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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
It wasn’t until the fountain grew silent that Juho realized how loud the fountain show had been. It had to be the absence of music.
“What’s the first thing you do when you write a detective novel?” Juho asked, since detective novels were a territory he was yet to have explored.
Mideum smiled at his question and said, “For me, it’s collecting data. I decide what kind of case I want to write about. From then on, I don’t follow a particular order since I have a pretty good idea of the subject, characters and backgrounds by the time I finish researching.”
With that, she added, exclaiming as if she had remembered something, “But the culprit is usually what I start with. At least with characters, anyway.”
“The culprit, huh.”
At that moment, the image of an unfortunate culprit appeared in Juho’s mind.
“From their faces, to things like height, weight, habits, favorite foods and places, hobbies, values, relationships with friends as students, and who and how many people they had made love to thus far. I shape the culprits thoroughly because they are the people who are most closely related to the criminal cases. I don’t know… It just happens that way.”
Judging from the intricate process, Mideum had to have a detailed understanding of the crime that was about to be committed by the culprit. Perhaps, that was why the author was so intentional about making sure that the culprits in her novels paid dearly for their crimes. However, Juho decide not to bring up his conjecture about her thought process.
“Really? I thought I was normal in comparison to someone who comes up with a slew of bizarre languages.” Mideum smiled, and pointed at the fountain that was no longer working. Then, she said, “Now, first question… ”
“… If you were to write about this case, who would you make the culprit?”
Her eyes were fixated on Juho, indicating that she wasn’t looking to miss the slightest of details in his answer. While being on the receiving end of her piercing gaze, Juho thought for a brief time.
‘The culprit who had stopped the fountain show. Did they have a bad memory associated with the fountain, or are they using the fountain to their advantage for an unknown reason? In any case, the culprit’s capable of committing a crime, and I have to think within that boundary. Maybe there was more than one culprit hiding among the people near the fountain, the custodian…’
A number of faces rushed past Juho’s mind.
‘Would this person feel no guilt, even if the fountain were to stop working, or is this a person who’s still willing to do something foolish at the cost of taking on the burden of sin?’
When the thoughts reached that point in his mind, Juho let out a quiet sigh.
“I don’t think it really matters.”
“The culprit. It doesn’t matter what kind of person they are. As soon as they commit the crime, they become the culprit.”
“Well, yeah. That’s what makes the culprit a culprit, right?”
“I don’t think I would make anybody the culprit.”
Mideum furrowed her brow as if confused.
“Because people are much more interesting than a fountain.”
Those who benefited or suffered a loss as the fountain stopped working. Those who ignored of accepted the situation. Those who knew or didn’t know the culprit responsible. Those who were overlooked or suspected.
“I’d probably go from there and pick a random person to be the culprit.”
It was the exact opposite of Mideum, whose creative process started with shaping the culprit. Regardless of their intention or the kind of life they had led in the past, a person was always capable of committing a crime, and authors were people who wrote about people.
Although frowning for a little while, a smile appeared on Mideum’s face. Then, picking up her camera, she began to take pictures of Juho and the fountain.
“Maybe detective novels aren’t for you.”
“You think so?”
“You don’t know the joy of being part of the mind game between a detective and the culprit. I feel bad for you.”
“Of course I do. I’m just saying that’s how I would go about writing a detective novel. Although, I won’t know until I actually start writing one.”
“What the… Are you planning on writing one?”
“I’m willing to write any genre of novel.”
‘Click,’ the shutter sounded off, and with that, Juho and Mideum left the fountain. After they had been walking around the park for a while, Mideum grew more curious of Juho’s school.
“So, your friends at school really don’t know that you’re Yun Woo?”
“Of course not, except for my clubmates in the Literature Club.”
“Do your books ever come up during Linguistics?”
“Not really. It’s not like they’re in the textbook, either. However, when I get caught dozing off, the teacher says, ‘You can keep sleeping as long as you’re Yun Woo,’ so I keep sleeping.”
“Yun Woo? In a Literature Club? Did anyone figure out that you were Yun Woo after they read your writing?”
Because Juho didn’t write in Yun Woo’s style at school, there was no way for anyone to know, and being oblivious to that fact, a puzzled look appeared on Mideum’s face.
“You know, I think I want to take a look around your school now.”
“You won’t be able to get in.”
“At least from the outside.”
She was insistent.
“Well, it’s quite a distance from here. Should I call a cab?”
“Nah. We’ll walk there.”
With that, she urged Juho to lead the way from behind him, and the two made their way to the school, making petty conversation along the way. Upon arrival, Mideum exclaimed as if impressed by the sight of the school building and the schoolyard. After taking a picture, she added, “I know that it’s an ordinary school, but knowing that it’s your school makes it anything but.”
Then, she stared intently at the school building as if she was thinking about what to write. While Juho waited patiently for her to finish, a centipede crawled under his feet, and after looking around for a while, it hid itself behind the nearest flower bed.
“I’m getting hungry,” she said quietly, declaring the end of her serious contemplation. “Don’t you have a favorite snack shop?”
“A snack shop?”
“Yeah. Since we’re already at a school, we might as well eat like students. This is really taking me back.”
With that, Juho took her to the snack shop he and the other club members were regulars of. Fortunately, the shop was open, and Juho went inside with Mideum as he exchanged brief greetings with the owner, with whom he was well acquainted. After taking their seats, they ordered some tteokbokki, soondae, and some fritters.
“My, it’s been so long!” Mideum said of eating the tteokbokki being sold in a snack shop in front of a school and reminiscing about her high school days. Juho, too, was well acquainted with that experience.
“It’s a nostalgic flavor.”
At Juho’s words, Mideum said with a snicker, “Pff! OK, grandpa.”
“Age is of little importance to memories.”
The two focused on eating, and the plates grew emptier at a fast pace. Although it wasn’t clear whether it was because of nostalgia or the distance they had walked, Mideum had an impressive appetite. The two would have been able to finish the food, that is if it hadn’t been for her phone singing cheerfully in her pocket.
“Oh, it’s Dae Soo.”
Upon checking the name of the caller, Mideum answered the phone, and a few sentences later, a loud voice burst from her receiver. It wasn’t clear what Dae Soo was saying, but judging from the look on Mideum’s face, she had to be nagging at her.
“OK! OK! I know why I’m here!”
Mideum emphasized the words as if Dae Soo had doubted her and, as Juho watched her quietly talking on the phone, Mideum handed her phone over to him all of a sudden. Taking it by reflex, Juho brought it up to his ear.
“Hi! You must be going through a lot, Yun Woo,” Dae Soo said comfortingly, out of nowhere.
“No, not really.”
“I swear, she thinks I’m a troublemaker or something…” Mideum grumbled from the other side of the table. At that moment, Juho heard some commotion from the receiver, and a familiar sounding voice interjected all of a sudden.
“Juho! You gotta stay mysterious!”
“Was that Seo Joong?”
“Yeah, Uhm’s here too.”
“Dong Gil, too? I heard he went searching for the hotel you’re staying in!”
“Oh, did Mideum tell you? Yeah, that’s right. I’m in Gangwon-do, Yangyang-gun. I told them that I was going to stay by the beach, and they decided to follow me here. They were craving sashimi, apparently.”
“Aren’t you distracted?”
“I got a separate room, so it’s fine. We were in the middle of having lunch together.”
Juho heard Seo Joong still shouting the same thing in the background.
“What’s with Seo Joong?”
“We made a bet,” Dae Soo said indifferently.
“… What bet?”
“On whether or not Mideum gets useful information out of you.”
These authors knew how to entertain themselves.
“Well, which side are you on, Dae Soo?”
“I bet that she would, as always.”
Useful information. Judging from Seo Joong’s shouts, he had to have bet otherwise.
“Uhm kept playing hard to get, but he gave in eventually and took my side,” Dae Soo added. “So, keep it coming! Tell us what you’re thinking!”
It was clear that she was looking to win the bet, and Juho reassured her that he was cooperating to the best of his ability. Then, as if she had something to say, Mideum reached for Juho, for her phone, and as he handed her phone back, he saw that the plates were completely clean.
“Well, I’m about to go to the studio now. Jealous? Tell Seo Joong that there won’t be an epilogue. OK! Bye now!”
With that, she hung up the phone without hesitation, checking the time.
“I think it’s about time to get a tour of your writing space. The main dish!”
Staring at the empty plates, Juho said, “You mean my room.”
“Your mother’s home, right?”
“Yes. She’s ecstatic about you coming over.”
“We should stop by somewhere and get her a gift then! What does she like?”
“That won’t be necessary.”
Despite Juho’s attempts to keep her from getting a gift, Mideum didn’t let up, and in the end, she bought a box of fruit on the way.
Juho didn’t live very far from the school. Walking past the same buildings in the same places, they let the cars coming from behind them through and had a staring contest with a stray cat on top of a wall, which walked about for a little while until it hid under a car. The two authors didn’t say anything to each other as they walked, and a littered, black plastic bag flew about from the wind.
When Juho and Mideum stepped into his house, they were greeted by his mother, who was in the living room, and Mideum handed her the box of fruit with a bright smile, exchanging brief greetings with her.
“I heard you’re here to see Juho’s room?”
“Yes. You see, I’m in desperate need of help from my friend here.”
“Ah! Well, make yourself at home. I’ll bring out some tea.”
“Thank you!” Mideum exclaimed as if she were talking to her friend’s mother, and Juho led her to his room while his mother went into the kitchen.
Pointing at the closed door, he said, “Here we are.”
Her heavy breathing indicated that she wasn’t afraid to express her excitement.
“I’m getting nervous.”
“It’s just a room.”
“AKA, Yun Woo’s writing space.”
Then, Mideum grabbed the door knob, and after what seemed like a brief moment of meditation, she turned the knob with a strange shout. The door opened, and a gust of wind blew through her hair.
Much like Juho’s mother, who had rushed to see where the shout had come from, both Juho and Mideum stared blankly at the room. The red lines on manuscript papers. Letters of various written languages. Stories. Sentences. They were all flying about the room.
As Juho picked up a sheet of paper that had landed before his feet, he realized that he had left the windows in his room open while he had hastily organized the stacks of paper to enhance the room’s ambiance before he left the house. The wind blew again.
“This is… dreamlike,” Mideum let out in a daze, her eyes still fixed on the room.
“There is writing everywhere,” she murmured. “Is this where you sleep? On a bed surrounded by manuscript paper?”
The boxes and stacks of manuscript paper were piled on top of each other, looking like they would topple over at any given minute, standing well over Juho’s height. They were all things that had come out of Yun Woo, and the room was filled with nothing but writing. Then, brushing past the camera around her neck, Mideum reached into her pocket, where she had a pen and a notepad.
“If you need ’em, I have bigger sheets.”
“No need. I’m just gonna jot down some keywords really quick.”
With that, she hastily jotted down the words on her notepad. That was her way of retaining information, and her face was filled with joy.
“He’s gonna be an author.”
She brought up the character she would be creating.
“A very unsuccessful author.”
Juho listened to her quietly.
“An author who’s never finished a story in his career, and his room is filled with incomplete manuscripts. Loaded, and likes to live it up…” Mideum said with a smile. “… and arrogant beyond belief.”
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