In a dark alleyway consumed by shadows.
A group of teens was tearing open cans of beer and gulping them down.
“We can legally drink beer now!”
“Not yet, we still have thirty minutes until the new year!”
“Seriously? When do we stop hiding in alleys like rats to drink?”
“You’re the rat. Why are you dragging us into it?”
“Because it’s frustrating. Don’t you guys feel frustrated too?”
Hwang Yongmin, who had chugged his beer in one go, threw the can away nervously.
“Do you have a lighter?”
“Here, Yongmin hwang.”
He exhaled a deep smoke cloud and finally relaxed his wrinkled forehead.
“Why do old people have to ruin everything good?”
“Because they’re old, duh.”
Hwang Yongmin and his friends laughed together.
If anyone passed by their alley, they would stop laughing and shoot them a cold glare, as if to tell them to pretend like they didn’t see anything. And most people would quickly run away without looking back.
And that’s what happened even now.
“Hey, did you see that? She ran away because of my glare.”
“What glare? Do your eyes have night vision or something? It was too dark to see anything except the cigarette.”
“But that girl who just passed by, wasn’t she pretty? She had a sweet, innocent vibe.”
“Sweet and innocent? Really?”
“Ah, I want to hug her in my arms and never let go.”
“Haha, you’re crazy.”
Hwang Yongmin made a ridiculous face, and his friends burst out laughing.
“Hey, if you like her, go and get her number.”
“But I’m underage, will she give me her number?”
“Why be afraid? Soon enough, we’ll all be legal adults.”
When the clock struck midnight, their status as high school students would come to an end.
“When summer vacation ends, we’ll finally graduate from the boring life of the school.”
“What are you going to do after graduation?”
“I’ll ask my dad to buy me a motorcycle and maybe look into becoming a delivery driver. I heard it pays well these days.”
“Really? What about Tae-sik?”
“I’m going to work in a factory that provides dorms until I have to join the military. My parents keep nagging at me at home, I need to get away from them.”
Hwang Yongmin chuckled as he watched his friend exhale a puff of cigarette smoke with a sigh.
“Yongmin, what about you?”
“Me? Didn’t I already tell you guys that I was going to become a gangster?”
“Whoa, were you serious about that?”
“Wasn’t it just a joke?”
Hwang Yongmin scoffed at his friends’ surprised reactions.
“I gave a pretty serious answer, and you thought it was a joke?”
“Of course. Who in this day and age would aspire to become a gangster?”
“A gangster… aren’t you scared? You might end up getting stabbed in the stomach and dying.”
Despite his friends’ concerns, Hwang Yongmin only chuckled.
“Damn, you only live once, why not live it up?”
“This guy is crazy, seriously.”
“Ha ha ha.”
His friends laughed and joked around, but in reality, they all shared the same thought.
“This guy is insane.”
Although they were also considered troublemakers at school, they paled in comparison to Hwang Yongmin.
“Right, just do whatever you want…”
“When I graduate, I’m cutting ties with this guy.”
“What a lunatic…”
Even his friends who had known him since middle school couldn’t stand being around Hwang Yongmin.
“By the way, what’s going to happen to the shuttle that you’ve been bullying once Yongmin graduates?”
“You know, that weird kid in our class.”
“Oh, the motherless kid?”
One side of Hwang Yongmin’s mouth curled up in satisfaction.
“Even if I graduate, I won’t let him go.”
“Ha ha ha, you’re still going to bully him even after you graduate?”
“Of course. He’s my personal shuttle, after all.”
“Wow… I feel sorry for the poor bastard. He probably thinks the shuttle duty will end after graduation.”
“Who said it’s going to end just because he wants it to? We should make the most of it.”
“Seriously, you’re evil. Even Satan would bow down to you, ha ha ha.”
As they laughed and joked around, they finished their beer cans.
Suddenly, someone checked their phone and saw that it was almost midnight.
“Hey, it’s almost New Year’s.”
“Should we go watch the bell-ringing ceremony? It’s happening right in front of us.”
“Okay, let’s go.”
Hwang Yongmin and his friends headed toward the Bosingak Bell Pavilion to listen to the ringing of the bell.
“Wow, there are so many people here.”
“It’s like a swarm of ants.”
“Find me a pretty girl.”
As he looked around, taking in the sights and sounds of the bustling crowd, a friend tapped him on the arm.
“Hey, Yongmin. Look over there.”
His friend pointed to a spot off to the side.
“Isn’t that the guy you bully on the shuttle?”
Yongmin’s gaze followed his friend’s finger to Ryu Min.
“Oh, right. My shuttle buddy.”
Seeing him outside of school gave Yongmin an unexpected feeling of happiness.
“Did you come to watch us bully the geek?”
“I came to beg you not to bully Yongmin in the new year,” Ryu Min’s friend interjected.
“Haha, that’s an impossible wish.”
“You said it,” Yongmin laughed.
But as he moved to approach Ryu Min, something caught his attention.
“Hmm, that guy…”
Ryu Min just stood there, quietly lost in thought.
Despite looking like the same old introverted shuttle buddy, there was something different about him today.
“What’s with him? He feels…different from before.”
At that moment, the emcee’s voice boomed through the crowd.
“Finally, it’s time. Let’s count down together!”
The people around them erupted in cheers as they began counting down.
Yongmin and his gang joined in, hoping for a bright new year.
“But I’ll spare you today, geek,” he thought to himself, not wanting to start the new year with bullying.
“Three, two, one! Happy New Year 2022!”
This is a new Novel, the first Korean novel here, with two more coming.
I hope you enjoy it.
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