I found myself sitting in an office. At least that’s what I thought it looked like at a first glance. In front of me was a desk filled with paperwork, and on the other side an empty chair. On the wall behind it, was something that looked like an analog clock, but I couldn’t make out the strange symbols on it. The walls were made of red stone and had a dim glow to them.
A door opened to the side, and a demonic looking creature stepped through. The legs of a goat, red skin, and incredibly buff. Like, really really buff. Honestly it was surprising how it managed to keep its balance on those tiny legs. Anyways, continuing my inspection of the creature, I noticed it was wearing a tie around its neck. It had two yellow eyes, and a pair of tiny glasses perched on its nose. On top of the head there was a pair of tiny horns.
It was stroking its goatee while looking at a clipboard it was holding in its hands. Slowly it made its way over to the chair on the other side of the desk and sat down. It looked at me and began speaking in a deep voice.
“Hello, Dave, nice to meet you. Welcome to the afterlife.” It then reached over the desk with an open palm. My eyes darted between its hand and face, it was smiling a toothy grin. I hesitantly shook its hand.
“I’m Satan, and I-”
“Oh, so I’m in hell then?” I interrupted.
Satan took my interruption in stride and simply shrugged. “If that’s what you wanna call it, sure. The afterlife doesn’t really have a specific name.”
“No, but if you’re Satan, I’m obviously in hell right? How could it be anything else?” I argued.
It pushed up its glasses. “Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. You see, this is simply the afterlife as you imagined it. You yourself thought you would go to hell, so I simply took on an appropriate shape.”
“Wait, now I’m confused. So you’re not actually Satan, you just took the shape of what I thought Satan looked like, because this is meant to look like hell?”
“I don’t see how you’re confused, you got it pretty much spot on. Anyways, I am the collective consciousness of all sapient beings in the universe, and I create a personalized afterlife for each individual creature.”
“And my personalized afterlife is hell... What a load of bull, I didn’t believe in life after death!” I exclaimed loudly.
“Ah, well, the afterlife is a thing, so hell was the next best place to send you. Besides, this is just a halfway stop to the next part.”
That piqued my curiosity. “There’s a next part?”
Satan nodded. “Just like you subconsciously believed you would go to hell, at the same time, your consumption of light novels, manga and anime made you subconsciously believe in getting reincarnated into a fantasy world,” it said eagerly.
That gave me a pause. “You’re joking with me right now, right? There’s no way you're being real right now.”
All emotion drained from Satan’s face and it gave me a dead serious look. “I’m being completely serious, and frankly, being the consciousness of all sapient beings in the universe, this isn’t even that crazy. Believe me.”
Thinking about it... Satan got a point there.
“Oh, by the way, is there something else I can call you other than Satan?”
“Well, I don’t really have a name, so you can call me whatever. Like I said, I just took on the role of Satan to fit your image of hell,” it shrugged.
Pondering for a second, I settled on a name for it. “Right, I’ll call you Lucy, then. Feels a bit less awkward.”
“Lucy it is, then. Moving on now,” it handed me a piece of paper, “if you would fill out this sheet we’ll move on to the next step.”
The paper was a lot like entering the settings of a new game. Starting strength, starting wealth, monster difficulty, boss difficulty, etc etc.
Do I make myself overpowered from the get go? Nah that would get boring. Cheat codes are just for having some mindless fun, but it gets old fast. Probably shouldn’t set the difficulties too high either, though. I would if it was just a game, but here I don’t have the option to keep trying over and over against a tough boss. Or wait, do I actually have that option? Still dying over and over would probably hurt... Wait, that reminds me.
I looked up from the paper, over to Lucy. “How did I even die? I don’t actually remember.”
“Oh, you died in your sleep. You simply lost the will to live.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that.”
I was only twenty three. Granted, my lifestyle wasn’t exactly healthy... No actually it was straight up unhealthy. I stayed cooped up in my room all day, and ate the cheapest garbage I could get delivered. This was all because I had been chronically depressed for a while.
I am going to make more out of my next life.
Turning my attention back to the paper, I began filling it out. Lucy just sat and watched patiently, humming some familiar tune that I couldn’t quite place my finger on.
After a few minutes I was done. I handed the paper over to Lucy, who looked it through. “Alright, then fill this out next,” it handed me a new piece of paper.
It somewhat resembled a character sheet from a tabletop RPG, but it was very bare bones. I know I set starting strength and wealth to low, so I assume this character sheet was made for that, but c’mon. I only had to fill out my appearance for my next life, nothing else.
"Is this all I have to fill out? Doesn't seem like a lot."
"Well, you chose low starting strength and wealth, so there's not a whole lot to customize. Upon starting your new life, you'll be given the bare minimum of abilities and gear."
I suppose that makes sense.
Okay, I have completely free reign to decide who I’ll be in my next life. There are a lot of settings to take into account. I could be a buff chad that the ladies would drool over... But no, thinking about it, I can't imagine myself in that position at all, besides, even this is an anime-esque RPG world, I'd probably have to maintain my body if I wanted to be buff... Maybe I should just go for generally handsome, or beautiful..? I've never really though about what my ideal body would be like... Then again, now that I have the chance...
It felt like a lightbulb went off over my head.
I think I got it!
Finishing off my character sheet, I handed it back to Lucy, who gave it a once over. “Looks like we’re all set, then. If you would please walk through that door-” it pointed at a wall and a door appeared, “-you can begin your new life.
I stood up and stretched out a hand to Lucy. It shook my hand and said, “I’ll be rooting for you out there.” With that I turned towards the door and walked over to it.
This is it, my new life of adventure starts now!
I could hardly contain my excitement as I grabbed the door handle and everything went white.
The whiteness continued for a while and it was accompanied by a ringing noise overtaking my senses. Slowly the ringing was replaced by… Talking? I could hear muffled voices, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Next, I was encompassed by a feeling of wetness.
I can’t see, muffled talking, a sense of wetness… Oh hell, don’t tell me…
Slowly I began feeling my head pass through something.
Nope nope nope nope nope.
More and more, I felt my skin being exposed to air. I felt something warm touch me. After a while I was free from my wet confines and I was lifted by the warm thing that touched me. Although the talking was now much more clear to me, I still couldn’t understand it.
Now long after, I felt like I had gained control over my eyelids back, so I slowly opened them. What greeted me were two faces, one decidedly that of a man, and the other of a tired woman.
Fucking… Thanks, Satan.
And with that I let out my frustration the only way a newborn baby could, and cried.