Chapter 1 – Driving at Night (Part 1)

“Liu Yan, where is your classmate who used to be a soldier?”

Liu Yan, who was burying his head and modifying the drawings, ignored these words until the girls next to him laughed and asked for the third time. Liu Yan then looked up at them.

A girl said, “Isn’t he planning to find a job here?”

“Meng Feng?” said Liu Yan, taking the eraser, rubbing it gently on the perspective, “His parents asked him to go home. He left last month. Why do you observe it until now?”

“It’s a pity.” Another girl smiled, “He is so handsome. No wonder no one waits for you to have dinner now.”

Liu Yan gave them a glance. “Who likes him? Treat me a bottle of Orange Juice, I can give you his phone number.” said Liu Yan, gently blowing the rubber dust, as if he was driving the stubborn memory in his mind.

When the class is over, students rushed out of the classroom.

The summer’s blazing sun came in from the dust-free glass windows, and the classroom was empty. Liu Yan sat alone in the last row, tidying up the product renderings.

This was a month and twelve days after he broke up, and the anniversary he was in love with Meng Feng.

Seven years ago, Liu Yan and Meng Feng, who had known each other from a young age, fell in love with each other when they were at grade 3 at senior high school of the Z city. After the college entrance examination, Meng Feng went to work as a soldier, and Liu Yan was admitted to a university. Liu Yan still remembered the vows in the student era. Though living in different cities, they still kept in touch with each other and looked forward to being together again on the day of graduation and retirement.

In the second year of college, Liu Yan was sent to Germany as an exchange student because of his excellent performance. Far away in a foreign country, he still did not forget his lover. After returning to China, he was admitted as a graduate student without entrance examination. In the year of the second year of graduate education, Meng Feng finally retired and came to the city Liu Yan lived. There was no exciting feeling and no intimate night when he met again. Meng Feng just held Liu Yan and they slept quietly for one night.

Liu Yan didn’t move, but he had been insomnia all night. Looking at the ceiling, Liu Yan felt that something was different.

Meng Feng lived in S City and planned to find a job to live with Liu Yan. However, he ran around and was unable to find a satisfactory job because his academic qualifications were too low. Finally, he left.

Liu Yan did not intervene Meng Feng’s decision. Liu Yan closed the door and Meng Feng stood outside the door. Liu Yan knew that they were no longer the lovers seven years ago. Time was the sharpest knife and seven years later when they met again, their lingering relationship was ruthlessly cut off.

Time flew fast through the fingers, just like sand in hands, but no track was left. People were no longer the people before and so did their love. It could not blame the long distance and their own lives. Both of them were not wrong.

Seven years later, after breaking up for one month and twelve days, Liu Yan sat alone in the classroom and suddenly felt something not easy to express.

“Liu Yan!” A classmate popped his head from the front door: “The instructor is waiting for you, do you go now?”

As if woken from a dream, Liu Yan quickly packed up the drawings and went to the office.

“I have checked your design paper.” The department head said, “There are many small mistakes, but no big ones.”

Liu Yan put down the design paper and took the coffee the department head handed over. As looking at the bookshelf while drinking, Liu Yan asked, “Could I borrow some books?”

“Of course.” Liu Yan’s mentor, a 50-year-old gentleman, was sitting at his desk and having a cup of coffee, then he said: “Your design is very practical, with distinctive Iceland’s style. But ergonomics is your weakness. It is too bad to look at it.”

Liu Yan laughed at himself and said, “When learning in Staatliches Bauhaus, I always had a bad performance on the machine. Teacher, what’s this?”

Liu Yan pulled out a book from the shelf: A Manual on How to Survive from Zombies. He couldn’t help laughing.

Liu Yan was the department head’s favorite student. The department head explained with a smile: “Do you know? The US Department of Defense posted an early warning online in May. The official announcement is to remind everyone to cope with the infinite possibilities of the future.”

Liu Yan flipped through the book casually and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Then he said: “Is it true? I will borrow it to have a look.”

“I have written my revisions for your product in the U disk.” The department head said: “Don’t forget your homework while reading.”

Liu Yan reluctantly said, “Okay, got it.”

Liu Yan pocketed the U disk, carried with his laptop, then he came out from the office and took out his mobile phone to get through to his family. No one answered.

It was Friday, Liu Yan was planning to go home. The roommates were watching the webcast when he went back to the dormitory to pack up his things.

“Cui Xiaokun, are you going home this weekend?” asked Liu Yan.

“No, wassup?” The roommate asked, “Would you like to go home?”

Liu Yan, “Picking up girls?”

Cui Xiaokun: “No – just spit it out, want to invite me to do something?”

Liu Yan smiled and said: “Can I borrow your car for one night? I’ll come back tomorrow night and fill it up.”

“Fuck off!” Cui Xiaokun said with anger.

After a while, flashing light, the car key flew toward Liu Yan. Cui Xiaokun, a graduate student in the Department of Automation, bought a used car. Liu Yan caught the key and said, “Thank you, I don’t want to go to the stop to take the bus.”

Cui Xiaokun took off the headphones, “Hey, Liu Yan, are you sure you will go home?”

Bowing his head, Liu Yan touched his mobile, “What‘s wrong?”

Cui Xiaokun clicked on a news video and hinted, “Have a look at this news.”

Cui Xiaokun opened a piece of video news and said, “Look.”

“This summer, Z City has another wave of rabies tide. The relevant departments have called on people to stay at home and not to go out, waiting for the community hospital to inform the injection of new vaccines…”

Liu Yan frowned, asked, “When?”

Cui Xiaokun lifted his chin, took the cup and drank some water, “The news was broadcast repeatedly this morning, isn’t your mother a doctor?”

Liu Yan is a single-parent family. He grew up with her mother and was acutely aware of the anomaly.

“Not to go out?” Liu Yan’s eyebrows screwed up.

“The authorities spray disinfectant water in most communities and evacuate people in the city center. Irrelevant people are prohibited from entering or leaving public places such as hospitals, and the subway is temporarily suspended…”

Liu Yan dialed his mother’s phone which was always busy. At this time, she should be working overtime. No wonder the home phone was not answered.

“I go first,” said Liu Yan.

“Good luck, don’t be bitten by a dog.” said Cui Xiaokun lazily.

Liu Yan pulled the door open and threw the computer and clothes into the back seat. The book borrowed from the instructor was thrown at the co-pilot position, backed up and set off.

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