The monster lurched for the girl. I pushed her out of the way before it could reach her. The wild beast with a mane of gold, clearly frustrated that its prey was stolen from him, let out a guttural cry, a challenge to the man who dare prevent him from taking his prey. I let a guttural cry out as well and beat my chest as a sign of defiance and acceptance of this majestic beast’s challenge. The beast charged. I rolled to the right and let go of spikes which the beast ran over. The beast let out a cry of agony as it gingerly jumped out of my trap. I could feel its blood lust emanating throughout the air.
We began circling one another, looking for weaknesses to exploit on. This was a battle where one would walk out victorious and the other one dead. The beast lurched with its paws. I met him head on he as we were in a grid lock. The beast took a bite into me with his teeth, sinking deep into my flesh and tossed me like a piece of meat to the side. It didn’t even give me a second to recover as it pounced on me, swiping down with its vicious claws, attempting to bludgeon and rip me apart. I cupped the beasts neck with my left hand and with my right hand dug my fingers into the beast’s right eye socket. As the beast was temporality stunned, I grabbed onto the beast and flung myself onto the beast’s back, putting it into a rear naked choke.
No matter how hard the beast struggled, it could not break free of the deathening grip of my choke. It sat there, exhausting all options. Slamming, biting, moving, and even jumping, I held the choke until the monstrous beast started foaming by the mouth and finally stopped moving. Only then did I become aware of the villagers who gathered around the dead monster and me. They all cheered my name as I dispatched the beast that has been terrorizing them the past year, killing their cattle, terrorizing villagers, and even killed a few kids throughout the years. I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was the girl that I saved.
“Thank you for saving our village.” She blushed and looked down at the ground temporarily biting her lip… she pushed her body close to mine and leaned in.
The alarm went off. 5:30 A.M. displayed on the holographic screen. I pressed the snooze button. I rolled out of bed and reached into the drawer. I placed on my pair of school clothes. All students in secondary school in Korea have to wear the school uniform. It wasn’t so bad, but my uniform didn’t fit like it used to. I hobbled to the kitchen to see if there was anything for breakfast. I opened the refrigerator with a note inside saying to pick up the food from the grocery store. I looked toward the couch and saw her passed out the couch again next to a pile of booze. I crawled to my prosthesis and slipped on each, one leg at a time, and clipped on the grasp mechanism for my left hand. I stretched, letting my stiff limbs getting accustomed to my extensions attached.
“I should get these adjusted eventually since they don’t fit correctly. Also, I move quite awkwardly in these.”
I grabbed my book bag and made my way to school. As I walk in, public people tend to give me a weird stare. I always used to wonder as I child why people always looked at me funny. Now I realize why, probably because I don’t look South Korean. I’m not from an affluent background, so my clothes have never fit that well. Also, being a cripple doesn’t help much either.
I walked by the sidewalk and was intending to cross nearby until I saw Min-Jun, Ha- Joon, and Jun-Seo.
“I’ll just let them pass by first before I get to school.”
I stood there, watching from a distance as they crossed into the school. A group of girls walked by and the boys were distracted. This will probably be a good chance to try and go to school uninterrupted. I moved as fast as the prosthetics allowed me. Even if I did let them go in first, they would still hang around the school hallway before class started. As I walked toward the school I saw them hanging by the gate flirting with the same girls, hoping that I could use this as a means of distraction to enter peacefully. I was dead wrong.
“Hey Danny! You aren’t going to even say hi to us!” Ha-Joon exclaimed to the group. “He must think he’s better then us.”
The group surrounded me. “I thought we were friends, how can you treat your upperclassmen so disrespectfully?”
Min-Jun interjects, “I got to get to my next class guys.”
They formed a wall to make sure I couldn’t pass by.
“Well, we can let you go if you decide to apologize to us,” exclaimed Ha-Joon.
“I’m sorry, now can I please get to class,” I sighed.
“A crappy apology like that won’t do. We want a sincere apology. Bow!” one of the boy sneered.
“Yah, bow. Show us you sincerely mean it…” The bell rang just in the nick of time. The boys begrudgingly looked at one another.
“Well, I guess we will get an apology later. Let’s get to class before were marked tardy,” Min-Jun stated.
The group of boys proceeded to walk with the girls over to their next class. That was a close one. Literally saved by the bell, I wiped the sweat off my eyebrow. I walked into my class. Everyone seemed preoccupied, talking among their own group of people while waiting for the teacher to come in.
The teacher walked in, “Everybody take your seats.”
The group of bustling classmates quickly settled down.
The teacher began, “Is everyone prepared for today’s class?”
She went into mathematical proofs as I took down notes. I enjoyed the class and the break from worrying about the boys. I hoped that if I did well in class, I could get into a good Cram School and a better university. I wanted to honor my family by getting into the best college. The bell rang, and we switched to the next class.
The rest of the day went without a hitch. Boring as usual, there’s a great quote I read once, “Life is like a pendulum backward and forward between pain and boredom”. I strategically planned out my exit strategy for the day. Be the first one to leave and move as quick through a side exit to leave school the avoid the three stooges. I walked out and saw the three out of my peripheral vision. “Good, they haven’t spotted me yet, now’s my chance.”
I walked with my funny gait out one of the side entrances and went directly home. Then I realized, I forgot I needed to pick up some stuff from the supermarket. “
“Damn I’m starving, I haven’t eaten all day, maybe I’ll get some fish to bring back so we can make something for dinner.”
I walked into the grocery store and picked up what was needed on the list. Pork, Fish, white rice, vinegar, various vegetables, and beer. I paid the cashier and went on my way home. I grabbed the handle. It was locked. I went to grab the key under the door mat when the door opened.
“You get the stuff from the grocery store,” my mother shouted.
“Yes, I got it Mom”
“Good.” She grabbed the bag out of my hand. “Take out the trash,” she exclaimed, and she handed me the trash bag.
“Sure thing, mom.”
She closed the door and I walked down a few flights of stairs from the apartment we lived in to take the garbage out. Tomorrow is Friday. My face lit up. Guess I’m going to the book store tomorrow. I got back to home shortly after taking the trash out. By then, mom was already drinking beer, yet the food laid untouched. I took the food out and started preparing the meal. No matter what my mother said or did, I was raised to always respect your elders.
“You better not mess up like last time Danny. Make sure to debone the fish properly this time before serving it, you brat.”
I started off with the rice and some kimchee. I put the rice a salve and washed of the starch. I repeated this process 2-3 times before putting it into the rice cooker. I then went on preparing the main course. I cut open fish and slowly started to debone it over time. Then, I turned on frying pan and slowly cooked it. I went on and made tea from fresh tea leaves. I served the meal 15 minutes later.
After I finished eating I did my homework and went to sleep quickly. I entered another lucid dream this time. I was moving around in this field of grass and there was this tree getting blown by wind. I was able to move around with no restrictions, like I had my legs back. I decided to climb the tree and as I was on my way up, I saw a nest and tried to climb up for a closer look. There were 3 baby birds, but as I was captivated by these cute creatures, the branch I was holding snapped and the nest began to free fall. Crap! I held firmly with my left hand as I stretched out my now free right hand in attempt to catch the nest. Phew! Got it. I looked in the nest and only saw 2 birds. No! I looked down and saw the bird twitching clearly sustaining damage from the fall. I quickly scaled down the tree to assess the damage. The bird had sustained multiple broken bones from the fall. I stood there frozen, unsure what to do.
An old man walked toward us entering from the thickets of the forest. He bent down and examined the bird. He put his hands over the bird and it started moving as if it had previously. After observing this miracle, I saw the old man enter the thicket of the forest.
I woke up and I followed the same routine that I did every morning, but this time I grabbed my money I had been saving up in order to purchase my book. I went to school and luckily didn’t run into the three stooges. I went through the entire school day without an eventful occurrence and went directly to the book store after. I went through a few books and found an interesting classic called Cowboy Bebop. I had heard good things about this comic book in particular on online forums, so I wanted to check it out. I wonder if I should grab something to eat from the grocery store on the opposite side of the street. I decided against it since I wanted to start my new book as soon as possible.
“Hey Danny!” my body froze. “We never got that apology from you.”
I tried to get away, but it was too late. I was surrounded. I guess I should just get this over with. I bowed and said I was sorry to the 3 seniors.
“We’re friends, right Danny?” One of the boys inquired.
“Sure,” I meekly replied
“As your friend, you wouldn’t mind lending us that book you got there,” Ha-Joon requested.
“I’m sorry, I got to get home,” I nervously replied.
One of the boys lurched for the comic book. I pulled it back. The boy, annoyed that he didn’t get what he wanted initially, grabbed the book this time but I refused to let go. This was one of the few things that I refused to back down on. I could feel the stich ripping out from the back of the comic book.
“You b*****d!” I tried shoving the bully away from my comic book, which seemed to piss him off.
He grabbed me by my neck and kneed me in my stomach. I dropped to the floor like a old sack. He grabbed the book from my clutches. I tackled him we scuffled on the ground, but my prostheses weren’t holding up very well and were popping out of place. The three boys surrounded me and hurled insults as they beat and stomped me on the ground. My vision slowly started going black, and I blacked out temporarily. I woke up next to my ripped up comic book and I was all bloodied up. I saw her holding a juice box in hand and realized she had a second one in the other one.
“You got the s*** kicked out of you that’s for sure, juice?”
“Okay.” I grabbed the juice box and drank it. I happily sipped the grape flavored beverage.
“I thought you would of definitely bolted,” the girl said.
“Well, it’s kinda hard without legs and with a grasping mechanism for my other hand. Grappling and running aren’t really my forte.”
She laughed, “My names Ji-soon Smith, and yours?”
“My name is Danny. Not many foreigners out here. Why do you live here with a name like that.”
“One of my parents was American,” she stated
“What happened to him,” I asked, surprised that I she was speaking to me after getting beat up.
“No idea. He got up and left once I was born.”
She quickly switched the subject over to the book, “You like Comic books.”
“Yah, always have since I was a kid,” I responded. “Cowboy Bebop is one of the best classics. A shame those ass hats ruined it for you. I got a copy back at my place. Wanna hang out tomorrow.” I couldn’t believe those words had just come out of my mouth. Maybe the stooges hit me harder than I thought.
“Sure,” she appeared to respond with confidence.
I answered nervously, “Sweet, lets meet here tomorrow after school.”
I couldn’t believe it. I got back home, bloody and battered, but I couldn’t care less. I got asked by a pretty girl to hang out tomorrow. I went to sleep, happier than I had been in a long time.
The next day I felt sore and my face was a bit swollen from the beatdown. Also, my head hurt quite a bit, but it didn’t matter I things were finally taking a turn for the better. I was greeted by the three stooges when I arrived, but this time they left me alone because they were too busy flirting with a group of girls.
The rest of day was uneventful once again and I found myself quickly leaving right at the end of last period to meet with the angel that rescued my yesterday. I connected with her at our agreed upon location. She had we would swing by the place where she kept “the comic.” We arrived at a warehouse and once we opened it up the large, steel door. The warehouse initially looked just like any other in the industrial section of Seoul. But then, the light began to shine through a small window near the sealing and I saw piles of books stacked. More books than I had ever seen in my life. It was awesome. I had never seen anything like it. I immediately sat down and began looking through the first stack.
She began asking me questions about my family and we began talking about life. She then offered me some tea. I gracefully accepted. The tea was really
good. I wonder what was in it. I began feeling a little funny, the room started to spin… I passed out. I woke up on a gurney strapped down and had an IV attached to me. I woke up in abject horror.
“Where am I and why am I strapped down?”
A group of guys who looked like doctors, but I didn’t think they were. And then girl popped in. I asked her what was happening.
“Well, we ran out of test subjects and you happened to fit the mold. Sorry, I had to get you here this way, but I was vetting you to see if you met our specifications and you were perfect. Family connection minimal, no friend base, missing limbs, and in your adolescence. Just try not to die during surgery.”
“What surgery what do you mean,” I screamed.
I barely got the words out when the “doctor” injected me with a needle.
“You see, Danny” the girl explained, “we specialize in stem cell research and we are trying to develop a way for humans to regenerate limbs, so we could sell our findings to the South Korean military. Could you imagine? What an advantage we have over the North. Not only would this be a big achievement for our brave fighters, but we would earn a notable place in Korean society. You know how much this society values wealth and power. The problem with this technology is that we need live subjects to test our theories. Otherwise, we can’t prove if they actually work or not. Obviously, this would be incredibly illegal, so you happen to be the perfect test subject. Good luck, as this will be incredibly painful and not a single subject has survived one of the procedures.”
They began cutting my one good limp from its socket, as they wanted to test out whole serum in the limb. I screamed out of agony, as I saw my one working limb being cut off like a piece of meat. The surgery continued, they started injected each socket with several needles, hosted by a machine which inserted stem cells into the limb, which in turn started regenerating each the muscle and bone. They also nailed a base structure for the muscle to grow in to make sure each grew to a certain size they wanted specified. It got so painful throughout the surgery, lost consciousness many times. I finally woke up, and saw my limbs mutilated beyond recognition. I screamed in horror as I saw each limb more grotesque then the other.
The girl interjected, “Sorry to say this to you subject 67, you failed the test, but you did give us good data. This is the first time a subject survived the full course of treatment. Unfortunately, the samples weren’t created correctly. Thanks for your life.”
“What?” I screamed but it was too late. A needle was injected into my artery and everything went black.
As I began to lose consciousness, the last thing I heard was the girl saying, “Well, we need a new subject. I’ll go looking on the streets for more.”