༺ Oh. XXXX ༻
Honestly, after my turn was over, I was so exhausted that I couldn’t even tell what was going on during the other contestants’ auditions.
Taking off the VR headset, I let out a sigh and wiped the sweat off my forehead.
Even the AC couldn’t chase the heat away from me.
Then there was also the heat from the computer and the headset that were added on top of it.
“Hmmm… Did I do it…?”
As I sat down on the bed, I thought back to the stage where I had been singing just moments before.
In my opinion, I had done a good enough job showing what I had prepared.
I sang as well as I had practiced, and I also handled the comments and questions well.
Considering the feedback, I was probably safe.
They weren’t all positive, but there were more good than bad.
Right, Blackstone said he had been watching my stream…
“Augh… Did he see all that…?”
When he told me that I was really good at streaming, I was more embarrassed than happy.
If he actually watched me before I auditioned… Back when I cursed a lot and did a bunch of cutesy things that my otaku viewers would love…
I kicked the blanket a few times. No one was watching me at the moment, but I still felt embarrassed, and pulled the blanket up to just below my eyes.
“Ah. Whatever. Shit… He watched my stream, it’s a good thing and that’s that.”
Deciding that I should think about it in a positive way, I picked up my phone and turned the live stream of the audition on.
Everyone only needed to log back in after all the auditions were over, so I could just stay like this until that time.
Currently, it was another streamer’s turn for the audition, Seri, who was using an avatar with eye-catching cat ears.
「Watashi no namae o yonde kurenai nara~」
A clear voice came through the phone’s speaker.
“Nanno imimo nainoni~”
I found myself humming along to her voice because it was such a popular anime OST.
But was it okay to sing this song for a competition…?
People who followed the related subculture would definitely receive it enthusiastically, but those who weren’t would do the exact opposite…
Sure enough, Seri’s feedback directly addressed the part I was worried about.
They pointed out that being too deeply immersed in Japanese culture could be a stumbling block for her in the future, and since that was the direction of her existing stream and channel, they also commented that her performance was disappointing since they were expecting her to show them something new.
Hearing that, my body froze, as if I was being stabbed out of nowhere.
I was also very interested in Japanese anime theme songs and J-pop, so I sang them on the stream a few times…
Guess it was a good thing that I picked a Korean song for the audition.
Soon the judging was nearing its end and I had my headset back on my head.
– Ding dong.
Along with the notification sounds, the interior of my room changed to a different scene.
In a space that was neither real nor imaginary, I became Luka and began to move.
“Okay~ All contestants please come to the stage soon, and then we will announce the results~”
At the direction of the staff, the participants’ avatars moved in unison toward the portal.
I turned my head at the call of Clover, whom I’d gotten to know a little during the audition.
“Why can you sing so well? Luka, you really are a dark horse. You know that?”
“Ehh. What dark horse? I’m just a donkey.”
“But you sure got a lot of praise for a donkey. Why pretend to be humble?”
Unnie’s avatar showed a cute >_<, an expression that no human in the real world could imitate.
I should do it too.
“If they don’t pick someone as cute as Unnie, that would be so unfair!”
“I can’t sing, so I think I’ll get eliminated.”
After a few relaxing moments of chatting, we boarded the portal and went up to the stage where the audition took place.
“Next! Looks like all participants are here, so let’s get right to the announcement!”
“For those whose names are called, please sit in the chairs to your right!”
I couldn’t believe they even made an area that looked exactly like a real audition show.
There were ten ornately decorated chairs on a platform that appeared to be the winner’s seats.
Exactly half of the people gathered now…
…Would be eliminated here.
“Turn on… The music…!”
Ah… I hate this.
I hated it when I was just watching other people audition on the screen, but when I was the one standing in the middle of this background music, I frowned badly.
Why couldn’t they just call out the names right away?
I swear, I’d get sick if my heart beat this quickly any longer.
Even my throat had dried up by now.
– Dudududung dududududung
That distinct music that aimed to build tension rang in my ears.
“The first successful candidate is… Jennifer!”
“Jennifer-ssi, please go up to the platform and sit on the chair there!”
Even though I was a good distance away, I could clearly hear Jennifer’s scream.
The contestants continued to send their congratulations as Jennifer’s avatar waved and moved to the first chair.
No matter what anyone else said, Jennifer was obviously on the list of the candidates that would pass.
So, this outcome wasn’t surprising at all.
From this moment onward, it was the battleground for the remaining candidates whose status was still ambiguous.
“Then let’s move on to the next candidate!”
Well, at the very least, there were no commercial breaks in between, probably because it was a live broadcast.
– Dudududung dududududung
Ah, seriously, this music…
I couldn’t even mute it if I wanted to since this was the announcement. This was literally hell on earth…
“Fumurin-nim! Please go up to the platform!”
“Wow…! No way…”
Fumurin’s avatar that was standing near me stood still and couldn’t move, as if it was glitched.
“Fumurin-nim! It looks like she is crying…”
As soon as one of the candidates uttered those words, Fumurin began to sob before she even got to the podium.
“Uwaaah… I really thought I was going to fail… Sob…”
While I didn’t know much about Fumurin, I could see a little why people liked her.
Normally, people would be frustrated or irritated when they heard someone crying, but this girl’s crying voice was just too cute to feel that way.
Also, I was amazed by her wit after seeing her change her avatar’s expression to a crying one.
Was this just an act?
Maybe a crying strategy…?
Rubbing her face with her hands, Fumurin sat in her chair and continued to cry. She didn’t stop even after Jennifer, the first person to pass, comforted her.
“The next candidate…!”
Right, there were still eight people left.
Why couldn’t they just tell me if I passed or not? Or, if I didn’t pass, just notify me with, ‘Luka, you failed,’ or something like that.
I swear, this was the worst torture they could give to a human being.
Trying to convince myself that a real audition show would even be a bigger torture than this, I tried my best to calm down.
After that, six passing contestants were called out in a row, but heartbreakingly, my name was not on that list.
“Now… There are only two chairs left. Everyone.”
If I fail, I fail.
I mean, there were plenty of candidates who sang better than me.
Some of them had cuter avatars than me also…
Besides, my stream had gotten bigger because of this audition and the number of my fans had increased as well. I would still win even if I didn’t pass.
I repeated the comforting words over and over in my mind, but I couldn’t let go of the hope that a ray of light would come down to me.
“Everyone, can you send chats in support of your favorite candidate?”
…I was deeply touched as I thought of all the Pink Army who were probably cheering for Luka right now.
Ah… Please. I’ll live kindly from now on. I’m also going to work really hard for the stream and practice singing every day. Please. Please.
“The candidate who will win a ticket to the final audition for Project Closer is…”
Right. She was still here.
The best singer, Leah.
The monster contestant who auditioned right before me.
Looking back, it would have been really strange if she hadn’t passed.
Other candidates nearby all said their congratulations to her, but I was sure that they had the same thoughts as me.
The nine who had passed were looking down at us, and only one of the eleven who remained could climb up there.
It was hard to hide the melancholic mood, even if you tried to conceal it behind the congratulatory words.
“Now… Before we know it, we’re really down to the last candidate.”
The host’s words brought the solemn atmosphere back to the stage.
Time passed slowly.
My heart sank as I thought my challenge might end here.
‘Ah. If you really want to cry, cry alone when everything is over.’
The result hadn’t been announced yet, but I already felt suffocated.
“The chat is so heated right now. There are a lot of people telling me to stop wasting time, so without further ado, I will get right to it.”
– Dudududung dududududung
I squeezed my eyes shut.
Don’t expect anything.
Don’t expect anything.
The odds of it happening were less than 10 percent…
“It is Luka!”
When my name was called, my brain seemed to go on autopilot, and I spoke without thinking.
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