ENGLISH V.A.Jeong Jae-heon
STORYHansaneega@Lee Jongbeom
The Common MuttThe king of dogs, born of chaos.The mutts you see most often on the streets of Korea. But in the world of Syltare where numerous universes resonated with one another, the purity of bloodlines is a delusion. In the chaos on the path where everything is mixed, all that is humble gathered together and became the symbol of viability. Will all the beings of Syltare also be able to blend together? “Isn’t this just a dirty mutt?” “A dog is a dog.” “No…” Cheolsu looked at the dog his grandmother held out to him. It looked like it didn’t have a pedigree, and he sighed. Not only did it not seem to have a pedigree, but upon taking a closer look, it looked as though only the mother lived at his grandmother’s house. They definitely wouldn’t know the sire, right? It seemed like there was no way to know if it wasn’t just a neighborhood dog. Since that bitch wandered around the neighborhood all the time. “I like dogs with a bit of a pedigree…” “We bought our own family tree, so what does a dog’s pedigree matter?” “Aren’t we of the Hansan Lees?” “Think about it. Hansan is an area in Chungcheong-do, then why is your hometown in Gangwon-do? The village chief just gathered us together one day and told us we’re of the Hansan Lee family now.” “No, still…” Cheolsu pouted. ‘I don’t have any friends who have mutts as pets, Grandma…’ Honestly, even just a Shihtzu was cute. So cute! A Maltese, too. No, it was nice to be able to accurately predict what the dog would look like when it grew up. ‘Human parents would probably have less of a hard time if they knew what their kid would turn out to be.” Dogs with pedigrees were cute or cool, but removing the anxiety from the matter was also reassuring. And in contrast to that, what about the mutt who was wagging its tail in front of Cheolsu? It was impossible to know how it would turn out. Would it turn out like its mother, who was staring dumbly outside? Even that was a mystery. Since they didn’t know who sired it. “Cheolsu, don’t fuss and just take the dog. Or I won’t let you have one at all.” “Ah…” No matter what he thought, it was useless. Cheolsu was still young, and he had no money. So he brought it home. The mutt. And it’s name? The Common Mutt. “Mutt~” “You’re really going to call it that?” “Then what else should I call it? “Make a nice name for it.” “I can’t really listen to you, Dad, when you just named me Cheol-su.” “Ahem.” His father dropped his head and sat on the couch at Cheol-su’s remark. His mother peeled the apple in her hands silently. The name Cheol-su. She’d hoped that her husband wouldn’t expect the dog to be named something like Patrasche when he named their son Cheol-su. “Shake.” Either way, The Common Mutt grew day by day. “Nice.” And listened well. Almost eerily so. “Sit.” They nearly wondered if the dog could talk. “Fetch the newspaper.” It wasn’t that The Common Mutt only listened to Cheol-su, he listened to everything. “Go buy the groceries.” “Mom, that’s a bit… Where is he going?” “Follow him. Isn’t he going to the store?” “He took the credit card in his mouth. What…?” He even went grocery shopping. He even shopped well, buying healthy food. Eggs, root vegetables, beef, mushrooms… It was a balanced diet. “Should I try having him cook…?” “Mom, no…” “It’s a joke, a joke. No, but this dog is really smart. How is it so smart?” “I know. Um…” Cheol-su looked down at The Common Mutt, which had been going and buying groceries like it was nothing. It was his pet dog. And now that he was looking at it, the dog looked pretty different from what it looked like when he first brought it home. It wasn’t a puppy anymore, it was a full-grown dog now. It hadn’t even been three months so that had to be called a very surprising growth. ‘Master… isn’t a smart human, no matter how I look at him.’ On the other hand, The Common Mutt was looking up at Cheol-su. The Common Mutt knew. The amount of studying Cheol-su should have had done while he went grocery shopping. ‘The last test at the cram school… Didn’t he come in last place?’ From what he’d heard, his goal was to go to a science high school. Now his goal was a humanities high school. He wasn’t studying so it seemed like that goal would be lowered a bit more. “Hey, where is he going?” “He goes to the bathroom to do his business. In the toilet.” “The toilet?” “Yeah. No one taught him, either.” The Common Mutt opened the door easily and went inside. He sat on the toilet. An adult dog couldn’t do his business with all of his junk hanging out in front of people. ‘Anyway… Maybe I’ll go patrol the neighborhood now.’ After refreshingly clearing his bowels, his worry about his master died down a little. In all honesty, his life was his to figure out. If he could take the exam instead of his master, he would be able to send him not only to a science high school but even a high school for the gifted. But that would be cheating. -Creak If he kept thinking about this, he realized he might go bald like Cheol-su’s father, so The Common Mutt slipped out of the house secretly. It wasn’t difficult. Since all he had to do was press a button from the inside. And he knew the passcode for outside, so he could come in and out easily. “Woof.” The Common Mutt left the apartment and stood at the entrance of the alleyway and barked. He didn’t bark that loudly. If he did, then it would be a hassle if he attracted people’s attention. “Arf.” Another dog barked lowly at his call. “Woof.” “Ruff.” That barking spread throughout the neighborhood. The dogs who heard the barks and were able to join gathered in front of The Common Mutt. Shihtzus and Malteses were obviously there, but large dogs like Shepherds and Dobermans were there too. The Common Mutt stood confidently in front of them and asked, -Nothing out of the ordinary, yes? -There was a drunkard lying on the streets so we kept him warm. -Good. The Doberman must have even felt good about the praise because its tail started to wag. It hadn’t always been like that. There was a time of terrible fighting. His unaware master didn’t know, but The Common Mutt had many little scars on his forehead. He attained them after fighting with all of the dogs there. “Grr?” Then, he heard something in his ear. The Common Mutt suddenly became tense. What kind of creatures are dogs? Aren’t they sensitive to sound? He was sure there were some who had better ears than him genetically, but looking at their non-reactions, only he had heard the sound. ‘But it’s weird… This sound…’ He didn’t even have any idea where the sound originated from. One thing for sure was that every time he heard it, it became louder and louder. -Ring And when that sound rang like thunder, The Common Mutt was standing in a place he’d never been to before. “Welcome, Pariah-dog.” A human in white clothing spoke to him. Pariah-dog, huh? It was just a different pronounciation for The Common Mutt, but… The feeling he got from the blurred lines was not nice.  “Where is… Huh? I can talk.” “This is the platform. You are free here.” “Free, hm? If you’re talking about freedom from my master, then that’s not really something I want.” He might be a lacking master, but it wasn’t like there wasn’t a bond. Pariah-dog was willing to risk his life if his master fell into danger. It would be still be valid even if the opposite wouldn’t happen. You could say this was the unique quality dogs are born with. “I didn’t mean that. But you are free to choose here. Is there something you want to do?” “Procreate.” “What?” “I want to mate.” “Oh…” The guide looked awkward. A dog that told dirty jokes? He really did see everything in his job as a guide. But he’d never expected this. “I want to make another mutt.” “What?” “Isn’t it amusing not knowing what will come out each time? If it mixes up like that, and I’ve proven there can be a dog that’s been chosen to come to Strok, the topic of much debate on the human world… You can never know what my next generation will generate.” “Oh…” ‘So rather than a dirty joke, it was philosophy?’ “Is there a pretty dog here?” No, maybe it was just a dirty joke…? “Whatever it is, you’re saying it’s my choice, right?” The Common Mutt trotted around the platform, his tail high up in the air. With all the various smells he’d noticed from before, it looked like something interesting was about to unfold.