The Floor in Between

Youbin Park

The sudden stop of the subway train convinced Yulim to stay awake. The trains of Seoul, despite its cleanliness and uniformity, harbored the entirety of the city, both the good and bad. While weaving through dozens of stations on her long commutes, Yulim traded her train naps at night for a piece of mind, as she kept her eyes peeled for drunken men and perverted hands.

The walk from the station from her home was a relatively pleasant walk, though, as it was well-lit and accompanied by supermarkets and non-descript stores. Yulim still remained cautious, but she walked with a sense of urgency and purpose until she reached her apartment building.

Once the apartment building had been reached and the code was punched in, Yulim let out a sigh as the glass door slid shut behind her. With a closed door comes a sense of security, and the tension began to dissolve from her spine as she approached the elevator.

The elevator was her most beloved destination of her journey--second place to her actual living quarters--because it brought her to that satisfying conclusion of the trip. Thus, when she stepped into the elevator, Yulim’s conscious mind began slipping into a state of hazy comfort.

Her hands were shaky from exhaustion, and she barely pushed the correct button for her floor--which was inconveniently high--and closed her eyes for the brief few minutes for the elevator to reach the fifteenth floor. In the elevator at the late hours of her commute, there were usually no stops made to any other floors despite going to the top of the building. Thus, when the elevator dinged, Yulim stepped out of the elevator without hesitation.

Then, with a swift motion, she began strutting to the end of the hall. With her keys on one hand and the excitement of a hot shower on her mind, she cruised by all the other irrelevant doors. However, no matter how long she walked, it seemed that the end of the hall remained the same distance away; she had forgotten how long she was walking for.

To disprove her growing paranoia, she faced the nearest door to serve as a starting marker to record her progress. However, when she searched for a number to remember the door by, she realized that the plate which was supposed to be engraved with the number of the apartment was empty. She scoffed at the oddity of the owner of that particular apartment and how much more he would have to pay to reinstall the correct plate. She turned to the next nearest door instead.

 

That, too, was empty.

 

The feelings of uneasiness caged at the back of her throat clawed behind her teeth. She continued checking the plates of all the doors in her sight. Every one of them was black and smooth--no signs of the white engravings. The end of the hall still remained distant as well, if not actively retreating from her vision. Yulim began banging on the numberless doors in hopes that someone would answer her questions.

There were several clicks of the lock once she started throwing herself onto every door, which she took as a sign that someone was going to greet her. She found out seconds later that the sounds were more likely of doors locking simultaneously rather than opening.

So she started running. She still checked every door and screamed into the void, but mostly, she was running back to the source of the problem. However, there was no elevator; only a pit where the elevator should be. It seemed to be bottomless, even from the fifteenth floor--if it was the fifteenth floor--but she was tired.

 

The next morning, every station was covering the news of a corpse of a woman found trapped in an elevator. The coroner's report stated that the cause of her death was a heart attack despite her excellent health and clean genetic history. Paired with a terrified look on her face, he paralleled her death to those pushed off tall buildings and bridges. However, this was disregarded as a rather irrelevant comparison as the elevator was simply stuck between the fourteenth and fifteenth floor, and no satisfying conclusion was delivered to the public.

Since then, the rumors of the Floor in Between lurks behind the busy brains of Korean businessmen and women, and the superstition of politely refusing the invitation to the Floor in Between before leaving the elevator late at night became a tradition in the city.