Minho opened his eyes. The blanket was wrapped around his body, and the dawning sunlight shone faintly.
Even sleeping in the driver’s seat, the knockout effect of the mind-clearing liquor was so strong that he had stayed right where he was without tossing and turning. Thanks to that effect, Minho’s head was refreshed but his body felt sluggish.
“Ah geez, geez.”
Minho groaned as he stretched his arms and sounded like something you would hear in a senior citizen’s center. He massaged his arms and legs to loosen up his body.
Then he heard the gaming house door open with a thump. Minho looked back and saw Garam dressed in tight workout clothes, walking out swinging his arms and clapping his hands together.
Minho pushed the blanket around his waist down to his feet. Garam passed through the front gate and locked eyes with Minho sitting in the car.
“What are you doing in there?”
Minho answered but Garam walked over looking doubtful.
“Hyung, did you….?”
Thinking he’d been caught sleeping in the car and not in the house like a normal person, Minho meant to cook up some vague explanation.
“Yeah, punk. In the car…”
“It seemed like you went out at night, did you go to a club? You should’ve brought me along. How was it? Did you by any chance have a one nighter?”
It seemed like Garam had no suspicion that Minho had just woken up, since he was sitting in the car bright-eyed and alert at dawn. Garam looked envious and Minho gave a dry cough.
“Don’t think of such vulgar things. I just went to a cafe with good music and enjoyed the rhythm. But where are you going so early?”
Garam patted his stomach.
“I’m going on a diet so I can take my shirt off and walk around at Gwangalli Beach.”
It was the place where the Pentastorm Final Tournament Summer Season Special was going to be held.
“If you make it to the finals, we have to follow along and cheer you on. We’re a team after all.”
Garam looked serious all of a sudden. Minho was only at the quarterfinals but his junior was acting like his going to the finals was a sure thing. Minho slightly averted his eyes.
The opponent Minho had to win against next week for the quarterfinals didn’t seem easy, and that crazy high schooler from the Eagles was waiting in the semifinals.
‘I did act pretty self-confident.’
If Minho could keep winning and make it to the finals it would help strengthen the confidence of his team members.
Garam, who had bent down to tie his shoe, stood back up.
“I’ll get going now!”
“Sure, work hard.”
Minho cheered Garam on, thinking that if he was successful in losing some weight he might not snore as much.
Minho considered, recalling that most people who attempted a diet and failed were lacking in willpower. Minho had signed up for three months of gym before going to the army, and gave up after only going a few times.
“If you lose weight, I’ll give you 50,000 won (Approximately 50 USD) for every kilogram you lose.”
Garam, about to begin his run, turned his head.
“That’s 50 won per gram. Are you ordering meat from the butcher or something?”
“What, I’m giving you a reward.”
“Then spend a little more.”
“Fine. 100,000 won. But if you gain weight from there I’m going to get 50,000 won from you.”
“It’s a deal!”
Garam excitedly ran off.
Once the commotion had passed, Minho picked up the blanket from the floor and the pillow from behind his back and put them in the passenger’s seat. Then he looked around at the car.
It was the convertible that was cherished by a former racer.
Minho vividly remembered the dream he had experienced last night. The faint glow covering the whole car had disappeared so Minho was certain that he could use its powers now.
‘Finally you became relic number two.’
He held the steering wheel and his fingers itched. The coin you flip, the pocket watch you check the time, and the gourd bottle you put water into it to use its powers.
‘The car is definitely turning on the engine!’
With a jaunty engine sound the car began to vibrate with a brrrm. Minho looked around, waiting to see its powers.
‘A superb driving technique?’
‘Or some compensation that makes those techniques possible?’
Minho started the car moving with a pounding heart. He felt like changing the gears was going a little more smoothly, maybe because he got used to it in the dream. But he wasn’t feeling it completely since this wasn’t a heart-pounding, palm-sweating race. ‘If that’s the case, then to the big roads!’
Minho maneuvered the car out of the streets of the residential area. He spotted Garam who was scrambling towards the neighborhood park.
‘Slow. Do you think you’ll be able to lose even 500 won worth of weight?’
After this thought he was about to turn away, but then he hesitated. Was he just imagining that he saw Garam running in slow motion?
‘Is he really that slow?’
Minho rubbed his eyes. The connection he had with Chul Park that he had felt only for a moment in the dream was happening in reality.
The small nail-sized pebble in the road ahead looked as big as a fist. And he clearly saw a map of the fastest route around the alley avoiding the parked cars on the side.
“It can’t be.”
It was a profound and mysterious feeling of looking down on the surroundings from above the car instead of inside. It was a level of perception far above the ordinary– it was the heightened senses of a racer in a fierce match.
He pulled the car over and turned the engine off. The slow motion effect disappeared as if washed away.
Minho, who had truly experienced something rare, picked up his phone and searched ‘Racer Chul Park’ on the internet.
【Iron Park,The Asian Racer Who Conquered Nascar, Goes to Korea in Search of His Parents】
【The Godfather of the Racing World in Korea Establishes Driving Academy ‘BB Riding’. Reveals Aspiration to Foster the World’s Greatest Racer 】
【Former Nascar Racer Chul Park Dies of Illness. He had built a foundation for those who dream of racing. He had invented the driving simulation in collaboration with an American company…. 】
Minho skimmed through the articles from oldest to most recent and realized that the owner of this car had an immense amount of experience as a racer.
Minho had raced as Chul Park in his dreams already so Minho strongly felt that he had been gifted this car rather than just finding it.
“Chul Park sunsaengnim.”
Minho looked at the radio and shouted energetically.
“I’ll use this car well!”
The morning commute on Thursday was of course in his personal car rather than Manager Gong’s van.
He was on his way to the broadcast station for the afternoon interview appointment.
Minho whistled as he stepped on the accelerator. He was able to clearly see the surroundings in slow motion so the 70 kph speed didn’t feel like 70 kph
‘Some day I should go to a race track where I can drive fast.’
They said they would give him a license to use the racetrack after one day of lessons so he could drive to his heart’s content. It would really feel like driving once he reached 200 mph.
“Shall I listen to Beautiful Morning?”
Minho stopped at a traffic light and pressed the power button on the radio. There was nothing lacking in the performance of the car itself, but it was a little disappointing that he couldn’t play tapes, CDs or MP3s.
Minho thought about replacing the radio with the latest model, but then changed his mind because he didn’t want to damage the complete look of the car itself. The classic style was better left alone rather than adding something new to it.
Minho grinned thinking this was very Miranda-like notion. But he thought it would be less boring if that voice that coolly discussed driving was still there.
“Bumpety Boo~ the light is green now. How much do I need to increase the RPM?”
‘There’s no reason for it to answer.’
He fiddled with the dial as he thought this. The radio static became louder, and then tuned to an unknown station.
[A new code is required.]
Minho instantly got goosebumps from the monotone mechanical voice.
“What channel is this?”
[Please enter a new code.]
“You’re talking to me?”
[That is correct.]
Minho asked just in case.
“Are you by any chance Bumpety Boo?”
[Will you set the new code as Bumpety Boo?]
The tone of voice was the same as the one he had heard in the dream. Minho grinned and happily shouted,
The sound of static faded.
[RPM is 0. Please take your foot off the accelerator because there’s a risk of accident due to sudden unwanted acceleration. This is road driving not a race.]
Minho gave a slight nod and started the car excitedly as the traffic signal changed.
“But who are you? Are you Chul Park…sunsaengnim sir?”
[I am the driver education simulator for BB rider.]
Minho recalled an article about Chul Park pouring his heart and soul into making a simulation for beginning drivers, and thought he understood. Chul Park’s driving knowledge had become embodied in the method that he liked when he was living.
“That’s good, good!.”
Minho’s confidence flared up like fire thinking he could make it to professional racing if he had Bumpety Boo’s support backed up with the enhanced senses of a racer.
“Bumpety Boo, do you think I can enter a race with this car? The Nascar or something.”
[It’s possible if you remodel the car. And before that, you have to participate in professional racing in order to build experience.]
“Never mind. I don’t have the time to do that.”
Just knowing that it was possible seemed to strengthen his confidence. A man that could aim for the world’s best. It sounded good.
Minho changed gears and increased his speed to 80. Even so he felt like he was going at a turtle’s speed but this was the limit if he didn’t want to get ticketed.
“How was my gear shifting this time?”
[There’s kind advice and blunt advice. Which mode do you want to hear?]
“What is it? Just say anything.”
[I suggest you just drive auto.]
Minho clicked his tongue at the cold-hearted words that could crush the fresh dream of a beginner racer.
“Please refrain from speaking bluntly.”
[That was kind advice. The blunt advice is–]
“Ah, it’s okay. Forget it! You have such high standards.”
Minho double-checked the sign for the broadcast station and turned the steering wheel.
The interview waiting room for the celebrity program ‘Night of TV Entertainment.’
Minho knocked and opened the door. Inside were Girl Seven that he hadn’t seen in a while.
Hayeon Gu and Sunhwa Kim. And also Seungji Yoon. The stable teammates caught Minho’s eyes first. All the members were already in full makeup, pleasing his eyes wherever he looked.
There was one person who jumped up while Minho was greeting everyone with a simple nod. Minho waved to the youngest, Hayeon Gu, who was welcoming him enthusiastically.
“How have you been?”
“Don’t mention it.”
Hayeon blinked her big round eyes and reported in detail on Producer Na’s harassment that continued through yesterday.
The large-scale farming mission that the production team had thoroughly prepared for two weeks. Dojin exploded in anger because of producer Na’s instigation by presenting them with all sorts of farming tool and telling them to use them if they can. Minho burst out laughing, picturing it all vividly.
“That’s why Dojin oppa made a fuss saying bring Minho oppa back.”
“Well if you guys call me over, then.”
‘I’ll say it doesn’t fit my schedule and get out of it no matter what.’ Minho made a firm decision and walked over to the waiting seat. Hayeon followed close behind and asked.
“You didn’t come with Sora Unnie?”
Minho recalled the phone conversation with Manager Gong that morning.
“She had an event so she said she’ll come herself.”
“So, she’s busy. You know the hair you did for Sora unnie that time? It was really awesome. Can you do it for me later too?”
She lifted one finger and stuck it on her forehead as she turned her head from side to side. Minho hesitated because of her cuteness. Sora said Hayeon was a fox but she was the epitome of winsomeness, so much so that Minho almost found himself saying, ‘Sure, I’ll do it for you!’
“If the situation allows, I’ll do it for you.”
Minho softly smiled and turned her away since he had decided that he would never touch anyone else’s hair without Jay Kim’s scissors.
“Oh yeah, Hayeon. Did the interview questions come out?”
Hayeon skipped over and brought the A4 paper from the table.
She moved like an adorable squirrel that picked up an acorn off the floor and handed it over. Minho’s mouth curled up in a smile.
‘Keep a hold of yourself.’
Minho shook his head back and forth. This request was too much even for an idol of the big three girl groups.
“Do you need anything else? Water? Drink?”
Trying to score points while the charismatic Sora wasn’t around, Hayeon had Minho sitting in comfortable luxury. He waved off her asking if he was hungry, but she had already gone out to get something.
Minho clicked his tongue as he looked at the questions on the sheet.
There weren’t as many as he would have thought–five questions per person and three for the whole group.
‘So I was told to respond naturally to the other members’ interviews as well.’
He had watched the recent videos about Girl Seven, but he felt like he wasn’t completely prepared for the interview since he’d been so busy with the car yesterday and today.
The waiting room door abruptly opened as Minho was going over the answers to the questions in his head.
The lady who appeared breathing heavily was Sora Oh. She was still dressed in her costume since she had come right from an event. She walked in and collapsed on the sofa in the middle of the room.
Sunhwa who always had an eye out for Sora came over to her in surprise.
“Unnie, what’s wrong?”
Sora took the bottled water and gulped it down. Then she breathed out a sigh saying ‘Whew~’
“I’m going to die from trying to perform on stage in this scorching sun.”
“It’s really hot today, isn’t it?”
“Tell me about it. I worked my butt off yesterday at Yulchiri too. And I have to go to a fan signing event after the interview. I don’t even have time for a break. Just a break.”
Sunhwa handed over a fan.
“Your group is trending up these days. So work hard while you’re popular.”
Sora sat right up and handed back the water bottle.
“Yeah, it’s good that we’re busy.”
Minho stared at Sora. His gaze followed the beads of sweat on her neck down to her chest and his eye grew wide. It was because he saw a drop of the water she was drinking run down her chest and into her cleavage. He knew he had to turn his eyes away but his male instincts made his neck as stiff as if it were in a plaster cast.
“Huh? Minho oppa, you’re already here?”
Sora began to talk to Minho after spotting him.
Minho gulped, feeling a surge of guilt. He made an effort to sound nonchalant as he spoke.
“It’s my first interview on a celebrity program. I hope to do well too.”
“There’s not much to it. If someone next to you says something, just overreact and say ‘Wow~’”
Sora even lifted both her hands to show a gesture of mechanically shaking them. She was so overcome by fatigue that she wasn’t smiling or even looking happy, so Minho asked, thinking it was ridiculous,
“What, that soulless reaction?”
“This is enough.”
“Last week you said you would boost me up. Are you saying you’re going to show that kind of reaction when I speak?”
Sunhwa who was watching Minho’s helplessness laughed with a pfft. It was because she recalled Sora’s usual chic reactions.
“You’ll probably be caught on camera for other reasons.”
“I don’t know. But something like this.”
Sora shook her hands a few times and then drooped over the couch as if she couldn’t be bothered.
Minho was about to argue but then let out a dry cough as he turned his gaze because Sora’s chest showed again as she sagged her arms.
‘Either way, my eyes were pleased.’
Minho turned his eyes back to the question as he thanked the summer season that forced young ladies to dress a certain way.
Relic: Racer’s convertible which has a BB option added.
Effect: Enables one to use extreme dynamic visual acuity when the engine is turned on.