Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Monday, 18 November 2013
Cao Yu and the other prisoners head to the dorm. The guards push them gently. However, she feels like there’s electricity in the air. Everyone’s a little nervous. She’s still suffering from the blows received during her arrest. Only one week ago. And tomorrow will be an ordinary day. Today is Thursday. She is afraid of losing her sense of time. She has no clock, no way of knowing exactly what time it is. She never knows if it's time to eat or sleep. Weina doesn’t return. Maybe she will not return. Finally, it is not her choice. She would have liked Liu Hong to make her come too. But perhaps she is not here tonight.
She told her that some days she does not stay in the prison. She has an apartment downtown.
"If you continue to be very nice to me, little flower, I can maybe get to take you out and take you into town. But you must continue to be charming."
This question does not even disgust her. It's part of her situation. It will be a bad memory later. It could have been worse. They have all almost reached the entrance to their dormitory. The door is closed. There are many people. Suddenly she is separated from her friends, she does not know exactly how. Hands draw her. What's going on here? The darkness is deep. She wants to join her friends but people she does not know stop her. A girl makes her fall. She screams in pain. She feels someone sitting on her. She cannot move. People laugh at her. Suddenly a voice, the voice of this girl who assaulted her:
"We'll take care of you now!"
She tries to shout:
But she is voiceless. A violent blow hits her. She does not know who it is from. Things move fast. They remove her clothes. Still that voice:
"So little flower, you do not want to share! Now I will finish you off. Too bad for you and for that slut Liu Hong!"
Her torturer is going after her. She is half naked. She tries to protect herself. Someone pulls her by the hair. But what are the guards doing. She sees some. They’re watching the scene. What has she done to them to be so hated? Cao Yu’s lying on the ground. The circle has widened. She sees several girls. She does not dare to move.
"Come on, get up, we want to see you well. What does she like in this pile of bones, old Liu Hong?"
The girl approaches her, she leans over, puts her face into hers:
"Look at me, look at me as it is I who will finish you off, dirty whore, dirty lesbian!"
Cao Yu can no longer breathe. It is cold now. She’s trembling in every limb. She begs:
"Leave me, I've done nothing! Let me be, it hurts, I'm cold!"
The other woman picks up a stick somewhere. She raises it above her head. She is about to hit the girl. She takes her time. She sees fear in the eyes of Cao Yu! She points her stick at Cao Yu’s body.
"You see how I'm going to finish you, bitch. But I will take my time. You have to suffer first. Isn’t that right my friends?"
She turns around. The circle around Cao Yu is closed. The girl is desperate. She sees guards in the circle. The one who took her the first time to Liu Hong is there. She’s laughing! She’s waiting for the kill. Cao Yu tries to talk to her.
"Help me. Help me."
The guardian comes over and gives her a truncheon blow in the stomach. Cao Yu folds over. Two women stand out from the group and put her on her belly. They will beat her, for sure. Break her limbs, backbone, make her suffer. One woman lifts up her head and then she pushes it back down heavily against the floor! Then she pulls both her arms back.
"Eat! Eat the dirt, because soon you'll be part of it. Vermin like you, we do not need."Cao Yu has had enough. The cold seizes her more and more. She wants to die, for it all ends ... Suddenly the cries and shouts to her torturers to stop. Everything is suddenly very bright. Perhaps she is dead, arrived in paradise...
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Thursday, 7 November 2013
Monday, 14 October 2013
Saturday, 21 September 2013
Tang Gang waits a little bit further away. He looks around the major intersection of Fuxingmen. A woman in the shadows approaches him without him noticing. She calls out:
"Hey! Soldier! Have you seen my child?"
He turns. The woman is still young. Not a great beauty. She has tears in her eyes. She is not dressed very warmly. She’s wearing a flowered dress, like many in a Beijing summer. She has sandals on her feet. It must be very cold, but she doesn’t care. She seems a little bit unreal. She approaches him and puts her hand on his arm. He wants to remove it but cannot do so.
"Tell me, soldier, have you seen my child? I’ve been looking for her for a long time."
But how does she know that he is a soldier? He is not in uniform and looks more like a homeless person than anything else. The woman takes his hand. He feels a terrible coldness. She kneels before him. He feels ridiculous. This annoys him. He looks to Lin Hui. She does not see him. She is still discussing with the market seller. He wants to call her, but no sound comes out of his mouth. He suddenly understands. He looks more closely at the woman. She stands up. She looks into his eyes. Hers are full of hatred. She puts her face to his as if she wanted to kiss him.
"I’ve been searching for my little Lili for months. I don't know where she lives. You alone can find her! But to do this, you have to finish your journey."
Suddenly, he feels another presence behind him. He feels a hand on his shoulder. He does not need to look. He knows. The young man he killed at Muxidi is there.
"We walk with you Tang Gang. All the dead of Tiananmen, all those you have killed, we all walk with you."
Someone shakes him. Lin Hui.
"Xiao Du, what’s happened to you?"
The market seller is there too. They both help him sit on the edge of a bridge support wall. The man who accompanies the market seller is also approaching. He hands a flask to Tang Gang and forces him to drink. Things are better. He regains consciousness. He looks at Lin Hui then the two others. The alcohol invigorates him. He feels a lot better. The vendor asks if he wants more. This is excellent sorghum liquor, the kind that makes holes in your stomach. Tang Gang thanks him for his kindness. It is cold. The temperature is rather low. He tries to get up. Lin Hui and the seller help him stand up. Then he tries to walk. His head turns. He probably fainted a little. This is the first time this has happened. Lin Hui seems worried.
"Are you sure you are ok? We can try to find a taxi. I should not have listened to you. You must be hungry. When did you eat last?"
It is all so long ago. He had lunch with Li Mei. Why did she throw him out? He really is cursed and now he sees ghosts. But he cannot talk about it. Lin Hui will think him a fool.
"It’s okay, he says, I was so tired. I was probably hungry and tired."
He thanks the two people who helped him and then they continue on their way. They are almost at Muxidi. They move slowly. His memories come in shambles. Not too happy memories. Lin Hui trots beside him. She holds his hand. A hot hand. Not like the ghost of the woman who lost her child. He does not remember her. The boy he killed is present in his mind... Suddenly he stops! A vision of horror before him. He remembers. After crushing the Muxidi barricade with tanks and clearing the intersection, they continued their advance to Tiananmen. They found the body of a soldier hanging from a lamppost. His body was completely charred. It was awful. And now he sees the charred soldier in before him. His black skin completely cracked. This body is no longer recognizable. The man is right in front of him. Lin Hui wonders why he’s stopped. He is really in a bad way. What are the probable memories that haunt him? She tries to speak.
"Xiao Du, has that happened to you before? It looks like you've seen a ghost."
But he says nothing. He stares at a point a few meters ahead of him. She tries to follow his gaze and see what he’s seeing. But there is only a street light in front of him, like one of many found on Chang'an. He does not move, as if petrified. She sees his lips moving but no sound comes out of his mouth. She lets go of his hand. She sees him approaching the lamppost. He stops about one meter from the pole. He looks up and looks at the lamps and the lighting system. She calls out.
"Xiao Du, say something. You’re frightening me."
People walking on the avenue find them strange. She feels a strong emotion overwhelming her. Then everything calms down. Tang Gang seems to emerge from a dream. He looks at her with gentleness and sadness. He takes her hand.
"Come on, he says, let's go."
She asks nothing. They cross the Muxidi intersection. She feels nervous. His hand is moist and very warm despite the cold and the fact that he has no gloves. He stops again.
"Wait, he says, I want to check something. I have terrible memories of that place. Wait for me just a moment."
He turns in the direction of Tiananmen. And he sees them. All three are following, a few meters from him. They move in silence. Not a word, no cries. Shadows from the kingdom of death. They seem to float on the ground, move without difficulty. He begins to hear the sound of screaming. Cries of pain. The whistle of bullets. The sound of tank treads crushing everything in their path. Many people running in all directions. He is the only one seeing these scenes. He’s reliving the evening of June 3. He looks more carefully at the woman. In fact, her flowered dress is covered with blood. Blood flows continuously down her legs, but it doesn’t seem to bother her. He turns to Lin Hui.
"Do not be afraid, Xiao Lin. Continue. My head is not feeling too good. But it is only a conflict within me. Let’s go home."
They continue. Then they take a side street north of the main avenue. Shortly after, they enter an apartment complex.
"This is my home, she says. The walls are gray and cold but my heart is full of warmth and love."
They cross a small garden, or a kind of courtyard. Garbage is piled against the walls. Nobody seems to worry about it. He hears a rat squeak. They head to a building and go through a doorway. They go up a concrete staircase. Unpleasant smells reach him but he does not care. They climb the stairs to the second floor. He has a discreet glance behind him. She notices the movement but says nothing. There is no one behind him. He breathes. Maybe it's a bad dream. Too much alcohol and that substance he smoked in the tavern. He feels better. She rummages in her pockets. No doubt she’s looking for her keys. Finally, she finds them. They are alone in the stairwell. He checks the time. Ten minutes to midnight. They have been slow coming from Tiananmen. She goes up on tiptoe, takes his head in her hands and gives him a kiss on the lips. It's soft, pleasant, a sweetness. He feels alive again. He returns her kiss. They continue to look at each other, tightly embraced. A tear is running down her cheek. He wipes it away.
"Do not worry, all is well."
She smiles again. She emerges from his embrace, takes the key and inserts it in the lock. She turns twice. The door opens. She enters the apartment first. It is not very large. A small hall, a shower toilet located next to the entrance, next to a small kitchen. Then there is a bedroom with double bed and a living room that opens onto a balcony. A sofa in the back of the room. In the middle, a round table. Everything looks so calm. She closes the door from outside and puts on the safety catch. He goes to the balcony. She stores all sorts of things here. He opens the door to see which side of the building they are on. He is pleased that the garden is located on this side. Satisfied, he goes back into the room. Xiao Lin is already active in the kitchen. She shouts:
"I’m preparing something to eat. I’m doing fried chicken and I have some noodles left. Okay?"
He is about to reply when he notices a strong smell filling the room. He turns back to the sofa. All three are there observing, sitting one beside the other on the couch. The woman speaks first."We have let you settle in Tang Gang. But you cannot avoid us. We belong to you ... all the way until the end of the trip."
Again he is frozen, speechless. He understands nothing. He thought he was safe. But it is not so. What frightens him the most is this strange situation in which he can be both with the ghosts and also hear the sounds of real life! The woman in the flowered dress speaks to him again. In fact, she does not speak but he hears what she’s expressing.
"I am looking for my daughter, Tang Gang. I do not know what happened to me. You're the only one who can solve this situation and give me peace of mind. My little Lili! Where is she, what happened to her?"
The charred soldier merely looks at him and the young man he killed says nothing. He is there like a mute reproach. He hears Lin Hui’s voice:
"It's almost ready. I'm coming."
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