I screamed and ran away, without looking back. I ran into Heejun at the door to the kitchen.
“Why? Why?” he asked confused.
I pulled him with me to the practice room, where were the others. I sat on the floor and waited till I catch the breath and my heart stop beating so fast. Seungjun squatted beside me, rubbing my back.
I told them what I saw with hope that we’ll forget about it and continue the cleaning, but Youjin was worried (thinking it was some thief) and went back to the window. I hid behind him, closing my eyes.
“Are you sure it was here?” I heard Youjin and opened my eyes.
It was this window. But I didn’t see any face now. What was more, there wasn’t any handprint either.
“But wait –” I jumped to the window and opened it, looking around. There was no one indeed. “Was that my imagination... ?”
Youjin patted my back.
“You’re still living the last night,” he said. “Let’s finish and go eat.”
Members left, but I stayed and continued to research the window. Eventually I didn’t find any clue that it wasn’t my imagination and went after them. However, when I turned around and was ready to leave, something hit the glass and I ran away, without checking it out.
We finished the cleaning in the evening and went to eat. While eating my favorite pork belly, I was observing people in the restaurant. There were teenage girls fangirling over some k-pop group (unfortunately not us), young men from baseball team (looking at their uniforms), and a few couples. We were eating here for the first time, because it was the nearest restaurant to our temporary company building. The place was nice, although not so popular. The interior was wooden and in a style of nineteenth-century Europe. Even though they served only Korean food. Somehow it was a weird combination, but whatever. The food was delicious, so I would recommend this place.
When I was staring at clients, one girl caught my attention. She was of average height, dressed in a white tracksuit and had long, black hair, that was hiding her face and touching the table. She was sitting with teenage girls, but they were completely ignoring her. A victim of bullying? Or maybe she didn’t know them and just sat there unnoticed? I frowned, still looking at her. She was scratching the table with her fingernail. Writing something? Drawing? Reliving the stress?
Then I felt the chills on my back. No one was interested in her.
Suddenly she hit the table with her hand and turned her face straight at me, gasping. I spat the coke, which I had in my mouth. When I looked at her again, her face was again hid behind her hair. I was breathing heavily, trying to calm down. It was her. That face from the corridor! I was sure it was –
“Hey, are you okay?” a waiter asked the girl in the white tracksuit, touching gently her arm. “You drank a lot. I’ll get you a taxi.” Then he took her outside.
I was gaping at the exit with shock. Wait, did I imagine it again? But this time –
“Oh God!” I gasped, turning to my members. Heejun was all wet, looking at me grimly. I must have spat the coke at him.
“Thanks, hyung,” he hissed through the teeth. “I just wanted to drink a coke.”
I smiled apologetically, while the others burst out laughing. We finished our dinner and were on our way to the practice, when I stopped next to the table, where that girl was scratching something. I leaned over the table, wanting to see what she wrote or drew.
But I regretted it, because there was nothing written or drawn. There was only a handprint. I closed my eyes and after a few seconds opened them again.
The handprint didn’t vanish.
I ran after the members, before some more frightening thoughts attacked my mind.
Later this evening we were practicing in our new, clean practice room. For my surprise, it wasn’t that bad. Although the room was smaller than the one in our previous building, it had nice acoustic and good, non-slip floor.
We finished after the midnight and were going to the dorm, but when we were passing the doors in the corridor, I heard a groan. I flinched and moved closer to the windows. Then members giggled.
“Heejun, you idiot!” I growled and threw myself at him.
Youjin and Inseong stopped our fight and we continued the walk. We stopped again in front of the recording room. The door was slightly opened.
“Didn’t manager tell us that this room is off-limits?” Seungjun whispered.
“He did,” I said.
“Then why the door is open?”
We moved closer to each other. Suddenly we heard a noise behind us and turned around, but there was nothing there. When we turned back to the door, it was closed. But we didn’t hear it closing...
“Rock-paper-scissors!” Heejun shouted all of a sudden and we automatically stretched out our hands.
Seungjun lost, but he panicked, so we didn’t have a heart to punish him like that. And among the rest of us no one wanted to go first. Even Youjin, who was suddenly interested in his fingers.
“Let’s be men!” I said sharply and stepped out, but then the courage left me as fast as the air escapes from the pierced balloon. “I changed my mind,” I groaned and pushed Inseong in front of me. “Hyung will go.”
“Why me!?” Inseong outraged.
“Because you’re a real man.”
“I’m no man!” Inseong braced his feet on the ground. “I’M A GIRL! GIRL!”
“That’s great! Ladies first.” And I successfully pushed him into the room.
We waited, observing Inseong through the Venetian mirror, which was next to the door. The room was dark, so we didn’t see much. I finally saw Inseong, but in a moment he disappeared behind the speakers. Meanwhile Youjin was keeping the door open.
All of a sudden we heard a squeak and a rat ran over Youjin’s foot. He moved it back startled and the door closed.
“What the –!” Youjin gasped and tried to open them, but without effect. “Inseong-ah?”
I turned on the microphone, through which we could contact with the one, who was in the recording room.
“Inseong-hyung?” I called to the microphone. “Answer if you can hear me.”
Silence. I exchanged anxious looks with the members.
“Inseong-ah,” Youjin tried again. “That’s not funny. Answer us.”
Still nothing. Suddenly the lights blinked and went out. Somehow I knew it was a bad sign. We heard a click sound, as if the door was unlocked. I reached to the handle.
Then something hit the mirror and we jumped startled. We waited with fast beating hearts for a minute and after that I checked the glass.
There was a familiar handprint. As I gasped and staggered at Seungjun, we suddenly heard Inseong’s scream.