Chapter Five – TRL
And I don't know why.
* * *
The reason Lee Jae-hun asked for a permanent marker was to leave a mark on the wall.
[Note: last chapter I translated 네임펜을 to pen, it actually means permanent marker/pen.]
The Underworld became more bizarre as time went on, meaning, at least at the very beginning, it was calm.
So the marking on the wall shouldn’t disappear.
Above all, the marker was a tool mentioned by the main character in the novel.
As the twisted hallways progressed, new paths appeared, and the main character, who thought that only the appearance had changed, realized that this place had become a maze.
However, there were few things Jung In-ho could do knowing the circumstance.
He could do things like gathering the party as much as possible or walking with his hand on the wall, but he couldn't go back to the office they came from due to lack of recollection.
Without any tools, it was impossible to leave markers of the paths already taken.
They could only try to remember the way back as best they could.
However, Lee Jaehun had no intention of not using his knowing advantage.
When the main character left the company and entered the park, the sun would have started to set, and he knew he would not need to strain his mental energy to survive from the monsters that would appear in the park.
Lee Jaehun continued through the maze holding a pipe in one hand and the marker in the other.
A black line followed along the path they had taken.
The chief, who watched it with an unruly gaze, opened his mouth.
“I-I… Why are you doing this?”
It was a stupid question, but Lee Jaehun, who didn't want to waste his emotions, answered right away.
“I don’t know why, but the building is warped.
Judging from the fact that only some of our coworkers in the office were there, it seems that we may have fallen into a completely different space, so shouldn't we mark the way back?”
“Then is this a maze?”
“I don’t know, you’re bothering me, so stop asking.”
It wasn't just a joke, it was sincere.
Chief Kang Min is not a bad person, but he was curious and slow to judge, so he was the perfect type of person to preoccupy himself in the current situation.
Besides, he couldn't tell anyone he knew about the situation.
If you say it as if you know everything, you may have a misunderstanding, and even the main character right behind the chief was staring at him piercingly as if he did something.
It wasn’t in his taste to kick up a fuss.
Chief Kang Min likely feels intimidated, as if he thought he had made a mistake.
He seemed to be trying not to show it, but Lee Jaehun swallowed a sigh as he could see his true intentions even when he pretended.
He passed the pen to Chief Kang who was behind him and said:
“You've seen me do it so far.
Follow along, leaving a trail on the wall.”
“…huh, what? Oh, me? Oh, yes.”
The biggest reason for being intimidated was that he considered himself the most useless among them.
The intern and assistant manager Jung were strong guys no matter who saw it.
Since that was the case, Lee Jahun was sure he'll be fine.
But maybe he didn’t have confidence about that anymore.
He was afraid that something had gone wrong.
However, Lee Jaehun knew that it was a very bad idea to have low self-esteem in the underworld.
He continued as he watched Chief Kang bring his pen to the wall.
“Chief Kang, don’t you have a good memory?”
“Oh, me? yes? I mean, yes.”
“If you can, remember the path we’ve taken.”
Lee Jaehun sighed at the fork in the road in front of him.
“It’s like a real maze after all.”
Was this supposed to happen?
He had thought about what to do if the story was different from the novel because of the variable of recalling his previous life, but so far the content hasn't changed.
And it was a very fortunate thing among many misfortunes.
Lee Jaehun asked the extremely cold-hearted protagonist amidst the group.
“Assistant Manager Jung In-ho, was there a fork in the road here?”
“I don’t remember.”
“So it must have happened, damn it.”
Lee Jaehun muttered something he already knew out of his mouth and blinked.
Originally, there was an elevator in this place.
And instead of those elevators disappearing, two forked roads that were distant from one another appeared.
The main character in the novel chose the right path among them.
There was no special reason, it was decided because there was originally an emergency exit there.
What the left road was like is not described in the novel, they instead found the stairs at the corner of the path and went down to the first floor safely.
No, not safely.
“… Shall we decide by majority vote?”
He suddenly became very tired of being the leader now.
Originally, this seat should have belonged to intern Roh Yun-Seok or the main character.
By all means, he made these choices for better survival, but that didn't mean he wasn't tired.
Above all else, if the suspicious protagonist had time to spare, it would fester all the doubts he has about Lee Jaehun.
Why did these situations seem familiar? Why was he so calm? Why did he grab a weapon like a pipe out of nowhere?
The main character had a lot of things to ask Lee Jaehun.
And of course, Lee Jaehun had no intention of answering those numerous questions.
“Does anyone remember what was on the left side?”
“uh… There was a vending machine?”
“The right side was the emergency exit.
It seems to reflect our company in its own way, so why don’t we go to the right to go to the other floors?”
“Then let’s go to the right first.”
Lee Jaehun blinked at Chief Kang, and Kang Min, who understood it, put the marker on the wall again.
Of the two crossroads, their traces remained on the right.
The group frowned or shuddered at the bizarre sensation that intensified with each step.
The former was the response of Lee Jaehun and Assistant Manager Jung In-ho, and the latter was the response of Chief Kang Min and intern Roh Yun-Seok.
In response, Lee Jaehun recalled that the reason Roh Yun-Seok took the lead in the novel was entirely due to the old trash’s coercion.
After encountering blocked pathways about three times, Assistant Manager Jung In-ho turned his head to one side and opened his mouth.
“… I heard wind.”
In response to intern Roh Yun-seok's question, Lee Jaehun thought of the novel.
Originally, the walls of their company were made of glass so that you could see the whole view, but the company in the underworld was opaque except for the walls of the office.
In the same sense, there are no open windows and there is no place for wind to come in.
So, naturally, they will think of the exit, but….
Lee Jaehun murmured.
It was a very intentional murmur.
'That's not the sound of the wind.'
What Jung In-ho heard was not a natural sound, but the cry of a monster preying on the survivors of the original world.
As evidence of that, the only one who heard that sound now was the main character.
He was the most superficial person in the group.
Of course, the word ‘superficial’ connotes many meanings, but it was convenient to see it as a roughly negative implication in the underworld.
[Note: the author uses 사념이 얕은(shallow-minded) to describe Jung In-ho, and then says that 사념(thought) connotates many meanings.
Depending on the words after it, 사념 can imply different things, thus the way it was originally written.
Unfortunately English does not work that way, so I just chose a synonym with different implications]
Jung In-ho was the main character of the novel and maintained his coolness in the current situation.
And considering that Lee Jaehun himself did not hear the sound, he seemed to have trauma.
'I don't intend to be stupid though.'
He shrugged his shoulders at Jung In-ho, who was looking at him with black eyes.
“I’m just saying.
Everything is blocked, but there’s a sound.”
Perhaps the main character did not like Lee Jaehun's excuse.
If you think about his image of the old trash Department head, you might have thought it was a useless nitpicking, because it has always been.
“Bah, if it sounds like the wind… Isn't that the exit? You see stuff like that in the movies.”
“Isn’t it an emergency exit rather than an exit? Well, since everything is blocked here….
Still, there must be a hole through which the wind can come in.”
“If you can hear the sound from here, it will be enough for people to come in and out.”
'I'll die if I go there.'
Again, all the wind noise now is the sound of monsters, and in the novel, Chief Kang died because he was caught by it.
It's fortunate that the rest of them survived somehow, but because of this, the whole party goes mental.
‘I fell into a strange world, where even a grain of air wants to kill us.
But, it never occurred to me someone could die.’ That was probably how it went.
Or maybe it was because what they knew subconsciously was confirmed in front of their eyes.
Since Lee Jaehun knew that, he dared to say, “It's strange,” and instilled slight hostility.
If it was the only correct answer when everyone else was wrong, no matter how mentally depleted, you would follow the person who was correct.
Of course, he had no intention of letting Chief Kang die.
“… Then let's go to where the sound is coming from.
Deputy Jung, can you still hear me?”
“Yes? Yes, I can hear you.”
Chief Kang, continue to draw with the marker.”
It was not his business whether Chief Kang died or the psyches of the others were discouraged, but the problem was that the main character hated Lee Jaehun and distrusted him.
He had no intention of saying anything out of the ordinary like that he was particularly hurt by it.
However, Lee Jaehun wanted to be one of the main characters, and for that, he had to build a minimum level of trust.
At least to the point where the protagonist wouldn't be watchful of the trash Department head until his death.
So, it would be nice if he could take this opportunity to solve that problem.
Lee Jaehun thought so and stepped forward.
* * *
Maybe it's because of the possibility of escaping.
As time passed, the other party also heard the sound of the wind.
[Note: I think those who hear the wind are those who are at ease?]
The only one who couldn't hear it was Lee Jaehun, but he didn't bother to reveal it.
And when the sound of the wind got quite close, Lee Jaehun stopped at a person crouching in the hallway.
“Who is it?”
A woman holding the corner of the wall turned her head towards their group.
“What what what.
“…Are you sick?”
“No, no, no!”
A familiar-looking employee ID hung around the woman's neck as she shook her head.
Judging from the fact that she was still wearing that childish necklace, it seemed that her rank was not very high.
And Lee Jaehun knew the identity of such a woman.
“The marketing department… I think, right?”
Kwon Yeon-hee from the marketing department.
She was an employee of a different department that the group encountered in the novel.
Of course, it is strange to know all the employees of this large company, so Lee Jaehun was vague.
The timing wasn't good enough to wait for the other person to introduce themselves.
“Ah, I'm Kwon Yeon-hee from the marketing department! Please take care of me! No, that’s not it…”
“I didn't know there were more people out there?”
Following Lee Jaehun's words, Chief Kang, who was standing right behind him, opened his mouth.
“Perhaps, all, other departments… Could it be that you came together? Like our department.”
That was right.
Those that were devoured by the underworld in the company were the planning team and marketing team to which the main character belonged.
In terms of progress, they're all going to die anyway.
The employee across from them must have had similar thoughts, and her expression collapsed.
“Ah, is your department okay? In Marketing, everyone went crazy…
“We did seem out of our minds, too.”
“They tried to kill each other! Like, wielding a knife…!”
One would probably think, “Oh, that's a bit much.”
'Come to think of it… Didn’t the marketing department break down just last week?’
The underworld reacts very sensitively to the stress of survivors.
It was not strange that they tried to kill each other, since their minds, already vulnerable, were subjected to such attacks.
Lee Jaehun pondered over whether such a description appeared in the novel but soon gave up.
It was because he couldn't remember that detail in the first place, and he felt that the spirits of the party who listened to Kwon Yeon-hee's words were getting discouraged.
It was an unavoidable reaction to hearing that others were killing each other after falling into this strange world.
However, it was not considered a very good situation for Lee Jaehun, who knew what was ahead.
As if embarrassed, he opened his mouth before the main character, who was trying to ask more questions.
“For now, we’re the only four sane people from our department who got out, are you going to come with us?”
“I came out to assess the situation, but I’m looking for a way out.”
Lee Jaehun pointed with his finger toward the curved hallway.
“Then we came here because we heard the sound of the wind.”
Perhaps the other person had similar thoughts.
While wandering outside in embarrassment at the slaughter party held by employees from the same department, she came all the way here thinking that the windy place was the exit.
“Can I…can I?”
“I’m fine, but I don’t know what the other guys think.”
“I’m fine too.”
In this situation, “What? I don't want to?' said no decent person ever.
Like it or not, as the new party increased, the main character seemed to have a lot of thoughts.
Due to his personality, he wouldn't be bothered by the extra luggage, he might be thinking that he should lead this group as safely as possible.
In that regard, things certainly seemed more relaxed than in the novel.
Lee Jaehun remembered the main character being more taciturn and quiet than he is now, for he had put every nerve he could into sober judgment.
Lee Jaehun looked at Chief Kang, who seemed happy that there was a junior like him joining, then turned his head and looked towards the curved hallway.
[Note: used 동생(dong-Seong) which means younger brother/sister or junior.]
He still couldn't hear the wind.
Lee Jaehun wanted to tell them that this was not the sound of the wind based on this but soon gave up.
He was getting a lot of suspicious looks from the main character, and as the old-fashioned senior head manager, he is mildly hated by the party.
Even if he told them, they would enter without understanding.
Lee Jaehun, who had been looking at the dark hallway for a while, glanced at the main character.
Dark eyes stared at him.
Lee Jaehun blinked at him once.
He probably didn't know exactly what that motion meant, but it was enough to get the attention of assistant manager Jung In-ho at least.
And the moment he stepped into the curved hallway,
Something resembling a spider's leg stabbed him in the shoulder.
Lee Jaehun, eyes wide open as if surprised, stepped backward, and at that moment, the long thing stuck in his shoulder came out.
He reflexively pressed the injured part with his hand, but the blood did not come out.
Around the time when he suddenly felt that his left arm was difficult to move, Lee Jaehun hit the spider's leg from behind with a pipe.
A grotesque sound resounded as if trampling on a large insect.
The shell, shiny like a cockroach, had crumbled as if it were harder than a pipe, and the inside was filled with terrifying blue slime.
It wasn't human by any means, but what emanated from the shattered spider legs was a distinct smell of blood.
Holding his stiff shoulder again, Lee Jaehun spoke softly as if he had finally grasped the situation.
A myriad of legs sprang up behind him.
Ending Note: This chapter was a huge pain, had to do a lot of research.
In particular, I finally realized the different positions in the company that Lee Jaehun, Jung In-ho, and Kang Min have, so there should no longer be any discrepancy in that area.
Happy New Year!
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