Novel Translation

The Greatest Showman – Chapter 103

Chapter 103 – Immersion

“In 2010, on July 15th, the first scene of ‘Buried’… ” Rodrigo held the slate, standing in front of the camera, preparing to clap for the first take. However, before he could finish his words, he put down the slate and shouted at the group of mercenaries whispering nearby, “Quiet! Do you know what quiet means? Everyone shut up, even your breathing! This is in the middle of the desert, the scene of burying a life. There should be no sound here, except for Paul, there is no life here. So, shut up, all of you shut up! If you still want to get paid.”

Rodrigo’s emotions were somewhat exaggerated because of everything that he had experienced that day at the funeral company and he understood what true fear and despair are like. The mercenaries on set were actually chatting, which was utterly absurd.

Originally, some people still wanted to crack a joke, but after hearing the last sentence, everyone shut their mouths unanimously. There was only the sound of low breathing left on the scene, faintly audible in the air flowing through the warehouse.

Rodrigo turned around and glanced at the Renly lying in the wooden box. His anger was still not suppressed. “Step back, everyone except Eduard, take three steps back. The microphone can pick up your breathing.”

The mercenaries wore mocking and disdainful expressions, seemingly unconcerned with Rodrigo’s exaggerated reactions. The sound of their breathing was so faint that even if there were microphones sensitive enough to pick it up, it would be indistinguishable amidst the background noise of air movement. Rodrigo was clearly exaggerating. However, in this situation, they had to lower their heads under the eaves, exchanging a glance with each other before lazily and slowly stepping back a few steps.

After a short wait, Rodrigo picked up the slate again. “2010, July 15th, ‘Buried,’ first scene, first attempt.”

With his words, a crisp clap marked the beginning of the first scene.

Due to the unique nature of the film “Buried,” Rodrigo decided to shoot it in chronological order. Therefore, there was no particular or special scene to choose for the first one; it was simply the moment when Paul regained consciousness after being kidnapped. Regardless of difficulty, everything was to be completed according to the timeline.

Currently, the camera was fixed on the abdomen of Renly, then slowly locking the close-up shot upwards. After that, all surrounding lights were extinguished. The warehouse doors had long been closed, with sun-blocking curtains drawn, creating a stifling atmosphere in the air-tight space. Even the light had completely disappeared, and the sense of emptiness in the darkness spread slowly amidst the silence.

Making even the mercenaries, who had previously seemed inclined to joke around, fell into a genuine silence.

Eduard held his breath, focusing intently on the viewfinder in his hand, observing every movement within the lens. He didn’t want his breathing to become an excuse for Renly messing up the first scene. He was curious to see what tricks this guy could pull off.

In the darkness, a pitch-black darkness where nothing could be seen, there was absolute silence. Yet, if one listened carefully, a steady and prolonged breathing could be heard stirring the air, sounding as if… as if someone was asleep. This serene tranquillity even induced drowsiness, filling the entire world with peace.

Eduard couldn’t help but furrow his brow. The shoot had already begun. What is this guy doing? They are an independent crew; making a film costs money. Every second Renly delayed was wasting their precious funds. Could it be that the kid was asleep? Actually asleep? Otherwise, how could his breathing be so steady? This is… a joke.

“Uh.” Suddenly, his breathing became erratic, as if reflexively taking a deep breath, disrupting the rhythm of sleep entirely. Then, his breathing suddenly stopped, and that moment of silence froze the darkness completely. But it was only for a moment. Soon after, the breathing began to sound agonized, his struggle and suppression hidden within the increasingly chaotic breathing, slowly unfolded like an octopus extending its tentacles.

The emotions slowly surging within this quietude were not turbulent, yet they sent shivers down one’s spine, like the chilling air seeping in, unnoticed at first, but once goosebumps appeared, shivers followed suit, making one instinctively rub its skin to warm up.

Eduard couldn’t help but shiver.

Could it be a nightmare? A nightmare full of torment? Although there was only a change in breathing, everything felt so real, so real that it made his heart begin to contract.

“Huff… huff…” The breathing started to become heavier, to elongate, but as if obstructed by something, in the darkness, it could clearly be felt that he was exerting all his efforts, trying everything to make the breathing smooth, but it was so difficult. Then he began to cough violently, but even the cough was dull and arduous, the struggle spreading through every cell of his body.

When the cough subsided, his breathing quickened, as if he had finally awakened from his nightmare, and then he began to survey the surroundings. The chaotic breathing changed positions on both sides, seemingly searching for something, surveying something, but all these actions were futile, as nothing could be seen in this absolute darkness.

But at this moment, his breathing became extremely urgent, even faintly tinged with fear, and his muscles tensed as he was struggling, still, he gained nothing from that. The whole person heavily slammed onto an object, emitting a muffled sound.

This sound, accompanied by pain, made him stop struggling, with his breath disappearing instantly as if his throat had been squeezed.

Eduard couldn’t help but swallow a mouthful of saliva, the invisible fear rushing from all directions. The greatest fear of humanity always comes from the unknown. The fear of the unknown, whether it’s outer space, the future, ghosts, and so on. In the infinite darkness, the emotions contained in the only breath amplified the unknown to the extreme, and his palms began to moisten.

Struggling, fiercely struggling, but after his breath recovered again, the clattering collision sound mixed with the chaotic and rapid breathing, brought a desperate fear, as if no matter how much one struggled, one couldn’t break free from the restraints, couldn’t tear through the darkness no matter how hard one tried. The breath also carried a scent of blood, gradually spreading.

“Drink.” The breathing stopped again, and then the collision sound disappeared, leaving only the trivial sound of fabric rubbing, occasionally accompanied by the sound of inadvertently colliding with objects. The sense of confinement and oppression in the narrow space began to convey itself as if he was trapped in a space barely larger than his body. The increasingly rapid breathing highlighted the scorching and thin air, the frequency of the heartbeats kept accelerating, and the adrenaline sprayed out, leaving the mouth dry.

What exactly happened to him? What situation did he encounter? What danger is he facing? Countless unknown questions rushed over, almost suffocating Eduard.

“Uh.” A muffled groan came, the suppressed voice tinged with an imperceptible hint of vulnerability, but in the blink of an eye, that hint of fragility disappeared, replaced by the determination and decisiveness to survive. Breathing gradually stabilized in the blink of an eye, but it was still heavy and murky. It could be made out that he was forcing himself to stay calm, resolute in remaining calm even when his life was hanging by a thread.

Amidst the frictional sound of the fabric, came the sound of a flint striking, and it sounded as if… as if it was a lighter!

Was it the momentary calmness that allowed him to find the lighter? A faint glimmer of hope began to sprout from the depths of his heart. If it really was a lighter, that would be great. Flame is humanity’s second life. After dispersing the darkness, at least he could ascertain his situation and then think of ways to save himself.

A lighter, please let it be a lighter. An involuntary prayer was uttered, deep within Eduard, and from some unknown moment, he became immersed in this scene and his mind began to fluctuate with the changes in the breathing sounds.

“Scrape, scrape.” The sound of the lighter striking came through, but still, no flame was visible. “Ah! Ah!” The choked cry struggled to come out, as if even shouting was impossible. The extreme suppression of that stifling feeling was like gunpowder that was about to explode but in the end, it was hardened and suppressed.

Emotions surged through the boundless darkness. Mónica felt like she couldn’t catch her breath, as if her heart was about to burst. The choking sensation tightly gripped her throat, and before she could react, tears filled her eyes. She didn’t even know what this warmth represented. Sympathy? Fear? Panic? Or something else? She tightly bit her lower lip, avoiding making a sound, but her desperate hands gripped her ankle, almost making her scream.

“Ah!” The rapid breathing grew heavier and louder, mixed with muffled sounds resembling a mute person shouting, intensifying the terror. “Swoosh!” A spark suddenly ignited, but it was fleeting. Yet, everyone still tensed their muscles, while standing upright, and eagerly leaning forward, as a faint glimmer of hope was growing stronger.

“Swoosh! Swoosh!” The friction of the lighter grew louder, with the light flickering, the rope of hope swaying, finally starting to straighten. A deep yellow flame emerged, pushing back the darkness like a receding tide, yet not fully dissipating, surrounding the feeble flame, while glaring menacingly.

Beneath the flame, a quarter of a face was visible, and only one eye could be seen, that deep brown eye was scanning frantically, displaying fear, confusion, pain, and panic, all mingled in the depths. Accompanied by rapid and fiery breaths, as the temperature continued to rise.

Suddenly, the breathing halted, and the pupils dilated as if witnessing despair bursting like fireworks, the entire world collapsing with a deafening roar, and time freezing instantly. The small world illuminated by the flame was a closed wooden coffin, where hope had just been ignited, only to be extinguished immediately.


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