Chapter 9

Fallen Leaves

Thursday, June 19th, 2014


Areum’s cracked her eyes open slightly, scanning the surrounding darkness through the small slits between her eyelids. She felt a dull ache in the back of her head, but her neck and shoulders were supported by something warm and firm. Recounting her recent memories, she gasped before bolting upwards, only to be met with a searing pain in her side. “Don’t get up, it’ll only hurt more.” A male voice spoke right next to her ear. Areum’s thoughts were clouded, and she found herself incapable of forming coherent thoughts or sentences. “Jongdae?” She muttered, closing her eyes again in an attempt to block out the persistent pain. Areum felt her mind slipping into oblivion again, sensing nothing but her muddled thoughts that were circulating in her brain.


“Hey, are you still awake?” Jongdae worriedly prodded her arm. He was sitting with his back pressed to a wall, as it was the only open space for them.


“What is this?” Areum poked the surface that her head was resting on, still in a state of slumber.


“That’s my thigh.” He deadpanned.


“Oh. Thanks for being my pillow.” Areum murmured, struggling to pull herself into a sitting position. If she had been in her regular state of mind, she might have pulled away from him in an instant, but she couldn't find the strength nor conscience to do so at the moment. After much struggle she managed to cross her legs and sit up right, she leaning back on the cement wall next to the male. “I assume that I was unconscious during most of the action, right?”


“Well, to keep it short, the dome caved in, you were almost crushed by a boulder, but you avoided it. You hit you head and passed out, and I tried to get you out but the entrance was blocked off. You have a huge cut on your waist, in case you didn’t notice.” He explained tiredly, lazily brushing off some dust that clung to his black jeans.


Areum looked down to see a thin strip of cloth wrapped around her torso, the red-brown pigment of blood splotched across it. “Are you injured? And where did you get the cloth?” Areum finally found herself coming to her senses, piecing the puzzling situation together despite her throbbing head. “I’m fine, and I used my part of my shirt.” He pulled on the jagged hem of his white shirt that was now torn to reveal a strip of his waist. “You should calm down; I don’t think it’s in either of our interests for you to pass out again.” He suggested, running a hand through his messy brown hair.


“How long have we been here?” Areum asked abruptly.


“My phone said that it was Thursday morning like thirty minutes ago, but it kind of died. So I don’t know anymore.”


“So you’re telling me that we came here last night, and we’ve been stuck in here for over seven hours?” Areum shrieked, feeling her blood pressure rise with every word.


“Look, I tried to call or do something but there’s no reception!” Jongdae exclaimed.


“Oh my god, my aunt is going to be kill me. I’m already in trouble, this is not going to help at all. Actually, we’re probably going to die in here before she even gets the chance to kill me.” Areum rocked back and forth, cradling her legs in between her arms. She whimpered as a pang of hunger attacked her stomach, her abdomen clenching in response.


“No, stop thinking like that! We have to use our brain; how do you think other people survived tough situations? At least be thankful that we're alive right now!” He snapped.


Areum flinched at his uncharacteristic harshness, but realized that he must be just as stressed-if not more-as he had been forced to take care of her for several hours alone.


“I’m sorry. I’m just not used to this kind of stuff.” She apologized, avoiding his eyes.


“It’s fine. I shouldn’t have yelled at you. Your head must still hurt a lot, am I right?” He patted her hand.


“It’s getting better, but I think our first priority is to find an escape route.” She responded.


“I was thinking that we could move the masses of soil and rocks that were blocking the exit, but I’m scared that any movement could trigger another cave-in.” He motioned to the opening to the dome that was once wide open, but was now completely blocked off by massive chunks of rocks and soil. The cave that was once beautifully illuminated by the soft glow of the moon through the hole in the ceiling was now littered with dust and debris. It was difficult navigate through, as large boulders stood in the way every few feet.


“If we started from the top of the pile, that would prevent any further disruption of the structure.” Areum pondered.


“How do you expect us to get up there? The pile is over fifteen feet tall.” Jongdae inquired, eyeing the messy tower of soil and stones. 


“We could climb.”


“There’s no way you’re climbing up there with that huge gash.” He stated.


“I could handle myself.” Areum retorted, crossing her arms over her chest in defiance.


Jongdae sighed. “Let me rephrase that: there is no way I will allow an injured person to engage in rigorous rock climbing. Especially when we have no access to any medical treatment.”


“But do we really have a choice?” She asked, meeting him with a gaze filled with resolve.


Jongdae groaned at her stubbornness, throwing his head back to stare up at the thinned out ceiling. “How is it even intact at this point?” He mumbled.


“Don’t bring that up, it might cave in fully and crush us to death.” Areum exclaimed, intentionally avoiding looking at the unstable roofing. 

After ten minutes of bickering, debating, and gloomy discussion, Areum found herself watching in anticipation as Jongdae scaled up the pile of rocks. “If I can just manage to make an opening, we can slip through.” He muttered to himself. Both of them gasped when he lost his footing on a rather smoothed out boulder, almost slamming down onto the floor again. Fortunately, Jongdae was able to grab a steady hold on another rock, using it as support as he pulled himself up again. “So, tell me about your family.” He said, still looking upwards to find his next stepping point.


“Is this really the time?” Areum raised an eyebrow.


“Yes, talking helps me focus in these types of physically stressful situations.” He responded quickly. “And what better time to get to know each other than now?”


“I live with my mom, and of course I’m staying with my aunt this summer.” Areum stated, responding to his initial question.


“Dad not in the picture, I’m guessing?” He asked cautiously.


Areum paused for a moment, looking down at her feet. “How did you know?”


“The power of observation and deduction, I guess.” He turned around to look at her for a moment, smiling gently. When she didn’t make a move to continue the conversation, he spoke again. “You know, if only this pile was by the hole in the roof. We could have climbed up and stuck our phones through there to get reception.” He chuckled, a slight dimple forming in his cheek.


“I bet that would make an amazing news headline.” Areum laughed, her mood lifting with the light humor.


A comfortable silence settled in between them, as Jongdae continued his task of scaling the mounds while Areum watched in anticipation. “I feel so useless.” She muttered.


“If you tried to climb and injured yourself and bled to death, then you would be more useless.” Jongdae deadpanned.


“I could publish a short story about this; the tale of the two teenagers who just wanted some adventure in their lives, but ended up paying for it.” She pondered absentmindedly, kicking the small stones on the floor. They skidded across the cement, coming to a stop at the base of a boulder.


“I think I can make an opening, Areum!” Jongdae exclaimed, disrupting her one-person game of soccer. His hand was resting on a boulder almost the size of his own body at the top most peak of the pile. It almost touched the ceiling, which meant that if it were to be dislodged, nothing else would be disturbed.


“You have to do it, there’s no other option.” Areum answered.


Jongdae nodded, his hand trembling with slight anxiety. Slowly but surely, he began to pull on the boulder. It shifted an inch, arousing a few specs of duct to fall to the floor. “Areum, stand back. It might fall on you.” He said, looking down at her.


Not wasting any time, Areum cautiously took a few steps back until her back hit the wall, still watching his tedious movements like a hawk.


“Almost out…” Jongdae huffed. It was clear that the intensive activity had started to wear him out, as his hands were red, and the veins in his arms were protruding more than usual. With one final heave, the massive stone was freed from it’s captivity between two other rocks, and plummeted to the ground. Jongdae barely avoided being taken down with it, twisting his body to the side to cling onto another rock. The boulder fell to the ground, almost creating an earthquake in the cave. It left a trail of dust and ejected particles around it’s radius, temporarily blocking Areum’s view.


“There’s an opening, but you have to climb up here.” Jongdae announced, peeking through the small gap where the boulder had once been wedged.


“Operation one: ‘Create escape route’ is completed.” She spoke to herself. 


Areum pushed herself off from the wall before taking a deep breath. If she was able to succeed in an intense game of basketball, she most certainly was capable of doing this. 


“Operation two: ‘Perform escape’ in progress.”

Hello my dear Daedae stans! Thank you all for reading my fic, and for commenting your wonderful thoughts on it. This is my first multi-chaptered Chen fanfic, so I hope that you guys are enjoying it so far! As you can see, this is going to be a mix of fluff and drama, and probably about 30 chapters long (almost a third of the way through!!!). So thank you to those who continuously support this story, and stay awesome!



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