The World after the Fall - Chapter 232 - World after the fall (4)[Updated at: 2021-01-11 07:16:59]
Chapter 232: World after the fall (4)
The doctor smiled again as Jaehwan became silent.
“Hmmm. So, you never met with me in the future?”
“…There’s a reason for that. I was different from now and…”
Jaehwan became confused and the doctor raised his hand to stop Jaehwan.
“Okay. Let me ask you another question. Do you remember anything about your high school or college perhaps?”
Jaehwan became silent again. After a long time, he admitted, “…I don’t remember.”
Jaehwan bit his lips. He surely attended all of high school and he even went college. He also went to the military. That’s when the Tower of Nightmares appeared. He knew that everything then was ‘reality’.
But Jaehwan couldn’t remember those times. Maybe it had been too long, or maybe it was because his memories had been destroyed when the Transcended ones left him.
“Haha. It’s not like you. You don’t remember, huh…?”
“I don’t. But I really was there…”
Jaehwan then closed his mouth. His words were true, but there was no proof to back up his claims. Not remembering it proved that Jaehwan was just lying. The doctor was still smiling.
There was no more game. Jaehwan will not protect his world. He will not prove anything.
Why? The 10-year-old Jaehwan became frustrated. He felt like he was going to cry. He had proof of all those times, but why did he need to prove everything again? And how could he prove it anyway?
That’s when a certain memory came to him. It was when he arrived at a certain ‘fortress’ when he just got to <Chaos>. That fortress also forced Jaehwan to prove himself.
-Prove yourself. Prove who you are.
What did Jaehwan answer then? Jaehwan looked up to the doctor. He felt like his sight was going blurry. The white lab coat looked like the wall of a strong fortress and the silver eyeglasses looked like spires. Was it because of that? Jaehwan spoke without realizing.
“I will not prove myself.”
It was the voice of a 10-year-old boy, but not from a 10-year-old boy. It was a voice that one world answered to another world. The doctor became speechless by the voice. He then realized he was overwhelmed yet again and gasped, “Ugh…”
He seemed to be very frustrated.
‘This kid really is something. But there is no way to control him. Then what can we do?’
The doctor sighed after a long time passed.
“Okay. Maybe the world you say does exist.”
Jaehwan’s eyes shook. What did he just say?
“I accept the possibility.”
Was that something a doctor from a mental institute could say? A cold theory-like thing shot past Jaehwan’s head then. Everything he had faced until now had some kind of a gate. Maybe this doctor was some form of a gate placed by the Nightmare of Beginning. Even as Jaehwan was lost in his thoughts, the doctor continued speaking.
“But no matter the circumstances, you must know this.”
“If you try to protect your world, the ones who love you will be sad.”
Sad? Because of his world? Why? And in the next moment, Jaehwan felt goosebumps on his body.
Did he just ask himself ‘Why?’ He was in no place to ask such a question. He had seen it throughout all his life. In his faint memories, faces came about. They were just faces with no names.
An old man who loved to slash and tried to quarrel with Jaehwan.
A good-looking blonde young man who always carried a law book.
A woman who betrayed her own kind to trust Jaehwan.
A young boy who trusted Jaehwan more than anyone in the world.
Jaehwan reminisced about them and was grasped with a question. Were they happy then? They trusted Jaehwan’s unique world and stayed by his side all the time, but Jaehwan never thought about their happiness even once.
They must have been afraid at the Fall. Afraid about the System being destroyed. How could Jaehwan be certain that what he wanted was what everyone else wanted?
Jaehwan then remembered his mother’s face who should be standing beyond the door of this room. He felt confused.
“Jaehwan. You said that the tower will appear in 10 years.”
Was it because he was too deep in thought? It took some time for Jaehwan to understand what the Doctor said.
“Why don’t we do this? You keep coming to my clinic for those 10 years.”
Jaehwan answered in annoyance.
“And why do I need to do that?”
“If the ‘Tower of Night’ appears ten years later like you-”
“Tower of Nightmares.”
“Hmph, Tower of Nightmares. If it appears, I will trust your words. I will do whatever you say.”
It was an unexpected offer. The doctor quickly added, “Oh, and I will waive all consultation fees during those 10 years.”
“…And why do you want to do that?”
Jaehwan couldn’t understand. There seemed to be no reason for the doctor to do such a thing for him. Toward Jaehwan’s suspicion, the doctor spoke with a warm voice.
“I should say that I don’t want to see a boy’s future being destroyed.”
“Besides, it’s not entirely free. I have conditions of my own.”
“If the tower does not appear after 10 years, you have to give up on your world.”
That too was unexpected. Jaehwan’s eyes shook.
“What do you think?”
Jaehwan looked at the doctor’s eyes. They seemed to have no hostility whatsoever. The doctor even seemed very caring and concerned about Jaehwan. Jaehwan became confused. And that made him face a certain question that he tried to not ask until now.
What if he was wrong? What if this man was right?
What if the Tree of Imagery never existed in the first place and all of his memories were his creation? What if there was a ‘reality’ and he was just running away from it? If that was true, then what will happen to him now?
Jaehwan crouched. Like a king trying to protect his fallen kingdom, he crouched for a long time. And after a while, a small voice came out from the ruined, fallen kingdom.
The doctor smiled.
“Good. It’s a promise.”
10 years quickly passed by and Jaehwan made a few more promises with the doctor.
First, Jaehwan was never to talk about Tree of Imagery or Big Brother to anyone else during those 10 years.
Second, if Jaehwan wanted to talk about the Tree of Imagery badly, he could only talk about it with the doctor.
Third, he had to visit the doctor at least once a month during those 10 years.
Jaehwan then moved onto middle school, and then high school. He also went to college and he lived an ordinary life. He listened to classes as if he were climbing the tower, and aimed for higher grades like he was increasing his stats.
But no matter how long had passed, the memories of the Tree of Imagery did not go away. On the other hand, thinking of it would make him lose consciousness, so Jaehwan tried hard to not think about it. He just kept on not thinking about it at least 10 years.
His mother became happy. And through it, Jaehwan felt reassured. He felt like he was living to the fullest, and when he thought that, he also felt strong hatred toward himself. When he couldn’t bear it any longer, he visited the doctor to talk about Tree of Imagery. It made him feel a bit better.
Those 10 years felt like 10 billion years had passed.
Jaehwan was now a college student. He was now 20 years old.
Finally, it was 2018.