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    Loves Error

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    “…Do you… do you… remember? The things I said to you?”

    “What things? …No, that’s not possible. Maybe… I mistook you for someone else.”

    “…..”

    He covered his forehead with his hand in confusion and fell into thought. Yoo Min-ho, who had been messing up his hair mercilessly with his long and neat fingers, suddenly banged his forehead against the glass window of the store with a thud. Before his confusion vanished, I quickly asked a question. I wanted to stir up more turmoil in his confusion.

    “No, it’s not a mistake. I did ask you before. If I looked like a woman or a man to you. …I still haven’t heard your answer.”

    “What?”

    “Think carefully. The Lee Chae-eun in your mind, who is unlucky and creepy. …Are they a woman or a man?”

    Yoo Min-ho stared at me for a long time with wide eyes, his once smooth and handsome forehead now reddened from hitting the glass. The small marks on his white skin were especially noticeable. Somehow, it didn’t sit well with me.

    “…Did you do drugs or something? Or a sex change operation, maybe… that kind of… Oh…”

    Yoo Min-ho, who had been snapping at me irritably, suddenly slowed down, and he fell silent, pressing his lips tightly together. His face was filled with confusion as he looked at me.

    …He remembers. Even if not everything, it seems that the faint words I uttered were imprinted in his mind. Just like how memories slowly returned when I was by his side, I wondered if it was the same for him. And with that realization, my heart swelled with a sense of hope.

    At least there was hope that I didn’t have to endure this hellish world alone. Suppressing my trembling heart, I asked again.

    “Tell me. Was Lee Chae-eun a woman or a man?”

    But even with this simple question, he couldn’t answer easily. His lips twitched as if he wanted to speak, biting his lower lip until it turned pale. His eyes were still fixed on me. Hoping that he would realize the inconsistency in his memory, I met Yoo Min-ho’s intense gaze without avoiding it.

    In the end, it was Yoo Min-ho who looked away first. With a furrowed brow and lowered eyes, he spoke as if he were vomiting the words. His long eyelashes trembled sorrowfully.

    “…Don’t know. Damn it, I don’t know.”

    “…..”

    “Instead of just asking, why don’t you tell me?”

    Would speaking make him believe? But for now, I had no choice but to tell the truth, whether he believed it or not. Swallowing another dry gulp, I slowly spoke.

    “She was a woman. In your memory, Lee Chae-eun was a woman. Think about it. While it’s not impossible for a man to have the name Lee Chae-eun, typically… it’s a woman’s name.”

    “…..”

    “I am a man in front of you. I haven’t had a sex change operation or taken any drugs. I’m not Lee Chae-eun; I’m a completely different person.”

    At that moment, a guttural sound, like a beast roaring, echoed from beyond the door. It seemed the creature had gotten frustrated after repeatedly banging against it to no avail. Yoo Min-ho, along with the startled Do Ji-hyuk and real estate agent, all looked beyond the glass storefront. As the noise of the zombies banging from outside grew louder, a chilling silence enveloped the real estate. Feeling uneasy with the escalating noise, the real estate agent and Do Ji-hyuk started to peek through the gaps in the film-covered windows to survey the corridor.

    By now, it was highly probable that multiple zombies had gathered in the corridor. How much longer could we hold out? But why weren’t they just passing by? As I turned to face the storefront with a foreboding feeling, Yoo Min-ho suddenly grabbed my forearm.

    “…If you’re not Lee Chae-eun, then who are you?”

    “…..”

    “What’s your real name?”

    “…..”

    At the moment I heard that question, my mind, which had been completely dark like a closed underground chamber, suddenly saw a glimmer of light. Faint memories, on the brink of fading, began to stir at his question. I stared at Yoo Min-ho’s dark brown eyes while blocking all other senses. …Then, as if it were the most natural thing, three syllables escaped my lips.

    “…Seo… Ki-hyeon. My name is Seo Ki-hyeon. And I’m six years older than you.”

    “So what? You want me to call you hyung?”

    Just as I let out a faint laugh at Yoo Min-ho’s sarcastic remark, the real estate agent, who had been peeking through the gaps, suddenly screamed and knocked over the bookshelf barricading the door. Do Ji-hyuk hurriedly tried to stop her, but she stared beyond the glass door, screaming like someone who had lost her mind.

    “Hyeon-ho… My Hyeon-ho is outside right now! Among those strange people!”

    As the bookshelf was removed, the situation in the corridor became clear. At least a dozen zombies had already gathered outside the glass door. Among them was the real estate agent’s son, wearing a convenience store vest. His face was expressionless, with a chunk of flesh missing from one cheek, indicating that he had already turned into a zombie.

    It wasn’t just her son. The corridor outside the storefront was filled with zombies, some with exposed scalps or dangling necks as they lurched around. The frozen expressions on Do Ji-hyuk and Yoo Min-ho’s faces showed that they realized something was seriously wrong beyond just dealing with a crazy person.

    “…He’s hurt. His face, oh my god. How badly is he hurt? What do we do? Ahhh.”

    The real estate agent thrashed about almost like a madwoman. Checking the time, it was 20:13. When would the rescue team arrive? Would they even come? Even if the rescue team did arrive, it was doubtful that the glass wall would hold until then.

    Now… what should I do? Should we escape to the building’s basement or the upper floors with the apartments? Breaking the glass window,  which has no shutter, on the 2nd-floor storefront corridor and jumping to the ground didn’t seem impossible, but with zombies swarming outside the door, opening it would be suicide or close to it. Should I just give up on this round and wait for the reset to see what happens next? As if the sight of zombies right in front of me wasn’t enough, the real estate agent’s screams added to the chaos, making it difficult for me to think straight.

    No matter how hard I tried to imagine a positive outcome, I couldn’t see any hope. Once things reset, everyone except me would lose their memories again. I had no justification for dragging them up to the second floor and forcing them to jump out the window. To Yoo Min-ho, I was nothing more than a creepy stalker. While seeing the zombies might make them feel the urgency, by then it would be too difficult to reach the second floor. In short, it was far from an easy task.

    …I just couldn’t think of a solution.

    Unable to decide on anything, I set the fallen bookshelf back upright. It seemed essential to calm down the real estate agent first. Her screaming was provoking the zombies even more. Although it didn’t seem likely that anything I said would calm the situation, I leaned against the bookshelf and spoke as calmly as I could.

    “At this rate, the glass wall won’t hold for long. There are too many… crazy people out there. I think we have, what, ten minutes? Fifteen at most? That might be the limit.”

    As if to prove my point, the entire wall shook violently. With each impact from outside, the glass wall shook so much that it was dizzying to watch. Whether my words had some effect, or she was simply exhausted, the real estate agent slumped to the floor and began to sob. Seeing her cry made this place feel less like a movie and more like a real, existing world. At least, her sorrow seemed real.

    “I mentioned earlier that the crazy killer bites people. In reality, it won’t end with just biting.”

    Taking a shallow breath, I continued.

    “…They eat them.”

    “What?”

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