At noon on Sunday.
As the bell signalling the end of school rang, the whole class let out a cheer, and the teacher standing on the podium cleared his throat, “students, I know you must be very happy to have half a day off, but everybody, calm down a little, I need to take a bit of everybody’s time, and let’s finish this question first, just a minute.”
Fifteen minutes later, the teacher put down his chalk, “okay, let’s stop here today.” Before the students started to cheer, he added, “now, I’ll go through the homework required today.”
After another five minutes, all the students in the class held their breath, and the teacher looked around the class, before finally saying, “okay, class dismissed!”
After bidding goodbye to the teacher, the whole class immediately became chaotic, and Zhang Cheng carried the bag that he had long packed and ran to the front seat. He said to Lu Chu, “I’ll definitely won’t be able to do my homework once I go back today. I’m just carrying my bag for the sake of it, and Li Lan and the rest won’t show me their homework anymore. I’ll come early tomorrow, Lu Chu, please lend me your homework!!”
Before waiting for Lu Chu to respond, he rushed out of the classroom.
Qian Wenhao also dashed out after waving goodbye to Lu Chu.
Soon, there weren’t that many people left in class.
Lu Chu sighed, “they’re really eager to return, as if hungering for it.”
He had long lost this sense of belonging to a home.
7 slung his bag over one shoulder, “let’s go.”
Lu Chu nodded, “en, let’s go. Some cafeterias won’t be open on Sunday noon, and there’s lesser food, so it’s better if we go quickly.”
While they ate in the cafeteria, the two of them ran into Zheng Wei. Zheng Wei was looking down, wearing a thick set of glasses, and left the cafeteria after eating in a hurried manner.
Lu Chu and 7 looked at each other, “there’s something not quite right.”
7 added a chicken leg to his plate, “there’s no need to hurry.”
Lu Chu took a bit of the chicken, and said, “okay.”
After eating, they went back to their dormitory. Zheng Wei was already lying on his own bed, facing the wall, and he seemed to be asleep.
There were eight beds in a single dorm, with two bunk beds on the east and west side. At the back of the room was a radiator and windows. Lu Chu’s and 7’s beds were on the east side, while Zheng Wei’s bed was on the lower bunk of a bed on the west side. Within a dorm, such a distance between each other was already considered far.
Both the afternoon and evening were the students’ free time, and students who chose to stay in school could move about freely, as long as they didn’t leave the school – this was because the school was afraid that the students would encounter an accident while staying in the school.
Because he was concerned about ‘Zheng Wei’, so Lu Chu put away the idea of taking advantage of the time where there were lesser students in the school to visit all the classrooms and laboratories that he could.
After Lu Chu and 7 washed up, they also climbed into bed.
Lu Chu laid on the top bunk, facing Zheng Wei, looking at the opposite bottom bunk bed. From above, he had a wide field of vision, and could see everything clearly.
In this season, it was warm enough to sleep with only a blanket, and this was what Lu Chu did. He pulled a thin blanket over his chest, so the temperature wouldn’t be too hot nor too cold, but when Zheng Wei slept, he covered himself with a thick cotton blanket, while facing the wall to sleep. He’d even buried his face in the blanket.
If he remembered correctly, Zheng Wei had secretly looked at him several times, Lu Chu thought so, and the gaze he landed on Zheng Wei was filled with questions.
After a moment later, when Zheng Wei had indeed started to sleep, Lu Chu and 7 whispered a ‘good night’ to each other, and closed their eyes to take a break.
At 2:20 in the afternoon, Zheng Wei got out of bed.
Lu Chu was a light sleeper, so when he heard the slight noise that Zheng Wei made while getting up and going out, he also woke up.
7 was sitting on the bed against the wall, and didn’t sleep. He held a book, and when he saw that Zheng Wei woke up, he still maintained his reading posture, and only when he noticed that Lu Chu had also woken up did he put his book down. He said, “rest for a while longer.”
Lu Chu smiled and shook his head, “no need, I don’t often take an afternoon nap, and I’m already very energetic after taking a short break. How about you, why didn’t you sleep?”
He remembered that in the previous few ‘games’, 7 also didn’t sleep that often, and sometimes, Lu Chu felt that he didn’t even close his eyes for the whole night.
“I’m not used to sleeping,” 7 said, “I can keep my energy up with only a little bit of rest every day.”
Before, he was alone, and using his endless time, he had completed all the single-person tasks. Before all the other players that belonged to his ‘rules’ had died, he had also performed several multi-person tasks.
He needed to become extra alert to be able to survive in this game that walked the tightrope between life and death. In his early days, he was on the alert during both the day and night, and his sleep would be restless. After some time, he simply didn’t sleep at night, and his whole being was in a state of constant vigilance at all time. Once he got used to it, he no longer needed to rely on having long hours of sleep to keep his energy levels up. Later, once he started to remove the unstable factors, it was as if he had completely lost the need to sleep.
The most 7 had slept, was in the ‘games’ that he had spent with Lu Chu.
As long as Lu Chu was around, he could peacefully sleep, but he restrained himself, and still slept very little.
In the past, he didn’t sleep because he didn’t need to, but now, he didn’t dare to fall asleep, because he wanted to stay awake and protect the person beside him at all times.
Zheng Wei soon returned after he went out; he probably went to the washroom to wash up.
There was a washroom and a toilet at the end of each floor of the dormitory building, when the students went to wash up, they would choose to go to the side closer to their own dorm room. 318 was in the middle of the corridor, slightly towards the east side, and generally, when Lu Chu and the rest went to wash up or use the toilet, they would choose to go to the east side.
But Zheng Wei was different, several times that Lu Chu ran into him in the corridor, he realised that every time he went to wash up, he would go to the washroom on the west side, or the toilet on the west side.
Zhang Cheng and the rest took it as Zheng Wei not wanting to communicate with them, until the point that he didn’t even want to go to the washroom that they did. Anyways, although 318 was on the east side, it was still in the middle, and it only took a couple more steps to go to the west side.
After Zheng Wei returned, he packed his bag and went out, probably to self-study.
This was also in line with the good student image he had.
Lu Chu had no reason to follow him, so he got out of bed, and decided to go to the school to take a closer look first.
When he went out to wash up, Lu Chu thought of something, retracted his foot that was originally heading towards the east side, and turned to go to the washroom on the west side.
Both the east and west washroom were the same, symmetrical to each other.
Taking the west side as an example, on the east side of the washroom was the staircase, and once they entered the washroom, they would see two rows of basins, which allowed more than a dozen students to wash up at the same time. When it was particularly crowded, two students could share a tap, and if they squeezed a bit, it could fit thirty students. There were two hot water tanks near the door of the washroom – it was a place dedicated to take hot water. There was a door on the west side of the wash room, and inside was the toilet.
The toilets were in separate compartments, five toilets on the west side, four on the east – the door occupied the last spot.
Lu Chu casually found a place to wash up, and 7 stood to his left.
This dormitory was one of Yucai High School’s earlier buildings. Some wallpaper on the walls of the washroom had fallen off, and there were also mottled moss growing in the corner. Lu Chu looked up after washing his face, and found traces of pen marks on the wall. This was commonly seen in schools, as students always liked to write on the desk, the wall, or even on their school uniform, leaving behind all kinds of remarks about their young feelings.
However, Lu Chu was more concerned with were the words written on the wall – ‘Hope we’ll go to the same high school!”.
Lu Chu was surprised, “did Yucai High School originally have a middle school?”
7 looked at the words on the wall and nodded, “there used to be a middle school department here more than a year ago, afterwards, they were split up, and moved to another campus.”
Then, a student who also chose to stay in school came to the washroom. He heard their conversation, and said in surprise, “you guys didn’t know? Yucai High School is known for its extremely high admission rate, and anybody who talked about Yucai would remember the admission rate, and over time, the school placed most of its resources into managing the high school. The middle school wasn’t that famous, and later, in order to centralise the management of the high school students, they split the middle school department, and another campus was built.
“So it’s like this,” Lu Chu said politely to the person, “thank you.”
“What’s there to thank for?” The male student smiled and shook his hand, “also, our dormitory building, was originally for both the middle and high school students to live in. The west side was for the middle school, while the east side was for the high school. They were separated by a wooden board between 322 and 324, later, the middle school students moved out, so the board was removed. Are you a second year student?”
Lu Chu nodded.
The student said, “no wonder, you guys moved into this building after the arts and science departments were divided, so you might not be too clear about such things.”
“Ah, I won’t say anymore,” the enthusiastic male student said, “I have an appointment with someone to play ball on the field, I’m going! Bye bye!”
After that male student left, Lu Chu and 7 also left the building.
The school on Sunday afternoon was as quiet as the school while classes were still on-going. There weren’t that many people coming and going, and only the field had a few people.
Lu Chu and 7 went round the school building the previous time, and this time, both of them entered the classroom building to observe what the inside looked like. On the first floor in the classroom building, Lu Chu once again saw a half-torn sticker on the wall that was aimed at motivating middle school students to join, and understood that this was the school building used for the middle school students before they had moved away.
When they returned to their dorm room at night, Zheng Wei had yet to returned, and only returned to the dorm room carrying his bag when it was almost lights out.
After the lights were turned off, the three of them laid on their own bed, and Zheng Wei was still covered with a thick blanket. He slept sideways, facing the wall.
Lu Chu and 7 bid goodnight to each other, and after lying down, they habitually turned to look at Zheng Wei on the lower bunk with the help of the moonlight.
Under the moonlight, Lu Chu’s eyes were clear, and the gaze he had on Zheng Wei were clean and filled with emotions.
7 swallowed a little, pursed his lips, and stretched his hand to reach over to Lu Chu’s side from above the railing, and covered Lu Chu’s eyes, “don’t look.”
Don’t look at others with such eyes.