ENGLISH V.A.Mike chi
STORYHansaneega@Lee Jongbeom
DokebiChildlike spirits with extraordinary strength.Dokebies are powerful yet playful beings that loathe violence. Ancient artifacts or natural phenomenons such as thunder, lightning and whirlwinds sometimes turn into Dokebies. They live to laugh but have lost all reasons to do so for a long time. “Where have you been this time?”   asked one of the pack’s elders, Tornado. He was a great Dokebi, so great that he was considered an elder of their pack. But Tornado had long since been free of his mystical powers. Now, it would be generous to say he was mediocre.   “I just went out for a smoke.” “A smoke? Do you have a whale’s lungs? How does it take you several days to smoke one cigarette?”   The elderly Tornado started to become furious, his eyes bloodshot. The Dokebi opposite him, referred to by his childhood nickname Gagya, much more than his original name, ‘Crushed Bullet,’ was a young Dokebi. What was he… about 100 years old now? On the other hand, Tornado was so old he lost track of his age around the time he turned 1,000 years old.   “It’s not a cigarette like this one.”   Tornado was talking about how Gagya was so young compared to him that he shouldn’t be able to even open his mouth in front of him. But Gagya just shrugged and didn’t bow his head at all. He even pushed away the storied pipe Tornado offered him, the tiger’s pipe from when the tiger was king of the mountain.   “You wretched boy! If you say this isn’t a cigarette, then what is a cigarette?!” “Kids these days… all smoke these.” “W… What is that strange thing?”   Gagya showed Tornado a small lump of metal. Tornado’s eyes grew wide as he’d thought of a cylinder-shaped cigarette at most.   “So what if you live a long time? You don’t know how the world works these days.” “You rascal! Don’t say things like that! Even if you don’t, there are so many adults who don’t approve of you… Don’t you know that?”   Tornado knew dozens of names he could give Gagya on the spot, of Dokebis who disliked, no, wanted to push him out.   Bronze Mirror, Whirlpool, Lightning, Thunder, and… the king.   Wouldn’t the late king think so as well? Fire. The first born, the first mystery to disappear. When the king saw fire bloom from a stove, he could endure no longer. And yet, when they saw the world full of fire, he couldn’t say the king’s decision was that wrong. Since it was counterevidence against how he was useless to the world.   “You’re thinking about the past again, right?” “Things were good back then, so how can I help it?” “What are you going to do if you become like the king?” “Don’t jinx me.” “I’m telling you, you’ll turn out that way if you keep ignoring the way the world works right now.” “Alright, I got it… Show me that cigarette again. How do you work this?”   Tornado didn’t want to become like the king. But still, he didn’t want to act recklessly like Gagya. So he was sitting by and watching Gagya doubtfully. In part, he was covering for Gagya from the other Dokebis, too.   “Look. If you do this…?” “Oho…” “How is it? It smells sweet, right?” “Oho… Well, well.” “See? Was there anything I’ve brought you that you didn’t like?” “Hmm… Mm…”   Why? He had plenty of reasons to do so. The outside world was definitely full of mysteries. The Dokebis, who were once mysteries themselves, were old-fashioned and staid.   “Gagya, this…” “Oh, right. I have yours too.”   Perhaps that was why the younger ones loved Gagya. Gagya wandered around the outside without any fear. Even when it was a world where the Dokebi helms and clubs were caught on surveillance video or whatever it was called.   “Gagya.”   Tornado stared at Gagya with a look of awe and doubt in his eyes. He handed out the cigarettes from to outside world to the younger ones—or those who might as well be called his siblings—, then turned around. His eyes were shining brightly like he didn’t have even an ounce of doubt in his actions. Those eyes were full of confidence in himself. Just like the king…   The late king’s eyes were once like that, too. That was why all Dokebis followed him and why when he disappeared, they all weakened together.  At least, the elderly Dokebis did.   Perhaps, he might be…   Tornado shook his head and just said, “Never mind. It’s time for the others to start getting here… Get out of here.” “But I haven’t even done anything wrong?” “Some whisper about your birth.”   Sarajevo. The gunshots that rang out through that place soon burned the whole world, and Gagya, or Crushed Bullet, was born from that fire. The child that was born in the death-filled world was not thought of as a blessing but was thought of as a curse. It might be because of that. That Gagya started to put so much meaning into the outside world.   - Ring   Just then, Gagya heard the sound of a string instrument.   “Gramps, did you hear something just now?” “Hear what? Did you bring that mp3 thing or whatever it’s called?” “Smartphones play music now. What do you mean an mp3 player in a world where phones flip open and closed?” “Stop talking nonsense… Huh. Huh? Gagya? Gagya!”   Then Gagya arrived in a vacant space.   “Where…?”   At the same time, it was a space filled with things he’d never seen before. While he looked around blankly, someone appeared in his gaze, out of nowhere, all of a sudden.   “Hello, Dokebi.” “Oh… And you are?” “I’m your guide, and this place is Stroke.”   After hearing that, Gagya knew immediately where this was. The Dokebis didn’t have any interest, but the outside world was full of talk about Stroke. Even he had thought once about how great it would be if he could come to this place. But he was actually here?   “Oh… But… Why am I here?” “Is the reason why important?” “True. That’s true.”   Gagya’s eyes started to fill with excitement.   “I heard you can do whatever you want here. Am I right?” “Yes, you’re correct. Also, you may not be able to do anything. What determines that…” “And that’s my decision, right?” “You’re very well-informed.”   The guide watched Gagya calmly. Not everyone who came to Stroke became timid. There surely were great Dokebis. However, this one right here…   This Dokebi is barely 100 years old, so how…?   Was Gagya the one that was supposed to be called up, not Tornado or Thunder?   No, no… The final decision was made by them… So… Could it be this Dokebi was one of the candidates for king…?   While the guide was trying to understand Gagya’s reaction, Gagya continued talking, still twinkling his eyes,   “Since this place is obviously full of mystery. Is there anything more important to a Dokebi?” “That’s true as well. Then…”   Gagya watched as the guide disappeared, and he stepped forward. He had no idea where this path would lead him, but that was alright.   Wherever it is… It’ll be better than the village.   His heart was filling with a baseless optimism.