48 Hours a Day
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Ten minutes later, Zhang Heng was standing in front of the door into ITS’DEMO 1with an ice cream cone that had magically appeared in his hand.
“I’m sorry, Zhang-san1! I had a sudden craving for ice cream while we were walking and left you wandering on the road on your road,” the girl bowed apologetically.
“No, it’s my own fault. I was so busy looking around that I didn’t follow you closely, fellow classmate Ameko!” Zhang Heng had just finished searching all his pockets.
Its contents were simple: a passport, student ID, wallet (with 30,000 Japanese Yen and a transportation card), keys, and cell phone. Among these things, Zhang Heng’s priority was the phone. According to the girl, this was his first day here.
Then, chances were that she could be a friendly schoolmate who had taken the time taking him around to admire Tokyo’s night view. In most situations like these, both parties were most likely to have exchanged phone numbers. Zhang Heng checked a recent missed call and typed in Ameko’s name.
Of course, he could have asked the girl directly, making up an excuse that he did not know how to spell her name, but it seemed a little rude to him.
When he looked up and saw the girl’s expression, he knew that he had guessed correctly.
Ameko looked adorable whenever she smiled, revealing her two snaggleteeth. “Zhang-san, Shibuya is a fashion center! There are a lot of very interesting storeS and places of interest here! But occasionally, hanky-panky business goes on around here. So, you better stay close!”
Zhang Heng had no objections to that. Ameko had been so warmhearted by being his tour guide, introducing Tokyo as they walked the streets. Up until now, the both of them had been conversing in Mandarin, and she was pretty proficient. She majored in Chinese at the university and planned to apply as an exchange student to China next year, furthering her studies.
But her understanding of China only came from what she saw on the TV and her teachers, so, in order to deepen her knowledge, she made it a point to be friends with this term’s exchange student.
“Ah, actually, my home is in Shinagawa. I’ve studied in Tokyo since high school. I’ve never been away from home before. Talking about going to a place far away makes me excited, yet a little worried at the same time!” Ameko rubbed her nose shyly. “My parents back home was always worried if I could care for myself in the future! So, I want to take this opportunity to train myself! Err… Is that very childish of me?”
“No, it’s terrific!”
This time, the quest title was ‘Tokyo Drift’. From the name itself, Zhang Heng could tell that the primary purpose of this game was to test the player’s driving skills—also confirmed by the mission target.
Although it seemed like the rate of time flow was reduced when compared to the previous game, which only lasted for two hours, this mission was actually going to take twice as long to complete. 60 days to be precise.
It might sound generous, but unless the player was already a competitive race driver or a hardcore car tuner, being good enough to win an underground street race, even the easiest one in a mere 60 days, was a practically impossible task.
What more, the problems the players would face in this version of the game were not as simple as merely improving their driving skills.
Right now, in Zhang Heng’s wallet, there was only 30,000 yen. How should I put this into perspective? Well, take the ice cream Ameko bought for example, which cost 300 yen each. From the flyer the ramen shop had given them when they passed by, Zhang Heng found out that a bowl of ramen cost between 800 to 1,200 yen.
Of course, the food in the campus should be slightly more affordable, or if need be, he could consider cooking for himself. He might be able to last 60 days but he was not really here to be an exchange student.
In this period of time, he would need to get his hands on a car, find out the location of the race, figure a way to improve his driving skills and sign up for a race. And to do all that, he would need to have the most basic of communication skills to support himself.
If it were other players in his shoes, they might not have listened to Ameko explaining her personal growth journey and jump right into the main issue.
But Zhang Heng was different—he had enough patience. Apart from his own great character, he also knew that everything happened for a reason.
Human beings have continued to progress because they are consistently reflected on themselves and draw inferences—and this had always been Zhang Heng’s strength.
The first game had not only gave him twenty-over points and a prop—Zhang Heng had analyzed his experience many times and came to a very important conclusion—whoever the game creator was, it was evident that he always encouraged the players to explore the world they were put in.
The lucky rabbit’s foot was a good testament to that. The really good things did not appear in the main mission. If his only purpose was to survive, there was no need to travel to the center of the island at all. Yet, it was this side mission that had earned him the greatest reward. On top of that, the things that he did to improve his quality of life often earned him bonus points and rewards.
Not to imply that the other player did not understand this, but having to think of a way to complete the mission under the pressure of the return deadline, none of them would be in the mood to enjoy the luscious views around them.
However, Zhang Heng did not have any problems here because time was always on his side.
For this game, he had a good 420 days—seven times more than the average place. Other than that, he had also developed a personal interest in the various worlds the game presented. During his first-round back on the island, everything felt very real to him. If it were not for the time-bug that had caused a loop, there was no way of him finding a flaw.
Compared to this megacity with a population of 37 million people, that was nothing.
Everyone here seemed to have self-awareness and responded spontaneously to external stimuli. If all these were expressed through programming, it would take a frightening amount of calculations! In fact, no amount of coding could achieve this level of sophistication. This was not so much a game as a flawless work of art!
Unfortunately, the players were just rushing sojourners in this world, no time to stop and admire. Zhang Heng might very well be the only exception.
Ameko stuck out her tongue. “Am I talking a little too much? I’m supposed to be introducing Tokyo but then I somehow began talking about myself. You must be really bored! Why don’t I buy you a taiyaki1 to make up for it?”
“… I feel like you’re just looking for an excuse to eat it.”
“Hehe!” Amiko flashed her signature snaggleteeth after exposing her love for food.
“But let me pay this time! You’ve already treated me ice cream. I should thank you—if you hadn’t volunteered to be my guide, I’m afraid I would not have left campus at all!” Zhang Heng pulled out his wallet. He could not keep taking advantage of this girl’s generosity.
He bought four taiyaki from the stall by the road. A ubiquitous snack in Japan, it was an affordable preposition. Even though the name taiyaki literally meant ‘baked seabream’, it was actually a cake with fillings like red beans. Four of them only cost Zhang Heng 640 yen.
“Zhang-san… you really are a good person,” Ameko mumbled as she bit into a steaming hot taiyaki. “We’re not too far from Yoyogi park, but too bad it’s already so late. Otherwise, I could bring you there for a walk.”