༺ You Have Arrived ༻
At Yoomyeong’s serious request, Soo Yeon blinked in surprise before slowly closing her eyes.
Her thickly spread eyelashes trembled faintly.
“Try to follow my words with your imagination.”
Yoomyeong moved to stand behind Soo Yeon, who had closed her eyes.
“Let’s draw a single, white dot in your mind. A very pure, white dot that seems to annihilate any memory or information that gets sucked into it.”
Initially, Soo Yeon thought.
What a pleasant voice—
She followed the soft command of his voice and tried creating a single point. A white dot, like a paint mark, fell precisely onto the black vista.
“The radius of the white dot is gradually expanding.”
“Your memories and past experiences are being swallowed one by one into the expanding dot.”
“Now, it’s not a dot but a circle. The circle is gradually widening its radius, erasing your current self as clean as white.”
Soo Yeon’s brows furrowed.
The innate ability to immerse herself was strongly harnessed, assisted by the bubbling carbonation.
Although her eyes were closed, the movements on the surface of her eyelids made it clear that she was staring at something. It must be the white dot that was gradually expanding its borders.
“Now, you have now returned to nothingness.”
At his words, Soo Yeon’s expression disappeared.
Her face became perfectly expressionless as if all muscles had lost their will.
With the sound of a finger snap, the scene changed.
The dominating voice guiding her imposed a new personality upon her.
“Well, now you are in a certain castle. An old but clean castle. It has a lush garden.
There were pretty clothes, stylish furniture, and abundant feasts for every meal inside the castle. However, when you looked around… you couldn’t find a single person.”
Soo Yeon’s face turned slightly, her eyes still closed.
It was evident that she was exploring the interior of the imaginary castle.
“You’ve lived in this castle for 20 years… ‘alone’. Dreaming of the friend who would appear someday.”
At those words, her heart skipped a beat.
The expression of the new personality gradually revealed itself.
It was thirst, longing, resignation, and hope.
“Then one day, your first-ever friend in your life decided to visit. You put on your prettiest clothes and waited eagerly for his arrival, wondering who he might be.”
Soo Yeon leaned in, listening attentively.
Footsteps echoed from somewhere. The sound came from her rear, then slowly moved to her side. Her face grew increasingly eager.
“And finally… your friend has arrived. Now, slowly open your eyes.”
Soo Yeon’s eyes slowly opened. In front of her was Yoomyeong.
As if she couldn’t believe what she was seeing, she blinked again.
The expression on her face no longer belonged to ‘Seol Soo Yeon’.
“Should we start shooting?”
In order not to break Soo Yeon’s concentration, Yoomyeong whispered without turning back. Min Gyo, who had been watching this spectacle from about halfway through, moved quietly.
Yoomyeong reached out his hand.
With a dreamy expression on her face, Soo Yeon clasped his hand.
It was a desperate smile of a girl yearning for warmth.
There was even a radiant smile that spread across her face when her friend looked at her.
Once immersed, Soo Yeon’s emotions didn’t break, and so the two-hour photo shoot flowed smoothly.
“Wow. You’ve really made it.”
After the shooting ended, Min Gyo patted Anz’s shoulder as he wiped off his sweat. Anz nodded vigorously as if she agreed.
Min Gyo plugged the memory card into his laptop and started opening the files.
The initial photos were unremarkable, but from around the 1,500th onwards, they were too precious to discard. Yoomyeong also stood to one side, looking at the photos.
Once immersed, Seol Soo Yeon was truly remarkable, living up to her future fame.
A fragile girl about to crumble in the autumn wind.
Happy but unable to shake off the fear that her only friend might possibly leave, the girl buttoning up her collar in the chilly wind was pitiful and beautiful.
“Soo Yeon did well as a model, but brother, you’re truly a professional.”
In fact, she hadn’t struck any particular poses. She just walked, laughed, and looked at Yoomyeong, becoming the character. Much of the credit for creating these images within the composition went to the photographer.
Upon receiving Yoomyeong’s offhand compliment, the corner of Min Gyo’s mouth rose.
He wondered why he felt proud and uplifted when this amateur novice addressed him as a brother or older brother. That was probably because…
“Hey, you’re the one who contributed the most today.”
He felt that this kid was the real deal.
Min Gyo also subtly let his guard down. A deal of interacting and getting along with each other was struck between the lines.
Anz also chimed in.
“Thank you so much, Yoomyeong. But what was that earlier? Hypnosis?”
“No, it’s just an imagination method commonly used in acting. Soo Yeon just followed along really well because she’s so good at immersing herself.”
At Yoomyeong’s compliment, Soo Yeon’s face turned red.
She had experienced a new world today.
It was the first time she was able to express the feeling of being merged with the character in front of people, which she had only experienced during practice.
‘Who on earth could he be?’
Just like how a baby bird recognizes the first thing it sees after hatching from its egg as its mother…
Yoomyeong’s impression was strongly imprinted in Seol Soo Yeon’s mind.
“What did you do today? It seems like you’ve met someone with a lot of energy.”
As soon as he returned home, Miho clung to him, sniffing.
Its large fox ears perked up. Why did its ears move when it was sniffing, not its nose?
“Can you sense that?”
“Ordinary people can’t, but when you’ve been around a person with such strong energy for a while, some of it lingers. Who is it?”
“Her name is Seol Soo Yeon… Oh, do you remember the first time when you saw me at the shooting site? I met the younger version of the heroine of that film.”
“Ah, her… she was delicious, too.”
Miho licked its lips.
“I’ve been going around to acting studios these days. I should go visit her too.”
“Um… but do you actually absorb people’s energy when you say that they’re delicious?”
It was a question that had intrigued him for a while, but it was difficult to bring up.
“You can form a contract to share energy, but I can’t do that without permission. I just eat the remnants, the lingering essence that an actor emits after a performance. Like the energy you’ve brought with you.”
“…Contract? So, since we have a contract, can you absorb my energy?”
Yoomyeong asked, making a slightly puzzled face.
In response, Miho bit his finger playfully. Two small teeth marks were left on his finger.
“Our contract isn’t that kind of agreement, kyung! In fact, I’ve given you so much energy that I have to roam around the acting studios. I’m trying to replenish my energy.”
At that, Yoomyeong gently stroked Miho’s ears, feeling a bit sorry.
“I apologize for that. Then, should we make a contract like that as well? To share my energy with you?”
“I can’t do that. It’s an unfair contract.”
Yoomyeong was surprised to hear a legal term coming from the mouth of a spirit.
“Every contract must be mutually beneficial. It’s the law of the spirit world. Your current proposal doesn’t seek your benefit and is proposed solely out of goodwill towards me, so the contract itself cannot be established, kyung.”
The tiny creature that confidently explained such difficult terms was amusing. There seemed to be stricter rules in the spirit world than what he had expected.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m a capable spirit, so you don’t have to worry about me. I’ve already recovered a lot of my energy. I will probably be coming and going to acting studios until I get more stable.”
Feeling apologetic, Yoomyeong brought a can of beer from the kitchen.
He felt heartbroken as he watched the baby fox hold the can with both hands and lick it.
‘So… so cute!’
The Thursday following the end of midterms.
Today was the day to visit <Changcheon>.
The planning director, Mun-sik, shouted.
“We will move in groups of three to make sure that no one gets left behind.”
Their destination was Daehak-ro, the <Hummingbird> Theater.
At this medium-sized theater with 500 seats, the stage setting for a show opening next week was in full swing.
A senior who graduated with the 22nd batch from Changcheon and was now the assistant director of this show greeted the juniors for their field trip.
“We’re a bit busy because it’s two days before the show. Please follow quietly so as not to disturb people.”
After giving instructions, the assistant director began the theater tour.
The interior was full of all kinds of sounds. There was the sound of hammers assembling sets that were brought in from outside. There were also sounds of the background music and sound effects turning on and off. There was the sound of a huge bar, on which the lighting equipment was hung, being lowered.
They heard a man’s irritated voice.
The assistant director, who was guiding the students, left them behind and ran frantically.
A young man dressed in jeans, a large hoodie, and gloves pressed on his back so hard that he couldn’t stand up straight.
“How do you expect me to manage with only one lighting technician when there’s such little time left?”
“Well… one of them is out of action. I’m sorry.”
“Rather than apologizing to me, do you think the performance can go on the day after tomorrow like this? Find a way to quickly find a replacement unless you want me to collapse too.”
After bowing to them and returning to the students, the assistant director murmured to their planning director with a gloomy expression.
“I’m sorry, but I think I have to go out because of an emergency. Do a quick tour without causing any disturbance, okay?”
“What’s the matter, brother? Is there anything we can help with?”
“I appreciate the thought, but we need professional help. This theater doesn’t have a resident lighting technician, so I brought one from Hyejeondang using my directorial connections for a few days, but the assistant technician we hired is out of action.”
Yoomyeong’s ears perked up at the mention of ‘Hyejeondang’.
The best performance space in Korea.
It was constructed and managed by the largest company in Korea, ‘Shinwha’. Not for profit but seemingly for the corporate image, the interior design, and facilities were among the very best.
Built in 1988, it maintained its reputation as the best performance venue until Yoomyeong returned in 2018, and it was a place so stringent about the selection of shows and actors that ‘performing at Hyejeondang’ was considered the greatest honor in an actor’s life.
A person related to that place…
Yoomyeong swallowed hard.
“Excuse me, senior.”
When Yoomyeong stepped forward from the group and opened his mouth, all eyes turned to him.
“I’ve had some experience with lighting equipment. If I could be of any help until you find a replacement for the assistant technician…”
At Yoomyeong’s words, the assistant director looked delighted.
“Lighting equipment? How much? Have you ever seen stage lighting equipment?”
“I’ve worked with Fresnel and Ellipsoidal before.”
The assistant director’s face lit up instantly. At least this guy knows the basic terms.
He took Yoomyeong over to the lighting technician.
“Ah, although it’s regrettable, this kid says that he has experience with lighting equipment. Can you use him as an assistant for a while…?”
The technician furrowed his brows. It was clear that Yoomyeong was one of the students who were talking earlier.
Normally, he would have snapped back, saying that he’d rather do it alone than work with an amateur. But he was desperate enough right now to borrow a cat’s paw if he could.
However, a minimum knowledge of stage lighting was required.
He gave him a small test.
“Go get the number 43 ‘Gobo’ from my bag over there and put it in the number 14 lighting fixture.”
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