The 20 of us trekked along for a while. Just before the sun set, we finally reached level ground halfway up the mountain, where we would be setting up camp for the night.
After organizing things a bit, the team leader distributed tents, groundsheets, and sleeping bags. Then he gave a demonstration on how to put up the tents. Zhong Yuan and I put up our tent and tossed our things inside. Then we took a commemorative photo together. To be honest, I still had some complaints about sharing a tent with a boy, especially one I didn’t much like. But at the end of the day, we’d each be in our own sleeping bags, not paying the other any harm. This was a big group event, so I couldn’t just cause an uproar over such a small thing.
When everyone finished putting up their tents, we all gathered to have dinner together.
Although the area had been developed into a park, aside from the places selling water and a bit of food at the foot of the mountain, the land was basically uninhabited. We had to carry our food and cooking supplies up the mountain on our own. Since there was a lot of stuff to carry, our food and supplies were rather rudimentary. We decided against any barbecue equipment and just went with gas burners and pots. In the mountains, getting a fire started was the first and foremost matter, so we were very conscious of the gas burners. Everyone was in charge of preparing their own utensils. For food, we brought meat, fish balls, shrimp balls, vegetables, tofu, and such things that could be boiled, along with a large amount of noodles and some seasoning… It may sound simple, but out there in the wilderness, away from civilization, it was actually rather extravagant.
I crouched down at the side of the pot with my food container, the saliva nearly dripping down my face. From the bubbling soup, I grabbed some lamb and vegetable pieces. Then I walked off to the side, carefully added some seasoning, and then… offered up the food to Zhong Yuan.
Disgruntled groans sounded around us.
Zhong Yuan tasted it without reservations and nodded. “Not bad.”
Looking at his capitalistic face, I really wanted to grab the food out of his hands and pour it onto his head… But I had to endure it. For my precious Canon, I could endure it!
Aside from the noodles, the other food was basically a rare resource, which meant that everyone had their set share. In other words, if Zhong Yuan ate my portion, I didn’t get any more.
I was trying to figure out how to protect my lamb without angering Zhong Yuan, when Senior Ling Ling offered her portion to him. She said, “Zhong Yuan, I don’t like meat. You can have it.”
I looked over at them happily. Senior Ling Ling, good job!
But Zhong Yuan didn’t accept the lamb meat. Instead, he gave her a sweet smile and replied, “That’s OK. I’ll just eat Mu Er’s portion.”
Listen to this, listen! What is he saying?! He’s clearly exploiting and robbing me! How could he say those words so confidently?! It’s really true that a person needs to train their skin. I may have pretty thick skin, but it wasn’t even a tenth as thick as Zhong Yuan’s!
With a grumpy face, I scooped up more meat from the pot and added seasoning. And without waiting for Zhong Yuan’s words, I immediately gobbled the food. Unfortunately, I was in too much of a rush that my eyes popped out from my mouth getting burned; tears nearly streamed down my face. I had my mouth open, sucking in and blowing out air. I couldn’t bear to spit out the food, but neither could I just swallow it.
Zhong Yuan quickly caught on to this embarrassing scene. At least he had a conscience though. He immediately poured me a cup of water. And then, with that smile of his, he asked, “You didn’t go that far just for a few pieces of meat, did you?”
I gulped down a mouthful of water, which was very effective in bringing the temperature down, but I inadvertently ended up swallowing all the food like it was a pill of medicine. I wasn’t grateful to Zhong Yuan at all. He was the one who caused the entire problem with the meat in the first place. And he had this ill-intentioned expression on his face. He may as well have taped a sign to his head that said ‘rejoices in others’ misfortune’.
He looked really satisfied sitting on the groundsheet. Like a master to a servant, he commanded me, “Blockhead, go get some meat.”
I shot him an angry glare and then obediently went to get more meat…
After dinner, everyone got together to play games. We started by playing blind man’s bluff. One person is blindfolded and must tag another of the players, each of whom chooses a spot to stand at. However, the tagger must correctly call out the name of the person they tagged. Then that person becomes the new player to be blindfolded. If the tagger is unable to correctly tag another player within a set time limit, they’ll be dealt a penalty. The cultural committee member prepared a large box filled with terrifying punishments… I don’t know where the committee member found this game, but I personally thought it was super unfair. You should know, although my hair did grow back a bit, I still had the shortest hair of everyone present…
And just as I predicted, with my nearly-bald head, I was caught in the first round.
Our very noble, self-sacrificing team leader volunteered to be blindfolded first. He spun around several times where he stood, and after he recovered from his dizziness, he walked straight towards me. I couldn’t move, so I stood there, quiet and still like a ghost. When he touched my head, he laughed and gave me an amiable pat. “Mu Er, right?”
With a depressed expression, I undid his blindfold and tied the black cloth over my own eyes. I ran to the center and had a few spins. Then I picked a random direction and started walking.