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Striving for Science

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Chapter 24: Seeking Death

In this world, some willingly sacrifice their lives and wealth for their partners, while there are some who detest their sick partners and wish for their early demise to relieve themselves of the burden.

At first, Shen Changan did not know there was a problem with the man of this household. However, while passing by their home, he seemed to hear a faint cry for help from a woman. He was confused whether it was real or a misunderstanding, so he went to knock on the door.

A few days later, Shen Changan learned the whole story from Chen Panpan - after the woman fell ill, the man, upon hearing it would cost no small amount of money, locked the woman at home. He was looking for some superstitious remedies, and often cursed her as a burden.

"This ugly trash of a man, his salary is not as high as his wife's, he eats more than his wife, and has the audacity to call his wife a burden," Chen Panpan was nauseated to the extreme by this, "People like him waste air by living, takes up cemetery space when dead. When they are alive, they make people angry just by looking at them. Calling him trash is an insult to trash."

The other few male colleagues in the room did not dare speak, only daring to occasionally nod in agreement, clapping and praising Chen Panpan for her sharp words.

"Aunt Juan has not come these past few days, has the matter with her sister's family still not been settled?" After Chen Panpan finished cursing out the trash man, Shen Changan glanced at Aunt Juan's desk.

This week, with Aunt Juan absent, their office was not as tidy as before.

"I called Aunt Juan yesterday, but it didn't go through," Chen Panpan gestured with her chin toward the director's office, "Maybe the director knows, with Aunt Juan taking so many days off, she must have gotten the director's permission."

"The director didn't say anything, so the matter shouldn't be a big deal," Ding Yang lounged lazily in his chair playing on his phone, "We haven't had much work lately, just distributing flyers." And moreover, most people don't even bother to look at those flyers; they treat them like trash.

However, these tedious tasks still couldn't be avoided. In Wuming City, conservative thinking and superstitions were still prevalent. Even in current times, there are still people who fall ill but do not go to the hospital, instead run to seek gods and spirits for help, ultimately delaying their treatment and losing their lives.

"Looks like you want another late-night visit to the scene of a rumor." Chen Panpan threw a form to Ding Yang, "Enter this data into the system, and you won't feel bored."

Their department, the Civil Service Department, was a newly established unit. Rumors circulated that their top authority was the National Security Department, but these were just speculations. Anyway, their daily tasks weren't much different from those of a sub-district committee office.

However, each time a rumor related to conservative thinking and superstitions arose, they must compile a report summarizing the incident and the people involved after handling it, and import it into the special office software of the Civil Service Department.

"Sister, why is it always me?" Ding Yang looked at the report with a headache.

"Because besides you, no one else is complaining about being idle."

In the midst of their lively bickering, the office phone rang. Chen Panpan smoothly picked up the phone, "Hello, this is the Wuming City Civil Services Department, how may I help you?"

It's unknown what the other party said, but Chen Panpan's expression turned very unsightly. She glanced at Shen Changan: "This is not the case. Please don't believe the rumors."

After hanging up, Chen Panpan cursed angrily, "A whole nest of scumbags."

"What's wrong?" Shen Changan asked Chen Panpan when he noticed she was in a bad mood.

"That piece of trash who wouldn't let his wife see a doctor is spreading rumors online, saying that you had an affair with his wife, and when he didn't let her see you, you went to his house and assaulted him," Chen Panpan said through gritted teeth. "What's even more disgusting is that the scumbag's parents told reporters their son was honest and reliable, devoted to his wife, but this wife didn't want children and spent money recklessly. Now many people are cursing you as an adulterer. The person who just called claimed to be a reporter and wanted to understand the situation."

"Is there something wrong with this man?" Ding Yang was shocked by such shameless actions. "I've seen people who would rather die than wear a green hat, but I've never seen someone making themselves wear one when they don't even have it."

"If this matter escalates, it won't be good for Changan," Xu Ze spoke up. "Many ordinary people don't know the truth and may be misled by some unscrupulous media, it could lead to a public opinion storm. At that time, Changan might even lose his job."

"You're all worrying too much, I don't think you should take it so seriously." Shen Changan, as the involved party, didn't expect that man to pull off such a bizarre stunt. Still, he felt the situation might not be as dire as they thought. "All the statements now are coming from that man's side; netizens aren't that easy to fool."

Because people from the Civil Services Department were too nosy, Zhang Qiang not only had to cough up a sum of money for his wife's medical expenses but also received a reprimand from the police. When he got back home, he was furious. That's when he remembered his distant cousin who was running a self-publishing media business, so he decided to reach out to him.

This cousin was lacking topics and saw Zhang Qiang voluntarily bringing this to him, so he exaggerated the story and posted it online. To stir up conflict, he painted Zhang Qiang's wife as a profligate, unfilial, and lazy person, instantly resonating with some male netizens.

This article was widely shared by many "righteous gentlemen," with comments full of condemnation towards women.

When Shen Changan opened the article, he found comments proposing to beat him, the "adulterer" to death, and it was not lacking explicit terms like "drown in pond," "slut," and "□□."

Some female netizens suggested that the situation hadn't been clarified yet and should not be judged hastily, only to be cursed with insults targeting their body parts by these "righteous gentlemen" to such an extent that even the eighteen generations of ancestors had not been spared.

"They all think they're righteous gentlemen when in reality most are just venting their own frustrations and resentments," Shen Changan scoffed and tossed his phone aside. "How can they live if they don't curse and show their sense of justice on the internet."

Spreading such lies that could be easily exposed was purely brainless. In the end, though the platforms publicizing this might receive some criticism, it will gain traffic and attention after all people's anger would eventually be redirected to the person involved. For example, this trash man who willingly knitted and wore a green hat to feel its warmth.

"Xiao Shen," Du Zhonghai stepped out of the office, "The public opinion on the Internet is getting a bit extreme now. For your safety, take a break at home for a couple of days, and then come back after things are clarified."

Although many people would just scold someone online to vent, there's always the fear that some brainless people might act impulsively and hurt him. Wouldn't that make Xiao Shen suffer for nothing?

"Okay." Shen Changan understood Du Zhonghai's concerns. He neatly packed up what was on his desk and left the office.

When he went downstairs, he heard the leaves in the courtyard rustling loudly and happily.

He stopped and turned his head to look at it: "Are you enjoying the show?"

The big tree dared not move anymore and carefully explained, "Big brother, I was helping you curse those people who are scolding you online."

"Heh." Shen Changan raised his eyebrows. "Is there a dog deep in your soul?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why else are you behaving like a dog-leg?"

Big tree: "..."

Just a few steps outside the gate, Shen Changan noticed a car stopping beside him. Liu Mao stuck his head out from the passenger seat, "Mr. Shen, what a coincidence! Where are you going?"

"Going home to avoid trouble." Seeing Liu Mao's simple and honest smile, Shen Changan couldn't help but smile as well. "What brings you here?"

"Master and I happened to be passing by and didn't expect to run into you."

Glancing towards the back, Shen Changan saw Dao Nian fixedly staring at him with those beautiful eyes. He quickly waved at him.

"Get in." Dao Nian was as concise as always.

"Okay!" Shen Changan got in without any hesitation, flashing Dao Nian a big, radiant smile. "I was just about to find a bicycle to ride home."

"Stay at my place these days," Dao Nian paused, "Their cooking isn't good."

Shen Changan stared at Dao Nian for a few seconds. "Dao Nian, have you also heard about the rumors online?" Why else would he suddenly invite him over?

"Ignorant people spread baseless rumors. Don't take them to heart; it will be resolved soon." Dao Nian stretched out his hand and patted Shen Changan's shoulder. He probably didn't usually do this action, so it was a little awkward for him.

"Don't worry, I don't let those things get to me." Shen Changan comfortably stretched in the car. "After all, it's just online chatter. If I don't read it, it doesn't exist. And I don't have to worry about my loved ones being implicated by me; so I don't have so many concerns."

Dao Nian noticed a faint shadow under his eyes. "Have you not rested well these past few days?"

"Can you tell?" Shen Changan rubbed under his eyes, "It seems I still need to wear my glasses, at least it can help cover the dark circles."

Ever since his worldview was shattered last weekend night, he had been trying to find a chance to figure out what was going on with this 10th Meritorious Body these past few nights. But every night when he wandered outside, not only did he not encounter a single ghost shadow, he was even chased out by stray dogs for half the street.

In his view, dogs that can bite were much scarier than ghosts that he couldn't even see a shadow of.

But he couldn't talk about looking for ghosts at night in front of an atheist, so he could only laugh and say, "I've been having some insomnia these past two days."

"Then come to my place, you can sleep there." At that moment, Dao Nian fully exuded a dominant CEO aura. Shen Changan hesitated for 0.33 seconds before nodding his not so noble head.

Dao Nian's home is so beautiful, with gardens, comfortable sofas, and delicious food. His bed must also be very comfortable to sleep in.

"Dao Nian, you're truly the best and most considerate buddy I have." Shen Changan patted Dao Nian's shoulder a few times. "What do you want to eat later, I'll make it for you."

"Anything is fine." Dao Nian looked calm, "I'm not picky about food."

After preparing lunch at noon, Shen Changan realized that men are all liars; their words simply cannot be trusted. He didn't eat the red braised fish nor the crispy pork ribs - how was that not being a picky eater?

"The fish I cook doesn't smell at all, give me some face and try a bite, huh?" Seeing Dao Nian's outright refusal with an expressionless face, Shen Changan looked at him pleadingly.

"It has bones, too troublesome." Dao Nian's face was cold and indifferent.

"So it's not that you dislike the fishy smell, it's that you don't want to deal with the bones?" Shen Changan used clean chopsticks to pick out a piece of meat from the fish belly, removed the bones and placed it in Dao Nian's bowl, "You're the first person I've met who can still be so lazy in front of delicious food."

Dao Nian lowered his head to eat the fish meat, then looked up to meet Shen Changan's sparkling eyes: "How is it, tasty right?"

He nodded, then silently stared at the fish meat.

"Dear brother, you're an adult baby, you need to learn to do your own things." Shen Changan picked up a piece of tender fish meat in front of Dao Nian, removed the bones, and put it in his own mouth: "You can't snatch good things if you're too lazy."

Dao Nian had a cold face.

Shen Changan grinned widely.

"Hmph," Dao Nian scooped up tofu with a spoon, resolute to not to surrender to the allure of the delicious food.

Shen Changan sighed, preparing a piece of fish meat, he placed it in Dao Nian's bowl: "Eat up, Dao Nian is only three years old. I was wrong, you're not an adult baby, you're just a baby."

Ignoring him, Dao Nian lowered his head and ate the fish Shen Changan had picked for him.

After finishing the meal, Shen Changan noticed that it wasn't sunny outside, so he urged Dao Nian to go out and breathe in some fresh air. There were not many people living in this community, and the lush greenery made it a peaceful haven where one's body and mind can feel at ease.

"The air in this community is really good. You should let people take you out for walks more often." Perhaps because he had eaten his fill and didn't need to go to work, Shen Changan found the trees unusually appealing, and the air here exceptionally refreshing. It felt like, with each breath, vitality was infused to every inch of his body.

Occasionally a passerby would see Dao Nian and hurriedly stop in their tracks, quietly greeting him before scurrying away as fast as their legs could carry them once they passed.

Shen Changan looked back at the third old lady who was sprinting away and lowered his head to ask him: "These people seem to be quite afraid of you?"

"Mm, they owe money and didn't repay, so they're feeling uneasy." Dao Nian lowered his eyelids and said indifferently, "Don't bother about them."

"Oh, in the future it's better not to lend money to people you don't have a good relationship with." Shen Changan said, "I had a university classmate who borrowed 1000 yuan from me, and didn't pay me back until graduation. Now the ones who owe money are the big bosses, and the ones who lend are the grandsons."

The two walked for a while, arriving at the edge of a beautiful pond, with mist lingering over the water's surface, resembling the realm of immortal figures in the legendary Yaochi pond. Shen Changan stretched out his neck left and right, a look of puzzlement on his face.

As they walked a bit, they arrived at a beautiful pond where mist floated above the water, creating an ethereal scene. Shen Changan stretched his neck, looking left and right, his face filled with curiosity.

"What are you looking at?" Dao Nian asked.

"Don't you find it strange? There's no fog today, yet there's mist lingering over this artificial pond."

"There's a fog machine inside," Dao Nian raised an eyebrow. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing, I'm just admiring the spirit of wealthy people pursuing a high-quality life." Shen Changan thought, otherwise who would spend money to create some special fog effects by the pool if not someone with a few screws loose.

After strolling around, when Shen Changan returned to the artificial pond, he noticed that the mist over the water had disappeared. Hesitating, he asked, "Is it broken? Should we contact the property management?"

"No need, it automatically shuts off on schedule." Dao Nian stared at the several koi carps swimming to and fro in the pond water, "To save power."

"That's right, it's almost time to go to work in the afternoon." Shen Changan suddenly realized that rich people are also thrifty in their own way.

Dao Nian's wheelchair was of excellent quality, it made no sound as it rolled on the cobblestone path. After just taking a stroll outside, Shen Changan marveled at the exceptionally good ecological environment in the neighborhood. It was simply too good, so good that he dared not guess how high the property management fees must be.

Returning indoors, Shen Changan saw Liu Mao and the pair of twins in the living room. Thinking they must have work to do, he voluntarily offered to go rest in his room.

"Mr. Shen, please wait a moment," Liu Mao called out to him. "Regarding the online rumors, we've already handled it for you. Do you think this is appropriate?"

He opened his laptop and turned the screen around so Shen Changan could clearly see the online content.

Shen Changan leaned in for a look - it turned out the media had interviewed the woman who was still in hospital, and her statements completely contradicted Zhang Qiang's version. Staff at the hospital and the female host's coworkers also came forward to testify that the female host was a diligent worker who lived frugally in her daily life.

In front of the internet, many people are not afraid to spread their negative emotions. However, sometimes the internet also leaves people with nowhere to hide. Soon, some netizens found out that the man who claimed his wife is cheating on him and is a spendthrift himself was involved with other people. The man was not only lazy but also went out to visit prostitutes. What was even more disgusting was that his parents often scolded his wife as a chicken that couldn't lay eggs in the village.

People tend to sympathize with the weak, especially when they saw how seriously ill the woman was, yet Zhang Qiang kept her confined at home and only allowed her to drink "holy water." This made people even more emotional, and they ended up scolding Zhang Qiang till his eighteen generation ancestors.

Some netizens also sympathized with the innocent male staff member who got dragged into this, as he was just diligently doing his job and timely discovered the abnormality in this family. He rescued the woman, only to be inexplicably labeled as the third party.

After being scolded and sympathized with online, Shen Changan found this whole situation quite ridiculous. Fortunately he was a bachelor who could eat his fill without worrying about his family going hungry, and wasn't afraid of such gossip. However, what if the person involved in this case had a family and children? Would he still dare to take action so actively in the future?

Would he worry about his wife misunderstanding him?

Would he worry that his child might be ostracized or bullied by other schoolmates due to these rumors?

"Mr. Shen, regarding this matter, I suggest you sue the media spreading false information and this Zhang Qiang. Only when these people suffer will they know how to be honest." After Liu Mao saw that Shen Changan didn't look particularly happy even after the situation had turned around. "We have the most professional lawyers here, who can definitely help you seek justice."

Shen Changan nodded. If you did something wrong, you should accept the consequences.

Zhang Qiang has been a bit unlucky these days. He was very happy when he saw people on the Internet scolding the nosy young man and his wife. But on his way downstairs, he accidentally fell and broke his leg…

Breaking a leg was bad enough, but shortly after when he was in the ambulance, he encountered a car accident. Everyone in the car came out unscathed, and even the ambulance suffered only a scratch, like the size of a fingernail. Yet, Zhang Qiang broke his other leg.

When he arrived at the ward, the three other patients he shared the ward with, were all snoring masters, making it impossible for him to get any decent rest. Now, even his distant cousin was calling to tell him about being sued . Zhang Qiang found it somewhat ridiculous; he just said a few words casually, what kind of law did he break?

He turned on his phone and saw everyone on the Internet calling him a scumbag. Fuming, he started arguing with people online.

What does my unwillingness to spend money on treating my wife have to do with these people?

A woman who can't give birth to a child, it's not enough, she even often works late into the night, who knows what she is doing outside?

If that man from the Civil Service Department has nothing to do with her, why would he meddle in her business?

The more Zhang Qiang cursed, the more riled up he got, not even hearing the voices of his wardmates as he continued hurling profanities online.

"Bah, you're the one who will get retribution." Zhang Qiang didn't throw the phone on the hospital bed until the phone ran out of battery.  He wanted to curse out his wife for not bringing him food yet, before suddenly remembering that his wife was also lying in the hospital, and had aired his dirty laundry in front of reporters.

He cursed a few words and waited for his parents to come from the countryside to wait on him.

Dozing in and out, he thought he heard the doctor telling his parents that there was something wrong with his sperm.

Bullshit, he could go seven rounds in one night without any problem.

Having had dinner at Dao Nian's house, Shen Changan turned on the TV, pulling Dao Nian into a banter about brain-dead TV dramas. Occasionally, he would peel a few pumpkin seeds or pistachios for Dao Nian.

And Dao Nian just sat there quietly listening to his chatter.

"Do you think there's something wrong with this protagonist? He knows that the villain has bad intentions, but he keeps letting him go. On top of that, he even turned his back to the villain - if that's not brainless, what is it?" Shen Changan crushed a small walnut with one hand and handed the kernel to Dao Nian. "Can't there be a few protagonists who outsmarts the villain and let them pay with their own life?"

After finishing the walnut, the TV show ended too. Shen Changan slapped the cushion onto the sofa. "I wonder how the screenwriter came up with such a plot."

"Sleep," Dao Nian turned his head to glance at the pitch-black window. "It will rain tonight, and the temperature will drop down."

"Is that so?" Shen Changan imitated Dao Nian's actions and looked out the window, but besides darkness he couldn't see anything.

"Mr. Shen, I will take you to your room," Liu Mao seemingly appeared out of nowhere said to Shen Changan with a smile. "The wind might be strong tonight, make sure to close the windows securely."

"Alright." Shen Changan nodded, walking towards the stairs. However, he turned back when he reached the stairs, leaning down to whisper in Dao Nian's ear, "Dao Nian, do you need to go to the bathroom? I can take you there. A person shouldn't hold it in..."

From noon until now, he hadn't seen Dao Nian go to the bathroom.

Dao Nian looked at him and expressionlessly pressed Shen Changan's face towards the stairs.

"Shut up!"

Shen Changan rubbed his face as he followed Liu Mao upstairs. On the short walk, Liu Mao glanced back at him several times. Shen Changan couldn't pretend not to care:  "Mr. Liu, watch your step, don't tumble down the stairs."

"How could that happen? I am..." Before he could finish his sentence, he stumbled, almost rolling down the stairs. Fortunately, Shen Changan quickly caught him.

"Haha." Liu Mao forced out a laugh and led Shen Changan to a room. He opened the door, saying, "If there is anything you don't like, just tell me, I'll have it changed right away."

Looking at the meticulously decorated and comfortable room, Shen Changan quickly shook his head, "It's all very good, I like it very much."

"That's good." Liu Mao breathed a sigh of relief and whispered: "Mr. Shen, Sir's temper is a bit bad. Please bear with him; he absolutely does not mean any dislike towards you."

"Where's it bad?" Shen Changan was puzzled. "Dao Nian is very good."

Although he wasn't very talkative, in other aspects, he was quite accommodating. How could that be considered as having a bad temper?

Are people’s requirements for friends so strict?

Liu Mao wanted to say more but, looking up, he saw Dao Nian at the end of the corridor and abruptly closed his mouth.

How can I convince master that I only wanted to improve the relationship between him and Mr. Shen, and was not speaking ill of him?

Waiting online, it's very urgent!

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