IWOL Chapter 28: After Life

Silence.

Dong Zheng’s entire body tensed. Even though he was expecting this, Wen Baoshan’s appearance reminded him of the dead bodies parasitized by plants. This made him realize a question: Was the person talking to them now actually Wen Baoshan? Or, was it a plant growing inside his body?

Wen Baoshan didn’t know what Dong Zheng was thinking. He took a deep breath and smiled bitterly. “But there’s nothing wrong with this. Anyway, I’m already paralyzed. There’s no hope of returning to normal. It’s not too bad to become like those little jasmines. I can accept it.”

Dong Zheng said, “Do you feel uncomfortable like this?”

“No, it’s very easy…Except for being unable to move, I feel more comfortable than before.”

After a moment, Cui Zuojing asked, “Did anything unusual happen before you found out that you could understand plants and started to germinate?”

“Anything unusual?”

“For example…did you meet anyone or receive anything?”

Wen Baoshan thought about it and suddenly recalled one thing. “Oh, it seems like I did. On the third day of my hospitalization, a girl also lived in this ward, on the bed next door. Before she was discharged, she gave me Jasmine and Moonlight.”

“What kind of girl?” Cui Zuojing frowned and immediately asked.

Wen Baoshan tried hard to recall. “Thirteen to fourteen years old, about 1.5 meters tall, with short hair, looked very obedient, spoke with a Yunnan accent…”

“Was she dressed like a student from the Republic of China, wearing a navy blue dress with black capri pants and cloth shoes?”

“Yes, yes, yes.” Wen Baoshan remembered it now. It was a very cute girl, albeit a little thin. She lived alone in the hospital like him, needed infusions everyday, and very agreeably answered all the doctor’s questions when he made his rounds. She would often lay quietly on the bed without looking at mobile phones or playing games on it.

He had been very puzzled that a child could endure such a life of convalescence. Because they were in the same ward, the two of them would inevitably talk, until they gradually became more familiar with each other.

A lonely person who was entering old age and a lonely child. The two of them unexpectedly became close. Wen Baoshan told her many stories, but she rarely talked about herself.

Or, maybe, she did talk about herself, but Wen Baoshan forgot. Just like how he couldn’t even remember the girl’s name.

“Do you know her?” Wen Baoshan asked urgently.

Cui Zuojing took a deep breath. “Uncle Wen, do you know why she was hospitalized?”

Wen Baoshan frowned. “Seemed like it might be heart disease…No, meningitis? Ai. Just look at my brain. I can’t remember it clearly.”

If it was her, then this matter could be quite troublesome.

Cui Zuojing seemed to have returned back to many years ago. The girl, dressed like a student from the Republic of China, held an umbrella and stood smiling under the night rain. Breathing faintly due to a congenital heart condition, she asked him if he wanted to make a deal.

A seven-eyed, three-tailed beast sat at her feet, ready to take away his most precious thing at any moment.

This secret realm, which was so simple that he didn’t want to stay, suddenly became unfathomable. Cui Zuojing exercised great restraint and even sounded leisurely as he solemnly asked, “She gave you two pots of flowers before leaving. But, what did you give her?”

“Me? I didn’t give her anything.” Wen Baoshan was at a loss.

“No, you must have told her a wish you wanted fulfilled and allowed her to give you the power to change everything. In doing so, she also took some things from you with your consent. Otherwise, things would not be like how they are today.”

Dong Zheng and Allen were completely baffled. The conversation between Cui Zuojing and Wen Baoshan had gone in a direction that was completely unclear to them. A mysterious girl and a voluntary transaction that the party wasn’t even aware of?

Wen Baoshan murmured, “I don’t really remember.”

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember.” Cui Zuojing didn’t press him. The teenager pulled the cover back over Wen Baoshan and asked, “The morning has already gone. We’ll be leaving soon. Uncle Wen, do you still have something you wanted to do?”

“Me, if I have to say anything, it would be that I want to bask in the sun.” Wen Baoshan looked at the curtain partition and said with regret, “Unfortunately, it is cloudy this morning. But, the nurse said that it would be sunny in the afternoon. I can only be patient and wait.”

Wen Baoshan was unable to leave the ward so he wasn’t aware of what the hospital had turned into under his influence. Those plants that had gained an abnormal consciousness occupied everything, and Wen Baoshan himself had no idea of his own power.

He was too immersed in his conversations with the jasmine and moonlight goddess, hoping that time would pass quickly so that he could see the afternoon sun.

But, this was a mysterious environment wrapped in nothingness. The sun would never come out of the darkness again.

“I’ll see what the weather is like.”

Dong Zheng lifted the curtain partition that always separated the other side and immediately let out a slow breath.

Dense vines covered the entire wall and the opened window, the foliage so thick that it blocked the lights from outside.

The mutated plants were careful not to appear in front of Wen Baoshan and only secretly blocked the window, making him think that the sun just hadn’t come out yet.

Cui Zuojing also extended his head out to look. “No wonder. Just clear it.”

He came over and drew the fruit knife tucked in at Dong Zheng’s waist from its sheath. “Wait a bit.”

In Cui Zuojing’s hands, the knife that could only cut fruits seemed to change into something altogether different. The vines were pliable and tough, but the knife lightly cut through them like slicing through tofu. Soon, the area around the window was entirely cleared out.

The broken vines that had fallen off twisted silently on the ground and died stiffly.

Light spilled in.

But it wasn’t the sun.

In the thick darkness, a bud-like fragment radiated brightly, slowly bobbing.

This was a world made up of story fragments.

Merely just this?

Dong Zheng lowered his head and he and Cui Zuojing glanced at each other. The youth played with the knife in his hand and made a “go ahead” gesture to him.

Dong Zheng pushed open the window, reached into the dark void that seemed remarkably real and touched the young bud.

The light burst out of his hands and spread everywhere outside. For a split second, the sky became gloriously bright. Outside the hospital, dead yellow trees lined the road and the sky was overcast and gray. Finally, the sun moved away from behind the dark clouds.

In this warm and dazzling sunlight, all the mutated plants slowly melted away like ice and snow, as if all that was dark and dirty had been conquered and everything was purified.

A fragment fell into Dong Zheng’s palm, but the expected collection dialogue did not appear. Instead, the tender bud shifted into a speck of light and, like a shooting star, shot straight into his chest.

It was too late for Cui Zuojing to block it, and his expression twisted.

Bitter cold penetrated into every cell, and at that moment, a blurry picture came to Dong Zheng’s mind’s eyes—A girl was sitting on a hearse, holding a pure white beast. Although a turbulent curtain of rain blocked his view, the mysterious smile at the corner of her lips was clearly imprinted in Dong Zheng’s mind.

Dong Zheng sucked in a breath and staggered back, his eyes squeezed shut.

Cui Zuojing immediately grabbed his arm to stabilize his figure and hurriedly asked, “How do you feel?”

“I saw…” Dong Zheng stopped talking suddenly. He raised his eyebrows and faced Cui Zuojing’s eyes. Overwhelmed with tension and alertness, he opened his mouth, “I forgot?”

Cui Zuojing released Dong Zheng, touched his forehead, put down his hand nervously, and stared back at the empty point behind him, muttering, “Yes, it’s her.”

“What’s wrong?” Allen opened the curtain partition and came over.

“Something unexpected happened. Let’s go back to talk about it in detail.” Cui Zuojing lowered his voice and said to Dong Zheng, “Don’t panic. Let’s end all this first.”

Dong Zheng no longer dwelled on the memory of that cold and bizarre feeling in his heart. He nodded, lifted the curtain partition and went back to Wen Baoshan. Under the man’s expectant gaze, he said, “Uncle Wen, the sky is already clear.”

After drawing back the curtain partition, sunlight spilled from the window into the ward, illuminating the jasmine in Wen Baoshan’s left eye and reflecting in the pupil of his right eye.

Wen Baoshan’s crooked face showed a contented smile.

The jasmine on the bedside table bloomed quietly, while the red leaves of the moonlight goddess became more vivid and bloody. The hyacinths beaded with dewdrops, and the branches that emerged from Wen Baoshan’s hair bloomed white flowers one by one.

“We won’t disturb you. Have a good rest. We’ll come back to see you again another time.”

“Okay.” Wen Baoshan smiled at them. “Thank you. I’ve never been as happy as I am today. It’s so great.”

Cui Zuojing smiled at him. Allen took the initiative to push open the door of the ward and walk out first.

[After becoming our friend, you will never be lonely again, just like seven days of melting sunshine within a dream. —After Life]

After a moment of darkness, their vision became bright once again. Dong Zheng and Allen found themselves in front of the same unusual blue plant. It was unclear when the white and dying flowers had suddenly bloomed so abundantly that they filled the branches. The faint scent of jasmine permeated everything.

Soon after, it began to resemble an elegant lady in the middle of lifting her evening gown. Two outermost leaves bent down and penetrated deep into the ground to entangle the fibrous root, and it pulled itself out from the soil.

It moved sideways, vacating the place where it had originally been, revealing a treasure chest half buried under the soft soil.

Allen tentatively said, “Ah… Thank you Uncle Wen.”

The plant nodded slightly.

Allen and Dong Zheng looked at each other, rubbed their hands, squatted down and dragged the box out.

He opened the box. Quietly lying inside was six jasmine flowers and what Dong Zheng currently needed the most: a ticket.

“Here comes the spoils,” Allen said excitedly, and he took the light weight jasmines in hand.

“I already have a ticket. This one belongs to you. If you take it…I’ll leave 2 jasmines for you?”

This division was reasonable. Dong Zheng said, “Yes. You already have a ticket?”

“Yes, ahh, after clearing Hamelin, I had planned on entering the next area and so I ended up exchanging some points for the ticket. Soon after, I heard news about this random box, and so I just came in to check it out.” Allen shrugged and put the four jasmines in his pocket. He stood with his hands still on his chest and said to Cui Zuojing, “Hey, since you’re a prisoner, you don’t need a share, do you?”

“Don’t worry about me.” Cui Zuojing waved his hand absentmindedly. He was still concerned about the girl from the secret realm.

Before the light had entered Dong Zheng’s body, he didn’t feel any breath of energy and so he wasn’t able to react in time. Even though it didn’t seem to have any immediate effect on Dong Zheng, he didn’t want to take it lightly, particularly in the face of unknown dangers.

And you.

Cui Zuojing looked at the huge plant that Wen Baoshan had become and silently asked: What did she take away while giving you everything you wanted?

The devil would never take a loss in her deal-making business.

——————————-
Xixi: One of my favorite minor side characters makes a brief appearance. I didn’t realize this before, but knowing her background now, it made perfect sense that she would show up here.

 


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Pekopekopekopeko
Pekopekopekopeko
3 years ago

But is she an enemy??

Thanks for the chapter!

ToastedSpag
ToastedSpag
3 years ago

It gets more exciting!

Dreamer
Dreamer
2 years ago

With Xixi’s words, now I’m looking forward to know more about this girl. But for a minor side character her settings are great. She seems like a boss… and according to CZJ, the “devil”.

GayDay
GayDay
1 year ago

The Queen? Or Nana? Or someone we don’t yet know about?