The La-Iin Series
“The Secret of Kkumneok”
There was nothing he could do to get through to him, he was sure of it. Dosa-Mina glanced in San-Kyung’s direction, and when he caught sight of the expression on his face he felt utterly helpless.
‘Nothing I say is going to make him feel any better. He’s probably stuck in some sort of deadlock. I can’t make him feel better and there’s no legal way he can make himself feel better. Is this how it’s always going to be from here on out? The both of us, always sad every time we meet up?’
He didn’t want to give up either way, but just as a thought crossed his mind of something he could say to San-Kyung, the scene around him began to change. The bench he was sitting on remained, but instead of the small town where he and San-Kyung had been sitting, it was now a white expanse save for some colors that swirled around the area. San-Kyung was no longer sitting next to him on the bench.
The situation became immediately obvious to him. ‘This is just what I’ve been needing.’
“Kkumneok? I know you’re here. Why don’t you show yourself? I want to talk to you.”
From inside of the colors a familiar face peeked out at Dosa-Mina and smiled. This time, he looked identical to the time Dosa-Mina had first met him. “Hi there, Dosa-Mina. How are you today?”
“What’s with the look? Did I do something wrong? I figured you could use a happy dream, and I didn’t want to interfere. I guess you know how to detect me by now, though.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, it is pretty obvious. I’ve come by your dreams a few times and I always do the same thing when I do.” He sat down on the bench next to him. “I’m ready to change your dream to whatever you want any moment, but you said you wanted to talk to me, so, what about?”
Dosa-Mina sighed. “Something happened earlier this month. I learned a little something, and now I think I know, you’re not just a figment of my mind.”
“I thought I told you that already. I’m separate from you.”
“You’ve only ever appeared in my dreams before now, though. And even though some of the circumstances around you seemed strange, you can see where I might think you’re a figment of my mind, right?”
“I suppose so. I might think I was a figment of my mind too in the same situation.”
“Well, anyway, there’s a reason why I started thinking that…San-Kyung told me about a dream he had where a boy appeared out of nowhere and changed the scenery of his dream. A boy with hair in a white bun and horns on top of his head…exactly how you look right now, Kkumneok. And I wanted to ask you a few questions about that.”
“What are you talking about, Dosa-Mina? I’ve never been in San-Kyung’s dream before. I suppose I could go there if I wanted to, but I only have reason to visit you. I don’t know nearly enough about what goes on with San-Kyung to have a reason to visit his dreams.”
“I don’t believe you! I know you like staying enigmatic and all, but telling me whether or not you were in San-Kyung’s dream isn’t exactly compromising yourself!”
“That’s what you think!” Kkumneok exclaimed, before covering his mouth.
“Gotcha. So you were in San-Kyung’s dream.”
“Dosa-Mina, it wasn’t a matter of specifically going over to San-Kyung’s dream. I wanted to visit your dreams to see if you were having a nightmare. I made a mistake on the way there. Were you two sleeping over anytime around theN?”
“We had a sleepover recently.”
“So that could also be the problem, you see? I haven’t mastered this power, visiting people in their dreams and changing them up. I’m still an amateur in that field. So it was an honest mistake.”
“Alright, I can understand that. But you visiting San-Kyung isn’t the only thing I want to ask about. It’s also about what you changed his dream to.”
Kkumneok’s eyes widened. “I heard that you changed his dream to one where I was contemplating suicide, then made a break for it. Why would you do that when you always change my dreams to something that’s more pleasant for me? Wouldn’t you try and distract him with a dream of world domination or, or being in his true form instead of something like that?”
“I had to do something or else he’d never let me leave!”
“He would have woken up eventually if you were stuck in there, you know. Kkumneok, I know you like preserving your privacy. I can understand why you’d want to hide details about yourself. But I also can’t deny that something strange is going on! You’ve been visiting me in my dreams for months now and now I have details that might prove you really are an actual person and not just someone who exists in my head. You’re worried about a violation of your privacy, yet you’ve been violating my privacy for months and don’t seem to care about that at all!”
“Dosa-Mina, I’m sorry to upset you. But don’t you remember what I said? You and I will never meet outside of these dreams. Nothing I say or learn about you is something I could tell anybody else.”
“That’s what you say, but how can I believe you!? I don’t know who you really are behind that mask! I know nothing about you or why you picked my dreams specifically! And I’ve had enough to deal with people finding out things about me that I don’t want them to know. So out with it, Kkumneok! Give me some reason you’re here! And don’t try and escape through a dream. I know how to deal with you already.”
Kkumneok sighed. “You make one little mistake, and it affects you for the rest of your life.”
“Welcome to my world, then,” Dosa-Mina said, rolling his eyes.
“Dosa-Mina, believe me when I say I have no nefarious intentions towards coming into your dream. You’ll just have to choose to take me at my word. And I’m sorry people are finding out things about you you don’t want them to know. But this isn’t a problem I can help you with.”
“I wasn’t asking for help or pity! I was asking for answers!” His shoulders slumped. “I just want to know why you’re here. It’s already hard enough to sleep knowing any night I could have a nightmare. Now it’s going to be even harder knowing that you’re always watching me, someone who I don’t even know, whose purpose for being here he won’t tell me.”
“I’m not always watching you!”
“How am I supposed to know that? I don’t trust you anymore, Kkumneok. And all this is for me is more sleep loss. So if you’re not going to bother being decent enough to tell me your purpose, then just go.”
Silence reigned in the white dimension, and Dosa-Mina stared off into it, waiting for the moment that Kkumneok would change the scene around him and he could forget the confrontation. But after what felt like a long while, Kkumneok began to speak.
“I…I had to come to your dream, Dosa-Mina. You were suffering with those nightmares. You cut yourself up because of them. And maybe that sounds ridiculous to you. Why come to your dreams specifically if there are plenty of people all over the world who suffer from nightmares constantly? But this one was a different situation. Not only were you hurting yourself, I…” Kkumneok sucked in a breath.
“I gave you those nightmares.”
Dosa-Mina stared wide-eyed at him for only moments before the fury hit him. “What!?”
Kkumneok flinched. “Please, Dosa-Mina, you have to understand, at the time that I did this, I was desperate! I didn’t understand a better way to come to you.”
“So every single night I had one, even after you came to visit me for the first time, you gave me these nightmares!? Even tonight!? Even the other day!? Then why bother coming to stop them!?”
“No, that’s not it!” It was hard to hear any of what Kkumneok said through the thoughts raging through his head, but he tried to keep his temper under wraps by balling his hand into a fist. “I caused the nightmares initially. But that was only in about the first year or so. By now it must be your own mind repeating them back to you. But if you were in my situation, you would understand! I wanted to prevent what happens in your nightmares from happening again!”
Dosa-Mina blinked. “Happening again? What do you mean?”
Kkumneok turned away from him. “I understand if you’re mad with me, Dosa-Mina. And I understand if you don’t believe me. It sounds ridiculous. Until I tried it myself, I didn’t think visiting you in dreams or giving you nightmares was possible. I understand it all too much. All I want to ask is that you try to avoid what happened to you three where I come from. But I won’t bother you anymore. It’s not my place to meddle with events I’m not a part of.”
A portal opened up in front of Kkumneok, and he walked inside. The dream remained a white expanse with the bench sitting in the middle, but all Dosa-Mina could think about was all of what Kkumneok had just told him.
“Dosa-Mina? You alright?”
Orlin-Aesth’s words didn’t reach his ears. He was too lost in thought over what had happened.
‘How does any of that make sense? Someone traveling from another place or time to visit someone who died where they come from? That sounds like a book. And maybe it is. Maybe he was just using it as an excuse. Even Witches and Warlocks have a logical explanation for their strange powers. But none of that has any explanation at all.’
“Dosa-Mina?” Elai-Riya called.
“It’s nothing, Mom,” he sighed. His parents shot each other concerned looks, but unsure of what was getting their son down, they dropped the subject from there, though they kept a close eye on him.
‘What other explanation is there, though? Why else would I have such vivid nightmares about San-Kyung’s death if they weren’t events that someone else knew about?’