Edited by Isalee
After a day of grievances and exhaustion, Bai Xinyu fell asleep very quickly. However, he did not feel as though he had slept very long before his alarm rang. His alarm volume had been adjusted to the highest setting, and it rang ceaselessly. He was so sleepy that he could not open his eyes. The bed was both warm and comfortable, and he did not wish to move at all. Covering his ears with his blanket, he tried to escape from reality.
Half-asleep, someone cursed, grumbling loudly, “Whose phone is that?”
Next, Bai Xinyu received a kick. From that direction, it was definitely Yu Fengcheng! He bitterly pushed his blanket away, grabbing the phone on the cabinet. Shutting off the alarm, he thought, Just another five minutes, I’ll just sleep for another five minutes…
From above him, Feng Dongyuan called out quietly, “Xinyu, Xinyu! It’s time to get up.”
Bai Xinyu groaned, not wanting to wake up at all. He flipped over, and again, another kick landed on his calf. This time around, there was a lot more force in the kick, and he said angrily, “What are you doing? Don’t kick anymore! I’m awake already!”
His voice was slurred, and it even carried a trace of an aggrieved whine, sounding very pitiful.
Yu Fengcheng quietly said, “Then hurry up and get up, don’t affect other people’s sleep.”
Bai Xinyu mumbled, “I’ll just snooze a little, another five minutes…”
Feng Dongyuan said helplessly, “Xinyu, if you’re late, you’ll be punished by the company commander.”
“I know… I know…” Bai Xinyu gave a huge yawn, feeling a fatal attraction to his bed.
From across them, Cheng Jing suddenly said in a low voice, “Keep quiet, don’t disturb other people from their rest.”
Feng Dongyuan dared not speak anymore. Yu Fengcheng too flipped over, ignoring Bai Xinyu.
Silently, Bai Xinyu thought he would get up now, he would immediately get up. However, he groggily slipped back into sleep again. After dozing off, something hit him abruptly. Jerking awake, he looked at his watch. It was already fifteen minutes past five, and there was less than ten minutes left to the time Xu Chuang instructed him to appear. This time, Bai Xinyu was entirely frightened awake. He got up and took a look. There was an orange on the bed. Feng Dongyuan must’ve thrown it to him to wake him up. With no time to show his gratitude, he got out of his bed. The first thing he did was rush to the toilet and empty his bladder, before hurriedly brushing his teeth and washing his face, then running back and quickly pulling his clothes on.
He was too loud, and caused the recruits who had yet to sleep enough to be very unhappy.
Finally managing to finish dressing up, Bai Xinyu took his shoes and wanted to run. Lying on his bed, Chen Jing suddenly opened his eyes and said, “Fold your blanket.”
Bai Xinyu froze.
Chen Jing said, “It’s a breach of discipline to not tidy up your area in the morning. Fold it.”
Bai Xinyu looked at the time. There were less than three minutes left. He was so anxious that he wanted to swear, but there was nothing he could do about this perverse rule. As such, he could only lunge back to his bed and fold his blanket. Due to not learning it properly yesterday, his way of folding the blanket was not up to standard. After tidying up his bed, as swift as the wind, he ran downstairs.
At this moment, the reveille sounded.
On the parade ground, Xu Chuang and Wang Shunwei were already standing on the podium waiting for them.
Bai Xinyu ran over to them, barely able to catch his breath. “Uhh, Company Commander, Instructor, I’m here.”
Xu Chuang glanced at him. “How are you supposed to speak to your superiors in the army?”
Bai Xinyu hurriedly straightened his back. “Sir, I’m here.”
Xu Chuang flipped his wrist over, revealing a stopwatch. “Yesterday, I requested that you be 5 minutes and 38 seconds earlier, but you’re still 40 seconds late.”
Bai Xinyu was full of tears that could not be expressed, and he silently cursed the man for being so perverse as to actually time him with a stopwatch. Not reconciled to it, he said in a small voice, “Could that even be considered late…”
This sentence inflamed Xu Chuang, and he glared at Bai Xinyu, “I wanted you to report earlier to train your concept of time and punctuality, but what? You’re rebelling against it? To you, 40 seconds is nothing, right? 40 seconds is enough for grenades to detonate seven or eight times, 40 seconds is enough for a machine gun to fire three or four thousand bullets! Let me tell you, Bai Xinyu, in the battlefield of life and death, every second, every minute is crucial! As a military man, punctuality and discipline are our first and number one principle.”
He jabbed at Bai Xinyu’s shoulder, “Do you get it?!”
With his head bowed, Bai Xinyu dared not speak.
Xu Chuang exclaimed, “Lift your head up, straighten your back!”
Bai Xinyu hurriedly stood up straight.
All the recruits had started making their way down to the parade ground. In less than two minutes, the two hundred odd people were all present. Self-aware, they stood in formation, each squad taking attendance.
Xu Chuang raised his voice. “Comrade Bai Xinyu, you were consecutively two days late in reporting. Yesterday, I said that I wouldn’t punish you on the first day, and I gave you a second chance. However, today, you were still late for 40 seconds. For these 40 seconds, you’ll be punished with a 4 km run. Together with the 3 km morning run, it will be a total of 7 km. The time you finish will be the time you eat, and I will also be giving you a disciplinary warning.”
Bai Xinyu’s eyes widened. “7… 7 km.”
“Yes, 7 km.”
Bai Xinyu nearly collapsed. After the three kilometres yesterday, he had already felt as though he was about to take his last breath. Now, with seven kilometres, was it not going to take his life?
Xu Chuang projected his voice, “At ease, attention! Squad leaders to lead, start running!”
Bai Xinyu begged, “Sir, I won’t be late again, I swear, really, I…”
Xu Chuang shot him a harsh glare as he shook with anger. “Y-you even dare to try bargaining! Just look at yourself, do you even look like a soldier or a man?!”
Bai Xinyu’s pride was a little hurt. He felt the eyes of the two hundred odd people on the parade ground looking at him, and chills ran down his spine.
In his ear, Xu Chuang roared loudly, “Run!”
Bai Xinyu dared not say another word and started running with the rest of his squad. He was truly, extremely remorseful. Sleeping for an extra few minutes in exchange for a seven-kilometre run? He really wanted to just faint and die right away.
Feng Dongyuan and Qian Liang came over, running next to him as they gave him a sympathetic gaze.
Qian Liang sighed, “See, who asked you to be so lazy? We tried waking you up so many times and yet you refused. Really, the company commander’s tactic is definitely going to work, you’ll definitely not dare to laze in bed again.”
Bai Xinyu was full of tears that could not fall. “If I can’t make it, remember to send me to the medic’s office.”
Feng Dongyuan consoled him, “I heard that in the past, the older soldiers all ran ten to twenty kilometres. The potential of the human body is much higher than you think — just grit your teeth and it’ll be over.”
Bai Xinyu was further in despair.
Yu Fengcheng too had run over, joining them. He derided Bai Xinyu, “Now, don’t you feel that my kicks this morning were too light? Hmm?”
Bai Xinyu avoided looking directly at him. Biting his lip, he did not respond.
Yu Fengcheng narrowed his eyes. “For your own good, I should use a more special method to wake you up in the morning next time.”
Bai Xinyu glared at him. “W-what are you planning this time?”
This person was really too malicious, and Bai Xinyu had to be on guard against him.
Yu Fengcheng shot him a smile, revealing his straight, white teeth as he whispered, “Take a guess.”
Chen Jing ran over to them. “Save some energy for your run, don’t talk so much.”
Completely giving up on himself, Bai Xinyu said, “There’s nothing to save, it’ll be best if I can quickly faint from running.”
Chen Jing gave him a look of disdain. “Comrade Bai Xinyu, you really lack discipline, and I hope that you’ll be able to learn and grow from the punishment this time. Go back and prepare a reflection, analyse your insufficiencies, and we’ll have a meeting next week where you will provide suggestions on how to improve.”
Bai Xinyu was about to go mad. “Squad leader, will you please let me off the hook?”
Chen Jing shook his head. “I can’t. Every soldier in the squad is my responsibility. If you join the company and still behave like this, how am I going to be able to keep any respect if others know that I was your leader?”
Bai Xinyu tilted his head back, screaming out loud. Resigned, he dragged his feet further on the run.
After two kilometres, Bai Xinyu already felt that his body could not keep up. Finally managing to finish three kilometres, they returned to the parade ground. The rest of the people all started to split into their individual squad formations to practice their marching, while Bai Xinyu had to keep on running around the parade ground. One round was about one kilometre, and he had to run four rounds. His legs started to turn weak, he could not catch his breath, and he felt as though his chest would explode if he had to take another step. Before he could even complete half a lap, he started alternating between running and walking, and it seemed as though he would collapse onto the ground any moment.
In his lifetime, Bai Xinyu had never done such self-torturous exercises, and he had never been so exhausted before either. He felt that Xu Chuang was deliberately making things difficult for him. Ever since that day on the train, Xu Chuang never liked him. Just because he was late for forty seconds, he made him run four kilometres, and that was too fucking evil. To have offended the main instructor on his first day, would the rest of his time here still be able to pass by smoothly?
By the end of the run, Bai Xinyu’s eyes had already rolled to the back of his head, and he pretty much was just shuffling forward. He felt that everyone on the parade ground was watching him, mocking him, and that feeling of isolation and helplessness made him want to cry. He really missed his home and his mother. Why did he come here? Instead of whiling his days away, why did he come to this horrible place to suffer? He wanted to go home, immediately, right away, back home.
He could run no more and fell onto the track. At that instant, as he sprawled down, the dirty ground seemed even more comfortable than his bed.