“Today, a large quantity of dead fish washed up on the European coastlines. It has been estimated that the number is at least in the ten thousands. Scientists hypothesize that the extremely low temperature of the ocean has caused the mass deaths of these marine animals…”
The LCD television in the airport waiting area displayed an anchor woman reporting on the morning news.
In the boisterous public space, it was impossible to hear the news even if you were just a few feet away, and only those with good eyesight could catch the rolling subtitles.
Amongst the crowd, a man wearing a gray wool coat and a scarf, was flipping through the daily newspaper.
The headlines were bolded in black: “Flocks of birds mysteriously fall to their death in an American coastal city.”
He abruptly looked up towards the TV screen, but the reporter had already ended the previous segment and now moved onto the warfronts in the Middle East. The man thoughtfully reread the article about sea birds dying in flocks carefully.
This was only one example that appeared in this week of numerous animal deaths around the world in various coastal cities.
The scientific explanation was none other than unexpected climate change, while conspiracies such as man-made infrasound circulated. At first glance, they all seemed plausible, but upon closer examination, logistical failures appeared. In one area, why would only one species of animal die? Like the news article stated, one species of sea birds rained down on an American town, but further investigation showed no signs of poisoning. It was as if they suddenly forgot how to fly and collectively dropped dead . Yet all the other birds and animals in this town were completely fine.
As with the TV broadcast, it seemed that the washed up fish carcasses were all of the same species as well.
This world was becoming more and more peculiar!
The man’s name is Xia Yi. He’s 27 years old and is a member of the vast entertainment industry. He’s the type of person where if his name is mentioned, it would take a while for people to recall only to then eventually ask “Who is he? Is he a celebrity?” Even after starring in many serials where his seniors and juniors have become famous, he’s still swimming in the middle as a third-rate celebrity that only colleagues would know of.
Xia Yi was waiting for his flight. Beside him sat a young, round faced man with glasses who looked frustrated as he yawned. He resembled every other white-collar worker on a business trip. This was Xia Yi’s assistant Li Shao, who has only been employed under him for three months. He’s a freshly graduated newbie with no experience or connections. Xia Yi doesn’t have much for him to do, but it’s enough to force him onto the balls of his feet.
Li Shao couldn’t hold his posture and liked to fuss over anything and everything. Time will slowly sand away and it won’t take much for him to succeed. As long as he stayed in this circle for another eight or nine years, he too, could become a dependable and sociable agent. But the premise for that is he first needs an opportunity.
“Xia-Ge, I told you we should’ve followed the company when they chartered a plane, but you insisted not to and just had to dawdle for another day. Now great, those people would start to gossip again!” Li Shao complained. “According to the plan, we should arrive in SanYa by this afternoon then board the Thalassa cruise and head out for international waters. We won’t even be able to tour around and see SanYa’s scenery. If we arrived yesterday, we would’ve at least…”
Ah, seafood barbecue under a coconut tree, sounds like heaven.
Assistants in the entertainment industry were just as tired as the celebrities rushing for filmings. There’s no vacation and if there ever was a long break, then the only reaction would be fear. A celebrity actor with no work meant no income; what possible future could come out of that?
“Oh right, Xia-Ge, do you think Mr. Han, whose dating Liu-Jie, actually wants to marry her? These are some lavish spendings, first buying 30% of our company’s stock, then chartering a luxurious cruise for all the artists of the company, plus the year-end party…”
Li Shao’s eyes glowed as he thought of the famous Thalassa.
It contained all of the recreations imaginable: Billiard clubs, a shooting range, swimming pools and even casinos. When it was sailing through international seas, it would host parties all day and night. It’s like a movie scene come to life.
The truth is that Li Shao has been too excited to properly sleep since the company announced the news a week ago.
In comparison, Xia Yi seemed less excited. As he folded the newspaper, the sweet female announcer broadcasted the boarding flights’ information. Xia Yi disregarded Li Shao’s grumbles and bent down to raise the puller on his suitcase before walking on ahead.
“Ah? Xia-Ge! Wait for me.”
Liao Shao carried the remaining luggage and hurried forward.
The waiting area bustled with people and Xia Yi wasn’t very conspicuous. As a matter of fact, people rarely recognized him when he was in public. One would probably have to be a hardcore fan and even then, they’d be suspicious for a few moments; needing to turn back several times before finally realizing who he was.
People like Xia Yi, who only acted as supporting characters, were among the lowest level of the company’s contracted artists, and didn’t even have an official fansite, it was going to take a lot more for him to be exposed. Even if there were paparazzi around, most didn’t even see him as someone newsworthy.
Xia Yi is notorious in the industry for his aloof nature. He barely talks outside of filming and despite there being many directors who think he has good acting skills, his personality is a great setback. At the same time, compared to others in the industry, Xia Yi is a man whose looks don’t necessarily stand out. So, though he’s seen the darker sides of the industry, things like selling himself never crossed his mind.
This wasn’t a bad thing.
Not everyone wants to stand at the top with fame and wealth. Xia Yi was someone who lived in his own world.
Or more accurately, he was born with Asperger’s Syndrome. To put it simply, it’s a type of autism that Xia Yi was diagnosed with when he was six. It could be said that his future was practically over with this diagnosis. But Asperger’s Syndrome wasn’t considered a high-functioning form of autism. People with Asperger’s have few cognitive and language skill delays, and have better-than-average verbal skills. But their train of thought is often incoherent, and the worst is the fact that they never explain what they say. They’re able to subconsciously remember things, some to the extent of having photographic memory, but they’re not interested in the information they’ve stored. They don’t know how to build relationships and often don’t comprehend the meanings behind people’s expressions and reactions.
Autism is definitely an age long struggle. It’s an inherent condition that often has no relationship with the upbringing of the diagnosed. There’s not a single psychiatrist who can claim that they can cure this disorder. At most, they would utilize therapeutic sports, images, and music in hopes that the patient can pop their own bubble.
In Xia Yi’s case, it was the day when his caretaker realized that he was staring at the Shakespearean play on TV while reciting the lines alongside. His speech flowed smoother and smoother until eventually, he could imitate the actors and deliver the tragically elegant lines perfectly, but rigidly. He didn’t understand what Romeo was saying, but that didn’t stop him from memorizing the words.
His parents and psychiatrist were thrilled to finally discover something that Xia Yi took an interest in.
In the following ten years, Xia Yi’s life consisted of a myriad of scripts. One could argue that he used acting as a means to slowly expand his limited world. In the beginning, he stiffly pretended that he was a character in the story, living through their joys and sorrows; he understood what anger was, why people would be angered… These fundamental aspects of a normal human being were difficult regions for Xia Yi. He had to split and organize them strictly, building his understanding little by little, and finally, he understood what emotions were.
But Asperger’s Syndrome is still incurable. Once he’s no longer acting as a character, Xia Yi barely speaks. He looks like a boring and stern person, with barely any emotions on his face, and no one has ever seen him smile.
Xia Yi understands a lot of things, and there’s almost no difference between him and a regular person, but he still lacks certain emotions. What’s sad is not that he has a slower reaction than everyone else, it’s the fact that he has no reaction at all. Even if deep down, he thinks of something as peculiar or astonishing, emotions such as fear or sympathy barely have a presence in Xia Yi’s heart. For people like him, there’s not much of an impression of the idea of “living”.
So the monetary agreements and transactions in the industry, the purposeful suppression aimed towards him by rising colleagues, the treachery or sarcasm- to be honest -couldn’t affect Xia Yi at all. The pride and reputation that’s so important to the average human being doesn’t exist in Xia Yi’s dictionary.
Avoiding the company’s flight and flying to SanYa by himself, before meeting up with the big group, was a decision that Xia Yi made purposely. He knew that he had to attend events like this, but he’ll deliberately isolate himself from others.
The passengers gradually passed through security. After a series of meticulous actions, the plane began to slide slowly across the runway, beginning its take off on time. Xia Yi had no clue how neurotic he appeared in Li Shao’s eyes as he repeatedly checked his seatbelt. He just had a strong sense of foreboding, feeling as if he’d never return again.
——Was the plane going to crash?
Man-made steel wings soared more then ten thousand meters in the sky. Below them laid the thick, dark clouds, and in its roarings, the plane swiftly avoided these thunderclouds surrounded by lightning. In past decades, humanity has conquered the air and from then on, have self-proclaimed themselves as the Masters of Earth; they’re confident in their ability to face any changes occurring on this planet.
T/n: The description of Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism in general that occurs in this chapter may be inaccurate. It is the author’s fictional depiction and explanation that is needed for the plot to move forward. I, the translator, ZFX, am only translating what the original author has written in her story and any future depictions of Asperger’s and Autism will be under the same situation and assumption.