Otherworld Isekai Service
In a cold, rural area of Poland, a humble workshop housed a group of writers, many who were furiously sweating as they tried to churn out line after line of fictional content. They were paid by the word, so their fountain pens hardly ever stopped to take a break. The sounds of muffled scribbling were the only noises that permeated between each of them.
The only time that a member broke from the chorus was when one man had noticed his inkwell dry up. His tired eyes looked up from his paper, forcefully tearing his mind away from the fantasy novel that he had been penning.
He didn't particularly like his work, but this was what fed his family. Some giant company named NovelWorks had rolled into the area, offering guaranteed sums of money in exchange for writing. It didn't matter what quality that writing was. They simply had to contain catchy words designed to appease the numerous masses that were starving for content.
It sounded like a good deal – a set wage stemming from a page count and hardly anyone that would check how sloppy the actual writings were. It seemed too good to be true. But if it had been, the desks around him wouldn't have been filled with enthusiastic, self-proclaimed authors.
And so, he decided to join them. This person, who went simply by Mark, churned out whatever ideas he could think of, no matter how overused they seemed. It wasn't such a big deal. He just simply had to transfer the stories he had heard from wherever onto paper.
Likely, everyone around him was doing the same. There was no one to double check whether their ideas had coincided, but it was doubtful that anyone cared to begin with. As such, Mark wouldn't have been surprised if his stories were just the same as another's, with merely the names and locations changed.
However, there was one thing that he absolutely despised.
The sound of a low humming outside slowly growing louder reminded him of that fact. He turned his eyes toward the front door, as it suddenly burst open. From the doorway, a man with a condescending grin pranced through, dancing through the middle of the workshop.
"It is I, Dio! The workshop's greatest author!"
Other than his sheer aura of confidence and self-worth, nothing else could really be said of him. He was simply another writer in the workshop, but one that happened to capitalize on the deal early on. As such, his works were recognized early, and he was the first to gain loads of money and fans.
For that reason, that man, who went by Dio Kowalcyzk, shuffled toward the fancy room that was in the back of the workshop. The enclosed walls that isolated his desk from the others was a self-imposed status upgrade that made him seemingly better than all the others.
Mark had read his work, seeing that it was literally no different from his own or his peers. The truth of his fame was that his name was already widely publicized and recommended by NovelWorks. The publicity boost had given him plenty of fans who dedicated themselves to his works and fiercely defended any competition.
Even when his fellow peers had accomplished a piece of writing that they were proud of, they would mainly get jeers and deprecating comments from Dio's lackeys.
"What the hell is this? It's sooo boring compared to Dio!"
"You're not going to get popular by simply imitating the famous Dio!"
"Dio does this much better. Yours is garbage. A mere peasant in the throes of the mighty Dio!"
This was not something that Mark nor any of his coworkers had expected when they first joined.
To be endlessly compared to someone who had been put on a pedestal. To be insulted and taunted at every corner, regardless of how their skill compared to Dio.
Often, he found others' works to be more interesting, as many of Dio's so-called literature used the same formula time and time again. There was only so much that Mark could read involving protagonists who confidently steamrolled through their villains, bedded numerous droves of women, and gave little shits about how much of a douche they were to everyone who wasn't on their side.
For whatever reason, Dio’s fans stuck by him, rejecting anything that dared to differ from their refined tastes. And thus, he had a horde of fervent reviewers that would pounce with their evaluations, ganging up to fix the scores across the board.
"Give me some freaking variety and someone who actually behaves like a normal human being!" Mark commented aloud by accident once. Unfortunately, Dio had been standing right within earshot, several strands of hair perking up like antennae.
"Oh? And what kind of story are you writing?" Dio walked over and ripped the pages from Mark’s table.
After scanning through hardly the first page, he mockingly sneered and crumpled the pages in his hand. With a demeaning laugh, he threw it down like it had dirtied his hand.
"Such pointless dribble! Who cares about issues of the heart?! People read to fantasize. Not to dwell on realistic issues from no-name peasants! If you're going to gain even a fraction of the fame I hold, then you'd better heed my advice. Target their libidos, not their minds."
Mark couldn't disagree anymore, but given his no-name standing, he didn't have the footing to argue. Not that Dio would listen to peasants anyways.
And so, Mark just continued to write silently. It was all he could do to simply not stir the pot. Maybe if he kept silent, then he wouldn't have to face such slander again. But to his surprise, he started receiving letters all of a sudden.
Since they were letters that came through his work mailbox, he had initially held hopes that they were words of encouragement for his writing. However, all that greeted him were threats and insults that his writing was absolute garbage and that he should quit.
He was enraged by this. Given the timing, it was highly suspicious. No doubt that Dio had conversed with his fans and spread the word about him and his shoddy writing. Once they had set their sights on him as a target, the stream of degrading mail never stopped coming.
Mark had pretty much given up on checking his mail because of this, as it only served to put a hamper on his creativity. If it weren't for the guaranteed wage, he would've quit long ago. Still, he managed to hold on while gritting his teeth and ignoring them.
Oh, how I wished that I hadn't said anything in the first place.
His peers had even started ignoring him, in fear of being victimized themselves.
On his way to refill his inkwell, Mark passed by his cubby that was clearly stuffed with mail. Since it was so full, it would just be an eyesore to whoever would come chew him out for ignoring it. Hesitantly, he grabbed the whole bundle on his way back and plopped it onto his desk.
The stack of letters parted as the stack lost its balance. A cursory glance told him that they were the generic flame mail that was generated by his fake readers.
However, one letter stood out among it all. A single card with an emblem that he wasn't familiar with had been partially obscured within the letters. Pushing them aside, Mark picked up the card and scanned the single line that was written below what appeared to be a glowing, delivery truck.
Got someone to isekai? Please call this number at XX-XXX-XX-XX.
Was this a joke? Mark cocked his head at the prank-like card that contained a foreign word. Only through the experience of writing with his co-workers did he have some understanding of the word isekai – a phrase that loosely meant sending to another world.
However, something within him felt the urge to call it, just to humor himself as to what it led to. After all, he needed a good laugh for a change.
Dialing the rotary phone on his desk, it rang a few times before someone answered.
"Er… hello? Otherworld Isekai Service. Diesel speaking. You got a target? I'll roll on over." The sound of an engine roared in the background, making it somewhat unclear if Mark had heard right.
"Yeah, a target. Someone you want to send to another world. Preferably, someone that deserves their just desserts. We offer that kind of service."
"You've got to be kidding me. This is one funny joke you're making there."
"No joke, buddy. Just tell me your story, and I'll decide if it's worth doing." The roar of the engine in the background got even louder, like it was being revved up in excitement.
Mark thought for a moment. There was no harm in just telling him his troubles. If nothing else, he could get his frustrations off his chest. And so, he told the mysterious person on the other end about Dio.
"Hmm… if what you've told me is correct, then he really deserves a trip. Lemme run this by the Great Kami-sama in the sky. Please hold."
Mark was met with about a minute of silence. During that, he couldn’t help but chuckle at how serious the person on the line was acting.
"Points for creativity, I guess. I should probably hang up now."
Just as he reached to disconnect the call, Diesel's voice spoke through the receiver.
"Your request has been approved! From what Kami-sama has told me, Dio should be sitting in his office right about now, correct?"
"Err… he is… but how did you-?"
"Be right there!" The phone clicked as the buzz of a disconnected tone echoed from the receiver.
Mark stared dumbly at it. He never said anything about where Dio was at the moment. How did the person on the other end know?
He stood up from his chair and nervously looked around the room, expecting that one of his coworkers had played a prank on him. However, no one gave so much as a glance in his direction.
It has to be a joke, right?
Mark slowly sat down and mumbled to himself. "I better get back to work. Haven't met my quota for the day yet."
Minutes after he started penning his story again, a sudden tremor rocked the building. The wall leading to Dio's office exploded. Shrapnel showered the room as a body was flung down the middle aisle of the workshop. A quick look at the clothing had revealed that it was Dio.
"What the hell?!" Someone cried out from behind the safety of his desk.
A semi-truck stood in the hole where the wall had been, prompting many to think, How in blazes did that get there?
Slowly, the truck backed up, leaving behind a scene of ruins that had once been someone's office. The people in the workshop were too stunned to know what to do next.
The phone on Mark's desk started ringing. It took several moments for him to break out of his stupor. Cautiously, he picked up the receiver and struggled to keep it from jittering against his ear.
"H-Hello?" His voice shook from the shock still.
"This is Diesel again. The service has been completed. Although… I wish you could've told me that there were file cabinets in the direct path. I kind of dented my grill from it. I would rather not waste karma to have Kami-sama fix it, but oh well, gotta keep up the aesthetics- Ack! Don’t tell me that’s radiator fluid leaking out?! Anyway, thank you for using our service!"
"Hey buddy, you sound dissatisfied. There are no take-backs when you call up a truck to isekai someone. The karma has already been transferred. Now, I hope you have a good rest of your day."
Once again, the receiver went dead. Mark was left with hardly any answers to what he had witnessed.
He let the receiver drop as the realization that he had been responsible for it kicked in. Plopping heavily back into his chair, he picked up his pen. Surprisingly, writing gave him comfort as the first few lines seemed to flow flawlessly while his coworkers fled the building in fear.
An idea had sprung up in his mind. Not that anyone would take him all that seriously, but he had a feeling that this would make an interesting story.