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Choi Hyuk’s fast combination continued.
I move both my hands like a flash of lightning.
Pa pa pat!
I blocked by stopping all of Choi Hyuk’s fast punches.
Lastly, Choi Hyuk’s right hook comes in which I dodged with weaving and retaliate with a short upper cut.
The upper cut slightly grazes Choi Hyuk’s chin. If it had properly landed, I am positive it would have downed him.
Choi Hyuk shook his head back and forth.
“You are incredible. There is now nothing left for me to teach you.”
“You are too kind.”
Today is the last of the 20 days of rest I have been given.
Without hitting him, I overpower Choi Hyuk.
Using his well mastered technique, Choi Hyuk used fast speed to impressively do a combination, and he was able to either dodge or block everything.
Have my skills improved over this time? Yes.
But have my boxing skills surpassed Choi Hyuk’s? That would be incorrect.
My technique is similar to a baby that has barely begun to walk, incapable of following Choi Hyuk.
But during this time, with the entry level 2 athleticism, lots of boxing moves have become embedded to my body and more than anything, the entry level 5 physical strength buff and newfound reflexes and reactions have really shown their light.
The reactiveness and reflexes are overwhelming.
With the athleticism, the accurate movements were memorized by my body and therefore I could react better.
With such advantages on my part, no matter how skilled and talented Choi Hyuk is, there is nothing he could do.
“There are still many things for you to learn but because I am losing so single handedly, it is embarrassing for me to teach you.”
“Don’t be. This is all thanks to your good teaching, please continue.”
“Yes, it would be good to see you again here, tomorrow.”
“… I will come back.”
It has just passed lunch.
I decided to go home early.
While I drove home in the Porsche cayenne, I gave Min-jeong a call.
Perhaps it is a man’s selfish desires.
As I think about how this could be my last day, I wanted to see Min-jeong.
I wanted to spend time with her.
No, I wanted to hug her.
“I got to go home early today, you want to go out for dinner?”
-Oh no! I already have plans to meet a friend.
-No, they’re friends from cooking school.
-They’re really skilled, they help me out a lot. I told them I’d buy them dinner as thank you.
“… well, that’s too bad then.”
-Aw, I’m so sorry. I’ll see you tomorrow. We’ll have a good day tomorrow.
I smile gloomily.
“Okay, let’s do that.”
I end the call and an emptiness creeps in.
How could I feel so alone?
It’s definitely not because Min-jeong can’t hang out today. It’s not like today is the weekend, and it’s a good thing that Min-jeong carries on a life of her own.
I can’t see her just whenever I want.
When I get home, like always, my family will be there. Other than having to take the exam, today is no different than any other normal day.
I am not the unemployed part time guy who would return home to the tiny one room basement anymore.
And yet, I feel this alone.
The three people who have died before me, their faces flit across my brain.
‘So that’s it.’
It’s because I have no people in life and death.
As examinees, feeling the anxiety and fear together, overcoming that together with comrades, I don’t have that anymore.
No one can share in my fear.
I have to fight alone.
A lonely fight…
And now, without anyone by my side, I have to go again to that place.
I arrived at home.
It is like it always is.
Mom and noona are out at work and will come home late, and even though Hyun-ji only has morning classes today, she still hasn’t come home yet and has probably wandered off doing something.
‘Should I prepare early?’
I still have ten hours left.
But I don’t particularly have anything to do so I just decide to prepare for the exam.
I take out the battle suit I got from the Korean Arena research center, cargo pants and tracking shoes, and I pick out other clothes suited well for the wild.
I take out the 7.62 mm bullets box that I had hidden in the corner of my closet.
I retrieve my item bag and tuck in the bullet clip. I also put in a water bottle filled with fresh water and an all-purpose knife.
The smartphone vibrates.
It is Min-jeong.
‘I wonder what this is?’
I am drenched in my solitude and received Min-jeong’s call happily.
-I cancelled my plans.
-I want to see you today.
“Why? We can see each other tomorrow…”
I asked in a slightly shaking voice. Min-jeong speaks.
-Oppa, your voice kind of sounded lonely, is there something wrong? I got worried, so I want to see you today.
Boom, a warm fuzzy feeling hits my chest.
This is the Min-jeong I decided to date without much thought.
If I don’t survive past the 4th exam, today will be the end for me. But regardless of that fact, my heart feels light…
And at this moment right now, I am so immensely thankful to Min-jeong.
I felt a hot emotion just at the fact that she recognized my solitude, having to go soon to fight to the death.
-I’ll see you tomorrow too, hehe.
I break into a smile.
“Okay. We’ll see each other today and see each other tomorrow too. Where are you right now?”
-I’m at cooking school.
I had been there a couple days before.
“I’ll head over.”
“Yep, wait for me.”
I haphazardly shoved the items I had packed up back under the bed and left the house.
Due to how much I wanted to see her, my speed matched my haste.
I arrived in front of the cooking school and I sent her a text to come out.
Min-jeong raced towards me with an anticipatory and excited expression.
I get out of the driver’s seat and grabbed Min-jeong and hugged her tight.
“Woah, oppa! People will see.”
“The friends I mentioned earlier.”
Only then do I see the friends that came running out following Min-jeong.
The two girls about the same age as Min-jeong look surprised at our public display of affection.
I awkwardly exchanged greetings with her friends.
“I am sorry I’m stealing Min-jeong today.”
“You must have really missed her. Can’t help it, I suppose, haha.”
They giggled and teased us.
I am embarrassed but the resilient Min-jeong brazenly waved her hand.
“Okay, well I’ll be off first. My oppa looks to be in rather a hurry today.”
Her friends giggled and laughed some more.
I persisted through my reddening face and seated Min-jeong in the passenger car.
We take the car and naturally headed for Min-jeong’s place.
Min-jeong looked at me with a sweet face.
“Are you in a rush?”
“Hmph, guys always get so lonely when they want to do it.”
“I just want to be with you. Let’s not do anything, just be here with me. That’s all.”
“Yup yup, you really think we won’t do anything?”
“A guy should know how to be more forward.”
I’m at a loss for words and Min-jeong got out of the car.
“Come on, come up with me, I’ll make you some food.”
“Oh, uh, okay.”
How is it Min-jeong is already playing me like a puppet.
We get up to her unit and I eat the food she makes me.
A bowl of rice that’s hot and sticky, dwengjang jjigae with tofu, kimchi, dried seaweed, and a fried egg make for the sides.
I can’t tell if it’s because she has learned well or if she was talented to begin with, but every single thing is delicious.
I finished the meal and we go to the bed.
Strip, hug, touch lips…
As if trying to fill a hole in my chest, I endlessly desire her.
And to me, she ably matches me, and she keeps stroking my hair.
It’s a strange feeling.
I roughly indulged myself in her, but instead I feel snug from her protection.
I spill out all my ambitions, and we pass the time, holding each other, still.
The heat lingeeds, and with a blushed face, Min-jeong asks me.
“Oppa, is something wrong?”
“Then why are you like this today? You’re different than usual.”
I reply kiddingly.
“It’s because guys get lonely when they want to do it.”
“You want to get hit with a $860 present?”
An $860 present, that would be the luxury Japanese knife set I got for her from Denmark.
I laughed and hold her tighter.
“Geez, I can’t breathe.”
She reprimands me while she snuggles in closer. We hug like we have been one from the beginning.
“This is a big problem.”
“I think it’s all going as you said it would.”
“I think I’m going crazy for you.”
She must have felt good at my words because Min-jeong giggled.
“Didn’t I say so? This is how it goes.”
“I know. What to do.”
“Starting now you’ll have to do well by me. If you don’t, later when you can’t live without me, I’ll get my revenge.”
At Min-jeong’s cute threat, I can’t help but laugh out loud.
“I’ll do well by you. When the time comes, go easy on me.”’
“Hmph, I’m going to pick you up and shake you and put you down and lift you up. And have you give me expensive presents as offerings.”
“Aw, don’t do that.”
“I’m going to bluff and say I’m going to the club and make you worry.”
“That’s too much. I’ll stalk you.”
We exchanged this joke and that joke and laugh together.
I can’t even tell the time is passing by.
Somehow it’s already 10.
There is only one hour left.
I should have gone back way earlier and prepared, but Min-jeong kept insisting I stay later and I wasn’t able to head back.
And honestly, I just wanted to stay with her too.
Every minute and every second is too precious and pitiful.
“I really have to head back now.”
“Let’s just be together until tomorrow. Please?”
It has become the situation where now Min-jeong is holding onto me.
I feel like I’m coming off as the bastard whose behavior has changed because my desires have been fulfilled and I feel bad.
“Min-jeong, I have something important today. I’m really sorry. I really want to stay too.”
“Hmph, you’re going to be like this?”
“I’m sorry. Tomorrow after work, I’ll come racing here straight away. Okay?”
“Whatever, wait and see what happens later. I’m going to have you beg me to play with you.”
Thankfully she isn’t actually sulking, Min-jeong is joking.
I kissed her in what could be our last, and I put on my clothes and leave.
I returned home and finish my preparations and lay down in bed.
When the time arrived, my mind became fuzzy.
“Did you get a good rest?”
The baby angel flapped his wings and welcomed me.
“Starting today you will have to clear the exam alone, but your expression is brighter than I expected?”
“You have a problem with that?”
“Yes, I expected a somber expression as if you were carrying all the sins of the world.”
“Why, I ought to.”
I do a hook but the bastard deftly avoided it. He’s like a poop fly.
“How dare you call an angel a poop fly? You want to get hit with the lightning of holy contempt?”
Don’t read other people’s thoughts without permission. You just like to tease other people.
“You can check it on your board.”
I retrieve my board.
-Name: Kim Hyun-ho
-Mission: During your time limit, help the brown mountain elf.
-Time limit: 30 days
It is one of the species I saw in the files that Cha Ji-hye gave me. To help an elf, this really is ridiculous.
“Give me a hint.”
“Didn’t you already get the hint?”
“Come on now, you should hurry and get going.”
The baby angel brings up the exam door.
I took a deep sigh and opened the door and went through. A bright white expanse of light blankets my eyes.
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