V1C1 – The After
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Humans are fundamentally contradictory creatures with discrepancies in their thoughts and actions. People support environmentalism, yet they use destructive products daily. People condemn discrimination, yet they still hold implicit biases. People claim to sympathize with the needy, yet they don't donate their money or time towards them at all.

Have you ever wondered about the stark differences between your own beliefs and actions?

I'll pose another question while I'm at it;

Have you ever wondered how that behavior was affected by your upbringing?

If so, you'll quickly come to realize that you are less of yourself than you think. You'll realize that it takes a lot of time and work to change that contradictory 'you.' This sentiment also goes for me; you could say that I'm defective for having self-awareness of it and still not caring to change. I don't need to change though. After all, why would I?

In this world of advanced convenience and information, as long as I hold value to society (as I have gained), I won't be abandoned. I can live easily and comfortably with the right amount of money flowing into my hands. That's all someone like me can ask for.


I may be an overall unnecessary human, but I do think that I'm better than certain others. Well, tying my societal cost-benefit to my status as a person may be unhealthy; I can't help but think like this.

On another note, I hate tedious and supposed meaningless things: I always have. So, you could guess my life thus far has been pretty fun.

Honestly, there is one thing I do find fun though--reading. From light novels to scientific thesis papers, I enjoy absorbing information through this specific medium. It's not like I enjoy the very act of learning itself, saying that would indeed be contradictory. If that were the case, why don't I just get up and make discoveries myself? Anyways, there's something about the isolated environment and laid-back stream of thought that comes with reading that makes it somehow special to me. I believe literacy is one of humanity's greatest gifts.


In this world,

"As long as I function like I'm supposed to..."
"As long as I can lose myself in words..."

That's fine. Even if I hated the current world's state, it's not like I can do anything about it. It's not like I could change anything; I don't wish to either. If I did, that is.


[November 2021, Tokyo]

"I can't sleep..."

I toss and turn in bed. The ambient vehicle and train noises permeated the inside of my apartment: there was poor soundproofing. My digital clock stared back at me with the time bolded in red and changing ever so slowly.

[4:53] (AM)

If only I could fall asleep right now--though, I know from the time that the hours gained wouldn't nearly be enough to satisfy me even if I did. I have work tomorrow too.

[4:54]

"Oh, forget it."

Nothing will happen at this rate. I turn on the shade next to me with a light pull and sit up from my messy sleeping posture. I lackadaisically stretch and proceed to get up to pour myself some tea. After a few moments and robotic movements, it finishes. I grab the steaming cup and take it back to my bed; I soon place the cup down on the adjacent table. Then, insatiably, my eyes wander to the bookshelf next to it. After a brief moment of consideration, I choose today's title and pull it out from the top row.

[4:58]

Slumping back to bed, I crack open the chosen text to the already established bookmark. I go back a few pages and then start skimming forward to refresh.

*sip*

[4:59]

I had to be careful so that my tea didn't splash on any of the pages, though I'm not too clumsy. I turn the pages at a leisurely pace, which was actually considerably quicker than most.

[5:00]

After finally getting into the zone, I suddenly and silently felt it take me out: a painful squeeze in my chest. I thought it would go away after a few seconds, but it proceeded longer. It constricted and pulsed harder for a minute more; This is definitely a heart attack.

"Ugh..."

Though I took my medications properly, it still came. I toiled; As time extended, the pain got worse.

My mind began numbing.

The light is too bright.

Everything is too loud.

Minutes pass.

I can't breathe.

I couldn't move either and I felt horrible.

This was lasting too long, the pain far too brutal. Then, I had the thought,

"Oh, I'm going to die today, aren't I?"

There were a lot of things I wanted to do... My vision fades and blurs. My body feels hot. If only I could--

My consciousness blackens, mercilessly. 


The next sensation I felt was as if I was slowly sinking in water, no, it was a bit heavier than that. My surroundings were dark, I couldn't feel any other bodily functions in progress or operational. 

"How odd..."

Sinking and sinking...

My senses suddenly came back all at once, like waking up to realize you're about to miss a deadline. But, I didn't find myself in my room. I was standing in some sort of infinite hallway, waiting in front of a slim door. How did I get here? I was wearing formal business attire; I didn't recognize it to be mine.

"Enter."

Those were the words I heard from the other side, a bit muffled. Looking around, I could only think those words were meant for me. I creak open the door and shyly take steps inside.

"Forgive the intrusion..."

A man responded,

"Let's see here, Kei Kadoya--is that correct? Age, gender, and previous occupation are 24, male, and engineer management respectively. Welcome."

I take a seat respectfully and look around. It seems like an ordinary office for interviews. Then, I take a look at the supposed interviewer. An intellectual-looking slender character of a man with tidy hair. He was dressed formally and had a youthful mischievous air. His gaze felt as though it would ensnare me in some sort of trap. Their overall appearance was dazzlingly beautiful; They could easily become a top model. Well, that's enough on them. They evaluated me in their eyes: I have average stature, build, and features with black untampered eyes and hair.

"Um, excuse me--where am I? The last thing I remember is having a heart attack..."

Don't tell me, I died? Is this the afterlife?

"Kei Kadoya, I am a God and you're in our realm now."


"God, huh."

My doubts are planted. Rationally and realistically, such a being is nonexistent--or so I believed. But, this situation was absurd enough to make one believe it.

"There is no way that God exists--or so you're probably thinking right now. I guess it's obvious to doubt me."

Did my face reveal it, or was this God just good at reading people? I should be prodding him for more information.

"Let's assume you are who you say you are. Why is someone like you conversing with me like this right now? You have information on me too."

"Straight to the chase, huh. Well, can't you see? This is an interview."

"I don't remember applying."

"Well, I've ascertained you have certain talents and scouted you. Not everyone gets this opportunity when they fall."

So, I died and God pulled my soul here for a chat because I have this talent. That means...

"What exactly do you want me to do?"

What can I even do now?

"Now, now. Let's talk a bit first. Here's a prompt to answer; would you risk anything to preserve the 'you' right now?"

"That's quite vague. I'd argue that it wouldn't be the same 'me' depending on what I had to risk."

"How about, the world. You're every relation and possession besides yourself, Kei Kadoya."

I try to glean the hidden meaning of his words and go silent from thinking.

"..."

As if interrupting me completely,

"Isekai--I'm sure you're familiar with the concept."

With that, I quickly catch on.

"So after death, I could preserve myself by leaving Earth behind and beginning anew. That common trope, huh."

He looked and smiled at me mischievously.

"You can have a new chance with your current life as a headstart from birth. In exchange, you'd have to do little errands for me here and there."

"These errands in the new world, what scale are we talking here?"

"That's for you to find out."

"That way of dropping and suddenly withdrawing information really pisses me off."

"Can't you care to act more politely while in front of a God?"

I sighed. 

"So, if I'm to be your dog in this new world, I can stay as I am instead of disappearing; That's essentially what you mean."

"Dog is going a bit far, I prefer apostle. But, yes, that's essentially it."

I definitely don't want to lose who I am; I'm not suicidal. But, will this new world only subject me to future misery?

"Alright, then, what kind of world is it?"

"A fun world, one of advanced science and magic: slightly different from yours."

It seems that the standard medieval age template is out the window, I wouldn't want to live like I was in squalor anyway. But, are you serious about magic? I deny its existence just as much as the existence in front of me. But, well,

"I see, that does seem like a good offer."

"We'll work out the details in a bit. Let's see, that should be enough to confirm your intentions for now. Now, onto the technical interview. I guess the word "test" describes it better."

"Test?"

"Exactly. Someone being sent to another world takes a lot of effort on my part. I should ensure those I pick are capable not just through words but actions if I want this transfer to benefit me."

"Alright, what kind of test am I taking?"

"You're goal will be to escape this room. You have an hour, don't disappoint me now."

After that, he instantly vanished into thin air. Really, those were some vague instructions but the test seems relatively simple. Now then, let's start: the [God's Trials] so that I can reincarnate. I'm confident in my passing.

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