Dominion’s End Volume 1: Raining Stars at World’s End
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 4: I am Guan Weijun—translated by Elkin
When I next opened my eyes, there was only one thought in my mind.
Jiang Shuyu isn’t just a healthy young lad. He has to be an athletic champion. No, maybe he is basically immortal?
By the bed, Shujun burst into tears, once again crying so hard that there wasn’t a trace of the pretty girl left. Yet the only thought in my mind was, Just how tough is Jiang Shuyu? This is simply unreal!
To begin with, even though he had been in a coma after being knocked on the head by a tile, he was able to last through the moment of judgment with a wasted body like that. Next, even though he hadn’t had time to recover, he fought a life-and-death match with the nurse, the nurse’s boyfriend, and Lin-bó, suffered ten stab wounds to the shoulder, and lasted four days with an infected wound before he finally got antibiotics.
And he still isn’t dead yet?
In my previous life, I’d seen no small number of people dying within the span of a few days just from an accidental cut on their hand getting infected!
Before I could even get a chance to speak to Shujun, she dashed out like a lunatic, screaming, “Èrgē’s awake! Èrgē’s awake!”
What followed was pretty much identical to my first day in this world, in that a heap of people rushed in and stared at me fixedly.
Jiang Shutian reached out, as though meaning to pat my shoulder, but halfway through the motion, he pulled his hand back before he actually patted me. My guess was that he was worried that if he even so much as touched me, his younger brother’s shoulder would probably shatter.
I’d also just realized my hand looked like a shriveled stick, and it didn’t seem like I could take another beating. I really had to take better care of this body.
“Shuyu, you’ve done very well.” The first thing Jiang Shutian did was praise me, but his expression immediately darkened as he scolded me, “But you’re pushing yourself too hard! You almost—”
He stopped there, unwilling to finish the sentence.
I smiled a little. There were a thousand things I wanted to say, to the point where I could literally grab my big brother and little sister and burst into tears. But I absolutely had to say something that totally ruined the mood.
“Dàgē, I need the bathroom…”
Jiang Shutian started, and then burst into laughter. “All right, Dàgē will take you there.”
I balked, but just as I was about to protest, I gave up. In any case, there was no way I could do my business by myself in my current condition, and besides, having anyone other than Dàgē take me to the bathroom didn’t seem any better.
Dàgē picked me up in a princess carry, causing a million conflicting feelings to rise in my heart. When I had been a woman, I’d never gotten this kind of treatment. Instead, it was only when I’d turned into a man that I got my first “princess carry.” This was both comical and tragic at the same time.
When I was set on the toilet, I stared fixedly at Jiang Shutian. He looked back at me and asked in a puzzled manner, “Is there something wrong? Didn’t you need the toilet?”
I replied honestly, “Dàgē, please leave. If you’re around, I can’t go.”
Jiang Shutian laughed. “What do you mean, you can’t go? Didn’t the nurse watch you go before?” There, he suddenly stopped, and his tone changed completely as he demanded with a furious undertone, “Don’t tell me she was just letting you go by yourself?”
“No, she was very professional.”
Although I hated the nurse’s and her boyfriend’s guts, I wasn’t shallow enough to badmouth someone who was so dead that she was chow in someone else’s belly. As a nurse, she really had been very professional and stuck to her job.
It was just that Dàgē and the nurse weren’t the same. Many people would be able to pee in front of a nurse. But would you dare to pee in front of a stern, invincible general wielding a huge sword? I don’t know about you, but anyway, I couldn’t. I could feel chills coming from down there!
What’s more, this general was really hot! I had been a woman until just a few days back, dammit, and even though a woman who survived through the apocalypse for ten years was little different from a man, no way was I peeing in front of a hot guy. There should be a limit on how thick-skinned I had to be!
“Take your time. There’s no rush.” Dàgē sat on the rim of the bathtub, speaking in an unhappy tone. “The way you are now, I’m worried you’ll collapse after just one visit to the bathroom!”
This worry wasn’t baseless. At the moment, I was skeletal to the point of being like a withered branch, so dry that even the smallest flame would set me alight. So I could only give up the notion of making Dàgē leave. I tried not to look at him—Dàgē, why do you look so imposing even when seated on top of a bathtub, one leg crossed over the other?! And if you have to cross your legs, don’t do it like those magazine models!
Using the shortest possible time, I openly relieved myself of my biological needs. Thankfully, it was only a pee pee. If it was a poo poo, then I think I simply wouldn’t be able to do it, no matter how hard I tried…
Within five days, I absolutely had to recover to the point where I could go to the bathroom by myself. Otherwise, I’d definitely become constipated. I wonder if we bought some laxatives when we were buying out the pharmacy?
Dàgē suddenly gave a faint smile and said as he shook his head, “What are you thinking about? You’ve always thought of the most random things, and even Shujun says your expressions are more interesting than any storybook.”
I started, once again reminded of how similar I was to Jiang Shuyu.
I was carried back to the bed. Unable to fall asleep but unable to do anything else by myself, I could only gaze around at my surroundings. As I did, I discovered that I was in a completely new room, or at least in neither the room I’d almost died in nor my own room—although that was probably because after three of us had shoved everything against the door, the place had become a complete mess.
All four walls were covered in lavender wallpaper, so this was probably Shujun’s room. But I was still resting on the same hospital bed, so it had probably been moved over from my original room. It was true that it was much more convenient to have someone as badly injured as I was lying on a hospital bed.
At least it makes drinking chicken soup much easier… but why is there still chicken soup? I racked my brains but couldn’t think of an answer. There was no electricity whatsoever, so you couldn’t use a freezer. Even if you had bought some chicken beforehand, wouldn’t it have rotted by now?
“They’re vacuum packed.” Junjun held onto a bowl, feeding me as she explained with an innocent expression. “When we were buying things at the supermarket, I took lots of ingredient packs for chicken soup and chicken stock. I was thinking that no matter what happened, I could at least continue to feed it to you so you could get better quicker.”
I have to hand it to you, girl!
After ten years of the apocalypse, this is the first time I’ve had so much chicken soup that I’ve become scared of the stuff!
“Well done, Shujun,” Jiang Shutian ruffled Mèimei’s hair.
Shujun gave a brilliant smile—she probably very rarely got praised by the stern and taciturn Dàgē.
“Dàgē, why’d you only get back now?” I was genuinely curious. If he’d listened to me from the beginning, he should have been home ages ago. But if he hadn’t gotten on a flight back at all, he wouldn’t be here either.
After the twenty-first, things like planes would still be able to take off for a short period of time, but there was no way any ordinary person could get on one of those, unless Dàgē was someone even more impressive than I thought…
“Don’t stop. Keep eating. I’ll tell you what happened.”
I nodded and frowned, letting Shujun continue to feed me chicken soup porridge.
“After I promised you I’d be back, I immediately booked tickets. But getting plane tickets so last-minute wasn’t easy, so the flight I caught would only arrive at around six in the evening of the twentieth. By then, the fog had already started forming, so the plane refused to land.”
Here, anger seeped into his voice as he continued, “The announcement said that they’d have to wait until the fog dissipated before landing. I called over a flight attendant to say that the fog would only get thicker and thicker, but they refused to listen. It was only at eight o’clock, when the plane was almost out of fuel, that those idiots were finally forced to land. By then, the fog was so thick you couldn’t see the runway, and the plane almost crashed.”
I see. My heart hammered furiously. Thank god they didn’t end up crashing.
Dàgē looked at me, saying, “You said you needed antibiotics and guns. We couldn’t bring those onto the plane, so I only acquired them after I was back. By then, the fog was so thick that everyone started realizing something was wrong. I couldn’t find my usual contacts, so it took quite a while before I got a hold of those things.”
So it was my fault! But the antibiotics saved my life, so it is really hard to say whether it was a good thing or bad thing—wait, if Dàgē had been home to start with, I wouldn’t have needed antibiotics in the first place!
I looked closely at Dàgē. Previously, he had been in casual wear most of the time he was home, and he would usually wear a suit when heading out. But now, he was dressed completely differently: he was in camouflage fatigues and had guns in holsters strapped to his sides and back. He was wearing military boots and even had a knife inserted in each.
A Dàgē like this could knock the brains out of the nurse using just his fist, and with a baseball bat, he’d be able to finish off the nurse’s boyfriend and Lin-bó as well. He wouldn’t even need to use a gun!
I almost dug my own grave this time—Dàgē is much more critical than any gun or antibiotic out there!
Dàgē handed me a napkin, wanting me to wipe my mouth, but seeing as I was struggling to lift my hand, he simply wiped off the grease at the side of my mouth himself.
He looked down at my hand, continuing in a voice heavy with self-criticism, “It’s all because I was too careless. By the time we completed the transactions, the fog was so thick we couldn’t see the road. And worse, when we touched that fog, our skin would start stinging. At the time, I wasn’t sure if the fog was poisonous, and we were still in the city. Normally, it would take a little over an hour to get home by car, but because we couldn’t see the road, it would probably have taken over three hours. And if the fog was poisonous, we wouldn’t be able to last it out until we got home.”
I nodded. Before the moment of judgment, the black fog was quite weak—it’d just sting a little.
“So I headed back to think of a way to get some gas masks and oxygen tanks,” Dàgē said calmly, “and those two were even harder to get a hold of.”
Of course. Everyone had realized by that point that the fog was abnormal, so of course everyone would want to keep their gas masks and oxygen tanks to themselves. Therefore, it was only to be expected that no one would be willing to sell them off.
“When I was in a standoff with the other party, something unexpected happened. Someone wanted to take the goods by force and started shooting, and with that, it broke out into a gunfight.”
Beside me, Shujun gasped, almost shoving the porridge right up my nose.
Shutian frowned, reminding her, “Junjun, be careful. Don’t make your Èrgē choke. He can’t take any more shocks to his system.”
“Sorry!” Shujun looked at me apologetically and gently wiped the porridge from my nose with a napkin.
I hastily reassured her. “No way am I that weak. Choking’s not that big of a deal, and besides, that gunfight was enough to scare the wits out of me, let alone Junjun.”
Jiang Shutian said discontentedly, “There’s a limit to how much you should spoil Shujun. Good thing she’s a sensible girl. Otherwise, you’d have spoiled her rotten.”
Huh? “I” spoiled Mèimei? Isn’t it you who’s spoiling your younger siblings rotten?
Seeing my expression, Jiang Shutian hesitated, but still asked in the end, “Shuyu, you still don’t remember anything?”
“Only a few scenes, not many, and nothing to link them together,” I replied honestly, but I wasn’t sure if those scenes were what “I” remembered, or simply the memories residing in Jiang Shuyu’s body.
However, Jiang Shutian relaxed a little at that, and said in a consoling tone, “The fact that you remember something means you’re recovering. It shouldn’t be long before you remember everything, so don’t rush yourself.”
I remained silent. If I really did remember everything, then who would that make me?
“And what happened after the gunfight?” I really didn’t want to think about that question. The more I thought about it, the more confused I became, so I changed the subject.
“I didn’t want to participate in the gunfight. But I absolutely had to get a hold of the gas masks and oxygen tanks, so I spent more time than I wanted there.”
Jiang Shutian didn’t elaborate on how he had managed to get the gas masks and oxygen tanks in the end, nor did I ask. As for Shujun, she probably didn’t even realize.
“By the time we got back to the car, it was already past midnight.”
He spoke calmly before pausing there. But everyone knew what followed: after midnight, the moment of judgment descended, so there was no way he was making it back home.
“The next morning, I was the first to wake up. The others also woke up one by one, but there were two in the team who didn’t seem right…” Jiang Shutian hesitated, then, seeing our expressions, confessed, “We killed them.”
“Dàgē, how many people did you bring?” I asked curiously.
“Including myself, a total of eight.”
Only two out of eight turned into aberrants—that was a really low ratio. It really goes to show how strong these people are!
“Shuyu, in your dreams, how many people turned into monsters?”
“Half.” I lifted my head and said with absolute seriousness, “Dàgē, half of humanity turns into aberrants, and animals and plants turn, too.”
This was the apocalypse not just of humanity, but of all living things on Earth.
Unexpectedly, Jiang Shutian didn’t look too shocked. Then again, when I thought about it, in the past four days of his journey home—it was only a little more than an hour by car, but after the end of the world, a little more than an hour was more than enough to kill a person a hundred times over—there must have been an unthinkable number of dangers lying in wait along the way.
“The roads in the city were packed with cars. When the black fog fell, many people wanted to run away. The roads were crammed, so there was no way we could drive out of the city. We gave up on the car and ended up walking to the edge of the city where we looked for another car to drive. On the way, we encountered quite a lot of… aberrants.” Dàgē chose to use the same descriptor as me this time. “That delayed us some more, so we came back late. Sorry.”
He described it like it was nothing, but both Shujun and I were stunned. Three aberrants almost killed us, we who were safely tucked away at home and prepared for every possible contingency, whereas Dàgē and his lot had been out in the open, walking along roads filled with aberrants!
Then again, Dàgē had guns, whereas I only had a baseball bat. Dàgē had companions who were veterans at fighting, whereas I only had Mèimei, Uncle, and Auntie—I tried to reassure myself that it wasn’t because I was so useless that even though I’d traveled across universes, I was still worse off than the original inhabitants of the world.
“What’re you thinking about?” Dàgē ruffled my hair, saying, “Don’t think too much. What you need most right now is rest. Dàgē will take of everything, so don’t worry.”
“Uncle is okay?” I suddenly remembered. Uncle was injured—he couldn’t have gotten infected, could he?
Dàgē laughed. “He’s fine. Auntie’s taking care of him. Uncle’s doing much better than you are.”
Hearing that, I relaxed, and chatted peacefully with Mèimei until I drifted off at some point in the conversation.
During the next few days, I lived like a pig. Eat, sleep, eat, sleep—I didn’t even take a single step out of Shujun’s room. As for Shujun, doting on her was the right course after all—she spent every day taking care of me, attending to my every need. With just one meaningful look from me, she could tell whether I was hungry, thirsty, or needed the bathroom.
Junjun, my beautiful, cute, understanding caretaker who doesn’t expect anything from me! If I was a man, I’d marry you for sure!
Wait, I really am a man—but your brother. Disappointment…
“What are you thinking about again? Gē, what kind of expression is that!” Shujun couldn’t stop laughing.
I said pitifully, “I was thinking that, because I’m your brother, I can’t make you my wife. Junjun, tell me, do you think I could actually be adopted?”
Shujun rolled her eyes, remarking, “With your looks, especially your eyes that are almost identical to mine, if we’re not siblings, then you’ve got to be my dad!”
I wailed, “No, it’s hopeless!”
“What’s hopeless?” Dàgē just happened to walk in at this point, and his expression darkened, obviously not amused by those words.
I quickly explained, “I was saying me and Junjun are real siblings, so it’s hopeless. I can’t marry her.”
At that, Jiang Shutian’s expression lightened a little, and he grumbled, “Honestly, you’ve been kicking up a fuss about how you want to marry your sister ever since you were little. Be careful; she may really end up not being able to marry because of your fussing.”
My expression changed, and Shujun quickly asked, “Èrgē, what’s the matter? Are you hurting somewhere?”
I forced a smile and changed the subject. “I’m fine. It’s just, can I leave the room for a stroll? It’s been really dull cooped up in this room.”
Dàgē wavered for a moment, but under the beseeching gazes of Shujun and me, he ended up agreeing to my request. “All right, but you need to sit in the wheelchair. Here, I’ll carry you over.”
I nodded obediently, letting Dàgē carry me to the wheelchair and push me out of the room.
Guan Weijun, Jiang Shuyu—these two people were sharing more and more similarities. As to what the truth was, I didn’t dare to think about it.
In the living room, four people were lounging lazily on the sofas, including one who was reading. That was someone I’d seen before, Dàgē’s secretary, Zheng Xing.
If he is a secretary, then I am a man… Ahem, I forgot again that I am a man.
The other three were unfamiliar faces. Also, Ceng Yunqian wasn’t anywhere to be seen.
But they all had one thing in common. They were dressed in camouflage combat gear and armed with guns and knives.
I quietly asked, “Dàgē, you don’t run a design company, do you?”
Jiang Shutian paused for a moment before saying, “No, I run a mercenary troop for hire.” He stopped, then added, “You knew that, originally. That lie was only for Shujun, Uncle, and Auntie.”
This made Shujun so unhappy she started pouting.
“Sitting on the armchair is Xiao Sha. The blond guy is Cain. The girl’s Lily.” Jiang Shutian said a little awkwardly, “You’ve seen them in the past.”
Of the four, Xiao Sha looked to be the youngest, possibly only in his early twenties. But he couldn’t be that young. Those eyes of his were too old for that. He was quite a cold guy. When Dàgē introduced him, he just twitched the corner of his mouth as a greeting.
The blond Cain was a foreigner and seemed much more expressive. When it was his turn for introductions, he didn’t just wave but even smiled brightly. Those white teeth of his almost blinded me. He was your stereotypical hot foreigner.
The girl’s Lily… This is a little ambiguous!1 For a moment, I almost doubted Dàgē’s Chinese.
The woman was your typical fighter type—bronzed skin over toned muscle—and she even had pronounced biceps on her arms. She looked much sturdier that I did, who had evolved from a withered twig to a thin stick. Even so, she didn’t look excessively muscular, just very fit and sensual.
“Well, you look like you’ve finally gotten a little more flesh on those bones of yours.” Cain walked over and pinched my arm, saying, “But you’re still skinny as hell, though better than when I first saw you. You looked like a mummy at the time, and that almost drove Boss nuts.”
“What do you mean, a mummy?!” Jiang Shutian snapped, “My brother’s alive and well!”
Lily interjected from one side, “That’s right, just a few more days, and he’ll be back to being that handsome boy again. Remember to let Jiějie give you a smooch then!”
I was a little surprised. This Lily was obviously speaking up to smooth things over. I didn’t expect someone who looked like a warrior queen to have such an unqueenly character.
“Then can I choose to give Junjun a few kisses?” Cain said with a grin.
“No!” I exclaimed.
“Sis-con,” harrumphed Xiao Sha to the side.
Why does that feel like a stab to my chest? I’m no sis-con. I like men—wait! Doesn’t it seem worse to like men now?
Holy shit! The whole sexual orientation thing finally struck me. Previously, I was so preoccupied with the apocalypse and how to survive, that things like sexual orientation took the back seat. Getting fed and staying warm took priority over lewd thoughts!
But now I had Dàgē, no worries about my health, a whole basement full of supplies, and no need to fret about shelter. So I had leisure for the whole issue about my sexual preferences to hit me.
Even though I have a man’s body, I have the soul of a woman. Just what kind of partner am I supposed to find? Don’t tell me I have to be gay? And with my womanly tendencies, I’d probably end up on the bottom…
No! Absolutely not! I’d seen too many women getting raped in my previous life. At the beginning of the apocalypse, women were even begging strong men to sleep with them in exchange for supplies in order to survive. It was so humiliating you’d almost rather die.
Now that I’ve finally gotten a chance to start over, no one is going to top me, be it a guy or a girl!
Mind made up, I looked up resolutely, only to see everyone staring at me.
The big brother looked dismayed.
The little sister was stifling her laughter as she said, “Èrgē, you’re daydreaming again.”
I flushed red, spinning my wheelchair so my back was to everyone, and blurted the first excuse that came to mind. “Ineedabath, bye.”
“Are you planning to bathe or kill yourself?” Dàgē asked, disgruntled. “Even standing up is difficult for you, much less bathing. I’ll help you wash up, and besides, I need a shower too. I smell too strongly, which isn’t suitable for securing more supplies outside.”
“I was just looking for an excuse to escape.” I had no choice but to confess, “I don’t need a bath. And besides, water’s very precious now. How can I use it for a bath?”
Dàgē said blandly, “Don’t worry, just don’t waste too much. There are quite a few water tanks close by, while there aren’t many of us.”
I suddenly remembered that this was the suburbs. Almost all the places around here were standalone houses, many of which had water tanks on their roofs. However, you just had to have one aberrant in the household, and the likelihood was slim that anyone would survive.
Although there was lots of looting and robberies after the apocalypse, most of the households in the suburbs were families, so you only needed one death to wipe out the entire family, which left very few survivors. As for the people in the cities, they were pretty much trapped. There were very few like Dàgē who could make their way out of the city. Besides, there were many more supplies in the city, so it wasn’t likely that anyone would prefer to target the suburbs.
I was hesitating, but when I heard Dàgē remark, “Everyone else has washed up, so it’s just you left,” I caved in. No one would want to stink of sweat and blood by choice if they could bathe.
Once we were in the bathroom, I remembered once again, with a jolt, that I was still a woman on the inside!
Letting a strong, hot hunk help her bathe is a steamy dream that every woman has—if my body was also a woman’s, then that would be very steamy indeed, but I was currently a man. To say nothing of the fact that I was this mighty man’s younger brother, who was as skinny as a stick!
Even if I took a page from those fujoshi friends in my old world to reduce my embarrassment at being washed clean by someone else, I only had to see my own body to shatter the daydream of beautiful love between handsome hunks and pretty boys.
My body was in an unbearably awful state.
I was bony, joints and bones protruding under skin, and my shoulder was heavily bandaged front to back. Countless bruises, scratches, and wounds of all sizes dotted me from head to toe, and I’d even lost two fingernails from I-don’t-know-which fight.
Jiang Shutian gently supported me to the stool and rested my back against the bathtub. Only once he was sure I wouldn’t slip off did he start using a towel wet with soapy water to carefully scrub my skin.
He first dabbed lightly at my face—this face of mine was all sharp angles and edges, propped up by a neck as thin as a chopstick—then a chest so skinny that my ribcage stuck out…
During the entire process, Jiang Shutian’s brows were tightly knit, his expression so dark it was like the end of the world had come—and yet again I’d used a bad description. It really is the end of the world now!
“I’m just a bit thin, that’s all,” I consoled him, “After a few more days of eating, I’ll put on more weight.”
Hearing that, he said in a heavy voice, “You used to be an athlete, and ever since high school, all sorts of athletic clubs clamored for you to join. You even mentioned once that you had a headache over which club to join in university.”
Bullseye. Just as I’d guessed.
“Last time, when you were knocked out by the tile, I was very sad, but I also knew that there was no way of anticipating that kind of accident. But this time, you had warned me beforehand, yet I still wasn’t in time to protect you two!”
Jiang Shutian ground his teeth, full to the brim with self-directed rage, and said hoarsely, “If it weren’t for you, this entire family would have been wiped out!”
I said honestly, “That might be true for everyone else, but Dàgē, you would have been able to survive on the other continent for sure.”
Jiang Shutian flinched, and amazingly, a hint of fear crept into his voice as he said, “I was almost trapped on the other continent, never able to return, never able to know what became of the two of you.”
Unsurprisingly, Dàgē was able to guess that in this situation, he simply wouldn’t have been able to return from Glacia to Meisia.
“Actually, I regretted telling you. I was worried that I’d gotten you killed because the plane crashed, or you couldn’t make it home from the airport, or you were trapped by the aberrants or something.”
“Don’t! You did well,” Jiang Shutian said sternly. “Don’t worry about that. The moment there’s any danger, just tell Dàgē. You don’t have to worry about my safety. Just like you said, I’ll be able to survive, and I’ll definitely keep you two alive and well. Even if it’s the end of the world, nothing will happen to our family. Dàgē will protect you!”
Unknowingly, tears welled up in my eyes.
In my previous life, I had also had someone I’d relied on. In the beginning, we’d supported each other, but this gradually turned into a relationship of charity and exploitation, and in the end, I had been abandoned.
In this life, the person I could rely on looked even more reliable, yet the one being protected wasn’t truly me. If he ever found out the truth, I would probably still be abandoned.
Jiang Shutian reached out to brush away my tears, and asked uncomprehendingly, “Why are you crying? You will get better. Zheng Xing is a field doctor and he says you’re still young, so you will recover quickly. You just need to rest for a while and there won’t be any aftereffects.”
I shook my head, but the tears kept coming. I really was a woman—my tears were all worthless.
I’m not Jiang Shuyu.
I am Guan Weijun.
“Dàgē, when I was dreaming, I was a woman called Guan Weijun. I dreamed a dream that was a full ten years long.
“I can’t remember anything about Jiang Shuyu.
“I can’t figure out who I am.”
I hesitated, but in the end, I still confessed, “I—I think I’m Guan Weijun.”
Jiang Shutian stilled, and I painfully closed my eyes, not wishing to see his shock and rage, yet the image of him and his large hands reaching out to snap my slender, chopstick-like neck kept flashing repeatedly in my mind.
Suddenly, there came a sensation of my head being rubbed.
“You are my little brother, Jiang Shuyu. I’m absolutely sure, if you were anyone else, Shujun and I would have discovered it. Definitely!”
I froze and opened my eyes to peek at Jiang Shutian. He had a resolute expression, nothing else. I said in a shaky voice, “Then Guan Weijun…”
“Must be your past life!” Dàgē said adamantly, “Being knocked on the head let you remember memories from your past life! Your past life must have been a woman called Guan Weijun.”
Um, wait, Dàgē, isn’t there something wrong with your logic? I didn’t say anything about parallel worlds, which means my past life was in the future, and there would even be an overlap in my past and present lives right now. Don’t you think that’s strange?
Dàgē, don’t forget that I was the one who predicted the end of the world!
Dàgē rebuked me, “You’ve always overthought things, even as a kid. And you’ve really gone too far this time. Just a little thing like remembering your past life after losing your memories and now you’re even suspecting that you aren’t Shuyu.”
Wait, Dàgē, don’t be so sure that that was a past life! And what do you mean “just a little thing” like losing my memories and remembering my past life? Are you saying memories of your past life are small trifles like losing or forgetting where you put your keys?
I goggled at Dàgē, but he didn’t seem bothered at all. If anything, he looked as though nothing serious or drastic had come out of this conversation.
“But, but… what if I really am not Jiang Shuyu? What will you do, Dàgē?”
I still couldn’t believe him, still didn’t dare to believe him. If they kept treating me like I was Jiang Shuyu, and then someday they discovered that I really wasn’t Jiang Shuyu, I was sure this man in front of me would change from a Dàgē into the Devil!
If he is going to snap my neck, he should do it now. I can’t bear to give my all and be betrayed again!
Jiang Shutian reached out and picked me up in one smooth action, scaring the wits out of me. I thought he had decided not to snap my neck but instead fling me down to my death, but he just gently placed me into the bathtub.
Shujun had specially heated up some hot water to let me bathe, and only I was getting this special treatment. The others had just taken cold showers.
“You’re worried I would hurt you?” Jiang Shutian acutely discovered my fears.
The hot water was very soothing, but I couldn’t help but tremble from Dàgē’s question. I wavered for a moment, but in the end, I nodded forcefully.
Jiang Shutian’s expression clouded over for a moment, and then he knelt down so that he was on eye-level with me. He pledged, “Shuyu, I would never hurt you or Shujun.”
I lifted my head to look at him, saying sharply, “What if I really wasn’t your younger brother, Jiang Shuyu?”
Jiang Shutian looked at me. Even though he was expressionless, even though he didn’t have to be angry to be imposing, I stared back at him without shrinking back in the slightest. I absolutely needed to get an answer today. I didn’t want to keep hiding and dodging the matter. I was growing to love this family, but at the same time, I was increasingly fearful of the day the truth would come to light, turning this family into my enemy.
“Since you’ve come clean and told me everything, I will also promise you, I will treat you as Shuyu no matter what. That should be fine, right?”
With that, he ruffled my hair again and then started stripping to get washed.
I goggled at Dàgē as his words replayed in my head, dazed. Just how stubborn is he in believing that I am Jiang Shuyu? Or does he absolutely have to have a younger brother called Jiang Shuyu? Or maybe I really am Jiang Shuyu… I’m so confused!
When I finally managed to snap out of my reverie, a freaking stark naked man was standing right in front of me, and was even scrubbing here and there with a bar of soap. From that handsome face, down to those sexy collarbones, then the swell of his chest and those powerful, firm biceps, and further down was a six pack…
AHHHHHHHHHH! Don’t look down any further! Remember that he just said he would treat you as his younger brother no matter what!
Fantasizing about your Dàgē while you are the younger brother… Could you get any more perverted?!
If Shujun knew I was having naughty thoughts about Dàgē, I really didn’t know what she’d think of me—wait, why am I worried about what my little sister thinks at a time like this? Normally, I’m supposed to be more worried about what Dàgē thinks, right?
Don’t tell me, Jiang Shuyu, you’re a sis-con!
Physically a sis-con, mentally a bro-con, I really take perverseness to a whole new level!
Right now, if I liked men, I’d be gay. If I liked women, I’d be a lesbian. Fantasizing about my older brother, dreaming about my little sister—is there still any hope for me? Should I give up on getting therapy?
I was drowsily carried back to bed, and I curled up under the blanket, pretending I was dead to the world. I actually got a nosebleed while I was watching the hottie step out of the bath, scaring the living daylights out of Dàgē. He thought I had internal injuries, and my nonsensical explanation didn’t get me anywhere, so I ended up pretending that I was in the bath for so long that I was getting a bit dizzy to divert his attention. That’s why I don’t want to keep lusting after people!
Shujun stared at the dizzy me with wide eyes and an open mouth, and exclaimed, “Èrgē, what happened? How’d you become like this after a bath?”
Dàgē beckoned her, saying, “Shujun, come over. I want to tell you something.”
Next, Jiang Shutian actually told Shujun about all my confessions, making me almost leap out of bed to stop him. If Shujun were to look at me strangely, I wouldn’t be able to take it. I still want to get along with my cute little sister!
But then again, since I’d already told Dàgē everything, I might as well get everything done and over with. It beat having things weighing down on me all the time. I am going crazy from the torture of caring about people but feeling guilty at the same time!
I shifted a little and peeked out from between the blankets to spy on Dàgē and Mèimei.
Jiang Shutian asked calmly, “Shujun, do you think Èrgē has changed?”
Shujun frowned a little, her exquisite eyebrows knitting together briefly, and immediately retorted, “Of course not! Dàgē, Èrgē was hit on the head by a tile. Don’t tell me you were hit as well?!”
Mèimei, you’ve got guts! You actually dared to speak to Dàgē in such a tone. As expected from the girl who once busted a head with a bat!
“Just how is Èrgē any different from before? Not long after waking up, he started calling me Junjun. And in the past few days, now that he’s loosened up, he’s started clamoring about how he wants to marry me. He’s the same as ever, so how could he not be Èrgē?”
I was stunned.
That’s right, why did I start calling her Junjun? In the past, I was called Guan Weijun and everyone called me Xiao Jun. So why didn’t I call her Xiao Jun as well, instead of Junjun?
I was doubtful. Maybe it is because this is Jiang Shuyu’s body, so it’s a reflexive action?
Don’t tell me I can actually start believing the story that I am just remembering things from my past life, rather than being a stray ghost that took over Jiang Shuyu’s body?
Shujun was adamant. “It’s simple. Èrgē was hit on the head, and he recovered his memories from his past life!”
She actually came to the same conclusion as Dàgē. God, the two of you really are siblings! There’s no way I could have a past life from the future that actually overlaps with the present, right?! What happened to your logic?
“That’s what I thought, too,” Jiang Shutian nodded, and then actually looked over at me, saying with a smile, “Got that? Jiang Shuyu, don’t pretend to be sleeping.”
I froze, before reluctantly peeling away the blanket.
“Èrgē, your crazy thoughts have reached a whole new level!” Shujun berated me as she used a towel to rub my hair dry. How can there be such a great little sister in this world?
I couldn’t say it. I was still very doubtful. I could remember Guan Weijun’s memories clearly, and not just the ten years after the apocalypse, but the whole thirty-five years of her life! Memories before the apocalyptic days were faint, but that was because the memories of the apocalyptic world were simply too vivid.
As for Jiang Shuyu, I only remember bits and pieces, not to mention they were all from a dream, so how could I possibly think of myself as Jiang Shuyu?!
Suddenly, Shujun jumped into my arms. She hadn’t used a lot of force but the impact still made my chest hurt. But I didn’t care in the slightest and hugged her, instantly filled with some sort of peace and satisfaction.
With a catch in her voice, Shujun begged me, “Èrgē, don’t think too much. Just focus on getting better! You’re so, so skinny right now. It hurts when I look at you.”
“All right, I’ll stop thinking,” I immediately gave my honest response.
“As expected, we needed Shujun for this,” Dàgē said wryly. “Honestly, you just really want to marry Mèimei, don’t you?”
Guilty as charged: even though I am her older brother with a woman’s instincts, if I really have the chance, I really do want to marry my little Mèimei, Shujun. This kind of thinking is simply too crazy! Boohoo, Jiang Shuyu, you’re an epic pervert who’s a sis-con!
I made a face, unsure of what to do with my continual thoughts of Dàgē fantasies and marrying Mèimei.
Dàgē glanced at the clock and said, “Go to sleep. I’m going to switch shifts with Yunqian. She’s still on guard duty in the attic.”
At that, I was suddenly reminded that this wasn’t the time to fantasize about your Dàgē or think about whether to marry your Mèimei. It was the end of the world, and what was most important now was to strengthen yourself!
And in this apocalyptic world, being a sis- and bro-con was peanuts compared to the perverts out there!
“Wait, Dàgē, what date is it today?”
Jiang Shutian paused mid-step to reply, “June twenty-ninth.”
No way, it’s tomorrow?! I said quickly, “Gē, don’t go yet. Sit down and listen. On the thirtieth, something big will happen!”
Dàgē pondered for a moment and asked, “Are you tired? Do you have energy to go to the living room to tell everyone?”
I said slowly, “Dàgē, you told them I predicted the apocalypse?” Will I be treated as some kind of demon?
Jiang Shutian nodded, saying, “Don’t worry, you know about the apocalypse, so you are the most critical asset.”
I see. In that case, even though I’m currently like a stick and am only useful as firewood, everyone’s number one goal will still be to protect me—how can that be? Shujun is the most important one!
I tugged at Shujun, deciding that I would make her follow wherever I went.
Once in the living room, Dàgē assembled everyone, and even Ceng Yunqian came downstairs from watch duty.
Everyone was focused on me. I didn’t know how much they believed in what I said, but if anyone had doubts, those doubts were well hidden.
I thought things over and decided to start explaining from the black fog. “The black fog of the moment of judgment will turn those people who can’t make the cut into aberrants. But it’s got its perks as well. Although the aberrants are very strong, the people who survive will become strong, too.”
Looks of surprise crossed people’s faces.
“Around the tenth day of the apocalypse, everyone will begin to find that their bodies have changed, and you will even begin developing special powers.”
Jiang Shutian asked for more detail. “What kinds of special powers?”
“It’s hard to say,” I said with a little frustration. “There are all sorts of powers and no one really knows where these powers come from. There are some theories that say these are powers we subconsciously want. So tonight, I want everyone to think hard about what kinds of powers you want. Maybe that’ll be of some use.”
“That’s great!” Cain said delightedly, “Then we don’t have to be afraid of those things anymore.”
I shook my head. “Actually, no. In the first ten days of the apocalypse, even though the aberrants have killed many people, many people were actually killed only because they didn’t react in time. The aberrants aren’t very strong right now, just a little better than the average human. But after the tenth day, even though we will have grown stronger, so will the aberrants.”
If this body wasn’t so weak from waking up after a month of bed rest, just with my ten years of experience after the apocalypse, I would have been able to use a baseball bat to leisurely deal with the three aberrants… Well, that said, I might have needed another way of handling the Muscle Man.
But if that’s the strongest aberrants ever got, then it wouldn’t be the apocalypse.
Dàgē asked heavily, “You said that it gets bad after the tenth day of the apocalypse. Are you saying that the aberrants evolve faster than us?”
I thought about it and replied, “It’s not that they evolve faster, but that they don’t have any morals or principles guiding them. Humans fear aberrants and want to run away in fear. But aberrants aren’t scared of humans, and only prey that’s stronger than them triggers their animalistic instinct to run away.”
Putting it another way, normal people are scared of wolves, and wolves are scared of death. Aberrants are like wolves that don’t fear death. How could they be anything but vicious?
“And many aberrants will have eaten a lot of ‘food’ within the first ten days of the apocalypse. So at the beginning, they will be much stronger than us.”
Dàgē delved in further, asking, “What do you mean by ’food’?”
“People who survived the black fog.”
Everyone’s complexions changed.
“You need to eat humans to grow stronger?” Dàgē frowned deeply. Even though he was made of stern stuff, the idea of needing to eat people didn’t sit well with him.
I shook my head and said, “It’s aberrants that need to eat flesh and blood. No, let me correct myself. They don’t just have to eat humans. They can eat animals or plants, anything that survived the black fog. They eat absolutely anything that’s alive. But we humans are evolving down a different branch from the aberrants, and eating flesh or blood doesn’t do anything for us. Non-aberrants have no way of converting flesh and blood into the energy needed for evolution.”
Everyone relaxed with looks of relief mingled with pity.
I watched them quietly, keeping quiet on certain things, and just reminded them, “So, starting from tomorrow, aberrants won’t be the same as before. Don’t take them lightly.”
“Èrgē, are you done? Go back to rest!” Shujun said as she looked at me anxiously. Perhaps fatigue had crept across my face at some point, worrying her greatly. Then again, having spoken so much, I really did feel a bit tired.
“Shujun, take your Èrgē back to his room.” Dàgē didn’t even wait for me to say “I’m done talking” before directly ordering Shujun to take me back. Then, he turned to the others and said, “Everyone will reconvene in the living room tomorrow to see if anyone has the special powers Xiao Yu talked about.”
Once I was back in my room and lying flat on my back in bed, I got a little uneasy. In my previous life, Guan Weijun only had vision that was a little better than most, and together with her decent skills with guns, she made a pretty good sharpshooter, but that was it. That little bit of power really wasn’t of much use in this apocalyptic world. I really hoped I could get better powers in this life, but I didn’t really have high expectations with a body as frail as this…
“Go to sleep, Èrgē. Don’t keep thinking about things.” Shujun stroked my hair lightly, like she was soothing a kid into sleepy-land.
I gazed at Shujun’s face, those crescent eyebrows, large and bright almond-shaped eyes, the distinctive straight nose of the Jiang family, and her lips which, while bare, were pink and luscious, and made one want to kiss her to see what she tasted like. After the past few days’ experiences in the apocalypse, the girl seemed to have matured a little, becoming all the more beautiful.
“Junjun, you really are so lovely and cute.”
She laughed. There wasn’t any girl who disliked being praised for her beauty. But in the apocalypse, beauty was only a commodity, which was either taken advantage of or used shamelessly in exchange for a few morsels of food.
I wholeheartedly prayed that my power in this world would be strong enough so I wouldn’t need to live under other people’s protection in this life, strong enough so I could protect this lovely girl before me with my own two hands and ensure that she could live a good life in this apocalyptic world!
Please, although the ten years in the apocalypse made me believe that there were no gods in this world, it’s not too late for me to pick up religion again, right? Please, gods of all faiths and beliefs, grant me the power to protect Mèimei and Gēge!
…The fact that I actually thought about protecting that Dàgē means I’m a prime example of a person who overestimates their own capabilities, right?
I gave a wry laugh, and, under Mèimei’s accusing stare, tucked away those runaway thoughts of mine and slowly slipped into the land of dreams.