The insanely cruel novel begins when the main character, Jung In-ho, witnesses a car accident.
It was a very one-sided and violent incident in which a black car devoured the child and crushed it, leaving the child's mother to watch and scream.
There were quite a few people near the ice cream discount store, which had been quiet for a while, because it was just the beginning of the day.
Surely, there must have been people who saw the oncoming car, and there must have been people on the street who could have caught the child if they stretched out their hands.
But the poor child was torn apart by the driver who hadn't come to his senses until he hit the little thing, and the child's mother despaired, unable to even scream.
All of this was just fearful, surprising, and interesting to people.
In the scene where neither the perpetrator nor the victim lived, the main character, who just went out for a morning walk, witnessed it all.
It was an incident that deeply engraved such an ironic universal human image into the subconscious.
The next day, the main character is swallowed up in the underworld filled with such complicated thoughts.
* * *
'Even if I pretend otherwise, the incident must have been some kind of trauma.'
Trauma isn’t a big deal.
Whether you've experienced it yourself or not, it will stay in your head and never go away.
[Note: Not a mistranslation.
It actually says trauma isn’t a big deal.]
It was the same with the events the main character witnessed.
The main character, assistant manager Jung In-ho, liked good people.
There is a desire for it even though we know that we cannot live only with good things in the world.
It was a kind of respect and an ideal, so there was a basic expectation for humans.
However, the incident of that day, which clearly showed humanity to Jung In-ho, remained a trauma that he was not even aware of.
He finds out about this only in the second half of the novel.
And that trauma was confronted by a villain named Lee Jae-hun.
'That’s the funny thing.'
Even then, the trauma was not rid of, it was only intercepted.
“Who would like to get rid of it?”
The Underworld reflects the existing world and human thoughts.
In other words, the stronger the thoughts, the higher the possibility of being active in the underworld.
In that sense, the above trauma could be used as a weapon in the underworld.
Lee Jaehun only intented to leave an impression on Assistant Manager Jung In-ho by intervening in his trauma.
But he had no intention of weakening the main character's strength, who is the lifeline of his life.
Who would be crazy to do such a thing?
So even though he could have caught the child sooner, he didn't, and even though he could have given more proper treatment, he didn't.
Even though he could have prevented the accident from happening in the first place, he only intervened to improve his quality of life by taking advantage of this opportunity.
However, for the main character, his acknowledgement of the villain Lee Jaehun's presence would have grown.
Although, it's kind of embarrassing that it seems to have grown in a bit of a strange direction.
“… You must be thinking that something is strange…
Lee Jaehun muttered that and stroked his chin.
He had shown a difference in character today as a preview, but in doing so he also revealed that he seemed familiar with pain.
However, will there ever be a chance for Lee Jaehun, who has lived his whole life comfortably until old age, to get used to the pain?
If there is, no matter how much he though about it, nothing but illegal things come to mind, and if that's the case, his plans may have become a little distorted.
Of course, since he saw Lee Jaehun saving two people today, he wouldn't be openly hostile, but he would show at least some contempt or wariness.
However, the reason Lee Jaehun was not sure was that the main character tried to find out his mental abnormalities by tricking him.
At the time, Jung In-ho did not seem to harbor any hostility toward him.
There wasn’t any disdain.
‘Suspicion? Discomfort? I'm at a loss.’
Because the gaze mixed with various emotions for a very short time, Lee Jaehun could not tell how the main character viewed him.
Sitting on the bed, staring into space, he murmured softly.
“… Did the plan go a little wrong?”
What he was aiming for was the strategy of ‘actually, he wasn’t even that bad!’.
Why, aren't there such characters in fiction?
They keep showing only bad things, but there are plausible circumstances, or they had an excusable past.
Or they are impressed by the main characters and help them or sacrifice themselves in the end.
In those cases, it doesn't mean that the villain is not trash, but isn't human psychology only governed by reason and profit?
What Lee Jaehun was aiming for was that type of villain.
However, in such a plan, there was no such thing as “I am used to pain.”
Lee Jaehun, who was staring into space, slowly blinked.
'What are the chances?'
This was the problem.
There is no reason for ‘Lee Jaehun’ to be used to suffering.
He was born into a rich family and secured his current position through nepotism; he has two older siblings but he has not been treated unfairly because of that.
Rather, you could say they have been taking care of his needs because he is the youngest.
There was no abuse in the family, and since he was made to be a particular character, he had never been involved in anything outrageous.
Lee Jaehun was just common trash, but it was a case of meeting the family a little too well.
[Note: I think he’s saying he’s the type of trash who lucked out in family connections.]
Even if he had a dirty personality, there was no possibility that he would become a psychopath accustomed to suffering.
And, the main character knows that as well.
“So you must have made a ruse like that… .”
He saw the ultimate trash, who he usually hates, saving people casually, and he even witnessed how he didn't care about the wounds at all.
The former was what Lee Jaehun was aiming for, but the latter was not.
Perhaps Assistant Manager Jung In-ho was confused.
He’s a person with strong convictions.
A person defined by that belief cannot adapt to anything that differs from his or her thoughts.
It was for that reason that the incident he saw today was left as a trauma.
Therefore, Assistant Manager Jung In-ho questioned Lee Jaehun.
Since Lee Jaehun’s earlier remark had already sorted out the scene of him casually rescuing people, he could only ask about the wound.
And Lee Jaehun had not been aware of the wound until the main character spoke.
Lee Jaehun, who blinked his eyes while covering his mouth, got up from his seat.
His footsteps stopped in front of an ornately decorated liquor display case, and he scanned the empty seats where inexpensive liquors were listed.
Among them, he took out a high-alcohol liquor and poured it into a small glass.
“Well, I can’t help it.”
If there are no chances, can’t one be made?
Lee Jaehun nodded his head inwardly as he scrutinized the contents of the novel he remembered.
After swallowing only one sip of the Western liquor, his throat ached as if it had been scorched by a bright red fire.
A sense of harmony broke through his guts in an instant.
The familiar feeling of sleep began to eat away at his brain.
'It's not that there aren't any arrangements that can be made.'
The main character and Lee Jaehun were in different classes in various ways, and they did not know each other well.
Of course, this meant that he couldn't know about private affairs or his personal past.
However, Lee Jaehun needed a probability for today's work.
The setting of ‘a stupid and trashy boss, but a surprisingly usable human being’ was shattered by the fact that he was ‘accustomed to pain’, and even though the main character may not have caught on yet, Lee Jaehun had to make an excusable setting.
He did not like the side script that he had to suddenly piece together because he had no time to spare.
But most of all, the main character of this world was very smart.
Sincere but insidious, laughing but not happy, sloppy but a terribly scheming seed.
He must have vaguely noticed Lee Jaehun's acting.
'In other words, he thinks that either the past me or the present me is a lie.'
That's how In-ho has lived his life.
He was different on the outside and on the inside, and since he was a guy who lived by compromising with reality, it was needless to say how Lee Jaehun acting like this, would have looked.
And if it's natural, it's natural, but if one of the two has to be false, the suitable one is Lee Jaehun of the past.
At least Lee Jaehun now will be more useful than a villain who is worthless and used for cider.
So the old Lee Jaehun is fake.
The real Lee Jaehun is a psychopath who is accustomed to pain.
But he has the altruism and basic ability to save people.
He had never had a hard time as a pampered son with a golden spoon.
So it had to be.
[Note: if you didn’t understand, MC thinks that Jung In-ho probably believes that MC is a psychopath because there’s no way he would have developed a resistance to pain as a pampered son with basic analytical skills.]
It’s easy to create a setting, but difficult to create a setting that would go undetected.
However, as he entered this novel, an R-rated Angst-survival novel, there was a setting that Lee Jaehun could create.
It was possible to encourage the idea that he became the psychopath he is now.
Of course, it takes some effort to convince the main character of the setting, but…
“This is nothing.”
For a better life than before, it wasn't that difficult.
* * *
“Boss, did you get home safely yesterday?”
“Ah, Assistant Manager Jung.”
Lee Jaehun blinked as he looked at the main character asking how he was doing with an awkward expression.
'As expected of the main character of the novel.'
My career that I trembled like breathing is not going anywhere.
Apparently, he couldn't organize all of Lee Jaehun's appearance he witnessed yesterday, so he seems to be trying to recall it today, but it wasn't a bad approach if you think about the outer appearance he usually conveyed.
It is a line that suits Assistance manager Jung In-ho, a sincere and friendly but ordinary employee.
Lee Jaehun frowned and replied as usual.
“I almost died from being sore.”
It doesn't suit him at all, but he was also pretty confident in being coy.
It reveals a bad habit of mixing basic inferiority and rudeness toward people lower in rank than him, and answering them with annoyance no matter what they ask.
The old-fashioned boss, who only grumbles despite being asked the most basic regards, is unlikable even when riding the KTX.
[Note: Korea Train eXpress, often known as KTX, is South Korea's high-speed rail system, operated by Korail.
However, this kind of behavior that aroused dislike was a very natural thing for Lee Jaehun in the past, and even when he recalled his previous life, the vibe that came out from time to time did not disappear.
He continued, playing his old self very naturally.
“Rather than that, did you post what you were told to post last week? I think I said until today.”
This was a line that also appeared in the novel.
The main character, who subconsciously suffered a trauma the day before, becomes disillusioned with the manager who is urging the documents the next day.
He took on a task that was not supposed to be done, and it was only recently that he had been given it, and he would be annoyed by anyone hearing the order to produce results without giving even a few days of rest.
Isn't it the tone that implies 'you can work on weekends instead of resting'?
Of course, the main character, who is good at hiding his true feelings, answered with a clear face and a hint of embarrassment.
“Ah, the cleanup is almost done.
I'll send you an email as soon as I'm seated.”
“… okay? Then it's done.”
Lee Jaehun stiffened his expression with half wonder that the work was finished so quickly and half dissatisfaction with losing someone to criticize.
The main character in the novel should once again feel a familiar disillusionment here.
However, the situation with the novel has changed due to yesterday's incident.
“By the way, sir.”
“Are your wrists okay?”
This bastard is a crazy person pretending not to be like that.
'I expected it, but it's even more annoying because it's as expected.’
Lee Jaehun clicked his tongue inwardly.
The main character does not know about Lee Jaehun now, but Lee Jaehun knew the current protagonist.
Considering the appearance of Assistant Manager Jung In-ho, who he has usually seen, and the novel he read in his previous life, it was not very difficult to depict a human image.
The human named Jung In-ho was generally a good person, but he had a shady side.
He becomes obsessive only for his beliefs, and sure enough, yesterday Lee Jaehun acted in direct opposition to the justice established by that belief.
Maybe the main character was really curious about what the hell this idiot is doing.
But like the main character, perhaps even more so, Lee Jaehun's outer skin was extremely tough.
Since they parted ways yesterday and asked how they were the next day, he remained calm, so he must have judged that he wouldn't be able to get the information he wanted by scratching gently as he had been doing.
So what can you do? If you want to know, you have to poke your opponent's weakness to get the response you want.
And considering the reaction shown yesterday, Lee Jaehun seemed to want to hide the fact that he was “accustomed to pain” from others.
Lee Jaehun blinked at the protagonist waiting for his answer with black eyes.
'Anyway, what an annoying bastard.'
No matter how hateful he was, it was really unfavourable to openly poke at a weak point.
Perhaps Jung In-ho would have lived well, even if he had been born in the same world as Lee Jaehun’s previous life.
And the reaction Lee Jaehun could show to such a question was limited.
Hide it like you always have, or show it however you want.
The answer to that question was also decided by Lee Jaehun last night.
“Let’s keep the line, yes?”
If you were going to get caught anyway, it would be right to show for it in advance.
“You’ve been doing well so far, why are you like this?”
Lee Jaehun suddenly laughed at this situation.
They were about to be eaten by the Underworld.
Of course, he didn't the who the current protagonist is, but that was the set situation.
In such a case, you'll do everything you can to live apart from the world.
Is it funny that they are engaged in such a war of nerves without knowing what will happen to them in the future, or is it funny that they are doing this kind of play even though they know everything?
[Note: first part is referring to Jung In-ho, second part is referring to MC.]
Even in the midst of that, a rootless laugh leaked out as he acted without letting go of his reason to try to live until the end.
Of course, it was only for a short while.
“Deputy Manager Jung, you should be promoted quickly.
Do you think you can afford to quarrel with the manager?”
“… No, I just asked because I was worried…
“If that's true, Deputy Jung should be a little more delicate.
Can you have a social life because people are so ignorant? Be careful, huh?”
Lee Jaehun, who finished his usual taunting, left the hallway and went to his seat.
It wasn't that there were no people listening to their conversation, but it seemed like it was a conversation between an ordinary old man and a poor employee, so there shouldn't be any major problems.
Above all, Lee Jaehun could not afford to engage in a war of nerves with the main character.
'In the next two hours.'
There are only a few hours left before he is eaten by the underworld.
Lee Jaehun, who knew that he would fall into a world similar to that time, was psychologically quite insecure because of the memory of struggling to survive while trembling with those damn things in his previous life.
That doesn't mean he's gone crazy or lost his nerves.
For him in his previous life, being threatened with death happened every time, and he learned to think calmly because he couldn't just scream in fear every time.
Wouldn't it be much different now that he’s reincarnated in the world of fiction?
He didn't want to uselessly waste his energy in a situation where he may be on the verge of his death.
If the other person hadn't been the main character of this world, Lee Jaehun would have pretended not to know his reasoning.
Lee Jaehun, who sat down, turned on the monitor as usual.
He blinked slowly at the sudden dream-like sense.
The past life he just recalled was strangely realistic.
Maybe it's because he was possessed by the book he read then, or maybe it's because of his original personality.
Even if it rolled quickly, the hat only made his head go blank.
In his hand, he checked what he had to do today, but was absentminded
Lee Jaehun obligingly played with his mouse and stared at the white window on the screen, then placed his free hand as if to cover his mouth.
Anxiety and nervousness combine with the half-baked reality that seems to be floating in the air, slowing awareness.
“Department head, would you like some coffee?”
He just nodded his head and passed the time.
For Lee Jae-hun, who does not work particularly hard, the company's working hours were boring.
It must have been because he passed on the work he should have done to other employees.
The main character was also a common victim of such an old-fashioned manager.
In this case, the employees would report the work they had done as if he had done it.
The work that the manager had to do had already been completed, and there was nothing to do in the remaining time, so Lee Jaehun sat in his chair with a languid sentiment.
* * *
30 minutes, 1 hour.
And 2 hours passed.
A slight tingling sensation passed through his limbs as if he had been eaten by electricity.
“… What, what?”
“The computer is off.
Is it a power outage?”
“Where are you?”
Lee Jaehun blinked at the dusty desk that you would only see in a collapsed building.
Electricity was gone.
Of course, the computer didn't work, and for the same reason, the automatic door on the first floor would have stopped too.
Elevators and escalators too.
The old and broken building, as if it had been neglected for more than 10 years, felt a little strange.
Lee Jae-hun approached the window and checked outside.
He let out a familiar sigh from his mouth.
A world in which black and white descended, the world seemed to have been deprived of color.
The loneliness of seeing the world decades later, where people were all gone.
Lee Jaehun's gaze met the jet-black eyes staring at him.
“… Boss, what's going on?”
They were devoured by the underworld.
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