1 The Old Man

Arc 1: Suffering

Wealth, power, and freedom are all terms normally associated with happiness in today's society. But are such things truly the epitome of happiness? Why can't one be content with a life full of simplicities? Society is nothing more than a playground filled with spoiled brats! But you're welcome to disagree. However, I have a proposal for you, my dear reader. Let's play a game, shall we? A game called Survival Zer0...

"Humans are so damned greedy..." Complained Shade. He had just bought a bar of chocolate which had cost him over $30. "It's totally absurd for anyone to sell something this small for such a high price. This must be the definition of highway robbery..."

It was the middle of the night as Shade slowly walked back home down the lonely streets. His thick black coat hid his skin from the cold night air and his silver chain attached to his black jeans jingled with every step.

Carefully, he bit into the bar of chocolate as a nearby street lamp illuminated his facial features. His emotionless dark brown eyes complemented his slick chocolate brown hair which was faded at each side. He almost looked like a member of some notorious gang despite only being 17-years-old.

Suddenly, not too far ahead, Shade realized that an elderly man had fallen over in the middle of the road. It seemed as if he had twisted his ankle and was now grieving in pain.

"Finally..! A nice young man! Please help me! I fell and I need some help! I thought I would be stuck here the entire night!" Begged the elderly man.

However, to the elderly man's surprise, Shade walked right past him as if he didn't even exist.

"Wait! You can't leave me here..! I'll die from the cold!"

Shade then pulled himself to a stop before releasing a very bothered sigh.

"I mean, you're old. You're going to die soon anyway. What's the difference..?"

The elderly man could hardly believe his ears. Out of everyone that could have come his way to give him a helping hand, it had to be some cold-hearted kid.

"That doesn't mean that I want to die like this! I'm begging you, please!"

"And what do I gain from helping you now..?"

"I don't have anything to give but I'm pleading to the kindness in your heart to give an old man a hand!"

"So, I'm walking down a lonely street in the middle of the night. Then I see some creepy old guy sprawled out in the middle of the road. How do I know this isn't some trap to get me robbed? Look, old dude, I've already been robbed $30 for a bar of chocolate. That's enough for me.".

The elderly man didn't reply. Instead, he proceeded to stare at Shade with a look of desperation in his eyes and a drop of snot dripping from his nose.

After a ten-second stare-off between the two, Shade gave in. It was a bother to take the risk but it was also the right thing to do.

"Sigh... Fine..." He muttered.

"Thank you! You saved a life tonight, young man!"

"Man, can you stop shouting already?"

"So, what's your name, young man?"

"It's Shade."

"Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"You just did."

"Why are you so bitter?"

"Bitter? I think I'm quite sweet..."

"Then why do you seem so unhappy..?"

Shade then paused before responding. One of his biggest questions in life was; 'How did one attain true happiness?'. The old man's question had caught his attention.

"How does one become happy? I don't even understand why human beings exist in the first place. But I doubt any of us are here to be happy, old man."

"Ohh! I see..! Are you looking for answers to your questions?"

"I guess you could say that..."

Perfect then! What if I told you that I could help you to find the answers to all your questions?"

"Huh? And how would you do that..?"

"I can show you this cool place just around the corner where you can find all the answers to your questions!"

Shade now wore an unamused look across his face. How was some weird place supposed to answer all his questions?

"I knew you were trying to rob me... I told you that I was already robbed. I have nothing on me, old dude."

"I'm not trying to rob you, I promise! Besides, wouldn't I have someone jump out at you already if that were my goal? It's the middle of the night and no one's awake to see us. I promise that's not my goal, young man!"

Shade sighed. The elderly man did have a point. If he had wanted to rob him, he would have done so long ago. Did this mean that the old man truly knew a place that could answer all his life questions?

"Fine... I'll follow you since I don't have anything to lose. It's either you're a delusional old man or you actually know what you're talking about..."

"Great! Let's go then!"

A few minutes later, the elderly man had led Shade into a hidden alleyway that he had never seen before. At the end of the alleyway, there seemed to be an old abandoned building. However, the building seemed to have no windows and the only door present looked as if it was locked.

"Wait, is this an old arcade..? How will an Arcade answer my life questions? Damn, I knew you were delusional..." Mumbled Shade.

"Oh, you'll see! Move closer to the door and listen. Trust me!"

With one last bothered sigh, Shade did as the old man told him. Slowly, he braced his ear against the door and began to listen.

Suddenly, Shade felt a powerful push from behind from the elderly man. To make things worse, the door to the arcade was unlocked which resulted in him falling inside.

Before Shade could even scurry to his feet, the door locked behind him with a powerful slam.

"What the hell?!" Cursed Shade. "Damn it! That's the last time I'm helping some old dude off the street!"

Not knowing what else to do, Shade slammed himself against the door trying to get it open. Unfortunately, it was now locked and refused to open. He was trapped inside.

"Tsk! That backstabbing old geezer!"

Shade then turned himself around to see if there were any other available exits. However, what met his eyes was an abnormally thick blanket of darkness.

"Man, what the hell is this? Anyone else trapped inside here?" He asked with a glimmer of hope.

Suddenly, a voice then answered but it was not that of a human. It sounded more like a dying robot.

"Zzz-Zzz..eeee-rrrr...0..! Zer0!"

"Huh? Zero..?"

Almost as quickly as Shade responded, the floor underneath his feet cracked open and swallowed him up. Shade screamed at the top of his voice, flailing his arms and legs wildly. He was helplessly falling into some kind of dark abyss. And with one final yelp, everything went quiet.

"Damn it..!!!"

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