(Old) Chapter 1- An Arcade Built in Nothingness
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Gasp

Shit. Where am I?

It's dark. Can't see. What-

Gasp

No. Air, I need air. Somewhere. AIR!

It's dark. It's so empty. 

The darkness surrounds me. It drowns me. 

Gasp

I don't need to breathe, yet this emptiness- it takes it all, filling my lungs in its absence. It's suffocating. It drags me in; I can't swim out of this... nothingness. I propel myself nowhere to reach the non-existent surface.

Gasp

No. What the hell is this. Why...

Gasp

I reach for my face, to try and stop breathing it, but my arms. They're invisible. No. I can't see my arms. I try to feel my face with them, but they don't exist. I look for the rest of me. I'm invisible. No. The rest of me doesn't exist.

I scream. 

I don't scream, can't scream. No air to scream.

Gasp

It's so dark.

 


 

Wait, who am I? My family. I can't remember their faces. Did something happen? I must have had parents. I must have. Did something happen to them? Why can't I remember?

Why can't I remember myself? I remember figures, but no faces. WHY? WHY CAN'T I REMEMBER WHAT MAKES ME ME??!??

...

...

No. I must have had a family. But then who was I? What am I? Why am I here? I... I can't remember.

I can't...

...

This emptiness, its... tiring.

...and so dark.

 


 

Centuries, minutes, or mere moments pass. Time doesn't matter. Does it exist here? I don't know.

It doesn't matter. I sense something. It's... it's not dark. White... ness? But what is white? It's in front of... front? Me? Front of me? The whiteness... the darkness flees it, fears it. But the emptiness wants it. Swallows it. It's fading away.

It fights back, flares up. Forms a shape... a ball. A portal. An... entrance? An entrance? Is it... an entrance? Regardless, this somethingness draws me. It isn't this dark, despairing emptiness. 

I want it. 

I need it. 

I have to reach it.

I force myself towards it. I vaguely sense others stirring, aroused by this something. They're just like me, yearning for it. They also want it. Wait. There were... others..? Like... me? No. They are... they are not me. Ignore them. I don't care. I need to escape. Forget about them. And then I was moving. Something is burning. There's a glowing trail behind me. Something is fading from my memories. I don't remember, can't remember. But at least I'm moving. I'm escaping.

Finally, I reach the entrance and I'm about to grab it with my... I falter. Arm? No. It was the thing attached to it? I think... I think I remember that. It looked like... looked like... wisps of whiteness bleed from the portal towards me. They... fill something in. They fill in my... my... They sketch the contours, the shape, the everything of my... They form five lines, conjoined into one. And from some long-forgotten memory, I remember. This is my hand

I plunge my hand inside the entrance, and the entrance... it pulls me in. 

Away from this darkness.

 


 

I notice a sensation. I can... I can feel. I touch myself. But it's still dark. I feel my face. Touch my eyelids, and then I remember. I have eyes. I search my memory, and somewhere, somehow, I remember the feeling.

My eyes open.

The darkness, it's still there. The whiteness is there as well, exactly the same. I'm about to cry, but I notice that something looks... different. It's bigger. And the whiteness, it contains these different shades. The shades form shapes. The shapes, they form... something. They form... objects?

But what are they? I don't remember.

 


 

Slowly, small figments of memory come back to me. I remember my voice. Can I still... "Ah..." I can speak. "Ha..." And hear. And now, I focus.

To my sides are nothingness. Behind me is nothingness. But, at least before me, there is something. I drift towards the something. There's a familiar but different shape. Is it an entrance? I try to grab its center, but my palm settles on empty space. I simply enter it, leaving the nothingness behind.

Inside, something is everything.

I try to go forward, but I collapse. What? There's an influx of... feelings. I can't... I can't keep track. There's too many? Which is what? Something twitching. Is it my hand? No. My arm? No. Other things. They're the same shade as my hand and arm, but... different.

A shape approaches me. I tilt my eyes towards it. It isn't nothing, yet still isn't something. Two holes mark its... eyes. Its eyes are nothing. There's another eye below those two, but what is it? 

I don't like this... thing. Why is nothingness in a place so full of something? Paradoxically, is produces something from its nothingness. Sound. "Oh, you arrived. The portal should've retrieved you a while ago, but... wow. I didn't expect your memories got pretty messed up. So umm... sorry? If it makes you feel better it's not my fault." It produces a lot of sounds. 

Vaguely, I can recognize them. "Anyways, you're looking rather unsightly," it does something, and everything feels... easier. I can stand. But what are these things? My arms... they're form lines. These lines merge towards a more significant line. A word resurfaces in my memory. Body. This is... my body? Then... the lines that move away from me are my legs?

It keeps making sounds, "I'm not sure how long it'll be until you regain all of your memories, so for now," It makes some shapes, "chamomile tea?"

It gives me a shape. With my hands formed from something, I feel the shape. But what is it? It sighs, reaching for my shape. Reaches for... for my cup. "Here, you drink it like this." It holds my cup and brings it towards me. I instinctively open my... my mouth.

Something is tingling. It's... taste. I can taste a shape. It tastes like... sweet. My hands hold the cup as I continue tasting it. I try to remember. It's gradual, but I remember. The shape is... tea. I'm tasting... tea. 

It sighs impatiently, "Ahh... you know what?" It does something, and some memories are sharpened, more vivid than before. Yet... it isn't much. I'm able to think and move more freely, but the only personal thing I can remember is my first name, Khya. My past. Everything but that is missing. Was it... burned away?

The silhouette speaks to me, "Well... if you're concerned about why you still don't remember that much, I can only clarify what's there, not what's missing." I'm at a loss for words. What sort of being could do such a thing, drawing someone back from death, create a world in a void, and then proceed to directly change my thoughts? I respond the only way I can, "Are you... are you God?"

The surprise is evident in its voice, "What? Hell no. You think I'm god? I'm nothing. At least, that's how I see myself. The closest thing you might be able to describe me as is a manager." 

"But then what do you manage?"

"Everything. And... nothing?"

"What?"

"Ehhh... you'll understand..." I can hear melancholy. He forces a smile on his face. "Anyways, we're in an arcade! Let's play some games before..." His voice falters. "Before?"

He repeats himself. "Anyways, we're in an arcade! Let's play some games!"

...

"Alright."

 


 

For whoever knows how long, I sure wasn't keeping track, we played every single arcade game offered, switching to a new one whenever the old one became boring. Frankly, these were a lot more than just the 'few' it had previously mentioned. But it was fun. At first, we kept a counter on our number of wins, but after the score became 21-0 in his favor, we scrapped the idea and played some co-op. I tried asking for his name, but he kept telling me it wouldn't matter. After eventual persuasion, he asked me to call him "Natthikavada." I tried and failed at pronouncing the foreign word, to which he laughed. I settled on "Natt."

Eventually, though, we had to stop. Or rather, Natt decided to stop, and correspondingly, I stopped as well. He looked a bit happier, but his melancholy still seemed to persist beneath his lively facade. And as for me, all I can say is that I found his empty features and depthless form to be less... phobic? 

As we walked to the entrance of the arcade, he told me, "Well, before I send you off, I need to tell you some things."

That statement threw me off as I that I was chosen to keep him company. He clarifies himself, "Nope. You're going to be reincarnated into this fantasy world I made a while ago. It's doing pretty well, so I thought it might be time that I started sending people there too."

"So that person is me?"

"Yep. Also, after arriving you'll get the memory of all the living humans on Earth."

"But why though?"

"Well... your memory's been pretty screwed up, so I'm sort of required at this point. Just," he gestures towards the exit, "step outside." Despite his wishes, I still held some form of reluctance towards leaving. Outside there's nothing. Here there's something.

He brings something up, "Hmm... I'm not actually sure what you remember, but do you remember that saying, 'A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?'" "Nope." "Oh. Nevermind then. Just do it."

There's an earthquake, and some sort of force starts pulling me towards the exit. Wait, no. The wall opposite of me lurches upward. This room is... rotating. The arcade machines start sliding towards the wall of the exit, several crash onto their sides, yet Natt seems perfectly fine. He remains standing perpendicular to the ground, catching one of the sliding arcade machines and starts to boot it up. While it's loading, he mutters to me, "Hey, if a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?" Before I can answer, a machine crashes into me, sending me into the darkness.

Into the beginning.

Sometimes I look at the ratings for the novels on here and wonder what exact detail lead to that 1 star, 2 star, 3 star, 4 star, or even 5 star.

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