IWOL Chapter 27: Extreme Loneliness

A middle-aged man sat on the hospital bed, his gaze turned toward the door. On his face was puzzlement and an imperceptible excitement.

The fingertips of his hands, which clearly belonged to an intellectual, had small buds growing on them. On the tip of each finger was a pure white jasmine. The center was gone, replaced by a cluster of delicate flowers. Soft stems grew out of his grizzled hair and climbed along the wall and bedpost.

On his bedside table was a pot of moonlight goddess and a pot of white jasmine. They may be the only normal plants in the whole hospital.

Seeing three strangers come in, the man stared blankly and asked, “May I ask, you are…”

“We came to visit you.” Dong Zheng stopped in front of the bed. The middle-aged man’s eyes twitched abnormally and the ten fingers of both hands were curled. His lower limbs were stretched out under the cover, the epitome of someone who’d suffered a stroke, resulting in hemiplegia.

Dong Zheng determined that he was the person they were looking for. “Uncle Wen doesn’t remember us?”

The room was divided by a blue curtain partition, and the other side could not be seen. The bathroom door was closed tightly. Everything looked clean and tidy and, except for Wen Baoshen himself, there was no abnormality anywhere.

Cui Zuojing silently left the ward.

“Oh?” When Baoshan’s confused eyes flashed a trace of doubt. He quickly said, “I’m sorry. I don’t remember much. The doctor said I am too sick and have some neurological problems. I may have forgotten some things. Come, don’t just stand there. I can’t move now so you can just do as you please.”

Of course, he wouldn’t remember. Dong Zheng took advantage of his condition and said the previous things to make it more convenient for them to get close.

“Ah, so it’s like this.” Dong Zheng’s expression didn’t change a single bit as he pulled open the chair and sat down easily. Allen looked around and could only stand beside the steel wired bed frame.

“You and my father have been old friends for many years. He heard that you’re ill and since he is temporarily indisposed, he told me and my friends to come and visit you. How are you doing now?”

Cui Zuojing entered the room again. In his hands were some blue hyacinths that were opened and flourishing. He gently pushed the door closed with his elbows.

The teen smiled and said, “We came in a hurry and didn’t have time to buy any gifts. I just brought some flowers. But, it seems like Uncle Wen is indeed someone who loves flowers. This gift shouldn’t be too bad.”

“Good, good.” Seeing the hyacinths in Cui Zuojing’s hands, Wen Baoshan’s eyes brightened. The jasmine at his fingertips quivered with excitement, dancing lightly and wantonly, and the leafy stems that grew out of his hair stretched out even more.

Really worthy of being a literal vegetative person, Allen couldn’t help thinking in his heart.

“I will help you soak it in water.” Cui Zuojing walked to the bedside table and pointed at the half-full glass of water that who knew how long had been sitting there. “Can I use this glass?”

“You can. Go ahead and use it.”

Cui Zuojing put the flowers on the bedside table and took the cup into the bathroom to clean it out.

Dong Zheng looked at the cluster of dreamy blue flowers and couldn’t help wondering: Where did he get the flowers from?

This question was easy to answer. Cui Zuojing had returned to the staircase, directly and violently broke through the vines blocking the path, went up to the eight floor, and discovered that there were all kinds of flowers there. He’d tipped his head up to look at the ninth floor, but the stairs were missing.

He’d picked some of the best hyacinths and returned in less than two minutes.

The door handle to the bathroom couldn’t be twisted open at all so Cui Zuojing expressionlessly took out a small bag and fished out a tendril of hair. He wrapped it around the lock and pulled down.

With the power of the killer, he’d turned the hair into a hard “wire” that handled the lock like a machine. The bathroom was dark, and an indescribable odor drifted out. Cui Zuojing pushed the door in and directly came face to face with a half-rotten corpse that was hanging upside down from the ceiling, held in place by vines.

The teenager crossed the hundreds of broken hands and dead leaves on the ground without changing the expression on his face. He stepped on the back of a corpse, making the vertebrae of this corpse rattle and click, and compelling a parasitic vine in the corpse’s abdominal cavity to squeeze out of its mouth.

Cui Zuojing threw two rotting heads that were in the sink into the toilet that was stuffed full of hair. He turned on the rusty faucet. After sputtering, thick red blood flowed out, with a stench that could not be ignored.

After waiting patiently for the liquid flowing out of the tap to gradually become clear, Cui Zuojing rinsed the glass and filled it half full of water.

Cui Zuojing wiped the corpse water from the wall and washed his hands. Then, he once again stepped on the broken limbs and vegetation and walked out of the bathroom before carefully closing the door.

The teenager carried the glass to the head of the bed and inserted the bunches of hyacinth inside, turning it into a pot of flowers.

Dong Zheng smelled the sharp odor of corpses from Cui Zuojing’s body, slightly wrinkled his brows, and continued to talk to Wen Baoshan without incident.

In fact, Dong Zheng hadn’t been able to say a single word throughout the whole process. Wen Baoshan talked nonstop from beginning to end. Although Wen Baoshan had suffered a stroke and his words weren’t very nimble, Dong Zheng could tell that he was a highly learned person.

“I can’t remember how long it’d been since I’ve seen anyone other than doctors and nurses,” Wen Baoshan lamented. He looked at the bright and colorful hyacinths and quietly sighed.

After hearing the conversation between the green radish and the doctor on the stairwell, Dong Zheng had a vague conjecture. He was silent for a moment and then probed, “Who has been taking care of you these days, Uncle Wen?”

Wen Baoshan turned his head and smiled bitterly. “It’s just me.”

At this time, Allen also jumped into the show. Since Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing could pretend to act, he didn’t feel so nervous mixing in with them. “Oh, wouldn’t that be very inconvenient for you?”

“Not really. If there is something inconvenient, I can ask the doctors and nurses for help. They are very good, no question about it. In two days, I’ll see if I can ask someone about getting a caregiver.”

“What about your child? He didn’t come?”

“He’s busy in Shanghai and has to work overtime every day until nightfall. Sometimes, the boss would call him in and he couldn’t even take his feverish child to the hospital in the middle of the night. There’s no time to come and see me.” Wen Baoshan sighed. “He is also under great pressure. Besides having to worry about raising his children, he has a mortgage to pay. As his father, I can only do my best to give him less trouble.”

Cui Zuojing raised his eyes and met Dong Zheng’s gaze. There was no need to ask Wen Baoshan about his wife. In all conversations, he’d not once mentioned his wife. He was either divorced or the other party had already passed away.

The reason Dong Zheng raised such a heavy topic was to make progress. As long as they can lift Wen Baoshan’s obsession, they could end this secret realm. “That’s exactly why we made time to come today. If Uncle Wen needs anything, please tell us.”

“Then, you mustn’t bother about me.” The corners of Wen Baoshan’s crooked mouth lifted into a semblance of a smile. “I’m old, and there’s no one to chat with me so I usually talk to flowers. I always thought that, if they could speak, how good would that be.”

Cui Zuojing said, “Who said they can’t speak? When we went upstairs, we also met a talking radish plant.”

Wen Baoshan was stunned, and then he immediately became excited. His eyes emitted a fanatic joy. “You, you can also hear them?”

Sure enough.

“We all heard,” Dong Zheng said.

Wen Baoshan said incoherently, “You guys, you guys don’t you think it’s weird? How could plants talk? When I first heard it, I thought I’d gone crazy. When I told the doctor, he also thought that I might have psychological problems and had me do a psychological test.”

“People in this world will always subconsciously consider things they can’t understand as anomalies. When anomalies appear around them, they will feel doubt and rejection, but they fail to realize the extraordinary power of these anomalies.” Cui Zuojing gently touched the blade of a moonlight goddess and asked, “When did you notice it?”

“On the eight day of my hospitalization, I was really bored so I just started talking to these flowers as usual. When I heard a very weak voice, I thought I heard it wrong. It took me a long time to realize that she was responding to me.”

“I really wanted to talk to someone, so I chatted with her all afternoon. She has a good temper and always patiently listens to me. Then, she’ll talk to me about things that she finds interesting. She told me that she has a friend, and then the moonlight goddess joined us the next day.”

Wen Baoshan sat motionless on the bed. In front of their eyes, the jasmine seemed to quiver slightly, as if saying something to him.

Wen Baoshan listened quietly for a while, then he nodded and said, “Before that, I was a firm materialist. I thought there might be something wrong with my head. I told the doctor about it, but nothing came out of it.”

“Later, I suddenly wanted to bask in the sun. I don’t want the curtains closed even when taking a nap. I started liking to take showers and drink a lot of water. I eat less and less. The doctor said it was because my body is getting weaker, but I don’t think that is the reason.”

“Until one day, I found out that I’m sprouting.”

At first, he only sprouted from his fingertips.

Wen Baoshan was terrified, but no one could see the soft and tender green leaves except for him. To the doctors and nurses, he was still just an ordinary hemiplegia patient. And, apart from that, his body looked no different.

The leaves grew longer and bigger, until finally a small flower bud bursted out. Wen Baoshan was horrified. But the jasmine and moonlight goddess comforted him and told him: It doesn’t matter. You’re just more like us now.

Fear and panic engulfed him layer by layer, and the desire for sunlight and water became more and more intense. Then, reasons finally broke through these fervent and excessive fears, and out came a crazy supposition.

Rather than living in loneliness everyday as a peculiarity under the eyes of his doctors and nurse, it was better to accept that he could see and hear and treat those as normal instead. Just because others didn’t feel or see them doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

He would rather be an indulgent lunatic rather than continue to slowly collapse out of loneliness.
Before he became completely paralyzed, Wen Baoshan often walked around the hospital and he soon discovered that each plant had its own soul and personality. Some were irritable, some were docile, and some chattered all day. While walking, he would secretly water them from his cup of water.

“At that time, I thought that maybe God really pitied me. When I was lonely and needed someone to talk to the most, I was given so many friends. Although it made other people think that I am crazy, I am still really happy.”

After saying this, Wen Baoshan grew silent. His wife had divorced him, and his only child was in a distant part of the country and was too busy to take care of him. When he suffered a stroke, it was his colleague who took him to the hospital. He laid alone in the hospital bed, too afraid to call his child because he was worried about disturbing his work. There was no one to keep him company.

Colleagues and friends came to see him, but everyone had their own affairs and their own lives and would only visit for an hour at most. After they left, Wen Baoshan was so bored that he didn’t even want to watch TV. The mobile phones that young people liked so much had no attraction to him, and most of the time, he simply stared at the ceiling in silence, talking to himself.

At fifty-three years old, this sudden illness forced Wen Baoshan to stop working and, finally, showed him what it was like to be forgotten by the world.

Could there be anything worse than this?

“Later, my hemiplegia became more and more serious. I could hardly walk on my own, and flowers grew in more and more places on my body. One day, Jasmine asked me if I wanted to be like them and become their eternal friend.”

Cui Zuojing said, “You agreed?”

“Yes, I agreed.” Wen Baoshan tried hard to raise his arm, but he couldn’t do it at all. So, he had to ask Dong Zheng, “Can you help me lift the cover?”

Dong Zheng got up and lifted the cover from his chest.

From the abdomen down, his human body had completely disappeared. Brown-green stems grew from every inch of his skin, wrapping around his waist. Vigorous green leaves stretched along his hips and legs, splaying clusters of white flowers with yellow stamens that radiated an intoxicating aroma.

Wen Baoshan’s whole body had become like a giant jasmine plant, growing on a hospital bed.

Morbid and beautiful.

“Then I…became what I am now.”

 


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Anonymous
Anonymous
3 years ago

In other novels I would see such content as filler. Beautiful novel.
Thank you for translating it!

Dreamer
Dreamer
3 years ago

Morbid and beautiful.

That’s exactly what I feel about almost everything that happens in this novel

Haruka
Haruka
7 months ago

We can say that he got lost in his own beautiful imagination