Xie Xuanming hurried to the waiting area where the stage entrance was crowded with people.
The staff gathered noisily, arguing about something.
Xie Xuanming couldn’t wait to listen, so he put his hand on the shoulder of the closest person and pulled him away a little roughly: “Excuse me.”
The staff member turned around, startled, and said, “Teacher Xie! What are you doing here?”
This shout drew the attention of all the staff. They stopped talking and looked back.
Everyone’s eyes were focused on him, but Xie Xuanming was oblivious. He raised his hand to push away the people in front of him one by one and stubbornly squeezed his way to the door.
The door was open, but it was dark inside, so one could vaguely see there was something blocking the passage.
It was still possible to walk in.
Without saying a word, Xie Xuanming was going to go inside.
“Teacher Xie!” Just as he stepped over the threshold, the staff member closest to him quickly grabbed him and urgently advised, “The beam has collapsed and is blocking the entrance! Don’t go here!”
Xie Xuanming turned his head and stared at him, “Can’t one get out?”
The staff member was shocked by the look in his bloodshot eyes and froze for a moment. After reacting, he insisted: “Yes, one can get out, but there is a possibility of a secondary collapse, it’s too dangerous, it’s better to go around… Teacher Xie!”
Before the words left his mouth, he was shocked to see Xie Xuanming shake him off and walk through the door without looking back. He bowed to get under the beam and rushed into the studio.
Quickly crossing over several collapsed beams, Xie Xuanming stepped on the ground littered with debris, walking to the stage through the obstructions.
At a glance, there were few people on the stage, and the picture did not look like the tragic scene of sorrow that he had imagined. Only a few staff members carried the injured, moving quickly to the exit of the auditorium.
Xie Xuanming jumped off the stage, jogged over and confirmed that none of the injured were Ji Hui, then turned around and stood on the steps looking over the stage.
From a distance, the stage was a mess. There was a microphone lying on the ground in the centre of the stage. The switch was not turned off, and the faint buzzing sound spread throughout the recording venue from the audio still running.
Xie Xuanming, annoyed by the sound, took two steps forward and grabbed a staff member: “Is there anyone else down there?”
The man froze for a moment and said, “Not really, we have to wait for the paramedics…”
Xie Xuanming let go of him before he finished talking and turned to run towards the stage. He had just taken two steps on the stage when he suddenly kicked something.
There was a muffled sound, followed by the sound of constant collisions.
Xie Xuanming looked down and saw a broken snare drum roll out, hit a beam and stop, reuniting with the collapsed drum carcass underneath.
Xie Xuanming’s eye twitched slightly as he raised his gaze.
The sides of the drums were deformed beyond recognition and the drum surface was even more fragmented…
The metal and plastic were shattered under the heavy weight, so what about an even more fragile human body?
The safety exit in the audience was suddenly wide open, and sunlight shone through the gap between the shadows of people, sweeping over the glass residue and reflecting on the blood stains, making Xie Xuanming feel cold all over.
The staff rushed from the auditorium with paramedics and stretchers. There was endless noise, but Xie Xuanming heard nothing.
He took a few steps forward, ignoring the shouts of “stay away from the collapse” from the people behind him, walked to the wreckage of the drum kit and squatted down.
Was someone down there?
Xie Xuanming thought blankly.
Was he down there?
His mind was still wandering, but his hand reached out first.
Xie Xuanming’s palm pressed against the rough, cold metal and lifted it up.
The beam was designed to be a load-bearing support, and its weight was so great that it could not be easily shaken by one person.
Xie Xuanming exerted force for a long time, gritting his teeth. Blue veins were swelling on his arms, but everything was ineffective.
Unable to move it from the top, Xie Xuanming switcheded to digging down.
He tugged on the deformed drum as hard as he could and was stabbed by something on it that he couldn’t see. When he withdrew his hand, there were beads of blood rolling down from his fingertips… Xie Xuanming wiped a handful of blood, grabbed the drum again and yanked it out.
After Xie Xuanming dug out two or three wrecks, he was stopped by the staff who came shouting and pulling him back.
But Xie Xuanming was as strong as a bull, neither listening to persuasion nor stopping. He shook his arm to throw away the person holding him, pushed away another one and stretched out his hand persistently towards the wreckage of the drum set.
The man holding him was not strong enough to stop him from leaning forward, and the staff member who had fallen to the ground quickly rose to his feet, lunged on his shoulders and held him back with all his might.
Both men gritted their teeth trying to stop him and heard the person in front of them unconsciously let out a low growl that did not sound like a human’s voice, but like a sound made by an animal forced into a desperate situation.
Both of them clenched their jaws, exerting force, but still couldn’t stop Xie Xuanming’s movements.
With difficulty, Xie Xuanming crouched down on the ground again, his eyes red, and was about to reach down and dig further when he suddenly heard someone shout from afar.
Xie Xuanming’s movements froze, and the staff took the opportunity to hastily pull him backwards, away from the ruins.
The man shouted again, “Xie Xuanming!”
Xie Xuanming was led back by the two of the staff and sat on the ground in a daze.
He slowly raised his head and saw Ji Sheng standing not far away.
Ji Sheng had come in a hurry; his hair was scattered and he was breathing heavily, his hands unconsciously rubbing against his clothes, smearing grey dust on his white performance outfit.
He had been called by the lighting teacher to discuss stage effects when the roof collapsed, and was fortunate not to be on stage. When he heard a boom, Ji Sheng turned around and saw the smoke and dust rising, beams and pillars raining down, and most of the stage gone in an instant.
Ji Sheng’s brain also “exploded”; he left the frightened lighting teacher behind and jumped on stage in three steps.
He rushed in and in ten seconds or so, together with the Niepan members, carried Lu Haoren out of the smoke and dust.
The collapse took place in the back of the stage. The members at the front were able to dodge in time and were hardly affected, but the staff at the back, as well as Lu Haoren, who had gone to the back to check on the drums, were not so lucky and suffered some injuries.
Lu Haoren’s face was pale; his leg had been hit and blood was seeping through his trousers.
He lost consciousness, either from the pain or the blood loss, and was carried out by Huang Sizhe.
A staff member shouted that there was an ambulance in the square, but the paramedics might not be able to come for a while.
It was impossible to wait in place, so Huang Sizhe gritted his teeth, picked up Lu Haoren on his back and rushed out. Several other members also carried the injured staff on their backs and ran towards the exit.
Ji Sheng had just helped a staff member whose hand was injured into the ambulance when he turned his head and heard Xie Xuanming, out of control, rushing to the scene. In panic, he ran to the stage again
Obviously, he had arrived in time.
Ji Sheng stood, still panting, watching Xie Xuanming break away from the two men and stand up, walking towards him step by step.
Paramedics were scattered around, checking to see if there were any missing wounded, yelling and shouting.
Xie Xuanming walked up to Ji Sheng.
The redness in his eyes subsided a little and was replaced by a thin layer of exhaustion, the corners of his eyes flushed.
He looked down at Ji Hui, but he was not looking at Ji Hui.
Ji Sheng was stung by his gaze, took a half step back and opened his mouth: “Xie…”
Xie Xuanming grabbed his shoulders, preventing him from retreating.
Ji Sheng couldn’t dodge, so he could only look at Xie Xuanming very seriously, standing against him like a support, pressing his head against his neck, feeling his trembling and his unsteady breathing very clearly.
Xie Xuanming’s other hand squeezed Ji Sheng’s wrist in a death grip.
“Ji…” He lost his voice and was as silent as Ji Sheng.
After a moment’s pause, he whispered, “I dropped the cotton candy.”
Xie Xuanming said very slowly and wearily, “I dropped my cotton candy, and you’re going to roll me a new one.”
Ji Sheng swallowed hard a few times, and it took a while before he said, “Okay.”
KUZI immediately suppressed the news of the collapse at the recording location. Because the collapse happened inside and the exterior of the building appeared to have little damage, the squatting station sisters only captured the ambulance whizzing away, which was immediately explained by the public relations as a contestant fainting due to low blood sugar and being sent to the hospital.
By the end of the night, the public opinion situation was still as stable as a pool of stagnant water.
KUZI was able to control the situation so easily thanks to Xie Xuanming’s acquiescence and even help.
There was a reason why Xie Xuanming agreed to keep the news under wraps.
After he calmed down, he took Ji Sheng away from the recording location again, and asked his own people to investigate.
Xie Xuanming dared to swagger into the studio of KUZI recording the show, so naturally, he would not have come empty-handed and with no preparation.
Many of the program’s staff members were considered his eyes and ears.
These people usually got paid twice to do one job, and now they were finally coming in handy.
Xie Xuanming was sitting in the back seat with his eyes closed when his phone vibrated a few times.
He picked up the phone, unlocked it and read the message; his brows suddenly drew together.
“What’s wrong?” Beside him, Ji Sheng asked softly.
“That fallen beam.” Xie Xuanming said coldly, “Cut marks were found on the pillar.”
Ji Sheng was silent for a moment, unconsciously clenching his fist: “It was man-made?”
“Yes.” Xie Xuanming said, “The cuts were neat and tidy, obviously having been cut by a machine. Do you suspect anyone?”
Ji Sheng grimaced and shook his head.
“Someone who has been offended, someone who has had a problem?”
“I don’t know.” Ji Sheng said, “I have amnesia.”
“Oh.” Xie Xuanming was silent for a second and said subtly, “I forgot.”
Another question, “What about recently, have you offended anyone?”
“Just offended the program team.” Ji Sheng reminded.
“KUZI shouldn’t be stupid enough to smash their own brand.” Xie Xuanming sneered.
The two men fell silent.
“We can check the surveillance.” Ji Sheng said, “Music First is filming 24 hour a day but I don’t know if the program team will allow to check the surveillance.”
“They still have to give face.” Xie Xuanming said, “Besides, now that there’s been an accident, public opinion and the police are watching. They can only give in due to pressure.”
“The police are involved?”
“How’s it going?”
“Working on it, but the investigation takes time and the results won’t come out that quickly…”
While they were talking, the phone vibrated again; Xie Xuanming raised his hand to look at it and suddenly froze.
He sat upright suddenly, his back stiff, his expression complicated, and one couldn’t tell whether he was happy or angry.
“Go to the hotel.” Leaning forward, Xie Xuanming quickly said to the driver, then said to Ji Sheng, “You go back first…”
He paused inexplicably, looking straight at Ji Sheng.
Ji Sheng was taken aback by his look and shifted uncomfortably, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Xie Xuanming seemed to have finally made a decision, and his expression returned to its usual calmness. He added to the words he hadn’t finished earlier, “You go back to the hotel and stay there, I’ll let you know if there’s any news.”
“I’m going to meet someone.” Xie Xuanming lowered his eyes and looked at the message, “Someone woke up.”