“You know you have to actually go outside at some point, right? We were all pumped up about you getting a job the other day and you still haven’t left the house.”
Bell is standing next to me, latched onto my arm as I lay on the couch.
Sorry folks, but that is one thing I will never get used to - actually going outside.
With all the technology about in this day and age, can’t I just work from home? Why even make all these machines that send signals across the world if you can’t just sit at home and use them?
I feel like I am becoming that old man, always talking about “back in my day,” but it’s true! In my expansive lifespan, trips outside have been few and far between; especially in the daytime.
I am that old man, hell, I’m older than all of those men.
The weight of my age drags my brain down as if my body itself is changing with the passage of time. At least that’s what it feels like.
I seize up and lower my voice into a mumbled croak. Weakly, I reach my hand over to the impatient Bell standing beside me as he continues his attempts at moving this geriatric patient.
“This old man is too weak for such antics that you youthful children are able to enjoy. Go on without me, sport, I will only slow you down.”
There is a moment where Bell looks at me with compassion, as if he understands the underlying pressure put upon me by the thought of the great outdoors.
Bell bonks me on the head. It doesn’t hurt, but it hits the old man persona right out of my system.
“Don’t pout now, okay? We’re going outside old man; you need to get your steps in for today. Do you need me to grab your cane?”
The pseudo-Demon Lord speaks with the playful annoyance of a sibling or a good friend.
Very funny. Maybe Bell is the wordsmith between the two of us - how did this joke end up backfiring on me like this?
Okay, that light novel is going on hold until I learn the mastery of speech from Bell.
Unleashing myself from his grip, I arch my back as I bow down on the couch, facing Bell.
“What are you religious now or something? Begging won’t get you out of this situation, Hiro. You’ve already tried that.”
Bell steps back, taking a break from trying to be a doting parent for just a second to catch his breath – observing this prostrated vampire in front of him.
I guess when I say it like that, this whole dynamic sounds really weird.
“Please tech me your ways, Bell-sama! We shall go outside now.”
Bell tilts his head in confusion.
“Sama? Did I hit your head a little too hard?”
I release myself from this bow and raise my head up to get a better look at Bell.
“No, it actually really didn’t hurt at al-“
“Okay, good. Let’s go into the out now, okay Grandpa?”
That’s a terrible way to craft a sentence, maybe I won’t be taking tips from him for my upcoming extravaganza.
Before I can even get into position to leverage my weight, trying fend off Bell’s unwanted advances, he grabs onto my arm and pulls me to the front door.
That bastard was just waiting for his chance to get me.
Didn’t I say I would go out anyway? I didn’t mean it, but surely, he hadn’t guessed that.
“What’s with that face, huh? It’s really not that bad outside ya know.”
To be honest, I can’t really fathom what’s wrong – I know the sun won’t kill me anymore, I’m not a vampire. But there is so much of my body telling me not to go outside. My heart feels as if it’s going to break through my ribs and tear a hole in my chest.
The unfamiliar pump of blood through my body makes me feel as if I need to rip every inch of skin I have right off. There is no other way to describe this other than I feel as if I am dying, even when I know I am not.
Returning to the conversation at hand, I give Bell any answer that comes off the top of my head.
“I really thought you were a master wordsmith, Bell. In my mind you were going to help me write my light novel! Look at how you’ve shattered my dreams.”
I channel my inner turmoil into a comical sadness that shows on my face; I don’t want to bring Bell down with me.
“Save it for Comiket, okay?”
Before I can even probe further into this strange concept, the door opens wide and bright sunlight shines on my whole body.
This is not the first time I have been in sunlight since I’ve been here of course, but still my system quivers in a fear of something that I know won’t happen.
Suddenly the goosebumps running up my arms turn to sensations of pleasure and my body heats up.
It feels like the energy that Bell emits on a constant basis, concentrated on my skin - bringing light onto an otherwise darkened mood.
Pun not intended.
“That’s all we have to do for today. I know you’re not used to this, and I don’t want to push you, I just wanted to help you get the process started. Baby steps.”
I am not a baby… although I do take steps.
You are fifty percent correct, good sir!
Bell wears his regular, light-hearted smile, shining bright even when the sun should be stealing its glory. I feel as if he’s both proud of me and sorry he pushed to get me where I am.
A smile can really say a lot, hey?
I don’t want to let his efforts go for nothing. Even if I am unsure about whether or not this is going to be an overly enjoyable experience.
“I think I’m ready to go a little further, even if it’s just down to the road.”
With a grin that bares all his white teeth, he sticks his thumb out.
“Down to the road it is! Today we venture out into the world – Otaku and NEET!”
Yes, today I take steps out into the world. Not baby steps, not vampire steps, not even baby vampire steps. Just steps. Regular, human steps.
That’s what I am after all.