Novel Translation

The Greatest Showman – Chapter 107

Chapter 107 – Die once more

“Do you understand everything I said, Mr. Conroy?”

Silence, oppressive silence; a cold, bone-chilling cold. He was staring with wide eyes, saying nothing, the light in his eyes gradually dimming as if all life had been drained from him.

This is not a dream.

It’s over, everything is over, his dream is over, even his life is over.

With no insurance money, Linda has nothing to fall back on, and their house will burden her heavily. Even if she doesn’t want to, after the bank takes the house, she can only take Shane back to her parent’s home and gradually forget the memories of him; after he dies, his traces in this world will be steadily erased until they completely disappear, as if he never existed. Even his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, won’t remember him.

Everything was just a lie, a beautiful lie.

The White House said that Iraq was a threat and that they were responsible for the 9/11 attack. As a result, everyone across the country was indignant and threw themselves into the war, only to find themselves deeply mired in this quagmire with no way out. Who cares about the innocent soldiers on the battlefield? The company said that the work in Iraq was not dangerous at all and that it could yield super high rewards. So, he left his home without hesitation, hoping to do something for Linda and Shane with his own hands, but ended up being trapped in this small box, quietly waiting to die. And they only cared about how to avoid paying the insurance money.

How laughable, how absurd, how sorrowful.

But even more sorrowful is that now he couldn’t even muster the strength to be angry – there was only a sense of powerlessness, and the weight of despair was pressing down on him until he couldn’t breathe. He is alone now, Linda isn’t answering the phone, Shane is at school, the White House rescue personnel are nowhere to be seen, and on the other end of the phone are cold-blooded animals eager to finish their work quickly. There’s nothing left, nothing at all, no hope, no follow-up, this is the end.

“Mr. Conroy?” The voice on the other end of the phone called out again, but he still didn’t respond. “This concludes my conversation with Mr. Paul Conroy, I am now turning off the recorder.”

He widened his eyes, but in those deep brown eyes, there was only a blank expression left, as if there was no trace of emotion. A scalding tear slid from the corner of his eye, but before it could hit the ground, it evaporated completely in the air. He then didn’t even have any tears left.

As Chu Jiashu, he had died once; as Paul Conroy—or perhaps Renly Hall, he could no longer distinguish whether Renly was a dream or Paul was a dream, but regardless of who it was, the end had come again, and he had to die once more.

Die once more.

Where was the fear of death? The desire to live? The longing for freedom? They were all gone, completely snuffed out coldly, leaving nothing behind. He couldn’t even feel the pain anymore, just lying there quietly, waiting for death to arrive. The whole world turned grey, vast and mighty, but he didn’t even have the strength to struggle, let alone escape.

How wonderful it was to quietly appreciate the world’s disintegration. The corners of his mouth slowly, gently, and gradually formed a faint arc, that was a smile.

The deathly silence created the illusion that time has come to a standstill. On the other end of the phone, after waiting for a long time – there was still no response as if even the sound of breathing had disappeared. A sense of sorrow slowly rose, and he softly said, “I’m sorry.” His voice, no longer official and businesslike, carried a slight heaviness, echoing within the faint glow of the phone, inexplicably adding a touch of desolation akin to the sadness of a hare’s death evoking the fox’s grief.

He ended the call, then slowly lowered his arm, staring unblinkingly at the wooden board above him. The flashlight placed on his chest flickered twice before finally stabilizing. In the oppressive darkness, its faint light seemed precarious, as if it could be extinguished at any moment.

He lay there just like that, with the sound of his breath gradually fading away, the rise and fall of his chest gradually calming, and the curve of his lips returning to its original state. The radiance in those deep brown eyes slowly dissipated, holding no more anger, no more despair, no more irony, nothing at all, only a sense of tranquillity remaining, as if one could clearly witness the faint vitality disappearing along with the radiance.

Whew. The world quieted once again.

In a trance, he found himself back on the sickbed of his previous life, surrounded by a vast whiteness. Doctors and nurses hurried around, the tearful face of Ding Yanan filled with despair and shock, fading amidst the surging crowd, with all the surrounding clamour beginning to fade away. The world dimmed bit by bit. He knew there would be no next time; this was the end, the end of a piece of nothingness.

“… Renly.”

An empty voice came from the distant horizon, indistinct and echoing in the boundless darkness, its direction unclear, its content indistinguishable, as if it were just the howl of the wind.

“…Renly.” The voice still lingered, and the empty echo sounded thin and fragile. Suddenly, the voice crossed the vastness of space and exploded directly in his ears, “Renly!”

A burst of light exploded deep within his pupils, and the blinding lights instantly flooded into his eyes, the tearing pain causing his body to instinctively shut its eyes. The bright, almost scorching light instantly dissipated all darkness, even with closed eyes one could feel the boiling heat. Yet, he still lacked the strength to touch it, his brain unable to react.

“Renly! My God, what’s going on? Renly! Renly!”

The anxious voice was screaming in his ears as if a tremendous force was pulling him up from the depths of the ocean. Suddenly, he emerged from the water, and his lungs, long deprived of air, sucked in a large amount of it. “Gasp.” He involuntarily gasped for breath, his eyes opening again, every muscle in his body tense to the extreme, unable to even move his eyeballs, just staring blankly at the light source directly above, causing a dull pain in his eyes.

“Renly? Answer me. Renly!”

“Huff, huff, huff…” He breathed heavily, his soul finally returning to his body. He turned his head in confusion, trying to find a reference point with blurred focus. The distant figures lost their faces, wearing the same masks; the person nearby was the same, wearing a white mask without features. This left him in confusion, with countless unanswered questions.

Who is he? Is this a dream or reality? How should he differentiate it? Is he Paul or Renly, or is this just Chu Jiashu’s dream? Is he buried alive? Has he been rescued? Is he alive? Or is he just acting? What’s going on with the hotel? What is a dream and what is reality? What happened? What’s the situation now?

“…Where am I?” Struggling, he finally posed a question.

Rodrigo looked at Renly, and inexplicably, tears fell from his eyes. He knew he looked pathetic, but he couldn’t control himself. He wiped the hot tears from his cheeks. “The warehouse, we are in the warehouse now, this is the set.” Rodrigo didn’t know why Renly was asking this question, but he still tried his best to answer.

“Do you remember? We were filming, and then you… you fell asleep because you were too exhausted. After waking you up, we resumed shooting. Are you okay now? If necessary, we can pause today’s work, and you can go back and rest. You don’t need to worry about the warehouse rental fee, our funds are still relatively abundant…”

Rodrigo was going to continue, but Renly raised his hand to stop him. He turned his head again and looked, the faces in his line of sight gradually became clear, faces that were both unfamiliar and familiar, filled with panic and shock, all eyes were on his shoulders, as if… as if he had just narrowly escaped death.

“So, we were just filming.” Renly’s brain spun a little sluggishly, and he still felt somewhat fuzzy. He was just called “Renly” a moment ago, did that mean this was reality? But how could he really tell? Did he have to search for the falling sense of imbalance like in “Inception”? Or perhaps find his own totem?

His chaotic thoughts subsided, and he lifted his head once again, only to see the urgency in Rodrigo’s expression, the tears remaining under his eyes reflecting his pale and desperate face. “…Did the filming of that scene just now go well?”

Nothing felt real, yet everything was too real. The boundary between illusion and reality was incredibly blurred. There seemed to be little difference between this moment and the one just now. But at least he was “alive” now. Even if it was just an illusion, he was alive. He needed some time to gather his thoughts.

For now, let’s pretend he’s Renly, let’s pretend that what just happened was just acting, let’s pretend that him reading the script in the hotel until falling asleep was just a dream.

“Very well.” Rodrigo’s words stumbled a bit, caught off guard by Renly’s question – Renly’s state just now was so terrible, and now he was actually inquiring about the filming situation? This… really left Rodrigo unsure of how to respond. But thinking about it, Renly had already delivered such an outstanding performance. If the camera hadn’t faithfully recorded it, it would be their fault. “Perfect! I mean,” Rodrigo quickly said, “everything was flawless, the camera angles were perfect, no need for reshoots. Brilliant, truly brilliant!”

In his mind, he couldn’t think of any actor who could reach such a height, not even Robert De Niro, not even Al Pacino, not even Marlon Brando. Despite of his lack knowledge, despite his unfair judgment, despite of him being easily impressed, this is his opinion – That performance just now was absolutely worth going down in the history books!

“That’s good then. That’s a good thing, right?” Renly’s weak voice teased, followed by intense coughing.

T/N – Renly went a little bit dudu 😅😅.

T/N – If you like this novel, please give a review or rating on Novel Updates🙂

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