Tea Leaves and Purple Robes


Match Five: Bargain:

Im Yong sat across from Mi-Soon in the booth. How long has it been since they seen each other in person? His sister picked up her menu.

“How have you been?” she asked in a low voice. His eyes shifted away from her.

“Good,” he said. “I’m good. And you?”

“I’m doing good,” Mi-Soon said, not looking up. “But I am worried about you.” Im Yong looked so confused.

“What do you mean?” he asked. His sister grabbed him by the hands.

“Time is running out,” Mi Soon said in a stern voice. “I don’t want you to die.”

“What are you talking about?” the older twin asked. “Why would I die?” The color drained from Mi Soon’s face.

“It’s Kiku,” she whispered. Im Yong gave her a puzzled look.

“What about him?” he asked. A waitress walked up to their table. The twins looked up at her. The woman took a step back.

“Do you need more time?” she asked.

“Yes,” the twins said together. The waitress said nothing as she turned around and walked away. Mi Soon turned back to her brother.

“You know I love you,” she said. “That’s why I am giving you a chance to save you.” Im Yong slowly shook his head.

“I don’t understand you,” he said. “I don’t understand any of this.”

“And I envy you for that,” Mi Soon said in a quiet voice. Her mind played back all of the horror that she had learned about over the course of eighteen months. She still had nightmares from all of the images that played in her head.

“Are you okay?” her brother asked. The younger twin looked away. Her hands trembled on the table.

It didn’t used to be like this.

Things were simpler then. Im Yong and Mi Soon were really close. Yao looked after them both. The twins were inseparable. In those days, Im Yong filled in the more adventurous role of the two. She always followed her twin’s lead. Mi Soon would’ve been happy if it would’ve stayed that way forever.

Fate said no to that.

One summer, Mi Soon lifted her head on the porch.

“Big brother,” she said. Im Yong was slowly drawing his eyes closed.

“Hm?” he asked. Mi Soon scooted closer to his tiny body. She rested her head on his chest.

“Will you stay with me forever?” the little girl asked. Im Yong glanced over at her. Her little doe eyes made her look like a doll lying on top of him. He pretended to be going to sleep as he smiled.

“Yeah, yeah,” the little boy said. His sister frowned and smacked him in the side.

“Ow,” the little boy said.

“Please?” Mi Soon asked.

“Okay, okay,” her twin said. “I will stay with you.”

“Forever?” the little girl asked. He held out his pinky finger.

“Forever,” Im Yong said. She smiled as she wrapped her pinky around his.

But fate saw to this promise otherwise.

“I am risking my life meeting up with you like this,” Mi Soon said in present day.

“I know,” Im Yong said. His sister lifted her head.

“I love you so much,” she said. “Why won’t you let me save you?” Im Yong tried to speak but nothing came out. This was just going to go into another circle. Mi Soon sat, waiting. Her brother buried his head in his hands.

“I just don’t understand,” he said. “It makes no sense!”

“Then answer me this,” his sister said. “Haven’t you noticed that Feliciano has been acting strange lately?” Her older brother froze.

“Wait… how do you know that?” he asked.

“My boss tells everything,” she said. The color drained from her brother’s face. Mi Soon grabbed his hand.

“It’s okay,” she said. “We only watch to keep up with the world.” Im Yong withdrew his hand.

“Im Yong,” she said. He shook his head.

“It doesn’t make sense,” the older twin complained. Mi Soon looked around for a bit. She reached into her bag by her side.

“I am risking my life by doing this,” his sister said. She shoved a thick file into his hands.

“What is this?” Im Yong asked.

“Everything you need to know,” Mi Soon said. “Please read it. It will save your life. I am risking my life for this.”

“Yes, I heard you the first time,” her brother said. The older twin took the folder and was about to leave, Mi Soon grabbed him by the wrist.

“No,” she said. Im Yong tilted his head.

“What is it now?” he asked.

“Please?” Mi Soon asked. “Don’t go. Stay.” Im Yong looked into her doe eyes. This was just like in their childhood. He stood have just pulled away and walked out of the restaurant. It seemed so easy.

Im Yong sat down in front of her. Mi Soon perked up.

“Thank you,” she said in a low voice. A waitress came to their table.

“Are you ready to order?” she asked.

“Yes,” Mi Soon said. Im Yong just nodded. The waitress took their drink orders.

That evening, Im Yong stared at the files on his bed. What he read made his stomach drop. In the beginning, it didn’t make any sense. The handwriting looked like a child’s. It didn’t help that the pages were out of order. Im Yong had to do his best to rearrange everything. Took him about four tries to get close to right. Even after the last time he wasn’t sure if he got the order right. The Korean boy would have to do the best he could.

What he read would make him regret going to the restaurant.

At first, it all looked like the notes were babbling. Im Yong turned the pages looking confused. Why would Mi Soon believe this shit? Conspiracy sites made more sense than these notes. He should’ve stopped by that point.

That’s when he saw that picture.

The person couldn’t have been more than fifteen. The face was wrapped up in bandages. Only the eyes and nose had holes. The hands were wrapped up as well. Only the blanket covered their lap. The head lulled to the side. Something about that photo made Im Yong’s stomach turn. He read the caption below.

“Patient Ten.”

Where did they get this picture? Im Yong turned the page. Another picture appeared. It looked like a wrapped up corpse nailed to a cross. Chains held the cloth down are the body. Blood seemed to be seeping out from where the torso should be. Something black stained where the nose and mouth came from. Im Yong could hear screaming coming from the picture. He forced himself to read the caption below.


Im Yong turned back a page. He read the information by the picture. This patient came from Eastern Europe. Man in his mid-twenties. Not much else was known about him. From what the young Korean man could gather was that this was an experiment to open up the “wrath of heaven”. Im Yong had to reread those three words.

Wrath of Heaven.

“What does that even mean?” he asked. The young man just had to keep going. This wasn’t the first time this experiment had been carried out. The first one had been carried out as far back as 1708. Details from that experiment have been lost to time. This last one was carried out in 1977. It stopped after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Or that’s what the official records.

Im Yong jumped up when he heard his phone ringing. The young man looked around. He spotted his phone sitting on the nightstand. Im Yong frowned to himself.

“Damn it,” he muttered. He crawled over to his nightstand.

“Hello?” he asked.

“Im Yong?” he heard a woman ask. A puzzled look came over his face.

“Vietnam?” he asked.

“How have you been?” she asked. Im Yong rubbed his forehead.

“Fine,” he mumbled. “Why are you calling me so late?”

“What do you mean?” Vietnam asked. “It’s only 8:30.”

“Huh?” Im Yong asked as he looked at his phone. He was right.

“Oh,” he said.

“Are you okay?” Vietnam asked.

“Uh, yeah, yeah,” her brother said. “I just had a long day.”

“Did you see her again?” the older woman asked. Im Yong froze. He pressed his lips together as he looked down at the notes at his feet.

“Yes,” the Korean boy mumbled.

“Im Yong! You know you can’t trust her!”

“I know!”

“What did she even want?”

The Korean boy rubbed his forehead. “I don’t really know.” He sighed and looked at the notes on the floor. How the hell could he explain what his sister told him?

“Listen to me,” Vietnam said. “Mi Soon is not the same as she was when you were kids. Her boss is poisoning her mind. She doesn’t know what she is saying. You can’t listen to her words. Do you understand me?” Im Yong looked around his room.

“Do you understand me?” Vietnam asked again.

“Uh… yeah, yeah,” Im Yong said. “I understand.” She breathed out on the other line.

“Good,” the Vietnamese woman said. She didn’t sound too convinced though. His sister paused over the phone.

“Listen,” Vietnam said. “I will come by tomorrow. I will stay with you for the day, okay?”

“Alright,” Im Yong said. He nodded as he spoke.

“Good,” she said again. Unease washed over her brother. He looked out his bedroom window at his sister’s house. The curtain twitched at her bedroom window. Could she be…?

Im Yong shook his head to himself.

“Im Yong?” Vietnam asked.

“Listen,” the young Korean man said. “I have to go.”

“What do you mean? Are you okay?” Vietnam asked. The young Korean man closed his eyes.

“Good night, sis,” he said. He hung up before she could say another word. Im Yong walked over to his window. By now, the curtain had gone still. What was that just now? Was Mi Soon really watching him just now? Why would she do that? Did she really not trust him?

Im Yong rubbed his forehead.

“It’s getting late. I probably should get some sleep,” he said to himself. “Yeah, that’s it.” The boy packed up the notes and put them on his desk. He walked into the bathroom to change into his pajamas. Usually, he would stay up and play video games. But his heart wasn’t in it tonight. When he came back into the room, he didn’t know what to expect. Im Yong took one look at the notes his sister gave him before going to bed.

He couldn’t get the images of “Patient Ten” and “Michael” out of his head.

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