The Least Common Denominator
The Least Common Denominator
Author: MokouFriedChicken
I.I Summation
Darkness.

That was the first thing that greeted me the moment I hit the cold hard ground at terminal velocity. Part of me felt a bit surprised; that I still even have a consciousness after death. But at the same time, I've stopped caring about anything the moment I jumped off the highest building in the city.

What's to care about when I've totally given up on living?

Growing up being told that I was a genius did a number on my sanity, especially since I never felt like one the since the moment I idiotically signed myself up for medical school. I was a fool back then; thinking that I can handle the workload with my admittedly above average intelligence. Thinking back on it now, even after I graduated, I still hated my chosen field.

God, I was an idiot! Why did I decide to shift from engineering when I didn't even fail a single subject?!

Predictably, the first two years of the new hotness were a breeze; nothing but minor subjects as far as the eye could see. It wasn't until we got to the more complicated stuff that my confidence dropped to below absolute zero. I started failing quizzes, even major exams, all while I struggled to comprehend the massive amounts of information that they front-loaded for us to memorize and remember. Culminating to my first ever failed subject and subsequent failures thereafter, it started my road to self-destruction as I grew more and more tired as the months went by.

It was so horrible of an experience that I grew to despise studying altogether.

Why bother when you're gonna fail the test either way? Might as well get some sleep instead of burning the midnight oil, so to speak. I also despised the way they mocked what they regarded as 'unrelated' research. Just because it's not seemingly related to the field doesn't mean it's not important!

I felt tears well up in my eyes the more I remembered more of my recent experiences. This was so bad.

"Some genius I turned out to be." I chuckled at my own hollow hubris, pained laughter echoing across the void. "Can't even save myself from my own stupidity."

I knew that it wasn't really their fault. Hell, I'm sure they even had high expectations of me. I'm at least smart enough to realize that. But my brain never got the message. Instead, I continued to harbor an extreme aversion to hard work and inefficient use of energy up 'till I took my own life.

My sad, pitiful excuse of a life.

No job. No love life. No dreams of the future whatsoever. In all honesty, I expected the world to end in about five to ten years from when I jumped.

And look where that got me.

Alone. Floating in the void that was a pitiful excuse for an afterlife. Maybe there was something waiting for me in a few months? Years? Decades? I don't really know. But if this was the extent of the afterlife, then I could probably accept it after a few hours of scenic nothing.

"Might as well stew in my own thoughts," I said aloud onto the empty void. "It's not like I'm going anywhere anytime soon."

*I wouldn't exactly count on that, Miss Carmine.*

I felt the hairs on my neck stand on end at the booming voice just now. Who was that? I didn't really deny the existence of God back when I was still alive. So maybe-

*Yes. I am God.*

Oh my Lord.

"Uhmm..." Damn. I didn't really pray to Him at all, no matter how much I told my parents I did so. "I'm sorry." Might as well start prostrating now.

*There's no need for that My child.* The booming voice of God echoed throughout the void, rocking my body with what I assumed to be limitless power. *I haven't exactly made my presence known these past few millennia.*

God was.. laughing? Was this seriously the benevolent God of the Testaments?

*Yeah, that's me alright.* Of course, God can read my thoughts. Who'd have thunk it? *And I don't appreciate your sarcasm missy.*

"Sorry." I immediately blabbered out. Can't piss off literal God now do I? "It's a force of habit."

*I can see that.* God affirmed, his tone sounding like he's busy with something. *You've lived with a negative view on life for so long huh.*

"Understatement of the year." I've had a negative mindset for the better part of my whole adult life. Learning to live with was a breeze compared to actual adulting. "It's a character trait of mine."

*So I take it then that life was an unsatisfactory experience for you?* God asked, the sounds of ruffling paper echoing in His background.

"I... suppose so." I shrugged in indifference. "Never really accomplished anything in life."

*Not even the novel you just finished?*

I sighed in reluctant acceptance. Nobody read my stuff anyway. Why bother continuing? It's a good enough legacy to leave behind.

*Geez.. With thoughts like that, no wonder you jumped off the ledge so easily.*

"I've been wanting to jump since college," I explained, not really putting up a respectable front to the Almighty Being speaking to me. "Just never had the chance to do it."

*That's just sad.*

"That's just how it is." It's my life. Nobody's gonna miss me anyway. "Might as well save everybody the heartache of seeing me flounder in life."

Silence echoed throughout the void as God deigned to simply leave me hanging, the background noises of what seemed to be filing paperwork giving an oddly relaxing ambiance as I waited for the deity to respond.

*Oookay..* God's booming voice drawled out as He came back to address me. *From the looks of things, you're eligible for a number of different afterlife packages...*

What? Afterlife packages?

"Wa-wait a minute. What?" I found myself flabbergasted at the implications of God's wording. "You mean there's more than one afterlife?"

*You can elect to grab an economy class ticket to the Underworld with access up to the sixth circle of Hell.* God rattled on, ignoring my previous questions in favor of enumerating what was apparently my retirement options. *That's the standard package for general sinners like yourself.*

Huh? Wh-What?

*You can also avail a reincarnation ticket since you never really had any attachments in your life.* The booming voice droned, ignoring my protests and overall confusion. *Pretty popular with the anime folk like you.*

A literal Isekai scenario?! Was this some kind of sick joke? What's next, the world ending?

*And lastly, you can simply choose to stay in this empty void for the rest of eternity.* God finished off His list with a slight flourish, His tone that of a promodiser in a hardware store. *All in all, quite the formidable selection considering most people automatically go to the first option.*

I felt my head spin at the incredulity of my situation. Was I seriously being offered a choice in an afterlife?

*The clause also states that should you not choose in the next thirty seconds, a random option will be chosen for you-*

What was I supposed to do?! Was there even a choice in the matter?

*-so best start thinking Miss Carmine.*

"Wait!" I shout out to the Almighty Being. "Do I choose which world get to I reincarnate in?"

*Nope!-*

Well, that's one option down the drain. I don't want to experience something that could be infinitely worse than my old life. I've already accepted that I'm going to Hell one way or another, so might as well-

*-But I'm taking that as your final answer.*

-get comfy. Wait...

No!

*Enjoy your new life Miss Carmine!*

A flash of bright light consumed me as I was suddenly thrust into who knows where. I felt my body shrinking, all while I curiously palmed out my current location. Darkness still surrounded me, though not at the same grand scope of the void that I once occupied in my death. It seemed that I was in some kind of.. fleshy prison perhaps? Coupled with the warm fluid and the faint thumping that I was hearing, one would think that I was in a-

An unthinkable scenario popped into my head. Could it be... No, that would be stupid.

I'm not gonna be literally born again, am I?

Just as the thought entered my mind, the walls suddenly squeezed around me, trying to push me out of my warm prison.

Was this seriously happening?!

Another push forced my body through a tight squeeze. Oh my days! If this was what childbirth is like, I'm damn glad that I decided to never have children! Just imagining having to squeeze something as large as a watermelon out of my body already made me wanna cry.

And cry I did.

"Wah! Wah!"

I wailed my heart out as the cold open-air hit my newly exposed face. The weight of my new life suddenly felt like a heavy burden; like a strange sense of guilt that I knew wouldn't simply go away with time. It stung, the fact that I didn't ask for this didn't help either. Perhaps this was why babies cried after being born, the task of living a full life too incomprehensible for the still-developing mind.

"It's a girl," An old, grandma like voice echoed out of my sight. I did read somewhere that eyesight was something that babies didn't have for the first few months of life. "With fiery red hair like her mother."

"My baby..." I heard another woman speak, albeit sounding younger and more tired this time. I felt a strange connection to the comforting voice. Was she my mother in this life? "Come to Mama~"

I continued to uncontrollably cry as I felt my body being lifted before I was given to my mother's warm embrace. Her arms were like a soothing balm, a cradle that helped me reign in my young body's baser instincts.

"She's a thing of beauty Eul," a gruff voice reached my ears, before I felt a rough hand caress my face. "Looks just like her mother."

"Haha.. But she's got your eyes dear," my mother returned to who seemed to be my father. "Onyx, the color of iron."

It was getting harder to stay awake now, my eyelids getting heavier by the second as I've stopped crying in favor of snuggling under my mother's embrace as I let my curiously sharp hearing take note of my parents' conversation. 

"A blacksmith then," my father inferred as I felt a gaze land on my young body. "I hoped for anything other than that."

"I'm sure we'll think of something, Pascal. They won't take our little Crimson away from us." 

While I never understood any of what went on during their conversation, I heard the clear love and affection that were being showered over me just from their tone alone. And it was with that last few sentences that I felt the call of sleep take hold of me. 

It's not going to be easy having to go through all the stages of childhood again. Puberty especially would be quite the ordeal, what with hormones impairing rational decisions and such. And while they're not truly my parents, I can tell that they cared much about my well-being. It was a small comfort going in on a world that's completely new to me.

It's not something that I wanted when I chose to kill myself, but I'll have to make the most of it somehow. I just hope that it doesn't kill me.        

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