In the April, the exam got owned by Zhongmen and Lin Ziling, Zhongmen and Zhang Jingzhu, and many other Chinese friends, including Lin Yi-chun and Kan Loulu, who were exchange students from China.
To avoid getting an F this time, I must definitely excel in this exam. I don’t want to risk my life for a liberal arts subject, but at the same time, it’s not impossible that I might not graduate because of it.
However, my morale quickly declined when I realized that I had 250 characters to memorize. How could I possibly cram 250 characters into my head in one day?
After much deliberation, I decided to go with a minimalist strategy.Top of Form
First, I boldly discarded characters that didn’t look like standard Chinese characters. Then, I grouped similar-looking characters together and only memorized one of them, discarding the rest. Finally, I eliminated characters that I considered unlikely to appear on the exam.
After getting rid of all those characters, I was left with about 50, which I diligently memorized overnight. Since I only have a “Basic Chinese” test tomorrow, my plan was to replenish the sleep I had missed as soon as I got home.
But life doesn’t always go according to plan.
It was when I had just received the test paper, scanned it from beginning to end, and solved the problems step by step.
My pager, which hadn’t rung in over a week, buzzed. It’s been so long since I’ve heard it, I flinched as soon as it vibrated on my wrist.
Anyway, great timing. I had wondered when they would call, but what’s the point of looking for it during an exam? Even if the pager rang, I could just visit the center within six hours, so I initially ignored it.
But not long after, the pager vibrated once more.
I casually glanced at the pager and my heart sank to the floor.
It was the first signal I saw while being a guide. Code Red could never be ignored by the guide. In 10 minutes, a guide transfer vehicle from the center will track my location and fly here.Top of Form
If it was a Code Red, the guide could request cooperation in any situation. Even while taking the exam, I could have immediately asked my professor for permission to leave. Then, I might get another chance to retake the exam. But even if they gave me another opportunity, the thought of memorizing a hundred Chinese characters again and retaking the test right away was daunting.
“Damn it… Why does a Code Red have to go off at a time like this?”
I had no choice but to fill all the answers with Chinese characters I memorized yesterday, submit them as if I were throwing them on a podium, and quickly left the lecture room.
In the meantime, the signal of Code Red rang once more. My heart began to pound. The fact that Code Red rang twice in a row means that the situation is very serious.
All the time I ran with all my might, I had all sorts of thoughts in my head.
“Is Cha Kwon-woo dead?”
“Nah, it can’t be.” I tried to dismiss it urgently, but it wasn’t an impossible event. On average, about ten espers died every year. Among them, it could be one of my exclusive Esper.
As soon as I ran out of the building, a car sent from the center was waiting in front of me. I got into the car right away.
With a siren on the roof, the guide-transfer vehicle ran at a tremendous speed, easily ignoring the posted speed limit on campus.
“What happened to my assigned esper?”
I asked urgently, leaning forward in my seat.
“We only know that a Code Red has been issued. We don’t have detailed information. Cha Kwon-woo, the esper, was probably at the Bonghwa Mountain site, and it’s a complete disaster there. The building collapsed, and they can’t get out… There are people trapped there…”
“It’s not just that they are trapped; they were trying to rescue the buried espers when there was a second explosion…”
“I only heard that I was urgently transferred to the center. It would be faster for the guide to check the details. It’s…… about Cha Kwon-woo, the Esper.”
He seemed to find it difficult to say more and fell silent. I, too, was rendered speechless.
That’s right. Cha Kwon-woo is an S-class esper protected by the government. All information surrounding Cha Kwon-woo is classified. For the same reason, even if he were to die, it probably wouldn’t be easily disclosed to the public.
My palms went pale for a moment.
“He’s not dead, is he?” I muttered, and the man sitting in the passenger seat just shrugged.
Of course, there were times when I wished he were dead… But I had never truly wished for his death! The thought that my esper, whom I saw almost every day, might be dead made me feel nauseous.
He couldn’t be dead. He wouldn’t be an S-class for nothing. He’d probably be alive and well. I patted my throbbing chest to calm it.
The car raced through the middle of downtown Seoul and soon came to a stop in front of The Center, leaving dark skid marks.
As soon as I got out of the car, I took out my ID and guide credentials that I had stashed in my bag and headed straight into the lobby. There was a receptionist at the entrance whom I had seen every day until last week, but there was no chance for a friendly greeting.
An urgent voice spoke up.
“I’m Kim Do-won, the guide registration number FGA285. My designated esper is AAS011. Can I go to room 305?”
To emphasize the urgency of the situation, I showed my wrist pager, which still displayed the ominous Code Red.
“Guide Kim Do-won, please go to room 701 on the 7th floor,”
From the moment I heard the word “7th floor,” everything became blurry in my mind. The 7th floor. That’s the Intensive Trauma Center.
Something had happened to Cha Kwon-woo.
My hand trembled as I took the pass.
Whether I liked him or not was beside the point. It was hard to accept that someone around me was sick.
In front of the elevator on the 7th floor, a woman with her hair tied up high was waiting. Recognizing me at a glance, she swished the hem of her white gown and hurriedly walked towards me. I glanced at the name written on her coat.
Dr. Park So-young.
She asked, moving hastily.
“When was the last time you did mucosal guidance with an esper?”
My mouth went dry. Dr. Park looked up quickly and repeated in disbelief.
“Not even once?”
“That……. The esper has refused mucosal guidance.”
Now Dr. Park So-young was practically running. Her pace quickened.
“…It would be difficult to attempt mucosal guiding forcefully.”
“Cha Kwon-woo metrics have gone off the charts.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. Fortunately, he wasn’t dead. Cha Kwon-woo was alive.
But can you say it’s a relief?
Now it’s my turn to die.
I’ve only heard of it and never experienced it. I’d heard they wanted to eat their guides naked, and I’d heard they’d turn around and lunge at them naked, and I’d have to do it in front of the Doctor?
I worried about his safety, but now my safety was more important.
Dr. Park So-young opened the opaque glass door without any hesitation. I squeezed my eyes shut and naturally raised my arms and guard.
Surprisingly, nothing happened.
As the silence grew awkward, I slowly opened one eye. Three or four people in white coats like Dr. Park So-young were looking at me.
And there, lying on the bed, tied with straps, was Cha Kwon-woo.
“Guide Kim Do-won has arrived. He has no experience in mucosal guiding.”
Before I had a chance to check on Cha Kwon-woo’s condition, I was laid down on the bed next to him. The wires around his body were soon connected to mine. It seemed like I was supposed to use a machine to extract energy from my body and give it to him.
As the wires connected, I instinctively checked the monitor. I did it out of habit, to monitor the constantly changing wavelengths of the guy.
The graph had an abnormal pattern. I had never seen anything like it before. The wavelengths shot up dramatically and then abruptly ceased. It seemed like the machine couldn’t measure the state beyond that point.
I was cursed at the shape of the graph that hit me.
When the guiding began, I wondered how many dots were drawn on the ceiling of the graph and soon bounced back.
One of the doctors who had been standing by, watching the monitor, finally spoke up, his voice barely audible.
“It seems like there’s a reaction, so we’ll just keep an eye on it tonight.”
What? Where is there a reaction? There were just a few dots on the graph.
I glanced uneasily to the side. Cha Kwon-woo, lying pale and still, looked like a living corpse.
Someone placed a sedative on my forearm, likely to help me sleep due to the substantial energy consumption. The effects of the medication quickly made me feel drowsy. With a loosened tongue, I managed to ask.
“Is it possible that I won’t wake up?”
“You will wake up, don’t worry, get a good night’s sleep and wake up.”
When I saw the anesthesia machine, my anxiety rose sharply.
“But what if I don’t get anesthesia? If I don’t fall asleep, it won’t be a problem for my health, right? You’re just putting me to sleep because you’re afraid I’ll get tired, right? I’m really not good with anesthesia…….”
“Guide Kim Do-won, Guide Kim Do-won.”
“…What should I do? I still don’t feel anesthetized.”
“You’ve slept for two days. It’s time to wake up now.”
When I rose with a bewildered expression, the bed next to me was empty.