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Looking Back

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Rage. Pain. Grief. Sadness. Numbness. Soo-hyun feels all of it at once, swirling in her like an untempered storm. She focuses her chaotic emotions into one thing: deal with with the betrayers. 

The gun feels like a welcome friend, the only thing anchoring her to her goal. Walking into the familiar steps of Carpe Diem, the wood floors and bright lights now seem alien to her. It had been barely two weeks since she stood in the same space speaking of dreams and desires after liberation with her comrades, smiling and laughing in a room with the people she loved. 

Laughter from the hall breaks her thoughts as she hears Heo Young-min gleefully celebrate the Japanese Empire. 

She doesn't hestitate. 

Opening fire on the crowd, Soo-hyun tries to ignore that the sound of the gun reminds her of Hwi-young's typewriter. Gunning down the room filled with traitors loyal to the Japanese empire wasn't hard. Killing Heo Young-min was like killing an errant fly. It doesn't lessen the void in her heart but it dulls the flaming rage into a slow burn. 

Soo-hyun quickly leaves Carpe Diem, its halls filled with blood and the aftermath of a woman with an unquenchable fury. Leaving behind the machine gun as evidence and warning, she disappears into the empty black night. 

She doesn't look back. 


The streets of Kyungsung are eerily quiet, the air is heavy as if the city was mourning. Word quickly spread that a vengeful assassin stalked the streets targeting those who betrayed the Joseon Youth Alliance. 

Heels frantically clack on the stone streets. Clack. Clack. Clack. Sound of a machine gun. Sound of a typewriter. 

Soo-hyun doesn't hesitate to point the gun in her direction. 

The one who betrays their comrades will be removed.

Regret. She feels regret at this moment, not for what she has to do but at how the relationship turned out. That in the end, the woman Soo-hyun regarded as her mother chose her blood instead. A futile betrayal but one nonetheless and she pulls the trigger in the empty alleyway. 

She doesn't look back. 


The one who betrays their comrades will be removed.

She says it like a prayer, that maybe if she says it enough times whoever was watching over them would listen and that killing him would be easier. That like her previous two missions she wouldn’t hesitate. She repeats it 10, 100, 1000 times but it didn’t matter if she spent her entire life preparing. Nothing could prepare Soo-hyun to walk into the room and see Shin Yul look at her with those eyes.

Soo-hyun wants to scream, cry, yell, shake him and ask him why. Why would he betray their country, their cause, their friend?

His eyes give her the answer before his words do. She can’t stop the memories flowing in like a flood, she wishes he chose Seo Hwi-young over her. That maybe it would be have been her watching over them from the heavens and not the man they both loved.

The one who betrays their comrades will be removed.

She tries repeating the phrase again to herself, that maybe her hands will stop shaking and she is able to pull the trigger.

“Kill me with your own hands. That will make me feel better."

 The single shot rings out definite and final, like the sound of a key on the typewriter when an author hits the period of his last sentence.


Time warps around Soo-hyun as she stands in the empty club crying, she cries for her father who she lost too young. She cries for the Madam’s son who faces death for enacting justice. She cries for her fallen comrades who would not live to see a liberated Joseon. She cries for Seo Hwi Young. She cries for Shin Yul. She cries for herself.

She wants to fall deeper into the embrace of emptiness, let her tiredness take over and die here in Carpe Diem where her story began but the sound of footsteps break her out of her grief.Soo-hyun sneaks out of Carpe Diem unseen, barely evading the Japanese soldiers.

As she tucks into the alley behind the club, she pauses for a moment and looks back.