Zhang Heng held onto the door and paddled in the opposite direction of the tsunami.
He saw many tragedies along the way, including floating bodies, mothers who lost their children, and children who lost their mothers. They were all sitting on whatever high place they could find, and they seemed to have lost their souls. There were also people holding the corpses of their loved ones, sobbing uncontrollably. No help seemed to be available to them right now, and the more resourceful survivors were looking for food and drinking water floating around them.
Zhang Heng remained unmoved by the sight and continued to paddle toward the target location. After all, this was just a dream, and nothing would change even if he decided to help them.
In the end, he came to a five-star hotel whose lobby was fully submerged in water. The receptionist at the front desk could no longer help guests fill out their registrations. Zhang Heng climbed the outer wall and arrived on the sixth floor, managing to find a room with open windows.
The guest inside was missing, but the person’s suitcase was still on the bed. Zhang Heng spotted a bottle of water on the table, quickly picking it up and drinking down half of it. After that, he took off his soaked clothes and shoes to dry them before changing into the hotel’s bathrobe and slippers. He still didn’t know how Shen Xixi and the others were doing. Separated when they entered Han Lu’s dream, Shen Xixi and her team had gone in a little earlier than him. He wondered if they had located Han Lu. He stood in front of the window and looked at the flooded city below, knowing that it would be almost impossible to do anything effective in such a catasatrophe.
The only good news was that the second wave of tsunami did not come, even after Zhang Heng waited in the room until night arrived. The water flooding the city, on the other hand, showed no signs of receding.
Zhang Heng took a look at his watch, realizing that it had been 12 hours since he left Han Lu’s residence. Something was not right since usually, Dreamland of Death victims would survive no longer than three hours. When Zhang Heng did not know what else he could do next, the strange dark cloud in the sky that had been engulfing the whole city quietly disappeared. After that, he felt increasingly drowsy, and his eyes automatically fell shut.
When Zhang Heng opened his eyes, he found out that he was standing outside a watch shop. The time was about two and a half hours before he entered Han Lu’s dream. The sun had just risen, where the city had returned to normal, and there were no signs it was ravaged by a tsunami. The owner of the roadside breakfast stall was already busy preparing for business.
That said, Zhang Heng still noticed that something wasn’t right.
The shops along the street were old, looking like they were from the ’70s and ’80s. The watch shop next to him was a good example. There were no fancy neon signs and LED lights in the shop. The simple-looking black plaque hanging above the shop’s entrance had three words printed on it-Clock Repairing Service. A piece of yellow paper on the glass window had the words Shanghai, Dongfeng, and Beijing written in red letters. Zhang Heng guessed that these names were watch brands, names that had already completely disappeared in the modern era he lived in.
He walked out of the alley, noticing that there was no traffic jam. There were very few cars on the road, and most people rode bicycles. From time to time, an old-fashioned public bus would pass by. And there was even a donkey-powered cart. A traffic policeman in a white shirt, black pants, and an armed belt around his waist stood at the intersection, directing traffic. Not far behind him, a banner was being hung. It said, ‘Long live the friendship between the peoples of China and France.’
A green army truck drove by Zhang Heng with a load full of young people. Holding the handles with one hand and their straw hats with the other, they all sang the same song. They seemed to be feeling hopeful about their future. Their faces didn’t display the frustrations of paying the monthly mortgage and getting forced to follow the 996 working hour system.
Was this… a dream about Han Lu’s childhood?
After thinking for a while, he figured Han Lu must probably be a student in this era, though, he wasn’t sure which grade she was in. As interesting as it was to see how the place was back in the ’70s and ’80s, it also made it extremely difficult to locate Han Lu.
After all, Zhang Heng didn’t know Han Lu that well, and his understanding of her was limited. Previously, he resorted to a taxi driver for help after failing to find her in her house and office. Now that the dream had morphed into Han Lu’s childhood, Zhang Heng was at a complete loss.
He wasn’t a man of the era. Most of his understanding of the ’70s and ’80s came from books and movies. How Han Lu lived her life, how many family members she had, and which school she studied in, Zhang Heng had no answers to all these questions.
Then, something seemed to flash through his mind. He realized that he had received essential clues, but he could not remember a single thing when he tried to recall them. Zhang Heng stood by the side of the road, continuing to try his luck.
He waited for the indicator to turn green and walked to the opposite plaza. There were three young people, two men and one woman, rehearsing a dance routine. The woman wore a long-sleeved military uniform. One of the men behind her was in a Chinese tunic, and then another man was in a suit and tie. Immersed in their practice, they completely ignored the people around them.
Zhang Heng noticed the three because of the young woman among them.
She dazzled brightly among the crowd as if she was the brightest star in the darkest of skies.
Zhang Heng tried to put himself into Han Lu’s shoes, just like how she viewed the taxi driver. She must have had invested a considerable amount of emotions into this young woman, admiring her without thinking about what others thought. It must be why she took up an important spot in Han Lu’s dream.
This information was useless to Zhang Heng, though. Han Lu was just a bystander in this situation, silently admiring this girl in the crowd. She had not attempted to communicate. It appeared he wouldn’t be getting any information about Han Lu from this young woman. Zhang Heng quickly looked away and searched for the next target. His gaze fell on another woman not far away who was watching the dancing practice. She was the second most prominent person in the plaza, where Han Lu’s attention seemed to be captured by the Aviators she wore. Everyone knew that it was imported, and it was hard for her not to stand out.
After that, Zhang Heng saw a popsicle cart not too far away. An older man with a white hat and apron sold popsicles at five cents each.
Zhang Heng was speechless. This dream was the compilation of situations or people that Han Lu envied. He could guess that Han Lu must have been still very young in this era.
Suddenly, someone patted him on the back.
Zhang Heng turned and saw the girl named Rabbit in Shen Xixi’s team. She was surprised to see him and looked at Zhang Heng as if he was her savior. “Oh my god! I finally get to meet someone that I know! This is great! Do you know what place this is?”