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Chapter 33: Another Old Friend


At two in the afternoon, the front door intercom sounded. Feng Bujue felt dizzy and irritated after he was wakened up by the noise.

When he returned home, though the cat had already been bathed at the pet clinic, he was still really busy for over half an hour. He didn’t even take off his clothes before he lied down. He slept up until now for a bit more than six hours.

Feng Bujue dazedly walked over to the entrance and lifted the intercom receiver to ask, “Who is it?”

“Me,” Wang Tanzhi answered, “Sir Bao is here too.”[1]

“Is the door open yet?” remarked Feng Bujue. He yawned and pressed the button to open the door to the apartment complex.

“It’s open, it’s open. Talk to you when we get up there.”

A minute or so after the call was finished, two people had already ridden the elevator up. They passed through a hallway and pressed Feng Bujue’s doorbell. The latter peeked outside through the peephole, then opened the door. He didn’t even greet the two before he turned around and walked to his sofa.

Wang Tanzhi and “Sir Bao” also didn’t behave like strangers. They smoothly closed the door, placed pizza and a dozen pack of beer on the coffee table, and went into Feng Bujue’s kitchen on their own to fetch plates and chopsticks.

“Eh? Jue Bro, why is there a cat?” Wang Tanzhi very quickly discovered the small tuxedo cat that laid dozing on one corner of the sofa.

“Don’t you see the sandbox in the corner; I’m raising it.” Sleepy-eyed Feng Bujue blearily twisted open a bottle of beer. He gargled for a bit, as if he were rinsing with mouthwash, then swallowed…

“When did you start raising a cat again?” asked Wang Tanzhi while he slowly tiptoed towards the little tuxedo cat.

“This morning.” burped Feng Bujue, “You better not think it’s really sleeping; cats are incredibly vigilant animals. It may seem like they need to sleep tens of hours a day, but in reality, if even a bit of wind blew or grass rustled, its ears will twitch. This indicates…”

Right when Lil’ Tan was about to catch the kitten, its eyes flashed open. It then fled forward, turned, and slipped behind the sofa. Because Lil’ Tan was leaning forward, he lost his center of gravity and fell in a stumble.

“Why did you decide to raise a cat again?” Sir Bao came back from the kitchen holding plates and napkins. He waved his hand and beckoned for Lil’ Tan to sit on the sofa then also sat down.

His name was “Bao Qing”. He was actually only several months older than the other two, virtually a year. The three of them had been classmates from kindergarten all the way to middle school and ever since elementary Bao Qing had been called Sir Bao. Problem was… he wasn’t the slightest bit dark skinned, his household has never produced a government official, and had never even been class monitor during school.[2]

Who would’ve ever thought that after growing up Sir Bao would really have become a “Sir”? He was twenty-five this year, a civil servant at a government agency, and had a daughter who was two-and-a-half already. Compared to these two bachelors, he was much more reliable. Sir Bao had one special trait and that was ever since childhood he’d always been “sullen” faced. There was even less need to mention it after marriage; he was sullen-faced all day long.

“This is destiny between me and that cat.” Feng Bujue answered. “I’m following fate.”

When the two of them asked him, they both used the word “again”. That’s because both of them knew that Feng Bujue had raised a cat before during his childhood. Back then, an elderly neighbor lady raised a female cat which gave birth to four kittens. She gave Feng Bujue one as a present and he raised it for thirteen years. The kitten became an old cat and in the end died of old age; the child became an adult and personally buried the old cat.

“Gave it a name yet?” Wang Tanzhi asked, face full of excitement.

“SARS.” Feng Bujue answered completely calmly, as if this name wasn’t randomly blurted out, but rather like it had long since been decided on.

“Pft…!” Sir Bao immediately spat out a mouthful of beer, “Even if you’re just messing with Lil’ Tan about the name, you should still make up a more normal name like ‘Kuro’, ‘Mike’, something like that…”

Feng Bujue snapped his fingers, “SARS.”

The small tuxedo cat actually turned its head around and let out a small “meow.”

“See, it’s not against it at all.” Feng Bujue pointed at SARS’s kitty face.

“I have to post this online.” said Lil’ Tan as he took out his phone.

“Wait, wait.” Feng Bujue put down his beer and walked over to pull back the curtains on the window. Then he caught SARS in a grab, stopping it from running away immediately.

Feng Bujue lifted the cat under its armpits with two hands, making it curl slightly into itself. He stretched his arms, held the cat high up to meet the sunlight, and imitated the opening scene from the Lion King on Pride Rock while reciting the lines from a completely unrelated character.

“My son… from the day that you were born, every corner of Lordaeron shall echo with your name… Arthas…” recited Feng Bujue in solemn, low voice.[3]

Wang Tanzhi then grabbed his phone and pointed it at the baffled kitten’s face, recording while circling 360 degrees around them.

“What are you guys doing! How old are you this year! Are you men going through chuunibyou every day?!”

Once they were scolded by Sir Bao, the two sat back down on the sofa. SARS slipped away onto a cushion and continued to doze.

“How are you free this week Sir Bao?” asked Feng Bujue.

“Wife took our daughter back to her mother’s house.” replied Sir Bao as he contently drank a mouthful of beer.

“Permanently or temporarily?” Feng Bujue followed up with another question.

“Talking sh*t! How could it be permanent! My mother-in-law just wanted to see her granddaughter.” Sir Bao almost choked to death.

“Seeing the unkempt way your clothes look…” started Feng Bujue.

Wang Tanzhi interrupted them. He picked up the remote and asked, “What’s the theme this week?”

“Crap movie marathon.” replied Feng Bujue.

“Hah?” Wang Tanzhi turned his head around.

Feng Bujue spoke, “Yep. Last time we discussed, it came up that there are so many infamous crap movies that had passed the test of time and were stuck to the movie industry’s bottom ranks, but we haven’t seen any of them.”

“Alright… let me see…” Wang Tanzhi used the remote to surf through the selections in the program menu.

Whenever the three of them found the time to get together they’d think of a theme and watch over ten hours worth of movies. As for the films they watched, for the most part, they were works from the end of the twentieth to the early twenty-first centuries. After that period, technology for CGI became more and more advanced, and following the spread of the Fifth Generation of computers, super crap movies became hard to find. In this future, no matter how crappy movies might get, there’d at least special scene and sound effects to gloss it over.

“How about《Ghost Rider》?” spoke Wang Tanzhi.

“You know《Daredevil》?” asked Feng Bujue.

“Yea… watched it.” Wang Tanzhi replied.

“Same director.” Feng Bujue said.

“Alright…” Wang Tanzhi browsed some more, “Let’s watch this《The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 2》. Wow, this series surprisingly has seven films.” (In 2055, there are another two films)  

“Haven’t even seen a single one.” Sir Bao shrugged.

“I remember this film won seven out of ten of the Golden Raspberry Awards of its year. Twenty years later it was voted one of the three Reigning Crap Films of the early Twenty-first century.” said Feng Bujue.

“I’m curious as to what the other two films are… don’t tell me it’s the other movies from this series.” said Sir Bao.

“No, it’s《Battlefield Earth》and《Jack and Jill》, the latter of which monopolized all the Golden Raspberry Awards from 2012.” Feng Bujue continued, “I’ve also only heard of the names, but never seen them. Why don’t we just watch these three today then.”

“Don’t care.” “Sure.” replied Lil’ Tan and Sir Bao.

Two hours later…

“You guys alright?” asked Sir Bao right as the end credits started to roll across the screen.

Wang Tanzhi gloomily gazed at the floor, “I feel like I’ve lost something important…”

Feng Bujue lifelessly stared at the sunlight outside the window, “These were the most shameful two hours of my life. My mind was raped…”

“Next we still have a sci-fi film and a comedy film… we had better watch the comedy one then.” Sir Bao’s glowering expression became incomparably grimmer.

Ninety minutes later…

“Al Pacino didn’t protect himself in his later years.” said Wang Tanzhi.

“His performance was hard to roast, but the plot truly is…” said Feng Bujue, “Sir Bao, what do you make of it?”

No one answered.

“Sir Bao? Sir…” Feng Bujue turned his head around to discover Sir Bao had unexpectedly fallen asleep with his eyes open and was even slightly snoring.

“This despicable civil servant…”

Around six or seven, the three of them ate some unhygienic barbecue from the street vendors by the roadside. Jue Bro and Lil’ Tan told Sir Bao about their recent playtime in Thriller Paradise, but Sir Bao showed no interest. The life of men with families is quite harsh: there’s not much personal space or free time. The three chatted for a few hours, until a bit past nine, then Sir Bao went his separate way. Feng Bujue and Wang Tanzhi had agreed to get back online during the wee hours of the morning and sweep through a few Scenarios. Soon after, both headed back to their own homes.

These three had a friendship that was genuine and hard to come by. When they were young they were all snot-nosed, dumb-hur-hur brats; this was the purest kind of friendship. Even if you looked down the road fifty or sixty years at these friends, this feeling they had would never change.

…………

Feng Bujue laid down in the Game Cabin at midnight. After the scan completed he chose to set up sleep mode and set the connection time because he didn’t sleep enough during the day but had still decided to log in to the game. 

【Access Type is Sleep Mode; adjusting… adjustment completed. Please set the time to enter the game, or return to previous options.】

【Setting completed. Programmed to start the connection on Year 2055, April 6th, 1:00 AM. Have a goodnight.】

After he finished listening to the voice, Feng Bujue closed his eyes. The Game Cabin was very cozy. Adding the fact that he was a little bit drunk as well, he fell asleep rather quickly.

When he regained consciousness, he was already standing inside that familiar elevator. The screen on the wall displayed the time. Right now it was April 6th 1:00 AM in the real world, but the electric clock didn’t display the seconds. Not only that, but it also felt like several minutes had passed and yet the time still hadn’t jumped to 1:01. Obviously, this was due to Thriller Paradise’s Sleep Mode.

Wang Tanzhi’s team invite very quickly popped up on the screen. After he joined the group, Feng Bujue discovered Long Aomin was also in the group. This was because Lil’ Tan saw the other was under idling status, so he went ahead and invited him in.

“Jue Bro, something big has happened!” started Wang Tanzhi.

“Someone’s already reached Level 20?” carelessly responded Feng Bujue.

“Eh? You already know?”

“I just guessed from your tone.”

“Heh heh… Feng Xiong is, as expected, really clever.” Long Aomin spoke, “Just around 12:30 in real time, the server’s first Level 20 player was born.”

Feng Bujue took a look at the group info box. Feng Bujue was just gone for one day and Long Aomin was already Level 13 and Lil’ Tan also reached Level 11. He probably came online earlier about ten or so minutes ago and swept through a Single Player Scenario and so had risen one level.

“Was there an announcement for the first fully leveled player in the game?” asked Feng Bujue.

“Yes, the players who were in the login space all likely heard the System beep. At the same time, this news should’ve shown up on the touchscreen. What’s more is that the the forums have already exploded.” said Long Aomin.

“Let me see…” Feng Bujue tapped open the forums and found the official stickied notice. The startling title written was:【Congratulations to the “Regulation” studio—— “Fearless Brave One” has become the first level capped player in the Closed Beta Stage】


Footnotes:

[1]Just having some fun. Sir here is more to signify someone of seniority rank. It can also mean “adult” which will make sense a bit later.

[2]Bao Qing is being made fun of for his name because it sounds like Bao Qing Tian, which was the title of famous judge Bao Zheng. He was known for being an extremely honest and upright official. He was studious and he was also extremely dark skinned hence the author’s comment on skin color; not trying to be racist.

[3]Forgive me, I don’t know if these are the exact lines spoken by King Terenas. Also for those who don’t, this is a WoW thing


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