The capital city, early June.
The average temperature of the past years was around 19 to 30 degrees celsius and the weather should still be on the cool side. Since last year, however, the increase of the average temperature had been significant and the problem only grew more prominent this year. June had just started and the number of days with 35 degrees or higher was constantly breaking the historical records. The stifling heat made entire city feel like a sauna house.
The old man sat at his desk signing his name on a file before putting it to his right. He then picked up another internal reference from the left whose cover gave him a frown at the first glance. It read: analysis and monitoring report on the climate change of summer this year.
With his rank, climate issues usually did not come across his desk. But since it had, it only indicated how severe the problem was.
"Starting from last year, we have included the summer and winter climatological observations into our top priorities.
Based on data collected from various sources, the average temperature of summer this year will be four to six degrees higher than during the previous year… the Southeast, south of the Five Ridges, the Southwest, the Northwest, and most of the Central Plain will experience a two-month high-temperature weather of over 40 degrees. The period will be shorter in Mobei, Monan, and the Northeast, estimated to last around a month.
Based on the tendency of last year, we could not exclude the possibility of heavy rainfall in the area south of Yangtze River.
Detailed observation revealed that in the first five days of this month, the rise in the temperature was most prominent in densely populated large cities such as the capital city, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. The effect was slightly less observable in medium and small cities, as well towns and villages. The climate has become very pleasant in famous mountains and rivers such as Changbai, Mount Heng, Mount Hua, Dongting Lake, and Lake Tai.
As for Phoenix Mountain, Tianzhu, Mount Emei, and Tianshan, the temperature has remained constant with no abnormalities.
On a global scale, seven countries including the Big Sam, the Great Britannia, and Sicily had issued high temperature warning in succession, especially in southwestern Big Sam, where temperature in the states of Arizona, Nevada, and part of California has exceeded 40 degrees. This chain of events suggests that the disastrous high temperature is a global phenomenon.
At the current stage, we could only attribute it to the negative effect of the spiritual essence. We could even go as far as to assume that until the accelerating recovery ceases, such extreme weather will continue to be present…"
It was a long while when the old man put down the internal reference; words failed him.
Global warming did not start yesterday and the environmental protection and carbon emission reduction issues were fiercely argued about every year. However, with economic development as the topmost priority, no one was trying their best to do anything about it.
The situation had changed now. With the addition of this erratic element, the negative effect and its expendability were growing indefinitely.
Take the natural disaster as an example. High temperature led to drought, which in turn affected the crops. After that came the food shortage and reduction in cash crops, leading to the bankrupted farmers and resource starvation… no country would be able to stay aloof.
After a long pause, the old man finally picked up his pen and wrote down his official comment on the cover. "Content is of vital importance. Please inform Comrade XXX to hold a meeting and study the report. Make sure to be well-prepared for heatstroke prevention. P.S.: do not dally on the new medicines of Emei. Since tests have proven them to be safe and effective, it is time to release them onto the market!"
Finishing those lines, he leaned back into his chair and murmured to himself, "With everything that is going on, it's time to go out and meet someone."
A type of creature existed in this world that was cheerful, holding maledictions against the whole world, bemoaning the state of the universe and pitying the fate of mankind, groundlessly vicious, and with fearless internationalism spirit and regional discrimination at the same time.
They were expert in enjoying themselves in adversity, self-mocking, vying with one another, bragging on just about anything, and concluding everything with a big "LOL".
This life form was known as netizens.
Since the beginning of this summer, almost all TV channels, websites, mobile phone searches, and office chitchats had been dominated by one topic: it was so hot!
The heat last year was nothing compared to this!
Xidu: Five minutes of outdoor activities earned you two hours worth of sweating.
Chang'an 1 : Don't want to talk; let me turn around so that my other size is getting grilled as well.
Yangtze River Delta: We finally received the "central heating" we longed for.
Hill City: 2 Single dogs 3 had just turned into hotdogs.
Goat City 4 : We don't deal with cities 35 degrees or below—you're not well cooked!
Dongjing 5 : Well, don't even get me started...
All in all, probably because of what had been happening in the past few years, the netizens were more immune to extremely hot days. The temperature might begin to rise earlier this year, but it was nothing worth fussing about.
In this internet era, anything could turn into a buzz. Users of all platforms were posting images every minute, making the whole thing into a peculiar carnival.
Shengtian, Wenhua 6 Road.
The blazing sun hung high above, lashing out its heat at everything down below. Not a single trace of moisture could be detected in the air, which was so dry that it felt like dust suspending on the streets, between buildings, inside and out of the vehicles, as well as in everyone's mouth and nostrils.
"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…"
The happy tune rang through the air, accompanied by a fine mist of water, which landed on the ground, briefly alleviating the ferocious dryness. The sprinkler slowly drove by, revealing two young, tall figures from behind.
They were both teenagers and still had the innocent look of the youth, yet both were dressed in wide Taoist robes and the shoes of ten directions. The dress code was rather out of the place, which made them quite the head-turner, but neither of them seemed bothered, apparently having grown very used to it.
"34 degrees tomorrow. Good God! That's even worse than today!
"Why, there are new entries in New Classics of Mountains and Rivers… from Dongting River again? Have these aquatic animals on drugs or something?!
"Haha! Take a look at this. Look!" The younger one flipped through his phone as they walked and suddenly pushed it in front of his companion's nose, laughing. "Even the cactus is not straight anymore!"
His friend glanced at the screen and saw an image of a withered and bent cactus with a caption: heat wave arrived at Arizona, cactuses are melting!
"It seems the other countries are hit harder than we are. I wonder how are things looking over there. I'd really like to go have a look," said the companion.
"That's none of our business. Isn't everything around us worrying enough? Leave the other countries to their own people. Why, word around is that our temple is selecting people to exchange with other temples. Do you think you'll be picked?" asked the younger one.
"I'll do what I can and leave everything else to fate."
Despite his young age, his companion talked like a mature man.
"I don't know about you, but your girl is definitely going. Tsk, tsk. She's the first in the monthly exam. That's more than we can ever hope for."
The other one frowned slightly at this remark, but did not make any comment. He only reminded his younger friend, "We're almost there. You'd better pull your collar back up."
"Ah, I almost forgot!"
The little priest jumped at the thought and tidied up his disheveled robe. The Inspector would not hesitate to discipline him had he found his robe in this state. The younger one then asked curiously, "Why, don't you feel warm, with your robe all tied up?"
"So long as you keep calm, you don't feel the heat!"
His impeccable companion was all neatly dressed and walked in an unhurried pace; he darted a scornful look at his younger friend.
These two were none other than the intern disciples of Taiqing Palace, Lin Junlong and Peng Sheng.
One year apart in their ages, they were both from disadvantaged families and roommates in Taiqing, so it did not take long for the two to become good friends. Lin Junlong was a sensitive boy that could sometimes go to extremes, whereas Peng Sheng was more of an extrovert and good with people, rendering their personalities quite complementary to one another.
After their morning classes this day, the two went out shopping during their lunch break and were now heading back to the temple.
During the three months they had stayed in Taiqing Palace, they were trained in basic Qi-nourishing methods and body-enhancing programs everyday. There was now a significant improvement in both their physical strength and their spiritual outlook.
Walking fast, they arrived outside the temple in a short while. They hurried to the gate in strides and bowed at the priest guarding outside. "Priest Wu!"
"You're back. Go inside, then. You don't want to be late for your classes," replied the priest amiably.
The two hurried inside. They put down their things in their room and went to the other courtyard for their physical training. After that was dinner and evening class.
The content of the morning class was usually fixed, devoted to studying the classics. The evening class was much more flexible. Sometimes it was on anecdotes of the Taoist community, other times it could be a Q&A session, where the pupils would pose questions and the priest on duty would answer.
It was Priestess Qinghui's shift today. After class, she reminded the students, "You have probably heard that five students are going to be selected to participate in an exchange program with talented disciples of other temples. It should not worry you, for the names will be announced tomorrow. Those picked mustn't be conceited and those who did not get selected should not be discouraged. There will be plenty opportunities for you all in the future. Oh, by the way…"
She paused and took out a sack. "It has been very hot lately. As your young age renders you more vulnerable to such weather, the temple has prepared some summer-heat relieving medicine for you. Each person will have two boxes. Please come to me in turn."
With that, the twenty-three little ones rose to their feet and lined up to take the medicine.
Lin Junlong received his share and saw that they were two boxes of ageratum tea manufactured by Emei Pharmaceuticals. Each box contained ten packets and the ingredients were ageratum, peppermint, lophatherum gracile, and liquorice. Its main curative effect was to dispel the heat-induced dampness and turbid pathogenic factor, as well as to relieve dizziness, tightness of chest, and nausea.
Mix the medicine with boiling water, lid the container for ten minutes, and finish the liquid in one day.
They had been told about Emei Pharmaceuticals during classes on it being a pharmaceutical factory of their own. The so-called "of their own" meant, well, that it was one of their own. It was one of those things that could only be understood but not described.
After the evening class was the free period.
Lin Junlong put away the medicine, fetched some books from his room, and went to the female dormitory. The male dormitory was on the east wing and the female one on the west; between the two were several courtyards. The temple had set strict visitation rules. No unauthorized entry was allowed.
He said to Auntie Moderator... scratch that, to the priestess on duty, "Priestess Jinghui, I would like to see He He, please."
"Please wait here!"
Jinghui went in and a moment later, a girl ran out. It was none other than He He herself.
She seemed to be washing her hair just then. Her dripping long hair hung loosely over her shoulders, dampening her clothes. Lin Junlong flushed with embarrassment, "Um, sorry. I didn't know you were washing your hair."
"That's ok. Have you bought the books?" He He asked, blinking her eyes.
"I have. There are four."
He passed her the books and the girl checked the names. They were "The Properties and Usage of Four Hundred Medicine Herbs", "Recipes in Rhymes", "Learning Pulse", and "Golden Mirror of Medicine".
"Thank you, Brother Lin! How much are they? I'll pay you back." The girl was delighted.
"You don't have to. They weren't expensive at all."
Lin Junlong stopped her hastily, then said after some hesitation, "Xiao He, you're still very young. Isn't it a little too early to read all these? The priests are teaching us meridians and acupuncture points. What we learn in classes is more than enough."
"This won't affect my classes. I just want to have a look." He He smiled and waved at him. "If there's nothing else, I'm going back in. Thank you!"
Lin Junlong watched the little figure running back into the dormitory and all of a sudden, he felt as if… as if he was looking into the moon hanging high up in the sky.
Of the twenty-three disciples of Taiqing, they were the only two from Bai Town. Three months were long enough for them to form little groups and recognize their enemies. As eccentric as Lin Junlong was, he still had a couple of friends. He He, however, was known to be the most unsociable one.
She was always on her own and as her fellow-townsman, Lin Junlong was the only one that she would engage in a brief conversation.TL/N: ancient name for Xi'an TL/N: an alternative name for Chongqing ED/N: A mocking way of calling guys w/o a girlfriend, probably particularly those whose life without a gf equals their age... TL/N: an alternative name for Guangzhou TL/N: ancient name for Luoyang TL/N: meaning "culture"