So far, it seemed that even though the job paid well, being a maid wasn't very agreeable. At least not in Yujin's opinion.
Because of the family.
They were so demanding. Mistress was always calling for her to do the most menial tasks. If she wasn't having Yujin fix her a drink, she was sending her on excursions to the store to pick up one of those gossip magazines, often berating her for getting the wrong one. Master was similarly demanding but also sleazy. Once or twice, his hand slipped to places it shouldn't. Yujin was a little surprised he hadn't made some sort of proposition from the way he looked at her, somewhere between thoughtful and salacious. She expected he might corner her one day and try something without asking. Luckily, he was a little overweight and Yujin was as skinny as they came. She only hoped if he did corner her, she would easily be able to get away, leaving him out of breath behind her.
The entitled brat of a son was the worst of all. Something about the sight of Yujin quietly performing a task seemed to irritate the little Master, and he would find something more urgent for her to do, something that involved Yujin going up or down the stairs, usually. His mother doted on him so Yujin had to do whatever the boy desired. That new toy he had been wanting? Yujin was to go and get it for him. And if she didn't hurry back, the money for it would come out of her salary. The brat wanted a certain type of dish? Yujin was to try and make it for him, even if she had limited cooking experience. If the young Master was bored, Yujin was to entertain him, the most difficult task of all since he seemed to find little humor in anything.
Many of the things the family asked of Yujin didn't fall under the title of maid. For god's sake, she was meant to make their beds and sweep the floors. They seemed to have mistaken 'maid' for 'slave' having Yujin perform such tasks for them.
The pay was greater than any other job she had ever had. So that made up for it a little. A little, but not a lot. Yujin was pretty sure she was going to quit soon.
She had even approached the couple recently, hoping to at least discuss some potential changes. That was when they excitedly revealed they would be going to their country house for a holiday. Yujin expected them to say she would not be needed during this time but apparently the country house was huge.
“There are a lot of heirlooms that will need dusting!” Mistress had said, as if they even let her do things like that. Running after them with other menial tasks took up most of her time. She couldn't remember the last time she'd even held a duster.
Yujin came up with a lie on the spot.
“I'm very sorry but I have something else I will need to attend to soon. I won't be able to go with you to the country.”
And Master had said, “We'll pay you double.”
How could she refuse?
And so Yujin went to the country with the family, watching as they got lazier and lazier with each passing day. Mistress sat around drinking until her cheeks were tickled pink and her laugh echoed throughout the house. Master pottered around the backyard, bringing out planks of wood from the tool shed with apparent plans to make something. At some point, he hung a hammock out there and his work never went any further.
Yujin went between the two, fetching each of them drinks, reading material or whatever else they asked for. At least twice when Yujin walked away from Master, he smacked her ass. On the third attempt, she purposefully moved out of reach before his hand could make contact.
She wasn't going to be able to handle this much longer. But the couple had a habit of making things up as they went along, and Yujin was scared they might refuse to pay her if she left before the end of their holiday.
And so she tolerated their behavior.
For a time, it seemed the young Master was actually the least terrible of the three. He bothered Yujin less than his parents, disappearing off into the woodland surrounding the house to explore. His mother had hinted to Yujin he wasn't to wander off too far, and at first Yujin had been reluctant to allow it. But it bought her so much peace having the boy out of her hair, and from what she could knew, there were no dangers in the woods. It wasn't like the kid's mom noticed how much he frequented the woods; she was too busy lounging around inside, drunk most of the time.
But then came the day when Yujin couldn't find the kid anywhere. She'd checked the woods herself to no avail, not that that necessarily meant anything; no doubt he'd go in further than her, to hidden areas Yujin's limited exploration had never led her to.
He was usually back by now. It was nearing dinner time, which in itself was often incentive for him to return.
Yujin put it out of her head and went about preparing the meal, some complex thing Mistress expected her to make. She had lost track of where Master was. As long as he didn't grope her while she moved around the kitchen, she didn't care.
Pretty soon, a nice aroma filled the kitchen, and Yujin realized when she left the room, the entire house. Maybe it would waft outside and entice the young Master back. She only hoped nothing had happened to him. Not only would she probably be paid less if it had, she genuinely didn't want the boy to get hurt- even if he was an obnoxious brat.
Footsteps above her head suggested someone was on the second floor. It was always possible it was Master, but Yujin hoped it might be the kid.
“Dinner is almost ready!” she called from the bottom of the stairs.
Yujin waited for a response but none came. With a sigh, she went back into the kitchen to finish up. She was there for only a few minutes when she could make out the unmistakable sound of someone falling down the stairs.
Yujin immediately ran out of the room, fearing the worst. It was most likely that one of the adults had fallen after having a little too much to drink. Maybe after this, Yujin would have to cut them off by a certain number of beverages, although she couldn't imagine either being agreeable to that- especially Mistress.
She was greeted by a very different sight at the bottom of the stairs. Not only was Master lying there in an unnatural position from where he had clearly fallen, his body had been impaled on what appeared to be some sort of animal trap. The sharp, razor edges were deep enough to penetrate him a good few inches in his side.
He groaned, hazily looking up at Yujin, who screamed.
Her mind couldn't make sense of the scene. Where had the trap some from? Who put it at the bottom of the stairs?
“Wow, that was funny.”
Yujin stopped screaming, only from the shock of hearing a familiar voice.
The brat stood at the top of the stairs, eyes alight with mischief. While Yujin's attempts to entertain him always failed, he smiled widely now, utterly thrilled by what he had done to his father.
Before she could help herself, Yujin started screaming again. Terrified, she ran from the boy, heading towards the landline in the kitchen to call for help.
Deep down, she had always known there was something wrong with the young Master but given him excuses in her head. He was just in that phase kids went through- when they decided to be terrible, just because they could. Or even that he was just lashing out, feeling some sort of neglect from his self-absorbed parents.
Even if that was the case, there was no excuse for this. He was a monster.
As if to further prove her point, the young Master shouted with delight from the other room.
“I found it outside! Isn't it great?”
Yujin's fingers trembled over the phone as she made the call for help. She distantly wondered where Mistress was but didn't dwell on it, not while this was more demanding of her attention. She was halfway through explaining what had happened to the woman on the other end when the young Master stepped into the room.
There was blood on his hands. Had he touched his father? Had he... hurt him even more?
But that wasn't all. Inexplicably, the boy was suddenly clutching a pair a gardening shears, poised and ready to attack.
“Please hurry!” Yujin cried into the phone before dropping it. It hung by the cord, swinging from side to side over the counter as the operator worriedly asked if everything was all right.
The young Master crossed the distance that separated them, cocking his head to one side.
“You're no fun.”
While he had adopted one of his more dead-eyed expressions, at Yujin's panic, a smile spread across his lips.
“Should we play, Yujin?”
Seized with terror, Yujin sank to the floor. From the look on the young Master's face, he had never felt more alive.
Whatever this game was, it seemed he liked it a lot.
“Where the fuck are you?” Sangwoo demanded, scouring the room.
Not being in control of a situation was bad enough. It pissed him off even more knowing in this case, it was his own fault.
Finally, he found his keys by the front door, on the floor of all places. He figured they must have fallen out of his pocket at some point.
Sangwoo had just barely snatched them up when someone knocked. It was annoying. He had a shift at the cafe, one he was already late to. It was also weird. Very rarely did anyone knock on the door. People hardly even walked through this neighborhood. Sangwoo was only one of a few inhabitants. A serious of violent break-ins had sent pretty much everyone packing a few years ago.
Sangwoo shoved his keys in his jean's pocket and yanked the door open. He was less than impressed to find his weirdo neighbor staring back at him.
Upon seeing Sangwoo, the little freak's eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.
Sangwoo couldn't imagine what this was about. He'd long since been aware of the guy's presence, mainly because every time Sangwoo noticed him, his neighbor was staring at him. If Sangwoo cleaned his car, he would look up and see him across the street, staring. If he came back from work, there was this creep, staring. Collect his mail? There was this freak show. Staring.
Still, he'd never actually approached Sangwoo before. And naturally, Sangwoo had never approached him- though he'd thought about walking over once or twice when the staring got a bit much and demanding to know what the fuck the weirdo was gawking at.
Except he knew. Sangwoo was a good looking guy. He was always working out, always wearing outfits that flattered him best. He kept up with his grooming and all that shit. The only downside was, it didn't always attract the right kind of attention.
“Yes?” He thought maybe if he didn't say anything, the guy never would. He'd been staring at him for at least half a minute in complete silence, eyes bugging out like he couldn't believe Sangwoo was real- or perhaps that he was so close to him.
Sangwoo's voice snapped the guy out of whatever daze he'd fallen into.
“Hello, I'm your neighbor.”
“Yeah, no shit. And what do you want, neighbor? I'm kind of in a hurry.”
Honestly, Sangwoo didn't feel like going to work today but it wasn't like he wanted to hang around and have this encounter instead. He was tired from going out last night but at least at the cafe, he didn't have to deal with this shit.
The guy had never followed him to work. So there was that, at least. Sangwoo was only confident of that since he always noticed the guy from the force of his stare. No way he wouldn't notice that at work. Right?
The guy smiled, looking so very pleased just to be talking to Sangwoo.
“That's too bad, I was hoping to talk with you about something.”
It was so ridiculous, Sangwoo laughed silently, shoulders shaking with the action.
“Yeah, thanks but no thanks. I'm busy, so if you could just-”
“Sangwoo.” The creep's smile stretched wider. “It's really important.”
What the fuck could be so important? Sangwoo could only stare as he wondered. They had nothing to do with each other, outside of being neighbors. But that didn't mean anything. He was under no obligation to speak with this guy.
“I'm Bum, by the way. Yoon Bum.”
“Great. And I'm late, so if you'd kindly get the fuck out of my wa-”
“I know something,” Bum blurted out. He looked excited, downright giddy even. Sangwoo eyed him warily, unsure how much weight to give his words.
“Okay? Guess what I know? That I'm about to walk away. From you.” Sangwoo brushed past him, purposefully knocking against the guy's shoulder. Bum was pretty much as short as they came and from what he could tell, a bit on the skinny side. He was completely undeterred by Sangwoo knocking into him. Annoyingly, he followed Sangwoo down the steps.
“Before you go, I have something you might want to see.”
Sangwoo sighed, dramatically. When he turned around, Bum looked as delighted as ever.
What the hell was this?
He noticed the phone in Bum's hand, though he kept it downcast. Was that what he had to show Sangwoo, something on his phone?
He almost laughed at the thought of his weird neighbor coming over with some funny animal video, demanding he watch it. It could be the truth- Bum didn't exactly radiate sane.
Seeing Sangwoo eyeing his phone, Bum held it up. He walked closer, so Sangwoo could see it better.
At what he saw on the screen, Sangwoo could feel his own expression change. Instinctively, he grabbed Bum's arm. While Bum let out a cry of surprise, curiously, his lips pulled into a deeply pleased smile as Sangwoo's grip tightened around his bony arm.
“What the fuck?” Sangwoo all but hissed.
He leaned down so his face hung over Bum's, hoping to intimidate him. But the little freak just smiled like this was exactly what he wanted.
Sangwoo came to his senses. It was a quiet street but people still passed by, on occasion. He didn't have neighbors on either side of him but there were more people across the street, alongside Bum. This wasn't a conversation Sangwoo wanted any of them to hear.
Holding fast to Bum's arm, he headed inside, dragging the little snake behind him. Only when they were in did he let Bum go, and only to shove him against the door. Sangwoo pressed in close, glowering.
“What are you playing at?” Sangwoo was surprised by how level his voice sounded but knew if Bum ticked him off any further, he'd lose it.
He had completely forgotten about being late to work. With this kind of threat, something as insignificant as his job at the cafe didn't matter at all.
Bum beamed, apparently unconcerned for Sangwoo pinning him against the door.
Could he not see how outmatched he was? Was he an idiot?
He has that video. He has the upper hand.
The thought made Sangwoo grit his teeth. He'd be damned if someone just swooped in and did this to him. He would have the upper hand again.
“You don't have to be scared,” Bum practically cooed at him, like Sangwoo was a god damn baby and not twice his fucking size. Like he couldn't destroy Bum, if he wanted to. And god, he wanted to. He would, if Bum forced his hand.
“I haven't shared it with anyone and I won't. At least, not if you do what I say.”
“Let me see it again,” Sangwoo demanded. “Give me your phone!”
Unfazed, Bum handed it to him. Sangwoo hit play and felt a myriad of emotions watching the video.
Somehow, it appeared to be captured from within the basement, from some raised surface, angled downward. There was last night's hunt on the floor, screaming- the video had also captured the audio. Sangwoo stepped into frame, standing behind her. He grabbed her by the hair, lifted up her head and slit her throat. The video was a green-ish night-vision color so the blood wasn't red, although there was no denying what it was. It was a high quality video. At one point, when the woman struggled against Sangwoo, attempting to cover her throat to stop the blood flow, Sangwoo turned his head just the right way for the camera to capture his face. Even high quality, it wasn't the clearest image of him but still identifiable.
Sangwoo realized the video went on for a lot longer and dragged his finger along the timeline to see just how much it had captured.
It was all there. Not only the murder but Sangwoo dismembering the body and cleaning the basement afterwards.
He knew nothing about Bum besides the fact that there was clearly something wrong with him. Despite whatever smarts it took to get this video, Sangwoo was hoping he was dumb enough to only have one copy. He hit the trashcan button and was about to confirm he would like to delete it when a strange sound came out of Bum. Off Sangwoo's questioning look, he explained, “That's not the only one. I'm not an idiot, you know.”
“No,” Sangwoo agreed quietly, looking down. He deleted the video anyway because it made him feel better. He could feel Bum watching him, waiting for his next move. Sangwoo waited long enough so that it seemed like he might not have one- then, he wrapped his hands around Bum's throat.
“But you are dead,” he said, body vibrating with the same sort of pleasure it did whenever he threw someone down the basement stairs. It felt even better in this instance, knowing he was punishing this person had personally wronged him.
It was satisfying to finally wipe the smile off the little creep's face. Sangwoo tightened his hold around him, easily fitting both hands around his scrawny neck and squeezing. He lifted him off the floor and Bum's feet scrambled for purchase. He lost one of his shoes in the struggle, and Sangwoo wondered what the hell he'd thought would happen when he came over here, knowing what he knew.
It was going to be so easy to end the life of a weak little thing like him. Sangwoo drank in the fearful look in Bum's eyes and tightened his hold, to the point where horrid wheezing sounds escaped Bum while he struggled to get in some air.
Sangwoo didn't expect to have this sudden chance to kill, and he supposed in a way he could thank Bum for that. He was more than sated with last night but this was a nice dessert Bum had added to his already delectable dinner.
But he had questions, questions no one could answer if Bum was dead. Like how the hell had he gotten inside Sangwoo's basement without him noticing? And what exactly did he want in exchange for silence?
With an irritated sigh, Sangwoo let him go, allowing Bum to drop to the floor.
For the longest time, he just made ugly, wheezing sounds. When he finally managed to catch his breath, he said pretty much the last thing Sangwoo would have expected him to say.
Wow. Fucking... wow?
Bum laughed at whatever expression Sangwoo held- deep confusion, if he had to guess.
Sangwoo nudged him with his shoe. “Explain. Or that video's getting a sequel.”
Delighted, Bum jumped to his feet. He had sprung back a little too fast for someone who'd just about had their windpipe crushed. There was some very visible bruising around his neck, yet he looked unconcerned.
Bum's eyes skittered over Sangwoo's face like he couldn't decide which feature he wanted to look at most. It was the same excited energy he'd had since he'd first come over, even now Sangwoo had attempted to kill him.
“What would you like to know?”
“Why don't you start with why the fuck there's a camera in my basement?”
Bum looked very pleased with himself hearing that. Yet when he answered, he acted coy, like it was no big deal at all.
“I sort of tried a bunch of combinations before I got your number right.”
Bum gestured to the door, delighted. “The code.”
He had just worked his way through a bunch of different combinations until he'd been able to open the door? That shit must have taken forever. What kind of loser spent all his time doing that kind of thing?
“It took awhile,” Bum said, a weird, high-pitched giggle coming out of him. Like it was some kind of joke only he understood.
Sangwoo rolled his eyes, hoping to accurately convey the disgust he felt in that moment.
“I was just going to look around but when I found the basement... I noticed some blood on the floor. Not a lot but it got me thinking...”
Sangwoo folded his arms over his chest, annoyed. It was taking everything in him to hold back and listen to Bum. What he really wanted was to snap his neck like a twig. Feeling how delicate he was, with just a little more pressure, he bet he could do it. It'd make such a satisfying snap...
Bum went on to say, “It made me think of all the times I've seen things that don't... add up. I'm not even sure how many girls I've seen go with you into your house only to never see them again. It made me think that maybe... just maybe, this was where it ended for them.”
Sangwoo narrowed his eyes slightly. Bum's reaction to learning his neighbor killed people was awfully casual. Most people would have something to say about such a thing.
Bum was not only not scared, he seemed entertained by the idea of Sangwoo murdering women.
Beaming, Bum said, “It's a live feed. Only I get the output, if you're wondering. I would never share it with anyone else. Well, I will, actually, that's what I came to talk to you about. But all you have to do is one small thing for me and I won't tell anyone, I swear.”
Two could play this game Bum was playing.
Grinning, Sangwoo leaned casually on the wall, less concerned the more he considered the facts.
“That's where you're wrong, Bum. See, the thing is, you might have some little videos of me, but at the end of the day, when I dispose of you, all that goes away. Since you let yourself into my house- which, is really rude, by the way- I don't think I'll have any trouble doing the same to you. I'm guessing the videos are on your computer or phone? I'll smash all of it. There, no more videos, problem solved.”
Bum was still smiling, which was annoying. Didn't he get it? He had lost.
“Oh, and I forgot to mention; I won't only smash your devices, I'll smash your face in too.” Sangwoo laughed. “Maybe I'll make my own video with your camera when I cut up your body. That'd be kind of ironic, right?”
Bum tilted his head to the side. His smile had lessened but it was still there. He was a real idiot if Sangwoo's threat hadn't rattled him in the slightest.
“You don't understand, Sangwoo, that won't help. I have a system in place.”
“Pretty much what will happen is that this video- and all the other footage I have of you I haven't shown you- will be sent to the police.”
Sangwoo blinked. “Other footage?” He grinned. “Hah, as if. You don't have shit.”
“Well, none of it is as incriminating as this video here,” Bum said, touching the phone still in Sangwoo's grasp, despite the fact that the video had been deleted. Although Sangwoo supposed if Bum was being truthful, it wasn't really gone.
“But it paints quite the picture. I have videos of you with women who later disappeared. That's a bit suspicious, isn't it?” Bum made an expression of mock confusion, pouting his lips. “Strange all those women disappeared right after they went into Oh Sangwoo's house.” He cocked his head to the side, smirking. “I wonder if this Sangwoo character knows anything about it.”
Sangwoo could scarcely remember a time he was rendered speechless.
Bum was absolutely insane. What kind of person did something like this?
“You broke into my house,” he pointed out.
Bum threw his head back and laughed. Sangwoo had to admit, it was a pretty dumb thing to say. But that just pissed him off. Bum in general pissed him off.
“A small crime compared to yours.”
“If you're dead, that footage isn't going anywhere.”
“I'm good with computers, Sangwoo.” Bum beamed with pride. “It's my job, actually.”
“So what, even if you're dead in the ground, that video will go out?”
“That and all the others, yes.” Bum pursed his lips. “I'm sorry if that upsets you.”
Sangwoo snapped. He could only take so much.
He slammed Bum into the wall, holding his forearm over his throat. He didn't press firmly enough to cut off all the creep's air, but enough to serve as a warning.
“You have no idea who you're dealing with, you sick fuck.”
Bum's smile was somehow fond at that.
“You're wrong. I know everything about you.”
Sangwoo eased off a little but kept his arm in place. He glowered while Bum went on to share everything he knew about him. What shifts Sangwoo usually worked and for how long- and, to Sangwoo's surprise, where he worked. The university where Sangwoo had studied and the names of some of his friends. Which of those friends he still kept in contact with and even when he had last met up with one in particular- down to the hour it transpired. Where he was conscripted. Where he liked to go to eat. The places he went to find victims. Hell, even the type of crackers he liked.
By the end of it, Sangwoo could only stare in shock. He'd heard of crazed stalkers but Bum was on an all other level. Who the hell knew this stuff about a total stranger?
Because it seemed to be the only way out of this, Sangwoo asked what the little freak was dying to hear.
“What do you want?”
Bum leaned into the words like a flower leaning towards the sun.
“I want... you to have sex with me.”
Sangwoo stepped away from him, disgusted.
Bum's smile was almost shy then. Almost but not quite; the type of person who demanded such a thing was in no way shy. They couldn't be.
He really is sick.
“I'm not going to have sex with you! I'm not into guys, you little freak. You're disgusting.”
He expected more of a reaction from Bum but his smile remained in place, only lessening a fraction.
“I know your preference is girls, Sangwoo. But maybe you'll like it! I-I could wear a nice dress, maybe even a wig! It won't be so bad.”
Sangwoo couldn't believe it. What kind of fucked up person was Bum?
“I've got a better idea,” he growled, covering Bum like a shadow. “What if I throw you in the basement, hm? And while I'm at it, what if I slit your throat?”
Bum considered it like it was an actual option, curling out his bottom lip and rolling his eyes up. After deliberating, he shook his head.
“That won't do it. The footage will still be sent to the police. By the way, don't take the camera down. If you do, I'll send the footage. And we don't want that happening, do we, Sangwoo?”
Sangwoo huffed in frustrated. It was pissing him off so much. He just wanted to smash Bum's skull in but supposedly if that happened, he would be found out.
He had been so careful with everything only for Bum to come and ruin it. It was so unfair.
Bum pet his arm, offering a sympathetic expression. It seemed genuine but that was a laugh. He was the one doing this, after all.
Sangwoo couldn't even bring himself to push Bum away. He was just so damn angry. His mind raced trying to find a solution while Bum gave him a doe-eyed look, hand gently brushing against Sangwoo's arm.
What he'd said rattled around in Sangwoo's brain- putting a dress and wig on him. The little freak was somewhat on the feminine side already, at least in that he had delicate features. Looking at him, he was clearly a man, but a small, delicate one.
Except, Sangwoo had no interest in fucking guys. Hell, he didn't even kill them. Women were the object of his desires when it came to most things.
Of course, he'd gladly make an exception for Bum, but only to murder him.
“So what do you say?”
Sangwoo considered the little pervert, touching him like he had any right to. He wouldn't be surprised if this whole thing was getting him off. Clearly, he was into some messed up shit.
While dealing this was definitely more important, Sangwoo couldn't help but think of the cafe. If he didn't make it in, he at least needed to call soon.
“Well?” Bum prompted.
God, he was way too pushy. Sangwoo shoved him off.
“No. I'm not doing that, jesus. What's the matter with you?”
Bum sighed as though it pained him. “Then I guess you'll be going to prison. It's a shame.. I'm sure you'll be able to hold your own there.” He looked appreciatively to Sangwoo's body. It made him sick.
“But there are men even stronger than you, and they come in numbers. A whole gang of them against you.. I wonder how long you'll be able to hold out.”
Sangwoo glowered at him, annoyed for the visuals. But he imagined along as Bum said it, going so far as picturing himself in a jumpsuit.
“I've heard of those sort of things happening,” Bum continued. “It's terrible, but people don't sympathize with criminals. The guards will probably even allow it, and why not? They're not going to feel bad for someone who's killed women. How many women is it, exactly? I've been curious about that. Well in any case, if you're not eager to be the one to put it in me, I reeeally don't think you'll enjoy multiple men putting it in you, over and over again.” Bum grinned then, eyes alight. “Or maybe you will like it. Maybe that's what you want. What you need...” He cackled. “I guess I should release the footage then, huh?”
“No,” Sangwoo grit out.
He'd been around a lot of annoying people before and had to reign himself in then. Idiots in class, loud, obnoxious customers. He had imagined all the things he would do to them and it had helped, a little. But sometimes, his hands just itched to inflict pain.
Right now, it was taking everything in him not to completely destroy Bum.
The difference with Bum was that he knew Sangwoo was a killer. He had the proof and here he was, taunting him, knowing full well what Sangwoo could do to him.
He's completely insane.
“No?” Bum grinned, delighted. “Well how about this. I'll leave now and you can think about it. You're late to work, which isn't good.”
Was he kidding? Whose fault was that?
“I'll come back tomorrow and you can tell me what you've decided.” Bum's smile softened. “I hope you make the right decision.”
Sangwoo scoffed. He was moving to open the door without another thought. Annoyingly, Bum laughed as he pushed him through it.
“See you tomor-”
Sangwoo slammed the door in his face.