your mate.”

Kang Jin-Ho stopped opening the door and replied in a quiet voice, “It probably won't happen that way, sir.”


Nam Tae-Sik looked up, but the door was closed by then, and Kang Jin-Ho had already exited the office.
Nam Tae-Sik noticed that the light had died on his cigarette, so he lit it up again.
“…Goddamn it.”


And with that…
the investigation was wrapped up for good.

After no evidence was discovered…
No, after seemingly no one tried to seriously uncover the truth, Ju Yeong-Gi's incident was judged to be a suicide attempt due to personal matters.
It would change after Ju Yeong-Gi woke up and testified, but for now, that would be the 'provisional' conclusion.

“Okay, so…
That punk, will he ever wake up?” Noh Su-Bong speaking to the phone's receiver suddenly raised his voice in dissatisfaction.
“Dad, how could you let him get transferred out of there? What if he wakes up? Do you really wanna see your son thrown into jail?!”

His tone of voice seemed nervous, maybe even a little fearful.
However, Noh Su-Bong's expression was definitely none of those.

“There's zero chance of him waking up? Are you sure? Hah, that's still making me nervous, Dad.
Is there a way to cleanly deal with this? Sorry? What do you mean if I was a part of that accident? I'm telling you the truth, Dad.
I haven't done anything to that punk.
He lost his mind and suddenly tried to hang himself, you know? What could I have done in that case? No, I haven't bullied that idiot, either.” Noh Su-Bong's irritation level got even higher as he talked.
He eventually put the phone down unhappily.
“Argh, goddamn it.
What a boomer!”

His father was going to do it for him anyway, so why did the old man always have to nag and irritate his son like this?

Noh Su-Bong turned his head toward Kim Hak-Cheol next to him.
“Oi, Hak-Cheol.”

“Corporal Kim Hak-Cheol, sir.”

“Go and get rid of that thing.”

“That thing, sir?” Kim Hak-Cheol tilted his head slightly.

“Come on, you moron.
You know, that thing! The notebook!”

“…Ah, that.”

“Burn it.”

“Understood, sir.” Kim Hak-Cheol noticed Noh Su-Bong's sour mood and quickly sprinted to the gun emplacement.
While heading there, he began to think.

'I guess it's finally over, huh?'

Kim Hak-Cheol wasn't sure why they had to hold on to Ju Yeong-Gi's diary until now.
Noh Su-Bong had previously said something about using it to create an alibi just in case, but it turned out to be unnecessary.

'He probably had a plan.'

Noh Su-Bong was certainly a lot sharper and craftier than Kim Hak-Cheol.
So, there had to be a good reason for Noh Su-Bong to leave the diary alone until now.

While playing with his lighter, Kim Hak-Cheol arrived at the emplacement.
He shoved his hand straight into the camouflage netting and rummaged through it.
“Okay, so… Mm? Huh?”

He had definitely left the diary hidden in here, yet he couldn't find it anymore.

“…Where did it go?”

Kim Hak-Cheol quickly grew flustered, and his searching hand desperately felt around inside the netting.
The diary going missing would be the worst, so he had to—

“What are you looking for, sir?”

Kim Hak-Cheol jumped up in shock at that sudden voice out of nowhere, and he hurriedly looked back.
“K-Kang Jin-Ho?!”

The owner of that voice turned out to be Kang Jin-Ho.
He stood at the entrance of the storage…
while holding a familiar-looking exercise book.
“Hmm. Were you looking for this?”

Kim Hak-Cheol freaked out.
“H-hey, you brat! Why do you have that?!”

That exercise book was definitely Ju Yeong-Gi's diary.

Kang Jin-Ho's expressionless gaze landed on Kim Hak-Cheol before shifting over to the diary.
“Sir, you should have been more careful when it comes to storing important things like this.”

“Y-you bastard, you…” Kim Hak-Cheol was at a loss for words.
He couldn't think of a way to respond.
What was he supposed to do here? After all, Noh Su-Bong was the brain of the team, not Kim Hak-Cheol!

But then, something completely unexpected unfolded right before his eyes.


The diary in Kang Jin-Ho's hand suddenly caught fire and began burning away.

“…Eh? Huh?” Kim Hak-Cheol blinked and stared at the spectacle in a daze.

The diary turned to ashes in the proverbial blink of an eye, and Kang Jin-Ho lightly dusted his hand.
He looked back at Kim Hak-Cheol.
“Well, then.

Kang Jin-Ho leisurely strolled away back to the barracks.
As for Kim Hak-Cheol, he could only stand there with his mouth agape.

the hell was that all about?'


Noh Su-Bong narrowed his eyes.
“Say what? What are you trying to tell me?”

Kim Hak-Cheol gulped and animatedly explained in a hushed whisper.
“That guy burned the diary, sir! Yes, Kang Jin-Ho really did that!”

“…And? What happened after that?”

“H-he said I should have been more careful when it comes to storing important things like that.”

“Hah, f*ck me…” Noh Su-Bong shot a sharp glare of annoyance at Kim Hak-Cheol.
The latter flinched and hurriedly lowered his head.
Fine! Whatever the case may be, that diary is now no longer a problem, right?”

“Y-yes, sir.”

“You sure it was our diary?”

“Yes, sir.
I'm definitely sure.
It wasn't a military-issued notebook, so I could easily tell it apart, sir.
Even if it's the same type of exercise book, there’s no way you can find another one that looks that old.”

Noh Su-Bong tutted quietly, “In that case, it's fine.”

“But sir, I can't figure out what that brat was thinking.”

“He's probably looking for a payday, that f*cking bastard.
I should at least praise him for not threatening you.
We just have to sufficiently grease his palm, and everything will be over.” Noh Su-Bong groaned as he said this.

The situation had gotten a bit complicated toward the end, but the matter should still be as good as over now.
Finally feeling relieved, Noh Su-Bong mouthed a fresh cigarette with a content expression on his face.


That night…

After the evening roll call, Kim Hak-Cheol lay down on his bedding, then whispered to Noh Su-Bong next to him, “With this, are we finally in the clear, sir?”

“That's right.
All you gotta do is keep your mouth shut.”

“Sir, that punk won't suddenly wake up now, right?”

“He's apparently half-brain dead.
Even if he wakes up, nobody is going to believe his word.
You think I don't have the power to make that happen?”

“…I think I can finally relax, sir.” Kim Hak-Cheol closed his eyes while saying those words.
Worries had been gnawing at him for quite a while now, even during his sleep.
But now? He believed he could finally get some decent rest.


Kim Hak-Cheol woke up from a strange sensation.
Why did it feel like bone-chilling coldness was digging deep into him?

'So cold!'

Maybe the soldier in charge of the boiler room had forgotten to turn the boiler on? Without that explanation, it shouldn't be this cold in the—


Where was this?

Kim Hak-Cheol's fully opened eyes took in the unfamiliar sight.
He hurriedly turned his head to look around.

'Isn't this the boiler room?'

Why was he in here? Unless he had suddenly started sleepwalking, he shouldn't be down here in the boiler room, so how…?

Kim Hak-Cheol tried to get up from the floor only to shudder in shock after realizing that his body…
refused to move.
Could this be some kind of sleep paralysis?

That was when his hearing picked up a low, hushed voice.
“She told me to become someone who reaches out first.”

That voice…
It sounded like it came straight out of the netherworld.

Kim Hak-Cheol felt his entire body freeze at that voice.
His limbs shriveled up; his hands and feet began to tremble in fear all on their own.
It was just a voice, yet Kim Hak-Cheol's body began convulsing.

What was going on here? What was this situation?!

“In that case…” The voice grew louder.
“…What kind of a hand should I extend to you?”

A demonic fiend slowly rose from the deepest, darkest corner of the boiler room.

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