"Thanks. Are there any other houses around here that have surveillance footage? I don't need those inside, just the outside footage will do."
"I do know a few, but to get their footage, you will probably have to spend some money." Yue Qing was very clear on the characters of people around these parts, especially a certain few that would not agree to help unless they benefited. Even if the surveillance footage had no value to them, they still would not give it out for free.
"This is no problem at all. It will be great as long as I can get it."
"Sure, since you are not short of cash. Don't come with me; if those people find out you are the one asking for it, the amount they ask for will surely skyrocket."
Yue Qing temporary closed his shop, since he did not have much business in the daytime anyway. He let Fang Zhao rest in the shop as he went to look for a few familiar faces in the neighborhood for their surveillance footage. None of them were willing to give it up, but with a reasonable price, there was no issue at all.
An hour later, Yue Qing handed over seven copies of surveillance footage from last May over to Fang Zhao.
"There were a few that used cloud storage rather than local storage. As they did not pay for it, the records are only up to 6 months ago and they no longer have last year's footage. One copy is 500. 3500 will do, there is no need to pay me any extra." These prices had still gone through Yue Qing's bargaining. These people were just too much. Outdated footage that had nothing to do with them, yet they still asked for such a high price.
Fang Zhao had just transferred the money over to Yue Qing when Yue Qing received a call from from an old acquaintance from the black street.
"Hey, Old Yue, I heard you are looking for last year's recordings? Why didn't you find me? I have quite a number of copies here!"
The person who contacted Yue Qing was a teenager. Recently, he had been doing decently in the black street and had a lot of information. He received news from the people that Yue Qing had looked for and knew about this, so he hurriedly contacted Yue Qing at the same time and enticed Yue Qing with low prices and a number of copies.
Yue Qing glanced at Fang Zhao and saw him nodding his head, so he replied, "How many copies do you have? I want to inspect the goods first."
"You don't trust me? Could my goods be fake?!"
"It's unlikely to be fake; you don't have the guts. But all the recordings you have might not necessarily be of my vicinity."
"...It's not considered too far, so how about this: I shall send it to you to view first. As you go through them, you can pay me, all right? I believe in Old Yue's character, haha."
Very quickly, the teenager sent Yue Qing a few copies of videos. They were all footage of the whole of last May. When Yue Qing was collecting the footage, he had gotten the entirety of May. Therefore, when the other party collected this footage from others, he'd taken the entirety of May as well.
"Pfft, of the eight copies, only three are in my vicinity. The other five, three of them are 100 meters away from my shop, and the other two are of another street," Yue Qing told the other guy.
"That's why I told you to pay as you watched!" The teenager did not even feel sorry. After all, he had already sent the videos over. If he could earn a little extra, then why not. "The neighboring street isn't considered that far away, I don't know what you are looking for. Did you lose something? Maybe these few can give you some clues? Boss Yue, you have already received them. At most, I will accept a little less for the footage that is further away. That's okay, right?
Yue Qing glanced at Fang Zhao, obtained his approval, and thus said, "The three nearby ones are the same as everyone else, 500 for a copy. The other three from the same street will be 100 each. I will give you 50 for the two copies combined from the neighboring street."
The other party went silent for two seconds, probably calculating the amount. "So little? Give me 2000 to make it a round figure."
Yue Qing looked at Fang Zhao once again. He knew that Fang Zhao did not care about these miniscule amounts. However, he could not let that brat think that he was easy to fool. He scolded and swore for a bit before agreeing.
The teenager was happy to receive the money. Not even the least bit bothered by Yue Qing's tirade, he happily ended the call.
Yue Qing took all the videos he got and marked them in case Fang Zhao was not familiar with the positions the footage had been taken from. After all, Fang Zhao had not lived here for long and he'd seldom come out.
Having gotten the videos, and after the express deliveries from Muzhou arrived, Fang Zhao called over Ai Wan, who was having a nap in his drug store, and the three of them had a meal together. Ai Wan also gave a copy of the surveillance footage from his store to Fang Zhao.
After leaving the black street, Fang Zhao went back to his own apartment. He had bought fifteen copies of footage and received two free copies from Yue Qing and Ai Wan. Fang Zhao loaded all the videos onto one screen and adjusted till it was the night before his rebirth. Following that, he simultaneously fast-forwarded them all.
Every recording was very clear, and the sounds were distinct. However, Fang Zhao chose to mute them, instead staring at the screen, observing any possible changes.
Fang Zhao paid extra attention to the footage of Yue Qing's shop and the other ten copies that were close by. Fang Zhao saw a dejected silhouette walking over. Just from the video, he could see the despair and lifelessness exuding from his body.
That was the night before Fang Zhao was reborn. The scene was after the original owner of the body had bought medicine from Ai Wan's drug store. Indeed there had been a number of people advising him against it, including Ai Wan and Yue Qing and a few other old people. However the body's original owner did not seem to be listening, his eyeballs not even moving, as if he was a wooden puppet. He only saw the curly-haired dog caked from head to toe in mud and dirt. He stopped there for a while and lifted up the curly-haired dog and brought it home. Once he entered the building, he was out of view. Luckily, there was a copy taken from the opposite block, which showed the shops below as well as the windows of the apartments on top.
Fang Zhao watched as the lights in the window above Yue Qing's shop were extinguished. After that, nothing unusual happened. At night, the black street was lively; many people came and went. Other than the few teenagers who made a wager inside Yue Qing's shop, it seemed that no one else paid attention to a man that did not have much presence.
Fang Zhao continued waiting, watching the images from the surveillance footage.
From 1 a.m. to 2 a.m.... 3 a.m.... 4 a.m....
The bustle of the black street at night gradually died down. There were less people on the street and some of the shops closed.
Close to 7 a.m., the screen flashed.
The flash was fast, lasting just a second, but this appeared in all 17 copies of the surveillance footage!
After that, until daybreak, and until he was reborn and opened the windows to look outside, nothing else unusual happened.
Was it an electrical malfunction? Or was it something else?
Fang Zhao rewinded all the copies back to around seven, and this time, he paid close attention to the time. At 6:55:32 a.m., the images on the screen flashed.
The flash was strongest in the footage from Yue Qing's shop. In that one second, nothing could be seen in the image, it was as if the system had malfunctioned for that second. As for the footage furthest away, although there was still a flash, and it was still possible to see a little. It seemed that the further away the footage was, the less obvious the situation was.
In the images from further away, from another block, and from the other street, it was little more than a flicker in the footage.
Comparing this, Fang Zhao started to ponder.
Fang Zhao searched for that day's morning news broadcast and for anyone who livestreamed near the black street. Those even a little outside the black street did not seem to have experienced the flash.
This circumstances only appeared in the black street. The closer the place was to his, the more obvious that point.
Fang Zhao enlarged the video and focused on the copy that could see his apartment window. Luckily the distance was not that far, and Fang Zhao could still see a little. He set the it to slow motion and watched attentively.
At 6:55:32 a.m., the screen lit up. At the same time, in the distorted image of the video, Fang Zhao saw a bright flash in the apartment through the window.
The quietest period in the black street was 7 a.m. The people who worked in the day had not gotten up yet, and those that worked the night shift had just gone to bed. Not a single person was in the black street, and nobody would have understood the not-so-obvious anomaly that had just occurred. Even if someone had the surveillance footage and saw the flash, they would have probably thought it was an electrical malfunction or someone playing with a flashlight.
Fang Zhao played the video in slow motion 10 more times before lying back in his chair, trying to make sense of it all.
It was evident that the anomaly in the surveillance footage had something to do with what had happened inside the apartment. What was that flash? Did it have something to do with his rebirth?
And Curly Hair, who was also in the room—had something happened to his body too?
Extending his hand and clenching his fist, Fang Zhao felt power coursing through every cell in his body.
At the start, when he'd been training in the company, he had realized that this body seemed to contain even more strength. He had originally thought that it was just the body, but now he had doubts.
Having experienced the end of days, man's physicality had increased. However, due to technological advancements, on many occasions, labor and physical strength were no longer needed. Other than a few professions that required physical strength, most people no longer relied on their physical bodies, so there was a phenomenon of physical degeneration.
The advancements in technology, alongside breakthroughs and genetic technology, resulted in many diseases that were hidden in genes being removed when a person was still an infant. The lifespans of humans kept increasing, and the number of life-threatening illnesses decreased. Exercise and physical training also become a pastime. The tempo of city life made less people bother about their physical strength. As long as one could use their brains to solve problems, they did not need muscles.
Fang Zhao knew that in this body, other than the core being replaced by his own, the body had also been strengthened. As for Curly Hair, Fang Zhao did not know what had happened within his body, but the dog had definitely become stronger too. On the pastures, he would run much more than the other dogs, but he wouldn't seem tired at all.
Oh, right. Now, Curly Hair had learnt to conceal his strength. He would now act like the other dogs, lying on the ground, panting with his tongue out, as if he was all tired out from running.
Although it seemed like a lot of clues, in actual fact, there were very little. Fang Zhao still could not find the source that had caused his change. Was it his mysterious rebirth that had caused the anomaly, or had that anomaly caused his rebirth? Had Curly Hair been dragged into this, or had he been the source?
Fang Zhao drummed his fingers on his forehead. Since he could not determine the source he, would set it aside temporarily. When he had more clues, then he would decide. After all, these changes had all been beneficial, both for him and Curly Hair.