And at that moment, Yu Hao felt like his blood had stopped flowing.
He saw what General looked like underneath the helmet…but within that helmet, there was nothing.
Yes, nothing. The place where a head was supposed to be was just a mass of blurry mist and light.
“You……General?” Yu Hao murmured, then reached out to touch the place where his face was supposed to be, but his fingers passed straight through the mist.
“I’m not human.” General said, “Actually, I don’t even know what I am.”
Yu Hao stared at him with a vacant look.
General said, “When I travel through the consciousness of you humans, I have no concrete form, and I have nothing to do with your real world. So, you should understand everything now right?”
Yu Hao’s tears trickled down his face, yet he was smiling as he said, “Thank you, General. Can I give you something?”
General wore his helmet and said with slight bewilderment, “You want to give me something?”
Yu Hao raised his hand toward his totem; the golden light that surrounded his totem spilled a little and formed a bright, golden track along the sky, then transformed into a shield in Yu Hao’s hands.
“For you.” Yu Hao said, “This is the strongest shield in my heart. Will you still be entering other people’s dreams in the future?”
“This……” General was actually at a loss for a moment.
Yu Hao pushed the shield towards him. General said, “Will it be okay to give me your totem?”
Yu Hao motioned to the General to look at his totem. It was still there, but its light had imperceptibly dimmed a little.
“If possible, I’d like to give you the whole totem.” Yu Hao said, “I don’t really want to leave a shield in my heart.”
General mumbled to himself, “But this is the first time someone is giving me……something from their conscious world, and it’s even……the totem, I don’t know if I can take it away.”
General lowered his head, lifted his hand and touched the shield, then he raised his head up again and looked at Yu Hao. He suddenly said, “Are you serious?”
Yu Hao said, “Of course!”
General said, “Do you know what you just gave me?”
Yu Hao insisted, “Of course I do!”
General held the shield, and his hands began to tremble involuntarily. Yu Hao continued, “This shield will protect you for me.”
“Then I’ll……accept it.” General took the shield, then his right hand dashingly swept it behind him so that he could carry it on his back.
Immediately afterwards, Yu Hao hugged him.
“Thank you.” Yu Hao whispered.
General raised his hand, then rubbed Yu Hao’s head.
These two words were like a magic spell — General turned into dust and suddenly scattered in all directions while Yu Hao ended up hugging air. His hands gradually let go, then he stared at the air in front of him in disbelief.
“Good night.” Yu Hao said.
The sunlight fell upon his face, and Yu Hao opened his eyes within an instant. He sat up from his bed and put one hand over his forehead. He had forgotten to draw the curtains last night, so the sunlight shone in from the balcony at a slanted angle and coincidentally landed on the lower bunk he was on.
7.35, crap! I’m late! Yu Hao got up in a rush and realised that his phone didn’t ring.
O, there are no classes today……Yu Hao lied back down on his bad thoroughly exhausted. All his roommates were sleeping soundly with their quilts over their heads. Yu Hao stared at the bedboard of the upper bunk with his eyes wide open. The scenes from his dreamscape flashed through his mind one by one, and right here, right now, he felt neither sorrow nor excitement. Instead, his mind was perfectly tranquil.
The light from the morning sun shone on Zhou Sheng’s dry sports jacket; it emitted a pleasant fragrance of scented soap. Ying city gradually awoke under the illumination of the morning sunlight; the ringing sounds of bicycle bells whizzed onto the balcony from time to time and jumped into the room.
Ying City’s winter was a very suitable time for sleeping in while basking in the sunshine. It was as if the whole city had tacitly agreed to shift its working hours forward by half an hour. Companies silently acquiesced to not doing any business before 9.30am, universities silently acquiesced to not impart new knowledge before 8.30am, citizens silently acquiesced to not ordering takeout or express delivery before 11.30am……if you were to compare the major cities1 to a wild fire-breathing dragon that coerced its people to constantly move forward, then a second-tier city like Ying City located in central China would be a giant creature that stumbled as it moved forward in a slow and lazy manner.
Yu Hao once thought of leaving this place, solely because his hometown had not left him with many good memories. It was as if leaving his home would lead to new beginnings for him. But he had to admit, regaining a new life is something that had nothing to do with time or place.
Even though his troubles were far from over, after the sun still rose as usual, his new beginning had approached him quietly.
Yu Hao had just arrived at the library to sit down and spread out his notes when he received news from Chen Yekai——Mr. Shi agreed to meet tomorrow afternoon. He would notify Yu Hao on the specific location soon, and asked Yu Hao to set aside some time.
Yu Hao was no longer afraid of them. He said ‘yes’, then asked if there was anything else he needed to prepare.
Chen Yekai’s reply was: 【Just say whatever you want, we’ll help you.】
Yu Hao: 【If I say whatever I want it’s very likely for us to end up fighting, so it’s better to take away the fire extinguisher and other stuff first. 】
The person who sat opposite him couldn’t help but laugh. Yu Hao looked up in shock, and saw Chen Yekai who was sitting diagonally across him smile at him.
Yu Hao immediately felt awkward. He quickly lowered his head to reply Chen Yekai, but Chen Yekai kept looking at him while he tried to suppress his laughter. Yu Hao erected a copy of 《Analysis of Dreams》in front of him, and Chen Yekai nodded his head. Then the teacher-student pair began their revision separately in the library. When Yu Hao took a break from studying, he sent Chen Yekai another message.
【You’re not working today?】
【Preparing for my PhD exam. The dean said that I could do whatever I wanted as long as I didn’t leave the school.】
Chen Yekai had changed into a navy blue sweater today; the collar of his checkered shirt peeked out from his sweater. He didn’t look much different from other undergraduates. Yu Hao studied a little longer, then suddenly realised that within this entire library, only he and Chen Yekai seemed to be studying.
In front, behind and almost all the seats around them had been occupied by girls! They were all holding their handphones up as they pretended to smooth their hair, but their cameras were all pointed at Chen Yekai from all directions.
Yu Hao immediately lowered his head to send him a message: 【Laoshi, a lot of people are sneaking shots of you, be careful not to look up.】
Chen Yekai: 【How many?】
Yu Hao: 【About 20 to 30 ba, and they’re still increasing.】
Chen Yekai: 【Help me borrow some books, I’ll go off first.】
Chen Yekai didn’t seem to be surprised by this. He sent Yu Hao the titles of the books he wanted as well as a document: 【Fill up the interview manuscript. I’ll be contacting the media tomorrow and get you on Tencent2 news.】
Yu Hao: “!!!”
This operation was truly too ostentatious! Yu Hao once again reformed his opinion of Chen Yekai. There was an interview manuscript within the document that he had sent over. Chen Yekai quickly packed up, then lowered his head as he brisk walked out of the library.
Someone said from the back: “Search him up on Baidu……it’s him it’s him! That’s him!!”
A bright idea occurred to Yu Hao. He opened up Baidu and searched for ‘Chen Yekai’. The keywords in the search bar were “Chen Yekai Zhongshan University’s Hunk”, and “Chen Yekai Columbia University”.
Yu Hao was completely blinded by the content on Chen Yekai.
【Rest well today.】Chen Yekai said, 【Let’s do our best tomorrow to take down the father-daughter pair in one fell swoop.】
Yu Hao laughed.
The next day, when he sent the interview manuscript to Chen Yekai, his office door was still closed. He seemed like he was discussing something important inside.
Yu Hao sat silently outside his office. He was a little nervous.
He thought about how to communicate with Mr. Shi and his daughter when they came over later. Yesterday, he had a dreamless night. It was weird when he thought about it. After the sun rose in his dreamscape, he couldn’t return to the palace anymore, and he slept soundly all night.
Mr. Shi and his daughter Shi Ni chose to meet at the college. Chen Yekai didn’t tell Yu Hao anything beforehand, and had only asked him to relax.
At 12.30pm, Mr. Shi hadn’t arrived. But Zhou Sheng did.
Zhou Sheng was unusually well dressed today as he wore a black sweater. He uttered a “wei” to Yu Hao, then nodded his head apathetically.
Yu Hao moved over to let him sit down.
“You didn’t need to come.” Yu Hao whispered.
“How could I not?” Zhou Sheng said, “If there’s a show to watch then of course I have to watch it, this is one of life’s basic pleasures.”
Yu Hao, “……”
When Yu Hao was so nervous his palms were sweating, Fu Liqun arrived as well and was unexpectedly not wearing any sportswear. He sat in between the two of them.
“How are my two beloved concubines doing today?” The moment Fu Liqun sat down, he casually asked this.
“Get lost!” Zhou Sheng crossed one leg over the other as he shouted angrily.
The office’s door opened, Huang Ting and Chen Yekai walked out along with a lady they didn’t recognise. Chen Yekai was holding a folder as he said, “Everyone’s here, go into the conference room ba. The two of them are here to accompany you.”
The moment before they entered the conference room, Yu Hao’s mind was still blank, and no one else had spoken to him. But in the instant when he sat down and saw the little girl, Yu Hao suddenly seemed to have a lot of things he wanted to say that he wanted to spill out without restraint.
Chen Yekai shook hands with Mr. Shi first and introduced himself. Yu Hao sat down with four people on his side, while there were two people on Mr. Shi’s side. His daughter was still carrying her school bag, and the police were sitting in the middle.
Mr. Shi is a middle-aged man in his forties. He wore a suit and had placed his car keys on the table and an electronic cigarette at one side.
“Give us a moment, we still have an interview with a reporter.” Chen Yekai said to Mr. Shi, “It won’t take longer than 10 minutes.”
Mr. Shi was immediately stunned silly, “Interview? Who decided that?”
“It has nothing to do with your side.” Huang Ting took off his police cap, brushed his hair then said, “Yu Hao and his friend picked up a sum of money — 1.2 million — and had passed it to our station. So we decided to write them a commendation letter and give them some publicity in the news to spread some positive energy around.”
Mr. Shi, “……”
The “friend” was displeased, “Is my presence that insignificant?”
Chen Yekai quickly said to the reporter, “He’s called Zhou Sheng.”
Yu Hao said, “We picked it up together. But we only managed to find it because he had stepped on that bag of money.”
“I’ve already received the interview manuscripts you guys filled in.” The female reporter said, “The entire process was written very clearly, so there’s no problem. I’m just going to add a few more points, it won’t take long.”
“The station’s silk banner will only be sent over in the afternoon.” Huang Ting said to the reporter, “When it arrives, their college will take a picture of it and send it to you.”
The female reporter asked a few more questions. Zhou Sheng pushed Yu Hao by his shoulders and made him move next to the conference table to answer them one by one. Yu Hao looked sideways at Zhou Sheng, then at the reporter. He thought for a bit before he finally said, “I won’t take anything that doesn’t belong to me. I feel that in our society, most people would do the same, it’s just that they don’t have the opportunity to find this much money. We’re not an exemplar or anything, it was just a coincidence.”
Female reporter, “But that’s not easy to do at all.”
“It’s not considered positive energy.” Yu Hao sincerely said, “It’s what we should do. When someone is willing to extend a helping hand to another person in distress, to believe in him, to help him, and to pull him out of his quagmire without asking for anything in return so that he can see the light again — that is what I consider to be the true definition of ‘positive energy’.”
The female reporter suddenly laughed and said, “Who are you talking about? Ah?”
When Yu Hao said that, he thought of the “General” in his dreams. Yet the female reporter turned around and glanced at Chen Yekai, then she looked at Huang Ting, Fu Liqun and Zhou Sheng doubtfully.
Everyone’s expression was a little strange, as if a faintly discernible smile was hanging on their lips. They even looked a little embarrassed.
Zhou Sheng suddenly blushed and said, “He should be talking about me.”
Yu Hao said, “Un……I was talking about……everyone. Thank you, all of you.”
Zhou Sheng, “Weren’t you talking about me?”
Yu Hao motioned for him to stop talking. Zhou Sheng changed the subject and said earnestly to the female reporter, “I still have an exclusive story……do you know? Student Yu Hao is being framed by someone!”
“That’s enough!” Chen Yekai promptly walked over and sent the reporter away.
“Zhou Sheng, this is my name card……” The female reporter passed by Chen Yekai and gave Zhou Sheng her name card, “Let’s talk about that in detail when we’re free……feel free to look for me if anything comes up!” Zhou Sheng was about to stand up to accept her card when Fu Liqun immediately tugged his pants. Yu Hao understood his intention and accepted her card in Zhou Sheng’s stead.
After Chen Yekai sent her out, he decisively took her name card from Yu Hao and placed into his own suit pocket.
1. Major cities = Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou↩
2. Tencent Holdings Limited is a Chinese multinational investment holding conglomerate founded in 1998, whose subsidiaries specialise in various Internet-related services and products, entertainment, artificial intelligence and technology both in China and globally.↩
General held the shield, and his hands began to tremble involuntarily. Yu Hao continued, “This shield will protect you for me.”
HASDBKFHJABKSDJHF I’M SO SHOOKETH
AND FK ZHOU SHENG IS SO SHAMELESS HAHAHAHA
Sorry for the late-ish update, as you can see I’ve been spamming releases for my other project haha… but I’ll still stick to at least one release per week for this novel CAUSE I LOVE IT SO DAMN MUCH