Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Part Sixteen— translated by clrfction
“Yue Lan, why did you come out?” Bai Xue Chen asked, slightly flustered.
Such a beautiful woman. Ye Meng Ling looked at herself and couldn’t help but feel embarrassed. No! I can’t even compare myself to her…
“Is this the Yue Lan you told me about? She’s such a beauty.” Lin Jian Yin let out a deep sigh and couldn’t help but add, “How can two people wearing the same clothes produce such different effects?”
Oh no… Lin Jian Yin suddenly realized what he had just said. His eyes widened, but he did not dare to turn to look at Ye Meng Ling. Bai Xue Chen looked like he wanted to smash Lin Jian Yin’s stupid mouth with his beer mug.
Ye Meng Ling smiled lightly and waved it off. “It’s okay, really!”
Even though she said so, Lin Jian Yin could still read a trace of bitterness in her smile and saw how forced it was in her eyes. Ever impulsive and straightforward, this made his temper rise even more. “What’s with that awful smile? Makes people mad just from seeing it. Yell at me if you want to! Slap me if you want to! If even you don’t like the way you are, why don’t you do something to change it?!”
Ye Meng Ling was shocked by his tirade and could not produce a response. She could only stare at Lin Jian Yin, frozen.
Yue Lan saw the situation and, being kind-hearted, immediately wanted to go up and comfort Ye Meng Ling, but she was held back by Bai Xue Chen. She looked at him disapprovingly, but Bai Xue Chen only shook his head. Yue Lan did not understand, so she could only sit by the side and watch. However, if Lin Jian Yin said anything that crossed the line again, she would not sit back and leave it be.
Bai Xue Chen held Yue Lan back for a simple reason: even though Lin Jian Yin’s words were hurtful, he was speaking the truth, just in a blunt and tactless way. But, on the other hand, blunt words were a shortcut for people to see the unfortunate truth. Bai Xue Chen knew better than anyone else, because he himself had benefited from a similar situation.
Everything seemed to move in slow motion. Ye Meng Ling faltered under Lin Jian Yin’s blatantly accusing gaze and bowed her head in discomfort. She muttered bitterly, “I can’t achieve Yue Lan’s perfect ten no matter how much effort I put into dressing up. Whether it’s an ugly zero or a passing six makes no difference.” After she finished speaking, Ye Meng Ling swiftly headed for the shop’s door, wanting to hide the wetness in her eyes.
The familiar words and tone suddenly reminded Lin Jian Yin of another girl, or more specifically, a character who was only supposed to appear in a game—Meng. Meng and Ye Meng Ling. Finally, Lin Jian Yin considered both of them together: same hairstyle, same clothing, an almost identical attitude… But, how is this possible? Can a game character and a real person be one and the same?
He suddenly realized that Ye Meng Ling had already pulled open the door. He quickly called out, “Stop!”
Ye Meng Ling stopped, but did not turn. Lin Jian Yin realized he didn’t know what to do after stopping her. Ask her if she’s a character from the Nintendo game? He would probably be treated like a lunatic. Lin Jian Yin hesitated for a bit and asked in a more subtle way, “Have…have you been to the 51st floor of the company?”
Ye Meng Ling replied flatly, “Mr. Lin, our company only has fifty floors. Also, please do not forget tomorrow’s scheduled radio program.” After she finished speaking, she closed the shop’s door without lingering.
Ye Meng Ling’s words almost knocked Lin Jian Yin off his feet. Only fifty floors. That’s right! The company only has 50 floors! How could he forget that? But, he did go to a 51st floor that day and bought his Nintendo from that odd antique shop. The Nintendo was even still sitting at home. There’s no way this is all a dream, right?
An ominous chill made its way up Lin Jian Yin’s spine. I didn’t come across something supernatural, did I? But Xue Chen gave me the business card, Lin Jian Yin suddenly remembered. He immediately turned to ask, “Bai Xue Chen! What’s with this? You’d better explain how that antique shop appeared on a nonexistent level.”
Bai Xue Chen was hesitant and worded his sentences carefully. “That antique shop is…a little strange. I saw it as a little wooden house by the road, but I never found it again when I went to look for it later. However, the owner did once tell me that if anyone around me was going through trouble, I should pass on the business card. Those who hold the business card can always find the antique shop.”
Lin Jian Yin stared at Bai Xue Chen in disbelief and asked stiffly, “Do you know what you’ve just said? Is something like that even possible?”
In the face of Lin Jian Yin’s utter disbelief, Bai Xue Chen’s only reply was to look at his beloved Yue Lan with adoration.
“Nothing is impossible.”
Confused, Lin Jian Yin looked at the loving pair as he thought more about Bai Xue Chen’s words. As he observed Yue Lan’s face closely, a sense of familiarity rose from the back of his mind.
Where have I seen her before? Lin Jian Yin thought hard. Suddenly, a ridiculous thought flashed through his mind. He did not hesitate despite his doubt, and didn’t even bother to say anything before rushing upstairs where Bai Xue Chen lived. As his long-time best friend, Lin Jian Yin made his way straight to the third floor and shoved open the glass door. Inside was a studio. Bai Xue Chen had always loved to paint, and he did have talent. He had held quite a few exhibitions already.
None of that was what Lin Jian Yin had on his mind. He headed straight to the innermost corner of the studio, where he knew hung a painting Bai Xue Chen had shown him before. The painting was that of a woman, a very beautiful woman. Bai Xue Chen had told him before that that was what he thought the love of his life should look like.
Lin Jian Yin only took a glance and could not help but let loose a profanity. “Fuck!”
On the painting’s background of a sunflower field was a human-shaped empty space.
Bizarre and eerie.