[I thought you would be sleeping so I’m leaving a text message.]
The next day started off with one text.
[T Brand offered to extend the contract! For even two years.]
Minho rubbed his sleepy eyes as he checked the message on his cellphone. He had predicted this when he was helping Miranda and bargaining with her, so he wasn’t surprised. The result came more quickly than he’d thought, so it must mean she liked him.
He was going to close his eyes after checking his messages but the notification kept ringing.
[We can get all the clothes produced by T Brand for free from now on. And when you wear the sponsored clothes on a broadcast you’ll get paid an advertising bonus. It’s the best contract.]
[They say Director Miranda Song strongly recommended you. How did you do it?]
[The president said this was entirely your hard work so she gave you a special bonus on top of the extended contract payment. Please check when you wake up. @attached file <click>]
Manager Gong was being considerate not to wake Minho up but now he was awake because of the text messages.
Minho yawned as he clicked on the attached file, and became instantly alert when he saw the picture that Manager Gong had sent. It was a shiny red sports car with a sleek, balanced body to spark men’s fantasies.
[The president’s younger sibling is an import car broker. She said she already gave the word so you can just go any time and pick it up. Then I’ll see you tomorrow!]
Minho knew just by looking at the dynamic black horse logo that this car was the type that people couldn’t easily put their hands on even if they had the money.
When he researched the specs, it was a 4497cc, 605 horsepower engine and the fastest speed was 325 km/h
‘That’s KTX* speed!’
He flushed with excitement as he recalled a movie he had seen with a super taxi driving alongside a high speed train. He checked the address Manager Gong had provided and found it was not far from his gaming house.
What a windfall!
Minho eagerly got up.
He ran to the bathroom right away, washed up and came back to get dressed. Garam sleeping in the bed across from him stirred.
“You’re going to practice already?”
“No. I have somewhere I gotta go.”
Minho was walking out but asked Garam,
“Have you ever seen a car that does zero to 60 in 3.4 sec?”
“Huh? What’s that?”
“It means it hits a speed of 100 km in 3.4 secs. How about it? Wanna go ride one?”
“I guess you’re into racing games these days.”
Garam, never thinking there would really be a car like that, had completely misunderstood Minho.
“That’s okay. I’m not into racing. Anyway, have a good time. I think I should meet Atsuka chan soon in my dreams~”
Garam let out a big yawn and went back under his blanket.
“Punk. You might need to wait in line to ride it when I bring it over. It’s only a two-seater.”
Minho clicked his tongue and left the gaming house, pumped up with the excitement of getting a new car.
Minho arrived at the intersection where rows of imported cars were lined up. He turned his footsteps toward the dealership at the address.
An employee ran right over as soon as Minho entered.
“Welcome. How can I help you?”
“President Sohee Im said I should come in. My name is Minho Kang.”
“Ah! I’ll bring the dealer.”
The employee went into the inner section of the store and Minho looked around at the cars displayed in the vast space. Many fantasy cars of different colors and shapes were shining and welcoming Minho.
‘They all look fast!’
Minho didn’t doubt that he would drive the sport car that would soon become his cherished car with great excitement.
“Mr. Minho Kang?”
A lady in her early 30s wearing clean-cut attire walked over. Minho thought it would be a man since he was just told the younger sibling sold cars, but he was slightly surprised to see a woman who resembled Sohee Im.
Sohee’s sister, who had the same firm and decisive eyes, stood in front of Minho.
“I’ve heard a lot from my sister. My name is Sohye Im.”
She greeted Minho with a handshake and got right to the point.
“It’s all set in the parking lot behind the store. Did you bring your license?”
Minho proudly took out his license that he had gotten with his friends as soon as he graduated high school. He didn’t have any reason to drive so it had just been collecting dust, but he would be okay since this was an automatic. Driving a car with an automatic transmission was nothing like operating a one-ton truck with gears and a clutch.
‘It’s a piece of cake.’
But he would still have to drive carefully until he got used to it. On the way here, Minho had already researched a race track where he could speed to his heart’s content. He would be able to hear the engine sound deafening his ears and making his heart swell as much as he wanted.
Sohye Im finished recording the information from his license and spoke.
“I’ll speak with your manager about the payment process so all you need to do is sign after you receive your car. Come this way.”
Minho followed Sohye Im to the parking lot with a fluttering heart.
The doors opened revealing a panoramic view of the outdoor parking lot where the cars were lined up. Sohye Im pointed to the car that was right in the middle.
“I’m certain you won’t regret this choice. It’s a unique model and only a few were released in Korea. Shall I say it’s a new model released by the F company to seek the best joy in driving?”
Minho, who was examining the car here and there while listening to her explanation, bent to the side and spotted a car in the corner of the parking lot.
Sohye Im pricked up her ears at the random sound.
“What is it?”
She seemed to be asking if there was any problem, and Minho pointed to the car at the end that was covered in a glow.
“That one over there. What’s that car?”
It was a classic car that showed evident signs of use and seemed like it had a story behind it. She followed Minho’s pointing finger to see which one it was and replied right away.
“That’s a 1986 convertible. It’s a used car that was resold to the company by the owner’s family when he died. It’s being prepared to be sent to North America since there’s no demand for it in Korea.”
Minho was about to hand over the documents he had signed after Sohye finished explaining. But he walked over to the car in the corner as if entranced.
It had crude round headlights and a yellow body.
Compared to the shiny new cars it was an old style, but being old gave it a certain charm.
Anticipation filled him as he put his hands on the faintly glowing car. The light didn’t disappear and nothing happened.
It was the same reaction as the gourd bottle relic!
Minho giggled as he turned around and asked with an excited expression,
“How much is the price? Can I take this one instead of that one?”
“The price is similar because of the premium, but why do you want this model instead of the new one with good performance……”
“I have a good feeling about this one.”
He could buy the sports car that was every man’s fantasy once he earned the money. But he didn’t know when he would discover this relic again.
Minho sat in the car that was finished being set up and examined the interior. The steering wheel cover was the only thing that was new. The rest of the interior was all vintage, from the dashboard that looked like an analog clock to the radio that looked like an antique.
What would’ve been a brand new style in the 80s was now turned into a place to sit and spin tales of that time.
Sohye Im walked over the the window and handed him the title.
“Are you really going to be okay with this?”
Minho smiled with satisfaction as he put the keys in the car. Sohye tapped the hood and spoke.
“This is a model that’s famous for having a sturdy frame and the car has no accident record. And the engine was taken well care of. It doesn’t lack anything compared to the cars these days as far as the driving aspects so don’t worry about that part.”
“Of course, of course.”
The horsepower or the 0-60mph or the manufacturer didn’t matter to Minho anymore.
“I’ll get going now. Have a good day.”
He waved and turned the engine on. Sohye stepped back and courteously nodded goodbye.
The car shook with the heavy exhaust sound. Minho released the parking brake and put his hand on the gear shift. He was going to move it to D but it was stuck.
‘Oops! It’s not an automatic.’
Minho smacked his head as he realized it had been four years since he had driven a manual.
‘Put it in first gear~’
The engine died and Sohye, who had stepped away, looked in surprise. Minho shook his head as if it was nothing and started the engine again.
It was much more sensitive than the one-ton truck he had driven at the licensing center.
– The important thing is the interval in which you step on the clutch. Your body will naturally get used to the starting point once you get to know it. Just think of it as taking off the clutch without haste.
Minho vaguely recalled the advice of the driving school instructor and started the engine again.
Luckily, on the second try he was able to move forward without killing the engine. Once he got out of the parking lot and onto the road he didn’t have any trouble driving.
‘I should go to an empty parking lot and practice.’
Nothing would be more embarrassing than killing the engine by mistake in front of his juniors.
When he returned back to the gaming house after lunch time, his juniors gathered around like bees.
“You really got a car? Can I be the first to……huuh?”
Garam, standing in the front, opened his eyes wide as he saw the classic car that was shabbier than he’d expected. The juniors who had all came out in a line made weird expressions because the car didn’t look anything like what they’d heard from Garam.
Garam pushed his big head into the window and made a face as if he couldn’t believe it.
“It looks cool but is this really the car that hits 100 km in 3.4 secs? You’re lying, right?”
Minho flicked Garam’s forehead with his finger.
“Punk. This car isn’t just simply fast.”
Minho thought as he looked at the faintly glowing car.
‘I have to find out now. Hehe.”
That night, Minho brought out his pillow and blanket to the car parked outside the gaming house. He knew it was like the gourd bottle. He couldn’t use its powers unless he faced the owner himself, so he was planning to sleep in the car.
He had also brought the gourd bottle and was prepared to make himself fall asleep by drinking a drop from it.
He had unlocked the secret of the relic in his sleep the first time, so he thought it would be the same this time as well. He lay down in the seat and closed his eyes happily.
Minho tossed and turned in the driver’s seat and then opened his eyes wide. In this time and space where the sense of reality was so strong, it was difficult to say whether it was a dream or not.
Minho looked around. The blanket that had wrapped his body was gone but the interior of the car was the same.
‘No. It looks like a brand new car.’
It was an ‘86 model car so he thought the time period must be around then.
When he looked in the rearview mirror, he saw not himself but the face of an unfamiliar young man. He was a good-looking man with wavy hair and sharp jawline that Minho admired as he touched his cheeks. He seemed like he would be a popular guy, not like Mr. Jang.
Tap tap tap!
Minho turned his head at the sound of the tapping on the roof.
『Mr. Park. Get ready.』
Minho’s eyes grew wide as he saw a blue-eyed foreign man with a walkie-talkie in his hands. The man had a tidy mustache and wore a name tag around his neck with “James” written on it.
『This scene is very important so we have to do it in one go. We prepared an ambulance team so don’t worry and go for it. The director wants that as well. You got it?』
Even though James’s words were in English, Minho was able to understand and replied instinctively.
He looked around outside and saw the sun high up in the sky over a plateau of yellow colored land. There was no end to the road that split the foreign land.
‘This isn’t Korea, is it?’
There were other cars in line waiting in front of him. There were two trucks with cameras on both sides pointing at this car.
Minho then realized he was in the middle of a movie set.
『Mr. Park! Go!』
James gestured ahead.
It wasn’t a race track but a normal road. There were many cars ahead of him. It seemed like the owner’s mission had something to do with this filming.
‘Are they filming a car chase?’
His heart thumped as if he were standing at the starting line in a racing game. He was reminded of going around the arcades, conquering hairpin turns in the AE86. It would be the icing on the cake if he had a cup of water on the dashboard and Eurobeat music playing in the background.
Minho turned the key in the ignition. The car’s engine gave a shudder but didn’t start.
It was the same when he turned the key again.
‘What’s this? I perfectly mastered turning the engine on in the empty parking lot!’
He turned the key many times but now it was completely dead.
James was standing in front of him yelling for him to start. He frowned at Minho.
『We don’t have time Mr. Park! Get going!』
Minho pointed to the car and gestured that it was broken, but James’s expression was stern.
At that moment, the dashboard radio came on by itself with the sound of static, as if hunting for a frequency. The static cleared and a mechanical voice flowed out.
[Say the code.]
“Huh? Are you talking to me?”
[Say the correct code, or the car cannot start.]
“What? What’s the code?”
[It’s this car’s nickname.]
It seemed like it had an artificial intelligence as it responded right away.
It should be a nickname that had something to do with the owner’s preference. Minho thought, ‘Could it be?’ and said the name of the super racing car that he was into when he was very young
“You don’t know Future GPX Cyber Formula Zero?”
[Please say the exact code.]
Minho thought about cars older than this car’s model year.
‘Since the car’s radio was speaking, then maybe…’
“What do you want me to do, then!?”
Perhaps the car had a temper and wouldn’t even let him turn the engine on if he didn’t share the owner’s preferences.
Minho sighed deeply and concentrated on figuring out what the owner’s tendencies were that had something to do with this relic.
Minho searched the car and checked the glove compartment. There was nothing other than licensing and registration and sunglasses. All he found out was that the name Chul Park was written in the registration in English.
Minho was disappointed and closed the glove compartment. Then he spotted a small character sticker on the passenger side window.
Minho’s mouth curled up in satisfaction.
“Are you by any chance, Bumpety Boo?”
A special rockin’ talking’ zoomin’ kind of car!
The key turned by itself and the engine started.
KTX – (Korea Train Express) – Korea Train express is South Korea’s high-speed rail system, operated by Korail. Construction began on the high-speed line from Seoul to Busan in 1992.