A Bit Closer

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Daehyun carefully made his way in the underground, afraid he'd accidentally break something on the way down.

It was a bit suspicious something like this was in the middle of like, no where but he took note not to judge.

It seemed kind of old, and maybe a bit unvisited for some time but with all the decor and quite surprisingly huge inside, it may've been a really fun place for kids in its previous years. Least it made it seem like it was made for children.

He ran his careful steps along the hall.. there were rooms.
The walls were decorated very nicely, and at this point, he was really sure kids were here.
The doors wore a different design from one another. One had pink polka dots to complement its white base paint. And there were others more with unique cloaks.

He didn't know what things to expect beyond the doors other than beds, pillows and blankets so he didn't have any sort of fear when he wrapped his hand against a dusty cold knob.

He wish he had though.

This room had this one particular part of it looking as if it was meant for things to burn. In fact, the interior showed great contrast to that of what was outside. It was so dirty, sprawled with visible traces of ash. Just what was this place?
There was no bed, no blanket, no pillow, and absolutely nothing to make it seem like it was for children.

Daehyun went inside to take a closer inspection of the place.
He was beyond reluctant but he found himself castigated by something he wasn't quite sure of; that he, by all means should not back out.

It was so strange. It felt like something was pushing him to the eternal swirl of curiosity. That something wanted him to be curious about this.

Fortunately enough, it hadn't been all for naught. He found himself standing in the corner, looking down at what seemed like an urn.
He wasn't familiar with these because usually, everybody would choose to bury their dead but he could recall a teacher mention this in a lesson during history class. Superficially, it looked like any big old clay pot, apart from it being porcelain. It showed clear signs of being aged and being untended to and looked overall unappealing.
Regardless, it's blandness wasn't enough to calm Daehyun. His hand was shaky, attempting to take the lid off, his Adam's apple was bobbling up and down and he struggled to keep his breathing stable as his heart pounded feverishly inside his chest.
Again, he didn't know what to expect but there was always one thing that'd pop up whenever the word 'urn' came into his mind.

And apparently his flimsy intuition had been correct. This urn was occupied.
Daehyun closed it back in a hurry. As far as he knew, it wasn't like other cremated ash. He could still see big chunks of remains. It was clearly not grinded, but merely diced. He suddenly felt like regurgitating all the contents in his stomach.

Dizzy, Daehyun forced himself to stand up, his hand clutching his temple. He was getting out of this room.

"Wait! Don't go.." Eyes wide, Daehyun turned his head back to the urn. Was that all in his head or did he really hear someone?.. A child. It took a minute before he dismissed it as an auditory hallucination and stepped out of the room.

"Please. Keep searching. We need he-" there it was again. He was sure he heard it. A high-pitched call that for some reason was extremely weary. But it went as fast as it came so Daehyun had no idea what the hell he was supposed to do about it.

"W-Who's there?"

No answer.

He was beginning to really feel a kind of ominous aura crawling up to his back. Something wasn't right here. He could sense a certain distress, some sort of plea, but what could possibly be alarming him so much in an abandoned underground? Daehyun closed the door to the last room and set eyes for all the other doors. 'Keep searching' the words rang in his ears.

He entered another room.

This one was different from the initial one. It was like any normal bedroom. Nothing was off here. There was even an AC unit on the far end corner. No doubt the person owning this place was rich.
On a bed side table was a picture frame showing two young boys sitting on a slide. One was noticeably older by probably a couple of years and had his arms wrapped around the other's waist. They looked rather similar so it was evident they were related, possibly brothers.

Daehyun placed the frame down and tried opening a drawer to see if he could actually find anything of significance.

There was only a folder card and a set of keys.

Daehyun opened the card to see a very messily written letter. Judging by the the line strokes and heavy pressure applied to the writing, it must have been done by a child.


I learned to write letters in school today. I wanted to tell you this awhile ago but you wouldn't let me in your room.
I'm sorry for eating a lot and growing tall. Please be my friend again, hyung. I told Umma and Appa not to make fun of you anymore. Please don't be mad at me. I love you.


Daehyun bewildered, placed the card back where it belonged.
That name.. That was the name of the guy his mom was talking about the other night. So this was his place?

Daehyun dug for his phone in his backpack and hurriedly punched in a number.

"Hello, Umma?"

"Daehyun? Where are you? You suddenly ran off."

Daehyun fondled with the straps of his bag in fidget. " Ughh.. I just wanted to explore, Mom. I haven't been here in forever you know?" He quietly wishes she'd still buy his overused excuse. He should really think of something fresher.

"Okay.. so why did you call?"

"Oh ugh.. I was wondering what that Himchan guy looked like. Because I came across someone with the 'I talk to moms who have children growing up quickly, randomly in the grocery store' kind of look and I was thinking maybe it was him? I mean its not everyday someone sparks up a somewhat emotional talk between you and your mother, right? So I just thought that- that maybe I could thank him." For the love of Manfredi and Johnson he wanted to bury himself alive. What kind of person would buy that bullsht excuse? Not to mention he'd talked way too fast.

"Daehyun I haven't the faintest idea where you're getting at. But if it would help, which I doubt it would, the man was wearing a sweater. He had a stubble and a face that says 'a million bucks'. But looking rather stressed too. I mean I'd be too if I had a face like that. Must have so many catches." Her mother's boisterous laughter resounded in the eerie underground and he mentally took note of thanking her for that. It was a break in the ice he hadn't known he needed.
"Mom, you doll. Anyway, thanks. I gotta go. I'll be back by dinner."

"You said you'd be back before it gets dark on the note. Do you want me to make copies and paste it around town?"

A trickle of sweat rolled down his forehead and he let out an awkward laugh.

"Mom, please. I'll be back for dinner, okay? Pretty please with a cheery on top? How often do you hear your son speaking like this?"

He couldn't see, but he knew his mom was rolling her eyes.

"You used to. A lot, actually. When you were eight anyway."

Daehyun kept mum before hearing a long sigh.

"Fine. Dinner, alright? No moment later."

He let out a loud 'yes ma'am' and placed the phone back in his bag.

"A sweater and a stubble huh.."

Well that didn't help.
It could be anyone. Like half the population of men in his neighborhood had stubbles and most certainly anyone could wear a sweater at random.

Daehyun got up and exited the room.

Next up, the room with the open door at the end of the hallway.

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