Chapter 828. Sequence 10
That man walked along in the darkness. He would walk a few steps then turn around and stay still as though he was lost before moving again. It didn’t seem like he had a destination. Even if he did, it was pitch-black darkness all around, making it impossible to have a sense of direction. She looked at the man walking around aimlessly before suddenly questioning why she was standing there. Why was she still in her place watching the man? She walked towards the man. When she took a step towards him, the man became just as distant. No matter how much she walked, the distance between the two didn’t shrink. It was the same when the man was standing. Just like two same poles of the magnet, he was pushed away. She started running. The fact that she had completely forgotten about started crawling up from her heels. It was the fact that there was no one and nothing in this world apart from her. She wanted to approach him and talk to him. A sense of solitude pressed her down. The man must have felt the same. She wanted to tell him that he wasn’t alone and gain a small sense of relief. Her legs trembled, her lungs shriveled up, and her heart raced. She thought that she would die if she kept running. She stood still and buried her face in the ground and gasped for her breath before looking ahead. The distance did not shrink at all. Even though they were so close, even though it seemed like just calling out with a simple ‘hey’ would reach him, she couldn’t speak as though her mouth was sewn shut. The only way she could tell the man that she was here was to approach him. She was watching that little yet incredibly far distance while clutching her head due to dizziness from the lack of oxygen. She didn’t notice anything because she was so out of it, but she felt as though the distance had shrunk a little. She couldn’t be sure of this. After all, the eye wasn’t a reliable measurement of distance.
There was only one thing she could do. It was to keep running. She stepped on the ground as she proceeded forward. The man became distant as though she was playing a game of unending tag, but she did not give up. When she felt like her heart was going to pop out of her mouth, she would take a rest on the spot and slap her shaking thighs before running again. She didn’t know how many times she had repeated that, but she eventually became sure that the distance had definitely shrunk. The numerous questions in her mind when she started running had scattered like a group of pigeons being startled in the park. The only pigeon left in the park was the thought that she wanted to meet the man.
She eventually managed to reach the man. He was just an arm’s length away from her. A warm sensation that was beyond simple joy, melted her whole body and enveloped her as she placed her hand on the man’s shoulder. The darkness in the background suddenly rushed towards them like an angry beast. It devoured the man’s legs like a leopard that had tasted blood and dragged him into the darkness. The darkness ate the man’s arm before burying it within itself. Everything disappeared save for the man’s eyes and mouth. The man was smiling, as though in relief.
Gaeul opened her eyes in shock. She felt pain from her stiff waist. It felt as though the thin duvet was pressing down on her like a big chunk of metal. Even though she had opened her eyes, she couldn’t see in front of her and had a hard time breathing. Just as an uncontrollable cry was about to burst out of her mouth, she smelled something cozy. It was the smell of mint. Her stiff neck loosened up, allowing her to breathe once again. Gaeul sniffed with all her might. She could feel a warm, human smell. Her vision returned to normal. The faint light that seeped in through the curtains was shining down on Maru’s face. Gaeul reached out to him and hugged his neck towards her. He, who was rolling around, opened his eyes. Just as he looked like he was about to ask what was happening, he looked into her eyes before silently hugging her. Under his gentle strokes that started from the top of her head, her muscles that were groaning due to being twisted became docile. Gaeul hugged him more tightly. It was a strange dream. She kept running towards that man. Her entire body hurt as though she had really run a whole marathon. There were minute twitches in her thighs, and the soles of her feet had become scalding hot. Only her upper body, where Maru’s hand touched her, had escaped the vicious sense of fatigue and had regained stability. Maru hugged her for a while before carefully asking,
“Did you have a nightmare?”
“I don’t know. I wonder what I should call such a dream.”
“You must be tired from your shoot, looking at how you even dreamed about something.”
“Should we stay like this for a little longer?”
“Yeah, just a little longer.”
He rhythmically patted her back. She was reminded of when she was young and was lying down at home instead of going to school because of a sickness. Her father sat by her head and hummed for her, saying that she would get better soon. When she heard that song, her trembling body as well as her constantly dizzy head, became okay.
“Do you remember my humming song?”
“Can you sing it for me?”
“I’m not as good as you though. Are you okay with that?”
She nodded. Okay then – he added before starting to hum. The hand that touched her back was warm, and although the humming song was wrong in some parts, it was pleasing to hear. She could feel the remnants of the dream stuck on her body being peeled off. She closed her eyes. Darkness pervaded her again, but she wasn’t afraid this time. That body warmth and the song protected her from the darkness this time.
When she opened her eyes again, Gaeul could see Maru staring at her.
“What time is it?”
“10 in the morning.”
“When did I wake up?”
“6:30 I think?”
“You kept that up the whole time?”
“I couldn’t wake you up because you were having such a good sleep. You were even drooling, you know?”
Hearing that she drooled, she quickly wiped her mouth. Contrary to her expectations of finding something wet, her mouth was dry. She found Maru smiling. She sighed. He stroked up her hair that flowed down her forehead. She could see Maru’s face more clearly.
“We can stay like this a little longer, but I’m starting to feel hungry.”
Gaeul touched the beard on Maru’s face. She didn’t want to get up due to the pleasant sensation that felt as though she was in a warm bath even though she was shivering right after that nightmare.
“Just ten more minutes.”
Maru pulled up the duvet that had spilled down her shoulders.
“Did I sleep talk or something?”
“You did move around a little.”
“Looks like I must have run pretty hard in real life too. I kept running in my dream until I became exhausted and almost collapsed.”
“See? You’ve overworked yourself. You can just see that from how you were running inside a dream. Don’t do anything for today and just get some good rest.”
“Maybe I should. It was a dream, but I’m still exhausted and don’t feel like moving.”
Gaeul recalled the smile that the man put on his face the moment he disappeared into the darkness. As it left such a deep impression, that expression became vivid contrary to the rest of the contents of the dream that had become blurry. She looked at Maru. For some reason, that man’s smile looked similar to Maru’s.
“When I collapsed due to exhaustion, the one who saved me was my stylist. I was only okay because she found me collapsed in my house and reported me to the ambulance.”
“That makes me want to thank her. Without that person, you would’ve been in big trouble.”
“Probably. If I was left alone unconscious, something really bad might have happened to me. But what is curious is that I had an afternoon schedule that day, and she wasn’t supposed to come over in the afternoon. She told me at the hospital that she came to my house due to a dream.”
Maru turned towards Gaeul and showed interest.
“Apparently, she saw a certain man in her dream. That man kept screaming inexplicable things to her, and she thought that it sounded like my name. According to her, that man was pitch black from top to bottom.”
“What a peculiar dream.”
“I saw someone similar in the dream I just had. Only the man and I were the ones in a place where you couldn’t see anything, and I kept running towards the man. But I couldn’t shrink the distance between myself and the man. No matter how much I ran, I was in the same place. Just as I was thinking about giving up, I felt like the distance had shrunk just a little bit. That’s why I started running again. I don’t even know how long I was running. Eventually, I finally grabbed that man. I wanted to see how he looked, but the man was suddenly dragged into darkness. What I saw just before I woke up was the man’s seemingly relieved smile as well as his pitch-black body.”
“Don’t concern yourself too much. I’m sure it’s not a meaningful dream.”
“I think so too, but it is a little curious. I have a vague feeling that the man my stylist saw back then and the man I saw today are the same person.”
If it was before she met the rabbit, she would’ve thought that what she heard from her stylist had remained in her subconscious, manifesting in her dream. However, she now knew that the world wasn’t entirely composed of scientific logic. Because of the fact that the pitch-black man appeared twice and each time was related to her, she didn’t think of that as a coincidence.
“Should we eat first?”
Gaeul stared at Maru, who gave her a kiss on the forehead before standing up. Why did it look like he was trying to run away?
“You should stay lying down. I’ll call you once I’m done.”
“I’ll help you.”
“It’s okay. You can stay warm.”
“I feel a lot better now. I’m sure nothing bad will happen even if I stand up.”
Gaeul put on a t-shirt and got up from the bed. It was fortunate that she had the nightmare today. She felt shivers just thinking about what would have happened if she opened her eyes in that state by herself at home. Thanks to Maru’s gentle caressing, she was able to fall back asleep and recover to her full condition.
“For being next to me.”
Maru smiled and shrugged.