About the Author: Zhu Yue, born in 1977, a lawyer turned writer and editor, has published three short story collections: The Blindfolded Traveler ( 《蒙着眼睛的旅行者》), The Sleep Master ( 《睡觉大师》), and Chaos of Fiction ( 《说部之乱》). A philosophy enthusiast, Zhu published “Random Thoughts of Philosophy”, collected in Diversification: 2010 Analytic Philosophy ( 《多元: 2010 分析哲学卷》).
An old rider passed through a small a town to visit an old friend he had not seen in many years. The old friend was even older than him. The old rider sat in the room regretting this decision; his old friend was lying in bed taking his last breaths. It was a long time until the friend woke from his lethargic sleep, but it was already time for the old rider to leave.
“I did. I was passing through and came to see you, old buddy.”
“I’m almost done for. I’d say I’ve got a day or two left…”
“Hey, don’t talk like that. You’re in fine shape.”
“Hmm…since you’re here, there’s something I want to tell you, let’s call it a story. I haven’t told anyone else, so let me tell it to you, there won’t be another chance.” The old rider frowned. He didn’t have time to listen to a story, but didn’t know how to break it to his old friend.
“Back then I was still young. I was strong, I was a beast.”
“Nobody was as strong as you.”
“That’s right. I was strong but I had a good heart. And I loved going out to sea to fish. I was great in the water.”
“I can attest to that. But are you just bragging? I…”
“No, it was a thing. A thing happened. One day I was at sea. It was still dark but would be daylight, it would be daylight—” The old man started coughing.
“Okay there old pal?”
“It’s fine, let me continue. Not far from my boat, I saw something rise out of the water. Looking closely, I saw that it was the shadow of a man. It was hazy, but it looked like he was raising his hands for help. Now I don’t know if it’s because I have a good heart or because I always had that impulse to jump into water, but anyways, I dived into a black patch of ocean. The water was cold. I swam to the shadow and grabbed him. I had his arm. He didn’t struggle. Supporting his head I pulled him toward the beach. We weren’t far from the shore. It would be easy enough to get him there. But right then more shadows surfaced around me. They were also raising their arms. A ship must have capsized nearby. I hauled the first man to the shallows, pushed him forwards as far as I could, and turned around to rescue others. And so one after the other, I rescued a whole crowd of people. I didn’t count them. All I can remember is that I was charged with vitality and it took no effort at all for me to save them.”
“Sorry old buddy, I have no time to listen to you brag, I have more important things to take care of. Time’s running short, I should go.” The old rider stood up, put on his hat and walked out of the room.
“Can’t you let him finish? He is…almost dead,” the old friend’s wife followed.
“Sorry, I’m truly sorry, but I have something urgent to handle. He’ll get better, trust me.”
The old rider stepped out the door, straddled his horse and rode off.
He rode for a day and a night without stopping to rest. Eventually he reached a fork in the road. He squinted up at the sun; he wasn’t late. The landscape was barren and few travelled that way. He guided his horse to halt in front of a bush by the side of the road and waited in silence. At dusk, a horse cart came hurtling down the road. The old rider nudged his horse into a stealthy pursuit. He gradually built speed and pulled alongside the cart.
Drawing his pistol, he aimed directly at the driver and pulled the trigger. The shot sounded and the driver tumbled out of his seat. The cart’s horse was spooked and galloped wildly, but the old rider was fast enough to grab its reins and pull it to a halt.
He turned around and examined the car for movement. Nobody came out. He jumped from the saddle and, holding out his gun, walked toward the car and threw open the door.
Indeed, sitting inside was the man with the figure eight mustache, and a scar across his face—his nemesis: Bazihu. He had the cold-blooded bastard now.
“Fish Rescue” is a short story from our newest issue, “Mental Health”, coming out soon. To read the whole piece, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the iTunes Store.
Part 1 is here.