Chapter 48.1 – Confession
Shi Yuan and Lu Tinghan got into the car.
It was already curfew time, but Lu Tinghan had special privileges. The black car drove towards the quiet streets. Half an hour later, the car stopped in front of an abandoned medium-sized energy tower.
The energy tower was about twice as high as the ordinary residential buildings, its appearance was dilapidated, with a large amount of steel plates, wiring, and solar panel debris exposed – it had been brutally damaged, but stood firmly due to its sturdy architecture, scarred and bruised.
Lu Tinghan lifted the seal in front of the energy tower and said to Shi Yuan, “Come in. Don’t worry, there will be no risk of collapse here, it’s just completely broken.”
The elevator didn’t work, so Shi Yuan followed Lu Tinghan up the stairs. The stairs were narrow and sturdy, and were usually used by maintenance workers, they were kept in good condition.
Soon, they reached the top of the tower.
At the top of the tower was a huge rooftop, and a large area was full of scrapped solar panels, which was quite spectacular.
Lu Tinghan said as he walked: “This place was destroyed by the Heat Hurricane.”
Shi Yuan: “Is it that special infected creature?”
“Yes.” Lu Tinghan said, “It attacked Fengyang City 38 years ago. Only a quarter of the population in the city was left, and the northern district was completely destroyed.”
At that time, the snake-like infected creature came with a sandstorm, its scarlet tongue hissing, ultra-high temperature combined with wind waves, and without protection, even the strongest warriors would lose consciousness within 5 minutes.
Fengyang City was the energy hub of the Alliance. It had the most advanced and complete power generation and storage capabilities. After the end of the world, all energy facilities had been re-designed to protect against most monsters. However, the “heat hurricane” still destroyed half of the city.
Lu Tinghan stood at the railing of the rooftop and pointed into the distance: “Over there is the northern district.”
Shi Yuan looked and saw an artificial river running through the city, with water pumps by the river and watermills on the river. It divided the northern and southern districts of the city.
Across the river was a hideous ruin of collapsed houses, toppled windmills, broken streets, and a few energy towers with only skeletons left pointing to the sky.
This ruin was continuous and boundless.
Some areas were still complete, and their original appearance can be imagined. Shi Yuan even saw the kind of amusement facility called Ferris wheels, while some areas really had nothing left. The steel forest was annihilated, like fallen leaves returning to their roots.
“I used to come here a lot when I was a kid.” Lu Tinghan said, “There is no one at home. For me, the view and fresh air here are more attractive.”
Shi Yuan asked, “Will you stand here too? Standing where you are now?”
“Yes,” Lu Tinghan replied, “I like looking at the city from this angle. Every morning, all the solar panels are facing east and they reflect the light so brightly that they come together like another sunrise. At noon, they are so blinding that no one will look at them. Then at dusk, they stop working and only the windmills remain.”
Shi Yuan also saw the windmill.
Fengyang City was located on the windward side of the highlands. The whirring wind drove the windmill all year round, turning constantly, with energy rushing in every corner.
Large tracts of windmills were scattered throughout the wide open space of the Southern District. During the day, the reflection of the solar panels and the pure white of the windmills created a dazzling contrast, but as the sky was tinged with orange at sunset, the solar panels grew dim, and only the silhouettes of the hundreds of windmills remained, turning in the twilight.
“Bringing you here doesn’t have any special meaning,” Lu Tinghan said, “I just want you to see the scene I’ve seen before.”
“I like it here, I can see a lot of things. No wonder you like it,” Shi Yuan said, the tip of his tail wagging happily, “You can always show me a lot of things!”
Lu Tinghan: “It’s good that you like it.”
The windmill was still turning, and the river was still flowing. When he was a child, Lu Tinghan stood here and looked into the distance, he felt that outside the city was too far away, those monsters and abysses, those whistling winds and huge sunsets, and those life and death, but he knew he would face it one day.
For countless nights, he reached into the distance.
The still tender palm swept past the city lights, past the windmills and energy towers, and easily covered the entire wasteland. With a little fist, the whole world was in his hands. So pride and ambition burned in his heart, his world was very small, and he wanted to keep it.
Live for it, fight for it, and die for it.
At that time, Lu Tinghan never thought that one day, someone would look side by side with him.
Shi Yuan looked into the distance on tiptoe, trying to see the northern district clearly. The shallow light shone from under the energy tower, making his face soft and hazy.
He was looking into the distance, and Lu Tinghan was looking at him.
Lu Tinghan lowered his eyes slightly: “Teacher Su always said that if I want to do one thing, I will definitely do it, and this has been the case for so many years. I didn’t have much family affection, not much pure friendship either, but I didn’t think this was a problem. I didn’t lie when I said that my childhood experiences have no effect on me. I really didn’t care about those two, they were just biological parents to me. I always thought I didn’t need much connection with others.”
He looked at Shi Yuan and said, “But you showed up.”
“At first I thought you looked familiar, we must have met before. Besides, you were carrying Xie Qianming’s wolf tooth pendant, and at that time I thought, it’s really quite a coincidence that my old boss who was kind to me disappeared into the wasteland, and there was such a person who happened to come back with his things, who also made me feel so… nostalgic.”
Shi Yuan’s eyes widened slightly.
He always thought that Lu Tinghan took him home because he was eloquent and convinced him with his flowery words.
Lu Tinghan whispered in his ear: “Without these two reasons, perhaps I wouldn’t have taken you away, at least not so easily. I wanted to let you stay for a few days, and when you found a job, it would be convenient to move out. But I don’t know why, that sentence has never been said.”
He seemed to be laughing: “I thought of excuses for myself, such as your tail will be tied in a knot after you move out and have to come back to me, such as the theater is very close to my house, and it is convenient for you to take the bus, such as your hourly salary is only 6 yuan, and if you live by yourself, you can only eat canned food every day.”
Shi Yuan said, “Ah! These are not excuses, I think they are very reasonable, especially about the tail!”
“It’s an excuse for me,” Lu Tinghan said, “Because I know better than anyone that this is a partiality. You are different from anyone I know, you come from outside the city, and there are too many things you don’t understand, yet you have the purest feelings. I think it is difficult for anyone to resist your purity and brilliance. Having you around can make one forget a lot of things that bother them.”
Shi Yuan never realized this.
He was dumbfounded: “Wow? Am I that good?”
Lu Tinghan smiled and pinched his face: “You’re that good.”
“Okay.” Shi Yuan became happy. “Lu Tinghan, you are also very good! Really! I can also forget troublesome things when I’m around you – although originally, I don’t remember a few of them either!”
The wind was getting stronger, making a rustling sound as it brushed their clothes.
Lu Tinghan smiled deeper and said, “This story was never love at first sight. I am not even clear when I fell in love, it might be after a performance when I saw them throw bouquets at you and you looked at me from the stage; it might be on the day of the parade, when you walked in the alley and I followed you silently; it might be on that path outside the cemetery, when the light fell on your face like a fish…”
“It was the first time someone waited for me to come home, and also the first time I told my story to someone else. If I had been more sensitive emotionally, maybe I would have confessed to you a long time ago. Fortunately, it’s not too late. This tower can make people to be honest, and so can you.”
He said: “Shi Yuan, I hope you will stay by my side, as a lover.”
It was obviously a very ordinary word, but at this moment, Shi Yuan seemed to have been hit by something.
There was an indescribable feeling of exhilaration and nervousness, numbing and tickling, his tail stiffened in mid-air. He blinked slowly: “But I haven’t figured out what love is—”
“There is no need to understand.” Lu Tinghan said, “This in itself cannot be defined. Remember when we discussed the meaning of life in the wheat field? I think ‘being here’ is the most important thing.”
Shi Yuan: “Well, I remember.”
The wheat waves that day were golden, the cattle and sheep were gathered, and the machines were running endlessly.
Lu Tinghan: “We can’t help others define the ‘meaning of life’. Similarly, ‘Love’ is unique to thousands of people. You have to experience it yourself.” He rubbed Shi Yuan’s head, “I am patient enough to wait until the day you have an answer.”
Shi Yuan: “…even if it takes a very, very long time? Purr purr.”
“Well, even if it takes a very long time.” Lu Tinghan said, “I told you to witness our story. Now, I am greedy, and I want to be your story.”
The wind suddenly became louder, there was a strong wind tonight, whistling through the entire Fengyang City. Lu Tinghan embraced Shi Yuan, who was dazed and happy, and pointed to the distant northern district: “But before that, take a look at this city and see my favorite scene.”
Shi Yuan saw that several remaining windmills turned in the extreme distance of the northern district.
They were dilapidated and poorly maintained, and every inch of joints and gears was stagnant. Only tonight, only this gust of wind tonight could move them.
The windmills turned faster and faster.
So the current rushed down the unbroken lines to the utility poles, buildings, and energy towers… The lights of a few scattered homes lit up as if the old owners had returned home, the faint flicker of the energy tower’s wrecked signals, red and green, even the unoccupied Ferris wheel turned slowly and continued to compose azure dreams.
In the middle of this windy night, there was a flowing broken light in the dead old city, like a gentle and bleak ocean.
“I like this moment the most,” Lu Tinghan said. “It makes me feel that it is still alive in the wind.”
Shi Yuan looked into the distance for a long time.
Like the young Lu Tinghan, he was fascinated.
After more than ten minutes, Lu Tinghan whispered: “Let’s go back, it will get colder and colder soon.”
He wanted to carry Shi Yuan back to the car, but Shi Yuan suddenly lowered his head and hugged him tightly.
Shi Yuan said, “Lu Tinghan, I really like the things you show me! All of it! All the time!” He looked up at Lu Tinghan, the tip of his tail curled up, a little nervous and a little brave, “I don’t want to wait any longer. Maybe I still don’t understand what ‘love’ really is, but, no matter what happens, you make me especially happy every time. This time is definitely the same.”
Lu Tinghan was slightly surprised, but Shi Yuan hugged him harder: “Those things can be learned slowly, I want to be with you, right now, right away, right—ah?”
Lu Tinghan picked him up.
He said, “Okay.”
Shi Yuan hooked his neck: “From now on?”
“Yes.” Lu Tinghan pressed his forehead against his, and when their eyes met, they saw surging emotions in each other’s eyes, “Thank you for your trust in me. Our story begins now.”
Thank you for the Ko-fi, Uncle Peeps! ~( ˘▾˘~)