Chapter 12 - Shi Ni
Seizing Dreams Ch12 – Shi Ni
Zhou Sheng’s clothes took three days to dry, during which, this guy expressed his outrage at Yu Hao’s self-reflection.
“What self-reflection?” Zhou Sheng said, “How are you going to self-reflect? What on earth did you do wrong? Even if someone should write a self-reflection, it should be me.”
Yu Hao seriously wrote his self-reflection before he sent it to Chen Yekai. He had taken upon all of Zhou Sheng’s faults onto himself, and thought that if he wrote his self-reflection sincerely, the dean might retract the detention punishment she gave Zhou Sheng.
But his wish was soon shattered. Chen Yekai notified him that on 30th December before the New Year Day’s holiday, the college would send out a notice.
“The Shi guy contacted the media.” Zhou Sheng scrolled through his phone, his screen was filled with topics related to the incident where he and Yu Hao had picked up money without pocketing it, then he continued, “He’s going to report us for stealing and hitting him.”
Yu Hao said, “What will happen?”
“We’ll get scolded by the netizens ba.” Zhou Sheng said indifferently, “It’s not a big deal.”
When Yu Hao was thinking, Zhou Sheng continued, “Shi guy wants to sue us for intentional assault and sue you for theft.”
Yu Hao, “When?”
Zhou Sheng didn’t reply. He continued to scroll through his phone as he read the news.
“I want to look for Shi Ni.” Yu Hao suddenly said, “Before the 30th, I must talk to her. I’ll talk to her myself.”
Zhou Sheng shifted his attention from his phone to Yu Hao’s face.
It was a Friday. During their grade conference, Yu Hao recited his self-reflection in front of their entire cohort. When he finished, the sports classes that sat at the last few rows suddenly burst into a round of applause, then they instigated all the other students to smack their tables, clap loudly and cheer with them.
The counsellor’s expression instantly turned particularly ugly. Form teacher Chen Yekai stood up immediately and glared at the back rows. He was about to reprimand them when he was met with half a classroom worth of cameras and the shrieks of girls who owned them. Thus, before he could start scolding people, he had blushed furiously and retreated as he hastily sat back down in the midst of a background of laughter.
“Mr. Shi’s family will not accept civil mediation. After New Year’s, the college plans to find a lawyer for you guys.” After the conference was over, Chen Yekai stopped Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng outside the venue and explained, “The lawyer will be responsible for both Yu Hao’s case and Zhou Sheng’s intentional assault.”
Yu Hao said, “Let me do it myself ba, I’ll go to the Legal Aid Center to fill in the application form.”
Chen Yekai waved his hand and drank some water. He frowned deeply and said to Yu Hao, “The dean is very concerned about this matter now, it is no longer a problem that only concerns the two of you. Now that they’re pushing this onto the college too, the dean’s thoughts are: since they’re not willing to talk it out amicably, then she won’t quietly tolerate their accusations either.”
That came as a complete surprise to Yu Hao. Chen Yekai continued, “No one wanted this to happen. I’ve been so busy the past few days my feet hardly touched the ground, and this situation will last for awhile. Don’t be too hard on yourselves over this.”
Chen Yekai hadn’t look for Yu Hao again for several days in a row, as if he was treating him a bit coldly. There were a few times when Yu Hao wanted to talk to Chen Yekai, but Chen Yekai always ignored him. After their conversation today, Yu Hao finally felt at ease.
Zhou Sheng was obedient this time. He said, “Sorry, Chen Laoshi.”
Chen Yekai looked at Zhou Sheng, then patted his shoulder and said, “Do me a favour and we’ll consider your debt repaid.”
Yu Hao immediately said, “Okay!”
“Don’t let your finals be affected, don’t fail, and definitely don’t cheat.” Chen Yekai pointed at Zhou Sheng and said, “This has a lot to do with my job. Zhou Sheng, you’re the only one I’m worried about in your class.”
Zhou Sheng, “……”
When he was about to leave, Chen Yekai suddenly said, “There should be some evidence regarding the 1.2 million yuan that you guys picked up. That day, Huang Ting was called back to investigate this matter.”
Yu Hao was extremely surprised. He was about to ask some questions when Chen Yekai told them that he had to keep it a secret for now, and that he wasn’t clear on the specifics as well before he turned around and left.
Today was Friday, and it will be Christmas Eve tomorrow. By 3pm, the college had turned a deserted and desolate place. Yu Hao put his last 300 yuan into his pocket and was going to find a part-time job that would pay him daily. He wanted to earn 200 yuan or so and use it as food expenses that would last him till the weekend.
Fu Liqun went to find his girlfriend. The streets were littered with couples. Zhou Sheng glanced around on the subway, and only couples that were embracing each other surrounded them. He said helplessly, “Ai, Christmas is always like this every year, they’re not letting us single dogs live.”
“Have you had a girlfriend before?” Yu Hao couldn’t help but ask.
Zhou Sheng reluctantly answered, “Sort of. In any case, I wasn’t wanted in the end.” As he spoke he became refreshed again. He leaned over and said to Yu Hao, “That girl’s legs are really long, did you see her?”
This had confirmed Yu Hao’s speculation: Zhou Sheng was indeed a straight guy who would rather break than bend.
Yu Hao took a look and said, “Really pretty.”
Even though he likes guys, he could understand why guys liked beautiful girls. There were a lot of girls who — after they seriously tidied themselves up — emitted an air similar to that of a tranquil harbour. When you’re by her side, there would be no wind or rain, and you need not feel vexed; all tempestuous waves would morph into two people, one family — and within it, all you had to bear were tiny, trivial annoyances and the little joys in life.
In the city centre, there was a huge Christmas tree erected in Wanda Plaza. Almost all of the shops were having crazy promotions and discounts, and crowds of people were hurrying to and fro. Yu Hao waited outside a flower cafe; Zhou Sheng said doubtfully, “Are you sure they’ll come?”
Yu Hao nodded and said, “When I was tutoring Shi Ni, she would often exchange voice messages with her classmate. They liked coming to this shop a lot.” It has been a week since Zhou Sheng beat Mr. Shi up until his whole face was covered in blood; the other party should be less vigilant now, so Yu Hao wanted to take his chances and see if he could bump into her.
The sky gradually darkened. Yu Hao brought his student ID along as he went to a pizza shop to ask some questions and got a job distributing leaflets. Coincidentally, the manager was around. He gave Yu Hao his name card and asked him to come over tomorrow to collect the leaflets. Zhou Sheng wore an expression on his face that said “you can do that?”.
“That’s all?” Zhou Sheng asked in disbelief.
“Yeah.” Yu Hao answered, “But the pay isn’t much, it’s only 40 a day.”
Zhou Sheng had never worked before. He only stood at a side and watched how Yu Hao managed to get a part-time job so easily. Yu Hao said, “It’s really little. Just do the math, if you work here for 30 days, you’d only earn 1200 yuan.”
Yu Hao would have to stand in the cold winds all day, from 10am in the morning until the sky was dark, yet the money he earned would only be enough for him to buy one cup of coffee; Ying city’s per capita income this year was 3500 yuan. Zhou Sheng suddenly nudged Yu Hao and motioned for him to look. Within the flower cafe, Shi Ni had indeed arrived with a bunch of her classmates.
Yu Hao quickly motioned to Zhou Sheng to ask him not to meddle, then lowered his head as he wanted to send a message to Shi Ni. But while doing so, he realised that he had been blacklisted.
He opened the door to go in, walked to the cashier and looked up at their desserts. He bought two slices of tiramisu that he knew Shi Ni liked — this had costed him quite a bit of money — before he got a waiter to deliver it over. Afterwards, he sat quite a distance away as he looked at her in silence.
Shi Ni was talking to another girl when the waiter delivered the tiramisu over, then the two of them saw Yu Hao.
The two primary school students were wearing their school uniforms. Yu Hao opened up a magazine and drank a cup of free water without raising his head to look at them.
“Nini wants to ask, ‘what on earth do you want?'” The other primary school student had come over and sat opposite Yu Hao.
Yu Hao gazed at the primary school student; a primary six student could already be considered a “teenager”.
“I want to talk to her.” Yu Hao said, “Nothing more.”
“I know you.” That primary school student said, “You’re her English teacher. She asked me to apologise to you in private.”
When Yu Hao heard that, he was thoroughly stunned. That girl quickly said, “My name is Xiaoxiao. I’ll transfer you the money for the cakes through WeChat.”
As she spoke, the girl took her phone out and wanted to transfer money to Yu Hao. Yu Hao refused and asked, “Is Nini okay?”
“Don’t ask anymore.” Xiaoxiao said, “Her father is going to……forget it, in any case……”
She looked at Yu Hao and said, “We’re leaving. Don’t follow her anymore.”
“I’ll leave.” Yu Hao said as he stood up, “The two of you should stay and have fun.”
Xiaoxiao raised her head to look at Yu Hao, then suddenly asked, “Are you going to take her father to court?”
Yu Hao hesitated, “I don’t want to, but I have no choice. I must. I’ll leave now.”
Xiaoxiao said to Yu Hao, “Let’s exchange contacts ba.”
Yu Hao took the initiative to add Xiaoxiao’s QQ, then Xiaoxiao said again, “I’ll leave you my number.”
When he left the flower cafe, he turned around to take a look. Shi Ni had raised her head up too and their eyes met.
“You see, I got something. We didn’t make this trip in vain.”
“Un, that is a breakthrough.”
Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng held their chopsticks as they waited for their Mala Xiangguo1 at Mei Shi Hui. Zhou Sheng scrolled through Xiaoxiao’s QQ as he listened to Yu Hao’s narration, then said, “Why do I have a strange feeling about this?”
Yu Hao said, “Right? I thought it was weird from the start.”
Yu Hao always felt that after they went back that day, Shi Ni was beaten by her father. Also, ever since their first lesson together, he realised that this kid couldn’t focus very well and didn’t like to talk — just like how he was during his junior high days.
“Maybe her parents are the type to quarrel all the time?” Yu Hao recalled Shi Ni’s family situation. Most of the time, there would only be a nanny around. Mr. Shi seldom appeared, and Shi Ni’s mother had actually never even showed up once.
The Mala Xiangguo was served. Zhou Sheng said, “Kids who grow up in a family where their parents are fighting all the time should be like me.”
Yu Hao, “……”
Zhou Sheng indifferently said, “Very aggressive. My dad and mum have been fighting since I was a kid, and they would fight like hell. Aside from exchanging blows with each other, they would hit me too. And they would use a belt to whip me like they were whipping a spinning top……you’re laughing? The hell you laughing at!”
When Yu Hao heard Zhou Sheng’s vivid analogy, a scene surfaced in his mind of his dad whipping him like a spinning top as he spun round and round, so he really couldn’t help but laugh.
“I was a spectator and had to endure their beatings, so now that I’m all grown-up I like to hit other people too.”
Yu Hao didn’t expect Zhou Sheng to actually talk about his past right now.
“So I went to learn boxing. I wanted to beat my Dad to death. In the end, the two of them finally got divorced.” Zhou Sheng said, “Thank god, they don’t need to torture each other anymore.”
“So you need to restrain yourself a bit.” Yu Hao said, “You can be a bit impulsive sometimes.”
“Who doesn’t understand the theory behind that?” Zhou Sheng said, “But I can’t help it, I’m too used to it. People don’t like me either.”
Yu Hao said, “I like you. I like you a lot.”
Zhou Sheng blushed, then motioned to Yu Hao to ask him to eat.
That night, Zhou Sheng gave Yu Hao another huge pile of clothes. It was the weekend today; his roommates either went to look for their girlfriends to get a room, or played games to join Christmas events. Yu Hao could only stay in his dorm to wash clothes, and thought that it was a plausible idea to open a dormitory laundry shop where he would wash his schoolmates’ clothes and earn some living expenses on the side. His tuition fees cost 12 000, and he didn’t know when he would be able to earn that amount of money. He didn’t even know how he was going to survive the period between New Year’s Day and Spring Festival right now.
He was already poor in the first place, and now he even had to exchange his time for money. Poverty really stifles ambition……Yu Hao was extremely envious of those students who didn’t need to work. They didn’t need to worry about their food and clothing, and could spend all their time in the library to gain new knowledge and broaden their horizons. Meanwhile, he had to run around everywhere just to survive, and he would be so exhausted after work that he wouldn’t have any surplus energy to expend on studying or extra-curricular activities where he could broaden his own horizons.
In the long run, this would become a vicious cycle. The rich could buy more time with money, so they would be able to progress further and further, while their standard of living would get better and better; on the other hand, the poor exchange their time for money. As they struggle in their quagmires, they sink deeper and deeper into it, and they would face more and more troubles. Yu Hao has always been thinking of a way to break free from his circumstance, or else he would gradually get sucked into this quagmire with each step he took. First of all, he had to free himself from working day in and day out every year to earn his living expenses and tuition fees.
Why is it so cold? Yu Hao’s blanket was yanked away by someone, and immediately afterwards a golden light fell upon him. Within his dream, he could feel himself rushing towards the sun involuntarily. The sun grew bigger and bigger, then a tremendous strength pulled him into the sun by force; the scene in front of him fell into complete darkness within an instant.
And in the next moment, innumerable slippery tentacles entangled themselves around him.
“Let go of me——!” Yu Hao shouted, “What is this?!”
A strong wind suddenly blew, and he found himself in a dark world. Some unknown creature was strangling him ruthlessly until he was unable to breathe, then it dragged him into an icy cold snowfield.
“Hit its……joint……” A voice said weakly.
Yu Hao couldn’t tell where he was because it was so dark he couldn’t even see his fingers, but the moment he heard that familiar voice, Yu Hao suddenly remembered it!
General’s voice was fleeting; Yu Hao’s hands had been pulled straight as he was suspended in the air. In the next moment, a large, round mouth filled with spiralling teeth dripping with mucus opened up right in front of him, then it emitted a hurricane-like sound wave!
Yu Hao, “……”
Yu Hao had countless fleeting thoughts, including ‘why am I here, what is this place……my weapon……weapon!’
best to retract his hand, but the tentacles around him suddenly gave him a good yank as if they wanted to tear his limbs apart! He held his staff in his hands and exhausted all his strength — a bright, white light instantly burst forth from his staff.
The light was dazzling; the huge monster roared and withdrew all its tentacles, then flung Yu Hao onto the ground. Every inch of the ground was covered in snow; Yu Hao struggled to flip over in the snow and crawled up, then ran towards that monster and shouted, “General!”
He took his staff apart and turned them into two bronze daggers, then wielded one in each hand. The white light from his daggers illuminated the heavens and the earth, so he managed to clearly see what the monster looked like.
Where is this? The South pole? He was surrounded by a vast expanse of snow that covered ten thousand miles, and a layer of ice cracked loudly as it broke apart. That monster was a sea monster that looked like a lamprey2: its round and swarthy body was ten metres long; it was surrounded by dozens of giant python-like bodies that were protruding out and half their bodies floated above the snow. Its mouthpart was filled with rows of sharp teeth packed densely together that spiralled round and round, and deep down in its throat, its scarlet flesh walls squirmed constantly.
Hundreds of eyes lined the perimeter of its mouthpart in a circle and they could be seen looking at Yu Hao. Those tentacles were like the heads of snakes: they wrapped around a struggling body in its midst — one tentacle pulled on his head while the other tugged on his feet, and within an instant they were about to twist its captive into two halves!
“General——!” Yu Hao flew forward as he flung his daggers out.
Both daggers were released from his hand; they circled around in the air and nailed the two tentacles that were grabbing General with a whoosh! The sea monster immediately faced the skies and roared like crazy; all of its tentacles waved about, the snowfield exploded and the layer of ice below it broke apart as sea water spewed out — the monster quickly sank into the pitch-dark seabed!
“General” fell down onto the snow. Yu Hao stepped through the snow as he made his way over as quickly as he could. He rushed to the place where General had fallen onto and began groping around in the snow.
Yu Hao, “???”
He felt like he had a grabbed a furry hand that was dripping wet.
Yu Hao, “……”
“General?” Yu Hao forcefully pulled him out and dragged out half a hairy body covered in ice shards, then continued to drag the rest of his body out of the snow. General spewed out a mouthful of seawater and sprayed it all on Yu Hao.
Yu Hao, “!!!”
A huge monkey that was nearly two metres tall went limp as it laid on Yu Hao’s body.
Yu Hao was dumbfounded. He dragged the huge monkey to a safe place.
That monkey adorned a golden circlet on his head. Its whole body was drenched, and it had furry hands and feet. It was clad from head to toe in a strange armour: its shoulder plate and waist plate had covered half its body but its skinny, downy underbelly was exposed. The monkey was wearing a pair of dark red martial trousers, the cloth around its knees was torn and one of its martial boots had fallen off. On an area that wasn’t covered in armour below its ribs, a gash about ten centimetre long could be found where blood was gushing out from nonstop. It had dyed the surrounding snow in a crimson red.
Yu Hao became anxious again. He pressed down on the wound below the monkey’s ribs and said, “General? Is it you?!” As he spoke, he looked back at the cracked ice and thought, the one who fell from above just now should be him!
The monkey opened his eyes a little and said weakly, “Give me……your strength……”
When Yu Hao heard that, he knew that it was General within an instant!
Yu Hao closed his eyes, muttered to himself, then pressed his hands against the wound below the monkey’s ribs. The white light that was emitted from his palms infiltrated the monkey’s entire body, and the wound began to miraculously close up!
With a face full of doubt, Yu Hao raised both his hands up and looked at his palms, then murmured, “What happened?”
The monkey began to cough violently. Yu Hao quickly helped him to sit up. He couldn’t stop panting as he looked at Yu Hao, then he wearily broke out into a wide grin. His canine teeth were exposed as he began to laugh.
Yu Hao suddenly broke out into laughter too. His eyes were filled with joy as he suddenly hugged him.
“This is so great! I get to see you again!” Yu Hao shouted.
“It hurts——!” The monkey shouted frantically, “My leg’s broken! Be gentler!”
Afterwards, the monkey instructed Yu Hao on how to connect his fractured leg together, then made use of his healing powers to recover. The clanking sounds of ice could be heard in the distance. The winds had stopped, and the black sea water was rushing into the cracks wave after wave. Yu Hao asked, “What exactly is this place?”
“A dream of course.” The monkey scrutinised him with a weird look as he answered.
Yu Hao said, “But……how did you become like this?”
The monkey rubbed his head and answered, “I still look ok ba?”
Yu Hao laughed and said, “What should I call you?”
The monkey answered, “Just call me General. Let’s go look around in the snow for my boot, and my sword.”
Yu Hao found General’s martial boot and asked him to wear it, then found a sword in the water which General carried on his body. Then General said, “Lend me your arm.” Yu Hao quickly let him hold his shoulder as he used it to struggle up.
“What if I carry you on my back?”
“I’m much better now.” General said, “That monster was too powerful, let’s get out of here first.”
Yu Hao scanned their surroundings and realised that they were in the middle of a vast snowfield — it was like an Arctic version of the word ‘barren’. There were mountain ranges in the distance underneath the pitch-black curtain of the night; the black reefs on the mountain bared their fangs and brandished their claws as if they were evil spirits.
1. I love this dish so much!!! It might not look much but it’s supeeer delicious crap now I want to eat it
2. Lamprey (七鳃鳗) Ok I wanted to add the picture in the footnote but it might be a bit disturbing for some readers… so if you’re interested to know how the monster looks like, you can Google 七鳃鳗 hehe. It looks like an eel with spiralling teeth that looks kinda gross tbh shudders↩