“It’s such a cloudy day today who are you trying to show off to with your sunglasses?!”
Editor(s): Amalea, FistFullOfDollars, DarlingV
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“What is this?” Yu Hao muttered to himself.
More monsters had discovered him. They charged out of the sea of flames and advanced towards him dauntlessly! And they were all panthers! Yu Hao turned around; within the rainforest behind him was a thistle field, and before him was an increasing number of rotten, burning monsters. Yu Hao realised that he had left the mountain area and entered the rainforest zone. He now had an unobstructed view of the area.
Yu Hao’s eyes were bloodshot and tearing up from the smoke, while the burning asphalt panthers were gathering in the open area and encircling him. Yu Hao slowly retreated as he said, “Easy, easy……”
The black panthers were ablaze and seemed as if they were experiencing intense pain. Suddenly, Yu Hao thought he heard a whistle in the distance.
“Zhou Sheng?” Yu Hao turned his head while remaining on guard.
But the group of panthers had received their orders, so they all swiftly leaped towards Yu Hao!
Yu Hao cried out, then turned tail and ran like a madman into the rainforest. Yu Hao grabbed his shirt with one hand and shouted angrily as he ran, “Chen Yekai! What the hell is up with your damn dream aaaaahhhh——!”
Yu Hao had just rushed into the thistle-filled woodland when the decaying group of panthers behind him was less than three meters away -- the sparks from their flames had already spattered onto Yu Hao’s head. Yu Hao immediately somersaulted on the ground and hid underneath a huge thistle leaf, then rolled over and leaped before darting through the bumpy path in the rainforest.
Suddenly, four burning panthers jumped closely over Yu Hao’s head. With the extra momentum gained from nimbly rebounding off a tree in front of Yu Hao, they turned and pounced straight onto his head! Yu Hao quickly came to a halt, but even more panthers had rushed over from behind.
Yu Hao had nowhere to escape. He raised his hand to protect his head; as he ran, four panthers blocked his path and leaped into the air——
Yu Hao, “……”
“Ooh——oh oh oh oh——”
Zhou Sheng’s voice rang out loud and clear, and was immediately followed by four thumps -- the panthers in the air immediately tumbled away after being shot. Yu Hao was picked up from the ground before he rapidly ascended!
“Hold tight!” Zhou Sheng roared.
Thank goodness Zhou Sheng is finally here……Yu Hao exclaimed, “Where have you been?!”
Zhou Sheng wore a military camouflage uniform with a shield on his back and was gripping onto a vine with one hand. His ears were ringing from Yu Hao’s shout, so he complained resentfully, “Don’t shout, I’m going deaf……why are there so many of them?! Grab that vine! Your other hand! Raise your feet up!”
A moment later, Yu Hao instinctively reached out and grabbed a sturdy vine. Zhou Sheng adjusted himself mid-air, single-handedly pinning the gun behind him, onto his lower back. As Zhou Sheng travelled through the air, he stepped against Yu Hao’s knee, slightly launching himself before holding Yu Hao’s waist with an arm and shouted, “Let go! Jump!”
Yu Hao, “……”
In that short moment, Yu Hao didn’t even know how many trees he had passed. He only listened to Zhou Sheng’s orders and responded purely by reflex. Both of them abandoned the vine and jumped onto the fork of a tree, then rebounded off it and flew away again.
A steep cliff emerged within the dense tropical rainforest. They leaped onto the steep cliff by riding on the momentum of their rebound from the tree fork. There was a jeep with a running engine parked on the edge of the steep cliff, and Zhou Sheng said, “Get in!” As he spoke, he hoisted Yu Hao up and into the car, then climbed into the driver’s seat and put it in gear. He stepped on the accelerator and turned around in the same movement.
Yu Hao turned around in the back seat and saw two more burning panthers leap over, but before he could process this, Zhou Sheng abruptly reversed and the jeep rammed into their pursuers which sent them flying and rolling off the edge of the steep cliff. He immediately shifted gears, the tires skidding rapidly as he floored the accelerator. The jeep shot into the rainforest like an arrow released from its bow.
“Come into the front.” Zhou Sheng said.
Yu Hao crawled over to the jeep’s passenger seat, pulled the seat belt down and buckled it as he kept turning around to look behind him. The panthers were fast enough to keep up with the jeep. More than a dozen panthers incessantly swarmed them. Zhou Sheng raised his shield to block and strike the panthers, forcefully repelling them from the car.
“Shoot them with a gun!” Zhou Sheng drove faster and faster, “There’s a pistol in the back seat!”
Yu Hao, “I don’t know how to use a gun……”
Zhou Sheng, “Then you drive!”
Yu Hao, “I don’t know how to drive either……”
Zhou Sheng, “……”
So Zhou Sheng could only operate the steering wheel while turning around and firing at the same time. The sounds of gunfire were deafening. Yu Hao grabbed the gun and randomly opened fire behind the car, bullets ricocheted off the thick bars overhead. Zhou Sheng quickly said, “Don’t, don’t! Leave it! Just watch the road ba!”
From within the violently jerking jeep, Zhou Sheng managed to deal with one panther in just two or three shots. Yu Hao shouted, “There’s a tree! Turn left——!”
Zhou Sheng violently swerved the steering wheel. Both of them shouted, the jeep crashed into a tree. A panther lunged towards Yu Hao, its bloody mouth agape. Yu Hao suddenly drew his gun and fired a shot at its head.
Within the loud boom, black asphalt completely splattered the back seat. Yu Hao said, “I hit it!”
“That’s it!” Zhou Sheng said, “Treat it like a shooting game!”
Zhou Sheng reversed again. He steered the jeep and drove along the muddy forest path, and the panthers behind them eventually ceased their pursuit. Yu Hao could still feel his heart palpitating. His eyes met Zhou Sheng’s. Zhou Sheng kept looking at the side mirror to ascertain that it was safe. The jeep drove through a stream before driving onto the opposing muddy road, then turned onto an uneven high ground that was littered with rocks.
“Is everything alright now?” Yu Hao said.
“We’re safe for now.” Zhou Sheng said, “That’s strange. They’re not dead yet, so why did they stop chasing us?”
Yu Hao lost all his strength and collapsed in the passenger seat, and only then did Zhou Sheng ask, “Where the hell have you been?!”
Yu Hao waved his hand, utterly exhausted.
Zhou Sheng, “You weren’t in the safe haven?”
Yu Hao waved his hand.
Zhou Sheng, “Where’s your halo?”
Yu Hao mustered all the strength he had remaining to shout angrily, “Shuuuuut——up——ahh!”
Yu Hao used all his energy to turn over and seize Zhou Sheng to shake him violently. Zhou Sheng shouted, “Don’t shake me! We’ll fall!”
The jeep was swerving haphazardly from side to side as it drove along the high ground. Yu Hao loosened his grip on Zhou Sheng’s collar and thought that he looked quite handsome in this military camouflage uniform……and he even had a beret.
“Where did you get your clothes from?” Yu Hao asked.
Zhou Sheng picked up the sunglasses at the front of the car and put them on, “Picked them up on the road. Handsome ba, ah?”
Yu Hao, “It’s such a cloudy day today who are you trying to show off to with your sunglasses?!”
As soon as Zhou Sheng entered the dream, he discovered that he had been inexplicably transported to a rainforest clearing. He searched for Yu Hao everywhere and inadvertently came across a deserted three-storey building. The building was rather run down and seemed like an unmanned inn. There was even a jeep parked in front of the inn. He scoured the inn for awhile, and realised that every room had the same furnishings. There was a pistol on every table, so he collected all the pistols and went to the front desk to search for a bag. When he chanced upon a military camouflage uniform, he casually put it on.
“Here.” Zhou Sheng motioned for Yu Hao to look. A cloth bag had been thrown onto the backseat, and it was filled with identical pistols.
Yu Hao, “How did you know that I was in the rainforest?”
Zhou Sheng, “I was leisurely driving around for a couple of laps until I realised that the mountain in the distance seemed more and more like the place where we went for our spring excursion……”
Yu Hao, “Ah!”
So Zhou Sheng had suspected that if Yu Hao wasn’t the owner of Chen Yekai’s safe haven, then he should be on Mt. Tianqing -- or they could even speculate that the safe haven was also on Mt. Tianqing.
“So you drove over.” Yu Hao said, “And found me at the foot of Mt. Tianqing.”
“That’s right.” Zhou Sheng said, “Whew, that was a close one. Don’t roam around randomly in the future, just wait for me at your original spot.”
Yu Hao didn’t dare tell Zhou Sheng that before he encountered the panthers, the suspension bridge that rotated 360 degrees was even more horrifying, lest he got another fright. So he could only utter an “un” in response. He suddenly remembered that his back had been scratched by a panther, and as he turned around, he instantly realised something.
“That’s strange.” Yu Hao murmured.
“What’s wrong?” Zhou Sheng slowed down and gave Yu Hao a sidelong look.
Yu Hao, “Look at my back.”
Yu Hao had been bare chested ever since he descended the mountains. He shifted sideways so for Zhou Sheng to see and muttered to himself, “Why is it gone?”
Zhou Sheng, “……”
Yu Hao’s fair shoulders and back were very slim and looked extremely erotic. The corners of Zhou Sheng’s mouth twitched, “Hey, could you put on your clothes first? Are you trying to seduce me?”
Yu Hao patted about with his hand behind him. The wounds on his back had really disappeared.
“A mon……I accidentally injured myself.” Yu Hao said, “And it’s healed now!”
Zhou Sheng stepped on the pedal and stopped the car. His fingers caressed Yu Hao’s back, “Where? How did you injure it?”
Yu Hao suddenly felt a little uneasy. Zhou Sheng was also acting a bit unnaturally. This action was extremely ambiguous, and as far as Yu Hao could remember, Zhou Sheng had never treated him this intimately before.
“Put your clothes on first.” Zhou Sheng snapped out of his trance. He took Yu Hao’s shirt and shook it open, then Yu Hao put his hand through a sleeve. The white shirt was so dirty that it was unbearable to look at.
“Your wounds will heal automatically……”
Yu Hao pulled down the cover of the compartment in front of him and found a swiss army knife. It sprung open, and Zhou Sheng immediately said, “Don’t!”
Yu Hao gently sliced his finger. Blood oozed out, but the wound healed on its own very quickly.
“But you still can’t cut yourself!” Zhou Sheng said angrily, then confiscated the army knife.
“So in his impression of me, I can ‘Regenerate’?”
“Wu.” Zhou Sheng said with discontent, “Kaikai thinks that you can heal on your own no matter what kind of injury you suffer.”
Yu Hao seemed to understand something. Zhou Sheng said, “We’re here, get down and have a look.”
Zhou Sheng and Yu Hao got off the car and slammed the door closed. Yu Hao was facing a three-storey building situated on high ground, hidden within the woods. “What is this place?”
“His conscious world is too big.” Zhou Sheng said, “When I was driving around looking for you, I saw an assortment of strange statues in the distance. There were even some trees with pictures hanging off their branches.”
Yu Hao said, “Kaikai must have been to many places, but where is he?”
Zhou Sheng said, “Don’t worry about looking for him now, it’s about the right time for him to be waking up in reality. Help me look at something else first.”
They approached the front of the building, where a sign was displayed outside it.
Zhou Sheng, “What does it mean? Can you translate it?”
“Comenzó a Final. It’s Spanish.” Yu Hao had just enrolled in Spanish this semester, so he could roughly understand the words.
Zhou Sheng, “‘final’ means the end, right?”
Yu Hao, “‘final’ has the same meaning in English and Spanish. The name of this inn is ‘Beginning and the End’.”
Zhou Sheng and Yu Hao passed by the front desk of the inn: this was a typical inn that could be found in South America. In the hall outside the front desk on the first floor, the ceiling fan was still revolving despite electricity being absent in the conscious world. But everything here and the rules that governed it were formed by the owner’s understanding of reality, so Yu Hao didn’t think it was strange anymore.
“Have you seen an NPC?”
“No.” Zhou Sheng said, “Not even one. NPCs don’t exist in this dream, and that’s the weirdest thing about it.”
Yu Hao said, “Could they have been dragged away by the monsters?”
Zhou Sheng shrugged, “There aren’t any traces of fighting, so that’s unlikely. Let’s go upstairs.”
When they reached the second floor, Yu Hao pushed open the door to a room. There were a few outdated movie posters stuck onto the walls of the minimally furnished room. There was a disorderly bed and a desk, but aside from those, there was nothing else inside the room. Zhou Sheng pointed at the desk, “I found the pistol there.”
Yu Hao had a persistent sensation of an ominous atmosphere within this room.
“What does this represent?” Yu Hao said.
“Take note of the floor, and the desk.” Zhou Sheng answered.
The floor was a bit dirty, but a small area in front of the desk and the desk itself had been wiped clean.
Yu Hao said, “I don’t understand.”
Zhou Sheng answered, “Take note of everything that exists in the dream world, they’re all closely linked to reality. When we find the dream Kaikai, we need to carefully think through what everything that we have seen symbolises.”
Yu Hao said, “If even you can’t understand it, then how could I guess what it means?”
“That’s not necessarily true.” Zhou Sheng said casually, “You definitely understand him better than I do. You’ve been to his house, did his dormitory look like this?”
“No.” Yu Hao laid down on the bed and said, “Clearly, this was an inn that he had stayed in before.”
Zhou Sheng said, “This is the sole modern building in his conscious world. Yu Hao, I always feel that this room had left a very deep impression in his mind.”
Yu Hao thought about it for awhile. “Even though all the rooms in this inn are similar, not all the rooms should present itself in exactly the same way. However, even the messy angles of the bedsheets and position of the guns are the same.”
“Un.” Zhou Sheng said meaningfully, “So he had stayed in this room before.”
Yu Hao’s head was splitting. If they were in the real world, he could still rely on logic, but this is the conscious world, so the owner’s thoughts became even more elusive.
Zhou Sheng said, “I don’t know him as well as you do……”
“He’s been to Iguazu Falls.” Yu Hao said, “And he’s been to South America too. I do know that.”
“Oh?” Zhou Sheng asked, “He told you?”
Yu Hao was instantly paralyzed with shock. He thought about it for a moment. He had never told Zhou Sheng Chen Yekai’s secret, and just as he was hesitating over whether or not to divulge it, Zhou Sheng had keenly grasped the key point within:
“He went alone?”
Yu Hao was silent. Zhou Sheng promptly snapped his fingers, “I understand now.”
“What did you understand?” Yu Hao didn’t know if he should cry or laugh.
Zhou Sheng asked, “Did he lend you that shirt?”
Yu Hao responded with an “un”. Zhou Sheng grasped Yu Hao’s shirt with his fingers, “This isn’t new, and it isn’t his style.”
“I happened to choose it.” Yu Hao said, “What does that have to do with this inn?”
Zhou Sheng continued, “This is a place that left a very deep impression on him. He went to Iguazu Falls with his boyfriend, right? When they were travelling in South America, they stayed at this inn.”
Yu Hao, “……”
“Connect it to the gun that was placed here.” Zhou Sheng said, “Think about it, what could have happened?”
“That’s impossible!” Yu Hao blurted out, “You think that he killed his boyfriend here? I won’t believe that! I won’t!”
Zhou Sheng exploded immediately, “Are you crazy?! Who would think that way?!”
Yu Hao, “……”
Zhou Sheng said, “Think about that recording, that recording! Lin Xun’s recording!”
Suddenly, a thought flashed through the turmoil of thoughts in Yu Hao’s mind.
“……it’s him. When I saw him, only one thought filled my mind -- in this reincarnation cycle, I’ve met another kid like Ryuusei again……”
“Ryuusei committed suicide here!” Yu Hao bolted upright from the bed.
Zhou Sheng answered calmly, “That’s right, and he did it with this pistol.”
Zhou Sheng also laid on the bed. Yu Hao muttered, “No wonder……I get it now.”
Yu Hao recalled the day after he burned charcoal. When he went to the college, he saw Chen Yekai looking up information on crisis intervention on the internet……in that photo, a slightly melancholic young man stood in front of Iguazu Falls -- that young man’s name was “Ryuusei”.
Chen Yekai was once in love with Ryuusei. They visited the Iguazu Falls, and perhaps they had gone to other places in South and Central America too, and stayed in this inn before.
“But halfway through the trip.” Yu Hao said, “Why would he……commit suicide? And he didn’t know?”
“Isn’t the name of this place ‘Beginning and the End’?” Zhou Sheng said, “In his conscious world, the alternative name he gave this inn comprises both a ‘beginning’, and an ‘end’. Their feelings began here, and in the end, Ryuusei returned to this place to commit suicide.”
Yu Hao, “……”
Dollars: cries a river for beloved Kaikai.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Ellie.