Once Upon an Early Morning

November 18, 2014 in "The Writer's Block", moonrise31 by moonrise31

Prompt from “The Writer’s Block”: GG is locked in the SM building; a mysterious presence plays tricks on them.

“…And alright. Good job, everyone. Take a break.” The choreographer clapped his hands and gave them all a thumbs-up. The room fell silent for a moment, except for labored breathing and soft steps crossing the floor to grab a seat or a drink of water.

Then Yoona exhaled loudly, puffing out her cheeks and putting her hands on her hips as she did so. “Well, I’ve got a schedule, so I’ll be leaving now.”

A chorus of goodbyes followed her as she walked over to lift her coat from the rack by the door. She quickly changed shoes before exiting the practice room, her sneakers swinging in her hand by their laces.

Hyoyeon glanced at the clock. “2:30 in the morning, huh? Does that kid ever sleep?”

“Do any of us ever sleep?” Jessica shot back from her spot on the bench. Her eyes were closed as she rested her head against the wall behind her.

“Well,” Sooyoung commented, “I can think of one person…”

Jessica turned her head, eyes still shut, and stuck her tongue out in the other girl’s direction.

Meanwhile, Taeyeon had settled herself on the other end of the bench. Now, she tapped her knee absentmindedly, humming the melody of the track they had just been practicing. Tiffany noticed and walked over. “Think this one will be a hit?”

Taeyeon wrinkled her nose. “You know about me and hits. I think I’ll refrain from commenting until actual results show up.”

“Maybe we should just gauge success by Taeng’s general comfortableness with the concept,” Sunny suggested. She turned to the older girl. “On a scale of one to ten, how swag are you feeling?”

Taeyeon rolled her eyes. But before she could reply, Yoona reentered the practice room, a puzzled expression on her face. “The doors are all locked.”

Seohyun frowned. “That can’t be right, unnie. They never lock from the inside.”

Yoona shrugged. “Well, they are now. I even tried the side ones.”

“Maybe security is doing something,” Yuri suggested. “Oppa—” she looked around, but their choreographer was nowhere to be seen. Similarly, the rest of the staff had also disappeared.

“He probably stepped out to get some water,” Hyoyeon attempted, expression uncertain. “Along with…everyone else.”

“Group water break.” Sooyoung grinned halfheartedly. “Why weren’t we invited?”

Sunny sighed and got up from her spot on the floor. “Come on, Yoong. Let’s get this sorted out. Did you call manager-unnie and tell her that you might be late?”

Yoona frowned a little, pulling out her phone before showing the screen. “I don’t have any signal.”

“That’s weird.” Sunny shrugged and patted the other’s shoulder. “Alright, let’s look around, then. There’s gotta be someone else besides us in this entire building.”

As Sunny and Yoona’s footsteps receded down the hallway, Taeyeon pulled out her own phone and held it up, squinting. “Huh. Yoong’s right—I don’t have signal either.”

“Really?” Yuri did the same. “This is really weird.”

“Maybe it’s some sort of outage?” Sooyoung suggested. “We all have the same carrier, right?”

“Whoever is knocking,” Jessica interrupted, eyes still closed, “needs to stop.”

The room stilled.

“No one was knocking, Sica,” Hyoyeon said quietly.

Jessica cracked open an eyelid to shoot an irritated glare. “Then who—”

Thump.

Taeyeon jumped. “What was that?”

“What was what?” Tiffany asked, even though they had all heard it.

Taeyeon stood up. “It came from right there.” She pointed at a spot on the wall that her head had been resting under a moment before.

“Oh, so you were the one knocking.” Jessica crossed her arms.

“I wasn’t!” Taeyeon held up her hands. “Really, Sica.” Her lip quirked slightly. “Do you really think I’d risk my life over disturbing your rest?”

“Well, someone is brave enough to do it,” Sooyoung pointed out. She narrowed her eyes at Yuri.

“Why are you looking at me?” Yuri protested.

Hyoyeon opened her mouth to make some sort of smart comment about Yuri’s prankster history, but then she whipped her head around as footsteps echoed in the hall. The others followed her line of sight.

Sunny appeared in the doorway. “Oh. Yoong’s not back yet?” She glanced around the room and did a quick headcount.

“You mean the doors really are all locked?” Tiffany raised her eyebrows.

Sunny nodded. “Yeah. It’s the weirdest thing.”

“We seem to be using that word a lot lately,” Taeyeon commented.

“Maybe it’ll be the next ‘daebak sagon’,” Hyoyeon piped up.

Sunny gave her a look that said something to the extent of, “not if I can help it”, and then continued. “Anyway, Yoona said she was going to try to get signal somewhere, and told me to just come back. I dropped by the restroom first, so I figured she’d be here by now if she didn’t have any luck.”

Jessica held her phone up just barely above her head, scrutinizing her screen. “Well, I doubt she found signal anywhere. It’s not like we’re in the basement or something, so if we can’t get any here…”

Hyoyeon stood abruptly. “The plumbing still works, right, Sunny? I’ll be right back.”

“Find Yoong while you’re at it,” Yuri called after her. “She probably shouldn’t be wandering around alone like this.”

“What’re you afraid of?” Sunny asked as she made herself comfortable on the bench between Jessica and Taeyeon.

Yuri shrugged. “Just in case. We’ve been using ‘weird’, I know, but I’m getting the feeling that this entire situation is a little more than just…’weird’.”

Sooyoung narrowed her eyes. “I’m still half convinced that this is actually one of your—”

A flurry of footsteps interrupted her accusation. A second later, Hyoyeon burst through the doorway, a pair of familiar objects swinging from her fist. “Guys. Guys. Guys guys guys—”

“Unnie,” said Seohyun slowly, “are those Yoona-unnie’s sneakers?”

“Covered in a mysterious red substance? Yes.” Hyoyeon dropped the shoes, which landed on the floor with a dull thud.

“That’s not…” Sooyoung trailed off.

Sunny was the first to approach the sneakers, crouching down and gingerly picking one of them up, careful not to touch the soaked parts. “Anyone here a doctor?”

Seohyun knelt down next to her. “That looks a lot like the fake blood people use in movies.” She paused, tapping her chin. “Then again, fake blood these days is made to look real. So maybe it is real.”

“Maknae, please,” Hyoyeon groaned. “Now is not the time to play devil’s advocate.”

Thump.

Everyone froze.

Thump.

“Wasn’t me.” Taeyeon coughed, holding up both of her hands. She glanced around. “Though if this is gonna be another hidden camera prank on me like on ‘Horror Movie Factory’, let it be known that I am not amused.”

Thump.

Yuri jumped a little. “It came from the mirror this time.” She pointed behind them, opposite of the bench only Jessica was still bothering to sit on.

Thump. Thump.

They glanced at the wall.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Back to the mirror.

Thump. Thump. Thump thump.

The lights flickered.

“Are you serious—” Hyoyeon started.

Thump.

The room went completely dark.

“Phone flashlight, don’t fail me now,” Sooyoung muttered as she fumbled with her device. Finally, she was able to turn it on, followed by the others as they all found the same feature on their own phones.

Yuri cast her beam of light around the room, the almost fluorescent brightness bathing their surroundings in an eerie glow. She directed her beam past the doorway, and then let out a little squeak. “Did that shadow just—”

Fany,” Taeyeon hissed suddenly, “don’t scare me like that.”

“Okay.” Tiffany backed away. “I was just trying to give you a hug, but if you’d rather be by yourself…”

Taeyeon looked considerably torn between having to fend off the monsters lurking in the dark and letting someone close enough for her to cling onto—or throw in the way of said monsters, should the need arise.

Yuri suddenly swore. “My battery just died.”

“Ugh,” Jessica sighed. “Now I have to actually use my phone to get some light around here.”

“Careful, Sica,” Hyoyeon warned, half teasing and half something more serious. “That was the corner Yuri saw the shadow—”

Thump thump.

“Hey,” Sunny started, “that came from in here this time—”

“Boo.”

A high-pitched dolphin scream ripped through the air, with other yells and shouts an octave or two lower.

And then, very softly, dangerously: “Im Yoona, you have exactly three seconds to get that cucumber out of my face before you wish an actual ghost was haunting this building.”

The lights flickered back on, one by one.

Yoona grinned sheepishly, straightening and hiding one hand behind her back. “Done, Sica-unnie.”

“Yeah!” Yuri jogged over and gave the younger girl a high-five. “That was amazing, Yoong.”

Taeyeon slowly sunk to her knees before collapsing on the floor. “I totally didn’t scream at all. Nope.”

Tiffany laughed and settled down beside her. “Well, that was fun.”

Sooyoung’s expression turned suspicious. “You seem awfully calm about this, Fany.”

Tiffany shrugged. “Yoona’s shoes gave it away, you know.”

Seohyun bent down to take a closer look at the crimson-colored sneakers. “Ah, so this is definitely not real blood.”

“I hope not,” Tiffany agreed. “But those aren’t actually the sneakers Yoong was wearing in practice today. And definitely not the flats she changed into. I think those were the ones she told us she was throwing away, actually, a couple of weeks ago.”

“But then Yuri-unnie had a brilliant plan,” Yoona added brightly. She turned to Tiffany, grinning. “Thanks for not giving me away, unnie.”

Tiffany winked. “I didn’t say anything ’cause I figured you’d buy me food in return.”

“Okay, Fany.” Yuri threw an arm around the other’s shoulder. “Free pink smoothies on Yoong and I. As many as you want.”

“You’re going to regret that decision,” Taeyeon commented, having regained her composure. “In the mean time, I have decided that I’d much rather watch a horror movie than be a part of one.”

“You really outdid yourself this time,” Yuri gave Yoona a thumbs-up. “We didn’t plan that knocking in the beginning, but that made it even better.”

Yoona blinked. “What—”

“Yul, your phone didn’t really die, did it,” Sunny cut in.

“Oh look, it’s working again. Imagine that.” Yuri waved the device cheekily, and then ducked down to dodge the shorter girl’s subsequent swipe, bringing Tiffany down as well. The latter let out a yelp in protest.

“Why aren’t you attacking Yoong?” Yuri pointed out. “She was the one who turned off the lights and did the creepy knocking and then waved a cucumber in Sica’s face!”

“You’re lucky you got it out of my way in time,” was all Jessica had to say.

“But having all of our phones lose signal,” Seohyun tapped her chin thoughtfully, “how did you manage to make a deal like that, unnie?”

“I didn’t.” Yoona shrugged. “I can talk to the building managers to get everyone out for a half hour or so and also lock all the doors, but I didn’t have anything to do with our phone losing signal.”

“Me neither,” Yuri chimed in when looks switched to her.

“Happy coincidence?” Yoona ventured.

Thump.

“Cut it out,” Hyoyeon groaned. “I swear, you two are more maknae-ish than our actual maknae.”

“Uh…” Yuri glanced around nervously. “That wasn’t me.”

“I didn’t plan anything after risking my life with a cucumber,” Yoona agreed, looking slightly uncomfortable. “For once, I think I’m wishing I actually did have a schedule to go to right now.”

Thump.

“I’m invoking my leader privileges,” Taeyeon announced after a short, tense silence. “We all now have a schedule…back at the dorm.”

“Sounds good to me.” Sooyoung stopped by the door to scoop up her purse before rushing out into the hallway.

The other eight quickly followed her, Seohyun not forgetting to turn the lights out before they left. Soon, the room was empty once more.

The entire building seemed to echo just slightly as the front door closed behind the last member. Finally, quiet settled in the halls and rooms once more.

And then…

Thump.