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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“It ain’t here.”
“It’s not here.”
Juho and Geun Woo said simultaneously. Though they searched the room together, neither of them found the flash drive. Unfortunately, it meant that it wasn’t in the studio. Thankfully, it wasn’t such a big room and it was rather organized, enabling them to search through the entire place quickly.
“What do we do?” asked Geun Woo, looking concerned.
He knew what was in the flash drive Juho had lost. The open drawers and sheets of data scattered around the room were proof of their desperate search.
“Nothing, I guess,” said Juho, walking around the room once more.
“You’re not giving up now, are you?”
Juho wasn’t giving up, but simply accepting the current situation. The reality was that his flash drive had gone missing, and like in most cases when belongings got lost, it resulted in jumbled up memories. Knowing that, Juho emptied his mind and focused on the barking dog in the distance.
“It’s possible that the dog fetched it.”
“Now’s not the best time to write a novel, Juho,” Geun Woo said sternly.
Juho tried to organize his thoughts. He had tried to revise ‘Grains of Sand.’ The flash drive had been stashed in his pocket, and the laptop happened to be in Geun Woo’s studio. Because he had had some down time, he had decided to put the two objects together. After that, he had left the house to go visit the dog.
“Are you sure this is the last place where you saw it?”
“Are you sure you didn’t leave it at the doghouse?”
“I doubt it.”
“That’s weird…” muttered Geun Woo, looking around his studio. It was definitely strange. When his memory didn’t match up with reality, Juho felt something odd in most cases. Fortunately, breaking out of it wasn’t all that difficult. All it took was to either summon a ghost or lure the dog into the house. As long as he assumed one of them to be the culprit, the mystery would have practically solved itself.
“What are you guys doing?”
While he was lost in thought, a voice sounded from behind them. It was the man with the bushy hair. Geun Woo answered before Juho had time to respond, “Nothing.”
“It doesn’t seem to be that way,” he said, walking around the messy studio. “What’s with the mess?”
“A dog was in here.”
“Or a ghost.”
“A ghost??” the man asked, studying Juho with a puzzled look.
“I don’t think I can catch up to your colorful imagination, Mr. Woo,” he said. His hair covered his face, making it difficult to make out his expression.
As Juho stared at him intently, Geun Woo interjected, “Did you see a flash drive, by any chance?”
The man tilted his head, and his hair moved with it. His entire body was communicating that he was clueless.
“What flash drive?”
“We lost one, and we’re looking for it. Where could this thing be?”
At Geun Woo’s answer, the man’s eyes rolled up toward the ceiling. He seemed like he was trying to think of something.
“You got me there.”
“You have seen it, though,” said Juho. Though calm, he sounded certain.
“Me? When?” the man asked.
“We were talking here earlier. My flash drive was in the laptop then.”
“Ah, that’s what you meant. I didn’t see it. Heck, with Yun Woo in front of my eyes, I wouldn’t be looking at some flash drive. Besides, I’m not even a writer anymore, so I don’t even bother to look at my surroundings.”
Contrary to his answer, he had come into the room looking rather natural. One couldn’t change their habit overnight, but Juho couldn’t argue. He simply gave him a nod and said, “I’m getting hungry.”
“Ha…!” a dumbfounded laugh sounded from the floor. Juho looked down. Geun Woo was looking under the desk with his cheek to the floor.
“You’re hungry? In this situation?”
“I know, right?”
“All right. Well, it’s in the house somewhere for sure, so we’ll keep looking. Unless the thing has a set of feet, it’ll come out sometime, somewhere,” Geun Woo said, standing up.
He was right. Juho hardly ever lost his belongings. To begin with, if he hadn’t been in Yun Seo’s house, he would have never taken the flash drive out of his pocket. It was a safe place for him. Yet, his belonging had gone missing.
“Dinner’s ready. What are you all doing here?” asked Yun Seo, standing behind the man who was standing by the entrance. “Are you guys cleaning or something?” she asked as she looked around the room.
The man answered as he stood nearest to her, “Apparently, Mr. Woo has lost something.”
“A flash drive. Not just an ordinary flash drive, but the one that holds his works.”
Despite the seemingly alarming news, Yun Seo remained calm. Maintaining her tranquility, she made a sound similar to her friend, Hyun Do Lim, “Hm… Did you look thoroughly?”
“Yes, Mrs. Baek.”
“Yes, Mrs. Baek,” answered Geun Woo. He had looked around with his cheek against the floor, so he would have definitely looked in every corner.
“I’ll look for it.”
“Great! She’s a master at finding lost items,” said Geun Woo as he moved aside for her. Yun Seo nodded in affirmation. At that moment, Juho stopped her.
“We should eat first. The food’s getting cold.”
“We can always reheat it. Would you all like to go on ahead and eat then?”
He couldn’t possibly do that. Eventually, she began to search the desk. Since it had been in the nearest vicinity of the laptop, it was the most likely candidate. Though Geun Woo and Juho had looked multiple times, the flash drive had been nowhere to be found. Perhaps with Yun Seo looking, the search would yield a different result.
A voice sounded from behind them, “You should take care of your belongings. I’ll help.”
Juho turned around, looked at him in the eyes and thought, ‘If it’s not the dog or a ghost, then who’s left?”
“I know. I must’ve been way too excited about dinner.”
“Please don’t feel like you’re being a nuisance. It happens when you’re young. Think of it as a lesson for the future.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
Of course, their efforts went in vain despite involving the master searcher. Seeing as how the search went on for a lot longer than anticipated, Juho tried changing the atmosphere. This time, he went in a slightly different direction.
“I’m getting pretty hungry. Could we go eat now?”
Yun Seo stopped in her tracks at the young author’s voice.
“Of course! Geun Woo, would you mind lending me a hand in the kitchen?”
“Yes, Mrs. Baek.”
“We’ll keep looking,” said the man with bushy hair walking toward the desk. He moved his hands about as if he was looking for something. Clattering sounds filled the room. Juho heard Yun Seo and Geun Woo in the distance. They were alone, and Juho called out to the man.
“What is it?” he asked.
“How did you know?”
“That my works were in the flash drive.”
“…” Juho had never brought up anything about what was in the flash drive to him.
“I heard you and Geun Woo talking from the hallway when I was coming to get you guys,” the man said, chuckling.
“So, you did know about the flash drive. You sounded like you knew nothing about it.”
“… Did I? Well, I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, so that’s why I said it the way I did. I can see how there’s room for misunderstanding though.”
“That’s what makes words such a powerful thing. I’m reminded of that often because of my occupation as an author.”
As a writer, he was well aware of the power of words. He also knew full well of how close truth and lie were from one another. Because words had no shape, people tended to let it leave their lips with ease, all too thoughtlessly. They hardly realized how massive a power words could carry. Maybe it was for that reason that people often tried desperately to get rid of the evidence of having said certain things. Visible and tangible evidence. It had to have shape in order for it to be fully disposed of.
Juho said, looking at the desk, “It’s strange. I could’ve sworn I left it here. It’s almost as if it got sucked into another dimension.”
“That’s what it’s like to lose something. By the time you come to your senses, it’s already gone, no matter how secure you might have felt it was,” the man said, turning around to look in Juho’s direction. “It’s upsetting. It’s aggravating. You want to blame others, but you can’t do that either because it’s entirely your fault. Right? Don’t be anxious. We’ll find it,” he said in a rather friendly tone. Their eyes met. He was also looking at Juho.
“I appreciate your help. That should be enough.”
“You’re not giving up, are you?”
“Yes, I am,” Juho answered immediately.
“Writing must not mean all that much to you, Mr. Woo,” said the man with a furrowed brow. He seemed irritated by Juho’s quick response.
“When did I say anything about writing? You’re an author. You should know the value of each and every one of your pieces,” Juho said somewhat sharply.
“Well, it’s just that you didn’t seem like you meant that. I’m not an author anymore,” said the man mockingly. It was subtle, but apparent.
“Not an author, huh,” Juho said, smiling. “Then you wouldn’t mind if I suspect you of something, would you?”
“Suspect me of what?”
“Are you not aware of the reason why we haven’t used the word “culprit” still?”
He clenched his lips. Juho had given him a friendly reminder on how dangerous of a statement he had just made.
“An author can’t steal another writer’s work. They know the meaning behind it all too well. Getting your hands on another writer’s work is to abandon your dignity as an author.”
Having given up on writing, the man was no longer an author.
“There are only authors here in this house.”
Including Yun Seo and Geun Woo, everyone in the house had been desperately holding onto that truth. Juho asked, “But what was it that you said just now?”
He had said that he was no longer an author with his own lips. ‘If it’s not the dog or a ghost, it has to be a person,’ thought Juho. Everyone in the house was an author, but there was exception. Juho looked at the man intently.
“Words are powerful. You can’t take them back once they leave you. It gets rather messy really quick. We all make mistakes, children and adults alike.”
The man’s lips quivered, looking somewhat angry and anxious at the same time.
“Then, why aren’t you trying to find it?” he asked in a slightly hoarse sounding voice. His face became visible, and it was filled with malicious intent. He had the appearance of a person who wanted to bring someone down with him as he spiraled down himself. He desired for Juho’s downfall and for his career to come crashing down. He was blinded by his desires. His hair concealed his face once again.
“I have all my works saved up at home and my flash drive is password protected, so I don’t have anything to worry about. Nobody will be able to read what’s in it, whether it’s a dog or a ghost. If the flash drive really is in this house still, it’ll be found eventually. I’ll get it then,” Juho said, smiling peacefully.
The man’s expression grew darker and darker. It was apparent that things were not turning the way he had hoped they would.
“Such a relief, right?” said Juho.
The man’s face became more and more distorted with anger. He had the look of a victim.
“Yun Woo is amazing,” he said, sarcastically. He had said something similar to Juho that day. “Success after success. I suppose that’s how you’re able to look so peaceful while making a fool of an adult in front of you.”
“I’m not making a fool out of you. I was simply beating around the bush a little bit. Words are a powerful things.”
Though Juho’s words may have been sincere, nothing could change the twisted mind of a twisted listener.
“See? You’ll never know. You’ll never learn what it feels like to be comforted by a kid.”
Juho stared at him quietly, infuriating the man all the more.
“Just be angry, why don’t you? Why don’t you just say that you know I stole it and ask me to hand it over?”
“No, thanks,” Juho said light-heartedly. “I have to write. I don’t want to waste my emotions with times like this.”
“You make people miserable.”
“No,” Juho said firmly.
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