Chapter 19. His Descent (6)

Choi Yeong-Su shuddered at that terrifying glare. It was scary. So scary! The pain in his body was nothing compared to the terror he felt from the ‘Kang Jin-Ho’ in front of him. So much so that he was ready to do anything just to escape from this suffocating terror.

"I, I'm sor—"

“Thanks to your grandfather, my father had to lower his head.”

“...?”

Kang Jin-Ho's expression darkened further and further. "He... I never really remembered much about him. If you ask me whether I feel any filial love or something like that about him, I'd have to say no. It's just that... I've been trying pretty hard to feel affection for him since he's my family and all."

Choi Yeong-Su's terrified mind couldn't process just what Kang Jin-Ho was trying to say here. But there was no mistaking the intense fury bubbling within his words. And this fury was amplifying Choi Yeong-Su's terror even more.

“But someone like that had to bow his head because of me. Did you know that when he bowed, it felt like my blood flow suddenly reversed? That emotion... I haven't felt like that in ages. Do you understand what I'm saying?”

“Y-yeah.”

“No, you don't.”

"W-wait! I do! I swear..."

“Doesn't matter. I'll make you understand soon enough.” Kang Jin-Ho smiled coldly as he glared into Choi Yeong-Su's eyes. “Let's take it slow, shall we? The night's long, after all. We shall continue until... Until you finally figure it out.”

The creepily-smiling Kang Jin-Ho reached out and grabbed Choi Yeong-Su's ribs. The latter pitifully whimpered, “P-please...!”

“You need to learn what it means to provoke me.”

“I, I'm sorry. Please...!”

Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head. “What will you do if I stop now?”

“I... I'll apologize in public! And, and I'll do anything you want! T-that's why, please...!”

"Just make everything right again."

“I, I got it! I really do! I swear!” Choi Yeong-Su broke down in a flood of tears.

Kang Jin-Ho quietly growled, “I will be watching you. I will watch how you make everything right again. However, it'll be in your best interest not to do anything foolish.”

Choi Yeong-Su's vision suddenly grew blurry and dark. His fading consciousness meant that he didn't quite catch everything Kang Jin-Ho had said toward the end.

"Do not forget. This isn't over yet..."

Those parting words didn't register fully in Choi Yeong-Su's mind. And he only woke up with a start when someone began shaking him around.

"Heok?!" Choi Yeong-Su freaked out and flailed his arms around everywhere. "D-don't touch me!"

Lee Min-Sik cried out, “Hey, Yeong-Su! What's gotten into you, dude?!”

Huh?! W-where... Where is that son of a b*tch?!”

“Who are you talking about?”

“K-Kang Jin-Ho...”

"What do you mean?! There's no one besides you here, dude. Why are you even lying on the ground anyway?" Lee Min-Sik asked, sounding flustered and confused.

Choi Yeong-Su felt his body involuntarily shudder once again. This was proof that all the pain he felt wasn't part of some terrifying dream. He quietly asked his goon, "You... didn't see him?"

“Dude, you're scaring me.”

“What.. what time is it?”

“The time? Huh?! How did it get this late already? It's three in the morning?!”

Choi Yeong-Su grit his teeth when Lee Min-Sik gasped in shock.

Kang Jin-Ho!

That was definitely not a dream. Without a shred of doubt, Kang Jin-Ho had shown up. Choi Yeong-Su had indeed thrown away his pride, begging and groveling before that bastard like some kind of an insect.

"You f*cking son of a...!" Choi Yeong-Su's clenched teeth creaked noisily. He couldn't let this go. He could never, ever let that bastard off the hook now!

***

The next morning...

“Hello? The police station, you say?” Kang Yu-Hwan answering the phone glanced at Kang Jin-Ho with narrowed eyes. “I see. Yes, we will be there.”

As he put the phone down, Kang Jin-Ho's mother, Baek Hyeon-Jeong, asked him with a worried voice, “What was that about, dear?”

Mmmm, not sure. They want Jin-Ho to come to the station again.”

"But that detective said we don't have to, so why...?"

"What can we do when they want him to come again? We don't have a choice but to do as we were told. Jin-Ho, get ready," said Kang Yu-Hwan to his son.

“Alright.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded, put on a jacket, then stepped outside the house.

“I wonder what they want this time...” Kang Yu-Hwan muttered as he started the car.

When Kang Jin-Ho and his father reached the police station, they were greeted by Detective Park from the last time.

The cop ushered them in. “This way, you two.”

Kang Yu-Hwan let his displeasure known to Detective Park almost immediately. "Why have you summoned my son here again, Detective?"

“Well, sir. We received another complaint against your son this morning. The same victim as the last time is now saying that Kang Jin-Ho attacked him again last night.”

“Last night?!” The clearly-stunned Kang Yu-Hwan looked back at his son. “Is this true?”

Kang Jin-Ho shook his head. “No, that's a lie.”

Detective Park stared at Kang Jin-Ho with an unconvinced face before continuing with his questioning. "It does sound strange, but it's my job to investigate, you see. Student Jin-Ho, where were you between one and two o'clock this morning?"

“I was at home.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

Kang Yu-Hwan butted in. "My son was home during the early hours of this morning. I saw him myself."

Mmmm...” Detective Park narrowed his eyes in suspicion as he studied Kang Jin-Ho.

However, Kang Jin-Ho suddenly spoke up as if he remembered something. “Wait, if you say around one, I wasn't exactly home at that time.”

“Is that right? Where were you, then?”

"I couldn't sleep. And it was stuffy at home, so I popped into a local convenience store a couple of times."

“What? Are you saying you went outside your house, then?”

Kang Jin-Ho nodded. "Yes, but I stayed near the convenience store before heading home. I bought a cup of coffee, then some soda afterward."

Detective Park asked sharply, “Can you prove it?”

“I used my card, so you can check the purchase history.”

“It's possible that you weren't the one buying that stuff, though?”

Kang Jin-Ho asked rhetorically. “Surely that convenience store has security cameras, right?”

"Mmhmm..." Detective Park nodded involuntarily. The store most likely did have cameras, which would prove that Kang Jin-Ho was nearby at the time.

It was right at that moment that the interrogation was interrupted by a commotion coming from outside the office. Mere seconds later, the chief director and Choi Yeong-Su burst inside, full of anger.

“You! You stinking punk dare to lay your hands on my grandson again?!” The chief director tried to charge straight at Kang Jin-Ho, but Detective Park stopped the old man just in time. The chief director roared, “Get out of my way!”

“Sir! He's still a person of interest. Nothing has been proven yet, so please calm down, sir! And he has a perfect alibi, too.”

“Alibi? What?!”

"He stopped by at a convenience store twice between one and two o'clock, when the assault allegedly took place, sir."

The chief director roared once again, “So what? What about afterward?!”

“Choi-gun alleged that the assault took place around one in the morning, sir. After checking the testimonies and the phone records, we can also reasonably conclude that the alleged crime took place within that time frame, sir."[1]

“He must have hurt my grandson between buying whatever he was buying in that store!”

“Sir, do you have any idea what's the distance between the convenience store in question and the location where Choi-gun said the assault happened? Even a jet plane would not get there in time."

“...!” The chief director's expression crumpled. “That bastard admitted that he hit my grandson, didn't he?!”

“Sir, don't forget that you're in a police station! You're causing a scene here, sir!”

The chief director didn't back down and continued with his unsightly abuse of power. “You idiot of a cop! Do you really think that your neck will be safe after this nonsense?! Do you?!”

“Chief Director, do not forget that we have cameras in the office!”

"Keuh-huk!" The chief director scowled, then shot a murderous glare at Kang Jin-Ho. He was convinced that this young punk had done something because his grandson would never lie to him. He must have used some sort of insidious method in the commission of the crime, but since it was impossible to prove the guilt, it frustrated the old man to no end.

Kang Jin-Ho quietly stared at the chief director before slowly cracking his lips open. “By the way...”

"What is it now?"

Kang Jin-Ho shifted his gaze over to Detective Park. “Didn't you tell me that the prognosis was six weeks of recuperation the last time I was here?”

The detective stammered, “Well, yeah. I did...”

“Can a patient requiring six weeks of recuperation walk around completely fine after only three days? And even go out to a nightclub, too?”

"...Huh?!" Detective Park gasped before quickly turning his head to stare at Choi Yeong-Su. The latter sneakily avoided the cop's glare. 

The cop quietly muttered, "Chief Director Choi Myeong-Gil."

“...”

“Since you're already here, how about you drop the charges before going home, sir?”

“Why should I?!”

"If you don't, you might get hit with a counterclaim for forging medical records and lying in your victim's statement, sir. In my opinion, the winner’s too obvious. I already told you this a minute ago, but our offices have CCTV cameras, sir."

The chief director gasped in shock and hurriedly looked up at the cameras. He belatedly realized that he had made a mistake. Bad rumors doing the rounds could always be quashed, but extinguishing tangible evidence was a lot harder. Especially more so with visual proof like videos—those could end up in the hands of the media and cause something unmanageable in the blink of an eye.

The chief director surreptitiously scanned his surroundings. His brief but loud roaring seemed to have attracted quite a lot of attention coming from every corner of the station. The old man was smart enough to know what was hanging around their necks.

The detective continued. "And according to the statement your grandson made, it sounds like torture rather than your standard assault. So, can you explain why your grandson looks so... unhurt, sir? It's pretty difficult to think that he was attacked last night at all. Does he have any external injuries? If you haven't brought the doctor's written diagnosis, we also can't move forward with the prosecution, sir. Actually, it seems that we should re-investigate the previous accusation as well."

The chief director calmly replied, “...We'll do as you say and withdraw our complaints.”

Choi Yeong-Su cried out in exasperation, “But, grandfather!”

“For now, you must keep quiet.”

“...!”

The chief director addressed the cop, "Detective, we'll be dropping charges for both matters. Help us do that."

“Of course, sir.”

The chief director gritted his teeth while turning around to leave. “Then, I'll be going.”

"But, sir. You must complete the form for withdrawal of complaints first..."

“Can't you deal with that yourself?!” The chief director roughly yanked Choi Yeong-Su and headed straight outside the police station. Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly observed that spectacle, his eyes gleaming softly.

Detective Park bowed his head a little. “I must apologize to you both about this mess.”

“No, it's fine.” Kang Yu-Hwan sighed and shook his head.

“We're also trying to put food on our tables, you see... Please do try to understand where we're coming from.”

“No, I do understand,” Kang Yu-Hwan calmly replied.

Detective Park groaned and scratched the back of his head. "Both of you can go now. I'll handle the rest, so please don't worry."

"Thank you. We'll leave it to you, then." The Kang father and son duo said farewell to the detective, then walked outside the station. Kang Yu-Hwan shook his head and muttered, "What a cruel and persistent old man he was."

Kang Jin-Ho agreed with his father by wordlessly nodding. But the glare in his eyes indicated that he was thinking about something else.

***

Later that night...

Choi Yeong-Su was lying on his bed, the sheets covering him from top to bottom. He was shivering and whimpering in fear like a little child.

“He... He'll come for me tonight!”

When he first accused Kang Jin-Ho of assault, he was full of arrogance and pride. But right afterward, he kept on remembering the light burning in Kang Jin-Ho's eyes.

At first, Choi Yeong-Su thought it was just a figment of his imagination. If Kang Jin-Ho was really at a convenience store when it happened, the two of them couldn't have met last night. The event itself was so outrageous that even Choi Yeong-Su himself began wondering if it really had been a dream all along.

But he saw the truth earlier in the day. He saw Kang Jin-Ho's eyes glaring at him just as he was leaving the police station with his grandfather. Those eyes... They were exactly the same as the ones Choi Yeong-Su had seen last night!

“W-what should I do?!”

Should he apologize profusely and beg for forgiveness now? Choi Yeong-Su might never get to leave the house unless he did that. The fear of running into Kang Jin-Ho outside was consuming him.

“What... what am I supposed to do?!”

His grandfather tried to calm Choi Yeong-Su down by saying that he would take care of everything, but such an assurance would never work in his current status.

"For now, it should be... fine. I should... just stay in the house until my grandfather takes care of everything... Yes, I'll be fine here. Our walls are tall, we have cameras everywhere and, and... Even if you're a monster, Kang Jin-Ho, you can never..."

“I can never enter here? Is that it?”

“...?” Choi Yeong-Su slowly, so agonizingly slowly, raised his head. He found a familiar face standing in the darkened corner of the room, staring right back at him.

It was Kang Jin-Ho. He was smiling coldly like a devil licking his lips in front of its prey. Choi Yeong-Su was instantly creeped out, terror shooting down his spine. He tried to scream, but just like the night before, no sound would come out of his mouth.

Kang Jin-Ho leaned in closer and whispered quietly into Choi Yeong-Su's ear, “Is that what you thought?”

Choi Yeong-Su began trembling again. Kang Jin-Ho's voice rekindled the memories of the brutal pain from the night before.

Kang Jin-Ho continued to speak in a subdued voice, "Why do you think I didn't kill you last night?"

“...?!”

"You see, this is what I wanted all along. You'll be subjected to immense pain every single day. And when you try to tell others what’s going on with you, people will initially believe you. But when the same thing keeps repeating... They will stop believing you sooner or later even though it's all true. No matter how cruel the torture gets for you, people will one day start insulting you instead. Do you understand what I'm saying to you?"

“...!”

"Experience what it feels like to go insane and ask yourself this—will you still be in one piece when it ends?"

Choi Yeong-Su desperately shook his head, trying to plead and beg.

“Well, then...” Kang Jin-Ho bared his fangs in a fierce grin. “Let's begin.”

Choi Yeong-Su's eyes turned bloodshot. He finally realized that he should have never gotten into Kang Jin-Ho's bad books.


1. "-Gun" is a Korean honorific reserved for boys/young men younger than you. It has the same function as the Japanese '-kun'.

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