Chapter 1 - Am I the same as them?

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Profiler /ˈprōˌfīlər/ noun

plural noun: profilers

  • a person who records and analyzes someone’s psychological and behavioral characteristics to assess or predict their capabilities or assist in identifying categories of people.1

“… In conclusion, the boy here is your son, Professor Im.” The doctor hesitated as he looked through his glasses.

Across him was a child, who appeared to be around 6 to 7 years old, seated on a man’s lap while nodding his head with headphones on.

“Professor Im, I am unsure of what to say.”

“… I can understand even if you don’t say anything. It has to be one of the two: psychopathy or an antisocial personality disorder. He is probably on the border between those two.”

The doctor nodded with a painstaking expression on his face.

The man called Professor Im looked down at his child.

The child looked emotionless—no—he seemed to be a laid-back individual unconcerned about anything. It was just Professor Im who was sad.

“Still, have some confidence, Professor. Since it isn’t psychopathy.”

“You were my student, so you should be aware of it. Psychopathy and antisocial personality disorders, after all, are like the front and back of the same piece of paper.”

“… you are putting in harsh terms.”

The child fiddled with the doctor’s nameplate. The doctor and the professor talked about the child they were with, yet the child didn’t seem to care.

Clang.

“…”

The child threw the doctor’s nameplate and broke the window. At that moment, both the doctor and Professor Im were puzzled.

“Hansol*-ah*! Why did you do that?!” Professor Im shouted, but Hansol, who still had the headphones on, couldn’t understand. Hansol just kept on staring at the broken window.

Neither joy nor anger could be made out in that child’s face. Professor Im rushed over to Hansol and searched his body for any injuries. Fortunately, he didn’t seem hurt.

“Are you fine?” Professor saw his student, the doctor, who shook his hand and said it was fine. However, his eyes lingered on what had just happened.

Professor Im knew very well what had to be done. “Let me pay for the replacement of the window glass. That is the least I could do.”

“Why would I let the professor pay—”

“Obviously, this is my responsibility since this is something my child did.”

Professor Im spoke firmly.

While Professor Im was trying hard to make up for the situation, the child who created the problem still had on a blank expression. Looking up at his father, his eyes asked if they could head out quickly.

Professor Im was also prepared to get home. If he stayed any longer, he would become a burden to his student.

“… Hansol*-ah*, let’s go.”

Holding onto Hansol’s tiny hands, the professor left the clinic in a hurry. Once he walked out, he heard the nurses gossip about him and Hansol, probably because of the noise they heard from the room. Professor Im wasn’t sure if he would ever return to his student’s clinic again, so he bowed and headed out.

Hansol, who created the situation, kept walking beside the professor without reaction. He looked around to realize that everyone was looking at his father.

Did father do something?

“Dad.” Hansol kept on calling for his dad while walking. However, his father’s gaze never reached his.

Arriving at the car, Hansol got into the passenger seat with his father still refusing to look at him. Instead, he only looked straight ahead.

“Hansol, what did dad tell you? Didn’t I say that you are not supposed to throw anything?”

“I liked the smooth feel, so I just threw it.”

“Hansol.”

The professor’s voice turned stern. Hansol understood exactly what that meant: his father was enraged, and such a situation did not occur only once or twice. Professor Im was firm in his reprimanding of Hansol. Hansol saw this and gazed into his father’s eyes. He had no idea what the other people’s reference points were.

“I’m sorry.”

He gave a blunt response. Hansol knew very well what kind of answers he had to give to please his father. Once he said ‘sorry,’ it would end. That was what the 7-year-old Hansol understood.

Grabbing onto the steering wheel, Professor Im sighed. He wondered if Hansol really understood it or if it was just a plain analysis of incidents.

“Im Hansol. Are you really sorry to your dad?”

“Yes, dad. I am sorry.”

“Hansol*-ah*. I’ll let this incident go just for today. However, don’t tell your mom about this.”

When such things happened, Professor Im repeatedly reminded Hansol not to inform his mother. Professor Im always says the same line whenever he does something his father disapproves of. Professor Im always spoke the same line, especially when he tore off a butterfly’s wings, a dragonfly’s wings, or seemed apathetic while trampling ants.

Hansol never understood his father’s reasons for saying such words, but he never told his mother. Hansol’s mother was under the impression that her child was mature and trustworthy, which is something not suitable for his age. Not once had she noticed that Professor Im was struggling on his own.

“Once we head home today, how about we talk among ourselves? Okay? Im Hansol.”

“Yes, dad. We will.”

The so-called talk with Professor Im was his education with Hansol. The professor, who noticed Hansol’s mental development early on, would correct his child’s behavior whenever he displayed an abnormal attitude to ensure that his wife didn’t notice. It was to the point that he’s making Hansol look ‘normal’ to others’ eyes. Hansol would have been so much trouble had it not been for those talks.


… ugh.

Hansol woke up from sleep. His sleep was often deep, but there were times when he would dream about the past days when he was being educated by his father, Professor Im. Those times were such unwelcome reminiscing for Hansol.

Before he could completely wake up and get out of bed, the police station had called.

“Yes, Detective.”

[You will have to hurry here, Doctor Im.]

“What is this about?”

[You remember that serial killer in Hwajong-dong? He was caught and now claims that he has some kind of mental illness. It is clear that he is just trying to get out of this… Doctor, please help us out.]

“First, secure his medical records and other necessary things.” As he hung up the phone, Hansol turned on and looked at the TV with a blank expression.

[Breaking News. The culprit of the serial murders has been revealed as Mr. Kim Mo. He is said to have killed 11, with 6 of them being buried. Mr. Kim is said to be suffering from a mental disorder and had no other option but to take the help of a public-sponsored attorney. The public is wondering if the prosecution will take his plea into account…]

‘Am I the same as them?’

His father always tried to educate him to be like the others. Today, Hansol’s dream of being and working with his father made him feel strange. As soon as he got up, his head began to throb, making him reach out for the medicine from the table.

His father called as he was about to get ready to head out to the police station.

He talked to his father once or twice a year. That, too, happens only when his father calls. Hansol didn’t want to answer his father’s phone call right away in the morning, probably because he had a strange feeling toward his father. No matter how much his father educated him, he couldn’t stop it on that day.

Some call it having emotions, some call that emotion ‘hate,’ and some…

Hansol stared at his phone, ringing with a cheerful sound on the table, for a brief moment and then swiped the screen to the left. His phone, which went silent after rejecting the call, rang again.

“… damn it.”

Hansol knew why his father was being so persistent. He didn’t even have to look at the calendar to know what the day meant.

That day. It had been 10 years since that day happened. Even today, 10 years later, his father was still unable to let go of what happened. Hansol couldn’t fully understand his father’s heart. However, he knew one thing: what happened then had to be solved.

“Hello.”

[Hansol*-ah*, it is today. Don’t forget to come home after work.]

“… fine.” The conversation between them ended there.

Hansol changed his clothes and headed to the police station.

When he arrived there, a familiar detective welcomed him.

“Dr. Im. You came just in time. The interrogation is underway—”

“Hold on.”

“Mixed coffee, one cup.”

“No.”

Ah… right! Dr. Im doesn’t like mixed coffee, right? Then, how about I go ahead and get you an Americano?”

The detective seemed to be in a good mood. It was as if he was overflowing with positive emotions after catching the serial killer. Hansol wasn’t swept away by those emotions. He was only called to analyze the criminal’s psychology and that they hadn’t indicted him yet.

And… he was curious.

He was curious about the mental disorder emphasized by the killer that coincided with the condition he had been aware of for 25 years. If not for that, Hansol wouldn’t have taken such a career. He chose this path because he was curious if there was someone like him. His father liked thinking that Hansol was well educated. However, Hansol knew… that wasn’t the case.

Until now, he never found the real thing among those in society who called themselves misfits.

“Dr. Im, would you like to drink this?” Hansol raised his head at the sarcastic voice of someone. Hwajong police station’s troublemaker, Woo-cheol, stood there holding an Iced Americano.

Woo-cheol would react the same way whenever Hansol visited. Sometimes, he could openly solve the cases, and sometimes he would ask Hansol to be the profiler for the case. Even then, Hansol never expressed anything to him. It wasn’t because Woo-cheol was a low-ranking detective; rather, the superiors selected who would be assigned to which cases.

And he knew well how he was being referred to.

Im Hansol, the Genius Profiler.

“… thank you.”

“You came from afar, but you are being made to wait for so long?”

“It doesn’t matter if I’m waiting. Go back to your work.”

However, Woo-cheol didn’t go and instead sat right next to Hansol.

“Doctor. Answer me honestly. You are tired of meeting those bastards, right?”

“… not all questions have to be answered.”

“Every time I see you, I am always curious. My nose works like a dog’s nose, and you smell very strange. You seem very similar to the ones inside. So tell me honestly, looking at those pups, something inside you awakened, right?”

Hansol turned his head toward Woo-cheol, who asked a non-filtered question.

Hansol replied, “… well, the detective doesn’t seem much different from them either.”

“… what?”

“It is like you are speaking about yourself by using me as an example. Could you be trying to explain yourself?”

“Wai-wait! Doctor!”

“Yah! Kang Woo-cheol! Don’t bother the doctor and go away!”

“Yes, senior!”

Woo-cheol was called by the senior detective. Hansol looked back and suddenly thought of that day. Maybe today was the best day to think of that day.

To say that they and I smell the same… maybe because of the abilities that I have had since then.

Hansol’s life had changed since that day.


Angel’s Corner

Ari and Angel are here again with another novel! Since I like action and mystery novels, I’m enjoying this one so far. The topic’s a bit controversial, and I’m looking forward to how the author will tackle it. The reviews in novelupdates are fantastic as well! So, I’m excited.

Since we’re gonna be solving cases in this novel, let’s have fun! I’ll give you some challenges to solve at the end of every chapter! Here’s an easy one to start. 😍


Chapter Challenge:

Solve this code!

J bn bu uif upq pg fwfszuijoh.

J bn bmxbzt vtfe cz hsfbu qfpqmf.

Boe J bn uif iptu pg joufmmfdu boe sfbtpojoh.

Xibu bn J?

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