Justice Across The DimensionsChapters List
Chapter 21: A Game of Prestige [19.1]
Li Yiyi was one of the staunchest fans of Patriot Lite, when Patriot Lite 2.0 was launched, she immediately dashed to her nearest retail store to get one.
When Li Yiyi was cheerfully making the transition from her old phone to her new one, the salesperson took out a little device barely the size of a button and placed it in front of her.
“If you have children at home, Ms. Li, I’d suggest buying one of these for them. It’s a child-exclusive device: Patriot Kids.”
Li Yiyi tore her gaze off her brand-new Patriot Lite 2.0 and stared at the button-like object sitting right on top of the salesperson’s palm.
Patriot Kids, the kids edition of the Patriot Lite and only as large as a dime coin, looked rather sleek and modern in its silver-white paint. But one blaring point of note stared at everyone in the face: there was no screen nor keyboard, and it looked nothing more than a metal button.
What made this device a phone?
A usually straight and direct person, Li Yiyi hardly attempted to mask her incredulity and doubt, “Is this even a phone?! It’s too small! Children might accidentally swallow it if they had not misplaced it first.”
Grinning, the salesperson said, “Well, you don’t have to worry about your children swallowing it or losing it. You can fix it on the clothes of the child; it stays put right there and it will take more than an adult man to remove it.”
To demonstrate her point, the salesperson placed the metallic button on her sleeve. They heard an audible click and the Patriot Kids stuck there. She tried to tear it off her sleeve and no matter how hard she pulled and heaved, the device refused to bulge.
Li Yiyi’s eyes went so wide; the demonstration had converted her into a believer.
Realizing that she had succeeded in arousing Li Yiyi’s interest, the salesperson reached out her hand, gesturing for Li Yiyi to try removing the device for herself.
Li Yiyi gripped the device and tried pulling hard. Yet nothing happened, although she managed to crumple the salesperson’s blouse during the exertion. Needless to be told, if she as an adult could not remove the device, children would not have the strength to do so either.
As a loyal devotee to the religion of Patriot Lite, Li Yiyi could never be any more infatuated with Patriot Kids.
She might not have children of her own, but her brother has a son and his birthday was nearing the corner. She could get this new fad as a birthday present for him.
Li Yiyi began inquiring more about the Patriot Kids.
Li Yiyi’s fascination injected a spurt of enthusiasm into the salesperson and she fell into a passionate introduction of the Patriot Kids.
“Patriot Kids charges its battery using solar panels that work on both sunlight and fluorescent lamps. It has a healthcare function that constantly monitors its wearer for sicknesses and ailments and it also has an intelligent security system that would warn parents whenever the device detects that its wearer is in danger while also notifying local authorities for help. If, say, its wearer encounters bullying, robbery, or even abduction and so forth, the police will arrive at the soonest moment possible—”
The more she explained about the device’s various functions, the larger Li Yiyi’s eyes grew. Every syllable echoed like the knocking of nails on a coffin; the more the salesperson spoke, the more determined Li Yiyi grew. By the time the demonstration and introduction of the device were done, Li Yiyi immediately requested one on the double.
Unlike other models on offer in the market, Patriot Kids was a jack of all trades while being the master over its peers and this device could definitely keep every child – in this case, her nephew – safe.
Li Yiyi readily paid the bill and strutted off happily with her shopping bags containing the just-freshly-bought devices. The salesperson watched her leave with a broad smile and she did not breathe easily until Li Yiyi was out of sight.
Her colleague quickly sidled close.
“That’s incredible, Xiaoli! You should teach me a trick or two! The kiddy version’s very difficult to sell and all ten sets that we’ve managed to put out were by your hand! Come on, teach me something!”
Patriot Kids might have hit the market in tandem with the all-new Patriot Lite 2.0, but the sales figure was a far cry from the latter. Most consumers see cell phones for children as nothing beyond an article of superfluity, if not for devices that emit radiation that could be potentially dangerous to children, and these reasons condemned Patriot Kids to an abysmal sales performance.
The salesperson Xiaoyi grinned and said, “Nothing beyond explaining the various functions of the Patriot Kids. Don’t worry. The Patriot Kids is not your usual garden-variety cell phone model; the time where it will be selling like crazy is at hand.”
Hearing Xiaoli’s simple answer that hardly divulged any secret recipe of success only left the colleague miffed and she said no more.
So what if it’s not your usual garden-variety cell phone? As long as they sit on the shelves, they’ll do no more good than collecting dust! Children just don’t have the money to buy cell phones for themselves and they can’t do anything if their parents are not in the least interested in furnishing their younglings with any gadgets!
At any rate, the colleague was certain that the Patriot Kids would sit longer on the display shelves, at least for a foreseeable future. Fortunately, the roaring sales of the Patriot Lite 2.0 absolved the branch from any losses.
In the meantime, Li Yiyi trotted home with brimming fervor and excitement, only for her confidence to be promptly punctured by a harsh reprimand by her mother when she showed her latest purchase to her.
“Are you having too much money to spend, Yiyi?! How old is little Liang?! Do you think it wise that he should have such a phone!? How is this not profligacy!? Where have your wits gone to!?”
As deflated as a ruptured balloon, Li Yiyi grumbled dismally, “It’s all for little Liang’s own good. This phone’s very, very useful! It can detect its wearer’s health condition. If only little Liang had been wearing something like this, we would have noticed his fever the last time!”
Her mother rapped on her head sharply and scowled, “Off with your impertinence! Return and get a refund at once! I would never allow little Liang to use some nonsensical gimmick like this!”
Li Yiyi stiffened and stood her ground, “I’m not returning this! I’ve bought it and this cost almost half of my monthly wages! This is a present for little Liang from his aunt and you have no right to forbid me from giving this to him!”
Li Yiyi stormed out of the kitchen and took the little device and squeezed it at little Liang’s shirt collar.
Her mother, caught between frustration and amusement, could hardly say anything.
Wasted money or not, she knew her daughter only bought it for little Liang’s good, or else she would not have spent so much money at all.
Li Yiyi made sure that the device was firmly stuck on little Liang’s shirt and she powered up her phone. Lovely shimmered into appearance over the surface of her screen and she paired the Patriot Kids to her phone.
“Look at this, Mum! Look! I’m not lying and this is not nonsensical. These are all Liang’s health readings: his temperature, his heart rate, his breathing rate, and so on. Look at all this and tell me.”
Her mother peered at the readings on her cell phone. Although she understood not a word or numeral, they all looked pretty much real to her and she proffered no more criticism.
She was not trying to blame Li Yiyi; she was only concerned that her daughter might have been swindled into paying for a gadget as useless as a glass hammer.
Li Yiyi showed her brother and his wife when they came back from work that evening and told them about the Patriot Kids device she bought for little Liang.
Apparently, they, too, were ardent lovers of the Patriot Lite series. Knowing how much utility Patriot Lites could bring to the table and the modern functions that far outstripped any of its peers, they were convinced that the Patriot Kids device too was a cut above the rest.
Li Yiyi’s brother and sister-in-law paired little Liang’s Patriot Kids to their cell phones and when they saw the real-time readings of their son’s health and the other utilities on the app, he pointed at the Intelligent Security System option, “Something tells me there’s more than meets the eye with this security function.”
His wife shook her head. “Who knows? But Patriot Lites are nothing if not of guaranteed quality. I’m sure it will come useful one day.”
The husband and wife chatted before their conversation veered off to some other matters.
The next morning, the Lis had their breakfast before each got busy with his or her own chore. Old Mrs. Li cleaned the house before carrying the little infant Li Liang and placed him in his stroller. She was going to the market for some groceries. Then her eyes spied the button-like device sitting on the dining table and after a moment’s hesitation, she relented and took it and fixed it on the baby’s shirt collar.
“This is the gadget your aunt bought for you, little Liang. She loves you so much, and I’m sure you’ll love her just as much too when you grow up!”
Despite the things she told Li Yiyi last night, old Mrs. Li still fastened the Patriot Kids on little Liang before going outside.
Even so, the baby Li Liang was only still a little baby boy barely a year old and that was why old Mrs. Li thought Li Yiyi’s purchase of the Patriot Kids a profligate waste of money. Why should a baby boy need a cell phone? Wouldn't a bike or something suit him more?
After making sure that her baby grandson was prim and tidy, old Mrs. Li pushed his stroller out the door.
The neighborhood where the Lis lived was a good one with great amenities nearby. The journey to the fresh market from their house took only ten minutes without requiring to pass by any traffic lights. Deciding that a walk might do her some good, old Mrs. Li decided to just go there on foot.
It was just a usual walk for old Mrs. Li and she talked to her baby grandson as she pushed the stroller, heading towards the fresh market.
She reached a corner; the fresh market is just around it nearby. Anxious to go there faster, she picked up her pace. But just as she was rounding around the corner, a man appeared out of a shadowy alleyway and shoved her violently aside. He bent down and took the baby and charged across the road without any pause. Sitting by the road opposite was this grey little van that the man ran to, ripped the door open quickly and hopped in. The door was scarcely shut when it roared to life and began to speed away.
Old Mrs. Li could not believe what just happened. She scrambled to her feet when her mind finally registered her grandson was being abducted and she ran for the van with tears of fear and anxiety streaming down her face.
“HELP! MY BABY! GIVE ME BACK MY BABY!”
But it was no use. Her legs would never beat the van in speed. The grey little van quickly disappeared and after almost a hundred meters, old Mrs. Li fell to her knees on the tarmac and crumbled into more tears.
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