As it’s coming up to Halloween, here’s a scary k-pop themed horror fanfiction for you all to enjoy! Have fun reading and don’t worry, Kpopalypse doesn’t do jump scares!
You’ve a young female music fan living with your parents and attending senior year of high school. You’ve always liked pop music TV shows, like [insert country here] Idol, X Factor and The Voice. Although it’s obvious to you that to a degree these shows are fake and manufactured, they nevertheless warmed your cynical heart – in such a commercial industry seemingly so image-focused, just the sheer premise that talent mattered meant something to you. You might not always like the songs, or even the singers, and definitely not the decisions of the judges, but you could certainly listen and appreciate the artistry of a talented vocalist excelling at their craft.
Then something new happened. You discovered and fell in love with k-pop.
You spent the first month of your interest in k-pop discovering the many outlandishly lavish music videos and getting blown away by the catchy songs. After a while however you noticed something – while the videos were almost universally great, the live performances were usually a disappointment. Certainly not in terms of dance or staging, but vocally – k-pop performers really aren’t all that good as live singers, for the most part. It’s frustrating to watch k-poppers sing over backing tracks that contain their own voices, why don’t they sing over instrumental versions of the tracks instead? Are they hiding something, perhaps just coasting along and letting the backing track’s vocal do the heavy lifting? Thus began an obsession with the science of vocal pedagogy, MR Removed videos, and finding/stanning the absolute best singers in k-pop, after all how can you stan anyone who isn’t truly talented? You’re not interested in becoming a singer yourself, you just wanted to make sure you’re supporting true talent.
A year into your life as a k-pop fan and now you have a large forum presence and your own blog dedicated to k-pop vocals, frequently visited by many people with the same obsessions – you’re fully absorbed into the world of the k-pop vocal analyst. It’s little wonder that when you see the following advert circulating around all the vocal forums you visit, your heart starts racing:
After spending a while to calm down, you read through some of the forum discussions about this topic. After all, it pays to research. There’s so many scams out there, one has to be careful. Would Ailee really host a k-pop vocal camp? Is it too good to be true?
Taeyeonfap666 – this sounds great but there’s obviously going to be a ton of us wanting to go to this and only limited places. It’s probably very expensive, I bet the people who get to go are all rich.
Bomsux – I’d do it just to meet Ailee, she’s the best vocalist in k-pop for sure. Or nearly the best. Please don’t argue about it just for once, everyone.
Istantruvocals – what exactly is a “k-pop vocal fan camp”? We don’t have to sing, do we? Please don’t make us sing, Ailee, I just want to listen to your amazing voice.
Freeminzy2NE1 – I hate it how k-pop events don’t tell you everyone who will be at the event. Don’t they want the extra sales from fans? Seems dodgy.
KRYing4Suju – I went to one of these last year hosted by Kyuhyun from Super Junior, it was pricey but unforgettable and totally worth the money, it really helped me with a lot of questions I had, definitely a life-changing positive experience. I can afford the cost but I’m not sure if I can afford to take a week out of my life, although if it was Kyuhyun again and not Ailee I probably would. Sorry, Ailee fans!
Yoloswag420 – I heard Jimin from AOA is going to be the keynote speaker at this. I can’t wait.
Davichiwonderland – I’m going to this, I don’t care what I have to do! I don’t care how much it is! Anyone wanting my spot will have to fight me!
The general consensus among the vocal fan forum community seems to be that the event is legit, but pricey. It figures – surely everyone would want to go, and seven days of accommodation and food plus meeting k-pop stars, the costs to put on such an event must be through the roof! You look further on the event’s website, the event organisers even include transport from Incheon Airport into the cost, all you have to do is buy a plane ticket and turn up at the airport, they do everything else! The economics don’t bear thinking about, but what does bear lots of thinking about is that you’ve got the savings to go to this. All you need is your parents’ permission.
You wander into the dining room, where your mother and father are talking after dinner.
“Mum, can I go to this? It’s in Korea, but… I have the money, and it’s school holidays” – you show her a printout of the advert.
Your mother looks the advert up and down. “This is in Korea? And you’ll be gone for a week? No, definitely not!”
You look to your father. “Dad?”
Your father sighs, and looks at the advert for a long time. He then looks at your mother and takes her hand. “You know… I honestly think we should let her go. It’ll be good for her independence to travel, and it’ll teach her some new things.” He winks at her.
Your mother is aghast and draws her hand away from his. “No way! She’ll be alone in a strange country! I’m not letting her go, anything could happen!”
An hour of arguing later, and they agree to let you go to the event, under the conditions that you keep in constant touch via social networking every night to let them know that you’re safe. You couldn’t be happier!
After an uneventful flight, you arrive at late afternoon through the gate at Incheon airport. After you move through customs you see an older Korean man wearing a suit and holding a sign with your name on it. You wave, walk over to him and introduce yourself.
“Hi, I’m here for the Ailee vocal camp!”
“Ah. welcome, good to see you!”, he replies, smiling warmly. “I’ll be your driver. How was your flight?”
“Good, I guess. I’m really tired, but I can’t wait to get to the camp!”
“We will be there soon. Come with me, we’ll collect your bags and then the drive is about one hour.” The man motions silently for you to walk with him and you follow him to baggage claim.
At the baggage check you scan the conveyor belt for your luggage. Feeling awkward, you decide to break the silence.
“What’s the Ailee camp like?” you ask.
“It’s interesting.” he replies.
“You will not forget it. A uniquely positive, life-changing experience!” The driver smiles at you again, that same warm smile.
You spy your luggage and the driver helps you grab the bags, then ushers you out to a waiting van. As you enter the van you notice that you and him are not alone, a girl a few years younger than you with long blonde hair sits in the van’s back seat, waiting.
“Hi, I’m Sarah!” says the young girl in a chirpy, rapid-fire voice. She continues talking excitably with barely a breath as you settle into the vehicle and the driver starts moving. “You might know me as Davichiwonderland on the forums, wow I’m so happy to be going to this! Imagine meeting Ailee it’s going to be OH MY GOD SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE I can’t wait to ask her all about her singing and stuff, she’s the best, I really like her, oh except Haeri is maybe a little better because Davichi is my bias you know that’s why I’m Davichiwonderland but oh my gosh I’m just so excited and it’s so great to be here and how are you? I’m so good I really like posting on the forum a lot and this is like living my dream and I get to meet Ailee and OH MY GOD I wonder who else is there, who do you think will be there besides Ailee? I think it’s going to be IU I really think IU will be there that would be nice IU’s really nice too but I think Ailee is a bit better her voice has a bit more resonance you know and she has better vibrato because that’s important oh my god I’m so excited I haven’t eaten all day but I’m not even hungry because I’ve been thinking about this I didn’t get much sleep last night but I’m so excited right now and…”
You sigh and look at your phone. 59 minutes and 13 seconds to go.
59 minutes and 13 seconds later, the sun has gone down and you’re still on the road. Sarah is still talking.
“…and you know there was this girl on the forums and she said that Ailee is the best, but I’m not sure about that she’s good really good and I mean really good as in really really good but she’s not at Beyonce’s level who is just AMAZING or Mariah’s level and is just AMAZING too or she was before she stopped taking care of her voice because you know that’s important and so many singers don’t do that, I mean why wouldn’t you look after your talent rather than letting things side, you know I think there’s a lot of drugs and alcohol that singers do and they get the good life and they just start buying all the drugs and all the alcohol and having it all at once and that’s really bad for them so they have health problems and then they get dumped from their contracts because they can’t sing like before I think it’s a real issue I don’t know why people don’t take it more seriously because we’ve lost so many great singers all the time this way like Whitney Houston who had that crack habit from that asshole Bobby Brown who must really be a dirtbag she could have had anyone she wanted why did she pick that loser oh my god he’s such a douche and his music is bad too and he can’t even sing properly he like strains and everything it’s so painful to listeOH MY GOD, DRIVER IS THAT IT? IS THAT WHERE WE’RE STAYING OVER THERE? IS THAT IT? OH MY GOD!” – the van starts noticeably slowing and Sarah points up ahead at an old mansion.
“Yes, this is it” says the driver, smiling. You’re happy but you begin to wonder if he has more than one facial expression.
Sarah starts spazzing annoyingly. “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL IT’S LIKE A PALACE WOW I CAN’T WAIT OH MY GOD WOW AILEE IS IN THERE AND EVERYTHING IT’S SO PERFECT THIS IS GONNA BE AMAZING”
The driver brings the vehicle to a stop and turns around in his seat, he looks Sarah dead in the eye, and his smile vanishes.
“Please be aware, that in Korean culture it is important to be silent before your elders. When you see Ailee or any other staff you must be very quiet and speak only when spoken to, or she will see it as a sign of disrespect. Disrespectful behaviour may mean that Ailee becomes upset, and you do not want Ailee to get upset. Do you understand?”
Miraculously, Sarah shuts up. You wish he had said this an hour ago. The driver smiles again. “I am glad that we have an understanding. Please exit the vehicle.”
All three of you exit the vehicle and enter the building through the main doors, which lead into a small hotel-style reception area decorated with flowers.
“Glad to see the last stragglers have made it” says a lady in a formal suit, behind the reception desk. She’s reading a newspaper and doesn’t even look up, she looks incredibly bored.
You recognise her instantly as Moonbyul from Mamamoo. Fortunately, Sarah doesn’t recognise her so you’re spared and earful of spazzing. Moonbyul points off to a doorway on her right. “Everybody’s in there waiting”, she says.
You wait until Sarah is safely out of earshot and whisper to her: “Moonbyul?”
“Yes what is it?” she says, looking up from her paper from the first time, giving you a withering stare.
“You’re an idol – why are you a reception person?” you ask quietly.
Moonbyul rolls her eyes. “That shit doesn’t pay the bills. Now get going through the door, don’t hold things up any more than you already have.”
You move through the doorway into a large meeting room as Moonbyul resumes reading, muttering something under her breath. You shut the door behind you. In the meeting room there are several people sitting in a circle on chairs. One of them is Ailee, all the others are girls and boys your age or younger. Ailee looks amazing, like she does in all her videos, just as you’d imagined. There is one vacant seat left, Ailee motions to it for you to sit down.
“Great! Now we’re all finally here, we can get started!” Ailee’s tone is a little irritated, but unlike Moonbyul she’s doing her best to hide it by smiling. “So, I’m Ailee, as you know, and this is my k-pop vocal camp! We’re going to learn lots of fun things about k-pop vocals and you’re going to get to meet all sorts of k-pop stars! Are you excited?”
Everybody in the circle responds with an emphatic “yes”, except Sarah who says “yes oh my god yes oh yes I’m totally excited I just can’t wait oh my god”. Ailee drops the smile off her face and stares down Sarah blankly until Sarah shuts up. Ailee then instantly resumes smiling and continues.
“So. We’ll get to the learning and all the complicated stuff. For now, it’s late so let’s go around the room and introduce ourselves, then we can have some food and you guys can get some rest! Starting from you and going around in a circle, tell the group a little about yourselves!” She looks to the girl on her left.
“My name is Sally, and I’m 14 years old. I like k-pop and I love good singers!”
“Feel free to be a bit more specific” Ailee prompts.
“Well… I really like YOU, and I like BoA, and…”
“BoA?” Ailee interjects, raising her eyebrows. “Okay, that’s enough. Next person, tell us about yourself.” She motions to a slightly chubby guy who seems a little nervous.
“Hi, I’m David, and… do I have to give my age?”
“You’re telling the story”, Ailee replies.
“Okay, I’m 16… well, 16 and a half if you go by Korean age…”
“Nobody cares about Korean age. Be relevant” quips Ailee.
“Okay, sorry… um, and I really like Sistar and Hyolyn especially, because…”
Ailee interrupts, cutting David off. “Tits, right? You can say it. Because of her tits.”
David stares at Ailee, dumbfounded.
“Repeat after me, David. ‘I like Hyolyn because of her tits’. Go, your turn, say it.” Ailee stares at David with no discernable emotion. David spends a few seconds stammering, he doesn’t want to say it in front of her, his face goes quickly red. After about five seconds Ailee gives up. “Forget it. Next!”
Sarah is next. “Hi I’m Sarah and I’m so happy to be here and this is going to be so wonderful and OH MY GOD AILEE I LOVE YOU YOU’RE THE BEST! CAN I HAVE YOUR AUTOGRAPH? CAN I TAKE A SELCA WITH YOU? YOU’RE SO PRETTY OH MY GOD I LOVE YOUR LONG HAIR AND YOUR LIPS AND YOUR VOICE IS SO AMAZING AND I THINK EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU IS GREAT AND…”
The door that you came through opens. Moonbyul appears and looks at Sarah with a puzzled expression. Sarah can’t see Moonbyul because of Sarah’s position in the circle. Ailee and Moonbyul give each other a little nod. Moonbyul taps Sarah on the shoulder and Sarah turns around.
“Hey, you’re Davichiwonderland, right?” she asks, smiling for the first time.
“Yes that’s me oh my god you know who I am?” Sarah replies.
“Yes, sure!” says Moonbyul, smiling. “Hey you know what, I’m going to pull you out of this group and we’ll return later, okay? You want to meet Haeri, right?”
“OH MY GOD HAERI FROM DAVICHI IS ACTUALLY HERE??!? OH MY GOD WOW YES YES YES” – Moonbyul puts her hand over Sarah’s mouth, and then puts her finger up to her lips indicating Sarah to be silent.
“Haeri doesn’t like loud noise much, so you have to be very quiet. Do you know she has a hearing condition? Loud noises can really hurt her so try not to be loud okay? Anyway come with me, we’ll go to meet her now, she’s just a few rooms down the hall.” Moonbyul and Sarah disappear off together. Ailee clears her throat.
“Right, sorry about that interruption. Okay, next person, tell us about yourself!” Ailee points to a girl with bobbed hair who looks about your age.
“Hi, I’m Amy and I run the forum about k-pop vocal analysis, I’m 17 years old and I’ve been studying vocal pedagogy since…”
“Oh, you’re one of those people” Ailee interjects. “I see. I see” she says slowly, nodding to herself.
“What?” asks Amy.
“Oh, nothing. Keep going. Tell us more.”
Amy starts talking. “So I really got into vocal pedagogy when…”
Ailee puts up the palm of her hand quickly. “Actually no, stop there. Next person!” It’s your turn.
“Actually I like vocal pedagogy too, it’s neat” you say.
“Oh great!” Ailee smiles. “Saves me the trouble. Next!”
You breathe a sigh of relief while the next person starts talking about himself, a young skinny guy.
“I’m Mark and I’m 13 years old. I really like T-ara and…”
Ailee interrupts again. “Why do you like T-ara? Your balls don’t look like they’ve dropped, have they really?”
“I just like the…”
“Sure you do. Do you jerk off?”
“You heard me. Do you jack it?”
“What?” Mark looks confused, he doesn’t know what to say.
“I bet you do. I bet you jack off all the time. Every day, wake up, jack off, go to school, jack off, come home, jack off, jerk it jerk it jerk it all fucking day. Try not to mess up the sheets too much tonight, someone has to clean those. Next!” Ailee motions to the last person in the circle.
“Hi, my name is Leanne and I’m 15, and I really like singers who have a lot of resonance in their voice, like…”
Ailee interrupts her. “Actually, enough of this. Let’s eat. All of you, head through the door on the other side of where you came in, there’s an all you can eat buffet. Do any of you have any special dietary needs? I think one of you was a vegan from the ticket info?”
Leanne speaks up. “I’m a vegan.”
Ailee nods. “Okay well, I guess you won’t be eating, but everyone else eat up and then follow the signs to the dorms. I need to rest my voice, I’ll see you all tomorrow!”
Ailee gets up and walks out of the room, smiling and waving at everyone. The entire room says “Goodbye Ailee!” and move next door to where the food is.
The buffet is amazing! Rows and rows of all sorts of Asian meat dishes. Leanne unpacks and eats some kind of roll she brought with her, everyone else tucks into the meat buffet and then gets settled into the dormitory, one room with several bunk beds and no windows.
That night while getting to sleep the conversation naturally turns to Ailee.
“She’s not what I expected” says David.
“What did you expect?” asks Sally.
David sighs. “I don’t know, she was really blunt. The way she’d smile and be really blunt at the same time, I don’t get it.”
“She cut me off, I didn’t like that” says Amy.
“Maybe she’s on her period” offers Mark.
“Ewww, you’re gross!’ says Leanne.
Mark shrugs. “Well, maybe she is though.”
“Maybe you’re a dickhead though” retorts Leanne.
“Has anyone seen Sarah?” you ask.
“I guess she’s still with Haeri. Weird how she got picked out like that. Why didn’t we get picked?” says Sally.
“She probably paid extra – seems like the type” David replies.
“We might get picked tomorrow” you reply.
Everyone eventually goes to sleep. You text your parents that you’re okay and then doze off. You sleep with some difficulty, thinking about what the next day will bring makes it hard to switch off your brain.
The day starts at 8am with Moonbyul wheeling in a breakfast cart and offering everyone a choice of various cereals or raisin toast. Everyone orders except Leanne who once again eats something that she brought with her. You’re still the only one who recognises Moonbyul.
“Hi, good to see you!” you say to Moonbyul.
“Don’t talk to me. Cereal or toast?” she snaps back abruptly.
“Toast, thank you.” Moonbyul hands you some raisin toast and says nothing further to you. She serves the others and then leaves.
At 9am on the dot Ailee walks into the dormitory.
“How are we all?” she says, smiling.
“Good!” everyone responds.
“That’s great! Today is the first day of your vocal appreciation education! Is everybody looking forward to it?”
“Yes!” replies the room.
“Fantastic! I’ve brought in a computer with some songs on it! Spend the day listening to them, and do some vocal analysis – there’ll be some questions on the songs this evening, plus you’ll get to meet new k-pop stars!” You notice the laptop in Ailee’s hands, she sets the laptop up on a dressing table by one of the bunk beds. “I’ll leave this with you all, meet me in the meeting hall at 6pm… and don’t forget to use the outdoor facilities, everything is there for your use! There’s outdoor gym equipment and basketball hoops if you need a break – remember that there’s no such thing as too much exercise! Plus the views are great!”
Ailee smiles and leaves the room. Everyone huddles around the computer, while David accesses it for the songs. It takes him about 10 minutes to find any songs on the laptop at all, as they’re deep in hidden subdirectories, but David eventually figures out the nuances of the computer’s search function and finds the following four songs only:
The whole room stares at each other.
“She’s kidding, right? Vocal analysis, on these songs?” asks Amy.
You shrug and look around. Nobody has any answers.
At 6pm, everyone from the dorms is in the meeting hall sitting down on a row of chairs before a small stage – everyone except Sarah, who nobody has seen or heard from. Ailee enters the room, to a round of applause.
“Hi everybody! Glad you could all make it!” Ailee smiles and waves. “Before we get into our questions, we’re going to listen to a keynote speech from our good friend Jimin from AOA! Everybody give Jimin a round of applause!”
Everybody claps politely. “Why Jimin?” Amy and David ask each other. Jimin appears from the side of the stage, takes a microphone off Ailee with a quick “thank you”, and clears her throat. She doesn’t look as good in person as in the videos, but boy does she sound exactly the same! Jimin then begins a speech in her characteristic vocal tone, one which you’ve never been able to stand. You grit your teeth and bear it.
“Hi, I’m Jimin, the motherfuckin’ top madam. It’s good to be here.
How would you feel if you knew that today was your last day on Earth? What would you do differently? You would probably re-prioritise your life. Perhaps you would stay home from work or school, and spend more time with loved ones, friends or family. Maybe you would travel, or experience something completely new.
What if you knew that something was happening, or about to happen, that had the potential to completely change everything in your life, that there was no going back from, and that you could do nothing to stop? Would you tell everyone, or keep it a secret? If there was something that you could do to stop it, would you?
The landscape of both Korean and international k-pop music fans is undergoing a paradigm shift. Vocal analysis has been on the rise for the last decade, largely thanks to people such as yourselves who are spearheading the cultural movement of k-pop fans in this direction. As a result, vocal analysis has now reached a critical point.
Cycles of analysis are ever-shortening. The “cycle of analysis” is the aggregate time between when a note is produced by a singer, and when that same note is analysed by people who run and participate in k-pop vocal threads, forums and so on, people such as yourselves. Due to the current wide popularity of vocal analysis, combined with the exponential growth in k-pop product and k-pop’s global reach, plus the rush of fans to study each new product that appears, all of which are exponentially increasing, mathematical models now show that we will soon reach a point called “global vocal analysis singularity”, which is when the popularity of vocal analysis is widespread and the aggregate “cycle of analysis” time drops to near zero, or under one second. At this point it will not be possible for singers to produce a note without billions of analysts dropping all other activities to study the note that was just made. At this point, everything ends – death by vocal analysis.
Ailee K-pop Vocal Fan Camp is committed to being proactive about reducing the risk of a “singularity event” which could stop all society from functioning. There is something we can do to avert this fate, and that is why we have brought you here. Thank you.
Jimin leaves the stage to polite but confused applause. “I don’t get it. What was that all about?” you ask.
Amy shrugs. “I don’t know either, I honestly wasn’t really listening. I hear that squeaky voice and I just tune out every time. Why is she even here?”
Ailee re-enters the stage. “Go and grab some food from the buffet, and then go back to your dorms, everyone. You questions are waiting for you there!”
Everyone walks to the buffet and picks up a plate of food, except Leanne, who once again is not catered for.
“I’ve had enough of this! I wrote ‘vegan’ when I applied for the ticket and they said they would cater for me, I want something to eat! I paid good money for this!” Leanne storms off in the direction of the kitchen. You follow and watch what she’s doing, you can’t hear her over the kitchen noise but she’s obviously talking to the chefs about getting them to make her something that complies with her diet. Leanne comes back two minutes later with some kind of sandwich roll in her hands. “About time!” she says as she begins eating.
About halfway through eating the roll, Leanne starts making strange gestures with her tongue.
“What’s wrong, is everything okay?” you ask.
“Yeah, fine – I think I swallowed a hair though. I can feel it stuck to my throat, it’s gross! There’s not much hygiene in that kitchen!”
Leanne eventually locates and spits out the hair, and you both look at it.
“Ewww, I should report them to the health department” says Leanne.
You examine the hair. “That hair is blonde – and long. That’s weird. Did any of those chefs have long, blonde hair?”
“No. None of us do either.”
“Oh wait, except…”
You both look at each other not knowing what to think.
After dinner you go back to the dorms, where you immediately notice everyone else is looking a bit odd. You’re about to ask what’s wrong, but you don’t need to. Mark shows you the question form.
“This isn’t what I expected”, says Amy.
“This is just hypothetical, right?” asks David.
Nobody knows how to fill out the form. What do the questions have to do with vocal analysis anyway? Nobody can figure it out, so everyone leaves it blank.
No-one in the vocal camp group gets much sleep.
At 8am Moonbyul appears, wheeling in a breakfast cart and offering everyone a choice of various cereals or raisin toast. Everyone orders except Leanne who doesn’t eat, she’s out of self-brought food. You’re still the only one who recognises Moonbyul.
“Cereal or toast?” Moonbyul asks you.
“Moonbyul, what the hell is going on? Please help us understand!”
Moonbyul backs away from you. “Don’t you FUCKING ask me for shit! And don’t use my name! Cereal or toast?” she whispers.
You sigh. “Toast, please.”
Moonbyul is angry, she almost throws you the toast on a plate, serves the rest of the room and then leaves.
At 9am on the dot Ailee walks into the dormitory, carrying a laptop.
“How are we all?” she says, smiling.
“Good!” everyone responds, half-heartedly.
“Did you all complete your questions?” asks Ailee.
Everybody looks at each other in nervous silence. Ailee picks up the question forms, none of which have been filled out.
“Oh wow, none of you did any of these. How can we continue to do the k-pop vocal camp if you guys won’t participate?”
“We didn’t know what to write”, says Amy.
Ailee sighs and approaches Amy, furious. “Amy, are you not a vocalpedagogist or whatever the FUCK it is you people call yourself?”
Amy nods. “But these questions are not about vocal…”
“What does it say on the top of the form? READ IT!”
“It says vocal analysis questions, but…”
“So are you telling me that you’re willing to get up on your high horse and be a fucking expert in vocals on the Internet, but you can’t answer three SIMPLE FUCKING QUESTIONS about your life? Is that what you’re telling me?”
Amy is silent.
“Fine, say nothing. Here’s the laptop, there’s two more songs on it. Get to work. More questions tonight, plus I expect the other forms filled out completely tomorrow, by everyone!” Ailee dumps the laptop on the dresser and storms out of the room.
After Ailee leaves, Amy says “fuck this. Ailee is a psycho bitch! I’m out of here right now! Goodbye everyone!” Amy packs her bags and rushes out the door. Everyone else opts to fill in the form instead with just anything, hoping to pacify Ailee with results.
The next laptop is opened and David searches for the songs. Now that he knows what he’s doing, they’re easy to find and he gets the results in under a minute. Everyone remaining gathers around to watch.
Once again, not exactly ripe vocal analysis material, although you could probably write a small thesis on how Bom strains her notes and doesn’t connect them properly if you had to. The other camp members listen to the songs over and over to try to figure out what Ailee might want, but you’ve given up. You go out to the exercise yard and shoot hoops for a while, and spend some time texting your parents. You don’t want them to worry and pull you out of the camp, you’re also trying not to worry yourself about Ailee’s tantrum so you tell them everything’s going fine.
That night, there’s nothing happening at the meeting hall, so the vocal group all go to the buffet. It’s very quiet, there are no chefs on duty this time, or anyone else around, but the buffet is full – all the food has been prepared earlier and left waiting for you. Everybody except Leanne grabs a plate, Leanne instead goes straight into the kitchen.
New question forms have been left on the dining table this time, you pick one up and take a look.
“Um… guys… come and take a look at this…” you say.
Your words are interrupted by Leanne screaming. Leanne comes rushing out of the kitchen. “It’s Amy! She got Amy! And Sarah!”
You look in the kitchen, Amy and Sarah’s severed heads are both sitting on the kitchen benchtop, with a large butcher’s knife sticking out of Amy’s forehead. Some of the flesh from Sarah’s skull has been cut away into thin strips, that look a lot like the thin strips in the buffet pork tray, which all of you except Leanne have been eating daily. It’s impossible to look at the kitchen scene or the buffet further. Everyone except Leanne starts feeling instantly violently ill and vomiting, Leanne instead starts running in circles and panicking. “Let’s get out of here!” she screams over and over.
You try to compose yourself while wiping away the chunks of vomit from your mouth. “That’s what Amy tried, look how she ended up.”
“We can’t run, we have to defend ourselves!” exclaims Mark, between regurgitations.
Everybody rushes into the kitchen and raids the kitchen drawers to grab knives. Nobody wants to touch the big butcher’s knife embedded in Amy’s skull, but the kitchen is well-stocked with knives so soon everyone has a weapon.
“There’s only one of her, there’s five of us.” says Sally. “I think we can take her on.”
All of a sudden a loud banging noise is heard, and you are blinded and knocked back onto the floor of the kitchen. Something has landed on your face. You wipe your eyes, to find Sally is now with you on the ground, except that she has only half her head left. You realise that what you just got knocked back by was possibly her exploding brains.
“Four”, says Ailee, holding a shotgun and pointing it at all of you. “Don’t try any fancy shit. Everyone drop the knives and let’s go, back up to the dorms.”
Ailee marches you all into the dorms, closes the door and locks you all inside.
No-one in the vocal camp group gets any sleep at all, the night is spent planning how to escape. The plan is to rush Moonbyul when she appears at 8am and make a run for it.
At 8am Moonbyul appears like clockwork, wheeling in a breakfast cart, at which point everyone makes a rush for the door. Prepared, Moonbyul has a pistol already drawn and shoots Mark in the stomach as he’s the first person to nearly reach her. Mark doubles up on the floor, bleeding and in pain. You’re still the only one who recognises Moonbyul.
“Cereal or toast?” Moonbyul asks Mark. “Don’t make me wait!” Mark is unable to say anything and just groans in pain, so after a few seconds Moonbyul gets bored of waiting and shoots him a second time in the chest, killing him instantly.
“Cereal or toast?” Moonbyul then asks you.
“Toast please”, you reply as quickly as possible.
Moonbyul hands you a plate of raisin toast, with double the slices this time. She serves the others, leaves and locks the door behind her.
David starts crying. “Well that idea was shit! What are we going to do now?”
Leanne says “Ailee arrives in an hour. We’re probably doomed.”
However Ailee doesn’t turn up at the usual time. The hours pass uneventfully.
At 6pm Ailee unlocks the dormitory door and enters. She’s brandishing a laptop, plus the same shotgun that she used to remove Sally’s cranium.
“Final exam.” Ailee places the laptop on the dresser.
“…Ailee?” Leanne says.
“Yes, what is it?” Ailee replies. You wince – you can’t see this ending well.
“Why are you doing this?”
“Do you know how much I fucking hate you vocal fans? You’re so pathetic. I can’t sing a note without it appearing on ten different sites with people talking about how I could have sung it better. People with NO talent, MINIMAL AT BEST singing ability, NO understanding of the technical aspect, and ZERO creativity to do anything else besides piss about on the Internet stroking themselves off acting like they’re FUCKING EXPERTS about shit that they don’t even know the first thing about and picking apart everything. You people are the reason why I have to overdub my voice fucking ten times on everything. I fucking hate you all so much, you disgust me. I wish I could kill each and every one of you, but there’s too many of you pieces of shit.”
“But… I just like voices that are resonant, what’s wrong with that?”
Ailee quickly shoots Leanne in the stomach. “DID YOU HEAR THAT? My shotgun barrel is 26 INCHES LONG, that’s a RESONATING FREQUENCY WAVELENGTH of 454.2 Hz! YOU FUCKING DUMB BITCH! RESONATING FREQUENCIES ARE IN EVERYTHING!” Leanne is already dead but Ailee keeps screaming at her. “YOU FUCKING STUPID CUNT VOCAL FAGGOTS OBSESSING ABOUT POINTLESS SHIT!” Ailee shoots Leanne a second time for good measure. “LISTEN AGAIN! THAT’S BETWEEN A4 and A#4, I SUPPOSE YOU GIVE A FUCK ABOUT THAT TOO YOU FUCKING WASTE OF SPACE!” Ailee then storms out of the room, slamming it and locking it behind her. You and David, now the only two left alive, both breathe a small sigh of relief that she didn’t go gun-crazy and kill you both as well.
David opens up the laptop and searches for songs. Only one this time.
The intro seems bitterly ironic.
At 8am Moonbyul appears, wheeling in a breakfast cart and brandishing a pistol. However neither you nor David intend to try anything after yesterday.
“Cereal or toast?” Moonbyul asks.
You and David both choose toast and are given double portions each. Moonbyul then lumps the bodies of Leanne and Mark onto the breakfast cart and wheels them away. She also leaves behind a couple new question forms.
Both you and David fill out “yes” for all three questions without hesitation.
Ailee arrives at 6pm, unlocking the door and opening it slowly. She’s still carrying the same shotgun.
“Forms”, she says. You hand the forms that you and David have filled out over to her. Ailee looks them over.
Ailee sits down on the edge of the bed. “Okay, quiz time. I need to know that I can trust you both to do this correctly. Anybody can fill out a form, it’s another thing to actually have a brain. Let’s start with you”. She points the shotgun toward David. “I just released two new songs – what are they?”
“Correct! Now – which song do you like more, and why?”
David thinks for a moment. “Well, I thought ‘Insane’ had the better vocal performance in terms of overall feel, but then I really liked the high notes in ‘Mind Your Own…”
Ailee shoots David in the face killing him instantly and spraying blood and brains all over the rear wall of the dormitory. “Gosh, I’m so terribly sorry, that’s the WRONG FUCKING ANSWER”, she yells as David’s corpse falls to the floor, leaking blood. Ailee then turns the shotgun towards you. “I trust you have a more satisfactory answer?” she asks.
You think for a moment, but you’re really not sure. “‘Insane’ was okay but I liked ‘Mind Your Own Business’ more, but I’m not sure why. It was just a better song, I guess?”
Ailee releases her grip on the shotgun. She smiles at you. “Congratulations. You are cured.”
It’s the next morning and you’re on the plane back home. You never told your parents about any of the events at the K-pop vocal camp, even though you could have texted them at any time – if they found out, they’d never let you have any freedom ever again! Also, what could they do from another country away? Nothing, obviously – you were trapped. It was traumatising seeing so many people die in front of you, and not knowing from one moment to the next if you were going to live or die yourself… but there’s one thing you can’t deny, you learned a lot… and perhaps also unlearned some things. It’s probably better that way.
You’re on your phone making a post about how you’re putting your k-pop vocal blogging on indefinite hiatus, when the passenger next to you taps you on the shoulder, to alert you to the arrival of the airplane food trolley.
“Cereal or toast?” asks the air hostess.