Time Smuggling Starting From The Year 2000 - Chapter 1
Chapter 1: Blank Title
Translator: Kim Guo Editor: Tehrn
Huang Xuan was flying aimlessly along a bizarre passage of mixed colors of black, white, red, green and blue that didn't seem to have a beginning or an end. He sat on a blanket with his left hand under his leg to stop the trembling of his little finger.
Huang Xuan, who was 15 years old, was still a middle school student, so what was happening in front of him was clearly beyond his imagination. Just an hour before, he had been wondering why the ground of the new pool in his home had been so dry and hard since, when his school had been transplanting some trees several days before, the holes had been filled with water as if it had rained. Out of curiosity, he wrapped himself in a blanket and pretended to read in the garden pavilion. He then came to the pool and started to dig deeper.
Although it was still early spring, it had been warm in Nanjing. Having dug about one meter deep, Huang Xuan realized that the ground was getting even harder and no water was coming out of the ground. He began to feel tired. So he lifted the hammer left by the worker and struck hard several times before he went back inside to rest. However, he suddenly heard some hollow sounds coming from under the ground. He weighed the hammer in his hand, then went to the toolbox and picked up the biggest one he could find. Carrying it on his shoulder, he smiled and said to himself as he walked towards the source of the sound, ’’I'll show you what I've got.’’
And that was how Huang Xuan ended up in the kaleidoscope-like passage.
Huang Xuan shouted and cursed, but there wasn't even an echo in the passage, so he unwillingly gave up. His limbs were numb and trembled uncontrollably. Of course, he wouldn't admit that he got scared. He had been to a lot of amusement parks. It would have been safer if he had been kidnapped in an amusement park. His body went up and down along with the blanket, like a scrap of paper floating in the river. He shouted again: ’’I am thirsty. Give me some water.’’
There was still no response. Huang Xuan looked down at his watch, but it had stopped since he entered this mysterious passage. Maybe because he was too tired, Huang Xuan started to doze off, but suddenly, he heard a loud noise that sounded like a high-power machine being unplugged. He immediately remembered the situation he was in and opened his eyes. A ring of white light could be seen from afar, which stood out against the colorful background of the passage.
A gender-neutral voice arose: ’’The destination P113T1061968W7890 has been reached.’’
’’Who are you?’’
’’According to human interpretation, you can call me the 'Time Machine'.’’
’’Wait. What?!’’ Huang Xuan was angry and scared. He said in a louder voice: ’’Send me back! What is this place?’’
’’Plane P113, equivalent to the geographic location 7890 in the year 1968, from the Plane P112, in terms of space coordinates.’’
’’I don't care where this is. Send me back right now. You should know that my dad is very powerful.’’ Huang Xuan started to feel nervous as the ring of white light grew bigger.
’’I can't,’’ said the voice in an extremely frigid tone. ’’You have threatened the safety of the base. Due to your violation of the fifth clause of the third article, and the fourth clause of the eleventh article of the Space Convention, the guardian of the base has by default sentenced the creature from P112 to exile.’’
Before Huang Xuan could respond, he had already been drawn into the white ring along with his blanket.
One day later, Huang Xuan became almost certain that he was in the year 1968, although he had only heard of this age from his father's generation. He talked to the people in the streets, scanned through books in the bookstore, asked many drivers and checked their license plates, flipped through invoices and grain coupons, and even looked at machinery numbers.
Everything he saw pointed to the same reality.
This morning, he walked into the biggest building in this small town, the post office. Looking at the stamps that were orderly arranged and placed under the counter, Huang Xuan gave a satisfied but somehow wry smile. He was familiar with the stamps named ’’Red National Mountains and Rivers’’. They were recalled on the very day that it was issued and became well-known because of that. In inverse proportion to its released amount, the stamp had become the most valuable since the founding of new China. However, now in front of Huang Xuan was a whole pile of uncropped stamps.
Huang Xuan had heard that half a day after the issuance of the stamp, an editor of SinoMaps Press found that the map of China on the stamp was not accurate as it had included neither Xisha Islands nor Nansha Islands. As soon as the Ministry of Telecommunications discovered this problem, it immediately commanded local post and telecommunication offices to stop selling the stamp. Unfortunately, by then a few post offices had already sold some, and those stamps had remained circulating on the market. At this moment, Huang Xuan was not sure whether he was lucky to be on the very day of the issuance, or if the age he was in actually differed from the one he had known of.
Only one female clerk was behind the counter, languidly knitting a sweater. On her desk were piles of complete sets of ’’Red National Mountains and Rivers’’. Unlike later ones, in this age post offices sold whatever they had and often only sold one kind of stamp until it was sold out. Huang Xuan felt a little dizzy. He walked forward, straightened his collar, gave the friendliest smile he could ever make, and asked, ’’How much is the stamp? May I have a look?’’
Maybe because of his standard Mandarin, which Huang Xuan had benefited a lot from in the past two days, the clerk combed her hair with her little finger and stood up. She quickly lost interest after one single glance at the weirdly dressed person in front of her, and asked in the soft Wu dialect, ’’How many?’’
’’I'd like to take a look first,’’ Huang Xuan maintained his smile. He had nothing on him except his mud-covered clothes and the blanket, let alone the money for a stamp;even though the face value of the ’’Red National Mountains and Rivers’’, which was at least two hundred thousand RMB in later ages, was only eight cents now.
The sullen face of the clerk became icier. She sneered at him and threw him a set of the stamps, of which two had already been cropped, then sat down and went back to knitting.
Huang Xuan had never been a good-tempered person. As a descendant of the Huangs, he had inherited his grandpa's cranky temper. Fortunately, he also inherited his grandpa's thoughtfulness, flexibility, and will power.
As a 15-year-old teenager, Huang Xuan was also rebellious. However, at this moment, he pretended that he didn't feel anything and picked up the stamps with a natural smile. He had seen his grandpa's collections of stamps many times. Although he was not experienced enough to be considered as a connoisseur, at this moment, he wanted to observe them carefully to see whether they were the same as what he had known of.
To be honest, Huang Xuan would rather believe that these stamps were all fake and the whole town was just an irritating prank. Nevertheless, If he had really time-traveled back to 1968, these stamps might be a life-saver for him. They might bring him his house, bread, computer and game consoles, and even a girlfriend or wife eight years later.
There were no merchants, capitalists or ID cards in this age. Instead, people used grain coupons, cloth coupons, meat coupons and reference letters for a living. It was not until the Third Plenary Session, ten years later in 1978, that people who wanted to get rich with a first-mover advantage started to cautiously search for business opportunities.
Huang Xuan didn't know what a 15-year-old teenager like him could do, but he was certain about two things: first, this age would come to an end eventually. And second, the price of ’’Red National Mountains and Rivers’’ would rocket, and his rate of return would be nearly 500 million percent, an unbelievably marvelous number.
He again looked at the stamps in his hands several times and reached into his pockets, which were empty. Now Huang Xuan finally understood his grandpa's feelings when his grandpa talked about ’’Red National Mountains and Rivers’’. The stamp that would be worth three hundred thousand RMB in the future was now right in front of him on an old desk with one hundred sets of them altogether, and fifty stamps in each set. This meant that after thirty years of preservation, these little pictures on this old and dirty desk would be worth 400 million RMB, which could be used to buy a hundred Benz, and would be equivalent to the amount of money saved up for 800 years by an ordinary person who made 4000 a month. Yet, now, the cost to buy all of the stamps was merely 400 RMB.
Huang Xuan pulled the blanket on him and reached over the counter which was as high as his chest, and asked, ’’Hey sister, can I ask a favor?’’
’’Say it,’’ the woman responded coldly.
’’I am still a student and have no money, but I really want to buy some stamps. Could I please exchange this blanket for some stamps?’’ Huang Xuan didn't know how long he had to stay at this place. 1969 was an age unfriendly to strangers. There were neither vendors nor dealers nor tourist golden weeks. Don't even mention people talking about getting rich by working hard. Huang Xuan had no labor skills that could help him make a living. His blanket could protect him from coldness, but not from starvation. Therefore, it was not a necessity for his survival.