Sharp Start

Kyle considered the small, rectangular package with his name on it. It was a white box with a red logo that resembled a pair of scissors and the name Sharp Development on the side.

“Hah, oh yeah!” he recognized the logo from a Kickstarter campaign. “They actually sent something,” he chuckled to himself while he used his pocket knife on the box. “I guess they reached their goal, good for them.” Kyle liked donating to campaigns that would likely fail. He knew he’d get his money back and he hoped that maybe it helped the creators feel like they’re on the right track at least.

Inside the white box, he found an elegant wooden box. Kyle pulled the decorative box out and opened the lid gently. Inside he found two rectangular, velvet-lined sections. A single black card, darker than any black Kyle had ever seen, rested in the right side of the red velvet section. He initially thought he was looking at an empty hole. A white rectangle with writing on it rested in the left compartment.

Kyle reached for the card but his fingers bumped into something cool and hard. He felt around the edges and pulled out a thin, small, glassy rectangle. He looked through the glass but did not notice anything special about it.

“What were you again?” he asked the box. Despite remembering the fact it was a Kickstarter, he donated to so many he didn’t know what this particular product was supposed to be. “Probably the instructions,” he reached for the white paper.

“Throw the black card against a wall to begin.”  was the only thing written on the white note.

“I guess let’s begin,” Kyle pulled the black card out of the box and threw it at the nearest wall: the divide between the kitchen and the living room. Once it touched the wall the card became a tall, wide hole big enough for a person to step through. Kyle stared at the hole and took several steps backward. After several seconds a black cat with a red patch of fur on its head padded out of the hole. The red fur resembled a red skull inside a red circle. The cat hopped on the table and looked at Kyle.

“Hi! Ready to begin?” the cat asked with a soft, feminine voice. Kyle was so startled he hopped on the counter, instinctively seeking higher ground. He quickly realized she wasn’t attacking him and relaxed a bit.

“Begin what?” he asked. Until that moment Kyle never imagined a cat could roll its eyes. Somehow the human gesture put him more at ease, enough to be slightly offended.

“The move to another world. Didn’t you read the Kickstarter?'” The cat asked. Kyle shrugged and shook his head.

“Not really. I vaguely remember something about a new life in another world, but I didn’t think it would get anywhere. Congrats on being funded though!” The cat face-pawed her forehead. Kyle decided he liked the cat; it behaved so humanly.

“We didn’t get funded; you were the only backer.”

“Oh,” Kyle said with a confused look. “Then what’s going on?”

“We didn’t need funding. I’m a talking cat from another universe, so it’s not like we’re short on money. My boss uses crowdfunding to see how ready an Earth is for us. This one isn’t yet but when that happens if there is a very tiny amount of interest, one in this case,” the cat nodded at Kyle. “We offer them the chance to come anyway. So, want to come?”

“How’s it work? The cat’s head drooped and shook from side to side.

“Didn’t watch the video either?” Kyle answered with a shrug.

“Do you know anything about MMOs?”

“Yeah, kind of.” The cat nodded.

“I did the voiceover for the video. This might sound practiced; but, it’s the quickest way to explain right now. I’ll answer any questions after,” the cat sat on its haunches, closed its eyes, and took a deep breath. Then, she opened her eyes and looked at Kyle.

“Create the character that you want to live the rest of your life as. The AlterNet has 25 classes, 25 races, and 10 bonus oversouls that you can combine to create your dream life in another world! The AlterNet is a network of Earth-sized servers that house the ultimate Alternate Reality game played the way you want. There are servers that cater to every sport and gaming genre. You can fight a horde of zombies on one server then hop to a tourist server to unwind after slaughtering the undead. After relaxing you can test your luck on the gambling servers; and, you can do it all as your chosen class,” the cat paused to breathe. Kyle stared at her through wide eyes.

“The AlterNet’s modular class system lets you bring your class skills to your daily life. But don’t think you can run amok! The nano-technology we use to give you super abilities can also negate them. Are you a Unique Soul,” the cat paused. “Kyle, what’s your favorite number?” Kyle shrugged.

“I dunno, seven maybe?” The cat shook her head.

“I’ll skip ahead,” the cat took another breath but Kyle interrupted.

“Wait! I’m in. I want to go!”


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