Hello Everyone, I wanted to share the first chapter of a new book series I’m working on called The Boneless Dungeon. I have more chapters available on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/devinauspland) if your interested.
I’m working on this title at the same as The Lion Kingdom (Book III of the Endless Fantasy Online Series). I hope to have them both launch around the same time.
Any who, I present you Chapter One of The Boneless Dungeon:
NOTE: This chapter is unedited and may change upon official release.
Buzz… Buzz… Buzz… Breck slapped his hand against the snooze button on the top of his alarm clock. The persistent buzzing stopped, and he stretched while laying in bed. Sitting up, he gazed at his alarm clock. 4Four am… time to get up, I suppose. He turned his alarm clock off and got out of bed. He walked to his bathroom, removing his clothes as he meandered across his small seven by seven room. “Hey Jeeves.” He groggily called out to the empty white tiles.
“Yes Sir. How can I be of assistance?” A British, somewhat computerized, voice called back out of an unseen source.
Breck stretched and cracked his back before responding. “Start my morning procedure please.”
“Yes Sir.” Jeeves responded promptly.
The shower came on next to Breck and the room heated up. He could hear several machines turning on in the room he had previously exited, and the smell of ground coffee beans wafted by. After brushing his teeth, he jumped into the shower, cleaned himself and emptied his tank. He clicked a round chrome button, and the water cut off. Several rows of shower tiles pulled back to reveal circular blowers. Hot air began striking him from all sides and he was soon dry.
He reentered his main living space and took in his surroundings. His bed had folded itself back into the wall, being replaced by a small circular table with two fold-out chairs. The space that previously held his nightstand and alarm clock was now a small kitchenette, complete with a mini-fridge, sink, and cooktop. On the wall, opposite his table and chairs, was a large projection showing today’s stock market changes.
“Jeeves, replace the current viewing with my serenity mix please.” The projection shut off and the entire windowless room now projected a beach with calm waves brushing against the shore. Seagulls were cawing faintly in the distance and relaxing music played at a low volume. Breck sipped his coffee as a tray slid out of an opening in the wall.
“Your breakfast, Sir.” The computerized voice echoed in the near-empty room.
Looking down, Breck saw his normal breakfast. There was a piece of square white bread with the appearance and texture of Styrofoam, a bowl of thick gray nutrient-rich goop and a glass of clear water. He pulled apart the bread and dipped it into the gray goop before depositing it in his mouth. “Mmm, just how Mom used to make it.” He said in overly sarcastic voice. When he finished his breakfast, he slid his tray back into the opening it came from and walked over to a wall near one of the two doors in the room. Placing a hand against the wall caused a wardrobe to slide out and into the room. He grabbed one of the gray suits, quickly dressed himself and exited the room.
The door slid open automatically to reveal a long, dull-looking hallway. There were light fixtures in the ceiling that gave off a dim off-white glow. There weren’t any paintings, rugs or other decorative features anywhere to be found. There were only a multitude of doors with rectangular screens displaying the apartment number and occupant’s name at eye level. As Breck walked away, his door shut and his display read, “Breck Jones, Apartment 17JZ.”
As Breck walked to the end of the hallway where the elevators were located, he looked around at the vast amount of rooms they stuffed into each apartment complex. The hallway he walked down had an unknown amount of branching paths leading off of it. Most apartments, even the ones issued to families, were the same size as his. Doing some quick mental math, he figured there had to be at least a hundred different rooms on his floor alone. They really cram us in here like cockroaches don’t they.
Reaching the end of the hallway, Breck placed a hand on a scanner next to the shut elevator doors. A quick scan of his palm later and the elevator was on its way. He entered it when it arrived and descended to the first floor of his apartment complex. The elevator opened directly in front of the door leading out into the street. Elevator technology had come a long way in the previous years, enabling them to travel in most directions and thus eliminating the need for buildings like his to require a lobby. The apartment and hotel owners loved that fact as it allowed them to stuff even more people into their already cramped buildings.
Breck placed his hand against the tinted front door and prepared himself for the assault on his senses that hit him every time he left his building. When the door was pushed open, the small room he was standing in almost instantly filled with smog and pollution. Noise flooded into the cramped space and Breck physically winced from the sudden change in volume. The sounds of an overly crowded and busy populace were almost too much for him to handle but, like most things, he learned to live with it.
Taking a step into the street, he was washed away with the crowd of shoulder-to-shoulder people. The population in cities continued to flourish over the years and when the current sidewalk infrastructure wasn’t enough to support the people, the government built the new road networks underground. Whether because of lack of planning or rushing to complete the project, they vented all the exhaust upward through a variety of pipes connected to existing manholes. It didn’t take long for the pipes to become overworked and leak into the streets, causing the massive amount of smog that people just got used to.
Maybe they saw the thousands of people dying from the pollution to be another way of controlling population growth. The smog wasn’t the first decision that made him think the government was deliberately ignoring decisions that were killing people. To be fair, the government was now a shell of what it once was. With the massive increase in population, there were massive increases in crime, violence and gangs. Some kind of local governing crime syndicate ran most cities now, including the one he lived in. The government denied it but it was bluntly obvious to all that they just didn’t have the resources to control it, so they choose to ignore it.
Coughing and hacking a few times, along with everyone else, Breck pushed along toward the market district where he worked. When he was near his building, he rudely pushed his way through the crowd to reach the front door. Once inside, he was greeted with a similar scene. He was in a small room containing small pod like elevators. Placing his palm against a scanner opened the door to one pod, and he stepped in. The door shut behind him and he shot upward. After a few moments, and directional changes, the door to his pod opened to a sea of desks and cubicles.
He walked for fifteen minutes past the shouting and scurrying of his busy coworkers until he found his work area. He sat in his beat-up chair looking down at the only thing on his desk, a steel blue cube. Placing a thumb on it caused it to come alive. Several projections shot out of the cube displaying a variety of information. Most of them were showing information related to different stocks with news outlets scattered in between. A projection of a keyboard, mouse, and notepad appeared on his desk alongside a virtual potted plant and a photo of his deceased parents. His once barren desk was now filled with virtual objects.
Breck used to have a physical photo of his parents, but it got worn and destroyed over the years. He would have printed a new one but paper was extremely expensive and only the 1% could afford it. All the world’s trees had been relocated to oxygen farms, and a tree was rarely ever cut down, causing the spike in price. This was the same reason why a virtual notepad was located on his desk and not a real one.
He manipulated the stock screens around him, purchasing low and selling high. Different accounts, clients and companies were being pushed and pulled to the different screens as he worked. A large display at the top center of his view constantly showed his net gain or loss for the day. Breck continued working for ten hours and when he was satisfied with his progress for the day, he logged out. A green “+19% CREDITS” flashed before everything vanished and his desk became bare once again.
Pushing back his office chair, he rose and walked toward the exit. He had almost reached the pods when someone called out to him. “Hey B-Rod, wait up!”
Breck turned and saw not one but two people chasing after him. One was a short slender man, and the other was a taller, more husky individual. He recognized both and called back unenthusiastically. “Hey, Jesse. Hey, Austin.”
The shorter man, Jesse, responded first. “Hey. Saw your numbers for the day on the leader-board again. A nineteen percent increase, right?” He whistled. “That’s impressive. I can never top five or six percent in today’s market.”
“Yeah. How do you do it, man?” Austin inquired.
Breck shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I’m just good at analyzing trends and data. I guess I’m just lucky.”
“Come on! Seriously, what’s your secret?” Austin protested.
Breck placed his palm on the scanner next to the pods and a door opened up, so he entered. He held out a hand to stop the door from closing. “No secrets. I guess I’m just better than you.” He pulled his hand in and the door shut. The last thing he saw was Jesse and Austin staring back at him in stunned anger. When the pod re-opened, Breck took one look into the busy street and sighed audibly. I hate these crowds. Exiting into the street, he made his way back to his apartment.
When he entered his apartment, his computerized assistant spoke up. “Hello Sir. Would you like me to make you dinner?” Breck grunted his affirmation, and he stripped down to his underpants, his clothes being pulled into compartments on the floor for cleaning. “Right away, Sir.”
Breck sat in his fold out chair as another tray of hot gray goop slid out of the wall. This time there was no bread but instead a cookie with a single chocolate chip in it. Confused, he asked, “What’s this Jeeves? I can’t afford whatever this is.” He was cautious to even ask about the alien object, afraid that they may charge him for it if he had.
“This was sent by your company, Sir. There was a note along with it. Would you like me to read it?” Breck nodded his head. “Hello Mr. Jones. Here at the Homestead Corporation, we value our star employees. For consistently performing in the top ten percent on the leader-board, we have rewarded you with this delicacy. Please enjoy and know that the Homestead Corporation appreciates your continued performance.”
Breck poked at the cookie. He had never tasted or even seen one before but had overheard fantastic things said about them from his bosses around the water cooler. “What’s this brown thing in the center? Is it a nutrient pellet?”
“No, Sir. That is a bit of chocolate. A chocolate chip, to be exact.” Jeeves responded with his disembodied voice.
Chocolate? What the hell is chocolate? Breck thought as he picked up the round disk. By normal, old Earth, standards, this cookie wasn’t anything to write home about. It was only an inch in diameter and was almost flat. The cookies one would buy at an old discount store were much nicer looking, and likely tastier, than the so called ‘cookie’ sitting in front of him.
He lifted the unknown food to his mouth and took a hesitant bite. The taste of sugar filled his mouth and a warm smile crossed his face. “This is incredible, Jeeves!” He ate the rest of the cookie as slowly as possible, wishing to treasure each and every bite. When he was done he licked his tray and fingers to get even a remote taste of the now devoured delicacy. “Ok Jeeves, wake me up early tomorrow so I can put in some extra time at the office. I want to earn another one of those!”
With his earlier alarm set and his stomach full, he stood from his chair and watched as it, along with the table, retracted into a hole. His bed, which slid out of its own compartment in the wall, replaced them. He fell into his less-than-stellar-quality mattress and sleep took him.
When he woke up the next morning, he repeated his normal morning routine. He showered, ate and made his way to work. When he was done working for the day, he was once again approached by Jesse and Austin.
“What’s with the smile?” Jesse asked.
“Huh? Oh, it’s nothing. Just heading home.” Breck replied as he summoned a pod.
“Really? You never smile.” Austin pushed.
“It’s nothing, guys.” The pod door in front of him opened. “Well, that’s my ride.” He stepped in and allowed the door to shut. How could I not smile? I had the best thing in the world to eat yesterday. What’s the expression? Oh, yeah. I could die happy now. As if the universe was answering his call, his pod began to creek to a stop. Red lights flashed and a non-stop buzzing sound came from all around.
Breck hit the emergency call button but received no response. “Hello? What’s going on?” After several minutes of not receiving a response, he attempted to pull the door open. Digging his fingers into the crack between the door and the wall, he pulled with all his might. He could hear the gears holding the door shut start to give way. Taking a deep breath, he gave it everything he had and the door slowly opened. There was nothing but darkness on the other side. When the red lights flashed, Breck got glimpses of a large shaft with other pods zooming past.
It’s way too dark for me to see. I can’t stand all this darkness! Breck thought to himself.
Request confirmed. Acquisition of the skill Night Vision is successful.
What the hell was that? And where the hell is my help?!
Request confirmed. Acquisition of the skill Call for Help is successful.
“Ok, seriously. What’s going on he…” The cables connected to the pod snapped, sending it into a free fall. With the door open and nothing to hold on to, he fell into the darkness. It didn’t take long for him to collide with other pods on his rapid, fifty-floor descent. The pods he hit managed to slow him as he broke countless bones before landing at the bottom of the service shaft. He lay there in an ever-growing pool of his own blood, unable to move his broken limbs.
It hurts… It hurts so much… Breck could barely keep his mind straight through the pain.
Request confirmed. Acquisition of the skill Fall Resistance is successful.
Continuing. Physical Attack Resistance is successful.
Every bone in my body hurts. I can’t… I can’t move…
Creating a body that does not require bones. Successful.
Continuing. Creating a body that can’t move. Successful.
Continuing. Body of essence created. Successful.
Breck looked around. Am I going to die in this dark room alone? Is there no one out there?
Creating a companion. Searching database for applicable information. Successful. Companion, Jeeves, created.
He tried again to move, and the pain intensified. I can’t take it! I want to die. The pain’s too much.
Request confirmed. Acquisition of the skill Sacrifice is successful.
Sacrifice has combined with your body of essence and created the unique skill Essence Absorption.
Your essence is now being absorbed.
Breck’s eyes got heavy, so he allowed them to shut. Words, more like symbols, appeared in front of him but he couldn’t read them. They were in a language he couldn’t understand or even recognize. I don’t understand. I can’t read this.
Request confirmed. Acquisition of the skill Tongues is successful.
Tongues skill activated! Language Acari acquired.
The words in front of him rearranged themselves until they formed words in English. The words read, ‘You have died.’