Kingdom Under the Sun

Chris tumbled out of the black hole and into a wheat field. He landed face down in the ground but reacted quickly to pick himself up. He stood, spitting out a mouthful of tasteless soil. The lack of any flavor unsettled him; dirt may not have tasted great but it had a taste. He felt like he had a mouthful of plastic particulate. He hurried to his feet to ask the old man why he pushed him; and, maybe threaten some violence.

The old man was gone. The city was gone. He stood in an endless wheat field with an orange sun dipping into the horizon. Then he noticed two others. A red-headed young man wearing jeans and a t-shirt; and, a ragged, filthy woman dressed in rags. She reminded Chris of the homeless man that pushed him through the hole a moment ago. The two strangers noticed Chris. The woman started walking toward him through the waist-high wheat stalks. The red-headed man shrugged then he followed her.

“Where am I?” Chris asked when the strangers were close enough.

“This is The Kingdom. How did you get here?” the woman asked. Her teeth were perfect white, despite the rest of her filthy appearance.

“An old man claiming to be a god pushed me through a hole,” Chris scanned the wheat field around them again, then looked at the pair. “Can one of you help me get home?” The woman nodded.

“I can, but do you want to?” She asked. “The King has given you a wonderful gift and you’re going to just go home?”

“King? He must’ve given himself a promotion. He told me he was a god.” Chris said.

“He is the ruler of this Kingdom,” she stretched her arms wide to gesture at the endless field. “A king, if you will,” she replied with a smug smile. “But for someone as powerful as him, god is the more appropriate descriptor. Either way. I need to explain to…,” the woman used her thumb to gesture at Chris behind her. “…that one the extent of this gift. Listen in. I’ll take you if you still want to leave after that.” Chris shrugged.

“Fine.” He crossed his arms and shifted his weight to one leg to wait.

“Mannequin,” she said. A swarm of black dots gathered next to her and formed the shape of a mannequin, then it solidified. “This is you,” she nodded at the red-head. “Or you, if you like,” she smiled at Chris. “Here in The Kingdom, you choose who you want to be. Be it…,” the black mannequin shifted to a tan-flesh color. It no longer looked dark and plasticky; it looked like a human male with real, soft, supple skin.  “…human…,” the mannequin changed its form again. It shrank a bit and became leaner and paler. Its human ears elongated to a stiff point. “…elf…,” The elf bulged up and outward. It became a giant hairy beast with the muscles of a comic hero and the head of a bull. “…minotaur, and so on.” The minotaur changed several times in quick succession after that. Its dark-brown furry body became smooth purple snake scales; it became a naga. Then an ogre, a mermaid, and a gnome; then, back to a black mannequin. “You can choose any one out of 25 races to live as for the rest of your life.”

“Uh…,” the red-head raised his hand.

“You’ll have a chance to go through all 25 races when you make your new self,” the woman said. The red-head lowered his hand. “But wait,” she grinned. “There’s more. After you pick your body you also get to pick your soul. Souls give you abilities from that race.” The black mannequin shifted its form again to become human again. “This human can change its size…,” The imitation human shrunk in the blink of an eye. It turned into a five-inch high fairy with fluttering wings. “…because of its fairy soul.” The fairy grew into a full-sized human again. “Or if it had a slime soul…,” the human’s skin became translucent. The human that had been standing perfectly still began to wobble like gelatin. Then it transitioned back into a black mannequin.

“After you pick your body and soul you get to pick a class.” Heavy golden plate armor appeared on the mannequin. Then the armor became an elegant golden silk robe. “There are 25 classes too.” The mannequin disintegrated. “That’s the short version but it’s enough to get him started while I take you home,” the woman said to Chris. He shook his head.

“No way. I want to stay,” he said.

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