Chapter 69 – Room 101, Cursed Room – ‘Common Sense Renovating Media’ (3)
[User: Han Kain (Wisdom)
Date: Day 22
Current Location: Floor 1, Corridor
Sage’s Advice: 0]
In just a single day, we had finished up to the third attempt. I looked around immediately after coming to myself and noticed that everyone looked rather confused and lost.
That was understandable considering how no-one else had been able to reach the ABS TV Station except for me and Grandpa Mooksung. They probably all tried their best to find something out and must be feeling fairly lost right now after being unable to do much.
“Let’s end it here for today and head back to Room 105. I have a lot of things to share with everyone.”
I said to them with a tone implying that there were a few things I had discovered, which seemed to have lifted their burden a little bit. On the way back, I compressed my thoughts into three main conversation topics.
First was the clues I discovered, including ABS, the Hospital and the students.
Second was the method Grandpa Mooksung and I used to go to the TV Station.
And third was a discussion about how people without the power to resist mental contamination would be able to participate in exploring the TV Station.
Those three topics should suffice for today.
Unfortunately, we used up too much time in our third attempt and the dinner time of Room 105 was already over.
With no other choice, we went back out to the front reception and sat around a tea table. Thankfully, the tea tables always had snacks and drinks ready, so we were able to somewhat fill our stomachs.
Soon, Eunsol-noona started the conversation.
“So, it looks like Kain and Sir have found out a few things. Please tell us. I was just playing around because I was in the ‘Rest Team’ so I’ll just do the listening.”
…It seemed that she was still displeased by what I did earlier today.
First off, I decided to talk about what Grandpa Mooksung and I discovered, and started off with how we had to go to ABS TV Station, which we had discovered through a search on the Internet. Looking at their reactions, I guessed that a few of them hadn’t been able to find that out, while others did not know how to get there despite discovering the peculiarity of the said TV Station.
Next, I conveyed the clues I found while exploring the basement of the TV Station, including the horrifying state of the guard house, the ‘warnings’, and what I saw when I went against those warnings.
That included the hospital, monsters in the form of nurses and eccentrically modified students.
Although there were a lot of new clues added into the mix, it raised a similar number of questions. That was my impression, and it seemed that many others were given the same impression.
“It’s all over the place,” remarked Eunsol-noona. “There are a lot of new clues, but it feels like we don’t have the actual line that connects them.”
“Overall, I believe it can be classified into three chunks of information. ‘TV Station’, ‘Hospital’ and ‘School’,” I said.
“By school, do you mean those high school kids that became strange mixtures of flesh?”
“I suppose we should look up the words, ‘New World Hospital’, ‘Lee Hyukjin’ and ‘Kim Sangmin’ on the Internet and hopefully that will lead us somewhere.”
“In our next attempt, let’s each use our phones or our computers to look them up. Then we can share what we found once we reach the TV Station, and if some of us don’t make it there, we can talk about it again outside.”
In our next attempt, we decided to search the keywords on our devices to gather every piece of information we could before gathering at the TV Station.
We then moved on to the second topic.
How do you get to the TV Station?
“I went the hard way – I brought my infected sister along with me. My plan was to implement social distancing using COVID as an excuse but even that became hard to follow when we got on a taxi. To be frank, this method is impossible without the filter or the bracelet, so Sir will tell you about how ‘most of us can get there’.”
“The one I used is something you are all familiar with during your first attempt at Room 101. Teleportation.”
He then briefly explained the method he used.
1. When sane, set plans that you will go to the TV Station.
2. Intentionally get yourself infected by the curse, and teleport to the TV Station.
3. Stay at a place without anyone nearby and eventually wake up after some time.
Everyone was in awe after listening to his explanation. They then started discussing the teleportation method when Songee raised a potential problem.
“Grandpa. I think there is a risk to that method. What if we, ourselves, change the plan in the middle?”
Change of plans. Certainly, that was something possible which I hadn’t thought of before.
“Even if we tell ourselves, ‘Let’s go to the TV Station!’ when we are sane, there’s no guarantee that we will follow through after being infected by the curse, right?
Even when we are cursed, it’s not like we become a robot with no consciousness, and instead we just turn into a ‘different version of ourselves with a twisted common sense,’ so…
We might just end up staying under the curse after telling ourselves, ‘Maybe not!’”
Ahri followed up with another possible problem.
“Mine is similar to the ‘change of plans’ that Songee was talking about but, what if my family teleports with me? I… think my mum will try to follow me anywhere I go.”
A question that had been on my mind ever since I first heard the story about Ahri’s mum popped up again.
What kind of person was she?
She was so strong that Ahri was certain that she wouldn’t be able to beat her, and in addition to that, it appeared that she was a very obsessive person who would follow her daughter wherever she wanted to go.
She was becoming increasingly harder to wrap my head around.
In any case, those were the problems with ‘teleportation’.
What if ‘the other version of me’ was to suddenly change the plan after being infected by the curse? We might suddenly decide not to head to the TV Station altogether, or even worse than that was us arriving with another family member.
In the case of the former, it would just be us moving with one less person in the group, but in the case of the latter, everyone would be put to danger just because of that one infected family member.
After some thought, I gave a suggestion.
“There seems to be some risk to teleportation, so let’s all go there using different methods instead of all relying on one. Who can get there with their family members like me?”
Despite directing that question to everyone, my eyes were on Songee, because in the end, Songee and I were the only ones that could last a long time while travelling with a cursed family member alongside us.
As expected, she soon returned a nod.
“It takes me 15 minutes on foot to ABS so I will walk there with my family like what Kain-oppa did.”
“Huh? Do you live near ABS?”
It seemed that the reason Songee wasn’t there at the TV Station during the third attempt was because she didn’t know about it. 15 minutes on foot to ABS… meant that she was living in a very wealthy area.
Suddenly, I felt like a petit bourgeois in comparison. In any case, I looked around and found that most of us were in agreement.
The only methods we found out to get us to ABS was the one including the family and teleportation. Songee and I were the only ones that could take a family with us, so the rest had to rely on teleportation.
“I’m sorry but I would have to give up on teleporting as well. I should be able to get there, but I’m pretty sure my mum will definitely come with me.”
After Ahri’s last statement, I rewrote the plan on a fresh sheet of paper.
1. Escape Team: Park Seungyub
2. Advance Team (Teleportation): Elena, Kim Mooksung, Cha Jinchul, Lee Eunsol
3. Advance Team (With Family): Han Kain, Yu Songee
4. Full-on Give-up Team: Kim Ahri
Then, we moved on to the last discussion topic.
How were we supposed to explore the TV Station?
“From what Grandpa Mooksung and I noticed, it won’t be easy even when we do gather at the TV Station.
Thankfully, I was able to look around the basement because there was no-one there, but I don’t think it’s possible to explore the upper floors without mental resistance. Right, sir?”
“I can definitely assure you as someone who was following after Kain,” said Grandpa Mooksung. “It’s impossible. I had some confidence as someone who went through quite a few intense training sessions, but it’s absolutely impossible to resist. The power of the curse is not something that can be withstood with just willpower.”
Songee shared her opinion.
“Then should Kain-oppa and I be the only ones exploring, with everyone else waiting downstairs?”
“Hmm.” Eunsol-noona asked me after some thought. “You’ve been there once, Kain. What do you think?”
“That’s probably what we have to do if we can’t think of any better option. Does anyone have any other ideas?”
Everyone turned silent. It wasn’t easy.
Because Ahri had given up on teleportation because of her ‘mum’, Songee and I were the only ones that had some level of tolerance against mental contamination, and it was hard to say that that would be enough.
Noona broke the silence once again.
“This is our fourth attempt right? Apparently it becomes strange from the fifth attempt, so we have to try to end it here if possible. What if we just have Jinchul take the red capsule?”
That… wasn’t a bad option.
The number of attempts had also been bugging me quite a lot, and the best scenario would be for us to end it in the next attempt. However, the person in question who should be taking the capsule, was in deep thought instead.
“Hmm. Do you have any ideas? Just throw them out.” Grandpa Mooksung urged him, so Jinchul-hyung hesitantly opened his mouth.
“This might sound very boorish and stupid, but it’s something that hit me after hearing the thing about ‘teleportation’. The world inside Room 101 has a distorted common sense, right? So it occurred to me that maybe we can be a bit more ‘thoughtless and straight-forward’.”
“Come on. What is it that you are trying to suggest? Just be straight up and clear.”
“Let’s kill everyone on the way.”
Everyone was momentarily lost for words.
“When I think about it, during my first attempt when I went insane, I even attended a boxing contest that allowed people to kill each other.
And according to what Kain said, they say killing 100 people at a college entrance ceremony with Russian Roulette is just considered a test of courage, right?
In a world like that, is ‘killing’ even a crime? Are there even normal cops there in the first place?
Let’s just kill everyone that works there with a gun or whatever weapon we have as soon as we get to the TV Station.”
It sounded crazy but he had a point.
Looking back, my fake sister even killed a taxi driver in the middle of the road with an axe and yet there weren’t any police officers or anything…
Crazy worlds called for crazy plans. In a world that hosted killing contests, mukbang streams of people eating humans and Russian Roulette in an entrance ceremony being the norm… Would killing some people in the TV Station even be a problem? Maybe it was fine?
And if we killed all the people working there with a gun, there was no need to worry about mental contamination!
“Hah… As the proverb goes, two-eyed people become the abnormal in a world filled with one-eyed people*. I guess in a crazy world, this boar-looking guy becomes a genius!” exclaimed Grandpa Mooksung.
“Ah, can you please stop talking about boars?”
“I’m complimenting you for being a genius! I have a strong feeling that it will work. If you get sent to jail just for killing some people in that world, everyone would be in one already.”
That rather absurd conversation marked the end of our discussion, and we finished crafting our plan for tomorrow’s fourth attempt.
1. Everyone is to search the Internet when they start using their phones and computers.
2. Teleport or head to the TV Station with a family member when ready.
3. Kill everyone working there and explore the upper floors.
After finishing our strategy meeting, we ended the long and arduous day by heading back to our bedrooms in Room 105.
Late at night with everyone else asleep,
Kim Mooksung left Room 105 by himself. Waiting for him outside was Ahri.
“Why did you send a ‘direct message’ so late into the night? Do you have something to say?”
“There’s something strange that occurred to me during the strategy meeting before.”
“What is it?”
“Don’t you think there’s something off about Kain?”
“Isn’t he becoming more and more reliable? It’s commendable that he can think rationally even in the face of such a horrifying sight. He’ll be a fine agent even if he gets drafted straight away.”
“That’s the point. How long has it been since we’ve come here? We’ve gone through a lot and the time we spend in each of the rooms is all over the place so it’ll be different for everyone but… for Kain, it shouldn’t even be over a month yet.”
“Mooksung. Think of all the ‘normal people’ we met outside. It’s not strange for normal people to scream just from seeing a single corpse, and it’s normal for them to lose themselves and fall on their knees if they see a person wasting away in a room filled with excrement and students that get tortured into jumbled-up pieces of flesh.”
“No matter how many things he has gone through, it’s impossible for him to acquire a superhuman willpower like the one he has right now in just a single month. He’s like an agent who’s been in service for 30 years like us.”
“Having you say that, it does feel a bit strange. Indeed, the change is a bit too fast compared to everyone else. Jinchul-gun is still quite naive and it should be hard for Misses Eunsol, Songee and Elena to act nonchalantly in the face of something that horrendous.”
“I feel like he has started to change rapidly ever since he learned how to use the filter at Hotel High School. He started using his blessing a lot more often.”
“Do you think the ‘Owl’ is in the middle of modifying his mind?”
“Even if that’s true, it can’t be considered all that bad, can it? In the grand scheme of things, the ‘Owl’ is on his side. In a place so hideous, superhuman willpower will be more beneficial than not.”
“The only allies for humans are humans. It has always been that way.”
“Is that what you have been enlightened to from all the time you spent protecting the world, sunbae-nim*?”
“…It’s been so long since you called me that. I even got goosebumps.”
“Sunbae. Sometimes, I find it unfair how I’m the only one ageing.”
“Stop calling me that; it’s gross. Anyway, Kain still doesn’t trust me as much, so I want you to lead him to being more ‘human’.”
“Well, I’ll think of it as looking after my future junior agent and try my best.”
* Similar to the saying, “When you’re the only sane person, you look like the only insane person.”
* Sunbae = equivalent to senpai in Japanese. Means senior.