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“Sir, do you still have that trap in your storage?”
“What? Trap? Why do you want that?”
Old man Kim looked confused. He didn’t expect him to specifically ask for that.
“Why would you want that rotten piece of junk?”
Kim wasn’t convinced that his possession was worthwhile. It was an old, rusty piece that was too heavy and difficult to use.
“I need to use it.”
“Why not use a new one? That thing needs a lot of work for it to be ready. Even if you did, it’ll still be bad. It’s too heavy! There are plenty of lighter and stronger traps available.”
Joonbum shook his head at the suggestion.
“No, I need that specific trap.”
“For what? Misusing it will cause trouble, and you can drag me into that trouble also.”
Kim was not willing to let him take it, but Joonbum was persistent.
“Please. Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to use it for dangerous purposes. It’s only for a video. Nothing serious.”
Kim eyed Joonbum, unconvinced.
“Well, you’re not the lying type so I guess I can trust you. Follow me.”
Kim spoke as he turned around to walk to his storage. Although irritated, Joonbum followed him.
‘Damn old man!’
Kim was good at making fun of people with words. He did not mean to be offensive as it was supposed to be a pun, but many people were annoyed by it and he still did it anyway.
When the door to the storage room creaked open and Kim turned the light on, Joonbum was able to easily locate the pile of old traps stacked up like trash.
“I’ve used’em to catch some rabbits, wild birds, small deer, or boars when food was scarce… but there’s food everywhere these days and with all these nature protecting or something groups, you don’t use these anymore. Don’t you ever use it to hunt for anything. If anyone comes across and gets caught in one of these things, you’re going to jail. Hell, you’ll get fined for just using it now. When you’re done shooting, make sure you clean’em up, you hear?”
Kim mumbled a lot of things while Joonbum observed the pile. With some searching, Joonbum was able to find what he needed.
‘This is it. This should do!’
It was an iron trap with an iron chain designed to seize the unsuspecting prey’s ankle, durable enough to capture a variety of predators ranging from boars to bears. Blacksmiths created these on a case-by-case basis, not some mass-produced stuff. Even with all the rust, it still looked heavy and durable.
“Well, it does hold well compared to the newer ones… it’s durable, easy to repair…”
‘Oh boy, here it goes again.’
Joonbum raised his eyebrows as Kim started mumbling again. Kim was trying to put some value into it by saying how good it was just so that he can sell it for more.
“So how for it all, sir?”
“You want all of these?”
“Yeah, I will if the price is right.”
“Hmm, how about three hundred thousand?”
“I can do a hundred thousand.”
“What? I can sell it for more at a junkyard!”
“That’s not true.”
Kim shook his head at the offer.
“Can’t do it for that price.”
“Then how much?”
“Two hundred fifty!”
“I can do one hundred fifty.”
“Argh, you win!”
With the deal complete, Joonbum stacked all the traps into a small wooden box and loaded it onto his truck. Kim curiously asked him questions upon looking at the truck loaded with a variety of stuff.
“Ha! Going somewhere far, eh? Why all of this? Trying to be a peddler?”
“Oh, it’s just essentials for outdoor video shooting. You just never know what you might need in the wild.”
Kim nodded proudly at the explanation, as if he knew all that before even asking.
“That’s right. If you want to survive the outdoors, you need all kinds of things. When I was your age…”
Kim started babbling the moment he saw an opportunity. It really wasn’t anything spectacular. Just an old man’s tale about when he was young. He traveled around a mountain looking for a rare, expensive ginseng, then moved out to the middle east for labor that got him good money which his wife at home ran away with after having an affair.
It was just an ordinary rant about life.
“Here you go!”
Joonbum handed the money to Kim. Kim spit on his hand and started to count the money while glancing over at Joonbum suspiciously. It was obvious that Kim didn’t trust Joonbum on handing him the right amount.
‘Oh well, he only saw me a few times…’
But it was still not a pleasant experience to be doubted.
“Hmmph! Farewell then.”
“Thank you, sir!”
Joonbum hopped back into his truck and started driving. It was time to go to that place.
‘Will it happen again? Or else…’
His heart pounded as he stepped on his gas pedal harder.
Chapter 5. Re-entering the other world
Joonbum let out a breath and started flattening out the ground. The mixed smell of sweat, dirt, and grass pierced his nose.
‘It’s nearly done.’
He shoveled the ground to make it flatter.
There was no accessible route by car to the place he camped the other night which also housed the enormous tree. There was a small road could be used for travel, but there was too much debris like twigs, embedded rocks. and potholes that prevented cars from passing through.
Joonbum picked out a rock with a shovel and it was the last one. He put the shovel back in his car and got back in his car. Soon, as he carefully passed over the road he had just fixed, it was only a minute away from his campsite.
“I should have some time left. Let’s prepare.”
Joonbum began taking out the traps he bought from the old man. He put on a working glove and started to take the traps out one by one, spraying an oil lubricant on each one. The liquid dripped with red rust from it. When everything was sprayed, he then used an iron sole brush to clean away all the rust on all the traps.
“Thirty more minutes.”
The sun was rising. It was almost time for the swirling world shift.
“First thing to do is…”
Joonbum started digging into the ground and started installing all the traps around him. He placed a trap down and hammered the stake down at end of its chain. He then topped it off with some dirt and some grass to conceal it.
The second thing he did was start a huge bonfire. There was already an ongoing small bonfire that he easily made it larger by putting more trees and lighting a gas torch.
He suddenly felt thirsty as it was almost time. He quickly took out a cold bottle of water from the portable cooler and gulped it down.
“When I get there…”
His mind started racing on what to do once he went back, but he needed to prioritize.
‘First of all…’
He tried, but couldn’t. The swirl was starting.
“Oh crap, it’s coming! It’s coming!”
His voice started to crack with excitement and he looked at the swirl with his eyes wide open.
Strange sensations passed through him, making him moan. The world turned dark.
Just like that, he was now in the other world.
Everything in front of him changed. The cold, fresh air tickled his nostrils. There was green all around him. The air was so cold and fresh that it made his head spin. Huge bugs were crawling up and down the trees and there was faint bird screech that he had never heard before.
Nothing here was familiar. Every single thing was just too different.
“I wouldn’t even need to explain that this is some otherworldly place. Just a glance would be enough. Time is 6:30 AM. And… camera, my camera!”
Joonbum frantically ran for his camera and sighed with relief. It was working fine, recording everything that was happening.
“Yes, yes! As long as I film this and post it up…”
He daydreamed about it for a second but quickly came back to his senses. The next thing he needed to do was stay alert. The area was barricaded by various traps in case something runs toward him, with the ankle biter as the strongest one.
‘It might not be enough for that monster, but it should be enough to scare it a bit.’
After surveying the area, Joonbum ran up to the truck and started climbing the tree. It was the perfect spot. With the help of various ropes and tools, Joonbum was able to climb higher up the tree.
“This tree is so high. How tall is this thing?”
He was already 100 feet above the ground but it was still was not even halfway up. Yet he had no plans of climbing higher. Not only did it seem too difficult, but it also wasn’t necessary.
“I’ll make a spot here.”
After that, it was hard work. He tied the rope from his belt to the tree and started pulling it up, which brought up the various essentials he brought from his world. When his backpack was pulled up, he took out the tent and started installing the tent on the tree. With branches thicker than an adult human, with the help of the ropes, he was able to safely set up the tent.
He breathed heavily as he was drenched in sweat. Not even an hour had passed, but he was sweating heavily.
“This is some work!”
He sat down on the tree and looked around at the forest. It was thick and dark green. It wasn’t the shallow type of greenish forest he was used to. It was the type of dark green that only appeared when a forest was so densely populated with trees.
‘Is there a different color name for dark green?’
Joonbum lingered on the thought for a bit and then shook it off. He then opened the cooler box he had barely managed to pull up. It was filled with cold water and various drinks.
‘This is great.’
It really was great. Joonbum thought if this was what you could expect in the other world, anyone would want to come. He pulled out a soda can and opened it up.
He moaned as the first gulp went down his throat. Pleasing coldness greeted his hand and the fizzy soda popped through his mouth and throat. The refreshing feel that came right after brought so much pleasure.
Joonbum quickly finished a can and let out a big burp. Even the burp itself was so pleasing that it made him smile.
‘Joongho and Seungchul…’
-Ha, just look at this toad’s face! Just a can of soda and his face just turns…-
-Didn’t you know that he is the living human toad?-
Extremely relaxed, Joonbum was making a face that his friends used to always make fun of. They always laughed hard at him, accusing him of being so toad-like. They were close friends, so they didn’t mean to insult Joonbum and he wasn’t offended either.
‘Wonder what they are up to.’
He thought for a split second, then shook it off.
Joonbum took out a dry towel to clean off the sweat from his forehead and started to work on his new campsite again. There was still a lot to be done. After he shook off his old memory, Joonbum looked into the camera and shouted, “Folks, do you see this? I just finished setting up the tent that is made even for a cliff, but I still need a movable platform for safety. Safety first right? Is it? Okay, let’s get back to it!”
He chopped off some thick twigs around him to fill the gap where he was standing and finished reinforcing it by using the rope.
“Wow, this turned out better than I thought!”
It didn’t look pretty, but he was able to make a 10-foot wide, 16-foot long foothold on the tree 100 feet off the ground.
“Okay, I will now move the tent over here and put the cooler box here. Do you see this rope? Just secure it with this claw at end of the rubber rope and tighten it! It’s durable. It’s some high-quality stuff!”
The next thing he pulled up was a box full of canned food.
“This is canned peach. It’s good, especially the broth. I bought it with a buy one, get one free deal! And this is Spam. You know this right? This one will sure fill you good if you eat it together with a bowl of rice and some fried eggs!”
He organized all the essentials while mumbling about and used the rope he was talking about earlier to secure the canned food box.
“Okay, this one is bit heavy. But it’s my lifesaver. This is my equipment for safety! This one’s a dagger, and this is the jungle machete. Look fancy? It’s bit dull so that it is more durable. I just need it to sharpen a bit if it becomes too dull.”
Joonbum then pulled out his axe and smashed a pointy part of a nearby tree with the butt of the axe.
“This one’s my trusty old axe, and this is my motorcycle helmet. Here are the shoulder, knee, and shin protectors for inline skating. And this black suit you see me wearing is the tactical vest! It cannot be cut with a knife. Can it block a spear? It can, but it’ll still hurt. If you get hammered from above, the vest should be fine, but you won’t be fine inside. It’s not powerful at all. So, I thought about tying up some irons and reinforce it. Just like armor! Don’t you think it’s brilliant?”
He finished pulling up all essentials he had tied up while he rambled through everything at the camera. Everything was now secured and settled in an orderly manner.
The sun was now hanging from above and it became a bit too hot for Joonbum to withstand without taking off his vest and shirt.
“Now that I think about it, this forest has no mosquitoes! I shouldn’t have bought so many bug sprays!”
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