Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
When he received a call from Xing Conglian, Lin Chen was squatting in front of a shelf, staring at an entire row of toothbrushes.
There seemed to be a DJ specially tuning music in the hall downstairs, as dance music could be heard. The electronic beats that were mixed with the screams of fans were so imposing that, despite being two floors away, Lin Chen almost couldn’t hear what Xing Conglian was saying on the phone.
“Are you okay?” Xing Conglian’s voice sounded a bit cold.
This shouldn’t be a daily greeting. Lin Chen assumed that Xing Conglian was worried about something bad because of the tone of his voice and the meaning behind his words.
“Yes, for now. Is something wrong?” As Lin Chen replied, he carefully scanned the toothbrushes that were hanging on the shelves.
As expected of Maji, they truly deserved to be the favorite daily necessity brand among the bourgeoisie. Even their toothbrushes were dazzling.
The rows of toothbrush heads in front of him were all different sizes, and they even had distinct softness and hardness on their bristles. He picked up the label of each toothbrush and read it carefully, finding that he was at a loss. Truly Wang Chao was a rising Virgo*, which was quite troublesome.
*Describes people who have a strong ability to appreciate objects and discern subtle objects at a level far beyond what the average person can perceive.
“Here’s the situation. Our colleagues just returned from patrol and heard that the mall crowd exceeded the standard, which could make the situation quite dangerous.”
“I came to the mall twenty minutes ago. Since I walked in, the flow of people hasn’t reached the level of serious overcrowding. I can’t say if it’s a dangerous situation, but there are indeed a lot of people here.”
“Did you see anything suspicious?” Xing Conglian asked.
Hearing this, Lin Chen stood up from the shelf and looked outside the store through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
From his position, he could see a lot of people surrounding the handrails of the corridors on the third floor. There seemed to be a steady stream of people walking towards it.
Because there were so many people gathered, they formed a dense human wall. His sight was completely blocked by this wall, so he could only vaguely see the green canopy on top of the coconut tree in the hall on the first floor.
Looking at what was hanging under the canopy, he said, “There’s a problem.”
“What?” Xing Conglian’s voice sank.
“Hand Wang Chao the phone first.”
After he finished speaking, he heard silence on the other end, then the sound of the phone being handed over. “A’Chen, are you okay?” Wang Chao’s voice was even more serious than Xing Conglian’s. “You must tell me if anything’s wrong, and I’ll help you!”
“I’m fine. I just want to ask you, what model of toothbrush do you want, and what are the requirements for the hardness of the bristles?”
“Ahhhh! How can you still care about this?!” Wang Chao shouted.
Lin Chen squatted down and said to the teenager, “Well I would feel that it was pointless if I went through all this trouble and didn’t buy the right toothbrush.”
“Size S, medium hardness,” the other end replied.
After Wang Chao finished speaking, he let out another cry. It was obvious that he had been “educated” by Xing Conglian again.
Lin Chen plucked through the row of toothbrushes, then picked the one that Wang Chao designated and asked another question, “Are there any requirements for the color?”
Sure enough, he guessed it right.
He looked at the indigo toothbrush in his hand, turned around, and walked towards the cashier. “Okay, don’t return the phone to your captain just yet. I have something to ask you. What did you say to the police chief yesterday?”
“Captain, did you hear? A’Chen asked me to answer something. Let go!” Wang Chao shouted on the phone. Lin Chen could hear a few running steps, as if he were avoiding Xing Conglian, and then he heard a gasp before a loud reply came through, “You mean Director Zheng? Director Zheng is very nice. He said he would notify the mall and rectify it immediately. What’s the matter?”
Lin Chen frowned.
He handed the toothbrush to the cashier, who scanned the price tag and said, “Hello sir. Your total is 99 yuan. Thank you.”
What an extravagant child.
Lin Chen took out a 100-yuan bill from his pocket to pay. He watched as the cashier gave him his change, then said to the person on the phone, “I’m afraid the effect of rectification isn’t very good.”
“Why isn’t it good? Didn’t Director Zheng call? Was the poster not taken off?” Wang Chao’s rapid-fire questions emerged again.
Lin Chen took the change handed to him by the cashier and put it in his pocket along with the toothbrush.
He tilted his head slightly and looked once again at the canopy of the giant coconut tree. Several steel wires vaguely passed through the canopy, indicating that there was something under it.
It was a huge poster that stretched across three floors. Lin Chen squinted his eyes and could even recall the face of the singer on the poster. He had many conjectures in his heart as he spoke to the person on the other end of the phone, “I think, maybe for some reason, Director Zheng’s order wasn’t executed immediately.”
There was another struggle for ownership on the other end of the line. After a while, Xing Conglian’s voice came through again. “The poster wasn’t taken off?”
While he spoke, there was a dense sound of drums in the hall downstairs. He didn’t know what the host had said or what the people had come to see, but the violent bass sound made his internal organs vibrate.
“I’ll check with Lao Zhang. If you can, try to get out first,” Xing Conglian said.
Lin Chen didn’t answer him.
The glass sliding door automatically slid open as he walked out of the shop. The oncoming people’s voices made him feel that the floor seemed to be shaking. The air seemed to be filled with something boiling, exciting and lively, anxious and irritable. It seemed that the opening ceremony of Ansheng International Mall should have achieved the desired effect.
“Hey, why is it so noisy?”
It wasn’t until he walked out of the Maji shop that Lin Chen discovered that his estimate of the flow of people had deviated.
In fact, he recalled that in order to choose a toothbrush just now, he stayed in the store for more than fifteen minutes. Within these fifteen minutes, because the opening ceremony was approaching, the flow of people in the mall increased at an exponential rate.
Lin Chen walked a distance along the hollow corridor and chose a location with a better view.
From where he was standing, the entire four-story hollow corridor surrounding the lobby was packed with people along the handrails. There were only a few spots on the fourth floor that were slightly empty. He couldn’t see the situation in the lobby clearly because he couldn’t reach the handrails. Judging by the constant upward flow of people along the escalator, the situation in the lobby would only get worse.
“I’m here. Tell me.”
“I may not be able to get out for the time being.” He looked at a certain spot in the fourth-floor cloister that had a good view, then said, “I can’t get a handle on the situation in the lobby for now. I need to go upstairs.”
If this were an ordinary person, he would probably say, “Don’t go. It’s too dangerous.” Even Lin Chen heard Wang Chao yelling on the other end of the phone, but Xing Conglian was Xing Conglian after all. He pondered for a bit before replying, “Don’t hang up the phone. Stay safe.”
Lin Chen chuckled almost inaudibly.
He then continued to observe the situation on the scene. The escalator was severely overloaded, and judging by that, the situation at the elevator might be even worse. At this time, the emergency exit was the best choice.
He looked up at the signs and continued forward. “Just in case, please help me bring up a floor plan of the mall first.”
“Already done, A’Chen!” Wang Chao’s brisk voice came through.
Although he couldn’t hear the usual clacking keyboard sound because his surroundings were too noisy, he still imagined it. Just as he was looking at the signs to find a route, Xing Conglian had already thought of this in advance and switched the call to an audio power amplifier.
“Wait a minute. I have to bring up the camera. A’Chen, how much power does your phone still have? If it’s not good, go and buy a portable charger!”
“Don’t be too nervous. Nothing has happened yet…” Lin Chen said calmly. He turned left along the corridor and walked into the emergency exit passage. “And fortunately, I recharged my phone before I went out.”
There were relatively few people in the emergency exit corridor, so the surrounding area instantly quieted.
Lin Chen heard the sound of a tapping keyboard, and it gave him a strange sense of peace. “A’Chen, now’s not the time for jokes!”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be careful.”
Xing Conglian’s voice cut in again. “Consultant Lin, I just talked with Lao Zheng. He said that he had indeed notified the mall and it should be that the mall didn’t rectify in time.”
“How’s the lobby?”
“Judging from the cameras of several channels, the flow of people has indeed exceeded the standard. The wide-angle view of the lobby isn’t clear because the poster covers up the stage. What the hell is with this Li Jingtian? I see a ton of fans wearing uniforms and holding something in their hands.”
“That’s a fan prop for support, Captain!” Wang Chao interrupted.
“I don’t know much about this stuff either. Li Jingtian should be a famous singer, right? Are all the people at the scene fans?”
“Is he holding a concert in Hongjing? Why are there so many people?” Xing Conglian asked.
“I don’t know.”
Lin Chen quickly walked out of the emergency exit corridor and headed to the location he had staked out.
The feeling of his internal organs vibrating came again. As he got closer to the top of the hall, the feeling became more intense. Lin Chen touched his chest and clenched the phone tightly as he squeezed past several people and finally managed to touch the edge of a handrail.
Looking down from the fourth floor, there were densely packed heads as far as the eye could see. A large area around the front stage was surrounded by a barrier, with security guards standing shoulder to shoulder in a full circle outside the barrier. Inside the barrier were full of fangirls in uniform.
The girls had fair faces and were wearing uniformed red dresses. They looked like rose petals that were spreading out in separate layers as they chanted their idol’s name. Because there were so many overlapping voices, all the noise became indistinct on the fourth floor.
Most likely, they were shouting, “Jingtian! Jingtian!”
Due to the crowd inside the barrier being too large, the people outside couldn’t see the performance on the stage clearly, so there was a constant flow of people rushing forward trying to break through the wall of security guards.
“How’s the situation around the stage?” Xing Conglian asked.
“Very bad,” Lin Chen said coldly.
At this moment, the song ended, and the DJ on stage stopped moving as the host took the stage again.
“Is everyone high?!”
“High!” The fans in the audience replied frantically.
“Are you excited?!” The host pointed his microphone in the direction of the audience.
“Yes!” the fans replied in unison.
“Who are you here for today?!”
“Jingitan! Jingtian! Li Jingtian! Ahhhhh!”
The shouts of the girls rang out in unison, causing the transparent roof of the mall to tremble.
“Isn’t this crazy? How many people are here right now?”
The enthusiastic calls from the fans had already reached Xing Conglian’s ear. It seemed that the fans’ crazy voices alone were enough to frighten him.
“It’s hard to estimate. Does Zheng Suo have anything to say?” Lin Chen frowned. He raised his voice and was no longer speaking at a normal volume.
“Lao Zheng said that his men are already outside diverting the flow of people to prevent them from squeezing into the mall.” Xing Conglian paused. “Lao Zheng hung up on me after saying this. He’s probably overwhelmed right now.”
Unknowingly, Xing Conglian’s voice had also become louder, matching Lin Chen’s volume.
“If the police divert the flow of people on the outside and stop them from entering the mall, it will easily cause congestion on the outside, which means the people inside the mall will also be unable to get out, right?” He asked.
“That seems to be the case. Tell me more about the situation.”
Lin Chen could feel that more people were starting to crowd around him. He looked at the hollow cloister around the hall again. The places that were originally empty were now filled with people.
The host was still on stage, firing up the crowd. “I know who you are here for! Tell me, what’s his name again? Say it loudly!”
“Jingtian! Ahhhhhh! Jingtian! Ahhhhhh!”
Just as the girls were shouting, Lin Chen was pushed onto the railing as the people behind him continued to push forward. His upper body had unknowingly leaned out of the railing, which caused him to grip the railing tightly so he wouldn’t lean further forward.
The temperature at the scene became so warm that a thin layer of sweat appeared on the palms of his hands.
“Okay, I hear you. I know who you’re here for: Li Jingitan, right?”
The voice of the host once again suppressed the screams of the crowd. He shouted, “But today, before that person shows up, you still have to give our mall a little time and let us finish the opening ceremony, alright? Answer me loudly!”
The host’s ability to mobilize emotions was truly good. After several back-and-forth questions and answers between him and the girls in the audience, the atmosphere of the scene reached a new level.
When the girls finished shouting, the host held up his hand and made a quiet gesture, then said, “I promise the time we spend will be very short!” After he teased, he suddenly stood up straight and said respectfully, “Next, let us invite Mr. Huang Wei, General Manager of the Ansheng International Mall, to give a speech. Don’t worry, everyone. I have just seen the Boss’ speech. It’s very short!”
He made an invitation gesture to the bottom of the stage after he finished speaking. Following his gesture, Lin Chen saw, in front of the fangirls dressed in red, a row of elites wearing suits and ties. They looked like they were leaders and relevant people on the board of directors of the shopping mall.
Then, it was like a premonition coming true or an inevitability by chance.
Among the elites, he saw a figure in a suit that was very familiar to him.
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