And it wasn’t that easy.
We searched everywhere and ask everyone, who would help us decipher these numbers. But we only got chased out with a scoop, hit by a tomato (it hurts, so you know) and in result were totally embarrassed. We went even to a fortune-teller (Seungjun’s idea, don’t ask...), but we ran as soon as we entered a strange and smelly room. God, was there a stuffed ferret dressed in maid costume... ?
“I’m beat!” Heejun sighed, falling on the sofa in our new living room.
Yeah, we moved out as soon as we left the hospital. Youjin was still using crutches, so we stopped activities for now. We would promote without one member (like when I had twisted leg), but without two it was a problem (I couldn’t move my arm yet, so I was grounded with Youjin). This time we ignored the silent and fine neighborhood (I’m not talking about stalkers in dark alleys, drunkards, crazy shop owners... Okay, I’ll stop with my comments) and moved out to the center of Seoul, near our company. The dorm was smaller, but for me more comfortable. Okay, I didn’t count the one bedroom in which we were sleeping together. To my surprise, Seungjun for once wasn’t happy. But that was probably because he lost the rock-paper-scissors and was sleeping near the window. Next to him was Inseong, Youjin, Heejun and I was sleeping beside the wall. It’s not that he was angry that I wasn’t beside him (I hoped). The window was a little scary. It was on the first floor, so lower than we had in previous dorms. But let’s just hope that hooded man this time won’t find us so quickly.
Ah, and do you remember the shadow I mentioned, when the culprit was playing with us in ‘Psycho’s Mail’? The shadow wasn’t even human – it was just a tree branch, that hit the window because of the wind. Although it was human shaped... Uh, no more creepy stuff.
Back to the topic. The cold autumn came and we still didn’t solve the numbers. What was more depressing, my family found out about lately incidents and ordered me to come back home. I’m sure it was not because of sasaeng fans and mine and Youjin’s visible injuries.
“It’s the safest way,” manager assured me, but I had doubts.
“And how do you know that he didn’t research our backgrounds?” I said, when my mother called the manager for twentieth time (yeah, I counted...). “Our families will be in danger!”
“But still –”
“It’s safer to stay together,” I insisted.
Other members’ families called too, but they decided to stay in Seoul.
“Your mother don’t know about the real reason you’re like this,” manager said. “Yet. But if she find out –”
“– then we won’t get delicious rice cakes anymore,” Heejun said with serious face, without stopping the game, and we burst out laughing.
“Listen, hyung.” I patted manager’s back. “I know you’re worried, we’re too. But we’re so close to solve the mystery! We shouldn’t separate now.”
“And how close are we to solve it?” Youjin asked sarcastically.
“Far close,” I said through teeth. “But we’ll decipher it! I hope soon –”
“I’m VERY SORRY to interrupt, but you can’t leave the town, even if you wanted to,” we heard suddenly a voice, coming from the front door.
A tall, but slightly stooped, middle-aged man was leaning against the wall near the door and eating our pizza. I remembered him only when he glanced at us grimly with his panda eyes.
“Detective Kang?” I said hesitantly.
“That’s right, kiddo. You have good memory.”
Detective Kang Hyun finished our precious pizza and sat down on the sofa, as if it was his own house.
“Excuse me,” manager said slowly. “What do you need?”
“Oh, thanks for asking. I would like to have a coffee. With a lot of sugar.”
I didn’t know if I it was okay to laugh, but our manager stiffened angered, so I got angry too.
“I don’t know how it is in your work, but usually people knock on the door, before they come in, and ask for a permission to sit down, if they’re in someone else’s place.”
Detective looked at me carefully. I swallowed hard. Did I cross the line?
“You’ve become braver, kiddo, but don’t get too excited. I don’t want to be here either.”
“So why did you come?”
“Case, what else? Your sweet stalker is our number one goal now. And we just heard he personally attacked you a few days ago, am I right?”
“Yes...” I said through teeth. He was really bold, if you ask me.
“And I heard rumors that you have a clue to solve the mystery.”
“Brilliant!” He clapped his hands with a stone face. For some reason I was gradually getting angrier, although I shouldn’t have. He was just pointing out the obvious, being extremely rude at the same time. “Show me.”
I didn’t want to but Youjin took the numbers from me. Detective was studying the paper for at least thirty minutes, so meanwhile we were absorbed in our own activities. I was winning against Seungjun in a game, when suddenly detective again clapped his hands. We immediately stopped playing and looked at him expectantly.
“I have no idea what they mean,” he said.
We were staring at him in silence, thinking that he was joking. For freaking thirty minutes he got nothing!? Then why didn’t he say so and go home!
“I’ll leave for today,” detective said. “I’ll contact you tomorrow and I remind you that you’re forbidden to leave the town. You’re witnesses, especially you,” He pointed at me. “so you need to be reachable in any moment.”
“Yes, sir,” we said at the same time, with the same enthusiasm as he talked with.
However, when he was about to leave, I saw something interesting on the paper, which I read from the other side.
“Wait!” I shouted and studied the numbers once more. I pointed to the first three numbers. “Doesn’t it resemble a date?”
“Date?” Detective nearly dislocated my arm, when he wanted to see the paper clearly.
“Look. 7. 3. 12. Isn’t it year 2012?”
“And that is 7th of March?”
“Or 3rd of July,” Inseong suggested. “We don’t know if the order is proper, right?”
Detective clapped his hands once again, surprising us.
“Brilliant,” he said with a scary smile. “We have the first real clue. Now give me this coffee, I’ll need it.”