STORYHansaneega@Lee Jongbeom
The Common DemonThe seeds of misfortune are small but exist everywhere.A ghost that is anchored to one place, or someone who died with resentment in their heart, are called evil spirits: poor beings who don’t know who they are and cannot go to where they belong. It was an ordinary day. There was not a single thing different with this day compared to other days. She didn’t do much at night, but it was hard to open her eyes in the morning. This was only natural, since every day had been difficult. It took her a whole hour and a half to get from her home to the department store, where she worked. She was in charge of the store, so she did her makeup as the store’s manual and the department store’s manual said.  ‘Sigh…’ To do this, she had to get up at 6AM. It took her an hour to get ready, and an hour and a half to get there. Even with that, she barely made it to the store and got ready to open in time. “Did you hear?” “What?” “The food court… I heard there was a hole in the floor.” “Really? Is that okay?” “Who knows. But they told us to come to work, so I guess it’s okay?” “True…” The only person that could slightly console her was her friend, who was in the same situation as her. Just 2 years ago, they lived in the same neighborhood, but she worked hard and saved money to move closer to her workplace. There was even talk not long ago that she would be promoted to store manager.  ‘I want to be like her…’ How many times had she thought that? Hearing a person she viewed this way say that it would be okay somehow made her feel reassured.  “Let’s just get ready” “Got it.” “Okay.” Her friend brushed her hair lightly, just enough so it didn’t mess it up, and this gave her courage. ‘Yeah. I’ll work hard today.’ ‘I will.’ “Welcome!” Soon enough, it was time to open the store. She enthusiastically greeted the customers. She felt like it was a lucky day for her. Normally, if one person out of ten maybe bought one item, it was a good day. But today, more than half of their customers bought things. She was in a good mood. “What are you doing tonight?” It was soon time to clock out.  “I’m just going to go home, get something to eat, and sleep. What about you?” “Me? Didn’t I tell you I got a boyfriend recently?” “Oh, that’s right! Wow… Then are you going on a date?” “Yeah. He’s coming to pick me up. Wait, what?” “What’s wrong?” “Why is he here already?” Her boyfriend had arrived. Maybe it was because he was dressed up a bit, or because he was good-looking to start with, but it felt like her eyes were brightening a little. Even though he was here for her friend. -Rip Then she heard a ripping sound. “Huh?” She thought she was hearing things, but she wasn’t. Everyone was looking around. At that moment, a loud noise came from the food court, which was on the floor right above them. “Hurry! Everyone hurry and get out!” ‘Get out?’ ‘What do they mean?’ She stared blankly and saw a horde of people tumbling down the escalator. “Uh…” “Well?” “Then… Should we leave, too?” asked her friend. That was the last time. - Rumble ‘Is this thunder?’ She heard a huge rumbling—one she’d never heard before. Darkness fell over her as she stood with the man. She couldn’t see her friend, whom she had been talking to up until the sound, and she couldn’t see her friend’s boyfriend either. “Park Ji-hyun, aged 24. Died 00:00, on 00 of the month of 00.” ‘How much time has passed?’ A few seconds? A few minutes? A few hours? She had no idea. Either way, time passed, and it seemed like her vision was growing brighter. All of a sudden, a pale man took her hand. Without even a chance to refuse, she followed him into the sky. Above the ruins. She couldn’t see her corpse on the ground. “I’m busy. So many died today.” The man spoke as she followed him blindly. No, the grim reaper spoke. At this comment, she looked around to see a large amount of people being dragged by their hands by pale people. “Oh, there she is.” There were both her friend and her boyfriend. Strangely, she finally felt that this was real. She was dead. “Why did you stop? We have to go.” “No, I can’t.” “What… What do you mean you can’t? You’re already dead. When you cross the river, a new life… Hey! Come back!” No. She felt that this was simply impossible. Dead? Dying? ‘But I’ve worked so... so hard in my life’ ‘I kept working instead of doing what I wanted.’ ‘I saved money instead of getting the things I wanted.’ “This bitch…” Looking back, the grim reaper was following in a truly ‘grim reaper’-like style. Death. She thought of him as death incarnate. She ran without thinking, and just kept running. Through the busy city. “Oh, here, too?” Should he say it was a relief? It was a day of too many unexpected deaths, so there were plenty of runaway souls. Most were caught and brought back. But there were some who were lucky.  “Sigh.” The evil spirit was like that. Death that arrived at the end of a hard-working life. Just that in itself made her furious, but what she heard later on the news— just that one single statement—was enough to make the evil spirit’s fury blaze brighter. -“Look here. If we say again that it’s collapsing, it’ll be damaging to the customers but it’ll also be damaging to company assets.” ‘Assets?’ ‘Did they say assets?’ ‘The bastard who could be said to be the sole cause of this disaster is fine and alive, and he’s saying that?’ She had to kill him. But as she became an evil spirit, her blurred vision made it hard to find her target. She found someone similar and harmed them, but it was a totally different person. “You little…! I’ve spread the news of your sin!” After a few mistakes, the evil spirit was now wanted. She was aware that the number of grim reapers on her tail was growing little by little. But it was okay. She just needed him. She just needed to pay him back. “Welcome, evil spirit.” She arrived at a strange place. “I… I don’t have the time to be here!” ‘A platform?’ No matter how blind and deaf she had become, this was a name she knew. As she wandered, she heard talk about how this was the Stroke phenomenon. ‘But why me?’ That was a phenomenon she couldn’t understand. “I’m not anyone great! I’m just… Just…!” “You have been chosen.” “Don’t choose me…” “Here, you can change yourself or your future, depending on what you choose.” “I only have one future.” This was true. It hadn’t changed even once since that day. The one who caused the deaths of her friend, her friend’s boyfriend, and her. The bastard who only worried about money when he’d snatched away the lives of hundreds of innocent people, feeling no remorse. There was no future that the evil spirit dreamed about other than his death. “You never know.” “I do know. Don’t go! Send me…” But contrary to the evil spirit’s words, the guide simply disappeared. In an instant, the evil spirit was left alone and was finally able to look around. “What’s this...” ‘Did that bastard come here too?’ It didn’t seem like he would have. ‘Does that mean I can go back soon?’ That was unclear. For the first time since she started to harbor this resentment, her once certain tomorrow was a question mark. She could only think about how she had no idea what to do.