Lilith opened her eyes in a daze.
She fell asleep on the white tables in the committee room. The clock showed that it is a little past ten in the night. It was pitch black outside.
After that accident, everything was chaotic. Lilith felt as if she was a ball, bouncing around when hit. She was dragged to the hospital to dress her wounds and was interrogated (in which she offered no good information since she was in a shock).
She remembered that Jorn offered to take her home, but he asked to collect something in this room first. They took a taxi here, and as Jorn collected his belongings, Lilith fell asleep. Maybe it’s the accumulated fatigue that caused her to fall into a long sleep without knowing.
Lilith slowly rose up, aching all over.
Grandmother must be worried sick…
As she thought of a reason to tell her grandma why she’s late, Vich’s burnt face flashed in her head. Her tears welled.
Vich is dead…
By the hands of the Shadow Vigilante…
Ariya and Vakin…killed Vich…
“Are you awake?”
Jorn entered the room. He looked as exhausted as she was, but still smiled.
“Are you alright? Can you stand?”
His gentle expression and warm words broke Lilith’s dams. She held onto his sleeves and cried.
“Jorn, it’s all my fault!”
It’s my fault…Because of me, it turned out like this…
“I didn’t kill Vich, but it’s like I did. If I told him the truth, it won’t turn out this way!”
“Calm down, Lilith. Vich died of an accident…”
Lilith cried like a baby and Jorn had to comfort her.
“No! It wasn’t an accident! The Shadow Vigilante killed Vich!”
“How can that be? True, Vich liked to impose on people, but nobody would hold a grudge to the point of killing him.”
“It’s not a grudge…the Shadow Vigilante acts according to the petitions. I saw…a petition that said that guy with the committee pin liked to impose others, so the Shadow Vigilante killed Vich.”
Lilith gritted her teeth and let the words out.
“Ariya…Ariya is the Shadow Vigilante!”
Jorn was shocked, just like Lilith was.
When it came to this, Lilith told him everything: how Ariya and Vakin knew each other and cooperated in a strange experiment at the west wing.
When she finished, Jorn nodded to her calmly.
“I understand. We need to fire Ariya from the committee. Lilith, can you testify his lack of qualifications?”
Lilith nodded and filled a form Jorn handed to her. She wrote that Ariya performed an experiment that was against the university’s regulations, thus should not be a member of the student committee.
…She should’ve done this from the start, huh?
“I can’t believe Ariya is a two-faced bastard. Friends like this should be cut off from your life, don’t you think?” Jorn spoke with detestment.
Lilith stared quietly at the form in her hands.
“I can’t forgive him…for what he did to Vich…”
“But…I will not let Ariya be alone.” She said.
Jorn’s voice came out odd. No wonder he was surprised, but Lilith made her decision.
“I can’t let Vich’s death slide, but nobody is perfect. Everyone had done something wrong, and all of us have our good and bad sides. Those sides are a part of us. To only look at the good and ignore the bad is no different from running away.”
“So Lilith, you accept Ariya and his wrongdoings?”
“No, what is wrong is still wrong. Still, it’s not like we cannot go back to fix it. I am wrong for running away, and because of that everyone is in trouble. I don’t want to run away anymore.”
Suddenly, Jorn grabbed Lilith’s shoulders, trying to call her common sense back.
“Think carefully, Lilith. A single rotten fish makes the whole lot stink. If you’re with someone filthy like him, you will become filthy too.”
Vakin once said Ariya had a rabbit hole in his heart.
It must be a dark, scary, labyrinthine hole… There is no way somebody would want to step inside, but if left as is, Ariya will be the only one stuck in that hole.
How…can I let Ariya be the only one who gets dirty?
“Because we are friends, to abandon him and keep my hands clean… I cannot do that.”
“Stop! Take your words back, Lilith!”
The force that seized her shoulders made her wince, and she looked up at Jorn.
“Wrong is wrong!!! Why are you sympathizing with that bastard!?! The guilty should die, that is true justice!!!”
Jorn yelled furiously, his voice overflowing with disgust. His actions send fear burrowing through Lilith’s spine, and she unconsciously took a step back.
“J…Jorn….are you okay?”
“Why? Why are you defending him???”
The face of the man Lilith knew was no more. Empty eyes, taut brows, twisted mouth…
“Why? Why? Why why why why????”
Was this man in front of her…really Jorn?
Suddenly, Jorn’s hands grabbed hold of her throat.
“Why, mom? Why are you defending that bastard? Why did you abandon me and dad?”
Lilith tried to pry his hands apart, the hands of an upperclassman she once looked up to, but could not compare to his strength. She felt suffocated, before her vision went dark. Lilith asked over and over in confusion.
“Don’t worry, mom. Soon…I will cleanse this filthy world in dad’s stead.”
I get it, the real Shadow Vigilante is…
Cold wind slammed into her face, and Lilith opened her eyes.
Rough grass was beneath her. When her eyes adjusted to the dark, she saw the dense angel’s trumpet foliage looming above. This was the abandoned west side, with the horizon dimly visible above the trees.
Lilith tried to stand, but a plastic rope bind her wrist to an angel’s trumpet trunk. She tried to pull free, but it was to no avail.
Then, there were rustlings of leaves. The white bells moved from someone’s motion. Lilith thought it was Paeng-foon out of habit, but the tall figure that emerged from the dark sent fear crawling down her back.
The figure loomed above Lilith. His hands held a dirty shovel. Lilith wailed.
“Jorn…why? Why are you doing this?”
“Sometimes, justice and mercy cannot coincide, Lilith. Because no one took care of it completely, the world got into this rotten state.”
Jorn answered with a low voice. Lilith stared at him with hurtful eyes.
“But no one saw that petition…besides Ariya and me, right? Then why do you…?”
“Oh, that petition…Ariya came to consult me, because he saw that it was inappropriate. I am disappointed in Vich and Ariya, but they deserved it.”
Jorn was the Shadow Vigilante.
Ariya selected petitions because it was his duty, but the one who acted out was all Jorn. When it turned out this way, Lilith didn’t know whether she should feel glad that Ariya wasn’t the culprit, or feel sad about Jorn…
She wept silently.
“Why are you crying? Do you feel sad for that Ariya?”
Jorn’s eyes stared deep into hers, those black pupils coated with malice until there was nothing else to be seen.
“Lilith, you’re just like my mom. She cheated on dad, but she said she was innocent. Do you know what she said when she asked for a divorce, because she was pregnant with another guy? She said ‘no matter what, I will not stop seeing him.’ She said it right in front of me, intending for me to hear! It was as if she wanted to tell me: a child born from a man she didn’t love is just a worthless piece of trash.”
Jorn spoke nonchalantly, maybe because his mind shattered since that day.
“I…am so sorry…”
“So, dad cleanse that female hog by blowing its head with a bullet. Hu hu…ha ha ha! Serves it right.”
Lilith shivered, her words of sympathy stuck in her throat.
“But don’t worry, Lilith, you still have a chance.”
Jorn’s smiled was twisted. “Remember what I told you? Because it’s you, Lilith, I will forgive you. So say it. Say that you will stop seeing Ariya. Say it. If you will not repent for your mistake, then die after him.”
Die..after him? Don’t tell me…
“You…you killed Ariya!?!”
“Ha ha, not yet, but…a worm like him should be rotting in the filthy soil right now.”
“That is the ‘justice’ that you gave him, huh?”
A mocking voice echoed in the forest, as a tall young man in a lab coat wade through the trees. The newcomer had a blank expression, like someone just passing by, contradictory to the situation.
“I think that guy does not consider death a punishment, don’t you think?”
As soon as Jorn turned around, she saw a silver handgun tucked to his belt. He pointed it at Vakin without hesitation.
Even though a gun was to his head, the young man stood still.
“Huh? You want to use this to deliver the final verdict, Mr. Shadow Vigilante?”
Jorn’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Yeah, I know it too well. I watched…no, I observed you. I am very interested in your twisted logic, and thus want to know how far you will take…your fake justice to.”
“Shut up! An outcast like you understand nothing about justice!” Jorn howled.
But Vakin smirked as if he was complimented.
“I don’t understand it. I only got interested in how people will escape your vigilant ways, but too bad that people these days do not want to change anything unless it troubled them. Oh, but at least there is one person struggling foolishly over here.”
Those scornful eyes rested on Lilith.
“But it’s over. The police will be on you very soon.”
“Liar! Don’t try to scare me! I don’t believe you!”
“Hmph, you think you’re so smart, using that phone as a trigger? The phone on the bombing site was just a red herring. Actually, you changed the sim card on your phone, pretended to accept a call, and triggered the bombs without anyone noticing. You made a mistake killing that vice president. Because this girl interfered, you had to change your plans. I’m guessing you used your own phone to call and trigger the bomb inside your car? If the police had a hunch about this, they would know who the culprit is.”
“You…” Jorn’s hand shook, his eyes turned into saucers.
“What are you waiting for? If you want to shoot, shoot.”
“But…you can’t kill me.”
Lilith didn’t know where he got the confidence to poke on Jorn’s nerves, but his words made Jorn hesitate.
“Then…I will make it easier for you.”
Tens of white papers rained down from Vakin’s hands.
‘Kick that black sheep out!!!’
‘That jerk Vakin Rattananurakwong is annoying! Do something about him!’
‘Vakin, med student, acts sneaky and weird.’
Jorn held his breath as he saw those petitions.
“A petition is more than enough reason to kill me, no?”
“What are you thinking, Vakin? Are you trying to get yourself killed!?!”
Lilith panicked, but the other party shrugged.
“I am in the audience for so long, I just want to become an actor too.”
His smirk was overflowing with malice.
“But, by killing me, are you handing down your verdict? Or are you just destroying evidence?”
Jorn was stunned, his finger pressed on the trigger.
“Do it! Pull the trigger!”
“Stop! Jorn, don’t do it!!!”
Lilith tried to pull herself free, and the plastic cut into her flesh, but she did not care.
A thundering noise made Lilith close her eyes, terrified, but it sounded odd enough that Lilith had to look around.
It wasn’t a gun.
It was Vakin, who imitated the noise a gun makes.
And Jorn…sank to the ground, his arms limp, and the gun dead beside him. His eyes were wide open, and he trembled, afraid.
“They say justice is like a bullet.”
Vakin’s smirk widened, and he spoke those cold words.
“But for a kid who saw his dad put a bullet into his mom’s head, a bullet is just a murder weapon, so you chose stupid methods like cutting the brake cords, bombing the cars, burying that guy alive… If you want to kill, a bullet should take care of anyone. If you truly believe your dad’s bullet is true justice, then why are you afraid? What is the justice you yearn for…?”
Was that what he meant by ‘you can’t kill me’…?
“It’s wrong…It’s wrong, right?”
Jorn mumbled to himself like a broken tape, his eyes stared into emptiness. He wanted to say something, but could not find an answer to Vakin’s question.
Vakin looked at him with apathy.
“There is no justice in this world. The more you crave justice, the more pain you feel.”
His lab coat fluttered. The young man turned around, finished with his business.
“I thought I’d see something fun. In the end, it’s boring.”
Lilith held Vakin back. If Jorn’s words were true, it means Ariya was buried somewhere around here. If they didn’t hurry…
“Please, don’t go yet. Hurry and save Ariya.”
“Hmm? Why do I have to do that?”
Vakin turned around with genuine confusion.
“What? You’re friends, right? Ariya will die.”
“But leaving that guy with death makes him happier, no?”
As he finished his sentence, the man spun and walked away unperturbed. As soon as his figure went out of sight, Lilith’s ray of hope disappeared like an illusion.
“Why? What did I do wrong? Why did you leave me, mom?”
Jorn’s shoulders shook. Hiccups escaped from clenched jaws. It was a lonely, solitary cry.
…Like an abandoned child who could only blame the world for his loneliness.
“Why…why is this world so unfair to me?”
“It isn’t the world.” Lilith spoke up softly. “When we are right, we say it’s justice. When we are losing, we say it’s biased. Humans decide on justice according to their own values; use their own standards to decide who’s good and who’s not. That is not justice. So, please stop and turn yourself in.”
“You will leave me too, huh? Just like my mom?”
Jorn pleaded, like a child being left behind.
“Do you remember what you said? You said that if I did something wrong, you will forgive me.”
Jorn lifted his teary face up. Lilith smiled.
“Me too. I am willing to forgive you.”
He did such cruel things, but Lilith believed that inside, he was not a bad person. Pushing someone who made a mistake until he could not redeem himself is the worst thing someone can do.
In that moment, her wrists were freed.
Lilith gazed at Jorn with surprise.
“If mom…if Lilith…was my mom, that would be so great.”
Jorn stood up dreamily, tears streaming down from his two eyes. He walked away without turning around.
Lilith pushed herself up, hesitant to follow. She chose to run the other way. Ariya was more urgent now, he could die any moment.
Because she misunderstood him, it turned out this way.
If Ariya die, it’s my fault and my fault alone.
Lilith waded through the thick grove until her palms were full of cuts, her eyes scanning the ground. Luckily, the orange ray of dawn emerged from the horizon, making things easier to see.
“Ariya…where are you?”
As her anxiety peaked, Lilith found a mound. She rushed there, but because she was in a hurry, she forgot a shovel. With bare hands, she dug through the mound without a care of how dirty she will get.
A gunshot rang through the morning air, from the direction someone just went. It was a sad, solitary sound.
“Why…did you do that? Why didn’t you choose to live?”
Lilith’s tear flowed, but her hands did not stop.
If she stopped, all would be lost.