“…I will recruit a new team member.”
“Ah!! Participant Park Moondae’s choice is out!”
At MC’s shout, the prize money disappeared from the electronic display and the words were fully enlarged.
The audience cheering and the judges clapping in joy were shown on the other display screen.
I almost clenched my teeth.
‘Thirty-nine million won…’
It flew away into the air.
Still, it was an inevitable choice in the long run.
Having one more participant meant that the number of fans who liked the group would also increase.
And it was usually multiplied, not just added.
The amount of money I could make also varied.
It was an investment that could earn me more than 5000 won in the long run.
The problem was what happened next.
“Then who is the last member chosen by participant Park Moondae”
The rest of the participants were nervous again on the screen.
“The participant I choose is…”
No matter who I chose, it was the perfect chance to arouse resentment from the fans of the eliminated participants.
So I avoided it.
“The 7th place participant will be chosen by the shareholders.”
The whispers grew bigger.
Most seemed convinced or relieved.
‘…Even the production team is delighted.’
It was a little annoying.
“Participant Park Moondae left the choice to the shareholders!”
The MC glanced at the prompter and eagerly led to the proceeding, and soon the candidates for 7th place appeared on the display.
And the guy who made it…
“Congratulations, Lee Sejin!”
I almost choked.
‘How could he suddenly rise like that’
Perhaps because of his child actor’s activities, he was highly recognized by the public, so it seemed he had benefited from those who secretly voted for the last episode.
‘…It can’t be helped.’
The water was already spilled.
I made way for Lee Sejin, who staggered up to the podium.
Lee Sejin barely managed to express his feelings, and after a few words, he bowed his head.
It was enough for fans to cover it up by stating that he was out of his mind due to the unexpected situation.
The MC guided Lee Sejin to join the seats for those who had passed.
Lee Sejin brushed past me and murmured softly.
I just nodded.
You must have wanted to join.
‘I want to go there, too.’
It felt like my legs were going to cramp.
How long are you going to keep me standing
However, the MC continued the process with me standing next to him.
“Now there’s only one left! The group name of the participants who will debut”
It was followed by an obvious explanation that they collected the opinions of shareholders on the Internet.
Then a dazzling logo appeared on the electronic display.
An upper case ‘T’ and a triangle that did not touch the upper side were skillfully combined, and brilliant glitter effects bounced off the sides and the top before settling into small diamond marks.
– Your investment verified.
– Your idol, your star
“The group name selected by the shareholders is… TeSTAR!”
The name had changed.
As far as I knew, the original name of the boy group which was going to debut in this program was ‘STier’.
Looking back, I thought it would be that way again because it was listed as a candidate with an explanation attached as ‘Star Tier’ on the homepage.
Maybe a different name came out because the members had changed quite a bit, including me.
It seemed the name had been decided by a narrow margin last time.
‘…Isn’t Stier better’
I honestly didn’t expect a group name that would have star occupying more than half of the name.
I was a little confused, but… Well, as long as the group name wasn’t too weird.
“The seven members of TeSTAR will receive a trophy with the group logo on it!”
Then Youngrin came up and handed me the trophy.
There was only one trophy in the shape of a graph soaring into the sky.
‘You set me up here to do this.’
I guess it would be over if I carried that and passed it on to the kids.
After lightly shaking hands with Youngrin, I was handed the trophy with a cushion on it.
Youngrin looked at me with calm eyes and smiled.
“I hope you will do well.”
“Yes, thank you.”
I murmured a series of thanks.
Then just like that, I walked quickly toward the place where the winning participants were standing.
The winning participants had already stood up from their seats, probably drunk on the atmosphere.
“They give us a trophy, too”
I handed the trophy to the guy at the front without hesitation.
Then, this time around the trophy, we put our arms around each other and started making a fuss.
‘My shoulder hurts.’
Knocked between Cha Eugene and Keun Sejin, my body felt sore.
I felt numb everywhere from my shoulder to my feet, but thanks to the adrenaline, my brain was active.
I heard the MC’s voice from a distance.
“TeSTAR, congratulations on your debut!”
The stage fireworks effects exploded spectacularly.
I listened to the cheers of the people as I stood between the trophies and the winning participants.
And at that moment.
A status window popped up.
You made your debut through a famous audition program!
!Time limit: Fulfilled (Great success)
!Status abnormality: ‘Debut or Death’ removed!
[Check the truth ☜ Click!]
I turned on the status window.
The status abnormality was gone.
It was over.
Somehow it didn’t feel real.
I didn’t know the purpose of the status window, it was probably because I had been haunted by the ominous prediction that the status abnormality might be prolonged somehow.
‘I never thought it would disappear so neatly.’
I blankly closed the status window.
Then, the text at the bottom of the remaining pop-up caught my eye.
It was originally the location where the reward was supposed to be.
[Check the truth ☜ Click!]
I reflexively clicked on the phrase.
For a moment, my vision was distorted.
And I blacked out.
* * *
A skinny high school student was lying on a mattress holding an old smartphone.
Every time he moved, the mattress creaked.
The WeTube screen was playing on the broken screen of the smartphone.
The image quality was not good because it was barely connected to public Wi-Fi.
However, thanks to the filming skill of the cameraman, the charm of the singer on the screen still stood out.
‘It was fun.’
The high school student, Park Moondae looked sadly at the returned video screen.
The latest fancams posted on this account now ended with the ‘2X0412 Reload Han River Festival’ that he just saw.
This account, ‘Gun1234’, was an account that mainly uploaded fancams of singers and idols.
In particular, it mainly uploaded low-profile people, but it still looked cool.
‘It feels like I am appreciating them.’
He somehow felt good because it felt like cheering for someone who didn’t look like much.
‘I hope it uploads more often.’
There were little things he could do to spend time happily without spending money.
It was the same on WeTube, where he could watch just by watching advertisements.
Even though he watched it in low quality on Wi-Fi that kept disconnecting, there were a lot of videos that he could watch with his heart pounding.
He’d heard that there was almost no profit from fancams because all of the advertising revenue went to the singers, but he was grateful that they continued to upload.
Worrying over it, Park Moondae scrolled down and wrote a comment.
-Big Moon: GUN1234, I always enjoy your fancams.
Thank you for the upload.
He knew that this account had never given any particular feedback to viewers until now.
Even when Youngrin’s fancam was a hit, they never left any comment.
But just in case they might see it, Park Moondae checked for spelling errors and pressed the post button.
– This person is always presentㅋㅋ
– I guess they’re a big fan
He was a little embarrassed because there were a few reply comments.
He thought about replying, but suddenly didn’t feel like it, so he stopped.
‘It’s not like I have anything to say…’
When he tried to talk about himself, he became speechless.
The house, no, the room which was too embarrassing to be called home was quiet.
There was nothing to say about his daily life.
When he recalled the last time he was motivated to do something, he remembered a time when everything was normal.
When his parents were still there.
It felt like it was just yesterday, but in fact, it had been years.
And he felt like he had been stuck somewhere for years.
Or maybe he was actually dreaming.
Maybe that’s why I am so focused on the videos uploaded by that account, the boy thought.
It was comforting to see people singing and dancing passionately even though there was no sign of improvement in their situation.
Tomorrow was probably Monday.
Park Moondae closed his eyes on the mattress and dreamed.
And time passed again.
Unlike the flowing surroundings, Park Moondae alone hadn’t changed.
A terrible thing happened at school.
He quit just like that.
Quitting didn’t change anything.
Well, why didn’t he just stop living
But he didn’t really want to die.
Park Moondae found a part-time job but soon lost the job.
Also, ‘gun1234’ stopped uploading videos.
Park Moondae thought about it and eventually sent a note to the account.
It was the day when he failed to find a new part-time job.
Of course, he didn’t get a reply.
And soon after, all the videos in the account disappeared.
Only short texts remained on the empty page.
[I quit to play gamesㅅㄱ]
Park Moondae installed a mobile game.
He had no money to buy a desktop or a game console.
However, his old smartphone couldn’t run mobile games properly and broke down after suffering terrible heat.
For some reason, Park Moondae felt very tired.
He hadn’t done anything, so there should be nothing to get tired of.
He was tired of living.
Park Moondae terminated his broken smartphone.
And he didn’t extend the contract of the old one-room apartment either.
It had been a long time since he ate a proper meal.
So the money he had left was just right.
It meant that if he got to a motel and bought sleeping pills, it would be over.
‘Because a lot of people die in motels.’
The day was so cold that he couldn’t bear to fall into the water or climb the mountain.
Because he felt like he might give up halfway.
If he died in his room, he would be left to rot for more than a month.
Park Moondae took a room and inwardly apologized to the curt owner.
Then, after going into the room, he lay down on the bed and swallowed sleeping pills.
Sleep came like death.
After a while.
Opening his eyes while breathing in on a dirty motel bed…
It was me.
* * *
I let out a breath.
“A-Are you okay”
Someone next to me tapped me on the back.
When I turned my head, I saw Seon Ahyeon’s worried face.
“…Wait, I’m tired.”
I barely managed to speak and stretched myself up.
Time seemed to barely pass.
Thanks to that, I just looked like I had staggered for a while.
Because I was surrounded by the winning participants, the others didn’t notice at all; the atmosphere was still the same.
I broke out in a cold sweat.
My mind was a mess.
The owner of Park Moondae’s favorite video account, ‘gun1234’.
It was the account that I deleted when I started my public life.