Chapter 5 – The Beef Noodles that Disappeared
With every cast of Lightning flash, Li Yiming could teleport about 500 meters. This was his only way to catch up to the plane, since he did not have any other ways to fly. It took him the combined power of his newly acquired level five and the Thunder Purity form to catch up to the plane right as it was about to land. Even so, Li Yiming appeared on his seat with a red face and a forehead covered with sweat.
As the cabin door opened, the passengers, who had narrowly escaped death, rushed out, each feeling incredibly lucky for their good fortune. Li Yiming’s cutting off the power in the cabin proved to be a great idea; amidst the panic, no one actually noticed that someone had gone missing and reappeared later on.
Instead of leaving the plane in a hurry like the other people, Li Yiming sat quietly and listened to the other passengers. He felt immensely satisfied knowing that he deserved these words of gratitude, and it brought a dumb-looking smile onto his face. He closed his eyes and wiped away his sweat, still panting heavily from his effort to catch up to the plane.
“Sir, the plane has landed. You can disembark now.” The stewardess’ soft voice was heard.
“Can I just have a moment?” Li Yiming raised his head with difficulty. He could feel that the front of his shirt was beginning to become damp with sweat.
“But…” The stewardess was the same one who had been fantasizing about an encounter later with Li Yiming, but seeing him in such a state made her frown. ‘This guy, he looks charming and courageous, but he’s actually a wimp? Look at him, being scared like this after a storm. Don’t tell me that he pissed in his pants?’
“What happened to him?” Another flight crew walked up and looked at the whole scene curiously. Li Yiming was the only passenger still left on the plane.
“I think he’s frightened.” The first stewardess did not hide her contempt when she answered.
‘Frightened?’ Li Yiming was baffled. He could see the derision on the stewardess’ face. He sighed, a little annoyed, and started a shaking walk toward the exit of the cabin.
“Are you okay? Do I need to call for medical personnel?” The other stewardess, who had not been affected by her emotions, was worried about Li Yiming’s well-being.
“It’s okay, I’m a little scared, that’s all.” Li Yiming waved his arm and answered in a rather disappointed tone.
However, as soon as he left the airport, Li Yiming recovered from his bad mood. He was proud of what he had just accomplished. ‘I have found my direction. To guard the way, to see it through, and to protect others with my power. That’s the way I have found.’ 1
Li Yiming hopped into a cab and took a deep breath. ‘Hangzhou, I’m back.’
He rode the taxi to the Second Wen District, the place Mr. Kong had told him about. After getting off the taxi, he checked into a hotel room, took a shower to wash off his fatigue and started wandering the streets.
“Hello, sir. May I ask if there’s someone called Qing He lives in this neighborhood?” Li Yiming arrived at the window of the security room and pushed a pack of cigarettes across the counter.
“What is it?” The old door-guard looked at the pack of cigarettes with an alarmed expression and did not reach out for it.
“Someone ordered a cake here, but I lost the delivery ticket on the way. I remember that the person lives here. Could you…” Li Yiming feigned at embarrassment as he took out a cake he had bought in a shop right around the hotel.
“The only thing you have is a name?” The old man’s suspicions lessened when he saw the cake. He picked up Li Yiming’s cigarette and stood up with the little amount of authority he could garnish. It seemed like the only place someone like him could find some kind of self-worth was in front of a delivery boy.
“Please, if I can’t deliver this cake on time, I’ll get in trouble at work. My boss… She’s very strict for things like that.” Li Yiming put another pack of cigarettes on the office desk and squeezed out a flattering smile.
“Young people nowadays. You’re way too careless. How could you lose the delivery ticket? How do you expect me to remember the hundreds of people that live here?” The old man straightened his outfit, threw his newspaper on his desk at just the right spot so that it removed the cigarette from sight, and pulled out a small notebook from the drawer.
“Nothing. I have all of the delivery records here. Either you’ve got the wrong address or the people you’re looking for never shops online.” After searching through the logs with squinted eyes for a while, the old man gave a disappointing answer.
“There’s no one by that name?”
“The logs for all deliveries into the neighborhood are here. If you really wanted to find out, then you could go ask the managing office. But I don’t think you’ll find what you’re looking for over there either. It sounds like an internet username more than a real name. There’s no way you would find an internet name there. You should just call back and ask again. Young men like you should be courageous and accept the responsibility for your mistake. It’s not that big of a deal to lose the delivery ticket. If you just talk to your boss, I’m sure she’ll understand. Life isn’t easy for anyone, I remember back in my days…” The packet of cigarette has had its intended effects almost immediately. The old man dropped his facade of authority and started to lecture Li Yiming.
“Yes, yes. You’re absolutely right. I’ll give a call to the shop right away.” A bead of cold sweat rolled down Li Yiming’s forehead, and he made a polite escape from the security booth. ‘Well, that didn’t work. But with only Qing He and the name of this district, how am I going to find him? Even if I did go to the residential office, it’s not like if they’re going to give me information just like that. It’ll take way more than just a pack of cigarette. On top of it, that old man is right. Qing He sounds like a username more than anything.’
Li Yiming wandered into a small noodle restaurant with his cake. Finding Qing He would be a long shot, so he decided to take a break and eat first.
“A bowl of beef noodle, please. With extra beef and an egg.” Li Yiming looked at the menu that hung on the wall and ordered a meal without thinking much about it.
“One moment please.” The waiter took Li Yiming’s money and walked away. In a small shop like this, due to the customer flow, it was customary to pay first.
‘If only Eyeglasses was here.’ Li Yiming tapped at the table with his fingers, having no ideas what to do to find Qing He. However, as he looked around the shop, he suddenly noticed something shocking.
‘It’s him?’ Li Yiming was baffled. Sitting in a corner by the window was the young man he met on the plane. He was busy typing something and had a bowl of noodle right beside his laptop.
“Beef with an extra egg.” It did not take very long before the steaming hot noodles Li Yiming had ordered arrived. The waiter was a little too quick in his movements, and a few drops of the soup, along with the sliced green onion, was spilled onto the table, casting a delicious smell into the air. However, Li Yiming had no attention to spare for the food. Instead, he was looking at the young man and wondering whether he should run right away; the young man’s intense gaze was truly traumatizing.
The young man suddenly stretched himself. He smiled and closed his eyes slowly, and then closed his laptop. Li Yiming was about to stand up when the young man, who had noticed his gesture, turned his head.
‘Oh no!’ Li Yiming looked right into the young man’s eyes. In contrast with his dread, he saw that the young man was surprised, but happily so. Li Yiming forced out a smile and sat back down stiffly; it would be far too strange for him to leave right as his meal arrived.
But Li Yiming regretted his decision the moment he touched the chair. Even without turning his head around, he could feel the young man staring at him. It was the gaze of a child looking at his new toy, of an old man looking at his childhood buddy, of a pervert looking at a beauty in short skirts…
‘Alright, I’ll just take a few bites and get the heck out. If he comes any closer…’ Li Yiming clenched his fists and firmed his resolve. However, the moment he picked up his chopsticks, his expression stiffened again. Not only that, his alertness jumped to a spike, sparks of electricity appeared at his fingertips, and he was ready to kill or to use Thunderflash.
His noodles had disappeared. The smell was there, but the noodles were gone.
‘Bai Ze? Did you see anything?’ Li Yiming did not care about the noodles at all, but the fact that someone had taken something away right in front of him without him knowing was simply bone-chilling.
‘I didn’t pay attention to it. I was looking at that man.’ Bai Ze answered with a grim voice.
‘Bai Ze didn’t see it either? This is bad.’ Li Yiming turned his head away from the creepy young man and started to examine the other people in the restaurant. On the three other tables were a young couple, a mother and her daughter, and an old man. ‘They all seem normal to me. Unless… it’s the waiter?’ Li Yiming looked at the waiter, who was walking toward him. He was a young man with an average height, dark skin and skinny limbs.
“Can I take your order?” The waiter seemed calm, but if one observed him carefully, one would notice that he seemed a little annoyed and impatient.
“What?” Li Yiming raised his head and looked at the waiter with alertness. He moved his right hand behind his back and started preparing for combat.
“We have ramen, knife-cut noodles, dumplings, meat pies, yeah… It’s all written on the wall,” the waiter frowned, but still explained patiently.
“But I already ordered my food.” Li Yiming answered cautiously and checked around himself once again.
“You already ordered?”
“Yes. I ordered beef noodles with extra beef and an extra egg. I already paid.” After a fruitless attempt at finding out what was wrong, Li Yiming grew even more alerted.
“Oh? You already paid?” When the waiter heard Li Yiming’s explanation, he seemed confused at first, but it soon turned into a smile. He threw his wiping cloth onto the table and rolled his sleeve up, revealing his tattoo on the left arm.
‘The crimson rose with a skull.’ Li Yiming looked at the waiter’s arm and tried to guess what his talent was.
“Also, you already brought to me the food.” Li Yiming answered carefully. ‘Why is he here? Is it because of Qing He?’
“So the food came? And you ate already? Then what are you doing here? Don’t ruin our business.” The waiter seemed amused by Li Yiming’s answer. He kept his scornful smile as he picked up his piece of wet cloth and left for the kitchen.
‘We should leave. There’s something wrong with this place.’ Bai Ze reminded Li Yiming that this was not a domain, and they could not afford to do anything rash.
Li Yiming’s eyes followed the waiter as the latter walked away, and then he looked at the table in front of him. Even the soup that had been spilled out had disappeared.
Those of you that want to see the mysterious young man at the airport again are not disappointed!
1. Note the “way” here refers to the Dao, a philosophical contemplation that forms the basis of Taoism.