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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
The member of the audience Dae Soo had chosen was a man who seemed to be a university student. He was wearing a plaid shirt, and had a face that emanated excitement. Because of that, he talked excessively fast.
“Hi! So, I’ve read every book written by every single author here, and because you guys made a club together and published a literary magazine, I can confidently say that I’m living the happiest time in my life.”
His voice was shaking uncontrollably, making it difficult for the listeners to understand. So, Dae Soo laughed heartily and reassured him, saying that he could speak slower.
“So, I’m curious as to how you guys came together? And uh… and… I’d like to know how you guys came to decide on forming a club, in detail.”
As he barely managed to ask his question, the authors locked eyes with each other briefly and agreed that it would be best to have Dae Soo answer the question as the leader of the group. She didn’t deny it.
“Uh… First off, we knew each other before we made our club. We would give each other tips or share ideas over a meal occasionally. Oh! This is before the club, by the way, BEFORE we met Yun Woo, to be more precise.”
Then, Dae Soo told the story of how the authors came together before they officially made the club.
“Nothing fancy. We were just friends and companions, always talking about silly things, but that’s when this mysteriously strange author showed up out of nowhere, as if by coincidence or by fate.”
“It was Yun Woo,” Dong Gil said from behind, and looking in his direction, Dae Soo reminisced about the time when Yun Woo first appeared. Many people took interest in the young genius author, including publishers, readers, the masses, and other authors. The first person to reach out to him was Dong Gil. He had gone to him in person, and although he had been hearing about the young author, it had never occurred to him that he wanted to get to know him better over a meal. After all, Yun Woo was rather young, and the book he had published was merely a debut title. However, Yun Woo’s presence began to grow over time, and those who had talked to him in person described him as quite the interesting person, which aroused Dong Gil’s interest as well.
“So, I invited him to our group, and the nine of us, including the eight of us onstage, ended up having a meal together. Authors have a strong tendency to want to see things for themselves before they actually believe in something.”
Then, after a brief pause, Dae Soo continued, “You said you wanted to know how we came to decide to form a club in more detail, right? I realize that this is becoming more and more about Yun Woo, but I’ll just tell you anyway. While the nine of us were talking about Yun Woo’s school life, we ended up obsessing over this one word, and just like that, we made the impulsive decision to form a club and publish a literary magazine. We are also aware of each other’s talents.”
With that, Dae Soo smiled confidently.
“So, in conclusion, the decision to form a club was an impulsive and emotional one. There was alcohol involved that day, and there were a handful of people on the scene who we hadn’t seen in a long time, so we all stayed true to our emotions and put our idea into action. And now, we’re having a concert of our own, meeting our fans. It seems like it wasn’t such a terrible idea, after all.”
Then, the crowd exploded applause, and Dae Soo played along, pretending to be bashful. From then on, a number of questions followed about the personal lives of the authors, things that happened while writing, and how to write better. With the exception of Yun Woo, the eight authors answered each and every question with sincerity and, at times, with light-hearted jokes.
Sitting quietly in his seat, Juho watched the authors interacting with their fans. Then, he locked eyes with Dae Soo.
“‘Scuse me, sir”
Despite being aware that the voice was calling for him, Juho looked around in every direction, except in the direction where the voice was coming from. It was a nonverbal gesture, indicating that he didn’t want to be bothered.
“‘Scuse me, sir. You, looking around,” Dae Soo said insistently. She wasn’t going to back down.
The audience took interest as the host picked a person at random and out of nowhere. Then, he rose from his seat slowly, and the eight authors onstage fixed their eyes on him. With the bright spotlight that shone on the stage, Juho found their gaze even more uncomfortable.
“OK, then. Hope nobody minds if I were to pop the last question.”
At that, the crowd laughed light-heartedly, relieved that the somewhat-uncomfortable segment was finally coming to an end.
“A lot of the questions were about Yun Woo, and I understand since I’m curious myself. Yun Woo is quite mysterious, even among the authors. So, on that note, I wanted to ask…”
Then, looking straight at him, Dae Soo asked, “How do you think he was able to write a piece like that?”
“Oh, the short story?”
Juho answered in a slight delay, and just like the other authors onstage, Dae Soo looked at the young author who had been hiding in the crowd. With the exception of the members of the audience, who were oblivious to Juho’s identity, the eight authors focused on the young author’s answer. The occasion would call for an answer that was closest to the truth, which would then represent Yun Woo. Then, standing in the dark, Yun Woo opened his mouth.
“I’m not sure,” Juho answered in a dull voice. There was no fluctuation in his voice. “Maybe he’s actually died once?”
Despite the quiet laughter breaking out in the audience, nobody laughed or said a word onstage, and by the time the laughter died down, Sang Choi spoke up.
“That’s not possible.”
Although he wasn’t very respectful in the way he addressed the member of the audience, nobody called him out for it since they were all occupied with something else.
“But, isn’t that what you felt, though? ‘It’s as if it was written by someone who has died once.'”
Just as Juho had said, the short story was incredibly relatable and realistic because it portrayed death in the purest and most detailed manner, giving the readers an impression that they were actually watching someone on the verge of death. Although it was relatable and immersive, the line had been drawn clearly. It was the character in the story who was drifting toward death, not the readers, which only amplified the fear. The terror came flooding in and left the readers helpless, wanting to cling to their mothers in tears like children waiting to see the doctor. They were terrified of the moment that was drawing near. The smell of disinfectant and the doctor’s office behind the tightly shut door. The wailing coming from behind the door left those in waiting anxious.
The story only pushed its readers thus far, like a knife that stopped drawing closer all of a sudden, just moments before touching the victim’s throat. The door to the doctor’s office remained closed, never to open again, leaving no room for readers to recover or let their guard down.
The author knew everything there was to know about the scene, from the direction to the hospital to the wait time, and everything that took place in the hospital.
‘Wait here. Don’t come any closer. This is as far as you can come.’
There was no way the readers could deny the powerful sentences in the story.
An author was capable of writing a story like that only in one of two cases: either as a person with firsthand experience, who thoroughly understood the situation, or an incredibly talented con-artist, capable of tricking the entire world.
In either case, the victims knew only one thing: they knew it all along.
“So, that’s why I think Yun Woo is someone who has died once.”
The young author said nonchalantly, and his voice reverberated throughout the dark concert hall. It was impossible to discern whether he was lying or telling the truth.
“In that case, how do you think he was able to come back from the dead?” Dae Soo asked the last question, and Yun Woo immersed himself in thought for a brief time, standing somewhere neither bright nor dark.
Then, looking up, he locked eyes with the host, standing closer to the light than anyone in the audience.
“Maybe it’s because he’s still writing.”
Juho wondered how things would look from where Dae Soo was, but soon, concluded that it had to be entirely different from what he was seeing from where he was. While some clicked their tongues in pity, and others chuckled quietly, Dae Soo sighed quietly.
“Well, to be honest with you, I preferred all the other pieces in the magazine over Yun Woo’s. May I sit back down?”
“… Yes, you may.”
It was only fair that he, as the author, couldn’t experience his own work in the same way his readers did. And for that reason, the shock and the terror of the readers would forever remain a mystery. Never to experience the power of his own work, Yun Woo would only have an intellectual understanding of the overwhelmingly emotional experience of his readers.
From then on, the concert was smooth sail, and Dae Soo tried hard not to look at Yun Woo, who was still hiding in the audience.
Under a bright light, there were unique-looking clothes scattered about in a neatly organized space. Wearing her pants waist-high, the owner of those clothes took pictures of the concert ticket and its poster.
Then, she sat in front of her computer and began to type away at the bulletin board in Yun Woo’s fancafe.
Her most recent post had been on her prediction of Yun Woo’s appearance at the book concert, and now, she was writing a follow-up post as a means to update the members of the cafe.
“Unfortunately, there were only eight seats onstage.”
She started off with the first thing that she had noticed. Unfortunately, there had been no seat prepared for Yun Woo. Although gnashing her teeth, she wrote away while maintaining the proper attitude of a true fan, saying that she would embrace the circumstances of her favorite author, even if it came with disappointment. Thankfully, the post eventually became more about how entertaining the concert had been, so the disappointment began to fade. On top of that…
“The bits of information about Yun Woo told by the authors were so much more than what I could’ve asked for, and I’m so glad I went. For those who couldn’t get their tickets in time, I offer my deepest words of consolation.”
Rather than being mischievous and cruel, she decided to share with the members snippets of what she had learned of Yun Woo at the concert, from Yun Woo’s appearance to personality, and the mindset of authors at the concert who had evaluated his work. It was quite serious. Then, she revisited her experience at the concert hall and the thoughts the authors had expressed during the concert. Having answered each and every question with utmost sincerity, every author had a clear sense of direction in their craft, and they had all recognized Yun Woo as a fellow author.
At one point of the concert, she couldn’t help but shout “Lucky!” while listening to Joon Soo share his story about Yun Woo because of how close they seemed to be to each other. In hindsight, it was a moment that she never wanted to revisit.
“But it’s what happened toward the end that still bothers me.”
With that, she stopped typing and referred to one of her older posts. ‘Yun Woo WILL be there!’ It had been a prediction that had been no more than mere delusion. Knowing that the concert was about the literary magazine ‘The Beginning and the End’ and that Yun Woo would have to attend as an author who had partaken in it, the post was filled with her confidence.
‘Was he really not there?’
At first, Seo Joong had made a remark that had sounded like a light-hearted joke, “He might still be watching us from somewhere.”
On top of that, the fact that Dae Soo would choose a person at random out of nowhere toward the end bothered the avid fan. Of course, that wasn’t the first time she did it, but previously, it had been when nobody wanted to speak up and ask questions. Something was different between the two occasions, and the second time around, Dae Soo had chosen someone out of nowhere as if trying to break the flow, before anybody else had the chance to raise their hand. Then, the person she chose happened to be a male student who seemed like he would be around the same age as Yun Woo.
“Maybe I’ve been reading the Dr. Dong series too much. I can’t stop picking at it.”
Ever since learning that there was a character in the book that was based on Yun Woo, the avid fan had been binge reading the Dr. Dong books and had gone on to splurge on the entire series at once. From then on, she often found herself playing the detective, and her most recent conjecture wasn’t entirely absurd. There was a cause to every effect, which, according to Dr. Dong’s own words, was the very foundation of detective work.
“There has to be a reason for why she chose him of all people.”
It just so happened that the student chosen by Dae Soo had had rather profound answers, and the authors onstage were also wearing the most peculiar looks. Although, the assumption that the student was Yun Woo would make everyone a suspect.
After contemplating for a little while, she resumed typing, writing that there was a possibility that Yun Woo had attended the concert as a member of the audience.
Despite feeling tired, she finished writing and included the pictures of the concert ticket and a number of pictures she had taken at the venue, each clearly focusing on certain objects. Then, she sighed with disappointment.
“Maybe I should’ve just taken more pictures inside, anyway.”
A picture of the student she suspected of being Yun Woo. However, taking photos in the concert hall was prohibited, and that had prevented her from effectively taking out her camera. Besides, she had no proof that the student actually was Yun Woo and, needless to say, she lacked a permit to take photos. Being an ordinary, timid citizen, she went to sleep, comforting herself that she had made the right choice amid her deep regrets.
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