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    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    Hearing Xü Beijin’s hesitance, Dai Wu can’t help but chuckle, replying, “pretty good at remembering grudges, aren’t we?” Then he shrugs, telling him, “I really don’t know this time though. In this Nightmare, I’ve been assigned as extra instead.”

    Xü Beijin gives him a suspecting look.

    “Believe in me, bro,” Dai Wu explains, “my level might be ‘side character,’ but this Nightmare needs way too many Actors. I was just conscripted.”

    Xü Beijin nods for now, then his gaze slides down over at the popcorn in the glass container. His appetite is restless again. The sweet smell has been troubling his nose for a while now.

    He knows about a psychological phenomenon called the Proust Effect, referring to the fact that particular smells could awaken some memories in the human brain, more vividly than memories triggered through other senses, too.

    Although science is yet ill-equipped to explain it completely, but at least, when Xü Beijin is taking in the scent of the popcorn, he is recalling his days back on Earth, when he went to the movies with his friends, he definitely bought popcorn with him.

    He’d most likely not be able to finish a bucket by the time the movies finish, too.

    Those are memories of the distant past, yet, just like this commercial complex in the Nightmare that has such a verisimilitude, he can almost feel his awakened memories dragging him back to Earth, too.

    Dai Wu asks, “want some?”

    Xü Beijin pauses before nodding honestly. He awkwardly smiles, telling him, “I just feel like remembering the past.”

    “Earth?” Dai Wu gives him a cup of popcorn, answering, “here you go. Did you eat that candy I gave you? That was pretty tasty; how ironic it is we can only try to remember the Earth through these Nightmares.”

    The tone when he said the word ‘ironic’ is so light and insincere that it makes Xü Beijin slightly uncomfortable.

    With his bubble tea finished, he throws the plastic bottle into the trash. Then he starting dropping the popcorn into his mouth one by one; that is how he used to eat them. This time, he is especially slow and careful, too.

    He praises, “it’s delicious.”

    Dai Wu has a slightly odd look when he asks, “it’s pretty rare to see someone like you; still reminiscing about the time back on Earth?”

    Xü Beijin eats a few more popcorns in silence. He doesn’t really want to dive into the question, so changes the topic in the end, “you treat the Tower as a ‘second life’?”

    “Yeah,” Dai Wu, picking up on the cues, just lets it go, answering, “the fact is, nobody knows if we can leave this damned Tower, so… might as well just try to find our own enjoyment somehow. In this world that is also a game, there are actually more possibilities around than reality, don’t you think?”

    “Then what’s with defeating NE?”

    “Eh, you know,” Dai Wu says, looking slightly frustrated, “never mind the Missiontakers, but some of the Actors…” He points to the numerous Actors hanging out in the corridor, “do you think they are really clear on treating this as a performance instead of their actual lives?”

    “I told you clearly this is the second life; I know how to distinguish reality from a game. These people, though, are already treating the game as the ‘first life’ already.”

    Xü Beijin looks where the finger is pointing, chewing his popcorn in silence.

    A second life…

    Well, if he put it that way, he is really just chewing on data. Garbage data. Bits in a server that looks like popcorn, tastes like popcorn, smells like popcorn, but is not, in fact, popcorn.

    He loses interest almost immediately.

    Dai Wu is still passionately continuing over there, “I’m not as dumb as them. My principle is that, ‘live and stay awake,’ and at the same time, ‘live and find enjoyment.’
    We cannot just treat the game as our ‘first’ life and just lie flat on the floor like salted fish, close our eyes and just forget where we came from, spending our days like dumbasses.
    However, it also would not do if we just wallow in it forever, always pessimistically thinking how we are trapped forever in the Tower and how it is all hopeless and it is all over… Don’t you think?
    Defeat NE is an ideology – An ideology that, NE trapped you in this game. So, remember that. This is just a fucking game. Do not confuse the game with reality.”

    Xü Beijin quietly mutters, “a game with no escape.”

    Dai Wu’s smile collapses, then says, dejected, “did you really have to put it like that?”

    Xü Beijin smiles.

    Dai Wu gives him a deep, profound look. He looks like he wanted to say something, but in the end, he just says, “bro…”

    “What?”

    “You do know something, don’t you?”

    Xü Beijin’s eyes widen slightly. He’s not sure he understands.

    “When you smile, it just feels like…” Dai Wu is knitting his brows, struggling to come up with a description, “it makes me feel like, you seem to… know a lot.”

    Xü Beijin “…”

    That’s why he’d say Dai Wu and Lin Qin really do fit each other!

    One feels like his smile suggests he knows everything, one feels like he is hiding big, big secrets inside… What do the two of them even see in him?!

    Xü Beijin doesn’t want to comment on that, and instead, just shakes his head and waves goodbye to Dai Wu.

    When he is some distance away, Dai Wu suddenly recalls something, apparently, and yells at Xü Beijin, “watch out behind you!”

    Xü Beijin stops and turns around to look at Dai Wu, confused.

    Dai Wu is smiling brilliantly, waving at him from afar with his usual, unbridled optimism, but does not say a word more.

    Xü Beijin “…”

    This guy definitely doesn’t know exactly nothing. An extra? Him…? Really…

    Still, what does he mean by ‘watch out behind you’?

    Although he is sure that the Actors’ scripts wouldn’t specifically contain instructions to harm an extra like him, but since Dai Wu reminded him, Xü Beijin decides to tread more carefully.

    Besides, while the Missiontakers are all still gathered in the Luoke Apartments, meaning none of them are here, but who knows if their actions might indirectly cause something to happen here?

    Nightmares are often devoid of sensible logic.


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    boilpoil's notes:

    By the way, you might want to pay attention to descriptions involving Dai Wu and his states of mind; he would still come up a few more times in the different Nightmares. I think he's a rather interesting character to do a case study on, but that's just my B.A. mind speaking.

    boilpoil

    This should go without saying, but considering the nature of this novel, please think twice before posting a comment on any chapter in order to avoid spoiling any possible future plot points or twists from later chapters.

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