After finishing their run, everyone was basically either panting or out of breath. Instructor Zheng specially checked on He Jian and got the answer that he could continue, so he started to teach them how to march and stand at attention.
After a two-hour lunch break, everyone cleaned up their beds and personal belongings. He Jian still didn’t have a blanket, but he insisted on sleeping on the bed board, so Jiang Hong had no choice but to let him be.
In the afternoon, they continued with marching and standing at attention, and added an hour of cross-country running. Instructor Zheng led them to several other classes, which was similar to Jiang Hong’s high school military training, but the intensity was higher.
This was a very normal military training, and they had a very normal instructor. Instructor Zheng seemed to think Jiang Hong was doing okay because he spent most of his time with He Jian, not letting him fall behind.
“Is this little idol your twin brother?” Instructor Zheng asked.
“No, sir,” Jiang Hong answered.
“You guys in the dormitory are so loving towards each other,” Instructor Zheng commented amidst the laughter. “Very good. Dismissed, get ready for dinner.”
“Ah!” Jiang Hong felt exhausted. The level of fatigue in the class was divided into two halves: five people were exhausted, while the other three, including Jin, Chang Jun from Class 904, and another male student from Class 904, seemed to be fine.
He Jian leaned on Jiang Hong’s shoulder and sat on the stairs, just wanting to rest.
“Idol, let’s go eat,” Jin said.
The eight of them in the class quickly became acquainted, especially after supporting each other during the cross-country run.
“Where is the girls’ dormitory?” He Jian asked, panting.
“Do you want to join them?” Zhang Xiting said. “I’ll help you apply?”
“No!” He Jian exclaimed frantically. “I just want to meet some girls! It’s been all guys since I started school!”
“On the other side,” Jin said. “You have to climb over that hill. Let’s go check it out in a few days?”
“Eat quickly!” Instructor Zheng came over and shouted, “After eating, clean up! Your seniors will come to visit you later!”
The students dispersed and went to the cafeteria. Jiang Hong said, “This military training is too easy. We don’t even have to sing and line up for meals?”
“Some of you don’t eat this and some of you don’t eat that,” Instructor Zheng said. “How can you eat together? Respect each other’s beliefs and cultures.”
The students used the same lunchbox, finished eating, washed dishes, and then went back to the barracks to clean up. After more than an hour of work, they queued up to take a shower.
“Can I borrow your shampoo?” Jiang Hong asked the person in the next stall.
“Here,” Jin answered, stretching out a hand from above. Jiang Hong touched it, feeling long hair on his arm.
“Wow, Jin, the hair on your hand is so long,” Jiang Hong said.
“Hehehe,” Jin replied.
“Huh?” Jiang Hong remembered that Jin didn’t seem to have much body hair. Although there were some indistinct gold hairs on his arms, there shouldn’t be so many. But it didn’t matter.
“Xiao Hong, are you tired?” Jin asked.
“I’m okay,” Jiang Hong said, “but the cross-country intensity in the afternoon was too strong. I can accept it on the first day, but if it’s like this every day, we’ll definitely be exhausted later.”
“I think the hardest thing about military training,” Zhang Xiting said from another stall, taking a shower, “isn’t the fatigue.”
“What is it?” Jiang Hong asked.
“Aren’t you hungry?” Zhang Xiting said.
“I’m so hungry–” Jiang Hong had just eaten dinner, but he was hungry again in less than two hours. Now that Zhang Xiting had reminded him, the entire bathroom was filled with cries of hunger.
“We’re going to starve to death–!”
“There’s only one small store in the barracks, and it closes at six o’clock,” Jin said. “Let’s endure it today and buy something to eat tomorrow.”
After Jin finished speaking, Jiang Hong felt increasingly hungry. During the one and a half hours of free time, everyone retrieved their phones from the instructors. At this time, it was time for the senior students to visit.
“Oh my god!” Jiang Hong was almost moved to tears. He was going to fall in love with this school. These little details made people feel incredibly warm. There were even people who came to visit during military training. For some reason, the school seemed to value student friendship and relationships very much. Even the focus of military training was on emotions.
Lu Xiu stood in the moonlight, wearing a motorcycle suit.
When Jiang Hong saw Lu Xiu, he felt like he had seen a long-lost relative. He flew over and jumped onto Lu Xiu’s back, his legs straddling his waist.
“You have three seconds to get off,” Lu Xiu said.
Jiang Hong didn’t wait for him to throw him off and obediently jumped down.
“How is it?” Lu Xiu still had his poker face.
“It’s quite tiring. Much more tiring than high school military training,” Jiang Hong said with a smile.
Lu Xiu gestured to his feet. “I brought a box of instant noodles for you.”
“Thank you so much!” Jiang Hong was about to cry, hugging Lu Xiu.
“Three seconds to let go, three…” Lu Xiu said.
Jiang Hong turned and hugged the box of instant noodles, running back to the barracks.
But soon he came out again. Lu Xiu asked, “There are only twenty minutes for the visit. Do you have any questions that I can help you with? Did the instructors bully you?”
“No, no, everyone is very nice to me. You are really too good to me,” Jiang Hong said.
Many senior students had also come around the barracks, chatting with the freshmen they were responsible for. Jiang Hong began to admire the person who had come up with this one-on-one heartwarming care plan.
“It takes you a long time to come here, right?” Jiang Hong asked.
“I came by motorcycle,” Lu Xiu said. “It’s fine. You can only see me once a week. If you need anything, give me a list on WeChat, and I’ll bring it when I come next week.”
Jiang Hong was afraid that Lu Xiu would be too tired if he had to come every day, but once a week was manageable.
“Go back and rest if you’re tired.” Lu Xiu looked at Jiang Hong and could tell that he had pushed himself hard during training today.
“No, no.” Jiang Hong finally got to see Lu Xiu, and even though they hardly knew each other and could only chat for a few sentences before running out of things to say, at this moment he clearly felt that an inexplicable bond had formed between them.
“There are twelve minutes left.” Lu Xiu checked his watch.
“Let me walk you to the gate,” Jiang Hong offered.
“Okay,” Lu Xiu agreed.
Jiang Hong accompanied Lu Xiu as they walked out of the barracks and passed by the training ground. Lu Xiu was tall and slender, dressed in a black racing suit with reflective strips, which made him look cool.
“Senior,” Jiang Hong called out.
“What?” Lu Xiu asked.
“Where are you from?” Jiang Hong asked curiously.
“I’m Chinese, and I’ve lived in many places. I’m not sure where I’m from,” Lu Xiu replied.
“You must really like traveling around,” Jiang Hong said.
Lu Xiu remained silent.
Jiang Hong saw Lu Xiu off at the gate and Lu Xiu said, “I’m leaving. If you need anything, message me.”
“Let me see your bike!” Jiang Hong looked up at Lu Xiu with admiration.
“Go to the other side of the fence,” Lu Xiu directed.
Jiang Hong and Lu Xiu walked along the fence. Lu Xiu’s motorcycle was parked on the side of the road. It was a sporty black and gold Kawasaki H2 motorcycle with silver plating on the sides. Its sleek lines looked like a flying shuttle in the night sky. Lu Xiu took his helmet and put it on.
“Wow!” Jiang Hong exclaimed. “It’s a Kawasaki H2! Senior, it’s so cool!”
Lu Xiu put on his gloves as he walked and glanced at Jiang Hong without answering. He then mounted the motorcycle, leaned forward, started the engine, and Jiang Hong yelled above the sound of the engine, “You have to let me ride with you next time!”
Lu Xiu made an “OK” gesture towards him, and with a few revs of the engine, the motorcycle roared and shot out like a black shadow, disappearing.
Jiang Hong was still shocked and staring at the fence, with no intention of leaving. Three seconds later, there was another “vroom” and the Kawasaki H2 flew back again. Jiang Hong cheered again.
Then the Kawasaki H2 passed by Jiang Hong for the third time and Lu Xiu finally left.
Jiang Hong’s biggest dream was to buy a motorcycle. The Kawasaki was too expensive, so he would settle for a Yamaha. However, his family forbade him from riding one, feeling that it was unsafe.
Really cool! Jiang Hong didn’t expect to see his dream ride so unexpectedly in the hands of his male god-like senior, and he savored the feeling all the way back to the dormitory. When he pushed open the door, he saw that everyone had returned with a smile on their faces.
“Um, Jiang Hong,” Zhang Xiting said, “I just saw…a box of instant noodles under your bed?”
“Ah, yes.” Jiang Hong was very sensible and quickly took out the instant noodles for everyone to eat, even though they were specially brought to him by Lu Xiu. It was a bit heart-wrenching, but he couldn’t let his roommates go hungry. “I’ll buy another box tomorrow when the convenience store opens.”
So the students from the two dormitories shared the instant noodles happily.
Jiang Hong really wanted to praise the convenience of instant noodles. It was simply a gift from heaven.
“Ah! Praise instant noodles!” He Jian helped him express his thoughts. “It’s simply a gift from heaven!”
“Hahaha, you’re so right!” Jiang Hong said to He Jian. “Luckily you can eat this.”
“I’m not that picky with my food.” He Jian almost fell asleep a few times while eating, but then woke up and chatted with him as if nothing had happened, showing the momentum of waking up from a life-threatening illness and eating three hundred lychees a day.
“Your senior is Lu Xiu?” Chang Jun asked while eating the instant noodles.
“Um, yes.” Jiang Hong felt like one bowl wasn’t enough, but he couldn’t eat too much without being inconsiderate towards his roommates, so he reluctantly put down his chopsticks. “What’s up?”
“He’s my idol!” Chang Jun said. “Can you help me get his autograph next time?”
“He’s not that aloof, is he?” Jiang Hong said. “If there’s a chance, I’ll introduce you guys.”
The other male student from dorm 904, Wang Lang, who had a stubble, said, “Isn’t Lu Xiu a graduate student and a part-time teaching assistant? He won’t take on freshman students.”
“I don’t know.” Jiang Hong remembered meeting him on his first day, and being randomly assigned to his dorm. “I think I caused him some trouble.”
Chang Jun was full of envy and jealousy, and decided to collect the instant noodle bowl as a souvenir. Jiang Hong thought it was too exaggerated, but seeing how cool Lu Xiu looked riding his motorcycle, he could understand why he had some fanboys.
“Turn off the lights!” Instructor Zheng shouted from outside the window.
The whistle blew. The lights were turned off in the dorm. The first day of military training was over, with the room falling into silence.
The next day was business as usual. It rained during the day, so they didn’t have to run the ten-kilometer cross-country. After standing in military posture, the instructor played basketball with the students in the gym until the rain stopped in the evening and the sky was tinged with crimson, and then they were taken to the field to run 20 laps.
“University military training is quite easy,” Jiang Hong thought.
After dinner, they had free time as usual until the lights went out. Everyone had bought snacks and instant noodles at the small shop, so today Jiang Hong could indulge. He ate two large bowls of instant noodles and drank half a bottle of one-liter Coke. He was too full and messaged his belly before going to bed after saying goodnight to his roommate. Jiang Hong tossed and turned in bed but couldn’t fall asleep.
At midnight, dark clouds covered the moon. Jiang Hong got up to go to the bathroom and realized that Chang Jun’s bed was empty.
Jiang Hong thought, “Huh?”
When he returned from the bathroom, he didn’t run into Chang Jun. The moon had emerged from behind the dark clouds. The post-rain air felt comfortable on the barracks’ open space.
The school and military training grounds were far from the noisy city. Jiang Hong had rarely been to such an isolated place since he was young. Every night when he was growing up at home, the moon’s brilliance was masked by the city’s lights. These past few days, he was surprised to find that the moon could be so bright.
After getting used to the moonlight, the world was a silver-white color. The quiet mountain forests under the moon were not scary but had a sense of sanctity.
Jiang Hong walked behind the barracks to digest his food, walked up the hill, and suddenly saw two figures cuddling together with their backs facing the moonlight. He was about to leave quietly, but he heard Chang Jun’s voice.
“You should go back to school,” Chang Jun said.
“Ah, is it already this late?” The girl’s voice was Di Di’s.
What?! They’re already dating?! And it’s with Zhang Xiting’s senior sister! Wow!
Jiang Hong didn’t plan to disturb them and intended to leave politely. But he inadvertently looked at the ground and noticed something strange. Chang Jun and Di Di, this man and woman, why did their shadows look a bit weird? No, their necks… why are they so long?!
Jiang Hong slipped on the hillside and stepped on a patch of grass. The sound was light, but the two noticed it and turned around sharply.
Jiang Hong and the two of them locked eyes at the same time.
Jiang Hong: “!!!!!!!”
Both sides fell silent, and Jiang Hong felt like his head was about to explode at that moment! He saw an extremely terrifying scene!
Chang Jun and Di Di’s bodies were normal, but their necks had turned into snake necks, and their heads had become snake heads. They were entwined together, spitting out their tongues at each other. When they heard the sound, the “male snake” turned its head, opened its golden eyes, and looked at Jiang Hong.
“Ahhhhhhh!” Jiang Hong was immediately terrified and screamed with all his might.
“Ah!” The “female snake” with green eyes also let out a scream.
“Jiang Hong?” The snake with golden eyes even spoke using Chang Jun’s voice!
Jiang Hong stumbled and retreated as the intertwined necks of the two snakes separated. The green-eyed snake turned around and ran away, while the golden-eyed snake stood up and ran towards Jiang Hong. Its snake head leaned in close to him, spitting out a hiss.
“Shh! Shh! Don’t yell so loudly!”
Jiang Hong: “……………….”
Then, the human body of Chang Jun reached out and placed a hand on Jiang Hong’s shoulder, wrapping his neck around Jiang Hong’s neck. “Brother, I’ll treat you to a meal tomorrow and buy you a pack of cigarettes. Don’t tell anyone, okay?”
Jiang Hong’s pupils contracted violently. Chang Jun faced Jiang Hong, reflecting Jiang Hong’s face in its large golden eyes.
Three seconds later, Jiang Hong fell down stiffly.
“Jiang Hong! Jiang Hong!” Chang Jun shouted anxiously. “What’s wrong? Wake up!”
The first thing Jiang Hong did when he woke up was scream.
“Ah ah ah——” Jiang Hong’s consciousness was still stuck in the memory of being choked by the snake.
“It’s okay! It’s okay!” The office lights were on, and Jiang Hong found himself lying on a military bed. The counselor, Chang Jun, Jin, and Zhang Xiting were all present.
Chang Jun patted him apologetically. “Are you… okay?”
Jiang Hong looked at Chang Jun with horror. Chang Jun’s face had once again returned to that of a human young man. Was it just his imagination?
Zhang Xiting was obviously very angry. His roommate had been bullied, and he said to Chang Jun, “He’s afraid of snakes!”
Chang Jun said, “But I didn’t know he was afraid of snakes.”
Hu Qingquan said to Jiang Hong, “It’s okay, young man, don’t be afraid… it’s just a snake. Snakes are cute, soft, and slippery, and they have such big eyes…” As he spoke, he made a circle with his two fingers and placed it on his head to demonstrate.
“No!” Jiang Hong panicked and said, “I saw him… he… I don’t know if it was my imagination, but he had a human body and a snake head! Suddenly, a snake head grew out of his body! Oh my god! How did you guys know I saw a snake?”
Chang Jun said to the counselor, “I’m sorry, I really didn’t mean to. I’ll be more careful next time…”
Hu Qingquan said, “Okay! Jiang Hong, come on, think of something else.”
Jin also comforted him, “It’s okay, it’s just a snake.”
Hu Qingquan suddenly transformed into a brownish-yellow fox with a funny little eye, wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt. Jin burst into laughter, and Zhang Xiting couldn’t help but laugh and cry, saying, “Teacher Hu, do you really need to do this?”
Jiang Hong: “Ah ah ah ah ah ah!!! Ah ah ah ah!”
Everyone else was laughing, but Jiang Hong was really frightened this time. He jumped up from the bunk bed and let out a scream that used up all his strength.
Everyone else: “…………”
Jiang Hong hit his head against the door and then pulled it open violently, running out of the office.
“Wait! Jiang Hong!” Zhang Xiting and Jin followed him.
“What’s wrong with you?!” Jin said worriedly.
“Don’t run!” Zhang Xiting said.
Jiang Hong’s only thought now was to save his life – he was about to cry. Fortunately, he still had some sanity left, so he ran back to the barracks, grabbed his phone, and without typing anything, he pressed the voice button and sent a message to Lu Xiu.
“Help! Help!” Jiang Hong cried.
“Jiang Hong!” Jin hugged him from behind. Jiang Hong was so frightened that he was almost out of his mind. The snake head of Chang Jun had been replaced by the fox head of the counselor behind him, and the terrifying sight was taking over in the dismal office lighting.
Jiang Hong looked at Jin, who looked puzzled. Jiang Hong instinctively looked at Jin’s arm and remembered touching a furry hand while taking a shower last night.
“Let go of me… Where is this place?!” Jiang Hong cried. “I want to go home!”
“Jiang Hong?” He Jian also came out, worried.
Jiang Hong kept struggling, and in that moment of near-hysteria, his strength was surprisingly strong. Jin didn’t dare to use brute force for fear of hurting him. He struggled out of his grasp and Zhang Xiting caught up and grabbed his hand, shouting, “Jiang Hong! It’s me! Look at me!”
Jiang Hong kept panting, still trembling with fear. Zhang Xiting looked at him for a long time, and suddenly seemed to understand something.
“Are you afraid of demons?” Zhang Xiting asked. “I’m human, just like you. You can trust me, can’t you? Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid.”
“Demons…” Jiang Hong said tremblingly. “Why am I here… Lu Xiu! Lu Xiu!”
At this very moment, a strange sound rang from the sky, like the clashing of metals, and the ringing of a bell. All the barracks in the entire military camp were awakened, and lights were turned on one after another.
“Go to sleep! None of your business!” shouted a drill instructor as he proceeded to inspect each barrack.
Jiang Hong was panting, looking at Jin and He Jian standing not far away, and then at Zhang Xiting. Zhang Xiting muttered something and then raised his hand, placing it on Jiang Hong’s forehead.
“Feeling better now?” Zhang Xiting asked with concern.
Jiang Hong felt a little better. At that moment, his heart rate had risen to at least 98%.
Zhang Xiting turned to Jin and He Jian. “He’s afraid of demons, so you two stay away for now.”
Jin, wearing a hooded sports vest, put his hands in his pockets and exclaimed in disbelief, “What?”
He Jian took a step towards Jiang Hong, but then stopped. “Are you okay?” He Jian asked, surprised. “Why would you be afraid?”
“It’s fine,” said Zhang Xiting, letting go of Jiang Hong’s hand.
Jiang Hong gradually calmed down and said, “Are all these people demons? Why am I encountering so many demons? Is this some kind of prank show?”
Zhang Xiting stopped his actions and looked towards the other side of the playground. It was then that Lu Xiu appeared.
“Senior, senior!” Jiang Hong saw Lu Xiu and ran towards him as if he had found life-saving water.
Lu Xiu was obviously still half asleep and a little confused, but he didn’t blame Jiang Hong. He just asked, “What’s wrong?”
“I saw a demon, I saw a demon.” Jiang Hong became riled up again and couldn’t even speak clearly.
After thinking for a moment, Lu Xiu realized that Jiang Hong was just scared.
“Don’t come near him,” Lu Xiu said to the others. “I’ll handle this.” Then he turned to Jiang Hong and said, “Follow me.”
Five minutes later, at the door of the second-floor office, Lu Xiu did not ask Jiang Hong to go in. He only asked for Hu Qingquan to come out and talk to them.
In the spacious corridor, Jiang Hong was not as scared as before.
Lu Xiu asked, “What did you see?”
Hu Qingquan said, “I just…”
“Oh my god!” Jiang Hong saw the guidance counselor, Hu Qingquan, who had a furry head and a fox tail. He jumped up and clung to Lu Xiu. “This is it, this is it!”
Lu Xiu: “???”
Jiang Hong almost pleaded as he spoke to Lu Xiu, “I first saw a snake head on a person’s body, and then the counselor suddenly became like this. What’s going on?! I want to leave here! Senior, take me away…”
Hu Qingquan: “…”
Lu Xiu finally reacted. He turned his head and looked at Jiang Hong with extreme shock in his eyes.
“I thought he would laugh when he saw me,” Hu Qingquan explained.
Lu Xiu stared at Jiang Hong with a solemn look, and Jiang Hong returned his gaze with a terrified look.
“You don’t know anything?” Lu Xiu asked.
“What don’t I know?” Jiang Hong hid behind Lu Xiu, grabbed his clothes, and shivered.
Hu Qingquan also realized something was wrong. “This shouldn’t be happening. Did something go wrong? The name and hometown are correct. Dean Xuan personally verified every new student.”
“Jiang Hong.” Lu Xiu frowned. “No one told you?”
“Told me what…” Jiang Hong calmed down a bit. After all, Lu Xiu’s aura was too strong. It felt like if he was standing in front of him, he didn’t have to be afraid anymore.
“I am a demon,” Hu Qingquan said. “Your roommate is too…”
Lu Xiu gestured to Hu Qingquan not to mention the roommate, so as not to scare Jiang Hong again. Hu Qingquan then changed his words, “You didn’t know I was a demon?”
“Why…” Jiang Hong said. “What’s going on? Are there really demons in the world? Then, ghosts are also real? But this is a modern world!”
“Do you know what this school is for?” Hu Qingquan asked.
“What is it for?” Jiang Hong asked.
Hu Qingquan looked even more shocked than Jiang Hong. He tried to control his speech rate, so as to not sound intimidating, and patiently said, “This is a school that trains exorcists. If you know nothing, how did you get into China National Exorcism College? Who enrolled you?”
Jiang Hong: “…”
Jiang Hong looked to Lu Xiu again, seeking help.