Chapter 30 - Fate
“Young man, I didn’t know that your views were so… conservative. You really should consider adopting a new attitude toward technology.” The man at the stand said with a frown. “This is called big data, haven’t you heard of it? When you go to the hospital now, do they still use the same methods to diagnose you as they did a hundred years ago? Don’t you trust the results given to you by scientific instruments? I’m doing my work carefully now, that’s why I’m taking the time to verify the data using my computer, and you’re unhappy?”
“Well…” Li Yiming found it hard to rebuke the words of the man, but he could not shake off the feeling that something was off.
“So, any more complaints?” The man feigned irritation from not receiving respect.
“Please continue.” Although Li Yiming could not take the man seriously, he had no doubt that there was something special about him.
“Was that so hard?” The man said as he picked up his tablet, subtly letting out a sigh of relief.
The short, obese man who scammed people as a fortune teller was originally a thug who worked a living convincing customers to visit an artifact shop nearby. One day, he stumbled upon a pole with a fortune teller’s banner attached to it, and thought of it as good fun until he was stopped by a desperate man who sought his counsel.
The thug, having been working as a kind-of-a salesman, concocted a ridiculous story to try to get the man to visit the shop he was working for. After hearing the thug’s compelling tale about a hard-working rabbit who dug for carrots, the man quickly left, but not before paying two hundred yuan.
The thug went home without thinking too much about the incident, until his customer came back a week later, with thirty thousand yuan and a large banner to thank him. In fact, he had been an accountant who was using public funds for private investments, and after listening to the thug’s morale-boosting tale, he decided to further his investment in a desperate bid, only for his stocks’ prices to rebound after a few days.
The thug immediately understood that this was an opportunity to pursue a newfound career, but he did not know where to start. After trying out his luck and skills at different events, he realized that all of his years spent honing his soft skills as a salesman had born fruit - being talented at noticing people’s emotions was more than enough for him to make a better living than he did as a salesman.
“What?” The fortune-teller glanced at Li Yiming and subtly tilted his tablet so that Li Yiming could not see what was on the screen.
“What happened?” Li Yiming, who had been paying close attention to him, asked with concern.
“Uh… I need to check this again…” “The fortune-teller quickly composed himself and made sure to hide his screen completely from Li Yiming’s sight. ‘What’s going on? Is my tablet broken?’
The screen was completely blank, and he was at a loss at what to do since he had never encountered this problem before ever since purchasing the application. Is this day and age, calculations done on a computer were far more efficient than doing it manually, and it was no exception for practices such as fortune-telling — with the data provided, the results could be just as accurate, if not more than doing it the traditional way.
The man hurriedly restarted his tablet and entered Li Yiming’s information, only for the computer to bug out again.
“What happened? Is it broken?” Li Yiming realized what was happening.
“It’s completely white.”
“Well… I…” The man quickly put his portable computer away as he searched his mind frantically for an excuse to get out of the situation without damaging his reputation.
“Your fate…” The man looked up at the sky and let out a long sigh, his double chin rippling like the surface of a calm lake as the wind blew on his face. “How should I put it…”
Li Yiming was rather entertained by the whole charade and glanced at the white banner in the hopes of finding an accurate way to assess the short man’s true strength.
“I should not leak Heaven’s secrets, but since fate has brought you to me, then it must be done…” He suddenly stood up with a severe countenance, as if he was about to face death.
“Master… I…” Li Yiming’s suspicions of the man grew. If his senses had not been inhibited, he would have simply walked away by now.
“You don’t belong to the five elements, not to the Heavens, Earth, nor Hell…” The man suddenly found some inspiration from a toy store nearby which sold replicas of Wukong’s red and golden staff.
Li Yiming’s expression grew serious and he clenched his fist.
“That’s all I can say. The computer froze for a reason, after all, how can you expect an ordinary object to see the truth behind this world?” The thug could tell right away that he had succeeded when he saw Li Yiming’s chance of expression, and felt a great sense of accomplishment from fooling him with a made-up story inspired from a box of toys.
“Master, since you know who I am, then surely you must know why I’m here today. I don’t think that our meeting is a coincidence at all, is it?” After hearing the thug point out his true identity right away, Li Yiming was convinced that he was someone on par with Aunt Wu, who simply pretended to be a normal person.
“What?” Li Yiming’s response caught the fortune-teller off guard, forcing him to think of another lie as a follow-up. He would have thought Li Yiming to be jumping with joy upon hearing his bogus divination, rather than suddenly asking such a question. ‘What? Who you are? Who cares about who you are? Unless you’re the city police…’
“Thank you for your wisdom, master. Could you please help me with another question? I’ll do anything to hear your words of wisdom…” Li Yiming asked as he bowed down.
‘Seriously? Is this guy crazy or did I reach some kind of new level in swindling people?’ The thug was rather amused as seeing Li Yiming fall so quickly to his ruse.
“How… can I help you?”
“I’m looking for someone.” Li Yiming took a deep breath. He had an endless list of questions, but he resigned to starting with the most important one.
“Who might that be?” The fortune-teller asked with anxiousness.
“Liu Meng,” Li Yiming said.
‘Liu Meng? A girl? Why is he asking about a girl all of a sudden? I thought he wanted to know more about his career?’ The fortune teller wondered.
“Yes. If you know where she is…” Li Yiming said expectingly.
“I see…” The fortune-teller played along for the time being as he cursed inwardly. ‘Why are you asking me? You should go to the police station!’
“Alright… Give me your hand. Let me have a look.” The man sighed and sat down.
“Thank you!” Li Yiming hurried to sit down as well and gave his right hand to the fortune teller. He could tell from the fortune teller’s expression that the latter was under some kind of difficulty.
“Give me your left hand.” It was obvious that Li Yiming had fallen right into the fortune teller’s trap, yet the latter grew irritated at Li Yiming’s eagerness. With his tablet no longer being functional, he had to rely on palm reading, which he struggled to remember even the basics.
As Li Yiming stared at his own palm, he suddenly noticed something strange. ‘These lines… I don’t remember any of them? What happened to my hand?’