16 June 3:00p.m.
Chong San City outskirts, Zhou Gang Station. It was two stops away from this station to Ning Gu garden, which was located at the end of Ning Gu avenue.
The resident property surrounding Ning Gu avenue were considered to be newly developed. It was quite far away from the city. Outside the city, the roads were lined with clusters of individual villages. Some villages had even developed themselves into a tourist spot boasting artistic views with its majestic mountains and luscious greenery.
Zhou Gang village was one of the places that was famous for its old ancient Ching Dynasty building that had been very well preserved. All year round, there were many tourists, and most came from Chong Sang City.
In the newly built bus stop, a young couple carrying backpacks were sitting on one side of a bench, passionately expressing their love for each other, their surroundings all but forgotten.
Sitting on the other side of the bench were an old couple that looked around sixty years old. The old lady looked up and disdainfully glanced at the other couple. The husband saw his wife’s dislike and patted her shoulder in comfort, “City youngsters.”
“Youngsters nowadays are getting out of hand.” The old lady grumbled softly, complaining, “Why is the bus not here yet?”
The old man pacified her, “Soon, be patient.” He paused for a while, before carefully testing out the waters, “Do you think it is alright that we didn’t inform our younger son that we’re visiting him?”
“Why not?” The old lady rolled her eyes. “Isn’t it normal for parents to visit their son’s place for dinner? Don’t tell me they’re going to chase us out?”
“It’s about 10 years since we met…” The old man bitterly smiled.
The old lady held tightly onto her brightly coloured canvas bag, pondering for a while. She then told her partner, “It’s time to talk it out, we have been trying to look out for our eldest. Now that eldest is finally married and the younger one’s child is already ten years old, any past hatred or grudges should have already been let go of.”
“What I’m worried is the younger one not hating the older one but us instead.” The old man sighed before coughing softly.
“Hate us? For what? That woman was always meant to be for the eldest! Back then she was already near 30 years old, and yet she still dared to seduce our younger son? That woman’s 6 years older than him! Our younger son must’ve been blind too. The older one is also stupid to fall for her. What’s so good about that woman? Their brotherly bond ended up being broken just because of her too.” The old lady unconsciously moved her head and saw the girl engaging in an obscene gesture with the boy, and angrily threw her bag on the floor.
The old man coughed a few times and glanced at his partner. He could not help but worry. With such a mentality, how could they even approach their youngest child? They would no doubt start a fight!
“If we hadn’t interfered back then, perhaps there wouldn’t have had so much conflict…… Cough cough!” The old man started to violently cough.
“What’s wrong with you?” The old lady frowned, leaning closer to examine her companion.
The old man waved away her worries.
“Wah! Xiao Hua, what happened to you?” A sharp scream was heard as the young woman stood up with her face covered in blood. Panicking, she looked at her boyfriend worriedly, totally forgetting to wipe the blood off her face.
The young man that looked a bite over twenty, held his chest and looked towards the girl. He tried to say something and opened his mouth, but blood flowed out non-stop.
“Someone, please help! Xiao Hua, Xiao Hua, don’t scare me!” The girl burst into a loud cry,” Wah!”
The old man stood up, but the old lady immediately pulled him down and prevented him from going forward to help.
At the same time, a public bus slowly pulled towards the bus stop.
“What’s wrong with my eyes?” Xiao Mo adjusted the temperature of the air condition before bending down to ask the kid.
The kid replied seriously, “I need to check first.”
Xiao Mo laughed and caught the hand that the boy stretched over, “Ok, don’t be mischievous. Today we will end the day early and go back; the grocery supplies have been running low so I need to stock up some from the market. Quick, turn off the computer. By the way, what’s your name?”
“My name is Xue Li Hong.” The kid shut down the computer and jumped off the chair.
“Xu Li Hong?”
The boy scored, “No, it’s Xue Li Hong.” He then caught hold of Xiao Mo’s hand and wrote the words on his hand.
“Is this your real name?”
“Couldn’t be any more real.”
“Ha-ha!” Xiao Mo didn’t believe him. He even started to think that perhaps this kid was sent by his friend to pull a prank on him, or maybe…
“You think I’m from a fraudulent group? Approaching you as a kid, then obtaining your trust and cheating you off your pin number or ATM card?”
“If I wanted your money, I had no need to use such petty tricks; too troublesome.” The boy tightened his mouth, and held tightly onto Xiao Mo’s hand. “I am not a fraud, if you keep me for some time, you will find that I am very useful; I can help you work and earn money.”
“What if I keep you for some time and your parents pop out of nowhere, accusing me of kidnapping their son, even suing me of doing something obscene to you, blackmailing me for all my life?”
“Brother, do you have some paranoia of being cheated? Didn’t you say you wanted to go buy groceries? I’m hungry, can we eat BBQ beef tonight?”
Xiao Mo thought a bit, before patting the boy’s head and laughed, “Sure, but before that you need to follow me to the police station.”
“Must we go?” The child lifted up his head.
“Yes, it’s a must.”
“Alright, if you feel better this way.” The boy shrugged.
Xiao Mo sighed in relief, this kid was different from other children, but that wasn’t the main reason he was willing to adopt him. He just did not want the kid to end up on the streets and being used by those shady societies.
No matter what his real identity is, he would have to report to the police so that they will keep a record. Just in case his parents come looking for him, having a record will make the situation much easier and less messy. These days, it was not easy being a good person, one might even be treated as a con man.
Xiao Mo still did not believe that the kid was an orphan without anyone adopting him.
It was not as though he was unable to feed another mouth. His home had space and he didn’t dislike this kid, so perhaps, for a short period, he was still willing to keep him.
Turning off all the power supplies, the duo moved out of the shop. Just a Xiao Mo was about to pull down the roller shutters, he heard someone calling him.
“Lao Xiao, wait, don’t go! Sign this form first.”
Xiao Mo saw the two city management community members coming out from the supermarket, walking briskly towards him.
Xiao Mo held onto the kid’s hand and smiled, “Lao Zhang, what is so urgent?”
“Aish, don’t mention.” Lao Zhang, one of the city management’s members, held a sheet of A4 papers in his hand. He urgently spoke, “The upper management suddenly passed down this instruction to do a health check for all the residents. I need to help the management community tabulate the number of residents in this city, including those coming for a short period and touring. Results have to be submitted by tonight 8p.m. It’s so exhausting!”
“Why the hurry? Are you able to finish counting the population?”
“Not only me, Lao Zhou and the other volunteers were also activated to help.”
Xiao Mo knew Lao Zhou was the city police station deputy master. So, the police were also involved in this counting? Why the hurry though? Was it because of the health check?
Xiao Mo felt that it didn’t rhyme. It was just like that time, when a criminal broke out from prison, there was a mass population check too. Every household was not spared, even the mountains were scoured thoroughly, just to catch the 4 escaped criminals that carried the death sentence.
“Lao Xiao, can you lend a helping hand?” Lao Zhang wiped off his perspiration, passing some papers to Xiao Mo, asking him to fill up his particulars. The other city management staff went to the other shop.
Xiao Mo shook his head, pointing the pen towards the kid, “Sorry, not that I won’t want to help, but I have to take care of this kid this few days.”
“Oh, who is this? Very cute.” Lao Zhang just realized that there was a kid around, he fumbled and turned to touch the kid’s head.
The kid tilted his head and deftly avoided Lao Zhang’s touch.
“Ha ha, this kid is very shy. Come, greet uncle Zhang.”
The kid pulled on Xiao Mo’s shirt and hid behind him.
Lao Zhang didn’t mind and pointed to the A4 paper: “This kid’s particulars also need to be filled in.”
“It’s so strict this time round?”
“No choice, this is the requirement by the upper level, as long as it’s people, we have to include them inside the system.”
“Do you have any information?” Xiao Mo filled in the particulars. For the name, he quoted “Xue Li Hong”, age, five years old, family’s contact and address, he filled in his own.
Lao Zhang shook his head, he was also at a loss, “Don’t know, this time the order came to abruptly. Oh, one more point, these two days, it’s best if you don’t go out. Stay at home, if you need to go any place, report to the police station and obtain approval.”
Xiao Mo frowned. He returned the completed form to Lao Zhang, “Then how about those who need to go to work?”
Xiao Mo witnessed Lao Zhang proceeding to the next shop. He just could not figure out what was actually happening.
“I suggest you buy more food to stock up when you are in the supermarket, the world is going to become chaotic.”
Xiao Mo became speechless, listening to a five-year-old talking about the world becoming chaotic- such a weird feeling, cannot understand at all.
“… Kid, don’t utter nonsense.”
“Believe it or not, do you think that I would get myself a foster parent if not for the instinct of the world changing?” the kid replied directly.
Xiao Mo changed his mind, he instantly believed that the kid was not joking with him. No matter how smart the kid was, he would not be able to say such shocking things.
Xiao Mo squatted down, being on the same eye level as the kid, “Do you know something?”
“What do you think I know?” The kid answered with a blank face.
“Ok, let’s ask another question- why me?”
“… You gave me a bun and soya milk.”
“Just because of that?”
The kid became a little impatient. He dipped his hand into his pockets, “Time is running out and I don’t have energy to choose. Most importantly, I came across you, had a good feeling about you, so it was you.”
“You have been repeating that time is running out. What do you mean, time for what?” Xiao Mo stared at the kid.
“Big trouble is coming.”
“What big trouble?”
“Then how do you know that a big trouble is coming?”
“When you encounter it a few times, you would know.”
“Are you sure you are a kid?”
“Do I look like an old man to you?” The kid placed his arms on his hip.
Xiao Mo sighed, he felt that trouble had come knocking on his door. “Don’t tell me that every time when there is a big trouble, you would get someone to adopt you?”
“You are correct.” But only few persisted. The kid didn’t vocalize the last part. Just like what Xiao Mo was thinking, he also did not intent to let Xiao Mo adopt him for long, just past the chaotic period will do. Or else, with his physical ability as a kid, not matter how good he was, he would still suffer a lot during the messy times.
Xiao Mo stood up, the more he asked, the more confused he was.
He could not differentiate if the kid was speaking the truth or not, but he also did not believe that such good times would change.
Although the society still had some underlying problems, he was still quite satisfied with how the government managed the country.
There was a Chinese saying- rather be a dog during peaceful times and not a human during chaotic times. He had no wish for his peaceful life to have any unpredictable changes.
“Can I tell the police what you told me?”
“Unless you want them to treat you like a lunatic,” The kid smirked.
Xiao Mo was well aware that no one would believe him, even he himself had trouble believing what the kid told him.
Suddenly, a thought struck him. The kid wouldn’t be mentally unstable, right? Didn’t some say that kids with extreme talent had over-developed brains causing unrealistic imagination? Could it be such a case?
Judging from the looks of suspicion and pity, how could Xue Li Hong not know what the guy was thinking? He was not concerned though, he only needed to tag with him for this period, and after everything was over, he would leave. Who cared how Xiao Mo thought of him.