Monsters of the Wilds
Author's notes: Not quite sure what brought this one on. Honestly, I'm kind of tired, so I'm not going to go crazy with these notes. I figured, why not just let you the readers take a look, and make your own decision.
Just another little venture into madness. Take a deep breath, and come along down the rabbit hole.
Song Jae Gu was exhausted. He had every reason to be.
It had been a hard few months. His father had died, and it had been a death slow to come. For months before hand he had to do so much, helping his father however he could, even if it was just by lifting things for him. Helping his mother too, as she withdrew further and further into herself, focusing more and more on caring for Jae Gu's father and less and less on everything else in life. Jae Gu had had to pick up the slack, caring for his two siblings more and more. They had precious little idea of what was going on, seeing as they were so young, and for that Jae Gu was grateful.
It was hard enough on him, watching their father die. He prayed that those two would not be able to remember it well enough to haunt them in later days.
And all this hardship that the young man experienced was trumped as the day after they had finished his father's funeral his mother had disappeared, leaving behind nothing but a checkbook and a note.
And so, Jae Gu spent the weeks leading up to his first day at middle school learning the hard way how fast the numbers in that checkbook could vanish. His siblings were still too young to be left alone, and so he had to find someone to watch them through the day, and had to manage it until they could make it to kindergarten in three years. So far he had been lucky that he had a kind set of neighbors, but that would change soon. He had to find somewhere with cheaper rent, and soon, otherwise…
Jae Gu shook his head, gritting his teeth and forcing himself to pick up the pace. He wouldn't let it happen. He wouldn't let his family disappear anymore! He'd find some way to keep his brother and sister, would find his mother and she'd come back and things would be better. He just had to keep trying, keep working hard. The kind old man at the car wash had offered him a chance to work, so that would at least help him support himself and his siblings.
He had already lost his father, and may have lost his mother too, but he would be damned if he'd let anything happen to those two.
Even if they had somehow managed to baby speak mangle his name so incredibly that it barely even sounded like his own. He wasn't sure how they had managed to completely ignore half of his given name, and was even less sure how they kept managing to make it stranger and stranger as time went on. First he had been just 'Gu', and then somehow 'Gu Gu', and then the letters began changing…
Honestly, at this point Jae Gu was thinking that maybe they were making a game out of it. He hoped so. If that was what it took to keep them happy, then he'd let them change his name as much as they liked.
Still, the childish nickname lingered in his mind as he trudged with bone aching weariness to his first day at school. It wasn't the best school, and was in a bad part of town actually. It was supposed to be close to a pretty infamous all girl middle school as well. Jae Gu had heard that it was little more than a reform school for female delinquents. Honestly, he didn't care at this point. So long as he could afford the bills, he'd take classes in hell.
And with that ominous oath battling for space against his nickname in his thoughts, he nearly missed it when he came across a body.
At least, he thought it was a body at first. He froze, staring at the girl he had stumbled across slumped in the alley he had cut through. She had a different uniform then the one's he knew girls in his new school used, so he assumed she was from one of the neighboring schools, maybe even that delinquent girl school he had heard about before. She was slumped against one of the walls, hair falling down around her face in a concealing curtain. It was died pale, hovering somewhere between grey and white, and quite long. It was the most distinguishing part of her he could make out, until his eyes managed to make it all the way down her body to her shoes.
'Is that snakeskin?' Jae Gu could only spend a confused moment trying to figure out why anyone would need such long boots made out of such expensive material. They went all the way up past her knees, nearly to the hem of her uniform's skirt. He shook his head quickly, dismissing the thought.
For a moment, he hesitated on what he should do. On one hand, she clearly looked like she needed help, and the idea of leaving someone possibly hurt or in trouble was one he didn't particularly care for.
But, on the other hand, it was a girl. Jae Gu had begun to honestly dislike that gender, ever since his mother left him and his two siblings to vanish without a trace. His hate had been focused on his mother, his anger at her leaving them, at her having forced him to bear the burden she should have been there to help with by himself growing though he tried to deny it. And as more and more time went by, as more and more of the things of everyday life that he had once taken for granted but now found himself struggling almost hopelessly with started to pile up, he had begun to extend that hate to more and more of the gender which had abandoned him.
So Jae Gu wrestled with his desire to help and his wish to just leave that girl where she was to suffer like he had. Finally, he made his decision.
It wasn't right to just abandon her like this, whoever she was. A part of him still wanted to believe that life was more than just a battle, that it was a good thing with good people in it, and worth living. And if he left this girl alone in the middle of an alley, he would be no different from his mother who had left him behind as well.
"Sunbae," he called, approaching the slumped figure, that first look of his enough to convince him that whoever this was they were at least his senior. She didn't look she went to his school though, so he wondered if it was the right term to use. Slowly, he reached out to touch the slumped girl's shoulder, wondering if he should if she was injured. "Are you alright?"
The moment his fingers brushed the shoulder of her uniform, the slumped girl's arm flashed up, grabbing him around the wrist with painful force. Her head snapped up, her hair falling away from her face, and amber eyes met brown.
"Who are you?" the girl snapped, her tone sharp, and Jae Gu flinched. Without realizing it, the nickname his siblings had given him was the first response he could make to the demand.
"L-Luka," Jae Gu stuttered, gaping at the sudden tension the girl seemed to radiate. He felt nervous, and he winced as his wrist started to hurt.
The girl continued to glare at him, before looking away, apparently dismissing him without a second thought. She stood easily, as though she hadn't just been laying against a wall looking like a corpse. Jae Gu grunted as she refused to let go of his hand, pulling the boy nearly off balance. He realized that she was taller than him, proof of her probably being a few years older.
"What crazy strength," she muttered to herself. "To think that it would be found in such a distinguished school…"
"W-what are you talking about?" Jae Gu grunted, trying to pull himself free so he could get the hell away from the crazy girl. She glanced at him, then looked down at where she was holding him, and finally let go with a sniff.
"And what are you doing here?" she demanded, hands on her hip as she tapped her snake skin boots on the concrete.
"N-nothing," Jae Gu stuttered, backing away as he rubbed his wrist, trying not to wince as he saw bruises forming there. What the hell! He'd just been trying to help! What did he do to deserve this?"
"Then why are you still here?" the girl sounded bored, dismissing him completely.
Despite himself, Jae Gu felt a scowl forming, and he found himself glaring at the one who he had tried to help and then hurt and dismissed him without a second thought.
"Monster," he snarled, not even realizing just how much hatred his voice held as he turned away, determined to at least make it to school at time. If he had been watching, he would have noticed the way the girl's eyebrow rose, and how she frowned, watching him as he left, but Jae Gu did not look back.
Jae Gu sighed as the first day of school ended. He had done his best to keep his head down, to try to just make it through the day, but even that was a struggle sometimes. He hadn't had any lunch, not being able to stretch the food budget enough to allow it. His stomach was twisting as he made his way to the lockers. He grunted as one of the louder kids with their shirt un-tucked and bright red hair to mark him as a delinquent made sure to bump into him hard enough to make him stumble. He forced himself to continue, hunching over as he walked away from the boisterous laughter of the thug.
He didn't have the time or the energy to respond. He had too much in his life to focus on dealing with his peers. He had to hurry if he was going to make it to the job at the car wash. He didn't want to make a bad impression on his first day.
He had made it out of the school yard, and was making his way down another alley towards his next destination when a sharp voice cut through his exhaustion.
"You." Jae Gu froze for a moment before scowling and continuing, ignoring the speaker. The voice continued addressing him, accompanied by a distinct clacking noise of heavy boots taking steps. "You, Luka."
"That's not my name," he muttered, finally turning to look as the girl from earlier pulled even with him. He didn't stop walking, and she maintained an even pace.
"Then why did you say it was?" the girl asked. She spoke with an arrogant lilt, the tone of someone with supreme confidence in themselves. Jae Gu scowled, feeling jealous that someone could talk like that. This girl, she had probably never suffered a day in her life, never once had to deal with shouldering the lives of her siblings without help. Only those who never had hardship could speak like that.
"Never mind," Jae Gu told her, grumbling, and trying to focus on ignoring the girl. Maybe if he did, she'd go away and he could focus on making it through one more day.
"Why did you try to help me this morning?" the girl didn't seem to get his intentions though, and instead simply demanded more answers from him.
"Don't worry," he told her, his voice unusually dark for him. He normally tried to keep himself unnoticeable, to keep from accidently getting into any trouble. But this girl, she irritated him for some reason, and he found himself acting a lot more confrontational than he normally did. "It won't happen again."
If he had been looking, he'd have seen the way the girl's eyes narrowed slightly, and her lips pursed ever so slowly into a slightly curious expression.
"Hmmm," she hummed, still studying the boy next to her as Jae Gu made his way down the alley. "My name," she finally announced, "is Alice."
Jae Gu, wanted to tell her that he didn't care, but in the end good manners won out. "It's nice to meet you," he finally returned, losing some of his bad mood. It just didn't have any point. Life was a battle, and he was losing it one day at a time. What did it matter if this girl had been cruel to him earlier?
The whole world was cruel, in the end.
"Indeed," Alice declared, nodding imperiously. He noted that she didn't seem to have any problem ignoring the courteous response at least. "So where are you going, Luka?"
Jae Gu scowled, and tried to pick up the pace a bit. He had a sinking suspicion that he might just have gotten stuck with that ridiculous nickname. He decided that the best course of action would be to get to his job as quickly as possible. The girl, Alice she had said, would probably get bored and go away at some point.