Odd-Numbered Designated Ticket
Ning Ning stood at the entrance (of the theater) for a very long time, before slowly walking towards the poster.
A shadow loomed over her, she looked up, the Doorman was standing in front of her.
He didn’t say a word, but he was more compelling than one who was loquacious. Ning Ning took two steps back as she was unable to bear the imposing aura emanating from his body. However, she walked forward again defiantly and said to him, “Let me in!”
“You don’t have a ticket.” He said coldly.
“No!” Ning Ning carelessly grabbed three tickets out of her purse, these were the inheritance from her mother. She raised them up and showed them to him, “I have tickets!”
The instance the Doorman saw the tickets in her hand, his expression changed into something extremely scary.
There was no wind, but the tickets were shaking. It did not come from the tickets, it was from the hand that was holding them. Her heart was obviously scared out of her life, but Ning Ning still strained her throat and told him, “Let me in!”
The Doorman shifted his vision onto her face, he was visibly in rage. “It’s not time yet!”
It was only 8pm, there were four whole hours till midnight.
How should I kill time?
The Doorman clenched his fist like he was forcibly restraining the anger in his mind. He pointed to a restaurant opposite with his chin, “Go have a meal, go home early after you are done…or watch a movie with a friend, sing karaoke? You must have other things to do, stop loitering in front of me all the time!”
He could not hold back his temper at the end of the sentence. But if you look at it carefully, rather than rage, it looked more like an indescribable anxiety.
Ning Ning looked at him for a while before turning around and heading to the restaurant. Before the Doorman could breathe a sigh of relief, he heard footsteps approaching him again. He looked up and saw her running back. She had plastic bags in her left hand, a cup of milk tea in her right hand, she handed them to him, “Do you want to eat?”
The Doorman did not accept her bribe, he stared at her and told her word for word instead, “Why are you always unwilling to listen to me?”
Ning Ning looked away, she could not point out what she was afraid of. Was it his overwhelming ferocious demeanour? Or was it his overly familiar eyes?
She looked at the poster beside him and said, “My mom will be in today’s movie.”
The Doorman, “…”
“I want to meet her.” Ning Ning walked away from him towards the poster. “I have a lot of questions for her.”
Time could be fleeting, but as long as you wanted it, every second could be put to good use.
Ning Ning stopped in front of the poster, then she began to investigate it.
The two previous transmigrations told her that the content of the poster was actually very important.
An unassuming detail might be the most important clue that run through the whole movie—for example, the small wooden box on the poster of <<Republic Circus>>. The surroundings depicted on the poster might very well be a hint of the environment the lead character was in—for example, the people who were gossiping in the surroundings of Wen Yu who would eventually sink in a swamp.
The poster this time as compared to the two previous times was…too ordinary.
It looked like an ordinary promotional poster for an ancient idol drama. There was an elegant man in white ancient costume. He held a brush in his left hand, his right hand was behind his body, he was painting on a fine writing paper. He had just started painting an outline of what seemed to be a person.
The brush was an ordinary brush, the paper was an ordinary paper, the desk was an ordinary desk, the inkstone was an ordinary inkstone, the person, pen and paper were all dyed yellow from the sunset.
There was nothing strange, if you had to point something out it would be the unfinished painting.
Ning Ning could not tell what he was drawing. She swallowed and turned around with a smile that looked like she was casually chatting to pass time, “Hi, what do you think he’s drawing?”
The Doorman shot a glance at her.
Ning Ning’s heart thumped.
“I cannot tell you.” The Doorman said.
Her hopes of getting information out of him were dashed, Ning Ning felt disappointed. Suddenly she heard him say, “Which ticket will you be using later?”
Ning Ning was stunned, “What do you mean by which ticket?”
“You have two types of tickets on hand.” The Doorman said, “Ordinary ticket, and odd-numbered designated ticket.”
Upon hearing this, Ning Ning frantically took out the three tickets from her purse again to check.
These three tickets looked the same on the surface, the only differences were the seat numbers. But upon closer inspection, one would discover that one of the tickets had not only seats that were close to the front, but the stamp on it also had a little word written on it with red ink: designated.
Thinking back on the even-number designated ticket she had used last time, Ning Ning looked up and asked, “What is the difference between this ticket and the even-numbered designated ticket? Can I designate the time I enter the movie?”
The Doorman lightly shook his head, “An even-numbered designated ticket designates the time, an odd-numbered designated ticket designates the character.”
“What you mean is…” Ning Ning seemed to have understood, she looked at the odd-numbered designated ticket in her hand, feeling a little mystified. “I can designate whom I transmigrate as?”
“That’s right.” The Doorman said, “You can transmigrate as anyone besides the lead character, the only prerequisite is that the person has appeared in this movie.”
Even-numbered designated tickets designated the time.
Odd-numbered designated tickets designated the character.
Ordinary tickets were all random.
“…Are there any other type of tickets?” Ning Ning looked up at him, “What do other tickets do?”
“I cannot tell you.” The Doorman said, “You don’t have the corresponding tickets on hand.”
Ning Ning had noticed that he had been saying he could not, not that he would not.
In addition, he had given her a hint—as long as she had the corresponding ticket on hand, she could get the relevant information from him.
“Alright, time is almost up.” The Doorman said, “Designate your character.”
After a pause, he added another sentence, “…You only want to meet your mom, right? Then pick a person she knew, don’t poke your nose into the lead character’s business. Nothing good would come out of interacting with that type of person.”
This was not the first time Ning Ning had heard this warning.
She did not understand what he was talking about before, but she did now. Combined with Mama’s last words, she (knew now that she) could not change the fate of the lead character as she pleased, if not there would be terrifying repercussions. It would be alright if they did not know each other. If they did and lived together everyday, then they would influence each other in some aspects, like her and Boss Qu, or her and Wen Yu.
She looked at the Doorman with a complicated expression. As her thoughts reached this point, she had understood one thing in her mind, “He’s helping me…”
“…I will.” She told him, “Give me a little time, I will think of whom to transmigrate as.”
Ning Ning did not know at which point of time (in the movie) she would enter, because she could not designate it. She might enter when Shi Zhong Tang was a child, or she might enter on the day he killed himself.
Under such uncertain circumstances, she had to at least guarantee one thing—when <<The Person within the Painting>> started its filming, she had to be in the crew.
In other words, she had to transmigrate as someone in the crew.
“This person had to have a little privilege, being able to move around the cast freely.” Ning Ning thought as she paced back and forth in front of the entrance of the theater, “The best occupation would be an actor, because if it was not an actor, like an editor or a fight choreographer, I would not be able to do their jobs. It would be fine if it was for a short period of time, I might be fired from the crew if it was for a long period of time…”
As she struck off the people from the crew based on her conditions, there was only one person who fit the criteria.
Ning Ning stopped in her tracks and looked at the Doorman, “I choose You Ling.”
You Ling was an actress along with Mama, she acted as the second female leading character Princess Ling Shan in <<The Person Within the Painting>>.
The reason Ning Ning chose her was not only because she had fit the above-mentioned criterias, it was also because within the group of main supporting actors, she was most familiar with You Ling. This actress had a lot of similarities with Ning Ning. For example, her good looks and her singular acting path. sShe had only acted as beautiful vases ever since she debuted.
As such Ning Ning was once known as “Little You Ling” instead of “Little Ning Yu Ren”.
From the rage in the beginning, to the empathy later on, Ning Ning could not help but look up her films and information. Now, that knowledge could be put to good use. Compared to the other strangers in the cast, she could quickly get into and better portray herself as You Ling, to avoid letting the people around her from exposing her as a fake.
“Designated character You Ling, one person per ticket, invalid upon admission.” The Doorman took the odd-numbered designated ticket from her hand. He gave way to the entrance after he tore the ticket, “You may enter.”
Ning Ning took a step towards the entrance. She looked at the darkness within and did not dare to take a second step.
The Doorman’s voice rang out from behind her, “Don’t worry, Life Theater will protect its customers while the movie is showing.”
“What about when the movie ends?” Ning Ning turned back with a slightly pitiful expression.
The Doorman looked at her silently for a moment and said, “I will be there to escort you.”
Ning Ning was stunned for a moment.
“I will be there to escort you.” He promised her in a serious manner, his voice deep and powerful. Like dark clouds bearing down on the city threaten to overwhelm it, itching to transform into knives, transform into swords, transform into shields to protect her. “You don’t have to be afraid! You don’t have to be afraid of anyone!”
This protection, this care, this expression, she was almost certain of his identity, but Ning Ning did not know whether she should call him out here…she was not mentally prepared.
So she hastily turned around and gave him an affirmation with her back facing him.
“Thank you.” She said softly, then she lowered her head and walked into the theater entrance in front of her.
Along the way, she saw that all the staff members stopped whatever they were doing and looked at her from behind their masks, greed and desire laid bare in their eyes. But as the Doorman had stated, they were obviously restless, but did not dare to do anything to her.
Life Theater was currently protecting her, protecting its only customer of the night.
“Here is your seat.” It was the Court Lady Mask1 from the previous two times, her attitude was even more hospitable than before, her expression more passionate than before. “Do you need a drink?”
“No, no need.” Ning Ning raised the milk tea in her hand towards the other. “I brought mine.”
Court Lady Mask left feeling disappointed. Not long after, the lights dimmed, the screen lit up.
The first thing to appear on the screen was still that sentence.
“This film has been adapted from a true story.”
Then a crisp ding rang out, it was like a jade chopstick knocking on a wine glass.
Ding, ding, ding. A dissolute and loud male singing voice accompanied the crisp and melodious knocking sound, “Loving wine, loving poems, loving beauties, happy life! Lusting after wine, lusting after intoxication, lusting after a confidant, life or death of the heart!”
The singing was flowing towards her like the Milky Way, and Ning Ning’s name was also like a flower beside the river, blooming sorrowfully on the poster at the entrance.
Title: <<The Person Within the Painting>>
Starring: Shi Zhong Tang, Ning Ning
1This is the same person we referred to as the “ancient female official mask”, we will be going forward with using Court Lady mask to be consistent with the original translation, along with the fact that it sounds better. W