Convention - Ch. 1 Birthday Night
“We find truths the size of grains of sand in a sea of ignorance.”
“That dream again ……”
I sat up and habitually looked towards the wall, imagining that a window had been opened here, with the azure sky and flocks of migrating birds outside. I could not remember how much time had passed since I came to this place, days, months, or even years. The only thing that reminds me of “time” is the antique clock on the wall which strikes seven times dully at this time as usual.
I got up from the bed and sighed again disappointedly. On the table lay today’s test, which I had to finish quickly and carefully, then hand it to the doctor. Although I was incredibly disgusted by all the strange and bizarre academic questions that were in it, I had to do it. This unsuspecting white paper had been torn to pieces by many, but none dares to tear it a second time after that.
Name: Huang Yuan
Please answer the following questions (choose any one)
Short answer question 1: Write down the three laws of thermodynamics.
Short answer question 2: Briefly analyze the theoretical and applied significance of the ‘brain in a vat’ hypothesis.
Short answer question 3: Talk about the human brain, brain cancer, and its treatment.
Of these questions, I only remember the answer to the third question, which is like the brain is the largest and most fat-containing organ in the body. Water, fat, and protein make up 75% of the brain. The average weight of a newborn’s brain is about 400 grams, while an adults’ is about 1,350 grams, and men’s brains are a little heavier than women’s. Interestingly, after centuries of evolution, our human brains have gotten 9 cubic inches smaller, which may be related to the fact that we have also gotten smaller in size. The brain contains about 86 billion nerve cells that not only store a lot of information but are also responsible for signaling ……
I sighed and crookedly filled in my answer.
Walking into the bathroom, I grabbed a cup and took a drink from the tap. I took off my wet pajamas, it smells as if the strong smell of blood from the dream is still on it. I often ask myself why dreams are created, people always say dreams consist of things that people think about during the day. So if dreams are the embodiment of a person’s subconscious …… then what kind of person I am.
Stroking over his face in the mirror, the black bangs that lack care, and with a childish white face …… Huang Yuan, what kind of person is he? Perhaps, this is something I will never be able to know.
Because I have no memories of myself. To be precise, I don’t have any memories other than being in this hospital. All that remains at the beginning of my memory is this clean, monotonous room and the mechanical habit of eating, drinking, and living in the hospital.
After splashing a handful of cold water on my face, my rigid mind gradually started to become more active. “Fly Me to the Moon” is the wake-up call of this hospital, a song that does not fit its name.
The name of this hospital is ‘Library’, a name that is not often mentioned in the hospital. Perhaps it was named after the unit to which it belonged, like the Army-Navy Hospital, or perhaps it was named after the place of establishment or history, like the ‘Hospital Knights’.
But in any case, the hospital does have an unbelievably large library, probably larger than all the other activity rooms put together. The doctors are also keen to offer a wide variety of courses, with courses in literature and history being more popular because they are focused on watching documentaries, but there are some subjects such as topology and quantum mechanics that not many patients in the hospital are willing to study. The courses are also credit-bearing, with a range of rewards and punishments …… Sometimes I wonder if this is not a hospital, but a quirky private university.
Mathematics and physics are compulsory courses in this hospital, and all patients, except those who are terminally ill, have to be present, or they will receive punishments no less severe than those of the army …… confinement is the gentlest of them.
However, going is one thing, listening is another. Most of the patients in the classroom just lower their heads and sleep. But what is strange is that these two courses have a different teaching style from other subjects, the teacher leaves the topic on the blackboard and then does not do anything, no one teaches, and no one checks. Although there are occasional exams, even if you turn in a blank paper, there is no impact.
I honestly don’t know what the point of the class’s mandatory attendance is.
I pushed open the door, the corridor outside the door was empty at this time of the day, everyone else has probably gone to the cafeteria to eat breakfast. In this closed hospital with not much to do, people only become active when it is time to eat
When I arrived at the cafeteria, the seats were already full. I glanced at the table, today’s breakfast is only ordinary porridge, without any buns or anything else, I can see that the chef is just trying to get this over with, but this is also usual. Monday is usually the day where the chef is always in a bad mood, and because of that, the food is even more muddled.
I picked up a tray and went to get the porridge, and just the moment the porridge fell from the cook’s spoon ——
“Why are we eating salty porridge today?” I blurted out.
The chief glared at me, impatiently raised his hand and poured half a spoonful of porridge back into the pot, and said in an unamused manner, “If you want to eat, then eat, if not, get out.” I was so scared that I hurriedly put my tray back to get food.
I found a seat in the corner and sat down, and I was chagrined by my behavior for talking without thinking, the bad-tempered cook was known for his stingy amount of food he pours, and now than he just took half spoonful back, so there’s no way for me to be full at all. I sighed as I grabbed a spoon and sent a bite into my mouth and almost spit it out.
“So salty ……”
It’s just a sudden thought in my head, but I understand why right away. Usually, the canteen porridge adds sugar, but today they added salt, and not just a little bit but a lot of salt. This is either due to a senseless person knocking over the salt shaker in the kitchen or the new guy who got the salt and sugar mixed up, man ……
“How can I eat this if it’s so salty, this is killing my throat.”
While I was still relishing the salty taste that lingered on my tongue, a small complaint came from the next seat over. The voice is quiet but full of complaints.
“It’s really impossible to stay here.” The bald man in the next seat said, “I’ve never had a good day since I came in here, this is the same as living in prison.” His voice remained low, after all, we are not allowed to talk loudly in the cafeteria, and no one can afford to break the rules in this hospital.
“All right, which prison out there would let you wander around inside? Just get over it and be satisfied, talk less, and hurry up and be cured so that you can leave is what you should be doing” The fat man sitting opposite the bald man said, said while also drinking porridge, although his brows are knitted together because of how salty the porridge is, regardless he still wolfed down the plate.
It’s a wonderful world out there, and once we are discharged we receive some level of care, such as counseling, job recommendations, and even spousal referrals – that was the consensus of all.
“Curing, you still believe in curing sickness here? I’ve been in here for so many years and my rheumatism hasn’t even been cured for me.”
(TLN: rheumatism is any disease marked by inflammation and pain in the joints, muscles, or fibrous tissue)
Indeed, hearing their conversations, sometimes I have this suspicion more or less, is this place a hospital or not? Although we were admitted for ambiguous reasons, I really can’t see much wrong with me and my fellow patients …… except for some crazy epileptics and fools who do have mental illnesses, but these guys have special wards and dedicated staff to take care of them. From this point of view, this place is more of an insane asylum than a hospital.
“Didn’t that big white dumb guy next door get cured the other day?” The fat man continued. “He’s out already.”
“Do you really believe that the Big White already left?” The bald head suddenly brought his face forward a little closer, while his voice lowered, “I heard that the Big White entered the ‘Professor’s office, and never came out again ……”
“Rumors, it’s all rumors, why do you people believe all this?”
“Tch, you still don’t believe me, I bet there 80 percent chance that this hospital is the kind of black-hearted hospital that deals with human organs.”
“Come on, cut the crap.” Fatty said so, glancing at the camera on the ceiling. “Just finish your food, why do you talk so much?”
“I have nothing to complain about the hospital, but at least tell us the reason for being here.” I muttered in a small voice, “I don’t even know where I came from or where this is, what’s the point of living like this.”
“Let’s finish eating, little brother, we’ll get out when we’re cured.” We sighed in unison. In fact, a little after I came arrived, there was a small-scale riot every now and then, some patients who could not stand the confinement chose to commit suicide, patients who were heartbroken fought among themselves, and there are also patients who tried to escape, but at the end was that they are returned to their respective wards and continued to fill out questionnaires the next day, as well as attend classes in various classrooms, and do a series of examinations. Gradually, people have become numb, plus, the doctors here are kind and friendly, and as long as you do not break the rules, patients and doctors will continue to be friendly.
(TLN: By ‘little brother’, they do not mean that they are blood-related, it is used as a term to symbolize their friendliness)
The reason the doctor gave me about why I was in this hospital was that I have “intermittent paranoia”. Ironically, I agree with what they said.
At this moment, the unattentive bald man elbowed the spoon that was set aside, the spoon slid on the table and fell to the ground, and eventually landed at my feet after bouncing a few times. I reflexively bent down and reached for the spoon.
The moment I touched the spoon, I suddenly felt something wrong with my body. I felt a sharp chill, my skin began to itch, as if the pores of the body were opened. From the loose skin came a complex feeling of all five senses, smell, touch, hearing, sight, and even the sense of taste could be felt on the skin of my body, making me feel uncomfortable, but this sensation only lasted for a second, and then there is no trace of it. I was slightly stunned under the table but got back up and passed the spoon to the bald man who was looking at me.
“Thanks, little brother.” He smiled and took a spoon, not noticing my discomfort.
“Watch your step,” I warned.
Strange, why am I saying this? Although it vaguely seems like he will slip …… although he is currently on his seat.
The bald man said nothing more and replied with an ‘oh’. He took the spoon from my hand, turned it over and over, showing a disgusted look, probably because he thought it was stained with dust when it was on the floor. And so he stood up wanting to swap a spoon.
But before he had been able to take a few steps, he suddenly slipped and fell on his back …… he then was helped up by a few kind-hearted patients while quietly saying “ouch”.
The fat man sitting across from the bald man also went to help, and suddenly he jerked his head up, looked at me twice with a mysterious expression, and muttered in a low voice: “The rumors are true.”
In response, I could only shrug my shoulders, there was nothing else I could do.
I really don’t know when this started, it seems to be like this since I could remember, occasionally talking about good or bad things. Sometimes inexplicable words will come from my mouth. Honestly, I do not know why I say these things, it’s as if they bypass my brain and come directly out my throat. The things I say often come true — and without realizing it, people began to call me a crow’s mouth.
(TLN: In Chinese, if someone has a crow’s mouth (乌鸦嘴) it means when they open their mouth, what they say will come true, usually unlucky events)
Honestly, although most of the people in this hospital are good people, they would not bully me or isolate me because of this, but this feeling of being a disaster still stings.
After the meal, the people in the cafeteria gradually dispersed, and I was ready to leave after eating. As usual, I planned on spending my time in the oil painting room. The painting room is the most spacious room in the hospital, a little bigger than a movie theater, perhaps because it was both a painting room and a gallery.
However, I am the only one that is there …… other people seem to be uninterested.
As I walked into the painting room, the room was filled with the strange smell of turpentine. Except for a few small, less popular works on the walls that were the real deal, the rest were masterpieces displayed in electronic frames that change every week. I prefer those clumsy works painted on the canvas compared to those masterpieces on the LCD screens. Only the real brushstrokes, those slightly bulging paint, can make me feel the reality of the painting.
In particular, I was fascinated by a bust of a woman that’s left in the corner. It is a painting without any introduction, no information about the name, type, size, author, date, background, etc. I don’t know anything about it. There is also very little information to be obtained from the content of the painting. All I can tell is that it is a woman in an exotic dress, sitting in front of me with her eyes closed, and she looks sad as if she had just attended a grievous funeral.
(TLN: Bust in art means a sculpted or cast representation of the upper part of the human figure, depicting a person’s head and neck, and a variable portion of the chest and shoulders.)
Today was Monday and new canvases had been delivered. I chose a medium-sized one and strutted it in the middle of the room, I was the only one in the room anyway.
I adeptly draw the rough sketch with a pencil, this time the subject …… is still that dream. This dream has been repeated countless times in my sleep, and the number of times I have recreated this scene on the canvas is beyond counting.
Although I don’t dare to call myself a painter, I love painting from the bottom of my heart, especially painting on paper, which can give people a completely different sense of satisfaction than using a digital drawing board.
(TLN: Although he is painting on a canvas, what he meant by the paper was realistic textures of painting compared to the digital ones.)
I am not in a hurry to put on the base color of the painting, because this is usually the time when the doctors from the hospital get us to go take a medical examination. Painting and writing are both acts that require consistency, and so it is best not to be interrupted. I don’t like to be interrupted when I am painting an important part, so it is best to wait until after I am interrupted because once I start the painting, there is only success or failure.
“It’s almost time,” I mumbled to myself as I toy with the palette knife.
No sooner had the words left my mouth, the sound of the door opening came, and I looked back and froze. The one who came to call me today was the ‘Director’? The ‘Director’ was someone that I was not very familiar with, the only thing that I know is her name through the ID card that is on her chest, Mo Xiao.
She was a lean woman, looking like she was in her twenties, with a single brown ponytail, and like everyone else in this hospital, her white coat never left her body. As for looks …… there are not many women in the hospital, so I don’t know if she is considered pretty, but she looks a bit like the woman in “Statue of the Unknown Lady”, which is also a painting I really like.
At this moment, she was glaring at me, her eyes as harsh as ever. It may be that she feels at a loss of status for a dignified figure like herself to supervise a nobody like me to go for a medical checkup. Clearly, Mo Xiao has an unhappy aura around her.
“Huang Yuan,” She said coldly, sounding aggressive but not unpleasant.
“Yes …… I am!” I jumped up from my chair and panicked, standing still in front of her, “I’m Huang Yuan.”
“Come with me, it’s time for the medical examination.” Afterward, she didn’t say anymore, turned around, and walked out in stride.
“One moment, please. ……”
I wanted to call out to her and tell her to let me pack up the painting tools first, but she ignored me and walked out without looking back. I looked at the tools around me, and then at her fading back, and decided to quickly follow her.
“I said, can you wait a second?” I said while reaching out to her, trying to pat her on the shoulder to get her attention.
Suddenly, a small green monster slowly ‘appeared’ on her shoulder, as if a “malignant tumor” grew out of her body, and this green “malignant tumor” gradually began growing facial features and four limbs! This caught me off guard as I screamed and fell on my butt.
And the fall finally caused her to stop and turn back to me looking down with a cold look.
“So much fuss over something insignificant.”
She said coldly as if I already knew the little monster well.
“Since you knew I was coming, you should have packed your tools before.” She continued coldly and stroked her index finger over the head of the little monster on her shoulder. Fixing my eyes, I found that it was actually a chameleon, and wagged its long tongue at me as if it was making a face.
“But …… I was painting.” I argued while wiping the sweat from my forehead.
“Your canvas was only primed with pencil, and you’re holding the palette knife right now too.” She said as she pointed to my hand, and I realized I had been clutching the palette knife in my hand and hadn’t even put it back. “The palette and the knife were clean, and the paints were not opened, from which it can be inferred that you were in a state of idleness until I arrived. So I judged there was no value or meaning in waiting – it was you who wasted your own time to pack up.”
“I ……” I was dumbfounded by her barrage-like words and could not think of any rebuttal.
“Get up if you don’t want to keep wasting our time.” With these cold words, she took up her stride again. Ignoring my cries, she walked deeper into the corridor without looking back, causing me to roll and crawl for a while to keep up with her.
After walking through the intricate corridors of the hospital for some time, we finally arrived at the door of the room where the routine medical examinations were conducted. Mo Xiao uses the iris detector on the side to scan her pupils, and after a crisp sound, the door opens in response. She slipped behind me and roughly pushed me through the door while I was dawdling.
“Here he is.” As she walked into the room, Mo Xiao said toward the swivel chair in the center of the room with its back to us.
“That’s too slow, you’re 103 seconds late.” The chairs slowly turned halfway around and a woman was looking at us. “103 seconds is more than enough time for me to read the first three chapters of this book, you’re out of order.”
And only then did I notice that in the air, there lie several neatly arranged sheets of paper filled with various mathematical equations, it is clear that this is a holographic projection, and there are more than a hundred pages, the first three chapters that the woman was referring to.
“I’m sorry, Professor.” Mo Xiao lowered her head slightly, and at this distance, one could see that her expressionless face was clouded with a layer of gloom. “I’ll pay attention next time.”
“There won’t be a next time, if everyone else hadn’t gone to deal with the birthday party, I wouldn’t have left you to do something like this.” The woman in the chair said, not showing any mercy between the lines.
The woman who spoke is the head of the hospital. I do not know her name, but the hospital staff and patients call her “Professor”.
The Professor looks much more mature than Mo Xiao, with short, solid silver-gray hair, a white suit with purple sleeves, and a trench coat that is also white. But although they are both white, the Professor’s white coat is different from M Xiao’s laid-back white coat, it is filled with an intimidating metallic feeling, just like the woman in my dream, but I know the Professor is not that person. Because the woman in my dream had sun-like golden eyes, while the Professor’s eyes were a deep purple, just like the bottomless underworld.
She does not appear in front of people very often, perhaps as first in command of the hospital she needs to spend more time dealing with other things, rather than show her face around. However, I am not a stranger to the Professor, a long time ago she was interested in the kind of behavior that I unconsciously say something and asserted that it is a brain illness, and therefore she often personally examined me, looking for treatment options, and would even meet some of my unreasonable requests for painting …… have to say, in this hospital, I considered her as someone who I owe a lot to as she took good care of me.
Although she is not as unsmiling as Mo Xiao, even so, I still think she is a scary person, such as using a few minutes to read the first half of a book and then write the second half of her own, etc. More like every time I have a conversation with her, I find that her eyes never reflect anything, as if a deep valley without life ……
“Well, hurry up and get started.” The Professor urged.
I didn’t dare to ignore the Professor’s words and dutifully laid down on the X-ray table-looking apparatus as usual. Although I knew she wasn’t looking at me, experience told me that she knew what I was doing at all times.
When I lay down, the Professor snapped her fingers, and some light screen like a keyboard appeared out of nowhere in her hand, and she lightly tapped twice on it. In the sound of the program running, the machine started, countless mechanical arms holding a variety of instruments leaned over.
I didn’t like the test, sometimes it’s hot and then it’s cold, and sometimes a little painful. I am used to observing the Professor during the medical examination, she always sits in her seat and stares at the examination process as if dazed, which makes me more or less at ease during this seemingly dangerous examination. But today she didn’t stay long, just sat for a short while, looked at her watch, ordered something to Mo Xiao, who was still here, and quickly left.
There are times when I have illusions that the Professor is indifferent to everything here, or at least that’s what her eyes show ……it’s difficult to describe the feeling. If I have to say, it’s like the dream I’ve been having – a grayish-white alienation and an unspeakable sense of dislocation.
The Professor’s place was replaced by the one with an annoyed face.
Mo Xiao’s eyes were always elsewhere, and only the chameleon on her shoulder was staring at me. The eyes might be called dull, but they were uncomfortable. So I turned my head to the front, a little nap is a good choice.
Unfortunately, just as I closed my eyes, a burst of tingling pain came from my body. How can I sleep like this? I tsked and turned my gaze toward Mo Xiao again.
To my surprise, Mo Xiao was staring at me intently, and for a moment, our eyes met, and she froze before turning her eyes to the side. Only the chameleon on her shoulder was still staring at me intently.
When the last instrument held by the mechanical arm was removed from me, I sat up and stretched my stiff body. And Mo Xiao was rushing to process the reports that were spitting out of the machine in a steady stream.
“Umm …… sorry.” Looking at her back, I don’t know why, but I suddenly felt that I should apologize to her.
“Why are you apologizing?” Hearing my voice, her movements paused for just a moment before she went back to pounding away at those record papers.
“Umm, if I hadn’t argued with you about packing up the painting equipment …… maybe you wouldn’t have been late.”
“Nonsense.” She replied without turning around. “It’s an unpredictable outcome that you’ll be late, and even if you pack your painting equipment, there’s no guarantee you won’t be late, it’s an unpredictable variable.”
“But ……” I wanted to say something else, but for a moment, I was dumbfounded by what she said, and couldn’t think of anything to say to continue the apology. “No, wait, then why did you just scold me?”
Just then, it seemed to be a bit overwhelming to handle such a large pile by herself. One of the reports slipped off the pile of papers, and she panicked and in response turned around to catch the fallen paper. And I couldn’t help but reach towards the report, and just like that, coincidentally, our hands touched.
But, what I felt was not the heart-beating moment when I came in contact with a woman’s skin.
This feeling again, this confusion of the five senses screwed together. My mind flashed with many grotesque images …… of blazing fires, people screaming in terror, and a group of old men with shriveled flesh, fleeing in all directions, while hanging not far above …… was a black sun! This has many similarities with the scene in my dream, but there is a slight difference.
When I came back to my senses, I found myself grabbing her hand tightly. Startled, I hurriedly let go of my hand and took several steps back in quick succession.
“What did you see!” She threw away the piles of reports and came aggressively toward me. “Tell me!”
“I didn’t see anything!”
“Really, I really didn’t see anything!”
“Why were you admitted to the hospital!”
“Because I’m sick! I came here voluntarily!”
“What did you just see!”
“The sun! The black sun!”
After answering a quick succession of questions, I shouted out in a panic.
“Where’s the rest?”
“No…… nothing else……”
Probably because her change was so sudden, I subconsciously concealed other details.
Walking back, I was eventually forced into a corner. I didn’t know what struck her nerve, Mo Xiao glaring at me angrily, at this distance I could even feel her unsteady breathing, her face was almost as sweaty as mine. But soon, her breathing became steady and she seemed to calm down, regaining her usual indifferent face. I immediately started nodding my head continuously.
“That’s good then.”
As if she had suddenly lost interest in me, she turned around and walked to the middle of the reports that she tossed just now, and began to pick them up one by one. The chameleon on her shoulder also starts to pick up the report papers on the ground with its tongue and delivers them to her hand one by one. Seeing this, I wanted to give her a hand, but she simply refused
“Leave.” She said indifferently. “You don’t know how to organize this.”
It looked like I was disliked by her, which frustrated me a bit, but it was obviously not a good idea to hold a conversation with her now.
And just before I was about to leave the room, she suddenly spoke again.
“The Professor is not here, the owner of this office is me, so no one will know what I say or do, and I want you to forget about what just happened.” Mo Xiao said coldly while focusing on tidying up, “You really think, that painting room was meant for drawing?”
Late at night, a quarrel came from the depths of the Library.
“When can we head out? We’ve been hibernating here long enough for your ridiculous research, my plans have been disrupted by you, I have my own goals to accomplish.”
“It’s not like the door is closed, just leave yourself if you want to.”
The woman in the chair replied without raising her head.
“What do you mean by that, I don’t have a permit, and you know it.”
“You can make one yourself.”
“There’s nothing in that painting!”
“‘If a blind man leads a blind man, both shall fall in one pit’, it is simply because you can’t see it.”
“That’s enough! I do not have time to mess around with you, in the end, we have to flee like this because of you alone, do not you have a guilty conscience! If it wasn’t for you ……”
The person sitting in the chair turned around and looked to a shelf on the side, where a square stone was placed, it was covered with mottled patterns, like a pillow. In fact, someone did use it as a pillow, a man named Jacob.
“The first cognition that man has produced since he had what is called wisdom is not science, but religion. So I always wonder what would be left of the world if, one day, even if religion disappeared.”
“If all religions disappear, it means that people are no longer afraid of death, but I think that people will still believe in karma, and as long as the so-called fate still exists in the world, something like religion will not disappear, and I don’t think religion will disappear completely.”
“When I was as old as you, I thought the same as you.”
“And what’s the point of that? You think you can appease me by talking to me about life and ideals?”
“I’m just showing you a possibility. Man’s submission to religion is essentially a submission to possibility …… unpredictable weather, unpredictable hearts, the odds of death. If one day we are given the power to master possibility ……”
“I don’t think such a thing can be done, I wasn’t involved in that experiment, and I don’t believe your hysterical visions, let alone the value of your ideas.”
“Since religion can rely on a false idol to gather a massive amount of resources for a massive waste of money, then science can also look to real power to more rationally use that which is wasted by religion ……”
“I’m leaving, I don’t want to hear this crap from you, it’s not going to happen and there’s no point.”
“…… We can wait.” The woman in the chair, looking at the stone, said.
This morning after the meal, I sat in the oil painting room as always.
The vision I saw a few days ago in the medical examination room still haunts my mind and lingers.
I don’t know why, but I can’t forget the feeling and the realistic scene.
The tip of the pen gently scratched across the canvas, and in the top center of the picture, I outlined the eerie outline of the black sun with ultramarine. When I came back from the medical examination room, I couldn’t forget what I saw when I touched Mo Xiao, so I revised my previous base draft, and after that, I kept my head in creating this painting and didn’t even go for lunch.
You really think, that painting room was meant for drawing?
Mo Xiao’s words to me still echoed in my mind. Was it perhaps a hint to stop painting? But if I disobeyed the Professor, my illness would not be cured, and besides, painting was the only bit of fun I had left, so it was impossible to give it up so easily. Furthermore …… perhaps I was a little angry with her, recalling that her fussiness and violent temper really ticked me off.
I sighed and adjusted the color again on the palette. But no matter how I paint it, something was wrong with this sun, it was indistinguishable from the sun I remembered. That sun is so special that I don’t know how to describe it …… if I were to say, it’s like a scribbled sketch, full of stray edges and confusing lines.
Perhaps it is pointless to dwell on such things. I remember someone once said that what one sees is one thing, but what the brain remembers is something else, and what is drawn is again a completely different thing. Therefore, it is impossible for me to faithfully reproduce the sun in my head. With this in mind, I picked up the brush again and continued modifying the strange sun.
Just then, I suddenly got a chill on my back and jerked my head back, my fine hairs standing up.
It’s the Professor!
When did she come? I didn’t notice it at all. Although she had occasionally come to the drawing-room to see me paint before, it was mostly when I was about to finish my painting, and it was the first time she came here on a Monday since I started painting. To avoid making an irreparable mistake by a shaky hand, I put the brush down with trepidation and looked at the Professor with a forced smile.
“He ……hello ……”
The Professor didn’t do anything, didn’t even move her eyes slightly downward in response to my smiling face. She just looked solemnly at my unfinished painting, and I didn’t dare to make a move. The atmosphere became awkward all of a sudden.
“Your sun, it’s rectangular?”
It took a full 10 minutes before she said this, but her gaze remained on the drawing paper in front of me.
“Rectangle? Rectangular?” I was a little confused for a moment and looked again at the sun that I had drawn, it was indeed an uncompromising circle, this is the perfect shape identified by the ancient Greeks, no matter where you look at it, it would not be a rectangle …… not even an angle.
“I thought artists wouldn’t think like that.”
“Uh …… umm, I’m drawing a sphere.” I retorted bravely. “This one doesn’t look like ……”
Besides, I’m not an artist, I’m just a sick person with no memory.
“You don’t even know what you drew?” She glanced at me with squinted eyes, then reached out her hand and stroked at the ‘rectangular’ sun, dabbing some paint on her fingertips. “The sphere you painted is actually a rectangle spinning at high speed.”
“That …… is something I really don’t know.”
There’s even such an explanation? Although I thought it was far-fetched, I didn’t dare to voice it.
“This time, the painting is not quite the same as the paintings you had before. Although the composition is almost the same, the design idea is also the same but feels very different, it’s depicting not a kind of thing, and the feeling to be expressed is very different …… right, it’s like ……” she stopped and smiled.”It’s like changing certain designs midway through the process.”
I swallowed a mouthful of saliva, the feeling of being seen through is uncomfortable, I did not say anything, and she did not pursue the question but put the line of sight to the lower part that has not been colored. There I drew a lot of twisting and turning figures as if they were old people who were distressed by the heat of the sun but had nowhere to hide, with a few skeletons interspersed.
“People who are punished by God, I guess?” I made up a random reason, how would I know? I was just drawing what I saw.
“Is this what the god in your mind looks like? Then it’s a cruel and very creative god, no, a very scientific god.”
“Probably,” I mumbled in a small voice, which didn’t interrupt the Professor’s intoxicating admiration.
“It’s genius……. to choose such a purge over outright annihilation and destruction”
“Uh …… yes, you flatter me.” At this point, I could not understand what the Professor was saying at all.
“I mean the god you drew, not you.”
“Oh …… okay.” I awkwardly withdrew my gaze.
“But gods are after all imagined by people, in the end, this appreciation should be given to you who conceived such a god …… using some kind of acceleration of their own to affect the things around them, and then form a special resonance with them, to accelerate the aging of living things …… very creative, really …… would not disappoint.” She nodded approvingly, and I could only nod along with her.
“But this divine power, it’s not something you possess, is it?”
Suddenly, she turned her eyes from the painting to me again. Her sight was like a cold, piercing arrow, and I, who was pretending to nod, shivered violently and sat upright again.
“Huang Yuan, finish it.” She said in a commanding tone, “I’m looking forward to it.”
“Yes!” I nodded respectfully, followed by a sharp realization that this was the first time the Professor had called me by my name.
“Then, it’s also time to get down to business.” With that, she suddenly turned the tables again and stressed my heart, “I didn’t come here today to see your painting.”
“Then what is it for?” I asked nervously, did the medical report come back with good news, and I am almost ready to be discharged?
“In six more days, it’s my birthday.”
“Ah-uh, happy birthday to you.” I was more or less disappointed to hear her answer, but tried not to show it, and hoped she didn’t see it either.
“There’s a party then, and you’re coming to it.” She said ‘you’re coming to it. ‘ instead of ‘Are you coming to it?’, meaning that I had to be there, right? So I just nod my head. In the Library, the Professor would occasionally hold small parties attended by the doctors and staff of the hospital, and we, the patients, would certainly not be invited but would go to help set up and clean up. But it was the first time I had ever attended a party of this size like the Professor’s birthday.
And the Professor seemed to easily see through my doubts, patted my shoulder, and said, “Don’t worry, I just want a representative of the patients, you are very suitable for this, that’s all.”
“Then …… thank you, wait, I’m not going to clean up?”
“Time is 8 PM, the location is at the synagogue, don’t be late, don’t be early, this is very important, you better remember.”
After she concluded, she shrugged off her coat as like how Mo Xiao did, and with similar arrogance, walked out with wide strides towards the door, leaving only me, who had no desire to paint at all, sitting there with lingering fears. I was curious as to why she didn’t let me come earlier but didn’t dare to ask.
It was only when I couldn’t hear her footsteps at all that I breathed a long sigh of relief from the horror. Suddenly, I realized a horrifying fact …… that the Professor who did everything down to seconds had looked at my painting for a full 10 minutes ……
These days after, several such things happened, Mo Xiao disappeared, other doctors said it was because the teachers had a bad cold and needed to rest, the classes in Library stopped, and supposedly because of the Professor’s birthday party, the staff was on vacation, so it was changed to full-time self-study.
After going so long without class, I began to feel some boredom, and even …… though I am not in class sleeping, I still felt some lack of sleep. The good thing is that the date that the Professor told me crept up on me without me realizing it.
When I woke up in the afternoon, I glanced at the antique clock on the wall. The time is almost eight o’clock in the evening. I took too long of a nap, but at least I should be grateful that I did not sleep past eight o’clock.
Getting up from bed, I felt some inexplicable restlessness, as if I was facing something big before an exam or something. Looking in the dressing mirror, a sweatshirt, a jacket over it, and a pair of shorts. In terms of matching, it doesn’t look very harmonious. But they were the only clothes I had in my closet except for my hospital gown, and the comfortable fit proved that they were indeed my clothes, even though I didn’t remember any of them.
Before leaving the room, I suddenly had a lingering feeling for this featureless antique clock and this feeling of parting made me look at it a few more times.
The Professor said that the banquet was held in the assembly hall, and indeed, it was the only place spacious enough to hold some kind of event besides the library. After walking through the empty corridors and passing by the drawing-room where the lights had been turned off, I arrived at the hall and looked at the clock outside the hall door, and I arrived at the right time, right on the second.
Inside the hall, there was already some noise.
What, has it already started? Maybe the Professor didn’t think it was necessary for me to participate in some unrelated speech and asked me to arrive late?
As I thought that, I reached out to the door and touched the old brass handle on the door with my palm, and tried to push it, but I stopped.
Again, this sudden discomfort, a sense of foreboding rushed to the heart. I suddenly felt a little breathless, something in my body was telling me to get out of here ……
This discomfort is similar to the time I saw the vision when I touched Mo Xiao ……
The black sun hung high in the sky as if it were the one and only god, releasing an unsettling halo of light in the mottled sky. Wherever the lights went, people cried for cover but were unable to dodge and were irradiated one by one in that blazing light. Their flesh and blood were like being vaporized, leaving behind eerie white bones where the sunlight traveled, emitting colorful smoke ……
Almost at the same time as my hand left the door, accompanied by some kind of horrible loud noise, the heavy door was opened from the inside by a huge impact. I was outside the door at that time and so I was fiercely knocked to the ground.
What’s happening? Enduring the pain in my body, I lifted my head to look inside the door …… and was stunned.
The entire synagogue …… has fallen into a sea of fire, in that burning flames, there is no one …… no, there isn’t anything alive, countless charred black bones continue to be burned.
I simply do not have time to think or react, driven by the extremely rapid secretion of adrenaline, my body instinctively moves, pulling on my legs to run.
Explosions, one after another, followed by fire, with dense smoke drifting out. I don’t know how I broke out of the trance caused by the successive incidents, and by the time consciousness returned I was dizzy in the smoke and flames.
This way was no good, and neither was this one …… The explosion didn’t just happen in the synagogue; the whole hospital seemed to be blowing up.
The warning lights were impacted, hysterical flashing up a blinking red light, and the beeping was also in the ears one after another. Affected by this, I felt confused in my head, completely unable to judge where I was, and even forgetting the common sense to move by crawling in case of fire and running around like a headless fly.
“Professor! Where’s the Professor! Director! Where is everyone else in the hospital, why is everyone gone?” I shouted in confusion, isolated and helpless.
And just when I felt desperate, I suddenly noticed a faint glow of crisp, cold color coming from behind a door on the other side of the corridor. It shone brightly in the intense red light. It was as if a drowning man in a panic would unconsciously grab everything he could touch. Being amid this parched flame, I panicked and crashed headlong into the room that was emitting a cold-colored glow.
“Isn’t this the drawing-room?”
I froze as I rose from the ground, feeling as if I had made a bad choice. It’s true that the fire hadn’t reached here yet, but if we’re talking about flammable materials, there probably wouldn’t be anywhere worse than the drawing-room. The paper, the paint, even the easel itself was flammable.
I subconsciously turned around and tried to rush out of the room, but the fire was already blocking my way out.
Just then, the faint cold light in the room suddenly became strong, following the glow, the light source was actually from a painting on the wall …… that was no other than the …… bust of a woman that I usually like.
What is this! The painting in front of me, the mournful woman disappeared and was replaced by a scene that was all too familiar to me, that of my dreams! A woman in a silvery-white robe with her back to me, gray sky, surrounded by broken walls, nothing alive except her, this scene is more than familiar to me, but why did she appear in this painting, am I scared out of my mind?
Immediately after, something even more incredible happened, the surface of the painting began to distort bit by bit in front of me, like a palette that was tipped over, the colors, the picture, the canvas itself, even the wall behind it began to become unruly, they were intertwined and tangled together, combined with the continuous explosions and smoke that came rolling around, bizarreness and fear occupied my brain ……
Wha …… what is going on? I can not understand the bizarre scene in front of me, the painting …… the painting is moving by itself?
All of a sudden, the distorted canvas began to produce more pronounced spatial changes, which surprisingly should not exist in the depth, a variety of irregular bumps like something trying to break free from the shackles of the picture in general. My legs felt heavy as if they were filled with lead, and I couldn’t take a step no matter what, as if my body didn’t want to leave.
Then, the woman in the painting turned around gradually! She walked towards me step by step, while the surrounding scene did not change in the slightest, this odd perspective gave me an endless sense of dislocation.
In less than a few seconds, she was already close to me. When I looked back, I realized that a female face had just bizarrely peeked out of the painting.
This face with unclear features was staring at me in death, then the neck and shoulders, and then the whole upper body poked out. It was as if she wanted to eat me or let me enter the painting with her. The cold light of her, as if there is irresistible magic, made me unconsciously reach out my hand to the painting.
But the fingertips have not yet touched, the room around the painting suddenly a bigger explosion occurred. The loud noise and the wave of air pushed me to the ground, and the violent ringing in my ears silenced all the sounds around me. The flames had finally reached this place, and along with the burning of all the flammable materials in the drawing-room, the whole air was filled with a sickening smell.
And the woman in the painting, then returned to the painting, I could not see her expression, and I do not know what just happened. Maybe she came to save me?!
I leveled myself with the ground and crawled toward the painting as if possessed.
Just then, as I was concentrating on the unrealistic salvation in front of me like a dream, a powerful howling sound came from behind me.
The voice pierced through the barriers built by the ringing in my ears and went straight to my mind.
“Come with me! Huang Yuan!”
I slowly turned my head back and looked toward where the voice came from.
Between the rubble and the flames, someone was standing there …… It was …… Mo Xiao! Her face was scorched black by the rolling smoke, the firelight illuminated her whole body red, and her white coat was burnt to tatters and in a wretched state.
I looked at her in a trance and saw that there was not a trace of fear or hesitation on her face. Mo Xiao’s turquoise eyes radiated an incomparably sharp and focused light, just like the eyes of a viper.
“Come with me!” She looked at me from high above and extended her hand to me.
“I don’t know! Do you want to go or not?”
“Yeah, let’s go!”