Ben thought being a virgin was bad enough. Now, he even had to die for it.
It all started when he began his freshman year at New York University in the entering class of 2019. When he got off the train in Manhattan, his eyes shone from the surrounding splendor. In every direction, there were skyscrapers, luxury shops, and most importantly...beauties of every type imaginable!
'This is the beginning of my colorful student life!' is what he thought to himself, right before a taxi drove over a puddle and soaked him in grimy street water. He became brown and putrid.
'That was just a little bad luck…it's nothing.' Full of unshakeable optimism, he walked through Times Square, gazing up with joy at the massive digital billboards. In particular, the caption of one caught his attention: "Billionaire Roman Antonov has mysteriously disappeared, after last being seen at a state ball in Stockholm." Reading this, Ben blinked.. 'A billionaire vanished, huh? I wonder if he left to become the love interest in a cliche female romance novel...'
Finished musing, Ben shook his head as he continued walking, not paying attention to the changing screen which read, "In other recent news, the health scare for the Queen of Sweden has proven to be a false alarm. Reporters have confirmed the fainting spell was nothing serious, and have quoted her as saying, 'It was just gas...'"
A while later, Ben arrived at his university dormitory with a bright smile and a warm heart. It was a shame the other students didn't notice that, instead focusing on his filthy appearance from the puddle splash earlier. Many even pointed and laughed at the "Wet dirty burrito" passing through. A student on his floor from the graphic design department even made memes of him, posting them on flyers all over the walls of his dormitory floor: "Do you want me in a bowl or pita bread?"
"Guacamole is extra."
"Eat me if you want diarrhea."
They were all signed "Wet Dirty Burrito King" and even had his room number written on them.
"My colorful student life…I can't let it end like this!" is what he said to himself, right before he saw the 50 "Personal burrito orders" written on post-its glued to his door.
The students had deemed him the unofficial mascot of Halden Dormitory.
"How can it be like this?" he asked himself, as he sat on the tiny bed of his dorm room. "It hasn't even been a day and I'm already finished. Am I going to remain a virgin forever?"
[Yes] A slightly robotic, bell-like female voice emerged out of nowhere.
"Who said that?!?" He shot up from the bed, searching in every direction but finding no one.
[Congratulations! You have been judged to possess the worst destiny with women]
He responded, "How is that worthy of congratulations? I'm already at rock bottom, and now even ghosts are taking shots at me?!?"
[I am not a ghost. I am the voice of the system speaking within your head]
[Your plight has inspired the charity of the heavens. You've unlocked the Pick Up Artist System!]
His ears perked up when he heard that. "For real?!? Yes! My time has arrived!"
[You have one month to seduce a woman or you will die]
Ben froze with his fists still in the air. "Can you repeat that?"
[One month. Seduce or die]
His excitement degenerated into desperation. "What the hell...how? I'm an 18 year old virgin…"
After taking a minute to calm down, Ben realized it wasn't as bad as he thought. "Ok, it's not impossible. It's college after all, so if I lower my standards to the absolute bottom, it should be doable."
[No slam donkeys. 7+ looks only]
"7+? You might as well tell me to seduce a goddess! And what kind of system talks like that?!?"
Another minute later, Ben came up with another unstoppable plan.
"In the worst case, I can borrow some money and get a prostitute somewhere…"
"You're forcing me to die!"
This time the system didn't contradict him.
Ben tried to come up with other ideas but all he came up with were songs for his funeral.
'I've heard that people diagnosed with terminal illnesses feel more alive than ever before after they find out, so why do I feel like sh*t?' Ben sulked.
"This system's been misnamed. You should call it the Execution System instead. Wait…it is a system in the end. Maybe there's more to it. System, what else can you tell or show me besides insults?"
Appearing out of thin air like a hologram, a transparent blue screen appeared in front of him. It was a vertical menu with a few categories:
[Stats, Challenges, Store]
Ben sighed in relief. "At long last, things are looking up." He opened Stats and read down them one by one.
[Looks: 2 - You're short, chubby, and have idiotic hair. This one was rounded up]
"Rounded up? ...Ok, my looks aren't my strong suit."
[Charisma: 0 - If someone had a choice between hugging you or a fire, they would hug the fire and then chase you for revenge]
[Social Status: 2 - Better than a homeless person, but students are in the bottom rung of society where you live]
[Seduction skills: 0 - You might get rejected by a tree]
"…I've never tried. You don't know."
[Knowledge: 4 - More knowledge means more conversation topics. Not too bad]
Ben's head rose upwards in pride.
[Manliness: 1 - You're one step away from being a woman, and this isn't that kind of system]
His head came right back down in shame.
[Communication: 3: You spent your youth talking trash in video games. This achievement is the result of your effort]
[Personal talent: 2. Art, music, sports. How hard is it to find something you're not bad at? Get your life together]
"I've been trying!"
[PUA Points: 550 - Points accrued for accomplishments in Pick Up Artistry. Can be used to purchase items in the Store]
"550, how did I get that?" Ben scanned his memories. He couldn't even remember speaking to any girls since middle school. After a long time, he recalled that he did have a girlfriend in middle school for one summer, and even kissed several other girls that year. That was his golden age, when he was thin and a bit taller than others. It was a beautiful time when he had reason to be bright and optimistic about his future.
It wasn't until high school arrived when everyone else grew, and he stayed the same height, that he realized everything changed. People considered him short from then on. As everyone else became taller and bulkier, his results in athletics became worse and worse, until he even started to get bullied. To escape, he stopped doing sports altogether. He became introverted, spending his time at home playing video games and reading web novels, gaining weight as a result. After that, everyone shunned him.
Only later did he discover that he peaked in middle school, which still made him angry when he thought about it.
"I'm not Harry Potter. Who the hell peaks at 13?!?"
"Forget it. I'll be dead in a month anyway, so it's no time to be upset about the past." Ben decided to move forward and open the Challenges, where he discovered one entry.
[Novice Welcome - Seduce a woman within one month or die]
"…Thanks for the warm welcome." Ben opened Novice Welcome to see if there were any more details.
[Conditions: No slam donkeys, no pay-pigging, ???]
He shook his head and went back to the main menu screen, opening the final Store selection. His brows knitted at what he saw. "Why is there only one item?"
[The system has many functions that are hidden until they're unlocked. That includes store items that you cannot afford with your current balance of PUA Points]
Ben examined the available item.
[Low Level Mystery Box: 500 points - Contains a random item anywhere from trash to rare grade]
Ben had enough points to acquire one of these. It only took him a few moments to come to a decision."I'm already on my way to the abyss. It seems like this Mystery Box is the only hope I have. Maybe I could get something amazing that'll help me."
Before buying it, Ben closed his eyes and clenched his fists. He couldn't stop his forehead from sweating because he knew this was his only chance to live. Desperate but hopeful, Ben steeled himself, opened his eyes, and made the purchase.
A small, candy apple red box with a white question mark on top materialized in front of him, falling into his lap. When he touched it, a bright light filled the room.
Life or death. It was in this little box.
*Author's Note: If you haven't read the prologue in volume 0, I strongly urge you to. It's not only entertaining, but adds a lot of context to the story. Due to how Webnovel organizes chapters, clicking the read button skips it accidentally, which is why I posted this comment here. Trust me and read it. I guarantee you won't regret it!