Fantasy Fiction East Asian

It was a cold January evening. The spirit stood on the cliff in awe of the sunset that glittered above the evergreen trees. Hearing footsteps crunching the leaves, it jumped back into the forest.

That is what Timon Knight, an intelligent nature lover, wrote in his diary that day. He was visiting Korea to relax, but also to learn about new creatures. Timon had no wife or children, but he didn’t need anyone else in his life for his one true love was Mother Nature. Eighteen years ago he earned his degree in wildlife biology from Harvard University and has been traveling the world, learning about all of the world’s diverse species. He has been to every continent- even Antarctica once, on a team trip to study the arctic animals. But his favorite of all the places he’s been and all the places he wants to go is Korea. And even though he has been numerous times, every time the beautiful Asian country offers him more to learn about. 

He looked over his notes when he got to the Airbnb he was renting. He had spied on some squirrels and a fawn and her mother. Timon had tried to sketch the spirit, but it had a keen sense of hearing and jumped away as soon as he tried to get closer to it. I’ll think about it over a bite to eat, he thought. When he got to Meosjin Jeonyeog Sigsa, a fancy bistro and bar, he looked over his drawings as he ate his lobster gimbap. The creature seemed to have nine white tails and the face of a fox. 

“That’s a great drawing of a gumiho,” said an attractive waitress.

“Thanks, I saw it in the forest earlier today,” said Timon, surprised that she knew English. “That’s what it's called?”

“Whoa, you saw one? Everyone thinks that they are a myth, but I certainly believe in them. I sort of like to draw them,” she said, pulling out her notebook, which had amazing drawings of it covering the pages.

“Those are great. Maybe tomorrow I’ll go back and try to spot another.”

“Hey, tomorrow I get a day off. Maybe I can come with you?”

“Sure, just meet me at the Jeonhyeo Wiheomhaji Anhda trail,” he said as she took his plate and he grabbed his navy green backpack, blushing. Nobody had ever actually talked to him when he traveled, because, in most places, the people who live there don’t like tourists, taking pictures of their food for social media and treating their customs like it was something weird and new. But she was different, she didn’t mind. Then he realized he never got her name- but tomorrow he will.

Timon wakes up with a happy grin on his face and jumps out of bed. He wore a smoky gray jacket over a dark blue cotton shirt and jeans. I’ll make avocado toast today, he thought. 

Ten minutes later, he took a bite out of the crunchy toast with crushed avocado, tomato, and an egg on top of it. It was delicious. He brushed his teeth and put on his hiking boots and called a cab to take him to the trail. 

“Hello! Hello! Timon! Over here!” called a voice.

“You know my name?” he asked, turning around his head in surprise. He had never told her.

“It was on your check, of course! But since I know yours, I’ll tell you my name. I’m Ayeong.”

“Cool. Ready to catch a gumiho?”

“Yes, but I need to visit the outhouse first. Wait for me!”

While waiting for Ayeong, he was getting anxious to look, so he strolled just a hundred yards or so into the forest and saw a glowing blue light. Creeping toward it, he saw tails, one by one going into his view. One tail, two tails… They are white. Three tails, four tails… They are fluffy, too. Five tails, six tails… Is it a gumiho? Seven tails, eight tails, nine tails… It has the foxy face from the drawing. Yes, it is a gumiho. He ran back to the outhouse to make it seem like he was waiting for her the whole time. 

“Sorry I took so long. Thanks for not looking without me!”

“No problem, Ayeong.” When he turned around, the blue light was gone and when they walked back over there, the tails were not there. As they crept further into the forest, they saw black bears, deer, and a lynx, but there was no evidence that a gumiho was ever there. Hours later, they told each other goodbye because the sun was starting to set.

“You know, if you don’t have any dinner plans, waitresses get a discount at the restaurant,” she shyly said.

“No, I don’t have plans. I’d be happy to come, but I promised my mother I would call her and tell her everything about my studies. Maybe next time,” said Timon. He felt bad, but he actually did have to call his mother. Every time he goes on a new trip, his mother always wants him to tell her everything. Once he got back to the Airbnb, he got himself to bundle in bed and hit the call button exactly at eight o'clock. 

“Timon! Timon! How are you? Tell me everything!” said his mother over the phone. He first told her about every animal he had encountered and the culture.

“There is also a cute girl there,” he shyly whispered to her.

“Oh, please tell.”

“Her name is Ayeong, and I met her at a restaurant. I also suspect that she is a fox spirit called a gumiho.”

“Gumiho?” she questioned.

“A fox spirit native to Korea. It’s not a myth, I’ve seen it multiple times. I think she is one because when she is around, I never see it but when she is away it shows up right in front of me.”

“Timon, I have done a bad job parenting you. How many times do I have to tell you monsters and fairies and mystical creatures are not real? There is no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks that you could have actually seen one of them. Are you feeling okay? Hallucinations could mean you have major health problems.”

“Come on, Mom, I’m fine. I know I shouldn’t disobey, but I believe that Ayeong is a gumiho and that is my final answer.”

“All right, sweetie, love you. Keep working hard.” The dial tone echoed through the bedroom. I still think she is a gumiho, he thought. I have my proof. As for dinner, he was thinking about going on a picnic on the cliff. He shoved a sandwich and a bottle of water into his backpack, as well as an itchy red blanket. 

When he got there, it was already dark outside, so he brought a flashlight and of course, his notebook so he could study after he finished. The sandwich was on wheat bread and had kale, ketchup, and bologna on it. This made Timon think of his first word- bologna. When he was a toddler, his older brother loved to say, “That’s bologna!” He caught on and eventually that was his first word. After finishing, he grabbed his flashlight and hiked into the forest. It was almost midnight, and he was about to give up when he pointed his flashlight forward and it shined right onto its face. It froze like a deer in headlights. “Ayeong? I know it's you.” The fox dashed as fast as it could behind the trees. Timon raced after it until it was out of sight. He looked down at his shoes while walking because he was upset that he couldn’t find them, but then he bumped into something that turned out to be someone.

“Timon! Hi! It's you! Here at night!”

“Yeah, I was on a picnic.”

“Oh well, bye.” She seemed eager to get out of there so she turned around and fastly walked back through the trees, with a white tail attached behind her. He grinned eagerly. She is a gumiho!

March 17, 2023 01:33

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Elijah Cooley
13:12 Mar 24, 2023

really nice work!


14:29 Mar 24, 2023

Thank you!


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Violet McGarty
21:47 Mar 30, 2023

Hey char char! Your short stories are AMAZING! ::::)))))))))))))))))))))))))


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