"Oppa! Oppaaa!" A young girl ran after my car, screaming.
Instinctively, I braked the car. As I did, I glanced in the rearview mirror.
A haggard face. Rough, unkempt. The look of someone who hadn't shaved or taken care of himself for a long time. Shaggy black hair, bloodshot eyes.
I didn't recognize the face. It wasn't mine, at least.
Did I... reincarnate? Was this a dream?
"Oppa! Don't go! Oppaaaa...!"
Pained and tearful screams.
Faint memories flickered through my head. A man who originally had a magical ability. One who abused it and fell into gambling. Who betrayed his family and friends over and over saying that he would quit.
"This damned son of a bitch." I glared at the reflection in the mirror and then turned the car around.
The young girl... No, this person's younger sister, was kneeling on the ground, sobbing with her gaze lowered. In front of her, a bag of food had spilled out of a plastic bag, some roasted potato and grilled squid.
Seeing that only made me more furious.
I didn't know the context. I didn't know who 'I' was in this body or what happened. But I knew one thing, and that was that I couldn't let this go on.
This guy was about to ditch his sister. No, from the faint memories in my mind, he planned to not only do that, but pawn off her car and laptop here for money to go gamble.
What kind of-?!
No. Breathe. For now, I needed to deal with my sister.
I stopped the car and then got out.
She was still crying. People were staring, but they passed her by.
The girl... No, my younger sister was a mess. She looked adorable, attractive by any standard and the sort of younger sister that an older brother absolutely wouldn't let off alone. The kind that an older brother would be excessively concerned about.
But this motherfucker-
"Ah. I'm angry again." I muttered to myself and shook my head before walking towards the girl. As I did, a name flickered through my head. Jinhee.
"Oppa... Oppa, why? I thought... I thought that you...!" Her voice came out in hitches, stopped by pained sobs.
"Yeah. I guess I'm a son of a bitch, aren't I?"
"H-Huh?" The girl, Jinhee, froze and lifted her gaze.
I stared at her face.
She was dazed and trembling. Her eyes were wet and running with tears. But not only that, because she tripped, her adorable face was scratched and bleeding.
I let out a deep sigh and then helped her up.
"Op...pa...?" She blinked, still confused.
"Jinhee." I called out her name and then said, "I won't apologize. What I wanted to do- No, what I just did is unforgiveable."
This bastard wanted to run off and didn't even care about his younger sister. That was something that would never deserve forgiveness.
She looked confused. No, was it because of the shock? She still seemed dazed.
I picked up the fallen food and then carefully brushed her off. Seeing the scrapes, I winced and then clenched my fist. As I did, realized I was still holding the keys to the car- No, her car.
I looked at her and placed the keys in her hands. "Here. You hold on to these. Let me get something for your wounds."
"O-Okay...?" Jinhee muttered and looked down at the keys.
I walked towards the rest stop nearby.
It was like a gas station. No, was this what was called a convenience store overseas? Korean letters were everywhere, but I could read them, thankfully.
I pulled out my wallet. There wasn't much, only 10000 won... which was about ten USD.
But that was enough.
When I walked into the store, the clerk gave me an odd look. Stares were abound from everyone else as well, but I ignored them.
I looked around for disinfecting wipes and bandages. Picking them up and quickly checking out, I went back to Jinhee, 'my' younger sister.
She was still standing by the car. But it seemed like she had gathered herself together. Jinhee turned towards me as I walked over and shook her head. "Oppa. You..." She looked pained and then said, "Why did you-?"
I shook my head. "Don't worry about that now. First... we should clean that." I took out the disinfecting wipe and then started cleaning her wounds.
Jinhee flinched, but allowed me to do so.
I surveyed the area and then scowled.
Jinhee leaned back at that.
I flinched and shook my head. "Sorry. Just..." I let out a deep suffering sigh and said, "What a bastard, this guy is."
"It's nothing." I picked up the food that I left on the car and then went inside. "We were going..." A flicker of a memory. "We were going to blacklist me from the casinos, right? Let's go."
"U-Um... Okay?" Jinhee seemed confused, but nodded.
I moved to the passenger side of the car and sat in. When I did, I pulled out the food.
Jinhee got in as well and noticed. "Wait, Oppa, that's-"
"Food you got for me, right?" I picked up the dirt covered grilled squid. I brushed off as much as I could of the dirt and then ate it.
Gritty. Not very appetizing... and bitter. But still better than what this bastard was going to do to his sister.
"...And with that, it's finished, Mister Seol." A man in a black suit handed me a pile of papers. As he did though, he stared at me in the eye. "But are you certain that you-?"
"Yes. I'm not coming back."
The man... The manager of the casinos in this area seemed amused, but he maintained a professional gaze and nodded. "If you desire. Then, have a good life."
I turned around without looking and headed back.
Jinhee was standing at the entrance of the casino. She still seemed a bit confused. No, in disbelief.
"Come on, Jinhee. Let's go." I grabbed her hand and walked off.
We walked through the crowd back to her car. As we did, I noticed Jinhee biting on her lower lip.
I glanced over at her and said, "What is it?"
She shook her head. "It's nothing, but..." She stared at my face and said, "Are you... really Oppa?"
A flicker of shock. Did she figure out my identity? Was this the so called woman's intuition?
I paused and then shook my head. "No. I'm not your Oppa."
Jinhee tensed. "That's-"
I continued speaking. "If I was your Oppa, I would never have done that to you. Never even thought about doing that."
We came to a stop at her car. As we did, I caught a glimpse of this guy's reflection- No. I knew who that guy... who 'I' was now.
"Seol Jihu... This guy is a bastard who doesn't deserve to be considered your older brother."
Self-loathing. Anger. Disgust.
The man's face in the mirror reflected my emotions.
Jinhee shook her head. "That... Oppa is Oppa. I... Earlier, I was really shocked, but..." She smiled now, relieved. "I'm glad. You went back to normal."
"Normal, huh?" I stared at the reflection more. As I did...
The man who drowned in gluttony.
...I found it hard to agree.
The family house. A decent sized place downtown.
Jinhee walked inside first and said, "We're home!"
A gruff male voice answered back. "And did that bastard actually do it this time?" An older man with graying hair appeared in the main hallway.
I walked inside and met his gaze.
My father. Or rather, 'Seol's' father.
Jinhee nodded. "Yeah. We went in together and signed the papers. Oppa can't go gamble ever again."
"Hmph. Then-" He paused, noticing the scrapes on Jinhee's face. "Wait. What happened there?" He reached out to her.
Jinhee flinched. "U-Um... This..."
I stepped in and answered for her."I was a bastard and made Jinhee get hurt."
"Oppa!" Jinhee turned around and shook her head. "No. Dad, it wasn't like-"
"It was." I cut in and stared at my father's stern eyes.
"Oh? And what did you do then?" He stared back.
Jinhee walked over to me and tugged my shirt. "Oppa. It's fine. You don't have to-"
"I told her I was hungry and had her stop at a rest stop. Then while she went to go get food, I started to drive off with her car and planned to pawn it and her laptop for cash to keep gambling while I left her there."
Jinhee flinched. Did she just realize how bad it was?
My father narrowed his eyes and then shifted his gaze to Jinhee. "Did he?"
"No! Oppa didn't do that!"
I nodded. "That's right." I clenched my fist and barely restrained my anger. "This bastard...!" I closed my eyes to calm down and said, "When I saw Jinhee crying, I realized how much of a bastard I was and turned back."
Anger. I was angry. My heart pounded. Closing my eyes didn't help.
I opened them to see my father staring with mixed emotions.
I shook my head and then turned around. "...Then I'll be seeing you. I'm heading back to my apartment."
As I was walking out of the door, my father called out.
"Stay for dinner."
I turned around and then shook my head. "I can't."
"Why? Don't tell me you're going to go gambling again somewhere else?"
I laughed. "Gambling? Like hell. I'd rather chop off my own legs first."
"Oppa! That's... a bit extreme, isn't it?" Jinhee looked concerned.
I gave her a thin smile and said, "After what I did to you today, if that's what it takes to stop another impulse like that, then I'd do it without a second thought."
Jinhee lowered her gaze. "But..."
"Hmph." My father walked over and grabbed my shoulders. "In that case, I'll have to keep an eye on you to make sure you don't do anything else stupid."
He forcibly dragged me inside and closed the door. "You're staying here today. "If Seonhwa wonders where you went, I'll talk to her."
"What?!" He snapped and said, "Think you're too good for your own father now? No, think you can just run off like that after some cheap words? Show your remorse with your actions, boy!"
I gave him a faint smile and nodded. "Alright, Dad."
His mouth twitched as well and then he walked off.
As he did, an older female voice called out. My mom. "Is that Jihu?"
"That's right. The brat finally got his act together."
A well-maintained room. A tidy bed and wardrobe filled with spare clothes.
It seemed that even after 'I' became the scum of the Earth, my family still held out hope.
I shook my head and then walked over to the desk.
There were a few notebooks nearby, so I took them out and started writing.
"Seol Jihu, right?"
That was the name of this bastard. No, I suppose he got better in the end, but until that point he was the scum of the Earth.
It seemed like I took over his body. How and why, I didn't know.
I glanced at the mirror to check. When I did, words popped up in my field of vision, like a status screen. But it was incomplete.
The redeemed son.
A person who doesn't belong.
"Are these his eyes?"
Jihu had the ability to use the nine-colored eyes, an innate gift. But this seemed different.
I was curious and then glanced at the notebook.
Stored for years.
It was a surveying ability that gave summaries... and one clearly different from how I remembered it being in the book.
I shook my head. "Whatever."
This was my world now. That other place, Paradise, was still in trouble... but I had to make the most of this life.
While it was a fun concept... I was certain that I wouldn't be able to make it far in that world. After all, while I was 'Seol', I wasn't as well.
"Still, this is useful, isn't it?" Curious, I stared at my arm.
Malnourished and out of shape.
I clenched my fists and said, "...I can use this."
"You don't have to do this, Son. Get some rest and get back on your feet first!" A kind older woman patted down my clothes and shook her head. My mom.
I smiled at her kind actions and said, "I've burdened everyone far too long. It's about time I be a proper filial son instead of a prodigal one, isn't it?"
"It's fine! We all know how you really are. And while the past few years have been... rough on all of us, since you've taken up heart to act, it'll work out."
I shook my head. "No. Like Dad said, I can't just keep using cheap words. This time I'll show it."
"Thanks Mom. I'm going."
With a wave, I walked out.
Time to turn this bastard's- No, 'my' life around.