Happy 5th Year Anniversary! It is by far one of my favorite Matthia novels to date, so PLEASE check it out! This was a joint effort by everyone in ExR for our 5th Year Anniversary. Thank you, Addis, Rikko, Aphelios, Ceti, KarateChopMonkey, gaeatiamat, and Rara.
Chapter 14: This Life (END)
Translated by Rara of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
After his twenty-sixth birthday, Fang Yuan died. Fang Dong’s life lost its luster.
The cause of Fang Yuan’s death was multiple organ failure and tachycardia. People attributed the cause of death to excessive work pressure, prolonged subhealth, etc. The story even made it into the newspaper, though it was only a small square of news.
Although there was no blood relation, the Fang family still planned the funeral for him as family. Fang Dong was still waiting, waiting for the body that had been pale and cold to move again. He didn’t tell his parents that Fang Yuan had made an arrangement many years ago, to leave assets as much as possible to their family.
Spring passed and autumn came, the death that made people in grief and sorrow at the beginning was left behind in time.
Fang Dong brought home Fang Yuan’s books and personal belongings that was left behind at the company. Now, his room was like a warehouse housing the things of two people, so messy that one’s feet couldn’t touch the ground.
After he turned thirty, Fang Dong made up his mind and started writing in a thick book. He wanted to write a life for Fang Yuan.
Many of the stories were real, real events in other four-dimensional universes, except that in our case, these were perceived in the form of fiction… If this were to become true, would Fang Yuan be able to live in some untouchable universe?
Even if his life would change, his soul would still be him, he would no longer carry the countdown he was born with, he would be the complete, confident and happy Fang Yuan, the Fang Yuan who was better than anyone else.
Even if it is self-deception, I still want to give you the most perfect life.
Fang Dong didn’t choose to type in the computer, he felt that electronic devices can have all kinds of problems. Paper was a much safer choice, even the ancient paper could be preserved for so long… he wrote in a very thick notebook, he wrote and wrote from volume to volume.
However, he didn’t fully understand Fang Yuan, he wasn’t that good of a writer either. There were too many things, too many that he just couldn’t write well enough.
Fang Dong wrote the smoothest life, the richest life, giving all the good things to Fang Yuan under his pen. Money, power, luck, love, the adoration and obedience of others… At the same time, he had to stop and think often about what Fang Yuan should be like.
Fang Yuan had a serious, non-joking personality, but also possessed some passion for his career and life… What would Fang Yuan choose in what situation? What is the perfect life for him? How smart would this Fang Yuan be in order to replicate the real Fang Yuan?
He couldn’t write anything. He was far from being able to write what he wanted.
Countless times he sat alone in front of a lamp and saw the words on the paper in his hands fade. He thought, “How can this be real? How can I create another Fang Yuan in another time and space?”
During these years, he received several psychological counseling sessions as well as drug interventions. His family and friends knew that he was not in a normal state, and he followed through all the treatments as long as he could continue writing.
It wasn’t until one day… Around the time he turned forty, his eyes widened in shock as he went through a certain section he had previously written. He saw plots he had never seen before, and characters he had never written before. Something he didn’t know was spinning out of control and developing on its own.
Fear and ecstasy hit him at the same time, and Fang Dong stumbled back to his writing desk and picked up his pen again.
Fang Dong’s condition worsened. He shut himself from the outside world, he became delirious and often mumbled words that no one could understand. He would erratically complain about a name, about how something had developed into what it was, he was shaken to fear, laughed maniacally with amusement, and cried until his throat was hoarse from his own notebook.
When the doctor tried to talk, he said, I’m not writing a novel, I’m not playing god, I’m just perceiving his new life. It’s just a pity that I am not good enough to reproduce the real him… The man is very much like him, but not him, like the soul is missing some pieces…
The middle-aged Fang Dong was admitted to the hospital for treatment. He could not take his old notebook with him, so he continued to write in the hospital room with sticky notes and a new notebook. He was in a much better state of mind as he reached fifty years old. He was a good patient and did not need much effort from the hospital. It wasn’t long before he was discharged from the hospital and spent a few relatively healthy years.
His next long stay in the hospital was due to the fact that his parents were old and frail and had successively collapsed from various acute and chronic diseases. On his last night at his mother’s bedside, she spoke in a faint voice about the time she met Fang Yuan in the rain.
She still remembered that child, who was emotionless but very kind, she believed even though he had never fully registered in our family, he still loved us. At this point, Fang Dong suddenly understood. In the story he had “seen”, Fang Yuan’s soul was indeed missing some fragments.
They were the missing pieces.
A lifetime of bloodless relatives and a love that ended before it began.
Six months after his mother’s death, his father also left. Fang Dong returned home from the hospital and rejoined the dimly lit space crowded with books and stories.
In recent years, he had become more and more unable to control what was under his pen. He did his best to give Fang Yuan with all the good stuff as much as possible, but he had no regrets if he failed to achieve it. He did his best to maintain the story, to be the watcher, not the puppeteer. At the same time, he was forever drowning in sorrow because he would never be able to see Fang Yuan, and that Fang Yuan would never know him.
He became more and more unaware of the stories under his pen. The sentences he just wrote with his own hands, he would forget the next second.
Birthdays passed without him knowing, and he soon forgot how old he was.
The Fang Dong in the mirror was thin and senile, with a haggard face; the Fang Yuan in the story was young and vigorous, a man that could call the wind and summon the rain. One day, he fell and passed out indoors. The social workers noticed that something was wrong so they called the police and ambulance, and brought him to the hospital in time.
“This is not a Survivor’s greeting.” A pair of gentle and strong hands took his shoulders and made him face the doorway. Fang Yuan’s voice sounded in his ear.
“You brought me back to life in some other timeline… you actually did it. You have performed a miracle. But as I said in the past, you could not recreate my personality, much less master this whole real but strange time and space, so many things began to develop on their own. Your action tore a small gap again in the multiple space-time that had already succeeded in healing itself. Countless things began to misalign again like fine sand. Last time it was a natural phenomenon, this time it was caused by man. So this time you become the one responsible for filling in the cracks. You are trapped in the cervice, waiting and seeing off countless people who should return to their homeland alone, like ferrying on both sides of the River Styx… until you meet me again.
“Because my personality was created imperfectly, I couldn’t remember you. I once lived in that universe, yet I felt that I did not belong to it. It was when touching you that I suddenly became complete and was able to remember everything, otherwise my personality and memories would have been missing certain pieces. Okay, Fang Dong, let’s go. Go back to the world where you belong.”
The white wall came after him, opening a door like a pair of hands that wanted to embrace. It wanted to take him away, to where the warm light glowed. There was a gentle push on his back and he stumbled into the door.
He wanted to look back, but couldn’t; behind him was a mist that blurred the picture inside the door.
The long corridor he had paced countless times, the white room he had opened countless times, his living room, books, all sorts of household items… which had been turned away from him and no longer belonged to him.
In the depths of the mist, the last clear picture he could see was the man’s golden eyes.
From golden brown to blurred soft gold – the eyes that had rekindled their light.
“Can you see, sir?” A gentle voice rang in his ears.
He opened his eyes and the female doctor was doing an examination. He was silent, following the doctor’s instructions to move his eyes and hands… He was conscious, he could move, he could talk, he was alive, living in a real world that was his own.
Lying flat on his back, he could only see the ceiling of the ward. There were no long corridors, no circular Survivor rooms, no passersby of all shapes and sizes.
According to his papers, he was sixty-seven years old and lived alone, he was found passed out in the house yesterday evening, and was now recovering quite well after a timely resuscitation.
It has only been one night?
He sent people back to their respective worlds where they belong, until the last ripples of the rift were restored as before. Countless hours, uncountable hours… In reality only one night passed.
Only this one night when he collapsed and came close to death.
People were able to find a psychiatric history on the old man’s electronic medical records, so they were not surprised by all his strange behavior. He had medical insurance, he had no problems with his treatment, and he recovered quickly and was able to leave the hospital soon after.
When he got home, everything seemed like a lifetime ago. He sat down and opened the things he had written and the collection of books that had belonged to Fang Yuan.
Now it seemed as if the words had lost their luster and were no longer alive, they had all become dry, unrealistic, false stories. All the things that were once real and vivid have left and returned to the world they belonged to.
In yesterday night, in the countless days and nights of becoming “landlord”, the small gap that was inadvertently opened again has been completely healed.
It took a lot of effort for the old man to find the family photo album. It was pressed in the innermost part of the bookcase. Opening the album, he once again saw his young parents, and the once living Fang Yuan.
Yesterday he saw Fang Yuan. He and Fang Yuan had been together for several months. Fang Yuan was still the same, so reserved and earnest that he looked as if he was indifferent, he still looked so young, still the young man of twenty-six years old. They didn’t recognize each other.
Before they could talk too much, he returned to this place, to his own, real but cruel world.
The story was not yet finished. But now there was no need to finish it.
He became the most ordinary old man, living in silence.
There were many unfortunate people in the world, because of money, because of love, because of anger … No one would have thought that what took away his happiness was the vast and endless space and time. No one would have believed the tale he had experienced.
He had seen the radiant universe, confusing visions, real and distant sorrow and joy. They were not here and now, but exist in any corner of endless space and time, intricate and complex, intertwined, like a root system so vast that it covered the sky.
Three years later, his condition worsened and he was hospitalized again. It was clearly his own body, yet he couldn’t move a bit, his consciousness was near and far, he wanted to chase after the light, but couldn’t catch it.
For a day and a night, he slept and woke up, unable to speak fully. He could hear the footsteps of death. This time, he was no longer confronted with the riddle left by time and space, but with the true end.
At dusk on the third day of his admission, he closed his eyes and said goodbye to everything: the ubiquitous tingling in his body, the cold and regular noise of the instruments, the crowds hurrying inside and outside the high-rise, the miles of sunlight spreading across the distant sky…
When he left, his eyes suddenly became very bright, as if gazing at the smile of his former lover, as if looking to the end of the cycle. Finally, he fell into the abyss and rose again to the clouds.
The physical pain gradually dissipated and a warm glow surrounded him. He stood up and looked around him. He was in a room with a snow-white dome on all sides.
A door appeared out of nowhere in the tightly packed walls. He walked through it, and the man outside the door walked toward him.
The man with golden pupils opened the door and held out his hand to him.
“I’m coming.” He mumbled, walked over, and took the hand.
His lover smiled and embraced him tightly.