Reborn as a Substitute Chapter 7

“On the stage.” A kindergarten teacher with a work badge came in a hurry from the back, urging them.

In a daze, the lead singer watched Ji Sheng put on his headgear, covering his shining eyes with a heavy shell.

Ji Sheng straightened his crooked headgear and at the next moment noticed that the lead singer was staring at him, frozen.

During the previous couple of weeks of rehearsals, Ji Sheng paid attention and wrote down the names of all the members.

The lead singer’s name was Lu Haoren, who, as his name suggested, was a passerby and a good guy(1)

Ji Sheng examined his equipment: “Brother Lu, what’s the matter?”

He was packed in a doll costume, harmless to humans and animals, and the cold air of his unsheathed sword was tightly concealed.

Lu Haoren decided that the light was too dim and the strange moment just now was an illusion. He patted Ji Sheng on the shoulder and said, “It’s okay, get ready to play.”

After the emcee left the scene and the curtain fell, the five big dolls with an average height of 1.8 metres quickly moved on stage and took up their respective positions.

The lead bunny turned back, exchanged a few glances with the beige bear clutching his guitar, the blue tiger standing behind his keyboard, the pink dog cupping his bass and the green Pikachu with his drumsticks in hand, and made an OK sign to the backstage, firm and tough.

The curtain slowly went up and the children in the audience opened their eyes wide. Lights flashed from the back of the stage, outlining the contours of various musical instruments and the shadows of five naive dolls merged with their instruments. Like the foolish knights who saved the princess in the fairy tale, armed with powerful weapons and relying on their superb skills, they emerged from the fog.

The light flared violently and the drums started first, a dense sound of drumbeat shaking away the fog. The bass followed, wandering low in the bottom end, helping the drums to hold the ship steady; then the keyboard and the guitar took control, hitting the charge with the main theme.

The children stared open-mouthed, the fairy tale-like performance on stage completely attracting their attention.

All the musicians entered the state; the oddly shaped dolls chivalrously turned musical notes into sharp blades, their swords pointed to the roaring dragon not far away.

The lead singer held the microphone and let out a clear tune, laying the foundation for the victory of this battle.

The reporter sent by the channel for children was holding the camera excitedly, having a hunch that he would record a perfect scene. Although he couldn’t even recognize the track sung by the band in front of him as the must-have golden song of every birthday, he was still sure that this was the best children’s show and the best band performance he had ever seen.

On stage, despite the perfect performance, the musicians were actually not in very good condition.

The stage configuration of the kindergarten was unexpectedly good; the lighting system was as perfect as that of a regular theatre and the temperature was as hot as normal stage lighting.

The first participants of the show sang and danced dressed lightly and still were sweating profusely when they came down, never mind the Niepan members in heavy doll costumes.

Lu Haoren held the microphone, and with every sound, he could feel sweat dripping onto his lips and into his mouth, salty and bitter.

Huang Sizhe’s palms were wet. He insisted on wearing the doll costume and gloves to rehearse, and miraculously he was able to play flexible and clear music with clumsy fingers. But at the moment his hands were soaked in sweat, so sticky they were practically fused to his gloves.

Ji Sheng’s situation was the worst. There was fog in front of him, his vision was blurred by sweat, and he could only rely on muscle memory to continue to perform. The most fatal thing was that the flannel inside the headgear fell off at some point, coincidentally covering half of his face and blocking his mouth and nose.

The air flow in the headgear was already meagre, and the sweat-soaked fabric made it exponentially worse. Ji Sheng opened his mouth and gasped for air but couldn’t get any oxygen into his lungs.

The feeling of suffocation was like a surge of water pressure; Ji Sheng couldn’t breathe and his brain gradually became muddled.

In a daze, Ji Sheng saw himself seated on the drum chair in the centre of an empty stage in his previous life. The audience screamed and cheered, but his forehead was covered in cold sweat and his temples were throbbing with pain.

In front of him there was a familiar drum set and in his hands there were custom drumsticks engraved with his initials.

The drumsticks were once an extension of Ji Sheng’s fingers, almost another body organ of Ji Sheng.

But at this moment, the drumsticks were shaking uncontrollably in Ji Sheng’s palms and even if he tried his best to hold them tightly, he couldn’t persuade them to stop.

Ji Sheng realized in that moment, to his horror, that he was disconnected from the drum kit, from the love of his life, from his soul.

In his previous life, he flipped his hand over and the hideous scar on his wrist covered by a heavy foundation concealer was almost undistinguishable, yet carried a presence that could not be ignored.

Ji Sheng was shocked by the faintly visible red mark; his hand let go and the drumsticks fell gently to the ground, clattering with a loud noise.

The music gradually reached its climax; the kindergarten teacher in the audience was holding a SLR with a complicated expression.

Beside her, a child raised her head worriedly and asked in a milky voice, “Teacher, why are you trembling?” 

The kindergarten teacher stabilised her emotions and squeezed out a reluctant smile: “The teacher is fine.”

The kindergarten teacher used to be a station sister(2), who was given the task of taking pictures during this event.

Although her makeup now was elegant, her skirt long and her shoes demonstrating a demure temperament, she used to have bright days of wild hair and red lips.

At that time, the kindergarten teacher was not yet a kindergarten teacher. She was very young and had endless courage and rebelliousness. She could pick up a lollipop and grab a camera and go, stubbornly and determinedly following a certain drummer from south to north, from obscurity to fame.

The station sister looked at the stage in a daze.

“So similar,” she murmured, “How can it be…”

She sighed, the sound of music paused abruptly, the drums stopped and then started again. The drummer with a distinctive style smoothly completed the last solo, his drumsticks dropping the notes to bring the performance to a perfect end.

The performance was over and the lights focused.

The station sister’s eyes widened suddenly.

In the back of the stage, the drummer suddenly lifted his headgear, his wet face illuminated clearly. 

The station sister’s heart sank and then thudded heavily. In a trance she looked at the departed man who had flown down from heaven and landed steadily on the narrow stage in front of her.

The station sister could hardly breathe. She trembled, used her last strength to raise the camera, pointed it at the drummer and pressed the shutter.

It stood to reason that after performing this birthday song that was changed in such a way that even its author wouldn’t be able to recognize it, the Niepan band should have evacuated quickly.

In fact, the physical condition of the members did not allow them to stay on stage for a long time either.

The insides of the doll’s costumes were completely drenched, and every member was soaked in sweat. Staying for one more second was torture.

They wanted to retreat quickly, took the settlement, went back to the dorm to take a cold shower and then happily have a half-day vacation.

Unfortunately, this plan was obstructed in the first step of its implementation.

“Wait a minute!” In the audience, a little princess jumped up and raised her right hand high. The birthday crown on her head was very eye-catching, leaving no doubts that she was the absolute protagonist of that very unique birthday song.

The sky is big, and the people who celebrate birthdays are the biggest.

The members of Niepan who were about to slip away had to stop. Lu Haoren looked at his teammates, gritted his teeth and leaned close to the microphone, tentatively asking: “Birthday star, what do you want to say?”

The girl blinked a few times: “I want to listen to another song, can I?”

As soon as this remark came out, it was immediately supported by the little audience. A chorus of chirping young voices rose to the stage in anticipation of the Foolish Knights to show off more of their skills.

Niepan members exchanged glances, all at a loss.

They did sing songs other than ‘Happy Birthday’, but among those songs, passionate or violent, even the most soothing one didn’t seem to be suitable for performing in front of the little seedlings of the motherland.

Seeing that Lu Haoren was in trouble, Ji Sheng leaned forward, hooked the microphone in front of the drum set and took over the conversation.

“Yes, what do you want to hear?”

“I…” The little girl furrowed her pretty eyebrows and thought hard for a while before speaking in a milky voice, “I want to listen to hard rock and heavy metal.”

Ji Sheng: … …

Niepan everyone: … …

Ji Sheng didn’t expect that this child had such an exceptional taste in music. After the little girl had said it, he noticed that the hairpin adorning her head was actually a ghastly white skull.

Presumably, her parents were not ordinary people that could raise such a stylish child.

Ji Sheng smiled helplessly: “What about the repertoire, are there any favourite songs?”

The little girl replied quickly: “Two tigers!” And cautiously added: “Is it possible?”

“Yes, it is possible.” Ji Sheng couldn’t resist the cuteness of the girl’s big moist eyes and said with a smile, “Today you are the birthday star, and of course all the wishes of the birthday star must be fulfilled.” 

After saying that, Ji Sheng covered his mic and asked the keyboard Zhou Wuyou: “Okay?”

The keyboardist nodded at him, the big head of the doll costume swaying very conspicuously.

Ji Sheng gave him a thumbs up and continued: “You start directly, and I will look for a chance to join.”

He bent over, picked up the headgear from the ground, put it back on and found that the damn flannel was still stuck to his mouth and nose, so he took it off again helplessly.

Ji Sheng dragged the mic in front of the drum and fixed it to a distance that could be reached by stretching his neck.

He knocked on the cymbal and said loudly into the mic: “Next, please enjoy the additional program tailored for today’s birthday star —— two metal tigers!”

Ji Sheng gave the keyboardist a look; Zhou Wuyou hesitantly pressed the first note and Ji Sheng quickly followed, filling the trembling notes with a steady rhythm.

Today was a really eye-opening day for the children of Stardust Kindergarten. At the beginning of their lives, they were fortunate enough to hear the jazz version of ‘Happy Birthday’ and the hard rock version of ‘Two Tigers’ that many people would never be able to hear in their lifetime.

The crazy metal tigers swayed their bodies on stage to the violent rhythm set by the drummer, revealing their sharp fangs that they had never before shown in a children’s song.

The children in the audience watched with relish, cheering from time to time, while the adults looked at each other, wondering if they should kick out that dark fairy-tale children’s nursery rhyme band.

The reporter of the channel for children was numb. This delightful band gave him so many surprises that he felt tired. He was satiated and sluggish, leaving only the camera to faithfully record the rich material.

The body of the kindergarten teacher who was a station sister once shook like a sieve, but her hand holding the SLR remained motionless, recording the drummer’s wonderful performance without missing a second.

The drummer, immersed in the music, accidentally swept his glance over a familiar face in the audience.

He was startled, the smooth drum sound stopped and a beat was missed.

The drummer quickly recovered and made up for the mistake.

After the drums had steadied, he looked down as if embarrassed that someone was filming him, smiled shyly, and then raised his head after a moment, his bright, gentle eyes falling on the station sister.

The station sister’s rock-like stable hand collapsed at this sight; she looked at the young man’s beautiful, familiar face, and burst into tears uncontrollably.

  1. ‘Haoren’ is homophonic to ‘good guy’, ‘Luren’ to ‘passerby’
  2. Station sister, a fan who uses a fancy camera to photograph her idol 

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11 thoughts on “Reborn as a Substitute Chapter 7

  1. “green Pikachu”

    Um…what? 😂

    Aww…station sister and her idol meet again! ❤️ Also that little rock/metal fan lol

    1. I cried when Ji Sheng recognised this station sister. I can only imagine how devastated the devoted station sister with how Ji Sheng’s life curtain dropped short and I can only imagine how touched with sour tinge “Ji Hui” felt seeing his “first performance” once again witnessed by this station sister.

  2. Wow, that was such an intense description! I wonder how many of those children present will follow the birthday girl in developing a unique musical taste 😂
    Thank you for the chapter 💕

  3. And I cried a bit at the end when the star recognizes one of their fans its like a dream come true Not in the pedestal kind of way but someone recognizing your hard work and appreciating you supporting them hehe

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