Chapter 41 Pipe Dream

When I woke up, I found that something was wrong. It took me a long time to slowly recover my memory: the bugs, how we left the lama temple step by step, how we returned to the bar, how we fainted.

My eyelids were as heavy as lead and couldn’t be opened at all, so I could only rely on my sense of smell and touch. I smelled a very familiar scent.

So, I was sent to the hospital. That’s great.

I was drowsy and soon fell asleep again, but I only slept for a few seconds before I suddenly woke up. This time, I could finally open my eyes.

As soon as I did, I found that I wasn’t in the hospital like I originally thought. I didn’t see the white ceiling I was expecting, but I was already familiar with the ceiling I did see.

What I saw was the top of a very old building, and upon closer inspection, I realized that this was the structure of the lama temple. When I rolled my eyes and looked around, I saw Zhang Haike, Zhang Haixing, and the head lama sitting not far from me.

I was lying on the wooden floor surrounded by hanging blankets, the stove was burning, and Fatty was lying beside me. I sat up slowly. At this time, they noticed that I was awake and said something to each other before walking towards me. My ears weren’t working very well yet, and after looking around, I asked, “What’s going on? Didn’t I go down the mountain? Isn’t this place full of bugs?”

Zhang Haixing walked up to me and shook a bell in her hand. I glanced at it and found that it looked very familiar. After careful scrutiny, I realized that it was the hexagonal bell I had seen before, but this one made a very clear sound.

Zhang Haixing leaned over and asked me, “Do you know what this is?” I wanted to both shake and head no and nod my head yes. Although I knew that listening to it too much would make people hallucinate, I really couldn’t name it.

Zhang Haixing kept shaking the bell in my ear, and the more I listened, the more I sobered up. I slowly felt that the gloomy atmosphere hovering over my head had dissipated. Then I saw a strange shelf between me and Fatty, with six or seven of those strange hexagonal bells hanging on it.

“What is this?” I asked Zhang Haixing once my thoughts became clear.

“I can’t tell you yet,” she said, “but this is a technology we discovered a long time ago. Through the combination of different kinds of bells, we can make people have all kinds of different hallucinations. Moreover, these hallucinations are very, very real. If I didn’t tell you that those experiences were produced in this way, you’d feel like everything that happened was real.”

While I was looking at the bells carefully, Zhang Longban came up with a spoon in his hand. As he walked to my side and carefully poured the contents of the spoon onto the bell, I could detect a special scent.

Zhang Haixing continued, “We also dare not use it casually because we don’t know what will happen with different combinations. So, we use melted rosin to block the insides.”

I knew that the operating mechanism of this kind of thing may not even be clear to them, so I wouldn’t ask again, but Zhang Haixing continued to explain to me in a cocky manner, “We Zhang family have studied this thing for a long time and have mastered twelve uses.”

“The one I just used on you is the least effective one.” She gave a smug grin. I didn’t know why, but I thought her expression looked a little schadenfreude. (1)

I thought of all my previous experiences in ancient tombs and knew that if this thing wasn’t used properly, it would probably have disastrous consequences. But I didn’t think what they used on me was light, because the pain of the cold and the insect bites were too vivid.

I vaguely realized that this seemed to be another test and asked Zhang Haixing, “Why did you do this? What about the Germans?”

“This…my brother will explain it to you later,” Zhang Haixing said. “But I can congratulate you. You’ve passed a very hard test considering the fact that you’re ordinary people.”

I looked at Fatty and asked, “What about him?”

“He’s slightly worse than you, but you’ll feel more at ease with his company so it’s considered a pass,” Zhang Haixing said.

“What do you mean?”

“Some people won’t wake up after hearing this kind of bell. Take him for example,” she pointed to Fatty. “But you’re different. You can wake up, which shows that you’ve experienced a higher level before. Just think about it. Have you experienced a very illogical situation before?”

When I frowned, Zhang Haixing added, “It’s real, but it’s something that’s absolutely impossible to happen.”

I didn’t want to think about this problem anymore. On the one hand, I had a splitting headache, but on the other hand, I wanted to hear what else she had to say.

Zhang Haixing continued, “Being immune to this kind of bell is very important to entering the snowy mountain. We need to know whether you have the ability to resist all changes. Although we don’t know what kind of situation you were experiencing in your hallucination, we know that this must be what you fear the most in your heart. You’re very desperate, and this despair will cause extreme pain and rejection. But under such circumstances, you have to fight for it, which isn’t easy. From this, we know that you are someone who can accept any difficulties and won’t lose yourself because of those difficulties. You are a person who can solve any crisis. But the rarest thing is that you woke up after the illusion disappeared. Most people can’t.”

I wanted to say to her, “I’m really not someone who can solve any fucking problem, and how do you know what it’s like in the hallucination?”, but I really didn’t have the strength to argue.

“We can hear you and use language to guide your hallucination,” Zhang Haixing said. “We could hear everything you said in the hallucination. What pleases me the most is that what you said was very positive, unlike that fatty. What he said in his hallucination was simply disgusting. I don’t even want to know what he was thinking at such a critical moment.”

I looked at Fatty, who hadn’t woken up yet, and saw Zhang Longban shaking the bell gently in Fatty’s ear. Fatty slowly reacted a little and was muttering to himself, “Don’t go, don’t go. Kill me, I’m willing. Dying under the falling peony flowers will make me a romantic ghost.”

Zhang Haixing looked at me and made a helpless expression. I also sighed and thought to myself, for Fatty, what he fears most isn’t necessarily something he can’t bear but what he’s afraid to face.

Although his language was foul, maybe he saw Yun Cai’s ghost in his hallucination?

I looked into Zhang Haixing’s eyes, then at my palm and body, and found that there really weren’t any wounds. Just now was really an illusion. I inwardly sighed and suddenly began to feel confused about everything in front of me.

It reminded me of when the great Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi dreamed of butterflies. He didn’t know whether he was really a man who had dreamed he was a butterfly or whether he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man. Was it really necessary to make everything so unclear?

Zhang Haixing saw my doubts and said, “You don’t have to worry. I know what you’re thinking. We did find it dangerous at the beginning, but you just need to think about whether things could reasonably happen during the process you just experienced and you’ll understand whether it’s an illusion or reality.”

The temple was full of bugs just now, and as I looked around and thought for a moment, I realized that it was absolutely impossible for such a thing to happen.

All hallucinations were sudden, so if it hadn’t felt so real, I would’ve definitely known I was in one.

The most terrifying thing was that even the pain was real.

Then Zhang Haixing added, “Think again, are you afraid of those horrible things you experienced?”

I was silent and touched my body. Zhang Longban handed me a cigarette, so I lit it and said, “Everyone thinks they know a little something. Let me rest.”

Zhang Haixing was in really high spirits, so I realized that she wasn’t as old as I had originally thought. This kind of vitality was different from that of A Ning’s stability.

It was obvious that Zhang Haixing was a little unhappy with what I had said. She glared at me, turned her head, and then moved to leave while tossing these words behind her, “Then wait, my brother talks more than I do. Let him serve you. You’ll see for yourself.”

But Zhang Haike didn’t appear. After Fatty woke up, I said something nonsensical to explain the matter to him. I thought it happened after he and I returned to my room. The bell may have been installed on the door and when we pushed it open and went in, we were too excited to notice anything unusual and didn’t know when the illusion started.

Fatty took a long time to believe it. Our bodies were very weak—not tired per se—but it felt as if we had lost all of our strength. In the evening, Zhang Haike didn’t come, but Zhang Haixing did. This time, she brought some things to show us.

<Chapter 40> <Table of Contents><Chapter 42>


TN Notes:

(1) Pleasure derived by another person’s misfortune.


Updated 12/18/2021

2 thoughts on “Chapter 41 Pipe Dream

  1. Почему мне кажется, что эта Чжан Хайсин подделка и на самом деле работает на Ванов?


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