Whom Do You Listen To
Upon seeing the name, Ning Ning felt like she had made an extremely big mistake.
“It’s over…” She murmured quietly, “My audition video…”
This Pei Xuan, was it the Pei Xuan she knew?
If that was the case, wouldn’t that mean that he knew Lian Lian? And based on the script, it looked like the two of them had a pretty good relationship?
Then would she have shared the video with him?
Ning Ning frantically called Lian Lian and asked, “The name of the male lead is Pei Xuan?”
“What about it?” Lian Lian asked.
Ning Ning did not directly ask about her relationship with Pei Xuan, she beat about the bush instead. “This name seems to be the same as the male lead in Yan Qing’s film…”
“So what?” Lian Lian said, “I will get someone to tell her to change the name.”
Ning Ning, “…”
She really was an unreasonable young lady.
“I just read the script.” Ning Ning said, “I have some doubts about Pei Xuan’s place in it. President…”
“Stop. Never call me President Lian, Madam Lian or Sister Lian.” Lian Lian suddenly interrupted her, “If you must, call me cutie.“
“Cu, cutie…” What kind of weird way of addressing a person is that? Ning Ning’s mouth twitched.
“Hmmm.” Lian Lian answered proudly, “Speak.”
“The character Pei Xuan, he is your benefactor right?” Ning Ning said without a change in tone, “It was him who found you and brought you back to the Lian family, mediated your relationship to allow the Lian family to accept you…You said that this story is adapted from a true story, what happened to him in the end? Are you still in contact with him?”
“Why are you asking about that?” Lian Lian said with caution.
“I’m just a little curious.” Ning Ning laughed as she flipped the script, intentionally making the sounds of paper rustling. “From the story and character design, he is an overbearing CEO type of male lead, why did the two of you not end up together?”
“..I myself don’t know why the two of us did not end up together.” Ning Ning seemed to have pointed out something that was bothering her, Lian Lian sighed softly.
Lian Lian was once a beauty that made millions swoon and had countless men under her thumb, but she was still single till this day for reasons unknown, no one knew who she truly cared about.
Ning Ning felt nervous asking this, she was afraid that Lian Lian would answer with, “I loved him so much, how could he bear to leave me?”
Then she would be another Yun Lin, turning into a dangerous person because she was in love with a dangerous man. It was especially dangerous for Ning Ning as she had to enter Life Theater from time to time.
“Maybe it was because he was not handsome enough?” Lian Lian answered, “Or maybe because he was too old, that was why he felt ashamed in front of me? So he chose to give up and let me have the freedom to choose someone younger and more handsome?”
Ning Ning, “…”
“After all, I am a little fuzzy regarding the memories associated with him.” Lian Lian answered lazily, “On the contrary, my grandfather, siblings and servants in my house remember him well. My grandfather is getting on in his years, I have a poor relationship with my siblings, so Pei Xuan was written according to what my servants remember. They had a good impression of Pei Xuan, so he will be portrayed as a good person in the script, rich and gentlemanly, with quite good looks as well.”
The way she said it would sound ungrateful to anyone, because she would not have had the riches she did today if not for Pei Xuan. She could have led the life of her childhood buddy Mu Er—dropping out of highschool, working at the family restaurant, marrying the boss of a video store, getting married and giving birth at a young age, getting wrinkles from the stress of dealing with her husband and their mischievous son, getting fat when she reached midlife, experiencing menopause early.
But Ning Ning knew that there was another possibility.
Lian Lian had been replaced by a customer of Life Theater the day she was found by Pei Xuan, causing her to have vague memories—like You Ling from <<The Person Within the Painting>>, being unable to remember the specifics of what had happened.
Ning Ning could not help but breathe out deeply. If that was the case, things would be a lot easier to handle, at least she did not have to deal with Pei Xuan immediately.
The two of them spoke for a little longer. At around ten at night, Lian Lian said, “I need my beauty sleep.” Then immediately hung up.
“She really is a carefree woman.” Ning Ning muttered then slowly turned around and looked at the purse beside her.
She opened the purse and slowly took out a ticket.
Life Theater, ordinary ticket.
It was the one she obtained in <<Person by the Pillow>.
Pei Xuan had personally created a tragedy in Yan Qing’s life, then made use of her pain and despair to summon three movie tickets. Pei Xuan had intercepted two of them, but Ning Ning had hidden the one in the wedding gown. In the end, she got into a traffic accident. The moment the flames erupted into the sky, Ning Ning had returned to the theater along with the ticket.
It was hard to explain, but it completely followed the rules of the theater—the ticket on the audience will remain on the audience’s body, no matter if the audience was inside the movie or out of it.
“Rule number one, a person would at most receive three tickets from the theater.” Ning Ning held up the ticket and muttered, “Rule number two, there is no restriction on the number of tickets you can get from another person…regardless of the methods of acquisition.”
The more rightful way would be like the way Ning Yu Ren chose to buy the tickets.
There were also cruel methods, like how Pei Xuan chose to ruin another person’s life, then intercept the person’s chance at changing their life, seizing the person’s movie tickets.
“Is there no other way to acquire tickets besides these two?” Ning Ning asked.
She looked at the ticket, the ticket looked back at her. The ticket could not answer any of her questions, but one person could.
Half an hour later, a car door opened. Ning Ning closed it on her way out, looking up in front of her.
As if it was an oil painting that would never fade, a sculpture that had existed since thousands of years ago, Life Theater stood quietly in front of her, the Doorman stood quietly in front of it.
“No.” Boss Qu answered immediately when faced with the question Ning Ning posed to him.
“Are those really the only two methods?” Ning Ning frowned. “Then wouldn’t the relationship between customers be…”
“It is a competitive relationship.” Boss Qu said coldly, “Everyone wants more tickets, better tickets.”
Ning Ning understood what he meant by that.
More tickets would mean more chances to change the past. Better tickets would mean better chances to change the past.
“It’s not easy to change the past…” Ning Ning looked down and sighed. “Rule number three, a person may change the main character’s fate at most two times. If someone did it more than twice, that person would have to pay a price. For example, death…”
“Something worse than death.” Boss Qu said blandly.
Ning Ning was stunned, she looked up at him, scrutinising the snow-white mask on his face.
“They will end up like me.” A mocking laughter rang out from behind Boss Qu. The two of them looked in the direction of the laughter and saw Shi Zhong Tang standing at the entrance. He knocked on the mask on his face, making a pleasing and crisp sound.
Changing the fate of a main character thrice would result in a fate like his—becoming a masked person.
“But don’t worry.” Shi Zhong Tang turned around with a laugh, looking to his side. “The movie today is very safe. Not only is it safe, it is also very warm and hilarious.”
Ning Ning looked at what he was looking at and saw a new poster on the wall.
Title: <<My Angel>
Starring: Mu Gua1
…At a glance, Ning Ning thought it was a weight loss motivation film.
Because the main character on the poster was someone who was obese. He was not over fifteen years old, but was already over two hundred kilograms.
He was standing in front of a mirror while wearing a suit that was obviously stolen from his father’s wardrobe, the buttons on his belly had already burst, revealing a round belly.
He was hugging a gift box with his left arm. In the box was a toy train, a bamboo copter, a robot, Saint Seiya2 cards, etc. He was holding a love letter in his left hand, looking like he was afraid of forgetting his lines as he read it to his reflection in the mirror while blushing. The love letter was partially obscured, Ning Ning could only see the starting part, “You are my angel…”
“…Teen…romance movie?” Ning Ning said doubtfully as she turned back.
“It would be a romantic film only if the confession was successful, otherwise it would be a friendship movie.” Shi Zhong Tang shrugged. “Isn’t there a saying, you’re a nice guy, but I cannot be with you, we’re better off as friends.”
Ning Ning turned around and looked at the teenage boy on the poster again upon hearing this. She had the feeling that he gave off an aura of melancholy from head to toe, she even felt like taking out a dog treat to feed him…for the lonely dog he was.
“What are you waiting for?” Shi Zhong Tang reached out a hand to Ning Ning. “Come in quickly and watch it with me.”
“…What are you trying to do?” Boss Qu reached out and grabbed Shi Zhong Tang’s wrist, telling Ning Ning in a low voice, “Go home, this movie is not some damned romance film.”
“A friendship film is not bad as well.” Shi Zhong Tang winked at Ning Ning. “Although it’s sad to be rejected by a person, but you would still be able to have one more friend, the two of you can face any trials and tribulations together, look for clues together, find answers together. It would be nice…you don’t have to be alone again.”
Ning Ning was taken aback by his words.
There was a deeper meaning in Shi Zhong Tang’s words. The last time he said ‘you’re not alone’ was at the end of <<Person by the Pillow>>. What he said before that phrase was ‘You don’t only have enemies, you have friends too’. It looked like he had an ulterior motive in wanting Ning Ning to watch this “friendship movie”.
Or this “friendship movie” was more than met the eye, or he had something to tell Ning Ning in private…at least something that he didn’t want Boss Qu to hear.
“What’s the use of finding out more?” Boss Qu sneered at Shi Zhong Tang. “If there are no means to an end, there will only be more pain the more you find out!”
Ning Ning was stunned.
…This sentence was familiar too. “It’s more painful the more you know”, what followed was “so it’s better to be ignorant”. This was Boss Qu’s principle behind his actions in <<Republic Circus>>. He did not let his daughter know about anything, raising her in his meticulously crafted world. But that world was not real, things were still happening no matter if she saw them or not, the result of not knowing anything was her not being able to do anything about it, not being able to do anything in time.
The two of them were still arguing as she went deep into thought. It looked like they had already argued about something many times while Ning Ning was not around, the argument today was a continuation from the day before. In the end, Boss Qu looked angrily at Ning Ning. “Listen to me!”
Shi Zhong Tang also looked at Ning Ning with a smile. “Ning Ning, whom will you listen to?”
Ning Ning looked at him, then looked at Boss Qu. She suddenly shoved the ticket in her hand into Boss Qu’s hands, then rushed towards Shi Zhong Tang. When he saw her walk over to him, it was like a flower had bloomed in his eyes. He smiled as he grabbed her hand. They looked like an eloping couple, rushing into the theater amidst the angry shouts of Boss Qu.
Ning Ning glanced back then turned her head with lingering fear. “I hope I don’t burn to death this time.”
“It will be fine.” Shi Zhong Tang interlocked his fingers with hers and smiled. “I will die with you.”
Ning Ning did not take his words seriously as she rolled her eyes and asked, “Why did you call me in here? Do you have something to say to me?”
“Actually, I am not the one who wants to talk to you.” Shi Zhong Tang looked in another direction. “He is the one who wants to talk to you.”
Ning Ning turned around and saw a group of masked people looking at her quietly. A fat arm suddenly pushed the crowd apart and emerged from them, walking up to her.
It was a young and obese—estimated to be over two hundred kilograms—masked person.
The mask on his face had eyes and nose, but there was no mouth.
1This translates directly to papaya.
2This is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masami Kurumada. The story follows five mystical warriors called the Saints who fight wearing sacred sets of armor named “Cloths”, the designs of which derive from the various constellations the characters have adopted as their destined guardian symbols, and empowered by a mystical energy called “Cosmo”. The Saints have sworn to defend the reincarnation of the Greek goddess Athena in her battle against other Olympian gods who want to dominate Earth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Seiya