Chapter 1 - One Day, Suddenly
It was a perfect day for Yoo Dohyuk.
His hard work to lose weight had finally paid off, and he was down 30 lbs. from his original weight from 6 months ago. That wasn’t all – his grades for the final exams he checked after confirming his weight were the best out of all 3 years in college combined, even if it was only to Dohyuk’s standards.
“Well, I have finally seen the payoff for being more attentive in my life.” He was humming as he took out his cell phone. There, he found his 3rd accomplishment where he surpassed the weight loss goal and good grades.
“Dohyuk! Where are you?”
She was one of the prettiest girls from this year’s freshman class. She had a petite body frame and a cute face, and everyone would think gymnast Son Yeon-Je was her look alike when they met her for the first time. She had so many guys drooling over her, but it was Dohyuk who snatched her heart.
“Dohyuk: I’m in front of the market. I’m buying veggies to cook with the meat.”
Running into Jimin in front of the gym when he was about to work out was crucial. What guy wouldn’t challenge himself when a girl they had the hots for was keeping her eyes on them?
“I wouldn’t have lost weight if it wasn’t for you.” Dohyuk placed his phone back into his pocket with a bitter grin.
The sight of a non-athletic guy trying his best and gradually getting better must have left an impression. Around May, Dohyuk and Jimin were close enough to go for a coffee after a workout, and he courted her back home. In June, it was clear that they were dating. And today, Dohyuk talked Jimin into coming over to his bachelor pad to offer her home-cooked chop steak.
“Should I get wine? Maybe I should keep it casual with beer…”
While working his brain at the market, his eyes wandered toward something. There was a tower.
Maybe it had been a little over a month. Towers appeared all over the world. It was black and shaped like a long nail placed upside down. They were all a whopping 200 meters tall. These monoliths didn’t grow from earth or fall from the sky and it caused the world to shake. Experts from all over the world had conducted studies about these towers for a long time now, but nothing had come out of it.
A total of 2365 towers, which were thicker than a lighthouse, were standing around with no other effects.
“Humans are creatures that adapt fast.”
That was exactly right. It didn’t even take 3 weeks for people to get used to the towers. The religious groups and scientists were still up and arms in the media, but the regular people were just wondering about the tower with no hesitation.
Dohyuk walked into the market. His definition of knowing how to cook chop steak was to read the recipes online, but he had lived on his own for a few years. So he has, at least, cooked a meal or two for himself.
“First… I need potatoes, butter… do they have asparagus here?”
Including the two thick slabs of meat, Dohyuk was carrying a basket worth of half a week’s worth of food. But how could it compare to the worth of a fluttering heart?
The cashier was about to hand back his cash card. “Please throw away the receipt.”
And while he was packing the grocery bag…
“Uh, excuse me?” Dohyuk called out with dismay.
The hand of the cashier lady who was handing back the cash card was frozen as if someone had pressed a pause button. Not only that, her dilated pupils lost focus, and her mouth was agape.
‘Is she having some cardiac issues?’
Dohyuk raised his voice and looked around. His shock escalated right after. Everyone in the market was frozen in place and had the same symptoms as the cashier lady. Thousands of thoughts ran through Dohyuk’s head. But before he reached a conclusion,
People moved again. Everyone seemed shocked. They took a deep a breath while looking over their bodies. Their reactions were strange.
“I… I’m alive! I’m, I’m alive!”
There were those who raised their hands in emotion, “Honey!”
Those with their families or significant others embraced one another and cried as if they had been apart for years. However, the intense reaction was short-lived. After the brief cheers and hugging each other and crying their eyes out, they soon closed their mouth shut and stared around with vigilance in their eyes, as if they were being hostile to one another.
‘Wha-what is this?’
People moved again. However, the movement differed from ‘before’. Everyone put their baskets down as if no one cared about grocery shopping anymore and left the market. Dohyuk had to step back in surprise since everyone was ignoring the line at the cashier.
He was blankly staring at the people’s movement.
“…” Dohyuk met eyes with a man.
The man was still inside the market over at the cash register. His eyes were wide open like a fish and his gaze was on Dohyuk.
‘What is it?’
Dohyuk felt a chill run down his spine. The man looked around and dug through the abandoned carts. He finally found a kitchen knife in one cart, and as the man ripped the package off with no hesitation, Dohyuk subconsciously had an intuition.
He felt killing intent for the first time in his life. The man ran toward Dohyuk. He pushed everyone in his way and jumped on the counter to run over them. The man’s body and the shining blade was definitely facing Dohyuk.
“!!!” If Dohyuk didn’t turn his body to avoid the man, the knife would bust his head open.
The man stumbled because of the shock from the landing, but he fixed his posture and swerved the knife again. Fortunately, Dohyuk was fast on his feet at a time like this. He kicked the man on the side and made him fall. Dohyuk wasn’t stupid enough to fight a guy with a knife with his hand alone.
“Help! He’s trying to stab me with a knife!” Dohyuk screamed on top of his lungs and looked around.
Everyone gave him a short glance and continued to go their way. No, it wasn’t exactly everyone. A few of them stopped after hearing Dohyuk’s voice. However, they weren’t coming to help Dohyuk. Instead, they stood still and stared at Dohyuk, just like how the knife-wielding man did. Just as expected, they also looked around their surroundings. Dohyuk knew what they were looking for.
Hell was happening.
Everyone was holding a weapon or two. The fallen guy was getting up on his feet. Dohyuk had no choice.
He began to run as fast as he could.
An empty street near the market…
“Haaa… Ha…” Dohyuk leaned against the light pole and let out his heavy breath. His heart was about to burst from the sprint. “W-Why aren’t they picking up the phone….”
He called several times while running, but 911 didn’t answer the phone. ‘What’s happening?’
He could only assume. He had a side view of the streets while running here. It was not just the market – something had, in fact, happened to the whole neighborhood. Something Dohyuk knew nothing about, and that something made people do some weird things. It especially made some of them attack Dohyuk with weapons in their hands.
An old car appeared on the other side of the street. Usually, it was an element that didn’t cause fear.
“…” However, Dohyuk had an ominous thought in his head, and that saved his life. The car accelerated toward Dohyuk. It was a crazy speed for a small street like this. For the first time in his life, Dohyuk threw his body on the floor.
The sound a car crashing into a light pole shook the whole street. Dohyuk let out a sigh and stood up.
A bald man in his mid to late forties with a big stomach came out of the car.
“What the hell, man?”
“… I have nothing against you.” He spat out such an obvious fact in such a serious tone. “But you’re just weaker than me. That’s all.”
“What… the hell… does that mean?”
The man lunged toward Dohyuk with no answers. Dohyuk didn’t run. His anger was bigger than fear.
“You die, you f*cker!” Dohyuk threw a punch to hit the man.
But it was Dohyuk who got punched in the stomach and stumbled. The man seemed to be far from an athletic type, and he was even a head shorter than Dohyuk. However, he had avoided the punch Dohyuk threw at him and even jabbed his fist into the latter’s body.
“Gasp!” Dohyuk fell on the floor, and the man looked down on his fists for a moment before opening his car’s back door. He held a golf club in his two hands.
“If I kill you, the Nature is mine. Now, I can live off the Phenomenal Nine instead of you! The world will be at my feet!”
“What…the f…ck…are…you…” Dohyuk used all his strength to get up and step backward, but it was hard just to stand up, and the man was walking towards him.
The man was about to swing the golf club.
“Get down!” A very familiar voice came over.
Dohyuk’s body reacted faster than his thoughts. As soon as Dohyuk ducked, shiny metal fragments flew over his body.
Remote stun gun. The so-called taser gun shell.
The man was hit directly by the electrode and trembled to the floor. Dohyuk looked back to see the owner of the taser gun.
“I saw your last text message, so I ran to the market and heard a loud commotion. I was lucky to arrive on time.”
“You…” It was Jimin. “W-Where did you get that?”
“Oh, this?” Jimin collected the taser gun’s electrode and answered in a calm voice.
“I jacked it from an empty police car.”
“Don’t worry. This won’t kill him. Although he deserves it.”
Maybe it was just Dohyuk’s imagination, but Jimin’s voice and attitude were completely different, and she seemed like a completely different person.
“Let’s go to your house first.”
In his room, alone with Jimin, Dohyuk dreamed of this moment for a long time, but he had never imagined it would be under these circumstances.
It was only after they locked the deadbolt on the door that they started a conversation.
“Just as I expected.” Jimin sighed and began to talk. “You have no recollection.”
“About what?” Dohyuk was still holding on to his throbbing stomach while asking her the question. They hadn’t spoken a single word while they were walking to his house.
“Recollection of the memories before the reincarnation.” Jimin began to explain as she watched the outside through the peephole. “I’ll get to the point. As of the moment, almost everyone in the world came back from the future. Even so, it would only be a memory.”
“…” Dohyuk kept quiet, not because he had nothing to say, but because he had to ponder over the meaning of her words. “That is also the reason why people were trying to kill you. Luckily, not everyone recognized you since your image is drastically different in the future. Soon enough, however, they’ll be swarming to kill you, Yoo Dohyuk.”
This didn’t need much thought to understand. “What did I do to deserve this?!”
“That’s one of the rules.” She charged across the room to close the curtains, Then, she finally sat on the floor with a big sigh.
“[Every human carries a unique Nature.]” She continued, “New world rule: [Each person can only carry one Nature.]” Dohyuk had yet to understand the meaning of these words, but he would be able to understand soon enough. “[However, within the ‘first kill’, you can collect your victim’s Nature as your own.]”
“… So, they are trying to kill me to get whatever I have? I don’t know what that is, but I don’t even have anyth…”
“No, you do.”
She cut him off and looked up. Dohyuk lost his words.
“There’s no need for any explanation. You’ll have an awakening at midnight.” Her eyes were different from the 20-year-old girl he knew. “In a few years, you will achieve greatness. You’ll be one of the nine people of the world to enter the Realm of the Great Transcendence and lead all the other human beings to succeed in finally killing that assh*le.”
“Assh*le…?” Dohyuk was caught off-guard since it was the first time hearing Jimin curse.
Although it really wasn’t a question, Jimin answered him faithfully, “God.”