Two boys stood in an empty classroom, cleaning it out after a day of classes. The sun was low in the sky which made the room glow a warm yellow color which might have been comforting in any other environment, but school classrooms just weren’t relaxing places.
Kim Mujin worked steadily on clapping chalkboard erasers together to get them cleaned off while Seo Cheolmin pushed a broom up and down the aisles between the desks to clean the floor. They both couldn’t wait until they didn’t have to clean classrooms anymore. High school was almost over for them.
“Are you almost done? I feel like you’ve been hitting those erasers together for hours,” Cheolmin asked as he glanced up at his friend with his dark eyes. He had a friendly face, very kind looking with dimples in each cheek. He was taller than the boy he was talking to, and his height made him look rather lanky.
“I could ask you the same thing,” retorted Mujin with a smirk on his lips. He had thick wavy hair that hung on his forehead, sometimes obscuring his gaze. He knew he needed a haircut, but he just couldn’t be bothered right now. “I think you’ve walked up and down this classroom fifty times already. I’m surprised the floor isn’t shining.”
To be honest, they were stalling a little. Sure, they hated cleaning the classroom but they were waiting for their younger friends to join them. They had befriended a few students two years younger than them that lived in their same neighborhood, or close enough to it. They always took the subway together, and eventually they just bonded. Mujin and Cheolmin saw them as their little brothers and often felt protective of them. This school was full of uppity bullies, so they liked to stand up for them whenever they saw trouble.
The sound of footsteps stomping up the hallway immediately triggered the two boys to look at each other and smile. They knew this was the sound of the crew coming.
Ha Eric was the first one to slam open the sliding door that led into the classroom. He was the youngest and the most chaotic, and also the ‘foreigner’. He had been born in Minnesota to a Korean father and American mother, so his features weren’t quite the same as everyone else, but that was what made him unique. His eyes were a bit bigger, a little more round, and his nose was more pointy, but he still had a sweet round face with baby fat on his cheeks that he hadn’t quite lost yet. Of course, for bullies, his looks were also what made him a target but Eric was pretty good at ignoring cruel words and laughing it off. And when he couldn’t, Mujin and Cheolmin always stepped in.
Yoo Jinhyuk slid in behind him, nearly falling because the wooden floor was pretty slick. He shouted and grabbed the back of Eric’s shirt to stabilize himself. They laughed for a moment before he got his balance back and he ran his fingers through his chocolate brown hair that he had styled into some sort of faux hawk. Jinhyuk was originally from Busan but had moved himself to Seoul to go to school here. He had some dreams of making it big as a producer in the music industry and he felt it would be better to go to school in this city, but he often missed home.
Lastly, Lee Kangmin walked into the room casually, his hands tucked into the front pockets of his school uniform pants. He was smaller than most of them in height and size, but his thin frame didn’t mean he wasn’t strong. His personality and presence was enough to prove his strength. “I told you it was dangerous to run,” he teased.
“As if you weren’t running, too!” Eric exclaimed as he pointed dramatically at Kangmin.
Kangmin just chuckled and waved his hand. He was usually pretty quiet and sensitive, but as their friend group got closer he was beginning to open up more and have fun. He was from Seoul, Gangnam district, so this wasn’t far out of his way. He was probably the most well off of all of them, since his father worked for some big business tycoon, but he never seemed like the annoying rich kids. He never rubbed it in anyone’s face, or put himself on a pedestal. He had a good heart.
“I guess you guys must be finished with your studying?” Cheolmin asked as he leaned on his broom and watched them.
“I mean, we weren’t thorough,” Jinhyuk admitted with a shrug. “But we can study more later. We figured we might go and grab something to eat! Kangmin suggested ramen.”
Eric’s stomach seemed to rumble as if on cue, and everyone laughed as he put a hand to his stomach with an embarrassed expression. “Well! We should go!” he cried.
“Alright,” Cheolmin agreed easily as he went to put the broom away.
Mujin put his arm around Eric’s shoulders and started to walk to the door when something strange caught his eye. He could have sworn he saw something moving on the chalkboard, but it was empty. He’d just cleaned it off.
He rubbed his eyes with his free hand, then moved his other arm off Eric’s shoulders and reached into his backpack to pull out his glasses. He technically should have been wearing them, but he didn’t like the way they looked on his face. The rims were thick and black and totally out of style, but his parents weren’t going to spend any extra money on a new pair just because he wanted a different style. They always told him that all the money he was going to get from them would be to send him to university and he shouldn’t ask for more than that. So, he didn’t ask.
As he put on his glasses he looked over at the chalkboard again. His eyes widened as he saw chalk drawings on that board that definitely weren’t there before.
“What?” he breathed as he looked with confusion at the board.
“What?” Eric asked as he tilted his head and watched Mujin’s confused expression, and then turned his gaze to the board. “What is it?”
Mujin slowly began to approach the chalkboard and he gently touched the drawing there. It was the shape of a star, but when he touched it all the lines moved to create what looked like a window. Or maybe it was meant to be a door.
“Mujin? What’s wrong with you?” Cheolmin asked, but Mujin couldn’t take his eyes off the strange chalk drawings.
“You don’t see this?” Mujin asked softly. He sounded like he was in awe.
“No?” Jinhyuk spoke up in confusion.
Mujin suddenly turned and grabbed Eric, the closest one to him, and put his glasses on his face. Eric blinked a couple times and then stared at the chalkboard in surprise. “Woah! Cool drawings!” he said. “There’s a door!”
“What?” Kangmin leaned over Jinhyuk to try and see what was going on, but clearly no one could see it without Mujin’s glasses, which was strange enough seeing as he’d never seen anything like this before.
No one knew what was going on, but as soon as Eric touched the chalkboard something changed in the atmosphere and a light shimmering on the chalkboard suddenly solidified into the lines that had once been only visible to Eric and Mujin. It became visible to everyone that there was a door drawn on the chalkboard, and the chalk lines seemed to almost be vibrating as if they could bounce off the board itself.
“What is that?” Cheolmin breathed. There was clear alarm in his tone, but Mujin didn’t feel like there was any reason to be afraid. It was weird, sure, but it was super cool. It couldn’t actually be real, could it?
“Don’t touch it anymore, Eric!” Jinhyuk warned as he reached towards him. “It feels powerful.”
“What are you talking about? It’s just chalk,” Eric asked as he took off Mujin’s glasses and handed them back to him. Then he reached out and touched the chalk door one more time, and to all of their surprise the door opened.
Mujin leaned down to look inside and he saw a beautiful summer field through the door in the chalkboard. No, this was utterly impossible. This couldn’t be real. Had he fallen asleep in class and this was now a dream?
“It’s a field!” Kangmin exclaimed as he pointed. “What...what the heck…”
Jinhyuk stepped forward now and he reached his arm through the door. They all cried out and tried to stop him, but he just pulled his hand back and revealed that he had picked grass out of the field.
It was real.
“What does this mean?” Cheolmin asked in awe as he leaned down to look inside the door...or was it outside? “Where is this leading to? What field is that?”
“I don’t think it’s from a place we know,” Jinhyuk said softly. “Doesn’t it feel...like magic somehow?”
“Magic isn’t real,” Kangmin said matter-of-factly.
“Can you really say that right now?” Mujin asked as he gestured to the door in the chalkboard. “But I just wonder why we can see it. Why didn’t it reveal itself to anyone else? Why were my glasses the only way to find it?”
“Maybe no one else wanted to see it,” Jinhyuk suggested. “Or, we’re special in some way.”
“If we go inside, do you think we can come back?” Eric asked with a playful smile. “I kinda wanna go in!”
“No!” Cheolmin exclaimed as he grabbed Eric’s arm and pulled him back. “We have no idea what that place is, and we don’t know...what this even is. We can’t just walk inside.”
Mujin was disappointed, but he knew Cheolmin was correct. It would be dangerous, because the door might easily close behind them and they would be trapped in a place they didn’t know.
Still, he wanted to go. It looked so inviting.
“We should get out of here,” Kangmin said as he shifted from one foot to the next in an uncomfortable way. He flicked his fringe out of his face with a quick motion of his head, and began to fidget. Kangmin often got fidgety when he was especially nervous.
“I agree,” Cheolmin nodded and quickly pushed Eric and Jinhyuk away from the doorway protectively. Mujin looked at Cheolmin with a little frown, but he knew he was right to stop them from doing anything too careless.
Cheolmin reached over and grabbed the nearest eraser and wiped it over the mysterious magical lines. Oddly enough, this did destroy the doorway and it faded away as soon as a line had been erased. That really made them question who had created this doorway in the first place, and why it had been invisible until Eric had touched it.
They all stood in surprise for a moment to see how easily this magical thing was disrupted, and Mujin wondered if they had all just had a collective hallucination.
“Well, uh, that was weird,” Jinhyuk said as he stared at the chalkboard still.
“Almost feels like a daydream,” Eric said, likely voicing everyone’s thoughts on the matter.
“Let’s go,” Cheolmin said. “Ramen, right? Come on.” He ushered the younger ones out, and Mujin followed behind him.
“You’ve been chosen.”
Mujin stopped and looked over his shoulder, his eyes widening. A voice? It was a very androgynous voice so he couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman speaking to him.
“Why?” he asked to the stale air in the classroom.
“Mujin? What are you doing? Let’s go,” Cheolmin called out to him from just outside the classroom.
Mujin pulled his gaze away from the corners of the classroom he was inspecting, and then looked at Cheolmin and the others. They all looked on with worry and confusion, but Mujin just offered a smile and followed them out of the classroom.
He reached out to slide the door to the classroom shut, but he hesitated a little as he stared into the room again. Those words kept ringing in his head. What had chosen them? Was he just hearing things? That voice had to be connected to the chalkboard door, and yet he couldn’t imagine why this was happening to them.
This was a boring all boys school that he’d been at for almost four years with no weird incidents. Certainly no magic.
And he knew he didn’t want anything to ruin the good life he had built for himself. Without another thought he slid the door shut. The soft ‘thud’ as the door closed comforted him somehow, and he turned to look down the hallway to his friends who had already started walking on ahead of him. They were talking wildly about what they had just seen and they were questioning whether it was real or not.
“No, I can’t let my curiosity take over. I have to protect them,” Mujin whispered. He didn’t know what it was, but he had a feeling it wasn’t all good. His curiosity told him to chase it, because that was just his personality, but he couldn’t drag them along with him. He knew they would want to follow.
He just smiled and pulled his backpack on his shoulders and ran up to them, throwing his arms around Cheolmin and Jinhyuk’s shoulders as he broke into the line they were walking in. They all smiled and laughed at his arrival.
It was as if that weird event hadn’t even happened. Because it was too impossible. It couldn’t be real.