Chapter 58 - Inside Out (5)

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After Woojin finished laughing, he continued his explanation.

“A person’s deepest thoughts are bound to appear when they are feeling fear. I don’t know what emotions you two shared just now, but I was looking at something else.”

Tap tap.

Woojin spun the scalpel around and tapped the handle on Gyosu’s left hand.

“See, look at it. The fingers that were tapping around just a bit ago are calm right now. You should be able to move them around normally right now, am I correct?”

Gyosu looked at his left hand, unable to hide the shock on his face. Like the old man said, the fingers that Hyde had taken after becoming part of his body now completely felt like his.

“It means the subconsciousness felt threatened and hid behind the main consciousness. He’s depending on you. At least for now.”

Gyosu stared at Woojin, who announced this proudly with an annoyed expression. The wound he got from banging his head on the table was still bleeding. Every time the blood dripped, he could feel his patience dropping with it.

“Then, the blood coming out of my forehead….”

“Ah, I’m sorry about that. I didn’t know you would respond that strongly. Hmm…. It doesn’t seem like a big wound, so I’ll just put some styptic on it.”

“…You just put my fingers on the line and are just finishing it with, ‘Oh I was just acting?’ Don’t you know that three fingers less in the Wasteland means the end of—”

“I never said it was all acting. Of course, I was going to cut it off if you didn’t come around.”

After roughly applying some ointment on Gyosu’s forehead, Woojin continued.

“Isn’t that obvious? If you weren’t able to talk until your fingers were cut off, then it meant that the subconsciousness that felt threatened was not depending on the main consciousness but instead was still trying even harder to take over your body and that you weren’t able to stop it from doing so. If you at least get rid of the source of sensory it had in the body, then it would need to at least depend on you for external senses. And you would naturally be able to take control of your body like that.”

Gyosu was about to talk back but closed his mouth again. The old man’s serious eyes proved that he was genuinely thinking about cutting off his fingers.

Rustle, rustle—

After taking out a piece of paper from his desk, Woojin scribbled something on the paper and handed it to Gyosu.

“Here’s your prescription. A mood stabilizer, and the anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics you always took. That’s it.”

“This is it? But there’s nothing different from before.”

“I already told you. It can’t be solved with medications. From what I think, there’s only one way to cure this.”

Clack—

Gyosu swallowed nervously as Woojin’s voice turned serious.

The sound of him putting down the pen sounded like a judge’s gavel striking the sound block.

“GG, solving it within that frame. I don’t know if that Game of Gedroits or something could even be called a program now, but one thing that is certain is that its technology is advanced enough to plant a new consciousness into a person’s mind, like you right now. So that means it should also have the technology to take out that new consciousness. Well, the best method is probably to do that ‘all clear’ thing those Dome guys are crazy about and go to the Gedroits Company and shake that crazy old man until he gives you a solution.”

“Go to Gedroits…..? What do you mean?”

“Oh, right, most of you people don’t know. I guarantee you. Andre Gedriots, that old man, is still alive. One way or another.”


Clomp, clomp, clomp.

Gyosu thought about what Old Man Woojin said as he went to the 3rd floor to pick up his medications.

‘Andre Gedriots is alive.’

It was a topic that many people talked about in the Community. The old man was certain about his opinion.

‘Gedroits Company, the headquarters of the only online service of this era, GG, and the last remaining source of lost technology. Everyone assumes that it’s just the remnants of an incredible technological civilization but doesn’t know exactly what’s in that place.’

Old Man Woojin recalled his past, reminiscing about his memories.

‘3 years ago, before I opened this hospital, I received a mission that was going to end up being the end of my mercenary career. You probably know this part too. The Dome said that whoever provided them with information related to the Gedriots Company would receive more Shilling than they could use in a lifetime. I fought in the Great Disaster and was pretty famous for my mercenary work back in the day, so I found a decent amount of information, but the more I looked into this Gedroits Company, the more ominous rumors I found.’

After that, Woojin elaborated on the information he found at that time. The continuous supply of drones, the products from the Old Times that were sold under the GG name, and the disappearance of every designer and worker from the ‘secret bunker’…..

‘Thinking about it, people like us don’t attack the drones because we need the Community and GG to survive, but for the Psycho Gang and some scavengers, those drones are just flying bags of money. Just looking at the number of chargeable batteries coming onto the Market, you could see just how many of them were being hunted. But I haven’t heard of a single case where a trade has been delayed due to a lack of drones.’

Woojin put all of the pieces of information together and came to one conclusion.

The Gedroits Company’s secret server room wasn’t just created to extend the game’s server life. But it was a massive facility that contained everything needed to survive after the destruction of the world, and Andre Gedroits was still alive in that facility, watching everything that was happening in the current world.

“Is that why the Dome and Raptor are all so intent on that All Clear…..”

Rustle—

“50 thousand Shillings.”

“Ah, wait a moment.”

Gyosu put down his thoughts for a moment and scanned his wrist against the portable bio-scanner in front of the pharmacy.

When the man sitting at the counter, protected by two layers of iron bars, checked that the money was paid, he handed him two labeled glass bottles.

“One pill after eating in the morning and at night. Don’t waste them. You can’t die from overdosing.”

“Aw. Do I look like that kind of person to you?”

“A person that wasn’t like that wouldn’t even need these pills.”

Gyosu laughed at the man’s response as he left the pharmacy.

“I have money and time to relax now, but I still need to depend on that darned game.”

Gyosu thought about the now-quiet Hyde that was inside his head. It was complicated. His dependency on me and his desire to take over my body existed simultaneously. The fact that I could read those thoughts to some extent already showed how much this guy was dangerously intertwined with my own consciousness.

“Right, I need to figure out what happened in the game and where it started.”

I’ll look for a way first. It is true that I won’t feel right just killing him off like that. But if I can’t find a way and he steps over the line at some point….

‘I’ll consider him as an enemy then.’

It was true he liked the guy, but there was no reason to keep him alive when my life was being threatened.

[Ain’t that too harsh of a verdict? You can’t find any nicer infectious agent than me out there!]

‘And that’s because you have no way of taking over my body. If you had a way to kick me out right now, are you still going to play friendly with me?’

Snicker.

The guy just laughed at my question.

‘We’re in the same situation right now, so let’s just cooperate for now. Until you find a way to take over my body, and I find a way to kick you out.’

And a smile that was similar to his spread across my face.

He was definitely like me.


The treatment room now contained one less person. Ian and Vex were sitting in front of Woojin with serious expressions, listening to what he was saying.

“You both heard what Gyosu said back there, right?”

“Mm.”

“We were listening.”

“Right. You guys live in the Wasteland, too, so you shouldn’t be too dense.”

Woojin reached into the cigar pack Ian gave him, realizing it was empty, and turned to Ian, but continued to talk after seeing Ian’s hand move toward his holster.

“Gyosu is completely over his heels for that Hyde or something right now, is that what you wanted to say?”

“I knew you’d pick up on that.”

Tap, tap. Rustle.

Vex was sitting anxiously on the chair and then started to organize the pens and documents that were scattered on Woojin’s desk with a nervous expression.

“Let’s talk about the complicated stuff later. ‘The thing moved Gyosu’s body while he was unconscious.’ That one truth shows how much danger Gyosu is in right now. That means the subconsciousness could control the body any time the main consciousness is asleep. That could even mean that it could try to threaten Gyosu by going up on a chair with a rope around its neck when Gyosu is asleep, then go, ‘I’ll die if you don’t listen to my commands.’ And Gyosu Park is the master of those cunning trickeries. If that personality absorbed all that knowledge, it might be easy to trick Gyosu like that.”

“An internal enemy…. That’s a pain in the ass. We can’t just kill him off or anything.”

The two people nodded in unison, and Vex, who had completely organized the desk to the T, was now organizing the books on the bookshelf by alphabetical order.

“Gyosu Park, that guy denies it, but who knows? Everyone knows what happened to players that got overwhelmed by GG! In my opinion, that possession or something isn’t something inside the game. It was something made by the game’s program inside the player’s brain. Its creation is already based on reality. The mental illness is planted in the brain by that program! And most of the surviving humans have it! Everyone is relying on that pod, which is basically a mental illness trigger!”

Bang!

Woojin slammed his hand on the table, his voice rising in rage. And he shared the single suspicion that he had that made him give up his life as a mercenary.

“There is no such thing as a coincidence in this world. I think this world is caught in this massive trap made by Andre Gedriots.”

And we are no bigger than a small part of that flow, unable to do anything about it. No matter how hard we struggle.

From the man who seemed like he could fight against any foe that came his way, a sigh escaped his mouth, worn down by the harsh truth of life.

“Oi, jaw boy and oldie. You’re friends with Gyosu Park, right?”

When the two of them nodded slowly, Woojin addressed them as he pressed the numbers into the safe on the back side of his desk drawer.

“Then let me ask you a favor.”


“A-choo! Ugh, damn. This darned dust.”

Gyosu left the hospital and was heading back home. He thought of talking with Ian and Vex after meeting for the first time in a while, but the two of them hurriedly returned home, saying that they had something to do.

“Hmph. Leaving a patient alone like this. Those heartless bastards.”

[Can’t you cover up your face any better? This sand is irritating.]

“You’re the one freeloading off my body, don’t tell me what to do. I’m the one actually eating the sand, and I’m staying quiet.”

Even after saying that Gyosu tightened the turban wrapped around his head.

‘A sandstorm just had to blow through in this open field. What luck.’

Calculating the time he traveled, he was probably in the area between Area 45 and Area 43. He avoided places with buildings where survivors might be hiding or living. But if he knew this would happen, he would have chosen to avoid the storm, even if it meant a few scuffles here and there.

[I told you we should have gone that way.]

‘You just wanted to see the corpses, you man-eating species.’

[Boo, that’s racist.]

But time definitely went faster because he had someone to talk to. Of course, that guy was also a ticking time bomb, but he was already stuck with him, so he might as well look at the bright side of the situation.

Roooooooar!

‘Damn it, the storm’s getting even worse.’

[Isn’t this dangerous right now? Your body doesn’t grow back in this world, does it?]

‘It doesn’t. If push comes to shove, we’ll just need to dig into the ground and wait until the storm passes.’

It could take an hour to three days for a sandstorm to pass. So Gyosu started to calculate the food and water he had in his backpack. As he was detaching the survival shovel that was hanging on the bag when…

Vroooom—

Vrrooaoom!

‘A car!’

He could hear the sound of an offroad vehicle’s rough engine approaching him.

[What? Why’s that here? You erased your footsteps when you came here!]

‘There must be a better tracker on their side, then! Darn it, it’s going to be a one-sided fight in an open field like this…….!’

Gyosu hurriedly dug out the sand using his shovel and flattened his body against the ground. In the distance, he could see a large black truck racing through the storm. On the truck was the distinct pattern of a Raptor Society’s scales.

[R-Raptor! Isn’t that a really big organization? The guys that burn everything down except bullets?]

‘We really might die then. There’s no reason for them to come all this way, though…. Were they really looking for my tracks until now?’

Gyosu remembered Kesselring’s scream as half of his face melted down from the poison and pulled out the loaded shotgun behind his back.

[Oh, lookie, a gun! Hold it with your left hand. I wanna shoot it.]

‘Shut up. If you mess it up in a real battle, I’m just going to cut your fingers off.’

Vraaaaam—!

The sound of the engine was getting closer. A battle was not an option. To prevent them from chasing him, it was best to aim for the tires and shut down the enemy’s transportation, but……

‘I don’t know if it’s possible to even scratch those massive tires on that truck.’

Even if he used a slug, he wasn’t sure if it was going to puncture the tires of that truck. The situation was becoming darker every second.

‘It’s coming directly this way. The front glass panel is directly in front of me. If I’m lucky, I could start the fight with the driver down…..!’

Gyosu slowly pulled out the shotgun. He could do it. Just one shot, one shot to kill the driver and run!

[Take a deep breath, calm down, slowly, as if time was flowing slowly…..]

‘Shut up, will you!’

Aim for the right side of the front glass panel. The armored cars from Raptors were well known for their sturdy glass, so when they’re as close as possible….

‘Huh?’

[Heh?]

Gyosu stopped his breathing, and when he aimed for the face of the driver that was slowly starting to appear through the sandstorm, Gyosu put down his gun and stood up.

That was because the lower chin of the driver was made up of very familiar metals.

“Hey! Why are you guys here?”

Krrrrrrrrgg—

Beep beep!

They must have found Gyosu only after he stood up, as the truck Ian was driving approached him, beeping at him as a greeting. On the back of the truck was the Hummer, connected with a chain, and behind that was Vex, who was following on a Buggy that was very heavily accessorized.

Screeech— dudududu—

After stopping the car right next to Gyosu, Ian turned the window down and talked to the stunned man.

“Keheheh! Oi, young’un, that looks like a hobo! Want a ride?”

Ian leaned his arm on the windowsill, saying that cheesy line with a bizarre smile where only his upper lip was smiling.

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