A Corporate Slave’s Ending
The snow fell down, covering the whole city in white. It was cold outside, but I was all warm inside this small white box and my warm coffee. As I looked seriously to the monitor, I fixed my loosening glasses.
What time is it now?
I glanced a bit at the time and realized it was quite late past my working time.
I turned again to look at the progress of my work.
Not good. At this rate, I might as well have a sleepless night again.
“Ann? You’re still here?”
A familiar voice could suddenly be heard from behind, making me tense a bit in my surprise. Thankfully, my brain was working fast and I could tell who the owner of the voice was.
I turned around to see my colleague with her pale complexion and black patches below her eyes. Then, I muttered, “Ah, this is exactly what a corporate slave looks like.”
The owner of the voice was close enough to me that she could tell what I was muttering to myself.
“Why don’t you take a look in the mirror and say that to yourself? You look even worse than me, Ann,” she angrily said as she slapped my shoulder.
“Hey, what was that for, Lori?!” I immediately raised my voice in anger again as I locked my eyes to my colleague—Lori’s eyes.
After a few moments of silent, I chuckled. Lori followed in giggling.
Yep, it was a normal conversation between us, fellow corporate slaves.
In this kind of an insane modern world, we wouldn’t be able to stay sane if we didn’t joke around like this. Lori and I were trapped in the same lifestyle we were forced to lead—as corporate slaves.
“Isn’t it ironic that we have to work hard at this time of the year? Do you remember that when we were still at school, we would be sleeping around at this time of the year?” Lori casually moved her chair closer to me.
Alright, I guess taking a little break wouldn’t hurt. Or more precisely, time to pack up today?
“Yeah, I feel like it’s already a distant past—like it happened in another lifetime, though,” I sipped my coffee as I smiled ironically.
We both sighed at the same time.
“Hey, it’s already this late, why don’t we leave the office and call it a day now?” Lori asked.
“Sure. Although I am also sure that we will continue our work later on in our respective room,” I teasingly said to Lori.
“Damn you!” Lori knew that it was the most probable scenario, so she slapped my shoulder again in denial.
After talking about our job for a while, we decided to call it a day—nah, it was quite late in the night, though… And we went home together.
It was now the end of December, some time in the middle of Christmas and New Year… dang, I even forgot what date it was now due to me being so focused on working.
In any case, I took a shower right after I arrived home.
Then, I took out one of the instant noodle cups I had hoarded before and cooked one for my dinner.
While waiting for it to be completely cooked, I turned on my computer and started to open my work files again.
I could actually take a break first and sleep, but judging by how things were, it looked like I would get more work to do soon, and things might get out of hand if I were to procrastinate.
Therefore, it was definitely better for me to quickly finish this work first, then take a break if there are no new tasks. If there are new tasks, then I can just work on it without having my old work looming around.
Before long, I was done with the instant noodles but I wasn’t quite done with my work yet.
I could tell that I just needed to tweak it here and there and voila, all done!
However, my eyelids suddenly turned so heavy that I couldn’t resist the drowsiness in the end, and so I closed my eyes.
My consciousness immediately left me right after I closed my eyes, I couldn’t tell if I had moved my arms to protect my head as I fell asleep on the desk for the nth time or not.
All I knew was—although I was asleep, my mind wasn’t all that “asleep”. My mind was still being bugged with worries over my work.
It felt like a long time before I finally could open my eyelids.
Thankfully, I didn’t feel any fatigue anymore after this sleep.
Phew, here I already thought I’d wake up tired again as usual!
However, the scenery I saw quickly made my face turned ghastly.
I saw myself, lying on the desk motionlessly.
Time seemed to pass by quickly as I watched my phone ringing many times over—it was from my parents who were living separately from me.
Perhaps they were so worried that they couldn’t get in touch with me for quite a while that they immediately showed up in front of my apartment’s door.
Using the spare key they had received from me, they opened the door to my apartment, called out to my name in worry—and then my mother screamed upon seeing my condition in my working room.
After that, she cried hysterically.
Blood seemed to be drained from my father’s face in an instant, as he tried to approach me and shake my body. His complexion turned pale as he noticed that I wasn’t breathing, and that my body was cold and stiff…
He then knelt lifelessly on the floor.
Such a scene entered my eyes, without me being unable to do anything.
‘Mother, Father, your daughter is right here, you see?’
‘What kind of a nightmare is it?’
Yes, this has to be a nightmare.
Coming to such a conclusion, I decided to close my eyes in hopes I’d wake up and everything would be back to normal.
I felt my consciousness warping and then I opened my eyes again, now with the sensation of life and a sense of control to my own body.
I wanted to sigh in relief.
But then, my heart felt like it almost jumped out of my chest.
For you see—there was a man standing across me with an icy cold expression and his arms folded so calmly.
He noticed that I woke up and turned his sharp eyes to me.
I reflexively grabbed anything close to me and turned more alert against him.
It took me seconds to realize that the man was oddly handsome and didn’t seem to be like someone from the modern time.
“Arlea Pristine Claritianta. Let me tell you this again. Although you were a spoiled and arrogant daughter of Marquis Claritianta, you are now my wife—although it’s in name only. As a member of the Schwartzen ducal family, now you have to behave well. I will not tolerate you anymore after this. Do not blame me for being merciless. You have been warned,” the man coldly issued a warning to me.
He didn’t give me any chance to speak, as he quickly left the room.
It was then that I realized several oddities.
First, what did he address me as? Arlea Pristine… wait, why does it seem familiar?
Second, what did he say? I am his what? Wife? This doesn’t make sense.
Third, I should be sleeping in my desk, yet why am I grabbing a soft blanket, and why am I sitting on a soft… bed?
Fourth, my hair should be black and short, but why am I seeing a ridiculously long and wavy purple hair now?
Hang on, I get it!
This must be yet another dream!
I pinched myself in hope I would wake up from this weird dream soon, but…
This… isn’t a dream?
My heart was thumping very quickly.
This can’t be…
I tried to digest everything that just happened in a short moment’s notice, in order to find a clue. Anything.
Arlea Pristine… Claritianta…
Schwartzen ducal family…
I seemed to recognize those names, but why?
The names sounded so weird, and what was it with ducal family and marquis stuff?
…It sounded like something from a TV show or novel… or even game…
I think I have read something…
And then, a flash of memories ran through my mind.
Arlea Pristine Claritianta.
She is the one of the characters in an otome game I played long time ago, when I wasn’t so busy!
Schwartzen ducal family…
Arlea Pristine Claritianta was politically married to Allen Salvatore nib Schwartzen, and some time in the future—I gazed at the calendar hanging in the room’s wall and noticed the date.
…One year from now, Arlea—this body—which meant, I, would die. Allen had contributed in Arlea’s death.
When I played the game, I didn’t like this character, Arlea, and she was really befitting of the title ‘villainess’. I was even relieved when I saw her death in the game.
But… now that I am her, it means that I will be the one experiencing Arlea’s death as per described in the otome game!
In that case, what should I do?
Is there anything I can do to avoid Arlea—my death?
In the first place, how did this happen?
What of my real body?
Have I already died?
Was the scene of my parents crying hysterically when they found my lifeless body… real?
So… I had died due to overworking and… did my soul enter Arlea’s body by an accident?
But hang on, if I am inside an otome game, will I be able to change the scenario?
This body’s background—her circumstances are quite difficult that it gives me headache thinking on how I can avoid my death in the next 365 days.
What if I can’t change the scenario nevertheless?
I will die, and my efforts would be in vain.
I wouldn’t want that.
I had spent my 25+ years of life in the modern world trying to live in accordance to what the society had expected me to, and I ended up dying before I could taste the fruit of my hard work.
By chance, I managed to live again, but in another world, in another person’s body, with 365 days left…
I haven’t enjoyed my life, so perhaps this is a chance from god to enjoy an additional 365 days of life?
Furthermore, if I remember it correctly, this is a fantasy or magical world.
I am a noble person.
There are surely lots of ways I can enjoy life.
There is no more need to restrain myself or force myself to do anything I don’t enjoy just so I can make a living and have a good life.
Because—as a noble, I already have a good life.
If that’s the case…
Then… I shall enjoy living my life to its fullest now!!
365 days to do all my ‘before die to-do-list’!
Starting from eating lots of delicious food, going on a nice walk, and since it’s a fantasy world, then maybe I can try using magic—right, Arlea can use magic, right?
Then, I can read interesting books, play interesting games…
I recalled the icy cold man from before—Allen, Arlea’s husband-in-name.
Though he was so cold, he was indeed handsome.
I died a single in my previous lifetime, and I haven’t had any experience in ‘that’ kind of thing.
I read some smut novels, too, though. I just had a good moral conduct as per expected by my modern society.
But this… a delicious ‘one’ is right in front my eyes, and we are even husband and wife already—though only in names.
Oops, I almost drooled.
Perhaps, by any chance, I could also feel that kind of ‘worldly pleasure’?
Allen’s icy cold expression filled with a hint of murderous intent floated in my mind, so I immediately shook my head.
No matter, then!
With 365 days to go, there is definitely enough time to enjoy my new life until my destined death!!
Yay, goodbye, my life as a corporate slave!
From now on, I shall let go of my restraints and just do as I please!!!