Author: Shu Ding Rou
Translator: Yuenme Translations
Throwing up on the bright polished marble floor is something that would cause a person to be ashamed.
Pipi could only run out, going to the restroom and throwing up in the dark. At the end of throwing up, her legs were soft and it was difficult to stand up. After a short break, she placed a hand on the wall for support and walked out to discover Helan Jingting waiting for her outside the door.
Then he grasped her tottering self off the floor, "Can you still walk? I’ll take you to the hospital."
“I… Am I bleeding?” Her head was drooping, very painful, and the nosebleed dripped drop by drop onto the floor.
He picked her up horizontally (princess style), crossed a corridor with hanging bells, and went downstairs from the emergency exit.
Pipi lifted her head up and saw a bulletin board outside the stairway entrance. Bright lighting shone on the glass pane.
Inside was written:
“Advanced Workers of C City Museum this year…”
She saw Helan Jingting's name.
Pipi’s heart immediately jumped at the amount of Xinhua(1) key words: helpful, works overtime, conscientious, both politically conscious and professionally competent…
(1)新华 (xīnhuá): the official Chinese news agency
Seeing his plain clothes, she had originally wanted to say 'diligent and thrifty' when Helan Jingting carried her to the parking lot, opened the back door of a car, and stuffed her in.
She deleted these three words 'diligent and thrifty' from her mind.
The car drove silently in the night.
Pipi was lying in the back seat for a while. Feeling better, she sat up and looked outside the car. Suddenly surprised, she asked, “You are not going to the hospital?”
The car was currently heading out of town.
"No," Helan Jingting replied faintly.
“Then where are you going?”
"Your house? Why are we going to your house?"
"Didn’t you want to interview me?"
"I… I…" Pipi quibbled, "When did I say that I want to interview you?"
"Lying is a skill that requires practice."
Anyone who has read the visiting wolf* handbook knows that going to an unfamiliar man’s home absolutely must not be done, but, in view of the fact that none of the three years' worth of ideological reports she has written have been accepted by party organizations, Pipi believes that there are essential differences between unfamiliar men and unfamiliar exceptional workers.
*T/N: I translated it literally, not sure what author means (maybe that men are wolves? lol)
After a while, Pipi suddenly asked, “Since you can’t see with your eyes, what are you relying on to drive?”
“When did I say that my eyes can not see?"
"This morning? I didn’t meet you this morning."
"Mr. Helan, although you may be well trained, a lie is still a lie.”
He softly made a 'hng' noise and then laughed silently, "Yes, I have a day blindness. Can’t see during the day, can see at night."
En — Pipi felt slightly surprised. She thought if a person can’t see anything during the day, it would feel somewhat painful or depressing. But she did not hear any loneliness in Helan Jingting’s voice, as if to say since he was born this way, there was no need to feel regretful.
“Day blindness? Is there such an illness in medical science?"
“It's just night blindness reversed.”
"Do you feel better?" He asked again.
She stared blankly out the window.
The snow stopped long ago. The night was very dark, but the sky was a dark purple. The clear and bright full moon was like a lemon slice floating in ice tea. The distant mountains were covered with white mist, and the snow-covered branches were shining with a coral-like fluorescence. The car was driving at an unexpected speed towards the mountains outside the city, a fast speed close to gliding. Guan Pipi was very familiar with the city, as if it was her second body. The center of the city is filled with restaurants, bars, dance halls, opera houses, stadiums, and various entertainment clubs. It is the center of desire. Crossing a dozen overpasses gets you to the edge of the city, where there are less lights, less vehicles, and everything quickly quiets down. Over there, there is drug trafficking, fighting, robbery, and all kinds of criminal transactions. It is full of terror.
They first traveled through an open field, gradually going into the undulating mountain road, the shadows of the trees pounced like beasts, as if choosing people to eat. Pipi knows Helan Jingting is taking her to the most expensive residential area in the city: Lushui Mountain Villa. There are more than fifty villas distributed in the warm southern foot of the big mountain — it is the nearest suburb to the city. On the mountain are hot springs, ancient pine trees, forests, and waterfalls. Down the mountain are subways, cafes, botanical gardens and golf courses. The so-called transition zone between man and so-called hiding in the city is better than hiding in the woods* all refer to here.
*T/N: the saying can be thought of like this.. if a criminal wants to hide, it would be better to hide in the crowded city rather than the woods because the criminal can blend in among the people
The car was climbing up the mountain road so fast that Pipi felt dizzy. After a while, they suddenly stopped. Helan Jingting jumped down and pulled the door open. When Pipi's feet just landed, she saw snow on the ground covered with clumps of swirling thatch.
Helan Jingting's house was actually an old-fashioned courtyard house. A red paint front door, the eaves of the roof are raised, the metal chimes are tinkling, the wind bells are slightly swinging, and the half-rolled bamboo curtains show a glimmer of light. Helan Jingting grasped Pipi with one hand, took out his key with the other, and opened an ancient copper lock.
With a 'zhi ya'(2) sound, the wooden door slowly opened, and there was a quiet courtyard inside. In the middle was a fake mountain with two plum blossoms planted on either side, half buried by the snow. Pipi looked up to see the sky was four corners*, and the roof was covered with withered grass. There was an unspoken chilliness and bleakness.
(2)吱呀 (zhī ya): creak
*T/N: four corners because she is seeing the sky through the opening of the square courtyard
Pipi looked around, having some doubt that she came to the wrong place. Entering the living room, she then thought that she didn’t come to the wrong place.
The living room furnishings were enough to prove Helan Jingting's identity as a collector.
Old-fashioned furniture with copper wrapped around the corners. On the red sandalwood table were . The ink paintings hanging on the wall were ancient and full of meaning. The clean oak floor was painted with glistening enamel. Only a set of red sofas by the window were incompatible with the style of the entire room, like imported goods just bought from the mall.
Pipi sat down on the sofa and discovered that in Helan Jingting’s hand, didn't know when it happened, but there was already an apple in it. He sat leisurely on the sofa opposite Pipi, across the rosewood tea table, gently peeling the apple with a jasper-encrusted fruit knife.
Still full of politeness.
Cutting and cutting, Helan Jingting’s hand suddenly shook, his finger was cut by the knife, and blood immediately poured out. It left a bright red mark on the apple.
He didn’t seem to feel the pain, and he continued to concentrate on cutting the apple, his posture very elegant. Pipi stared at his face and felt that his looks were very charming. It was a pity that wearing sunglasses in addition to having a cold face made him seem like both the president’s bodyguard and the killer of a crime syndicate.
The more the cut oozed the more it got deeper, gradually becoming the size of copper and iron.
“Your hand is bleeding,” Pipi said.
He looked at the apple and didn’t mind, using a knife to cut the bloody apple into four. The piece that was handed to her was bloody.
Maybe he didn’t notice it. Pipi didn’t want to be too picky, smiled, put the apple in her mouth, chewed it, and swallowed it.
She noticed that Helan Jingting had kept his head down, but was very attentive in observing her.
“Well, Mr. Helan, you are an outstanding party member,” Pipi said.
“Don’t mention it. Just call me Helan Jingting,” he corrected gently.
“Helan…Jingting. Can I start the interview now?”
He went to the kitchen and brought a dish and a set of Western-style knives and forks, silver-plated and shimmering.
Pipi groaned and asked, “Mr. Helan, have you not eaten yet?”
It was already nine o’clock.
"I haven’t," he said.
"What are you planning on eating at night?"
Helan Jingting thought about it and suddenly put down his fork and said, “Can I take you to a place first?”
"Fine, if you don’t mind, I’m going to visit your room. I want to know what a famous collector’s room will look like!” Pipi said with a smile.
“Do you feel better now? Don’t feel like throwing up?” Helan Jingting asked again.
"Completely better. It really is happening once in a while."
"Come with me."
He led her through a corridor and out the back door.
Actually, Helan Jingting's courtyard house was at the highest point of the mountain, only a few steps away from the summit. The courtyard wall goes up the mountain, and a large area of land including the mountain-top were all enclosed in it.
There was an octagonal pavilion on the top of the mountain and a huge stone platform beside it with a marble railing around it. Further down, there was a north slope cliff.
Going to the stone platform, Helan Jingting suddenly asked, “Do you like this place?"
"It’s ok, a bit gloomy." The wind blowing on the mountain caused Pipi to shiver. For some reason, she smelled a dangerous scent. She could not help but look at Helan Jingting, and her legs also could not help but start shaking.
Then she found that a pit was chiseled out in the middle of the stone platform.
Standing at the side of the pit, looking down, there was no water inside and it was not very deep. The wall of the pit was smooth marble, small on the top but very spacious at the bottom. The cold moonlight shone straight down and the bottom of the pit was very bright.
There was nothing inside, only a reclining seat.
Helan Jingting who was on the side still emitted the scent of deep mountain ferns.
Glancing at her faintly, he said softly, “Pipi, are you willing to accompany me tonight to bask in the moonlight?”
That voice was full of bewitching, and at some unknown time his hand had been placed onto her waist.
With a slight push, Pipi fell down.
(1)新华 (xīnhuá): the official Chinese news agency
(2)吱呀 (zhī ya): creak
yuejiin: ngl but Helan is hella creepy here lmao, and I can’t believe she ate that bloody apple