Cold tile tickled my toes as I dragged myself into the bathroom. Another day, another meaningless time that I get to experience existing. Probably the most thrilling thing today would be the tiles I was stepping on. Work would be the same slow slog of suffering underneath the stench of incompetent superiors. At least home stopped being lonely.
Maybe it’s ridiculous that someone can only feel so much in one lifetime, but it sort of made sense to me. I had been lonely for too long and now I don’t feel it. I had been hoping for too long and now I don’t believe it. God’s accept my pittance and give me silence, take my stash and answer with vague hints, and throw away my life savings and give me what? I learned the importance of being financially stable that month.
Looking into the mirror, I saw what could have been a hungover college student that should have had a haircut a couple of months ago even though I hadn’t been any of those things in years. Every morning, I woke up looking like a sentient shag carpet. Call it a gift? I simply exist for myself at this point.
“Myself,” I chuckled at the mirror with the word.
If I did, if I had the power to make my path different, I would have been a far better parent, mentor, and guide than anyone had been to me. Where are my parents? No idea, I hadn’t been able to reach them since I moved. Where were they back them? Also no idea, they wanted a career far more than a kid and grandma wanted to be retired more than even babysit.
“You’d do far more with this than I ever could,” I said as I smiled at my reflection, “You’ve looked after me.”
He started nodding. I had also started nodding but that’s beside the point.
“You’ve been there when others weren’t,” I muttered with how many memories that had conjured.
Sighing, I bit my tongue and looked at the door. My apartment was two whole rooms. My pride and joy wasn’t a car or a boat. It was just the fact that I had this space to myself. I had worked hard for it. Worked as hard as I could, I should say. If I was allowed to organise my own day then I would be able to get a lot more done. They couldn’t see that though.
“You would see me though,” I explained to the mirror with a sudden, incredibly stupid idea, “I give you my life Craig Stewart Olsen and everything in it to do what you wish. No one else ever seems to care.”
My depression was interrupted by a chime and a rather blurry, regal-looking notice on my mirror. Floral flourishes, looked like an art nouveau style if that one art history class was worth anything, scripted their way across the mirror just below my shoulders until it was a solid background. Then the writing started.
“Level 1: Initiate achieved,” I muttered to myself as I read it, “What?!”
I looked back at the door leading to my apartment in shocked disgust. Was this a dream? Was this a terrible joke? Quickly looking back at the mirror, I tried to grab for the notice but only managed to bump my hand against the medicine cabinet mirror.
“Camera!” I yelled as the thought entered my head.
No one would believe this if it was real on my word alone. The only way that it could make sense is if I took enough photos to make sure it couldn’t be faked. I rushed to my desk and grabbed my phone as I thought, worst-case scenario, I could probably get a bunch of internet points. Grabbing my only real lifeline, I scrabbled back to the bathroom only to see my form had turned into something reminiscent of a scared mop. It saw nothing.
“No,” I argued to the mirror, I think, I’m not really sure what I was arguing too but this was the most exciting dream I had had in a while, “No no no, where’s the thing? Show me the thing!”
“If this was a game, I would have gotten a notification about my stat increase,” I argued to the mirror. Second guessing myself, I hedged, “Well, depends on the game really.”
Still, nothing happened.
“Maybe I just missed it,” I muttered, frowning at the mirror I half assumed I was going insane and still sort of thought this was just a messed-up dream. Didn’t I usually wake up when I thought that? Maybe this was a lucid dream that I’m actually able to stay in? Getting excited, I started asking for things, “Mirror mirror on my… medicine cabinet, I would like a girlfriend.”
Nothing happened, probably for consent reasons and a whole host of moral ones. Not to mention logistics and a basic timeline understanding. Okay, I’ll admit, that was a bad idea.
“Okay, what about an actual paycheque?” I scoffed after a couple of seconds before quickly adding, “With more than three digits on it this time. Five if you are including the decimal point.”
Nothing happened, probably a good thing. I would have had to get into money laundering if it did.
“What about a coffee?” I asked and waited impatiently for it to appear. This was getting less fun. Thinking I may be saying this wrong I tried, “Summon coffee… In-a-mug-on-my-table.”
A silver, simple plaque appeared where the gold floral one had been before. Smiling widely, I lifted up my camera and waited for the lettering to appear. It was shockingly slow. Usually, in these things, everything appears all at once. Not that I mind. This was sort of fun. Not even reading the plaque I took a quick picture and then went to my images to confirm that it was there.
“Haha! Got you,” I muttered excitedly to myself as I read it out, “Not intelligent enough to use magic.” My face dropped at the explanation and I turned to the mirror to still see the notice, clear as day in my mirror, “What?! Hey… that’s not… what? How intelligent do I need to be?”
The number 35 was added to the bottom of the notice.
“That’s amazingly unhelpful without any context,” I argued to the stupid mirror. If I was stupid, it was stupid. “What am I? Is this a progression thing, skill point-based, level dependant? Am I seriously asking a mirror this? This is a messed up dream.”
The following appeared on the mirror:
Stewart of the Craig, son of Ol - Intelligence Level: 29.
Gained +1 Arcana Skill.
This is not a dream.
“Neat,” I stated, nodding to myself, “That is… okay then… goodie.”