Chapter 21: The Fifteenth Cycle of Time
Original Translations: Crafted with Care, No Unauthorized Reposting Allowed.
Although it was only a quick glance, Li Shiqing could see that it was a young cat in poor condition, not only was it thin and weak, its voice was even weaker, its fur was still dirty with the characteristic dirt of a stray cat, and its eyes were only round and watery because they were so thin, making it look pitiful.
Even Li Shiqing, who had just been covered in spikes, softened at the sight of such eyes, and gently closed the bag again, holding it carefully so that it would not jump out of the bag and fall.
Exactly the same action as the masked man who had just gotten into the car.
On the other hand, the 'fight' between the masked man and Boy with glasses ended with Boy being unilaterally beaten and bruised, and Boy losing all motivation the moment he saw the cat's head exposed, complaining reluctantly that
"Why do you have to be so careful when you have a cat in your bag!"
"Why do you care so much! What, I'm sorry for not having valuables in my bag?"
The masked man, however, clearly misunderstood what he meant by that and got even more fired up.
He flashed his eyes away from Boy and ran three or two steps to the car, yanking his bag out of Li Shiqing's hand, not half as polite as if she were a woman.
No, perhaps it had been polite, at least he hadn't made a move on her.
The passengers on the bus witnessed the farce and followed suit.
"Look pretty young too, how do you do this kind of thing yo ......"
"Robbing on a bus in broad daylight is so lawless ......"
"But it's not right for young people to take cats on board, is it? Pets shouldn't be brought on public transport, what if someone is allergic to animal hair?"
Li Shiqing and Xiao Heyun were so upset by this misunderstanding that they wanted to dig a hole in the ground.
The masked man was revealed to have brought a cat on board, is not happy with the two, especially the car has begun to talk about "the bus can not bring pets on", but also full of evil fire.
All he had to do was sit there with the stray cat he found and he was off!
As soon as he was angry, he thought of the two robbers standing there with innocent faces, as if it was really a misunderstanding, and the more he thought about it, the angrier he became.
"Hello, 110? I need to call the police."
The masked man had just broadcasted the call when he had the satisfaction of seeing the four-eyed Tianji man, his accomplice who had just snatched his bag, blush.
Now you know you're scared?
As soon as Li Shiqing saw him behind the alarm, she was cold, screaming and pleading.
"Don't ever call the police!"
Once the alarm has been raised ......
"Yes, I'm on the 45 bus all the way to the bridge soon and there are two robbers in the bus who have just taken my bag. Yes, they are still on the bus, please send someone as soon as possible ......"
A familiar heat wave swept through the entire bus and everyone was once again pulverised.
"We've wasted four time loops on just one suspect, and to keep looking at this efficiency, time could keep going back to the end of the line."
Shaken out of her negative state, Li Shiqing shivered as she looked out the back of the car window at yet another stop sign faintly visible.
"Now it's almost backwards to Gang Wu New Village station, what happens if it keeps going backwards?"
There are 17 stops on this bus line, and both Li Shiqing and Xiao Heyun board the bus at the first stop, which is in the high tech area where universities and startups are located, and where most people board.
Among them, Yuandu Square is the commercial complex of the Gaucho District, where people living in the Gaucho District usually go for shopping and leisure, and it is also the stop with the largest number of people getting off.
As for the later stations at Gang Wu New Village and East River Road, most of the passengers board the train to go to Jiangbei's old town.
Gang Wu New Village station is the penultimate station before the bridge, and is the second largest residential area on the line, where many young people who have just joined the workforce and migrant workers live because of the age of the surrounding neighbourhoods and the very cheap rental prices.
Li Shiqing has ridden this line numerous times, while Xiao Heyun has just come to work in the city and has not even left the house for a long time, so she has not ridden this bus line several times and is not familiar with it.
From the way they had been cycling through time, it was as if God wanted to give them a chance, constantly "sending" them time, from the first time Li Shiqing "woke up and blew up" to now being able to "stop and get off normally". There was a gap of twenty minutes between the first time Li Shiqing "woke up and blew up" and the time they could now "stop and get off".
But who knows what will happen if we keep going backwards in time.
What if all the way to the bottom of the time loop they didn't stop the explosion from happening?
Where else could they go backwards then?
Who knows if the cycle of time has a real number of times, and who knows if what they "wasted" could be their last chance to survive?
The two young men were no fools, and with a little thought they realised the horror of it, and their already tense state was now even heavier.
"Next, it's imperative that we land a hit and not waste any more of our time."
Li Shiqing, thinking of Boy being beaten up by the "masked man", said with a sigh of relief, "If you can't get it by force, try to get it by 'wisdom'."
Xiao Heyun agreed while wiping his glasses with gratitude, "Thank goodness everything reverts back each time the time cycles, otherwise I'd have to live blind."
"Isn't that even scarier?"
Li Shiqing's voice was suddenly sombre. "Our bodies, our state, seem to recover every time, including your broken glasses, and our hungry, rumbling stomachs."
"But again, the pain we feel each time and the weakness before each time loop is real, so in what way are we actually cycling through time? If it's just ......"
"Okay, stop it!"
Xiao Heyun's hand, which was polishing her glasses, trembled and hastily cut off her speculation.
He patted his companion's hand, comforting her as well as himself, "Don't think so much, the more you think the more mediocre you become, what we should be thinking about now is how to find the real culprit, remove the danger and get out of this time loop."
Li Shiqing gave him a hesitant look and nodded despite his heavy heart.
This time they came to their senses at 13:20, not far from the penultimate station, Gang Wu New Village. The upside was that this time they had twenty-five minutes before the predicted time of the explosion at 13:45, more generous than any other time before, the downside was that they had not found the suspect or where the explosives were by now.
Having failed so "badly" last time, they decided to get their confidence back from a better "hand" this time.
"Just the old grandfather, I think."
Li Shiqing has decided on a candidate after further consideration.
"Although I think this old grandfather looks the least dangerous, he's carrying a rather large bag, so it's best to rule it out. I'll distract him this time and you'll be in charge of hauling the snakeskin bag away, no problem?"
Boy clenched his fist in a "don't worry" gesture, "I can't beat that masked guy, so I can't even beat an old man, right?"
After discussing the object, the two men said they would do it. Li Shiqing stood up and wandered around the car for a while, sitting down in the unoccupied seat opposite the old grandfather.
The bus was moving smoothly, but this old grandfather, like most elders with luggage, never chose to take a nap, instead looking out of the window with his eyes open and basically not making any eye contact with the other passengers in the bus.
So he was particularly surprised when Li Shiqing spoke to him.
"Grandpa, I see you've brought something quite heavy, can you lift it alone? Do you need help?"
Li Shiqing said it twice before he realised he was talking to him, turned his gaze around in bewilderment and pointed to himself.
"You talk to me?"
Li Shiqing squeezed out a smile, "I see your bag is quite big and there is a lot of stuff, would it be too hard for you to carry it alone?"
"No no, get used to doing it."
The old man patted his chest and said proudly, "Don't look at my age, but I'm so strong that I can pick up these two bags of melons with a single stretcher, without any help at all."
"Oh, is grandpa selling melons? I love melons the most, can you sell me one?"
Li Shiqing's heart was half set when she heard it was a melon, but decided to find a way to see it just to be on the safe side.
"You're a good hearted little girl, are you worried I won't be able to sell it? Haha if it was before I would have given you one, not today yo."
The expression on Li Shiqing's face was as gentle and kind as if she were a child who was "standing on the side of the road and found a penny and rushed to give it to the police".
"These melons, they are ordered by a fruit stall owner in Jiangbei, I am now there to deliver them, and I have to give as many as people want in the shop, when they have already made an appointment."
Li Shiqing was in a bit of a bind when she saw his reluctance to open the snake skin bag.
Like most young people who have been taught to respect the elderly, she was fine if she met a rude old man, but when she met this kindly one, she had no shame in insisting on seeing what was in the snakeskin bag.
"Nowadays, there are still more good people in this world."
I have been growing melons for so many years, but now fewer and fewer people are buying them, and young people don't like them anymore. Nowadays, watermelons are available all year round and cantaloupes are sweeter than melons, so who eats these little local melons? The owner of that fruit stall knows that melons don't sell well, and often asks me to buy them, just because he's worried that I won't be able to make ends meet ......"
Li Shiqing glanced awkwardly at Boy and urged him to think of something.
The old man is still rambling: "You doll is also a kind-hearted person, but my old man has hands and feet, as long as they can still do work, certainly not unable to eat, do work is also used to, a day not to do the whole body is not strong, so you do not have to worry about me ...... "
"I've never seen what a local melon looks like, so open your eyes for me, Grandpa!"
As the bus was announcing its stop again, Li Shiqing was still dilly-dallying, and Xiao Heyun was getting antsy, coming forward with a slightly ostentatious expression.
"I'll look at it and give it back to you!"
When he finished, he knelt down and pulled the snakeskin bag away from underneath the person's feet.
"What are you doing!"
The old grandfather was shocked to see his things taken away, so he copied the short stretcher leaning against the car window and stood up.
Boy managed to haul the snake bag away, but when it came time to carry it away, there was a problem.
The old man was right, a man without strength could not lift the bag.
This dragged the old grandfather half to death with heartache and chased him over and gave the bag a death grip.
"Watch out for my melon! You can't grab it even if I don't show it to you!"
Xiao Heyun tugged on the bag with one hand to prevent the old man from getting his hands on it, and tried to open it with the other, but the string was too tight to open it.
"How can you rob someone hard!"
When it comes to people who behave like Boy, Grandpa is not polite, "What kind of people are these?
The cat hugger with the mask got on the bus, saw the car and heard Boy robbing the elderly, and gave him a disdainful look as he passed by.
Many people came up to persuade Boy to let go, and Li Shiqing also used the excuse of "persuasion" to go up and touch the bag a few times, and found that there was indeed a round object inside, with a crunching sound, so it was probably a melon.
Boy comprehended Li Shiqing's meaning and his hand subconsciously loosened ......
"Ouch ouch watch out for my melon!"
The old man, who had lost his weight in the tug, followed a large sack of melons that fell heavily to the ground and the sack broke with a crash.
The yellow-green juice ran down the seams of the snakeskin bag and soon stained a large moistened area.
At the same time, the sweet aroma of the melon lingered in the carriage with the rupture of the melon body, and the sweet aroma proved once again that the old man was indeed not suspect.
But the situation is completely out of control.
"What a sin! There goes my good melon!"
When he saw his melon being "ruined", the old man dropped his stretcher, rubbed his back and wailed again.
"Ouch, my back!"
Boy scrambled to his feet and rushed to his pockets.
"Grandpa don't cry, don't cry, how much are these melons, I'll pay you back, I'll pay you double!"
"Are you all right, old grandpa?"
Li Shiqing rushed to help him, "What's wrong with your back!"
"Is this a matter of losing money? I've been doing business with people for so many years, and I've never missed out on a single deal, you're hurting me! You're causing me to lose my reputation! My waist, ouch my waist!"
The old grandfather's voice was so loud that it caused the driver to turn around a lot too.
"What's going on back there? Are you all right, old man?"
"Don't look back, Uncle Driver, drive your car properly!"
Boy was scared half to death when he saw the older man looking back again and yelled in a hurry.
"You, boy, are pretty tough! You robbed someone and beat them up, and you dare to threaten the driver and just drive!"
Once again, the oldest man with a set of keys on his belt "did the right thing" and raised his arms.
"Driver, don't listen to this lad, take the car to the police station and see if he's still cross!"
He hit someone?
He just let go ......
Xiao Heyun had just been aggrieved when he realised what was wrong and turned back in panic.
"Driver, don't listen to them, I don't have ......"
"What's wrong with your back, old man? Don't move him, don't hurt your tendons, should I call 120?"
"Call what 120, call 110 first, don't let anyone get away!"
"Yes, yes, yes, bullying the elderly, he should be taught a lesson, call the police!"
"Take the car to the police station!"
"Don't be angry, old man, I'll call the police for you, the police will help you teach this ungrateful young man a lesson!"
No, no, no, no, no!
In the explosion, Li Shiqing and Xiao Heyun closed their eyes in despair.
The author has something to say: what a pair of (wasted) youngsters eating (scraps of) melons.