Chapter 1: A Day with a Strange Fortune (1)
“How can big brother Chi-Hyun do this?” a chubby man remarked. He had a round, bald head with beady eyes gleaming from behind his glasses. “He left without a warning again…How many times has it been now?”
The pale, young man in front of him remained silent.
“Seven? Taking into account the instances I heard about, I think its around seven.”
Even when the chubby mans voice rose with rage, the young man simply yawned in response.
“Ive been hearing about big brother Chi-Hyuns disappearances since I was in elementary school. How could your brother not have changed at all since then?”
Chi-Woo, the young man, covered his wide-open mouth.
“But anyway, dont worry too much. You know what they say. No news is good news,” the chubby man said and glanced at Chi-Woo. “He is gone for longer than usual, but Im sure hes going to suddenly appear like he always…” He then noticed that Chi-Woo was looking far off while smacking his lips. “…I might as well have been talking to myself,” the man grumbled and placed his mouth back onto his cups straw.
As he drank, the chubby man observed the young man in front of him. On his wrist, there was a beaded bracelet that he had never seen Chi-Woo without. A silver cross necklace was especially noticeable on his black turtleneck, and a bible sat on top of the table before him.
The chubby man pulled his mouth away from the straw and spoke, “I thought you were living in a temple? When did you move to a church?”
Instead of answering, Chi-Woo kept his gaze far off in the distance.
“A Buddhist prayer bead, a cross, and a bible. Now that I think about it, dont you carry around a talisman too?”
Chi-Woo shrugged, but didnt respond any further. Frustrated, the chubby man slammed the cup down and demanded, “Is this really how youre going to treat me?”
“Do you know how long it has been since we last saw each other?”
At last, Chi-Woo turned to look at him.
“Do you know why I asked to meet you?” the chubby man asked.
Chi-Woo snorted as if he was telling the man to continue.
“I called you to buy you a meal! To feed you! And to see how youre doing!”
“When was the last time you looked into a mirror or went outside? You should go out more often and get some fresh air, man.”
“Ha.” Chi-Woo finally opened his mouth. Placing his hand on his jaw, he continued, “Are you serious?”
“Gil-Duk, did you really call me to buy me a meal and check on me?”
“Yeah! I did!” Gil-Duk shouted.
Chi-Woo smiled and said, “Okay! Then lets just do that.”
“Lets catch up and eat together.” Chi-Woo nodded. “But nothing more than that.”
“Youre not going to do or bring up anything besides that, right?” Chi-Woo asked for confirmation. Gil-Duk opened his mouth, but no words came out. He turned a blind eye to Chi-Woos strong gaze and fiddled with his cup.
“No….” Gil-Duk soon confessed the truth. “I also have things to confide in you while were at it…”
Chi-Woo snorted knowingly, and Gil-Duk yelled, “Come on! You dont have to be so mean about it!” After his outburst, Gil-Duk let out a big sigh and clenched both fists. Then, he tilted his torso slightly forward and told Chi-Woo, “Just listen to me for a bit. I have been feeling funny these days.”
“What is it again?”
“You know that I have been working as a Content Creator recently, right?”
“Yeah, you suddenly took a year off from school to make vlogs or whatever its called.”
“Okay, so I think I went too far, and I am really screwed now.”
Chi-Woo looked taken aback. Gil-Duk wasnt someone who admitted his mistakes so easily.
“I created a new video recently and uploaded it. But afterward, I began to feel a bit strange. I started to feel chills even when I wasnt doing anything. My shoulders began to feel heavy, and I keep having these terrible nightmares…”
“If youre having chills, dress more warmly. And if youre having shoulder pains, go to the hospital. As for nightmares… Well, why dont you try changing your bed?”
“No, Chi-Woo, please listen to me.” Gil-duk desperately pleaded. Chi-Woo clicked his tongue at him and scrolled up his phone. He opened an app and typed into the search bar. Soon, a channel with Gil-Duks name appeared, and Chi-Woo clicked on the most recent video.
[Hello, everyone! This is your dirty, dirty, lovable boy, Gil-Duk!]
“Oh, yeah, thats the video. You just have to watch that.” Gil-Duks voice overlapped with his video.
Chi-Woo blinked and asked, “Okay, I understand that you were introducing yourself, but why the heck did you call yourselfdirty, dirty, lovable boy?”
“Its my signature greeting. How is it? Isnt it funny?”
“I dont know about that, but it sure sounds dirty.”
“Its not dirty but lovable.”
“If I was a viewer, I would want to turn this video off as soon as I hear this greeting,” Chi-Woo said, and the video continued.
[Todays video is about! Tatatatata~! Touring the haunted house!]
Chi-Woo scowled slightly as he heard this line, but he remained silent as he focused intently on his phones screen. After watching the video for around ten minutes, he shut the app off and looked up. He glanced behind Gil-Duks shoulders as he asked, “How did you learn of this place?”
“The haunted house? I did some legwork. You know, famous places have all been covered many times before. I happened to find this place when I was wandering around—”
“It looks like a house in a rural area. Did no one try to stop you from going in?”
“Uh… A grandpa from a supermarket tried to stop me. He asked me if I was crazy and warned me to not go in there if I didnt want to die…”
Chi-Woo sighed deeply. He looked at Gil-Duk like he was pleading to God to save this stupid soul, which made Gil-Duks anxious face fill with more dread.
“Whats going to happen to me? A ghost from the haunted house is following me, right?”
“…I dont know.”
“Why are you asking me? What can I do?”
“But since you were young, you have been—” Gil-Duk trailed off as Chi-Woos eyes turned cold. He quickly changed the topic, “Cant you do something? I can ’t sleep at night because Im too scared of nightmares. Its killing me.”
Chi-Woo shifted his annoyed gaze from Gil-Duk to the window and said, “Theres nothing I can do. Deal with it yourself.”
“But? If its really affecting you, why dont you go back there to apologize?”
“Yeah, just think,” Chi-Woo said with disinterest, “How would you feel if you were resting peacefully at home, and some stranger barges into your home and starts filming a video there? Wouldnt you feel completely peeved?”
“That…” Gil-Duk couldnt answer.
“You mentioned a supermarket nearby. Tell the grandpa there your situation and prepare an ancestral offering. Then beg for forgiveness, saying that you were in the wrong.”
“Will that fix…everything?”
“I dont know. It depends on the ghost living in the haunted house. Theyll decide if theyre going to accept your apology.”
Gil-Duk scratched his head like he didnt like that idea. Then he asked carefully, “Could you perhaps exterminate…”
“Do you have a conscience? It sounds like you dont have one if you are asking me to do that.” Chi-Woos meaning was clear: if Gil-Duk had a conscience, he wouldnt have even asked such a question; and if he didnt, the solution was already given to him, so he had to figure out the rest by himself.
“You know the saying,the one who is at fault grumbles the loudest. You are the one at fault, but you are talking about extermination.”
“Anyways, deal with it yourself if you really want to do that. Or turn to religion like me.” With that, Chi-Woo picked up his bag and rose from his seat.
“C-Chi-Woo. Wait, Choi Chi-Woo!”
“Im leaving.” Chi-Woo turned his back to Gil-Duk without hesitation.
After leaving the café, Choi Chi-Woo headed to the station. “Seriously. I cant believe it…” When a friend he hadnt seen in a long time called him, Chi-Woo had an inkling what the meeting was going to be about.
‘There were two of them.
Chi-Woo didnt know what exactly Gil-Duk did in that haunted house, but now, one guy was hangin
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