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    Deep Pivot, Episode 30

    Boom! Yeon-woo, slammed against the damp stone wall, fell to the ground and coughed. Ssshhh. The thing that had been strangling him let go.


    Blood began to flow freely again from his side, where he had carefully tried to stop the bleeding. He looked to his side and saw the torn remains of a snake. The tunnel reeked of blood.

    The body of Pasa was less than half intact, with two of its three heads ripped off, leaving only one. Strangely, there was no sign of the two missing heads. He hadn’t seen them on the way here, nor did he have any idea where that massive body had gone.

    Crunch. At that moment, something suddenly grabbed Yeon-woo’s ankle.


    Before he could react, Yeon-woo was pulled forward and found himself face to face with something. The hundreds of closely packed teeth were stained with blue blood and crushed flesh.

    Now he knew where the rest of Pasa’s body had gone.

    ‘I don’t have the strongest stomach.’

    This was likely the reason Seo-joon struggled with eating.


    A groan of pain escaped Yeon-woo’s mouth. The tentacles constricting his body began to sprout bumps. The spikes, sharp enough to pierce his special combat suit, dug into his flesh like tiny blades.

    “Ah! Ugh…”

    Blood gushed out of his tightly squeezed forearms and shoulders. With a sickening squelch, the tentacles swelled as they sucked up the flesh and blood, tightening even more.

    Gritting his teeth, Yeon-woo managed to raise his hand holding the syringe. His trembling hand jabbed the syringe wherever he could reach. Ideally, he should have aimed for the core, but the creature in front of him was so amorphous that he couldn’t figure out where the core was, as Cheongho had explained.

    The empty syringe fell to the ground. Crunch. Yeon-woo’s body was squeezed once more. His side wound was crushed, and he let out a groan of pain as he barely managed to speak.

    “L-lieutenant… It’s me. Yeon-woo, ugh!”

    Yeon-woo, slammed firmly against the wall, looked up at the figure looming over him. Crack, snap, crunch. The sound of twisting joints and popping cartilage echoed repeatedly.

    From the shape that barely had discernible limbs, it had shrunk to something that could vaguely be recognized as a head, torso, and limbs. It opened its massive mouth and brought its head right up to Yeon-woo’s face.

    Grrrr… The sound coming from its gaping jaws was neither beast-like nor human, but a bizarre metallic noise. Its chilling breath made the air feel icy. The tentacles around Yeon-woo’s neck tightened, choking him and forcing him to gasp for each precious breath.


    Yeon-woo kept calling out to the being that was strangling him. He searched for where the eyes should be on the creature’s mouth-only face.

    “Lieutenant, ugh… it’s me, Cha Yeon-woo.”

    Grrrr. Its icy breath washed over him as the swarming tentacles pressed him harder and harder into the wall.


    **Do Mang Cheo Yo Yeon-woo Ssi**

    Then he heard it. Though not quite a human voice, the sound distinctly resembled words.

    **Do Mang**

    A thin tentacle separated from the tangled mass like nerve fibers and wrapped itself around Yeon-woo’s waist.


    The tentacle brushed his wound before slipping around to his back and pulling something out. Yeon-woo watched as a revolver dangled in front of his eyes.

    ‘There’s an emergency revolver here.’

    Just a few hours ago, Seo-joon’s voice had echoed in his mind like a haunting hallucination. Crack, snap. The tentacle wrapped around Yeon-woo’s waist twisted his wrist with incredible force, forcing his hand upward.

    Squeeze. His neck was tightly constricted. Despite his resistance, his tentacle-bound hand was made to aim the revolver at the creature’s forehead. His trembling hand fought to resist pulling the trigger.

    **Shoot and run.**

    **Don’t do anything stupid.**

    The indistinct words that had seemed like mere hallucinations became clear. The creature, strangling Yeon-woo like a predator intent on ending its prey, urged him to fire the gun and run.

    Gritting his teeth, Yeon-woo barely managed to open his tightly squeezed throat to answer.


    Bang! The misaligned revolver missed its mark, only grazing the creature’s head. Startled by the gunshot, the tentacle around him reflexively recoiled. Taking advantage of the opening, Yeon-woo threw off his gloves, mask, and helmet and lunged forward, embracing the creature tightly.

    Rumble! The suddenly defensive tentacles swarmed Yeon-woo as if to devour him whole. The vaguely human form shifted again, expanding into a grotesque shape.

    “I’m sorry, Lieutenant… I’m really sorry.”

    Yeon-woo’s lips brushed against the writhing mass of flesh, made up of bundles of pulsating organic matter.

    “I’ll start guiding now.”


    Seo-joon’s earliest memory was of pure white snow covering his entire body and multicolored twinkling lights. Red, green, yellow, blue. The lights all lit up together, then returned to red in a repeating pattern.

    As he lay there staring at them, someone found him, surprised, and rushed over.

    “■■■ ■■? ■■■■ ■■■ ■■?”

    “■■ ■■■ ■■■.”

    He couldn’t understand a word of what the people were saying. But it didn’t matter if he didn’t respond. That day, Seo-joon ate a warm meal and slept in a warm bed.

    The next day, he began to understand human speech. Red, green, yellow, blue. The lights on the tree still twinkled in the same pattern the next day.

    But Seo-joon was no longer cold. Unlike the day before, he now had shoes and clothes.

    “So you don’t remember anything before coming here?”

    Seo-joon slowly nodded. That was how the first page of his life was written. He had no recollection of what came before. One would think fragments might occasionally surface, but there was only a void.

    All he remembered was how piercingly cold that white snow had been.

    “It’s cold…”

    He felt himself being placed on a stone floor, followed by some rustling nearby. Soon, hot flesh pressed against his cheek and body.


    A wave of nausea surged up. Instinctively opening his mouth, he vomited violently as if a dam had burst. His joints twisted, and parts of his body swelled and then shrank repeatedly.

    “Cough, ugh…”

    Seo-joon writhed in pain. Despite not forcing himself to vomit, his mouth kept expelling bile, and beast-like sounds escaped him. Someone held him tightly, rubbing his back.

    “Lieutenant, just a little… Just hold on a little longer.”

    The voice snapped him awake. Seo-joon looked down at his grotesque nerve-like hand. It was scratching furiously at someone’s bloodied chest.

    He tried to raise his head to see the face, but his vision vanished. His swollen, misshapen head collapsed, robbing him of all sense of smell and sound.

    Lips touched him all over. Every point where the damp mucous membrane brushed felt like nerves being torn away, but the pain subsided.

    Instinctively, Seo-joon clung tighter to the figure embracing him. His throat continued to produce strange metallic noises as he vomited excessively.

    “Just a bit longer… Please, hold on just a bit longer.”

    Where the lips touched, a whispering hum vibrated soothingly. Seo-joon drifted back into a deep sleep.

    Was this the night of that first memory?

    Was it the warmth of the blanket that enveloped him that night?


    “Cha Yeon-woo, let’s treat your wounds first. You’re bleeding too much.”

    “Seo-joon, you’re okay now, man.”

    “He can open his eyes now?”

    “Oh, really? Let me see.”

    Voices murmured around him. Several faces blurred past in his hazy vision, obscured by the blinding light.

    “Hey, what’s going on? Dr. Kang! Dr. Kang!”

    The screech of metal grated sharply against his ears. Someone rushed over to restrain his trembling body. Beep, beep, beep. The rapid beeping of machines echoed through his head. Overcome by nausea, his body jerked before collapsing forward.

    With his blurry, flickering vision, Seo-joon blankly stared down at the pool of blue vomit on the floor.


    The blue quickly became covered in red. A gush of bright red blood spilled from his mouth, forming a puddle. Coughing and choking, the boiling blood in his throat backflowed through his nose and mouth.

    Something grabbed his shoulder. Even that weak grip felt like it was slicing into his flesh.

    “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts…”

    Warmth spread over the nape of his neck, then enveloped the back of his head and gently caressed his cheek.

    “Ugh, ah…”

    A soft, warm tongue parted his lips and entered his mouth. The fierce nausea that had gripped him vanished instantly. Seo-joon, curling up toward the warmth enveloping him, lifted his head.

    Finally, he saw a face.

    Cha Yeon-woo.


    Instead of words, more vomit spilled from his mouth, splattering the pale face with blood. He wanted to call out the name, but the reverse flow of blood left more crimson stains on Yeon-woo’s face.

    Red, green, yellow, blue.

    The night of twinkling tree lights began once more.

    “Ji Seo-joon, Ji Seo-joon!”

    His pupils rolled back, and his eyes, showing only white, fluttered shut.

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