The World after the Fall - Chapter 237 - World after the fall (9)[Updated at: 2021-01-11 07:17:00]
Chapter 237: World after the fall (9)
In the new year, Jaehwan applied for the military right away.
It was decided on a whim. If he had taken the necessary steps, he would have been waived for military duty due to his ten years of mental consultations, but Jaehwan did not choose that route. Besides, his medical records were all free sessions that did not count as medical issues. He could have gotten help from the doctor if needed, but Jaehwan didn’t want to. He didn’t want to see the man’s face anymore. And above all else, Jaehwan needed a place to trap himself.
He needed a place with strict rules, a place where he did not need to think deeply, and a place where he can push his body to the limit.
Jaehwan was soon dispatched to the farthest region, the DMZ where it was known to be harshest of all military branches and began his military life there. He memorized his duties and stood on patrol. He cleaned places that weren’t his to clean, volunteered first to shovel out the snow, and always came back last.
He worked out continuously or read books alone after completing the tasks for the day. He mostly stayed in quiet spaces and lived peacefully. Officers loved him since he was quiet and obeyed all rules. He was also loved by others.
“Huh? Are you cleaning those rifles again? It’s your free time, man!”
“Yes, sir. I am doing what I like.”
“Hah… I think you should make this your career. I think you were born to be in the military.”
Jaehwan smiled bitterly at the sergeant.
“No, my ass. How about you apply for it, huh?”
Jaehwan just laughed and responded to the sergeant starting to talk about his life story again.
Born to be in the military? Jaehwan? There was no way that Jaehwan was born to be military. He was born to destroy and decimate the system.
The sergeant soon left when he got bored of talking and Jaehwan was left alone. He became scared at the sudden silence and quickly returned the rifles to their original place before moving out for another job.
He constantly needed to be on the move so he’d be busy. Therefore, he could not have false hope.
Jaehwan cleaned off the other soldier’s shoes one by one, and brought wet rags to wipe down corners along with the insides of narrow windows that were not usually cleaned. A song from a young girl group came from a TV, the only thing keeping silence out of the room. Jaehwan kept on rubbing and cleaning.
One song soon finished and the next song started. The girls sang and sang.
Jaehwan then stopped his cleaning and turned to the television screen dumbfoundedly. There were girls singing on the screen. And at that moment, Jaehwan felt like the world was talking to him.
‘I knew you would come. I waited. You were just a human too after all.’
The girls sang and Jaehwan looked at them. Lust overshadowed Jaehwan. And in that lust, Jaehwan took the girls, raped, wounded, and controlled them. In the end, he was controlled by them. And the girls kept singing. They kept singing again and again as if it was never going to end, as if no ‘Fall’ would ever come.
It was as if that song was the only reality they could take.
After some time, people came back to the room. One of Jaehwan’s superiors started teasing him.
“Hey, you’ve been watching the Seven Pink? I knew you would like… Huh? What? Are you crying?”
The man became shocked and others quickly gathered around Jaehwan.
“Hey! Who made him cry?”
“Who is it?! Was it you? Huh?”
Jaehwan then turned around to look at his superior with an awkward look. Was he crying?
Jaehwan brought his hand up to his cheek. It was very wet from his tears. Men shouted around him but he felt the voices becoming distant. And through those voices, he heard the song again. It was so beautiful, but beautifully doomed. Then Jaehwan realized he had to accept a certain fact.
‘So my world fell.’
Just like a tower falling down, Jaehwan felt his body crumbling.
‘That world doesn’t exist anymore. Because that world…’
Jaehwan fell down to the ground. And with the sound of calling a medic, he lost consciousness.
That world…. Jaehwan destroyed it with his own hands.
That night, Jaehwan had a long dream. He heard distant voices. Soon, Jaehwan realized that the voices were very familiar; it was his own voice.
-Was this the ending you wanted?
-Was living in this nightmare the reason why you brought me here?
One was Jaehwan in his twenties, and one Jaehwan was ten years old. Both of them were Jaehwan. They were arguing, no, the twenty-year-old Jaehwan was pressing on. The ten-year-old Jaehwan answered,
-I thought it would be different. The world you used to live in.
-Now you know that it’s not.
-Yeah. It’s different from the fairytale mom told me.
Jaehwan was puzzled. He wanted to join the discussion. He wanted to talk. He too, needed to talk. But where was he? Where was he while looking at those two? The twenty-year-old Jaehwan spoke.
-Our powers don’t work here.
-Of course. There’s no Adaptation or Awakening. There’s no unique world, so no Transcendence. Or Big Brother.
-No danger, no opportunity. Then what should we do now?
-Do what? There’s nothing we can do here.
The two Jaehwans seemed to have given up. Jaehwan wanted to speak to them, but he didn’t know what to say.
-Maybe we have to disappear in order for ‘Jaehwan’ to live happily. If he’s to live here, he needs to abandon all the history that we lived as ‘Jaehwan’. It is not allowed here.
-…Yes. I see.
-Yeah. It all ends here then.
The two Jaehwans then looked at each other. As they looked at each other, Jaehwan realized who he was. He was nowhere, and he was both of them at once. The two Jaehwan was himself. The two of them were now fusing back to one.
Jaehwan was becoming himself.
Jaehwan felt his longings and memories fading away. Like new clothes turning into old clothes, the memories disappeared.
‘No, don’t disappear.’
Jaehwan cried in the midst of the fading memories. Was everything all real? What did mean for it to be real anyway?
The darkness fell and the dream was over. After that, Jaehwan never dreamed of such a thing anymore.
Jaehwan was now almost at the end of his military service. He had adapted to the military during those times. He endured the boring days and became a boring man.
“You are amazing, sir.”
But people in the military liked him and respected him. He was even awarded for being a leader to the future military, free of violence and oppression. But Jaehwan didn’t seem excited.
“I just do what I need to do.”
“Yeah, yeah. But you know it’s really hard to do that.”
“It’s annoying, but it’s not hard.”
“That’s what it is. I’m not sure if I can do things like you. I can’t be that…”
Others also praised Jaehwan for his dedication and his work ethic. With that, Jaehwan remembered the days of stabbing. He remembered a day where he kept on stabbing until he completed the count and never rested.
“It’s easy compared to stabbing 100 thousand times a day.”
“Oh- yeah. Haha. I see.”
People laughed without giving much thought.
Jaehwan now didn’t feel anything even when he thought about those memories. It was all dull now. Jaehwan was such a man now and he wasn’t mad or depressed anymore.