Chapter 5: What am I?
Gary’s eyes started to flutter open slowly as he was regaining consciousness. The first thing he saw were some very tall trees above him. The sky was gray, making it hard to tell if it was just about to turn to night or whether it would soon be day again. As he lifted up his body, he noticed the sound of ruffling, which turned out to come from the many leaves underneath him.
‘Am I in the woods?’ Gary thought. He looked around and could see nothing but trees, yet no sign of a pathway or road. ‘Why did I come here? Wasn’t I jus-’
“Argh!” His head started to ring with pain. When lifting it up he could see that the sleeves of his clothing were partially torn. Thinking back he tried to remember the last thing that had happened, but all that came to mind was the throbbing pain in his back side.
‘That guy… he stabbed me!’ Lifting up his shirt, he peeked over his shoulder. Gary tried to take a look, but he found nothing, not even after running his fingers over the supposed wound. For a second he questioned himself. ‘Could it be that all of it was just a bad dream?’
Alas, he quickly noticed something that made him think all of it had been real. Running down his trousers there were signs of dried blood, looking to have dripped from his own wound. Something had definitely happened earlier.
He should have been in pain. There should have been a wound, yet there was nothing! In fact, his body felt far better than it had ever done before.
‘Just what the hell happened after I got stabbed? How the hell did I get here? Sh*t, where the hell is ‘here’ in the first place?’
He had no memories whatsoever of what had happened from the construction site to where he was now, and in all his thinking he had completely ignored something obvious that was right in front of him this whole time. His vision had slightly been altered and in more ways than one.
Even though it was quite dark out, he could see details in the night he shouldn’t have been able to with his vision. The groves on the trees a distance away, the ants crawling up on the trees, passing food to each other, and then there was the moon. It was still out and would suggest that it was still the middle of the night after all.
‘Hang on… are those ANTS?!’ Eventually Gary noticed the discrepancy with his eyes. ‘How is that possible? Could it be because of all those carrots Mum has been cooking lately? They say it improves your eyesight… Or is that just another internet myth? I bet Tom would know.’
In the middle of his crazy thoughts, he registered something in the top left corner of his vision. When looking at it, it reminded him of a notification from an email or a game. He moved his head trying to get rid of it, but wherever he would look it would stay there.
Then he started to touch his face to see if he was wearing anything, but there was nothing. The notification appeared to be glued onto his vision.
‘How the hell do I get rid of this thing?!’ When thinking about the notification itself, it suddenly opened and a screen appeared in front of him, hovering in midair.
[Your bloodlust has been lowered]
[You are no longer enraged]
[State has been updated to: Normal]
‘Is that… a system?’
Gary had played a few games in the past with a similar interface before. However he wasn’t quite the gamer himself. He never had time for them as he was always busy trying to come up with ways to make money. The one who this would have been perfect for would be his buddy Tom, but with his limited knowledge Gary still knew how to navigate it a bit.
The notifications looked like they could be deleted and it looked like there were more options on his general interface. The annoying thing was it was all blocking his field of vision Still, at the same time he couldn’t deny it was kinda cool. Like he had been turned into some futuristic robot.
Nevertheless, he didn’t like what he was reading. The word ‘Bloodlust’ did not sound good at all… What exactly had happened? Had he been turned into some type of vampire and was now required to feed on blood? It would at least explain the wounds healing on his body so far. He had read supernatural stories of things like that before.
Quickly touching his teeth, he felt nothing and they appeared to be the same as they had always been.
Then there was the second half of the message, ‘it had been lowered’. Reading this he gulped down and tried to look at himself. There wasn’t a huge amount of blood on him apart from that on his trousers. Being able to escape from that construction site alive while three men were chasing him, he started to consider the worst case scenario.
‘No, nothing happened, stop being paranoid!’ Gary tried to convince himself. ‘Surely, I would have remembered something like that. … but would I really? … I still have no clue how I got in the woods in the first place.’
Unfortunately with his tendency to forget even menial tasks like emptying the washing machine when his mother asks him to, he was unable to rely on his good memory.
After deleting those notifications, Gary decided to study the system a little. The first thing he could see was an image of himself looking back at him and his name by the side with a few stats.
[Name: Gary Dem]
[Heart rate 42 BPM]
Looking at the information in front of him, he was trying to figure out what they meant. Gary appeared unable to open some sort of description for them and there wasn’t really anyone or anything that told him what was going on.
‘Health’ seemed to be pretty self-explanatory, but ‘Energy’? The best he could come up with was that it might be something similar to Stamina. As for the ‘Heart rate’, he considered it to be a very strange thing to appear in the first place. What worried him was that his resting heart rate had never been that low. This was the heart rate that athletes were able to achieve and although Gary wasn’t unfit, he was far from being an athlete.
As for ‘State’ he could only relate it to the message he had gotten previously about his bloodlust decreasing, something he chose to ignore for now. What interested him more than anything was the level by his name. It reminded him of the RPG games that had been introduced to him.
He didn’t know why, but his favourite part in those games had never been the completion of quests nor the exploration of the world, but simply its grinding. He would spend hours just killing creatures watching that bar increase. Tom would always complain about his play style, stating that it wasn’t the fastest way to level up. After all, he was defined as a “noob” in Tom’s eyes.
On the screen itself, at the top the tab read ‘Status’, but right next to that, there was another little tab labeled ‘Quests’. It had a little red dot, which would usually indicate that there was something new that he hadn’t seen before. At least that would be the case if it worked like his phone notifications.
Cloaking on that, a few more screens popped up in front of him again.
[New quest received]
[Get the perfect body]
[You can now do amazing things you never could have done before, but you’re limited by your former weaker self. You need to get into top shape to display your full potential! Do you even lift? No? Then start lifting! Diet is crucial to this task. You will soon see improvements beyond your wildest dreams! The most important thing is to stay consistent!]
[Daily tasks (Tuesday)]
[Push day: Get to the gym and start pushing, instructions will appear once you get there.]
[Diet: Eat 2 kilograms of meat per day, get that sweet protein!]
[Quest reward: That sweet exp you need and love.]
‘Two kilograms of meat?! Is the system crazy?! What does it think I am, some tiger or something? How is it even possible to eat that much?”
Apart from that, the system messages seemed enthusiastic to say the least. Whoever had designed it must be by a very strange person. Scrolling up there seemed to be one more quest that he had received before that one.
[New quest received]
[Your first turning]
[14 days until the next full moon]
Reading this carefully, his thoughts reached a certain conclusion. There was only one supernatural creature in books in movies that he could think of that had any relation to the full moon. Heading back to the notifications, he scrolled up and checked the very first one he had received. Because it wasn’t a new one he had missed before but now he remembered seeing something before black out.
He read the words multiple times, the first system message that had ever appeared.
‘I’m not a vampire… Well it seems like I won’t have a problem with body hair anytime soon.’
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