Jae didn’t know how long he had been sitting there in the dark. All he knew was that he was freezing, his body was shaking and his teeth chattering. The places where Derek had poured water on him were even colder.
Why couldn’t they have done this to him in the summer, it was the end of October, and it was Britain. The night was only going to get colder and if it rained than even if he wasn’t murdered he’d probably die of pneumonia.
Just the thought of dying in such an awful way made Jae tremble with anger, he was so freaking mad. He had always wanted to beat Derek and give him a taste of his own medicine, but now he just wanted to kill him.
“If I get out of this, I swear on Monday I’m walking straight up to Derek and hitting him so hard his nose bleeds” Jae mumbled to himself.
As Jae was talking to himself something moved in the grass next to him. There was a rustling sound as something small approached him and touched his leg. Jae was petrified, he felt like his heart was in his mouth, he couldn’t even scream he could only feel growing terror as the thing crawled further up his leg.
When it went up to his thigh Jae could make out its small figure, relief washed over him, it was just a squirrel.
Everything was so much scarier at night, even a freaking small squirrel was scaring him shitless, it didn’t help that he was completely unhinged by what Derek had said. Was this park really filled with dangerous perverts and murderers?
Jae had only himself and his thoughts while tied up to the tree, and his imagination went wild for a while imagining all the scary things that could happen to him if he was found by some Freak. After a while though, he grew bored of thinking about it, and his mind started thinking about his Mum.
She had been diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. It had taken the whole family by surprise. She had seemed so healthy before, they never expected that the indigestion she’d been feeling would turn out to be Cancer. After that, she had been in and out of the hospital. She started her chemotherapy and the last year of her life all Jae remembered was her looking weak and fragile while sitting in the cancer ward. She had suffered so much but she always had such a bright smile on her face, she’d always been such a fighter. He still remembered the last thing she told him. He’d visited her at the hospital with Dad and she’d had this resigned and weak look on her face.
She’d taken his hands and said, “Jae, no matter what happens never give up no matter what. Even if I’m never with you physically I’ll always be with you in spirit.”
The words had felt so final to Jae, and then the next day the hospital called them in the early morning and informed them that she had passed away. Even though Jae had been preparing himself, her death still ripped him to the core. He missed her so much.
Right now he could really do with one of her warm hugs.
When Jae had left Seoul his old school friends had promised to be in touch. Thye had been his only support. They had texted all the time at first, but long-distance relationships were hard to keep up especially long-distance friendships. The most interaction he had with them these days was liking their Facebook or Instagram posts.
Jae realised he didn’t have anyone close to him. His Aunt and Uncle were nice but he didn’t know them that well, his Dad was always somewhere else, especially after Mum died it was like his Dad was intentionally avoiding Jae. He didn’t have a single really good friend. He wondered if anyone would care if he died.
“Was my life always this worthless?” Jae mumbled.
Almost to mock him, it started to rain.
Ice cold water fell from the dark sky. At first, it was a slight splatter of rain, but soon it was hammering down on him, he was soaked to the bone. It was so freezing he began to feel numb. Jae’s eyes began to feel heavy, his body was so tired from all the beatings he’d taken that day. Even though he knew he shouldn’t sleep in this circumstance, he felt his eyes shut.
“Achoo” Jae sneezed.
He woke up shivering and pulled the warm fabrics around him closer. He was wrapped up all warm and snug.
Jae felt groggy and was about to fall asleep again until the alarm bells started ringing in his head. Hadn’t he been tied up to a tree? When had he been brought somewhere warm and given a cover?
He opened his crusted eyes, it took a minute for him to adjust. He was lying on a pile of newspapers, he wasn’t in a cover but actually wrapped in a pile of old jackets and coats. A fire was burning near him.
When he looked around him he realised he was in an enclosed structure of some type of jungle gym. He could still hear the pattering of rain outside.
This appeared to be some makeshift shelter, likely made by a homeless person. As he thought this he looked up and sitting right across from him, also wrapped in old coats was a homeless man.
Jae couldn’t make out his face too well, the man wore an old woollen hat, he had an extremely long beard that went all the way down to the ground. His facial hair hid most of his features, but Jae could still make out a pair of bright eyes looking back at him.
Jae felt like panicking, he was sitting isolated in some make-shift shelter with a homeless man. But, he was still too tired to put up a fuss, and by all means, this man had saved him. If he had stayed in the rain any longer he would have frozen to death, or gotten deathly ill.
“Thank you,” he said to the man.
The man continued to stare at him, making no indication of whether he’d heard Jae or even understood him. The silence made Jae feel nervous but he wasn’t going to make a fuss. The moment the rain let up he’d go hunting for his clothes and get out of there.
Of course, his clothes were probably filthy, thrown in some bush and soaked in the rain. The whole idea of it made him annoyed.
It had to be pretty late at night now, he wondered if his Aunt and Uncle were worried about him. Would they call the police since he’d been missing for so long?
As he thought this a croaky voice said, “If you’re cold still come closer to me, it’s warmer more huddled together.” He had a strange accent that Jae couldn’t place.
Jae didn’t know what to do, the man didn’t seem like he had any bad intentions but that didn’t mean he should relax around him. But Jae didn’t want to be rude either, this man had really helped him out. And he was still a bit cold.
He slowly but cautiously moved next to the man, he held the coats and jackets close to his body, remembering that he was wearing nothing underneath them.
The man watched him all the while and didn’t say a word even as Jae sat next to him.
Despite being homeless the man didn’t smell, Jae had expected a potent smell of alcohol or piss but the guy smelt clean, perhaps there was a place nearby where he could clean himself.
After a minute of awkward silence, Jae said, “You really helped me out, I was in a really tight spot before.”
Jae didn’t expect the man to reply to him but surprisingly he said, “I noticed…those boys must have some vendetta against you to strip you and leave you tied to a tree.”
So he had seen everything. Jae felt his ears burning with embarrassment, shame and anger. “Vendetta, if anything I’m the one with the vendetta,” he said bitterly.
“They’ve been bullying me for a year now, tormenting me for no reason, just cause they can, just cause they’re stronger in numbers” Jae scowled.
“So if it was one on the one you think you could win?” asked the man, his deep voice was serious and he had a strange light in his eyes as he looked at Jae.
“I…” Jae wasn’t confident, “No, I’m not strong enough, even if I’m just facing Derek or just one of his followers they can wipe the floor with me. I can’t win. I’m just…weak.”
The Man sighed heavily as if Jae’s response disappointed him. “If you believe you will lose before you even fight you’re bound to lose. Once they’ve broken your spirit you become weak and I can see yours has nearly broken. In that case, you’re always destined to lose.”
Jae trembled at the man’s words, but soon he was filled with indignation, “I’m not destined to lose, I’ll get strong one day. I haven’t given up. I’ve been training, I’m going to the gym. I’m learning kick-boxing. I’ll build my strength and train the right techniques and one day I’ll kick all the arses one day I’ll make them pay.”
The Man nodded, “I see, I apologise, your spirit is still strong, but never give up while you fight, never think you’re weaker than your opponent. The moment you think that you will lose. Keep trying, keep training, and don’t lose that willpower. One day you’ll be able to get your revenge.”
There was so much certainty in this man’s deep and sombre voice, that Jae couldn’t help but take his words to heart.
“Thanks for the advice Ummm, my name is Jae by the way.” Jae reached his hand out to shake with the man.
The man’s bright almost silver eyes shined and he brought out his own hand and shook with Jae, “People call me Lord” he said.