Chapter 10 Da Shi
Novel：The Three-Bodyauthor：Cinxin Liu pubdate：2019-02-14 14:47
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Chapter 10 Da Shi
Shi sat down next to Wang and handed him his car keys. "You parked right at the intersection at Dongdan. If I had arrived just a minute later, the traffic cops would have had it towed. "
Da Shi, if I had known you were following me, I would have been comforted, Wang thought, switching to Shi Qiang's familiar nickname in his mind, though self-respect made him hold back the words. He accepted a cigarette from Da Shi, lit it, and took his first drag since he quit several years ago.
"So how's it going, buddy? Finding it hard to bear? I said you couldn't handle it. And you insisted on playing the tough guy. "
"You wouldn't understand. " Wang took several more deep puffs.
"Your problem is, you understand too well Fine, let's go grab a bite. "
"I'm not hungry."
"Then we'll go drinking! My treat. "
Wang got into Da Shi's car and they drove to a small restaurant nearby. It was still early, and the place was deserted.
"Two orders of quick-fried tripe, and a bottle of er guo tou(*22)! " Da Shi shouted, without even looking up. He was obviously a regular here.
[Translator's Note(*22): Er guo tou is a distilled liquor made from sorghum, sometimes called "Chinese vodka. "]
As he stared at the two plates filled with black slices of tripe, Wang's empty stomach began to churn, and he thought he was going to be sick. Da Shi ordered him some warm soymilk and fried pancakes, and Wang forced himself to eat some.
Then they drank shots of er guo tou. He began to feel lightheaded, and his tongue loosened. Gradually, he recounted the events of the last three days to Da Shi, even though he knew that Da Shi probably knew everything already—maybe Da Shi even knew more than he did.
"You're saying that the universe was... winking at you? " Da Shi asked, as he slurped down strips of tripe like noodles.
"That's a very appropriate metaphor. "
"Your lack of fear is based on your ignorance. "
"More bullshit. Come, drink! "
Wang finished another shot. Now the world was spinning around him, and only the tripe-chomping Shi Qiang across from him remained stable. He said, "Da Shi, have you ever... considered certain ultimate philosophical questions? For example, where does Man come from? Where does Man go? Where does the universe come from? Where does the universe go? Et cetera. "
"You must see the stars. Aren't you awed and curious? "
"I never look at the sky at night. "
"How is that possible? I thought you often worked the night shift? " "Buddy, when I work at night, if I look up at the sky, the suspect is going to escape. "
"We really have nothing to say to each other. All right. Drink! "
"To be honest, even if I were to look at the stars in the sky, I wouldn't be thinking about your philosophical questions. I have too much to worry about! I gotta pay the mortgage, save for the kid's college, handle the endless stream of cases.... I'm a simple man without a lot of complicated twists and turns. Look down my throat and you can see out my ass. Naturally, I don't know how to make my bosses like me. Years after being discharged from the army, my career is going nowhere. If I weren't pretty good at my job, I would have been kicked out a long time ago.... You think that's not enough for me to worry about? You think I've got the energy to gaze at stars and philosophize? "
"You're right. All right, drink up! "
"But, I did indeed invent an ultimate rule. "
"Tell me. "
"Anything sufficiently weird must be fishy. "
"What... what kind of crappy rule is that? "
"I'm saying that there's always someone behind things that don't seem to have an explanation. "
"If you had even basic knowledge of science, you'd know it's impossible for any force to accomplish the things I experienced. Especially that last one. To manipulate things at the scale of the universe—not only can you not explain it with our current science, I couldn't even imagine how to explain it outside of science. It's more than supernatural. It's super-I-don't-know-what... "
"I'm telling you, that's bullshit. I've seen plenty of weird things. " "Then tell me what I should do next. "
"Keep on drinking. And then sleep. "
Wang Miao had no idea how he got back into his car. He tumbled into the backseat and fell into a dreamless slumber. He didn't think that he was asleep for long, but when he opened his eyes, the sun was already near the horizon in the west.
He got out of the car. Even though the alcohol that morning had made him weak, he did feel better. He saw that he was at one corner of the Forbidden City. The setting sun shone on the ancient palace and turned into bright gold ripples in the moat. In his eyes, the world became once again classical and stable.
Wang sat until it got dark, enjoying the peace that had been missing from his life. The black Volkswagen Santana that he was now so familiar with pulled out of the traffic streaming through the street and braked to a stop right in front of him. Shi Qiang got out of the car.
"Slept well? " Da Shi growled.
"Yes. What next? "
"Who? You? Go have dinner. Then drink a little more. Then sleep again. "
"Then what? "
"Then? Don't you have to go to work tomorrow? "
"But the countdown... there's only 1, 091 hours left. "
"Fuck the countdown. Your first priority right now is to make sure you can stand straight and not collapse into a heap. Then we can talk about other things. "
"Da Shi, can you tell me something about what's really going on? I'm begging you"
Da Shi stared at Wang a while. Then he laughed. "I've said the very same thing to General Chang several times. We're in the same boat, you and I. I'll be honest: I know fucking shit. My pay grade is too low, and they tell me nothing. Sometimes I think this is a nightmare. "
"But you must know more than I. "
"Fine. I'll tell you what little I know. " Da Shi pointed to the shore of the moat around the Forbidden City. The two found a spot and sat down.
It was now night, and traffic flowed ceaselessly behind them like a river. They watched their shadows lengthening and shortening over the moat.
"In my line of work, it's all about putting together many apparently unconnected things. When you piece them together the right way, you get the truth. For a while now, strange things have been happening. "For example, there's been an unprecedented wave of crimes against academia and science research institutions. Of course you know about the explosion at the Liangxiang accelerator construction site. There was also the murder of that Nobel laureate... the crimes were all unusual: not for money, not for revenge. No political background, just pure destruction.
"Other strange things didn't involve crimes. For example, the Frontiers of Science and the suicides of those academics. Environmental activists have also become extra bold: protest mobs at construction sites to stop nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams, experimental communities 'returning to nature,' and other apparently trivial matters.... Do you go to the movies? "
"No, not really. "
"Recent big-budget films all have rustic themes. The setting is always green mountains and clear water, with handsome men and pretty women of some indeterminate era living in harmony with nature. To use the words of the directors, they 'represent the beautiful life before science spoiled nature. ' Take Peach Blossom Spring: it's clearly the sort of film that no one wants to see. But they spent hundreds of millions to make it. There was also this science fiction contest with a top reward of five million for the person who imagined the most disgusting possible future. They spent another few hundred million to turn the winning stories into movies. And then you've got all these strange cults popping up everywhere, where every cult leader seems to have a lot of money.... " "What does that last bit have to do with everything you mentioned before? "
"You have to connect all the dots. Of course I didn't need to busy myself with such concerns before, but after I was transferred from the crime unit to the Battle Command Center, it became part of my job. Even General Chang is impressed by my talent for connecting the dots. "
"And your conclusion? "
"Everything that's happening is coordinated by someone behind the scenes with one goal: to completely ruin scientific research. "
"I have no idea. But I can sense the plan, a very comprehensive, intricate plan: damage scientific research installations, kill scientists, drive scientists like you crazy and make you commit suicide—but the main goal is to misdirect your thoughts until you're even more foolish than ordinary people. "
"Your last statement is really perceptive. "
"At the same time, they want to ruin science's reputation in society.
Of course some people have always engaged in anti-science activities, but now it's coordinated. "
"I believe it. "
"Now you believe me. So many of you scientific elites couldn't figure it out, and I, having gone only to vocational school, had the answer? Ha! After I explained my theory, the scholars and my bosses all ridiculed it"
"If you had told me your theory back then, I'm sure I wouldn't have laughed at you. Take those frauds who practice pseudoscience—do you know who they're most afraid of? "
"Scientists, of course. "
"No. Many of the best scientists can be fooled by pseudoscience and sometimes devote their lives to it. But pseudoscience is afraid of one particular type of people who are very hard to fool: stage magicians. In fact, many pseudoscientific hoaxes were exposed by stage magicians. Compared to the bookworms of the scientific world, your experience as a cop makes you far more likely to perceive such a large-scale conspiracy. "
"Well, there're plenty of people smarter than me. People in positions of power are well aware of the plot. When they ridiculed me at first, it was only because I wasn't explaining my theory to the right people. Later on, my old company commander—General Chang—had me transferred. But I'm still not doing anything other than running errands.... That's it. Now you know as much as I do "
"Another question: What does this have to do with the military? "
"I was baffled, too. I asked them, and they said that now that there's a war, of course the military would be involved. I was like you, thinking that they were talking nonsense. But no, they weren't joking. The army really is on high alert. There are twenty-some Battle Command Centers like ours around the globe. And above them there's another level of command structure. But no one knows the details. "
"Who's the enemy? "
"No idea. NATO officers are now stationed in the war room PLA General Staff Department, and a bunch of PLA officers are working out of the Pentagon. Who the fuck knows who we're fighting? " "This is all so bizarre. Are you sure it's all true? "
"A bunch of my old buddies from the army are now generals, so I know a few things"
"The media has no idea about any of this? "
"Ah, that's another thing. All the countries are keeping a tight lid on this, and they've been successful so far. I can guarantee you that the enemy is incredibly powerful. Those in charge are terrified! I know General Chang very well. He's the sort who's afraid of nothing, not even the sky falling, but I can tell that he's worried about something much worse right now. They're all scared out of their wits, and they have no confidence that we'll win. "
"If what you say is true, then we should all be frightened. "
"Everyone is afraid of something. The enemy must be, too. The more powerful they are, the more they have to lose to their fears. "
"What do you think the enemy is afraid of? "
"You! Scientists! The odd thing is that the less practical your research is, the more they're afraid of you—like abstract theories, the kind of thing Yang Dong worked on. They are more frightened of such work than you are of the universe winking at you. That's why they're so ruthless. If killing you would solve the problem, you'd all be dead by now. But the most effective technique remains disrupting your thoughts. When a scientist dies, another will take his place. But if his thoughts are confused, then science is over. "
"You're saying they're afraid of fundamental science? "
"Yes, fundamental science. "
"But my research is very different in nature from Yang Dong's. The nanomaterial I work on isn't fundamental science. It's just a very strong material. What's the threat to them? "
"You're a special case. Usually, they don't bother those engaged in applied research. Maybe the material you're developing really scares them."
" Then what should I do? "
"Go to work and keep up your research. That's the best way to strike back at them. Don't worry about that shitty countdown. If you want to relax a bit after work, play that game. If you can beat it, that might help. "
"That game? Three Body? You think it's connected to all this? "
"Definitely connected. I know that several specialists at the Battle Command Center are playing it, too. It's no ordinary game. Someone like me, fearless out of ignorance, can't play it. It has to be someone knowledgeable like you. "
"Anything else? "
"No. But if I find out more I'll let you know. Keep your phone on, buddy. Keep your head screwed on straight, and if you get scared again, just remember my ultimate rule. "
Da Shi drove away before Wang had a chance to thank him.
Chapter 10 Vocabulary Note
drag - the act of breathing in smoke from your cigarette
tripe - the stomach of a cow or pig, used as food
churn - if your stomach churn, you feel sick because you are nervous or frightened
slurp - to drink a liquid while making a noisy sucking sound
tripe-chomping - to eat the stomach of a cow or pig
fishy - seeming bad or dishonest; suspicious
tumble - to fall down quickly and suddenly, especially with a rolling movement
moat - a deep wide hole, usually filled with water, dug around a castle as a defense
heap - fall in a heap - to fall down and lie without moving
laureate - someone who has been given an important prize or honor, especially the Nobel prize
rustic - simple, old-fashioned and not spoiled by modern development, in a way that is typical of the countryside
indeterminate - impossible to know about definitely or exactly
fraud - the crime o deceiving people in order to gain something such as money or goods
pseudoscience - false or not real science
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