Cold. It was the first thing that I woke up to. I opened my eyes, and felt that it was already afternoon. “I am late for work.” I thought out loud. I stretched my arm to the nightstand to grab my cell phone. I looked to see if there were any notifications from work. There was only one notification to be found on the lock screen.
“Blizzard Warning – Expect heavy snowstorm this afternoon.” The notification read. I looked at the time, and realized that it was 3:30 pm. I had to look outside to confirm my suspicions.
Snow. Heavy amount of snow can be seen falling from my window. The fog was heavy and you could not see far. Only one thought creeped into my mind.
“Extended Weekend!” I cried out. “Aha, Yes! No work today! The storm is so horrible that not even Dorothea is going to try to bother me today!” My excitement rose as I realized that I had the whole weekend ahead of me.
Or so I thought.
My phone started to vibrate, and I could hear the organs playing. This ringtone only belongs to one person. Dorothea. My excitement had crashed to the floor. I gave a sigh before answering the phone.
“Gilberto! Hey! It’s me, Dorothea! Were you able to get home alright?” Dorothea said in an energetic voice.
“I just woke up.” I answered honestly. There was no delay when I responded.
“You weren’t playing that game again, were you?” She knew.
“N-No. I was…uh…reading a book! Yeah.”
“Uh-huh. Anyway, I called to talk about our meeting today.”
“Are you already at the door?!” I exclaimed. I was scared. Was this priestess’ dedication so strong that she will traverse the city in this snowstorm?!
“What?! Are you crazy?!!” She screamed into my ear. “My wings can’t even flap under this weather! The snow will make them wet and the wind is too strong!”
“Soooo you won’t be coming then?” I crossed my fingers.
“Sadly, I cannot. However, this does not mean that you have to stop trying. Your other half is out there, begging to be found! You only need faith in Er-” She said before I interrupted her.
“Alright then! Your mission is important, but not as important as your life! Don’t get sick simply because of me. Besides, it might make your fiance jealous!” I teased her.
“Jealous?! What are you talking about?” She asked. I wasn’t sure if she was joking or just clueless.
“I’m going to hang-up now. Bye~!”
“W-Wait! I haven’t even given you a verse from th-”
Dorothea. A “colleague” of mine if you can even call it that. She is a priestess of Eros, and declared it her mission to find my significant other. She will crash into my apartment almost daily, and engage in discussions or “prepare me” to find my one true partner. She is a well-intentioned woman, but her faith has been misplaced. It is already difficult for me to find someone to date them, and her helping me isn’t making those odds better.
After taking a hot shower and brewing some coffee, I thought about what I would do for the rest of the day. I did not think that I would have the rest of the day off today. I sat on the couch and covered myself in a warm blanket. I instinctively turned on the TV and browsed the streaming service, deciding if I should Binge-watch a series. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a show called “Hell’s Mightiest Warriors!”
The Synopsis reads, “A demoness is given the responsibility of protecting Earth from Heavenly sources after the Devil had granted her powers beyond her wildest dreams. She must count on not only herself, but a rag-tag team of demonesses to save the World from Angels and the Villain. The Villain, Arch-Angel Michael, will send his forces to invade Earth.” It was rated three out of five stars.
“You know what, sure.” I said to myself as I clicked Play. “If the Pilot episode is good, I’ll keep watching.”
Later that evening, I found myself heavily invested in the plot development of Hell’s Mightiest Warriors. I could not stop the show in its Mid-Season Battle against Arch-Angel Michael.
“It’s over, Michael! You lost!” cried out the main heroine to the villain. The battle has been intense, with several members of the team suffering from heavy casualties. But this wasn’t the end of the show, right? Why would they kill off the villain in the middle of the show! The heroine raises her weapon and was about to strike the villain when a voice called out to her.
“Stop!” cried out a heavenly male voice. Who was calling her at this time? From the clouds above, a light ray appeared over them, and a figure descended. My jaw dropped as I realized who that figure might be. The camera hovers around him in darkness until the light ray showed us who he was.
“Gabriel! You’ve come to save me!” cried out Michael. No way. There was ANOTHER Arch-Angel awaiting for them?! And it was the mystical Arch-Angel Gabriel!
“Arch-Angel Gabriel has appeared before them. What will Gabriel do? How will Lilith and the others be able to face this new foe? Find out on the next episode of “Hell’s Mightiest Warriors!” The narrator announces before the credits roll. I must find out what happens in the next episode!
I press play on the remote, and before the video had time to finish buffering, the lights went out. I cried out in sadness as I realized that I would not be able to find out what happens next.
After realizing that the power will not be back for hours, I had to figure out what I was going to do now.
“I could read a book that Dorothea gave me.” I thought out loud before my eyes stared at the coffee table. Several books were neatly stacked in the center. I sat up and reached over to grab the books.
The Book of Eros. The great ‘Bible’ of love as their many followers call them. I scoff at the book before placing it back.
The Way Out, by Rodriguez Jimenez. I turned the book to read the synopsis. “A fiction about a man who is single in a world where everyone is paired up for life. He must find a way out of bachelorhood, and goes on an adventure to not only find his soulmate, but to discover himself.”
I’ve heard about this book. One of my co-workers mentioned it in a conversation I overheard. I heard how reading this book found his way to his current fiancee. Can a single book really have that much power? Can this book really help find my significant other?
I must find out! I quickly scrolled through to the first page. Dammit! That’s page five, I need to get back to page one. There! Page 1 of this novel. I can feel my heart beating as I was about to begin reading this novel. My eyes laid on its first word, and unconsciously, I said it outloud.
I heard several hard knocks coming from my door. I was spooked by it that I let go of the book and it fell to the ground.
Who could be knocking at a time like this. I stood up, taking the blanket with me as I walked to the door. I peeked through the peephole to see who it was.
An eye stared back at me. It blinked several times before it moved back. A young woman stood at the door, waiting for me to open the door. Her singular, deep red eye was focused on a device she was holding while her other eyes, wait other eyes? Her other eyes appeared to be attached to her via some sort of tentacle that connects them all to her back. All of them were uncoordinated, as if unfocused and having a mind of their own.
The young woman herself appeared short. Her hair was black as her tentacles, falling down to her back and possibly beyond. Her skin was a light grey and almost white if the light reflected right. She appeared to wear a sweater and a blanket covering her. The blanket might be there to keep her tentacles warm.
She appeared to be a bit infuriated before she knocked on the door again. What could a person like her want with someone like me? I unlocked the door and opened it.
“Good Evening?” I said before all of her eyes around her were focused on me.
“You!” she said, her large singular eye still focused on the device on her hands. “Fix my Game-Station Four.” I blinked twice before I was able to process what she just said.
“What? Your Game Station? What are you talking about?” I asked her in confusion. She rolled her eye before focusing back to the device.
“My Game Station. I was playing, um…” Her eye glanced upward for a moment before returning back to the device. “…a game, yeah, when suddenly it shut off! The TV doesn’t turn on, and the lights just went off.” Her voice clearly indicated that she was annoyed at this turn of events.
“The whole building suffered a power outage. There is no power to be had right now.” I calmly explained.
“Well then fix it then.” she commanded. I felt a slight tug to do something.
“Fix what? A power outage? In this weather?!” I could feel my voice rising from that last question. Her singular red eye finally stared right into my eyes, her iris lighting up with bright red.
“Do it now.” She commanded. I could feel a pull of my feelings with her words.
“No.” I quickly responded back with no hesitation. She looked visibly confused from my quick reaction. Now all of her eyes lit up, concentrating on me.
“Obey me!” She commanded loudly. A strong pull could be felt with that shout. However, my will cannot be easily shaken just like that. Now I understood exactly what she was doing to me.
Mind Manipulation. The same tactic that high-ranking monsters use to control their underlings, and most importantly, their men.
“You must really be lonely to use such a tactic.” I mocked her, a grin growing on my face.
“How are you able to resist my eyes!?” Now she had her full attention to me. I took hold of her shoulders, and stared straight into her eye.
“Do you know what electricity is?!” I asked her.
“It makes my food hot and my game station on.” She responded with fear, but she still had strength to keep looking at me in the eye.
“Where does this electricity come from?” My stare intensified. She gave in. Her eyes dimmed back to normal, and looked away from me. I could tell that my stare was making her anxious.
“I don’t know. Please…don’t stare at me.” She said, her voice almost silent. I could see tears starting to creep out from her eye. I let go of her, realizing that I was scaring her. She fell onto her knees.
“I…I apologize.” I said, realizing that I went too far. I could see that she felt vulnerable in front of me. I was unsure of what to say. Suddenly, we heard a stomach grumbling. Specifically, from her direction. Her cheeks redden with embarrassment. I couldn’t help but let out a giggle.
“Come on,” I said, giving her a hand to stand up. “I can cook something warm as an apology for my behavior.” She hesitates for a second before taking a hold of my hand, and stood up. She carefully peeks inside before walking in.
“Please place your shoes near the entrance before you go further.” I asked her before I went into the kitchen. The kitchen was placed next to the living/dining room, so I could see the entire living room from there. She stood in the middle of the living room, her eyes wandering around as she inspected my apartment.
“Coffee? Tea? Hot Chocolate?” I offered as I filled the kettle with water.
“How are you heating the water? I thought there was no electricity?” She asked.
“I always have a pair of matches for emergencies.” I responded. I lit one of the matches and lit two burners.
“Coffee, please.” She responds before she continues to inspect my living room. I placed the kettle on the burner and gathered my ingredients for a stew.
“You must be new to Earth, eh? How long have you been here?” I asked her. She flinched for a bit, and hesitated before she answered.
“I am. I arrived two years ago and I’ve been living in 603.” she responded before she felt comfortable enough to sit on the couch. One of her eyes kept a focus on me.
“We’re practically neighbors.” I responded. “How has it been adapting to this world? I hear that the world and culture here is overwhelming.”
“I felt like I was going to run out of air when I first arrived here. Then the cold.” She tucked into her blanket, but I could see her shudder a bit. That’s when I could feel how cold the apartment really was. I inspected the thermometer. Despite being set to a high level, I still felt cold.
I placed the cup of coffee, untouched by sugar and milk to the coffee table before heading to the closet. I threw at her another blanket for her to get warm. She yelped as she grabbed it.
“T-Thank you.” She said before placing it on herself. I could see a sliver of a smile from her. One of her eye tentacles focused on me while the rest laid under the blankets.
After a while, the stew was ready and I placed them at the coffee table. The cold caused the stew to steam a lot, but it made the stew more appetizing. The woman smelled the stew before she took a bite out of it. Her eyes widen.
“This is good.” She mumbled to herself before she continued with her meal. I was halfway done when she finished. As she placed the bowl on the coffee table, she let out the loudest burp known to humankind. No, to monsterkind. I froze my spoon in place and stared at her. She looked back at me before she looked away, embarrassed.
“Um…it was good…” was all she could muster. I couldn’t stop myself smiling before continuing my meal.
“W-What?!” She inquired. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing, just nothing.” I responded, though she can see right through it.
“I just didn’t think that someone like you would be able to cook something this good.” She remarked.
“So the burp was a complement?”
“Yeah! It totally was! The supermarket has nothing compared to what you just cooked.”
“But most of these ingredients came from the supermarket…unless you only looked at the instant food section.” I beamed her a look of suspicion.
“Oh…um…we haven’t actually introduced each other, did we?” She says, tucking herself into the blankets. She was avoiding the statement.
“Gilberto. And yours?” I asked, setting the now empty plate on the table.
“Gee One Three Three Seven” She responds.
“What? Gee Thirteen Thirty-Seven?” I asked her.
“Gee One Three Three Seven” she repeats.
“That’s not a name. That’s…” I paused, trying to figure out where I heard of those numbers before. “That’s the identification number used for the Department of Monsters if I recall correctly.”
“You are correct. I was born with no name. I didn’t have a mother or father to grant such a pleasure. So they gave me this number.” She explained. I could feel no emotion behind those words, as if this wasn’t the first time she had to explain this.
“Gee. I’ll call you Gee.” I told her. It was easier than calling her Gee One Three Three Seven.
“Call me whatever you want.” She said, as if she didn’t care. My phone received a notification, which made the woman jump a bit. I took a look at the notification.
“What handheld game system is that?!” She asked, pointing to the phone.
“This? Oh? It’s not a game system. It’s a smartphone. It is used to communicate with other people on long distances as well as notify me on what’s going on with the world.” I explained. Was this person not taught about smartphones when she first arrived here?
“Oh! So it’s like a computer, but in handheld form!” She exclaims.
“Yes. It’s less powerful than one, but still does the job.”
“Ooooo~” She said as two of her eyes were focused on the phone.
“Power Outage in certain neighborhoods. Due to weather conditions, power will not be able to be restored until the following morning. Stay warm and safe.” I said out loud.
“That’s bad.” she responded with a worried manner. “I was using an electric heater to heat myself up.”
“Doesn’t the building provide for heating though?” I questioned her.
“They do?!” She asked in shock. There is a high possibility that she may have broken her heating in her apartment. If she doesn’t know about electricity or phones, who knows what else. I let out a sigh. I had a gut feeling to not offer this, but she will not survive the next morning if I did.
“You can stay here tonight. You can check to see what’s going on with your heating tomorrow.” She flinched when she heard this.
“Y-You and me?! In this apartment alone?” She said, embarrassed as she placed her hands on her cheeks.
“Yeah. I don’t have a guest room, so you’ll have to sleep on the couch.”
“O-Oh…” she said before she sunk into her blankets. Silence filled the room, and I felt an aura of awkwardness between us. The only sound we could hear was from the wind outside. I grabbed the empty plates and proceeded to the kitchen to wash them.
She must have been bored or something because I heard her shuffling through the books on the coffee table. As I finished and proceeded back, I saw her opening the door.
“Now where are you going?” I asked curiously. There would be no reason for her to leave, especially after I went all this way to get her comfortable to stay. Actually, now that the thought crossed my mind, I realized that I have been too nice, given her first impression.
“I don’t want to be a bother.” She said in a deep tone.
“What? A bother? I don’t understand.”
“I just…I don’t want to be here when she arrives.” She responded. I was now even more confused. Who is this “she” she was referring to?
“She? Who do you mean by she?” I asked her. She turned towards me, and I could see her getting a bit angry.
“Your girlfriend! I don’t want to be here when your girlfriend arrives!!”
“What girlfriend?!” I asked in a serious and suspicious tone. Was there a demon playing mind-tricks? Was she acting like she did not exist and using her powers to be with me?!
“Where is she? Who is she?!” I asked as I jerked my head left and right, attempting to find a weak spot in her mind games. I may be a human, but I know how to get myself out of this situation.
“The Angel! The one dressed like a nun. The one with the pink wings!” She proclaimed loudly and angrily.
“The angel…with pink wings?” I repeated before I realized who she was talking about. I tried my hardest to contain my laughter, but it was too late. I was already on the floor, rolling in laughter. Dorothea, my girlfriend. That thought alone fueled my laughter way more than it should have. I could feel my lungs running out of air. I laughed so hard that I was coughing.
“What’s so funny?!! Are you making fun of me?!!” She asked, appearing confused and angry.
It was a while before my laughter had subsided. I could feel my whole body hot as a result of that episode. As I came to, I looked at her, still smiling from the joke.
“She’s not my girlfriend. She’s just a priestess who is trying to hook me up with anyone she can. She made it “her mission to find my other half.”” I explained as best as I could.
“What gave you the impression that she was my girlfriend?” I asked, genuinely curious on how she knew of Dorothea.
“Every time I come back from shopping, I would see her going to your apartment, humming a happy song and carrying her ‘book’.” She pointed to the Book of Eros on the coffee table. “That same exact book that you have right now.”
“Well, you are wrong.” I simply stated.
“No sane person will ever believe that! Why would she be humming if she is not happy to see you?!” Gee strikes back.
“She is a good person with good intentions. Have you ever met someone good, who is not interested in being your mate simply because you are the opposite gender?” I retort.
“My experiences does not factor into this. That girl is here to have your babies, Gilberto!!”
“Citation Needed.” I said, pointing at her. The pointing was more a knee-jerk reaction, as I did not expect anything to pop out. However, the moment I pointed at her, the device she was carrying earlier fell out of her pocket, bouncing over towards me. The device opened up, showing me what she was focusing on.
“So, G-13, how are you liking the view so far?” was the dialog shown in demonic text. Above the dialogue window, a young man was shown. He appeared to be more handsome than me, and he was looking directly at me, or in this case, the player. The background was a view from a cliff overlooking a city. It was night time, so you could see the lights coming from the city. He appeared to be happy that he got to spend time with the player. That player being…
No Way, I thought as I suddenly realized the type of person I was dealing with. Many young men struggled in modern society half a decade ago. Many of them would buy simulations of how it would feel like to date someone. These types of games, however, were considered the lowest of the low by many societies. But now, the roles have been reversed. I never expected to see this kind of person during my lifetime or the next. But the conversations, her attitude, it all made sense.
“Gee, are you a Dating Sim Otaku?” I looked up to her. She was attempting to cover her face with her hands . Her tentacles hid behind her. Her secret was finally revealed to the world. She fell onto her behind, not really knowing what to do or what to think. I could feel that she was vulnerable. I knew exactly how she felt, to be in that position. I picked up the device, making sure it wasn’t broken before I walked up to her. Despite being faint, I could hear her crying.
“I…uh…” I said before sitting on the ground in front of her. “…when I was starting out high school, I had a crush on this girl. She was the most beautiful girl that I had ever seen. I would often write about her. I tried my best to hide it from the others since I was not in the same league as her. Well, one day, one of the students found one of my writings, and said it out-loud in class. He announced to everyone in the class that it was my writing. I felt so ashamed of myself that I ran out of that class like a crybaby. I don’t remember how long I cried for, but eventually the girl who I had a crush on had found me.”
“I thought it was the end of the world for me. I felt so vulnerable. The girl who I had a crush on was in front of me, and she now knew what I did. I expected the worst to come. Instead of shaming me or berating me, she thanked me for the writing that I wrote. She told me that it was one of the only good things she had heard for a while. After that, we spoke for a while. She requested that I stop writing about her. However, by the end of the day, I learned something from that experience.”
“W-What was that?” She asked in a weak manner. I could hear her sniffling.
“I learned that you got to embrace what you can do for yourself and others. For myself, I learned that I was able to make people not only feel good, but also embrace themselves.” I looked at the device, and raised it up for her to look at.
“You clearly love playing these types of games. I won’t shame you for playing these games. I will judge your tastes, but I will not look down on you. Whether you are an Otaku or something else, you are still going to be Gee in my eyes.” I passed over the device to her. She carefully took a hold of it, seeing the young man on the screen.
Suddenly, her device turned off, and her progress on that game had disappeared. Her device ran out of energy. She appeared like she was about to cry more.
“You don’t need to worry about your progress. I saved your game before it turned off.” I said with a warm smile.
“Y-You know how to save these games?” She asked, wiping a large tear off her eye with her hand. I let out a few coughs before answering.
“I may have played a Dating Sim or two…” I looked away, attempting to not be embarrassed by it. Suddenly, I was tackled by her, holding onto me tightly.
She buried herself under me, attempting to hide her tears from me. I embraced her back, comforting her while the storm continued. I could feel her warmth from her body, a feeling that I don’t get to feel often. She must have felt the same. For that moment of time in the blizzard, we understood each other.
The next morning, she awoke to the smell of breakfast. The snow had passed, and the power was back on. She rose up from the couch, her hair everywhere while she tried to figure out where she was.
“You fell asleep,” I told her from the kitchen as I cooked an omelette. She slowly made her way to the kitchen, and I saw that she was grouchy. She must not be a morning person.
“Did I cry yesterday?” She asked. Her single iris lit up brightly and looked straight at me.
“Yes.” I quickly responded with no hesitation.
“Why can I not use my power against you?” She appeared to be annoyed by the fact that she couldn’t. I can not blame her though. Many have tried.
“I don’t know.” I shrugged as I placed the finished omelette on one of the plates.
“You’re hiding something from me, aren’t you?” she asked. Before I could answer though, she left the kitchen, yawning as she made her way back to the couch to get some extra Z’s.
During breakfast, Gee passed me her email address.
“I don’t typically give people my address, so feel proud to receive my email.” She said, as if she was someone mighty like the Empress of Earth. I looked at the contact on my phone, seeing that she made a profile picture on it.
“Did I unlock a route?” I jokingly asked.
“You wish.” She responded, “You are a good man. I cannot deny that fact. However, you are not my type.”
“Didn’t you cried in my arms thou-” I said before her tentacles tightly gripped me on my neck, their eyes looking straight at me.
“That did not happen. I may be a shut-in, but that doesn’t mean I am weak.” She certainly wasn’t lying. If she really wanted to, she could’ve choke me right then and there. She let go of her tentacles before she finished eating.
“Thank you for the breakfast, fri-…fri…” Her cheeks turned red, unable to finish her sentence. She couldn’t fathom the thought that she made a real life friend.
“You are welcome, Gee.”
In the world where monsters have ruled over the Earth, there has been an alarming increase of women becoming shut-ins. Today, I have met one such individual. A person who stays home and plays Dating Simulators. Despite her introverted personality, she has started to crash into my apartment once every weekend. Whether it’s due to her wanting to talk to someone, or is trying to leech me of my food and heating, I may never know.
I noticed that every time she came to hang out, she would speak more often. Her conversations became longer, and more engaging. She would talk about her progress in real life. She managed to find a job in a field she was interested in. It wasn’t long when she would tell me about her new friends she met at work. I even got to meet a few of them. It wasn’t too long before the greatest surprise of all occurred half a year after our first encounter in that blizzard.
It was towards the end of the weekend, and I heard a knock coming from the door. I knew instantly that it was Gee, so I went ahead and opened the door. I was greeted by Gee in some sort of Cosplay of a popular game. However, next to her was a man, who appeared to be in cosplay as well.
“Hey Gilberto, how is your weekend going? We came back from a convention recently, and since we were here, I wanted you two to meet each other.” She said before she waved her hands.
“Nikolas, this is Gilberto, a good friend and neighbor. Gilberto, this is Nikolas, my boyfriend.” I looked at her straight in the eye. During our first meeting, Gee would’ve looked away, but now she was able to stare back at me with confidence.
“Your boyfriend? Is this a joke?” I asked seriously. I received a big smack on my shoulder from her. It hurt quite a bit.
“This is not a joke. We’ve met during one of those conventions I’ve told you about. I was cosplaying as a villain, and I met Nikolas as the Hero!” I looked at Nikolas and we shook hands, greeting each other.
We had a small conversation before they left. I felt proud of Gee that day. She was a shut-in who used her powers whenever someone challenged her. Now she is more out-going and managed to find herself a mate without using her mind manipulation powers.
I thought back to the day when she knocked on my door and wanted me to fix her game system because she did not know how electricity worked, or how her devices worked in general.
I may never know why she choose to knock on my door that day, but I know one thing, Rodriguez Jimenez. Your book did not have the power to find a girlfriend.