Chapter 14: His Descent (1)
Jeong In-Gyu stood before Kang Jin-Ho.
“I heard you all went to karaoke.”
Kang Jin-Ho coolly nodded.
"Yes, we did."
"You actually went without me!"
Jeong In-Gyu's voice went up an octave.
"And you call yourself a friend!"
Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow.
"Didn't you have cram school"
"If you knew that, you should've gone another day! How could you leave me out of a karaoke session!"
"Oh, is that so..." Kang Jin-Ho dismissively waved his hand as if this was getting on his nerves.
Jeong In-Gyu was not a bad person, but he sure loved to talk a bit too much.
In a way, he was similar to a useful but noisy device.
A chatterbox like him was great for gathering information on how to get used to school life, but one had to pay the cost of accumulating mental fatigue by keeping him around.
If only he could tone down his noise level by half, he would be a smash hit with the prospective punters, that was for sure.
Kang Jin-Ho dismissively replied, "We'll go together next time."
Jeong In-Gyu shot back.
"Why would I go to karaoke with you!"
“Didn't you go with a bunch of girls!”
Jeong In-Gyu cried out bitterly, "Dammit, you traitor! Are you really my friend Seriously"
Kang Jin-Ho let Jeong In-Gyu's bitter complaints slip out his other ear and picked up his textbook.
But its clean pages weighed heavily in his heart.
He knew that he needed to urgently study.
The next exam was about a month and a half away, and he must re-educate himself up to the high school level before that deadline.
The task sounded next to impossible, but he didn't have a choice.
He had to do something, even if it was only to jolt his dormant memories awake somehow.
'Even if it's impossible...'
Kang Jin-Ho gravely glared at the English textbook in front of his eyes.
Could he really master this thing in just over a month He might recognize each alphabet, but what was the point if he couldn't read any words It'd be similar to remembering the Korean scripts but not knowing how to read Hangul.
But he must reach high-school-level English somehow Never mind a month, a decade might not be enough for this task.
Jeong In-Gyu tilted his head.
“Are you studying for real”
“Wow, you really lost your marbles.”
"Yes, yes." Kang Jin-Ho waved his hand again as if to chase an annoying mosquito away.
He even briefly wondered whether to tap Jeong In-Gyu's vocal pressure point to shut him up or not.
'One thing is for certain: studying through this textbook is unrealistic for me right now.
Perhaps I should start from the elementary school level first...'
Kang Jin-Ho was interrupted in the middle of his planning by sudden loud noises coming from behind.
He turned his head slightly to look.
A kid was cowering in the corner of the class while three other students were surrounding him.
Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes.
"What's going on"
Jeong In-Gyu smirked a little.
“It's Park Yu-Min.”
"Pretending you don't know who that is, eh It's Park Yu-Min, you know Park Yu-Min the Cripple."
Kang Jin-Ho furrowed his brow a little.
The 'cripple' bit got on his nerves somewhat.
'A cripple, is it'
He recalled that there was a kid like that in the class.
If his memories served him correctly, that kid had to be...
One of the three students growled menacingly.
“What was that You didn't bring it”
Park Yu-Min whimpered on the floor.
“I, I'm sorry...”
"Gimme a freaking break.
Hey, you dipsh*t! Do you really think that not bringing it with you will be the end of this I told you to bring it, didn't I!"
I really don't have any...”
“Then, you should've stolen some or gotten a goddamn job, you piece of sh*t!”
If Kang Jin-Ho's memories were correct, the one shouting right now had to be Choi Yeong-Su.
He had left such a strong impression in Kang Jin-Ho's mind that the latter could still remember him pretty well.
That strong impression mostly consisted of his vicious personality, though.
And he was also so good at fighting that no one in school wanted to provoke him.
What was even worse was that Choi Yeong-Su was the grandson of this school's chief director—who was the head of the board of the Dongmyeong Foundation, one of the top education foundations in the country.
On the surface, you could say that Choi Yeong-Su was quite blessed—good-looking, tall, well-built, came from a wealthy stock, and boasted excellent athletic abilities.
Hence, it would only be natural for him to be popular.
But there was a problem with him, and that was...
“Why don't I keep hitting you until you cough up the money”
Park Yu-Min pitifully whimpered, "But, but...
I really don't have any."
“Then I'll just keep hitting you.” Choi Yeong-Su cackled insidiously and kicked Park Yu-Min.
The physically smaller Park Yu-Min cowered even more.
“You wanna scream What, you think the homeroom teacher will show up if you do Fine, scream away, then! But one scream will get you ten additional blows, you got that!”
And just like that, Park Yu-Min clamped his mouth shut.
He remained cowering and hugging himself on the floor, silently enduring all those merciless kicks.
Choi Yeong-Su growled.
“You little sh*t! I told you to bring me some goddamn money, not run your mouth off with excuses.”
Kang Jin-Ho silently watched that scene before turning his head away.
'Is that what's known as bullying in school'
Something like this happened fairly regularly.
Bullying was recognized as a serious issue by society, and that had supposedly forced modern Korean students to behave better.
But that was simply not true in Kang Jin-Ho's view.
Bullying still continued unabated during Kang Jin-Ho's past.
Even in gangho, one could find many instances of bullying because it was human nature to trample on weaker-looking people.
Even also animals exhibited such behavior.
It might sound callous to some, but the act of bullying that was happening right now was simply nature doing its thing.
Lee Tae-Ho muttered, “Yeong-Su looks hella pissed today, doesn't he”
Choi Yeong-Su had always treated Park Yu-Min as his personal plaything, but he had never been this vicious before.
Being this cruel all the time would result in the consequences of his actions ballooning to a pretty serious level, after all.
The one with all the info, Jeong In-Gyu leaned in closer to Lee Tae-Ho and whispered quietly, “Apparently, he asked Han Se-Yeon out and got rejected.”
“Did he really ask her out on a date And she said no”
“Yup, that's what the rumor says.”
Choi Yeong-Su's head sharply spun around.
"Who the f*ck is talking behind my back!"
We weren't talking about you, so don't worry about us.” Jeong In-Gyu jumped up in alarm and quickly waved his hands in denial.
Kang Jin-Ho glanced at him before scanning the rest of the classroom.
It was currently lunchtime, but there were still over twenty students here, including the troublemakers.
Yet, no one tried to stop Choi Yeong-Su.
Some kids watched on, clearly amused.
Some were frowning in displeasure, but the fear of getting involved in something troublesome stopped them from lending a helping hand.
What an amusing sight this was to Kang Jin-Ho.
People like them would act as some kind of apostles of justice when things were peaceful.
But not many were willing to take on the potential fallout when things got real.
This was what human society was like.
Knowing this fact didn't disappoint or disillusion Kang Jin-Ho, though.
In all honesty, he still preferred this society despite knowing the truth.
At the very least, no visible threat to his life existed, and he also wouldn’t experience vomit-inducing hostility in this world. In addition, someone getting bullied and tormented had nothing to do with Kang Jin-Ho.
He had experienced far too many crappy things to care about each and every instance of bullying, anyway.
Having to persevere through them all those years was more than enough for him.
To be brutally honest, Kang Jin-Ho would probably not even bat an eyelid if his classmates suddenly died this second.
He simply didn't care enough about anyone here for him to protect them from danger.
“You f*cking crippled bastard!” Choi Yeong-Su roared.
Kang Jin-Ho frowned a little.
Cripple, was it... What an unpleasant word to listen to.
Especially when it invoked the memories of the distant past when he had been paralyzed from his waist down.
“Hey, Yeong-Su, take it easy, dude.
This punk might really die at this rate.”
Nah, he won't die.
The two goons next to Choi Yeong-Su cackled insidiously while staring at Park Yu-Min.
Spineless leeches were bound to stick to the person with power, hoping to siphon off some of that power for themselves.
Kang Jin-Ho got up to leave.
No, he wasn't planning to butt in or anything like that since this childish nonsense didn't interest him.
He merely wanted to visit the bathroom before the class started.
This f*cking cripple still pisses me off.”
Kang Jin-Ho's steps came to a halt.
An emotion he couldn't quite understand quickly overtook him.
What Choi Yeong-Su said really got on his nerves, but...
It was as if he wasn't exactly sure what part triggered him so much.
"If you're a f*cking cripple, you should've known your place.
How dare you walk around with your head held high A cripple should've gone to a damn cripple school, you know what I mean Do you really think that you're normal now just because you come to this school"
Kang Jin-Ho glanced behind him.
The battered and bruised Park Yu-Min was kneeling on the floor, his head faltering and blood trickling from his burst lips.
“Hey, dude, what about this” The punk standing to the right of Choi Yeong-Su seemed to have thought of something and went to fetch a metal bucket from the corner of the classroom.
Choi Yeong-Su tilted his head.
"I think it's the leftover water after rinsing the mop"
It seemed that whoever was in charge of cleaning the windows didn't bother to throw out the dirty water afterward.
“That sounds like an amusing idea…” Choi Yeong-Su smirked.
Choi Yeong-Su smiled gently and pushed the bucket toward Park Yu-Min.
"If you drink this, I promise I'll never torment you ever again."
Park Yu-Min wordlessly stared at his chief tormentor.
Choi Yeong-Min maintained the smile.
“But if you don't drink that, I'll kill you right here.”
Park Yu-Min's trembling hands grasped the bucket but didn't bring it any closer to him.
What he had done seemed to have wiped the smile off Choi Yeong-Min's face.
"You're actually thinking twice about this Are you insane Maybe you need to get hurt some more so you can finally wise up"
Park Yu-Min's eyes darted urgently between the bucket and Choi Yeong-Su.
He could see all the dirt floating on the surface of the dark water.
Choi Yeong-Su roared, “I said, drink it!”
Park Yu-Min on his knees brought his face closer to the bucket with some difficulty, then slowly tipped it toward him.
But he just couldn't place his lips against it in the end.
His hesitancy only stoked Choi Yeong-Su's anger even further, however.
The latter furrowed his brow and roared.
"Argh, you f*cking c*nt!"
He suddenly kicked the bucket, causing the dirty black water to splash on Park Yu-Min's face.
"Cough! Bleurgh!" He inadvertently swallowed some of the dirty water and began coughing and wheezing urgently.
But that only riled up Choi Yeong-Su even more.
"You really wanna die today, huh!" Choi Yeong-Su roughly kicked Park Yu-Min’s side while the latter was toppling over and coughing laboriously.
But that failed to lessen his anger, so he grabbed a nearby chair and slammed it down on Park Yu-Min's back.
Choi Yeong-Su roared.
“A f*cking cripple wants to be defiant, eh Is it because only one leg is f*cked up Huh! In that case, breaking your other leg will probably solve things, right At least, you'll be more balanced from now on!”
“Does that mean he'll be crippled in both legs”
“Wait, isn't that whatchamacallit, paraplegic He’ll be a real disabled person, then”
Choi Yeong-Min's goons cackled and grabbed Park Yu-Min's hair to pull the latter up. "You f*cking c*nt, wanna die"
Park Yu-Min whimpered, "I, I'm sorry..."
“Aren't you gonna drink it”
"...B-but, it has spilled, though"
“Oh. So, you can't drink something on the floor, is that it” Choi Yeong-Su smirked like a snake before stepping several times on the dirty water on the floor.
He cackled insidiously.
“You still can't drink it”
"Well, lick it off the floor."
Choi Yeong-Su growled angrily, "Didn't you hear me Lick the f*cking water off the floor and drink it!"
Park Yu-Min's figure began shuddering as his bullies yelled at him.
“Huh This b*tch's crying now.”
“Wow, how embarrassing.”
Isn't this like, we're the bad guys here”
Choi Yeong-Su and his two goons cackled once more and began smacking Park Yu-Min in the back of his head.
The smacks echoed throughout the classroom, and the other students began realizing that things might have gotten a bit too serious now.
Wasn't this bullying crossing the line in some way
Park Yu-Min's head faltered and his body was still trembling.
Choi Yeong-Su leaned in closer and snidely muttered into Park Yu-Min's ear, “You crying, boy”
“Then, what the hell are you doing Lick the f*cking water already.”
Park Yu-Min brought his face closer to the floor.
Even if he did this, this trio would probably continue to torment him in the future.
But there was no other choice if he wanted to end this miserable situation to end as soon as possible.
Park Yu-Min's trembling hands pressed down on the floor.
The floor stained by dirty water loomed large in his view. Park Yu-Min wiped the tears off his face, then brought his lips closer to the water pooling on the floor.
Choi Yeong-Su nodded in satisfaction at the sight of this.
"That's right, a f*cking cripple should act like a crippled b*tch!"
Park Yu-Min began shuddering.
Did he really have to drink this Really Was there anyone willing to help
He knew better than anyone that such thoughts were utterly useless.
After all, no one in this class was brave enough to help Park Yu-Min and make an enemy out of Choi Yeong-Su.
The bully and the bullied in this school were just too far apart in status, and that was why it would be better for him to just stop hoping for a miracle at this stage.
But then, Park Yu-Min's teary view caught the sight of something rather strange—a person's foot.
A foot clad in a white shoe stepped on the puddle of water in front of his face.
“...” Park Yu-Min raised his head in confusion.