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Chapter 1 – The Mysterious Bank Card
In this vast universe that encompasses all living beings, each individual sees themselves as different, special, or even unique, in comparison to others to some degree.
From a macroscopic view, the 7 billion people that occupy and share this azure planet are really not that different from each other. Regardless of one’s affluence, authority or looks, every inhabitant of this planet will eventually decompose into mere particles as time passes.
But the microscopic perspective, in contrast, is so accurate it’s outrageous. From this standpoint, the cellular level, there are no two individuals who are completely and utterly indistinguishable from each other, and thus every person is different, and unique. Even though a pair of identical twins may be born into the same family and experience similar childhoods, a miniscule difference in their DNA makes it impossible for their futures to be exactly the same.
Everyone’s existence is extremely special. Just as the famous philosopher, Heraclitus(1), once said 2,500 years ago: “no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” In this musing, he points out that a river will always flow forward in one direction, just as time does, irrespective of whether people want it to or not. And just as the river will continue to change as it stirs and turns, people are shaped and changed by their experiences with every passing day. So, the same person cannot step into the same river twice as both entities are constantly transforming.
Science indicates that, on average, approximately 500,000 cells are renewed in a person’s body per second. So even if one ignores the time that it takes for the molecules to assimilate, the person that exists in this second is not the same person as the one that existed in the previous.
In Buddhist proverbs, the uniqueness of our universe and of human experiences themselves is known as “one grain of sand is a world;” from every person’s perspective, even from the viewpoint of a grain of sand, the world is completely different.
Therefore, the saying “everyone is unique,” is to be taken as words of wisdom.
Shi Lei never considered this before, and he would never ever ponder on questions like this. As a university student in his fourth year, he was so ordinary that people wouldn't notice him when he’s walking on the street.
In terms of looks, he was relatively good looking, he could even be considered as handsome. But in the case of his family background, he belonged in the middle to lower social class. No one could find him if he had been thrown into a crowd.
His parents are office employees. Amongst the most developed provinces like He Dong province, they only earn about 3,000 to 4,000 yuan per month. They are not considered to be too frugal, but paying for Shi Lei’s university fees and living expenses alone takes a third of their income, so they are not too imprudent either.
Shi Lei was always willing to be ordinary since he wasn’t someone with ambitious aspirations. When he did his high school graduation exams, he was extremely lucky and his marks were about 40 or 50 points higher than his previous mock exams. He just made it into a first-class university and his parents were extremely delighted. But Shi Lei knew after he entered university he would definitely be an underachiever and would not have anything to do with the student council, school hunk, campus belle or even success after graduation.
All Shi Lei wished for was to be able to find a decent job before graduation, with a level of income which surpassed the average. As to life, he didn’t have any excessive desires.
As ordinary as Shi Lei was, with the biggest prize he ever gotten in life being the “another free bottle” on the beverage cap sweepstakes, he was sitting on his bed in his dorm as he found himself staring at a black bank card in his hands with extreme concentration.
The bank card also seemed ordinary, its size and material weren’t anything special. The right side of it was printed with numbers, slightly raised from the flatness of the card, with a magnetic strip at the back. If anything was unusual, it was the name of the bank that issued the card, printed in the bottom right corner. Shi Lei has never heard of it before.
It looked like a foreign bank. As someone who survived for more than three years in university with a pass for the level four test for English ability, Shi Lei could accurately translate the short English phrase as “Slave Development Bank”. But as peculiar a foreigner’s thoughts and creativity may be, it’s not normal for people to name their bank ‘slave’, right?
In the signature space on the back of the card were six handwritten numbers, which looked like the pin used to withdraw money from it. But how stupid must the person be to write the password for withdrawal on the back of their bank card? Are they not afraid of it being lost or stolen?
Now, the seemingly ordinary bank card, with its pin written clearly on the back, appeared more strange than anything.
What was even more peculiar was that Shi Lei couldn’t remember picking this card up from the ground, so why was it in his hand right now?
The card could have a lot of money on it, right? If the password to the card is really the six digits on the back, maybe he could make a small fortune? After all, the owner to this card drove a Porsche.
As the thought of a Porsche flashed in his mind, a sudden burst of terror engulfed him completely, leaving him shivering on his bed. As autumn just arrived, the coldness of absolute zero spread from his heart throughout his entire body.
That Porsche sports car, and all that happened afterwards was so extraordinary. If everything that happened was real, then Shi Lei would probably turn into someone unusual. But, who even wants to be unusual?!
It was something that happened yesterday, in the middle of the night.
Fourth year in university is a marvellous school year. Although the students still needed to attend classes, all of the teachers thoughtfully stopped calling rolls, as they knew that with the students entering graduation season, they were going to be busy contacting companies for work experiences, hoping to receive a job offer before graduation.
Shi Lei went to a job interview for a state-owned enterprise. To be precise, he did a written exam in the morning and received a notification for the interview in the afternoon. About 100 people participated in the exam, but only four admissions were offered in the end. Having entered the interview list would have meant that Shi Lei’s results for the written exam made it into the top 20 and he was extremely excited upon receiving the notification.
He rushed to the company and lined up for the interview. By the time it finished it was already 8PM. Although the examiners told him to wait until further notice, he knew that he was eliminated when he saw the look in their eyes.
Shi Lei walked down the street of Wu Dong, disappointed and hungry, extremely regretful after screwing up the interview. If he could make a slight change to his answer to a certain question, he might have grasped the job opportunity, which could not be easily obtained.
Time seemed to be toying with Shi Lei. Upon discovering that there was no one on the street, he realised it was already close to midnight.
He checked the time on his phone. It was only 5 or 6 minutes before from midnight.
His stomach grumbled angrily, as if all his organs were rebuking him for forgetting to eat. As Shi Lei planned to turn around and find a restaurant near the school to fill up his stomach, two gleaming light beams from straight ahead blinded him.
The roaring sound of the machine filled his ears. Shi Lei stared straight ahead, unaware of the danger that was swiftly approaching.
When Shi Lei finally had the view of what was behind the beams of light, he was dumbfounded to see that the source of the gigantic roaring was a high-speed sports car.
That speed must have surpassed 200 km/h, and it was racing straight towards Shi Lei. There were barely 10 meters left between them and it showed no signs of slowing down.
Is that driver crazy?
(1)Heraclitus: pre- Socratic Greek philosopher of the late 6th century BCE
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