Saturday, October 22, 2016

Five Nights At Ailee’s K-pop Vocal Fan Camp 2

It's nearly Halloween, so that means scary Kpopalypse fanfiction fun times!  Read on for the long-awaited sequel to Five Nights At Ailee's K-pop Vocal Fan Camp!

aileefan

It's not mandatory to read the original to enjoy this sequel, but it probably will help your appreciation of some of the finer points of the story.  If you haven't read it you can do so here, otherwise read on!


aileeday1

"Well, it definitely was a positive life-changing experience."

That's all anyone ever seems to say about Ailee's K-pop vocal fan camp, and it's driving you insane.
You're a police detective and you've been investigating the mysterious disappearances of several young men and women over the last year.  The pattern seems simple enough - a group of young people go on Ailee's fan camp, several don't return, and the few that do come back all say the exact same thing under questioning, almost word-for-word.  You've been trying to get people to open up about what really goes on there for months, to no avail.  It's to the point where your colleagues at the police station are making jokes at your expense:

"You're always on that Ailee case, you're obsessed with her and her shitty music" they say.

"Fuck off!  I don't even like her." you retort.  It's true - you don't even listen to any k-pop, and if it were not for this case you probably wouldn't even know who Ailee is.

They never believe you.  "You're just fangirling on work time."

The fact that you're female and relatively young doesn't help matters, it's hard enough to get people at the station to take you seriously as it is sometimes.  However there's one thing that you do take very seriously indeed and that's your job as a detective, and your task of bringing the crooked to justice and protecting the lives of innocent people.  Of course, there's selfish reasons too - you're all too aware that blowing open a case this potentially big could have huge positive ramifications for your career, or at least help get yourself some more respect in the department - but ultimately, serving the people is its own reward.

Aside from questioning witnesses who won't say much, you've done a fair bit of online research into Ailee and the fan camp.  Here's what you know so far:
  • Ailee is a k-pop singer, and technically one of the better ones in the Korean industry currently
  • As such, she tends to attract fans who are specifically interested in singing technique and issues of vocal quality
  • These fans will congregate on forums and blogsites that are concerned with k-pop and singing, to discuss singers
  • It's on these vocal-centric sites where recruitment for fan camp participants occurs, using anonymous accounts
  • Fans are taken from Incheon Airport to an undisclosed location, a mansion where they meet Ailee and other celebrities
  • About 10% of fans spend a week at the fan camp before returning home, the rest are never seen again
  • Nobody who returns from the camp has anything even slightly negative to say about it
Of course, dozens of missing person reports don't lie - something sinister is going on and you're determined to find out what it is and bring whoever is responsible to justice.  But with no witnesses who are talking, how do you investigate these crimes?  The answer seems obvious - you're going to have to go on the camp yourself.  Of course, this means that you're going to have to pass for an Ailee fangirl, but that shouldn't be too hard, after all the whole police department already thinks you're the biggest Ailee fan ever and you didn't even intend for that to happen.

That's what's brought you here, to the back of the van you're currently in, winding its way up a hill on the semi-rural outskirts of Seoul.  The driver has been mercifully quiet (there's nothing worse than overly familiar taxi drivers) since you met him at the airport holding a sign with your name on it, however you feel like you should ask him something.  If he's the driver for this camp, perhaps he's in on it too?  You should find out.

"So, driver... what's the camp like?" you ask.

"Well... it's certainly a positive life, changing experience!" he replies.

A chill goes up your spine.  You say nothing further, there's no point continuing the conversation now that his collusion with whatever is going on is confirmed.  You eye him suspiciously from the rear-view mirror and try to make like you're absent-mindedly playing with your phone as the van travels forward.  In reality you're mentally checking off your luggage while being aware of your surroundings.  You've brought a travel bag with a week's worth of clothes, toothbrushes and makeup, your phone and charger, headache pills (you might need them if you're forced to listen to Ailee's music for too long) some snack food, water bottles and some pepper spray, just in case.  You look outside and notice the suburbia thinning out into trees as the van continues to ascend.

aileenight1

As dusk settles in, the van finally approaches the large driveway of a large mansion.  The lights are on inside.

"We have arrived - Ailee's vocal fan camp!" says the driver.

mansis

The van pulls over and you slide out with your travel bag behind you.  As soon as you open the van door you're conscious of an odd screaming sound.  A horrible, truly ear-piercing wail, it appears to be coming from inside the mansion!  You thought there might be trouble here, but you didn't expect the action to happen the moment you stepped out of the van!  You quickly find the pepper spray in your bag's side pocket and run over but cautiously to the front door to take a closer look.  Your heart starts racing - surely it must be a murder scene or a killer on the loose, you don't hear blood-curling screams like that every day.  You carefully open the door, hoping to not alert whatever's inside.

noonbyul

You enter into the foyer of the mansion, there's doors on every side of the room, and a reception desk.  There's a lady here with long hair near the desk, dressed in a blue t-shirt and jeans.  She looks very unimpressed.  Around her are six other people, all young men and women, all visibly younger than you even though you're only in your mid-twenties, the youngest are teenagers.  The source of the chilling scream is now obvious - one of the girls, a hyperactive individual with tacky dyed blonde curls and bright blue glitter nails, is screaming at the top of her lungs over and over.

"WE'RE GOING TO MEET AILEE IN A FEW MINUTES OHMIGOD THIS IS SO EXCITING I JUST CAN'T ANYTHING!  AILEEEEEEEEEEE!   AILEEEEEEEEEEEE I LOVE YOU!" she screams.

"Look, Ailee doesn't like loud noises okay?  You need to calm down." says the girl in the blue shirt.

"AILEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  OH MY GOD!  AILEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"  The young girl shows no signs of stopping.  In the meantime, the girl in the blue shirt has noticed you enter the room.

"I'm so sorry about this.  There's always one of these in every group.  Anyway my name's Moonbyul and I'm going to be helping look after you guys during the camp.  You are here for the camp, aren't you?  You look kind of... more mature than the usual guest."

You nod while you fumble the pepper spray back into the bag, hoping nobody notices.  "Yes, I'm here for the camp."

"Okay, that's good, it means we can start."  Moonbyul turns back to the young screaming girl and covers the girl's mouth forcibly with her hand.  "Now, you know how Ailee is like the bestest singer in the world ever, right?"

Unable to speak with Moonbyul's hand pressed against her mouth, the girl nods.

"Don't we all.  Now, you know why she's so good?  Because she has exceptional hearing.  Her ears are very finely tuned for listening and that's part of why she's such a good singer.  This means she can't be around loud noises like loud screaming fans, okay?  You might cause damage to her hearing and then she'll stop being the bestest vocalist ever and she wouldn't win all those awards anymore, you wouldn't want that now, would you?"

The girl shakes her head to indicate no.

"Now when I take my hand away, you have to promise to be good and keep your voice down, okay?  Otherwise we might have to eject you from the camp.  That would be a shame on your first night here.  You wouldn't want that either, would you?"

The girl shakes her head again to indicate no.

Moonbyul smiles briefly, takes her hand away from the girl's mouth slowly and says "Now, please wait quietly with the others, Ailee won't be long."  The young girl goes to say something but then Moonbyul raises her eyebrow in a "I dare you to start" kind of way and the young girl seemingly thinks better of it.  Moonbyul then leaves the room via a back door that you hear lock behind her.

Everyone else in the room turns to look at you, the new entrant.

"You're an Ailee fan?" says the young girl.

"Well, I'm here for the camp, right?" you respond.

"YAAAAAA....  sorry I mean yay!  I'm so excited!" she whispers, seemingly quivering with anticipation.
Two large double doors open on another side of the room.  Moonbyul is behind them, and behind her is a circle of eight chairs.

"Come sit down in the circle!" says Moonbyul, who then retreats to a corner of the room where there is another seat.  She sits down and starts playing with her telephone while everyone else in the group finds a seat in the circle.  Ailee then walks through a door on the other side of the room.

ailee2

The whole room has a collective gasp, except for Moonbyul who continues to play with her phone.

"Hi everyone!  How are we all tonight?"

"Hi Ailee!" says the whole room in reply.

Ailee sits down in the remaining seat in the circle.  "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?"

The entire room responds with various extremely overenthusiastic affirmations.

“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, who looks about eighteen or so.

"Hi, I'm Maria and... I love k-pop!"

Ailee pauses and looks at Maria.  "That's it?  You can do better than that.  I know I said 'a little' but come on, make an effort."

Maria is a little nervous.  "Sorry... so um... I also like Drake and..."

Ailee interrupts quickly.  "OKAY OKAY that's enough, stop oversharing already.  Next!"  Ailee puts her hand up and then motions to the next person in the circle, a guy who couldn't be more than sixteen.

"Hi there, I'm Mark.  I'm a huge fan of k-pop vocals, I run a site called kpopvocaldeconstructions.com where we grade k-pop singers and discuss their talents!"

"So you sing?" asks Ailee.

"Oh no... I just like vocal pedagogy, and I only want to stan true talent."

Ailee stares at Mark for about ten seconds, not saying anything or making any expression.

"What?" says Mark.

"Oh, nothing.  Next!"  Ailee smiles briefly, then motions to the next girl - the screaming girl from before.

She immediately starts up.  "I'm Christie and OH MY GOD - O MY GOD!  YOU'RE REALLY AILEEEEEEEE!  AILEEEEEEEEE!"

Ailee looks over at Moonbyul in the corner.  Moonbyul looks up from her phone and gives Ailee a small nod.  Just then, everything goes pitch black.  The entire rooms gasps.

"Nothing to worry about" says Moonbyul from the corner.  "Just a power outage.  We get them in these hills all the time.  Everybody remain seated, I just have to go and reset the fuse box."

You can hear Moonbyul walk off somewhere and some furniture move around but your eyes haven't adjusted to the lack of light so you can't see anything yet.

"Remain calm and seated everyone, please don't move around because it's dangerous to move in the dark.  These outages never last more than a minute." says Ailee.  "MOONBYUL, IS THE POWER BACK ON YET?" yells Ailee to Moonbyul in a voice that can surely be heard a few rooms away.

"Ten seconds!" yells Moonbyul, from another location.  You start silently counting to ten and sure enough right when you finish, the lights come back on.  Everyone in the circle breathes a sigh of relief, and then they notice something - Christie isn't in the circle any more.

"What happened to Christie?" asks Maria.

"Her chair's gone too!" says David.

Ailee sighs.  "Moonbyul, have you seen Christie?

Moonbyul re-enters the room.  "Which one's Christie again?"

"The loud one."
 
"Oh.  I don't know.  Where was she?"

"Right here."

Moonbyul shrugs.  "I don't know.  I really wasn't paying attention.  Maybe she went to the toilet?"

Ailee smiles.  "Yes, that seems like what happened.  Let's carry on.  Who's next?"

You're next.  You look at Ailee and your mind races.  You start thinking about Christie.  What happened there, really?  Where is she?  You're in shock how someone vanished so fast and nobody seems to even care.  You try to think of something to say.

Ailee doesn't wait more than a few seconds before saying "Sorry too slow!   Next!"

Next is a young teenage girl wtih a black bob cut.

"Hi, I'm Angela, and I like lots of k-pop, my favourite groups are SHINee and BTS, but I also like 2AM and Davichi."

"Said no woman of relevance, ever.  You just like the boys in the groups don't you." says Ailee.

"Well yes I like the boys but I also like the music!"

"You.  Like.  The.  Boys.  That's it.  That's all.  Nobody likes BTS for the songs."

Angela looks at Ailee, visibly upset.  She looks like she's about to cry.

"NEXT!" says Ailee.

A tall guy who looks like the oldest one in the group.

"I'm Michael, and I got into k-pop through H.O.T and Sechs Kies.  I'm so happy to be on the camp, it means I get to learn a lot about k-pop vocals!"

Ailee side-eyes Moonbyul, who has resumed her position in the corner playing with her phone.  Moonbyul gives a slight chuckle to herself.

"Next!" says Ailee.

"Hi!  I'm Lauren and I work for kpopvocala..."

"OKAY THAT'S ENOUGH!" says Ailee, cutting her off.  "Everyone 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.  Make sure you eat well because we don't want any of that food to go to waste!  Once you've had your fill, Moonbyul will show you to your dorms.  We'll start the activities tomorrow!  Goodbye everyone!"

Everyone waves goodbye to Ailee as she leaves the room.  Moonbyul motions everyone through the doors out through the foyer and into the dining room, where there's an alarmingly large selection of all-meat dishes and nothing else.

meeee

Something about the rows of meat seems offputting and you're not overly hungry anyway so you eat some of the snacks you brought with you instead.  Everyone else tucks into the meat buffet and then gets settled into the dormitory, one room with several beds and no windows.  Looking around the dormitory you notice that the windows are barred and there is only one exit door.  It would almost look like a prison dorm, but the beds have metal frames and are on wheels which give the room more of a hospital ward feel.

That night while getting to sleep the conversation naturally turns to Ailee.

"She was rude.  I don't like her." says Angela.

"That's just because you're a chick" says Michael.

"No it's not!  She was mean.  She didn't have to have a go at me like that. I love SHINee and BTS, why did she have to pick on me?"

"Maybe she's jealous of the boy groups, because they're really successful?" ponders Maria.

"At least you got to say something" sighs Lauren.

You try to get to sleep, but you're conscious of a humming nose.  It's Maria, in her bed mumbling "Sorry sorry sorry sorry maega naega naega meonjeo..."

"I'm trying to sleep, can you stop that?  That song sucks anyway." whines Mark, tossing and turning.

"Fuck you!  Super Junior is a great group!  Plus they have Kyukhun who is a true vocal talent!", retorts Maria.

"Not on that song though, it's all Autotune.  Sing something decent of theirs, from K.R.Y."

"Oh come on, I can't sing that stuff.  Sorry Sorry is catchier!"

"Some vocal camp participant you are.  The only thing you'll catch is terminal ass cancer."

"You should support talented vocalists no matter what they do, they need recognition!"

"You have no standards.  Low standards is the problem with everything in k-pop now!"

And on and on the argument goes, in the darkness.  It's going to be a long night.

aileeday2

You wake up to the sound of a rattling breakfast cart.  Moonbyul is here, looking exceptionally bored.

"Cereal or toast?" Moonbyul asks around the room.  Everybody in the room has cereal except for you.

"Hi Moonbyul, how are you?  You know I love Mamamoo!  Such great vocalists!" says Angela.

Moonbyul stares at Angela, repulsed.  "Don't talk to me." she says, quickly serving everyone cereal with air-hostess efficiency (but minus the smiles) and then just as quickly exiting with the cart.

Everyone eats breakfast in their beds and starts chatting excitedly about k-pop vocals, arguing about who is the better vocalist in which group and so on.  You tune their irritating banter out as best you can - the endless insipid conversations about the most arbitrary of vocal details annoy you, you wouldn't even think to listen to music with such a degree of pointless fussiness.  You just want to know what's really going on at this camp.

After a while, Ailee arrives, looking happy, but it's a strange kind of happy that doesn't seem quite right.  You can't quite place it, but it smells of insincerity.

“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 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.  Everybody huddles around the computer to look at the songs.  They seem to be having trouble finding them.  You feign interest for a while, but after a short amount of time you decide that there's better things you could be doing.

"I'm going to go on a break, if you need me I'll be outside!" you say to the group.

"Okay, see you when you get back!" says Michael.  The rest ignore you.

You think about the endless list of missing persons who were last seen leaving for the vocal fan camp.  If people are vanishing, where are they most likely going?  You spend a couple hours wandering around, making a mental map of everything and trying to determine how a disappearance might occur.  The first floor has the large dormitory room, some toilets and showers, a small laundry area with two washing machines, and two other doorways both marked with big "STAFF ONLY" signs.  You listen closely to your surroundings, and once you're certain that Moonbyul is downstairs and not coming back up soon, you try to open one of the doors.  The door opens easily, and you walk through into a large and extremely well-stocked cleaning room, with a vast array of mops, buckets and detergents, plus a large bathtub.  Nothing looks odd however, although you wonder what they must be cleaning to justify a room of this size.  You walk back out and try the other door, but it's locked and won't open.  You decide to move to the ground floor.

On the ground floor is the reception area, meeting room and dining area, toilets, plus some other areas that are off-limits for guests such as the kitchens, meeting hall and some other rooms which are presumably offices or something.  All the restricted access rooms have the same "STAFF ONLY" sign on their doors, except the meeting hall which has a sign saying "OPENS AT 6PM".  Moonbyul sits at the reception desk, looking at you as you wander around.  You can't really sneak a peek into any of the restricted access areas without her seeing you do so, so instead you wander into the backyard.  The backyard is a large fenced-off area which contains a sloping grass hill, a basketball court, some exercise machines, and some trees right at the rear fence.  Certainly nothing seems sinister about it.  Satisfied that you've investigated all you can for now, you spend some time on the exercise machines and then return to the dorm.  Just as you open the door, you jump back as you hear a horrible blood-curdling scream!

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!  You're so full of shit!  Ailee IS SO better than Beyonce!"

"No she isn't!  Her lower register is terrible, so unsupported!  She's got no stability!"

"You're just a filthy HATER!  Why are you even here?!  You don't deserve to be on this camp!"

"She just sounds a bit whiny because she has poor vowel shaping!"

"She's got tension problems above B5!  Also her resonance gets a little pushed up there!"

"No, she pushes her larynx down instead, it's a bad habit!"

"I know more about vocals than you so shut up, your opinion isn't even valid!"

"Idols all breathe too much, they don't need that much breath up high!"

Not a stabbing or a shooting, but the Ailee fans arguing!  You do your best to ignore them all and tune out their wailing.  You take a quick look at the songs on the computer that they found while you were away.







Vocal analysis - with these songs?  "It doesn't make much sense, but whatever keeps them off the streets and away from normal people", you think to yourself.

aileenight2

At 6pm, everyone from the dorms is in the meeting hall sitting down on a row of chairs before a small stage – everyone except Christie, 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 performance from our good friend Umji from Gfriend!  Everybody give Umji a round of applause!”

Everyone applauds politely but unenthusiastically.  Lauren is sitting next to you and mutters "why Umji... of all the people they could have picked?"  Her rhetorical question goes unanswered as everybody focuses on Umji, who takes a microphone and approaches the front of the stage.

umjishag

"Hi" says Umji, shyly.  Umji then gives a quick nod over to someone unseen at the side of the stage, and a backing track starts, a mess of badly recorded guitar and drums.  Umji starts singing over the top, and even to your not-that-musical ear she's clearly not quite in tune or in time:
Oh, the rich people want what the poor people's got
And the poor people want what the rich people's got
And the skinny people want what the fat people's got
And the fat people want what the skinny people's got
You can never please anybody in this world
The short people want what the tall people's got
And the tall people want what the short people's got
The little kids want what the big kid's got
And the big kids want what the little kid's got
You can never please anybody in this world
Oh, the girls with short hair want long hair
And the girls with long hair want short hair
Oh, the boys with cars want motorcycles
And the boys with motorcycles want cars
You can never please anybody in this world
It doesn't matter what you do
It doesn't matter what you say
There will always be
One who wants things the opposite way
It doesn't matter where you go
It doesn't matter who you see
There will always be
Someone who disagrees
We do our best
We try to please
But we're like the rest
We're never at ease
Oh, the rich people want what the poor people's got
And the poor people want what the rich people's got
And the skinny people want what the fat people's got
And the fat people want what the skinny people's got
You can never please anybody in this world
The song ends, and Umji smiles briefly, before running off stage.  Everyone applauds, politely but hesitantly.

"What the fuck was that?" whispers Lauren, to the others.  Everyone in the vocal fan group looks at each other, seemingly for answers.  Nobody has any.

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 gets up and goes into the dining room, picking up plates and filling them up with meat dishes from the buffet.  You're a lot hungrier than you were last night so it's a lot harder to say no to the rows of meat trays.  You grab a porcelain plate, fill it with a few different random meat selections, and sit down to eat.  The food isn't bad!  You all then head up to the dormitory.  There's a piece of paper on the bed of each camp participant.
aileeq1
"What does this actually have to do with anything", says Michael, scratching his head.

David sighs.  "When do we get to do the fun stuff?  And that song!  What were they thinking?  I think I want my money back."

Everyone around the room groans.  Maria looks at you.  "You haven't really said much.  What do you think of all this?"

Actually, you don't even care.  Umji sings badly and the song is annoying, but not as annoying as the constant arguing and weird obsessions of these Ailee fans, who only seem to care about vocal technique, people getting recognition for vocal technique from others, and nothing else.  You're convinced that if a nuclear bomb went off and killed millions they'd be okay with it as long as someone sung the news to them with perfect vocal technique.

You shrug.  "I'm not sure what I expected, but this wasn't it."

aileeday3

You wake up, and look at the time on your phone.  It's 5:37 AM.  Way too early to actually be getting up.  You turn over in bed in an attempt to get back to sleep but instead become conscious of a sharp pain rising in your stomach and throat.  Suddenly you feel the urge to vomit, so you quickly sprint into the bathroom, and regurgitate most of last night's dinner.  I guess all that meat didn't agree with you.  The pain in your throat subsides almost immediately as you look into the toilet bowl and see a strange, dark object.  Grimacing, you fish the object out of the toilet water and take a closer look.

bluenail

A bright blue fake fingernail.  You know you've seen this somewhere before, but you're too tired to process it right now, and you feel kind of sickly.  You go back to the dorm room, put the nail on the dressing table next to your bed, crawl back under the covers and go to sleep.

aileenight3

You wake up.  You feel like you've been asleep for hours.  Looking up at the ceiling, you notice that it's changed, it's a lot darker with no light.  You sit up in bed, the room is different, you're in a concrete cell with a door made of heavy iron bars, a TV, a small chair and a small toilet bowl.  The TV is on, it shows a continuous green-tinted feed of a room which is empty, you're not sure which room it is but presumably it's somewhere else in the same building, however it doesn't look like one of the rooms you visited when you were scouting the mansion out yesterday.  You notice that on your chair, all the spare clothes that were in your travel bag have been placed there and folded up neatly.  You reach down for your travel bag - it's not there, which means that all your toiletries and your phone are missing.  You feel under your pillow for your pepper spray, and surprisingly, it's still there.  You figure that someone has wheeled you into this room while you were asleep, as the bed itself hasn't changed.  On the other side of the cell door is a small stool and another doorway, that looks the same as all the other doorways in the mansion.  That's slightly reassuring as it means you're definitely still in the same building, and it also means that whatever sinister is happening is probably also in this building.  You get up and walk over to the cell door, pushing it in the unlikely event that it isn't locked, but no such luck, the door is firm and doesn't even rattle that much when you put all your weight on it.

There's nothing much else to do in a cell with nothing in it, so you get back into bed and watch the TV.  The other room in the glow of the TV screen has a long bench and several chairs, it looks like a dressing room.  Perhaps it's backstage at the meeting hall.  You stare at the monitor for a while, you think to yourself that it's very boring being in a room with nothing in it, watching another room with nothing in it.  Your mind drifts off to thoughts about what could be happening in this place, how you're going to escape, and where Ailee is.

You don't have to wait long to find out the answer to the last question - after a while, Ailee appears in the dressing room monitor feed.  She sits down, opens up a makeup bag and starts applying her makeup in front of a mirror.  After about 30 minutes of makeup application she leaves, and you're back to staring at a room where nothing is happening, being bored and more than slightly scared.  You examine the TV for a way to change channel or make it do something else besides show you a room but all it contains is an on/off switch.  You start to feel slightly sick again, so you turn the monitor off (the hazy green light from the screen is distracting) and go back to sleep.

aileeday4

You wake up to the familiar sound of Moonbyul's rattling breakfast cart.

"Cereal or toast?" she asks you, through the bars.

"Why am I locked up?" you ask her.

"Hey, don't ask me fucking shit, I just work here.  Cereal or toast?"  Moonbyul stares at you, impatiently.

You roll your eyes.  "You're a liar.  You know what's going on here."

Moonbyul just stares at you for about ten seconds, saying nothing but looking very angry.  She then slides a plate with a couple slices of toast under a gap in the cell door and leaves with the breakfast cart, slamming the door behind her and then locking it.

You haven't eaten anything since the meal the night before last, so you're quite hungry and chow down on the toast quickly, which under the current conditions tastes like the best meal you've had in years.  Once you've eaten, you slide the empty plate back through the gap under the door, climb back into bed and turn on the TV.  The TV monitor takes about 20 seconds to properly come to life, but when it does, the image shocks you.  It's an image of yourself, sitting in bed watching the TV!  You wave your hand, and the figure in bed in the monitor also waves hers in unison.  You look up from the TV to where the camera is, the other side of the cell door.

"Hello, how are you today?"  Ailee smiles at you, in her hand is a tiny portable camera.

"Why am I here?  What's going on?" you ask.

"Forgive me, I had to separate you from the others."  You notice that Ailee is playing with the blue sparkle fingernail over in her other hand.  A shiver goes up your spine - you've obviously been caught.

Ailee continues.  "You're quite the curious cat.  I saw you checking everything out.  I also saw you not engaging with the group's fucking irritating vocal-fan activities.  You're obviously here for another reason that has nothing to do with why they are here, hell you probably don't even like my music at all.  Can't say I blame you for that one, getting people to write songs for me to sing that are any good sure isn't easy.  Anyway, I'll be back for you later, I've got to entertain our other guests.  Don't go anywhere, will you?"

Ailee leaves the room and locks the door behind you.  You watch the TV feed, which now shows a first-person perspective view of what Ailee is seeing, as she holds the camera in her hand.  You discover that your cell is in the room on the first floor next to the cleaning room, as Ailee exits your room and goes straight into the cleaning room, picks up a mop, a bucket and some detergent, then walks down the stairs to the reception area.  Moonbyul is behind the reception desk, playing with her phone.  The entire foyer area, stairwell and especially the front door are all splattered in large quantities of blood.  Ailee hands the bucket and mop over to Moonbyul who starts mopping the floor and walls.  The camera feed then shuts off, presumably Ailee has turned off her camera.  You stare at the green screen for a while but nothing further happens.  You need to find a way out of here, but how?

aileenight4

At 6pm Moonbyul enters the room outside your bars and slides you a meal - some meat from the buffet.

"Dinner", she says coldly, and turns to leave.

"What does Ailee want?" you ask her.

"I don't know what Ailee wants, but what I want is for you to shut up!" says Moonbyul, leaving and slamming the door behind her.

You look at the food.  It's a different dish to the one that made you sick.  You pick at the meat with a fork, contemplating whether you should have a bite.  It doesn't seem worth the risk, so you slide the meal back under the door, uneaten.  A day without dinner isn't going to kill you, but the dinner itself might.

aileeday5

You wake up to the familiar sound of Moonbyul's rattling breakfast cart.

"Cereal or toast?" she asks you, through the bars.

"Toast", you reply.  Moonbyul takes the uneaten dinner from last night away and slides you four slices of toast under the door.

You look at the plate.  "Why four slices?"

Moonbyul doesn't answer, instead leaving and locking the door behind her.  You get the impression that she's not giving you a double portion to be nice, however you're grateful for the extra food and the toast hasn't make you sick yet, so you grab the plate from under the door, crawl back into bed and eat up.  You turn on the TV monitor and wait for the screen to warm up.  The camera is back on, and back in the dressing room.  It looks the same as last time.  Ailee is sitting in one of the chairs, doing her makeup again.  You keep watching, as there's nothing else to do in your cell.  You notice that there's something strange on the dressing table, that wasn't there before, a dark lump about the size of a basketball.  After a while, Ailee leaves the room, but the dark lump stays there.  You ponder it as you think about what your fate will be.

aileenight5

At 6pm the lock to the door outside your cell rattles.  "Here we go with Moonbyul again", you think to yourself.  The door bursts open, it's Maria!

"I've got the key!  I'll get you out of here!" she says to you in a half-whisper half-shout as she fumbles a key in the lock to your cell.  Mark follows closely behind... and that's it, just the two of them.

"How did you get a key?"

"We knocked Moonbyul out while she was serving dinner.  That salty bitch might not stay down long, we need to hurry!"

"What happened to the others?" you ask.

"All dead, or missing.  Lauren got her head cut off... somehow, I don't know how.  David, we haven't seen.  Angela and Michael both got shot.  Christie... I don't think I can talk about Christie."

"Just don't eat the buffet." adds Mark.

Maria finally gets the lock of your cell open.  You grab the pepper spray from under your pillow and run out the door.

"Why is Ailee doing this?" you ask.

"She hates us!  She hates vocal fans who analyse k-pop vocals!  This whole camp is a trap to exterminate us!"

You start to ask "why?" but the words stick in your throat.  You're pretty sure you already know why.

Instead you follow Maria and Mark down the stairs and to the front door.  Maria opens it and rushes outside to the front driveway, where Ailee is waiting, with a shotgun.

"Stop right there, kids" says Ailee, aiming the shotgun at the three of you.

You and Maria both stop.  Mark yells "RUN!" and makes a break for the trees, but doesn't get far - Ailee swings her shotgun around and shoots Mark in the kneecaps, sending him collapsing to the ground.

"You seem to be having a problem with support in your lower register, Mark.  Such a lack of stability!" quips Ailee.

"You're crazy!  You're a crazy bitch!" shouts Mark, angrily.

"Am I?  Am I really the one who is crazy. Mark?  You sound a bit strained to me.  Maybe you shouldn't push your larynx down so much, Mark.  Here, let me help."

Ailee gets the sole of her boot and stomps down on Mark's neck, generating a sickening bone-cracking noise, killing him instantly.

"Another person vocally deconstructed." sighs Ailee, happily.  Maria screams.  Ailee turns the shotgun to Maria's face.

"You seem to be having tension problems above B5, Maria.  Can you please try to relax it a little?"

Maria stares, panicking but also speechless and slack-jawed, horrified at what's happening.  Ailee puts the end of the shotgun into Maria's mouth.

"What's wrong, Maria?  Is your resonance feeling a little pushed?  Perhaps too much breath support?  I think I can fix that."

Ailee discharges the shotgun and Maria's head explodes all over the front wall of the mansion.

"No more breath control problems for you." laughs Ailee, this time turning to point the gun at you.  "Okay, so what's your story?  You're obviously not one of them, that much is clear.  Why are you really here?"

You figure you might as well come clean, as surely the end of your life is only seconds away in any case.  You put your hands up, and drop your can of pepper-spray.  "I'm not a vocal fan, or even a fan of you, or anyone in pop music for that matter.  I'm a detective, investigating missing persons."

"Oh.  So you're a detective.  You must be good at detecting things.  When you were here, what did you detect the most strongly?  I mean, besides the dead people, which I guess are fairly obvious at this point."

You stop and think for a moment.

aileeepi

It's been three weeks and you're enjoying your new job.  You resigned from detective work shortly after investigating the Ailee case, it was just too much stress with too little reward and nobody would ever take a young woman like you seriously in such a sexist line of work dominated by older men.  Things are much better now working for your new female boss, and there's still a big sense of bringing people to justice in your new role, which for you is all-important.  Plus your new uniform is great!

You enter the room.  Several people turn to look at you, happy to see you as you wheel along your noisy breakfast cart.

"Cereal or toast?" you ask.

aileeend

4 comments:

  1. Glad this story ended on a positive note ��

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  2. Thanks for updating this!

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