“It feels like I’ve been dreaming for a really long time, but it lasted for only a moment…”
The Golden Crow Wheel radiated a prominence-like flare; the sky and earth were flooded with a radiant golden light.
Ren Chong struggled up on the platform. When Zhou Sheng returned to his dream, the dark clouds had all retreated. The platform sunk gradually and coincided with the center of the arena. Under the gaze of the public, the Golden Crow Wheel spewed its flares. Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng stood in the middle of the arena, watching as Ren Chong slowly crawled towards the Golden Crow Wheel.
“You can’t go back to your dream anymore.” Zhou Sheng said, “Don’t struggle anymore.”
Zhou Sheng walked forward, but Ren Chong suddenly burst up and lunged forward, intending to perish together with Zhou Sheng. Yu Hao got a huge fright, and just as he was about to go forward, Zhou Sheng kicked Ren Chong into the sky and roared madly, “You still want to resist?! Where are your tranquilizers?”
Ren Chong was punched squarely in the chest, then Zhou Sheng gave him another flying spin kick and shouted, “Where are your stimulants?!”
“What about your aphrodisiac?!” Zhou Sheng’s last punch hit Ren Chong brutally onto the steps in front of the Golden Crow Wheel, and cheers that could shake the heavens rang out in the surroundings! Yu Hao couldn’t bear to look any further and sighed. If it was someone else, he might have gone up to persuade Zhou Sheng to stop, but Ren Chong had caused them too much misery through his torments, and he had almost made a huge mistake that no one could remedy.
Ren Chong could only exhale and not inhale any longer. He lay on the steps, saying slowly, “Zhou Sheng…Zhou Sheng…you…”
“What else do you want to say?” Zhou Sheng decided to might as well keep his jingubang. He stepped on Ren Chong’s chest with one foot. “Say all you want, Laozi will chat with you.”
Yu Hao didn’t know if he should laugh or cry for a moment.
Ren Chong, “You…don’t necessarily need to be like this. I thought you were the one who understands it best…Zhou Sheng, why on earth are you so insistent? As long as you’re willing to give in, what you can get would far surpass everything you see right now!” Then Ren Chong’s eyes shone with a fanatic glint, “Whatever you want! I can give them all to you!”
Zhou Sheng said, “You can’t give me what I want, only my wife can. Do you want to be my wife? Sorry but that idea’s too disgusting.”
“Quit it.” Yu Hao said, “What next?”
Ren Chong said softly, “To be content with mediocrity, give up the road to success; that’s how you want to live your life?”
Zhou Sheng turned his head sideways to study Ren Chong’s face that was as swollen as a pig’s head from being beat up. He thought for a bit, then said, “I forgot who said this: everyone has only one kind of success, that is, to choose the way you want to live your life for yourself. That’s the principle ba?”
When Yu Hao heard this, a hint of a smile could be seen in his eyes.
“Kill me ba.” Ren Chong said.
Zhou Sheng looked back at Yu Hao, signalling for him to decide. Yu Hao said, “I think this guy’s too ambitious, it’s a little dangerous.”
Zhou Sheng was surprised. “I thought you’d intercede for him.”
Yu Hao said, “No, I’m just afraid that he’d do something again…would it be of any use to erase his memories?”
Zhou Sheng, “If he’s killed here, he’ll fall into a vegetative state. Are you sure you won’t have a thorn stuck in your heart forever due to killing a person’s consciousness?”
“Even if there’s a thorn, then I’ll just live with it.” Yu Hao said, “Compared to the safety of so many people, this is the safest way. In any case, I’m making this choice myself.”
Zhou Sheng lifted his foot that was stepping on Ren Chong and retreated a little. “I’ll bear it with you? Do you want to take a look at his memories?”
Yu Hao went over and held Zhou Sheng’s hand, staring seriously at Ren Chong. Zhou Sheng kept silent for a moment and snapped his fingers.
Ren Chong’s memories burst out and started revolving around him -- the scope kept expanding, and they were presented in front of the two of them like a trotting horse lamp. Yu Hao could roughly guess a bit of Ren Chong’s past, but he didn’t expect that the truth would be this tragic.
Ren Chong was 56-years-old this year, but the memory that left a deepest impression on him was still how he had personally witnessed his own father committing suicide when he was just a child, while others around him rejoiced with enthusiasm and cheered. He looked at the people around him in bewilderment, and as if he was infected by their enthusiasm, he started cheering as well. Immediately following which was his adolescent period; he spent a long time in exile in a barren land, struggling with everyone, stabbing each other in the dark, and implicating others.
“He’s pretty unlucky.” Zhou Sheng said.
“Qin Laoshi and the leaders of the newspaper office experienced these times as well.” Yu Hao said, “Experiencing dark times is not a ‘pardonable’ excuse.”
Zhou Sheng pointed at the scene of Ren Chong attending a meeting when he was in his forties; some of his ideas were fiercely attacked by the other participants, and he felt downcast after the meeting, changed his post, and went to the Special Investigations organisation. He got to know Qin Guodong then and started working under him.
He was very dissatisfied with his position at the special investigation team, and he always hoped to return to his previous post. What appeared the most in his memories was how the humans in this world shouted slogans, cheered incessantly, and a period where everyone in the country were fanatics.
“He might have some Stockholm tendencies.” Yu Hao summarised simply.
“Wu.” Zhou Sheng said, “Hoping to return to that era. Actually, I have to admit that a portion of what he said was right.”
Yu Hao looked at Zhou Sheng. Zhou Sheng shook his head helplessly and released golden flames from his palm. He considered whether to destroy these memories or to strangle this guy to death. At this point now, Yu Hao couldn’t really do it either, but suddenly, the Golden Crow Wheel said something.
“Warning.” Golden Crow Wheel said, “Energy in output circuit overload, CPU has run out of energy.”
“No more electricity?” Zhou Sheng shouted, “It can’t be ba!”
Golden Crow Wheel said, “Energy is insufficient, shutting down soon.”
Zhou Sheng, “……”
When Ren Chong heard this, no one knew where his strength came from as he immediately turned around and crawled towards the Golden Crow Wheel. Zhou Sheng shouted, “Wait!”
Zhou Sheng hadn’t even gone forward yet when Ren Chong already hugged the edge of the Golden Crow Wheel in a demented manner. Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng often flew in and out of the Golden Crow Wheel, but they had never really come into contact with the wheel in dreams. Now, the prominence instantly started to burn Ren Chong’s whole body, and he let out a blood-curdling screech.
Yu Hao wanted to go forward to pull him away, but he was abruptly dragged back by Zhou Sheng and into his embrace. Half of Ren Chong’s body squeezed into the Golden Crow Wheel; he let out a mad cry and was burned until nothing was left.
“He escaped?” Yu Hao asked.
Zhou Sheng shook his head. “His memories have been burned too, let him be ba. That lower half of his body looks terrifying no matter how you look at it……get the hell in, who cares where you go?”
The moment Ren Chong climbed into the Golden Crow Wheel, the flames had already burned away most of his memories. They just didn’t know if this guy would fall into a vegetative state when he woke up in reality. Zhou Sheng went forward and kicked him, and kicked the remaining lower half of Ren Chong’s body into the Golden Crow Wheel.
“Warning, energy is insufficient. Automatic shutdown in a minute.” Golden Crow Wheel’s voice rang out.
“Hold on!” Zhou Sheng walked towards the Golden Crow Wheel and said, “I have something to say to you.”
Golden Crow Wheel, “Overseers, please ensure that all work is done before shutdown.”
Yu Hao, “Golden Crow Wheel, can we still charge you?”
Golden Crow Wheel, “At this stage, adapted energy source for the CPU can’t be detected.”
Zhou Sheng stared at the Golden Crow Wheel in a daze. Golden flames appeared in his hand, and he looked down at his right hand, then looked up again.
Meanwhile, the Golden Crow Wheel was very quiet. Yu Hao held Zhou Sheng’s hand tightly.
“Thank you.” Yu Hao suddenly said.
Zhou Sheng remained silent for a long time, then said, “Un. Thank you, Golden Crow Wheel.”
Yu Hao wanted to say something, but reined it in, and Zhou Sheng made a ‘shh’ gesture. He said, “Don’t say anything, look.”
The Golden Crow Wheel turned still quietly and made a sound.
“Automatic shutdown in 10 seconds, 9, 8, 7…”
The sun gradually dimmed, and the prominence kept shrinking toward the center of the Golden Crow Wheel. The sun erupted with a white, dazzling beam as if it was collapsing. Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng held hands as they stood in front of that beam. Yu Hao raised his hand, and the light particles of his totem materialised in his palm that flew toward the Golden Crow Wheel.
“3, 2, 1. Thank you for your usage, good bye.”
The Golden Crow Wheel disappeared with a bang, and the world fell into darkness. However, right at the next moment, another ball of warm light appeared in place of the Golden Crow Wheel; its light was getting stronger and stronger, and along with the jingle of the music box, it illuminated the world!
Zhou Sheng started laughing. He turned around and embraced Yu Hao.
Yu Hao closed his eyes. Zhou Sheng lowered his head and kissed him on his lips. In the instant Yu Hao woke up, he realized he had woken up in the pitch dark car.
Street lights in all directions were lit up again. It was 4.30 AM, and the lights in the town were flashing once again.
Zhou Sheng, who was originally sound asleep, tightened his grip on Yu Hao’s hand. He opened his eyes and sat up from the reclining chair. Yu Hao was thoroughly spent and let out a long sigh.
In the underground research room, in the middle of the Golden Crow Wheel, the largest crystal turned completely dark. Then, lights in the surrounding lit up, and the hall of the research home was bright again.
Everyone who had collapsed all over the floor looked baffled as they got up one after another. Qin Guodong swayed from side to side with a splitting headache, and he was the first to snap out of his daze. He shouted, “Put your weapons down! There’s nowhere to escape to anymore!”
The researchers stepped back in succession. Qin Guodong led his men forward and took off Ren Chong’s helmet. Ren Chong was still unconscious; he fell from his chair and kept convulsing. Xiao Jian went forward to open the lid of the cover box and removed the inner core of the Golden Crow Wheel, as well as its base.
Qin Guodong ordered, “Give Huang Ting a call and ask them to go back and wait first. I’ll return it to him afterward.”
Chen Yekai twisted the key and started the car up. No one talked on the car and just remained sitting quietly.
Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng were holding hands. Yu Hao said, “I’m so tired.”
“Young Master’s awake? Are you Young Master?” Fu Liqun asked.
Zhou Sheng said impatiently, “No! I’m the Great Devil, Zhou Sheng!”
Everyone laughed, and Zhou Sheng was amused too. He turned his head sideways to look at Yu Hao. There was a hint of a smile in Yu Hao’s eyes, as well as some tears as he looked at Zhou Sheng, then their lips lightly touched.
“Ai ai.” Fu Liqun, who was in the back seat, said, “Take note.”
“Take note of your influence.” Ou Qihang said.
Chen Yekai looked at them through the rearview mirror. Huang Ting answered a call and simply said a few words to Qin Guodong, then passed his message to Zhou Sheng. Zhou Sheng didn’t reply. Yu Hao said, “Where do we go now? Home?”
“Let’s go to the Great Wall ba.” Zhou Sheng said, “We might be able to catch the sunrise.”
“It feels like I’ve been dreaming for a really long time, but it lasted for only a moment…”
Six people walked up the eastern section of the Great Wall in the dark. Yu Hao said, “Time should have stopped completely. What Ren Chong intervened in at last was the entire collective unconscious’ world.”
Zhou Sheng said, “Those driving on the road, the high-speed rail, airplanes -- if everyone had fallen asleep at the same time, then they would’ve been done for. Fortunately, see, nothing happened.”
“It really is like a dream ah.” Ou Qihang stretched amidst the cold winds and said, “I can barely distinguish whether this is reality or not anymore.”
Zhou Sheng pulled Yu Hao’s hand and climbed up the Great Wall’s steps. “My dear wife, are you cold?”
“I’m okay.” Yu Hao answered, “I wore more layers today…”
Zhou Sheng said, “Mine’s warm though, let’s switch.”
Zhou Sheng and Yu Hao switched their jackets. Zhou Sheng placed one hand in his pocket and said, “Yo, you even brought this out?” Then he took out the silver music box.
Yu Hao said, “Kaikai said you got caught, then asked me to quickly pack my things and go downstairs. I didn’t know what I should bring. I didn’t even take the keys and just took the music box out.”
Zhou Sheng started laughing. Six people climbed to the top of the Great Wall and sat in one row, facing east. The wind was bitingly cold; the banner of a Cultural Festival fluttered in the winds on the Great Wall. The marble white colour of the dawn sky broke through the horizon, and the light of dawn shone upon the earth.
“The sun is rising.” Yu Hao said.
The winds stopped for a brief moment. In that tranquility, Zhou Sheng winded up the music box tightly, and as an accompaniment for the rising sun that shone upon the world, 《A Little Happiness》started playing.
“I’ve heard that song so many times I’m sick of it.” Fu Liqun said.
“We’ll change to another one next time.” Yu Hao laughed.
The sun rose; the mountain ranges and rivers faced the reddish-gold glow of daybreak, leaving the darkness and restoring their endless appearance in the daytime.
The sun rose; under the clear blue sky, thousands of rays of golden light criss crossed with one another, and just like Zhou Sheng stepping onto his flaming cloud in the dream, it blanketed the heavens and earth as raging flames brazenly set the dome of heaven on fire, awakening all living things that were fast asleep.
The sun rose; and like the many sunrises they saw, those brilliant memories, the morning mist dissipated under the sunlight. Amidst the music, Yu Hao leaned on Zhou Sheng’s shoulder and watched this scene quietly. There was no earth-shattering change, nor was there the cries of tens of thousands of beasts and the swirling of bricks; it was just like every sunrise for the past five billion years -- ordinary, yet not that ordinary at all. It nourished the world that all living things depend on for survival. A ray of sunlight spilled into their souls; crisscrossing dreams were instantly separated from reality, and the distinction was clear.
The sun rose as usual, its sunlight shining brightly upon the world. Zhou Sheng suddenly said to Yu Hao, “Yi? Look to the West.”
“Ah? There’s another sun?” Ou Qihang asked.
Everyone laughed. Yu Hao looked to the West and said, “The moon’s still here.”
There was a very, very indistinct outline of a full moon, but it was still hanging in the sky, so faint that it could barely be seen anymore.
Zhou Sheng turned his head sideways, and took advantage of this time to lightly kiss Yu Hao’s ear. Yu Hao instantly flushed red from his neck all the way up to his ears, and he said sternly to Zhou Sheng, “I remember quite a lot of things now. I’ll settle all of them with you when we get home.”
Zhou Sheng, “Uh…”
Juurensha: Hahaha, you tell him Haohao! Such a good final battle!
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro.