Chapter 192: Chapter 192
One, two, three… twelve.
This time, the numbers exactly matched the total steps we descended, so I heaved a sigh of relief and looked at Jooin. When our eyes met, I shouted lightheartedly on purpose.
“So, look! It was just us who counted them wrong earlier.”
“Yeah, mama! We made a mistake!”
Jooin also smiled after his reply. Sharing a silly laugh on top of the stairs, suddenly, I felt an unexplainable, cold air sweeping over our shoulders furtively.
‘Oh, hold on.’ I touched behind my back. ‘What’s happening? How can it be so cold on a summer night?’ As I was thinking that way, Jooin snatched my hand out of the blue. Before I could even say something, he then ran crazily down the stairs.
“What… what’s wrong, Jooin?” I asked.
“There was… in the hallway just now…!”
“In the hallway? What?!”
“Didn’t you see that mama?!”
He then turned his head abruptly to see me. His attitude looked as if he could hardly believe that I missed it. I cast a question with a frown.
“See what? What are you talking about?!”
He fetched a long sigh for a moment and turned back. Only our shadows stretched behind us. Then I opened my eyes wide.
Between the winding moonlight hanging on the stairs, I suddenly felt like I had seen a glimpse of a dark figure passing by. It, however, disappeared so fast that I could only think my eyes were deceiving me.
I grasped Jooin’s hand instinctively. He then stared at me with dilated eyes. I detached my lips nervously.
“L… et’s f… first find the kids… they might have all arrived by now.”
With that said, I showed him the clock on my phone. 9:30 pm. It was time for all the participating kids as well as those preparing for the courage test to arrive.
The hallway was incomparably silent than before. I heard shards of glass breaking into pieces under my foot. My mind grew fretful alongside the cracking sound.
‘It doesn’t make sense. Why aren’t there any indications of people being around?’
Only eight people were preparing the event, but the hallway was, earlier, very noisy.
Jooin held my hand for the whole time regardless of our palms getting wet with sweat. I didn’t want him to release my hand as well.
‘Something abnormal is circulating in this school,’ with that thought, I looked outside the window. There I saw the swings still swinging back and forth over the foggy schoolyard. As if some invisible people were on them, the swings swung across in opposite directions competitively. Suddenly, a thought crossed my mind.
If they were about to swing in the wind, they should move in the same direction.
As soon as I came up with that thought, my hair seemed to stand on end. Feeling the shudder of being electrocuted, I stopped walking after Jooin’s pause then looked up.
It was where Eun Hyung, Yoon Jung In, and the other kids gathered earlier. Taking a deep breath, Jooin pushed the door open. I looked inside the classroom then.
There were no portable lamp light nor human shadows; however, the blackboard with messy scribbles on, a lump of dusted, hardened chalks, and randomly scattered desks remained the same. Except for those settings, the space was utterly enveloped by a heavy silence. Suddenly, I felt like I was suffocating.
“Jooin, this is…”
I let go Jooin’s hold involuntarily and stepped backward. The kids would’ve not vanished away in the meantime; although they had done that, there should be, at least, a trace of them leaving. On the wooden classroom floor illuminated by dim light, there was, however, not a track of human footprints left.
Stepping back, I nearly collapsed as to losing my balance. I barely stretched out my hand to stand up with the support of the wall. At that moment, my hand reached something that made a clicking sound.
I turned back. It was a switch, an ordinary, white plastic one with a pile of dust on top of it from being left alone. ‘Geez, I thought I’ve pressed something troublesome,’ as I sighed in relief, Jooin came toward from behind.
“Mama, what did you just press?”
“Uh… um… by the way, we must now—.”
While replying to Jooin, something flashed and seemed to brighten the whole space. I blinked my eyes. As if thunderbolts had passed over our heads, the world was covered in white that I could see things clearly.
From the dusted corner to the dark spot hidden behind the desks at a distance, everywhere was stained with light. Was it an illusion? It was the moment when I flickered my eyes.
Bright lights poured to my head. I lifted my head with a blink. While a speck of dust scattered around waveringly, there I saw a fluorescent lamp emitting lights as bright as the one in my house.
What the heck is that?
Looking up, both Jooin and I were at a loss of words for a while. I put out my hand again to press the switch involuntarily.
Click. The whole space became dark.
Click. It became bright again.
Once again, an unexplainable silence hung between us. A moment after, Jooin walked toward me in a threatening attitude. He then stretched out his hand to the switch and repeated what I just did.
After the actions, he covered his face with both hands and remained silent. A feeble voice then escaped through his lips.
“Is the light turned on right now… in here?”
‘Unbelievable…’ As he stopped his words there, Jooin plopped down on the ground while holding the wall. I was too exhausted to soothe his mind that I also just flopped down, turning my back on him.
Inside a brightly lit classroom at a school that was shut down over three years ago, we plunked down on the ground with our backs against each other.
What on earth is happening right now… I guess what Jooin said earlier about a different universe or whatsoever turned out to be true.
How long had it been? I quietly raised my head to look around. Sitting awkwardly, I found dusty windowsill, a ceiling with a spider hanging on it, and desks scattered messily around. It made me sigh in relief.
‘Well, thank God,’ I murmured inside my mouth.
Of course, it was scary to discover the light coming into a school that had been shut-down three years ago or the noisy people in the classroom just until now suddenly being vanished away, but… how could I articulate my thoughts? I lifted my eyes in silence. The bright fluorescent light was yet drizzling on top of my head.
The space was too bright for me to keep scary thoughts; besides, the worst scenario that I had in my head as to participate in the courage test was a ghost coming out. Thank god, I didn’t see any ghosts yet.
If the world was about to change, I already went through it three years ago. Something similar also happened quite recently too. Thus, I was a professional dimension shifter. With these thoughts in mind, I turned to look beside me and swallowed my breath for a moment.
Unlike me, Jooin, who had no immunity to such surreal things, was still burying his face onto his hands in silence. I caught a glimpse of his pale cheeks over his light-brown hair.
‘Yeah, indeed,’ I thought while trying to guess how shocked he was right now. Jooin always laughed away when he saw horror movies or went through something similar to psychic phenomena. It was not that he was such a brave character, but I would say he didn’t believe in the existence of ghosts. I mean, didn’t he say that when leaving this classroom just a few minutes ago?
‘Well, those rumors exist everywhere in shut-down schools.’
Even if there was a rumor of monsters appearing upstairs instead of ghosts, Jooin would’ve not been so frightened of it. He was, however, confronting an unbelievable, surreal situation that unveiled itself out of the blue and came closer to him just now. Thus, I couldn’t imagine how startled he was right now… Swallowing my breath, I stretched out my hand to place it on his hand.
The back of his white hand that reached mine was surprisingly ice-cold. Jooin’s shoulder trembled as if he just woke up from a dream. His pure brown eyes then directed at me.