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this is not a grave

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It’s cold.

It’s cold, and Eun-hyeok is bleeding.

He opens his eyes. Above him, a sliver of light flickers. He squints, trying to understand why. Snow? But his vision only continues to blur; the left lens of his glasses is shattered, the right a jagged half-moon that he can’t quite tilt his head to see out of.

His glasses.

Eun-yu.

Eun-hyeok blinks.

He promised to come back. Don’t worry, he told her.

When did she figure out he lied? When the building collapsed? Before?

He experimentally flexes his fingers. He can’t feel anything—he’s numb. Whether it’s because of the cold or something else, he can’t say.

Eun-yu. He can only imagine the look on her face when she realized.

It feels like his chest has been cracked open. When he opens his mouth, his lower lip splits. All he can taste is blood. When he shifts ever so slightly, he feels a lukewarm stretch of damp underneath him. How he hasn’t bled out by now, he has no idea. Maybe the cold slowed the blood flow, therefore delaying the blood loss. Under the rubble and numbness, there is no way to assess the damage until he can get out into the light and see for himself. But it’s probably bad. He has to be realistic: it’ll only get worse if he stays still.

He tilts his chin down. He starts to move. Pain flashes through his chest; he exhales through his nose, slow. His ribs must be broken. At the very least, heavily bruised. He’ll have to find something to wrap around his chest if it’s bad enough. But he can’t see anything protruding—perhaps he was lucky and wasn’t impaled.

The longer Eun-hyeok is conscious, the more he hurts. But he’s alive. Blood dries on his chin as he shifts under the rubble, trying to work his way free as carefully as he possibly can. He’s broken at least three of his ribs. Probably fractured his wrist. A deep gash across his back, if his guess is anything to go by. But he’s alive.

When he tilts his head, he hears plastic scrape against cement. He remembers he’s wearing Eun-yu’s headphones.

She’ll kill him for breaking them. The CD player, too, is probably busted beyond repair. He’ll never hear the end of it after she’s done giving him the silent treatment for making her think he died.

Eun-hyeok smiles at the thought.

He shifts again. After several minutes, he manages to free his right hand. He takes a steadying breath; if he’s careful and takes his time, he’ll be able to get out with only causing minimal harm to himself in the process.

Daylight is fading fast. This will be much harder if he doesn’t get out soon.

It’s getting dark, but he can hear his heartbeat over the howling wind. There’s no way to tell how much blood he’s lost and how much more he can afford to lose, and he has no idea where Eun-yu and the others could be if they made it out.

But he’s alive. And he’ll do whatever it takes to find Eun-yu.

Eun-hyeok strains towards the light.