CaiWei’s wife was not feeling well so he stayed home on this day to be with her. Upon seeing ZhouXiang, he was startled for a moment. Then, he immediately grabbed onto his collar and shouted, “Where the fuck were you these past two days! If you're not dead, I wanna hear how you're going to fucking explain this!"
ZhouXiang look exhausted as he pushed CaiWei’s chest to get him into the home, “Wei Ge, let’s talk inside.”
CaiWei also realized that ZhouXiang’s expression is ghastly paled, as if he had experienced some sort of tragedy. This made him even more worried.
He had known ZhouXiang for more than ten years. ZhouXiang is a very responsible and reliable person. The things ZhouXiang agreed on, he would never back out of. There has to be some reason. Even if he was to change his mind the last minute, he would not have turned off his phone and just disappear without reason. He will definitely tell him so they that they can be prepared. The only possibility is that something happened beyond ZhouXiang's control.
Therefore, CaiWei was in a panic, afraid that ZhouXiang might have been in an accident. He had planned to go to ZhouXiang’s home last night, but helplessly, his wife wasn't feeling well. He didn’t sleep all night and couldn’t get away. At this time, LanXiRong had already gone to ZhouXiang's home.
Before hearing anything from LanXiRong, ZhouXiang actually appeared at his home.
CaiWei pulled him into his home and shoved him on the sofa. His wife came out of the bedroom and looked at them anxiously.
CaiWei had his wife go back into the room and closed the door. Then he sat down on the sofa next to ZhouXiang and gravely asked, “What the hell is going on?”
ZhouXiang was too lazy to make up any excuses at this time. He slowly muttered, "YanMingXiu didn't let me go.”
"YanMingXiu didn't let you go? Why?" CaiWei quickly reacted. YanMingXiu is WangYuDong's future rother-in law.
ZhouXiang glanced at him, confirming what he (CaiWei) suspected, "WangYuDong called him and have him stop me from going. He…in short. I couldn't make it.”
“Fuck, he's really fucking using force to bully people!!” CaiWei is so furious that he almost smashed the coffee table, "How did he stop you? He couldn't possibly have tied you up?”
ZhouXiang didn't utter a word, which by itself is silently admitting it.
CaiWei is incensed, “What the fuck!! You guys have been together for so long; did he not feel a bit of sentiments toward you? Not to mention that WangYuDong has not officially married his sister, even if they have, he can’t be that ruthless to you!”
ZhouXiang sighed, "Wei Ge, it’s useless to say that now, Director Wang's and President Wang's side, I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t dare to see them.”
“You also don't want to see them. Director Wang is furious, same with President Wang. Ah Xiang, I've already said earlier. If you don’t come, you really can’t work in the entertainment industry anymore, you understand?” CaiWei carefully observed ZhouXiang’s expression, afraid that he couldn't take it.
When ZhouXiang had just finished school in his 20s, CaiWei arranged for him to do meager odd jobs with the crew. Most of them were labor intensive with low pay. Gradually, some of the jobs would blend in with some roles that could expose the face or there could be a line or two. After three to four years, he began to get into the martial arts stuntman profession. Although being a martial arts stuntman is considered a relatively low ranking career in the entertainment industry, at least in terms of income, it is much better than ordinary white-collar workers. ZhouXiang did not have the burden of caring for a wife nor taking care of the elders (since his parents had passed), so this income is enough for him to live a good life. He is also content with that. Moreover, in recent years, since he had gotten connections with many people, he has begun to pick up some martial arts supporting roles and stunt coordinator type of work. His prospects are definitely better. All this, he accumulated from his years of effort. But because of this matter, it had all been destroyed.
ZhouXiang not only offended WangYuDong but also offended Director Wang and misled their President Wang. He is such a low level worker, how could he continue to exist in this circle?
ZhouXiang forcefully smiled, “Wei Ge, how could I not understand, but I have no other way…”
CaiWei sighed, his heart full of helplessness. ZhouXiang has been his buddy since they were back in their school days. They've always had a good relationship. He really didn’t want to see ZhouXiang lose his job going forth.
ZhouXiang lowered his head and depressingly said, “Wei Ge. I know that I could no longer be a stuntman. I wanted to ask if you could find me some other work. I just need to make a bit more money. I can open a shop later.”
CaiWei sighed, “Don’t rush things, just rest for a few days first.”
ZhouXiang revealed a desperate expression, “Wei Ge, I can't possibly not be anxious. Right now, I'm… YanMingXiu is still staying at my house refusing to leave. I have no other way. I want to avoid him at the moment.”
CaiWei is shocked, “YanMingXiu? Is at your home refusing to leave? What the hell does this shameless bastard still want?”
“I don’t know. I want to hide from him. He may leave after a while so if there is anything else I could do right now, I want to do it right away. I don’t want to be idle.” He will think too much if he has too much free time. He's already passed the age of holding on to regrets. The most important thing right now should not be this unrealistic love but his livelihood.
CaiWei thought for a long time, then said with much difficulty, “There is one, but it is too harsh.” After he said that, he was very hesitant, seemingly reluctant to say it.
“Wei Ge, It's not like I can't bear the hardship. Tell me. Just as long as I could earn some money. Even if I was to go out and find a job now, I have no other skills. I can only find you. Only you can introduce me to some suitable jobs.”
CaiWei couldn't bear his persistence so he had no choice but to tell him, “I know a person some time ago who specializes in filming documentaries. This time, they are going deep into ShiWan Mountain to track this mysterious primitive tribe that has never been out and record their life habits, traditions and the like. He's trying to assemble a group of people right now. You have been working as part of the crew for many years, what outdoor environmental filming locations have you not seen? You are exactly who they need. But the conditions of shooting a documentary are very harsh. It's completely different from the brilliance life of working in the entertainment circle. Their purpose is not for profit but for scientific records and their funds come from the state and some civil organizations. They are definitely not treated like ordinary actors. Adding on, they often have to go through a lot of trouble just to shoot a certain scene, not to mention that this unknown place might be accompanied by a lot of dangers." CaiWei looked at him deeply, "It may take months or even a year or two. ZhouXiang, I really don't want you to go, but this is the only thing I could think of right now.”
ZhouXiang thought for a moment, “I'll go. This job is very suitable for me. Now is not the time for me to be pick the job but the job to pick me.”
CaiWei continuously sighed, “Ah Xiang, think about it again. Working in the indigenous forest is going to be very hard work and they'll have to bring a lot of equipment and the like. I advise you to think about it for a few more days. Then I'll help you ask. For the time being, you can live in my home for a while.” After CaiWei finished saying this, he really regretted it. He still didn't want ZhouXiang to go. Although there are many people involved and security shouldn't be a problem, this is deep into the forest, who knows what will happen? ZhouXiang has lived in the city his entire life. Would he be able to stand it? He really regretted opening his mouth so fast.
ZhouXiang shook his head, “Wei Ge, this is great. Really. Let me go. The documentary crew has very little contact with the entertainment industry. They wouldn't reject me because of WangYuDong. Maybe I can still specialize in this type of work. This can be considered experience for me. Wei Ge. Don't worry. I'll take care of myself.”
CaiWei hesitated for a long time, and finally gave in to ZhouXiang's repeated request. He called the person in charge of the crew and briefly introduced ZhouXiang. CaiWei is somewhat prestigious in the entertainment circle. The people he introduced is very reliable so the other side very quickly agreed. ZhouXiang will be going in the next two days. Besides two sets of changing clothes, he can bring nothing else. All the preparations have been made to go into the mountains. The normal everyday clothes is of no use there. The crew seems to be in a rush to go.
CaiWei didn’t expect them to be leaving so quickly, this also caught ZhouXiang by surprise. CaiWei once again asked if he really planned on going.
ZhouXiang thought about his situation and thought of YanMingXiu’s chilling attitude. In the end, he nodded.
After meeting with the person in charge, he directly got on the flight to Guangxi.
During this time, his phone was turned off. He knew that YanMingXiu and LanXiRong would look for him, but he didn't want to hear from anyone at the moment. He just wanted to put all his energy into his work. Maybe after he returned a year and a half or so later, everything would have calmed down. At that time, he will look at planning out his life again.
The only person he still kept in contact with is CaiWei. But it was through CaiWei contacting the person in charge, who would then contact him. CaiWei knew why he didn't want to turn on his phone. But this caused CaiWei a lot of headaches because his phone was constantly bombarded with calls from YanMingXiu and LanXiRong.
Although CaiWei didn't know what they (YanMingXiu and LanXiRong) know, they obviously think that CaiWei knew where ZhouXiang is.
ZhouXiang is at a low point in his life. Although CaiWei is overwhelmingly pestered, he didn't tell him about these things. He just reminded him that he must take care of himself. After a year, when everyone has forgotten about this matter, maybe he can come back and continue doing work as a martial arts stuntman again. Anything can happen, as long as he takes care of himself and come back healthy and energized.
That phone call was made on the way to the mountain. At that moment, he never would have thought that, what was waiting for him was his own mystifying fate.
At the beginning, everything went smoothly. They gradually proceeded led by the local guides. Finally, they settled in an outback remote area of the ShiWan Mountain. This place is far away from the world, but the scenery is beautiful and the air is fresh. This was quite shocking for several staff members who grew up in the city.
With still more than a hundred kilometers away from their destination, they can still stay in the village. The village can still receive cell phone signals. But to get further and deeper into the mountains within two days, not to mention cell phone signal, they won't even be able to see a chicken. At that time they would have to start living the life of the great outdoor wilderness. But everyone would be spirited and happy with their dedications to the humanities in carrying out this type of work. Everyone got along very harmoniously, unitedly helping each other out in this unfamiliar strange forest. This makes ZhouXiang feel much better than the crews in the entertainment circle. At least in this place, there is no fighting and scheming against each other. Whether it is the scientist who is obsessed with the natural sciences or the passionate adventurer, their hearts are relatively simple.
After spending a few days with them and with the ambiance environment of the vast nature, ZhouXiang felt that his entire person is much better. Because he is exhausted every day, the time he spends thinking of YanMingXiu is also less. This is definitely a lucky break.
On the eighth day of entering the mountains, they stayed in the last village that had communication to the outside world. Going forward, there are no public roads. They could only carry their heavy equipment and walk on foot.
Everyone ate a lot that night, and then went to bed early. They would be leaving the next day when the sun is out.
ZhouXiang lay on the bed and couldn’t sleep no matter how he tried. He doesn't know what is on his mind that is haunting him, making him toss and turn unable to sleep.
He looked at his watch and it was only sometime past ten o’clock in the evening.
He couldn’t help but took out his phone and planned on calling CaiWei. He didn’t know why but he felt very flustered. He was afraid that something might have happened to sister-in-law (CaiWei's wife). After all, her delivery date is near.
This is already the last place to have phone signal. Once they entered deeper into the mountains, he won't be able to make any contact. It would be too late to contact him at that time.
He quickly charged the phone for 20 minutes and then took it to the highest point in the village where the signal is strongest.
The moment his phone was turned on, it beeped with dozens of text messages and missed calls, shocking him.
All those calls and text messages were from YanMingXiu and LanXiRong. He didn’t look at any of it. He was afraid of seeing what he didn't want to see.
He dialed CaiWei’s phone but didn't expect CaiWei to have turned off his phone.
He didn't know that CaiWei had turned off his phone because he was continuously pestered by YanMingXiu and LanXiRong. Instead, he thought that his fears had come true and could only pray in his heart that sister-in-law and the baby are both safe.
He looked at the remaining battery on his phone and decided to call LanXiRong. He also felt guilty knowing that LanXiRong was so worried.
The call quickly connected with LanXiRong shouting, “Xiang Ge! Where did you go? Why don’t you answer your phone! Do you know how worried I was!! Wei Ge merely mentioned that you went to work but didn't tell me where you went. You don't trust me?"
Toward the end, he felt particularly grieved.
ZhouXiang guiltily responded, “I really did go out for a job. I've been very busy lately so didn't turn on my phone…..”
“You even lie to me. Wei Ge has already told me about it. You turned off your phone to hide from YanMingXiu. I went to your home that day but nobody was at home. If I saw him, I would have beaten that heartless bastard to death."
ZhouXiang sighed, "XiRong, consider it as Xiang Ge begging you, stay far away from him. He is not the type of people that we can provoke. I've already broken up with him. You should also pretend that he doesn't exist. I'm doing really well right now. I like this job very much. I'll be back in a few months. We'll meet up again then.”
LanXiRong sighed, "Hearing your voice, I'm relieved. At least tell me what you are doing, where are you at?”
ZhouXiang briefly told him a bit.
After hearing it, LanXiRong was worried, “Is this place safe?”
“It's fine. We have more than 20 people in the crew. It’s only just a bit hard but it a great learning experience. You don’t have to worry about me. My phone is almost out of battery. Tomorrow when we enter the wilderness, I'm not going to have phone signal so I'll contact you when I get back. Don't worry about me."
LanXiRong reluctantly said a few words to him and finally muttered, “I'm waiting for you to come back.”
ZhouXiang knew the meaning of that sentence but he's in no mood to give any response at the moment. Maybe after he comes back a year and half later and could let go of YanMingXiu, he would consider going out with LanXiRong. But now he doesn’t even want to think about it.
Right after hanging up, YanMingXiu’s call immediately came. ZhouXiang hesitated but finally picked up.
YanMingXiu's voice sounded exhausted tinged with a bit of anger, "You finally turned on your phone."
ZhouXiang faintly felt that this call came too coincidentally at this time; he couldn't help but blurted out, “You tapped my phone?”
“Yes, or will I have to call your phone for 24 hours?”
ZhouXiang was too angry to speak.
“You went so far away just to hide from me?” YanMingXiu had been so exhausted by this matter with ZhouXiang these past days that he couldn't even get angry. When he heard the 'friendly' conversation between LanXiRong and ZhouXiang through the tapping software, his heart felt a faint throbbing pain, knowing that ZhouXiang would never initiate in calling him.
"I'm doing it for my job," ZhouXiang tried to calm himself down.
YanMingXiu said exhaustively, “ZhouXiang, come back, why must you go against me? What good does that do you?”
“I'm not going against you. I went into the mountains to work. YanMingXiu, have you moved out of my home?”
YanMingXiu gnawed his teeth, “No, I will stay in your home and wait for you to come back."
ZhouXiang depressingly muttered, “Why can't you just let me go?”
YanMingXiu was silent for a moment, “I want to start over with you. I like the feeling of being with you. Are these reasons good enough?”
ZhouXiang's mind is in uttered chaos, "If you had said these words before you called out WangYuDong's name while hugging me, I would have agreed to anything."
“ZhouXiang! Don’t be too much. What do you want from me?"
ZhouXiang looked at the pitch-black dark forest; his voice is a bit hollow, "MingXiu, you don’t understand… you don't understand what it meant to me for you to be treating me as WangYuDong's substitute. You also don't understand how important that role was for me. We can’t communicate with each other; let's just leave it at that.”
"ZhouXiang!" YanMingXiu was consciously aware that he would hang up so he urgently stopped him. YanMingXiu's tone was tinged with sense of grievance, "Do you still like me?"
ZhouXiang felt stabbing pain in his heart.
YanMingXiu asked slowly, “Do you still like me? Xiang Ge, continue to like me. I won't treat you as WangYuDong anymore because I already……”
The call disconnected abruptly.
ZhouXiang looked at the dark screen, obviously out of battery.
He stared at the phone for a long time before returning to his room. Laying on the bed, unable to sleep the entire night.
The first time he saw YanMingXiu, he was mesmerized by him. This had become the entire image in his mind, making him feel such severe pain, as if a knife was being twisted in his heart.
After ZhouXiang’s rebirth, the last few days of his previous life were the days that he was most reluctant to remember.
On the fourth day after they entered the mountain, there was a sudden rainstorm. Heavy rain washed away the muddy road. They had difficulty progressing. Everyone relied on their strong-will to move forward because this place had no place for them to rest. Even the guides are completely clueless.
In the middle of the night, they suffered a terrible mudslide. The entire team was in chaos and the roads were obstructed. In the dark, everyone lost their way. ZhouXiang was no exception.
ZhouXiang had always been with the second half of the team. When the mudslide occurred, everyone scattered and fled in all directions. He also ran deep into the mountains. After it had become safe, he realized that he had lost contact with everyone and didn’t know where he was.
He was carrying photographic equipment worth more than ¥1.6 million and weighing more than ten kilograms. He didn't dare to slack off and could only rely on his memory to keep going.
Because he lacked survival experience in the wild, he didn't know how grave his situation was. At this time, he also panicked. Perhaps, if there was a person accompanying him, he would not have made the wrong decision. But in the dark, filled with unknown creatures lurking in the primitive forest, the judgments that a city person can make are mostly affected by fear. He was getting more and more panic. The direction of the compass is mostly blocked by the damage caused by heavy rain. He could only keep on detouring. In the end, he was exhausted and completely lost in the forest.
ZhouXiang could never forget how his foot landed on what felt like empty air, the feeling of rapid fall is a kind of fear deeply ingrained in a person's bone marrow.
He didn’t even know that he was on the edge of a cliff. He couldn’t see the ground under his feet. Then, with the heavy rain, he was like a kite with its line broken, falling into the abyss.
He didn’t have time to fear nor shout. His mind swiftly swept past his 30 years of life. Then…. he could no longer feel anything anymore.
End of the Chapter
T/N: This is the end of the flashback. The next chapter resumes with the elevator scene in Chapter 4 (after ZhouXiang’s rebirth).