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Foreword by the Main Character Mr. Apple Core ™.


I hope you read the synopsis on the back cover of this book, dear reader. If you didn't, that's on you. No, seriously. I don't know what to say. Are you the kind of person who just opens up some random book about literal garbage and starts reading out of nowhere? Or do you click on the first chapter of a web novel just to unlock the ratings and nuke it? I don't blame you if either is correct.

Seeing that you have already reached the second paragraph with no indication of leaving, I won't say "I told you so." Buckle up, because it's going to be a wild ride.

Where do I begin? Do you know how hard it is to write a book without hands? Using only one's mind. Well, I guess I don't have to use a keyboard so there's that... I digress. I'll start from the day I died. The day of the Apocalypse.

 

*


*

 

I was minding my business, some sports channel on the TV to create background noise, doing stuff on my computer, don't ask what, when the skies were torn asunder. Reality got borked, which is a real verb and not some euphemism for fucked, and what I can only call demons invaded our world. Stuff out of a Korean comic.

Who I was is ridiculously irrelevant. I was random guy #6308 and I have a special prize for you if you know where that number comes from. Leave a comment if you do. I had no special talents and got by in an 8 to 6 job that I thought sucked my soul out until I found what it felt to have the soul sucked out of my body for real. It doesn't compare. Getting blasted by my manager is like a mother's caress compared to getting blasted by a demon.

One moment I was farming this boss monster for drops (I bet you thought I was watching porn), in the next moment this boss monster was farming me for my insides. I even heard boss music but that was from my computer. I started to scream in utter panic, scrambling to get off my gaming chair, only to stub my little toe on the foot of the desk, and fall on my butt. I stared at my doom without blinking.

Damn demon broke straight through a concrete wall and shot its barbed tongue straight at my mid-section. No greetings, no scary screech, roll for initiative, no. It went straight to business. One slurp later, and bam! Most painful death ever. You only die once, or so I thought.

I remained eerily conscious as my disembodied soul was dragged out of my disemboweled body, stuck to the demon's tongue, and dragged into a metaphysical maw that could only have come out of a Necariin novel. That would be the end of me if some flaming sword hadn't sliced the demon's head out of its body and shut the magical soul-eating maw for good. Where did that flaming sword come from? I don't know.

Next thing I was in this maelstrom of souls, and hey is that Mr. Montgomery from the greengrocer next block? The soul-nado was huge and I guess everyone who had died and was spared the gullet of some random demon was in it. Without a way to compare, I had no idea which was the worst fate.

You would think I was too calm for someone who'd just died but those emotions such as fear, abject horror, soiling one's pants, and existential dread, require a meat body with brain chemicals to happen. Once dead, all those emotions became muted. No wonder those out-of-body testimonials are so odd. I tried to see outside the soul-nado and drifted too close to the edge. One stray ephemeral wind and I was flung out of it. I pinwheeled my arms and legs to no avail and was flung into someone's kitchen, which was still intact because it was on the twentieth floor of some high-rise apartment building.

Crossing the window at the speed of thought, I saw this fruit basket sitting under an accent light in a magazine-perfect kitchen, the one you could use to shoot any kind of food ad. The basket grew larger and larger until I crashed into it. My soul was sucked into one of the fruits in the basket. It wobbled, and then stopped as if it was a Pokéball that caught something.

Stupidest reincarnation ever.

My thoughts became sluggish. Having a physical body again, I guess I needed a brain to think and apples notoriously lacked such highly evolved organs. I could hear through my skin which led some credence to people who sang to plants.

I heard people.

"Jennifer, we need to go!" A man's voice clamored. "The demons will come this way anytime soon!"

"I still hadn't picked my Class!" A woman's voice bemoaned. "Can't we fight them here?"

Wait, what? Class? Why was she worried about her college schedule...

"We need to go to the shelter! You heard the broadcast! You can pick a Class later. Just grab what you can and remember to get some food!" The man urged.

The woman begrudgingly grunted some acquiescence. My basket was lifted and dumped into a grocery bag. Then they ran down the stairs, twenty stories down. Take that, rich people! The couple was out of breath when they reached ground level.

"Drink some water, let's rest for five minutes. I don't see any demons outside but we need to run across some streets to the shelter. The less we remain out in the open, the least exposed we'll be."

"Oh, Mark, why is it happening to us?" The woman cried.

Lady, I don't want to pop your self-centered bubble, but it is happening to everyone. Let me tell... know what? I'll just sit here in your canvas bag.

I heard some water sloshing and felt an ache in my seeds. Having water would be so nice! They drank water from some lobby water cooler or faucet, I guess, and then got to move after they were rested. I heard monster screams, people screams, gunfire, and the couple's mad dash toward this shelter. I bounced as they climbed down some stairs, and the noises from the surface diminished. Instead, I heard a lot of people sobbing, whimpering, and speaking to one another in hushed voices.

The couple remained in the shelter for a few days, but then Jennifer decided she should eat her fruit before it went bad. She should eat me before I went bad. Look, I don't blame her. Survival of the fittest and food chain, I wouldn't even call her a cannibal because I was no longer human.

Getting eaten as an apple was... odd. I could feel the teeth sinking into my flesh but it wasn't painful. Apples were meant to be eaten. The starchy flesh was an offering to the animal who would disperse my seeds... I wasn't looking forward to being in Jennifer's... bowels... eww.

"This apple has gone bad. It tastes weird!" Jennifer exclaimed, then sputtered and spat the bits of my flesh out...

Hey, watch it, lady! That's what you get for eating... apple-people!

"You waited for too long. Here, toss it in this bag." Mark offered.

I heard plastic ruffling. Then darkness. I was treated like garbage yet another time.

Time passed.

Trash got collected. Churned. Shipped. Discarded.

I sat and rot in what I could only think of as a landfill for a long time. Shriveled. I clung to the silver lining that humanity lived and thrived enough to care about waste disposal. Did civilization survive? I had no idea.

Time passed. I should've probably rotted away and dissolved, nothing was more biodegradable than a half-eaten apple core, right? But no. Perhaps because I had a human soul, my apple core endured. I spent the time thinking. Musing. Forgetting. Thinking again, remembering, and then repeating the cycle all over again. I had some moisture from the garbage in the plastic bag but my seeds refused to germinate. Even some heat from the composting pile.

Oh, I was probably a sterile GMO hybridized apple, right? Genetically engineered to not germinate so the farmers would keep buying seeds, right? That's speculation on my part but a plausible explanation.

I meditated on the DAO of being an apple core. I was one with the appleness. With the coreness. I was an apple core. And life in the landfill wasn't so bad. I had no wants except the imperative to germinate. Grow. That unfulfilled desire filled me. Bound me to reality.

Then an earthquake struck. The earth rumbled, the ground shook and split open. The landfill was sucked into a crevice a mile underneath the earth.

 

*


*

 

I didn't care much whether I was in a landfill or a mile under the surface. The only difference was that I knew I was too far away from the sunlight. Time lost its meaning. I was an apple core, waiting to germinate and become a sapling. I was shriveled but not rotten. In my meditation sessions, I started feeling some weird energy. I found I could move it around. Doing that was a mistake. It drew the attention of something.

 

** DING **

 

SYSTEM INITIATION!

 

What the hell?

 

WELCOME TO THE SYSTEM.

You have been chosen to fight against the Infernali. For the sake of your world, we hope you succeed.

ERROR. Species not cataloged in the database.

We ask what are you?

 

I felt the words in my mind, so I replied in kind.

"I'm an apple core!" I shouted with my mind.

 

Accessing Earth knowledge database. "Apple."

1. A usually round, red or yellow, edible fruit of a small tree, Malus sylvestris, of the rose family.

DISCARDED. Fruits aren't sentient. The subject isn't round. The subject doesn't have firm, white flesh. The subject's skin is brown.

 

Well, fuck you too. Let's see what color your skin would be after staying in the landfill for this long. Also, that was mildly racist.

 

2. The tree, cultivated in most temperate regions.

DISCARDED. While the subject is composed of vegetable cells, it is not a tree.

3. Any of the fruits or trees of the same genus.

DISCARDED. For the same reasons above.

4. Informal. anything resembling an apple in size and shape, as a ball, especially a baseball.

DISCARDED. The subject is not round. Informal definitions are the least reliable.

5. An American computer and consumer electronics company.

POTENTIAL MATCH. Use apple (5) as a classifier.

 

... Make your damn mind.

 

Accessing Earth knowledge database. "Core."

1. The central part of a fleshy fruit, containing the seeds.

POTENTIAL MATCH. The subject contains seeds.

USING "Apple (5)" as a classifier. The subject is not an electronic entity.

REVIEWING PREVIOUS CLASSIFICATION REJECTIONS. UNDEFINED.

2. The central, innermost, or most essential part of anything.

POTENTIAL MATCH. The subject has a strong sense of identity. What is it a part of?

USING "Apple (5)" as a classifier. The company logo is a half-eaten fruit.

POTENTIAL MATCH. Subject's shape resembles a half-eaten fruit. Apple company no longer exists. The subject might be the "core" of the "Apple" company.

MORE DETAILS ARE NEEDED. The concept of "core" is too loose.

CONTINUING SEARCH.

3. (Dungeon) Core. A physical vessel where a mind and/or soul resides. The main control unit of a Dungeon.

POTENTIAL MATCH. The user is a physical vessel. The user has a mind and a soul. Possible initiator for Class.

MORE DETAILS ARE NEEDED.

 

Can you make up your damn mind?

 

Accessing Earth knowledge database. "Dungeon."

1. A strong, dark prison or cell, usually underground, as in a medieval castle.

POTENTIAL MATCH. The subject is deep underground.

2. The keep or stronghold of a castle; donjon.

DISCARDED. The subject is not in a castle.

3. Any labyrinthine complex, usually filled with monsters and treasure, open to exploration.

POTENTIAL MATCH. The subject's location contains several valuables and creatures.

PROCESSING RESULTS...

 

The voice then went silent for a long while.

 

USING "Apple (5)" as a classifier.

USING "Core (2)" as a classifier.

USING "Core (3)" as a definer.

USING "Dungeon (3)" as a definer.

CONGRATULATIONS.

You are a Dungeon Core (Apple electronics)

As Dungeon Cores are sessile entities, you have no Strength, Dexterity, Agility, or Endurance Attributes. Proper compensation will be granted.

You are not a social creature. You have no Charisma Attribute. Proper compensation will be granted.

Constitution has been renamed Hardness.

You have the Intelligence, Will, Wisdom, and Clarity Attributes.

As compensation for not having half the usual Attributes, the effectiveness of all remaining ones is doubled.

 

Power infused me. My new (third?) life had just started.

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A note from MDW

If you click the blue button below, you will find the glossary, which may contain spoilers.

CLICK THIS LINK FOR THE REAL NEXT CHAPTER.


Fiction
Index
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Chapter
About the author

MDW

Bio: The author would like to reinforce for the umpteenth time that the characters' opinions are their own, may be intentionally wrong, do not reflect my (MDW's) personal viewpoints neither are included in this work to further any political agenda (I don't even live in the same hemisphere or country as you, whichever those are. I'm writing from the Earth-Sun L3 point for all I care). My works serve no purpose other than to tell stories with conflicting viewpoints. Use of the reader's critical sense is highly advised.

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