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 6: Other people’s lives
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The Landlord didn’t like to be friends with his tenants.
Survivors didn’t belong in dimensional rifts. They all left eventually. Many of them had asked these questions, Have you always lived alone? That doesn’t make sense. Where are your parents? No siblings either? So you’ve never thought about finding a partner? Or, I can stay with you.
However, the person who asked this question eventually left. It was out of their control. They were called by a new world, and a Survivor could hardly resist the almost gravitational pull.
Even if they held on and didn’t leave as long as possible. It was okay to hold on for a day or two, but they would still leave after a long time. It was just like what Hai Feng said, in the dream world, he would open the door and walk in. Maybe one day in their dream, their bodies really would walk in.
The Landlord didn’t suffer from idle boredom, because here there was always another Survivor appearing. He couldn’t recall how many people had come already.
Those people’s faces, voices, destiny…They were like the pages of a book full of stories turned into snowflakes that rustled as they fell, piled up at his feet, covered his vision, then eventually and gradually melted. The cycle continued.
He would listen to the stories well and would carefully give them guidance. He would act like a counselor to a patient, although he gave his heart and soul, it wasn’t out of friendship. He wasn’t friends with his tenants.
When he thought about that, a voice in his head reminded him, You’ve never met a ‘counselor,’ you just know what it is.
For so long, the Landlord had wondered who he was. Parral and Hai Feng raised questions that the Landlord himself had also thought about. But he couldn’t get an answer. More than any outside knowledge, the thing he knew least about was himself.
“Will we remember this side after we leave?” Parral asked this before he prepared to open the door.
The Landlord shook his head lightly, “I can’t answer that because I don’t know.”
Hai Feng stood beside Parral. He looked at the doorway, and took a deep breath. “I will try to remember. Because I don’t want to forget how I walked onto land.”
“I also don’t want to forget the process of meeting you.” Parral smiled at him.
The two Survivors walked through the same door, side by side, like never before. He watched their departing backs, and looked at the doorway that was gradually closing on its own. The Landlord shook his head, and walked towards the white Survivor’s room.
Now it was silent. No one had arrived.
Here lay the Landlord’s long-held fear. Could it be that long, long ago, I too died and appeared here? Where did I come from, and what was the world I remember? If that was true, then who soothed me and guided me in the first place? Who decided to let me stay here?
He doesn’t remember, and there was no way to find out.
When he was searching for thesis materials, Ji Wei came across a website called “Black Hair, Golden Eyes, Late Twenties Male.”
He was a master’s student in biophysics. Now, by chance, his experiment involved something about immunogenetics, which he didn’t know enough about and needed to find some additional information on. The page that was opened by chance was obviously not an academic website.
Originally, Ji Wei thought that it was a private site for special interest enthusiasts, and that the members of the site might specialize in “dark-haired, golden-eyed, late twenties males.” After he clicked through, he found that this wasn’t the case. The statements on the site were a little bit crazy, and he couldn’t quite understand them.
From the statements, it looked like these people were chasing some kind of phantom.
The phantom was a male in the second half of his twenties, with black hair and golden eyes. There are two or three portraits on the website, kind of like the kind of suspect portraits used in solving criminal cases, and all were drawings of the same person.
The website article description was, “Short black hair, eyes golden brown in ordinary light, decent features with no obvious flaws, usually wearing a casual shirt and suit pants. Unable to determine his accent or native language because the space he was in automatically adapts the language around him.”
…What do you mean by auto-adaptive language? Ji Wei rummaged around on the web and saw a number of these inexplicable descriptions.
Curious, he began to browse the site often, even though its contents had nothing to do with his subject, and he was not a fan of “dark-haired, golden-eyed, late twenties male.”
Gradually he decided that these people weren’t just fooling around, they were taking the phantom seriously.
They described him, looked for him, discussed him, repeatedly proved his image, checked each other’s known information…They said, the man called himself “The Landlord.”
Next weekend, the people on the site were hosting an offline party. Ji Wei wanted to go to it because the site said they welcomed anyone interested, whether they’d met the Landlord or not.
However, Ji Wei was afraid to go out.
He had been living in the lab building for four months. He slept in the common room at night and relied on his classmates to bring him food. He didn’t even want to go anywhere else on campus, or rather, he didn’t dare go for the time being.
Ji Wei wasn’t a workaholic, and he wasn’t living in the lab building for an extended time because he was busy with his project. He was just a student, not a scientist ready to conquer a new peak of human science. It wasn’t even his turn to be a technological workaholic in a movie. He was hiding from a madman.
There were no other words that could describe that person other than crazy. His name was Fang Yuan, and he used to be Ji Wei’s boss during his internship after he graduated from undergraduate school.
Ji Wei had worked for a while, then went back to school to get a graduate degree. During his internship, Ji Wei met Mr. Fang, whom he only knew at the time as a shareholder of the company, but he hadn’t imagined the extent of that man’s excess wealth and energy.
Fang Yuan’s career was hard to describe. It could be said that he was a professional investor, a major shareholder of several companies, or either. It was better to say he was a plutocrat.
Three years ago, in the bathroom of one of his companies, Fang Yuan was about to have a special private conversation with a secretary.
That was when Ji Wei walked in.
Mr. Fang didn’t mind, since no one dared to say anything about him. But Ji Wei’s reaction was unexpected.
Usually, there were only a few kinds of reactions. One, they would exit in panic. Two, they would say some bad words because they didn’t know one of them was the chairman. Three, even if they knew one of them was the chairman, they would still show their disgust.
Ji Wei’s reaction was not one of the above three. He calmly and quietly went to the toilet, came over, politely asked the secretary to move a little to the left so that he could wash his hands, then straightened his shirt and tie afterwards.
He was just about to go out, when Fang spoke up, “Don’t you want to say something?”
Ji Wei was a little confused, and thought back, “…cheers?”
Ji Wei’s thoughts were simple. This was someone else’s private matter, and he shouldn‘t be overly concerned.
His behavior was interpreted by Mr. Fang as ‘this person was interesting.’ From then on, Mr. Fang became too interested in him.
From “excessive attention,” to “investigate the details.” From “using work time to send people to monitor,” to “secretly watching the whereabouts.” Fang Yuan’s curiosity became more and more frightening.
When he noticed that things weren’t quite right, Ji Wei left his job.
During the time he was off studying for his exams, Fang’s stalking and surveillance of him gradually escalated, almost to the point of being dangerous. During that time, Ji Wei felt like a prisoner. He was seemingly free to come and go, but it was always in the hands of someone else.
About two years ago, the first nightmare in Ji Wei’s life happened. Mr. Fang found him (in fact, Mr. Fang could have found him at any time) and took him into a car by force.
In the hotel suite Mr. Fang had booked, Ji Wei was escorted by two bodyguards and Fang Yuan said he “wanted to talk to him in depth.” Anyone with a good eye could see that nothing good was going to come out of it.
Fortunately, a fire broke out in the hotel, and the evacuation bell saved Ji Wei, but Fang Yuan wasn’t able to get what he wanted.
After one escape, a long nightmare followed.
No matter where Ji Wei was, or what he was doing, he could see Fang Yuan’s face or his silent, machine-like entourage at any moment.
The fact was that Fang Yuan wasn’t pursuing Ji Wei. He was not the kind of president who liked to chase the cleaning girl like in the idol dramas, he just thought in a different way than normal people.
This wasn’t a pursuit, it wasn’t even a twisted pursuit. Fang Yuan made no demands on Ji Wei, like those common in romance novels. “Stay and be mine” or “if you refuse, you won’t look good,” not to mention “you will look beautiful!” There was no “you’re not like other people, you don’t love my property” and so on.
Fang Yuan was simply interested in him.
Fang Yuan wouldn’t miss any opportunity to kidnap Ji Wei, so Ji Wei had to be vigilant all day long to prevent Fang Yuan from getting his way. Ji Wei tried to seek help from various organizations, but probably because no harm had actually happened, no one believed Ji Wei’s words.
Despite the fact he was living in fear, Ji Wei wasn’t vulnerable, and in the darkness of the night, he persisted in doing what he wanted to do. He wasn’t willing to give up the life he wanted to pursue.
A few months ago, Fang Yuan seemed busy with other things, and gradually he started to rarely appear. So, Ji Wei found a chance to move into the school’s laboratory building.
Fang Yuan’s car and his men appeared several times, but they couldn’t bring Ji Wei out.
Fang Yuan had to continue to wait and watch. Even though he was a man of the world, he didn’t want to take criminal action in a public place.
Day by day, the number of spotters decreased and disappeared. It seemed Fang Yuan had given up. Perhaps he had found more stimulating entertainment, and no longer missed Ji Wei.
After all, he had never wanted to pursue Ji Wei, had never made any commitment (not even a declaration of exclusivity or anything like that), and Ji Wei was just a plaything of his curiosity, not a deep obsession.
From the time he found out about the offline party on the website, Ji Wei took about a week to think about it. Finally he decided to take a gamble.
For the first time in four months, he left the lab building.
The handsome young man stepped onto the small wooden stage in the packed cafe. He tried the microphone and began to speak, “There must be some of you here who aren’t invested, and who don’t believe us at all. Indeed, our narrative is so peculiar that it would be hard to believe unless one had experienced it firsthand. After listening to our description of a man with ‘black hair and golden eyes in his late twenties,’ mockery must have sounded in your hearts, and you thought we were clamoring for attention. That’s okay, because what we want isn’t absolute trust, but to make as much noise as possible and contact other people who have also seen that man. We don’t expect everyone to agree that he really exists.”
This speech had just been preceded by four people who told four bizarre stories.
They said they had died in other worlds, and woke up in a strange dimensional rift. They learned a lot of knowledge they had never seen prior to then, before being brought to the present world by a force. After they came to this world, they overcame many difficulties and gradually established smooth lives.
In the dimensional rift after their death, they all met the same man. He had black hair and golden eyes, with decent but innocuous features, like one of a sea of people, or an ordinary face in a dream world.
Ji Wei sat on the corner sofa. He had made it to the site’s offline meeting place without incident, and without having run into perverts. He didn’t believe that these people had died, but he believed that some force did hold them together. Perhaps a psychological suggestion related to hypnotherapy, or some kind of group psychological change.
Of the four speakers, the blond man with somewhat exotic features was an original explorer, the tall dark-haired youth was a pool lifeguard, the girl with hair down to her calves was a bar singer, and a handsome man with a touch of femininity, the man who had just spoken the summation, worked as a waiter in the cafe.
The explorer’s experience was that he originally belonged to a highly technologically advanced world where he used to roam the galaxy, and even had friends from other planets. Unfortunately, his friend betrayed him and killed him. After his death, he woke up in a place called “a dimensional rift.”
The lifeguard’s story was that he claimed to be not human, but a species called QuanXian. He was once tempted by humans, and voluntarily transformed his body to become one of them. But the humans didn’t give him friendship, they intended to treat him as a test case and he eventually died of torture.
After that he added, “But I now self-identify as a human. I completely belong, and I’m no different from everyone else here.”
The girl told the people that she was once a princess from a weak and resource-poor country. She was forced to marry a foreigner she had never met, and lived a painful and depressing life for several years. Later, the foreigners had a war with her country, and for the sake of her homeland, she begged her husband, but he killed her with his own hands. After that, she woke up in the white room of dimensional rift. The young man with black hair and golden eyes asked her to stay, so she stayed there for about a month until she was drawn by a force to the present world.
The cafe waiter’s experience was even more incredible. He came from a world where there were more than two genders. He said that people in that world also appeared to be divided into male and female, and among the males, there were some who were able to conceive and bear children, and among the females, there were some who were able to impregnate the same or opposite sex. He was once a fertile male (when speaking here, the audience was silent, they didn’t even question it. Apparently everyone was stunned by this exaggerated whimsy.), and he was subjected to very cruel illegal detention. He lived a life of slavery without seeing the sun, and after an unfortunate pregnancy and miscarriage, he was violently attacked by his killer, and eventually died.
The cafe waiter finally said that since he died once and woke up again, he no longer had the ability to conceive and give birth, as if his body had been altered by the dimensional rift.
Now that he had gotten used to his new world, the place where he was now based, he was used to the fact there being only two genders, and had even gotten a girlfriend.
The first three people’s stories were weird enough, but the cafe waiter’s experience was even more bizarre and staggering.
Ji Wei was puzzled. Even if it was to make up stories, there were few people who would make up such strange stories. What was the point of being clever, when no one believed it?