Author's Note: Hi everyone. Writing is a hobby of mine, and HFY has allowed me to innocently enjoy it for the last couple of years. But, I never really had time to do it right (not to mention the general lack of skill I possess). And even more so, I always felt that the stories I previously wrote were not the kind I wished to tell. Not that they were bad, many of you seemed to like them; for some reason. However, this here is a different type of beast. Unlike my prior works, it is all but a short story. And instead of being Sci-Fi, it is a full-blown Epic Dark Fantasy Isekai with LightRPG elements Furthermore, the pacing of the plot is slow at times and littered with many seemingly unimportant details that end up with a neck-breaking plot twist (the infuriating kind). And there is a changing POV throughout the chapters. Judging by the feedback I got from the beta readers, you will either love it or hate it. There is no in-between. But what matters most to me is that I enjoyed writing it, and even more so reading it. And I know there are people who love this kind of stuff too. So here you go my weirdo friends, enjoy
(Chapter 1) The End of Me - part1
I died on a Friday.
Even though death always seemed to me like the sort of crap Monday would pull off -or maybe Thursday- you can never trust a Thursday.
Yeah… not much more I would say about that. But what came after… well, not every day you see an afterlife.
There was no bright light at the end of a tunnel or a voice of a loved one to follow: only dead silence and the inner echo of my reminiscence.
I did not understand it. That spaceless place devoided of color and existence alike. A nostalgic afterthought of my memories shining like a single candle in a universe that knows of no stars.
But then -as instantly as it gets- the reality of the moment shifted as if somebody just flipped a switch of the existence itself.
And I was there... somehow confined in a white room that had no boundaries: everything blank, cloudlike, nothing but the color itself around me, easy to describe.
“You seem to be holding quite well... for a dead man,” -a calm voice spoke to me in a rather friendly tone.
“God…?”- Well, that was my best guess. I was not the most devoted believer before, had my hopes and doubts like everyone else.
But hey, dying does change a man’s perspective.
The voice answered, its tone the same-“You could call me that, in a way.”
“Soo… eh”-I felt slightly nervous now -” What happens next?”
Naturally, I didn’t want to end up in hell or something like that. No soul does, I imagine. But to tell you the truth I was not much worried about it, all things considered.
If I ever lacked faith, it wasn’t about my decisions.
I had a life once, a rather recently in fact! And as those things go, I had done a lot
of good while living it. Working as a programmer in genetic medicine I sure as hell contributed to saving many lives. Helping doctors develop genetic therapies for countless conditions.
Even partaking a bit in the development of the first truly functional anti-malaria vaccine. Not many dead guys can claim something like that. I pondered.
seemed to pause a bit-” I never had a case likes of yours, will have to think this through.”
Now it was my turn to pause.
Never had a case like me?!?
What was he talking about?
“Alright… ?”-my words echoing with confusion-” I’ll wait.”
His reaction seemed ‘out of place' odd and unexpected. It would have nagged me the wrong way any other day of the week too. But I was at peace now. Every conceivable problem somehow very distant. Likely a side effect of the snow-white place I found myself in.
After all, I felt truly ‘relaxed’ here, in a manner so indescribable, yet still so relatable to every of those small perfect moments we had all experienced once or twice. The entirety of my literally life-long worries, now dropped dead from my back. All exams passed, every bill taken care of, my debts to my very existence, now adequately re-payed.
Much better than laying in bed and dying from cancer, I will damn personally testify to that.
“Ehhh...”-the God’s voice echoed from everywhere, still holding that calm sub-tone -” You… your life was not fair, but the afterlife even more so.”
He had a point; I directly contributed to the new medical revolution, only to die like that. The irony being too obvious there.
“I agree...”-my words filled with a strange nostalgia-” never expected it all to end like this.”
The memory almost making me relive all of it, the anger, the desperate effort to find a way to survive. The realization that I would not make it, a stubborn denial. All of it.
“Indeed, but it is your afterlife which worries me here.”-his voice now had just a touch of sadness to it. I looked up, despite the truth that there was really nothing to look at.
“In all the universes I control, never once had a man with such decent intentions ended up accumulating such an evil, such amount of dark karma...”- his lack of further words casting a heavy silence onto me.
I was lost as to what he was talking about. Yet he understood my dilemma without me even voicing it, and answered accordingly.
Well, he was the ‘God’ as far as I knew, so I shouldn’t have been surprised by it.
“Dark karma, its a weight, a burden one’s soul is cursed with due to the life lived.”
“Huh!?” - an evil accumulated? I was never a saint, but what he talked about seemed a bit more problematic than the sex before marriage, if that was even a sin.
“And you have more of it than any human ever had...”- his/its voice trailed off into the silence-” Way more. Your sins are too grave, even for my mercy to lift them.”
It stunned me dead, like a hammer to a forehead.
How by the hell was that even possible? He spoke of me as if I was a mass murderer or something! Give me a break; I had a few fistfights in my time, breaking someone’s nose here and there. And that is the closest thing I came to sending somebody to an early grave.
Now, I did punch out a few teeth from that guy who slapped my younger sister, yet anybody could hardly blame me for it. No?
“You sure you are talking to the right guy? Right?”-I finally asked, an awkward smile all over my face.
“Niilo Novak-” he spoke my name”- a programmer in genetic medicine.”
“Yes...” I answered, realizing that any being likes of him/it was unlikely to make a case of mistaken identity.
The ‘God’ understandably knew I was still confused, so he gave me a short introduction to the sole concept of karma. The measure of right and wrong across and beyond existence. I understood that with no effort.
He judged one’s deeds depending on the circumstances, weighing reasons and hardships alike, comprehending the consequences, understanding as to why the deed was done, and then… he would derive a number.
Just a single number... which he would double-check.
Supposedly, not something the being likes of him often did.
To me, that sounded ridiculous; to affirm one’s entire life, his whole human worth down to a crude mathematical value was an insult to the life lived. Nothing more than arrogantly throwing around an indecipherable figure whose origin no man could hope to replicate.
I was stumped-“How?! One man’s life worth?! You can put a number on that?!”
“Yes… it’s around ten. A good round number actually. Just how you humans like it.”
“Ehh, ten?”- never in my life did any word sounded so empty, so soulless.
But the raw numbers and their explanations, their justifications. They just kept piling up onto my confusion and sense of wrong.
Yet the reality was such.
Wast quantity of morality brought down to a meager figure. An equation that, by his/its words, found me weighed down by my sins.
“But I never killed anyone.”- and was damn sure about it.
If they do not count lab and farm animals...
Uncomfortable idea that the ‘God’ might be a type of vegan-maniac occurred to me.
“I am not talking about animals.”-his answer was to the point.-” Killing sapient beings on the same level as you is the crucial problem here.”
I was damn confused, strangely relaxed but confused none the less.
“Sapient beings?”-I understood the words, but for the love of me could not understand what he/it was talking about.
“I do not see how possibly I could have-” Yet I never finished my thought.
Giant screen erupted in my face out of nowhere—simple white background, words and numbers made of notoriously dark letters striking me to the core.
Name: Niilo Novak
Status: Dead Dark Karma: 13 476 003 501
If I wasn’t dead already, I would have likely suffered a heart attack, panic attack, or a thing like that. And I wasn’t a guy to panic for no reason.
“ You sure understand… ” -the God’s voice echoed- ”that number over thirteen billion presents the problem.”
”Oj Oj! Wait a minute!”- I shouted from the bottom of my soul - “I was a stubborn asshole on countless occasions. And God knows I can hold a grudge like no other man alive… but this is some sinister shit. WAY above my level of screwup!”
“Indeed, these levels of dark karma are highly abnormal.”-he stated bluntly.
Yea, I managed to figure that much, yet how by the fricking hell did I manage to ‘score’ those numbers was…
“By killing a few billion people, that is how.”- his tone of voice as calm as if we talked about air temperature.
I had nothing to say at that very moment, still rushing over my memories. Knowing that what he said could fucking not be true! Killing billions of people tends to be something you fricking remember!
“The last thing you made, that is what killed them.”- his/its voice still holding clarity and sub-tone of understanding.
That same voice then described how a simple software [Genetic Compiler] I wrote in the hope of enabling people to one-day design costume tailored medicine to their individual needs was instead turned into the most devastating weapon humanity ever witnessed. Knowledge is the power, but not everyone wields it in the direction you approve of.
"Oh! Whoa!!!"- I panicked -" Hey, hey! That can't be my fault; I never intended for it to be used in such a way!"
"Hmmm...indeed"- his tone of voice judgmental -" It is fascinating how you humans always judge the others by their actions, but yourself by your intentions."
He/it proceeded to show me all of it. Suffering and destruction on a scale never seen before. Viruses, bacteria, and nanites designed and programmed by a version of my very own software, thrown onto the world. Shortly after my death, shortly after I published my final work. My magnum opus, my monument to humanity, turned into its grave.
"I know your intentions were not malicious. But not all the people think as you do. "- he explained softly, no malice in his voice—only sorrowful understanding.
"Yet you are still blaming me, and not on the monsters who had done those atrocities."- I countered him.
"Oh, trust me"- he paused-" I wasn't so polite towards them."- the ominous aura seeped from his voice for the first time.
God continued- "There was this one abominable individual. He wanted to construct a virus that would disbalance the hormones in kids—desiring to enjoy a world where seven-year-olds would experience sexual stimuli and feel attracted to him, him especially. "
My eyes widened in horror-"No, that is not poss-"
"He succeeded partially..."- my words cut off mercilessly-" Most kids that got infected died; others were impotent for the entirety of their life. The rest, inherited some of his unsavory traits."
Dull, empty, barren feeling crushed something inside me. All self-righteousnesses I had, now evaporating in the face of reality.
In a hospital, upon my death bed, strapped on strong painkillers, I was regretful… as I was dying, cursing myself for I never had a family, never got married, never named my child.
What I had missed in life, I realized far too late.
Like every other fool, I always thought I would have time. It turned out, however, the time didn't have my plans in mind.
And now, in death I came to wittiness that the only thing giving me some comfort while the end was so near. The belief I at least helped the world a little. Turned out to be my worst crime.
A broken heart is something people endure… a fractured soul, not so much.
I tried to say, ask, question. The things spoken about here happened after I died. Others would have one day invent something similar anyhow. Power of technological progress is a fate in its own right. If mankind was destined to turn its intellect on itself I had no control over it.
"Your words are reasonable, to you. Yet the reality doesn't care for what you consider to be sane."
"This can't be..."-I said to myself.
"Do you have an idea on how I double-check
my judgment?"- He asked.
Naturally, I nodded in negative.
It turned out he would do nothing short of humanely simulating the entire world and the parts of existence upon which the life I lived had a palatable influence.
He would literally take a look upon how the world would look if I had never existed in the first place. In the end, comparing the amount of suffering such a world would experience vs the one that had the misfortune to harbor my existence.
The final results were damning.
“Others capable of creating what you did would have patented it first or sold it to some pharmaceutical giant, probably...”-the words seemed to boom from all directions and none-” others wouldn’t immediately publish it online, not all of it anyhow...”-he/it added with a strong voice- “But most of all, others would make sure that private DNA data run through the compiler was encrypted. Not stored to a public library for everyone to download, to abuse as they wish.”
I gasped for the air…
“But the others capable of inventing it weren’t desperate, dying, nor running out of time...”- he/it paused -” sadly for them, you had nothing else left.”
Before I had a chance to answer, a flow of information assaulted my mind, every moral mistake I made in my code suddenly falling to compile.
I never designed the nanites that could stay dormant for months and activate only after infecting most of the population. Never even imagined somebody producing a plague that would destroy the crops of other countries, for the sole purpose of manipulating grain prices on a stock market. And I never tried to construct bacteria whose only purpose was to inflict its victims with a dreadful sensation of being burnt alive. Nor to make it capable of obstructing every painkiller known to men.
Was I that dumb, idiotic in a way that I wasn’t able to see it?
Tears wanted to fall down my cheek, but couldn’t; I don’t know why. Not even when shown my niece which I had never met. Born years after I was dead, named after me, suffer and succumb to one of many untold horrors of my indirect making.
“They did use it to make a medicine; your software served that purpose too-” the God
told me -” Sadly, it was always inevitably easier to destroy than it is to create in your case. Stabbing someone does not take much. Yet, an operation to save the wounded man requires a skillfully trained surgical team. “- he/it explained in the words even a child could comprehend.
The product of my intellect was not perfect; it could not do all the things shown to me. Still, it did not matter; it was a foundation upon which others build their own. Improved directly on my invention, but not on my intentions.
State of my mind and soul inflicted by the truth of what I have done. Intentions are irrelevant; the end result is everything.
Yet the God was willing to explain further.
Other inventions throughout history had also taken a tremendous toll, enabled countless evils. The one who made the first blade partakes in responsibility for all the ones who had been slaughtered. But he is also deserving for every slice of food served, every rope cut from a slave's hand, every medical operation ever performed.
In the end, the benefits of such things most often outweigh the horrors inflicted. But not in my case... after what I have given them, humanity turned towards salvation elsewhere, transcending their frail biological form. Something they would have done anyhow; it was just that now my invention could never atone for all the evil it inflicted, as it was no longer ever needed in such capacity.
“I tried not to judge you hard.”- finally, he concluded-” Never in my eternal existence have I -nor will I- be as merciful as I was to you.”
I knew it was the truth, but the gravity of my actions was too heavy. Even I considered he should throw me into the darkness, yet my fear begged for a different resolution to this horror. To cowardly be spared instead of being cast aside as a monster which I was.
How could I have cursed the world like that?
Few people die only to find out the world would have been immeasurably better if they were never born in the first place.
“I gave EVERY possible leniency to lower your dark karma, but even being as powerful as I could not help you-” His voice heavy with a trace of guilt.
“Even being like you? God unable to contain my sins?”-I asked, partially hoping it would erase me from existence then and there.
“You humans might have ideas about me, but I am not all-capable nor omnipotent. I can’t negate what has been done.”
Time passed, not sure how much.
Nobody spoke a thing.
Time was a different thing here.
Nothing could be done, my intentions were irrelevant. The will of the God-like being coldly inadequate.
Demons of mine, the mere mortal, transcending even the death.
“I decided-” the solemn voice spoke after what seemed both like a moment and eternity.
I did not answer, could not answer.
“Reborn into another universe, far away from my domain you will get to live again. What happens there is completely out of my control. Nothing else I can do.”
I nodded, not because I understood what was to happen; rather I wanted not to trouble him. Somehow I knew this decision would cost him more than I dared to imagine.
“Take good luck Niilo, you will need it.”- were the last words the God ever told me. Few dead guys can say that.
------------------------------------------------------------------------—--------------------------------—-----------------------------------------------------------------------—----------------------------------------------------------- Next Chapter ->