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Infinite Death

Saturday, July 17th, 2004. In a certain psychological clinic.

Wen Yu placed two teacups on the table. He took a glance at Ning Ning’s pocket. “Are you not answering that?”

From when she first sat down, her phone inside the pocket of her blouse had been ringing non-stop. She silenced it once again and told him helplessly, “It’s my suitor. He’s using suicide as an excuse to try and get me to meet him.”

Wen Yu oh-ed. “Then are you going?”

“I don’t want to go.” Ning Ning sighed. She got up and said, “But I have to go…thanks for your chrysanthemum tea.”

Ning Ning pushed the door open and left. About a minute later, a staff member knocked on the door, holding an electric kettle in his hand. “Doctor Wen, the tea is ready.”

The customer had left, just one cup of tea would do.

Tea with golden flower petals was poured into the cup.

Wen Yu raised his eyebrows and looked towards the direction Ning Ning left in. That was weird, how did she know it was chrysanthemum tea?

Of course Ning Ning knew.

Because this was the third time Ning Ning had stepped into Wen Yu’s office.

The first time she had refused to answer the phone. The second time she had refused to leave. In the end, when she drank the chrysanthemum tea on both occasions, she returned to the beginning for both occasions.

Who knew that Zhang Xin Ai actually cared about that pure and innocent teen? She actually had to answer his call and meet him.

“Hello.” Ning Ning answered the phone after she stepped out of the clinic. She said helplessly, “Stop crying, I can’t even make out what you are saying anymore.”

“You wouldn’t answer my calls.” Li Shan Zhu’s voice was hoarse from crying. “I thought you were going to ignore me forever.”

“Didn’t I tell you yesterday? I wasn’t feeling well, I had to have a minor surgery at the hospital.” Ning Ning explained.

“Then why didn’t you tell me which hospital you were at? Why didn’t you let me visit you?” Li Shan Zhu questioned her, “Who…whom did you let accompany you there?”

A feeling burst in Ning Ning’s heart, she forced a smile and said, “Why could I not have gone alone?”

Li Shan Zhu fell silent.

“…Alright.” Ning Ning laughed at herself. “How could a person like me go to the hospital alone.”

Her weakest and most pitiful side had been used to gain pity from men, how could she hide her pain and secretly cry by her lonesome?

“…Where are you? I’ll come over and fetch you now.” Li Shan Zhu seemed to not be willing to pursue the matter anymore, he started to probe for the answer he wanted the most.

“It’s fine, I’ll take a taxi…”

“Where are you?” Before she could finish, Li Shan Zhu interrupted her. He repeated what he said previously as if he was possessed, “I’ll come over and fetch you.”

Ning Ning impatiently told him the location of a hotel.

Li Shan Zhu came on a taxi very quickly. He rushed towards Ning Ning the moment he got off the taxi, grabbing her wrist and walking back.

“Don’t be in such a rush to leave.” Ning Ning thought that the way he was right now was too weird. She wrenched her arm back. “It’s already this late, let’s have dinner before we go back.”

Li Shan Zhu who was walking in front of her stopped in his tracks. He slowly turned his head back, his gaze darkened. He tried very hard to squeeze out his usual simple and pure smile. “Didn’t you say you want to try my cooking? Come back with me, I’ll cook for you.”

Li Shan Zhu was very skilled.

Not long after the two of them had returned home, the aroma of fish head casserole1 drifted out from the kitchen along with Li Shan Zhu’s question, “How much chilli do you want?”

“…Any amount will do.” Ning Ning answered casually.

Chopping sounds rang out rapidly. The absolutely normal vegetable chopping sounds—at this time, in this place—made Ning Ning’s hair stand on their end for some reason.

When the final dish—the fish head casserole—was placed on the table, Ning Ning scanned the six dishes and one soup on the table, then looked up at Li Shan Zhu who was sitting across from her. 

He was wearing a floral apron, it made him look a little cute. He used chopsticks to grab a piece of the snow-white fish and placed it by Ning Ning’s mouth. “Big Sister Little Ai, have a taste of my cooking.”

Although Ning Ning had a feeling long beforehand, once her stomach started to hurt, she was surprised and furious.

“…Why did you do this?” She held her stomach, she was in so much pain that she broke out in cold sweat. “Why did you poison the food?”

“Because I know.” Li Shan Zhu slowly walked over, using a napkin to carefully wipe the sweat on her face. “No matter how good my food is, you will never agree to be my girlfriend.”

Ning Ning started to cough up blood.

“Sorry, sorry.” Li Shan Zhu used a napkin to wipe the blood by her lips, smiling blissfully. “I’ll eat too, I will join you very soon.”

“You, you don’t have to accompany…” Ning Ning coughed up another pool of blood. “I am actually a transmigrator…”

Collapse of character designation, back to the beginning.

She walked out of the psychological clinic again, she was brought home by Li Shan Zhu again, the fish head casserole was placed on the table again.

Ning Ning sighed. She did not eat the fish he was holding in front of her, she told him gently instead, “I’ll be your girlfriend.”

The chopsticks shuddered, the fish that it was holding fell off.

Ning Ning got up and walked towards him, gently holding him in her arms.

“Actually, even if you were to feed me spicy strips2 for this meal, I would’ve also agreed to be your girlfriend.” She said with tender affection, “What’s important is not what I’m eating, it’s the person who cooks for me. Do you understand what I mean?”

“…Big Sister Little Ai.” Li Shan Zhu buried his face on her shoulder as he gently called out.

Something was lodged into Ning Ning’s stomach, then it was quickly dislodged.

Ning Ning looked down and saw that her stomach was like a running tap, blood was gushing out continuously. Li Shan Zhu held the bloodstained knife, standing silently across from her, the white floral apron was dyed red by her fresh blood.

“Why…do you want to kill me?” Ning Ning asked him in disbelief, “I have agreed…to be your girlfriend.”

“Because I know that you are lying to me.” Li Shan Zhu looked at her gently with grief, “Just like how you’ve lied to my brother, lied to Big Brother Hai, lied to Little Ke…”

He turned the knife around and plunged it into his stomach. He didn’t pull it out, opening his arms and hugging Ning Ning instead. The knife handle was up against Ning Ning’s stomach, the blade digging deeper into Li Shan Zhu’s stomach.

“But even so, I still want to be lied to.” Li Shan Zhu hugged Ning Ning tightly, crying and sobbing, “Tell me you like me. I beg you, Big Sister Little Ai, lie to me…”

“…You unruly citizens want to bring harm to the sovereign!”

Collapse of character designation, back to the beginning.

Ning Ning walked out of the psychological clinic. This time, Ning Ning absolutely refused to leave with Li Shan Zhu.

“I’m still feeling a little unwell.” Ning Ning maintained a distance from him cautiously. “I just got off a call with the doctor, he told me to go back to the hospital for a re-examination.”

Li Shan Zhu looked down in disappointment, his slightly long fringe covered up his expression. “…I see.”

“Sorry.” Ning Ning looked down at her watch and feigned anxiousness. “It’s almost the appointed time, I’ll make a move.”

She had only taken a few steps before a figure rushed out behind her and ferociously hugged her. Both of them fell head first onto the road, directly to the front of a bus that was zooming down the straight…

“The heart has stopped.”

“Prepare the defibrillator. Charge, 200 joules.”

“Ok, clear!”

Ning Ning slowly opened her eyes, a light shook in front of her eyes and made her giddy, it took a very long while before she asked feebly, “What time is it?”

The doctor and nurses continued to work. One of the nurses answered her, “You will be fine, don’t worry.”

“What…time is it?” Ning Ning asked again, “Has the weekend passed?”

“Not yet.” The nurse said, “It’s Saturday night, it’s almost eight.”

This answer seemed to have sucked out all the strength from Ning Ning, her vision turned blurry again.

She was still alive. What about Li Shan Zhu? Not only had the two of them flown out when they were hit by the bus, they had also been crushed under another car. At that moment, Ning Ning felt like a piece of meat on a chopping block, turning into minced meat at an extremely slow speed.

“Not good, her heart stopped again.”

“Let me see…”

Not only did her vision turn blurry, the doctor’s voice was getting further and further away.

What a joke, how could she die this day? How could she die before the weekend? Ning Ning struggled to open her mouth and told the doctor and nurses beside her, “I am not Zhang Xin Ai, I am Ning Ning…”

Collapse of character designation, back to the beginning.

Negotiations over and over again, deaths over and over again. Once, in the midst of all this, Ning Ning took the opportunity to call the police while he was cooking in the kitchen. When the police had arrived, before Ning Ning could open the door, Li Shan Zhu had already ignited a gas tank in the kitchen.

That time, Ning Ning almost died.

After relying on “Trump for 2017” to save herself, Ning Ning held a fruit knife, staring at Li Shan Zhu who was standing in front of her.

Li Shan Zhu brought the fish head casserole out from the kitchen and was stunned. He asked with a smile, “Big Sister Little Ai, you want to kill me?”

He gently placed the fish head casserole on the table, making a gentle and crisp sound. For some reason, this crisp sound reminded Ning Ning of the moment the gas tank exploded in the kitchen previously. She shouted as she raised the knife in her hand, aiming the fruit knife at Li Shan Zhu.

“…Big Sister Little Ai.” Li Shan Zhu walked towards her after a moment of silence. “Your hand is trembling very badly.”

“Don’t come over!” Ning Ning shouted lightly, the hand holding the fruit knife was shivering.

Was this terror, fear, or hesitation?

“…Do I have no choice?” She did not know whether she was asking him or herself, “Will I die if I don’t kill you?”

But who was she to murder someone in Zhang Xin Ai’s stead?

“…Can’t you just give up?” Ning Ning had already forgotten how many times she had asked that question, she used an even more gentle, pitiful and pleading tone than before, “Must you kill me?”

“Other than death…” Li Shan Zhu slowly took out a kitchen knife as he smiled at her. “There are no other ways for us to be together.”

Saturday, 17th July 2004. In a certain psychological clinic.

Wen Yu placed two teacups on the table. He took a glance at Ning Ning’s pocket. “Are you not answering that?”

From when she first sat down, her phone in the pocket of her blouse had been ringing non-stop. She did not silence it, but she did not answer either. She only remained seated in a daze, until a staff member knocked on the door with an electric kettle in hand. “Doctor Wen, the tea is ready.”

Wen Yu poured the tea into the cup in front of her.

The fragrance of the tea billowed out, the golden petals on the surface were swirling.

“Three hundred and sixty-two.”

What? Wen Yu looked up at Ning Ning.

Ning Ning looked down at the tea cup in front of her with a stupefied expression, “This is the three hundred and sixty second cup of chrysanthemum tea I am having here.”

Anything that was repeated for too long would make a person feel fed up, numb, manic, and broken down, they would then either explode or die at last.

Ning Ning slowly picked up the cup of chrysanthemum tea. She did not drink it. With just a whiff of its smell, she turned around and gagged.

With such a violent reaction, it made Wen Yu suspect that his tea was poisoned, or that she might be allergic to chrysanthemum.

“Little Zhang, Little Zhang, come over for a moment.” He anxiously called the staff member over, taking the teapot and teacups on the table and leaving. He then opened the window to air the room.

It took ten minutes before Ning Ning got her breath back.

“Are you alright?” Wen Yu asked her from the side, he had an expression of care and doubt.

He carefully thought back on it after the incident, that scene on the roof was most likely an act, what about now? Was she acting again? Was she pretending to be sick to gain his pity?

Ning Ning laid on the armrest of the sofa. She slowly looked up at him with a very weird expression, it was that of pain and guilt, it even had a sentiment that was hard to describe with words, a feeling akin to that of a flower under a rock breaking through the earth—minute, obscure, abrupt, and full of struggles.

“A day like this, I couldn’t even go through a single one.” She looked at Wen Yu with a dazed expression. “How…has he endured for twenty-seven years?”

The camera shot slowly got further away.

Within Life Theater, her dazed expression was projected on the big screen, reflected in the eyes of the only audience.

Shi Zhong Tang sat on the audience seat. The jade mask covered his facial features along with the expression he was making at this time, the only thing that could be seen was his mask that was illuminated by the white light from the screen.

And by his side was darkness, a mess.

He was sitting on a carved chair, it was probably the only chair that was intact in Life Theater—all the other chairs were broken and strewn on the floor. The place was as messy as a junkyard, the originally old and broken down movie theater was even more dilapidated now.

Shouting sounds, sounds of rods hitting each other, undulated crying sounds—but Shi Zhong Tang did not care, he was completely mesmerised by the person in the movie. He watched the screen without moving, awaiting her next line.

“Twenty-seven years? Who are you talking about?”

“Your brother, Shi Zhong Tang.”

1Fish head casserole is a seafood dish from China. It is named for its main ingredient, fish heads, which are cooked in a casserole. Wiki link

2Latiao (Spicy strip) is a popular Chinese snack. The main raw materials are wheat flour and chili. After adding water, salt, sugar, natural pigment and other surface, the flour is extruded under high temperature, then mixed with chili and other seasonings. Wiki link

TN: Happy New Year everyone, here’s hoping 2021 will be a better year to everyone =)

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3 thoughts on “ITTMB 121”

  1. OH MAN SZT smashed all the other chairs????? It’s not easy to watch your girlfriend flirt with others, even if you know it’s just an act…. The last scene was somehow so romantic to me. Twisted tho. What I’m wondering is how ZXA ended up becoming a Theater employee. Thanks for the chapter!!!!

  2. I don’t think SZT did the mess. I mean, I initially thought so too, but the last paragraph said that there’s a commotion inside the theatre and SZT is the only person sitting. Which could also mean that, the staff had gone mad.

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