Viral stared at the pudgy man sitting behind the desk in front of him. The pudgy man smiled back at him, blithely unaware of the seething, raging storm of unending annoyance in Viral’s heart right at that moment.
“You want me to write… another historical text,” Viral said slowly, scowling.
“Yes, indeed,” said the pudgy man, sappy smile still in place.
“Why.” It wasn’t a question. It was a demand.
“Well, Mr. Viral, we feel that the current text could stand to be updated—modernized, as it were,” said the man. Viral gritted his teeth. This man just so happened to be the director of the History department at Kamina City University; this meant that, unfortunately, Viral couldn’t solve his problems by punching the man. And even if he weren’t the director, a (much-needed) punch to the face still wouldn’t have been an option. Such things were frowned upon these days.
“And how should I do that, hmm?” Viral growled. “There is no new information to be added. I have already written all that I know about the Spiral King’s reign and the Anti-Spiral War.”
“Nonetheless, I’m sure you can manage to spruce up the older textbook somehow. There’s always a fresh angle to be had, isn’t there?” the director replied in that same infuriatingly cheerful tone. “We’d like something that’s a little more accessible to the younger generation.”
“Tch.” This was ridiculous, but these humans were paying him to do it. “Accessible, huh? Very well, then,” Viral said. He flashed a razor-sharp grin at the director, whose own smile faltered at last. Pushing back his chair, Viral stood up, nodded to the director, and swept out of the room. His grin fell as soon as the door closed behind him. A scowl replaced it, as usual.
“Just perfect,” he muttered.
Later that afternoon, Viral stomped into his apartment with his arms full of grocery bags. He plopped them all down in the kitchen and pulled open the refrigerator. Each item got a deadly glare from him as he put it away. The pre-packaged meat got an especially fierce glare. It just wasn’t the same, eating the meat of a long-dead creature out of a plastic package. Of course, hunting wasn’t as easy as it had once been. The ever-expanding cities kept covering up all of the best hunting grounds, and where the hell was he supposed to find a bow and arrows nowadays? He’d never hunted with guns and he wasn’t going to start now.
With the food put away, he set to work making dinner for himself. After eating his food and checking the news, there was nothing for it but to start on this stupid, stupid historical text.
Viral had always known it would come to this eventually. The Spiral King had granted him immortality so that he could be an eternal storyteller. Of course, the idea had been for him to eternally tell stories about Lordgenome’s heroic defeat of the human rebellion, but it hadn’t panned out quite like that— and even if it had, this would still have been Viral’s fate. Here he was, the last living creature who still remembered the days of the Spiral King and the Dai-Gurren Brigade. The last witness to the Anti-Spiral War. Of course he would end up in demand as a historian. He’d resigned himself to it long ago.
But Viral hadn’t expected it to be so damn boring. Or aggravating. He’d hoped it would be at least a little bit interesting.
Filling a mug with coffee, he approached his desk. He padded towards it as though it might be rigged with explosives, balefully eying the computer set atop it. He set the mug down and pulled out the wheeled chair in front of the desk, sinking down onto it with a muffled thump. The wheels squeaked as he scooted the chair up to the desk. The simple act of doing this made Viral scowl again. There was no way to scoot a chair closer to a desk without feeling like an idiot. He’d figured that out years ago.
Viral picked up the pair of wire-framed reading glasses next to the computer. It was their turn to receive a glare. He had an immortal body that needed no rest and could heal instantly from any wound, and yet he still had to use reading glasses. Swallowing his pride, he settled the glasses on his nose and fired up the computer. Within a couple of minutes, he had a blank page on the screen before him and it was time to begin.
He lifted his oversized hands over the keyboard and stared at the screen, thinking.
He kept staring at the screen.
Finally, he set his clawed fingertips to the keyboard and decided to begin with the title page:
He scowled and erased the text. “Shit,” he muttered. He started again:
THE HISTOPRY IOF
Viral let out a low growl and erased the text again. Now it was his gigantic hands that he glared at, and then he glared at the damn keyboard with its too-damn-small keys for good measure. They didn’t make keyboards for hands like his. He tried again, painstakingly hitting each key with his claw-tips:
THE HISTORY OF THE PSOIRAL RADCE
That did it. It had been a very long and very annoying day and this was the last straw. “GRRAAAH!” He smashed both fists down on that stupid keyboard, bits of plastic flying everywhere, and he grinned at its demise. “That’s how the Dai-Gurren Brigade does things,” he told it smugly, then stopped and chuckled at himself. It had been a long time since he’d said that.
He sat back in his chair, sipping his coffee, and looked back down at the crunched keyboard. “Damn. Now I’ll have to get a new one.”
The next day…
Kasumi glanced up from behind the counter as the front door of the electronics shop opened. She immediately recognized their customer and heaved a sigh. She turned and nudged her coworker.
“You’d better go get one of those keyboards, Toshi. It’s Viral again,” she whispered to him. Toshi nodded and disappeared into the back room. Kasumi turned around again and put on a smile as the famous Beastman approached the counter. It had been quite a shock, the first time such a legendary war hero had come into the store. But by now, she’s gotten used to it. She didn’t know exactly why he kept replacing his keyboards so often, but having seen his hands and knowing the size of your average keyboard, it didn’t take much effort to guess. She knew better than to ask, though.
“Good morning, Kasumi,” he muttered.
“Hello, Viral. Need another keyboard?” she asked.
He’s as talkative as ever, I see, Kasumi thought. Then Toshi returned with the keyboard, which he set on the counter. Viral paid for it and quickly left. Kasumi watched him leave and shook her head.
Viral sat at his computer once again, typing slowly. He paused for a moment, reviewing his work:
Viral nodded, satisfied, and kept writing.
…And then THAT IDIOT KAMINA went and got himself KILLED because he was too pig-headedly stupid and stubborn. He might have lived if he’d been more like Simon, who was a true warrior, always keeping a level head in battle. But he wasn’t and he died.
Several months later…
The videophone rang, interrupting Viral’s dinner. He strode over and switched it on.
“Yes,” he stated. It was his editor, a mousy-looking man named Yuichi.
“Ah, hello, Viral,” Yuichi said. His eyes shifted nervously. “I, uh, I finished the manuscript you sent me…”
“W-well, it has a lot of capslock. And profanity.”
“Do you think you could, er, remove some of that? T-this book is supposed to be appropriate for all ages, after all. M-most parents would prefer if their children weren’t exposed to such language at a young age," Yuichi sputtered.
“They will hear such language sooner or later,” he commented irritably. He wanted to get back to his meal before it got cold.
“Yes, well, most parents would prefer that it be later,” Yuichi pointed out.
Viral frowned at the man. “Very well, I’ll change it.” He switched off the videophone before Yuichi could reply. After finishing his dinner, he went back to work once more. As he wrote, he wondered if this was what Lordgenome had had in mind when he’d tasked Viral with the role of eternal storyteller. And he wondered if, somewhere, the Spiral King was laughing at him.
“Lordgenome, you bastard,” he growled.