Chapter 8

With a resolute expression, she looked closely at the footprints and her surroundings.

Strangely, San's relaxed attitude and request for her to breath quelled her surprise and fear in an instant.

"Because the footprints are not deep, it's a very light creature. This is the only approach toward the entrance to the pit, so whatever creature made this footprint should have crossed this wire but didn’t trip it. but there’s no footprints showing that the creature walked toward this area, only a one set of footprints. If it didn't walk through this area nor set off the trap… that means...”

“That means?” 

“It seems to have flown and landed here from the sky. Though, these prints look more like human footprints than those of a bird.”

“Do you think it’s what we saw yesterday?”

“I would have to say that’s the most likely case.”

“Advance reconnaissance?”

“I think exploration. For now, it seems to also be trapped in this area.”

“I think that’s very likely. Regardless, I guess we need to add this to the list of things we need to be cautious against.”

They stopped talking and looked at each other.

San and Biyeon fell into a strange world without knowing why. After checking and verifying the differences between their reality and the reality of this place, they were shocked. 

The shock started coming in waves for Biyeon. She thought that, perhaps, after sleeping and resting well for one night, something would change or look different, but that was not the case. This was not a dream. It was their new reality. It was also very cruel.

Tears dripped from her eyes. Being robbed of her beloved world, a loving family, and a familiar reality all at once, her shock slowly became “sorrow”.

‘Phew-’

White cigarette smoke slowly emanates from the squatting San’s nose. The smoke scattered and disappeared in this unknown place’s air. ‘Fuck-’

“We got here, so shouldn’t there be a way back as well?” he mumbled in a low voice.

Episode 1. Book 2: Unravelling – Chapter 2

“So difficult...”

Biyeon took out a notebook and sighed. It was obvious that they had to survive in this new environment. Not knowing where to start, she felt unsettled and confused. The future ahead looked bleak.

“First of all, I have to solve the problem of eating and living.”

While rattling off all the things that were necessary, she couldn’t help but continue sighing. She realized how much she enjoyed and relied on the benefits of civilization. Those creature comforts were always there, she used them because they were ever-present, and she became accustomed to having those comforts like breathing in air. She wasn’t grateful until those comforts were taken away.

“I have to be prepared to live like I’m in the Stone Age. We need to obtain a food source, and even if we do find food, there’s no salt, sugar, or spices. There won’t even be toilet paper… ah!”

At this time, San was climbing the largest and tallest tree. Some graffiti on the pit walls said that escape was impossible, but he didn't want to believe it. He wanted to go out and observe this place for himself. In order to break through the mystery of this place and find a way out, he needed to fully understand his surroundings.

The tree was very large. It had a circumference of around 30 meters. San planned to climb to the top of this tree. Even though he climbed up 20 meters, there were no branches. Even when branches were present higher up, they were not large enough for him to hold or gain any footing. San used two bayonet knives, one to hold himself onto the tree and the other as footing, as if he was walking up a spiral staircase.

“Fortunately, it's not too difficult going up. Is it because I’ve become stronger?”

It took him three hours to climb to the top of the tree, which was almost 200 meters high. Fortunately, the trunk was thick in the middle, allowing him to climb without much difficulty. The tree was cone-shaped with the bottom being thicker than the top. The shape of the tree allowed him to see his surroundings without any difficulty.

“Woah – this is really awesome.”

San sat on a thick branch and exclaimed. Luckily, the weather was sunny, increasing visibility. He saw that the surrounding terrain was not blocked on all four sides with endless forests. Far away, he could see some rapids and a waterfall, as well as terrain with trees and grass. However, the mountainous rock walls surrounding this place like the inside of a jar was the main problem. He couldn’t see beyond the mountains.

He pulled out a compass and lifted it up. Fortunately, polar magnetic fields seemed to exist in this place as well. The needle spun and stopped in one place.

“Let's see. The whole place seems to be completely blocked by the mountains. I don't see any artificial landmarks at all. If we plan to escape, there must be a valley or something…”

He took out his notebook and wrote down his findings meticulously. He recorded what he observed, the locations and images of the terrain, the various terrains’ peculiarities, possible routes of incoming attack, possible risk factors, and his general opinions and judgments.

***

San came down from the tree and immediately looked for Biyeon. Seeing Biyeon, San frowned fiercely. He yelled immediately,

“What the hell are you doing?”

“This… I can do this,” Biyeon answered in a weak voice.

“…” San could only helplessly watch with his mouth shut firm.

He could imagine how the whole scene unfolded. Lying in front of his eyes, Biyeon was looking at him with a pure white face. She swept her sweaty hair while wearing only her training pants and undershirt, which clearly showed her bra underneath. Next to her, all kinds of fruits, roots, and grains were neatly arranged. She was probably cutting each piece, one by one, and tasting them to see if they were edible. Next to her was a water-filled bottle and a bottle cap filled with soapy water… next to the bottle was a small, shoveled hole filled with vomit. She must have thrown up some experimental foodstuff already.

“Hmm.” 

San squeezed his fist into a tight ball, shaking all over. His visage was dark. He wanted to swear, but he wasn’t able to say anything, as if his throat was dried shut.

“Are you okay?”

“Three kinds were okay, but the last root seems to be poisonous. I can't seem to get up even though I induced myself to vomit right away. Hehe…” Biyeon weakly chuckled. 

San walked silently and squatted next to her. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped the vomit off of her cheek. He then placed his hand on her forehead and took her temperature. Two sets of heartfelt eyes met, exchanging various meanings wordlessly.

“I didn’t think you’d be so ignorant… I shouldn’t have shown you how to test out the possible foodstuff. It’s my fault… my fault.” 

San went through a variety of emotions while grunting. He was grateful as a colleague and proud of her boldness, trustworthiness, and consideration. And... something he didn’t fully know yet…

***

San went into the pit, carrying Biyeon in his arms. He lay her down on a fresh part of the pit that he worked on smoothing down in the morning. He fed her the fruit he coined as ‘musk’, cutting it into small pieces and feeding her directly. If she threw it up, nothing could be done, but he was hoping she could digest some of it. Fortunately, Biyeon's condition was quickly improving. She wisely chose to chew on small portions while conducting her experiment, so the poison didn’t seem like it took full effect.

“I should be okay now?”

“Just lie down. Don't do anything detrimental to your health.”

She slightly smiled at his blunt tone.

“We’ve found five potential foodstuffs that can be eaten, so human testing is forbidden for the time being,” he stated while getting up and leaving the pit.

“Okay,” she answered, slowly sitting up and then standing.

Her eyes were chasing his back as he was leaving the pit. She lightly sighed.

***

‘Cooking is a problem. The problem is that there’s no salt… I don't want to eat bland food…’

Biyeon came out of the pit. She squinted her eyes against the sun’s rays. She wouldn’t shed a tear anymore. Only the thought of having to do something filled her mind. She thought, if only she could finally rid herself of her nervousness and fear…

San was overlooking the huge bamboo forest. He pulled out a bayonet knife and touched the blade. His eyes were deeply sunk in. As time went by, he became more anxious. He didn't know what would happen in the future. His future probably revolved around survival.

A world he couldn't understand.

He recalled the pit wall writing that read 'I died six times', the horror of its message poking and prodding his mind. From the gruesome and honest record of someone’s experience, he was able to infer what life would be like here. What was certain was that mass killings and predation took place. 

A foreshadowing of what they would have to go through in the next year.

So, the two couldn't rest. His whole body was extremely tense, and his stress was piling up to the point that he wanted to die. Wisely, the two had so far deliberately refrained from commenting on their anxiety. They tried to be considerate of the other person and struggled to create a pleasant and optimistic atmosphere.

How their attitudes, which started in this bizarre place, will evolve in the future was unknown. They didn’t know what fate had in store for them. There wasn’t any manual or guidebook on a pair of people starting their lives this way, in a weird space-time dimension for an undetermined amount of time…

San touched a giant bamboo tree. It was hard. He tapped against the tree. It felt like an iron plate. It would be quite useful if he could use it to make a weapon. He needed to have good combat tools and as many as possible. The number of live ammunition rounds were limited, and his bayonet knife was more like a small dagger. Bamboo could be used as material to make many things: bows, spears, barriers, and traps. In addition, there was no other material to store drinking water or liquids.

“Baby steps first…”

In front of the bamboo tree, which had a circumference the size of an oil drum, he lifted his bayonet knife and tried piercing the hardest part. With a ‘tak’ sound, the knife’s blade bounced off.

“It's pretty hard. If I used a little more force…”

San put strength into his hand carrying the knife. Strangely, after coming here, he felt that his strength grew. Moreover, if he exerted himself past a certain level, his arm became numb and a much stronger force was produced. However, the problem was that the tree wouldn’t even budge with this extra amount of strength.

“A little bit more…”

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