【Piggy, get up.】
Editor(s): Amalea, FistFullOfDollars, Juurensha
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Yu Hao made a backup of all the photos and texted Situ Ye to tell him that the photos were all on the cloud now and asked him to view them himself. The office had a shared cloud drive that Lin Ze had applied for. Although Jin Weicheng didn’t agree with this type of work method and preferred submitting the photos with the manuscripts, he couldn’t make Lin Ze change his mind.
After all, the memory card is a reporter’s second life. After Lin Ze finished buying furniture that day, he threw a camera memory card into his desk drawer —— so that under any circumstances after they were seized, it could be collected and used on-demand.
“We’re different from other reporters,” Lin Ze once said, “We need to be very careful of the cops. As long as the other party doesn’t have a gun, we don’t need to fear them, just run. Also, unless absolutely necessary, do not get invited for tea. As soon as you enter the station, your memory card will be gone.”
Yu Hao always kept in mind the doctrine that ‘the memory card is a reporter’s second life’. As soon as he had the time and the Internet, he would find a way to backup his information in the cloud.
Lin Ze wore short sleeves, underpants, and flip-flops as he scrutinised the photos Yu Hao uploaded at home.
“What’s this?” Lin Ze turned his head sideways and looked at the pregnant lady’s medical record and form.
Situ Ye held a cup of warm milk and drank as he clicked the mouse. He selected the image, rotated it 90 degrees, enlarged it and pulled it onto the photograph.
“Holy shit.” Lin Ze laughed. He switched to the next one, looked at the medical record, then at the form, and kept switching between the two, “This kid’s intuition is amazing.”
Situ Ye said, “He can’t have uncovered a human trafficking case ba, do we report it to the police?”
Lin Ze said, “Let me take a look. The home address isn’t complete, there’s no more after the village. Fortunately there’s a contact number. We’d need to find those at the top in the Guangxian Municipal Bureau and check this number.”
Situ Ye said, “You’d better confirm it first.”
Lin Ze wanted to call Yu Hao. He took his phone, looked at the time, and hesitated.
“I’ll tell them tomorrow.” Lin Ze said, “Don’t wanna hold them up now.”
When Yu Hao woke up, it was snowing outside. The first snow in the North came so early this year. The Siberian cold current whistled down Inner Mongolia, sweeping through the whole northern lands. Jin Weicheng didn’t return for the night. Yu Hao got nervous and called him; he had actually fallen asleep in the bathhouse.
Yu Hao rummaged around for the meat floss bun he bought yesterday and ate one. He turned on the TV to watch the weather forecast; there would be heavy snowfall in North China today, but this snow didn’t seem too heavy.
“Check out first and take some pictures of the hospital entrance.” Jin Weicheng said, “We’ll set off at 10 o’clock and go to the village for an interview first, We’ll go to the processing plant in the afternoon. I’ve already contacted the petitioners.”
Yu Hao uttered an “un”. After finishing his breakfast, he checked out of the hotel, then made his way to a cafe. He wanted to take another photo of Guangxian People’s Hospital in the daytime. He wore his fur cap, and when he walked by the road, he suddenly had a strange sensation —— across the road, someone was watching him.
Yu Hao decided not to take this camera out first; later on, this move of his would prove to have helped him successfully avoid a series of troubles. He sat down in the cafe and started using his phone. The two who were watching him from afar pushed open the door and came in.
“Where are you from?” One of them asked, “Show us your ID.”
One of them sat opposite Yu Hao, while the other sat next to him. Yu Hao immediately realised: plain clothes.
Yu Hao looked at them doubtfully, took out his ID card, and showed them his student card as well.
“Huazhong Institute of Education Psychology Department?” The plain clothes said, “What are you doing all the way out here?”
“I’m here to find my girlfriend.” Yu Hao said, “She wants to break up with me.”
“Where does your girlfriend live?” Plain clothes asked again.
Yu Hao remembered the aunt who desperately tried to arrange a blind date for him on the train’s bunk and immediately reported the address near her home. He couldn’t remember which building or unit it was exactly, but he remembered that her family had three houses and was part of a demolition household.
The information matched up. The plain clothes returned him his ID and student card and didn’t ask anymore questions, then left.
Yu Hao heaved a sigh of relief. He took his camera out, and after he determined it was safe, took a picture while he was still in the cafe. This camera was too awesome -- once he adjusted the lens, everything would become clear no matter how far away it was. He couldn’t help but rejoice that Zhou Sheng had bought him this camera, otherwise, if he took a micro camera to the hospital entrance for a photo, he would be caught by plain clothes every minute.
“There are plain clothes.” Yu Hao called Jin Weicheng, “Laoshi, be careful.”
“The one who got a foot massage with me last night was a plain clothes.” Jin Weicheng motioned to Yu Hao from outside, “It’s okay, let’s go.”
Jin Weicheng and Yu Hao left the county first and hitched a ride to the village. The land here was already polluted by waste containing lead and cadmium. There was a river behind the village. Jin Weicheng took a recording pen and looked for people on their way to the address he had, and went to the home of the petitioner for an interview.
The petitioner had already been taken to the county town for questioning, and no one knew when they would be released. Jin Weicheng told them where he was from, and the other party let them in.
Yu Hao heard incessant coughing from the inside and went to look at the patient -- there were two patients in the family who were suffering from chronic cadmium poisoning, one was old while the other was young. The father and son pair lay in bed, and they used to work in the battery plant.
“Can I take photos?” Yu Hao asked Jin Weicheng, who was recording with his pen.
Jin Weicheng motioned for him to take photos, so Yu Hao went in to take a few. He took a photo of the interviewee, who was an old woman in her seventies.
Jin Weicheng pointed to the outside. Yu Hao took his camera and left the house, then went to the village to take photos of the surroundings, and then took pictures of the river behind the village. The daughter-in-law of a family was washing clothes by the river. The weather was bitterly cold, and her frozen hands were red through and through. When she saw Yu Hao kneeling on the roof to find a view, she stood up and wiped her hands on her apron, looking as if she wanted to say something.
“Ai!” That woman called two men over and called out to Yu Hao in dialect.
Yu Hao made a ‘shh’ gesture. If possible, he didn’t want to startle anyone, but the village was full of people so he couldn’t avoid it.
The other party was very enthusiastic and kept waving at him, asking him to come down to drink some ginger soup to warm himself up. She asked him all kinds of questions, and asked if he was a reporter. Yu Hao understood her, but he answered, “I don’t understand.”
“My sis-in-law said that she wanted to ask you to report on your family’s situation!” A young girl who knew how to speak Mandarin came over, “Look at my big brother.”
Yu Hao took a picture of her big brother and asked, “Are you all employees of the battery plant?”
“They are.” The girl showed Yu Hao a work permit, as well as a compensation contract. Yu Hao said, “Could you make a copy for me?”
There was no photocopier in the village, so Yu Hao could only take pictures of the contract page by page. The villages packed red envelopes and stuffed them into Yu Hao’s hands. Yu Hao didn’t dare accept them of course, and went back to look for Jin Weicheng. Jin Weicheng had already finished his interview.
“We’ll stay with them tonight.” Jin Weicheng said, “Pack light to set off. We’ll go to the plant first, let’s go.”
Jin Weicheng didn’t let anyone lead the way, so they walked to the battery plant that was two kilometers away.
“News of the petition has already travelled here.” Jin Weicheng said, “It’ll be obvious with too many people.”
The wind was so strong that Yu Hao’s head was about to be blown off. He followed Jin Weicheng. The two of them observed the battery plant situated by the river.
“Climb in?” Yu Hao asked.
Jin Weicheng took out a telescope and looked into the battery plant. He said, “Take note of the surroundings, don’t get caught by the cops.”
Yu Hao, “Don’t worry, there’s nobody here.”
They’ve walked for quite a while from the bus stop. Their surroundings were bare, and the fields were deserted with only half-dead trees left behind. A gust of wind blew. Within a one-mile radius, there was nothing at a glance, except for the intermittent white smoke that curled out of the battery plant’s chimney.
Jin Weicheng muttered, “The sewage is discharged at the back.”
“We don’t know where the sewage treatment pond is.” Yu Hao said.
“I don’t think there’s even anything like that.” Jin Weicheng said, “Look, is that a cop?” As he spoke, he handed the telescope to Yu Hao, but what Yu Hao saw was a bridge on the other side.
“We can take photos from there.” Yu Hao said.
So the two of them hurried over. Jin Weicheng would look through his telescope from time to time, as if they were thieves.
“Laoshi look out below!” Yu Hao said.
They got on the bridge, Jin Weicheng took his mirrorless camera out to take photos, “I can’t, it’s too far.”
Yu Hao rotated his lens and instantly pushed it nearly 300 meters closer and let Jin Weicheng take a look. Jin Weicheng said, “Take it just like this!”
The battery plant was discharging turbid sewage straight into the river. Yu Hao said, “This angle isn’t good. Laoshi, pull me……”
Jin Weicheng said, “The wind is too strong, don’t fall in.”
The bridge was halfway through its repairs. Yu Hao let Jin Weicheng pull his backpack. He stepped on the outside of the steel frame with one foot and tilted his whole body over with his left foot as a pivot, and was suspended in midair beyond the bridge. Even Jin Weicheng, who has always had a lot of guts, couldn’t help but break out in a cold sweat. He kept urging Yu Hao to hurry up. Yu Hao took several photos in succession, then they went round the river to take a picture of the front.
Jin Weicheng said, “If we can take a photo of their waste treatment workshop, those guys wouldn’t be able to get away with anything.”
Yu Hao observed the outer wall that was filled with glass, and it was truly quite difficult. But no plain clothes patrolled the side overlooking the river, most of the manpower had been assigned to the front gate.
“Let’s try ba.” Yu Hao said.
Jin Weicheng couldn’t decide either, “Try?”
Yu Hao nodded and handed his bag to Jin Weicheng. He took off his down jacket, ran a few steps onto the mound behind the wall, stepped onto the bare wall, and flung his down jacket out towards higher ground, hooking at the top. He forcefully tugged on the sleeve of his jacket, and his jacket hung on the broken glass at the top of the wall being slowly torn apart.
Yu Hao kept kicking about with his feet and climbed up with a lot of difficulty. Jin Weicheng was so nervous his mouth was slightly agape. It was not until Yu Hao found stable footing at the top of the three-metre high wall and bent over before Jin Weicheng threw the bag up.
Yu Hao carried the bag on his back, surveyed the interior beyond the wall, and everything was instantly quiet for.
Below him lay a black mongrel dog that was about one metre-long.
Jin Weicheng motioned to Yu Hao, who also motioned back to Jin Weicheng. He threw his down jacket down. Jin Weicheng tied his jacket and Yu Hao’s together, then threw it back up. Yu Hao pulled Jin Weicheng up and dragged him onto the wall. Jin Weicheng had just managed to find a stable footing when the dog heard the noise and instantly looked up.
Yu Hao was already prepared. With keen sight and deft hands, a meat floss bun flew over like a shooting star. That dog uttered an “aowu” and jumped up, catching the bun in midair, then shook its tail and ran back to his nest to eat it.
Jin Weicheng, “……”
Yu Hao, “Hurry up and go!” He thought it was fortunate that it was just a mongrel and not a police dog.
They quickly jumped over along the wall and landed on the second floor of a plant building. The workers were currently on their noon break. Yu Hao climbed down a fire escape and used his phone to take pictures of the emergency evacuation map. The two of them studied it for a while. Jin Weicheng pointed at the sewage treatment pond at the back, so the two hid behind the foot of the wall and quickly made their way over.
Security in the plant was very weak, most of it was concentrated at the main entrance.
Why aren’t there even a few security guards? Yu Hao thought. But normally, no one would think that there would be two fucking idiotic reporters who would actually climb over the wall and enter from the riverside……
Jin Weicheng said, “We reacted too quickly. The petitioners came to us the day before yesterday, yet we’ve already arrived today.”
Jin Weicheng suddenly bumped into another mongrel, and Yu Hao immediately threw out another meat floss bun to make it leave.
Jin Weicheng, “Phew……”
Yu Hao, “Phew……”
Yu Hao quietly climbed up the ladder, and the worker’s dormitory was behind them while the open air treatment pond was outside. When he took photos, he had one foot on the building while his other was balanced on the fire escape ladder. Jin Weicheng said, “Definitely do not fall down, there’s sulfuric acid down there.”
Yu Hao only found out after he finished taking photos, and fortunately Jin Weicheng didn’t tell him at the start, otherwise he would have surely trembled.
“Can you take a photo of the front gate?” Jin Weicheng asked.
“I can’t.” Yu Hao said, “There are plain clothes outside.”
Jin Weicheng, “Take one from afar then. Your camera’s good, just zoom in all the way.”
Yu Hao found another place where they could climb over the wall and vaulted right over with one foot. Jin Weicheng slipped and stepped into a puddle of mud.
“Come on.” Yu Hao pulled Jin Weicheng up; he’ll just wash up after getting back. After they withdrew safely, both of them heaved a sigh of relief.
Back in the village, they lived in the petitioner’s house. It was 3pm, and it began to snow outside.
Yu Hao tapped on his camera and transferred photos. The signal here was really bad. With two unconscious patients and an old lady, he couldn’t get the WIFI password out of them either, so he had to make do with the transfer speed.
“I’ll go to the village and continue asking about the situation.” Jin Weicheng said, “I’ll be going door to door, gathering statistics on the number of deaths, you’re in charge of sending the pictures back.”
“Alright.” Yu Hao said, “Laoshi, beware of the village committee.”
Yu Hao looked at his phone. Zhou Sheng didn’t text him, did he sleep for the entire day?
After he was roughly done with the interview, Yu Hao suddenly felt a lot more relaxed.
【Piggy, get up.】Yu Hao,【It’s already 3pm.】
Yu Hao waited for the photos to transfer. Lin Ze sent him a picture of the pregnant lady’s medical record that he had taken yesterday.
Lin Ze:【Are you sure?】
Lin Ze:【I’ve alerted the police and reported it to their provincial office for further investigation.】
Yu Hao:【They’ll care?! Why did I hear that a lot of villages are colluding and wouldn’t allow any investigation.】
Lin Ze:【Of course they will. So many human trafficking cases had been exposed in recent years, every region worries about it a lot. As long as you encounter one and report it to the provincial office immediately, they’ll definitely care. Don’t worry, how’s progress on your side?】
Yu Hao thought that it was a good thing for the media to pursue hot topics with great fanfare. At the very least, now they were afraid that something would happen that could affect their political achievements, so at the first sign of trouble they would rather kill the wrong person than let one criminal escape as they demanded a thorough investigation of all cases.
Yu Hao:【We’ve taken all of the photos, Laoshi went to gather more data for the investigation.】
According to the usual interview process, the last stage was the most important one, which was data. Yesterday, Jin Weicheng took photos of the patient’s medical records and obtained their first set of data. Next, he started aggregating data within each village.
There were four villages in total, and he interviewed them one by one. If he was quick, they would be able to finish everything by tomorrow and go back.
Yu Hao:【It wasn’t as dangerous as you said it would be, everything went pretty smoothly.】
Lin Ze:【Oh right, there’s one more very important skill that I forgot to teach you.】
Lin Ze:【During interviews, no matter what the situation is like, don’t say, “the interview went really well this time”. It’s just like how night-shift emergency doctors can’t say “there’s nothing much to do tonight”.】
Yu Hao:【*covers face emoji* Okay, I got it.】
Yu Hao leaned against the back of his chair and looked at the photos that were being transferred. He could only use his phone’s hotspot, and his phone only had 3G signal. After transferring for more than an hour, he had only transferred about a dozen photos. Yu Hao hadn’t eaten lunch yet, so he took out the meat floss bun he had fed dogs with and choked badly on one. At 4:30, urgent knocks suddenly sounded on the door.
Yu Hao, “Who is it?”
“Me!” Jin Weicheng said, “Open the door!”
Yu Hao opened the door. There was a loud ruckus outside the living room -- a group of people were crowding at the entrance. Jin Weicheng darted in, reeking of alcohol, then locked the door.
Yu Hao, “………………”
Jin Weicheng, “Have you finished transferring the photos?”
Yu Hao, “What’s going on?! The village committee is here?”
“No, no.” Jin Weicheng said, “I’ve collated the casualty data, they asked how much they would be compensated……”
The people outside rushed into the living room and started smacking the door, shouting in dialect to ask them to get out and talk. Jin Weicheng gasped for breath, “Then they asked me to quote a price and tell them how much each person would get. How could I quote one? Someone must have told the plant, and the plant asked him to come catch us to give them money! People from the plant are about to come too!”
People outside began kicking the door. Jin Weicheng said, “How many more photos are there left?!”
“It won’t finish transferring in time!” Yu Hao said.
Jin Weicheng made a decision on the spot, “Run!” Before anyone could react, Jin Weicheng went to open the window. Yu Hao unzipped his bag, grabbed his camera, and stuffed it along with the chargers and the family’s socket into the bag before tossing it onto his back. Jin Weicheng flipped out of the window, and Yu Hao followed along. They jumped toward the firewood house in the backyard one after another——
Yu Hao flung his half-eaten meat floss bread over, and the world was quiet. They jumped onto a firewood stack. Jin Weicheng slammed his whole body against the iron door in the backyard before realising in despair that the iron door was locked.
Yu Hao jumped onto the stack of firewood again and flipped out of the yard. A group of villagers were clamouring as they ran out to chase them. Jin Weicheng followed along and flipped out of the yard.
Yu Hao, “Where do we run to?!”
Jin Weicheng, “Onto the national highway!”
They started dashing away like mad. A series of barks sounded out behind them. Jin Weicheng bounded along large steps and ran in front, Yu Hao said, “Where do we run to?! There’s still ten kilometres to go before we can reach the county town!”
Jin Weicheng said, “Check the other village! My phone ran out of battery again!”
Behind them, some people chased after them on foot while others rode electric bicycles to catch up. Yu Hao rushed past a fork in the road and looked down at his phone. Zhou Sheng was calling him.
“I’m on the run!” Yu Hao shouted, “I’ll talk to you later!”
“What the hell did you do this time?!” Zhou Sheng roared angrily.
Yu Hao hung up, checked the map, and shouted, “Jin Laoshi! Run along that road!”
Several young people were chasing after them. Yu Hao didn’t expect that their situation would take such a turn. He rushed into a meadow behind several empty houses and shouted, “Jin Laoshi! Let’s split up! I’ll lure them away!”
Jin Weicheng was about to say something when Yu Hao shouted, “I’m a student! I’ll be okay!”
Jin Weicheng said, “Regroup at the destination!”
Following which, more than ten women chased after from behind again with brooms in their hands as they beat up the men in their families. They shouted to Yu Hao, “Hurry and go!”
Yu Hao, “……”
Apparently, the villagers weren’t united in their views and started an armed confrontation amongst themselves first. However the pursuers on electric bicycles had overtaken them and continued their relentless pursuit.
Yu Hao rushed onto a road and ran a few steps to the middle of the road. He glanced at the group of people on electric bicycles, then ran to the side of the road and straight into a wasteland.
This way, the electric bicycles wouldn’t be able to chase him anymore. Although Yu Hao wouldn’t get beaten to death if he were caught, this still concerned his professional dignity, so he definitely couldn’t get caught! Yu Hao rushed into the wasteland. The villagers parked their electric bicycles by the roadside and chased him down with rods in their hands.
Yu Hao looked back as he darted along the wasteland covered in grass that were as tall as half a normal human. He jumped as he ran and rushed up a mound, then rushed back down again before running towards another road.
The people behind him kept shouting. Yu Hao roughly guessed that they hadn’t realised that Jin Weicheng had gotten away successfully. Good, then it’s my turn now.
But he had just run up to the road on the other side when another group of people arrived. Counting all the people in the front and back, there were about a dozen or so people blocking Yu Hao.
“Come back with us!” Someone shouted in Mandarin, “We won’t hit you!”
The engine sound of a motorcycle blared in the distance. Yu Hao looked left and right, but there was nowhere else to run on the national highway.
Yu Hao turned around again and rushed into the wasteland. The villagers caught up in an instant, but right at the next moment, a motorcycle drifted over with a whoosh and flew right across horizontally, knocking the pursuers onto the ground.
A man wearing a black woolen cap came down from the bike, holding a tap water iron pipe that he had picked up from somewhere. He ran forward and performed a flying kick!
Yu Hao, “……”
Yu Hao stood in the wasteland, completely dumbstruck. Snowflakes floated down, and Yu Hao felt like he was dreaming.
Yu Hao hadn’t seen Zhou Sheng fight in a very, very long time. At the moment he raised his fist, Yu Hao let out a crazed shout!
Zhou Sheng was well versed in the art of group fights. As long as one is surrounded, aim at the other group’s leader and throw out the first punch! That punch immediately hit the leader in the face and sent him flying! This deterrent force subdued the entire crowd in an instant; the remaining people restrained their momentum, then Zhou Sheng swung the tap water pipe and rushed forward!
“Come at me all at once!” Zhou Sheng roared furiously, “Hobbits! Hurry up! Laozi doesn’t have the time to play with you guys!”
Yu Hao was thoroughly stunned now. The villagers retreated one after another and talked to one another in dialect for a while. Zhou Sheng made a threatening gesture as he stepped forward, and the group all ran away immediately.
Yu Hao stood within the weeds that were half a man’s height, and the edges of his vision actually blacked out for a moment. Zhou Sheng stood gasping for breath, turned around to look at Yu Hao as he trembled slightly, and didn’t dare walk towards him.
The two stood looking at each other like that. The snowflakes swirled everywhere, and soaked Zhou Sheng’s whole body until he was dripping wet.
Yu Hao shouted again and ran onto the road.
Yu Hao rushed forward quickly, Zhou Sheng came over by condensing three steps into two, and the two embraced each other tightly. Zhou Sheng bowed down and kissed him forcefully, with a choking scent of smoke on his body.
A gunshot suddenly sounded in the distance. Zhou Sheng was alert at once and pulled Yu Hao behind him, then turned around to examine the source.
“Hunting gun, villages use it for shooting wolves.” Yu Hao said, “Don’t worry.”
Zhou Sheng pulled Yu Hao and dragged the motorcycle up, then mounted it. Yu Hao straddled the bike behind him. Zhou Sheng twisted the motorcycle handle and drove away with a “buzz”.
Someone chased after them with a hunting gun and fired at the sky, but the gunshot sounded farther and farther away, and they could no longer catch up with the two of them.
Yu Hao, “Why are you here!”
Zhou Sheng lowered his head as he faced the wind and drove the motorcycle with Yu Hao behind while he was speeding the entire way. He didn’t answer.
Yu Hao, “When did you come?!”
Zhou Sheng still didn’t answer him. The sun gradually set at the end of the national highway. The engine roared, and snowflakes swirled around gently in front of the two of them, like thousands of goose feathers that were sweeping by.
“Zhou Sheng!” Yu Hao hugged Zhou Sheng’s waist tightly and buried his head into his back as he shouted madly.
Zhou Sheng’s brows furrowed deeply. He turned sideways to glance at Yu Hao. He was dressed in a black suit from head to toe and wore motorcycle gloves that he had gotten from somewhere. His tie had been fluttering madly in the strong winds the whole way.
Zhou Sheng finally shouted with his head turned sideways, “Are you cold?”
Yu Hao said, “I’m okay!”
Zhou Sheng’s back had blocked all the wind.
Zhou Sheng, “I’m cold!”
Yu Hao quickly said, “I’ll lend you my jacket! Stop driving so fast!”
Zhou Sheng, “Don’t move! Tighten your grip!”
Yu Hao hugged him even tighter now. Zhou Sheng’s suit jacket flew up as they rushed to the end of the national highway. Yu Hao’s down jacket had been torn when he climbed over the wall, and now from the rip countless feathers were flying out that drifted in the wind, merging into one with the snow that was fluttering about between the heavens and the earth -- no distinction could be made, and they would never be separated ever again.
Juurensha: Awwww at long last, a reunion
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cat.