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Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Juho stared at the screen where he saw two manuscripts for two separate books – a book about sand on the left, and another that was yet to be written. He thought back to Mr. Moon’s announcement about putting the novels written by the club members on display. There would be a publication ceremony that was both humble and unofficial. He pictured himself being part of the ceremony with his composition. Both anxiety and excitement tended to stir up simultaneously when doing something for the first time.
He turned his eyes back to the empty page on the right side of the screen. ‘What to do with this one, the twin born at the same place?’ Because Juho had been so distracted with writing, the thoughts about the aftermath had never entered his mind.
Though there was no way to tell how that story would turn out, he still wanted to give it his all in writing it. He wanted to start something that matched the scale of the book and its grand beginning. In that case, it would be best to write with publishing it in mind. At the core of it, the new approach would be:
In other words, he had the option of sending his manuscript directly to the publishing company instead of the school exhibition. His debut title having made him a bestselling author, that was something Juho had never done before.
“What if I used a different alias?”
Considering how many people were reading his book because of his name, the approach felt somewhat risky. Of course, he had every reason to be grateful toward his readers for reading his book. Yet, he couldn’t help but ask himself: ‘What if it was under a different name? Would my work still be received the same way?’ He wanted to find out and see it with his own eyes. ‘What if I published a book under a different alias, and it’s just as successful as Yun Woo? What if I can move the hearts of my readers just as much?’ If his theories were to be true, they would certainly contribute to his motivation to write. He would feel more free.
A goal had been set. Two stories. Born on the same day and time. Polar opposite of each other.
The first draft for the short story had been completed. All it needed was to be revised. As for the full-length one, it was just the beginning. It was a story about a recently set goal. Things that changed and things that didn’t. One about a humble daily life and the other about an exaggerated tale of an adventurer. A short story, and a novel. Juho moved the mouse cursor about. The screen showed an empty, untitled page. It was time for him to write about the man at the beach.
Juho thought back to his encounter with the man. He had been sensitive to languages, rude, rough around the edges, and reckless. Fortunately, he had changed as time passed by. He had learned to take himself seriously and practiced patience. His distasteful personality had begun to evolve into something more grounded.
Juho felt something grainy in his mouth. The timid woman at the beach had said that there were things in the world that remained unchanged. Juho didn’t try to suppress her influence in his thoughts. Things that changed and didn’t change were not all that distant from one another.
The man changed over time, but some things never changed. Although he had learned to be more serious and patient, parts of his rough, reckless personality were still intact deep within. Given the right conditions and circumstances, he was more than capable of acting on his old personality.
Juho wanted to place him in a gargantuan space. After all, he was confident when he said that he would cross the sea. It was human nature to test a confident braggart at their words. A space that shrunk a person to a microscopic existence. Enormous background. Juho intended to give the man the adventure of his life. Such environment suited him, and it had been the reason for why Juho decided to write a fantasy novel. He listed words to fill that empty world with.
“There’s a protagonist, which means there has to be other people. It’s a world for people to live in, but they’re not the only ones alive. There are animals and plants. There’s life and the land that would sustain them. There’s also water, the sky and the sun.
An enormous continent and plateau. Lake and ocean. They mostly froze and melted repeatedly, except for the parts of the world where things stayed frozen or liquid. There was dry and wet sand. Lands full of life and desolation. There were creatures flying in the sky and crawling on the ground, communicating, trading, and migrating. In order to make all those things possible, there had to be a language, which meant there was intelligence.’
“Having intelligence means…”
It meant that the world wouldn’t always be peaceful.
‘War breaks out. Weapons are made, killing lives. Waters are contaminated. Bodies get buried. A new lifeform that feeds on corpses comes into existence. Tragedy continues, terror reigns. Sanitation no longer becomes a priority. People aren’t the only threat to their own kind. An epidemic. People are dying in massive numbers, but there are survivors. There are always survivors. They continue living, leaving their descendants. Those descendants leave their own descendants. Time flows by. The war comes to an end, and the epidemics disappear. Life begins to regenerate.’
Juho decided to go further. Death. Things that remain unchanged. The inside of his mouth felt rough still. Maybe he was getting tired. He wrote another set of words: Eternal Life. Immortality.
‘There are written documents that record their existence. Mythology. The existence of language also meant that there were records. Naturally, people grew older, but history exists long before birth, and it will continue to exist long after death.’
Juho decided to give that world more structure.
‘Let’s give it perspective. From whose point of view should I be looking? Should I be the ground? Maybe the water? Plants doesn’t sound like a bad idea either. Maybe a bird? An ordinary person? God Himself? The world?’
Juho imagined the time when God was born, when He died, when He was forgotten, and then rediscovered.
‘The world changed over time. Powers were exercised, and cultures were formed. Everything repeated the process of death and birth. There was God. Though immortal, He was being forgotten. Why? Why would an eternal being be forgotten?’
Juho moved his hands busily and added a reason.
‘If unseen, unrecorded, unlearned and unthought of, an existence will be forgotten eventually. Maybe He went to a different place? Hiding from the creatures, erasing traces of His existence. There has to be a place, a place to hide God in. Where could that be? Large continents. Epic background. Where can I hide Him in?’
His hand suddenly stopped. Rising from his chair, Juho walked over to the corner of the room where there had put a box with a globe he had recently ordered. Taking a box cutter, he cut the box open. ‘This is possessed and made by a human. Now, it’s being opened by a human. What about God? Would it be the same for Him? Would I need humans if I were to openly reveal His existence? Yes, I would. God exists for humans. They are the ones who discovered God. If I were to rediscover a God who had been forgotten, I would need humans.’
The globe revealed itself as he peeled the packaging away. It wasn’t all that big. Juho spun it, and the speed with which it spun would depend on the amount of force exerted on it. Suddenly, he stopped the spinning globe and spun it slower the next time. The land. The water. Spinning. He was looking for a place to hide God.
‘Why was that place made in the first pace, and how did God know about it? Would He know everything there is to know about this world just because he’s God?’ Juho immersed himself in thought, thinking about how he wanted to portray God in the story. The globe kept spinning. Round. Sphere.
The pigeons cry made a similar sound. It was also the number nine, “Gu,” and the measurement used for counting things in a sack. In addition, it also meant something old in Chinese characters. Juho felt a sharp pain in his mouth.
(TL’s note: “Goo” is a way to say “sphere” in Korean. Also, Koreans describe a pigeon’s cry as “Goo, goo.”)
(TL’s note: “Ip” is the Korean pronunciation for the Chinese word meaning”to let in,” while “Gu” is for the word “Mouth.” Together, “Ip Gu” translates to entrance.)
An entrance. Juho took hold of the hole that was floating around in his head.
‘If I were to hide God in here, no one would be able to find Him. How did this hole come about? History would know, and somebody had to have left left a record of it somewhere. It might have changed over time as it was passed onto the later generations, but it’d still be around. That same record had been passed onto that man. Rude, rough around the edges, reckless, sensitive to language.’
“A story hidden within mythology.”
‘While reading mythology, he discovers the hidden code about the existence of God. With that, he sets out on an adventure to discover the truth. It’s his destiny. It’s up to him to rediscover God.’
Juho spun the globe again.
‘The world was spinning. Sand came together and made a continent while water made the sea. The sun was in the sky. There was also rain occasionally. Just rain? Maybe ashes and hail too. There were places where nobody lived in – desolate places, unable to sustain life. Even God didn’t exist in such lifeless regions
‘The world kept growing in size. There were animals that lived in harmony with humans. They had to have witnessed history, perhaps even putting them in places closest to God.’
The sphere kept spinning. It kept spinning on its own without the hand spinning it, or any form of force being exerted on it. It was the energy within, giving birth to life. Uninterrupted, the sphere kept spinning. It’d spin forever. That would remain unchanged. The sphere kept spinning. Time flowed by. The geography changed over time. The land quaked, while the mountains gushed out fire, and the ocean froze. When Juho put his hand onto the globe, the globe finally stopped spinning. There was land on the globe painted in white. That was the adventurer’s destination. Crossing the continents and the seas, climbing the mountains, the man set out on a quest to meet the God from myth.
“All right. Now…”
‘I need to come up with the mythology the man had read and the stories within it. I have to think about how he was born and how he would die. The background needs to be more elaborate and solid. The North Pole is already mysterious on its own, but the story itself can’t be ambiguous.’
Juho was excited for the stories to come.
He thought about the myths he knew. Greek and Roman mythology, Northern European mythology, the Dangun mythology, etc. They were stories made up by someone, passed down from mouth to mouth, gathered, and written. There had to be parts that had gone missing or that had been added in the process. It was completely natural.
‘Rumble.’ Juho was hungry. ‘Maybe I should eat something.’ When he checked the time, it was already well past lunch time, and he realized he hadn’t eaten all day. The moment he recognized his stomach as empty, the hunger grew more intense. ‘What’s in the fridge?’
Even as he rose from his seat and opened the door, Juho didn’t stop thinking about the setting. ‘Just like how there’s a new environment on the other side of the door, maybe there’s another world on the other side of the hole.’ Because an ordinary land felt plain and boring, Juho decided to increase its size. ‘I did decide to create a world that was gargantuan. If there’s a place connecting to it, then it’d have to be a-whole-nother world.’ He looked at the globe on his desk and asked, ‘What if there’s another Earth inside of it? Another planet within Earth, so to speak.’
“Gu” was an entrance, the only entrance to another “Gu.”
‘It’s a different world, so everything’s going to be different. Time, history, language, creatures, everything.’
Immersed in the endless train of thought, Juho opened the refrigerator door. A refreshing breeze rushed past his face, blowing across the kitchen. As he put out his hand in front of it, the coldness traveled up to his arms. The longer he left the door open, the more anxious he grew. He felt like he would get yelled at by his mother any minute. He had been told in multiple occasions to not leave the refrigerator open. ‘The “Gu” is open now. Maybe I need something else to close it with. No, that won’t be necessary.’ It was already closed, hidden deep within the stories in mythology. Nobody knew where to find the “Gu.” The mythology had served as a door. Only those who discovered its handle were able to open it, and the protagonist had finally discovered it. God, mythology, and the shape of the protagonist grew clearer.
“But I’m hungry…” Juho murmured as he closed the refrigerator door.
Having returned to his room, he reached for his pen.
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