t an unexplainable feeling.

Is it déjà vu? Maybe it’s closer to foresight.


‘Nah, no way.


“Can’t be.
We fought over it yesterday already.
There’s no way.”


I smiled to shake off the foreboding feeling and took off the lid.

Only to be met with the sight of emptiness, as if I were staring into my future.


“You fucking muuuuuuutt!”


My cries filled the cafeteria.


“Do you have the inability to learn? What’s the difference between the Dog King and a dog? A dog that’s well known for a few tricks in an old town would be a hundred times smarter than you!”

“Awoooooo! It not me! Woof! Woof!”


That was the moment when a sacred war was waged between humans and dogs.
The regressor ran over at the commotion only to pinch her forehead before asking.


“What is it now?”


「It’s probably the same old thing again.」


‘“Same old thing”? Clothes, food, and shelter.
The one thing that has a grip on a person’s life is food.
In other words, this is a problem between life and death!’


I grabbed the pot and stomped over to the regressor, showing her the empty Compressed Can and pot before yelling at her.


“You see this? Usually, you could feed a man for four days with one Can.
There’s that much food concentrated in there! But because of this fucking mutt, it disappears in a day!”


Azzy’s sullen voice could be heard from over yonder.


“It not me!”

“Liar! Who else is here aside from you?!”

“Not me! Not me!”

“If you really are a Beast King, stop repeating the same words over and over again! You sound like a parrot struggling with vocabulary!”

“I’m not parrot!”

“Then convince me otherwise by saying something different!”


The regressor pretended to cover her ears and interrupted our exchange.


Both of you, be quiet.”


Azzy and I looked at each other and growled.
The regressor let out a sigh then mumbled.


“How can you be so sure that Azzy is the culprit? It might not be her.”

“Then are you the culprit, Trainee Shei?”


I stared at her with twitching eyes and continued.


“Trainee Tyrkanzyaka is a vampire.
She only drinks blood.
The remaining humans are you and me.
But it wasn’t me.
I’m not so shameless as to eat it myself and blame it on a dog.
And after all, I’m the one who manages the cellar.”


「Do you know that you’re shameless?」


“If the culprit wasn’t Azzy, then logically, it would mean that you—Trainee Shei—would have stolen the food.
Do you understand? What you said only made me doubt you more!”


I chucked the pot into the sink and yelled.


“You even have a personal supply of food! You told me that you don’t need to prepare any meals! But even after eating your personal luxuries, were you enthralled by the State’s soul food that you had to go through the pot in the middle of the night? Is the soul food spawned by poverty only a prize to be shown in your display case?!”

“Prize? That’s nonsense.
I wouldn’t even eat it if you offered it.”

“Then be quiet, you bourgeoisie! As I must settle this life-or-death dispute with the mutt!”

“Just wait.”


The regressor spoke in an annoyed tone.
Chun-aeng, moving by Shei’s will, was slowly turning towards me while floating above her head.

I shut my mouth.

Even if it is a life-or-death dispute, I can’t afford to die a dog’s death.


“What I’m trying to say is that there might be someone else here that we don’t know about.”

“The idea that the culprit was a being somewhere in here without any of us knowing about them is too opportunistic for my taste.”


「…So he’s telling me that, while I usually make sound arguments, sometimes I spout nonsense.
I really can’t understand this man.」


“I’m saying that whether you like it or not, the possibility still exists.”

“Well, it might sound reasonable.


Her conjecture had so many holes in it that it had become quite difficult to point out exactly what was wrong.

Are you only capable of this much, dear regressor? I shall enlighten you. 

That amidst a seemingly complicated situation, the truth is always the simplest answer.

I pointed my finger at the regressor and made a declaration.


“Trainee Shei, your deduction is wrong.”


“This is the Abyssal Prison, Tantalus.
A completely isolated space in which no one can easily enter or exit.
And you’re telling me that in such a place, there is someone who neither I, you, Azzy, nor Trainee Tyrkanzyaka know about that comes out in the middle of the night just to steal some food?”


I let out a deep breath and unraveled my perfect logic.


“I’m dumbfounded.
Such a person would not and should not exist.”

“I get that it’s hard to take in, but what do you mean by ‘should not’?”

“If there were such a being, wouldn’t it most likely be a ghost?”


“That’d be too scary.
I don’t want to believe that.”


The regressor slowly processed what I just said, then her jaw dropped.

That stupid face really fits you.


“So you’re telling me… that you don’t even want to consider that possibility just because it’s too scary?”


I swiftly nodded.



“What the…”


「Are you actually out of your mind? Or are you doing this on purpose?」


‘On purpose? What are you on about? Think about it.
A regressor with all sorts of tricks, a vampire who could smell your spilt blood from miles away, the Dog King with the nose of a dog, and my mind reading abilities that could see through the regressor’s camouflage.
You’re telling me that there’s some being in the cafeteria that none of us can detect? And one whose mind can’t be read by me? If there were such a being, we should be running right now.’


「You’ve made a miscalculation if you think there’s nothing here.
Tyrkanzyaka and Azzy becoming ‘pieces of the end’ was caused by an outsider and the fact that ‘she’ is going to come for ‘that’ under the abyss.
There’s also a possibility that ‘they’ are still here somewhere.
How do I explain this…」


…Why is that all so true.


‘No, I can’t accept such a future.
I’m already about to lose it from the people already here.
You’re telling me that something that is on the level of these monsters still remains here and that there’s going to be an outsider breaking into Tantalus?’


「You know what? Nah.
I don’t need to explain.
It’s my first time coming into Tantalus anyway.
What’s there to explain? Let’s just leave it to when it happens.」


‘It’s got to be a lie.
It has to be.
There’s no way.’


I flicked my attention back to Azzy.


“Hey, Azzy.
Did you really not eat it?”


“You say no, but… Sigh.
Why am I even trying to talk with you.”


I just felt the ever-present gap between humans and animals and shook my head.


‘It wouldn’t even matter if I could read this mutt’s mind.
She would deny it till the very end.’


So there really was only one option left.

To catch her red-handed.


‘I’ve got to catch this mutt the moment she has the pot in her eyes.
Then, I can pull it over her.
Let’s open one more Can.
The operation starts tonight, when the day lights are out and the night lights haze the area.
At that moment, I’ll have this mutt by the collar.’


I twisted my lips in a dismal way and looked down at Azzy, then we locked eyes.
It was like both our eyes had lit on fire.


「I can’t tell if they’re getting along or not.」


The relationship between a human and a dog wasn’t that simple.
There were good times and bad times.

You just wait and see, mutt.

As I snarled at Azzy, the regressor glanced at me, narrowed her eyes, and stared.
Chun-aeng made a slight humming sound, as if reflecting her caution against me.


I can sense something over there.」


‘Oh, please.
It’s actually scary.
When you say it like that, it really feels like something’s there.
And it’s a perfectly dark and small place for a ghost to appear.
That’s the same level as my bedroom.
What do I do if I get attacked in my sleep? I don’t have a trip alarm.
Hmm… I don’t have an alarm, but I do have a guard dog.’


I looked at Azzy and spoke rather softly.


“Hey, Azzy.
You want to sleep with me tonight?”



I guess not.




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