Beep beep beep!
A bus darted down the road, its horn blaring frantically. First swerving left, then hard to the right… Whoever drove it had clearly lost control of the vehicle. The speed it accumulated threatened to flip it over at any time. The other drivers on the road frantically stopped their cars to avoid it.
The bus crossed several lanes in the road before forcing its way up onto the empty sidewalk.
The bus came to an abrupt halt as it slammed into an electric pole, which promptly fell down onto the vehicle. The people nearby got out of their cars and started gathering around the now wrecked bus. The doors of the bus opened, with the passengers inside spilling out with a panicked look.
“Someone call 119!” A shout come amidst the escapees.
“The drivers dying!”
October 3rd, 2031.
A bus driver by the name of Han Maru passed away. He was 45 on the day of his death.
* * *
What were your regrets in life?
It was the first thing on Marus mind as he opened his eyes. He heard the sound of waves crashing against the beach near him. A cool breeze washed over his face as he sat up to look around.
Where was he?
“Youre awake. I was just about to wake you up.” A voice of a woman came up from behind him, confusing him even more.
“This is…” Maru trailed off.
Thankfully, the woman seemed to know exactly what he was confused about.
“Youll know where you are in a second. Just think.”
Maru understood his situation as soon as he heard the woman in the white shirt. He found himself being quite amazed by his realization, but immediately ended up looking a bit bitter.
“So I died.” Maru confirmed.
The woman simply affirmed his suspicions. “Yes, you did.”
“Are you an angel?” Maru asked with a curious look.
The woman smiled wryly at the question. “Sort of. Some call me an angel, others, the grim reaper. Titles arent very important though. What Im about to say now is.”
The woman started walking forward with fairly wide steps. Maru paced himself a little bit faster than usual to try and keep up. After around a minute of walking, they came across the sole parasol in the entire beach.
The woman motioned onto the chair underneath. “Please, sit.”
And so Maru did. The woman continued after sitting down on a chair herself. “Mr. Han, you died precisely on October 3rd, 11:23:14. Do you remember how you died?” Surprisingly enough, Maru could remember it.
“Yes,” he responded.
Maru recalled the event almost as if it were a distant memory. He was driving the bus to its final stop. Just then, something came flying down the road, making a beeline towards him. It broke through the front window, slamming into his chest before falling down next to his seat. If he remembered correctly, it was something that resembled a hammerhead.
He felt his breathing weakening rapidly, followed by gradual loss of his motor control.
Maru stepped on the brakes and swerved onto the empty sidewalk– he had to keep the passengers safe. At the time, making a stop at the sidewalk seemed like the best course of action. And then… nothing. He found himself at this place the next time he woke up. This led to one question in his mind.
“Were the passengers… safe?” He asked.
“Thanks to you, yes. Everyone survived. If you had given up half way you wouldve run right into a truck and killed everyone.” The woman responded.
That made Maru feel a little bit better. “Thats… good.”
Not by much, though. He may have saved others, but he was still dead. Who would take care of his wife and daughter now? That was when he remembered his life insurance.
“500 million won should be able to support my child somewhat until she grows up, right?”
The woman smiled at his question. “You must be thinking about your family.”
“Yes. My daughters just about to enter high school. I was never able to do anything for her because of my pay, but with that money…” Maru wiped a tear from his eye.
“Mr. Han.” the woman asked.
“Yes?” He responded.
“Would you like to live your life again?” Maru became speechless for a second.
At that moment, an old lady in white traditional attire walked out from behind the woman. Maru knew this lady very well. She was his neighbor. The one who made a living out of picking up paper waste, Mrs. Yoo Bokja.
“Mother.” That was what Maru called the lady.
She wasnt his real mother of course. He just started calling her that as they started talking with each other.
“Mrs. Yoo decided to give her chance to you, Mr. Han.” the woman said.
“Chance? What chance? ” The woman was only managing to confuse him more by the second.
“The chance to live once more.” The woman said.
That explanation didnt really help much, unfortunately. The old lady walked over to gently grip Marus hands.
“I lived fairly happily thanks to you. Im grateful for the fact that you cared for me more than my children.” Maru looked down at the ladys wrinkled hands. He used to help her out whenever he saw her carry around that cart by herself during wintertime. He didnt do it because he expected anything back. He just wanted to see the lady smile every once in a while.
“Youre saying I can live my life again in your stead, mother?” He asked. The woman affirmed instead from the side.
“Yes,” she said.
Maru shook his head firmly in refusal. “You shouldnt, mother. I dont deserve…”
The old lady cut him off in the middle of his sentence. “Im not interested in living my life again. It was horrible. I dont want to experience war again. I dont want to live a life where I have to run away all the time again. This is much better for me. All my friends are with me up in heaven as well.”
The lady smiled gently before continuing. “Youre different though, Maru. Youre still young. I couldnt bear to see you go just like that.” The
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