A modern fable – by Han Song
As with our last story, we invite readers to write to [email protected] before November 21 with questions and comments about the story for us, the editors, to reply and respond to. Feel free to also ask more general questions about Chinese science fiction, a booming and multi-faceted genre in China that this story is just one surreal example of.
It was a dark and gloomy but bright and shining place, like a construction site – the kind of construction site that was just about hell and might just as well be heaven. A bell rang out, sharp and piercing over the clamor of the place, and all was suddenly quiet. Wang Gu nearly jumped in fright. He'd been busy for some time, but now they’d called a halt to work. Which was to say – he had nothing to do. Finally finished! But, suddenly idle, Wang Gu found himself at a loss. Thunderstruck, he felt a cold shiver of fear cut through him, like a knife to the vitals. It was as if he'd awoken unexpectedly from a dream he wasn't meant to ever recover from. What happened? It took him a long time to adjust to it all. And then something welled up from deep within in his chest: Now that I'm finished it’s time to collect my pay.