I just survived my first heart attack. Creepy old geezer...
“Master Hong,” Jihun said, bowing to the geezer.
“I looked for you everywhere, you brat,” Master Hong growled. He squeezed my ear.
“A-a-a-a! What the heck, geezer!?” I shrieked, trying to break free, but he was incredibly strong for someone tiny and two hundred years old.
“Thanks for your effort, Mr. Kim,” Master Hong said. “I told them that I sent you to go after that brat, so they’ll reconsider the punishment. Let’s hope.”
“Thank you, Master Hong!” Jihun gasped, bowing again. “Then, I’ll leave Hajun in your care.”
He disappeared in the murk, before I could say something. I was left alone with Master Hong in a big living room, which right now lost its coziness. His gray eyes were somehow scary. Was he wearing contact lenses?
“Now, let’s get to the point.” Master Hong pulled me toward the cavity under the stairs.
“Let go of me!”
“Why would I?”
“You’ll break my back, you tiny geezer!”
“You’ll survive worse.” He let go and pushed me. “Now register, so I can beat you up later.”
“And if I don’t?” I threatened.
“Ghouls will beat you up. To be more specific, to the death. Your choice.”
“You call this a choice?” I hissed, but did as he said. “OH MY GOD!” I blurted, when I turned to the registry.
“Now you call out God?” Master Hong growled. “You have some nerve.”
“Name...” I heard a hoarse voice, which gave me chills.
“H-Huh?” I stammered, trying not to look at the ‘woman’ at the registry.
“Your name, dimwit. Are you deaf?”
“Moon Hajun...” I stepped back and grabbed Master Hong’s sleeve. “What happened to her!?” I hissed.
“Madam Slow? Oh, poor thing has a bit of a past.”
“Did someone cursed her with this make-up?”
“This isn’t make-up. And be careful with the word ‘curse’, anywhere. She died some time ago.”
“WHAT –!?” Master Hong covered my mouth. “S-She’s a GHOST!?”
“Yes, you didn’t know? How dumb are you?”
I freed myself and looked at Madam Slow with fear. She really was a ghost? Well, her white face or nearly black lips and bags under her eyes would be a clue that she was one, but still...
“Profession?” Madam Slow asked again.
I looked confused at Master Hong. He pointed at me, then at the Purgatory.
“Scourer... ?” I said.
Madam Slow nodded carefully and wrote something again.
“So you employ here ghosts too?” I whispered. “Not only escort or fight them?”
“Sometimes. There was empty space at the registry after all.”
“You’re crazy,” I stated. I glanced at her. “Why do you call her ‘Slow’?”
Master Hong pointed chin toward her. I just gave her my name and profession, and she didn’t finish writing yet. Seriously?
“When will she finish?” I asked.
“In the best case, tonight. But usually in a few days.”
I opened my mouth, shocked. Master Hong closed it and I almost bit my tongue.
“Until your registration is done, you are forbidden to leave the Purgatory. Take your time and get used to this place and its customs.”
“And what about this death thing, when I’m in these places without the registration?” I said.
“You’re half protected now, because your registration is in progress, so you’re allowed to stay only in Purgatory. But NO leaving.”
“Alright, I get it,” I grumbled. I looked around with anxiety.
“I will walk you to the dorms. Then you’ll have to excuse me, I have a work to do.”
“You have DORMS?”
“Yes. Are you always surprised by anything?”
“If it’s normal, no,” I said sarcastically.
“’Normal’ is a relative term. Now, let’s go.”
We reached the balcony and entered the corridor. There were a lot of doors, I felt like we were in school.
“Is this all dorm?” I said.
“No. We’re not there yet. These doors are exits to the world.”
“You don’t think we use buses and taxi? We’re receiving reports about Ghouls from all over the world, so we have to get there quickly. We can’t teleport like Reapers, although their ability has limit too.”
“So, what can we do?”
“This doesn’t concern you now. You, as a newbie, will be assigned to missions only in the country, for at least year. Our ability...” He stopped, as if he was thinking if he should tell me this, or not. “is difficult to describe, but you’ll find out in time. You have to know one thing: if it’s about our ability, we don’t control it.”
“I don’t get it.”
“That’s good. In that case you’ll get used to it without problems.” Master Hong stopped abruptly on the third floor, before black door with ‘Dorms’ inscription. “We’re here.”
“Okay. So what now?”
“Now you’ll get some sleep and let’s hope that Madam Slow will finish your registration soon. I’ll see you tomorrow. You have everything you need in your room, number 024 at the end of the corridor. Ah, don’t go near room with a red door. Remember that I warned you.”
“What was that?” I muttered as Master Hong walked away and I entered the next corridor.
It was huge, even bigger than previous ones. I was so fascinated by it, that I didn’t look under my feet and I tripped over rolled carpet. I kept the balance by holding the nearest door. Suddenly I heard growling and felt heat on my palm.
I hesitantly looked to the left. I was standing next to the red door, which probably mentioned Master Hong. I wondered why he would warn me about them, and now I knew the answer. As the door opened, I saw a big, yellow eyes, that were staring at me.