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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“They’re here so early,” Juho said, noticing one of the employees from the store peeking out. That people waiting in line that early was puzzling to Juho. There was still quite a long time until the store opened.
“Why are these people here so early? The store isn’t even open yet.”
“They’re competing to be the first in line. Seeing the number one printed on the ticket comes with a certain sense of achievement,” Nam Kyung replied immediately, as if he already knew the answer to the young author’s question.
“So, they’re the ones I’m about to meet, huh?” Juho said, intently observing the faces of the people waiting in line. There were a handful of people who were talking among themselves. However, none of them looked bored. At that moment, as the young author locked eyes with the person squatting in the front of the line, the person sprung up in their place.
“I’d be ruining the experience for them if I ran into these people, right?” Juho asked.
“Probably. Let’s go around the back.”
With that, Juho and Nam Kyung turned around and headed for another door on the opposite side of the building, which took them to the editor’s car safely and without running into anybody.
“I say we eat while we can. You won’t even have the time to drink water once the signing starts,” Nam Kyung said, and Juho nodded. Everyone in the store, including the manager, had a determined look about them, which told the young author that it was going to be quite a daunting event.
“You can always take a break when you need it, so let the manager or one of the employees know.”
“OK,” Juho said as he got into the editor’s car.
“Do you think there’s gonna be a lot of people?”
“Of course! It’s Yun Woo!”
“I saw Myung Joo on TV yesterday in a guerilla-style interview.”
The interview had taken place in Hongdae, and the camera had shown the crowd surrounding the restaurant in which the interview took place. That showed just how popular Myung Joo was becoming.
“Oh! I read an article about that too,” Nam Kyung said, nodding.
“You don’t think there’ll be THAT many people, do you?”
At Juho’s question, an ambivalent look appeared on Nam Kyung’s face while he looked straight ahead.
“I’d guess about that many.”
“No way,” Juho said. Then, as if nothing had happened, he thought about what to eat for breakfast.
Despite feeling like their lungs were about to explode, the fan ran relentlessly, with an urgent need to get somewhere. Because it was still early in the morning, there were barely any people around, allowing the fan to run unhindered. Thanks to their favorite author, the fan was experiencing something they had never experienced before, and the realization made their heart beat even faster.
The fan thought to themselves, looking around the bookstore that was yet to open. It was 6:00 a.m. The fan had arrived somewhere they had never been. Looking into the bookstore through the glass windows, the fan revisited the route they had mapped out in their mind. Starting from the place where the numbered tickets were going to be given out, to where ‘Alexandria’ was going to be displayed, the fan had planned out a route in order to navigate through the busy store more efficiently. Taking out their phone, the fan checked the directory of the store in order to double check that everything had been planned accurately. Since they had visited ahead of time just the day before in order to scout out the place, as long as everything went according to the plan, the fan would be standing in the front of the line with the number one sticker on their book, being the first person to get Yun Woo’s autograph. Plunking down on the stairs, the fan took their breakfast, which they prepared ahead of time, out of their bag.
“I can’t screw this up,” the fan said in order to motivate themselves. Failure wasn’t an option. While chewing on a piece of pickled radish, the fan took their phone out of their pocket and checked the group chat between those members of their fancafe who had agreed to come to the signing event. There were quite a few people who were just starting to get out of bed, which gave the fan a sense of pride and accomplishment. Then, moving their fingers, the fan updated their fellow members of their status quo: “I’m in front of the bookstore now.” At that moment, a groan came out of nowhere, “Aw!”
As the fan turned in the direction from where it had come, knowing immediately that the person who had groaned had arrived at the bookstore with the exact same purpose in mind. Then, after taking turns looking at the store and the fan, the person who had groaned walked over to the entrance for no apparent reason, only to stand behind the fan.
“You’re here for the signing event, right?”
There was regret in the person’s voice.
“Hey, look at the bright side! Second place is still impressive,” the fan said in order to comfort the person second in line.
“You already know where the tickets are gonna be given out, right?”
“Yes. I did my research.”
It wasn’t long before the first and second in line discovered that they spoke the same language and shared food with each other.
“Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t we take pictures of each other while we’re getting the autographs?”
“That sounds brilliant! I’ll take several in different angles.”
“Thanks. Since reading AILNT, I kind of choke up whenever I pose for a picture,” the second-in-line said, referring to ‘An Insect Leaves No Trace’ by an acronym like an avid fan.
“Yeah, I know what you mean.”
With that, the two started talking about Yun Woo, and the second-in-line kept on about the book, saying, “I’m so proud that AILNT went into its second printing within two months in the US.”
“I was losing it when I found out that the first edition started at one million copies. It says a lot about where the book stands in the overseas market.”
“What do you think Yun Woo will be like in person? I can only imagine from what I’ve read in the interviews.”
They each had a certain image of what the young author would look like. Similar to the second-in-line, the fan had also been thinking about what Yun Woo would be like in person. Although the young author appeared to be serious and earnest on TV, that couldn’t immediately be considered his natural self because the occasion had him surrounded by cameras.
“He does seem mature… but I have a feeling that he’ll be childlike too. I mean, you saw just how cheerful the synopsis of the new story was, right?”
“Speaking of which, I’m having trouble picturing what that would be like. Yun Woo and humor just don’t really click in my mind. If anything, I picture him as this fancy, heavy, serious, and somewhat precarious person,” the fan said, and the second-in-line agreed, saying, “Right? I felt similarly when ‘Sound of Wailing’ was coming out. I wasn’t sure what to expect.”
“Oh, yeah! That’s true. That pure writing style in ‘Trace of a Bird’ kind of fit his age back then.”
“Just like ‘Sublimation.'”
“Man, that book! I think there’s a reason why that one’s so controversial though.”
“Yet, here I was, thinking he would stick with pure literature, and what does he do? He releases another book under a different alias. I’m telling you, this guy’s a genius!”
Then, the second-in-line opened their backpack and showed off their entire set of the ‘Language of God’ series.
“In my opinion, I think the original was a lot better-looking than the hardcover version,” the second-in-line said, expressing their personal preference.
“Zelkova really knows what they’re doing. Their book covers look great. Besides, who would’ve thought Yun Woo’s signing event would happen so soon? This is a dream come true,” the fan said, and the second-in-line agreed emphatically. It wasn’t common for Yun Woo to make public appearances, and the way he had answered the questions in the interviews had only proved that further. Suffice to say, those who knew the young author well had given up wishing for a signing event.
“Which is what made me even more excited!”
It felt as though they were receiving a gift. As the two conversed, the line became noticeably longer, and the longer the line got, the more it dawned on the fan that the fan was the first person in line. Everyone else was lining up behind them and the store was about to open in about an hour. Squatting and in a daze, the fan fiddled about with a tree branch, which broke shortly after. At that moment, as the fan looked up, they saw somebody through the window of the store. It was Yun Woo.
By the time the fan sprung up from their place, the young author had already turned away. As the shadow of the author quickly faded away into the distance, the fan stood in a daze for a brief moment.
“Did you see him? It was Yun Woo!” the fan said.
“What? Who!?” the second-in-line said, turning toward the fan while conversing with the third-in-line. Although it was brief, the fan was certain that the person he had seen had been Yun Woo. ‘What’s he doing at the store so early? Well… I guess it kind of makes sense,’ the fan thought to themselves. No matter what they thought, it didn’t change the fact that their thoughts were merely unfounded assumptions. Then, as anxiety started creeping into their mind again, the fan reviewed their plan in their head in order to stay focused. ‘I’ll get two copies and keep one of them as a signed copy,’ the fan thought to themselves. Yun Woo’s new book looked particularly stunning. He had thought so even when the fan had seen its gold cover for the first time on the internet. Not only was it fitting to Yun Woo’s image, but the fact that the covers for the short stories within it had been designed by one the young author’s peculiar acquaintances made the compilation even more appealing. Zelkova was definitely living up to its name. Although the short stories themselves would have provided more than enough leverage, the publisher had thought of a brilliant way to go about advertising for the book. They had known what information to let out to the readers in order to build up anticipation. According to Zelkova, Yun Woo’s new story was going to be new and different from his usual style, which meant that the fans would get to see yet another side of Yun Woo. ‘Alexandria, wait just a little longer,’ the fan thought to themselves.
“It’s almost time,” somebody said from behind. It was 9:25 a.m when the fan checked the time, which meant the store was opening in five minutes. Then, making sure their shoes were tied, the fan braced themselves as the only thing left to do was to run toward their objective.
The fan bolted into the store, running right past the employee greeting them. There was no time for pleasantries. Technical literature, children’s literature, international literature, and domestic literature. Looking around frantically, the fan looked for the golden cover. Then, shortly after, the fan saw the stack of golden books next to the cashier counter, which they embraced gladly. While the fan was paying for the book, the rest of the crowd rushed into the store toward the stacks of the golden books. The stacks were shrinking at an awe-inspiring rate.
“Thanks,” the fan said to the cashier. With the receipt in their hand, the fan rushed to the center of the store, where the signing was set to take place. As they arrived, one of the employees asked, looking slightly taken aback by the fan’s presence.
“Are you here for the signing?”
“Yes. This is where I get the ticket, right?”
“Yes, it is. But, uh… we’re not giving them out until eleven.”
“That’s fine. I’ll wait in line. That number one spot belongs to me.”
At that, as if impressed, the employee smiled, adding that they’d remember the fan’s face. ‘What a great employee!’ the fan thought, deeply moved by the employee’s pleasant attitude. Then, shortly after, a line started forming behind the fan. The second-in-line became the third, and the third-in-line became the fourth. However, the fifth-in-line had moved up to second. Meanwhile, the fan felt proud of securing their number one spot. After some time passed, the employee took the sticker and handed it to the fan.
“Here’s your number one ticket!”
In a sense, it was a trophy for the fan’s dedication. After taking the sticker from the employee, the fan opened their book and put the sticking on it without hesitation, being cautious to make sure that the sticker didn’t end up crooked. Now, all the book needed was an autograph from Yun Woo, and then, it would be made perfect.
“Sigh,” the fan let out, relieved. Now that the fan had secured their number one spot, the next thing in the agenda was to go out for lunch at a restaurant not too far from the store. At that moment, just as the fan was about to head to the restaurant, the new second-in-line, who turned out to be a member of the same fancafe, struck up a conversation with them.
“Are you goin’ out for lunch?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Would you like to join us? I was supposed to eat with other members.”
“No, thanks. I already have a place in mind.”
“That’s perfect! We were still deciding where to eat. You wouldn’t mind if we joined you then, would ya?” the new second-in-line asked, and since the fan didn’t have a reason to say no, the fan nodded affirmatively. Besides, after getting their hands on Yun Woo’s new book, the fan was in a great mood, feeling like nothing could wipe the smile off their face.
“Let’s eat quickly so we can start reading,” the new second-in-line said in a shaky voice, probably just as excited as their fellow fancafe members. Addressing each other by their respective usernames, the fancafe members weren’t afraid to show their excitement. For them, having a copy of Alexandria in their embrace brought them more than enough happiness. They were anxious to read it, growing increasingly curious of whether they would end up viewing Yun Woo in a different light after reading it.
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