Aiden got out of the taxi and looked around. His eyes reflected the scene of thousands of people gathered outside the Manhattan arena.
All kinds of people had come here to participate in the auditions for X-Star, a singing program that topped the rating charts all over the American region and was now in its third season.
The first season aired in 2013, and it was now March of 2015, but the ratings were higher than ever before.
Most of the participants were waiting with their family and friends, while some had come alone, like Aiden.
Some had come with the confidence to win the show, while many of them were here for the chance to showcase their raw talent, not confident in their singing abilities yet still hoping to be able to pass the preliminary rounds.
Some people were just there for attention.
They were the ones who had come with the wackiest of outfits to stand out from the rest.
Aiden even saw a woman in her wedding dress while there were even people in cosplay outfits – some dressing up as fantasy elves and troop commanders from sci-fi classics.
'Maybe I should have come dressed as Gandalf? I bet that would have added some magic. Hmm, I wonder how long it will take before my turn comes.'
He thought as he moved through the crowd of people.
The guitar on his back was heavy; thus, it was hard to move through the crowd, but he somehow managed it.
After reaching the hall, he went directly to the counter. There were already many people in line, and he had to wait half an hour before he reached in front of the verification table.
The registration for the X-Star was already complete. The participants just needed to show the registration form they had downloaded from the official website, and then the staff would guide them to their audition.
He quickly showed his registration number, not wanting to waste any more time.
"So you are contestant number 526."
"Take this ID card and go through that door." The staff lady on the other side of the table spoke, "If you are lucky, your turn will come today. Otherwise, you will have to come again early tomorrow morning."
The girl at the counter had scribbled his registration number on an ID card and handed it to him.
Aiden held the card and took another look at the hall before moving towards the door. After checking his ID card, the security staff let him in.
A small passage went on before Aiden found himself in a huge room.
It was filled with over a hundred people with all the seats already occupied. Some people had even bought their own chairs while many were either standing or sitting on the floor.
These people were also contestants like Aiden, who had come for the audition.
When Aiden entered the room, some people glanced at him but lost interest in him after seeing he was just another participant. Aiden quickly found an empty corner and sat down, placing his guitar next to him.
'I wonder if my turn will come today or not.'
He thought as he leaned against the cold surface of the wall and checked his second-hand watch that he had bought from a friend.
It was only 8:30 in the morning.
Aiden had deliberately come so early because he had heard a lot about how people would wait from the wee hours of the morning, but now he felt like he was already late.
The rumours about people being crazy for the X-Star Auditions were indeed true.
After all, it was their one chance at stardom. If they got selected here, their faces would be on TV, which was itself something to be proud of and excited about.
X-Star has produced a lot of stars in the past two years. The winners of each season had gone on to become national singing sensations, while almost all of the finalists had made major jumps in their careers.
The best part was that most of them had gotten record label deals.
The potential of X-Star was evident to anyone. It was especially attractive to teenagers and young adults. It also was a chance for those musicians and singers trying to make it big for decades but had never gotten a proper stage.
As for Aiden, he was here for two reasons.
First, he was taking his chance at singing. It was his second year of struggling in the United States, and he had yet to do anything significant that he could call a success.
He had come to America to become an actor but had ended up driving a taxi and working as a waiter in one of the bars in Greenwich village instead.
In his two years of living in America, Aiden could hardly get into any auditions.
Although he was also registered with the actor's union, there were hardly any benefits for an aspiring actor without any agent to support him.
This had prompted him to look for other ways to get his face out to the public.
Aside from acting, the one thing he was confident about was his singing. His mom was a music and singing teacher back home in India, and she taught Aiden everything about her forte since his childhood.
Some time ago, when he wondered if he should just go back to India, he saw the advertisement for X-Star and decided to take his chances with this reality TV show.
He had sent one of his singing videos to the production team through the official site and was selected to enter the preliminary rounds.
The second reason he was here was because of a weird phenomenon that had happened to him two months ago.
It was something that made him doubt the laws of the world and wonder whether he had suddenly become a part of a bigger, supernatural universe.
He had gotten a system out of nowhere.
[Aiden Silvereye] [24 years]
[Singing level: Basic Grade 7]
–Has all the basic qualities of a vocalist.
–A uniquely calm and soothing voice with a talent for composing.
–Has the ability to express emotions like the very best.
[Acting level: Basic Grade 9]
–Has a charm that reflects during acting.
–Prefers method acting.
–Is able to understand the character being played.
[Special skill: Empathy]
–The ability to understand, interpret and experience the emotions and feelings of characters, music, and people.
–Gives a special boost to performance that can make people might entrance people.
–Weaves strong emotions into music and acting.
'Still makes me feel like I'm in a dream.'
Aiden opened up the system interface as he waited for his turn.
Some time ago, when he was fixing the bulb in his apartment, he got an electric shock, and when he recovered, the 'system' had suddenly appeared in front of him, surprising him even more.
After a deep visit on the internet, as deep as the second page of google search, and a few days of the system floating in front of his eyes, Aiden had finally decided to accept its existence.
Honestly, he had no other choice.
Either he would have to accept that he has a system or proclaim himself mentally ill.
In the beginning, Aiden had really accepted that he was mentally ill, but after checking out the system's abilities, he had no choice other than to believe in it.
Even after accepting that he had suddenly received an actual video game interface, his worries didn't stop for him.
At first, he thought that maybe a man with a black eye patch would come knocking on his door, trying to get him to join a group of superheroes to fight a purple potato.
The idea of fighting supervillains with acting and singing was a weird but funny one to him.
Other than that, he just kept trying to study his system.
His system was unlike anything he had seen in a web novel or a video game. It wasn't an action-based RPG system with stats, mana and fighting skills.
It was based more on art, and Aiden understood the reason too.
After all, there was no reason to have superhuman abilities in a world where there were no monsters.
One of his motives for coming to X-Star was to see whether he could improve his singing levels. His system could enhance his skills at a rapid rate.
It was similar to getting experience after killing a monster in a video game.
In Aiden's case, he had already improved his singing level from Basic Grade 5 to Grade 7 in a short time.
"We will start calling out the contestants now. You will only have 5 minutes to impress the judges."
One of the staff members arrived and started calling contestants to perform in front of the judges, bringing Aiden out of his trance.
This made the contestants more nervous as anxiety enveloped their hearts. They all waited for their turn as the staff called one number after another.
Some people went in with a confident look on their faces, while some were so nervous that they could hardly walk.
Their faces also carried all sorts of emotions when they returned.
Those who got rejected looked devastated, while some were crying. Some were even angry at their rejection, cursing the judges on their way out.
One guy with a face resembling a necromancer had even tried to punch a staff member due to how angry he was at his rejections.
The cameras recorded all this, and the production team seemed keen not to leave out footage that could make it to the premier.
Aiden just silently waited as people kept getting called.
He had read on the internet that the average time taken to audition five hundred people was around 8 hours, so he had come with a lot of patience.
But it was still hard for him to do nothing but wait while leaning against a wall.
Finally, when he was almost out of patience, one of the staff members called out his name.
"Contestant number 526! I repeat, No. 526! It's your turn!"
He promptly stood up as soon as he heard his name. Then, picking up his guitar, he followed the staff member to the stage.
It was time to see if he had the skills to become something more and if he could take the first step of his journey of becoming a Global Superstar!