[ 4763 ]
That's the number written on Han Sooyoung's right arm.
"There is nothing we can do."
That's what the doctor said to her, regarding her complaint about what supposed to be only a simple headache. A nameless disease, which are so rare that even the name hasn't been came up with yet. And so, no cure has been developed to heal her.
[ 4763 ]
Will she be able to live that long?
In this world, each person has their own soulmate. Some say that the first meeting will be the happiest moment in your life. Some say that the meeting is nothing special, but the life you will experience with your soulmate will be your happiest moment. That's why, people can't help but keep waiting for the first meeting, the fated meeting which is written on their right arm.
People who hasn't met their soulmate yet, will have numbers written on their right arm. The numbers indicate the remaining days until their meet with their soulmate.
For Han Sooyoung, the number in her arm has never felt so heavy, painful, as if it's freshly carved on her flesh. She thought something like soulmates are silly. She thought she is fine alone, by herself, since dating and marriage sure is not suited for her. She thought... she doesn't want to meet her soulmate.
But now that reality hits her, the fact that she maybe won't ever see the face of her soulmate, and the possibility of her leaving her soulmate alone in this world, it gives a tight squeeze in her heart.
'This is stupid, why would this number be the first thing that came into my mind?'
Her personal guard, a middle aged man wearing a fedora who stands behind her listening to the doctor's explanation about her disease and cautions, pats her shoulder lightly.
"Don't worry, Miss. I'm sure that the cure will be developed."
Easy to say that. The symptoms are not considered as dangerous, only periodical headache and lightheadedness. The bacteria itself also pretty passive, not aggressively attacking the vital body parts. Yet mysteriously, no antibiotic works as the cure. No certainty of life threatening symptoms, yet also no visible prospect of being healed.
"It's okay. It doesn't bother me."
It's a lie. Although not much, the news surely made her heart stopped beating for a second. She then lowers her head. Her eyes unconsciously glance at her right arm once more. At that moment, she resolves her mind.
It is in the middle of the night, and her bedtime has long passed. But, here she is, on her desk in front of her notebook PC, typing vigorously. Words flow from her mind, her eyes flicker with enthusiasm. Word by word, connected into sentences, making a single story.
"Mr. Dokkaebi King,"
"Please top calling me that, Miss..."
"Do you think people will read my stories if I post them? Like those stories on that website."
Her personal guard paused for a moment. The innocence of those eyes belonging to a sixth grader, whose hope has been robbed by a mysterious disease. It's a wonder how she can still show such determined expression.
"Of course Miss," said her personal guard. "I'm sure that at least your soulmate, the great one, will read them. All of them."
Those encouraging words are the final push for Han Sooyoung to write her story. An awesome story that will surely dominate the world. The best story, something so amazing that will be read by millions of people and win a lot of awards! A story that will be read by her soulmate.
"Why is the number of my views keeps declining?!" young Han Sooyoung yells and shakes her head.
"I even bother update the story everyday! Every.single.day ! Those ungrateful bastards, they even dare to leave insults on the comments! How dare-"
"How about trying another media? For example, submitting for a literature award." Her personal guard takes her notebook beside her notebook PC. He then flips the page, and point to a certain page.
"I like this concept. Try write this as a full narrative story and submit it."
"What do you know about writing??" Han Sooyoung pouts. Her eyes are still glued to the monitor showing the list of her story's chapters.
Three Ways to Survive in a Ruined World
That's the title of the story that she passionately writes. The main character, Yoo Joonghyuk, is a regressor who fights in a world ruined by scenarios. An ordinary action-fantasy story with an over-powered main character that you can find anywhere.
But, what can you expect from the first story written by a 13 years old elementary school girl?
"Trust me, I once worked in an editorial company before coming here. I know a bit about the market of fictions," assures the guard with full of surety in his words. The little girl in front of him hesitates for a moment, until finally takes the notebook in her guard's hand.
And, just like the guard says, that story wins an award, and people calls Han Sooyoung as a child prodigy.
Maybe it's because of her experience from writing dozens of Ways of Survival chapters. Or maybe it's because of her personal guard's assistance in the making process. Or maybe it's just a luck.
One thing for sure, is that little moment boost Han Sooyoung's motivation and blocks her rage from the increasing insults she gets on Ways of Survival .
Han Sooyoung lives two different life as an author. At the day, she is a talented young author who wins a lot of literature awards. At night, she is tls123, the author of Ways of Survival , who constantly receives insults and curses on her comments.
"Why won't you change your writing style on Ways of Survival ?" asks her guard, who is now also her personal editor.
"No! If I don't keep the original boring writing style, people will recognize that tls123 is 'Han Sooyoung', the child prodigy!"
"... There is no single person who cares about this novel."
Despite her intentionally making the writing in Ways of Survival worse than her usual writings, there is still one single user who keeps giving her praises and cheers, who keeps thanking her for every new update and asking for the next chapter, who gives her a tingling sensation in her heart every time she reads their comments.
Kim Dokja - 25 Mar 2007 10:41PM KST
Dear author, thank you for the update! Please ignore the other comments, I don't want you to stop writing this story. Ah- but if you insist on stopping then... anyways, I will be waiting for the next chapter!
Maybe that single user is the main reason of her not dropping Ways of Survival .
"Kim Dokja, huh..." she whispers the username written on her screen. "What a strange guy."
Han Sooyoung slowly opens her eyes, which feel so heavy and dry. The first thing she notices is the white ceiling, it's definitely not her room. She tries to turn her head, observing her surrounding. And then, she realizes that she is in hospital.
"Miss, have you woken up?" Han Sooyoung notices her guard's presence near the door. She turns to see him, and stares the fedora man with blank eyes. She is too weak to give any answer.
"I will call the doctor."
Apparently, the disease has been spread in her whole body. Now, it's not only some simple dizziness, but also significant drop on her blood pressure and immune system. Maybe, the toll from lack of sleep makes her body more vulnerable to the bacteria's attack, which results a blackout.
"For now, we will give you some medicine to increase your antibody and blood pressure, please drink it thrice a day and-"
"... How many days...?"
Han Sooyoung's weak lips finally can move. The doctor and her guard look at her with confused looks.
"How many days? Drink it until you feel bette-"
"No," Han Sooyoung glances at the man wearing fedora, her personal guard. "How many days have passed?"
It takes a whole minute for him to answer his little miss' question.
Han Sooyoung's mouth twitches. She slowly turns her head away.
Tears flow down to her cheek.
On that day, the 15 years old Han Sooyoung realizes her mortality.
"Hey, Mr. Dokkaebi King."
"How old are you now, Miss? Please stop calling me that."
Han Sooyoung ignores him.
"You know what, now that I start reading Ways of Survival 's early chapters, it is really crappy."
Han Sooyoung, now a pretty famous teenager author who has won several awards and published well-known web novels under different username, suddenly wants to reminisce her past eager self by reading her very first novel.
"I sure was so crazily delusional back then, thinking that something like this can dominate the world or something."
There is no reply from her personal guard. Gruntling, she then starts opening a new word file, and starts typing.
SSSS-Grade Infinite Regressor
"My perfectionist author spirit tells me to rewrite this whole shit. Let's see if this crappy concept can come decently."
Her guard reads the title, and instantly knows the story that his master will write.
"Miss, you know about self-plagiarism right?"
"Argh, who cares! Nobody read that shitty novel anyway! Except-" She then remembers a certain username, who keeps appearing in every chapter in Ways of Survival .
"Anyways, I have written ten new chapters of Ways of Survival . As usual, please post it accordingly in case of emergency."
Han Sooyoung then sends 10 word files to her guard's e-mail. The incident when she was 15 made her unable to update Ways of Survival for more than a week. For a story with only 1 view count, some absences and hiatuses is nothing to be concerned. It's a miracle that she hasn't abandoned that novel yet.
But, for some reason, Han Sooyoung can't ignore that single reader, who has been following her story since the very first chapter. That's why, to keep the regular update on Ways of Survival , she writes multiple chapters a day and entrusts the uploading to her personal guard, so Ways of Survival can update every single day without fail.
"I'm counting on you, Mr. Dokkaebi King."
"Hey, you punk. You finally come to class," a long haired girl tapped Han Sooyoung's back as soon as she sits on her desk. Han Sooyoung turns around and sees her friend, Jung Heewon, giving her the biggest grin she has ever seen in the past few week. Well, considering how she spends almost three whole weeks hospitalized, she only met the doctors and her guard during that time.
"Wanna die? I was sick, you know. What kind of friend are you, not visiting me a single time!"
"Hahaha don't be too mad. You must know that dating as a college student is very time consuming," says Jung Heewon.
Han Sooyoung then unconsciously peeks at Jung Heewon's right arm. The number hasn't disappeared yet. Meaning, she hasn't met with her soulmate yet.
Meaning, Jung Heewon's boyfriend, who (if Han Sooyoung remembers correctly) is called Lee Hyunsung, is not her soulmate.
Jung Heewon seems to notice Han Sooyoung's glance at her right arm.
"What? You can't be still believing that romantic bullshit about soulmate. You know that most people don't marry their soulmate, right?"
"Where did that come from??"
"Geez, I know that you are too absorbed in your writings, but I didn't know that you are this pure." Jung Heewon then reaches her phone from her left pocket. She types a few things, and shows her phone to Han Sooyoung.
Hey, remember when you asked me if I have a female friend?
What now? Did you change your mind?
More or less, yeah
Meet her at XXX restaurant this weekend, at 10 am
Nice, you are the best Heewon!
I can finally say goodbye to my virgin days
"Ck ck ck," Jung Heewon blocks Han Sooyoung's mouth with her index finger. "Just meet him once, he is a great guy. You need to experience some romance."
And that's the story behind Han Sooyoung's current situation. Sitting on a simple restaurant chair, playing with her phone, waiting for her first boyfriend candidate.
Han Sooyoung's eyes skims through the list of comments, which are filled with praises and applauds. She ignores the young man who approaches her to her seat.
"Hello! You must be Heewon's friend. May I know your name?"
What an amazing chapter!
Thank you for the update!
Yoo Joonghyun is so cool!
I can't wait to read the next chapter!
Those are the common sentences that can be found in SSSS-Grade Infinite Regressor comment section. All positives and encouraging, yet Han Sooyoung feels nothing when reading them.
"So, what are you doing in your free time, Sooyoung?"
"Writing web novels."
She doesn't even bother to raise her head to face the young man. Her eyes then focused on a single comment. A comment which is different from the others, with a familiar username written as its owner.
Kim Dokja - 17 Nov 2014 10:19AM KST
This author plagiarized another web novel called ' Ways of Survival '. Please contribute to report this novel.
That comment receives a lot of negative feedbacks from the other readers. Some say that there is no one want to read such a bad web novel. Some even say that 'Kim Dokja' is the author of Ways of Survival , who is trying desperate approach in marketing his novel.
Suddenly, she receives a sudden notification on her e-mail that she uses for tls123. It notifies a new comment on Ways of Survival .
Kim Dokja - 17 Nov 2014 10:22AM KST
Dear author, I'm so sorry! I tried to report ' SSSS-Grade Infinite Regressor ' multiple times, and even tried to incite the other readers to help me. But nobody believes me! Please stay strong, your novel is the best in the world!
Anyways, regarding this newest chapter-
Han Sooyoung unconsciously giggles at the comment.
"Stupid guy," she whispers those two words with full of fondness.
By then, she has long forgotten about the depressed young man in front of her, whose dream of having a girlfriend flies away beyond his reach.
" Cough cough "
"Miss, please lay down on the bed, you must rest."
"No! If I don't write, that idiot will wait the new chapter all night!" Han Sooyoung deliberately wipes the blood on her mouth.
The symptoms become worse and worse. At first, her body just slightly weakened without affecting her daily lives. Even though she would pass out once in a while, she can still write her books and update Ways of Survival daily.
But, her condition becomes worse, and the time she is hospitalized has become longer and more frequent. And so, even the backup data of Ways of Survival chapters that she gave to her guard has all run out. Now, she needs to write Ways of Survival in every moment she can to maintain the daily updates. Despite her effort, she can't avoid occasional absences. She is so irritated, angry, mad at her helplessness.
Why is she so desperate? What is she working so hard for?
She almost forget about it multiple times. But, sometimes, she will reflexively glance at her right arm.
[ 528 ]
Time sure flies. Once upon a time, she saw a ridiculously high number on that very arm. A number that seems so out of reach.
She once wondered whether she will ever meet her soulmate, getting to know her soulmate, experience the so-called fated meeting. Even nowadays, she still imagines the silly and ridiculous dream of meeting her soulmate. It's stupid, she knows. But, when death is slowly approaching someone, they will somehow become less and less caring to pride and dignity. They will try to grasp every single hope remaining, to earn that happiness.
But then, she erases all of those thoughts from her mind. Because she actually knows, she realized it a long time ago, that she has experienced her fateful meeting ages ago.
That day, when her 13 years old self read the comments on the first chapter of Ways of Survival , there was only one single comment that made her felt butterflies on her stomach. The reader that keeps accompanying her in thousands chapters.
Whoever her soulmate is, for Han Sooyoung herself, that reader is her true soulmate.
Drugs and painkillers have been her daily necessities, and she can't even walk by herself anymore.
[ 2 ]
That's the number on her right arm.
"Regrettably, we must inform you that it will be a miracle for you to survive tomorrow night. Your immunity is too low, and your body can't process the nutrition needed for the heart and brain to work."
And that's what the doctor says.
Han Sooyoung nods her head, and for the very last time, gives some thanks to the doctor that has been assisting her for 13 years. The fedora man behind her then helps pushing her wheelchair.
Their journey back to their house is full of silence. No one can say a word to each other.
"Mr. Dokkaebi King," Han Sooyoung cuts her guard's sentence. "Even after my leave, I'm counting on you to edit and upload Ways of Survival , including the revised versions, so that stupid reader can read a never ending story."
Her guard can't think of anything to answer his master. Despite the lack of response, Han Sooyoung knows that he will definitely do his job diligently.
"If I somehow survive tomorrow night, let's eat together outside."
The last two days is the most agonizing days for Han Sooyoung. She keeps throwing up, her stomach refuses any food she eats. Fatigue wins over her, and she occasionally blacks out, and later wakes up on her bed. Her guard still faithfully nurses her, meanwhile she also still faithfully write the last two chapters of Ways of Survival .
The very last chapter, or what's supposed to be the last chapter, Han Sooyoung lets her selfish desire wins over her and makes the supposedly last chapter to be an open ending. Nobody will realize that it is the end of the long novel.
Writing it like that gives Han Sooyoung a single hope, to survive the day and writes another chapter tomorrow. The real last chapter.
After clicking the 'submit' button and upload the last Ways of Survival chapter, she then throws herself on her bed. She can't feel her body anymore. She can't even feel any headache and nausea. She feels numb.
But, more than anything, she feels so relieved.
Her whole 26 years of life, she spends half if it for writing, to write for a certain reader, her soulmate. She thinks, that she can proudly call her life a very good and fulfilling life.
Her consciousness slowly leaves her body, and her eyes become heavier and heavier.
For the first time in 13 years, she lets her body to rest.
"Miss, can you hear me?"
Han Sooyoung slowly opens her eyes. She can feel the warmth of sun light, and she can see the figure of a familiar fedora man. The man wears such complicated expression, with a wide smile carved on his lips.
"I have booked a restaurant. Let's go."
He then helps Han Sooyoung to prepares herself. Han Sooyoung looks at herself on the mirror, and greeted by a horrifying face. A face so small and thin, with dark eyebags and chapped lips. She then checks her right arm.
[ 0 ]
Han Sooyoung has used every single hope and probability she can grab to reach this day.
She then sits on the wheelchair, and her guard starts to push the wheelchair outside the house, walking to the restaurant near the station.
While the fedora man behind her hums some unknown melodies, Han Sooyoung grabs her phone, and checks on the comments of the last chapter of Ways of Survival that she posted the day before.
Kim Dokja - 17 Nov 2014 07:22PM KST
Dear author, thank you for the chapter! It has been a long journey, and this is the furthest Yoo Joonghyuk has ever been in his battle. Is this perhaps the last regression turn? You won't cruelly make Yoo Joonghyuk regress right...? I look forward to the last chapter tomorrow!
As expected, that reader is still hoping for the next chapter. Such a greedy being.
Han Sooyoung then opens the writing app on her phone. She starts to write the true last chapter, the last chapter that has always been in her head all these 13 years, the chapter that she will definitely write if she can survive her 4763 days long battle.
Dear you, my soulmate who I won't ever meet.
I dedicate my life for you, so at the very least, the you who are reading this word...
She then sends the file to her guard's e-mail. As soon as a tune of notification is heard from her guard's phone, she turns her head to face him.
"I'm counting on you to publish the last chapter of Ways of Survival ."
And just after that, her whole energy leaves her. She can't sit properly on the wheelchair, and starts to slide down. Her guard immediately runs to grab her, but she can't feel any sense of touch anymore. From her half-opened eyelids, she can see her guard's panic face, and his mouth moving as if screaming something she can't hear.
She vaguely also see a man runs to them and frantically tries to help them.
Ah, so there are still good people like him in his world.
This life is not bad. I lived a good life .
And finally, Han Sooyoung breathes her last with a smile on her face.