"Brother, after this goodbye, I don't know when we'll meet again. I only regret not having met you earlier. We've journeyed together for just 3 months, but our bond is...is…"
"Hey, don't get so emotional. I can't understand what you're saying."
Lin Fan looked at the brother standing before him and couldn't help but sigh. This was the third time that this had happened. They were all passionate and ambitious in the beginning, but after a few setbacks, they didn't have the strength to continue.
"Brother Lin, after I leave, you will still be constantly chased by the city's enforcement officers. I can't bear the thought of it. This is all that I own, please accept it as my regards."
The youngster handed Lin Fan a bundle wrapped in cloth, then embraced him, "Brother, as long as time stands, we are bound to meet again. I have to go."
Upon saying this, the youngster pushed the door open and walked away, full of resolution.
"Xiao Feng, where are you heading to?" Lin Fan stood by the door, staring at the youngster's back view.
"What are you going to do there? The economy is in a slump over there!"
Due to a crackdown, many workers had left the area. Numerous industries suffered financially. If one were to compare it to Shanghai, it was in a worse condition.
"To sell my body," Xiao Feng said without looking back. He had already made up his mind.
"You're a man!" Lin Fan yelled. Has Xiao Feng gone crazy? What does a man have to sell? His hairy body?
"It's precisely because of the fact that I'm a man, and because of the Great Depression, that there are business opportunities there. Brother, this is where we part. Wait till I become rich, then I'll be back to bring you to fly with me."
Slowly...gradually...his silhouette disappeared from Lin Fan's view.
"Ah, this man is alone once again. That can't be right, Xiao Feng didn't even leave his number. When he becomes rich, how is he going to bring me to fly with him?" Lin Fan hastily ran after him, but Xiao Feng's silhouette was nowhere to be seen. He could only shake his head and return to his $400-month rented house.
Looking at his tiny house, Lin Fan felt miserable. If he had known that things would turn out this way, he would have never entered that diploma mill. Even if he just came out to learn a skill after graduating from high school, he would still be living a better life than he was now, selling scallion pancakes.
"Forget it, at least Xiao Feng had the conscience to leave a note behind. Let's see what we have."
"F*ck your second uncle."
All of a sudden, piercing sounds of rage-filled cursing emitted from the tiny rented house.
Over 10 magazines were placed in front of Lin Fan, along with several IOUs written on blank paper. Next to these IOUs, was a letter, which, judging by appearance, had already been passed through several hands.
Dearest Brother Lin.
"Brother Lin, when you read this letter, I'm afraid I would have just left, but you don't need to try to convince me to stay. I'm already firm on going to Dongguan. Shanghai hasn't been good to me for 3 months. I have no fond memories of the place. Quietly, I will take my leave, as quietly as I came here. Gently, I will flick my sleeves, and not even a wisp of cloud will I bring away. These IOUs are for you, but worry not, I am not someone who forgets his debts. Wait till I become a big shot in Dongguan, then I'll repay the debt a thousand times, ten thousand times over."
"These magazines are my favorites. Today, I'm giving them to you, brother. See you again."
Staring at the pile of magazines, Lin Fan was momentarily stunned.
"This fella eats my food, borrows my money, and in the end, all he leaves me is a pile of magazines! This f*cking Xiao Feng better not let me find him! Forget about it, at least I have something to look at. Let's see what we have here."
He flipped page after page.
"Not bad, these are beautiful thighs."
"Damn, this woman is way too gorgeous. However, it is too immoral for such a gorgeous woman to appear on this kind of magazine."
As time went by, minute by minute, second by second, the magazines were read by Lin Fan. One by one, they were dumped to the side until only one magazine was left.
"What's going on? Such an alluring cover page but not a single thing on the inside. And it's so thick too! This must be some sort of scam." Every one of the previous magazines had left a positive impression, but the final magazine put Lin Fan in a bad mood.
Why did they put such an attractive woman on the cover page?
To cheat the readers, draw their attention, and then drive them into a frenzy?
Lin Fan lay on his bed, clutching the magazine in his hands as he stared at the lady on the cover page. This lady was indeed, extremely attractive.
Gradually, Lin Fan's eyelids shut, and he dozed off.
His old iPhone 4 rang suddenly, causing Lin Fan to be startled. He instantly opened his eyes.
"It's time to open the stall! It's already 4.30 pm. The primary school students will be dismissed soon. If we're late, there won't be any space left!"
After graduating from the diploma mill, Lin Fan came to Shanghai full of ambition and ready to take on the world. However, cruel reality hit him hard.
In the two years after he graduated, Lin Fan had been to numerous companies and took on many jobs, but as if due to bad luck, each job never lasted long.
At the first company, the boss ran away with his mistress. His wife sold the company away, along with the 2 months of pay that they owed Lin Fan.
At his second job, Lin Fan was very contented. The couple who owned the business was good to him, but one day, they called Lin Fan into the office and sneakily told him about an investment opportunity.
Invest $3,000 and get $500 monthly returns. The more you invest, the more returns you receive.
When Lin Fan first heard about it, he was ecstatic. It appeared to be a very good deal, and even the boss couple were invested in it, so Lin Fan happily invested too and waited for the returns to come flying in.
However, two months later, Lin Fan realized that something wasn't right. He had been cheated.
When Lin Fan decided to tell his boss that he wanted to back out and a refund, he realized that his boss had invested his entire fortune into the business and was completely broke.
That was when Lin Fan understood one of life's principles.
Educational background was not an indication of IQ. He had lost 2 months of wages and was not about to continue being cheated.
Eventually, Lin Fan used his remaining savings to start a small vendor business, selling scallion pancakes.
In terms of money, it was actually a pretty profitable business selling pancakes for six dollars each. Occasionally, when the customers spend more extravagantly, earnings were even higher.
The only problem was the city's enforcement officers, who would come and chase Lin Fan away. Sometimes, the stall would get confiscated, and it would cost him several hundreds to get it back. It was a very costly setback.
Since Xiao Feng had left, Lin Fan only had himself to rely on from this day onwards.
"Huh? Why is this magazine still stuck to my hand?" As Lin Fan was about to put on his shoes, he realized that the magazine was sticking to his hand and would not come off.
"Could that f*cking Xiao Feng have put glue on it?"
Just as Lin Fan was about to rip the magazine off his arm, a metallic sound rang in his ear and the magazine suddenly vanished.
"Ding! Binding requirements fulfilled: Not letting go of the blank magazine for 6 hours."
"Activating history's strongest encyclopedia."
"Due to the host being the first user, unsealing content related to the host's current occupation."
"Page one: Godly Scallion Pancakes."
"Godly Scallion Pancakes."
"Tastiness evaluation: Unforgettable culinary delicacy."
"Task: Attain a small amount of reputation, no time limit."
"Task completion: Randomly reveal page two of encyclopedic knowledge. Reward: 10 encyclopedic points.
At this moment, Lin Fan was completely dumbfounded. He stood motionlessly for 10 minutes, with no clue about what had just happened.
Lin Fan pinched his face, followed by his thigh. Everything felt real.
Lin Fan recalled what had happened. With a sudden jolt, a magazine with the thickness of a mountain's height appeared within his mind
The cover page no longer displayed the beautiful woman. Instead, a large golden word was printed in the middle of the page: "Encyclopedia"
He flipped the cover page over. The first page was no longer blank but was filled with words and illustrations: Vivid and lifelike images of scallion pancakes, with lines of densely packed words printed in gold.
"Is this a dream or something? Forget it, even if this is a dream, I still have to go and sell my scallion pancakes!"
Still in a daze, Lin Fan left the compound while pushing his cart along with him.
"Lil' Fan, you're so late today!"
As he was leaving the compound, a group of middle-aged women was preparing to leave their homes and fetch their kids.
Lin Fan nodded his head and continued pushing his cart away from the compound.
"Hey, Lil' Fan seems distracted. Could he have just broken up?"
"Breaking up is a good thing. I heard your daughter is already 30. She's getting old, isn't this the perfect timing?"
"What nonsense are you spouting? My daughter may be already 30, but even so, she wouldn't go for this impoverished brat. Go off and fetch your kid! My daughter has plenty of men pursuing her!
The devilish laughter from the group of women resounded as they left.