Welcome to Dos 02 – Countdown to Insanity
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Dustin awoke to someone calling his name as he shot up in bed, nearly hitting his head on the top bunk. He felt extremely hot, like he had been in a sweltering heat. But he was only sleeping under a light sheet in a room with air-con.

He pushed the sheet off his body and looked down, noticing a complete absence of sweat. He remembered the vivid dream he had last night, and a woman crying above him.

When he sat up on the edge of the bed, he noticed that there was some moisture, a couple of droplets had collected on his chest. Remembering the crying woman his head begun to hurt, and he dabbed his finger into one of the droplets.

He tasted the droplet and his eyes widened, it was saltier than sweat. A minute of silence passed as Dustin stared at his finger, a flood of memories he never had filling his head.

"Dustin!"

A voice called from downstairs, pulling him out of the frozen state. Looking up at the door to his room, and whispered, "Display," which revealed no screen in front of him.

His memories were growing increasingly painful as his mother called for him again, "You're going to be late!"

He started crying as he remembered his mother, her voice…

Dustin hadn't seen her in years, not since she had died, torn apart by a crazed monst-

He shook his head, surprised at the tears leaking from his eyes. He had seen his mother yesterday, but couldn't stop the flood of emotions. What was wrong with him, thinking such a horrible thing as if she was dead.

After refusing to answer her again she burst through the door, one hand on a flip flop and the other holding a cup of water.

She had meant to splash it on him and slap him awake, but stopped at the door, surprised that he was not only awake, but crying. He looked up at her with a pained expression and couldn't stop himself from running over to hug her, spilling some of the water.

"Is everything ok?" She asked, ignoring the water that had splashed onto her work pants. She dropped the footwear in her other hand on the ground and gently pat Dustin on the back.

He mumbled something about missing her as she calmed him down, waiting until he stopped crying.

"S-sorry. I don't know…"

She sighed and pulled away, looking at his face. He didn't seem injured or anything, but looked pained, like he was being attacked by an indescribable sadness.

"You sure you want to go in today? You can stay home, you haven't missed any classes yet."

Dustin shook his head and wiped the tears from his eyes, trying to reign in the mixed emotions.

"No, it's ok. I'll go in." He said, turning away to find some clothes.

"You sure you're ok? Anything you want to talk about?"

Dustin looked held up his shirts one at a time and tried to identify them, first annoyed that it wasn't working, then weirding himself out by thinking that something was supposed to happen.

He mumbled that he would be OK back to his mother and chose a random shirt, wondering why he was disappointed at the lack of defense it offered.

He tried to convince himself that he was thinking of a game he had played recently, or one that was coming out that he had forgotten about, but couldn't help the emotions that overtook him whenever something else came up.

He had been a top student during university, missing not a single class, and receiving top marks, earning him an expensive scholarship that his mother had been very proud of.

The sounds of a car turning on as he left his room gave him a nostalgic feeling, like he hadn't heard or seen a car in over a decade.

As his mother left for work he peered out the window overlooking the driveway, watching as she pulled away in a little Audi. As well as watching his mother leave, he scanned the surroundings, looking at the street to see if anything was approaching.

His head was filled with the possible locations he could be attacked in, only stressing him out even further.

He forced himself into the bathroom and splashed his face, looking up in the mirror. He felt old, but looked young. One of his hands ran over his clean shaven face, feeling like he was missing a beard.

As a second year university student studying Chemical Engineering, he was only twenty years old, but seen as a genius by his parents, teachers, and friends. He felt regret at having never finished the course…

At never being able to finish the course…

Why wasn't he going to finish the course?

He splashed more water on his face, but couldn't shake the turmoil within his head. Hoping that something to eat would fix the problem he dashed down the stairs and threw together a bowl of cereal, savoring the taste. He had been living on hardtack for so long.

Dustin could almost taste the dry biscuits in his mouth, and tried to shove more cereal in to counteract it.

His plans were so far failing, being constantly reminded of things he had no idea ever happened.
In the back of his head he could feel that something was coming, not immediately, but soon. He remembered the vivid images of fighting, Losing.

Dying.

He was twenty years old, yet felt his time was approaching.

By the time he packed his things together and got in the car, he realized he forgot which side was brake and which was accelerate. Once he worked that out, he finally set off towards the university, a short fifteen minute drive.

At least, it should have been. He couldn't help but check every blind spot constantly, afraid something was going to pop out and get him. He ended up going 10 below the speed limit, jumping at the angry beeps other drivers gave him.

The university campus was busy as students arrived for morning classes, sending Dustin into a panic as he tried to keep track of everything moving around him, watching for anyone who looked out of place.

He almost crashed into a pole as he failed to turn right, blushing as onlookers laughed, one of them yelling, asking him if he knew how to drive.

He parked the car in the furthest spot from his class, where few other cars bothered to go. He took the paths least traveled towards the class, and sat down at the back so he could see everyone, with nobody behind him.

When the lecturer came in, she gave him a look, surprised to find him at the back, his spot empty where he usually sat at the front.

He ended up being distracted all class, unable to focus on the board. When the teacher called his name, asking for the answer to an equation, he unconsciously gave it.

It wasn't out of place for students to do so, but Dustin had practically listed off the numbers like it was written in front of him, rather than calculating it himself. This repeated several times, even drawing some attention from other students as he continued to give his answer before she could even finish asking him.

Mathematics was straightforward for those who understood the formulas and how to apply them, it came down to calculating once you knew what to do. Dustin definitely knew the formula, but each time he answered, he wasn't calculating it himself. He simply remembered what the answer was, like he had already done the question before.

It wasn't impossible that he actually had done them before, but very unlikely, as it occurred several times throughout the class, on questions that she had made up herself. Whilst the class was impressed with his speed, his mind was only growing more doubtful of what was real and what was fake.

Deja Vu was a phenomenon when the mind tricks itself into thinking something happened already, a false memory. Dustin had experienced it before, like most other people, but knew it was nothing like this. He had also never heard of a case that extended past a single event, and encapsulated the rest of his life.

The classes after his tutorial were lectures, and once again he sat up at very back, keeping everyone else in front of him.

"Dustin, what are you doing back here?"

Some called out to him as they stood in the aisle, a laptop in his arm. They slid through the seats to sit next to him, and made a show of squinting to see the lecturer, teasing Dustin for having sit so far back.

Dustin was caught up trying to contain his emotions at reuniting with his friend who had died long ago, and the anger at himself for thinking such a thing was real.

His friends name was Ben, who had the nickname Bugs. He had died not from the monsters that came from the dungeons, but after he had bought something expensive from the Dos store, and was murdered for it.

Dustin pretended like he was focusing on setting up to take notes, avoiding looking at Ben. The lecture started, saving Dustin from hiding his face, and he begun to write down things from his memories.

He circled important things, and added question marks to others. There was one name that he went over a couple of times, making it bold. He also circled it, and tapped his pen on the page.

'Cynthia.'

Ben had managed to sneak a look at his notes and nudged Dustin in the ribs, "And who would this Cynthia be, hm?"

Dustin felt a variety of emotions, going from happiness to love, and finally to sadness. Ben sat back as if he had stepped on a landmine, guessing that his friend had been rejected.

Dustin didn't bother to rectify the mistake and continued his writing, drawing occasional doodles of the monsters he had vivid memories of fighting.

The lecture went by with Dustin not having heard a single word the lecturer said, but he could remember the information he should have learned from it.

Ben invited him to grab some lunch, but Dustin declined, feeling like he needed to pull himself together.

He ended up sitting in the car, rapidly filling out notebooks with a spread of information. He looked up some of it on his phone, trying to see if there was some kind of game that related to any of it.

He asked one of his gamer friends some vague questions about the stuff, including the name Torians.

"Do you mean Taurens?"

Dustin put his phone down and bit his lip, looking out at the green scenery that bordered the edge of the university.

It was all too real, to many emotions attached to the memories and the overwhelming accuracy of what was going to happen that day that Dustin couldn't help but feel it was the future.

He tried again to open the 'display' that littered his memories, but again, nothing popped up. Part of him knew, from the memories, that it was best if it never popped up.

But the time before it did was short, less than a year. He was going to go insane if he did nothing, waiting until the seemingly inevitable. He couldn't just quit university. No one was going to understand if he started talking about doomsday. He'd be thrown in hospital, which would make things even worse.

To help settle himself a little, he made a list of things to do before the end of year on his phone, making sure that each was achievable, and would still allow him to act like everything was normal. If, by the end of the year, his memories truly were a farce. Then he would go get therapy, and continue his life as normal.

He had ended up sitting in his car for a couple of hours, missing his other lecture. Ben, who had attended the same lectures, was messaging him worriedly. He had never missed a single class before.

Dustin messaged him back, saying that he wasn't feeling well, and was going to be MIA for a couple of days. Ben asked back if it had to do with the Cynthia woman.

Dustin kept looking at the text as he prepared to drive back home, hovering over the send button.

'Yeah'

His mother had asked him again if everything was OK when he returned home, and he gave the same excuse as he had to Ben.

Fooling around before dinner, Dustin booted up his computer and transferred some of his notes from the notebooks, with additional information, into documents, sorting them in folders.

Without a display, Dustin felt like he was naked, missing a part of himself that offered reassurance. To off put the feeling, he wrote a 'status' screen into a spreadsheet and filled it out from what he remembered, making it like something out of a game.

Intelligence - 14
Strength - 4
Agility - 4
Wisdom - 7
Charisma - 3
Constitution - 3

Dustin was quite thin, making his strength fairly low. He also had bad flexibility, and low endurance, making his agility poor as well. His intelligence would be far above average, which was why he had been groomed into a support / healer in the past.

His wisdom was acceptable, as much as any human could be. If he took into account the ability to predict the 'future', then it was perhaps higher.

Charisma was low as Dustin was afraid of public speaking, and crowds in general, making only a couple of friends and sticking to that group. His memories painted him as some kind of leader, which felt simultaneously natural, and terrifying.

Finally, his constitution. Dustin couldn't take a hit for shit, and he was likely to blow over in a strong wind.

To remedy these before the coming of the real status, where having a head start would make things easier, he turned his attention to the list he had made earlier.


Hit the gym.
Study other subjects. Intelligence seems to take into account the amount and depth of knowledge.
Make some money
Buy:
A sword. Plenty available as 'collectors' items.
Gun? Useful early on, need a firearm license.
Armour. Harder to acquire, cosplay excuse?
Join the debate club, or do public speaking. Charisma is very important.
Write a compendium of monsters, may release when dungeons come out?
Work out why and how the fuck I know all this.

Find Cynthia.


 

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