The time was April. The university newbie left the room as soon as the lecture ended before everyone else at 2:45. He did not want anyone to recognise him as not an outsider, though no one knew him as such hence he would not have been stopped anyways; he still resolutely walked on to the hill road outside of the plaza.
There, he felt the unexpected change for the first time.
‘No one’s around…’
There was a huge number of people in lectures that ended at 2:45 Sure, not all of them were like Yoo Il Han Il Han, an outsider returning home, yet the complete absence of people in the plaza as well as in the hill road was strange.
‘Carnival is not on today. Was there a school event?
Even so, there was no need to feel strange. Yoo Il Han Il Han exited all invited chat groups ever since he attended his university! It was not as if he left out of pressure, it was solely out of his choice!
Sensing sorrow out of vain, Yoo Il Han walked down the hill valiantly in spite of the dearth of people. He wanted to hitch a ride on a shuttle bus, but there were no vehicles to be seen.
Was there a military exercise in the university? Perhaps a school wide hide-and-seek? All kinds of thoughts came into his head but he dismissed them readily. For twenty-odd years he had never held hands with a girl, and the lack of other presences right now was nothing in comparison.
However, those musings dissipated as soon as he exited the school entrance.
There was no one.
‘What the hell!’
No one was around!
‘What’s going on. What’s going on!’
In panic, Yoo Il Han repeated the same phrase inanely as he ran around. No-one. To conjure up a crazy idea like a mass picnic was impossible. The situations were too alarming to escape reality.
No one. No human to be seen!
He looked through the windows of the convenience store he often visited. The meal on a table was emitting warm vapour, the chair was pulled slightly back as if someone was sitting on it moments before. Furthermore, spoons and chopsticks were erratically thrown aside, giving them a sense of their users abruptly disappearing out of thin air.
This oddity applied for all shops. Incidentally, how about parked cars? Moving cars that were in traffic had violently collided in such a way that they lost their drivers, with some on the verge of explosions due to leaking, ablaze gasoline.
His mind may have been in disarray, but Yoo Il Han identified the hazard and escaped to a vehicle-less street. The reverberation of explosions like the ones in films soon tickled his ears.
Wind carrying the hot air blew, and Yoo Il Han fled like he was drifting on the wind. Then he shed pointless tears.
His mind was puzzled back together at a bus station.
‘Let’s go home’
Maybe after he washed and ate his mother’s meals, maybe after he slept, things would be different.
Foolish ideas again sprouted the moment the crises were over. His fantasies were broken quickly this time though .The bus was simply not arriving.
‘What the fuck. What’s going on.’
Yoo Il Han prided himself over his mental fortitude. From primary to high school, he overcame everything by his own effort. As a result, he was attending a quite reputable university, and he was confident to do well on his own for a foreseeable future.
The chinese character ‘person’ is to symbolise two men relying on each other; he never needed such weak stuff. Yoo Il Han always believed that he was like an upright number ‘1’-someone could accomplish anything unassisted
But, this was too much to handle
‘Have I alone moved to a different world?
His situation was too out-worldly that he said something so stupid. Nothing was changing. The bus was not coming, his knees were swelling in pain due to reckless running. Growing sadder every minute, he noticed his tears falling onto the bare earth like bird-droppings.
‘Pathetic, crying over trivial matters as a university student. No, fuck it. If I don’t cry now, over what would I ever weep? Isolation during his primary school days has made me dismal before, now the entire district is avoiding me.’
Knowing crying wouldn’t change anything, Yoo Il Han came back to his senses swiftly. It was feverishly hot and tiring. Home was his priority.
Despite the knowledge that no one was there to hear him speak, he shouted in hope for someone to reveal oneself. Yoo Il Han embarked on an hour-and a half journey shrouded in an added layer of disappointment to the obvious result.
Of course, his mother wasn’t present. He tried to check the time, yet all clocks, including those in mobile phones and computers, were stopped. Dad wasn’t coming either, Yoo Il Han concluded following a couple of hours of waiting as he stared at the everlastingly blue sky.
The TV only showed static screens, the radio the same and the internet was not working. It was like humanity itself had vanished. Except himself, who was trapped in a stagnant time.
At least, water and gas pipes worked. He showered and cooked a package of instant noodles.
The taste deepened his sadness and more tears flowed down. He was drowzy now that he was full. I don’t care for the mass disappearance, and whether or not the night was arriving, I must sleep. Possibly, something may become different as I sleep. He laid on his bed in these complacent thoughts. At that moment…
EER Prologue – Part 2
A beautiful woman wearing white feather wings appeared.
(Oh, so it is here!) Her first words were rude.
‘Wh..who are you?
Yoo Il Han had to cover himself with blankets for he practised nudity as a sleeping habit. The woman stared at his folly grotesquely and then shifted her expressions.
(Hm. You can call me how you see me as.)
‘A home invader?’
(I am God’s messanger, an angel.)
She stared at Yoo Il Han and spoke each word stressfully to disclose her identity.
Since she emerged without any signs, Yoo Il Han had already figured out her paranormal nature, so he accepted the disclosure with little surprise. Too many strange things had happened already to be astonished again.
But he was being unreasonably indifferent to reality. Her next words proved so.
(Since I am running out of time,, I will be straightforward. You have been left behind.)
Yoo Il Han’s complexion showed confusion. Being left behind had always been intricately linked to his life. He was left behind by everyone in the primary school excursion, the middle school camping trip, the high school field trip and even in the university MT…
(God has recognised the arrival of ‘disaster’ on Earth, which has led to all humans being sent to numerous different worlds in case of this happening. Somehow, only you have been excluded.
No way, being left behind on a scale of entire humanity! Consciousness dwindled. Holding onto his fading mind, Yoo Il Han questioned the angel.
‘What is the disaster’
(Earth’s experience gauge has been filled, so it is levelling up to the next stage.
He was full of desire to tackle her like when he was forced to replace Dad in a Sunday league team, but he managed to subside it. Then he asked.
‘What happens when it levels up?’
(Energy of a higher level than that of Earth’s is revealed. It is called mana. Also, the archival records initiate contact with Earth, hence humans are permitted read a part of the records. This is termed status.)
‘Good concise explanation’
(I’m good, aren’t I?)
The angel and her huge breasts gloated at his praises. Yoo Il Han promptly continued his questions.
‘Why is there a need to send humanity to different worlds? In fantasy novels, it happens all of sudden for no apparant reason…’
(Mana being divulged to Earth signifies the obligation to face mana-evolved animals, so-called monsters.)
He expected it as soon as ‘mana’ was mentioned.
(Because animals adapt to mana better than humans, humanity will suffer a disaster and will be driven to extinction without intervention. There are dozens of doomed worlds already, therefore God has decided to move Earth’s humanity to safe environments where they could adapt to mana.)
‘Do you mean that my humanity has been transported to mana-adjusted human worlds?’
(Of course. Humans of other worlds will train them for a supply of a certain amount of ‘status’. Though there will be humans without capacity to do so, God cannot save them all.’ )
Indeed, it was obvious. Yoo Il Han thought he had heard enough, but he still had some doubts.
‘Can we not kill monsters with guns?Artilleries?’
(Nuclear weapons cannot slay them)
‘So there really is necessity to strengthen humanity.’
(Naturally. God is great and merciful)
The angel again gloated about in an arrogant expression and with her huge breasts pointing outwards. Seizing the opportunity, Yoo Il Han made the most despairing face possible and asked.
‘What about me?’
(…) The angel had no words to say
‘What about me?
As Yoo Il Han pursued her answer, she turned her head a little and answered in a slightly lower voice.
(There was a mistake)
‘Correct it please.’
(As all tickets have been booked out, you cannot go to other worlds.)
‘Not even standing rooms?’
‘What kind of shitty God is this?’
Finally, Yoo Il Han exploded. The angel, pitying the man, muttered as if to pacify him.
(There is a rejector bonus!)
‘I don’t need it! Send me too!’
(The instant the humanity was forced out, Earth’s time has stopped. Until they return, you are not affected by the effects of time. In other words, you don’t age. Though this includes all Earth’s humans too…’
‘Send me too!’
(Moreover, God, who has sympathised with your lone rejection, has gifted you with status bonuses when the disaster occurs. Amazing ain’t it?)
Details about status bonuses appeased Yoo Il Han’s tandrum somewhat. Yoo Il Han lifted his head, faced the angel and enquired.
‘How about mana? I need to learn how to use it as well.’
‘Till the upheaval occurs, it is not possible.’
‘Ah, send me too! Send me too!’
His racquets resumed, then Yoo Il Han firmly shook his head side to side. It was not going to happen. For God’s sake, he was GOD!
(God has adjusted humanity’s adaption period to be 10 years. Be cheerful and wait until then. I will supply meals.)
‘…I grow famished although time does not pass?’
(Your cells function, but they do not age.)
‘That is a bit contradictory from time coming to a halt.’
(Since you cannot train adapting to mana, should you not train your phisicality in the very least? Think optimistically: other humans adapt to mana at the expense of their physical enhancements resetting as soon as they return )
Yoo Il Han sighed and leered into her eyes. Was that really an encouragement? These useless assholes were responsible for his mess in the first place, now they were pretending to be charitable through some grand, superficial language. If this ‘status bonus’ was not noteworthy, I am going to lose my temper, Yoo Il Han thought.
Ten years. At last he could face reality. Ten years? I can live with that, surely. While his innate optimism persuaded himself, Yoo Il Han spat out his last question.
‘Why was I excluded. Why me?’
(Your name was not discoverable by God, who was recording the list of humanity to be sent. He was astounded by your concealment.)
And so, Yoo Il Han’s Earth life alone had begun.