It was early in the morning, when he woke me up. I don't remember who he was or where he came from, but I can tell he's a nice person. He looked at me with sad, but caring eyes.
His eyes weren't normal. It was like the eyes of the ghosts that I often read from mystery and horror novels. His hair and facial features, on the other hand, were almost exactly the same as mine, as if we were twins.
"Morning, you pansy."
From his lips came out a harsh voice that somehow stroke a needle within my heart, but surprisingly, the pain had subsided very quickly and was replaced by a gentle feeling.
Could it be that he's wearing different clothes to identify and distinguish himself as a separate entity from me? Who is he? What should I call him? I don't know, but I nodded.
"M-morning...what was I doing before I got in this room? More importantly...who exactly..."
"You got knocked out by a bunch of thugs on the street." He said with clenched teeth, as if he's blaming me for what happened, for which I don't remember a thing about. "You should've been more careful! Tch, I had to beat them up for you."
"I don't know...who you are...and I don't remember a thing..." I replied, confused.
"You must've had some amnesia or something. Hmph, fine, I'll fill you in. I'm your older twin brother, Minhyeol, but everyone calls me Red, because they often say our names sound alike."
"Oh...I remember now! Big brother!"
My name, Minhyuk, does sound a lot like my twin brother's. After all, we ARE twins, and maybe that's why he had to dress up differently. But what's with those eyes?
"Big brother...your eyes..."
"Oh, you noticed?" He looked away in the attempt to cover his eyes and face the window. "I got sick. It's a rare condition and they had to give me some shots. It affected my eyes, but that's alright, I can still see."
It was quite believable, even though I never heard of a condition like that - a human eye's sclera becoming dark instead of white and his eyes turning red. I wonder what kind of medical condition he's going through, and why didn't he tell me about it before?
"I didn't want you to know, and that's why I've always been wearing shades this past week. I didn't want you to worry about me."
Oh yeah, I did remember that Minhyeol / Red was kind of a busy person and we only meet during dinner time, and sometimes, it's when I'm already asleep when he comes home. He's my only family left since our parents left this world ten years ago. He maybe a very snobby person, but at least, he cares about me.
Today, we went shopping, since the fridge and other home supplies were running low. I was surprised that he prepared a few camping supplies and took me to a nearby hill to watch the sunset. It was beautiful.
"Do you like the color of the sky?" Minhyeol asked me with a creepy-looking face, as if he was the ghost from Bongcheon-Dong.
"S-stop making that face! You're creeping me out..." I was afraid to look at his eyes, though I noticed that they were really sincere, like they were drawing me in.
Unfortunately, it rained, so we had to set up the makeshift tent. There was also a thunderstorm so we had no choice but to stay for the night.
A loud and deafening sound of thunder startled me and all of a sudden, I found myself accidentally lying on his lap. It was kind of embarrassing, though, and I felt like he was gonna get irritated again.
Even with those words, he patted my head just like my father used to. It was filled with coldness but somewhat overflowing with a hidden warmth that he couldn't reveal to me openly.
That night, we ate Jjamppong instant noodles. I didn't realize Minhyeol brought in a small battery-operated kettle! He's a real boy scout!
After our short dinner, we read a bunch of small books that he's kept in his bag. He even told me a bedtime story. The book was titled "Bridge to Terabithia". It was a sad but soothing story.
"Thank you, big bro. You're the best." I smiled, even though he didn't utter a single word and only smiled briefly. That was the first time today that I saw my brother smile at least for a little bit.
I slept soundly, though I don't know if he slept well. I mean, I never slept beside my twin brother before. It feels kind of awkward, but I guess we had no choice.
The next day, we went back home and unpacked our stuff. Later on, we went to visit this bookstore to buy some new materials to read.
"Look!" I shouted, dragging him much to his annoyance. "They've just released a new Japanese manga! I can't wait to check it out!"
"Wait, I though you only read novels?"
"Nah, I think I'm beginning to like other forms of reading material as well." I replied.
And so we checked it out. Just as I reached for one of the copies, a young boy about my age also happened to grab his copy of the manga. I didn't see him that much, but he had this black hair and an eye patch - strangely the same as the character on the cover of the manga.
"Tokyo...Ghoul..." I read the title. "This seems...interesting..."
"Indeed it is..." Minhyeol sneaked in to grab the manga from my hands.
"H-hey!" Again, big bro seems to enjoy picking on me again.
He read a couple of lines from the summary, but hid it from me and immediately took it to the cashier to have it paid. It seems that he's more interested in this "Tokyo Ghoul" than me...
"You're so mean! Why didn't you want me to read the summary at least?"
Minhyeol only smiled. "Because it's not for kids."
"B-but I'm not a kid anymore! I can read ghost stories and stuff, and--"
"Don't worry, Minhyuk." He patted my head. "I'll let you read this when I finish it."
"But how long is that going to be?"
"At the right time..."
That night, I couldn't sleep. I wanted to know a lot more about that manga and why it meant so much for Minhyeol. Come to think of it, the cover had a character with eyes that resembled his...
"Sorry, big bro. I have no choice." I murmured to myself as I stepped out of the sheets.
I sneaked into his room, which was just on the other side of the hallway. Our house isn't that big, so I had to be very careful not to make any noise. From his table, I picked up the manga I've been eying on and escaped quietly from the room.
When I returned to my bed, I opened the pages and lit it up with a flashlight to see the pictures. I was a bit disgusted at what I saw, but it was alright, since I've seen a lot of horror stories like this. The only thing that troubled me was the main character's eyes that totally looked like big brother's...
...and a torn picture I found on one of the pages. In that page, I saw the black-haired protagonist confronting another version of himself - a white-haired one. It gave me chills and I don't know why.
I put the torn pieces of the picture together like a jigsaw puzzle and...
A voice was heard from behind me. Suddenly, I had the flashback of even deeper memories - most of which...don't have anything to do with this place.
"Looks like you found out the truth, eh?" He grinned as he drew a knife from his hand and rushed to attack me. I was shaking and experiencing severe headaches from the constant flow of the memories that really happened.
"Y-you..you're not my real brother!" I shouted, trying to evade his attacks. "You killed my real family...my brothers...Minho, Minwoo, Samoon...and my sisters...Yuna, Cheun...and especially my mother! You're a monster..."
He didn't stop going for me. "That's right, I killed them. But it's only because they've hurt you long enough! I can't stand it when you're always whining in a corner begging for mercy, where you should've fought back!"
Indeed, I am weak. I could never be like Minhyeol. I pushed all of my anger and hatred towards him in the attempt to cleanse myself from the guilt of remorse I had towards my family who cared less for me and treated me like nothing ever since my father died. I've always been a useless person. Perhaps, I don't deserve to live...
I stopped resisting. I knew it was pointless. I made it outside the house as the rain poured down on the two of us. He was getting ready to finally get rid of me...
...his good and weak self.
But a sudden feeling came over me, not wanting to get killed. It was the me who was trapped in the illusion that he himself made me - that I was his younger twin brother and that he was my big brother who cared for me even if he were an asshole most of the time. Out of all my family members, he was the one who treated me like I existed...
I was stabbed a couple of times. I was losing blood real quick. My consciousness is fading away.
If only I can live in the delusion forever, even if it's not real.
I just want to be with my big brother for the rest of my life.
He's my only real family, even though I just created him in my mind. He's the reason why I'm still alive right now, because he's a very strong person.
I embraced him...with all my might and all my soul, pleading him to stop this insanity.
"Big bro...I'll do anything..."
"I don't care if I don't have my old family back...just you alone is enough for me to survive in this world..."
"So please...help me..."
At that moment, as if God's angels dropped from heaven and caused a miracle, he knelt down and dropped the knife. He returned my hug with bloody arms, which were cold on the outside, but surprisingly warm deep within.
"I'm terribly sorry that it had to be this way..."
His voice went a bit shaky, as if all of his angst subsided and replaced with tenderness.
"I just...want to protect you from this stupid world that's been abusing you since you were born..."
"No matter how much you've tried to hide yourself from the truth, it's always been there." He patted my head like he always did. "So I will make sure you won't get to deal with that truth ever again...by staying here with me..."
I get it now...
The reason why Minhyeol "goes to work" is because he takes over my real-world body to take care of real-world matters. I am apparently "dead" or "missing" in the real world. I wanted to say that this is so unfair because I won't get to see my dead family, however...
...were they really a good family to me? I've always been blamed for my father's death, even though they meant it indirectly. I've always been the source of remorse and greed that cause all my siblings to bear such problems. I'm a nobody in that family. I doubt that it's even a family at all at this point.
"I understand now, Minhyeol." I smiled, slightly coughing from blood loss, which I probably won't literally die from anyway, since this is all in my mind. "Even though you getting rid of my family was a bad thing, I now understand that it was you who wanted to protect me in the first place, so we can keep the promise to father, who sacrificed himself...so that we, as Minhyuk, may live on..."
"How late of you to realize that..." Minhyeol carried me back to the house, applied first aid medicine to cover my wound, and tucked me to bed gently. "You don't need to do anything from now on, Minhyuk. Like I said, I'll deal with the truth myself. You've seen enough...take it easy from now on..."
And, for the first time, I now realized that even though I was always scared of the dark, Minhyeol was my flashlight. Even if he didn't look like he was one and that he's a sort-of anti-hero split-personality, I still loved him as a twin brother. With a subtle kiss on my forehead, he brushed my hair and said:
"...sweet dreams, you pansy."
At last, I was able to sleep peacefully, even in the darkness that surrounded me. Sweet dreams to you too, big brother.
Minhyeol's point of view:
Well, that should take care of that little pathetic brat. Sure, it might look like I "killed" him, but it was all for the best - for his own sake. He's too naive and innocent to be soiled with blood, just like my given name.
For the remainder of my life, I would sometimes visit Chief Choi in prison and tell him about the success of Project Enigma - the fruitful result that he's been waiting for in his entire life.
But did the project really succeed? Perhaps, in a different way.
I would still occasionally visit Minhyuk in my mind's world, just to make sure he's contented with our setup atmosphere. He's been locking himself inside his room forever, so I guess it's only natural for him to just enjoy life from within a dream.
On one night, I brought home some grocery items for us to munch for dinner.
"Apples?" Minhyuk wondered.
"You said I should be Kira..." I laughed in a strange way, and so did he.
It was a fun night, and many other great things happened whenever I check up on him. Maybe, I should be thankful to him at least...
...for the first time in my existence, I had a purpose...to protect Minhyuk from the evils of this world...
...including me as well...