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    Yoo Geum-yi and I high-fived each other, wearing expressions that said we’d survived, and then we bounced about. However, the elevator remained stuck.

    “The lights are on now, so won’t it start moving up on its own if we wait?”

    “Right! Let’s not do anything rash and just wait!”

    So Yoo Geum-yi and I waited in the elevator for more than ten minutes. It seemed better when the lights were off, oddly enough. Back then, we couldn’t see each other’s faces, but now, each other’s fearful and anxious expressions were clear to see.

    After about ten minutes, Yoo Geum-yi cautiously spoke, “You saw what Ae-young was messing with earlier, didn’t you? Shouldn’t we just do the opposite?”

    “But won’t that send us back to the fourth undersea base?”

    “I’m not sure. Should we keep waiting?”

    ‘We had already been waiting in the elevator for more than ten minutes. What should we wait for? The elevator to move upward on its own like the lights came on by themselves? But it’s not moving at all. Should we wait for the people from the third undersea base to rescue us? This is just a horrible thought, but have the people from the first, second, and third undersea bases all already evacuated? What happens if another shock like earlier occurs?’

    “I’ll leave the decision to you, Geum-yi-ssi.”

    “Moohyun-ssi, you won’t regret this?”

    “Yes. I won’t regret it nor hold any resentment.”

    “Good. Pull this and this, connect it like this… there, the button lights up when I do that.”

    Yoo Geum-yi boldly pulled out the connected wires and linked them to others. The second set of wires came free. Before I could even prepare to be surprised, my astonishment slowly welled up due to her sudden action.

    “No, is it alright to just yank it out like that…”

    The elevator jerked downward. It felt like the ground beneath my feet disappeared. The elevator started to plummet. Ahhhhh!

    Yoo Geum-yi and I held onto each other and screamed for 110 seconds straight. We screamed and begged for our lives, but we kept falling.

    Later, Yoo Geum-yi adopted a posture she said she saw somewhere for lessening the impact when falling in an elevator, placed the bag she had been holding next to me, and started screaming again. ‘Dear God! Buddha! Allah! Gods of Greek and Roman mythology! Gods of Norse mythology! Gods of India! Please save me if you can! Please take the time to save us even if you’re busy!’ We screamed and screamed, only shutting our mouths when we saw people reflected in the elevator’s window.

    It was Baek Ae-young. The moment the elevator doors opened, we first saw a flustered Baek Ae-young, the ghostly faced Shin Haeryang, and the pale Seo Jihyuk. Seo Jihyuk was helped into the elevator by Baek Ae-young and Shin Haeryang. It was more like they just threw him into the elevator, and he landed on top of me as I was sitting on the floor.

    Behind Shin Haeryang, someone else seemed to be clinging to him, and it wasn’t until he stepped into the elevator that I realized it was a woman. Gunshots kept ringing out. My ears were about to burst from the ‘bang bang bang’ noises. The woman must have been leaning against Shin Haeryang because she slid to the floor as he stepped in.

    Shin Haeryang pulled the half-splayed woman into the elevator. As he did, blood streaked across the floor like a string. Sitting directly in front of the elevator door, I heard Shin Haeryang yell at me.

    “Duck your head!”

    As I unthinkingly lay sideways against the wall, a bullet hit where my head had just been. Soon after, Shin Haeryang kicked me and Seo Jihyuk to the side, pinning us to a corner of the elevator.

    Yoo Geum-yi was trembling in the center of the elevator, visible in my line of sight. I heard the sound of someone running. Shin Haeryang was pressing down on me and Seo Jihyuk, but the front side of the elevator visible from the outside kept getting more and more holes.

    Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang!

    Someone outside the elevator was incessantly firing a gun. I didn’t know, but it seems like Baek Ae-young was tampering with the control panel as soon as she got into the elevator. A man’s scream came from outside the elevator just before the doors closed.

    “Die!”

    Bullets kept hitting the inside of the elevator. Aren’t the walls going to have holes soon? When the elevator door closed, no more bullets hit the inside of the elevator, but the sound of bullets hitting the outside could be heard. The elevator started to ascend rapidly as soon as the door closed. I wanted to look outside through the elevator window, but Shin Haeryang was on top of me and Seo Jihyuk and wouldn’t budge.

    “What on earth happened?”

    When I asked with an exhausted voice, Baek Ae-young, tired as well, asked first, “Why did you ride the elevator and come back down?”

    Yoo Geum-yi replied with a mellow voice. Her eyes never left the blood-soaked woman who had entered the elevator.

    “The power went out and the elevator stopped, so… it didn’t move. I reversed what Baek Ae-young-ssi was fiddling with.”

    Baek Ae-young sighed, washed her face dryly, then forced a smile and spoke again with another sigh. “We survived thanks to that.”

    Shin Haeryang helped lift up Seo Jihyuk’s upper body and carefully sat him down. Seo Jihyuk’s face turned pale as he let out a groan. Not only did the woman smell of blood, but it was clear that Seo Jihyuk was injured too. As we looked at him in surprise like sharks, we saw something tied around his leg with a piece of clothing.

    “Why, why is this happening?”

    “He was shot. The knee joint is shattered. It’s beyond saving.”

    Seo Jihyuk cursed and all sorts of profanity began pouring out of his mouth. He’s a talkative person, but I’ve never seen him spew so many obscenities. He seemed to be in so much pain that he was barely resisting the urge to roll on the ground. Yoo Geum-yi asked, trembling.

    “C…can you walk?”

    Shin Haeryang shook his head coldly. “Before he gets treatment from an orthopedic doctor, he won’t be able to walk. Do you have painkillers?”

    I, who could not take my eyes off the woman lying in blood, barely opened the bag with the cat in it and took the cat out entirely. Regardless of whether people could see or not. Then I rummaged through the bottom of the bag and found acetaminophen, the only medication in my room. As I handed him a pill with shaking hands and water, Seo Jihyuk gave me a look as if I was joking.

    “I’d keel over in pain even if I swallowed all of that.”

    “I only have four pills anyway.”

    Seo Jihyuk seemed to want to curse at me now, but he didn’t say a word and swallowed all four pills. His jaw was so tightly clenched from pain that I forcefully crammed a few candies into his mouth. The cursing from Seo Jihyuk decreased along with it, killing two birds with one stone. Now that I had looked at the injured person, I asked about the person who seemed completely dead on the outside.

    “What happened? Who is this person?”

    Shin Haeryang spoke as calmly as possible, even though he was visibly angry. “Teams from China and Japan are armed. They’re not exactly friendly folks who would take sides without guns, so if left alone, they’ll probably self-destruct. But Jihyuk and I ran into a few engineers from Team D during the escape.”

    “Did the Chinese team shoot?”

    “Yes. And this person is Hai Yoon, the team leader of the Chinese team… She’s already dead.”

    Shin Haeryang closed his mouth with a somber expression. I was the only one here whose job fell within the medical field. I cautiously approached the woman sprawled on the ground, checked for breathing and heartbeat, and declared her dead. It was the third time today. Just as I was barely holding back a curse that was climbing up my throat, Baek Ae-young gritted her teeth and said:

    “Now that Hai Yoon is dead, that team of engineers is in chaos. If you hear a single word of Chinese, you need to run right away.”

    “Who exactly is Hai Yoon?”

    Baek Ae-young slowly spoke, folding one finger after the other. “Among them, she has the most money, the smartest, and the most reasonable among the team leaders, but just a while ago—.” she trailed off, glancing at Shin Haeryang before falling silent. It seemed like a form of consideration. But I, who was busy tucking in Hai Yoon’s half-open eyes and making her, who was lying on her side like a shrimp, lie flat, absent-mindedly asked, having my focus elsewhere,

    ‘What? Why?’

    Shin Haeryang and Baek Ae-young didn’t say anything, but Seo Jihyuk, who had been quietly listening, chewed a piece of candy before swallowing and speaking up, “Hai Yoon likes Mr. Shin here, our team leader. Well. Why. It’s true. Right, team leader. Ah! Baek Ae-young, you lid hand… if you want to hit me, hit me! I may not be able to use my legs, but I will use my mouth! If that bastard Li Wei doesn’t like Hai Yoon, then he doesn’t like her, that f*cker! Did you know that Zhu Shi’an from the same team likes that sh*thead Li Wei too? This is the first time I heard about it! Damn it, seriously!”

    Baek Ae-young gave up trying to shut Seo Jihyuk up, and Shin Haeryang just let it be, probably thinking that since the man’s knees had hurt, he might as well vent. Shin Haeryang was too busy looking at Seo Jihyuk’s knee, and only Yoo Geum-yi and I focused on Seo Jihyuk’s story.

    “These crazy people took over the East exit and seem to have shot all the people trying to escape. There were bodies piled up like mountains next to the exit. Damn it. Of course, some of the team members didn’t like the situation where they had to shoot civilians suddenly, like Hong Tao from Taiwan or Shu Ran from Hong Kong. You saw what happened to Hong Tao, right?”

    “Who’s that?”

    We had been through so much in such a short time. Yoo Geum-yi made a face as if she didn’t know. Seo Jihyuk screamed as if flames were burning inside him.

    “That, guy… the one who got shot in the lung and collapsed next to the convenience store! That guy! As soon as he said he didn’t like shooting people, Li Wei shot Hong Tao. Damn it, seriously. Hong Tao is amazing too. How did he get that far with a bullet in his lung? Was it because there was less bleeding? Anyway, as soon as we entered the exit, we ran into Hai Yoon and Shu Ran near the entrance, and they both didn’t want to kill us. Hai Yoon said that she would turn a blind eye to us, so we should give up on the East exit and flee somewhere else, but suddenly that crazy woman Zhu Shi’an, who came from behind, shot me in the knee!”

    Leaving out the coarse language, it seemed that from then on, Zhu Shi’an, Shu Ran, and Hai Yoon started arguing, and Shin Haeryang began to carry Seo Jihyuk to escape. But because of Zhu Shi’an’s scream, the rest of the people all flocked over.

    The suspense in every chapter is keeping me on my toes. ????????

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