“The one who dared to stand up and resist them was Zhou Xiao!" Wang Ying's eyes sparkled from the recollection of the past. "He was as weak as we were, but he didn’t give in. When there were any absurd regulations in the mental hospital, he always stood up against it. Although this was basically hitting an egg at a rock, someone had said what we all wanted to say. The director used him as a thorn. They killed a chicken to scare the monkeys and often put him in confinement. Sometimes it was three days and sometimes it was five. The longest was seven days. Whenever he ended his long confinement, he’d come out thin and haggard. We were all very worried. We were worried that he would fall down and we were also worried he’d give in. However, no matter how starved he was or how much he had suffered and been beaten, he always smiled unyieldingly. He was the spiritual pillar for all of us. As long as he refused to bow his head for a day, we seemed to have a glimmer of hope for resistance.”
"Zhou Xiao’s struggle with the mental hospital can’t all be told even if we had three days and nights. I’ll only talk about one incident. This was the time which left the most lasting impression on me. That summer, the weather was very hot. The director said that as long as we performed well, we’d be able to eat popsicles next week if we didn’t get punished. We really wanted to eat popsicles. Every day there, we’d eat the same things. I didn’t even remember how long I had gone without sweets. Everyone was looking forward to it. It was finally the day when the popsicles would be issued, but what we received was a homemade popsicle with a lot of sugar and pigment added into it. It wasn’t tasty at all. It was so sweet that it made people want to vomit, but the director was shameless. He kept saying that this kind of popsicle was healthier than the ones sold outside. If we were harmed eating those, who would be responsible for that?”
"Zhou Xiao stood up and said, ‘How much money do you make from us? Are you reluctant to buy a popsicle for even a yuan?’ The director said, ‘It's you again! Sit down. You weren’t meant to have the popsicles anyway. What are you making a ruckus for? Do you want to enter the confinement room again?!’ Zhou Xiao slammed on the table and shouted, ‘We want to eat popsicles!’ He shouted over and over again, and some people followed suit. We had never been united like this before. The shouts were so loud. ‘We want to eat popsicles! We want to eat popsicles!’ The director ran away in fright and called the caregivers to come and take us back to the room, but this time no one obeyed. The patients used their own housekeeping skills - pretending to be crazy and stupid, scaring the caregivers to the other side of the iron door. Everyone rushed to the iron gate, shook it, and kept shouting, ‘We want to eat popsicles!’
"This struggle lasted until the night, and the director finally made concessions. He asked people to buy popsicles for three yuan apiece. Everyone had a share. It was the sweetest popsicle I've ever eaten in my life. I couldn't even bring myself to bite it. I just licked it again and again. We ate the popsicles happily in the room for some time. The faces of the people on the side of the iron gate were petrified from shock. I finally knew that they were also afraid of us because we had so many people and had nothing to lose. This was all because we have Zhou Xiao!”
"Maybe it was this incident that made the director feel a potential threat. One night, I was woken up by other patients. People were calling out in the corridor. Some people said that Zhou Xiao was taken to the basement by them. They wanted his life! Everyone was afraid of losing him, so we shook the door of the single ward and protested loudly. The caregiver surnamed Wang ran over and knocked on the surveillance window with a rubber stick, telling us to get lost back to sleep. At this time, the strongest of us, The Silent Man, kicked the door open. Caregiver Wang was frightened and kept waving her stick to tell him not to get close. In front of The Silent Man, she was as weak as a chicken. Everyone cheered frantically. The Silent Man knocked her to the ground with a single punch and grabbed the key. We were free. The first thing everyone did was to beat up the caregiver on the ground fiercely. Everyone got a punch in and she didn’t even look human after the fact. Maybe she was already beaten to death at that time, or died afterwards in the fire.”
"We rushed out, picked up the table in the activity room, and slammed it against the iron door. Every time we smashed an iron door, we screamed enthusiastically. The caregivers along the way either escaped or ended up like Caregiver Wang. Everyone only had one thought: Save Zhou Xiao! We finally rushed into the basement. Zhou Xiao was anaesthetized. He was lying naked on the hospital bed. A line was drawn on his belly. The doctor was about to get the knife. Although we didn't know what organ they were going to take, what was certain was that Zhou Xiao might not have been able to get out of the operating room alive if it weren’t for us breaking in. The doctor and the director were both there, and the doctor fled upon seeing us. The director berated us in vain and told us to get lost, but at that moment, no one was afraid of him anymore. The Silent Man picked up Zhou Xiao. Several people pressed the director onto the operating table and cut his waist with a scalpel. The director cried and screamed. At this time, I don’t know where the fire started. Everyone panicked and ran to Zhou Xiao. Someone had lit a fire in the archives room. The fire spread quickly. When we ran down, the entire second floor was on fire. Only then did we discover that the director had taken advantage of the chaos and ran away.”
"I didn’t seem to be myself that night. I was caught in the crowd, crying, shouting, and screaming with them. I was wrapped in fanaticism. When facing the fire, many people cheered. After a while, some people said that it would be troublesome when the police showed up, so people left one after another. We separated just like that. A female patient and I went to a small county and I relied on her to steal some clothes and food. We were able to survive and escape the pursuit of the police. Later, I came to Long'an to work alone. I’m not sure how the other people were. I read the news that all the mental patients who ran away were under control. Obviously, it was just an official statement. I believe some people must have escaped smoothly like me. I never expected that I would see Zhou Xiao here!"
Chen Shi and Lin Dongxue were shocked by what Wang Ying said. After a long time, Chen Shi asked, "So, the scene where you and Zhou Xiao met again is also made up?"
Wang Ying nodded. "In fact it's not that dramatic, but meeting him and discovering that we live in the same community was very dramatic in and of itself... Officers, now that you know, are you going to arrest me?"
"The law doesn't punish numerous offenders. Just treat that incident as the past! The psychiatric hospital has been burned down and lost anyway. No files or evidence are left.”
"Thank you. I know you’re good people."
"So, why is the director here?"
"I've told you all that I know. I have a request. Can you let The Silent Man go? He has a simple mind. He might have been talked into it. He doesn't understand the severity of doing these things."
Chen Shi shook his head. "Because of his simple mind, he’s very dangerous. In order to seek revenge, he has killed three innocent people in a row. We will definitely arrest him. No one can be harmed again!"
"Is that so..." Wang Ying lowered her head in disappointment.
After they left, Chen Shi suddenly thought of something. He asked Lin Dongxue to wait for him and went back to see Wang Ying. He showed her a sketch on his phone and asked, "Was this person there too?"
Looking at the sketch for a long while, Wang Ying said, "I have the impression that he’s the one who pressed the director down on the operating table."
Chen Shi suddenly understood. That guy actually stayed in this mental hospital before. That's why he changed his name to Zhou Xiao. Because the name was very meaningful. Chen Shi asked excitedly, "What is his name?"
1. When everyone is an offender, law can’t be enforced.
2. The author wrote “the two of them” but I changed it to “they” because it mentioned Xu Xiaodong being there as well in the last chapter.
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