Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Lu Rong put Grandpa Cai down on the ground and darted back, leaping over the boulder, picking up the clothes scattered on the ground, raising his hind hooves quickly, kicking the umbrella and boots behind some large trees, and hiding himself. He showed one eye, through the gap between the trees and rocks to look over.
Grandpa Cai stared blankly at the rocks for a while before coming back to his senses and asking aloud, “Is someone there? Did someone just push me?”
Lu Rong wrapped his front hooves around himself and stood upright in a long line, perfectly concealed behind the tree.
Grandpa Cai looked around the stone, and then went down to the field to look behind the stone. Lu Rong held his breath and quietly moved his position, separated from Grandpa Cai by a big tree.
Not able to understand what just happened, Grandpa Cai didn’t turn back, but went back to Old Li’s house. Only when his figure disappeared in front of Li’s house did Lu Rong shake the rain on his fur, his two ears fluttered off the water droplets, and then he changed back to put on his clothes.
He waited behind the boulder for ten minutes or so for Grandpa Cai to come out of Li’s house, and then tiptoed behind. The two entered the village back and forth, and he hurried to take a shortcut home first.
Lu Rong had just stripped off his wet clothes and thrown them on the bedside when the courtyard door was thrown open. He hurriedly got under the covers naked and only straightened up his upper body, looking out through the glass window.
Grandpa Cai entered the courtyard with an umbrella, followed by several people, and Lu Rong recognized that they were all villagers, wearing straw raincoats and umbrellas, standing under the eaves soaking wet and talking in low voices, their faces as serious as ever.
Although he couldn’t hear, he had a feeling that something was happening, so he was a little nervous and kept staring at the faces of those people.
Puppy also seemed a little scared, no longer whimpering, just lying next to his bed and not leaving.
A few moments later, they seem to have talked out the results and a group of people have left the yard. Grandpa Cai also hurried into the house.
He was about to call Lu Rong when he realized he was already awake and said, “Rong Rong, get up, we have to leave now. I have to go to the village council to inform the others, so get dressed now and wait for me at the entrance to the east end of the village.”
“Okay.” Lu Rong didn’t ask much, lifted the blanket and jumped out of bed naked.
Grandpa Cai flicked on a flashlight, found another one and handed it to him, then fished out a bankbook and a handful of bills from the depths of the closet and shoved it into his hand, “Put this in your school bag and some clothes. Go now!”
“Grandpa, what about you?” Lu Rong asked.
Grandpa Cai said, “Grandpa is going to inform the others. Don’t panic, there’s Uncle Chen and the others outside, go with them. Grandpa will come to you after informing everyone.”
He went outside the house, went to the door and then turned back to urge, “Go farther, go to the pass and wait. It’s raining very hard outside, so you can’t just hold an umbrella, you have to wear a raincoat outside too.”
“Got it!” Lu Rong shouted back.
When Grandpa Cai went out, he put the flashlight around his neck and pulled out the long-sleeved pants from the closet and put them on. Then he grabbed a thick jacket of Grandpa Cai and folded it in his school bag to carry.
Next, he lifted the picture paper on the wall, took out the hidden remittance slip, folded it and stuffed it into the compartment of his school bag. Finally, he went to the back of the door and took off his small straw coat, rustling it over the outermost part.
While he was packing, he heard someone holding up one of those hand-held speakers, “Hello, hello, hello…”
It was Grandpa Cai’s voice.
“Attention all! Everyone listen up! There’s probably going to be a landslide on the mountain. Everyone immediately needs to assemble at the pass now. The matter is urgent and can’t be delayed. Don’t dawdle. Those who are still sleeping even after being tugged on, don’t move if you want to die, but hurry up and move if you don’t! If you can drive the cows and pigs, you can drive them, but if you can’t, they can stay in the pen, your own life is more valuable than those pigs’…”
The rest of the village was already noisy, but apparently they all heard Grandpa Cai’s notice.
The sound of the rainstorm was intersped with people calling loudly to their loved ones, the hissing of pigs and cows, and from time to time a flashlight shone on the window glass, a bright mess of shaking.
Lu Rong saw that the fur on Puppy was still wet and it was in locks, so he went to the cupboard and found a large plastic bag, broke it open with scissors and tied a poncho for it.
He put on his backpack and looked around the house again, thinking there was nothing he could take with him for the time being. He couldn’t move the TV and refrigerator, and the bacon and plum wine were hanging on the beams, so that was all he could do for now.
Opening the umbrella, he pushed open the door, and one person and one dog walked into the rain. There were already many village people with flashlights on the road, mostly old people holding children and carrying a small bag in their hands.
The older children followed sleepily, yawning constantly and asking where they were going. The adults had no time to answer them, and when they asked they got a scolding: Don’t make any noise, just follow.
Those smaller children crouched on the shoulders of adults, from time to time opening their eyes halfway to look, and then went back to sleep. The younger ones carried large bundles and led cows, drove pigs with canes, or pushed carts with TV sets and pots and pans on them.
Longquan Mountain had a landslide that flooded the cattle pens of several families, so everyone knew the seriousness of the matter when they heard the village notice, and basically no one dawdled and quickly left the house to go outside the village.
The rain was pouring down, not abating at all. Lu Rong walked in the crowd, feeling the dreary atmosphere, and kept looking back in the direction of the village council to see if his grandfather had followed him.
But even at this time, there were some lively personalities still joking around.
“Wang’s sister-in-law, what are you still doing with your bedding? It’s too heavy and soggy to be used after the rain.”
“It’s nothing, I just brought it along.”
“She sewed the bankbook into the bunk cover, and couldn’t open it in a hurry, so she simply put the whole bunk cover on her back, hahahaha…”
The team walked to the entrance of the village. Outside was a large field, now full of water, like a lake. The rice had already been harvested, and the villagers stopped at the ridge, celebrating and talking.
The village cadres leading the group turned around and urged, “Keep going, keep going! Don’t stop! What are you looking at when the grain is gone? This is too close to the back of the mountain, and is unsafe! Keep going, keep going to the pass over there.”
The pigs suddenly became frightened, jumped into the field to run around, others shouted and chased up to block. Lightning illuminated, and Lu Rong saw that the pig seemed to be Big Black.
Big Black was unusually brave, a few people still couldn’t catch him, so a few people jumped down to help. People and pigs, as if riding the wind and waves, were splashing in the field a large swath of water. After a flurry of chaos, finally getting Big Black back, everyone began to go in the direction of the pass.
Lu Rong walked more and more slowly, fell at the end of the line, and kept looking back.
The whole village was almost out, but hadn’t seen his grandfather’s figure yet, so he was a little anxious.
The puppy followed quietly, the rain hitting its plastic poncho, pitter-pattering.
“Lu Rong, your grandfather is still evacuating the crowd. Follow the team first, don’t be afraid ah.” The village cadre who was maintaining order came over.
“Hmm.” Lu Rong answered and turned to follow the group.
After walking for a while, everyone arrived at the pass, where the depression could avoid lightning. There were no mountains around, so even in the event of landslides, mudslides couldn’t flood here.
A group of people were standing at the pass, and from the nearby construction site some workers, but Lu Rong, who scanned the circle, didn’t see Shen Yan. Grandpa Cai said Uncle Shen’s project had ended and he went back to the big city.
Lu Rong was slightly lost in thought at this moment.
The workers had come to take the villagers to the convalescent center, where there was no danger of collapse, but only some of the old and frail elderly went with them, carrying their babies and children, while most of them remained where they were.
They stared anxiously at the location of their homes, uneasy to leave just like that.
The lightning and thunder gradually stopped, but the rain didn’t slow down at all, and instead had increased. The villagers used a plastic woven cloth to hold up a shelter, so that the rest of the people could get out of the rain.
This woven cloth was very large, and was usually used in the village weddings and funerals to hold up in the threshing floor to give guests shade from the sun and wind, but at this time was put to good use. Not only did people not get wet, the pigs and cows also occupied a corner, huddled in a group, shivering.
Lu Rong stood on the edge of the canopy and kept looking anxiously at the entrance of the village. Beside him stood a middle-aged woman, holding a hen in her arms. Because he had a few grains of seed on his strawberry coat, the chicken reached out and pecked him on the shoulder from time to time.
Puppy showed its teeth and made a threatening growling sound, and the chicken shrank back into the middle-aged woman’s arms in fear.
“Look at that, look at that! The mountain is collapsing! Look!” Someone pointed to the back of the mountain and suddenly shrieked.
By now the sky was already bright, through the curtain of rain, they could see the back of the mountain with mud and rocks sliding down with the water, rumbling and tilting down. Lu Rong’s lips opened and closed, his eyes glowed, and he couldn’t help but take two steps forward, but when the man ran closer, the light in his eyes dimmed again.
“Wang Zhu, Cheng Gang, is everyone in the village out?” The village cadres who stayed behind greeted him and asked.
Lu Rong also took a few steps forward and asked, “Uncle Wang, where’s my grandfather?”
Wang Zhu wiped the rain from his face and gasped, “Old Man Chen’s cow is giving birth, and he’s holding on to it and won’t come out, so Uncle Cai is still persuading him.”
“During a time like this?! Still caring about the cow giving birth?! Is the cow more important than people?” The villagers were furious.
Wang Zhu said, “But we couldn’t even drag him away, Chen Lao Han insisted on staying with the cow, and if we dragged it any longer, he would’ve fought with us, so Uncle Cai could only stay and continue to persuade him.”
“This damn Chen Lao Han! Tell his son to come back and take him to Guangdong, don’t stay in the village as a scourge.”
The words just fell, when a dull sound came from the back of the mountain, rumbling throughout the Longquan Mountain. Everyone stopped talking to look over, even the pigs and cows quieted down.
They watched as the back of the mountain, large mountain rocks mixed with trees collapsed downward, tilted down with a raging momentum, and even the earth under the feet of the crowd followed in trembling. The rocks covered the sky with a raging force, like a gray beast with an open mouth, instantly swallowing the small village at the bottom of the mountain.
The villagers watched dumbfounded, no one moved and no one made a sound, and no one noticed that a small figure ran into the rain curtain…
The former village was now completely unrecognizable. The houses were crushed under the boulders and mud. The sky and earth were connected by the rain, making it a gray and chaotic mess.
On the cold, broken wall, there was a white deer leaping and weaving, its speed as fast as a star, leaving only water splashes everywhere it passed.
Lu Rong rushed into the village entrance and turned into a deer, running to the location of Old Man Chen’s house from memory. The dog was soon left behind, but also followed the route trying to keep up.
It could’ve been due to the rain or the fire burning in his heart, but the deer’s pair of round eyes were dyed red, his four hooves filled with red lines and the blooming blaze of burning eyes.
Lu Rong soon ran to the old man’s house, where the small courtyard had been razed to the ground and a few broken boulders scattered red bricks and broken pieces of wood. He put his black nose to the crevices and sniffed, and then circled around and put his front hooves into the crevices between the boulders and plowed the dirt and bricks out.
Puppy then also caught up panting, and seeing that the deer was digging in the soil, it sniffed around, and kept twitching his nose. Lu Rong soon hollowed out the dirt next to a stone, lowering his head down to look inside.
There was a man splayed out down there, a pair of bare feet facing outward, the upper half of his body couldn’t be seen clearly.
Grandpa! Lu Rong heart jumped, rushed to bite his pants to drag him out, his four hooves sliding backwards in the mud, dragging out the man after a few tugs. He used his head to turn the man over onto his back and saw the mud-covered chest heaving up and down, finally relieved to use his front hooves to wipe the dirt from his face.
When the dirt on the face was wiped away, Lu Rong’s hanging hoof stopped.
This was Chen Lao Han, not Grandpa.
Lu Rong’s heart stopped beating that instant, and his mind buzzed. The rain flowed down his fur, and his four muddy legs were shaking uncontrollably.
Where’s Grandpa? This person is not Grandpa, then where’s Grandpa?
In the distance, people were shouting and rushing over, but those voices didn’t reach his ears, the world seemed to stand still.
Just as he was looking around in fear, the dog suddenly barked at a certain place.
Lu Rong realized what was going on and instantly came back to his senses, rushing over like lightning. The dog was squeezed aside, as he bent down to the boulder in front of him.
The stone was large and heavy, so the deer put his two young little horns against it, desperately pushing it, rubbing emitting ear-piercing cackling sounds.
Because of the force, the neck between his head and his body collapsed into an arc, scattering hot white steam into the air. His four slender legs took turns to push forward and stabilize themselves in the slippery mud.
Puppy barked heartily at the rock below, and both its forelegs kept digging at the mud underneath.
Lu Rong continued to move forward with all his might, and the boulder was finally eased away. He gritted his teeth again and gave another push, and the boulder rumbled and rolled half a circle, revealing underneath.
A bloody cow was lying on the ground, already out of breath. Beside it, a stone trough was set up with several wooden beams, interlaced to leave a space.
Grandpa Cai was lying in that space, arms and legs curled to his chest. Because he was lying on his side, and there were rocks to block it, his mouth and nose weren’t covered by the mud.
Lu Rong let out a whimper, and moved the wood away from the top, and used his nose to sniff at Grandpa Cai’s face.
Grandpa Cai’s eyes were closed, but he was still breathing, his chest heaving reassuringly. He gently touched Grandpa Cai’s whole body with his hoof again to see if there was an injury, but luckily, everything was fine when he touched it.
“Grandpa Cai! Grandpa Cai! Chen Lao Han!” From the direction of the village entrance, the village people stumbled around the debris and boulders and were coming this way.
Lu Rong twisted his head to look over there, then lowered his head to lick Grandpa Cai’s face, and leapt out with a whoosh, his figure disappearing deep into the boulders.
“There’s a man lying here!” Someone spotted the lying Chen Lao Han, “It’s Chen Lao Han, still alive!”
“Grandpa Cai is over here! Grandpa Cai is alive too!”
“They’re just unconscious, it’s the old heavens opening its eyes, the old heavens opening its eyes!”
The crowd carried Grandpa Cai and Old Man Chen back under the awning, only to see Lu Rong running from the field, his strawberry coat hanging askew.
“Child, your grandfather was almost in trouble just now and you’re still running around.” A villager couldn’t help but scold.
Grandpa Cai had already woken up while he was being carried, and was now lying on a cart, looking sideways at Lu Rong and raising his hand slightly. Lu Rong didn’t make a sound, only walked up to hold Grandpa Cai’s hand with a cold pale face, and kissed it on the back twice.
Grandpa Cai opened and closed his lips, “You were scared, right?”
Lu Rong’s eyes burst into tears, “I’m scared.”
“It’s grandpa’s fault for scaring my grandson.” Grandpa Cai had a weak smile on his face.
Lu Rong cried, “Then you have to do better! You can’t do that again!”
“Okay, never again.”
The villagers began to feel sorry for their home, and looked steadily in the direction of the village and wept, and a few couldn’t stop crying.
This was the place where their ancestors had lived for generations, and no matter where they went, their roots were deeply planted in here.
If the village was gone, their roots would be broken.
“Don’t cry, don’t cry. Your home can be rebuilt, as long as people are okay.” Even though the villagers said so, their voices were choked, “We don’t know if it will continue to collapse yet, so let’s go to the construction site and hide until the rain stops.”
Some people wanted to go to the ruins to dig up some usable belongings, but were discouraged by others. So with the site workers leading the way, everyone mournfully walked towards the convalescent center.