IWOL Chapter 295: On the Train

Lin Hangzhi got down from the operating table, utterly exhausted. He pulled off the blood-stained gloves and cleaned up.

Standing at the operating table for hours at a time had become a daily habit for him. His initial passion for studying medicine had already been slowly choked out by his busy work schedule and having to deal with patients day after day. Now, what remained was the instinct that was engraved in his bones, which was to save and heal the wounded, as well as the mission and responsibility of a doctor.

He returned to his office to sort out the patient’s treatment plan. The colleague next door asked, “Dr. Lin, are you on the night shift tonight?”

“Yes.” Lin Hangzhi took a deep breath, covered his face with his hands, and muttered, “I’m so tired. I really want to fall in love. I’m already 30 years old, but why, why don’t I even have time to spend with a girl? All of my high school classmates already have sons in elementary schools, but I don’t even have a girlfriend yet!”

The doctor next door patted him sympathetically on the shoulder and went to complete his rounds.

Lin Hangzhi let out a long sigh. He slumped on the back of his chair and rested for a while before cheering up and continuing with his work.

Suddenly, he saw a corner of something sticking out from his notebook. He pinched the corner and pulled the thing out. It was an invitation. When he saw this thing, Lin Hangzhi’s thoughts immediately returned to eight years ago when he also received a similar invitation.

It stood to reason that since it had happened many years ago, Lin Hangzhi should not have remembered it so clearly. But when he saw the invitation letter, the relevant memory flooded in like a tide, making him recall every detail with clarity.

This time, the words on the invitation had changed a little from the previous one.

Dear Mr. Lin Hangzhi,
Please go to ████ on August 23 with this invitation letter. I will await your arrival.
From: ██

August 23? Wasn’t that today? Lin Hangzhi looked at the lower right corner of the computer to make sure it was today. He frowned and scratched the blacked out names with his nails, but found that this was not the kind of layer that could not be scratched out.

An invitation letter that didn’t show the location nor whom the invitation was from.

Lin Hangzhi was full of doubts. He had a bad premonition in his heart.

A colleague hurried in from outside. “The patient on bed 18 just had surgery, and the surgeon forgot a gauze in his belly. After suturing and cleaning the wound, he did an inventory of the surgical tools and discovered that it was missing. He had to cut the patient open again and take it out.”

Lin Hangzhi let out a sound of alarm. He opened the drawer and threw the invitation letter inside. “How are they going to handle it?”

“The director had already reported it, so there will definitely be consequences. It’s really weird and bewildering. How could Old Lin(1) make such a mistake?”

Medical accidents wasn’t a good topic of discussion, and soon no one spoke about it anymore. Lin Hangzhi sat back in his chair with great concern. He stared at the computer screen, with his notebook in his hand and the records of his ward round. Suddenly, a chill snaked up from his tailbone through his spine. Instantly, his hair stood on end.

It was like….something had gone terribly wrong.

—–

Victor sat on the train that was headed for home, listening to the sound of the passing tracks. The carriage bound for his provincial town had very little passengers, and it was extraordinarily quiet. Through the windows, one could see the vast fields of snow and the endless pine forests that had stood for thousands of years in silence, guarding the land under his feet.

Suddenly, Victor heard a meow. On this train, why was there a cat?

He thought he had misheard, but immediately after that, another cat cry sounded.

Victor couldn’t help but straighten up and look around, trying to find the source of the sound. A couple next to him were wearing a pair of headphones and looking at their mobile phones, while the man who was diagonally across from him had his arms crossed over his chest, asleep. Aside from him, it seemed as if no one had heard anything unusual at all.

Victor could only sit back suspiciously. He looked out the window again, and suddenly found that a few lines of text had appeared on the glass.

The mist-covered window was used as a canvas, and the fresh handwriting condensed downward.

Dear Mr. Victor,
Please go to ████ on September 4th with this invitation letter. I will await your arrival.
From: ██

The man who was sleeping and the other people had no reaction. Victor frowned and stared at the handwriting for a few seconds. He felt as if something had loosened deep in his heart. Some kind of memory that was engraved in his soul was struggling to break free.

He raised his hand and wiped the mist away.

——-

Wang Que put down the brush in her hand.

The unfinished canvas showed the outline of a rooftop and the setting sun. She put the paintbrush into the bucket, and watched as the color spread quickly in the water. She stood up, put the cloth covering down, and went to stretch lazily by the window.

It was the holidays after the college entrance examination. She got a summer job at this art gallery and was exposed to many excellent paintings. It was often used as a venue for various commercial exhibitions, and it also allowed Wang Que to accidentally meet the rich young master, Dong Linhai. Afterwards, they had been texting a lot.

Dong Linhai encouraged her to continue to painting those scenes. This was the first time that she had ever met a peer who could resonate with her, and she was greatly encouraged.

“Meow–”

Wang Que’s abruptly turned her head. The door to the small studio wasn’t tightly shut, and there was a cat in the crack of the door. It was a very pure white garden cat with amber eyes, and it was looking at her in invitation and meowing softly.

“A kitten?”

Wang Que left the window. By the time she walked over and opened the door, the cat had run away. She chased after it, and the cat looked back from time to time to make sure that she was keeping up. When Wang Que realized where she was, she found herself in a long gallery.

She gradually stopped running, and the cat also stopped. There were paintings on both sides of the wall that Wang Que had never seen before. Did this art gallery have such a collection here? She didn’t know.

At the end of the corridor, there was a huge portrait of a young girl sitting on a chair. She had her head lowered and her eyes closed. Her hands were clasped against her lips, as if in reverent prayers. Her long hair was twisted behind her and hung down her back. She was wearing a dark blue dress with the skirt and cuffs embroidered with silver-white lines. Both the material and her skin looked extremely exquisite, so realistic that it didn’t seem to be a painting at all.

Wang Que was fascinated. She walked toward the portrait. The young girl seemed to be magical, and she couldn’t help but feel a cordial familiarity in her heart.

She didn’t notice that the white cat had vanished, as if it had never existed at all. Wang Que stretched out her hand to touch the painting, wanting to see whether it was real or fake.

The moment her fingertips touched the canvas, the eyelashes of the girl in the painting trembled. She opened her eyes and raised her head to look at the terrified Wang Que.

“It’s time to wake up.”

“What?” Wang Que could hear her voice trembling.

“I said you should wake up.” The girl stretched out her hand, and that hand miraculously broke through the limit of the canvas and met Wang Que’s own hand. Wang Que was pulled a step forward by her, until her hand was submerged into the canvas and became part of the painting.

“You, who often come into contact with me, should be able to easily decipher this level of dreaming.” The girl snapped her fingers in front of Wang Que, and the walls of the gallery, the chandeliers on the ceiling, and the paintings beside them…all of it became blurred.

“Wake up. You still have important things to do.”

Wang Que opened her eyes.

She heard the monotonous rumbling of the train and saw the distorted light and shadow outside the window, as if the scene was constantly drastically changing at every moment. It was impossible for her not to recognize where she was. Her head was resting on Dong Linhai’s shoulder. The youth had fallen asleep, and the white cat Victor was lying on the small table in front of them. His eyes were closed, his small body still undulating with every breath he took.

Luo Yan sat facing her. She was looking at her, but when she saw that Wang Que was awake, she put her hand down and smiled. “You’re awake.”

Now that the dream had disappeared, Wang Que remembered everything. After accumulating enough points to obtain tickets, the Wonton Insurgency left Top-of-the-Giant-Tree by train and headed to the next district. Between the two districts, they had to pass through a special place called “The Corridor of Memory.”

As long as they pass through that place, they would retain the right to enter the center of the Pure White Realm, the area completely ruled by the Queen.

On the other side of the aisle, Cui Zuojing and Dong Zheng slept, while Xiao Qiongyun and Lin Hangzhi, who sat in the front facing them, had also fallen into their dreams during this passage through The Corridor of Memory.

It was an illusory reality. In that world, there was no misfortune, no death, no day-to-day struggles. They were just like everyone else living peacefully in the real world but were, in truth, gradually drowning within that false beauty.


Translation Notes:
(1) Old Lin 
— Not Lin Hangzhi. The Lin (蔺) in Lin Hangzhi is a different character from this Old Lin (林).


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Mike
Mike
2 years ago

Finally someone wake up

I dunno
I dunno
2 years ago

Hurry up…

nico
nico
2 years ago

LY helping them again, so Nana is the traitor? ah..