7. Cleansing -1
The morning sun crept over the woven floor covering that San had made, a pale light. As the inside of the pit became brighter, things inside started to get more visible. In the intruding sunlight, motes of dust were waving and dancing along the air.
Biyeon let out a small sigh. She had already been awake. She was looking at the ceiling with her eyes squinted. Perhaps that ‘guy’ will be behind her on her right side. It’s quite a sticky situation. She had gone to sleep wearing her uniform, so whenever she moved the sweat and humidity would make her feel really uncomfortable. It also seemed like there was an odor… she wanted to change clothes, but how was she supposed to go about it?
Biyeon was currently in a corner of the pit, and rolled out of where she had been sleeping. She was so tired and unwilling to do anything yesterday, and before she could really do anything she just fell asleep. Now, having woken up, she came to her senses, and felt embarrassed.
“Sir, have you woken up?” Biyeon asked in a whisper.
Biyeon slightly turned her neck. His sleeping bag was already empty. [TN: ROFL]
* * *
After roughly cleaning up her sleep space and quickly fixing up her hair and hiding it under her hat, she burst through the elastic and went outside.
The outside was already bright. A savory smell tickled her nose. Over the smoldering remains and residual heat of the bonfire that had gone out since the sun had come up was a long stick supported by two slingshot like stick on either side, hanging from which was a canteen. Inside it was some food that was being warmed up. After taking a look inside, it looked like some rice porridge was stewing. With the rice and soup powder that was brought, some jerky was added and boiled.
Biyeon nodded. Rice porridge is the ideal dish to eat if one was to conserve rice until the very end…
He took the military shovel and industrially started digging downwards. [TN: There are some words I did not translate and had therefore omitted. I do not know the definition or contextual usage of these words. They are: “러닝 하나만을”], It was located next to a big tree under a nest. [TN: It says nest, but not sure if it’s an idiom] It looks like he’s digging another pit. Standing closer, it looked like this time it would be much larger.
Biyeon gazed at the figure of San working. While working he looked very soldier-like. Every time he moved, his strong, sculpted muscles would wriggle. Sweat had started to bead up on his skin, and you could see the sweat start to ball up and fall onto the floor in drips.
Biyeon’s chest deflated. [TN: So sorry for this terrible word choice. The author writes 비연은 가슴을 쓸어 내렸다 which means “Biyeon’s swept and lowered her chest. I think it’s an idiom.] She felt odd. Somehow she felt relieved. He was a presence that she felt grateful for– grateful that his presence brushed away the solitude that she may have faced when she had fallen into this strange land.
“Sorry. [TN: She says this in a very respectful way.] I had slept in.”
Biyeon first greeted with a bow. [TN: Doesn’t actually say ‘with a bow’ but it does say 인사 which is the term for a Korean greeting, generally as a form of respect, and, you guessed it, it’s a bow.]
“Mhm- Did you sleep well?” San lifted his head and happily greeted back while wiping off his sweat.
“Are you digging around the pit again, sir?”
“Mhm- when I woke up this morning, I felt that the pit was too small. I thought that I had built it with too worrisome of a mindset, and that I had built it in a combat ready-like scenario. Regardless, it looks like we’re going to have to stay here for a few days, so I figured I might as well dig out a comfortable pit. Well that’s that, go and wash up then come back. We should eat as soon as we can, right?”
The two of them had an intimate breakfast.
Even though it was only breakfast, it was plentiful. Aside from the regular foodstuffs, San suddenly placed the fruit he had picked yesterday onto the table, and it sat there boldly.
“Lieutenant Kim, do you usually eat breakfast?”
“When I was a civilian I would regularly eat breakfast, but ever since I enlisted, I’ve tried to maintain a habit of eating breakfast.”
“That’s good… when in the field, even if you don’t want to, you must always try to maintain a healthy diet. Do you know why?”
“I know that it’s because the vigorous training drains a lot of calories.”
“No that’s not it…”
“It’s because when you’re outside, the number one thing you should be wary of is disease. The strength of a disease might quickly fall off, but out in the field, it’s death. Disease will get you as soon as some sort of balance is broken. I’ve had almost never seen anyone who eats healthily and regularly exercise get taken by disease.
“You have to eat your food reliably. Don’t concern yourself with stupid things like diet and…”
“But… Do you feel anything strange, did perhaps something change about your body?”
“Why would my body feel strange?”
“Do you want to see it in the flesh?”
San picked up a standard issue spoon and held it in his right hand. It was a thick spoon made of tungsten. San grasped the spoon handle in his hand, then slowly pushed one end of the spoon down with his thumb.
“Whoa! That’s incredible sir.”
Biyeon exclaimed. The thick tungsten spoon in San’s hand was bent at a near ninety degree angle in the direction he was pushing with his thumb.
“The point of contention is that my strength was never this great. Yesterday while I was working, I simply thought that the trees and rocks were lighter and weaker than the ones I was familiar with, and had just stowed that thought away, but after looking at what I could do to the equipment that I am familiar with, it seems that’s not the case?”
“Actually, now that I think about it, my eyes seem like they’ve suddenly improved. I suffer from severe short-sightedness and usually use contact lenses, but now, even though I don’t have my lens, I can strangely still see fine. I think it’s amazing…”
“Is that all?”
“Actually, I also feel like my strength has improved. My gun strangely felt lighter, and the boots I wore also felt light and easy to walk around in– I’ve never felt that it was so light before. And strangely enough, I also feel like my memory has improved as well…”
“Although I am saying these things… “
San said while looking at biyeon.
“Just as you, Lieutenant Kim, had said yesterday, I’m beginning to think that there’s a large chance that this isn’t the world that we know. “
“Do you know what I did when I woke up today at dawn?”
“I looked up at the night sky and studied the constellations, and I did not see any that I knew. Furthermore, do you know what else I saw?”
“This world… has two moons. One moon is slightly bigger than the one we know, and the other is about half the size of the first one, but is misshapen and cracked… do you believe it?”
“Oh my gosh! Are you for real?” Biyeon shouted.
“I had also measured what time the sun came up. With this watch, I noted that the sun came up 3 minutes and 41 seconds past 6. You should memorize that. We’re probably going to have to confirm what time the sun comes up tomorrow morning. Whether or not a day here is 24 hours… we’re going to have measure the difference.”
“Yes sir. Are there any other strange points you would like to point out, sir?”
“Why would there not be?” San laughed with beaming smile on his face, then stood up..
“Follow me. I’ll show you something fun”
San took Biyeon to the space between a piece of wood stood up on the right side of the pit and a piece of wood stood up in the front area of the pit. Yesterday San had woven together some thin vines, and between the two pieces of wood was a contraption at ankle height. It was some kind of alarm. If anyone trips it or gets tangled in it, it will drop one of the pieces of log onto the pit.
Biyeon was dumbfounded. But she was also embarrassed. While she was so drowsy to the point where she had basically collapsed and gone straight to sleep, that guy had prepared such an elaborate set up.
“Look here. What does it look like?”
San asked Biyeon while pointing at the floor.
On the floor was a pile of ashes from the bonfire. But…
“This… they seem to look footprints, right, sir?”
Biyeon said with a hardened face. With a fearful expression she looked around. As if afraid that San would disappear, she looked at San’s face… her hand were shaking.
“Right? Whether or not we had some guests… the problem is that they did not trip the traps… Lieutenant Kim! Why don’t we take a deep breath three times?
“Just do it!”
Biyeon took a deep breath, then exhaled for a total of three times.
“Now, can you help me analyze what had happened?”
Biyeon had a resolute look on her face, and she began to closely analyze the footprints and the surroundings. Strangely enough, San’s leisurely demeanor and his request for her to take a deep breath three times suppressed the surprise and fear that she felt.
“Looking at the footprint, it’s not very deep, therefore it should be a very lightweight creature. If you want to enter the pit from this side, then you have to step on the pit, otherwise you can’t get in; from that tree you have to come to this area, but the trap wasn’t disturbed… In that case…
“In that case?”
“Looks like it climbed a tree down. It must have flown down from the sky.”
“Maybe it had seen the light and had come?”
“One way or another, it looks like we’ll have to see it like that.”
“Right… Anyways, it looks like we can’t count on one more nerve-wracking concern. I don’t know what it is, but if it looked around only to disappear into thin air, then it’s either easily scared or it had carefully considered its options before leaving…”
San and Biyeon both stopped talking at the same time and looked at each other.
They were both people who had fallen into this strange world for no reason. After confirming such a thing, the two of them were shocked. But still, perhaps after having done so they felt despondent. They might not even know if it’s a dream or not. But, the two of them confirmed the existence of the other, and the presence of the other reminded them of their plight.
Tears flowed from Biyeon’s eyes. Her loving world, her loving family, the world she was familiar with, the world had stolen all of that from her in one go, and the shock finally got to her. Her ‘sadness’ finally had a chance to seep out.
Crouching down, white cigarette smoke was blown out. The smoke began to scatter, and eventually disappeared into the air in this land that he didn’t even know the name of.
“We’ve already come here, then there should be a way to go back… right?”