Chapter 0:

Game Loading...

Theodora Plays to Win (With Cheat Codes)

I’m biased toward the protagonist of this story. We went through a lot together and so I cannot remain impartial in it’s retelling. I was supposed to be an observer but my personal involvement led to unforeseen developments that changed her and her new world forever.

The inciting incident for the following events was due to my own negligence. Plainly, I made a mistake, a mistake I became aware of when a certain person found their way into the Overseer’s office.

“Who are you?” The Overseer was shocked.

“Katya, and you are?” Katya glared at the Overseer with all the ferocity a teenager cold muster.

“Humans are not supposed to be here.” The Overseer didn’t give in to such weak provocation. A being as ancient as the Overseer long ago lost it’s patience and wit.

“Are you the game’s interface?”


“The UI or wait, are you that fancy AI the lab monkeys were jabbering about?”

“I know not of what you speak; however you arrived here it does not change the fact that you are now here.”

Katya begins moving her fingers about her head and punching the air.

“Why are you making such odd movements?” The Overseer tilted it’s head.

“Can you tell me where the eject or logout button is?”


“How do I leave? Mendolssohn? Takebayashi?”

“Who are you speaking with, child?”

“The lab. Hellooo?”

“This is getting us nowhere. Human, do you know where you are?”

“In the lab, hooked into a gaming console.”

“No, child, this is The Great Beyond.”

“Yeah, I know, that’s the title of this game.”


“The world’s first Full-Dive Virtual Reality game. I was selected as a beta tester. I have to say this is really realistic so far. You guys really outdid yourselves. Though, my only gaming experience is Pokemon and Smash Bros. so I’m probably not the best judge for this sort of thing.”

“Nothing you say makes sense.”

“Hold up, is this a scripted event? Is that why you keep giving me negative responses. Gosh, I wish I had a dialogue options.”

“I am the Overseer. I manage the reapers charged with escorting souls into the next life.”

“Is that what this game is? I wasn’t really paying attention. Oh! I was told to make note of any bugs. No logout button is a problem. Are you hearing me?”

“You seem to not comprehend your current state. Human-”


“Human, you are no longer alive. The moment you entered this realm your ties to the corporeal plane were severed.”

The human known as Katya stared at the being shrouded in a white veil. The human’s eyes seemed cloudy, her breath was becoming staggered.

“This set-up is kind of involved, huh?” Katya willfully ignored the Overseer’s lines. Katya was alive, she had family… she had a boyfriend (kinda), and she had a test she had to study for later in the week. She thought this would be a cool opportunity for her and she didn’t have any weekend plans. Two hours, that was going to be the time limit. Two hours and she’d be pulled out.

Katya stood there staring, not making a sound, her lips quivered, on the verge of tears. The Overseer bowed her head in frustration.


I appeared before the Overseer. I am Callum, I’m an Angel. I wiped my eyes with a handkerchief.

“What were you doing, Callum?”

“Nothing at all.”

“And what were you supposed to be doing?”

“Keeping an eye on the humans. And I was doing that, last I heard they were on the verge of self-destruction. Civilization on Earth 111 is donezo. Another couple…hundred years…give or take.”

“Last you heard.”


“Don’t think I didn’t catch your phrasing. While you were doing ‘nothing at all’ a human appeared in my office.”

I turned my head and saw a tiny human. All human look tiny to celestial beings. This one looked like she was between 12 and 18 but I’m not the best judge of humans ages.

“No skip button…” The human whispered under her breath.


“This human believes she’s playing some kind of game, a Full-Dive Something or Rather. I want you to go find out what she blabbering on about.”

“Sure, I’ll be right back.” I left the room and returned not two seconds later. “I have good news and bad news.”

“Go on.”

“It seems that some video game developers managed to get their hands on a Reaper’s Gatekey.”


“And they’re using it run their game. Not to worry, I trashed their lab and got it back, but…”

“Hey! I only have two hours, how long is this cut-scene?”

“She appears to be rejecting the reality before her. These cases are so vexing.”

“I’ll take care of her. This was my fault, so it should be my responsibility.”

“Very well.”

The Overseer leaves. The girl stares up at me with a faraway gaze. This is my fault, I got wrapped up in human entertainment and almost allowed something catastrophic to happen. I need to do my job but I also feel guilty. This kid died because of me, I’ve seen countless souls into the next life, but this one is different. Special considerations have to be made. I need to make this up to her somehow.

“Is the game frozen?” The girl snapped him out of his turmoil.

“No. I’m Callum, and I’m an Angel working under the Overseer.”

“Katya. Are you going to explain the rules, I have less than two hours before I have to go.”

“Uh, yes. The rules…” An idea suddenly popped into my head. “This is a second life simulator, you’ll get to go to another world and live a fantastical life that you couldn’t on Earth.”

“Do I get to customize my avatar?”

“I can take requests for appearance, but stats, name, and gender are randomized.”

“Do you know how I log out?” She keeps bringing that up. I don’t know what to say to her. She seemed to be on the verge of crying, her protective wall slowly crumbling. Deep down she understood what was happening, I could see it through the haze of her eyes.

“You have to beat the game.”

“How’s that?”

“Live a long, happy life.”

She grimaced, tears were ran down her cheek.

“That’s dumb.”

My own eyes were beginning to feel hot. “You’re right.” She needs hope. She wants to go home, even though that’s never going to happen. It’s not possible. “How about this…find a way back here without dying and you win.” It was a feeble lifeline, maybe it would inspire her in the next life. My heart ached.

“That’s better. How do I start?”