How to survive the worst novel ever written
Before he had been dragged into this cliché-novel nightmare for desperate teenagers, his life had passed with astonishing ease. That is to say, ignoring the fact that he had been a compulsive reader, owning a blog, who dedicated himself to read all those web stories that were recommended to him, only to later be able to pester about them at his own space.
Not that he was unreasonable or that he enjoyed the suffering of those authors. Despite what it might seem, his criticisms were always objective and, for the most part, correct. For this reason, he had earned a reputation as a good critic, acquiring millions of visits to his page and increasing the number of followers by dozens daily.
Could it be that he was living the work of karma? It couldn't. Even now, after several days in which he had devoted himself both to adjusting to this world and thinking about his own situation, he felt he did the right thing. "My Impure Obsession" was a work of one hundred thousand words of absurd dialogue, flat characters, childish narration and ridiculous situations. If a book deserved all his hatred, this was it. And even so, in his review he never insulted its author -although he´d have liked to- on the contrary, he encouraged her to continue.
Maybe, and just maybe, he should have imagined that something would go wrong when all the fangirls of the aforementioned, after reading his review, came to throw hatred onto his blog. Leaving hundreds of comments wishing him death.
Well, he had died! Are they happy now?
Oh, although he wasn't sure about that… But a dream couldn't last that long, could it? According to oriental novels, dying by any hazardous cause and then transmigrating to another era, novel or video game was something more usual than it might seem to ordinary mortals. And perhaps it was this, the knowledge that such narrow-minded plots existed, what gave him some courage to face tomorrow.
He would not return to his world.
He reflected on it for a long time, this being the only conclusion he reached. What had he been doing just before he transmigrated? Oh, that was simple... Drinking! And sipping gin off his face for a change. Although this data should not be misinterpreted; he had always been a responsible person. It was not only he had a high tolerance for alcohol, it was that he didn´t enjoy drinking until passing out.
In this regard, he remembered every detail of the afternoon when he borrowed that bottle. He could even conjure up the exact number of shots he threw himself into before, with consciousness still intact, kicking off his shoes with the awkwardness of someone too tired to even undress, and crawling into bed.
He fell asleep almost instantly, and upon awakening he was already neck deep into this mess.
At first he thought about finding a way to return to his world, but after having spent a few days familiarizing himself with this new panorama, he rectified. What was the point of being dazed by finding a way back when there was no single clue as to how or why he had ended up there? No, this did not mean that he was going to completely give up on the premise. But it was undeniable that he needed more time to assess the outlook and, for the moment, to come up to the idea that his stay could be extended seemed the most prudent of options.
Above all, he must keep his head cool.
Going over the facts, this is how things were:
He had reincarnated as a twenty-one-year-old boy named Oscar Gladwin. Orphan from an early age, his uncles adopted him. And so, for as long as he could remember, he was living in the Cornell domains.
When he was little, he often played with the daughters of the masters, especially Madeleine —since she was the closest to his age— but over time his uncles taught him that social class was something to be respected. And since they did not belong to the wealthy class, Oscar soon left the games to devote himself almost entirely to the tasks related to the maintenance of the property. Madeleine and her sisters, on the other hand, began their lessons to become true ladies of high society.
The very little the original Oscar had learned, academically speaking, was the basics. That is, read, write and the four fundamental operations. All of this had been taught to him in the village school, during the scarce two or three years that Mr. Cornell allowed him to attend, claiming that even the smallest employee under his wing should have a modicum of knowledge.
That was a cheap excuse, to be honest. It was not that the boss went out of his way for his workers, it was that at that time Oscar was too young to be used as a workforce, and it was preferable to have him somewhere far from his mansion.
Worrying about having a good education, for Mr. Cornell, only applied to his daughters. Who, although they attended a couple of courses at the same school as Oscar, were soon confined at home with their own governess. Well, the environment at school, with all those poor children huddled together in the same classroom, along with the level of studies offered there, were not worthy enough for them.
The Cornell daughters had to study more, to be better than the rest of their peers and to be able to satisfy their husbands in the future, as would be expected of them.
But, back to the subject of good manners, the only one who could boast of it for now was Thomas, Oscar's cousin. Who, being a year younger than him, must have been in college at such an hour. And this was because his parents, Mr. Stevens and his wife, had only managed to save enough money so that one of them could continue studying. They brought it up to the two boys in the near past and, at the end, they settled on Thomas.
The original Oscar had no intention of robbing the possibility of studying to his cousin, since they were like brothers and he could not carry that weight on his conscience. Besides, he didn't have a head for that kind of thing either. It was enough to take care of the stable and the gardens. His uncles had already done enough by taking him in and treating him like their own offspring; he didn't want to cause them any more trouble.
The Oscar of now, on the other hand, deeply regretted not having reincarnated a little earlier. Enough to be able to fight for that place in any university, no matter how shabby it´d be.
Not that he wished his uncles or his cousin ill, but his future looked very bleak if he had to be locked up for life on Cornell property, earning a paltry salary and waiting for someone to come kill him. Could it not change the course of the novel and, with it, its destiny? He must have been able to! Unlike other transmigration stories he had read, in this one - thank goodness - there did not seem to be an annoying voiceover to admonish her for taking actions for being “out of character”.
And if the alarms were not sounding for acting on their own, why not take advantage of it?
Oscar was lying on a modest cot in a room with no windows that barely had two square meters of space, thinking about how to get out of the poverty in which he found himself, when someone knocked on the door and, without waiting answer, leaned out:
"Daydreaming?" Guessed Robert Stevens, or, as Oscar called him, uncle Rob. "Ah, not that I care, since you've already finished your tasks. But come on, now get up and meet me in the living room. Mr. Cornell is waiting for us."
"Has something happened?" Oscar had to hurry to catch up with his uncle because, as soon as he transmitted the message, he headed for the corridor.
"Not that I know of, but the boss has sent for the entire service. So one of two, or they are going to give us a medal for courage, or they will put us on the street. I wonder which will be!"
Uncle Rob knew it, as did any of the other employees in the house: Mr. Cornell hadn't had enough cash for a few months.
"To be honest, I think if your worst fears were fulfilled, you would be the last one to be fired."
It was also no secret that Rob and Edmund Cornell had maintained a close friendship for more than thirty years, which is why their respective children came to play together as children. So in the very rare event that Mr. Stevens was fired, there was no doubt that the employer would make sure to provide him with good references so that he would have no trouble finding a new job soon.
"But why so suddenly?" Oscar asked more to himself than to the other.
His uncle didn't answer him, probably more concerned about what to do in an emergency such as running out of his main source of income than about any reasons Cornell might have for requesting everyone's presence.
And it was evident that nothing good should be going through the mind of the master. Well, he kept a serious and incorruptible expression and, being already before his dozen employees in the room, he had verified:
"As you may have noticed, for a few months I have been in a somewhat delicate situation. The bills no longer go as they used to and with the competition increasing, robbing me of a good part of my clients, there is little that can be done to repair what has already been ruined", Mr. Cornell paused here, not wanting to delve deeper into the reasons. which he had made a decision about, before continuing. "I have been trying to save as much as possible, I have Meadows as my witness, and will continue to do so. However, and unfortunately it sounds, that will not come to keep this house afloat."
No one dared to ask what everyone already took for granted. There were going to be layoffs, there was no other way.
The cloth factory Cornell ran had been steadily losing customers. According to him, this was not happening because he was a bad investor, but because the city was growing and, with that, the industry soared. With the increase of stores that requested merchandise, also increased the factories that provided it. And it was wrong for Cornell to admit this, but the truth is that there were many who could provide a better quality product than his.
"Don't get me wrong, even though I think it's necessary to dispense with some people to alleviate the burden I'm under, I'm not going to do it right away. I am of the opinion that having a good relationship with the service is essential for things to work out, which is why I preferred to let you know this before I see myself with the rope around my neck and, then yes, I cannot pay your salary .
One of the younger maids asked permission to speak. Once granted, he verbalized the question Oscar was asking himself:
"Does that mean we have to be prepared for the worst?"
"I don't like the way it sounds, but do it. It will be the for the best."
Considering that the staff began to whisper among themselves, wondering who would be the unlucky ones who would have to leave that mansion, the patron continued, turning his attention to them again:
"I have no intention of getting rid of everyone. In fact, there are people here who even worked for my late father. They are people that I appreciate and, therefore, if you allow me, I would like to continue counting on you until there is no more home or masters to care for."
"I knew it, there are some lucky bastards", Oscar thought bitterly.
"For those who haven't been here that long or whose services are expendable given a crisis…" After hesitating for a few seconds, the boss continued. "D-don't think you'll become homeless either. I urgently need to make some extra cuts, but it's not like the layoff is going to be immediate. I will try to give you some more free time, permits to go to town and thus find a job before your contract here ends. I'll write you letters of recommendation too!
"This damn man fixes everything with letters of recommendation, it's normal for his company to collapse!" Oscar concluded with growing skepticism. If the situation weren't as dire, as Mr. Cornell insisted, it wouldn't have brought them all together.
Even so, the servants seemed more or less satisfied with the solution and left the room as if a weight had been lifted from their shoulders.
Oscar, on the other hand, was seeing everything blacker every time. He was convinced they would kick him out. And if they did, where would he go? Even if the salary was a bit poor, being under that roof he didn't have to worry about paying rent or getting food. If he was fired now, he would not have enough money for a rent and could barely survive a week based on the savings he had.
With references, finding a new job fast, maybe his situation wasn't so desperate. But fuck it! Why did he have to face so many problems when he arrived in this world? Why, since he had to reincarnate in someone, hadn't Providence dictated that he do so in the rich and handsome male lead? If it had been like that, Oscar would have had no qualms about abandoning the female lead, taking the fifty thousand pounds a year he would earn - almost for not doing a damn thing - and going off to travel around Great Britain for mere pleasure.
If he was the lead, he wouldn't have to worry about avoiding the Cornells, because he wouldn't even have met them!
Oh, maybe that was the solution to one of his problems.
Edmund Cornell didn´t have any sons, and given his futility in business, his only hope of prospering in life was to get a good match for each of his daughters. If one of them married, say, the protagonist's fifty thousand pounds… No, no, wait. They wouldn't even need to get married. It was enough that they knew each other and got along. After all, Oscar had no intention of matching anyone. That did not benefit him.
But, he told himself, if the protagonist knew the Cornells and his impression of the service was favorable, he might not have to worry about the possibility of spending the next few nights out in the open. Maybe he could get another job at this guy's mansion. A better paid one that, in the long run, would allow him to leave all those annoying cheap novel characters forever.
Oscar smiled to himself. It was ironic, in the end he would end up having to help Madeleine with her crazy plan, whether he liked it or not.
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