The water was hot
The click of an electronic camera shutter sounded. Sheng Qiushi stepped forward to stop it, but the man’s keen eyes still spotted Zong Ying sitting behind the computer desk.
Her light blue uniform shirt was particularly eye-catching, and he pointed the camera directly at Zong Ying. The person next to him immediately rushed over and asked, “Excuse me, are you the officer in charge of this case?”
Just as the other man pressed the shutter once more, Zong Ying turned her head and grabbed the prescription book on her desk to shield her face from him.
She frowned, refusing to answer, but the shutter clicked on and on. Zong Ying did not hear a single word of the questioning that followed.
Inwardly, she was desperate to be left alone. Every second she had to endure in this noisy interrogation was absolute agony.
The security guard finally arrived, albeit late. The quietness of the clinic was restored, but there was an undercurrent of discontent.
From the aggressive manner with which she had been treated, Zong Ying realised that there was more to this than a mere traffic accident, but she did not have the energy to care.
It was 3.56 a.m. The rain had finally stopped, and the night was pitch black. Everyone was numb with exhaustion, and could only sit stiffly in silence.
Zong Ying shook herself out of her daze. She mustered up what strength she could and used the mouse to select her own entry and delete it.
She got up and pushed her chair in. She addressed Sheng Qiushi, “It’s no longer raining, so I’ll be off first. I’ll be in touch if I need anything.”
Sheng Qiushi wanted to see her off, but when she reached the door she said, “There might be an emergency at the clinic anytime. It’s best if you stay here.” After she had finished speaking, she opened the door and left without a sound.
It was a drizzly night, and the ground was still wet.
Zong Ying turned left out of the hospital door to head home. It was past four in the morning and almost all the shops on the street were locked, save for the 24-hour convenience store across the road. It was lit up with a warm white light like a food storage unit.
A car drove by, bringing with it a spray of water that quickly faded away.
Zong Ying crossed the pavement quickly and pushed open the door of the convenience store. The bell rang.
“Welcome.” The part-time night student greeted her mechanically.
Zong Ying selected a pot of noodles from the shelf, before opening the cooler to retrieve a bottle of water. She turned to select an extra pot of noodles, before heading to settle her bill.
“Thirteen dollars and forty cents,” The part-time worker said curtly.
Zong Ying felt her pocket, realizing that she did not have her wallet with her. She had to pay with her mobile phone, the screen of which showed that it had a mere 1% battery left. Like all of them, it was barely holding up.
Zong Ying took a seat at the long green table next to the window, the cold air blowing down on her.
She unscrewed the bottle and downed most of it in one gulp, her empty stomach growling.
Since there was no one in the shop, the part-timers busied themselves with sorting the rotten konjac. One remarked, “This shredded konnyaku is rotten beyond belief! This ball needs to be thrown away.” Another filled out the scrap sheet. When they had finished, they competed to see which of them would have to take on the burdensome task of washing and replenishing the soup.
As they bickered, Zong Ying removed the tinfoil lid on her noodles. The strong aroma of kimchi noodles wafted out.
The noodle soup was boiling hot, with chili oil floating on top, and as she ate she began to sweat. At first, it felt refreshing but her stomach started to protest before long. Still, she persisted in eating two bowls of noodles.
Xue Xuanqing called once, during which her phone screen lit up. It lasted for 20 seconds on a 1% battery before finally going black, like a planet going out.
She felt much more relieved after eating as if she had left all her petty concerns and worries outside the glass door.
Zong Ying sat in the convenience store for a long time, until a van came to deliver the day’s fresh rice balls and bread. It was then that she realized it was almost dawn.
Soon, it would be morning, and people in the city would wake up and go about their business. Thus, Zong Ying got up and went back to flat 699.
The flat was only ten minutes away, a short walk from the hospital. The air was fresh and humid. There were little girls getting up early to buy food and old men getting ready to go out for their morning walk. The crossroads were getting busier. Even after a hundred years, the city remained the same.
Apartment 699 was a curved, seven-storey building in the heart of the city, quiet refuge in the middle of the action. It had been built in the 1930s, and had survived the calamities and storms of almost a century.
In her early years, Zong Ying’s grandmother had lived here as well. However, after she had left the country with her youngest son, Zong Ying had been left to live alone.
She had not been back to No. 699 for several days because she had been busy tending to her affairs, and had temporarily taken up residence in a dormitory. A French sycamore tree directly opposite the door had fallen to the ground after the stormy night before.
The round-arched door was topped with square stained glass, and the sun’s rays reflected all over the floor.
Modern lifts had long since replaced the old ones from the 1930s, and dozens of residents had moved in since then.
Zong Ying lived on the top floor, in an old-fashioned leap-frog suite. In that century, it was extremely fashionable and convenient. The only drawback was the windows, which were narrow and thinly framed. This gave the flat a more gloomy air due to the lack of sunlight.
The hallway was filled with the earthy smell of boiling rice porridge, but Zong Ying felt like a ghost from hell.
She entered the room, the door shutting behind her with a clang. She had no energy left, and could only sink into the sofa.
After a few minutes, Zong Ying slowly opened her eyes. The first thing she did was reach for the cup of tea on the counter, as she usually did.
In a daze, she lifted the cup of tea to her mouth and drank it.
Her thirsty throat first hailed the arrival of water, before she realized a terrible truth – the water was hot.
The water was hot.
Mr. No Rush: I boiled the water.
A few notes.
1.PACS that is, image archiving and communication system, generally used in hospitals, some hospitals will be integrated with HIS/CIS, the specific use of various places are different, the general difference in a different system provider b customization generated by the differences, the overall much the same.
In fact, usually go to the hospital to do the imaging subject examination, in about 1 minute after doing the examination, the image data has been uploaded to the PACS, there is access to the terminal that can be directly called to view, but no report and film. The reports and films are available only after screening by the imaging technologist and the relevant “technical PS” for printing and diagnosis.
Flat 2.699 is located in the French Concession and was indeed built in 1930 and completed in 1931, when it was equipped with a lift. Each floor has seven suites A-G, with two duplexes on the top floor, opening onto a shared garden, on four acres of land in the Art Deco style of architecture.
Flat 699 is still occupied, with perhaps half a dozen units, and is next to a cafe so low down that I worry about it being flooded in heavy rain.