Chapter 95: Individual Reactions
Shang Jianyao had just heard the name Wang Yafei this morning. When he participated in Life Ritual’s gathering, a member had mentioned this person and said that he supported the establishment of a fertility center to allow children to be born via man-made wombs.
The member also said that Wang Yafei abused his power against her as a supervisor because she often argued with Wang Yafei about this matter. He had even found an excuse to transfer her to the most arduous cleaning post.
Back then, Ren Jie’s response was: “The Goddess will punish sinners.”
Less than four hours after she said that, Wang Yafei suddenly passed away at work due to a cardiac arrest.
If he hadn’t heard the relevant conversation in advance, Shang Jianyao definitely wouldn’t have thought that anything was wrong with this piece of news. Within Pangu Biology, it was normal for people to suddenly die from diseases every year.
If Wang Yafei had died two to three years later, Shang Jianyao wouldn’t have thought that anything was abnormal about it. He definitely would’ve treated it as a coincidence.
But on the day Ren Jie said, ‘the Goddess will punish sinners,’ Sinner Wang Yafei died from a heart attack.
Shang Jianyao suddenly stood up, took down the hanging coat, and draped it over his body. He quickly walked out the door and went straight to Zone C.
He gradually slowed down as he walked, and his speed soon became his usual pace.
As he approached the Rec Center, Shang Jianyao swept his gaze around and saw Shen Du standing in the shadows of the wall beside him, immersed in darkness.
Shen Du stood there in a daze. Although his eyes were looking ahead, they were completely unfocused. He didn’t even notice Shang Jianyao’s approach.
“Uncle Shen,” Shang Jianyao called out.
Shen Du suddenly jolted to attention as he turned his head slightly to look at the source of the sound.
“Ah, Jianyao…” He forced a smile.
Shang Jianyao said in a very calm tone, “Wang Yafei is dead.”
Shen Du’s face was slightly pale, and the muscles on both sides of his mouth twitched. “I know.”
His voice was very low as if he was afraid of disturbing something that others couldn’t see.
Shang Jianyao looked at him and directly asked, “Is this divine punishment?”
Shen Du trembled again, and his expression instantly became confused. “I don’t know…” His gaze went past Shang Jianyao, and his eyes seemed to lose focus again.
Shang Jianyao was just about to ask again when a five-year-old boy ran over, grabbed Shen Du’s hanging hand, and shook it. “Daddy, Daddy, it’s time to go home!”
“Yes, yes,” replied Shen Du before turning his head toward Shang Jianyao. “I’ll be heading back first.”
“Goodbye.” Shang Jianyao waved his hand politely.
Shen Du looked at his child again, and a gentle smile gradually appeared on his face. He held the child’s hand and met up with his wife, who had come out of the Rec Center. They walked back to Zone B.
Shang Jianyao stared at Shen Du’s back and didn’t turn his head for a long time.
During Life Ritual’s few gatherings, Shang Jianyao had used his ‘talent’ to build a good relationship with many members and listened to them as they shared their reason for joining the parish.
Among them, Shen Du had always been unable to get over his child, who died young. When they had their present child, he became even more worried about history repeating itself, afraid that he would also be unable to raise him.
Ren Jie noticed his situation and deliberately befriended him, imparting him with a lot of parenting knowledge.
Later, Shen Du’s child slowly grew up and became healthy. He increasingly believed in the deity Ren Jie spoke of and eventually joined the Life Ritual parish.
After a while, Shang Jianyao retracted his gaze and walked towards the Rec Center’s entrance.
Since the radio program had begun, there were almost no pedestrians outside at this moment. Only the sounds of people playing cards and chatting could be heard coming from inside.
Of course, if one looked around carefully, they could still find some pairs of figures in the darkness.
Shang Jianyao was just about to pass through the door when he suddenly saw two familiar figures come out.
The 27-year-old woman on the right was Jian Xin, the parishioner who had complained about Wang Yafei at the Life Ritual gathering this morning.
She had beautiful facial features and looked elegant. She could pass off as a beauty. This was thanks to the popularization of genetic enhancement drugs.
The other person was her husband, Zhuo Zhengyuan. He was also a Life Ritual parishioner.
At this moment, Jian Xin’s face was pale as if she had contracted a serious illness. She looked rather nervous as if she would be startled by any slight commotion.
Her husband, Zhuo Zhengyuan, had a gloomy expression that kept people at bay.
Shang Jianyao took two steps and stood in front of them.
Jian Xin and Zhuo Zhengyuan stopped at the same time, their bodies trembling slightly.
Shang Jianyao suppressed his voice and said, “Wang Yafei is dead.”
The short-haired Jian Xin reflexively said, “Coincidence, it must be a coincidence…”
Her voice gradually softened, leaving only a weak echo that carried an indescribable sense of horror and confusion.
Zhuo Zhengyuan gulped and said in a deep voice, “The preliminary autopsy results are out. It’s indeed a death caused by cardiac arrest. There’s no other cause.”
Shang Jianyao nodded. “What a coincidence.”
He then stepped aside and allowed Jian Xin and Zhuo Zhengyuan to pass. Shang Jianyao only looked back after the couple had distanced themselves from him.
Jian Xin and Zhuo Zhengyuan’s figures swayed slightly under the ceiling light, appearing a little feeble.
Shang Jianyao remembered that they had joined Life Ritual because Jian Xin had two miscarriages and finally managed to get pregnant with a third child through great difficulty.
Now that their son was born, not only was there nothing wrong with him, but he had also inherited most of the advantages of genetic enhancement from the previous generation. This allowed him to obtain better talent in subsequent drug adjustments.
Putting aside the fact that they liked to argue about the issue regarding childbirth, Jian Xin and Zhuo Zhengyuan were very good people. They were compassionate and liked children. During gatherings, they would always take the initiative to comfort other members. When they encountered people that needed help, they wouldn’t feign ignorance.
Once, Ren Jie was a little embarrassed by Shang Jianyao’s ‘too little’ comment. Zhuo Zhengyuan even took the initiative to share the Holy Communion that he had yet to finish.
Shang Jianyao slowly retracted his gaze and walked into the Rec Center. He looked over and didn’t see Li Zhen and the parish’s other members. Only Ren Jie—the Guide—remained in her usual spot and chatted with the women in their forties.
Ren Jie—who had her hair coiled up—seemed to sense his gaze. She turned her head and looked over. Upon seeing an acquaintance, she smiled and nodded affectionately.
Shang Jianyao bowed in response. He didn’t approach and casually found a spot to watch the people playing cards and listen to the radio that was always drowned out by the various sounds.
Time passed minute by minute. It wasn’t long before the street lamps went out and night arrived.
Ren Jie flipped her wrist and looked at her old electronic watch. She stood up and smiled at the women around her. “Let’s go back, let’s go back. There’s someone waiting for you!”
The group of people giggled and joked for a while before Ren Jie left the Rec Center and walked in the direction of her home.
Shang Jianyao stood up and followed behind her as if everything was normal.
After turning into another street, Ren Jie slowed down when she saw that there was nobody else. She allowed Shang Jianyao to close the distance and walk beside her.
“Jianyao, what’s the matter?” asked Ren Jie in a low voice that exhibited a casual tone.
Shang Jianyao’s eyes gradually turned dark. “Auntie Ren, look. We live on the same floor. We are all members of the parish, so…”
Ren Jie felt a little confused when she heard that, but she gradually came to a realization. “So, we have to build a closer relationship. For example…”
As she spoke, her eyes gradually turned strange. Her face turned a little red, and it was unknown what connections she was making.
Shang Jianyao’s eyebrows twitched, and he immediately shouted, “Mom!”
Ren Jie was stunned for a moment before her expression returned to normal.
She chuckled and said, “Then, I’ll acknowledge you as my godson. If your parents were still alive, they would be about my age.”
After acknowledging her godson, her attitude clearly became much warmer.
Shang Jianyao restrained his expression and repeated his previous words. “Wang Yafei is dead.”
Ren Jie tilted her head and glanced at him. After a few seconds of silence, she asked, “Do you feel terrified and uneasy?”
“There’s also surprise,” Shang Jianyao added.
Ren Jie smiled and questioned, “Do you suspect that this is the punishment a deity gives sinners?”
“Or a reward?” Shang Jianyao’s thoughts jumped uncontrollably.
Ren Jie almost didn’t manage to resume the conversation’s tempo. She paused and smiled. “I can’t answer your question on behalf of the Goddess. I can only say that the Arbiter of Fate has always been watching us, respectively rewarding and punishing the good and evil.
“As for whether it’s true or not, I’m not sure. However, I don’t think it would be such a coincidence if it weren’t for the Goddess’s punishment.”
Shang Jianyao asked, “Who would know?”
Ren Jie’s expression immediately turned serious. “The Doctor of the Church.”