Striving for ScienceChapters List
Chapter 1: Changan
"Although our Wuming City can't compare to the hustle and bustle of big cities, it boasts a serene environment with beautiful mountains and fresh air. Xiao Shen, you can focus on your work here with peace of mind. If you encounter any difficulties or have any requests, feel free to let us know." Du Zhonghai said, taking a sip of tea with a friendly smile on his face.
Shen Changan's gaze fell upon the insulated stainless steel mug in Director Du's hand. He couldn't help but wonder how long this mug had been used, as its surface appeared rather dull and there was a layer of tea stains around its rim.
It wasn't that the mug was particularly attractive that held his gaze, but he was afraid that if he shifted his gaze slightly upward, he would see Director Du's shiny bald head. On his first day of work Shen Changan didn't want to create the impression that he took pleasure in scrutinizing others' flaws.
"Thank you, Director."
Du Zhonghai nodded with a smile and instructed him a few more times. The young man sitting in front of him had a handsome appearance, fair skin with dark hair, and a pair of eyes hidden behind frameless glasses that carried a natural charming smile. It was a look that would surely appeal to girls.
"You've just arrived, so there's no need to rush with your work." Du Zhonghai advised and said a few more words. Seeing the young man nodding and smiling continuously, he felt satisfied and allowed him to familiarize himself with his job position.
After Shen Changan left, Du Zhonghai sighed. The city wasn't large, and the Department of Social Welfare he worked for was also referred to as the 'Logistics and Pension Department'. He previously did not understand why Shen Changan, a talented high-achiever graduate from a big city, chose to work here. It was only after receiving Shen Changan's detailed personal information from higher-ups that he learned there were so many hidden circumstances behind it.
After both of his parents died in the line of duty, they were worried that criminals would retaliate against young Shen Changan. The relevant authorities changed his name and, after raising him, found a way to get him to work here. They probably wanted him to live a peaceful and stable life.
Wuming City has picturesque mountains, pristine waters, simple folk customs and honest people characterized by their simplicity and integrity. Moreover, being relatively overlooked by the outside world, assigning Shen Changan to this place was indeed a wise decision.
As Shen Changan left the director's office, he was warmly welcomed by his colleagues. After a round of introductions and pleasantries, Shen Changan absentmindedly agreed to join his colleagues for dinner that evening.
Perhaps... delicious food served as the bond that connected souls. Shen Changan found his colleagues amiable, and even their occasional mix of local dialect and Mandarin became endearing.
Including himself, there were a total of five people in the office. The oldest was Gao Shujuan, sporting a permed hairstyle. Although she was the department's deputy director, everyone affectionately called her "Gao-Jie." (Sister Gao) She had a slightly boisterous voice, but the person appeared to be very enthusiastic. The other three colleagues were young, with Ding Yang and Chen Panpan recently graduating within the past year or two. They radiated youthful vigor. However, when it came to deciding on the dinner gathering, Shen Changan noticed how swiftly he nodded in agreement.
After listening to everyone's lively chatter for half an hour, Shen Changan looked at his clean desk, devoid of any papers, and curiously asked, "What kind of work do we mainly do here?"
The office instantly fell silent, and even the seemingly aloof Xu Ze cleared his throat uncomfortably.
"Ah that, Xiao Shen, our 'Department of Social Welfare,' has just been established, and we were all transferred here from other positions." Gao Shujuan said while hooking the permed fringes on her forehead." Our department is responsible for people's livelihood, so any matters related to assisting the civilians' lives fall within our scope of work."
Shen Changan adjusted his glasses and felt a hint of awkwardness lingering in the air.
"Anything related to people's lives is our job," Ding Yang chuckled. "In other words, we're like bricks, ready to be moved wherever needed."
"Anything related to people's lives is within the scope of our work." Ding Yang chuckled, "In other words, we are just a brick, they can move it wherever it is needed."
"So... that's quite impressive, isn't it?" Shen Changan froze before barely managing to squeeze out this sentence, "So, what's our recent task?"
"We're promoting a civilized society and propagating the concept of scientific development," Xu Ze expressionlessly retrieved a stack of colorful leaflets from the drawer and placed them in front of Shen Changan. "These were just printed today. Do you want to take a look?"
Shen Changan took the topmost leaflet. The quality of the leaflet was not good, resembling small street advertisements, with bold, large black text printed in several lines.
Worshiping gods and ghosts isn't as good as building more roads. Only with more roads can one get rich.
If you're ill, don't invite fairy-immortal matrons; the hospital will bring you joy by curing your ailment with medicine.
Forget fox fairy, Immortal deity, and the great Taoist deity-Huang Daxian; it is better to work hard to make money.
These slogans were really simple and crude. Shen Changan coughed dryly and placed the leaflet back in its original position. "Who came up with these slogans?"
Xu Ze looked up. "Me."
"You did a great job. They are catchy and easy to remember." Shen Changan nodded earnestly, to express his sincere appreciation. "It's very practical."
Xu Ze quietly watched him for a few seconds and then spoke slowly, "I admire you."
"Huh?" Shen Changan was taken aback.
"People with your level of appreciation are rare." Xu Ze continued.
Shen Changan: "Thank... thank you?"
After having lunch, Shen Changan assumed their work would involve distributing leaflets. However, Ding Yang informed him that the two of them would be going out on a field assignment.
"Wait a moment." Just before leaving, Ding Yang retrieved a small photo from the drawer. Shen Changan accidentally glanced at it and was surprised to see the pictures of various historical figures.
Seeing Shen Changan staring at him, Ding Yang hesitated while placing the extra pictures back and pulled out another one. "You... also want it?"
After presenting it, Ding Yang immediately regretted his decision. He had heard from Director Du that the new colleague was a high-achiever student from a big city. Although he didn't know why he ended up in their department, he knew that Director Du had put a lot of effort into recruiting him, even losing a few strands of hair over it.
How can such a talented person need the pictures of historical figures to boost his confidence, unlike him who lacked courage.
"Thank you." Shen Changan accepted the picture and followed Ding Yang's lead, carefully placing it away. "What are we going to do this afternoon?"
"There's been some trouble in the Yumi Village. The villagers are convinced that there are ghosts, causing panic among the neighboring villages. We're going to investigate and provide reassurance to the villagers." Ding Yang explained as he pocketed his phone. He guided Shen Changan towards a rundown van and took notice of Shen Changan's clean white shirt. Opening the car door, he wiped the passenger seat with a dusty jacket, saying, "The Yumi Village is about thirty kilometers away. We'll go early and return early."
Just as he finished speaking, Ding Yang was surprised to see Shen Changan sitting in the driver's seat. He quickly said, "The road there is quite rough. Just sit back and relax. Let me drive."
"Oh." Shen Changan glanced at the steering wheel and then got out of the car to sit on the passenger seat.
The rural road remained unrepaired, covered with loose gravel. As the van traveled along this uneven road, it made clinking and clattering noises. Shen Changan couldn't help but wonder if the vehicle would fall apart before they reached their destination.
"Superstitions and ignorance harm people." Ding Yang, accustomed to such country roads, swayed back and forth in the vehicle without changing his expression. "A few years ago, some villagers believed a swindler's claims and drank some divine water of an unknown origin. Over a dozen people ended up in the hospital, and two didn't survive. It was such a senseless tragedy."
"There are also those shameless rogues and old crooks who claim that certain women carry evil spirits and offer to exorcize them, taking advantage of them for money and other benefits." Ding Yang sighed in frustration. "As long as people have greed in their hearts, it's difficult to completely eradicate scammers. All we can do is raise awareness and try to minimize their impact."
"It's only around two or three in the afternoon, why is the sky so gloomy?" Ding Yang chattered away for most of the journey then he realized something was amiss and looked up at the sky, "There might be a heavy rainstorm later."
He glanced at the mountains on either side of the road and pushed up his glasses. "If the rain is too heavy, do you think there might be landslides?"
Shen Changan peeked out and saw thick dark clouds covering the sun, as if the entire sky was about to descend. It was a prelude to an impending torrential rain. He glanced at the high mountains on both sides of the road and adjusted the glasses on the bridge of his nose. "If the rain is too heavy, will there be landslides?"
Just as the words fell, heavy raindrops poured down from the sky, pelting against the windshield and creating a cacophony. Within moments, it turned into a downpour.
Ding Yang didn't dare to drive too fast. The wipers continuously swiped across the windshield, obstructing his view of the road ahead. He couldn't help but curse, "Damn it!Sundog has transformed into a playful golden retriever. Will the weather forecast department ever get it right?"
[T/N: A sundog is a concentrated patch of sunlight in the form of rainbow colors that is occasionally seen to the right or the left of the sun or even on both sides of our star in the sky simultaneously. Because sundogs appear as bright-yet-miniature suns in the sky, they are also sometimes called "mock" or "phantom" suns. Their scientific name is "parhelion" (plural: "parhelia"), meaning "with the sun," according to the National Weather Service. Sundogs are part of a family of atmospheric optical illusions including moon haloes and the closely related sun haloes.]
"Be careful," Shen Changan helped him steady the steering wheel, skillfully avoiding a large boulder obstructing the road. Shen Changan turned his head to look at Ding Yang and let out a sigh of relief, "This stretch of road is too dangerous. We need to get out of here as soon as possible."
Glancing at the large rock by the roadside, Ding Yang felt a slight tremor in his heart. If something were to happen here, with no village or store nearby, and no passersby in sight, he and Shen Changan might never be found.
"Let's go back first." Ding Yang looked at the dark sky, "We'll go to the Yumi village after the rain stops."
"You should take a rest first, let me drive." Looking at Ding Yang’s trembling hands, Shen Changan opened the car door and stepped out into the rain, drenching his head and face. His shirt clung to his body.
Ding Yang didn't really dare to entrust the car to Shen Changan, but with the pouring rain and gusty winds, his own trembling hands made it impossible for him to navigate the muddy road.
He gritted his teeth and handed the driver's seat over to Shen Changan.
"Don't worry, Yang-Ge (Brother Yang)." Shen Changan sat in the driver's seat, took off his glasses, and wiped them on his shirt. He flashed a bright smile at Ding Yang, "I'm a pretty good driver."
Ding Yang wanted to say a few more words of caution, but when he looked into Shen Changan's smiling eyes brimming with joy, he held back his words.
He's so confident in himself, so... it should be fine, right?
A few seconds later, Ding Yang came to the realization that he had been too naive. While Shen Changan's driving skills were undoubtedly impeccable, the issue was that he pushed the limits too far.
"Changan, snap out of it! You're driving a van, not an airplane!"
Although this van was often teased by other car owners as a "divine vehicle" emanating God’s light, the truth was that it was just a cheap and dilapidated old van!
"Don't worry, Yang-Ge, trust me, everything will be fine." Shen Changan made a sharp turn on the winding mountain road, causing Ding Yang to feel like he was flying in the air.
Despair filled Ding Yang's eyes as he looked at Shen Changan. At that moment, he felt that the glasses perched on Shen Changan's nose shone with a chilling light.
A boulder fell, but the van, drifting at almost high speed, managed to dodge the attack. Shen Changan grinned widely, "See, I told you it would be fine."
Trembling, Ding Yang couldn't utter a word.
Please, I beg you, don't call me 'ge' anymore. I'm willing to call you Dad as long as you don't turn into the Car God Qiu Mingshan.
For some unknown reason, even though Shen Changan was driving very fast, Ding Yang felt like they were still circling on the mountain road, and the rain showed no signs of letting up.
"Yang-Ge, it seems like the rain is getting heavier." Shen Changan furrowed his brow, "Should we drive faster?"
"Changan, have you noticed that... this road feels unusually long?" Trembling, Ding Yang, with a pale face, spoke up.
"Is it?" Shen Changan raised an eyebrow, "Maybe it's because we're eager to go back, so you have this illusion." He continued, "Don't worry, I already memorized the way when we came. I won't take a wrong turn. Besides, we have the navigation on our phones. Why don't you rest for a while?"
Ding Yang stared at the dense rows of cypress trees outside the car and screamed in his heart: No, I don't want to sleep. I can't sleep!
Help Us Grow
Read. Donate. Experience.Buy us a Coffee