Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
When Lu RanKong finished showering, the two of them returned to their cell to put away their toiletries and went to the cafeteria to eat with the rest of their waiting cellmates. It was late and all the inmates were in their cells, and when they saw them coming out of their cells from the bars, they all greeted them.
“Boss, Boss, I heard that your mine collapsed today and you were almost buried in it, right?”
“Of course it’s true, I was called to dig them up. Boss, I also went to save you.”
“Shit, it was the wolf dogs who dug them out with the construction truck, you slept in all afternoon and now you’re taking credit for it.”
“A wolf dog must have fucking collapsed that cave.”
“No reason, it must be the wolf dogs who did it anyway.”
Lu RanKong raised his hands, smiled and gestured to the inmates on either side of him as they started cursing the guards again.
“Shut up, all of you, and get inside. No lying on the bars.” Officer Wang came over with the electric baton.
“Woof, woof, woof! The wolf dog is going to bite again. Woof, woof, woof!” The inmates began to bang on the bars, making the sound of dogs out of their mouths.
Officer Wang put his electric baton on the bars, and all the prisoners left the bars again, cursing and swearing.
The canteen did leave them food, and they each got an extra chicken leg, so they ate a nice meal and went back to their cells to sleep.
Lan Yu was very tired today and didn’t want to put on a mask, just washed his face and went out from the bathroom, when he saw Lu RanKong climbing on his bunk again, with his hand under his head, resting on his feet and swaying around leisurely.
He didn’t bother as he went straight to bed, crossed over Lu RanKong and got under the covers. Almost the moment his head hit the pillow, he fell into a deep sleep.
In the middle of the night, he felt that arms and legs were wrapped around him again, and the person next to him was hugging him tightly, and he struggled twice without breaking away, so he adjusted to a comfortable position and went back to sleep.
It didn’t seem to matter if he became used to it.
The next day after breakfast, all of them were in the courtyard outside the canteen waiting to leave for the mine, but they were left in cell 11.
“Yesterday your mine collapsed and people suffered, so the warden specifically ordered that you don’t have to go digging for a few days, and today you will go to the vegetable farm behind the prison to help.” Officer Wang told them.
“Ha!” Liu Junjie several people couldn’t help but cheer in a low voice.
They could see Officer Wang was also in a good mood, after all, going to the farm meant he could rest in a room all day and didn’t have to wait outside the mine.
A canteen helper came out, still wearing his apron and cuffs, and said kindly, “Come with me, everyone, let’s go to the back of the mountain.”
The several people didn’t form a line and followed behind Officer Wang in twos and threes, led by the helper, and went to the back of the prison.
The helper didn’t look at these people as prisoners, as he enthusiastically introduced all the way, “The Star Warship arrives once every half month, sometimes if caught in the interstellar storm, two or three months later. So, we will open up that piece of land at the foot of the mountain to raise some ducks, and then plant some fresh vegetables or something. The Star Warship can’t keep up with the supplies. Don’t worry, we can always get you some good food.”
Officer Wang’s face was also smiling, and he didn’t look grumpy as usual.
After passing through several large and small squares, bypassing several prison buildings, after ten minutes, the several people arrived at the foot of the back of the hill. From a distance, they saw a vegetable field circled by transparent sheds, as big as a court, and on the left was a whole row of bungalows built, which should be the duck house.
“Here it is…” The helper stopped and turned to a few people and said, “Then please clean up the duck house and pick up this patch of vegetables.”
“No problem, no problem.”
Officer Wang said, “Okay, then you go back, I’ll watch them.”
When the helper left, he hung the electric baton behind his waist, stretched a long lazy back and said, “You heard what he just said, right? I don’t need to arrange, go find work for yourself. It’s rare to have such free time, so be careful not to cause trouble. Go.”
After saying that, he took a step towards a small building next to him, apparently to rest there.
After he went up to the second floor and his back disappeared into one of the rooms, Liu Junjie said with a smile, “I’ve been here for a day before, and it’s easier than any other work, so I’m taking today as a vacation.”
“Then you have to finish the work first before you rest.” Lu RanKong patted him on the shoulder and said, “Let’s clean out the duck house now. So, Qiu Dao and I will clean the duck house, and the rest of you will go to the vegetable patch.”
The work in the duck house was obviously heavier and smelled more, so Wang Jin quickly said, “I’ll go clean the duck house too.”
Qiu Dao wanted to say something, but he stopped him, “If I’m not going to do the heavy work, should I let Lin Lin and Qiao Fei and the two chicken boys go?”
Soon the work was divided, Lu RanKong, QiuDao and Wang Jin went in to clean the duck house, while the rest of the men went to the vegetable field.
When Lan Yu saw Lu RanKong and them heading straight for the duck house, he hurriedly called out to them and asked with a sullen face, “Are you going to go in like this?”
“What else can we do?” The three of them looked at each other.
Lan Yu walked up to the small building where Officer Wang was resting and looked in through the window on the ground floor. He pushed open the door to one of the rooms, went inside, and soon came out with several large plastic bags.
“There are clearly disposable protective smocks here, as well as shoe covers, hoods, masks and the like, and you all don’t know to look for them. When we get back to the prison, we will smoke our cell into a breeding ground.” Lan Yu said.
Lu RanKong three people hurriedly took an unpacked bag each, and began to put it on over their prison clothes.
“Brother Qiao, I didn’t think you’d be so careful.” Liu Junjie said curtly to Lu RanKong, “Brother Baozi, you are really lucky.”
“Not bad, not bad at all.” Lu RanKong put his arm around Lan Yu’s shoulder and patted it, but he was pushed away.
The three dressed up and headed for the duck house and vegetable field respectively. Lu RanKong just took two steps out and was called by Lan Yu again, “You wait…”
Lu RanKong turned his head and asked him, “What’s wrong?”
Lan Yu walked up and tightened the zipper behind him, then came around to him and raised his hand to fix the collar that was exposed outside the disposable smock.
“This needs to go in so it doesn’t smell.” Lan Yu said as he tidied him up.
Lu RanKong looked at him with downcast eyes.
The light from the artificial sun fell overhead and spread on Lan Yu’s face. His long eyelashes cast two rows of shadows on his lower eyelids, and his pale skin was slightly flushed with a layer of small hairs that were clearly visible in the sunlight. He straightened Lu RanKong’s collar and said, “That’s better, go ahead.”
Lu RanKong stood unmoving, still looking at him.
Lan Yu raised his eyes in confusion and gave a questioning look.
Out of nowhere, Lu RanKong suddenly said, “You have hair all over your face, like a peach with hair all over it.”
As soon as the words left his mouth, he regretted it and wanted to bite his tongue off.
Sure enough, when Lan Yu heard these words, his face was first shocked, and then a layer of anger slowly surfaced, “Your whole body is covered with hair, like a hairy monkey.”
Lu RanKong wanted to explain that he did think Lan Yu looked like a peach, white and a little pink, with soft fluffy hairs and small, slender veins. Before you bite, you feel that under the thin skin, there must be sweet and refreshing juice.
But these words couldn’t be said in any way.
Lan Yu turned around with a black face and went to the vegetable field, thinking angrily, Of course my face isn’t very smooth, I didn’t use a mask last night. How dare you say I have a hairy face?! He didn’t look at the hair on his own calves, so monkey-like, scaring people by rubbing against them in the middle of the night.
This vegetable patch was very large, but also divided into several areas, planted with some common vegetables, such as cowpeas, lettuce, eggplants and so on. There was also an area of vegetables Lan Yu had never seen before, it was estimated that they were some strange vegetable species from another planet.
He saw others with a small bamboo basket pulling weeds, so he also went to the door of the shed to carry a bamboo basket, and walked to the unoccupied piece of the vegetable field and squatted down. This kind of vegetable grew very brightly, the vegetable stalk was red, pinky thick, more than a foot high with blue oval leaves on it.
He seemed to have eaten somewhere, but forgot exactly where, and only remembered that the taste was very good and it could be eaten raw. There were some weeds in the ground, and he advanced along those gullies, squatting a little, pulling out the weeds and then throwing them into the bamboo basket.
The four of them were scattered in different fields, far away from each other, so the surrounding area was quiet. He didn’t know how long it had been when he suddenly heard a twittering sound.
Looking at the sound, a flock of small yellow ducks came in through a gap under the plastic shed and started pecking at a large vegetable leaf stretching over the ridge.
Lan Yu put down the bamboo basket and squatted down to watch. One duckling, smaller than its siblings, was accidentally squeezed off the ridge and rolled over, fluttering its tiny wings and trying to jump up, its beak chattering anxiously. After the other ducklings finished eating the leaves, they moved forward along the ridge, and there were still some leaves sticking out not far away that they could continue to eat.
The one that had fallen off the ridge stumbled and ran after it in the gully, turning over two heels from time to time. Lan Yu stood up, walked to the duckling and carefully picked it up. He put it in the palm of his left hand, his right hand gently stroking the delicate little wings.
The duckling wasn’t afraid of people, so when it was picked up it didn’t quack, but raised its small flat beak, curious to peck his fingers. The fingers were pecked and tickled, Lan Yu was filled with softness and couldn’t help but smile.
“If you like it, when we go back later, we can raise a flock of ducks on the balcony.” Lu RanKong’s voice suddenly emerged from behind him.
“Raising a flock of ducks?” Lan Yu still had a smile on his face and handed his finger to the duckling for him to peck.
Lu RanKong came forward and said, “The young ones are just for fun, when they grow up, they will be killed and eaten. The meat of these ducks is especially tender.”
Lan Yu sank his face and put the duck in his hand on the ridge and pushed it gently, watching it flap its wings and go after the flock of ducks in front of him.
“You cleaned out the duck house?” He turned to Lu RanKong and asked.
Lu RanKong replied, “Cleaned it up.”
“Did you wash your hands?”
Lan Yu came up to him and smelled it, frowned and said, “It smells a little.”
“I washed my hands several times, and they were clean.” Lu RanKong complained, “The duck house is quite clean and is often cleaned by the inmates, and I was wrapped up tightly, so it doesn’t smell.”
Lan Yu sniffed at him a few more times, Lu RanKong didn’t move and tensed his body until he said he didn’t smell anything, then he secretly sighed with relief.
“Are you done pulling weeds?” Lu RanKong asked.
Lan Yu looked behind him and said, “All done…”
Liu Junjie and the others looked like they had also finished pulling weeds, and they were sitting on the ridge smoking cigarettes.
“Then sit down and rest for a while, it’s still early.”
Lu RanKong walked to the ridge and sat down, stepping on the field with his feet. Lan Yu walked behind him and sat on a relatively clean stone. Lan Yu saw Lu RanKong pulling a blue vegetable leaf and reached out and pulled it off in front of him.
He took the blue leaf, and he took the rhizome off the top, then folded the bottom edge of the leaf up, folded the left and right sides together to form a triangle, and then broke a small section of the red stalk. He squeezed two drops of juice from it onto the leaf, and sent it into his mouth.
A fresh aroma covered the taste buds, and as he chewed, a light spice seeped out and overflowed his entire mouth. He looked ahead at Lu RanKong just in time to see him dripping the juice from the red vegetable stalk onto the leaf.
The leaves were also stacked up left, right and below, in a triangle.
“You taste it…” Lu RanKong turned his head and handed the leaf to him.
Lan Yu said, “I’m eating it…”
“You know you can eat it raw? But this is my original method, and this makes a very tasty Zikang dish.” Lu RanKong insisted on handing it to him, “You must not have tried this before.”
The original method, Lan Yu laughed in his heart, but seeing Lu RanKong’s eager face, he took it and put it into his mouth.
Lu RanKong looked at him and asked, “How is it? Is it good? I found that the juice inside drips on the leaves of Zikang cabbage, so it has a different flavor when eaten raw, so I created this way of eating, which no one else knows.”
“Are you sure this is your self-invented method?” He asked.
Lu RanKong said proudly, “Of course…”
“And no one else knows about it?”
Lu RanKong said with a straight face, “No one else knows.”
Lan Yu was thinking of how to make fun of him when he suddenly remembered something, the smile on Lu RanKong’s face slowly withdrew, lowering his eyes, showing a bit of confusion. He couldn’t help but ask, “What’s wrong? Suddenly you’re not happy?”
Lu RanKong pulled another piece of Zikang leaf and started to make a second one. Only after a long time did he lower his head and say, “Nothing, I just remembered someone.”
Lu RanKong was silent again for a while and replied, “Someone who used to be very close to me.”
“The person you ate this Zikang vegetable with?” Lan Yu asked keenly.
Lu RanKong didn’t answer, which was a tacit acknowledgement.
After a few seconds, Lan Yu asked tentatively, “Is it your relative?”
“No, a friend.” Lu RanKong said and closed his mouth, as if he didn’t want to mention it again.
What kind of friend could make him look hurt just by eating a dish?
Lan Yu instantly felt a bit sour in his mouth, his heart was also vaguely uncomfortable, as if blocked by a ball of cotton.
Lu RanKong rolled the second one, turned around and handed it to him, “Here…”
“No, it’s not good, I don’t like it.” Lan Yu said three “no”s in a row.
Lu RanKong turned around, put the roll in his mouth, and chewed it slowly.
Both of them fell silent and stopped talking until Officer Wang came down from that small building and called them to gather.
“Let’s go back for lunch.” After saying that, he walked far ahead by himself.
On the way, Lu RanKong turned his head several times to look at Lan Yu, before he opened his mouth, Lan Yu quickly turned his face, either to look at the side, or to talk with the nearest Qiao Fei, letting him say nothing. He usually had a cold and indifferent look towards people, but now he suddenly asked long and short questions, which made Qiao Fei’s heart go round and round, not knowing what was wrong.
“So how many people are in your family?” Lan Yu asked expressionlessly.
Qiao Fei replied cautiously, “Four. My Alpha father, my Beta father, and one sister.” After answering, he added, “We are an ordinary family, both fathers have average jobs, and my sister is still studying, so she doesn’t have much money.”
After saying that, he looked at Lan Yu and smiled.
Lan Yu frowned and said, “What are you nervous about? I’m just asking.”
“Yes, yes, yes…” Qiao Fei smiled sarcastically.
Liu Junjie punched Qiao Fei and laughed, “We were buried in the mine with Brother Qiao yesterday, so we are friends who have experienced life and death. What are you afraid of? You think Brother Qiao can still look at your little family’s money? If he wanted to do something, he could. Right Brother Qiao?”
Lan Yu shut his mouth and stopped talking, then subconsciously looked at Lu RanKong beside him, and found that he was looking at him with a smile in his eyes, so he quickly turned his head away again.