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On January 23rd, something strange happens to a hobo high schooler. He is now involved with two dramatically different worlds.
Chapter 2, Chapter One - Greenhouse
What represented the line between good and evil?
Like a sort of uniform, everyone expected the others to think similarly concerning their sense of justice. The ones who thought differently felt like outcasts, but sometimes they could tolerate it. Some of these outcasts did not care, such as Ahjummae. Unlike the other middle school students, Ahjummae's line between good and bad had not been drawn yet. He had no intention of drawing that line soon.
But then January 23rd came. . .
After school on that same day, he walked to the park - with the orange-leafed trees that often had the soft mist surrounding them in the autumn - to park his bike near his bench. It was specifically his bench because he basically lived on it. He slept on it, he tied his bike to it, and he ate on it. The bathroom was another story. His bench was normal, wooden and sturdy and sat on the outskirts of the park. The children's playground had been placed in the middle of the park, like a small circle of civilized children in the center of a small forest. Somehow the park felt melancholy and mysterious, unclear and disturbing, yet it had many visitors. Ahjummae thought it gave off a ghostly aura, as if someone with a weak soul could become possessed from simply taking a stroll in that park.
But that day, he saw a stranger pass by the park. Usually he saw the same people walking around, taking a jog, or playing in the park. Sometimes people only occasionally came, and he still recognized them. But today, he saw someone new, yet it felt as if he knew that person already. The person had a familiar face, but almost everything else about him felt off. Only the intensity of his eyes seemed familiar. There were only a few people Ahjummae knew with that kind of intensity in their eyes.
The person had blonde hair, and wore some sort of vest over a T-shirt. He wore normal jeans, and seemed about Ahjummae's age, twelve. Ahjummae thought this must be an interesting new person who just moved into his town, Ultranis. Then he decided to approach the person and mess with him.
"Hey, you there!" Ahjummae shouted, crossing his legs as he sat on the park bench. His hair glowed a tint of blue, although it was black, making it seem a sort of nightshade color. His clothes had been bought for a cheap price, but he had fixed up their appearance enough so that they looked like he came from a family with normal wages. Being almost a professional at taking care of himself, he felt as if he had the authority to pick on other people. "Come here!"
Several curious people walking past the park on the streets and sidewalk turned their heads to look at Ahjummae. But Ahjummae did not feel embarrassed. Instead, he stuck his hands into his pockets to warm them up on the chilly autumn day and began approaching the stranger. "You're new, aren't you?" he asked, as the curious people turned away to return to their daily lives.
"No," the stranger replied, smiling in amusement. "I've been in this town for a long time."
"But you've never-"
"You actually haven't explored this town, haven't you?"
Ahjummae felt as if it was a challenge. "Of course I have!"
"Well, then what about the greenhouse, Mr. January 23rd?"
Suddenly Ahjummae stepped back. January 23rd was happening right then, and he didn’t know until then. He had met and approached the person who also thought something would happen on January 23rd. Could there be somewhat of a connection between the two?
“Today I heard the greenhouse was haunted,” the person stated. “Oh, and anyways, I’m Joonbong. Don’t call me anything like Mr. Second January 23rd. I wouldn’t like that, and it’s troublesome to say. You don’t need to tell me your name either. I just named you after all.”
Ahjummae awkwardly paused for a moment. Then he parted his lips to say, “I’m Ahjummae.” He paused again, in case Joonbong had to say another comment. But Joonbong only waited for another word to come out. Ahjummae realized this and looked at the ground to have a shadow cast upon his face. He felt as he remembered something about the greenhouse, because he couldn’t put it into words. “What did you say about the greenhouse again?” he asked melancholically.
“It might be haunted,” Joonbong stated.
Something is happening on January 23rd. . . a buzzing monotone voice echoed inside Ahjummae’s mind, as if recording his memories and thoughts.
“Are you the same person who was wondering what was happening on January 23rd?” Ahjummae asked. “I was there eavesdropping, accidentally.”
Ahjummae and Joonbong met on January 23rd. . .
“I do things accidentally too,” Joonbong stated. “Like push people off of bridges.”
Ahjummae forced out a laugh. He felt too strange and awkward to laugh casually. “Really?” he asked, still not lifting up his head. Joonbong wondered why Ahjummae didn’t make eye contact, but he felt sure that Ahjummae had his reasons.
The greenhouse is abandoned on January 23rd.
“I seriously do,” Joonbong stated. “But you wouldn’t know what kind of bridges, wouldn’t you?” He shrugged. “Because you’re not me. But that doesn’t matter. What I’m really interested in is that there’s something in the greenhouse. People started talking about it today. Today was more loud than normal. I saw a quiet girl named Aisha spaz out in the middle of class for no reason. There must be something up. Something is happening today.”
Today is January 23rd.
Ahjummae smiled. “I think your logic is flawed,” he replied. “Things like that can happen every day. You’re just being paranoid because it’s January 23rd.”
Flawed people on January 23rd.
“Exactly,” he said. “Why did we feel as if something was going to happen today in the first place? Maybe we were meant to go to the greenhouse. Maybe we were meant to go crazy today. It’s something really weird. Maybe this feeling was some type of survival instinct.” He turned away and thought for a moment, but then turned around excitedly. “Maybe we have to fight for our lives today!”
“You sound like a nincompoop,” Ahjummae commented, beginning to walk away. He felt as if he shouldn’t have approached Joonbong in the first place just out of curiousity. But he felt something was wrong and awkward when he walked away.
Awkward Ahjummae. Ahjummae has become awkward.
He persisted in resisting his feelings. He wanted to return to his peaceful life in solitude, with occasional visitors who never really cared about him, but then Joonbong reached out a hand and shouted, “Wait!”
Go back, Ahjummae. Go back.
Ahjummae closed his eyes and thought, I don’t want to hear that voice anymore. I really don't want to hear it anymore. All this while, Joonbong was saying something inaudible to Ahjummae about waiting and their conversation. He also added something about January 23rd. But then the strange voice returned:
Ahjummae. Ahjummae. Ahjummae Joonbong Joonbong Ahjummae Ahjummae KhangshuAhjummaeAhjummaeAhjummaeJoonbongJoonbongKhangshuAisha
“SHUT UP!” Ahjummae screamed.
Then Ahjummae eyelids flung up, and he didn’t see his park bench in front of him. Joonbong became quiet, but Ahjummae could still sense Joonbong’s presence behind him. They were the same people in the same position, but in a different place. . .
They were in the greenhouse.
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