Everyone is Young Except for Me

An ordinary (?) grandfather, Choi Chuntaek. In an effort to protect his granddaughter, he started the virtual reality…

Prologue & Chapter 1 rainbowturtle’s Thoughts

[

Prologue

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Ah~! The moment I spoke, South Korea’s Choi Mido has taken the golden flag!

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South Korea is now ranked #1 with five points!

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However, from now on, all countries will be attacking South Korea intensively…!

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“Honey, our Mido… will she be okay?”

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“It will be okay. Believe in her. Our daughter will do well. She is a strong kid.”

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Mikyung and Kanghyun held each other’s hands tightly as they watched the game. They bit their lips nervously as they were unable to take their eyes off the screen. It was natural since the young woman currently fighting on the screen was their daughter.

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“By the way, I haven’t seen Father. What is going on?”

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“Well, he is probably late because he is busy bragging about his granddaughter.”

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“However, it has already been a few hours since he said he would go to the bathroom…”

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“He will call if there is anything. Don’t worry too much, Mother.”

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Her son next to her relieved her concerns. Mikyung couldn’t help laughing. Huhut. Indeed, it is true…?”

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Ah!! There was an upset! The South Korean team has fallen into the trap of the Brazilian team!

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Brazil’s infamous Carlos is running toward Choi Mido!

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Flag Bearer Choi Mido is in a crisis!

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Will the South Korean team be eliminated?

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“Oh my, no!”

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“Mido…!”

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“Noona…!”

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Everyone held their breaths as Mido fell into danger. It was over. She held out for a long time and fought well. They lamented while thinking about how to comfort her. At this moment, a message appeared in front of everyone.

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[The Joker of the South Korean team has appeared.]

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-…?

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-???

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-What…?

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The commentators all had blank expressions. The same was true for the spectators watching the game. It was a strange masked man who appeared as the Joker of the South Korean team. Suddenly, he started kicking the air. Everyone was captivated by the footsteps that followed, drawing a fine line like a dancing crane.

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Was there such a player in South Korea?

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I’ve never seen him before. Who is he?

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No, why is he wearing a mask?

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The man in the mask disappeared as the commentators were talking.

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Kuaaaaaack!!!!!!

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Carlos’ scream suddenly echoed.

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– ……

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– ……

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– ……

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The commentators were all at a loss for words. At the same time…

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“O…”

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Uwaaaaahhhhh!

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Roars filled the stadium.

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Kuack, who is this person? What… is your identity?

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Carlos pressed a hand over the blood flowing from his chest and asked the man who attacked him.

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The masked man replied, -Who am I?

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Finally, he took off his mask. It was a man with white hair and a nice white beard. He spoke while pointing to Mido, –This child’s grandfather. You bad guy.

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“Father??”

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“Father???”

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“Grandfather?!”

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* * *

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2018. The Arkstar World Competition.

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I made a brilliant debut. Moreover, I would be heralded as a legend.

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Chapter 1

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‘A tiger dies and leaves its skin; a man dies and leaves his name.’

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It was one of the most famous proverbs in South Korea. However, I could confidently say that this proverb was wrong. There were only a few people who could die and leave their names. In short, it was something that ordinary people couldn’t dream of unless they were politicians or celebrities.

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However, my wife was different. She was weak but she left her name and skin behind. Of course, it wasn’t literally her skin. She donated her body. She left a mark on the world in her own way. I admired such a person. 

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There was a sudden vibration from my phone.

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“Yes. It’s me.”

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Father, where are you?

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“I’m at the memorial park.”

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Did you go to see Mother again?

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Choi Kanghyun. He was the first son born to my wife, Seonyeong and I. He was a doctor who ran a small, private ENT (ear, nose and throat) clinic. He named it ‘The Strongest Otolaryngology’ (TL: medical term for ENT) after himself… sometimes I made fun of him for being tacky.

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“I’ll be back for lunch so don’t worry too much.”

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I understand, Father. Come back safely.

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“Yes.”

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Once the phone hung up, I straightened from where I was sitting on the folded blanket. In front of me was a photo of my wife, Seonyeong. I looked at her and smiled. “I will come again, Honey.”

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Turning around without regret, I walked toward the old, white Sonata. My name for this car was White. It could be called my favourite horse. It was just that it was too old and sometimes rattled… still, it got me to where I needed to go. I opened the back seat, threw the blanket straight in, sat in the driver’s seat and started the car.

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My name is Choi Chuntaek. I was an ordinary grandfather born in the 50s. I lived a rough life since I was a child. Then I met my wife by chance and lived a clean life after clearing up my past. It probably would’ve been impossible without the help of her father, my father-in-law. My father-in-law recognized my talents and suggested that I learn cooking. After a lot of hard work, I was able to become the owner of one of the best Korean restaurants in South Korea. Then I passed it onto my apprentice and retired.

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Rattle rattle. Rattle!

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It looked like I had a lot of money so why was my car in this state? In fact, I didn’t have a hobby related to cars and there wasn’t much left after feeding my family. I had a hard time paying for my first child’s medical degree. My second child was interested in sports and a lot of money went into that. My youngest daughter didn’t want to do anything at the time so I gave her a bank book to use for her wedding funds. 90% of the money I had saved went into that. Thus, I didn’t have much money left in my hands. Like a salaried worker, I lived off my pension every month.

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I arrived home after 30 minutes and pulled out a cigarette as soon as I got off.

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Sigh…

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I arrived at the house I was now living in. Of course, it wasn’t my home. My wife died a year ago and I lived with my first child at his suggestion. In fact, the most worrisome thing was that my daughter-in-law and grandchildren would feel uncomfortable.

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The cigarette became shorter and I put out the fire as I approached the door.

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Diririring-! 

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“You’re here, Father.”

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“Father, have you come?”

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Kanghyun welcomed me at the entrance. The best thing that greeted me was…

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“Grandfather~!”

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Aigoo. My pretty child, it hurts. Hahaha.

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It was my granddaughter Mido, who ran into my arms and kissed me. The name was written using Do (Road), which was filled with the desire for her to walk a beautiful flower road. Mido grew up well according to my wishes. Her appearance and personality were the blessings of my last years and it was like looking at my wife when she was young.

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“Grandfather, did you smoke again?”

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Um….? Hum hum.

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I was caught again. I started to smoke again when my wife died a year ago but I couldn’t escape my granddaughter’s nose. Was this youth?

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“You can’t kiss me if you smoke.”

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Um?!

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I stopped for a moment. I wouldn’t be able to kiss her… 

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Suddenly, my shoulders slumped and the thought of e-cigarettes passed through my head. However, Mido wouldn’t agree to that either… what should I do?

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Kukuk. Just kidding. Let’s go and eat!”

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Hoho, come in quickly, Father.”

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“By the way, where did Jeongdo go?”

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“He said he was self-studying and went out this morning.”

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“Really?”

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Choi Jeongdo—it was the name of my second grandson. The Jeong (Upright) and Do (Road) characters were used in the hope that he would also walk the right path… It was just unknown if he was really walking down the right path. He was such a troublemaker that it was like looking at my own childhood. Still, I was a bit proud that he went out to study. I would have to give him some pocket money when I saw him later.

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Time passed. I had lunch with my family before we all watched TV in the living room together.

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-It has been more than a year since the virtual reality game Arkstar opened. Recently, there was news that the number of users has exceeded one billion.

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“The momentum of Arkstar is great these days,” I spoke to Kanghyun, who was watching the news next to me.

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“Yes, I tried it and it was fun.”

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“Really?”

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It wasn’t something I was interested in. A game should be played by young people. I wasn’t curious at all. Things like this were just a bit of entertainment in the moment. That was what I thought but… 

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“Grandpa, do you want to try it? It is so much fun. I often play with my university seniors.”

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My body stiffened the moment I heard Mido’s words.

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“University seniors? Perhaps… men?” I asked while looking at her with hawk eyes.

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The answer I received was quite shocking.

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“Yes, they are all men except for me.”

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On this day, thunder rang in my head as I received a reason to start ‘Arkstar.’

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* * *

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Chirp chirp!

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The next morning. It was Sunday, a popular day for Koreans to take a break. Of course, there might be people who worked today. In addition, it wasn’t necessarily confined to work. Some people enjoyed exercising like me.

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Pat! Pat pat! Pap pat pat! Pat!

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Phew… my body doesn’t feel the same as before.”

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It was certain that I was getting older. My kicks weren’t as good as before. I used to be able to kick up to four times in the air in a single leap. These days, my limit was two. Still, I didn’t forget to exercise every day and I had a different health status than ordinary people my age. For example…

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Tak! Tak! Tak!

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Yes. For example, that man who was moving around under the tree over there. He was watching me with wide eyes, shocked by my aerial kicks. I didn’t like attention which was why I came here at dawn… I couldn’t believe that someone actually came here at this time.

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“You are very good at kicking. Are you a martial artist?”

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“Yes, a little bit…”

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His words weren’t wrong. At one point, I used to be a bit of a ruffian. I glanced at the people slowly climbing up and descending the mountain. It was time for me to go to the hospital.

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“Choi Chuntaek, please come in.”

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The nurse called out to me and I stood up to enter the doctor’s office. I sat across from the doctor and he spoke to me, “Welcome. You want to play a virtual reality game but you need a permit?”

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That’s right. I was getting a medical check-up for something called ‘Arkstar.’ The government passed a bill that required a person over 65 years of age to be healthy enough to play virtual reality games. This was really troublesome for me who prided myself on being healthier than anyone. According to rumors, it was really hard to qualify… well, I’ll get it somehow.

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“Yes. Can you tell me what tests you need to do? I’m healthy so I want to finish it right away. Keke.

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Haha. It is something that needs to be checked slowly. First, I’ll start with a brain waves test.”

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“Can’t you just give it to me? I really am healthy.”

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“It’s a government policy. I’m sorry.”

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…It was bullshit. The doctor who seemed to be in his 40s scribbled something on the white paper like he was pretending to be a good man. Then he handed it to the nurse.

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“Grandfather, follow me. First, we will do the brain waves test and then various blood tests and an endoscopy (A test to examine the digestive tract). Then I will do an ultrasound. Also…”

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These bastards…

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I glanced at the damn doctor. He was consistently indifferent and wasn’t looking at me. He was such a rude guy. I thought that my idea about leaving early today was wrong. I shifted my gaze as I followed the nurse and started undergoing several tests.

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* * *

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Gulp. Gulp.

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Kuah. I can live now.”

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I was able to leave the hospital at 5 p.m. Now I was standing by the soda vending machine near the emergency room. I needed some hydration after having my blood drawn. I let out a refreshing cry and shifted my gaze toward the card held in my right hand.

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[Virtual Reality Game Permit]

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[Name: Choi Chuntaek

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Age: 67 years old

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Health rating: S

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The above person is certified by the government and hospital as a healthy person who can play virtual reality games.

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*Can use the elderly preferential service.

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*50% discount on capsule purchases. 50% discount on monthly fees.]

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“Rotten guys. I’m definitely healthy so why do they keep checking?”

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The problem was that I was too healthy. The moment the test result came out, the doctor blinked at the unbelievable result and demanded that it be retested because it seemed wrong. I had a different health rating compared to other seniors. Then once the second time was over and they repeated it a third time, I was forced to become angry. Eventually, I exploded at them, asking why they couldn’t believe a person’s health and then I was able to get a S-grade health rating.

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“Damn people.”

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I put a cigarette in my mouth in order to cool down my boiling anger. The moment I was about to light it up.

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Clang.

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Kyaaack!

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“…?”

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Suddenly, there was the sound of something breaking and screaming so I naturally turned back. The sounds were coming from the emergency room.

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Ah! It hurts!! Shit! Why does it hurt so much when I’ve received anesthesia?”

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“What? Who hurt our Hyung-nim? Who is it?”

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I opened the emergency room door slightly. Large men in black suits and white shirts were threatening the doctors and nurses.

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…They were gangsters.

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“Was it you? Eh? It was you!”

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A big man was glaring and threatening a female doctor. I sighed at the sight. The world was really crazy these days.

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“What did you do? Eh? The dragon on my Hyung-nim’s forearm is crooked~ What will you do about this?”

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“I-It can’t be helped. The wound is too open. In addition, the anesthesia has worn off, so painkillers…”

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The woman who appeared to be a resident was shaking but she unfailingly managed to speak. She looked quite resolute so the corners of my mouth slightly raised.

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“What? This woman’s words…!”

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It happened the moment the man raised his rough hand to try and start something.

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“That’s enough, young man.”

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I finally stepped out. I had needed a target to vent on… this was good.

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“Huh? Old man, out of the way. Don’t get hurt.”

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As expected, they wouldn’t understand with words. What was wrong with young people not listening to me these days? I approached a nurse who had been eating a packed lunch box next to me.

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“Look. Young lady. Can you lend that to me for a moment?”

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“Huh…?”

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“I’ll borrow this spoon for a little bit.”

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Ah…yes?”

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I grabbed the spoon before the female nurse could understand. Then I walked toward the gangsters.

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“Hey, old man. You’ll get hurt if you step forward.”

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A guy, who seemed to be one of the rank-and-file, approached and pushed my shoulder with his hand.

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…Foolish guys. I stretched out my hand like lightning.

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Papapat! Bang. Bang. Bam!

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“…”

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“What is this…”

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The people watching nearby stood with their mouths open.

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I scanned the gangsters and suggested, “Young men, why don’t you go back quietly today?”

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The guy behind me shouted when he heard my cold voice.

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Kuek. What are you doing? Beat him!”

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Aaaaaaah!

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The gangsters quickly started to attack. The first one to act was the huge guy right behind me. I turned around and unleashed a spin kick that blew him away.

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Keok…?

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The giant man rose up in the air and crashed into various medical devices. Seeing this, I thought it would be better to minimize the damage. I held the spoon and thrust it at the two people coming in front of me.

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Ugh…

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“What is this…”

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“Shut up.”

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Bang. Bang. Bang.

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The leader in the rear cried out when he saw his subordinates fall helplessly because of a spoon.

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“No, what is this old man… hey! What are you doing? Come all at once!”

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The remaining six people jumped forward at the same time. They surrounded me to prevent me from escaping.

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…What mannerless bastards.

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This time, I grasped the end of the spoon. The moment they jumped in, I struck their foreheads with the round bottom of the spoon.

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Kuock… aish!

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The six people grabbed their heads and rushed over again, but every time I saw a gap, I hit them with the spoon. After five minutes of fighting, all the gangsters lay on the ground.

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Ugh… kuock…ack…!

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They weren’t stabbed but these guys were crawling around like they were. I spoke to the man who seemed to be their leader, “Hey, leader. Won’t you be in a difficult position if you run into the police here?”

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I could hand them over to the police but it was a bit uncomfortable to block the path of young men. In addition, the investigation when they were caught would be bothersome. It was better for me to solve it easily.

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Ugh. I’ll see you soon. Damn old man.”

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The man, who was believed to be the leader, hurriedly led his subordinates out of the emergency room. After a while, the people watching started gossiping. They were talking noisily about the unbelievable scene. I hurried out of the emergency room while avoiding the stinging gazes around me. Why didn’t they intervene…?

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Ah, I forgot to give back the spoon. I didn’t know if it could be used because the ends were crushed, but I could probably still use it.

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I lit up the cigarette I hadn’t smoked earlier.

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Sigh…

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I smiled calmly as I watched the evening sky dyed red by the sunset. The cigarette smoke billowed up as I started to walk away from the entrance.

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My name is Choi Chuntaek. Once again, I was an extremely ordinary grandfather. Don’t believe it? Yes, don’t believe it. My story that unfolds from now on could never be ordinary.

]

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