I realize this isn’t wuxia, but it was written by Huang Yi, one of the greatest active wuxia novelists, and I find it very interesting.
December 18th, 1989
There was a rain shower that day. A light drizzle engulfed the campus in mist.
I was in a lecture hall in the language arts department, having just finished a lecture on “love in literature.”
A group of enthusiastic students surrounded me, asking questions and continuing the discussion.
They were young, and did not realize that most things in the world could not be defined and did not follow laws. Some were just views and opinions.
As I smiled, answering the questions of a student, another student called from outside.
“Professor Ma! You have guests.”
I was shocked.
Why would I have guests?
I walked out of the classroom. The student who informed me of the guests passed me.
She had an unsettling look on her face.
“Professor,” she whispered. “Your friends are very strange.”
I did not realize what she meant then, but I did when I walked out of the classroom.
I’m not someone who’s easily scared, but those three guests almost made me jump.
Guests from Far Away
The three tall men wore identical dark grey suits. The material was new, but the style was that of long ago.
And the tailoring was very poor. The suits were much too wide.
Making them look ridiculous.
But their expressions were not to be ridiculed. They did not display any emotions. Their faces were as cold as the suits they wore.
Even when I appeared before them, their emotions remained unchanged.
The three tall strangers stood in two rows. One stood in the front. The other two stood in the back.
“Mr. Jiaxi Ma?” asked the stranger in front. “The great author, Mr. Jiaxi Ma?”
His voice was frightening cold.
His pronunciation was strained. Like that of a foreigner only starting to learn our language.
But they looked as if they were Chinese.
“I am Jiaxi Ma,” I replied, after a long pause. “But I am not a great author.”
The menacing gazes of the three strangers fell on my face, scanning.
I felt very uncomfortable and stepped back, holding out my arms.
“Tell me who you are,” I said. “And what you want with me. If you don’t, I have other things to attend to.”
“Hand over ‘688’,” commanded the stranger in front emotionlessly.
I was greatly puzzled.
The stranger in front turned back to a stranger standing in the second row, quickly uttering a few strange phrases.
I was a language arts professor, and was fluent in seven languages.
But the language they spoke was completely foreign.
“Simeng! (this roughly translates to dreaming or thinking about dreams)” said one of the strangers, as if hit by a revelation. “ ‘688’ is also known as Simeng!”
I was starting to lose my patience by then. The queer language that the strangers spoke sent a shiver down my spine.
“You must be looking for someone else,” I said politely. “I’m sorry but I must leave.”
Simeng, I thought.
What a strange name.
The two strangers standing in the second row simultaneously reached their hands into their pockets. Their cold eyes shined like those of birds.
I was alarmed, afraid that they might kill me.
The stranger in the first row held his right hand, stopping his two comrades. He also stopped me from leaving.
“688 . . .” he said. “I mean Simeng . . . Simeng is the protagonist of Mr. Jiaxi Ma’s novel. How can Mr. Jiaxi Ma not know who Simeng is?
I’ve always noticed that the strangers’ speech was strained, but only then did I notice that they never used pronouns, always referring to people only by their names. Like how a human calls a dog’s name.
I felt cold, and as I turned around, I was met with the sweet sound of a woman.
“Jiaxi! Are you with friends?”
The tree strangers cautiously stared at my back.
It was Professor Aifu from the sociology department. We were supposed to have lunch together.
After apologizing briefly to the three strangers, I ran off with Aifu. They continued to stare at my back, sending bitter shivers down my spine.
I was not a cowardly man, but their stare made me feel as if I was inside a freezer.
“Who are they?” asked Aifu. “They look so creepy.”
I shook my head.
“I don’t know.”
I’ve never written a novel.
Nevertheless, even if I were to write a novel, I would never name my protagonist something as artificial as Simeng.
Even as I ate lunch with Aifu, I still felt deeply disturbed.
I sensed an omen, but I had no idea what it exactly was.