2 The Book That Killed Me

'Athena!' my mathematical engineering professor called my name for the third time. A girl with double braids from the second row stood up nervously.

"Not you," he squinted his eyes behind his big-rimmed spectacles. "Athena Monroe!" he pronounced my name. Then it was my turn to stand up nervously.

"Sixteen!" he raised his voice as he passed the paper in his hand to the front row. Yes, that was my score for the last mathematical engineering assessment. Honestly, it was more than what I expected. I had no idea how I managed to get a sixteen in the first place.

This professor, Dr Noah Topi had a habit of calling out the names of the topper and the inferior. Being mediocre can save you from the attention of other students. Still, I was unable to score in between.

I brushed off the shame before my assignment sheet reached the backbench. I sat down with a sigh.

You may think I was feeling down then, but I was not. I'm used to this. Besides, I didn't want to be upset since it was a special day for me.

I looked at the book on my desk I was reading. If you think it was one of my college textbooks, then you are underestimating me. It wasn't. Cause I was reading my favourite romance novel. To be honest, it was my ninety-ninth time reading it and I was thriving for a century. I peeked at Topi through the heads of my schoolfellows as I carefully closed the book without making any noise.

The cover page had an image that was not related to my studies. The image portrayed a couple. A blue-eyed handsome hunk who was wearing a well-embellished tunic with goldwork thread hugging and kissing a beautiful lady who was wearing a satin ball gown. If I had to describe the image... stimulating, I would say. 

At the top right corner of the book, the name was printed in calligraphic font. "Romance, Please," it said. Below that, the name of the author, "Venus Veronica" was printed in the same, yet smaller font.

I peeked at Topi again while hiding the book inside my bag. If only he found out that I was reading this book in his class, he would personally dumb this in the garbage and call out my name in the weekly assembly. Yeah, and maybe call my parents afterwards?

I was unable to breathe properly throughout the class in anxiety. Cause Topi was asking questions as if the assignment was not enough. I let a long contented sigh when the class was over. I walked out of the class. 'Finally, I'm out of hell,' I thought.

Then I had to bear with those scornful looks and smirks of my classmates till I reach the university gate. Even that stupid Kate who just scored two more than me was smirking at me. 

I shook my head as I walked out of the gate. I went to the nearest bus stop to catch the bus to the city centre. I don't take taxis anywhere cause my parents are quite tight when it comes to my pocket money. Since I was way too lazy to do a part-time job, I had to save money.

Luckily the bus arrived on time and miraculously there was an unoccupied seat. I sat down and patiently waited for the bus to reach the mall.

Universo mall... 

The bus reached the mall stop and I got down.

At the other end of the street, I could see the mall, but I couldn't see the entrance. Because there was a sea of people. An identifiable previous queue curved here and there and covered the whole mall lobby area and entrance. If I had to enter this crowd and reach Venus, I would say that it would be far more difficult than sending a satellite to planet Venus.

I was thinking about what to do next, but thankfully Venus's manager Remus appeared by the entrance. He told the fans something and then started collecting the books from their hands. Of course, he was collecting it to get her signature. 'Oh no! This is my last hope. I'm not losing this chance,' I thought. I hurriedly opened my handbag and searched for the book as I started crossing the road. I couldn't find my precious baby there.

'Did I lose it? No way!' I slowed down and thoroughly searched for the book. At times, my messy bag behaved like a bottomless pit. Nothing reached my hand. I had to carefully look inside and search for it. At last, I found it. I pulled out the novel from the bag and started running across the road. But before I could reach the other end, something hit me hard on my left side.

My feet lifted off the ground as I was thrown in the air by that heavy strike. I could see my handbag flying over my head. The world rotated in front of me. In that brief moment, I could see a few faces in the crowd turning to my side. With a thud, I fell. The Sedan which hit me stopped with a squealing sound.

The first thing I felt after the impact was the pain. It was very painful. I could sense blood seeping from my wounds. At the same time, my senses blurred. The noises around me deadened. I was losing consciousness. The only thing I could see at that time was the 'Romance, please' book which was already stained with my blood. It was right beneath my right-hand index finger. I tried to lift that finger, but I couldn't. "Lub Dub, Lub Dub, Lub Dub,' I could hear my heart beating faster than usual. Then it became difficult for me to breathe. With a slight movement of my index finger, I closed my eyes.

It was as if I have been falling down a deep dark abyss. I couldn't see a thing. I couldn't hear any noises. I couldn't feel the environment. Nothingness, that is what it was. An hour or two passed this way. The darkness and peace around me made me want to shout out loud, but I couldn't. The only thing that was running through my mind was, 'What wrong did I do to deserve this kind of fate?'. The life I had been living filled my insights and made me cringe. 'If only I had lived a good life...' before I could think further, a sudden flash of light lit my surrounding.

I could see where I was. I was wearing a white cotton dress and floating in the air. I looked around curiously. What I saw was astonishing. Have you ever wondered whether pigs can fly? Will you believe me if I say they can? Yes. That's what I saw there.

Three beautiful pigs flying around me, holding a banner with the words 'Pig Year' on them. Below me, there was a greenish-blue river where a few elephants were swimming. I could also see a faraway land where the sharks were sunbathing on the beach. It was a land of fantasy. It was indeed fantastic. At first, it was interesting. With time, It made me dizzy.

"Welcome to the hyperspace Toxic Exile. You'll be moving to Wormhole 1102, Portal 982," I heard a professional voice. Since I was already feeling dizzy, I couldn't comprehend the meaning of all these. I was not sure what in the universe was that announcement about. Again, I fainted. Again I woke up. This time, not in the abyss or hyperspace but in a place that did not match me at all.

When I woke up and sat down, the first thing that caught my attention was the bedding. To tell the truth, at a glance, I could say that it was not something I could afford in my entire life. Also, this grandeur is unnecessary in my opinion. Those artistic thread works and some other designs which were made of something I'm not familiar with added value to that bedding.

I dubiously looked around the room. Luxury, it is. I have seen these kinds of rooms only in movies. The shiny metal works around the room, the velvet-like carpets, carved furniture, the chandelier at the centre of the room and the atmosphere in that room were extremely unfamiliar. I looked around for some time and then stood up from the bed.

I was wearing a light nightdress, which was not my usual pyjamas. Instead, I was wearing a peach-coloured princess nightgown. This immediately made me happy since I always wanted to wear vintage gowns. Shortly, the gold-plated dressing table with a mirror fell into my sight. I went there to have a look at myself in that nightgown. When I looked at that dust-free mirror, I was left speechless.

It was undoubtedly me! I do not doubt that. But I looked a lot better. I looked a few years younger. May be around eighteen years old. My skin tone almost gave me a stroke. I was almost glowing.

My sapphire blue eyes shone brilliantly without those dark circles around. Additionally, the corners of my eyes were pinkish. I tried wiping below the eyes, to check if it was just make-up. Still, I looked the same. If I had to be more descriptive, I would boast that my skin was supple and immediately turned red as I rubbed it.

The tip of my nose had always been slightly upturned. It was still the same. But the bridge seemed as if I have applied some contouring make-up. My lips which had always been dry seemed nourished, plump, and pink in colour. 

The colour of my hair hadn't changed. It was still golden blonde. But then, it seemed a lot lengthier than before, reaching my lower back.

Not only the face and hair but there were also more improvements in my body. My bust size seemed to have increased and the waist looked a lot slimmer. I started to wonder whether I was in a coma all this while and malnourishment made me slimmer. I turned to my sides and looked up and down myself in that mirror.

This is naturally the upgraded version of myself I always wanted to see. It is as if someone had put me through one of those make-up games and added some filters. Whatever, I looked quite pretty this way. I started to move towards the door with a smile but paused when I heard someone approaching the door from the outside.

"Your Highness, you're up?" a girl who looked around my age asked as she approached me from the door. I immediately turned to see 'the highness' she was mentioning but couldn't find a single soul behind me. I once again turned towards her with wide eyes. She pleasantly smiled at me.

"Still sleepy?" she asked.

"Are you talking to me?"

"Of course, Your Highness, I'm talking to the princess of Astrana," she playfully replied.

"Did you just say Astrana?" 

"Yes, your highness!" she said. "Are you alright?" she touched my forehead to check whether I have a fever. Once done checking, she went to my bed to fold the bedding.

'Astrana?' I started to wonder while watching her elegantly folding the sheets.

'Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Is this the palace of the great kingdom of Astrana?' the information arrived by processing the data struck me hard.

'Astrana, I knew this place!'

I darted to the window in that room. From there I could see the blue-green water of the lake covering most of the areas around the palace. There were many white and a few black swans swimming through the water. I could see a part of the court maze. Beyond that lake, the rich green forest was also visible.

Yes, it was Astrana! It was exactly as it was described in the novel. It was exactly as Venus described. This place looked exactly like a royal retreat. I understood the situation immediately. I was not like some other female transmigrating protagonists who take time to understand the situation. Since I had read so many similar novels, I understood, that I must've 'transmigrated' into 'Romance, please'.

'Wait! I need to hold my horses. Accident, then transmigration,' I processed the information so far. That also meant something else.

"Oops, I'm dead!" I muttered.

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