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    3. Zero Gravity (3)

    Even though he turned the air conditioner on, his hands were still damp on the steering wheel. Outside the car, it was 46.5 degrees Celsius. It was scorching hot. Although the world was increasingly submerged in water, more people were dying from heatstroke than getting drowned.

    “Breaking news. A rebel bomb attack occurred at the Marine Resources Expert Forum held at 5:30 p.m. this evening. As a result of this incident, 12 people, including Congressman Wang Yi-an, were killed and 24 others were injured…”

    He lowered the volume of the radio with a tired face. Recently, rebel attacks have been frequent. Not long ago, they hacked into the broadcasting system and exposed various corruption of the Union Republic’s officials.

    Yeonsoo, despite being a government official, sympathized with the rebels in his heart. Working at the center had made him wary of the government. But these days, he wasn’t so sure about that either. Seeing civilians harmed by terrorism left him feeling nothing but helpless.

    He briefly glanced outside the car window and quickly hit the brakes.


    His forehead slammed hard against the steering wheel. As he raised his head and looked ahead of him, he saw that the bumper of the car in front was broken.

    D*mn it. He wiped his face roughly with his palm. Though his condition was already at its worst, having an accident was still unexpected. Since getting his license, this was his first time getting into an accident.

    He got out of the car with a frustrated expression. A man with a tall and slender figure got out of the driver’s seat of the car in front and approached him. Yeonsoo took out his business card from his wallet and prepared it.

    “I’m sorry. It was completely my fault.”

    “No, it’s okay. These things happen.”

    The man was polite. Nowadays, manners like this are hard to come by, so Yeonsoo unconsciously studied the man’s face intently. He was a rare handsome man with a mix of chestnut brown and blonde hair and striking features. Even in this situation, he was smiling brightly as if he were a salesperson.

    “This is my business card. Please contact me if you get an estimate. I’ll deposit the money right away.”

    “You live in apartment 1308, right?”

    Surprised by the unexpected question, Yeonsoo froze and blinked his eyes.

    “I live in the next-door apartment. We’ve greeted each other in the elevator before.”

    Ah, now that he mentioned it, he did seem familiar. Yeonsoo searched his memory. He wasn’t someone who paid much attention to his surroundings, so a clear memory didn’t come to mind.

    “Let me give you my business card too. I’m Ryan Indigo. You can just call me Ryan.”

    “Ah, yes. I’m Han Yeonsoo. I’m really sorry about the accident today.”

    “No, it’s nothing. It’s just a minor scratch. Well, I think I can handle it within my means.”

    He called that a minor scratch? The bumper looked completely wrecked. Yeonsoo smiled awkwardly as he looked at the business card he handed him.

    It was a business card with a simple modern design. Next to the name “Ryan Indigo” written in deep blue, were the words “Painter, Art Director, affiliated with <The Ocean> Gallery.”

    “I’m majoring in pure painting. It’s a bit unusual, right? Being an artist. There are only a few artists who have been granted citizenship by the government.”

    It was indeed unusual, as he said. Since the Great Shift, Yeonsoo had rarely seen anyone working in the field of art.

    “Even in ruins, flowers must bloom. That’s how people survive.”


    Faced with the unfamiliar rhetoric full of symbolism, Yeonsoo didn’t know how to respond and just stood there and shut his mouth. Seeing his reaction, Ryan flashed a gentle smile that reached his eyes.

    “Since we’re neighbors, we’ll probably run into each other often in the future. Let’s greet each other when we do. Take care of the heat.”

    “Yes. Please contact me after you get the estimate. It would make me feel uncomfortable if you just let it go.”

    Instead of answering, Ryan just smiled again.

    Yeonsoo bowed his head to say his farewell and returned to his car. The bumper of his own car was also severely damaged. Tsk, he clicked his tongue briefly and got into the driver’s seat.

    Strangely, even though there was an accident, his heart felt a bit lighter than before. It was as if the man, who didn’t even frown once despite being involved in the accident, had a contagious sense of composure.

    Are artists originally like that? He was quite envious of their ability to preserve their own sensibility in this jungle-like world.

    ⊹˚. ♡.𖥔 ݁ ˖ ⊹˚. ♡.𖥔 ݁ ˖

    As soon as he got home, he fed Glow and sat on the living room sofa, reading “About Mermaids.”

    Just before leaving work, he frantically searched through the Beresht Characteristics Report, but couldn’t find any mention of the phenomenon that had happened to him. He didn’t have high expectations anyway. Kei had mentioned before that there were many undocumented information in the official report.

    Therefore, Yeonsoo hoped to find some clues in this book. Something that would support his intuition.

    He skimmed through the table of contents to find a readable section. The title of the last chapter was ‘The Divinity of Mermaids.’ He was intrigued by the peculiar title and turned the page to find the last chapter.

    [Mermaids have been considered as divine beings or messengers of the gods in various regions. The main reason mermaids were worshipped as gods was because of the ‘power’ they possessed. Mermaids wielded the ability to control seawater freely, bringing rewards or punishments to people. They could also influence the weather, bringing rain to drought-stricken lands or unleashing floods upon villages. They also showed mysterious illusions to people. Those who worshipped mermaids as gods sometimes compiled their prophecies into scriptures…]

    He paused reading and rubbed his tired eyes with his palm. The stories were interesting, but the content felt overly religious, going beyond just a sense of the occult. This wasn’t what he was looking for.

    Ding-dong. Ding-dong.

    The doorbell broke the silence. Yeonsoo remained still, only lifting his gaze to glance at the entrance. A doorbell ringing at 11 p.m. Truly, a consistently rude manner.

    When he opened the door, his mother Han Jung-ae rushed in like a flood. With each unsteady step she took toward the living room, a strong smell of alcohol wafted in the air. Yeonsoo sighed heavily, rubbing his temples with his hand.

    “Yeonsoo, Yeonsoo. My beloved son. Let me see your face.”

    Han Jung-ae spun around towards Yeonsoo. She was smiling brightly. The woman who was once a lively writer and made a name for herself still remained beautiful and full of life despite the passing of time.

    She stumbled towards him and hugged Yeonsoo tightly. The intense smell of alcohol mixed with a faint scent of roses. The familiar and cruel scent that he had smelled since childhood. At the same time, it was a scent he missed.

    “Son, my beloved son…”

    Yeonsoo tightly closed his eyes. His heart ached. She had been the woman who had controlled his whole life, but he always crumbled at the warmth she emitted. It was a handful of warmth that would scatter in an instant.

    It felt like Yeonsoo had turned into a young child again, weak and helpless, standing in front of his mother. A powerless and infinitely fragile nine-year-old child.

    She buried her head on his son’s shoulders, who had grown much taller than her, and gently patted his back.

    “You know, son. Mom found something like this at home today.”

    With her head still nestled, she rummaged through her pants pocket and pulled something out. It was an old, faded pamphlet. Yeonsoo immediately recognized what it was.

    It was a pamphlet with the program for a Caribbean Cruise. The Caribbean Cruise was the first and last family trip that Yeonsoo and his family had taken before the Great Shift occurred.

    “We had such a great time back then, didn’t we?”

    Yeonsoo didn’t answer. His face turned pale.

    “The Caribbean was stunningly blue. The weather was clear all the time. It had everything inside. Lobster buffet, arcade, shooting range, swimming pool, cafe, everything. I just wanted to lounge around all day and have cocktails, but your father wanted to do all sorts of things. In the end, he left me alone, annoyed, and took only you to go around everywhere. He was such an enthusiastic father. He really adored you and was proud of you.”

    Her eyes, looking up at Yeonsoo, held a distant, nostalgic look, like someone deeply lost in memories.

    “If he were alive, how happy would he have been to see you grow up so well.”

    In a sudden moment, Jung-ae’s eyes flickered with intensity. Unexpectedly, she grabbed Yeonsoo’s collar with a strong grip and pulled him down. She whispered discreetly in his ears.

    “Did you kill him?

    …D*mn it. Yeonsoo forcefully pushed Jung-ae away. He wiped away the places she had touched as if it were dirty.

    She stared at him with determination. She laughed beautifully and cruelly like a cunning devil.

    “How long are you going to keep pretending to be innocent? You murderer. You’re a murderer! A murderer! A child who devours his parents! A despicable child!”

    Yeonsoo’s fists clenched tightly. Jungae’s eyes which momentarily looked like a loving mother, change instantly and poured out insults to him that appeared truly despicable.

    “Why are you doing this to me?!”

    “I saw it. I saw it, that day!”

    “What did you see?”


    “That is, that day.”


    “What exactly did you see?”

    The laughter disappeared from Jung-ae’s face. She just looked at Yeonsoo with a resentful gaze without saying a word. She pushes him to the edge of the cliff, but when it comes to the most important thing, she remains silent.

    It seemed like she just enjoyed watching Yeonsoo struggle on the edge of the cliff out of sheer sadistic pleasure. Yeonsoo couldn’t understand her mother. Even if a lifetime had passed, it seemed he would never be able to understand her.

    ⊹˚. ♡.𖥔 ݁ ˖ ⊹˚. ♡.𖥔 ݁ ˖

    Leaving Han Jung-ae behind, Yeonsoo rushed out of the house.

    He arrived at the center in a hurry, driving the car without any thoughts in mind. Except for the security company employees, there was no one inside the empty center.

    He passed through the office and headed straight to the basement. He was in a daze the whole time, but when he smelled the cold and salty smell of seawater, he unconsciously felt a little relieved without realizing it.

    Yes. The smell of seawater. Yeonsoo just wanted to smell this scent without thinking about anything else. The tank in Glow’s room was not enough. He needed the overwhelming smell of seawater that seemed to engulf his senses. He needed the darkness that resembled the abyss.

    The downfall of his thoughts. Yeonsoo was currently in a state of collapse.

    As he got off the elevator, a warm darkness enveloped his whole body. Yeonsoo deeply inhaled and exhaled the darkness. The heat inside his body, which felt like it could explode at any moment, slowly and calmly dissipated.

    He approached the black tank. Beresht was not visible. He always revealed himself as soon as he put his feet in the lab, but this time was different.

    Leaning against the wall, he slid down to the floor. He knelt down and hugged himself with both arms.

    He absentmindedly hugged the dark empty space.

    He felt lonely.

    He had been lonely his whole life, but today he felt even lonelier.

    He felt lost. He felt like a speck of dust. Loneliness was fierce and omnipotent. It could inflict wounds at any time and render all emotions uncontrollable.


    Yeonsoo lowered his head and cried.

    “I’m lonely, please come to me….”

    Lonely. Lonely. Lonely. Lonely. Lonely. Lonely. Lonely. Lonely.

    I feel like I’m drowning in loneliness. Come to me. Please. I beg you.

    Perhaps you could understand me. If you came from the deep, deep sea where no one else is…. No. Maybe not. Maybe all of this is just an excuse. Maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to want you.

    The light slowly shone down on Yeonsoo’s hunched shoulders. Yeonsoo turned his head towards the tank. Beresht was there.

    Cruelly beautiful and indifferent, an unknown species of the deep blue sea.

    He reached out his hand and touched the wall that separated them.

    “Come to me. Come to me, please. Will you?”

    Yeonsoo pleaded.

    Beresht, who had been watching, slowly closed their distance.

    It overlapped its palm with Yeonsoo’s palm, just like last time. Whether it was mirroring or not, whether it held any significance, he decided not to care about such things anymore. What mattered to him right now was this moment.

    This time, Yeonsoo pressed his forehead against the glass. After a brief moment, Beresht also placed it’s forehead against him, just like Yeonsoo. His forehead, white and firm like marble, met the glass wall, with only a thin gap between them.

    Then, his other hand. The tip of his nose, his chin, and finally his lips. Yeonsoo slowly attached each part of himself to the glass. Beresht followed Yeonsoo, matching his lead.

    Their two hands overlapped, followed by their noses, chins, and finally their lips, meeting in a gentle embrace.

    Yeonsoo didn’t close his eyes. Instead, he gazed into the nearby emerald eyes, and awkwardly extended his tongue, moving clumsily. But what he touched was only the cold glass which was as cold as ice. Tilting his head slightly, he lightly brushed against the part where its lips were. It, too, extended its red tongue, caressing the area where Yeonsoo’s lips touched. Two tongues met, pressing against each other, separated only by a wall of glass.

    What should he call this? It was closer to a strange contact with a different species than a kiss.

    Everything in front of him turned hazy. He felt dizzy, but he didn’t want to stop kissing.

     Lick. Slurp. Lick.

    The sound of languid licking echoed in the space. Their fingertips that were pressed together became tense, and his dizziness intensified.

    Yeonsoo, whose strength was drained from his body, pulled his lips away. With flushed cheeks, he looked at it. Despite his disheveled appearance, it remained indifferent, with no hint of emotion. Yet, Yeonsoo once again searched for meaning within it. He felt as though it was trying to communicate with him.

    Suddenly, Beresht soared upward. Yeonsoo was startled and fell backward, hitting his buttocks.

    It vividly unfurled its enormous tail that had been still. A ripple-like shadow appeared in front of the tank. Feeling threatened by it, Yeonsoo hesitantly stepped back. He couldn’t discern what it was trying to do.

    Suddenly, white bubbles gushed out from the blue tail swaying in the water. A mass of white foam surged up like a snowstorm falling. No, it wasn’t foam. At first, it seemed like foam, but upon closer inspection, it was the shimmering scales of Beresht gleaming in white. It was fragments of scales.

    With each sway of its tail, tiny fragments of light spread throughout the black seawater. In the ink-like night sky made of seawater, it was as if a dazzling cluster of stars was flowing.

    Thousands, tens of thousands of fragments of light danced above Yeonsoo’s head.

    Ah… Yeonsoo was captivated by the mysterious spectacle unfolding before his eyes.

    Beresht began to glide gently in the tank. Following its movement, the fragments of scales covered the entire tank, creating waves.

    Cutting through the darkness, the white stars cascaded down like a waterfall.

    It was a spectacle of radiant light, akin to an endless exhalation of white breath and the breaking of countless ice flakes, spreading endlessly.

    Yeonsoo was mesmerized in front of the night sky created by Beresht.

    It was the most beautiful and enchanting moment he had ever witnessed in his entire life.

    When was the last time he saw stars since the climate changed strangely? It was so pitch-black that he couldn’t even remember. But now, a night with a flowing Milky Way unfolded before his eyes. The universe existed.

    The universe liberated Yeonsoo. From the gravity that pressed down on his entire body. In the black pupils of weightlessness, there was only one deep-sea fish, a cluster of stars, and Yeonsoo.

    Hot tears welled up in Yeonsoo’s eyes.

    Nights that were unbearably long and lonely. There were times when he believed it would eventually end. It was a sweet but hollow belief.

    As he watched the cascading planets, he pondered. This loneliness was an inherent deficiency of existence. An insurmountable void. However… amidst the cold and brilliant universe, Yeonsoo found solace.

    Fortunately. This loneliness is not mine alone.

    All the stars floating in the universe will be lonely until their last moments.

    Beresht spread out the cluster of stars and returned to Yeonsoo. It reached out its hand. This time, Yeonsoo overlapped his hand with it. The thin layer of glass separating them made him feel regrettable. He wanted to cross the transparent wall. He wanted to touch its warm and soft skin, where its blood flowed.

    Ahh. Yeonsoo could no longer deny it. The fact that he was captivated by it.

    When, exactly, did he become captivated?

    Maybe, from the moment he first saw it. He thought he was trapped in that instant. In its deep emerald eyes.

    Perhaps, from that moment on.

    Yeonsoo wished for this night to last forever.

    [T/N: OMG! I am screaming in this chapter! Like the chemistry?!]

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