After his morning classes ended, Yu Hao left his classroom and saw Zhou Sheng waiting for him by the stairway entrance. Zhou Sheng waved the cafeteria card in his hand and said, “Let’s eat.”
The streamer girl had handed Zhou Sheng her cafeteria card after being coaxed and pestered by him with the reason “I have a share in those rockets too”. Zhou Sheng then promised her that they would only spend twenty yuan in the card before he came over to bring Yu Hao to the teacher’s canteen. Coincidentally, counsellor Xue Long and their new form teacher Chen Yekai sat at the table opposite them and were in the midst of an argument. After Yu Hao sat down, the two of them stopped their discourse.
They must be talking about me, Yu Hao thought.
“Come to my office at 2pm.” Chen Yekai said to Yu Hao. Xue Long didn’t say a word before he took his bowl and left.
Yu Hao felt a bit uneasy, but Chen Yekai nodded at him as a signal for asking him to relax.
“Yo, Kaikai!” Zhou Sheng came back with some dishes and greeted Chen Yekai in an overly familiar way.
Chen Yekai pensively uttered an “un”, then got up and left.
Zhou Sheng watched him leave, then silently muttered something under his breath. Yu Hao said, “I wonder how they’re going to deal with me.”
Zhou Sheng, “You haven’t done anything wrong, so what are you afraid of? Eat ba. If Xue Long looks for you then just tell him what happened. Tell him the truth. Don’t keep silent and end up getting the short end of the stick because of your silence.”
Yu Hao answered, “I need to argue for myself, got it.”
Zhou Sheng was a bit taken aback, then he nodded approvingly and said, “Correct.”
Yu Hao thought for a bit, then suddenly said, “What can I do to overcome my fear of some things?”
Zhou Sheng, “???”
Yu Hao was silent again. He actually hadn’t stopped thinking about the relationship between the black dragon in his dreamscape and the reservoir.
Zhou Sheng said, “Beat them up, it’ll be fine after one fight. When I was a kid I couldn’t retaliate when my Dad hit me, but when I finally duked it out with him once I was no longer afraid of him.”
Yu Hao, “But I can’t beat up a reservoir…”
Zhou Sheng, “Reservoir?” Then he remembered Yu Hao’s narration of his past last night and said, “O, so that’s it.”
Zhou Sheng was in the sports department, but he took Psychology as an elective module. Even though it wasn’t as difficult as Yu Hao’s course, he did understand a bit of the basic principles.
Zhou Sheng piled some meat on Yu Hao’s plate, though these so-called meat were just meatballs stuffed with a lot of flour. He scooped up some rice, pondered for a bit, then said, “There are a few ways. The first way is to see the reservoir being filled up with your own eyes.”
Yu Hao thought, oh yeah, it’s already been so many years, what if it had already been filled up?
Zhou Sheng, “The second option is to go for a swim in it once then you might not be afraid of it anymore…..do you know how to swim? You definitely can’t go alone. And the third method is to convince yourself, that your mum……un……” He didn’t finish the rest of his sentence.
Yu Hao clearly knew that the best method was to personally ask his mother and convince himself, that the truth was…….that she loved him, and never had other intentions.
After they finished eating, Yu Hao returned first. Zhou Sheng was still scrolling through his phone with a bored face as he sent him away with a “go ba”.
When Yu Hao returned to his dormitory, he placed Zhou Sheng’s jacket in a basin and helped him wash it. The water in winter was so cold that it froze Yu Hao’s hands until they had turned completely red.
I should add some hot water, Yu Hao thought. So he went to look for a kettle. There was still some water left in it from the the day before yesterday. After he poured it into the water, he continued to wash Zhou Sheng’s jacket. It was as if his sports jacket hadn’t been washed in a week, just one squeeze and all you could see was dirty water being squeezed out of it. He suddenly realised that he wasn’t very resistant to the idea of making new friends, or at least he wasn’t resistant to the idea of making friends with the overly familiar Zhou Sheng.
Perhaps it was…….because Zhou Sheng’s manner of speech and actions were extremely casual, so it had easily eliminated his own sense of restraint.
After Yu Hao finished washing the jacket and hung it up to dry, he tried to take an afternoon nap. His roommates were still sleeping and hadn’t gotten out of their beds. He really couldn’t fall asleep, and when he thought of how he needed to go to Xue Long’s office in the afternoon, he suddenly felt a bit nervous again. He repeatedly practiced what he wanted to say in his heart, and when it was nearing the appointed time, he quietly got up and pushed the door of his dormitory room open.
The vice principal, counsellor Xue Long and his form teacher Chen Yekai were all present. The police who was in charge of the case was also here, he had just taken off his police cap and was smoothing out his hair with his fingers. This police looked very young and seemed to be about the same age as Chen Yekai. He had rather dark skin and a skinny figure.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
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“P’nf gfjiis cfnfg abemtfv atflg ybbxmjrf.” Te Ljb ojmfv atf qbilmfwjc jcv rjlv, “Cgf atfgf jcs olcufgqglcar?”
The vice principal was currently looking at the policeman’s police ID. This policeman’s surname was Huang, and was called Huang Ting. He spoke even less than Yu Hao himself. When Yu Hao saw him on Saturday, they barely had any form of communication. Yu Hao once thought that he already had the preconceived notion of him as the thief, but when he heard the voice message on WeChat that Chen Yekai had played for him, his impression of the policeman changed.
“Before they reported this to the police, their family’s maid had already cleaned up their place.” Huang Ting said, “The bookcase had already been wiped down once, so we can’t obtain any fingerprints.”
Yu Hao took another glance at the vice principal, while the vice principal stared at him skeptically from behind his glasses. Xue Long’s face didn’t look too good, and it appeared to be due to the dispute he had with Chen Yekai in the afternoon.
“If you want everyone to believe in your innocence, then you’ll have to produce some evidence.” Xue Long said helplessly, “In a society that abides by the law, words alone can’t be treated as proof.”
“Aren’t they doing the same?” Yu Hao remembered the scene where Xue Long was trampled on by his elephant and suddenly thought that it was quite funny.
“They have evidence!” Vice principal said, “The watch was found on you — that is evidence!”
“I took it out myself.” Yu Hao said earnestly, “I had always been looking for its owner. That kid lied to frame me, it definitely wasn’t her first time doing so, you can go investigate her previous tutors. She didn’t want to continue with her tuition, so she thought of this method to chase me away…….”
When he spoke to this point, Yu Hao thought for a bit before he added, “Actually, she’s quite pitiful.”
Chen Yekai didn’t know whether he should cry or laugh as he said, “And you’re even pitying her now? Do you know how big of a trouble this has caused for the college?”
Yu Hao’s impression of Chen Yekai changed within an instant. It seemed as if Xue Long’s obvious change in attitude today was because of him, and the insinuation behind Chen Yekai’s words had simultaneously mitigated their opponent’s accusations and pointed the finger of suspicion towards his tutee. Those who were present didn’t raise any objection. Evidently, they had agreed with his statement.
Chen Yekai said, “Now, the most important thing we need to do is to find a breakthrough to prove that you didn’t steal anything. Think carefully, starting from your motive, does anyone else know that you were trying to find the owner of that watch?”
“Do the contents of a Lost and Found notice count?” Yu Hao immediately said. “I have a Lost and Found notice in my email. I wrote it in an internet cafe and sent it to my own email as I was getting ready to download it in the printing room. I wanted to print out a few notices and post them up to look for the watch’s owner.”
“Show us.” Chen Yekai said.
Huang Ting said disapprovingly, “It wouldn’t be of much use.” But his gaze still followed Yu Hao as he moved over to Chen Yekai’s computer to operate it. Chen Yekai suddenly recalled something and was about to close his webpage, but Yu Hao had already seen it by accident.
It was a crisis intervention website1.
Yu Hao suddenly felt his nose turn a bit sour. He didn’t dare to look at Chen Yekai as he logged into his email. Huang Ting motioned for him to wait, then recorded the email’s date, attachments and the whole process of Yu Hao opening the attachment in the email; he specially zoomed in on the electronic version of the lost and found notice.
Chen Yekai took over his computer and Yu Hao didn’t look at it anymore. Warmth surged through his heart, then he decided that he had to rid himself of this grievance no matter what.
Half an hour later, Chen Yekai and Yu Hao sent Huang Ting out of the college. Huang Ting said, “I’ll communicate with the other party and fight for a chance to have the two of you talk face to face either tomorrow or the day after. This video should help in eliminating the prejudice he has against you.”
Yu Hao was about to speak when Chen Yekai motioned for him to remain silent and leave the rest to him.
“Okay, it’ll be for the best if Yu Hao gets to speak to the kid alone.” Chen Yekai said.
Huang Ting took off his police cap and ran his fingers through his hair.
“I’ll try my best.” Huang Ting answered, “If that really can’t be arranged, then we’ll have to use mediation.”
“I just want to help him clear his name.” Chen Yekai said.
Huang Ting looked at Chen Yekai, then looked at Yu Hao. Huang Ting had high cheekbones, deep-set eyes, distinctly sharp facial features, thick eyebrows and big eyes that appeared to be able to see through Yu Hao’s heart with just one look.
“Sometimes, it’s enough as long as the ones who are important to you trust you.” Huang Ting was saying this to Yu Hao.
Yu Hao didn’t know how to answer that for a moment. Huang Ting nodded at Chen Yekai, then got into his car and drove away. Chen Yekai motioned for him to walk over to the front of the french windows2 in his office, then the two of them watched the downpour outside.
Yu Hao looked at Chen Yekai’s reflection in the french windows. Yesterday night, the ward’s light was dreadfully pale and dim, and he was in a pretty bad state himself so he couldn’t pay much attention to Chen Yekai. Today, Chen Yekai wore a slim fit black sweater and a pair of black trousers. He had a very simple kind of handsomeness that would awe onlookers, and combined with what Zhou Sheng had said yesterday, Chen Yekai looked exactly like the male protagonist of a korean drama whose set of clothes may have a price tag that was too expensive for Yu Hao to even imagine.
Yu Hao felt like like an old-fashioned and dumb country bumpkin as he stood next to him.
Chen Yekai grinned at Yu Hao through their reflections, “What do you want to say?”
Yu Hao pondered for a long while before he said, “I think her father…won’t admit it.”
“Un.” Chen Yekai answered in a daze, “No one would be willing to admit their own mistake. But Huang Ting will take care of him, the police have their ways. There are many perpetrators who can’t be arrested because of the lack of evidence when a case first opens, but after some psychological warfare, the other party would end up admitting to their crimes themselves. You should be more optimistic.”
Yu Hao said, “Chen Laoshi.”
Chen Yekai raised his eyebrows slightly, then turned his head sideways to look at him.
“I will keep on living.” Yu Hao said, “Don’t worry about me anymore, I’ll promise you that.”
“I believe you.” Chen Yekai said with a smile.
Yu Hao left the college. He faced the path that led to his dormitory, and after a moment of silence, he walked out of the college.
Zhou Sheng was buying cigarettes at the small shop near the school gate. When he saw Yu Hao pass by, he uttered a “hey”. But their surroundings were too noisy, so Yu Hao didn’t hear him. Zhou Sheng followed him and saw Yu Hao board a bus. He looked at the bus stop board with a puzzled face.
“That rascal……” Zhou Sheng quickly hailed a cab.
An hour later, Yu Hao was shivering from the cold in the rainy suburbs as he walked down the grass patch in front of the reservoir’s dam.
As he walked, he thought that nothing must happen to him here or else he would anger Chen Yekai to death. He had said that he would “keep on living” just this afternoon, and the next day his body had to be fished out from a reservoir.
He quickly got rid of this thought — compared to when he was five, the weeds near the reservoir were already tall enough to reach his waist. The ladders here that led to a shallow cement slope were mottled with rust.
“What the hell are you doing?” A voice suddenly rang out from the top of the dam. Yu Hao immediately shouted in fright and almost slipped down the grassy slope.
Zhou Sheng threw away the cigarette butt in his hand, then turned sideways and slid down from the dam as he shouted angrily, “Are you crazy?!”
Yu Hao said in astonishment, “How did you know that I was coming here?”
“You still need to ask that?!” Zhou Sheng said, “There’s only this reservoir in the area, if you’re not coming here then where else would you go?!”
“But……” Yu Hao still wanted to ask another question, but Zhou Sheng stuffed both his hands into his pockets and gave him a ruthless kick before he said, “Didn’t I tell you not to come here alone?”
Yu Hao stood in the rain looking like an idiot. Zhou Sheng shouted angrily again, “Put your hood up!”
Both of them wore their hoods. The skies turned dark as dusk fell.
Zhou Sheng had been waiting in the rain for close to half an hour and was almost completely drenched. He sneezed, then Yu Hao said, “I only came here to take a look, I don’t plan on going into the waters.”
Zhou Sheng didn’t reply him. He held his phone up and turned on its flashlight as he walked in front, then turned around to say, “When we reach the place let me know.”
“It’s here.” Yu Hao answered.
“Are you sure?” Zhou Sheng asked from the bridge opening.
Yu Hao said, “Very sure. I remember that ‘No Fishing’ sign.”
He also remembered that when he came here for the first time, his mother had looked at him from underneath the ‘No Fishing’ sign as she asked him to go dig for snails. Fourteen years later, the reservoir had hardly changed. Only the grass had grown a little taller.
“I’ll head down first.” Zhou Sheng said, “Wait here ba.”
“No no.” Yu Hao said, “I’ll go.”
Zhou Sheng wasn’t someone who feared death either. He said, “Then hold onto my hand, and no matter what, don’t let go.”
Yu Hao looked at the pitch black waters and finally felt fear creep up on him. He hadn’t noticed anything that year, but the more he thought about it afterwards, the worse he felt about this place. An indistinct outline of the black dragon’s eyes emerged in front of him as they stared at him from underneath the waters.
That was fear, that was death — it was the despair that had followed him like a shadow, despair that had been engraved into his bones.
Yu Hao took a deep breath. He turned around to look at Zhou Sheng. In the darkness, nothing could be seen. He could feel Zhou Sheng’s scorching body temperature through their interlocked hands; and in this dark night, he thought that perhaps, what he would remember most clearly for life would probably be Zhou Sheng’s hand.
“Go on.” Zhou Sheng said, “Don’t be afraid.”
Yu Hao walked down one step at a time, then Zhou Sheng said, “I think you’re sick.”
Yu Hao answered in the darkness, “I think I’m sick too, or else why would I commit suicide?”
Zhou Sheng, “Don’t say that, I was just spouting nonsense.”
Yu Hao stood knee-deep in the waters and didn’t speak for a long time.
Zhou Sheng said, “What’s wrong? Go on, I won’t let go.”
Yu Hao, “The water isn’t deep…….”
Zhou Sheng, “…….”
Zhou Sheng came down too. The water here was extremely shallow. Yu Hao was 1.75 tall, and the water only reached his knees. Zhou Sheng was 1.8m tall, plus he had long legs, so the water didn’t even reach his knees.
Zhou Sheng scratched his head, then said, “Swim a few rounds? I’ll take photos for you.”
Yu Hao, “…….”
Yu Hao suddenly burst out laughing in the dark waters and thought that nothing was important anymore. Zhou Sheng walked a few steps to test the depth of the waters, then said, “What’s so scary about this?”
Yu Hao also waded through the water, and he suddenly felt relieved. The young him had still dug for snails here, but the feeling this place gave him now was completely different.
“You can’t see how deep the water is from the outside……”
“Ah!” Zhou Sheng suddenly cried out, then his shout was immediately followed by an exaggerated sound of him falling into the water. Yu Hao was so frightened that he called out in an instant, “Zhou Sheng!” then pounced in his direction. Zhou Sheng grabbed him, and suddenly the two of them were drenched. Zhou Sheng had slipped and looked like a mess as he sat in the water, but he stood up soon after and said, “What’s this?” before he lifted a squarish garbage bag from the water.
Yu Hao, “…….”
Zhou Sheng, “Crap, now the scope of your psychological shadows3 would probably widen even further, don’t let this be anything bad please……”
An hour later, Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng were at the Zhongshan Road 4’s police station in the Yingkou district as they explained the origin of this plastic bag to the police. Chen Yekai’s mouth was twitching as he listened to their explanation.
When Yu Hao first saw the plastic bag, he immediately thought that it was linked to some dismembered body incident, but Zhou Sheng was the most courageous person he has ever met — he just tore the bag open straight away on the spot. Huang Ting was currently recording their testimonies. The plastic bag was open, and there were twelve neat bundles of crisp new paper notes stacked together; each note was a hundred yuan, and there were two bricks at the bottom of the bag too.
Chen Yekai, “…….”
1.Crisis intervention is an immediate and short-term psychological care aimed at assisting individuals in a crisis situation in order to restore equilibrium to their bio-psycho-social functioning and to minimize the potential of long-term psychological trauma.↩
2. Windows that reach the floor:
3. psychological shadows is something like PTSD. Zhou Sheng is saying that Yu Hao will have more things to fear about the reservoir after they found the suspicious plastic bag lolol↩
T/N: I feel the need to hibernate after translating every SD chapter…….and I just realised that the first 10 chaps of SD is approximately equivalent to the first 40 chaps of RSCB…….