Sweet Dreams

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VI

He stood in front of the basement steps, just as he did 22 years ago. But there was no ounce of fear left in his body. He felt a surge of confidence build up in his bones and marched straight down the steps, every muscle striding forward with the strength and determination to push this bad dream back into the dark. He switched on the lights and saw the old piano in the corner of the room. His memories went back to every time he heard that chord. It was the first song he ever played in this household, and it had been used to haunt him, drawing him back to wander in these memories.

I feel no fear anymore.

Soon I will be the only one who controls my dreams.

Placing both hands on the piano, he closed his eyes and began to play. His shoulders were pinned to the ground as the hooded figure loomed over him. “You must have a death wish to summon me here, knowing the true power I possess. Don’t you remember what that song is for you?” He stared defiantly at it, narrowing his eyes. “Are you not afraid of your family anymore? You know it haunts you.” Gi Beom chuckled quietly to himself.

“The only thing I should be afraid of is losing to you.”

The demon goes back and stands at its full height. “Then so be it, Kang Gi Beom.” It rushes at him, the rags on its cloak flying, and Gi Beom does the same as it knocks him to the side. It reaches forward and attempts to claw him with a sharpened talon, but he ducks to the side and reaches through the cloak and twists out a bone. The demon lets out a screech; the bone is partly dressed in flesh, and is smeared in viscous red liquid. It hisses at him and the curtains begin to move at its call. They wrap around Gi Beom and start to twist him, choking him, but he manages to slice through the cloth with the bloody bone. UFFFTT!

He lands on the ground again, shocked by a gust of freezing cold wind from its hands. Holding up one hand, Gi Beom gasps. It’s red and pulpy, and the blood is beginning to freeze up in his arm. The demon glides towards him and draws its hooked blade. Just as it’s about to impale him…

He tackles him to the floor, grabbing its arm to keep the blade from touching his face. As they struggle, Gi Beom manages to wrangle the cloak off of the beast, and he draws in a slow, guttering breath.

Under the cloak, it’s a rotted version of Geun Beom, part of his face gone and some body parts replaced with bone. The other eye bulged out of his face, veiny and bloodshot, and red meat was seen where part of his lip should have been. It’s a much older Geun Beom, he realizes, wearing nothing but a bloodsoaked white shirt and dirty jeans. The rotting Geun Beom spat out a stream of blood and glared at him. “You see, brother? I didn’t bring you here. You were too scared to face your family and you gave me access to the real world… through that book you were trying so hard to get rid of! With every human soul I destroy, I become more powerful. That’s why I simply can’t wait to make you disappear… forever.” With that, it lunged at him, trying to puncture the blade into his arm, but Gi Beom is fast. He pushed the Rot off of him and twisted its arm, breaking bone, and grabbed the blade, pointing it at it. “That’s where you’re wrong. I now know that they’ll love me no matter what, and as long as I believe that, I can do anything, brother.” Standing over the Rot, Gi Beom raised his hand and stabbed it in the heart, and black sand began to spill out of it instead of rich, red blood. It convulsed and jerked, balling his hands into fists and roars, shooting daggers at him. Gi Beom stared back coldly, watching the demise of the creature who had haunted him for so long.

“You have no power here. Not anymore.” Gi Beom said his last words as black sand began to litter the floor and flesh slowly turned to bone. It shot one last vengeful look at him before its eye melted down and disappeared, along with the rest of its body. The curtains around the room returned to its original state of cluttered boxes, weights and bookshelves,

all covered in red tarp. Gi Beom blinked, surprised. “So that’s why I remember the red curtains.” He made his way up the stairs, and shut the door behind him. Coming out of the basement was like entering a new dawn. He hardly remembered the place now. There was so much light, contrasted to how dark and cold it had felt only a few hours ago. Something was so strange and new about the place, but his heart felt at ease. Gi Beom smiled - the first time he ever did in a long while - and looked out the window. There were children playing in the sand, skipping together… Well, basically whatever children did. Flowers were blooming beautifully outside, and the skies were clear. “Was our house really such a cozy and beautiful place? What an odd feeling…” His gaze is drawn to a familiar photo of his parents on the mantle. He picks up the picture frame, and as he does, he examines his hands. The calluses on his fingers are gone, and so are all of his wounds. He reaches down and feels full muscle where his leg had been cut up. It’s such a strange feeling, something Gi Beom never felt in a long time.

Peace.

Opening the door, he closed his eyes as light streams in and warms every inch of his body. It was like someone was stroking the outside of his blanket with a hot iron, and all of the warmth was spreading straight to his tired bones. He suddenly looked back at the photograph, sitting on the table now, and smiled thoughtfully before walking out the door.

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