Chapter 98 – Falling apart
The gap was indeed too small, just a tiny glimpse, but he could feel that slight coolness, as if the air was flowing. Although unable to confirm whether it was real or his own illusion, that faint possibility caused adrenaline to surge completely. He began using his fingertips to pick at that tiny seam, attempting to lift the lid slightly.
But… it didn’t budge for even a millimetre.
He remembered the nails that had just been driven in, densely and securely nailing every part of the coffin, leaving no gaps. He tried his best to insert his fingertips into the seam, but there was no chance at all. His fingertips could even sense the sticky and warm blood, yet there was no wavering, as if an elephant sat on top of the coffin lid. That tiny, faint sensation dragged him into an abyss without a bottom, and after the exhilarating free fall, all that remained was endless despair.
No, he won’t give up. He refused to give up.
Taking a deep breath, the boiling air entering his lungs began to sting. The churning in his stomach started to induce nausea again. He clenched his teeth, forcibly swallowing this feeling. Then he picked up his shoelace and slowly stuffed it into the gap.
In the darkness, he couldn’t see his progress, only relying on instinct to keep pressing. However, the shoelace began to accumulate at his fingertips, unable to be pushed out. All the shoelaces were stuck in the gap, motionless. No matter how hard he tried, all his efforts were in vain. The tangled shoelaces remained stagnant, making no progress.
He aggressively pulled on the shoelace, not expecting it will be ripped off so easily. With excessive force in his right hand, he inadvertently smashed it onto the wooden board above. Intense pain surged through his hand and wrist, and uncontrollable frustration erupted within him. Unable to vent, he seemed like a wounded beast, frantically grabbing the gap, fidgeting with his fingertips, and eventually directing his anger towards himself.
Clutching his fists tightly, while opening his mouth wide, he silently hissed. All the power in his tense muscles exploded, “Ah!” But no sound came out of his throat. His mouth remained wide open, and the unleashed anger, suppression, struggle, and pain were invisible. Instead, a sense of melancholy prevailed, and grey despair crawled up like vines, entwining around the ankles, rapidly spreading, and gradually consuming the entire person, leaving no residue behind.
Despair slowly settled, and the wool-like grey emotion infiltrated every inch of his bloodstream, entwining around the heart, while devouring his bright and vigorous vitality. Then, his chest slowly sank, as if the last bit of his strength had been drained, with even the spine pulled away. The whole person was reduced to a mere shell, falling softly and kicking up a cloud of dust.
The last glimmer in his eyes scattered, his pupils began to dilate, and his entire soul shattered.
Humans are always so foolish, aren’t they? Just before the explosion, he had a heated argument with Linda. They had been in a cold war for a full two weeks before, with no communication. Linda called him about Shane’s matter, and although they started discussing their child, it ultimately ended in a quarrel.
He thought Linda didn’t appreciate his hard work. Here in Iraq, he was always covered in yellow sand, unable to even enjoy a proper bath, not to mention the terrible food and constant explosions everywhere. He did all of this for the family, making a final effort, but didn’t get any understanding.
As for Linda, she believed he didn’t understand her burden. Her busy job left her with no time, but she had to take care of Shane. If she missed his childhood, it would be lost forever. She just wanted her mother or his mother to come and spend some time with Shane, to relieve her stress, but he disagreed.
The argument ended with Linda hanging up on him. She stated that, whether he liked it or not, she would have her mother come and stay for a while. He became furious because he knew his mother-in-law never liked him, even when their life was stable and positive. If his mother-in-law moved in, his last refuge would be gone. Linda and Shane might also be convinced to drift further away from him.
He sincerely believed that their marriage had reached its end, seemingly with no chance of recovery. But now, here he was, lying in a coffin, buried in the middle of the desert. How ironic. He didn’t want to end their marriage; he wanted to go home. He didn’t want to continue arguing with Linda; he still loved her deeply, but now he had no chance.
What is even more ironic is that his company abandoned him, and all the promised benefits to him were gone because they fired him. When he was still gasping for breath in the coffin, the cruel and chilling reality sent shivers down his spine. All of this was just to clear their connections, and everything paled compared to the exchange of interests. His government also gave up on him; the so-called “saving every citizen” was nothing but a joke in the face of national interests. They won’t come to his rescue, and even the soldiers in Iraq were abandoned; all the government cared about was oil.
So, he has nothing left. He lost his wife, lost his son, lost his support, lost his home, lost his life, and even lost his faith. So, what does he have left? When he dies, will he only leave behind an empty shell without a soul?
He began to gradually lose consciousness, unable to feel his feet or hands. The narrow space compressed to the extreme, and even the air obediently clung to his skin. All of his sensations seemed to be amplified to the utmost, yet also imprisoned to the utmost. The suffocating oppression was so vivid, so clear, that it brought despair. In a daze, he found himself back on the sickbed, still Chu Jiashu, still the paralyzed Chu Jiashu.
He struggled to move his body but found it impossible. The nightmare that had haunted him for ten years returned to his body, and his soul was once again imprisoned. Panic swept over him, warmth welled up in his eye sockets, but no matter how he struggled, his body remained devoid of any sensation—it was freezing cold, only cold.
Everything has returned to the starting point. His dream was nothing but a joke, his efforts were all in vain. His persistence, his struggle, his efforts, all of them were just a desperate struggle on the verge of death. What’s even more ridiculous is that he thought he had finally got the chance to spread his wings again, like a moth to the flame embracing freedom. However, the result is falling into the abyss, and being shattered into pieces.
He was unwilling, but what could unwillingness change? Regret can’t help him, anger is useless, and even if he exerts all his efforts, it’s all in vain. That kind of frustration firmly gripped his throat, tearing at his heart and lungs, but he stayed silent. He watched helplessly as his soul was gradually consumed by the grey despair.
Vivid and cruel, real and cold.
The dimensional wall between reality and illusion is completely shattered at this moment. He could no longer distinguish clearly whether he was Renly, Paul, Chu Jiashu, or just a soul without identity. Everything in the past was just a dream, even the thirty-two years of the previous life were a dream. When the dream woke him up, unable to accept reality, he fell into madness and ended up collapsing. All the storylines are chaotic, Paul’s, Renly’s, and Chu Jiashu’s, as if three memory puzzles were overturned together, all the pieces were mixed, reflected in the kaleidoscope, dazzling, but difficult to distinguish between true and false.
He attempted to clench his fists, only to find that his brain had lost control over his hands; he tried to take deep breaths, but discovered that his throat had been completely sealed; he attempted to organize his thoughts, but found his mind in chaos as if a storm had ravaged through it. Even the warm tears in his eye sockets gradually lost their warmth, turning icy and piercing before evaporating into thin air, disappearing without a trace.
At this moment, time had completely lost its meaning. It was unclear whether a second or an hour had passed. The air became increasingly thin, and the boiling oxygen burned in his lungs, resembling countless embroidery needles stirring within, transmitting faint waves of tearing pain. His numb body finally seemed to sense a slight disturbance.
However, this faint disturbance was the tolling bell of death.
The hands of the Grim Reaper firmly gripped his neck; sharp nails pierced into his throat, squeezing forcefully, leaving behind bruised and purplish marks. The suffocating torment allowed darkness to seep into his body, and his entire body began to sink as if plunging into a vast and desolate ocean. The cold seawater surrounded him, and the piercing despair slowly froze his blood into ice. He continued to sink, endlessly sinking, as if the unfathomable sea would never reach its bottom. It seemed forever unreachable, perpetually imprisoned in the boundless void.
The soul, withering away.
His body couldn’t move, but his thoughts remained active; dreams were stillborn, but he still had the qualification to dream; progress encountered obstacles, but after failure, he could still try again; life was trapped in reality, but he could still enjoy small happiness. However, the wings of freedom were broken, the soul slowly withered away, and “he” no longer existed, whether it was Chu Jiashu, Renly, or Paul – he would dissipate. The extinguishing of the last thought was the moment he completely disappeared from this world, thoroughly erased.
It’s over, everything is over.
Light, a beam of light penetrated through, and the faint light was so sharp that it stung the eyes. “Hoo…” a long breath was exhaled. Is this the light of rebirth or the light of the end? Did he waste the opportunity for rebirth, so it’s completely over? How ridiculous, how absurd, how meaningless, but it really was coming to an end.
“Renly? Renly! For Christ’s sake! Renly! Wake up, please, wake up!”
The voice came from afar, pounding on the soul like a bell, a tsunami of agony surged, and every cell in his body began to scream and shout. In an instant, he emerged from the deep sea to the surface!
T/N – This chapter was something else. Wow, just Wow.
T/N – If you like this novel, please give a review or rating on Novel Updates
T/N – If you want to support me check out my – KO-FI