Chapter 1 I Don’t Think it is a Dream.
“Aigoo, Your Majesty Seo Tae-hyuk. I apologize for bringing you to this humble place.”
Tae-hyuk narrowed his eyes and glared at the other person.
Son of a bitch.
He always called Tae-hyuk by that term.
It was a form of slang that inmates in a prison were called.
Those with a jail sentence of less than three years were called ‘commoners’, while thosethat received more than 10 years in prison were ‘nobles’. The prisoners with a life sentence were called ‘kings.’
Of course, the meaning didn’t indicate respect at all.
It was a very insulting nickname that was filled with scorn and ridicule.
Seo Tae-hyuk sat down in the chair in the middle of the room.
He was one of the few inmates who didn’t feel helpless in front of the guards.
“Your Highness has nothing to say. Would you like the coffee that I have leftover?”
Tae-hyuk drank it all at once.
“Kuk. Your Majesty. You are still as free as always. Has it already been 10 years? Tears are flooding my eyes at the thought of not being able to see you anymore.”
"Yes yes. That day is here. It will happen in one week.”
Tae-hyuk’s eyes violently trembled.
A moan escaped from his tightly closed mouth. The last 10 years. He had thought that all his emotions had weathered away.
"Your claims of innocence have flown away. Your lawyer has run away. In the end...”
"It is like this.”
The guard held out some documents.
“What is it?”
“Write down the meal that you would like to have on your last night. If you also have anyone you wish to visit then write it down as well.”
It was the so-called last dinner and last visit.
Tae-hyuk did nothing for one minute. However, his head was filled with thoughts of his life.
He slowly filled out the documents.
“Hoh. Kimchi stew. It is alright for you to choose a fancier meal.”
"This is my little brother’s favourite food.”
"Additionally, to not put any pork in? This is quite an unusual order. Surely you don’t mean you were poor?... Oh, was I right?”
“Haha. Yes, I see. You’ll be busy for the time you have remaining. This will be the first death penalty in 30 years so please excuse anyone if they are inexperienced.”
Tae-hyuk didn’t move from his spot for a while.
He was falsely accused and imprisoned. Now, he was doing to die without seeing anything.
The guard had a strange thought that he found amusing.
"Ah. I thought of something. Isn’t a criminal who receives a life sentence called the king of crime? Then what should I call a criminal who is going to be executed? Perhaps,a god? Haha! In a week’s time, Your Majesty Seo Tae-hyuk will become the God of Crime!”
In the room where the guard had left him, Tae-hyuk furiously roared for a while.
* * *
One week passed by quickly.
It seemed that his name appeared on TV more than the celebrities.
The death penalty system had been just revived after 30 years, so it couldn’t be helped that the nation was interested.
Human rights organizations protested outside the prison every day but it didn’t change athing.
Tae-hyuk sat in a chair in the visitation room.
His mind calmed down after he had accepted his death. He was waiting for his younger brother and older sister, who he had asked to visit. It had already been over a year since he last saw them.
What would they talk about? He wanted to thank his younger brother for believing that he was innocent until the end.
Did his sister, who took over as a mother when their parents died when he was a child, live happily every after?
Tae-hyuk looked at the clock on the wall. The kimchi stew on the table was already cold.
Tae-hyuk tried to make his expression as casual as possible as he heard the door opening.
Tae-hyuk forgot what he was going to say when he saw the person who came in.
"Aigoo, Your Majesty. I’m not the one you have been waiting for. I’m truly sorry.”
It was the familiar guard.
He sat down on a chair in the visitation room.
"You look very uncomfortable at my appearance.”
Tae-hyuk didn’t deny it.
"Your family. Was it Seo Tae-min ssi and Seo Ha-ran? You won’t be able to see the both of them.”
"Is that so?”
Had they decided to give up everything?
He didn’t mind that he wouldn’t be able to see his family in his last minutes.
‘Thank you for treating me as family, even though I was unable to get rid of the false accusations.’ He only wanted to say those words.
This was what happened..
It would be best if they saw Seo Tae-hyuk as someone who never existed in the first place.
Then he would pray that his remaining family would live on happily. He decided to be satisfied with this thought.
Then the guard smirked.
“Seo Ha-ran ssi, Your Majesty’s older sister, Seo Ha-ran, committed suicide last month.”
“Is this surprising? No, not really. She had a murderer in her family,of which the media talked about every day. Reporters kept bothering the family. Then. by chance, the mosaic covering her face didn’t work properly, and was revealed to her workplace. Oh dear, oh dear. In the end, she was fired. Furthermore, I was told that she had quite a large debt. She eventually lost her remaining assets in a multi-level marketing scheme. Thus, in the end...”
The guard pretended to strangle himself.
"T-that is ridiculous!" Why would Noonim do that?”
"Anyways, what happened to your younger brother? Seo Tae-min ssi was it? He was truly smart,unlike a certain someone. Didn’t he enter S Law University to save his hyung? He was then caught looking for evidence from politicians and large corporations. Not long after, he disappeared. I guess he thought he was a detective. He should have known not to overrate himself.”
"My guess it that he is encased in concrete in a barrel drum at the bottom of the Yellow Sea. He should be getting friendly with his new neighbours. Well, what is the exact location of the Dragon King?”
Tae-hyuk struck the table with his fist.
The prepared kimchi stew was strewn about, and the room became a mess.
"Don't lie to me, you bastard! Are you completely crazy? What? My sister committed suicide after losing everything in a pyramid scheme? Don’t take me for a fool! And Tae-min went missing after trying to save me? Don't play around! I will kill you!”
The guard held his side as he laughed.
“Hahaha! Your Majesty Seo Tae-hyuk. What, you will kill me? You, who has never even killed a single ant in your life?"
It was the right answer.
At that moment, Tae-hyuk thought it was strange.
Until now, he thought that this was the guard that he had known for 10 years; however, that was not the case. There was no such guard here. In the first place, there was no way a prison guard could know that much. Why did he ever think that the person before was a prison guard?
"... You. You aren’t a guard.”
“Yes. Then what am I?”
The guard laughed.
Tae-hyuk, who saw the man’s face, screamed.
In the sockets where one’s eyeballs were supposed to be was replaced by a hollow space.
The mouth was ripped from ear to ear and something red dribbled down his chin whenever he laughed.
The thing smiled and said.
"I have a very mouth-watering proposal. Would you like to hear it first?”
Chapter 1 - I Don’t Think it is a Dream
Tae-hyuk woke up screaming.
It was a bad dream.
This happened sometimes. Sometimes there were dreams so real that he couldn’t even distinguish betweenthe dream and reality for a while after waking up.
"Well, that was a shit dream.”
In his dream, Tae-hyuk was a falsely accused criminal who received the death penalty.
Just thinking about it caused him to curse.
Tae-hyuk sat on his bed and didn’t move for a while.
“...Wait a minute. So I was locked up for 10 years for a murder I didn’t commit? In the end, I was sentenced to death.”
Tae-hyuk certainly didn’t kill anyone. However, the evidence was perfect. There was the CCTV taken at the crime scene. The weapon with Tae-hyuk’s fingerprints on them. An eyewitness also saw him escaping the crime scene.
His body started shaking.
“Wait a minute. It is just a dream. Just think of it as a shit dream...”
But something was wrong. It was too real to be a dream. It felt like he really had been confined in prison as a death row inmate until yesterday.
If it was a dream then who was he now?
Tae-hyuk looked around.
It was a three pyeong room with a bunk bed and two desks. There was also a small bookcase with a simple structure.
The unique dampness and mouldy smell was still the same.
It was the room he shared with his brother Tae-min before he graduated from high school.
‘What? It feels like I’m reminiscing about a memory that is more than 10 years old. Crazy. This is all due to that realistic dream.”
15 years had passed by in his dream.
But in reality, only a single night had passed. Then what was this sense of incongruity?
"Anyway, I am still a high school student, right? Not a death row inmate?”
Tae-hyuk calmed his chaotic mind and wanted to check.
"Yes, a mirror!"
Tae-hyuk mindlessly searched the room for a mirror. He would resolve things after confirming his appearance.
If he didn’t look like a high school student but a man in his 30s... Just thinking about it caused him to have goosebumps.
Eventually, he was able to find a small handheld mirror.
“Ugh. A bad taste.”
The demon carved on the mirror gave off a bad feeling.
"Did we ever have a mirror like this?”
It might belong to his younger brother.
The place where he found it was in the bookshelf used by both of them.
"... Phew. Fortunately, I’m still a high school student.”
The man in the mirror seemed to be in his late teens.
“Wait a minute. What is this?"
Tae-hyuk looked around with a strange expression. However, there was nothing.
He looked at the mirror again.
There were a lot of strange letters on it.
-Title: God of Crime
-Rating: Commoner (Lacking conditions for upgrade)
-Skills Possessed: None
In addition to this, a status window filled the mirror.
Tae-hyuk laughed to himself.
"This is a well made toy.”
The contents were commonly seen in popular online games.
A person who liked things like this.
Inside the house, there was only Tae-min.
Either way, he was indeed a high school student.
Tae-hyuk sighed with relief.
He wasn’t a falsely accused death row prisoner. He was Seo Tae-hyuk, a high school student in the 2nd grade who lived with his older sister and younger brother. Then he started to remember some things.
Unlike his brother, who was a good student, he had a slightly delinquent appearance.
He sometimes missed school and he couldn’t exactly say that his grades were good.
Thus, he was treated as a troublemaker.
Still, at least he wasn’t a high school gangster.
"Um. Has Tae-min already left?”
He could smell the scent of rice cooking from somewhere. It seemed that his sister, Seo Ha-ran, was preparing breakfast. He started to realize that he was hungry.
"Tae-hyuk! Come eat!”
His sister’s voice was heard.
Tae-hyuk scratched his head and headed towards the kitchen.
* * *
Tae-hyuk’s eyes turned red.
Ha-ran asked with surprise.
"What is it? Did you have a scary dream or something?”
Tae-min, who was sitting opposite to Tae-hyun, stared at him before shifting his gaze back to the English words in the book before him.
There wasn’t much time remaining for his exam, so even the preparation time while eating was precious.
"Dust entered my eyes.”
The menu for breakfast was kimchi stew. There was only a little bit of tofu, and didn’t contain a single piece of meat.
Ha-ran hesitated before saying.
“... I’m sorry, Noona will cook you one with meat when I get paid.”
“It really is because dust entered my eyes. Also, Noona’s kimchi stew really is the best in the world,so delicious that I would want to eat it before I die.”
It was a sincere statement.
He put a spoonful into his mouth and could taste his sister’s kimchi stew.
It was a dish that he couldn’t eat in his dream, after all.
"Oh my, this child. You’ll be late. Eat quickly.”
Ha-ran laughed as she moved her spoon. She didn’t dislike Tae-hyuk’s praise.
Their parents had both died in an accident, so Ha-ran became the sole guardian of Tae-hyuk and Tae-min. Despite being a flower in her early 20s, she was working double shifts at the factory.
She didn’t wear any makeup but to Tae-hyun, she was more beautiful than anyone else in the world.
Tae-hyuk bit his lip.
‘I’ll have to get a job straight after graduating high school so I can help Noona.’
Then he was startled.
A memory from his dream of being a death row prisoner popped up.
‘I graduated from school. I obtained a job with a private security company because I had nothing useful, save my body. And I worked there for two years. Then...’
He was framed and went to jail.
‘No! It's a dream, a dream! Damn...!’
Tae-hyuk turned on the TV to shake off the memories of the death row prisoner.
-The prosecution is looking for the whereabouts of Yoo Cheol-ho, a prisoner who escaped from Central Prison on the 9th...
Ha-ran shook her head and made a fuss as the news of a horrible criminal was heard.
“Omo. He still isn’t caught. It was said that he might be near here. Tae-hyuk, if you go outside, then only go when it is still light. If someone goes up to you then don’t follow them. Do you understand?”
“Noona. I’m grown up. And why don’t you say something to Tae-min?”
"Tae-min is steady.”
"Then I’m bad?”
Tae-hyuk and Tae-min were already high school students, but Ha-ran still viewed them as children.
Tae-hyuk smiled at his sister’s worry and nodded.
“By the way. That person still hasn’t been caught? He was clearly caught...”
Yoo Cheol-ho. A familiar name.
He had stayed in the room next to Tae-hyuk’s for a while.
In order words, a neighbour.
‘Of course, that was just in my dream.’
Tae-hyuk knew why he had such a dream. It was because he kept hearing these things in the news every day.
"Hyung. Did you eat something bad? Yoo Cheol-ho was caught after committing seven murders three months ago, and broke out of prison just last week. So he hasn’t been caught.”
Tae-min, who was eating rice quietly, interrupted.
Tae-hyuk frowned. Tae-min was interested in such things. This time, he was wrong.
"What are you talking about? Yoo Cheol-ho escaped for six months and was caught after committing three more murders.”
Tae-min sighed and said.
"Phew, Hyung. Don’t just read manhwa. You should watch the news as well. Yoo Cheol-ho was caught? They are completely clueless. There is also a pretty good reward.. You must have dreamt about catching him.”
Wait a minute.
Didn’t Yoo Cheol-ho clearly get caught after his escape?
He was a complete psycho and quite talkative.
Furthermore, he didn’t sleep so he talked about his story until dawn.
After two successful breakouts, he gained the nickname ‘King of Jailbreaks.’ The place he went and how he escaped were all vivid in Tae-hyuk’s head.
“So Yoo Cheol-ho’s nickname isn’t King of Jailbreaks?”
Tae-min moved his index finger to the side of his head and moved it round and round.
"Hey. That isn’t something you should do to your hyung!”
“Ah. It's already 8 o'clock. You should hurry if you don’t want to be late. The student manager said he would break your legs with a paddle if you are late again.”
Tae-min got up and ran to his room.
‘Indeed, a terrible dream.’
Not even the Pirate King but the King of Jailbreaks.
"If the dream is correct then Yoo Cheol-ho’s accomplice should be caught in S City by now. But he isn’t.”
Tae-hyuk unwittingly said the thought that came to his head.
“You must be half-asleep.”
A few minutes passed.
Ha-ran, who was eating while watching the news, starting shivering like she had seen a ghost.
“... You were just talking about Yoo Cheol-ho’s accomplice right?”
"L-look at that.”
Ha-ran pointed to the TV with a trembling hand.
-Breaking news. The accomplice to Yoo Cheol-ho’s escape was caught in S City.
Tae-hyuk’s mouth gaped open. He was so surprised that he didn’t notice the falling spoon.
‘Wait. What is this? What is this?”
The content of the news was the same as his dream. The evidence was the same as Yoo Cheol-ho’s first escape.
'A dream. It's a dream! Then why is it happening in real life?’
“... Noona. Is that a rerun? This actually happened yesterday, or the day before, right?”
“That... a live broadcast...”
The words stabbed at Tae-hyuk’s chest like a dagger.
It was a dream, so what was this?
A foresight dream? Returning to the past? Or was it just a coincidence?
Ha-ran gazed at Tae-hyuk with worried eyes.
Tae-hyuk tried to look bright.
“Haha! I just said it. It came true by chance. Maybe I should go and buy a lottery ticket?”
"Hey ~ you really scared me.”
"I have to go to school. Doesn’t Noona come home late at night? You should be careful at night.”
"Prince-nim doesn’t have to worry, I’ll be careful. Have fun at school.”
Tae-hyuk left the house with his bag.
His laughter instantly disappeared from his face.
According to his dream, Yoo Cheol-ho shouldn’t be far from here.
‘I need to confirm if Yoo Cheol-ho is really there. Only then will I know if that was just a dream.’
He felt sorry for his sister but he wouldn’t be able to go to school.