It was another day of being restrained and unable to move for a long time. 036 looked at the ceiling endlessly and began to empty his mind.
He didn’t really like the darkness. Although he had never seen the real darkness, because the laboratory was lit up day and night all year round, and he only knew that at night, the researchers who chatted next to him would go home. Except for him, there were only two or three people on duty in the entire laboratory, but they had their own place to stay and would not appear here.
In the boundless silence, he could only listen to his heartbeat, count the numbers, or recall every word that those people had said next to him during the day from start to finish. Apart from this, he had nothing else to do.
“11698，11699，11700…” He increased the difficulty a bit this time, starting counting from 10000. Each number said silently was long, most suitable to accompany him through the long night of continuous pain.
“Stop it, you’re drooling on my face.” An inexplicable voice sounded suddenly.
Boom boom… boom boom… boom boom…
The beating of the heart seemed to merge with another of exactly the same frequency.
036, taken aback, raised his head abruptly, trying to see who was talking to him, but he could only catch a glimpse of a small part of the room. No one appeared there, and this was not the voice of anyone in the laboratory he was familiar with.
While he wondered, the voice sounded again, with a little chuckle, a tone he had never heard before and could not describe.
“Still not asleep? It’s already very late.”
036 opened his mouth, but made no sound. This sudden voice seemed to spread from the bottom of his heart to his eardrums, not like coming from anywhere outside.
Who was talking? Was it a new experiment they had come up with? What did they want to test on him again?
“You… who are you?” He asked silently in his heart, waiting for the voice to respond to him, just as he had long ago fantasised over and over again about some unattainable miracle suddenly coming to him.
Sure enough, the voice didn’t answer him, but it didn’t disappear either, continuing to talk gently.
“You need a cuddle to fall asleep? How old are you, still coquettish, why don’t you say you want me to tell you a bedtime story?
“Fine, fine, I’ll tell you, what kids in other families have, my kid also must have. What story do you want to hear? Shall I tell you about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?
“Once upon a time, there was a queen sitting by the window in the palace doing needlework for her soon-to-be-born daughter. A lot of snowflakes fell on the windowsill. She accidentally pricked her finger. Blood flowed from under the needle and dripped on the snowflakes on the windowsill. The queen saw this scene and said, “I hope my daughter’s skin will be as white as snow…”
036 listened quietly, immersed in this story he had never heard before. At the end of the story, the prince and princess lived happily together. For some reason, 036’s eyes reddened at such an ending, as if he was moved by the fact they could have the love and happiness he had never known.
Was this a bedtime story? He had heard a researcher complain to a colleague before, saying that his son was always noisy and every time listened to stories he told him for a long time before falling asleep. He was tired of telling those stories over and over again, but his son still wouldn’t get tired of hearing them.
Such a nice story, if it were him, he would also hope to hear it every night.
After that voice finished telling the story, it stopped. Everything was silent again, and it seemed to be more unbearable than the silence he had become accustomed to.
036 was silent for a long time, feeling inexplicably sad. He obviously had a good memory, but at this moment he had forgotten where he stopped counting. He wanted to count again, but all he had in his mind was the forest, the princess whose skin was as white as snow, and the birds, white rabbits and fawns attracted by the princess’s song, and he couldn’t think about anything else at all.
He couldn’t help but murmur in his heart again, “Hello, are you the God they mentioned? Can you tell me another story?”
Before, they always said they would pray to God when they wanted something in particular, so he knew that this word represented a certain deity who might fulfil your wishes.
He used to pray too. At the beginning, he prayed for this life to end and prayed that one day he could see the outside world. Later, he prayed that the rich people who came to replace their organs would not need his heart, and prayed that the gap between the two operations would be longer.
And now, he only prayed that he could listen to another bedtime story.
God, as always, did not respond.
He thought that he should have learnt to be satisfied. Today, he heard a story that he had never heard before, and it was already something worth remembering for a long time.
The next day, in the dead of night again, 036 was listening to his heartbeat. Suddenly, it seemed that another person’s heartbeat also sounded, and then slowly coincided with his heartbeat.
The next second, the gentle male voice sounded from the bottom of his heart.
He didn’t speak, he was just laughing, his laughter was soft, but it seemed to crash into his chest with a bang that made him a little dizzy.
“I’m not laughing at you, I just think you’re cute.” He chuckled softly two more times, “No one in the world is supposed to be omnipotent, it’s normal for you, the game king, to play badly once in a while.”
Who was God talking to? Was this person his most favoured family member, to be able to hear such a nice voice talking to him every day?
“Otherwise, I will accompany you to train again? When you play next time, you can abuse them severely.” He stopped laughing, but there was still a smile in his voice.
“What’s the matter? Why don’t you want to train with me?” He was pretending to be upset.
In fact, this was just a joke, but 036 seemed to follow suit in being upset, murmuring in his heart: “Yes, hurry up and train with him, otherwise he will be unhappy.”
“Didn’t I tell you I just thought you were cute?”
He began to wonder again who God was talking to; he really wanted to hear the voice of the other person.
“Maybe a very cute angel? They say that God is always with angels.”
The voice paused suddenly, for a little longer than the normal interval, and then it didn’t sound again for a long time.
Was it the end of today’s share of benefits? It seemed a little earlier than yesterday.
“I thought I could hear another bedtime story.”
As soon as he finished murmuring these words, he heard the voice again.
“Then I’ll hang up, have a good rest, and don’t stay up too late rehearsing. Well, good night.”
God seemed to be saying good night to his family member as he finished the sentence, then he was silent for a short while before suddenly asking, “Was… someone talking just now?”
036 froze, not realising for a moment that the words seemed clearer than when he had heard them before.
“Hello?” The voice was a little louder.
An overwhelming surprise poured down from the heavens, and 036 was in a daze for a moment. After taking several deep breaths, he tried to respond silently in his heart: “He… hello?”
“Who are you?”
“Me?” 036’s whole body began to tremble, “I am 036. Are you God?”
Only God could hear the silent unspoken words in people’s hearts.
This number was unusually familiar. Ou Renjin squeezed his phone tightly, and for a moment thought whether it was a hallucination created by him being too distressed after hearing Ou Shaowen’s story and imagining his past experiences over and over again.
“I’m not God, my name is Ou Renjin.” In the confusion of his brain, he pressed the record button on his phone, as if hoping to record something.
“So God has a name too?” It was clearly Ou Shaowen’s voice, and although there was a slight difference in tone, he couldn’t have been mistaken.
He looked down at the recording interface, but the voice in his head didn’t leave a ripple representing decibels as it spoke.
“Are you… in the lab now?” In an instant, everything Ou Shaowen had told him came to mind. Ou Renjin clenched his fists, only to feel that the anger, pain and pity that had not been appeased before were surging like waves again.
“Yes.” 036 replied briskly, feeling that he had indeed been blessed with God’s mercy, and God knew everything.
Ou Renjin frowned, and his chest felt tight. He touched it and suddenly felt that his heart that hadn’t hurt for a long time began to ache faintly.
“…are you still here?” Not hearing him speak for a long time, 036 tried to ask.
Ou Renjin opened his mouth, and finally managed: “Still here”.
“Are you here to fulfil my wish?”
“Then you…” Ou Renjin’s voice was a little hoarse, “What wish do you want to be fulfilled?”
“I want to hear you tell another bedtime story, just like you told yesterday.”
“Okay.” Ou Renjin agreed to his request, but his mind was blank, and he couldn’t think of anything. “Today I will tell you the story of the Little Mermaid.”
He used his mobile phone to find the story of the Little Mermaid, and read it sentence by sentence.
“At the bottom of the sea, very, very deep, there was a majestic castle. Six mermaid princesses lived in it, all of them very beautiful, especially the youngest, who had long golden hair and loved to listen to her sisters talk about the many new things to do on the surface of the sea, thinking that one day she could go to the surface and see for herself…“
Only after reading the last sentence did he realise that he had finished telling the story.
036 was silent for a little too long. Ou Renjin realised something and suddenly felt that he shouldn’t have chosen such a tragedy.
“That’s great.” 036 sighed, “I also want to see the world outside the laboratory. If only there was a witch who could exchange things with me, I would have also traded my legs.”
Ou Renjin could hardly control his breathing, “You will leave there, I promise.”
“Really?” 036 hadn’t originally intended for God to grant him this wish. One couldn’t be too greedy, one wish granted was enough.
“Really, you’ll leave the lab, you will go to a completely different world, meet someone you’re destined to meet, and live a life that is more exciting than you can imagine at this point.”
Translator’s note: It looks like a little flash-forward chapter, since Ou Renjin will only learn about Ou Shaowen’s past in the next chapters. How could Ou Renjin talk to 036 still in the laboratory? It seems 036 transmigrated through both time and space. The real question is, if it did happen at some point, wouldn’t 036/Ou Shaowen remember God/Ou Renjin’s voice? However, Ou Shaowen doesn’t have any memories about the moment he left the laboratory at all, so it is very possible that some memories right before that could also be lost. Which means he probably transmigrated very soon after talking to Ou Renjin.