Date: Day 22
Current Location: Floor 1, Corridor
Sage’s Advice: 3]
“So that means we have four of us that failed.”
“Eunsol-noona, Miss Elena, Ahri and Grandpa Mooksung couldn’t escape, is that correct?” I asked.
“I have no words to say,” replied Grandpa Mooksung.
“Hmm, I’m sorry as well but let’s stop there for the apologies and come up with another plan.”
“It’s a fairly serious problem,” said Grandpa Mooksung. “Look, our first plan was to see the difficulty of escape through our first attempt and allocate 1 person to escaping after that for the safety of the team to have the remaining 7 continue with the room, right?
But 4 of us failed, which means we only have a few that will be proceeding with the room’s curse.
However, what is fortunate is that I can swear there won’t be any problems in the next attempt. I will not repeat the same mistake twice.”
I decided to organise the situation for now.
“First off, let me organise the reasons for our failure.
1. Eunsol: The house is too big; there are too many people and it is difficult to escape while hiding from all the people.
2. Elena: The house is too small, and starts in the same room as her family.
3. Mooksung: Bewildered by the resurrection of the deceased family members.
4. Ahri: The starting place is the 1st Hotel, and a physical escape is therefore impossible.
Does that sound right?”
They all returned a nod.
What I could tell once again while going through those points was that there were quite a few unexpected reasons. I wasn’t expecting it to be impossible to escape due to having a big house, and starting at the Hotel was also fairly shocking.
I understood what happened for the other people but had a slightly hard time understanding Ahri’s case. She was physically strong so couldn’t she just beat her family?
“Ahri?” I asked.
“I get that you can’t physically leave the Hotel, but according to you, that means you only had ‘your mum’ showing up as your family, right?”
“Then the situation itself seems similar to Jinchul-hyung’s, so how about you try ‘overpowering’ her next time? You can be like Jinchul-hyung and escape after bashing your mother up the moment we begin to stop her from approaching you.”
“Hey Kain! I don’t like the way you’re saying that! What do you mean I bashed my mother up? You’re making me sound like the shittiest guy on the planet! I punched not my mother, but the fake that was pretending to be my mother.”
Ahri didn’t say anything for a while nor did she show any sign of approval.
“Sorry, but my mum is a bit strong. I don’t think I’ll be able to do anything. I can’t beat my mother no matter what I do and I can’t stop her from approaching me either.”
What was going on, I wondered.
There were still quite a lot of things we weren’t sure about regarding Ahri’s abilities, but to think she was so certain that she couldn’t beat her…
What kind of person was her mother? Was she even human?
“Now!” Eunsol-noona continued off from where I stopped. “So it will be hard for Ahri, but what about everyone else? First off… sir? Are you sure you can proceed next time?”
“I can assure you that I will not make the same mistake twice.”
“It was a simple mistake for you, so let’s say you’ll be fine from our next attempt. On the other hand… Ahri, there’s no way for you to do anything, is that right?”
“Sorry, but yes. It’ll be absolutely impossible.”
“That can’t be helped then. I guess it boils down to Elena and me.”
“Hah, this is quite a peculiar situation, isn’t it?” said Jinchul-hyung. “For noonim, it’s a problem because your house is too big and for Miss Elena, it’s because the house is too small.”
For a while, Eunsol-noona and Elena both turned silent and pondered by themselves and so did we.
No matter what, having 3 people unable to do anything was quite rough. 1 of us had to be a dedicated escaper and adding 3 people to that meant we had to resolve the curse with only 4 of us.
After 5 minutes of silence, Eunsol-noona opened her mouth.
“I’m really sorry, but I don’t think I can do anything. I can’t punch my family and overpower them like Jinchul, and the house is too big and crowded for me to leave in secret.”
“I think I might have a better fighting chance than Eunsol-unni,” said Elena, “Because I just need to buy 5 seconds. With just 5 seconds, I think I can leave the house because it is quite small.”
“The problem is that you start with the ‘Strange Family’ next to you though, so buying 5 seconds is going to be quite hard.”
“Ah!” It was then.
“Songee? What is it?”
“Elena-unni. Can you leave your house with your sense of sight and sense of hearing blocked?”
“I remember the entire house like the back of my hand. Because it is very small.”
…For some reason, I had a feeling that Elena was frequently grumbling about her house being quite small.
“Then how about I block all your senses before we go in like what I did to Jinchul-oppa last time?
It’s a lot better than simply closing your eyes and blocking your ears, so it should be able to protect your mind even if you are right next to the ‘Strange Family’. It will last 10 minutes so that should work as long as you can leave in that period of time.”
“But if I leave like that, won’t that be dangerous for you, Songee? Didn’t you say you could only use the bracelet on one person at a time? If you use that bracelet on me, that means you won’t be able to protect yourself until it goes ‘off cooldown’ again, right?”
“I start in my room unlike you, though. I can just lock the door for like 30 minutes or an hour and leave when I can use the bracelet again.”
“Songee, can you use that same method on Eunsol-noona?”
“I can only use the bracelet on one person at a time.”
“Then use that on Elena. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to escape the house with my senses blocked. It’s just too big.”
After taking the note and pen from noona, I organised our current plan.
1. Escape Team: Park Seungyub
2. Advance Team: Han Kain, Yu Songee, Cha Jinchul, Kim Mooksung, Elena
3. Give-up Team: Lee Eunsol, Kim Ahri.
This seemed about right.
Leaving out the two that couldn’t proceed and the one that was in charge of our escape gave us 5 remaining members. Five seemed like a decent number for a solid attempt and besides, it didn’t look like we would be able to increase that number either.
Seeing me write things down, everyone naturally turned to the note and a few of them grumbled after seeing it.
“Isn’t ‘Give-up Team’ a bit too mean? What kind of team is this? Just leave my name out please,” said Eunsol-noona.
“Kain wrote our names like we’re the uncooperative members of a group project.”
“…I am just writing this for myself.”
“Hmm, I guess that settles things. There’s something I want to ask just to make sure, Seungyub-gun,” said Grandpa Mooksung.
“Are you sure you can escape? You are the one that needs to escape as soon as we begin to secure our survival, so you have the most important role on your shoulders. If you fail, all of us will die.”
“I think I can pull it off 100%. I made it out in less than 10 minutes just then. My parents don’t come into my room that often so I can just jump out the window onto a car and run, and that’s it.”
“What a reliable young man. That’s very reassuring. I will trust you.”
As if he wasn’t used to having so many compliments and expectations thrown at him, Seungyub’s face turned red again.
Grandpa Mooksung was right though.
At a glance, it might seem that the people advancing with the curse of the room were more important, but those people won’t be able to do anything with a peace of mind unless we had a guaranteed survival backing them up. That was why the most important person out of everyone was the escaper.
“By the way, I saw something very strange.”
“What is it, Seungyub? Tell us.”
“Why aren’t you saying anything? Is there something wrong?”
“Please don’t misunderstand. I seriously wasn’t trying to play any games, and I just accessed the internet because it had been a very long since I last did, right?”
“Just be honest, buddy. Did you play a game of league? That’s fine. As long as you escape in one piece, no-one’s going to complain about that.”
“I’m serious, Jinchul-hyung! I really didn’t play any games. I was just browsing the web and everything looked incredibly strange.”
“You mean the internet was strange?”
“People were eating strange bugs on eating shows; in baseball games, they were trying to hit people with the ball and in dramas, everyone was fighting with real swords. I browsed for a minute and it felt like my head was turning strange so I quickly turned it off and left the house.”
“Can I share what I felt as well?” asked Songee.
“Did you also find something strange?”
“As you all know, I can now use my ‘Affinity’ more proactively after the enhancement. Like, I can convey my thoughts and feel what they are thinking for a deeper exchange, and so I tried using that to my family and the animals in my house. The result was a fail; it didn’t work and they didn’t react in any way. What do you think this means?”
“Hmm. I do have an idea,” said Grandpa Mooksung.
“What is it, sir?”
“Songee’s ability is one that allows her to communicate with a ‘being of chaos’, right? If the members of the ‘Strange Family’ are not ‘beings of chaos’ and are simple humans and animals in that stage, that would explain why her ability wasn’t working.”
“Do you mean that even the Strange Family are just victims that were involved in the curse because of a different cause?”
“Isn’t that the very thing implied by our clues as well? The origin of the curse is not in the family.”
Listening to their conversation, I felt a bit embarrassed.
Unlike me who escaped while doing nothing else, Seungyub and Songee still escaped while finding crucial pieces of information. Maybe I should have done something as well.
I decided to be more proactive at finding information in our next attempt.
For now, I wrote down the two notes that Seungyub and Songee found for us.
1. The internet is strange.
2. The family might be normal humans.
Adding the two of them naturally made us come up with a hypothesis.
“Is the origin of the curse the ‘Internet’ then?”
“Were the family afflicted with the curse from using the internet? And maybe the animals got infected by them?”
“There’s nothing certain, but I believe the Advance Team should first look at matters related to the internet.”
After discussing for about 30 minutes, we finished organising the situation and setting our goals.
Lastly, I ripped the note out and put it on the table for everyone to see.
1. Escape Team: Park Seungyub
2. Advance Team: Han Kain, Yu Songee, Cha Jinchul, Kim Mooksung, Elena
3. Rest Team: Lee Eunsol, Kim Ahri.
Goal of the Advance Team: Find the Origin of the Curse. Search primarily through the Internet.
I think we had a solid starting point now for another attempt.
“…Kain. Can you please just get rid of my name?”
“I guess he’s the type of person that needs to report to the professor about the unhelpful group project members~”
[User: Han Kain (Wisdom)
Date: Day 22
Current Location: Floor 1, Room 101 (Cursed Room – A Strange Family)
Sage’s Advice: 3]
The moment I came to myself, I immediately put up a filter in front of my eyes. Next, I turned on the computer in my room.
Oh right, I couldn’t forget to remind the family not to come in.
Even after covering myself with the system window, my mind turned blank for a bit immediately after hearing her voice.
“I need to apply for my courses so don’t interrupt me!”
It seemed to be around February right now inside the room, so there should be nothing wrong with me saying that I was in the middle of applying for my university subjects.
Her feet slowly went further away from the room.
Turning on the computer, I browsed the web for about a minute, and immediately understood what Seungyub meant.
Seriously, the world of the Internet had absolutely gone crazy, and I realised that Seungyub was trying to put it nicely when he said that. There were shows where people tried to eat people, and the news and dramas were literally horrendous.
Even psychopaths would probably get goosebumps after seeing these.
In less than 1 minute after I started watching the videos, my head started to ache tremendously and strange sounds started echoing in my ears.
A rather distorted common sense tried to seep into my head.
…What was wrong with humans eating humans?
Quickly turning off the monitor, I retreated back.
My mind returned after 5 minutes of rest.
I pondered to myself.
Seungyub said the ‘Internet’ was strange, but after seeing it with my own eyes, I came up with a more distinct explanation.
It was the ‘Media’ that was strange. There was nothing strange when using search engine platforms like Naver and Google. It was mainly TV shows, eating shows, sports, news and dramas that were all crazy.
There were still so many unanswered questions though. Was ‘Media’ the problem? Was ‘Media’ the origin of the curse?
Then what was the Hotel asking us to do then?
This was probably not the right approach. I decided to think back to Room 103 that Songee resolved. The origin of the curse back then were the Athanasias, and the room was resolved after she wiped them out.
In other words, the origin of the curse was probably something that could be physically destroyed. That thing must have contaminated the Media, which spread to the people and the world.
I came up with a hypothesis.