1 The room you never leave

Once upon a time, in a tiny little room, a man awoke from his slumber. His memories were relatively blurry, he had a hard time recalling what he had done the day before. Opening his eyes was of little help; the room he came to looked nothing like his own.

The room was about 5 meters by 5 meters in length, with no door or window visible. The lack of entrance or exit made him wonder how he entered the room in the first place.

His body was lying on some sort of stone slab, similar to some ancient altar. He stood up and examined himself. His usual clothing had been replaced by a long white garb, but more importantly, he realized that his body had become transparent. A pained expression appeared on his face.

'Looks like I'm no longer among the living…' he thought.

"What is this place...?"

Thinking about his situation, he recalled an old riddle. "What is the room you never leave?"

"Is this really my tomb? I expected to be cremated. Then again, I appear to be a ghost and my body is nowhere to be seen."

He considered his ghostly situation and tried to traverse the wall with little success.

"Well, looks like every ghost story I ever heard was a lie. I want a refund."

Apart from the big slab in the center, there was nothing in the room. He wondered how he could see without any light, but attributed it to being a ghost. After all, he currently didn't have a physical body.

After looking around for a bit he sat down on the slab, thinking about how to leave this place.

He tried calling for help but he didn't seem to have a voice anymore.

He tried looking for a loose part of the slab but it was very solid.

He tried digging through the ground, but it was made of stone like the rest of the walls.

He swooped through the entire room but the only thing he found was a little pebble.

Ultimately, he lied down on the slab again and fell asleep. There wasn't much he could do for the moment anyway.

He dreamed about his past life. He saw his parents, his siblings and other people dear to him. However, it wasn't a typical dream and he was lucid the whole time. He understood that those weren't his own dreams but somehow he was visiting his family. Grateful towards whoever was responsible for this event, he told them all his goodbyes one by one. He kept his mother for last. When he told her this would be the last time he will see her she realized that she was dreaming, burst into tears and hugged her son. They remained like this for a while but ultimately his mother's dream ended, and he had to leave. His mother gave him some parting words, the kind of wisdom you only receive from your mother, that sounds really stupid but is full of affection.

He woke up for the second time in the bizarre room. Nothing had changed. The advantage of his situation was he no longer needed to eat or drink. The only death he had to fear was dying of boredom, it seemed.

Having nothing else to do, he picked up the stone he found and used it to scribble on the walls. First, he wrote stuff like "LET ME OUT!", then he drew a door and a few windows and even added a few animals. Finally, he imagined he was being kept here by some mystical creature so he drew a giant eyeball attached to a bunch of tentacles on the wall. As time went on, he realized nothing he did had any effect and started to fall into despair.

"Am I doomed to stay here for all eternity? I'd rather disappear into nothingness."

It is at this moment that something FINALLY happened.

A voice resonated in his head. "Calm down, your wait is almost over."

"Huh? Who's there?"

What happened might have scared him to death, but it was a little late for that.

The drawing of the giant eyeball he drew a few minutes earlier came to life. The various tentacles spread out over the wall and attacked the few animals that were drawn. One by one, the animals were swallowed by a mouth that appeared below the eyeball.

This sight alone caused our young friend to almost faint, but it didn't stop there.

The drawings of the various windows suddenly shattered and various tentacles entered the room. The door opened and the eyeball emerged from it, in physical form.

His teeth clacked against each other as he hugged the other side of the wall, desperately trying to get away.

The eyeball looked at him and spoke.

"I am not your enemy, you have nothing to fear."

"...What are you?"

"You're quite rude, you're the one who drew me like this."

"Are you saying if I had drawn a cute girl she would have appeared?" he asked perplexed.

"Correct. This place is the center of your soul, the form I take might vary upon what you want to see."

"Then why didn't you take the form of an animal and why did you eat all the other drawings."

"Simple, I can only take one form at the time, I, therefore, consumed the other drawings so I could appear properly.

"... So who are you and what do you want?"

"I'm just a figment of your imagination that's part of you. You will be reincarnated very soon. In your new life, your talents will be put to the test."

"If you're part of me, how come you know stuff I don't?"

"That's the reason for my visit.

Normally you would lose all your memories when your new life starts. However, your soul was placed inside this bizarre room and was preserved, even reinforced. "

"What? Who did this and why? "

"I do not know, the only thing I can tell you is that you should be able to leave now if you so wish Reality is pretty unstable in here as you can see by my sudden appearance."

"So what? I should imagine myself escaping?"

"It won't be as simple as that. Making a door appear here will lead you nowhere. Imagine a place one didn't enter, but will eventually be forced to leave. I know you can do it. Good luck."

The eyeball gradually became more & more transparent during the conversation and ultimately vanished by the end of it.

He looked around, the room was back to normal, doors & windows were gone.

He sat down on the slab thinking about what the eyeball just said.

Since the eyeball claimed his imagination could alter this room, he had to test it.

He closed his eyes and imagined himself wearing some regular, casual clothing.

Nothing happened initially, but he kept focusing for a few minutes. When he opened his eyes again, he was wearing some of his favorite clothes.

This somehow reminded him of 'The Emperor's New Clothes', except in his case the imaginary clothes were actually visible.

With the success of this little experiment, he allowed a smirk to appear on his face. The next step was, of course, to remodel this room to make it possible for him to leave.

He thought back to the riddle :

'What is the room you never leave?' - A tomb.

This riddle was actually a two-parter, and the other half might help be the solution to the issue.

He thought about the answer and considered it appropriate if he was about to be reborn. He closed his eyes again and focused. It took much longer than changing his clothes this time, as the changes he wanted to bring to the area were major. Slowly he felt the room filling with liquid, his own body began to shrink and he felt something grow from his navel. When the transformation was done he opened and his eyes and saw exactly what he expected: the room had become much smaller and the stone wall was replaced by a strangely organic material, a place for a newborn waiting to be born.

'What is the room you never enter?' -A womb.

This whole operation had actually tired him out and he fell into a deep sleep. He wasn't worried though. Logically speaking, he should just wait for his rebirth.

He was right. After what would be about 2 weeks on Earth, an exit appeared and all the liquid started to leak out. Our little baby let himself glide as he felt being pushed up out of the womb.

Arriving outside, he expected a nurse or someone to pick him up and present him to his new mother, but instead, he arrived in an area covered by darkness. His form was no longer that of a baby. Instead, he looked like a bright star in the middle of the night. In front of him stood a young woman about 20 years old.

"Oh mighty spirit, I, Catherine Lippi, have summoned you by the rules of the ancient contract to be my Soul Guardian," she said in a very formal voice.

"Please, tell me your name."

Pretty confused by the whole situation, he barely managed to say: "My name is Joshua Lockman."

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