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“Before meeting you, he stood fast in a dark and long night.”
He defends the heartbeat of an entire city with the sharp edge of a blade in hand and, as long as there is a sliver of hope, he will not easily give up on anyone. At the end of the night, it is he who lights a glittering and burning torch with untiring conviction until he leads everyone to the dawn. Read the rest of this entry »
“Shh… you guys, be quieter…” Commander Li Zhao sat, swaying, and didn’t forget to look back to instruct his “legion”.
At the end of his line of sight was a small team of robots who accomplished their mission and were still perfecting and polishing the “crime scene”.
The sight before you was beyond bizarre and, after guessing many possibilities, you couldn’t stop from opening your mouth to ask, “What are you doing…?”
Li Zhao stiffened and, the moment he saw you, his expression became aggrieved all of a sudden.
“I wanted to sneak in and put up an apology banner for you, so you’d see it the moment you came. But why did you come out when I’m still preparing…?”
He hung his head in dejection and reached up to scratch his head, but his body tilted and somehow he lost his balance.
You instinctively reached out to grab him, but he turned his hand over and grabbed your waist. Your vision blurred and you found yourself boosted up by him onto a high spot.
The ambusher grinned broadly and then stuck a hand into his pocket to feel around, expression becoming tentative.
“Are you still angry about yesterday?”
Without waiting for my reaction, Li Zhao pulled something out of his pocket and held it out in front of me.
—It was a flower made out of various mechanical parts.
Those parts were the ones Li Zhao had mistakenly taken from my place, and also the reason he “angered” me.
But this “material evidence” was made into a flower by Li Zhao. It was all protruding edges, hard, and without a fragrance, but it gleamed under Li Zhao’s gaze.
“I thought up a lot of ways, but still couldn’t think of a good way to apologize.”
Under the catalysis of courage and determination, an eager hope surged up and flickered in his eyes.
“Can you take my flower and not be angry anymore?”
“Did we do something wrong to get hated? People in other places don’t seem to like us here…”
A young boy walked up to you and Li Zhao, timidly pulling on the hem of your clothes.
You crouched down and looked into the eyes of the child in front of you, for a second not knowing how to answer such a simple question.
The word “war” was incomprehensible to children.
Or maybe, it wasn’t just children, but all the people who grew up on this land gradually and inevitably fell into feelings of abandonment and isolation in this long war.
Everything here had come to a standstill, just like this, and it stood alone outside the world and time.Read the rest of this entry »
Chapter 38 ~ Fourth Game Pt.9 ~
“Can I be ‘God’ too?”
Gu Yian looked at the black words floating in the air and asked in confusion.
The content of the black letters just now was too similar to a control panel; a control panel that could manipulate a lot of people as long as she understood how to operate it.
Gu Yian was a little suspicious that there wasn’t only one God, but many, and they were collectively called God.
The black words heard Gu Yian’s question and changed its contents.
[YOU’RE OVERTHINKING. HOW CAN YOU BE GOD? DON’T USE YOUR STUPID BRAIN TO SPECULATE ABOUT GOD.]
Gu Yian looked at this familiar tone of the black letters and knew this must be a response that belonged to the black words.
When it came to matters about God, the black letters’ attitude towards players was high and mighty and sarcastic.
There was only one God.
At the end of summer with a broken air conditioner, Qi Lin found an old electric fan.
We sat on the porch where tree leaves layered on top of each other like a net capturing the sunlight, and so the light and shadows leapt on the leaves, unable to drop or advance. This was summer.
The wind of the fan passed through my hair, blowing at this time that had been extended endlessly.
“What did you say to the fan just now?”
I thought about how he had gone close to the fan, saying something intermittently, but his voice had turned into a strange tone and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“We only agreed the loser had to say something to the fan, not that they had to tell the other person what they said. Stop laughing, let’s go for another round.”
“Can I record it this time then?”
“Go ahead and record, but the loser hasn’t been determined yet.”
Although this was said, we still just sat beside each other and no one made any other movement.
The mountain crab apples fell in front of us, landing into a transparent glass jar, and their redness turned into a blurry and swaying pattern.
Following this was the passing of summer.
“By the time these are pickled, it’ll probably be autumn, right?”
Qi Lin handed a crab apple to me and said, laughing, “You don’t have any attachments to summer? How come you’re thinking about autumn already?”
Hearing the crack of the ice cubes melting in our cups, I unconsciously said, “It’s not that I don’t have an attachment to summer, it’s just that summer seems to really be ending.”
Qi Lin suddenly leaned towards me, but when I turned my head to him he avoided my eyes.
He turned his head and wrapped the flower carrying rubber band tightly around the mouth of the glass jar, making a snapping sound.
Qi Lin mumbled while he shook the jar, and the pendant at the mouth of the jar clanked against the glass—
“Summer’s not over yet. I’ll say again what I said earlier—”
A clear voice became a melody, concealing a young man’s heart within it.
“If I seal a jar of summer, then can our summer days never end?”
The sound of firecrackers rang in the ears.
In previous years, it could be said that this spring moment was perfect in the world, but today, when Qi Lin and you walked through the neatly arranged stalls, the seemingly orderly and lively temple fair appeared extraordinarily deserted and quiet.
There was no vitality, no clamor of voices, and the passersby on the street seemed to be just on a mission, walking aimlessly with the crowd.
Qi Lin found snacks from somewhere and stuffed them all into your hands.
He had excitedly invited you to come and play, but he clearly didn’t expect that the temple fairs in City 999 now were already different from the past.
The people were not the same, and so goes objects.Read the rest of this entry »
Chapter 37 ~ Fourth Game Pt.8 ~
Everything happened too fast.
Brother Zhang looked back only to see that scene of the female player being swiftly dragged into the soil.
By the time they reacted, the female player was already in the ground.
Han Qiu, who held her kitchen knife, was slower than everyone by a step. She had been walking at the forefront so she turned around at this time and looked towards the back, asking, “What happened? Where is she?”
She noticed the other female player was missing.
When Han Qiu spoke, the kitchen knife in her hand hadn’t been put down. That murderous appearance made Brother Zhang not want to get close to her.
The male player expressed his cowardice directly and he shrank beside Brother Zhang fearfully, making Brother Zhang want to stretch out his leg and kick him aside.
The male player huddled into himself and pointed at the pitch-black ground in front of them. “She was pulled in.”
Brother Zhang also said, “She’s in the dirt.”
Han Qiu took two quick steps and vaguely saw the soil moving at a spot.
Brother Zhang took out his phone to illuminate the area.
I cannot believe it’s been another year already, because I looked at what I said in my last anniversary post and nothing seems to have changed LOL. Where did all the time go!? I hope everyone’s been doing well and staying safe as we all try to return to the usual swing of life, although to be honest I feel like the world is moving on way too fast when we’re still, technically, in a pandemic…
Anyway, uh, I’ve been swamped with real life matters and am struggling to find time to do things that have stalled on this blog. I can promise that I haven’t not dropped “Pampered by the Escape BOSS” and that I’ve been poking away at translations for it, but it’s slow going. Because of feeling overwhelmed by my schedule, I won’t be holding any giveaways this year and can only wish for everyone to be healthy and happy.
Thank you all so much for the continued support and to any newcomers’ interest in this blog! I hope the rest of this year treats us all well!
The dilapidated iron fence door became mottled under the wash of the rain.
Behind the smell of damp rust was the end of this hidden alley.
It was here.
The traces Purr left behind were next to nothing and he might have been in the middle of ERA’s pursuit. I had to find him as quickly as possible.
Maybe pushing open this door could draw a period on this especially long, rainy night.
“Who is it?”
In this moment, a voice which couldn’t be more familiar carried an unfamiliarity that was colder than the rain. The startled young man interrogated an “intruder”.
He turned his head to me and, with the change in light, his face also became clear.
His guarded gaze and ruthless expression was full of a stranger’s pressure.
Purr defended his territory, calm, resolute, and not allowing any incursion.
I stood in place, at the mercy of my constantly expanding nervous emotions, until the distance between us shortened to where we could see each other’s face clearly.
Surprise replaced vigilance and the joy in the depths of his eyes instantly melted everything else.
The person in front of me recovered his familiar appearance, swift enough to the point where I doubted whether or not that earlier ruthless expression really existed.
“I finally found you.”
Seeing the unscathed Purr, I released a breath of relief.
“I’m fine, I hid really well.”
He looked at me, seeming to feel somewhat bad but also innocent. But I also faintly saw a trace of pride and satisfaction in his eyes.
“When I want to hide, they can’t catch me. But you can. Thank you for coming to find me. In fact, this whole time I’ve also… really wished to be found by you.”
Winter came quietly on tiptoe, wanting to surprise the children, but it accidentally let its snowflakes spill the news.
Thick snow covered every corner of the world, except for those covert places which still hid some tiny holes.
They were shiny black, like doors to another world, and it was as if a fairy from a fairy tale would emerge from it at any time, flutter its wings, and together with the children share this snowy world in colorful decorations and happy singing.
However, none of this seemed possible anymore.Read the rest of this entry »
“What do we do? The road signs have all been corrected, but my bike’s almost out of gas. Looks like you’ll have to lodge with me.”
“This situation doesn’t seem like it should be called “lodging”, it should be called surviving in the wild.”
“How is it that terrible, aren’t I beside you? Just treat it as me inviting you to my open air house to watch the sunset.”
He even bluntly made a gesture of invitation—
“Welcome, where would this guest like to tour first?”
“Let’s use the last of the gas and stop over there to watch the sunset then.”
On a road that had nothing and stretched as far as the eye could see, I tightened my hands that gripped Jiang Fengjie’s clothes and looked at this barren and open ground.
The sun was no longer scorching and, in a time that couldn’t be calculated or weighed, it slowly descended in the west.
The signs that we changed on this road sped backwards one after another, disappearing in the untouchable horizon.
My skirt, which he accidentally dyed with paint, brushed across wire fences, and then we broke into an abandoned gas station on a “No Entry” road.
He stopped the bike and turned the speakers up to the maximum—
“I’ve gone to lots of places and passed lots of signs. But none of the directions the road signs pointed to belonged to me.”
He stood up, came close to me, and his fingers slid through my windswept hair and rubbed over the tip of my ear. My eardrums resounded with a coarse noise, as if the wind and rocks of this wilderness were poured inside.
“But now I’m not afraid. Because you’ve come to my barren wilderness. You’ll be my road sign.”
In that second, the sun dropped into a galaxy. His hand moved down from the rim of my ear, brushed across my neck, and then hooked my chin, making me see myself in his eyes. Inside ember sparks, I drowned in a star.
“Right now, this place belongs only to us and there’s just us. Please allow me to take you away with me.”
You already forgot when you fell asleep last night.
In your semi-conscious state, you still vaguely remembered a dusky pub, teetering lights, and an enthusiastic crowd around you and Jiang Fengjie, telling you “After this, you’re family” and telling him “Welcome back” as well as “Long time no see”.
Loud voices covered the crackling old speakers and the sting of alcohol and tobacco interweaved together, pouring into countless eyes but it was unable to cover up everyone’s restless spirits.
The wooden floor was full of scratches, creaking when it was stepped on by shoes, and drinking glasses clinked together, showing a moving crystal-like texture under the bar lights.
Coarse, delicate, broad-minded, sensitive, all these originally contradictory bodily sensations intertwined in this moment.
In the midst of the noise, you caught a familiar tone by habit and, following its direction, you saw him in the middle of the crowd, singing a song you hadn’t heard. His red jacket was as conspicuous as always, but you could only clearly hear the single phrase “The sparrow flying into the sky”.Read the rest of this entry »
“Congratulations on deciphering a series of passwords and becoming the winner of this puzzle solving event.”
In full view of everybody, you stood on the stage of the auditorium, waiting for the president of the student union to confer an award to you.
Just as Lin Li walked towards you, a restless soundwave suddenly surged forth from the auditorium’s speakers on all sides and above.
Confetti and streamers exploded at the ceiling and poured down. Paper airplanes that covered the auditorium flew out from somewhere, intertwining in the air and creating white-colored flight paths.
In the noise and chaos of the auditorium, Lin Li still had his usual restraint and calm but you clearly saw that hint of an excited smile hidden behind his glasses.
“Is this my reward for solving the puzzle?”
He picked up a paper airplane from the ground with perfect composure and unfolded it to block the gazes below the stage.
Using this cover, he bent down close to you and whispered.
“This is the puzzle’s answer that I set up for you. Listen.”
The flagrant, unrestrained notes shook the ground, like it wanted to heave the entire world.
The words on the paper airplanes and the singing overlapped, mixing with those passwords you solved, and they all pointed to the same message—
That this was a secret, yet grand and public confession.
You seemed to hear his ardent heartbeat inside his singing.
“Now, it should be your turn to respond.”
The entrance ceremony of Kernel University was just like the impression City 000 gave people: cold, focused, restrained, without any useless procedures, and everything was just a ceremony for more efficient sorting and division.
This long and neat line with students silently holding their filled ideal application forms was a mechanical assembly line that produced a standard and synchronized future for the urban elites.
As the president of the student union, Lin Li stood indifferently on the stage. He seemed to be used to this scene; the same speeches and rhetoric of the new students were all just for getting closer to their ideal majors and becoming an “expert” approved by this city.Read the rest of this entry »
Outside Rong Zheng City, next to a dried old river, I held a fish bowl in my hands. The fish inside swam restlessly.
Unfortunately, the surging river water had long since dried up and the fish could not return upstream either.
“I did vocal exercises here when I was young and I would see fish leap out of the water. My master said they were my first fans. It’s not proper to disappoint my first playmates.”
A gurgling noise came from the air and then several clear pillars of water appeared high up there, joining to form a river with swift, unceasing currents.
Shen Chenchen held up the fish bowl and set the small fish home in the water. The fish did a turn and then, with a flick of its tail, swam upstream.
Beyond the fish tail stood a broken stone tablet. There were words I couldn’t understand engraved on the stone.
“This is the oath of people who protect the river. They swore to protect the water here with their lives and to never leave.”
As if to respond to Shen Chenchen’s words, a fish jumped out of the water in the distance.
“But there’s no one protecting this ancient tablet anymore, and the person who engraved this also abandoned their loyalty.”
“All things change. The river dried up and some were also helpless to leave.”
Shen Chenchen’s tone was indifferent but his right hand reached towards the torrential surface of the water. A thin stream of water rushed into his palm and circled his fingertips, gentle and docile.
The current in his hand became a bracelet made of water with ripples flowing in endless circles.
He slipped this singular water bracelet in the whole world onto my wrist.
“With this, you won’t be helpless. As for me, I am true to my heart. So, my end is you.”