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    Loves Error

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    It was 20:01. 

    I had barely checked one phone, and there was no time left to try anything else. Should I go back to the real estate office again? Perhaps sticking close to the protagonists was the only way to find even the slightest clue.

    By the way, I remembered the real estate agent mentioning that the shutters can only be lowered from the outside. It seemed to imply that there are individual buttons to operate the shutters for each shop. However, no matter how much I thought about it, I could only think that someone had lowered the shutters for the entire building all at once. It seemed to have a clear purpose and intention. 

    …For now, I thought that I should look for the management office or machinery room somewhere in the building rather than the real estate office. I took a last sip of coffee, thinking what I should check first. At that moment, the digit on my phone’s clock changed from 3 to 4, and my consciousness faded away. It felt like someone was grabbing me by the hair and dragging me to the ground, and when I regained my senses, I was back in the cafe. 

    I didn’t feel any joy even though a miraculous event had occurred, with a warm latte filled to the brim in my cup right after taking a shot of coffee. I took out my phone and checked the time, letting out a shallow sigh. 19:21. It was truly an annoying number. 

    On the other hand, I also thought about the moments in my life when I was filled with such a strong desire for life. It was because I felt that, compared to someone who had once sacrificed their own life, I was incredibly passionate about overcoming the current situation. Whether it was by taking my own life again or living a new life, the priority was to escape from this place, from this time. At this moment, I couldn’t think of anything else. 

    Putting aside my complicated thoughts, I looked towards the back door to leave the cafe. Just as I was about to do so, my phone vibrated in my hand, startling me. I turned on the screen and saw that a message had arrived.

    [Hello?] 19:21

    As soon as I saw the ordinary greeting ‘Hello,’ my composure, which I had been maintaining with difficulty, completely shattered. Could it be that communication is possible in this episode? However, as if mocking my thoughts, a tiresome line about the phone being out of service came out of someone’s mouth. Naturally, I tried calling back the number, but there was no dial tone. Moreover, the time the message was sent was 19:21. It was the time I wake up in this damn world every time.

    [Who are you?]

    I quickly sent a reply, but the screen only showed a notification that I couldn’t send the message due to a communication failure. It was a situation where I had to either go to the bathroom or escape through the back door, but I couldn’t move at all. It was because there was a glimmer of hope that I might be able to escape from this annoying situation with just a short greeting of ‘Hello.’ Someone was trying to intervene in the current situation. And they were doing it through the form of a message, using a phone that was out of service. With eyes wide open, I stared at the screen, and then the second message arrived.

    [Shall I give you a hint?] 19:22 

    [Remember the intention behind the writing.] 19:22

    …A hint? What is this hint for? Is it a clue to escape from this perplexing situation? And what is the intention behind the writing? I couldn’t grasp anything at all. Unable to suppress my confusion, I kept pressing the call button one after another, and I felt the surroundings becoming eerily quiet. Instinctively feeling a sense of fear, I looked up and saw people staring at me with terrified expressions. 

    As I felt the sense of crisis, I ended up being overwhelmed by someone who rushed towards me. Foolishly standing there, I became the second target of the zombie who cruelly devoured the part-time worker. Trying desperately to push away the zombie’s face that lunged at me, I struggled in vain. The woman fearlessly bit into my finger. The sensation of teeth and bones colliding sent shivers down my spine. Damn it, I was truly sick and tired of this. 

    Without a moment to think, the tense situation unfolding, the inevitable ending of being torn apart like this every time, and the irrational and damn everything that forced me to repeat this nonsense from the beginning were pushing me to my limits. In that moment, the mounting irritation overwhelmed the fear. I grabbed the hot mug that was sitting on the table with my still intact right hand and swung it directly at the zombie’s head. 

    I felt a bit relieved, but of course, I didn’t inflict any significant damage. The woman, who was the starting point of all this disaster, maintained a seemingly unscathed appearance compared to the other people who would later turn into zombies. She wore an elegant apricot-colored suit, meticulously applied makeup, and neatly styled hair.

    It was a strange feeling that even though she had a typical beautiful face, she felt repulsive. Well, her entire face was stained with blood, so it would be even stranger if she didn’t feel repulsive. As I thought about it, this time she bit my shoulder and I fell backwards. Of course, there was no one to help me. 

    I shouted meaningless words, begging for mercy, and struck the back of the woman’s head, which was hanging on my shoulder, with the mug still in my hand. It was because it was unfair to be transformed into prey without even resisting, like being stepped on as a worm. 

    “…Damn it, die! Die. Ahhh, it hurts… Ugh.” 

    As the number of strikes to the back of the zombie’s head increased, my strength gradually drained from my hands. By the time even the weight of the mug felt heavy, I thought: In the next round, I should grab something that can be used as a weapon first… Haa, haa, intermittent breaths trembled and the whole world turned red. 

    As soon as I came back, I checked my phone, but no matter how long I waited, there was no message this time.

    [Hello?] 

    [Shall I give you a hint?] 

    [Remember the intention behind the writing.]

    I calmly recalled the message I had just received and felt hopeful. Despite the message being unfriendly, I felt that the situation had improved significantly. Although I couldn’t figure out who sent such a bizarre message, one thing was clear: they sent me a message with a purpose and intention.

    I felt much more relieved to think that there was a purpose behind being thrown into this crazy world without any explanation. Regardless of whether it would lead to a happy ending or a sad ending, it meant that it would all come to an end once the purpose was achieved. 

    As I continued my thoughts, I stared persistently at the woman who was spewing blood. I didn’t want to be caught off guard like before and end up dying again. I had a terrible memory of being devoured as soon as I crossed the passage after the reset, so this time I waited more patiently. And when the woman bit into the throat of the part-time worker, I dashed towards the back door like a madman. The result was successful. Escaping from the cafe so easily made all the deaths I had experienced so far seem futile. 

    Well, in the previous round, I even slid in front of the zombie, and just before that, I resisted with a mug while being bitten. It wasn’t impossible as long as I timed it right. In other words, all the deaths I had experienced so far were not complete deaths. Although my agility and strength didn’t increase, at the very least, my courage seemed to have grown. 

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