Feng Yeran melted and solidified in the mottled, dark gold dream.
He heard cheerful laughter.
“Yeran, come here.” A familiar, gentle voice.
He saw his mother, in a dark dress, snow-white embroidered gloves and a bow-tie sunhat, sitting on a stool and waving to him. His father, in a dark grey suit, was sitting beside her and said to him, “Silly child, what are you waiting for? We’re going to take a photo!”
Feng Boran and Chen Xuan stood behind their elders. Chen Xuan was holding a puppy and smoothing its fur. Feng Boran’s face didn’t have the disdain it once had but was gentle and friendly.
Feng Yeran walked towards them step by step on the soft grass, his nose sour. There were small snow-white flowers dotting the green vegetation, golden sunlight, gentle birdsong and warm wind.
He stood beside Feng Boran, and Feng Boran put his arm around him. “Brother, smile, but don’t blink.”
His hand gently covered his mother’s shoulder, and she turned back to smile, taking his hand warmly.
“Cheese—” the photographer said.
Everyone faced the camera and shouted “cheese” together.
A fragrant spring breeze came.
His mother dissolved into black fragments and faded away with the wind.
Before he could react, he heard gunshots and screams.
Black blood splattered on his body and Feng Boran fell to the ground. Then, there was Chen Xuan, terrified, screaming, like a frightened bird, but still falling into the pool of blood in the end.
Feng Mu stood up trembling and pointed at Feng Yeran, his eyes which were filled with fear and anger slowly widening, and then he slid to the ground.
Feng Yeran gasped loudly in the pool of blood, shaking all over.
An ice-cold man embraced him from behind, like a cold-blooded animal. The gun in the man’s hand fell to the lawn with a soft dull thud, white smoke billowing from its muzzle.
The man’s breath spread in his ear, as scalding as the muzzle of the gun, with a gentle smile.
“Don’t be afraid, Ye’er. You still have me.”
From time to time, Feng Yeran would wake up from his nightmares, and every time he woke up, he’d find Feng Hua holding him tightly. However, he no longer felt at ease, but was afraid.
He got up and wandered around the room. His mind was in turmoil.
Early in the morning, at the dining table.
Feng Yeran was silent for a long time before he said, “Feng Hua, for the time being, you should go back and stay at the institute.”
Feng Hua suddenly lifted his head. “Why?? Are you driving me away?”
“Then why?” Feng Hua stood up and his eyes turned red. “You’re going to have me locked into that small room again? Like locking up an animal—”
“No! No, Feng Hua!” Feng Yeran looked up at him, a thick blackness under his eyes. “There’s a house near the institute. I applied for it for you before, and now it’s ready to be lived in, so you can live there for the time being. It’s spacious, in a nice environment, with a clock tower and a park around. It’s really a great place…”
“Will you live there with me?”
“You’re old enough to live alone.”
“I’m not going! I only want to live with you! And, Ye’er, you think I don’t know? Is there any difference between being locked up in a small room and being imprisoned in a house? My every word and action would be monitored every day. I would take a lot of medicine and be treated like a mouse… Okay, I don’t mind that, but by that time, even seeing you would become difficult!”
“Taking medicine and injections isn’t treating you as an experiment! It’s to treat your sickness! And I will come to see you. You will have free time every week. I’ll try my best to apply for more free time for you. Once you’re well, I’ll take you back again, you can rest assured—but Feng Hua, you have to go. Your mental state is very unstable right now!”
“I’m not going!”
“Do as you’re told.”
“I’m not going!”
“Feng Hua, do as you’re told.”
“I’m not sick… Ye’er! I’m not sick! Why do none of you believe me?!”
“Did Xiao Zhijie tell you that?”
Feng Yeran suddenly stood up, the table making a sharp sound as it scraped against the floor. He slapped his palm on the table, his whole body shaking slightly and his cheeks red. He was obviously angry. “It doesn’t matter who told me. What matters is that you have to go live there anyway, you have to be examined and treated. If you don’t listen, I won’t care about you anymore!”
Feng Hua stared at Feng Yeran for a long time before he silently lowered his eyes and sat feebly on the chair, his voice extremely soft. “Okay, as long as you… don’t leave me, I’ll do as I’m told. I’ll go.”
* * *
The house near the research institute used to be an office of the research institute, but it was later abandoned and turned into something like a warehouse.
After being tidied and cleaned, it was completely habitable and quite empty.
The surroundings of the house weren’t bad. There was a small garden, and a large park in the distance with a tall clock tower. However, nothing could hide the essence of being imprisoned. The house was sealed off by a tight electric net around it. Layers of guards, layers of locks. Fortunately, it wasn’t complete captivity. He could go out two or three times a week, but, of course, he needed to be followed.
On the third day after moving, Feng Hua was sitting on the sofa. He had just had an infusion and was a little dizzy and weak. His phone rang and he quickly opened it. It was a text message from Feng Yeran.
“Feng Hua, I have a lot to do today, so I won’t come to see you. Take good care of yourself.”
He quickly sent a message back to Feng Yeran: “Okay ^_^ hard work. I’ll be waiting for you tomorrow.”
Feng Hua fell asleep on the sofa in a daze, clutching a grey down jacket. Feng Yeran’s jacket.
On the evening of the fourth day, he received another text message from Feng Yeran.
“Feng Hua, I’m sorry. There’s an event tonight and I can’t come over to be with you. Go to bed early.”
“Got it! No drinking! How’s your stomach?”
“That’s good! Don’t stay busy too late. Go to bed early!”
On the fifth day, he didn’t receive any text messages from Feng Yeran. Feng Hua called him. After calling three times, he finally got through. The background was a little noisy.
“Ye’er, are you outside?”
Feng Hua heard Xiao Zhijie’s voice. “Who’s calling?”
“Ye’er, when are you coming over today? …I haven’t seen you for nearly a week.”
“I might come over, but it’s not very likely because I’m too far away from the institute now. Even if I go to you, it’ll be very late. Don’t wait for me.”
He heard that man’s voice again. “Hey, hey, we said you’d stay at my place!”
“You’re staying at Xiao Zhijie’s tonight?”
“I’m not sure, but we’re close to his place now, so maybe.”
“Don’t stay at his place! Ye’er! I miss you!” Unfortunately, a noisy tram drowned out Feng Hua’s voice.
“What did you just say?”
That night, Feng Hua was still sitting on the sofa, clutching the down jacket almost devoid of Feng Yeran’s breath, staring silently at a video with no sound on. Feng Yeran didn’t come.
On the evening of the seventh day, Feng Hua had a video call with Feng Yeran. Feng Yeran was walking on the road, and it was a little bumpy.
“Ye’er, you’re at the institute now, very close to me. You’ll come, right?”
“Mm… I guess.”
“Still not sure? You’re busy?”
“Yes, I’ve been staying up late working on an experimental report these days.”
“You’re not in good health. Don’t stay up late.”
“Mm. Feng Hua, I’ll text you later. I’m hanging up now.”
However, Feng Yeran actually forgot to hang up the video call. The phone was placed in his pocket, but the sound of clothes rubbing together and the conversation could be heard clearly.
It was Xiao Zhijie’s voice again. “Hey! I’ll take you to eat stewed hen. It’s very nourishing! After that, let’s go for a walk in the pedestrian street. It seems there’s an ice sculpture exhibition these two days.”
“I don’t know what time it’ll be when we finish seeing it. I have to go stay with Feng Hua today.”
“Come on, didn’t you not want to see him? You’re at home alone and like to fill your head with nonsense. Just stay at my place and relax! I’ve even prepared a toothbrush for you.”
“Okay, I’m counting on Brother Xiao today!”
“Hahaha, you’ve made the right decision. Follow me and you’ll have meat to eat1跟着我有肉吃 may also mean to follow someone and have a good future life.!”
Feng Hua hung up the video call.
He was holding his phone, his fingers shaking.
He began to edit a text message, again and again, writing and deleting, deleting and writing.
“Don’t go to his house! That man doesn’t mean well!”
“Why don’t you want to see me?”
“It’s been eight days… Ye’er, you know I can’t leave you!”
“Ye’er, do you know how much I miss you, how worried I am? I’m anxious, I’m going crazy!”
“Why don’t you want to see me? Do you want to give up on me?”
“But I miss you… why… why do I love you so much and suffer so much…”
“You don’t want to see me because you suspect I’m the murderer? Because you suspect I killed your woman? But it wasn’t me! It wasn’t me! Why don’t you believe me!”
“If it’s true—”
He deleted it all.
He wanted to go out. It just so happened that today he got an hour of release time.
Followed by several people, he stepped on the snow in his hoodie, walked into the small park, and weaved his way through the streets large and small.
Listening to the noises, the laughter, the hawking, the cars driving, the advertisements, the sales guides, the wind…
Looking at all sorts of colours, dazzling, blinding, bland, monochrome…
Countless smells, the sweetness of drinks, the aroma of food, the sweat of pedestrians, the stench of garbage…
He closed his eyes.
He heard a bell.
Dong… dong… dong… dong…
He suddenly covered his heart and crouched down, an inexplicable pain tormenting him.
As the bell stopped, all the shrill and roaring sounds became the low fuzzy melody of a cello, all the colours lost their lustre, all the smells became bland…
It seemed that everything had lost its meaning.
He returned to the house and took off the down jacket.
Today, he had prepared a meal waiting for Feng Yeran.
Now, that meal had long since gone cold.
He turned on the stove, intending to heat it up.
The fire was like the eye of a strange man. Orange iris, green pupil.
He gazed into the strange man’s eye and reached out, wanting to touch it.
He touched it.
He saw his skin burst and swell and curl like paper.
It hurt. It seemed as if all the cells in his body had exploded at that moment. However, there was some inexplicable sense of nostalgia.
He moved his hand away and watched his skin gradually return to its original appearance.
The wind was whistling, flapping the window, making a subtle sound, as if calling to him.
He walked towards the window, the flames seeming to spread around him, and this sensation made him feel carefree.
He stood by the window and opened it.
The wind was in his face, blowing his hair, as if warmly inviting him: Jump! Jump!
Feng Hua frowned, wanting to get rid of that inexplicable impulse.
He looked downstairs inadvertently.
In the white snow, he saw himself.
He saw himself lying on the snow, head broken and bleeding. The blood was red and the brain was pink and milky. And around, there were more and more of himself, big and small. They were wandering in the snow, like walking corpses.
A few researchers were standing not far away, but no one thought it strange.
No one even seemed to notice the dead body on the ground.
His youngest self looked to be only four or five years old.
He knelt in front of his dead self, got down and stuck out his tongue, licking the brain on the ground.
A look of relish on his face.
As if it were a pile of strawberry ice cream.
- 1跟着我有肉吃 may also mean to follow someone and have a good future life.