Night of Revelry
…Was there still hope for Chen Shuang He??
“Hey! Chen Shuang He! Hey!” Ning Ning shouted a few times at the entrance. Not only did Chen Shuang He ignore her, no one else came out to take a look at her. She was so anxious that she started to jump about.
She had no choice, she would answer the phone call for him first.
“Hmm, why is it you?” Director Chen’s voice rang out from the other end. “Where’s Shuang He?”
Ning Ning pressed on her temple that was hurting. “He’s not available at the moment, I’ll get him to call you back later.”
“Oh, there’s no need.” Director Chen laughed. “I heard the two of you were together…did the two of you go to the cemetery together?”
“Yes, that’s right.” Ning Ning was a person who was once bitten, twice shy, so she was afraid that he would bring up the topic of matchmaking next, thus, she asked a question first, “Director Chen, I heard that today is your wife’s death anniversary, why did you not visit?”
“I’m a very busy man. I’m in the midst of preparing for the next movie, a very important movie.” While speaking about his wife, Director Chen’s tone was that of someone talking blandly about a stranger. “Shuang He being there is enough. That’s right, your mother is also buried at that cemetery. Did you visit her while you were there?”
“I did, there were even a few of Mama’s fans…” Ning Ning said.
“Oh? Tell me about it.” Director Chen was more interested in those few fans than his deceased wife’s matter. He urged her on very strongly, Ning Ning could only describe the entire process. He sighed as he said in sad remembrance, “Only old folks like us would remember Yu Ren’s peerless charm, I should go visit her next time as well…”
“You don’t have to,” Ning Ning suddenly interrupted him, “Chen Shuang He and…your wife needs you more, isn’t that so?”
“So what?” Director Chen answered naturally, “I don’t need them.”
Ning Ning fell silent, she did not know how she should answer that. Director Chen, on the other hand, continued to talk, “Then let’s make it this weekend. After I deal with everything I have on hand, I will have exactly one day to visit your mother, do you want to come along? Tell her that you will be acting as Phantom. Ah, how could I have forgotten? I have to personally tell her that no matter what…“
“I…I’m not available on that day.” Ning Ning declined Director Chen. From the beginning to the end, Director Chen had been talking about Mama. He was not concerned about Chen Shuang He at all, even more so for his deceased wife. This made Ning Ning feel strangely awkward. She also understood why Mama had kept her distance from Director Chen in those years in the past—outside of work, she never seemed to interact with him.
An unrequited love was sometimes scarier than unrequited hate.
After she hung up, Ning Ning stared at the entrance for a good while. Out of the blue, Ning Ning gritted her teeth, holding onto the ticket in her hand tightly, she summoned her courage and walked in.
The doorman was absent tonight, there was no one to stop Chen Shuang He from entering, there was also no one to stop her from doing so.
The blood red poster by the entrance and her own experience of almost sneaking in last time made Ning Ning’s legs feel a little limp. She had already made all sorts of mental preparation, but had never expected that Life Theater would look like this.
A small salute rang out, colourful ribbons flew in the air.
The salute had been fired from the audience seat. The seats that were in ruins before had already returned to its original state. Carved wooden chairs were lined up neatly in a row. The seats were filled up—Ancient Noblewoman Mask, Crying Old Man Mask, Monkey Mask…masked people had filled the seats to the brim.
There were still a few masked people walking about in between the audience seats. They were either holding a beverage box or a snack box, shouting as they walked around, “Hot drinks, cold drinks, roasted corn!”
“Give me a cup of hot coffee!”
“This old man wants a cup of hot tea.”
“Orange juice with more ice.”
“I want roasted corn! Two sticks!”
Masks covered everyone’s faces, their mouths weren’t even showing, how would they eat? No, they didn’t have to eat, they just wanted to enjoy the atmosphere at the moment. Dancing ecstatically! Feelings running high!
With a boom, two blood red words jumped out on the big screen in front of them, <<Sneaking In>>.
Starring: Chen Shuang He.
Upon seeing that name, Ning Ning’s heart thumped. She murmured, “Is it too late…”
But immediately after that, one word jumped out at the bottom of the screen: ‘Executioner’.
“Me!” A masked person raised their hand.
“Me! Me! Me!” Countless hands raised from the audience seats.
Ning Ning simply did not dare to go over. She stood by the seat that was closest to the entrance, looking at the crowd of tightly packed raised hands which looked like a school of fish chasing after bait.
“They don’t know Chen Shuang He, neither do they hold any sort of grudge against him.” A man’s voice rang out beside her. Ning Ning turned her head around and saw that Shi Zhong Tang had been standing by her side since an unknown amount of time. He looked at the school of fish and said, “The reason they are volunteering so enthusiastically is purely because it’s their…it’s the only entertainment for us masked people.”
“Entertainment?” Ning Ning gazed at him.
“Yes, the Night of Revelry.” Shi Zhong Tang turned and smiled at her, “Tonight, every masked person is part of the audience, they can also be an actor.”
A man suddenly stood up from the audience seat, he said coldly, “Me.”
His deep voice blasted across the entire theater like a snowy wind. The hand that was closest to him retracted itself, followed by the second one, the third one, the fourth one…every raised hand retracted itself like a wave.
Finally, a pillar of light shone down from the ceiling on the man.
White coat, a black belt around the waist, a snow white mask on the face… it was Boss Qu.
After all the other competitors gave in, his name quickly appeared on the screen.
Executioner: Boss Qu.
Almost in the instant his name had appeared, below the word executioner, another word emerged: ‘Saviour’.
Boss Qu’s ice cold stare swept across the audience seat, the silence amongst them was deafening. How enthusiastic they had been was how quiet they were now.
“We’ll go with this.” A masked person said.
“That’s right. Let’s quickly begin, I can’t wait anymore. The last time someone snuck in was around 1991 or 1992.”
“Ah, it should be that woman, I remember her.”
“Why do you always mention her? Quickly! Quickly! I can’t wait anymore, I want to watch a new movie!”
With a crack, the same pillar of light shone from the ceiling onto Ning Ning…’s neighbour.
Shi Zhong Tang had raised a hand lazily, his jade mask reflecting the white light.
Every masked person held their breaths. The theater was silent, countless eyes were looking over from behind their masks, some with ridicule, some with bewilderment, some with indifference, some with ruefulness… The coldest pair of eyes among them belonged to Boss Qu.
“All of you fought to be the executioner, then I am the only one who can be the saviour.” Shi Zhong Tang said while grinning, “After all, in a movie, it wouldn’t be interesting if there was only an antagonist. There’s good and evil, just and unjust, victor and loser, it would only be interesting if there’s a winner and a loser…Ning Ning, won’t you say so? ”
He placed his arm on Ning Ning’s shoulder and got closer to her like a lover, whispering into her ear.
Ning Ning was slightly surprised, what he said was…
“Get over here.” Boss Qu seemed to not be able to stomach what he was doing. He said coldly, “Go be the saviour!”
“Ah, I’m coming, I’m coming.” Shi Zhong Tang gave Ning Ning’s shoulder a pat, then walked towards the big screen.
Executioner: Boss Qu.
Saviour: Shi Zhong Tang.
Both the executioner and the saviour returned to their respective wooden carved chair. The pillar of white light followed them wherever they went, differentiating them from the rest of the masked people beside them. Once the theme song started playing, both of them held onto the armrests beside them, one could see with naked eyes that they started to turn transparent from their fingers.
The theme songs from the previous movies were all sung by the main character of the movie, but it was different this time.
Maybe it was because of the fact that Chen Shuang He was not a masked person, so they had someone else to sing for him?
“Enter with a ticket, leave without one.” It was the voice of a teenager, no, a young man, old man, little boy…Ning Ning shook her head, what was with her, she actually could not determine the age of the voice?
It was a very strange voice. It sounded like a teenager for one moment, a young man in the next, then an old man, even the emotion in the voice went through a lot of changes. It was happy one moment, angry the next, then sad. At last, he sang with an extremely joyful voice, “Entering without a ticket is also permissible, stake your life, sing loudly the Night of Revelry!!”
“Night of Revelry!!”
“Oh! Oh! Oh!”
“Let’s begin, let’s begin!”
A group of masked people started jumping from the audience seats. Shaking figures, frenzied laughter, and suppressed emotions that were close to madness covered Ning Ning’s back with a layer of sweat.
“Come over here.” A young girl wearing a court lady’s mask pulled Ning Ning’s arm all of a sudden. She led Ning Ning to an empty seat, cordial and friendly, just that her eyes were stirred up with excitement, they were like two whirlpools that were continuously spinning, giving people chills. She smiled as she said, “This is close to the screen, you would be able to see clearly.”
Ning Ning looked at the screen over her shoulders.
This was her first time watching a movie here purely as an audience.
The image was a blur. There was a woman’s voice, it sounded near yet far, like a floating jellyfish, like an incessant chatter by the ears.
“Being gifted, being successful in whatever you do, you had everything you wanted in life… In other words, you are simply like another species compared to a mortal like me.”
Ning Ning exclaimed. The voice from her mouth sounded exactly the same as the voice on the screen. It was her voice, it was what she had said to Chen Shuang He previously.
“A mortal would always want to turn back time, to correct their mistakes. What about you? A person like you, would you want to go back in time?”
A pair of eyes opened abruptly, the blurred image suddenly turned clear.
“What’s going on? Why did I dream of her…” Chen Shuang He complained quietly. He sat up on the bed and looked at the room in front of him before he fell into a daze. He took the blanket off and jumped from the bed, running to the mirror.
In the mirror was the reflection of a teenager.
He was about fourteen years old. His body was tall and slender, his looks was strikingly handsome, like a pretty boy by the lakeside in the Greek mythology, loved by the fairies in the lake.
“It’s me.” Chen Shuang He touched his face, the pretty boy in the mirror mirrored his action. He muttered, “I’ve returned to the past.”
“That’s right, you’ve returned to the past.” A man’s voice rang out behind him.
Chen Shuang He had a huge shock. He did not turn back however, his vision was fixed onto the mirror in front of him.
Not far behind him stood a man, an adult who was a head taller than him. The posture he had while looking down at Chen Shuang He, the jade mask that was covering his face, the gorgeous peach coloured corner of his eyes—he looked enchanting even without a smile.