Chapter 34: I Am Who?

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Hyunjin

I can see myself. A mirror? A clone? A doppelgänger? He's moving exactly the same way as I am. He acts everything that I do but there's something about him that made him seem different.

He smirked, I didn't. He's not a mirror.

Shit this is creepy.

His eyes turned into a ghoul's and something started to come out of his back, four of them. They looked like wings of a butterfly but in a strange form so perhaps, I could describe them as spider legs?

Wait, shining scales?

He pushed himself up using the long scales of his– his gaze not leaving mine. We are inside a white room with nothing and no one else but I am surprisingly calm. Why am I calm?

I noticed a cuff locked on his ankle with a chain that seemed to have started from nowhere but he can't go further due to those but suddenly, my own leg felt heavy and when I looked down, I was chained as well. I abruptly turned to him again and he is smirking even more deeply, plus he is free.

I am not.

He slowly started to become small. I feel like I am being pulled away. I am slowly becoming further and further away from him until I can't see him anymore. All I can do now is cry. I don't understand what just happened. I feel like I'm having a nightmare but I can't wake up.

I seem to be in heaven but I'm sure I'm not.

Where am I? What am I doing here? How did I get in here?

"Ya!" I called to no one in particular in between my sobs. No one seems to be in here anymore. Not even the ghoul who looked exactly like me. He's gone. Did he really just look like me or was he me?

I tried to run only to be pulled down by the chain– landing with my face planted on the cold, clear white floor. That made me cry more. I'm in pain, more terrible pain.

"Please let me out," I cried with my voice breaking. I hit the floor with my fist several times but it didn't budge. It wasn't made of tiles. It hurt but it didn't feel like it was going to break.

Without me doing anything, I was lifted up by nothing and no one. It felt weird as if I flew. I was positioned on a chair then I was tied to it with a rope that came out of nowhere. Both my ankles have cuffs now. What the hell is happening?

"LET ME OUT!" I screamed, thinking that this is just one awful nightmare. "HWANG HYUNJIN WAKE UP!"

Suddenly, footsteps were to be heard. I immediately looked up, feeling buoyant due to them. Perhaps I won't be stuck here?

Wrong.

The ghoul stared at me. His smirk is no longer in sight. He looks...sad? Guilty? He didn't say anything, he merely stared at me but I could feel his emotions. Is he me?

"Who are you? Why do you look like me?" I had already stopped crying but my voice still sounded fragile.

"I am you," he said plainly with dead eyes.

"What do you mean?" I asked quietly but I'm certain he heard.

"I'm your ghoul."

I frowned. "But why am I tied up? Why are we here?"

"Because you are fighting. You don't want to die. You knew what's going to happen when you die but I'm sorry, there's nothing you can do to change that."

"Why am I tied up!"

He didn't answer me with what I wanted to know. I still wasn't filled up. There has to be something else.

"Once you– I mean I, wake up, you will no longer have full control of yourself or even, you won't have the slightest control of yourself."

"No! I... Am I a full ghoul?"

"You weren't supposed to be but you did this to yourself. You tried to fight death and nature loves challenging people."

"Which nature?"

"Nature of ghouls, silly. We are in somewhere like a ghoul heaven I think? Your clan has the only ghouls who could do this."

"My clan?"

"Dude! Your father! He is the king of a ghoul clan!"

"And how do you know that?" I squinted my eyes. I want to wipe off my tears but I can't move my hands.

"Every time you slept when you were still a child, father summons me and takes me with him to the cult where they could visit the afterlife of half ghoul-humans that were transitioning into a ghoul since they had died. You are in that transition but the side effect of being part of that cult is if you fight, you lose yourself. They don't like humans, especially father so they torture humans through this."

"Can I escape? I'm confused. Jinwoo–"

"You are different. There are more to ghouls that you are just bound to find out but through me since I don't know how am I supposed to help you get rid of those."

"What are you saying? You're just going to leave me here?!"

"I'm sorry."

Then he's fading once again. I'm starting to feel even more empty if that's possible. Like there's a void widening which is within my heart– it's splitting me apart.

"Ya! Please! One request?"

I can't waste time. If I keep insisting on what he doesn't want to tell me, I'll lose my chance forever.

"What is it? Tell me fast," he said as he is disappearing even more.

"My girlfriend...Jinwoo. Take care of her."

That was so painful to let out. Did I really just– leave my girlfriend to someone else's care? I mean, I don't even understand what's happening now so why did I say that? What if I put Jinwoo in such great danger?

"Of course."

He maintained a straight face until the end and now he's gone. He vanished like a cloud and now I'm alone. I'm here without anything to do and without anyone else to see. How does human heaven look and feel like? Surely better than this, huh? In here, I don't feel happy. I have no one and nothing. The metal on either of my ankles are hurting me and this rope is suffocating me.

Is this even heaven? It's white but it's more like hell.

I shouldn't have fought death... I should have just accepted it but what to do now? I'm already here and I've already failed. I can't do anything anymore.

Jinwoo...I hope you're all right. I miss you.

But she can't hear me...

Wait, no. This is not the end. Am I just going to give up? Just like that? I have someone I want to protect who needs me. Jinwoo is already experiencing more weight on her shoulders and I want to do everything to help her get rid of them but I can't do that here. I can't even trust my ghoul even though he gave me his word.

I mean, that's just insane. Who the fuck trusts ghouls? Did I just really lose my mind?

I'm going to keep fighting. I will get out of here. I don't know how but I will, I have to.

But I think I'll die before I could even do that. My chest hurts so much. I think I'll die from a broken heart.

Jinwoo, please wait for me.

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