Chapter 17 – Earthquake (2)
Edited by Tin
The two months of the study exchange went by very quickly. Before they left, the hospital director, extending a gesture of friendship as the host, brought everyone to the wetland park of Taishui City for an excursion. This was a famous landmark, and during the holidays, there would always be an endless stream of people. Fortunately, it was currently the off-season, and there were not many visitors.
The group consisted of around thirty people, and early in the morning, they hired a bus to take them here. At the entrance to the park, the words “Taishui Wetland Park” were very conspicuous. Zhou Hao’s preceptor was a little car sick, and after getting off the bus, he bent over by a tree, heaving.
“Laoshi, are you alright?” Zhou Hao handed him a bottle of water.
The preceptor took the water, gulping it down, and felt the prickle in his throat subsiding. “It’s too stuffy in the bus.”
Zhou Hao supported his preceptor. “It’s quite stuffy. Also, the driver was driving too fast.”
Just as the two of them were speaking, Zhou Hao suddenly felt that the tree in front of him was swaying. Right after that, the ground started shaking too. They felt giddy, and at a loss for what to do.
Before they realised what was happening, from another side, many groups of people started to run. While running, they shouted, “It’s an earthquake! An earthquake!”
“Quick, run!” The preceptor shouted.
Zhou Hao ran desperately towards an open space, with only one thought in his head. Run! He couldn’t die! Last month, didn’t his hubby take the initiative to give him a call?! His happiness was about to come! He couldn’t die! He couldn’t die!
He ran and ran and ran for his life, his mind slowly blanking out. His desire to live was like a transparent coat, creating a barrier between him and this panicking world.
He was only focused on running. It would be best if he could run to the ends of the earth, run back to where his family was.
The ground shook even more violently, and on the flat roads, cracks gradually appeared. Steel bars, buried in concrete, were unearthed, and everywhere was dust and dirt, as well as terrified people scattered in all directions.
Zhou Hao suddenly tripped, and right after that, a nearby drinks shop collapsed, boards trapping his leg. He struggled quite a bit, only to discover that he was not able to move his leg at all.
Around him were disaster victims howling and wailing. He looked at the scene of desolation before him, and an unknown fear curled around him. Groans spilled from his throat. He was too afraid of dying.
The tremors gradually became less severe. Hopeless cries filled the air again and again, ringing endlessly.
With great difficulty, he reached in through the boards to grab his phone from his pocket, before slowly shifting his phone up to his face.
The screen lit up.
There was no signal.
Faced with his current situation, he had entirely lost hope.
He was no longer a strong and proud man. Quietly, he weeped, his expression twisted as he truly expressed his inner fear. After a long, long time, when he was exhausted from crying, he again started to look around, his dust-covered face turning here and there. He was hoping for someone to come rescue him.
The first day, the rescue team did not come. The entire day, Zhou Hao had thought about many people. His vague recollection of his father, as well as his mother, whom he had not seen in many years. Thinking about them, he became more and more unreconciled. He was about to die, but his mother did not even know. He was about to die, but his mother still could not express the slightest bit of love for him.
The second day, the rescue team still did not come. By this time, he was so hungry that it felt as though his stomach was gnawing on itself. He recalled the post he had been updating on Douban, and it seemed like in this life Mr. Z and Mr. J would not have their ending.
The occasional sweetness Jiang Yuqian gave, was now taken as his last supper. From the very bottom of his heart, he took it out, slowly savouring it…
The enjoyment only lasted for a short half an hour, as the sweetness that person gave was really too little.
“Couldn’t you have just given a little more…” Zhou Hao mumbled, his lips covered with crumbs of mud.
The third night, things turned for the better. The rescue team had finally made their way here.
Zhou Hao was lifted up onto a stretcher, and sent to a temporary medical tent that had just been set up. Fortunately, his leg was only fractured, and it was not a big issue. It was just that he would have to rest in bed for two weeks, to allow his bone to slowly heal.
There was no electricity or water in the disaster area, and no signal could get through to their phones as well. Everyone was living in the temporary shelter. In the day, it was not too bad, but at night, it was too cold. Wind came from everywhere, and it was hard to fight the chill at night.
Yan Ming had found out about Tanshui’s earthquake on Tencent News. He called Zhou Hao’s number countless times, but he never got through. On the news, it said that there were already more than 1400 dead, 200 missing, and 7000 injured.
He wanted to tell Zhou Hao’s mother, but he had no way to contact her at all.
Every day was spent on tenterhooks. He hoped that Zhou Hao would be able to give him a call, then brimming with health and vigour, shout — “Fuck, I was scared to death!”
However, it never came, and he did not receive any updates at all.
After two days of anxiety and unease, he decided to look for Jiang Yuqian. They saw each other at the ground floor of the building where Jiang Yuqian’s company was located. He had heard from Zhou Hao that Jiang Yuqian owned a company, Nanyi Technology on Hanlin Road.
“Jiang Yuqian,” Yan Ming shouted.
Next to that person was Cheng Zixu’s sister. Yan Ming glanced at Cheng Jinghao. Cheng Jinghao understood, and walked away to one side.
“Did you know that Zhou Hao is in Taishui?”
Yan Ming’s eyes were red. He really felt a sense of injustice on behalf of his friend. He was caught between life and death over there, while over here, this man was still going around with his side affair’s little sister.
Jiang Yuqian was silent, and he did not speak a word. He had also heard the news — Taishui had a 7-magnitude earthquake.
Seeing how he didn’t react, Yan Ming roared furiously, “There’s been an earthquake over there! Zhou Hao’s phone cannot be connected at all! We don’t even know his situation right now!”
His voice softened. “Tomorrow, I’ll be going there to take a look. Come with me. Whether he’s alive or dead, there should at least be a… confirmation. I’ve bought two air tickets. I’ll be at City A’s airport waiting for you at noon tomorrow.”
Yan Ming then asked for his phone number before leaving. Cheng Jinghao walked forward. “Let’s go.”
Jiang Yuqian was still standing there foolishly, frozen. In his mind was nothing but that person’s farewell before he left — “I’m going to a city in the south. I’ll be there for two months, so I came to see you before leaving…”
Then they even kissed passionately…
That was a person, alive and well, and Jiang Yuqian found it a little hard to accept. Even though he did not love him, for a person to be hanging between life and death, he would still be a little upset.
“Go back by yourself. Tell your brother that I won’t be eating with you today.”
Cheng Jinghao did not know who Yan Ming was, but she could still guess that this had something to do with that man. The only thing was that she did not know what they had spoken about.
At night, when he returned home, Jiang Yuqian locked himself into his room. He opened WeChat, his finger scrolling, and in a group of notifications, he found the messages Zhou Hao sent to him two months ago. He had never opened them up to see.
The photos quickly loaded. There were five in total, all single shots of that person, and the background were things like the mountain range and the hospital. That person was wearing a baseball jacket, his teeth all visible as his mouth curved widely, and he was grinning happily.
That jacket Zhou Hao was wearing, he once had one too. After seeing Zhou Hao buy the exact same one as him, he left it there, no longer wearing it again.
If… Jiang Yuqian thought silently, we’ll just let it be. You’re free, and so am I…
If what? What he thought was — if you died, just let our ending be like this.
In actuality, Jiang Yuqian was a little sad. After all, he was a person, alive and well, who once had always made their presence known, and now, someone suddenly told him that he might have died in the earthquake.
However, that sadness was only for a moment. The two of them had never been on the same path, and it was Zhou Hao who forcefully tied them together.
That person had never been his lover, and what he could do was only to mourn and feel sad for a few seconds. After a few seconds, his life still had to return to normal.
His finger shifted to the delete option, and he hesitated for a little while. Finally, he still touched the delete button. Since his life had to return to normal, there was no need for him to continue holding on to the photos left of this person.
Thinking like this, Jiang Yuqian’s heart no longer felt that heavy.
Of course, the next day, he did not go to the airport. Yan Ming waited for him at the departure hall for quite some time, and seeing that he did not come, his heart had pretty much turned cold. Still, he gave that person a call.
The phone rang for a very long time before Jiang Yuqian answered. At that moment, he was having a meeting.
“The plane’s about to take off, where are you?!” Yan Ming asked sharply. It was as though at this moment, he had turned into Zhou Hao, and was interrogating his heartless partner himself.
The meeting room was in complete silence. Everyone was waiting for their boss to finish his phone conversation.
“I won’t be going.”
“Zhou Hao is really blind! His past four years have been fed to the dogs!”
Jiang Yuqian hung up abruptly. Seeing the people around the table looking at him, his expression turning serious and stern. “Let’s continue.”
Yan Ming went to Taishui City alone. Of course, to find Zhou Hao in a disaster area where information could barely be gained, it was an extremely difficult task, almost impossible. But still, he plunged in, and in his heart he prayed non-stop, Live, please live! You must be alive! Whether you have an arm missing, or a leg broken, please, be alive!
In the end, as expected, it was all for naught, and he could only return with no results.
Ten days later, electricity returned to the disaster area. Phone signals were back as well, and only then did Zhou Hao turn on his phone.
He had previously arranged for a call-forwarding service, and so once there was signal, he would be informed of any missed calls with a text.
Zhou Hao scrolled down the texts one by one. Other than some advertisements, as well as dozens of missed calls from Yan Ming, there was nothing from Jiang Yuqian.
Zhou Hao called Yan Ming back, and the latter’s wild joy and ecstasy gave him a surprise. Such exaggerated emotions were completely unlike the usual blockhead.
He never knew the significance of this phone call to Yan Ming. Someone whom he thought might be dead, was now suddenly alive again.
The two chatted for a while. Zhou Hao only said that his leg had been fractured, and he needed to recuperate for a few more days, and would be returning after that.
In the end, Zhou Hao could not hold himself back, and asked Yan Ming, “Does he know that something happened to me?”
Without a moment of hesitation, Yan Ming answered, “He doesn’t.”
“Oh.” Zhou Hao was a little disappointed. “Let’s have a good meal when I’m back.”
“Get well soon, I’ll be waiting for you to come back.”
Zhou Hao stared at his gradually darkening screen, lost in his thoughts. That person did not know, he actually did not know. He had originally wanted to share with him the joy of retrieving his life back, but now he had lost the chance.