Before reading the chapter, you can have a look here for an update about what was happening in my life if you’re interested.
Chapter 65 – Room 101, Cursed Room – ‘A Strange Family’ Re (3)
[User: Han Kain (Wisdom)
Date: Day 22
Current Location: Floor 1, Room 101 (Cursed Room – A Strange Family)
Sage’s Advice: 3]
I put together everything I found out till now.
From my searches on the Internet, it was clear that none of the media were in their right minds. That led to the question – where was the place that first produced such programmes?
The main suspects were the public broadcasting stations.
Of course, these days, there were plenty of other options including all sorts of platforms that allowed people to stream by themselves.
However, there would be no end to it if I were to go through every possible candidate on the list. First off, I put public broadcasting stations as the primary candidate; if I was wrong, all I had to do was look for other options.
Did that mean I had to visit one of the broadcasting stations then?
That led to several other questions.
1. There were more than one broadcasting station so where was I supposed to go?
There were tons of potential candidates even if I were to limit it to TV stations. If I were to add all the other broadcasting stations and channels to the list, there would probably be tens of them if not hundreds.
2. How was I supposed to go there?
Leaving the house and distancing oneself from the Strange Family for about 10 minutes was what was required for a successful escape. Originally, this easy escape method had been the guarantee to our lives, but it was in fact a hindrance to the resolution of the curse of this room. A message signalling a successful escape would show up before we even went to the broadcasting station and we would then be chased out of the room.
3. What about people who couldn’t leave their starting points?
If this room was only solvable by leaving the starting point and moving to a specific broadcasting station, what about Ahri, who couldn’t even leave the area that she started in? Was she out of the equation just because her starting point was in the Hotel?
That didn’t sound right. Even though the Hotel was at times irrational, cruel and a hard place to understand, they never exposed us to ‘impossible missions’ by, for example, making us face ridiculous monsters that could wipe us out in 3 seconds.
It was hard to understand why, but staying here thinking to myself wouldn’t lead to anything, so instead of doing nothing pondering by myself, I decided to think later and focus on doing what can be done.
The first question still had to be addressed first though. I had to decide which broadcasting agency or station I had to go to.
After some thought, I sat back down in front of the computer and started searching through old articles.
“Kain! Are you done? Can you come help with the laundry?”
The Strange Family was starting to interfere again. I had to buy as much time as possible.
“There’s something I have to do at uni! I have to go out very soon!”
Fortunately, unlike videos, going through articles and reports that were made purely of words wasn’t that stressful. Even though the articles were just as absurd as everything else happening in this world, the ‘infectious degree of the curse’ seemed a lot weaker than vivid videos and actual people.
Going further and further back in time, I continued looking for the place in this world where the strange events had first occurred.
Only after going about 8 months back in time did I finally find a suspicious candidate.
It was a rather recently founded TV Station, and there were more than 30 news reports strongly condemning the overly inappropriate contents of ABS. There were dozens of reports in the span of 1~2 days.
However, as if it only took a day or two for the curse to reach the entire world or rather, Korea for that matter, there weren’t any more words of criticism. All the other media platforms had also gone insane.
The destination was now set as ABS.
That led me to the next question.
How was I supposed to go there?
I suddenly came up with a simple solution.
What was the requisite for the successful escape in the first place? It was because of a physical distance being formed after sensing the change in the ‘Strange Family’, right?
In that case, all I needed to do was not distance myself. I just had to go to the TV Station with my family.
But there was a problem.
Even just walking past my family members or holding short conversations with them gave me a sharp head-ache due to the curse. Even that was only possible thanks to the help of my filter – without the filter, there was no way for me to retain my sanity unless I were to close my eyes and block my ears the whole time.
Would I be able to last, travelling a long distance with my family?
Heaving a sigh, I continued searching through the Internet and found something.
There were articles about coronavirus vaccines and stuff.
Ah, it seemed that coronavirus was also a serious concern in this world. I guess that was normal considering how this stage was created using the real world as a reference.
Seeing that news immediately gave me an idea.
“Ah! Seriously, oppa. Are you stupid or what? Why is the hospital for your vaccine so far away?”
“What did you say?”
“Ah! You retard, get rid of those stupid earplugs. And why have you been squinting the whole time?”
“Wait! I told you not to come near me. Did you not hear me say I haven’t been feeling well recently?”
– Swing! Bam!
My younger sister retaliated by throwing a hand-axe, which went flying right past my head.
I vowed to myself that I would be a bit nicer if I happened to see my real sister again. Seeing her throw a hand-axe from who knows where just because she was slightly mad made me miss my actual sister.
In this world, it seemed that about half a year had passed ever since the spread of coronavirus.
The Administration had successfully created a fully preventative vaccine with an exceptional performance which started to settle the world from their uproar. Considering how the demand for the vaccine was from all around the globe, it was hard even for the Administration to provide enough supply for it.
Thus, making an appointment for a vaccine was like asking for the moon.
This morning, I told my family that I had been feeling unwell ever since this morning, and said I made an appointment for a vaccine at a hospital near the TV Station and set off with my sister.
Even though she didn’t seem to like the idea of it, she still decided to go to hospital with her sick brother. She was such a lovely sister, except for the fact that she tended to throw weapons at me from time to time.
We set off for the hospital with about 10 metres in between us.
I was essentially asking her, ‘Don’t come close to me because you might get infected, but can you still come to the hospital with me?’
I knew it was contradictory and made no sense. Even my sister with half a screw loose was dumbfounded by the absurdity of my request, but followed me the moment I promised to give her 100 dollars.
The cost didn’t matter in the slightest. This was a fake world, and I wouldn’t even hesitate to promise her 1,000 dollars.
Leaving the house, we went to a bigger road and caught a taxi.
I deemed that the best method to go all the way to the TV Station while avoiding as many infected people as possible would be by taxi.
Suddenly, I wondered if taxis in this world would function normally like the real world or not, but nonetheless, I boarded the vehicle that stopped in front of us.
“That’s why I’m telling you, these guys from the XX Party are the cause of all problems. I just cannot understand! What are those damned guys even thinking? People started moving ‘freely’ and I know there are a few casualties because of that, but how could they possibly talk about banning battle royales? Do they have no idea how useful battle royales are these days when it comes to empowering the resilience of each student?”
Why were taxi drivers so chatty as always even though this crazy world had gone through so many changes?
“That brings me back to my university days. Seriously; ha! I don’t like saying this because it sounds like I’m bragging about myself, but I’m from the Y University*! When we have freshmen students in the Y University, we start off with a Russian Roulette. That’s our way of getting rid of cowards. They say there were 130 people dead this year, but so what? We still have a lot of people in our country.”
Besides, he was talking absolute nonsense like a lunatic the whole time and I felt like my brain was about to melt. I blocked my ears and yet the sound still managed to seep in.
This was the biggest downside of a taxi. I couldn’t distance myself from them.
No matter how close I was to the door of the vehicle, my sister was right next to me with the driver sitting in front, and I could feel the curse trying to force its way into me the whole time. I would have gone crazy a long time ago if not for the System Window filter, considering how I was about to go crazy even with the filter activated.
“I just cannot understand the XX Party. We have 7 billion in this world, and we have 50 million living in this tiny country. Isn’t that too much? We need to reduce the numbers a little. 3 billion; and 20 million. Doesn’t that sound perfect?”
How about you start off with killing yourself then? Of course, after I get off the taxi, that is.
“And yet those guys from the XX Party see something wrong with that or something. Adding regulations in place; trying to create laws for the protection of normal civilians and stuff like that – it’s absurd. Absolutely absurd. They don’t even know about the survival of the fittest. It’s perfectly normal for things like that to happen in a free capitalist economy, isn’t it? Those communist bastards.”
I had to bear through that for 30 whole minutes.
Towards the end, it was so hard to keep myself sane that I dug out my ears with my fingers so much to the point they let out blood.
– Swoosh. Bang.
I felt a lot better the moment I left the taxi and distanced myself from him. I was in the middle of collecting my breath when the sound of something digging into someone’s skin echoed from behind.
“Hahaha! Thank you very much, young lady. That’s excellent!”
Blankly turning around, I found my sister’s hand-axe stabbing through the taxi driver’s belly, who was in turn thanking her for that.
Ignoring that, I turned back to the front. It wasn’t even surprising anymore, and my only wish was that she wouldn’t swing or throw that at me.
Powerlessly, I walked forward when my sister came up to me and asked a question.
“Oppa? The hospital’s that way though?”
“I was thinking about dropping by ABS before going to the hospital.”
“Why are you going there all of a sudden?”
I immediately came up with an excuse.
“I saw on my phone just then – apparently they’re filming the ‘Black Hole Princess’ at ABS right now. Wasn’t that your favourite show?”
“Huh? Really? How did I miss that?”
Because I just thought of it.
I had a feeling that she would take her phone out if I were to sit here waiting, so I quickly started sprinting towards the TV Station.
We were pretty much there anyway. After running with my sister for about 5 more minutes, we arrived at the TV station.
At last, I was here. Thinking of all the hard work it took to get here made me feel like commending myself for all that effort. It really was amazing that I thought about bringing my family all the way to the TV Station in a world as terrible as this, and carried through with it.
Letting out a sigh, I was walking towards the entrance of the TV Station but—
That was when someone tapped on my shoulder.
It gave me goosebumps.
There was a semi-ability I gained ever since I entered Room 101. The curse, weakened by the filter, would cause me pain and a headache whenever a person infected by the curse walked up to me. Thanks to that, I was able to tell beforehand if there was someone nearby approaching me.
However, there was none of that just then.
Overcoming the fear and nervousness, I slowly turned my head back to see who was behind me, and…
I saw in front of my eyes a very familiar face.
That was when my sister’s head exploded to pieces.
“So, you’re telling me you ‘brought your family’ all the way here, yes?” asked Grandpa Mooksung.
“That is remarkable. I did think of that for a split second, but I truly wasn’t expecting someone to actually carry out such a crazy plan!”
“Did you not find it odd, however? That is a method that no-one else can use except for you with the filter, and Miss Songee with her bracelet.
None of us can remain sane by being with a family member for that long. Even Ahri would die from having her blood dried up.
There is no way the Hotel would have separated us for us to individually work our way through it, while making it so that only a select few of us can come here.”
“I did find it strange, but I couldn’t come up with a solution.”
“You found it strange, but still gave it a shot because it was possible for you. I think it’s excellent that you had the guts to put that into action. Whatever the case, you arrived at the TV Station and that is good news for me too. Honestly, I was starting to think that no-one else was going to arrive here and was wondering whether I should proceed by myself or not. Having another person will go a long way.”
“So… how did you come here, Sir? You don’t have a filter like me, and you don’t have a bracelet like Songee either, so how did you bring your family all the way here?”
“The method I used was a lot easier. It is something anyone can do as long as they know how to.”
“And what is it?”
* Y University = Yonsei University; one of the top universities in Korea.