79 Into the Dreamscape
I decided not to struggle once I’ve thought it through.
Perhaps a good state of mind would be able to overcome all the dreaded unknown which awaits me.
With that, I found a comfortable corner to settle down in ease and shut my eyes, planning to catch a wink… but my rest didn’t come as peacefully as it did before; I fell into a dream.
It was the most peculiar; the way I seemed to fuse with the ‘me’ in my dream.
I was hyperconscious of the fact that I’m dreaming—unlike all previous occurrences when I’ve always watched myself from a third-party point of view, I appeared to have quite literally fallen into the dreamscape. It was as though I’ve intruded into another dimension. I observed my surrounding, astounded by the sensation.
In that instant, the words Li Qing had once said to me flitted to mind.
“In the split zone, the only time we have any interaction with our memories is when we dream. Like a pair of eyes, you will overlook your past experiences in that dreamscape. Seeing as only those who suffers from mental disorders or trauma would arrive into the split zone, the existence of dreams can sometimes help us recover lost memories or distorted feelings.
“Which means to say, you may be able to find those memories that you’ve forgotten, or perhaps even situations which you’ve misinterpreted that had formed your current memory.”
“Does that mean we’ll have to watch ourselves suffer through painful memories without being able to interfere?” I asked.
“That’s right. This is because the split zone didn’t exist with the intention of helping you change the past, but to accept. Even so, you’re an exception because you were diagnosed with double identity disorder. In the history of the split zone, there was only one other person apart from you with this syndrome.
“Since having double identities would mean that you have two bodies of consciousness, the dream that you witness might likewise be different than the rest of us. I can’t be sure if the assumption is true, but I do know that the person who was the same as you had the ability to participate in his own dreams. I’m not in the position to determine if that’s a gift or a curse.”
At this very moment, it was clear to me that I’m in my own dream. I entered this dream when I dozed off in that stone room, and I’m still blown away by it.
I continued watching this vivid dreamscape of mine.
It was when Li Qing’s words echoed in my mind that I realized I’ve only remembered how important Li Qing was to me, and how much I had depended and missed her. Yet, in an ironic twist, I’ve forgotten much about what she had told me, and what she passed on to me.
Li Qing had so clearly conveyed it before, that I’m different from the others because of my double identity disorder.
As much as the double identity disorder had been a sin in my previous life, it was what made me unique in this alternate dimension.
I wonder if it would be able to tell me which path to take one day?
“Honk, honk, honk—!”
I snapped from my train of thoughts at the sound of the car’s honking.
Seized with terror, I darted my eyes towards my surrounding.
That’s right, I am currently in a dreamscape, and I wasn’t looking on as a spectator. I was in it as a participant, immersed in the dream as my own body of consciousness.
Could it be… that perhaps this dream would be able to help me recall the moment I killed Senior Gao Qi?
It wasn’t like I wanted to recall that particular memory, but what if it could explain the real reason I arrived into the split zone? Should I seek the truth if that’s the case?”
I took it all in, absorbing the dreamscape into sight—this is the world of my previous life.
Right now, I’m opposite the main gate of my school, along the road not far away.
I tilted my head upwards, towards those blue skies and sun rays that I haven’t seen in a long time.
Just like, my tears streamed down without control.
I didn’t want to cry but no one would understand just how much I missed this sunshine.
Before the split zone, I had always thought the sun was too piercing when it hung high upon the sky, and loved staying cooped up in my house. I’ve never been too concerned with the rumors of doomsday, or those discussion about the combustion of the sun either.
Yet, now that I’ve been sent to the split zone, when I lost all contact with this world, I understood just how much I’ve relied on it.
The familiar warmth of the sun and that clear blue sky—all these things that I haven’t seen in a long time was nothing more than a wishful thinking for me now.
“Bloody hell. Sir, even if you’re planning to commit fraud by deliberately crashing into cars, do you really have to use such low-quality commodities? At the very least, shouldn’t you use an entire bottle of ketchup? How could you smear th—th—this Lao Gan Ma’s Black Bean Sauce on your head like that? Can we be a little more professional here?”
“Y-y-you! How did you know that’s black bean sauce?! Did you steal a taste from my head? You impudent rascal! You’re not conscientious at all!”
“Old man! You’re the one who faked a crash by running in front of my car! You have the audacity to say I’m the one who’s not conscientious?!?
The banter from the street ahead made its way to me, and I couldn’t help the surge of perspiration.
I know that I was a kind girl in my previous life, who had a tendency of lending a helping hand at the sight of unjust. Still, for this outlandish event which highlighted the reality of society to be my first recollection, even to the extent of tampering with a section of their dialogue... It didn’t seem cynical but felt more like a silly dream instead.
Black bean sauce…
I'm drunk in my own imagination…
It was said that dreams stemmed from your heart’s desires…
I watched as more and more people rushed towards the street ahead.
That’s how this world worked. People scuttled at the sign of disaster but gathered like moth to flame at such stirring of trivial matters.
I’ve never liked crowds, or places which were bustling with noise and excitement. I turned my attention towards the school instead.
Ah, so it was my university that I’m dreaming about…
It’s fortunate that it’s the university that appeared in my dreams.
Even though I have been ostracized in university too, it was still an immense improvement from the dark days of high school. Besides, I suppose I would be able to see his warm and gentle smile again if I'm here…
I lifted my hand to rid the tracks of tears from my face at that thought and gave myself a pep talk.
You can do this, Li Shen. You've been in the split zone for a long while now; you've grown stronger. Go face him. Even if it's only within this dreamscape, go face him one more time and ask for his forgiveness!
The thoughts circled my mind and with long strides, I moved towards the school.
“Ah Shen, where have you been? I've been searching for you for so long.”
A familiar voice sounded from behind me.
A shiver ran down my spine. After a moment of contemplation, I calmed myself down and turned towards the origin.
Running towards me merrily, was Pomelo in a long-sleeved, Pikachu-printed top.
I dropped my gaze to my own apparels. As expected, it was the same Pikachu-printed top—a set of twin outfits.
A bitter smile twitched at the corner of my lips. Li Shen, oh Li Shen, did you really bear such deep hatred for her that even in your dreams, you thought of her first and not Senior Gao Qi whom you had missed so dearly?
Why was hatred so much harder to forget in comparison to love?
Since I'm in a dream, since this is a replay of my memories, then let's just integrate myself into it and handle this the way I used to.
I lifted my head and forced a smile. In a soft voice, I replied, “I'm just about to head back to school.”
“Let's go together then!” Pomelo approached with a hop in her steps and linked her arm with mine naturally.
Her eyes are bright and crystal clear. “You can't leave me, Ah Shen. You know that, right?”
I could hear the soft exhale of breath from the depths of my heart.
Sigh… Just reject her...
Eventually, I beamed a bright smile that didn't reach my eyes. “I know.”
With her satisfaction, Pomelo’s arm tightened around mine. “Let's go to the cafeteria! Are you hungry?”
I nodded without a word.
Following in her steps, allowing her to tug and pull me as she pleased, we headed towards the cafeteria building.
The building where the cafeteria resided was behind Block 3 of the male dormitory, and we would have to pass through the latter to get to our destination. The scale of a university was different from that of a high school; just a trip to the cafeteria would take us more than ten minutes.
I could feel the distinct palpitations of my heart as we traversed across Block 3. And when I heard the words, “I love you, Senior Gao Qi!” I was startled.
There were dozens of people ahead when I lifted my gaze. Amidst the crowd, there was a beautiful young lady with both hands cupped around her mouth, amplifying her voice as she shouted towards the balcony on the second level of Block 3.
She yelled, “I love you, Senior Gao Qi.”
“Wow—!” The spectators cheered on.
These scenes were not a daily occurrence in university, but it was a common sight.
Under the dormitory, she laid out the candles to accompany her confession and cheers erupted all around.
It seems that it's still an easier feat for ladies to confess.
“Hey, look, look! It's Gao Qi from Senior year! He came out, he came out!”
“It's really him! I've always heard that he's popular. Not only that, he's already in his Senior year, just a step before graduation, yet there are still such young juniors confessing to him like this.”
“What's the use of it though? Rumor has it that Gao Qi has never had a girlfriend in his four years of university. Some even suspect that he may be gay…”
“Aye, what nonsense. How can such a handsome and affable man like him be gay?”
“It's always a possibility. The more outstanding they are, the more they don't think any woman could be compatible with them. That's how they develop a unique taste; that's how they start looking for those of the same gender for some thrill.”
“Since we're on the topic of unique tastes—I heard that the only person Gao Qi has ever initiated a conversation with, is that girl with mental illness?”
Without realizing, we had already reached the spectating crowd and their discussion flooded my ears.
I dropped my head.
“Ah Shen, isn't that the senior you adore? Don't you want to take a look at him?” Pomelo’s voice prompted from beside me.
I met her glistening eyes then, without a trace of hesitation, I tilted my head towards Gao Qi on the second level balcony.
Perhaps she had not expected such courage in me to look over; I felt the hand that was clutching my own grow rigid.
My lips curled upwards ever so slightly, undetected by anyone around.
Squinting my eyes, I watched the figure who had been lured out by the commotion on the ground—the one and only Senior Gao Qi who flashed a faint smile at the sight of me.
Heh, I'm not longer the Li Shen of the past. I am Li Shen, Commander of Split Zone 13’s Western District, and this is just a dream of mine. In my dream, Pomelo, did you think you'd witness a weak and helpless me? Did you still expect me to turn to you for help eventually?
“There, there! That's her! That's who I'm talking about. Quick, look behind you.”
The murmuring from in front of us bustled on but that's alright. I remained with my head held high, watching the balcony opposite us and at the man with a smile as warm as spring breeze.
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