ted to think that he was going insane.

“You need to smile.
Don't you think so?”


This time, it was Kim Hak-Cheol's other arm breaking.
Kim Hak-Cheol violently convulsed, his 'seizure' seemingly getting worse.
Tears flooded out of his eyes while snot and drool streamed out of his nose and mouth.

“Kekeke.” The shadow continued to cackle at this scene.
“Come on.

Too scary! By this point, Kim Hak-Cheol thought the mental anguish from looking at this shadowy creature had exceeded the physical pain currently tearing his body apart.
Kim Hak-Cheol's bloodshot eyes urgently scanned the boiler room, his heavy panting getting too fast for him to sustain.

Kim Hak-Cheol's expression was dyed in puzzlement.
The question in his mind was rather elemental in nature: why was he even down here? The confusion and doubt arising from the question of why he was being subjected to this torture were even more unbearable than the pain itself.

“Are you curious?” the shadow quietly asked—as if he could read Kim Hak-Cheol's mind.

Kim Hak-Cheol nodded his head urgently.
He nodded again and again until the shadow responded.

Unfortunately for him, the response he got was the shadow's lips drawing a bizarre upward curve.

“You thought I'd tell you?” The shadow leaned in closer and whispered, “You don't need to know.
Just feel it.
Experience it.
That's your role.”


“Let's make a bet.
And it will be: how many days will it take? How long before you lose your sanity? I'd say it will happen within a week.
Well? What do you think? Want to make this bet with me?”

The shadow started cackling once more.
That low cackle soon grew into loud laughter before it became a maddened guffaw loud enough to rumble the ceiling.

he's crazy!'

The shadow—this person—had to be a madman! Whether he was a human being, a specter, or even a devil…
One thing was for certain; this person was definitely insane!

The devil draped in shadows held his head and laughed like a maniac, his back arched backward.
He guffawed loud and hard before suddenly shoving his face really close to Kim Hak-Cheol's.
When Kim Hak-Cheol stared into those crimson eyes, he finally understood the old saying about one's soul freezing up from pure terror.
Every fiber of his being, whether it was his fingertip or a hair strand, refused to obey his will.

“Now, now.
Remember, it'll be one week.
And it's starting…

“Kkuwuuuk?!” Kim Hak-Cheol's eyes bulged as something began to constrict his throat.
And it was doing so agonizingly slowly.

While not touching the carotid artery, this thing delicately blocked off his airways, all in careful consideration of keeping Kim Hak-Cheol conscious…! Slowly, oh-so-slowly, the shadow was asphyxiating Kim Hak-Cheol.

The terror of looming death flooded Kim Hak-Cheol's mind.
He was dying.
This would be different from all the physical pain he had been subjected to until now.
However, his attachment to life began burning even hotter despite the fear of death ruthlessly boring down on his soul.

This sensation of slowly trudging toward his death…! The color of the world in his view gradually drained out, and strength quickly abandoned his limbs.
Just as his bladder was about to let go, that low, hushed voice dug into Kim Hak-Cheol's ears again.
“That moron must have felt it, too.
So, it's only right that you also feel it.”

That was when Kim Hak-Cheol fainted.


“Uwaaaaaaahk?!” Kim Hak-Cheol screamed at the top of his lungs and shot up from his bedding.

“What the f*ck?!” Noh Su-Bong swore loudly while jumping up in shock.
“Hey, you stupid motherf*cker! Why the hell are you screaming in the middle of your sleep?!”

“Huff, huff! Huff!” Kim Hak-Cheol panted and sucked in lungfuls of air like a large air pump on overdrive.
With his hands still uncontrollably shaking, he hurriedly looked around his vicinity.
I was asleep?”

“That's right, you moron! What, did you have a nightmare? Hah, would you look at this bloody moron!”

Kim Hak-Cheol hurriedly touched his arms.

broken? At all?'

Indeed, his collarbones and arms seemed to be perfectly fine.

that was a dream?'

Even though it was so vivid and real? Kim Hak-Cheol shivered uncontrollably.
Simply recalling what happened seemingly a minute ago caused his entire body to shudder powerfully as if he had been thrown into a frigid wintry field without any clothes on.

I was dreaming? I dreamed that?”

However, it had to be—it had to be just a passing dream.
Something like that couldn't happen in reality, after all.
Yes, the highly stressful situation Kim Hak-Cheol had been experiencing in the past few days should be the culprit for that nightmare.

Kim Hak-Cheol tried so hard to convince himself that that was the case.

The faint vibration of the large boiler he picked up through his back, the unmistakable smell of oil! The dampness of the floor and the faint whiff of the mold growing in the underground boiler room.
And then, what about the pain his body had experienced? And…
and what about…

…Those red eyes!

Kim Hak-Cheol hurriedly tore and yanked at his own hair when his mind remembered those crimson eyes of the shadow.

“What the hell?! What's the matter with you, Hak-Cheol?!” Noh Su-Bong was genuinely taken aback at the sudden scream and hurriedly pushed himself off his bedding.
“Hey! Someone bring this guy some cold water!”

“Yes, sir!”

While the junior soldiers rushed over to the water cooler, Noh Su-Bong grabbed Kim Hak-Cheol by the shoulder and shook him around.
“Hey, Kim Hak-Cheol! Hak-Cheol, can you hear me?!”

“…Yes, sir.”

“Are you okay?”

“…Yes, sir.

“What the hell? Snap out of it, man!”

Kim Hak-Cheol slowly shook his head.
Although his movement lacked energy, it was still a clear and understandable gesture.
“I… I'm fine, sir.”

“What kind of a nightmare was it for you to end up this way?” Noh Su-Bong glared and asked in annoyance and genuine worry.

“It was…
a bit serious, sir.
My nightmare, I mean.”

“Maybe you're too stressed out and not feeling well, Hak-Cheol.
To be safe, let's call a medic over and check your temperature and stuff.
I'm gonna go and report to the duty officer.”

“Understood, sir,” Kim Hak-Cheol replied as his head faltered.
He was inwardly trying to convince himself.

'Yeah, it was just a dream.
A dream.
A dream! Wake up, me! It was only a dream!'

To think he would raise such a ruckus over a mere dream! What an embarrassment this was.
Kim Hak-Cheol sighed deeply after barely managing to calm himself.

Noh Su-Bong put on his slippers and got ready to leave the squad's living area before turning around to look at Kim Hak-Cheol.

“Corporal Kim Hak-Cheol, sir.”

“By the way, what's wrong with your neck, man?”

“…My neck, sir?”

That kinda looks like a handprint on your neck.
Were you holding your own neck while sleeping?”

Kim Hak-Cheol's eyes grew wide.
He forced his shaking legs to move and desperately stood up.
He grabbed onto the locker and barely managed to keep his balance, then fearfully stared at the reflection of his own throat in the mirror.

A vivid handprint could be seen on his neck skin.
A handprint that clearly belonged to a devil, with spindly and long claws at the fingertips!

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