Seoul Object Story Chapter 57

Chapter 57 - Theme Park (8)

༺ Theme Park (8) ༻

 

 

  Lick-! Slurp-!

 

  I sat on the roof of the food court, chilling with a half-melted ice cream in one hand. The view from up here was epic!

 

  Down below it was a spectacular sight: 

 

  On one side, was a wave of Golden Reapers rushing forward, their feet in a tangled mess.

 

  A Golden Tsunami.

 

  On the other side, were a bunch of mannequins, all dressed to the nines in black hospitality suits, lined up in rows and columns like they were about to break into a dance number.

 

  It was like watching an epic showdown—the Black-clad Brigade against the Golden Tsunami!

 

  But, spoiler alert, the black side doesn’t last. They just poof into dust, like a sand castle that met its match against the tide.

 

  Clap-! Clap-! Clap-!

 

  I couldn’t help but clap at such a wonderful performance, don’t mind the ice cream pressed against my lips, when a lil Golden Reaper decided to join me and crawled up to my thigh.

 

  The Golden Reaper, comfortably leaning against my stomach, held out something.

 

  Hmm? It’s a stamp!

 

  As the little Reaper stared at me with a proud expression, it looked sooo cute. It seemed to be expecting praise, so I gave its head a quick pat, and it looked so happy.

 

  As I stamped my collection paper, the little Golden Reaper disappeared, probably because it had fulfilled its purpose.

 

  Anyway, I have four stamps now!

 

  Four down, only five more to go on the stamp front.

 

  Looking back down at the Golden Reapers, I saw that the situation had taken quite an interesting turn.

 

  The mannequins were running away in a hurry, while the Golden Reapers playfully chased after them—running, jumping, rolling, pouncing.

 

  As the crowd of mannequins thinned out, space itself became unstable. Sounds of static filled the air, and rides I had never seen before began to pop in and out of existence.

 

  The Golden Reapers, chasing after the remaining mannequins, disappeared into this strange new space.

 

  Suddenly, the sky cracked like broken glass, and the ground split as if from an earthquake.

 

  Wriggle-! Wriggle-!

 

  Then, one by one, Golden Reapers with stamps appeared and clung to me. For some weird reason, there seemed to be an unspoken rule that only those with stamps could cling to me.

 

***

 

  I munched on the last of my energy bars as I walked, I had solved a total of three attractions so far—‘Guest Room’ where I had to erase the color purple with an eraser, ‘Drop Tower’, which was a simple picture addition quiz, and ‘Food Court’ where I again had to erase, but this time it was more than one type of food. 

 

  And the ‘Food Court’ was the worst of the lot. Hmmph, I was quite hungry, so I went there thinking I’d find somethin’ decent to eat there, but no, it was all poisoned food.

 

  And just my luck, they had to wave my favorite dishes under my nose when I was about to die from hunger!

 

  Back at the guest room, the door was sealed tighter than a drum. If I had known, I would’ve pocketed a few more of those energy bars before leaving the room.

 

  Now which one of the attractions should I choose next? As I was thinking so, all of a sudden, the ground shook like it was throwing a tantrum. The scene around me flickered and warped, a mishmash of chaos like a TV on the fritz, countless scenes overlapped and shook like an illusion.

 

  The most striking among the illusions was the golden tsunami. 

 

  Tiny, glinting, golden things darting about, stirring up earthquakes everywhere they went. 

 

  It’s as if the theme park itself was screaming.

 

  “Hmm, so something like this could happen, huh?”

 

  Through the drowning noise of the earthquake, I could hear the mannequin muttering to itself, clearly puzzled by what was happening.

 

  Soon after, the mannequin spoke.

 

  “Dear guest?”

 

  It sounded different, almost… human. Its tone, its vibe—they were noticeably richer than before.

 

  “It might be possible if it’s now. Please follow me,” it said, and bolted for the ‘Smile Viking Ticket Office’.

 

  Normally, another mannequin should’ve been taking care of the ticket booth, but it was gone, nowhere to be seen.

 

  The mannequin rummaged through the ticket office and, lo and behold, found a stamp.

 

  “Dear guest, hurry up! We can’t let this chance slip by.”

 

  “W-What is going on? Is this some kinda trap, another one of your tricks?”

 

  “It’s not a trap or a trick. It’s just that the theme park was ruined. This is the only time you can collect stamps like this. Let’s hurry, there’s no time to argue.”

 

  Trusting the mannequin’s words when this theme park had been playing me for a fool? Its words sounded very suspicious to me. 

 

  The whole place was trembling and quaking, and just from the atmosphere, it was clear that something was up. Even so, that didn’t mean I was about to trust this hunk of plastic. I couldn’t even figure out why it was helping me!

 

  “I can’t believe it, you really think I’d trust you? When you’re trying to help me, out of the blue? Plus, you don’t even have any reason to help me.”

 

  “Hmm, you are normally quite quick to jump the gun, but you are surprisingly suspicious at times like this. There’s no need for me to convince you, but well, I can give you a few good reasons.”

 

  The mannequin took a deep breath and spoke.

 

  “Firstly, I have a reason to help you. Though I have ended up like this, I was once a human too. But alas, I was caught and became a victim of this theme park. But unlike me, you have a different choice to make, dear guest.”

 

  It sounded earnest enough, but who’s to say it wasn’t spewing lies?

 

  “Also, take a moment to look around. If the collapse of this theme park reaches the shuttle bus, it’s over. There won’t be any way back for you. So, it’s time to decide. The choice is in your hands.”

 

  The mannequin shoved the stamp in my hand, urging me to make a choice.

 

  Something was off about the mannequin, like its, should I say emotions had become a bit richer? Something like that.

 

  And true, the park really was falling apart at the seams, and the other mannequins were also MIA.

 

  But what if it was all another elaborate trap?

 

  Ah! This is making my brain hurt. Phew. 

 

  Well, when push comes to shove, I should follow the motto that I’ve always lived by—’When in doubt, just do it!’

 

  “Alright, let’s do it! Lead the way, mannequin.”

 

  And with that, I was off, tearing through the park, running around endlessly. Every now and then, a flash of gold would pass by, tearing through a building or a pillar, leaving nothing but rubble in its wake.

 

  The clang and clash of metal, the thunderous roar of buildings collapsing—the inside of the theme park was becoming a mess.

 

  “Hmm, the collapse is more extensive than I anticipated. I wonder how such a powerful being managed to enter the park.”

 

  “Maybe the doll’s just handing out invites willy-nilly?”

 

  “No. The receptionist only invites those who the theme park can handle. Anyway, we need to move quickly. If the shuttle collapses as well, the stamps you have collected will become useless.”

 

***

 

  I looked at the woman in front of me while fiddling with the doll’s head perched on my shoulders. It was quite a poor substitute for the one I was born with, but it had now become part of me.

 

  Haa… Haa…

 

  The tattooed woman leaned heavily against the marble wall, her face pale and her breaths ragged. 

 

  Well, it was only natural since she had been running around as fast as she could.

 

  “Mannequin, is it done?”

 

  “Yes, just get onto the shuttle bus and you are free to leave.”

 

  “Ha, it’s finally over.”

 

  Drip-! Drip-!

 

  She trudged into the marble building with a weak gait, black mud trailing from her boots, and paused to look back. 

 

  The Smile Theme Park was no more, it had come to an end. To put it in the customer’s words, it was ‘out of service’.

 

  The theme park had lost its power, slowly melting into the air. There was only one possible reason this had happened: someone must have discovered the theme park’s hidden ending.

 

  That unknown and powerful being not only caused a whole lot of trouble, but also uncovered the hidden secrets, driving a stake into the heart of the theme park.

 

  This was the end of the theme park’s first attempt to open a branch in a new world.

 

  As for me, I was just thankful that I had collected all the stamps before the park completely collapsed.

 

***

 

  I trudged forward, each breath a heavy one.

 

  I’m so hungry…

 

  I’m really really hungry.

 

  Too weary to walk properly, I let my shoes scrape against the ground with each step.

 

  The ground was slick with sticky, black mud, and the air was thick with the smell of petroleum, enough to make my head throb.

 

  Finally, I reached the shuttle bus stop, which was absurdly and unnecessarily far away.

 

  Somehow, I’d managed to collect all the stamps, though the methods were somewhat improper.

 

  Now, all that was left was to leave this twisted Object behind.

 

  As I stepped into the marble building, I saw the heads furnishing the place.

 

  Seven new heads seemed to have been added.

 

  Hah… Those idiots didn’t make it through.

 

  All of my fellow death row inmates, sent here like me, were now on display—but, it was just their heads.

 

  Considering that they couldn’t use any shortcuts like I did, they likely died without even getting past a few tests.

 

  But now, it’s over.

 

  Acquittal.

 

  The end was in sight, and soon, this hellish nightmare would just be a distant memory.

 

  The shuttle bus door opened wide as if welcoming me.

 

  I climbed the stairs and glanced back only to see the mannequin staring at me.

 

  “Thanks. You’re a damn lifesaver.”

 

  “Khm. Well, it was something that had to be done.”

 

  It was hard to read the mannequin’s expression under the doll head, but now it felt like I could clearly read it.

 

  The mannequin was happy, maybe even too happy at my escape.

 

  Even if it was a victim of this theme park, it was unusual for it to be that happy at my escape. I could’ve called it out on that, but I decided not to. Anyway…

 

  I cleared it!

 

  I settled into my seat as the mannequin slid into the driver’s seat, preparing to depart.

 

  Exhaustion swept over me, and I felt my eyes grow heavy.

 

  The mannequin hummed happily as it drove us out of the theme park.

 

  As I drifted to sleep, I heard its voice one last time.

 

  “Rest well, dear guest. We have got everything you need on the bus. Don’t you worry! We will arrive before you know it. Any questions?”

 

  “No, there’s nothing.”

 

  “If that is so, I’ll take it as your consent, and we’ll be off on our way.”

 

  I was about to agree, but then a thought struck me, one that had been nagging at me earlier.

 

Why did we need ten coins when there were only nine stamps?

 

 

Seoul Object Story

Seoul Object Story

Score 9.95
Status: Ongoing Released: 2023 Native Language: Korean
Humans, once the masters of Earth, were losing their place to the inexplicable phenomena known as Objects. And this is a story about becoming an Object and living worry-free in the Seoul of such a world.

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