Chapter 6) Hey you creepy bastard in the doorway, got any smokes?

Friday, September 4th, 2015

I woke with a headache yet again. It was a bit more serious than some but still not the worst morning lately. I made a vow, while the dog whined at me to go out. I was going to arrange things so that I woke pain free tomorrow for the first time in a week.

Taking the dog out was when I first felt strange. I normally took her out a few minutes after waking up and harass her into remembering that she desperately wanted to pee a few minutes before as she wandered the yard.

Today though I was distracted by strange micro breezes. Usually the wind comes off the lake, or from the north, but this time it felt like I was pushed from multiple directions. I was trying to figure it out still when the dog ran up the steps to go inside. For some reason the knife like pressure of {Sense Bloodlust} came to mind but this feeling wasn’t as sharply defined or painful as that.

After making breakfast I started catching up on some reading of my favorite stories. A bit of reading about Kumoko-chan reminded me there were thoughts I had put off. So far I had been concentrating on skills since I knew they existed. I knew titles existed but with only 1 title my title window was too useless to consider. And I knew at least one stat existed since it was mentioned in a window.

So far all the skills I had seen or posited were ones that codified normal human abilities. As in I could walk or run more efficiently without paying attention. I’d guessed that if there was a running skill then at a high level of {Running} I would reach whatever limits my body set. And if I raised my stats then I might reach near Ironman or even Olympic endurance or speeds despite my age.

Reading about Kumoko-chan getting fire resistance made me wonder if maybe deep down I lacked imagination or trust in the windows. I was fairly sure the whole thing existed and wasn’t a delusion. But I lacked the faith to try something like drinking mild poisons to see if something like {Poison Resistance} existed. Another example was not wanting to try hitting my hand with a hammer until I maybe gained something like {Blunt Resistance}.

I sat and wrote down a list of a few questions before I had to jump in the shower and rush to my afternoon shift. I knew I didn’t have even a partial list but it’s all I could brainstorm in a few minutes.

So far there was a window for Skills, Titles, and likely Stats. What other windows were there?
Skills seemed to raise quickly to match the best I could do already, then raise slowly as I improved past that. What were the higher ranks of the skills and what was the limit of how far I could improve?
I had raised one stat for sure. Have I been raising other stats? Is there a strength stat that I could raise if I worked out at the club? Would raising multiple stats open a stat window like two skills did?
Did resistances exist? What type? Sticking a fork into a socket was not a practical way to test if electrical resistance exists. Same with testing fire resistance with a lighter. So how do I test one?
Is there superhuman or paranormal abilities in this system? Like an inventory window or magic? And how the hell would I find them since so far there was no hints.
Is there some kind of healing ability I could easily get? I really didn’t want to poke myself with a knife multiple times to find out that there’s no such thing as fast or super healing.

Pondering all those questions in the shower I was running late for work as I scurried out the door. I was so focused on the questions that I was already halfway to work when I realized the strange breeze feeling was stronger and there was something more.

As I focused on it I noticed immediately that there was no actual breeze. My clothing, hair, even the grass around me wasn’t affected.

Looking around for the source was disconcerting. As my eyes passed over the businesses and street I felt like I could almost see high and low points in the pressure. It was almost like a 3D version of where they mark low pressure zones in a TV weather report. But there was nothing I could see, just a feeling as I looked at a point.

It only took a minute of comparing the feelings to see that the low points were between buildings and the high points were in the middle of the street. The limits of how far I could feel was maybe 50 feet. The pressure seemed to dipped a bit when I looked up above the street but it was hard to tell if I was imagining it or not.

After a quick glance to see if anyone was near I said “Skills Window”.

{Hiding} (Novice, Active) EXP: 16.2%.
{Knife Fighting} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.0%.
{Russian} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.1%.
{Sense Bloodlust} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 27.3%.
{Sneaking} (Novice, Active) EXP: 36.5%.
{Walking} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 19.6%.

{Walking} was barely higher which confirmed yet again that I needed tougher terrain or maybe Power walking to raise it. But Hiding had went up noticeably and was still slowly going up as I walked out in the open. I’ll ignore how I was pissing people off just by walking down the street and thereby raising {Sense Bloodlust}. Fuck’em.

As an experiment I stepped into one of the slightly lower areas which was parking lot beside a Chinese restaurant. The parking lot ended with a large boulder and partial fence, beyond that was another parking lot for the business on the other side of the block. I could cut through from one side of the block to the other just by passing through the two parking lots.

The {Hiding} still kept rising slowly, it was hard to tell if it was faster or slower.

The lowest point I could feel as I looked around was near the back of the building on the other side of the parking lot. I wasn’t terribly well hidden as I walked over. While I was pretty much impossible to spot from passing cars I was in the open to anyone walking on the other side of the block.

The {Hiding} skill was clearly rising faster now. It was already past 20% and still going. It seemed obvious that one of the side benefits of {Hiding} was being able to feel where to stand to be not be spotted. The obvious question was, was it just using my vision to figure out where fewer people could see. Or was it actually sensing how many people could see that spot.

I was definitely going to be a few minutes late for work if I didn’t hurry so I quickly left the parking lot and picked up the pace. I got there just barely on time and decided to work on sneak and practice sensing low pressure areas occasionally during the shift.

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Nothing special happened at work or the walk home other than several skills rising a bit. The only thing that stood out was that {Hiding} didn’t raise at all when I was alone in the staff office and the slop room.

At home I decided to put aside the list of questions on my desk and do some searches again. It had been a bit and I still didn’t know if anyone else had gotten this system of windows when I did.

Browsing YouTube for a bit quickly produced unexpected results. A flying girl…

A seriously fucking flying girl wearing jeans and a pink hoodie, with ski goggles holding it to her head, was flying above Tulsa being chased by a news helicopter. The top of the hoodie slipped back to the goggle band and showed blonde hair. She wasn’t fast, but she was agile. Every time the helicopter got close to being on top of her she would flip midair and double back. At one point she was almost pacing a car for a half a minute so was likely doing 20-30 miles per hour.

Searching news sites gave hits on several of them. Apparently the girl was spotted by a local TV station on Thursday morning but it took a while for national media took attention since it seemed an obvious hoax or publicity stunt. After reporters flooded the area they found that a few residents had seen a late teenage girl flying on Wednesday too but no one was fast enough to take a pic and without that didn’t want to speak up.

Searching for more information over the next few hours led nowhere but left me short on time so I made some no-name KD before heading back for my evening shift.

The cleaning shift went smooth at first. I wasn’t sure if I was happy I hadn’t gained a {Vacuuming} skill so far or sad. It would likely make work easier and faster but it’s the kind of skill you’d want to delete off your character in a game before showing any of your friends your skills.

Around midnight I had a level up of sneak with the usual pain, and then a bit of a surprise.

Through use of the skill {Sneaking} it has reached Beginner level.
{Sneaking} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 3.7%.

As the pain of the stabilized and the window faded a new window appeared.

You have reached 20 Mental Stamina.
A bonus of +1 has been applied to your Willpower.
You can now see a stat.

My headache kicked up a small notch after the second window appeared.

I could now see a stat? Why ‘a’ stat? A quick glance around for people showed none.

“Status Window.”

Nothing showed.

“Stat Window.”

Still no result. A thought occurred that despite it only saying one stat that it might be pluralized.

“Stats Window.”

Mental Stamina 16/20

The window was a bit strange in that I couldn’t see anything else, not even the Willpower mentioned in the previous window. But seeing 16/20 gave the obvious question, was 4 Mental Stamina used in the level up of sneak? I’d been pretty sure that some was used up, but this seemed to confirm it.

The next question was, did level up take 0, 1, 2, 3 or the full 4 points? Since I didn’t know how many I had just before the level up. Did I have 19 and 3 points were taken off before the max was bumped to 20? Did I have 18 and 2 points were taken off? 17 and 1? Or did I have 16 and the pain was from Mental Stamina’s max going up?

The only way to check was to level up something else and watch just before and after. So with {Sneaking} having just risen the easiest was raising {Hiding} to Beginner. It was at 56.8% of Novice and Novice skills seemed to go fast if you worked on them.

First thing though was finishing work. I just had the showers and sauna to spray down so that was fairly quick. Except the tempting idea that occurred.

Some games have a simple heat resistance, not fire resistance. If I turned on the sauna and stood inside for a while, would I get my first resistance? After thinking about it for a bit two things were stopping me. I really wanted to know the answer to the Mental Stamina questions but if I gaining a resistance gave a massive headache I’d possibly break my plan of waking up pain free. And I had no towel so if I was in there for too long I’d be a hot mess, in the wrong sense, and couldn’t take a shower.

So I put off the heat resistance question for Saturday’s shift. The gym was almost empty as I finished so raising {Hiding} there didn’t seem useful, unless I wanted to annoy my coworkers drifting in and out of their sight doing but fluttering around.

Thinking about it for a bit I decided to head near a few bars downtown. If I stayed in sight of the biggest one and tested various shadows I figured I should get {Hiding} to go up fast.

The plan went fairly smooth except for one obnoxiously drunk 16 year old kid who kept asking me for smokes. I was actually able to raise hiding by just keeping behind him as he looked around for me since he was so confused and unfocused he kept forgetting me and then remembering he wanted smokes from me.

At 97.8% {Hiding} I checked Mental Stamina.

Mental Stamina: 16/20

It was still 16 out of 20. A couple minutes later of dodging behind the drunk and using the shadows to hide from two cars I finally got the pain and window.

Through use of the skill {Hiding} it has reached Beginner level.
{Hiding} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 0.5%.

Didn’t give a damn the drunk was there and said, “Stats Window”.

Mental Stamina: 13/21

So, each level up and possibly new skill seemed to give 1 more Mental Stamina to my max. And I had likely lost 3 points.

With that clarified I decided to head home and browse a bit. After finding nothing new on flying girl despite an hour searching Tulsa related websites I went to bed early.

Checking before I drifted off gave:

{Hiding} (Beginner, Active) EXP: 4.4%.
{Knife Fighting} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.0%.
{Russian} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.1%.
{Sense Bloodlust} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 30.1%.
{Sneaking} (Beginner, Active) EXP: 17.2%.
{Walking} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 23.4%.

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