Tuesday May 5 2015

I don’t have words.

I’ve been staring at the blank page for an hour now and I’m still struggling to put it into words.

When did everything go wrong?

I guess I should start from the beginning. I still remember the outfit I chose this morning. I finally went for a simple pair of jeans, a blue sweater and boots. Joseph and I arrived ahead of time at the lab and we were all waiting nervously in silence, tapping our fingertips on our keyboards, chuckling at discreet, unfunny jokes about the wait and Korean traffic. It felt like an eternity. They finally arrived (20 minutes late!) and everything went well.

My voice was a little shaky at the beginning of my speech but it was soon under control. I remember the pit-bull faces of the generals staring at me and the undersecretary smiling encouragingly. The tour also went well as they listened to Joseph’s presentation distractedly. They had all seen dozens of labs before. Ours had nothing exceptional to offer except… Well, the surprise. Oh wait, it’s not even a surprise, not for the undersecretary anyway. So never mind -_-

Then came the important part the ones who didn’t know about the boys had been waiting for: the reports. They all sat down in the meeting room and Joseph presented his results on a 3D screen as well as the black fluid (he wisely chose not to give them its unofficial codename). In the meantime, everybody was so tense, as we were standing still against the walls, the room, usually filled with the sound of small yawns, coffee sips and pencil tapping, would have sounded dead silent if it wasn’t for Joseph’s continuous babbling. All eyes were on the undersecretary’s which kept looking at the charts as if he were scanning every line, every number, every statement, looking for any flaw. Yet I could tell that hearing such words as “doubled muscle growth” and “faster tissue reconstruction” made him more attentive than before. The militaries, fascinated, kept looking at Joseph’s face and gestures and, although I saw small sweat drops starting to form on his brow, I could see the light in his eyes he had back when he showed me the SB for the first time. We almost had them.

However, needless to say, when he addressed the matter of the side effects, most of the officials suddenly started to frown and it didn’t get any better when they were told that we hadn’t found any treatment so far. There was a small silence. When one of the generals stood up and told Joseph in a sharp tone that he wouldn’t get any of Joseph’s “dummies” under his command, the others started to protest angrily as well. Joseph looked intensely at the silent undersecretary in the eyes.

“I need more time.” he said.

The undersecretary stared back at him phlegmatically.

“You already had a lot of time. You had fifteen years.” he said, “You should know by now that your works cost us millions of dollars every year. I can see right here” he said and pointed at the screen “that this is definitely going somewhere, somewhere good! You guys still need time but the problem is that I don’t know how much. And neither do you, apparently. So unless you have real, concrete results to show me, I’m afraid this might lead to another funding cut.”

When he finished, the militaries remained silent again. Although Joseph kept his serious, professional mask on, I know that he was smiling inwardly. So this where the undersecretary wanted to lead him; to him, his interlocutor’s idle threat was nothing more than an act, like a kid nagging his parents, eager to know what he got for Christmas as his father keeps his present hidden behind his back. He was bored, he wanted the promised show and he wanted it now.

“I’m afraid the forces we’ve been playing with are quite unpredictable.” he admitted. “However, allow me then to show you some more-- explicit data.”

He then guided them outside of the room towards the little surveillance room in front of the boys’ arena. On the occasion, most of the monitors had been removed from the walls so more people could gather behind the huge window. When the room grew quiet again, my heart skipped a beat when I heard the first bell.

Unlike what I thought, none of the boys looked at the crowd gathered a few feet away from them. They all focused on their tasks and the finish line as usual. They were particularly good that day. None of them, not even Seungri, was hurt or tripped on anything. I had to stifle a sigh. I had been so focused on being prepared this whole week I forgot how strong and agile they were. They truly deserved to be called “super-soldiers”. I hoped, when their training would be achieved and their symptoms cured, that they wouldn’t be sent in high-risk countries. Not yet. I also glanced at the generals and the undersecretary from time to time but they all had their poker-face on, following the boys’ paths without flinching. If that wasn’t enough for them, what more did they want?

Suddenly, when they all arrived at around half of their usual circuit, each of them in a different room, one of the boys, G-Dragon, suddenly shouted something. They all stopped in their tracks and, as Joseph and I could see on the cameras, they headed towards the walls of the combat zones, all of them on the same side. When I tried to silently ask Joseph what they were doing, he gestured to me that he had no idea. Then loud booms were heard from the outside of one of the zones (Taeyang’s !) and the officials started to whisper, alarmed. I reassured them that everything was under control, that the walls were thick and that maybe some of the boys simply did not understand the instructions they were given very well. In the meantime, Joseph whispered in the guard’s ear to send security.

When five guards arrived in Taeyang’s area, we saw he was indeed smashing the wall with his bare fists, obviously trying to break it. As he had his back turned on them and managed to make a few cracks here and there, he screamed in shock when he felt the electric batons hit his shoulders and fell on his knees, shocked with pain. Just then, we were surprised to see G-Dragon and Daesung had arrived in the room without being noticed and, before we could warn the guards as they were about to grab Taeyang, G-Dragon and Daesung suddenly attacked them. As painful as it was to Daesung (and for me to see), he grabbed the baton of one of the guards with his bare hands, took it from him and stunned two others with it. G-Dragon knocked out the three lasts by himself and they both helped Taeyang to stand on his feet again. That was definitely not part of the program! Just as we were about to send the rest of security, we saw all monitors suddenly shut down one by one. On the last remaining one, Seungri blew a kiss at the camera before he pulled out its cables, turning it off. As the guard in our room mashed the security button as hard as he could, I heard G-Dragon dashing and kicking the neon lights in the labyrinth, breaking them all one by one. The last thing I saw in the light of the last lamps was Beast sitting on top of one the metal platforms. He had not moved at all since the beginning of the revolt, staring calmly at me through the window. Then, the whole arena was pitch black and the red security lamps were activated, which were way weaker than the regular ones. In the surveillance room, people were starting to freak out as they tried to get out through the narrow exit door and evacuate the undersecretary.

Then, in the blood red light, the wall of Taeyang’s zone finally collapsed and the six of them got out through the resulting cloud of dust, their six black silhouettes standing in line and walking fast towards us, their eyes glowing bright white in the dark. When the guard tried to reach for the metal curtain button, T.O.P. stared at him and he abruptly stepped away from it with a scream and a frightened expression. When Joseph told him to press it, he stood there, frozen. As we tried to reach it ourselves, he prevented us from approaching it and wiped out his gun, pointing it at the button, unable to shake off whatever the hallucination T.O.P gave him. Although the window was bulletproof, when Daesung threw multiple projectiles at it, it cracked in millions of pieces, still standing but making it almost impossible to see through. He kept throwing metal pieces at it with a playful grin in loud, regular bangs as small pieces were falling on the inside, one by one. I never thought I would ever be so scared of him. In fact, I couldn’t recognize any of them. I couldn’t recognize anything, I was just thinking I might never see the light of day again. I thought I would never have the chance to reconcile with my mom again. Yes, I even thought of that. That’s how afraid I was.

Yet when the militaries took out their guns, the fear they would hurt the boys still managed to creep in and make me forget the rest as I shouted “NO!” while the boys were running closer and closer towards us.

Suddenly, in a microsecond Then Suddenly I’m still stunned at the thought of it. But I must write it down, even if it was probably just a figment of my imagination. Through one of the holes, I saw Beast turn and smile at the boys. A genuine, happy, childlike smile.

Then, he spread his wings and lunged at us as the militaries immediately opened fire on him. I screamed when his body hit the glass window inches away from my face, his wings widely spread like those of an immense butterfly, covering it almost completely. It’s like he had been aiming at me. Or maybe it was just a coincidence. In any case, I’d never been that close to one of them so far. I could see the bullet shots on his chest and stomach and the blood pouring from them in vertical red streams all over the glass. I could see how skinny his arms were. I could see the blue veins under the creamy skin of his wings and how deformed and unnatural they were. I could see he had a round birthmark on his neck. I could see his long black hair glued with blood to his temples. His eyelids were closed, his thin lips cut and his cheekbones encrusted with shards of glass. Yet I could still distinguish the softness of his features. I remember when I thought he would have belonged to the “good boy” category of guys in the outside world. He would have been shy, polite and have good grades at school. Maybe girls would have loved his big black eyes and his sweet attitude. We would never know now.

When the last bullet hit him, he fell backwards on the ground with the rest of the window as the other boys who had stopped screamed and rushed to reach out to him. Unfortunately, the militaries kept shooting at them, preventing them from coming any closer. Even G-Dragon who managed to dodge the bullets couldn’t move Beast’s body because it was too heavy for him. So he had no choice but to turn back and leave Beast where he was.

Great, my tears are falling on the keyboard and my nose is running. This is definitely not helping. I can’t let Jo hear me.

After T.O.P had broken eye contact with the guard, the latter unfroze and activated the metal curtain. As a fire had started in one of the combat zones in which the electric devices had been torn open, he also activated the fire alarm and the sprinklers released their artificial rain. The metallic wall went slowly down as the militaries kept pointing their guns at the boys. One of them gave a slight kick to Beast’s hand so the curtain could close properly. They then escorted the undersecretary out and Joseph followed them, pale. I stood there as the security came back and reconnected all the cameras. However, when they surrounded the boys, I turned on the microphone and commanded them to stay where they were. The five boys, who were all looking at the sixth, had barely noticed their presence. Either this or they didn’t care about them or about the water that was now pouring on them.

As soon as the curtain had closed, Daesung and T.O.P had come closer. As Beast had landed on the side, T.O.P laid him on his back and removed the glass shards from his body delicately as Daesung applied his hands on his wounds. However, after he removed them, they remained open. He tried again, touching every cut, spreading his fingers with his palms pressed hard on the skin. Beast was still not opening his eyes. He laid there, his mouth half-open with no air coming out as the water washed away the blood from his face. Daesung turned his ghastly face at T.O.P whose eyes were hidden by his hair. The oldest stood there for a few seconds, immobile. Then, without a word, he lunged at Beast and clung on to him, his face buried in his shoulder as he held him tighter and tighter, his own shoulders shaking greatly. Besides him, Daesung’s tears kept falling from his chin among the heavy water drops. Left. Right. Left. Right.

Taeyang kept a stern face as he was now hugging Seungri protectively, the youngest sobbing freely in his arms. He turned his head at their leader who had turned his back on the group. He bowed his head and, as he fell on his knees, he punched puddles on the ground with his fists. I guess since he was the one who ordered the assault, he felt guilty as hell, maybe guiltier than everybody else. Yet something was telling me he was not the one behind the idea to begin with. Not the only one at least.

I couldn’t stand it any longer. It was indecent of me to watch their grief and pain so I left the room.

Was this what you tried to warn me about, Beast? You knew that they had planned all this and would fail? You knew you would have to die to protect them? Or were you the one behind it?

I walked towards Joseph’s office like a zombie when I saw the officials leave without saying a word and I looked at them walk past me without saying goodbye to them. Not that they seemed to care. When I entered Jo’s office, he was sitting at his desk with his head in his hands, his black bottle in front of him.

“They said I would hear of them very soon,” he said in a low voice. “like I haven’t heard that a hundred times before.”

“Does that mean they are shutting down the lab? Are we going to lose our jobs?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” he said.

“What about the boys?”

“I don’t know!” he said louder and got up to punch the refrigerator.

“Joseph! The chemicals!” I said.

“Who cares about the chemicals?” he shouted back. “They are not ours! We can get new ones, we can blow up the place! Hell, we can make the boys drink them if we want to! It doesn’t matter as long as we’ve got their blessings! But if we don’t, we’re screwed anyway!” he yelled as he opened the door, took out a bottle of god-knows-what with his bare hands and threw it to the wall. I covered my face as it smashed in pieces and stained his books which were piled up next to it and then evaporated almost instantly. When people came in as they heard the ruckus, I politely shooed them away and started picking up the pieces with my gloves as Joseph then sat back at his desk and went silent again.

“I spent twenty-five years on this.” he muttered, looking only at the small bottle of black goo even when I tried to give him a hug. “They can’t take that away from me.”

This is the last words we’ve shared, which was about eight hours ago.

So here we are now. I have no idea of what will become of us. Maybe if Joseph tries, he can still get another job as a teacher at Harvard. If he doesn’t try, I will. But maybe the Pentagon won’t even let him apply for it this time. Could they possibly do worse? Could they forbid him to come back? Could they arrest him? What about the boys?

I can’t sleep. I see the sun rising from behind the curtains. I guess I’ve been writing for too long this time. I may be writing in it for the last time, at least in Korea. At least, that’s the good thing. I can’t stand the awkward stares or their weird alphabet any longer. Yet I must admit I felt so lonely I was considering paying a visit to my mum, with or without Jo. I guess I’ll have to reschedule it for another time, maybe in the next decade. Come on, Joan, it’s time to stop whining and face Wednesday bravely.

Anybody thinking about me at this moment, wish me and Jo luck,

Joan <3

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