San wouldn’t be able to return to the pit during the day, and he wouldn’t be able to sleep comfortably in it during the night either if he didn’t make preparations. Throughout the night, he chose to work on the floor nearby the fire, working and resting when needed. He even prepared his own workplace.
In addition, he selected the floor in front of the bonfire as a place for rest. He wove a large number of large, flat logs together. They were covered with dry grass so that they could sit or lie comfortably. Biyeon's place was set on the inside while his seat was placed in a position where he could see in all four directions. Their places were also arranged at an angle to look in the same direction so that their eyes wouldn’t meet, reducing awkwardness.
After finishing his work, he picked up the potential foodstuff he foraged during the day and laid them out carefully one by one. He then went on to classify each potential foodstuff with a serious expression. He smelled them and carefully examined the shape of their leaves, flowers, roots, and seeds.
Biyeon smiled as she looked at San. His expression was very serious, but there was also something mischievous in his eyes. He seemed like a troublemaker who acted first before seeing what the repercussions would be later on.
“What are you going to do?”
“What should I do? I should try it!”
“There may be poison, right?”
“Is there any other way then?”
“Or would you like to eat it?”
“Ha, don’t worry so much.”
San pulled out his swiss army knife and cut small pieces from a fruit he considered to be the most edible. The fruit was as big as a musk melon. He took a piece and put it in his mouth without any hesitation. Next to him, he had already prepared water and tools to help him vomit in case he felt any abdominal pain.
“First, I plan to eat two kinds a day. If there’s no problem after a while, I’ll eat more.”
“Wow- this fruit is quite sweet. There’s a high probability that it’s not toxic.”
He drew a ‘V’ shape with his fingers at Biyeon. He was relieved because he saw a lot of this fruit earlier when he was foraging. Shortly thereafter, he started working on another fruit.
He believed that the large, musk melon-like fruit was edible. This was because sugar-rich fruits were a kind of natural mechanism that depended on animals feeding on the fruit and spreading the fruit’s seeds, so there’s a high probability that it’s not toxic. Of course, if the animals in this area are the kind that don't eat sweets, then the problem becomes ‘very’ serious.
Biyeon was staring at him with an exasperated expression and her mouth wide open. There were many simple-minded soldiers in the military, but this guy took the cake.
Fortunately, the day seemed to pass without much trouble. They were able to recognize and secure three edible plants.
The night was getting deeper. It was 21:00. The two had stayed up all last night, so it’d be hard for them to withstand their drowsiness.
The problem was that a grown man and woman had to sleep together inside the pit…
The next day brought a bright morning.
They both slept well.
Episode 1. Book 2: Unravelling – Chapter 1
The morning sun’s rays squeezed through the gaps of the hinged door. The inside of the narrow pit brightened, and objects soon began to take shape. The dust seemed to be dancing in the sun’s ray.
Biyeon gave a little sigh. She was already fully awake and alert. She slightly parted her eyes and looked at the ceiling. A thought kept revolving in her mind. ‘He' is probably lying in a 'very' close distance. She was left in a difficult position.
She still had on her combat uniform underneath the covers of her sleeping bag. She felt an uncomfortable sloshing of sweat and grime whenever she moved her body. She knew that she probably smelled horrible, so she wanted to change clothes. What should she do? Her hair must also be a spectacle.
She was lying in a sleeping bag in a corner of the pit. Yesterday, she fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, leaving her no time for reluctance or worry. Now, having woken up, she felt embarrassed.
“Are you awake?” asked Biyeon in a small voice.
Biyeon turned her head slightly. His sleeping bag was already empty.
After taking care of her sleeping bag, she roughly wound her hair and tucked it into her hat. She then quickly left the pit only to give out a surprised gasp. The day was already bright outside.
A savory smell tickled her nose. There was a tripod set up over some leftover hot coals from the bonfire, which had been snuffed at some point. A pot was hanging from the tripod. As she peered inside the pot, she recognized something resembling porridge boiling. A ration of rice, powdered soup, and dried jerky were being boiled all at once. Biyeon nodded. To save rice, porridge was the most suitable way to cook it.
San was diligently digging into the ground with his field shovel while wearing only his military undershirt on top. He was working under a large tree right next to the pit. Biyeon was staring at him working. Even while working, he gave off a military soldier-like atmosphere. Whenever he moved, his refined muscles, as if finely polished, rippled with vigor. The sweat droplets that arose from his skin seemed to stay momentarily static before they eventually dropped down onto the floor.
Something fluttered through her chest. She felt a sense of relief. She now recognized the consistency in his behavior and attitude. She felt that she could trust this reliable person.
“I'm sorry, I overslept,” she greeted first.
“Huh- Oh. Did you sleep well?” San replied pleasantly, lifting his head and wiping sweat from his brow in the process.
“Are you working?”
“Well- Seeing what I had done yesterday in today’s bright light, I saw how poorly I constructed some parts. I thought I had to make it properly. I made your bathroom separately over there. By the way, go wash up. Shouldn’t we eat soon?”
They ate a light breakfast while facing each other. Even though it was a light breakfast, it was quite bountiful and filling. In addition to the food rations brought for the military training exercise, some recently harvested fruits, the same as the one’s designated as edible yesterday, sat on the table.
“Do you tend to eat breakfast Lieutenant Kim?”
“When a civilian, I skipped it. However, since enlisting, I’ve tried to eat breakfast regularly.”
“That’s good. Even if you don't like it, it’s important to eat well in the field. Do you know why?”
“I believe it’s because one burns a lot of calories in the field from intense movement.”
“That’s not exactly correct.”
“The most important thing to watch out for in the field is getting sick. Illness is a loss of combat power and represents death in the field. Illness comes when something is out of balance. I haven’t seen many cases when a person who ate well and moved around vigorously got sick.”
“Always eat your fill. Don't worry about dieting here.”
“By the way, didn't you say that your body changed here, too?”
“Why? Does your body feel weird too, Captain?”
“Would you like to see it yourself?”
San picked up a military spoon with his right hand. It was a thick spoon made of tungsten. He wrapped his hands around the spoon, leaving only the end tip sticking out from his closed palm. With his same hand’s thumb, he pushed the end of the spoon.
“Wow, that’s some power!” screamed Biyeon.
The tip of the thick tungsten spoon was bent nearly 90 degrees in the direction the thumb pushed.
“The problem is, I wasn't so strong before. When I was working yesterday, I simply thought that the trees and rocks here were abnormally light. But, after seeing what I did to this spoon, which I know is hard, I must have been mistaken with my initial assessment, right?
“Then, your body really did drastically change. My eyes too. And my strength.”
“Is that all?”
“I felt like I gained strength, too. The gun was strangely light in my hands, and though I had on military boots when walking yesterday, I felt that my steps were very light. My memory seems to have improved, also. I don't think it’s because of my mood.”
“It’s hard for me to say,” said San, while looking straight at Biyeon. He continued explaining his thoughts.
"But it seems unlikely that this is the world we’re familiar with. I feel like our situation is getting worse.”
“What do you mean??”
“Do you know what I did this morning?”
“I looked at the constellations in the night sky. There weren't any constellations I knew. And do you know what I saw?”
“I saw a collection of moons. There was a moon that’s slightly larger than the moon we’re used to and another moon that was a fourth of the size. Can you believe this?”
“What! If so, then that means…” Biyeon cried out in shock.
“And I measured the sunrise time. The sun rises at 06:03:41. Remind me if I forget. I need to check what time the sun rises tomorrow. I need to know if it’s a 24-hour day here. If not, then I need to know what the difference is."
“Right… Okay. Are there any other oddities?”
“Why wouldn’t there be?”
San smiled, stood up, and continued speaking,
“Come with me. I’ll show you something interesting.”
San led Biyeon into the space between a tree standing on the right side of the pit and a tree in front of the pit. He had set up a trap by connecting woven vines between the two trees at ankle height. It was like an early alarm trap. If someone came over and tripped the vine wire, the front tree would fall down onto the pit, alerting San and Biyeon of intruders.
Biyeon was amazed. She also felt a little embarrassed. He had worked so meticulously on preparing for their safety and livelihood, but she had done nothing but sleep without a care in the world.
“Look here. What does it look like?” he asked her while pointing to the ground.
There was bonfire ash scattered all over the ground, as if it had been spread yesterday. But…
“It looks like a… a child's footprint?” she said with a hardened face.
She looked around with a fearful face. Her hands started to shake.
“Our little customer came by yesterday but didn’t set off the trap. Lieutenant Kim! Why don’t you take three slow breaths, okay?”
“Just do it!”
She took three deep breaths with a puzzled expression.
“Now, I need you to think about this phenomenon. How can this be explained?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter