Grabbing Tightly (1)
Noh Su-Bong was flustered by this situation.
'What the hell is going on here'
Kim Hak-Cheol was being tormented by his nightmare.
That alone wasn't so strange, though.
A living person was bound to experience a terrifying nightmare or two in their lives, after all.
And people having nightmares could be found commonly in the world, right
The problem here, though, was not that simple.
Kim Hak-Cheol's nightmare was continuous, which was the real issue.
People could have nightmares, yes, but suffering from them every single night Now that was uncommon.
However, Kim Hak-Cheol was also visibly losing weight with every passing day.
“Hurgh...” Kim Hak-Cheol was shivering away pathetically in the far corner of the living area, his teeth clattering away noisily.
However, that sight only fueled Noh Su-Bong's irritation level even higher.
“Hah, that stupid bastard...!”
Kim Hak-Cheol had never been a gutsy character, but he still had a fairly good head on his shoulders.
So, Noh Su-Bong decided to keep this fool around as a useful underling, which was why this pathetic sight was beginning to irritate him.
“How can anyone become a goddamn invalid just because of some nightmares” Noh Su-Bong grunted unhappily.
Unable to stare at the shivering, sobbing wreck of Kim Hak-Cheol anymore, Noh Su-Bong got up and put on his shoes.
He glanced at the nearby junior soldier.
“When are they admitting him to a hospital”
“But, uh... Sir, the base's surgeon said he couldn't find anything wrong.”
“Couldn't find anything Even though that guy's clearly in a bad shape What the hell”
“...You know how many brats pretend to be sick just to get hospitalized, sir.
A psychotic episode isn't enough to get hospitalized, apparently.”
“Blooming hell...” Noh Su-Bong groaned in dissatisfaction and exited the living area.
He mouthed a cigarette and lit it up while heading to the smoking area.
“Why do I have to go through bullsh*t during my final month in this place!”
A soldier staring at the end of their military service duration was supposed to be very cautious of his conduct to the point of avoiding stepping on a fallen leaf.
Yet, one of his subordinates tried to kill himself, while another one was quickly going insane.
No wonder Noh Su-Bong's frustration was on the verge of overflowing.
I better get out of this f*cking military as soon as possible.” Noh Su-Bong found a bench and plopped down on it, then rested his feet on the beams.
“Corporal Kang Jin-Ho, sir.” Kang Jin-Ho sitting on another bench briefly saluted.
Noh Su-Bong beckoned at him with his finger.
Kang Jin-Ho stubbed his cigarette out and stood before Noh Su-Bong.
Noh Su-Bong's expression stiffened just a little.
Not a single individual in this artillery company worried him, including the Battery Commander.
However, he couldn't look down on Kang Jin-Ho.
There were just too many rumors floating about this Corporal Kang for him to do that.
There was also the matter of how the high-ranking officers 'liked' Kang Jin-Ho.
Rashly doing something to such a guy would only bring trouble to Noh Su-Bong.
'...But, so what Who gives a sh*t'
Noh Su-Bong's pride suddenly began acting up.
“Hey, Kang Jin-Ho.
Go and get me something cold to drink.”
“Sir PX isn't open yet, sir.”
“I don't care.
Tell the PX boys it's me, and they'll open it right up.
Get me a can of Coke.” Noh Su-Bong pulled out a ten thousand won note from his pocket.
“Keep the change.
Buy something to drink for yourself.”
“Yes, sir.” Kang Jin-Ho accepted the cash and headed to the living area.
Noh Su-Bong watched that and smirked deeply.
“Not allowed to order around other squad's soldiers, eh My foot!”
The regulation stated that a high-ranking soldier wasn't permitted to order around a junior soldier from a different squad.
Of course, Noh Su-Bong didn't care.
No one alive was averse to making a quick buck, after all.
As an example, just take a look at Kang Jin-Ho.
Wasn't he obediently heading to the PX to buy Noh Su-Bong a drink
“That's my drink taken care of, but...
Bloody hell, what a sh*t show this is.” Noh Su-Bong tutted as he leaned against the bench.
He had less than a month left before his discharge, so unsavory events happening in his squad were deeply pissing him off.
He frowned at the wave of displeasure slowly creeping in, then chewed on the cigarette filter in anger.
'Right, let's just focus on getting out of here.'
After objectively thinking about it, Noh Su-Bong realized he only had less than a month left before his discharge.
In other words, whatever happened to the squad didn't matter to him anymore.
He should just focus on keeping a low profile until the end and leave the military for good.
That would be the end of this nonsense.
Even if Ju Yeong-Gi woke up someday and blabbed his mouth, Noh Su-Bong would remain untouchable in civilian society.
He would be several times more 'powerful' without the restrictions of the military, after all!
“Sir, here it is.” Kang Jin-Ho quickly returned with a can of Coke.
He pushed it to Noh Su-Bong.
When the change was also presented with the drink, Noh Su-Bong sneakily pushed it back.
“I told you to keep the change.”
Kang Jin-Ho didn't argue back and pocketed the money.
I'll be going back inside, sir.”
“Alright.” Noh Su-Bong lightly waved his hand, then took a large gulp of the fizzy drink.
The coldness of the drink entering his belly seemed to have lifted the clogged feeling in his chest just a little.
“...Maybe my squad's been cursed with an ill omen”
Suddenly, this unexplainable anxiety began digging into his heart.
“Euh, euuh...” Kim Hak-Cheol continued to shiver away while holding his knees.
Noh Su-Bong sighed deeply.
“Heuh-uh, heuh-uh, ha...”
It had already been five days since Kim Hak-Cheol started having these weird nightmares.
And he was losing more and more weight with every passing day.
As a matter of fact, Noh Su-Bong couldn't help but be mystified that a person could actually lose so much weight to the point that they would become a walking skeleton in just five days.
“...Argh, gimme a f*cking break! Look at him! Why can't he get hospitalized when he's like this! Is this some kind of a joke!” Noh Su-Bong angrily shouted.
However, that only caused Kim Hak-Cheol to freak out and convulse uncontrollably.
“I'm sorry! I… I… I'm so sorry! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, sorry...!”
“Uh-whew, this goddamn loser!” Noh Su-Bong's irritation level climbed higher at the sight of Kim Hak-Cheol planting his head on the floor and repeatedly crying out, “I'm sorry!”
However, his irritation was gradually being overtaken by a sense of unexplainable anxiety.
'Just what is going on here'
Kim Hak-Cheol might be more weak-kneed than Noh Su-Bong, but he was still dastardly enough to bully and torment someone to the point of attempted suicide.
In other words, his mind shouldn’t be 'soft.’ Yet, some nightmares had managed to turn him into a sobbing wreck like this What kind of a nightmare did it have to be for this to happen
Noh Su-Bong called out to Kim Hak-Cheol one more time.
“...Hak-Cheol Can you hear me”
“Argh, you dipsh*t! Get a hold of yourself and listen to me!”
Focus returned to Kim Hak-Cheol's eyes, and he stared back at Noh Su-Bong.
“According to what you said, some bastard shows up every night and drags you to the boiler room.
Am I right so far”
“Okay, listen up.
I've personally locked the boiler room entrance.
I have the key, and I ordered the others not to check up on the boiler tonight, too.
Did you hear me”
Kim Hack-Cheol wordlessly nodded his head.
“The night watch will check up on you every two hours while I'm going to stay up tonight.
With that much, we should be able to confirm whether you have been having bad dreams or not, right”
No, sir! I, I wasn't dreaming! That...
That! That was not a dream! Not a dream, sir!”
“Argh, you dumb piece of sh*t!”
Noh Su-Bong forcefully slapped Kim Hak-Cheol right across the latter's face.
The spectators were left stunned by this development, and they stared at Sergeant Noh and his underling in a daze.
Noh Su-Bong glared at the stupefied Kim Hak-Cheol and growled angrily.
“Didn't I tell you I'd confirm whether you're dreaming or not, you bastard! If we get through this tonight, we'll find out the truth! Won't we!”
“As long as it's just you dreaming some sh*t, it'll all be fine, right”
It is.” Kim Hak-Cheol nodded slowly.
Noh Su-Bong groaned and turned his head toward his squad members.
Get the bedding ready.
We gotta let this brat sleep.”
The night was deepening, but Kim Hak-Cheol hadn't fallen asleep yet.
Noh Su-Bong glanced at him and tutted inwardly.
'Uh-whew, that moron...'
He wanted to get angry, but he also knew not to push Kim Hak-Cheol any further than this.
Despite seeing Kim Hak-Cheol as nothing more than his underling, Noh Su-Bong couldn't help but pity him a bit.
Maybe he had developed a soft spot while going through all this nonsense or something.
I'm getting sleepy.'
Noh Su-Bong quickly shook his head.
He was only a sergeant, but his body had already adapted to the military routine.
Getting sleepy at ten in the evening was an inevitable outcome.
Trying to stay awake throughout the night was also getting really boring.
He opened his locker and took out his handheld gaming console that he had smuggled in some time ago.
He figured playing video games should do wonders in chasing away his sleepiness.
As for Kim Hak-Cheol, he was staring at the patterns in the ceiling.
He lay on his back dead-straight, an opaque layer of moisture gradually blocking his view.
'He'll soon come...!'
Yes, that shadowy being should show up soon.
This inevitability could not be stopped by mere humans.
Kim Hak-Cheol's hands began to tremble like leaves caught in a storm.
Knowing he had to see that creature again caused heart-stopping terror to flood his mind.
That shadowy creature was gradually gnawing away at Kim Hak-Cheol, slowly killing him.
The devil's actions were leisurely, methodical, and unhurried.
If only Kim Hak-Cheol's life had been reaped in one fell swoop, he wouldn't have been crushed by the weight of the unspeakable terror like this.
Yet, the shadowy devil didn't seem to be in a hurry at all.
Slowly. Oh-so slowly... As if he was enjoying the sight of a struggling insect that could be crushed at any time while pulling off its legs, one at a time, the shadowy devil was gradually killing Kim Hak-Cheol.
It… It could be just a dream.
Noh Su-Bong was awake, after all.
Besides, the night watch should also check up on him periodically.
As long as he found some confidence in himself that his experiences hadn't been real, then maybe...!
Kim Hak-Cheol's eyes slowly closed.
Even Noh Su-Bong had fallen asleep while holding his gaming console.
Unfortunately for them...
the night was not their domain.
Who would have thought that the sound of a falling waterdrop could be this loud
Kim Hak-Cheol was no longer flustered by his situation.
He had been expecting it, after all.
No matter how shocking it was, experiencing a similar thing for five days straight would allow most people to acclimatize to their situation.
Of course, that didn't mean Kim Hak-Cheol had gotten used to the terror strangling his heart.
Kim Hak-Cheol squeezed his eyes shut.
'So, this is supposed to be a dream, huh'
He would have laughed out loud if his mouth was functioning as it should.
Everyone said he was going crazy.
And maybe they were right.
He could really be going crazy here.
No matter what it was, experiencing it for five days would drive anyone bonkers mad now, wouldn't it!
However, what was happening to him was real regardless of whether Kim Hak-Cheol was losing his mind or not.
This was definitely no illusion.
He was sure about it.
Kim Hak-Cheol's dazed eyes stared at his front, knowing 'he' should soon appear.
And 'he' would start torturing him in a horrifying, gruesome fashion once more.
“Hoh Your expression has gotten better.”
Sure enough, he was here.
Despite hearing that voice so, so many times by now, the shadow still sounded bone-chillingly ominous.
Kim Hak-Cheol stared at the shadow's figure wavering in front of him, and his quiet stare eventually prompted the shadow to tilt his head slightly to the side.
Surely, he should know.
This shadow seemed to know what was on Kim Hak-Cheol's mind every time, after all.
So, he should know what Kim Hak-Cheol wanted to say and act accordingly first.
Kim Hak-Cheol had been so terrified of this moment—terrified that this moment would come to haunt him again.
Somewhat ironically, though, his fear forced him to think of a way to survive this terrifying moment.
The shadow watched Kim Hak-Cheol's shallow, heavy panting, and then an unreadable smile crept up on his creepy face.
Ah” Kim Hak-Cheol gasped, realizing that his mouth was finally open.
In fact, he could even speak now.
Before he could properly digest his shock, however, he urgently said what was on his mind.
“I… I'll turn myself in!”
The shadow tilted his head and silently stared at Kim Hak-Cheol.
Kim Hak-Cheol urgently cried out.
“I… I now know why you're doing this! You, you said that I was also doing this, right! T-that's why...
I'll turn myself in and confess to everything! I swear!”
Tears flooded Kim Hak-Cheol's eyes.
This situation remained so sorrowful and terrifying to him.
“Turn yourself in, is it”
“Yes! I'll tell them I was responsible for making Yeong-Gi that way! I'll turn myself in! That's why, that's why...! Please, please forgive me.
“Turning yourself in...” The shadowy devil suddenly began to cackle, and the silhouette of his lips bizarrely distorted.
“What's that got to do with me”
“I'm asking you, what does turning yourself in got to do with me”
“Do you see me as some kind of an apostle of justice Is that it” The shadowy devil's cackles echoed ominously within the boiler room.
Kim Hak-Cheol suddenly felt mystified by how he still hadn't gone insane from this situation.
The shadow leaned closer.
“Do you want to know who I am”
Kim Hak-Cheol nodded in a daze.
Of course, he didn't hold much expectation.
Surely, this should be yet another one of the shadowy devil's tricks to torment him even further.
The black fog-like things enveloping the shadow suddenly scattered to reveal the figure of an actual human being.