This just in: the Incheon Killer has officially been found and taken into custody as of early this morning. It is found with little surprise that he is a Satellite, as almost 75% of murderers are. His 9 victims have been found throughout Incheon for the past 3 months, all of them almost unrecognizable due to blunt trauma to the face and body, and, most chillingly, all of them missing both their pinky fingers. The date to his trial is still to be determined, however with the evidence lining up against him, it is speculated that he will get a life sentence. Government officials and doctors all over the world are paying closer attention to Satellites — is it the lack of love and community that cause them to mentally decline into apathetic killers? Or is it the fact that they are apathetic killers the reason why they are destined to have no Attachments? Whatever the case may be, it seems as if something needs to be done. As more and more murderous Satellites are turning up, we want to warn you all to be careful, and to always keep an eye out. Now for a short break.
Jimin is a Satellite.
It’s a label that follows him around like a ghost, constantly tugging at his shirt and pulling at his hair. It’s a permanent resident in his apartment; he eats breakfast sitting next to it at his kitchen counter and he brushes his teeth alongside it before he goes to sleep at night.
To be known as ‘The Satellite’ is a fear everybody has from the time they’re old enough to worry, but less than 1% of the world’s population actually become Satellites. But on Jimin’s 16th birthday, the day in which a person is officially named a Satellite if he or she has not made any Attachments, his pinkies were still bare. He was still lonely.
Living as a Satellite felt like going to sleep hoping for good dreams, but waking up to a nightmare every morning.
Jimin wanted nothing more than to get rid of this label.
Nothing more than to love.
To be loved.
Jimin is a Satellite, and he has nobody.
Jimin thought that it would be different in Seoul — he really thought moving to the city from Busan would turn things around, change his entire life. He was chasing big, blown up dreams that beckoned him with shining hands and a hopeful heart into the large city, and with every day that he spent here where those dreams didn’t seem any more attainable, Jimin lost more and more hope.
Jimin’s Big Problem (as almost everyone usually had a Big Problem in life — some problems were more serious than others, but all of them painful just the same) was the fact that both his pinkies were completely and utterly bare. More times than he could count, he saw people pass by him in the grocery store, their eyes trained on his pinkies, tilting their heads lower to get a better look.
It was because of this that he took to wearing hoodies with long sleeves that went to his fingertips, completely covering his pinkies and the shame that came along with the lack of red tattooed into his skin.
By his age, most people have met at least one, if not more, of their soulfriends — some are lucky enough to be Attached to their parents, or one of their siblings. Many have even already met their soulmate — while soulfriends are created for a person platonically, soulmates complete each other romantically. Jimin’s scrolled past too many posts on Instagram picturing two left pinkies, both engraved with a new, shining red band at the base of the finger, deep in the skin. He’s stopped going on social media for this reason — the reminder that other people are living out their lives with people to share it with while he had to go through it alone was unbearable.
Jimin was lonely, and sometimes Jimin believes that he’s been lonely his whole life, even from the day he was born, still too young to know about things such as soulmates and Attachments. But the countless nights spent awake seem as if they stretch back all the way to the beginning of his life — nights in which he fantasized about meeting his Attachments. Having a solid group of soulfriends and, eventually, bonding with his soulmate.
And as Jimin grew up he realized it wasn’t even the late nights out, the grand adventures, and the rowdy parties that he yearned for, unlike most others his age.
What Jimin wanted most was the comfort, the familiarity of it all. He wanted quiet dinners where conversation and silence both came easily. He wanted to have people who remember he doesn’t like pickles in his burgers but he likes eating them alone as a midnight snack, and that he likes the smell of lemon air freshener but only in the kitchen. He wanted casual touches, an arm slung around his shoulders, a hand in his, so frequent and normal that the affection wouldn’t even faze him, just subtly and regularly remind him that he’s loved.
Jimin wanted all of this so badly he physically ached.
When he was a teenager, he used to take red marker and draw the red rings around his pinky fingers — one around his left for his soulmate, and maybe three to four around his right for his soulfriends. And until that ink washed off in his shower that night, he could, for a couple hours, pretend that he was normal, and cherished, and lovable.
When kids found out at school that his red rings were drawn on, the bullying started and didn’t stop until he graduated.
He threw all of his red markers in the trash.
Some days, when he could feel the bareness of his pinky fingers like a physical pain, constantly aware of how his insides felt too empty and his body felt like too much of a burden, Jimin wondered how he would be able to feel this ache for the rest of his life.
Alone and unloved and constantly, constantly yearning.
Moving to Seoul, at the time, had seemed as if Jimin were chasing his dreams down. Being a part of a city with almost ten million other people, Jimin was sure that if his strings were connected to anywhere in the world, it would be to Seoul. The chances were higher here than anywhere else.
Now, however, two months have passed and the biggest connection Jimin’s made with another human being would be to his landlady, who was forced to talk to him on a monthly basis. Jimin is beginning to wonder if moving to Seoul wasn’t him chasing a dream, but running from his own fears. Working part time as both a bookstore employee and a dance instructor took up most of Jimin’s time, and in the beginning he believed that he could really become friends with his coworkers, even if none of them turned out to be one of his Attachments.
However, as time went on, Jimin found himself too shy surrounded by his fellow dance instructors, always too quiet, always standing on the outside awkwardly shuffling his feet, cringing at the boisterous laughter and crude sense of humor most of the other instructors seemed to have. It was almost the opposite at the bookstore — no matter how many times Jimin tried to fumble through a conversation, most of them seemed more interested in studying during their downtime (which there was quite a lot of, as barely any people came in during the day), or texting their friends underneath the counter.
It didn’t help that he had caught most of them eyeing him when they thought he wasn’t looking — it was expected, as by now they had all seen that his pinkies were unmarked.
Nobody wanted to associate with a Satellite, no matter how friendly. The title strung along too many stigmas and murderous horror stories, ones that nobody wanted to be part of.
One night, after a class ended ten minutes later than usual, Jimin was in the dance building’s showers, muscles sore underneath the hot water.
He heard the door open and close, and after the sound of two flushes the sinks turned on. Just as he was about to step out, he froze when he realized the subject of his coworkers’ conversation was him.
“I mean, he’s nice, there must be something wrong with him, no?”
He recognized the voice as Kim Jae Yoon. 3 years older than Jimin. Five red rings on his right pinky and one on his left. Five soulfriends and a soulmate. Living a perfect, love-filled life.
“I mean, of course. There’s always something off about Satellites.”
Lee Joo Hyuk. The same age as Jimin. Already found 4 of his soulfriends. Will no doubt, in the near future, find his soulmate as well.
“Can’t help but feel sorry for the dude, but I mean…wasn’t there a Satellite in the news last year who turned out to be a serial killer? Heard they’re all kinda fucked up in the head, man…that’s why they live their whole life without any Attachments. Nobody can love people like them.”
Jimin didn’t even remember going home that night.
The only thing he could focus on were those ugly words, the words that he’s thought to himself time and time again, but to hear somebody else confirm his worst fears about himself…
Jimin screamed so loud that night that his neighbors called the cops.
After banging on his door and getting no response, they knocked it down and rushed into Jimin’s room.
They found him on the floor, wedged in-between his bed and the wall, face tucked into his knees, nails digging into his own calves. Blood ran into little rivulets down his skin, seeping into his carpet like tear stains.
His entire body had been shaking, sobs ripping him apart like two large hands tearing apart flimsy sheets of paper. His breaths were so erratic and uneven that eventually, after almost a full hour of a uniformed man crouched by him, soothing voice trying to get him to calm down, to breathe, reassuring him that whatever it is, it’ll get better, they finally scooped him up onto a stretcher and brought him to the hospital.
He doesn’t remember much from that night other than being a prick of pain in his arm and a blur of white coats and unfamiliar faces.
Going back to work the following evening had been hell, and he stopped trying to fight for a spot in the little group of dance instructors. He came, taught his classes, then left to go home to his apartment and order takeout for one.
More often than before, people were throwing Jimin dirty looks. As the title ‘Satellite’ began to drag on more and more negative connotations, such as murderer, psychopath, apathetic, people became increasingly coldhearted towards him.
There were times when people would talk loudly about him when they knew he was within hearing distance, glancing pointedly at his hands. There were times when, walking down the streets, especially when it was dark, groups of men would spit at his feet.
No matter how often Jimin heard the words, they never bounced off his skin. He absorbed each and every insult until he felt itchy with them — they filled him to the brim and came back to him at night to remind him how utterly alone he was, how despicable the rest of the world thought he was.
His phone calls to his parents were already brief and spaced out before, but now he was lucky if they texted once a month. He often tried to text them, but more often than not they didn’t respond.
It was a particularly beautiful day on one of Jimin’s rare days off. He decided to get out of the house and soak in some sunlight by the Han River, so he grabbed his book and a pair of sunglasses and set out to the water.
He was sitting on the grass under a tree, immersed in his book, when he saw a pair of legs stop right beside him. Jimin looked up to the face of a middle aged man, carrying a baby on his hip and a picnic basket in the opposite hand. But the man’s eyes were directed towards Jimin’s hands.
In order to fully appreciate the warm weather of the day, Jimin had chucked on a white t-shirt, leaving his arms and hands bare. He didn’t think it was a bad idea until now. Self-consciously, he lowered his arms to tuck his fingers in-between his book and thighs.
Jimin blinked up at the man, unsure if he heard him correctly.
“I said, move.”
Jimin remained seated, completely confused. The man sighed, as if Jimin were the biggest idiot he’s ever met. Setting the picnic basket down, the man readjusted his hold on the baby, and was soon joined by his wife, who stood half-behind him and stared at Jimin curiously.
“There’s no more shady spots open. My wife is pregnant and can’t be in the sun for too long, and I won’t want my baby’s skin to burn either. So, move.”
Jimin’s face twisted into an expression of incredulity. “I was here first, though.”
The man raised an eyebrow. “Really? You’re going to speak like that to one of your elders? Fucking punk, get lost before I get angry.”
Jimin sat up straight and shut his book, steeling his shoulders and ignoring the dread that built in the pit of his stomach like a storm. He had just wanted a nice day out, to lounge in the shade and read his book and not bother anybody. Apparently the universe had different plans for him. As usual.
“I’m not moving,” Jimin swallowed, voice sounding more confident than he felt. “I was here first, and you have no right to make me leave.”
The man scoffed, features set in an ugly, hateful expression. He handed the baby off to his wife, who was looking at Jimin’s unmarked pinkies with disdain. She clutched the baby closer to her chest, as if Jimin were going to snatch it away at any moment.
“It’s not like anybody else is meeting you here, Satellite. You all would be rotting away in jail for life if it were up to me. Get lost.”
Reaching down, the man hoisted Jimin up with a firm hand around his arm. Jimin flinched away but was forced to find his feet.
“Don’t fucking touch me,” Jimin struggled. “Get your hands off!”
“What, has nobody ever touched you before, Satellite?” the man laughed then, mocking and loud. “Don’t get used to it.” With that, the man flung Jimin’s arm away from him as if it burned him.
Jimin stumbled a bit, pulling his arm tight against his body as if to shield it. He knew it would be so much easier to just go. To just walk home and lay in his bed and drown himself under the covers and cry where nobody could hear him. To throw himself a pity party and eat way too much takeout and not give a shit about anything or anyone. It was easy to hide himself away in that little world that he built for himself within the four walls of his apartment. Sure, he was alone, but at least nobody was around to see him break down. He was comfortable there. He wasn’t loved, but at least he wasn’t hated. It was easier being invisible.
But Jimin felt almost drunk off anger. It vibrated through his bones and he felt himself puff up again. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair, because he was here first, and he had just been minding his own damn business reading his book, and this was public property, and the man had no right to make him leave. A piece of Jimin’s pride inflated and made him stand his ground, jaw set in a stubborn line.
“I won’t say it again!” the man shouted, shoving Jimin again. The man was taller and broader, but people almost always underestimated Jimin’s strength. Growing up as a dancer made him lithe and slim, but he could still pack a decent punch — hopefully. Jimin clenched his right hand into a fist.
“You’re making a damn fool of yourself,” a new voice entered the conversation. Jimin jolted, and for long moments he was sure they were talking to him. But when he looked over, he saw a man around his height strolling over, large hands buried in the pockets of his slacks. The way he sauntered showed confidence and an almost graceful poise. He had pale skin, paler than even Jimin, who rarely saw the sun. But what really struck Jimin’s attention was the fact that the stranger’s eyes were not trained on him, but on the other man. He came to a stop right by Jimin’s side. “The kid’s right. He was here first. You and your little family should just find a different place to sit.”
Jimin’s heart stuttered, and he looked at the man with something akin to awe. Was he…helping him?
The man’s eyes narrowed and looked down at the newcomer’s hidden hands. “What, are you a Satellite too? Freaks gotta stick together, is that it?”
The newcomer barely even paused to let the words sink in.
All Jimin saw was a flash of two red rings circling a pale finger before it flew past his line of vision and landed a harsh blow directly on the man’s nose. Blood immediately spurted out, coating pale knuckles, and the man doubled over with a loud curse.
“Fucking call him a freak again,” the newcomer growled. His voice concealed none of his anger, and Jimin looked down to see his fist still clenched by his side. “Do it so I can have an excuse to wreck your god damn face.”
The man looked as if he were about to say something, spitting out blood onto the ground, but his wife screamed, and scurried back with her baby, tugging at her husband’s shirt.
“Let’s just go, it’s not worth it,” she said. “Come on. Don’t provoke the Satellite, you never know what crazy shit goes on in their heads.”
As Jimin watched the family walk away, the man’s middle finger flipped high in the air and pointed directly towards them, he couldn’t help but let out a little laugh. Out of incredulity, nervousness, giddiness, or all three, he couldn’t say.
“Hey, kid. Are you okay?”
Jimin glanced over at the man.
Thinks to himself that he’s never seen a man so beautiful in his entire life.
Flustered, he stutters out a response.
“Fine—I’m. Fine. Your hand, though…”
The other simply shoves it back into his pocket, uncaring about the dried blood and forming bruises.
“It’s nothing. That was fucking shitty of him,” the man drawled.
“Okay, well, if you’re sure you’re fine, kid…I’ll leave you alone now. Enjoy your book. And your shade.”
Jimin mumbled something under his breath, eyes directed towards his shuffling feet.
“…I said I’m not a kid.”
Jimin looked up when the man let out a small laugh. It completely transformed his face, his eyes crinkled up into crescents, and one of his eyebrows cocked itself higher than the other. Letting out a low hum, the man let his eyes roam over Jimin’s body slowly. Though he usually hated strangers’ eyes on him, something about this particular stranger made him feel good. Made him want to be seen. Nevertheless, he quickly shoved his hands behind his back.
The man’s eyes flickered towards the movement, but he didn’t say anything.
“Hmm,” he hummed finally. “Guess you’re not. Too pretty to be called a kid.”
Jimin bit his lip hard, cheeks burning, heart racing.
The man laughed again, and reached out as if he wanted to touch Jimin’s hair. Stopping himself at the last moment, the man graced him with a smile. “Cute like one, though. Take care of yourself, yea?”
Jimin watched the black-haired man walk away, then settled back down in the shade of his tree. He let his face stretch into a large, giddy grin.
And if either of them felt a tug, neither of them had the courage to look back.
The highlight of his day was always, always, waiting for the bus.
Each day without fail, just minutes after Jimin arrived at the stop, he’d feel a warm presence sit itself in the seat right next to his, even though there were 5 other seats to the right of him that were usually empty.
The first time this happened, Jimin unconsciously squeezed his hands into fists and dug them into the sleeves of his hoodie.
Though he felt the stranger sneaking glances at him, Jimin kept his gaze stubbornly on the road. Just because he was desperate for friends didn’t mean that he was going to chat up a stranger at a bus stop, and besides — maybe the man had somehow seen that Jimin was a Satellite and wanted to taunt the freak.
Glancing down, Jimin saw that the other had three red rings around his right pinky.
Deflating a bit, Jimin sighed. There was no way somebody with three soulfriends would even be remotely interested in befriending him.
The moment the bus came, Jimin hopped to his feet and chose a seat towards the back, placing his bag on the seat next to him. The brown-haired boy sat directly in front of him, and was still on the bus when they got to Jimin’s stop.
As weeks went on and the boy still chose to sit next to Jimin at the bus stop, Jimin stopped tensing up every time he sat down and sometimes allowed himself to glance over at the boy. He had tan skin and eyes that could be kind, but his face was almost always hardened into an expression that seemed to keep everybody away, eyebrows furrowed and mouth turned down. Paired with the piercing on his bottom lip and the silver hoops and studs that lined both ears, people never came too close to him.
But still, after about a month Jimin found himself content sitting by this stranger’s side.
One day during the second month of their little routine, it was raining heavily, and Jimin was completely drenched. Water was dripping into his eyes and mouth, and his hoodie was heavy on his frame. He heard heavy, booted footsteps, and looked up to see the boy plop himself down closer than he usually did, still keeping a careful distance between their bodies, and held his umbrella over both of their heads.
When Jimin finally worked up the nerve to thank him, in a small voice, the rain was so loud and heavy that it completely drowned it out.
But maybe the stranger saw Jimin’s lips move, because he fully turned towards Jimin for the first time and directed a beaming, large smile towards him.
Walking off the bus that day, the stranger blocked Jimin’s exit by sticking his umbrella straight across the aisle like a makeshift barrier.
“Take it,” he said.
“Oh, I’m fine, it’s a short walk,” Jimin said quietly.
“I’ll be fine. I’m already wet.”
“Please,” the stranger said.
Sighing, completely aware of how warm he felt inside even though he was soaked to the bone, he took the umbrella.
“Okay. Thank you. I’ll give it back tomorrow.”
Hopping down the wet steps of the bus, he stopped and watched it drive away.
As Jimin walked the few blocks he needed to from the bus stop to his apartment, the purple umbrella blocking the rain from his drying hair and clothing, Jimin let himself hope again.
Even if he were a Satellite and had no soulfriends or a soulmate, he would persevere. He could have regular friends — even having an acquaintance that he saw on a semi-regular basis sounded like heaven to Jimin.
As Jimin went to sleep that night, the purple umbrella drying in the bathroom sink, he felt something tug at his heart. Confused, he rubbed at his chest and drifted to sleep.
Though Jimin didn’t make enough money to live in the rich, fancy apartments of Seoul, he made enough to get by. Working two jobs was tiring, but worth it. His complex was secure enough, with a little code to unlock the main entrance’s door that only residents had access to.
So it was completely unexpected when, one evening, he was halfway through punching in the code, looking forward to treating himself with pizza for dinner, when he was yanked roughly to the side.
Startled, Jimin let out a yelp and stumbled into the chest of the man who grabbed him.
“Get off me, what are you—”
Jimin’s words were cut off by the man grabbing his right arm in a tight, bruising grip and pushing his hoodie sleeve up his arm. Glancing at it, the man then grabbed his other arm and yanked the sleeve up as well.
Jimin’s heart was thundering in his chest, but even more upsetting was the embarrassment and shame building deep in his gut, reminding him of those years in high school where people would blatantly point out his lack of Attachments and laugh.
The man, who looked around three or four years older than Jimin, let out a sharp exhale at the sight of Jimin’s bare pinkies, his hands tightening around Jimin’s skin to the point of pain.
To Jimin’s surprise, the man’s eyes welled up with unshed tears.
“So it’s true…I heard of another Satellite moving to this part of Seoul but I never actually…”
“What’s it to you?” Jimin is angry now, angry at the fact that him being a Satellite was such a big deal that people were talking about him, that there was apparently word going down the street about him in a city as big as Seoul, he was angry and ashamed and embarrassed and so so tired.
The man jolted, as if startled out of a dream, and he let go of Jimin’s arms and backed away two steps, hand in the air to show Jimin that he wouldn’t hurt him.
“Hey, I’m sorry. I—I just had to know. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Belatedly, Jimin realized that there were tears of shock and shame brimming in his eyes, and his embarrassment multiplied by five.
“My name is Kihyun. I heard that you were a Satellite, I—I am too, see?”
He held his hands out for Jimin to see, and Jimin noticed that his pinkies were as bare as his own.
“Yeah,” Kihyun reached back and scratched the back of his head.
“Okay, well,” Jimin gestured to his apartment building with a vague hand, not knowing what else to do.
“Wait!” Kihyun’s voice came out louder than expected, and Jimin jumped. “Shit, sorry, sorry. Fuck. I—do you—would you want to…grab dinner with me? Or something?”
Jimin was stunned into silence.
“I mean…not to sound like a creep or anything, but I’m pretty lonely, and I’m assuming you are too.”
Jimin’s first reaction was to put up a strong front, to deny any feelings of loneliness or desperation, even though they were brimming inside of him all the time. His face must have molded into a cold expression, because Kihyun raised an eyebrow.
“Aren’t you? Aren’t you just going to go home to an empty apartment, to eat dinner alone, fall asleep alone, wake up alone, and do the same thing all over again tomorrow?”
Though it hurt Jimin’s pride to admit it, that was exactly what he was going to do.
Would it really be so bad?
It would be nice to finally be able to talk to someone who really, truly understands what he’s going through…
After a long minute of silence, with Jimin shuffling his feet and Kihyun staring at him intently, Jimin let out a sigh.
Dinner was a casual affair.
And Jimin actually felt lighter than he had in forever.
He hasn’t shared a meal with anyone in who knows how long, and it felt nice.
Sure, Kihyun was outrageously blunt, had no sense of personal space, and made rude jokes more often than not, but Jimin didn’t care.
He was thriving off of the other’s presence, he sat straighter in his chair, and for a moment Jimin could pretend that he was sharing a meal with one of his soulfriends.
Kihyun insisted on walking Jimin home, and his hand brushed Jimin’s far too many times for it to be an accident.
After bidding Kihyun goodbye after exchanging numbers, the older grabbed his arm.
“So I was thinking,” Kihyun started, his face neutral. “We should fuck next time we see each other.”
“I mean, it’s kind of expected, isn’t it?” Kihyun shrugged. “Most people lose their virginities to their soulmates. Since neither of us have one, it’d be good to just…do it with each other. Right?”
“No, I mean, we literally just met,” Jimin let out a nervous laugh. “I…not next time we see each other. Let’s just…get dinner again.”
Kihyun shrugged again. “Sure. I mean, it’ll happen eventually, but okay. We can take it slow, if you want.”
With that, the man turned on his heel and walked away, and soon disappeared after turning a corner.
Jimin stood there staring after him for the longest time, a feeling of discomfort building deep in the pit of his belly.
Ignoring it, he went upstairs and collapsed in bed with a long sigh.
Though Kihyun wasn’t the friend he always imagined he’d have, he was better than nothing.
He was someone to talk to, someone to share meals with, and that was all Jimin could’ve ever asked for.
He didn’t have to be perfect.
He just had to be there.
The next day, the Bus Stop Stranger talked to Jimin for the first time since the rainy day.
“How did you get those?”
Jumping, unused to anything breaking their silence, Jimin glanced over at him warily.
But the stranger’s eyes were fixed to his arms, which were exposed for once. It was a sweltering summer day, and Jimin just didn’t have it in him to shove a hoodie over his head to hide his pinkies that day. He was in a short sleeve, and his pale arms and hands were completely exposed — including the marks Kihyun had made on his arms when he grabbed Jimin the night before.
Jimin cleared his throat.
“I’m a dance instructor. I must’ve fallen or bumped into something while doing a routine.”
“They look like handprints.”
Jimin was shocked into silence.
“You got trouble following you?”
“No,” Jimin shook his head vehemently. “Nothing like that. It was just…a misunderstanding.”
The stranger stared at him for a beat, then nodded once.
“Can I see your phone?”
His heart beating madly in his chest, Jimin pulled it out of his pocket without question and handed it over.
The stranger fiddled with it for a few moments, then handed it back.
“If the…misunderstanding ever becomes trouble, you can call me, okay?”
Jimin was dumbfounded.
This was the second number he’s gotten in the span of two days, and including his dinner with Kihyun the most he’s talked to anyone other than his students and his landlady since he’s moved to Seoul.
“What, are you like a cop or something?”
At that, the other let out an actual laugh. Jimin was in awe at how it completely changed his face — he became almost boyish, brown bangs flopping into his eyes haphazardly as he shook his head.
Coming home that night, Jimin pulled up the boy’s contact and just stared at it.
Letting out a little squeal, Jimin wriggled around happily in bed.
Even though it wasn’t exactly an invitation to be friends, it was still something.
And that something was enough to lull Jimin into dreams of warmth even in the rain.