1 A little package at my doorstep

"I quit!"


Miss Watson was the one who said that. She stood up and went out of the office.


The other two didn't even bother looking back at her; they just continued their work without any reaction to what she'd said.


Here I was, drowning in work because Miss Watson had suddenly quit. It seemed like it would be impossible for me to get anything done now.


But why do I feel like a robot put on a salary?


Even if I were able to finish everything on my own, there was no telling how long it would take before anyone noticed or realized something was off.


"Allen, you're not quitting either, are you? We don't have enough people here," Miss Johnson said with a serious expression as soon as she saw me standing by the door.


She wasn't going to let me go either!


'No, I'm sorry...' I couldn't say that, though; it wouldn't change anything.


"I'll do my best."


I watched as she placed an arm around my shoulder, leaning closer to whisper into my ears. "I know you will, Allen. You can handle this; I have faith in you."


What does she mean by 'handle' this?


The suggestive way she had her bust squished on me did give some ideas, but my mind told me otherwise. I could only imagine that she was trying to seduce me into slaving away like the rest and taking a lot more than I could handle.


"I-I really appreciate your confidence, ma'am, but please don't get too close to me!"


I was a little embarrassed when Miss Johnson pressed herself against me again.


"Oh dear, I apologize." Miss Johnson quickly pulled away from me, but then she grabbed both sides of my face with her hands, making me stare straight into her green eyes.


"If you need help, I am always willing to lend a hand, Allen. I will make sure we finish this work before the deadline. Then we can have some fun."


My cheeks grew hot all over after hearing those words. What should I do? Should I tell her to stop? Or should I keep working hard while pretending that nothing's wrong?


After thinking about it for a few seconds, I decided to pretend that nothing was wrong, even though I was dying inside.


"Thank you very much, Miss Johnson!"


"Of course! Let us work together to achieve our goal!"


Her words made me nod again, and I kept working hard until the end of the day.


I had a feeling that Miss Johnson was watching me the whole time. Her eyes never left my every move, and whenever I looked at her, she would smile happily.


That night, I returned home exhausted and fell asleep immediately. When I woke up, it was already morning.




There was still a lot of work ahead, and I knew that it wouldn't be easy, but I tried to stay positive and hope things would turn out okay.


But it was of no use. Things didn't seem to go well at all.


In fact, it seemed like things were getting worse instead.


It felt like everyone started doing less and less work.


There were days where we finished everything in the blink of an eye, but those times were far and few.


"Another day for the money."


Fredrick, one of my colleagues, grumbled while he worked.


He was wearing his usual outfit today: black leather gloves, a white shirt, blue jeans, and a black jacket. He looked cool, but also quite weird for a role as an office worker.


"Are you talking about this goddamn work?"


"Yeah. This is just another boring day for us slaves in Kuji Corp." Fredrick nodded. "I think it's safe to say that nobody wants to work here anymore."


Nobody wanted to work here, huh? That sounded right.


We've been struggling to meet the deadline since Miss Watson quit. An exploitative company like this needed someone capable of handling the workload, which is why Miss Watson was hired in the first place. Without her, it became almost impossible for us to complete our work.


This isn't good. The pressure is building up, and we're starting to lose focus. If things continue like this, it won't be long until we completely fall apart.


I wondered whether the boss would notice the problem. I had no idea what she was thinking, but I hoped she would try to find a solution to the crisis.


I don't know how many times this has crossed my mind, but...


'I hate my job!'




I reached out for the phone on my desk and picked it up.






I pulled the phone away from my ears and stared at it, wondering what's up with the sound on the other end.


'Must be a prank call.'


I thought back to the time when I received a similar call, but the caller didn't speak English or Japanese. Maybe whoever was calling now was saying something else.


"Ish thish Allen Steele?"


A distorted voice suddenly came through the speaker.


"Umm... Yes?" I responded nervously, not knowing how to react to this situation.


"Alien creatures will descend in 48 hours; choose your skill and prepare for battle."


That's what the voice said.


'Wait, what?!'


Is this really some prank call shit? It doesn't feel like it...


I put the phone back in my ear and waited for another message. But there wasn't anything else. No sound at all.


Was I imagining it? Was I going crazy?


No, I'm pretty sure it's real. I remember that voice clearly.


I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself down.


I leaned over to whisper to Fredrick, typing away at his keyboard beside me.


"Did you hear that? Someone called me, saying aliens were coming. Any idea if I missed the news while catching up on my sleep?"


Fredrick shrugged and shook his head.


"Who knows? We all head straight for bed the moment we're home—if we get the luxury of going home anyway. Don't worry about it. Probably a prank."


"Yeah, maybe you're right."


I was too confused to ask any more questions. Instead, I turned around and looked back at my monitor, hoping to finish my current task as soon as possible so that I could leave.


As I did, I saw an email notification appear on the screen.




─ Choose your skill for the impending doom.


There was a response box asking for my choice.


'Haha, somehow, they even got my personal email address. It might be a game survey.'


I decided to pick a skill I watched in a sci-fi movie, which I had always thought to be cool.


The skill I chose was 'Quantum Synthesis'.


I figured that would help me survive the so-called doom.




—Thank you for your evaluation.


If nothing happens, then I'll take it as one of my delusions due to overworking myself and its wonders.


For now, I'm going to focus on my work.






After finishing my tasks, I went straight home.


My house was located on the outskirts of Estrovale, which made it hard to get a direct line to the city center.


To make matters worse, there weren't many public transportation options available nearby. To reach my destination faster, I usually walk.


I couldn't really complain about the distance because I used to walk to school every morning during college. But as one gets older, the zeal for physical exercise slowly fades away.


Anyway, after walking for thirty minutes, I finally arrived home.


I checked my mailbox, expecting to see something important, but it was empty.


Maybe it'll come tomorrow.


It felt great to be able to relax in front of the TV, but I couldn't do that yet.


First, I had to clean my room.


My room was small compared to those in the suburbs, but still large enough to fit a double bed and a dresser.


While cleaning, I found a letter I had discarded the previous day.


It had my name and address written on it, along with a return address.


What is this?


I opened the envelope carefully to avoid tearing its contents. Inside were two pieces of paper with the same handwriting and a photo of a little girl.


The first page read:




Sorry, I haven't been in touch much lately since I ran away from home.


Everything has changed since we last met. I missed the good times we had in Estrovale.


But I just wanted to let you know that I'm grateful for the care you've shown to this headstrong sister I was, but it turns out that I'm also terminally ill and have just a few hours to live.


I should have listened to you and not eloped with Damian.


By the time you read this, I will have no access to my device, and the return address is invalid, so please take care of my little girl, Lianne.


A cargo will deliver her to you.






I stared at the sentence 'a cargo will deliver her to you' for several seconds.




'What the hell?! Cargo?!'


It's been twelve years, and she decided to drop this bombshell news and send a child like some package to me?


Why would Mia send her child here anyway? She must hate me so much that she wants to abandon her own child to me!


I have a job I hate, and it takes a great fraction of my time.


"I am a young, handsome 27-year-old man with black silky hair, green eyes, a sharp jawline, and a perfectly toned young body. It's my time to get girlfriends and enjoy myself, but how the hell would I manage a kid?! Fuck my youth!"


I cringed the moment those words left my lips. Even my expression as I flicked at my hair in self-pride while saying that had been reduced to self-shame.




That didn't come out right. It sounded embarrassing, even for me.




This can't be right...


I suddenly realized that the second piece of paper contained similar content. The only difference was that instead of stating the dark truth, it spoke of sweet and comforting shit to 'Lianne'.


She didn't want her daughter to feel like her mother had abandoned her, and she made this arrangement look like some extended vacation for Lianne.


Well, whatever, I don't really care anyway.


I stuffed both papers into the trash bin without reading them properly.


This whole thing seemed so strange to me that I didn't dare believe it. All that has happened so far has sounded way too disturbing to be taken seriously.


But what else could I expect from a sister who ran away with her boyfriend to marry him while knowing he was working in some dangerous cartel?


No matter how much I wanted to reject everything, it wouldn't change reality.


Ding dong!


My doorbell rang.


Who the hell could that be? It's already late, and I wasn't expecting anyone.


Ding dong! Ding dong!!


It kept ringing incessantly, as if someone was trying their best to break my door down.


I went over to the door, wondering whether or not I should answer it.


I looked through the peephole and saw an unfamiliar face outside my door.


The guy looked young, probably around twenty-one or two. He wore a black jacket with his hood pulled up to cover his entire head, except for his eyes. A cloth that was tightly wound around his mouth and nose covered half of his face.


He was standing beside a large wooden crate with several little holes on its body, marked 'Fragile: Handle With Care' with his hands on top of the box.


As soon as he noticed that I might be looking at him through the peephole, he patted the box on the ground, took off his hood, and put on a smile that reached his eyes.


"Hello, Mr. Allen, it would be best if you opened the door so you could sign the documents, and I'll be on my way."


The cloth covering his mouth muffled his voice, which gave it a creepy sound.


"Who are you?" I asked through the intercom.


The man smiled again before pulling down the cloth over his lips to show his teeth.


They were yellowish and stained, almost as if he hadn't brushed them recently.


'Must be the reason he covered them.'


"I trust that you will take responsibility for the package, good sir."


Then he gave a bow, dropped the documents on the crate, turned, and left.


It was just me and the crate.


I took a glance at the trash bin where I'd thrown Mia's letters, then walked back to my living room and sat down on my couch.


What the hell am I going to do now?


How am I supposed to take care of a child?


I've never even thought about having children.


If Mia really sent a child here, I'd rather burn the house down than live here anymore.




A shrill scream came out of nowhere, breaking the silence inside my apartment.


I dashed towards the door and opened it to find something or someone rocking the crate from its position against my door frame.


I took a peek into one of the hole marks on the side of the crate.


There was a small girl, maybe five or six years old, sitting there, rocking and kicking at the crate.


Her hair was brown, tied up in two pigtails that hung on either side of her face. Her brown eyes stared at me in shock and fear.


I pulled back and pushed the crate into my apartment.


"Hey, I'll get you out soon, okay?" I said to calm her down.


The girl stopped rocking immediately and looked at me with wide eyes. She seemed like she had been drugged to sleep all the way until she was placed at my doorstep.


"Momma... I want my momma. Waaaahhhhh!!!"


Tears started flowing from her eyes as she continued kicking at the sides of the crate.


'Mia, you're so fucking dead when I get to your corpse!' I cursed under my breath.


I rushed over to get a crowbar and started my attempt at opening the lid.


After a few minutes, the lid finally broke and fell down with a clang onto the floor. The little girl crawled out of the crate and stood up on shaky legs, wobbling and staggering.


"What the hell..." I muttered, staring at the tiny person who had suddenly become my niece.


She was no more than 3 feet tall. Her skin was pale and unhealthy-looking; her clothes were ripped and dirty; but most importantly, she looked exhausted as she dropped to the floor.


She was breathing heavily and looked as if she wouldn't make it another minute without collapsing on the spot.


My heart ached to see her like this, and it was immediately moved when I saw the tears welling up in her eyes again.




She sniffled as she took a glance at my apartment and started sobbing loudly.


'Oh heavens, what have I done? What did I do wrong to get this treatment? I should be relaxing or in bed now."


I held my hand out to help her stand up, but she refused.


"Don't touch me!" She screamed, kicking at my leg with violent force.


'Fuck! This is not how I wanted our first interaction to go.'


"Alright, alright, let's start over." I tried calming her down. "I'm Allen, your uncle, your momma's younger brother; please call me Uncle Allen or Ally."


That must have worked because she calmed down enough to look at me.


"Ally..." She repeated the name slowly, her gaze still locked on mine.


She nodded slightly, then looked down at her hands.


"Okay, why don't we get some food in your belly and talk after that?"


I offered.


She shook her head and pointed at the bag that lay inside the crate.


'How had I missed that?' I wondered, walking over to the crate to retrieve the bag.


"Momma said it's for Uncle Ally." She mumbled, pointing at the bag with a shaking finger.

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