the bug replied fearfully. By now he had realized that Basil would let him live as long as he talked. “It changes the world with magic and summons monsters to fight humans.”

The more Basil heard, the less he liked it.

“So are we killing him or what?” Plato asked as he licked his fur. “It’s cold outside.”

Sometimes, Basil forgot that cats were born mass murderers; as the number of birds and mice Plato had brought home over the years could attest. The centipede shivered in fear, believing his last hour had come.

“Well, Plato, let me ask you a simple question.” Basil rose up and stepped away from the centipede. “Do you think he’s a threat to us?”

“No,” Plato replied flatly.

The centipede cried, his tears running down on the grass. “I’m sorry…”

“Start by repairing my fence and my greenhouse if you want to apologize,” Basil replied. “I’ll spare you this time.”

It took the centipede a full minute to process Basil’s words and answer them. “Y-You’re letting me live?”

“For now. I only understand half of what you say and I’ll let you live until I get the full picture.” Basil grabbed his ax, the edge as sharp as ever. “But if you try to pull a fast one, I’ll hang your head above my chimney with the deer and the boars.”

“Y-yes master.” The centipede bowed so low in submission that he turned almost flat. “I am but a child before your awesome might, Mr. Boss…”

“Quit the servility. You’re a centipede, not a cockroach. And I’m not a ‘Boss.” Basil smiled smugly. “But I’ll gladly be your boss.”

The screen appeared again.

You have domesticated: Red Centipede! Red Centipede joined your party!


“So what’s up, dog?” Plato stretched on, ready for adventure. “We go to the city to buy fish, slice some throats, and become gods?”

Basil watched the centipede move to repair the hole in the fence by putting pieces together. “Personally I think I’m in a delusional coma of some kind… but whether this is real or not, we’re just going to stay home.”

“Stay home?” Plato’s enthusiasm instantly deflated. “Why?”

“Haven’t you heard? This is exactly what Thomas Hobbes warned us about in Leviathan: the war of all against all.” Basil shrugged. “If everyone can grow strong by killing people and monsters run rampant, it’s going to be dog eat dog out there. So we’re going to stay at home and bunker up until the army reestablishes order.”

Plato blinked repeatedly. “What army?”

“The French Army.” Basil decided to explain to his cat how adult life worked. “Plato, when I earn one-hundred euros, barely half of them make it to my bank account. The local government takes everything else. I didn’t help fund armed forces so they could watch me do all the work and stamp paperwork. They’ve got to earn their keep.”

Despite its poor reputation abroad, France had the seventh-largest army in the world. If Basil could beat a monster into submission with an axe and his fists, how hard could it be for soldiers with tanks to prevail?

“Soldiers will clean the countryside of invaders like Joan of Arc kicked the British out of France, or like when the great Bulgarian people shrugged off the Ottomans' yoke,” Basil said with optimism. He conveniently forgot the help Russians provided in his country's independence, as it would complicate the heroic narrative. “Until then, we’ve got enough fuel and food to last months.”

He was already living like a hermit, the apocalypse wouldn’t change much for them. His house was equipped with solar panels and the basement with an electrical generator. Basil had stockpiled gas and oil to fuel it for months specifically due to the home’s remote location. He had a garden, plenty of hunting game in the woods, and could always gather freshwater from the nearby stream.

Besides, Basil couldn’t abandon the house. The old man had entrusted it to him before passing on. He wouldn’t let some bug have it.

Plato didn’t look convinced. “Joan of Arc… wasn’t it the Hundred-Years War?”

“Yeah.” Basil frowned. “How do you know that?”

“I’ve lived with René for years, I know all his rants by heart.” Plato sat in front of his owner. “It took the French a hundred years to kick the British out, right? It’s in the name.”

Basil didn’t say a word.

“Do we have enough food and water to last that long?” Plato asked innocently.

Basil looked at his greenhouse and then back at his cat. “Smartass.”

“You’re welcome, Basil.”

A note from Maxime J. Durand (Void Herald)

The story was made possible by my patrons on Patreon!

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About the author

Maxime J. Durand (Void Herald)

Bio: I'm Maxime Julien Durand ([email protected]), a European warlock living in the distant realm known as France, spending all his time writing tales and forbidden scrolls.

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