Thank you to Kassilph and Lenka for the ko-fi~
Just as he was thinking this, a “meow~” came from behind Shu Shuishui, startling him.
He jumped in place and quickly turned around, only to see a small black kitten sitting there, seemingly appearing out of nowhere.
It was indeed a kitten, about the size of a palm, a furry bundle with wet, big eyes.
As Shu Shuishui turned around, the kitten gave another meow, then pounced and hugged Shu Shuishui while rubbing against him.
After a while, Shu Shuishui, who had turned into a stone-like dormouse, stiffly extended his small paw to push the kitten away.
“Stop! You’re a cat, and we won’t get anywhere!”
“Let go of me!”
“I’m a serious dormouse, and I already have a pet.
Stay away from me!”
Shu Shuishui thought, “Why is this cat not acting like a cat at all? Is it a strategy? Is the big cat coming soon?”
With that in mind, Shu Shuishui realized he couldn’t continue like this.
The small kitten was already much larger than him.
If a big cat arrived, he would be even more defenseless.
Using some force, he managed to break free from the kitten’s clingy embrace, and without worrying about the direction, he dashed away.
The kitten chased after him unwillingly, but its four short legs were running so fast they practically tied themselves in knots, and it couldn’t catch up to Shu Shuishui.
Shu Shuishui had confidence in his speed.
After running for a while, he couldn’t hear the kitten’s meows anymore.
Just as he was considering stopping…
Suddenly, it felt like he had stepped on some kind of switch.
Everything around him started to shake.
His vision blurred, and the world transformed before his eyes.
Shu Shuishui stopped in bewilderment.
Due to his excessive speed, he had taken a few more steps forward from the inertia.
The rustic scenery from moments ago had vanished, replaced by a modern city.
Towering skyscrapers blocked out the sun, and the roads were wide and smooth.
However, many cars were parked crookedly, as if an emergency had suddenly occurred, causing a chain reaction of accidents.
Shu Shuishui found himself standing by the roadside, not far from a small car that had crashed into a street lamp.
The car’s hood had crumpled from the impact, and one could faintly see a person sitting in the driver’s seat.
Cautiously taking small steps, Shu Shuishui approached the vehicle.
When he was about a meter away from the car, he jumped with force, leaping to a height above the car window to peer inside.
Shu Shuishui saw a person lying facedown on the driver’s seat.
The person had gray hair, likely an elderly individual, and their body showed no signs of movement or breathing.
Eventually, with a soft click, Shu Shuishui hopped onto the car’s door handle, his two hind legs pushing against the car’s body, and his paws gripping the door handle.
He pulled, and with a metallic sound, the door opened.
The agile dormouse squeezed into the car, climbing to the highest point of the seat.
After confirming there was nothing unusual, he slowly approached the driver’s seat.
When Shu Shuishui reached the front of the steering wheel, he finally saw the driver.
A strong sense of incongruity washed over him.
The person slumped over the steering wheel had wrinkled skin, gray hair, and hands that clung to the wheel like withered branches.
The skin seemed to shrink tightly around the bones, making them appear exceptionally thin.
But it was this elderly figure who was driving a stylish blue car, dressed in a red dress with a luxurious gemstone necklace around the neck.
Shu Shuishui scratched his head with his paw.
Were all the elderly people in this world so fashionable?
Shu Shuishui inspected the car’s interior, noticing that the decorations were clearly geared towards a younger aesthetic.
After a brief search, he jumped out of the car and onto the smooth road.
He glanced around and headed toward the next vehicle.
After examining four consecutive cars, Shu Shuishui realized that the people inside, whether drivers or passengers, whether male or female, all exhibited signs of aging.
Moreover, the appearance and attire of the deceased didn’t match.
The situation of the female driver in the red outfit earlier wasn’t an exception; most of the deceased had mismatched appearances and attire.
Now the little dormouse was getting a bit perplexed.
What was going on? Why did it seem like the vitality of the people here had been drained in an instant? Shu Shuishui had seen horror movies while trembling with Shu Bao, and he had witnessed such life-draining creatures in them, but those only existed in movies.
Pretending to be composed, Shu Shuishui extended his paw to smooth down his ruffled fur, reassuring himself that monsters were just lies and didn’t exist! He was a determined successor to socialist mice, and the world was scientific.
As a not-so-scientific scientific dormouse, he aimlessly moved between the scattered vehicles in various directions, going quite a distance without sensing any signs of life.
Apart from the vehicles, bodies started appearing on the sides of the road and even on the streets.
The bodies were in disarray, dressed in different clothes and styles, but without exception, they all appeared to be in an elderly state.
The world was eerily quiet, as if the entire city had perished.
Shu Shuishui even discovered a deceased pet dog under a flowerbed by the road.
The plants in the flowerbed had withered long ago.
Even the trees that lined the streets were not spared.
All forms of life seemed to have their vitality taken away in an instant.
As Shu Shuishui stood under a tree, gazing at a deceased old bird on its branches, a sudden mobile phone ringtone echoed from somewhere in the desolate city!
This startled Shu Shuishui, who instantly climbed up the tree and used both paws to hold a bare twig, attempting to shield himself.
Due to Shu Shuishui’s movements, the withered dead bird on the tree branch swayed and fell to the ground, its head dropping downwards.
Shu Shuishui could even hear a crisp sound from beneath the tree.
After the phone ringtone had chimed for a moment, the city remained eerily still.
Shu Shuishui followed the sound source and discovered that it was coming from the briefcase of a formally dressed individual lying on the side of the road.
The little dormouse moved aside the twig that had been in front of his face and looked around.
Apart from the phone ringing, everything seemed unchanged from before.
This sole variable was filled with unknowns and allure.
Shu Shuishui hesitated for a moment but ultimately decided to investigate.
After all, up to this point, he still hadn’t figured out what had occurred and what he needed to do.
Releasing his paws from the twig, the bare branch swung freely in the windless world.
Shu Shuishui agilely descended the tree trunk, landing softly on the ground.
He then extended his paw to reposition the fallen bird, which had tumbled upside down.
Only after this did he proceed sneakily toward the source of the mobile phone ringtone.
Upon arriving at the intended destination, the phone was still ringing incessantly.
The formally dressed man’s face was turned towards the ground, and his body had crashed down, with one-third of his briefcase pressed beneath him.
Shu Shuishui grabbed a corner of the briefcase and tried to pull it out.
The briefcase moved a bit, but at the same time, the body also shifted slightly.
Shu Shuishui instinctively let go of his grip, carefully observing for a moment.
He realized that the person had fallen with a firm grasp on the briefcase, never letting go even in death.
Helpless, Shu Shuishui could only extend his small paw to grip the zipper and then open the briefcase in this awkward position.
After unzipping it, the mobile phone’s ringtone grew even louder.
Shu Shuishui reached inside with his paw, discovering that the briefcase contained quite a few items, with the phone buried beneath a stack of documents.
Looking at the body facing down and then at his short arms, Shu Shuishui eventually struggled to lift the briefcase slightly and stuck his head inside.
His chubby little bottom remained outside, and his long tail swayed slightly.
When Shu Shuishui emerged, his furry little head was quite disheveled, but he paid it no mind.
Instead, he stared at the phone he held in his hands.
The phone looked similar to those on Earth, but it was much thinner and lighter, made of an unknown material.
The screen displayed a name jumping merrily: Mr.
Shu Shuishui’s small ears twitched.
If it’s a hamster, answering it shouldn’t be a problem.
With this thought in mind, he carefully extended his tiny paw toward the screen.
However, Shu Shuishui poked and swiped at the screen for a moment with his paw, and the phone remained unresponsive.
Thinking about touchscreens from his time on Earth, he looked at his sharp claws and realized they might not be suitable.
His long tail had involuntarily swung forward.
Shu Shuishui used his paw to grip the tip of his tail, then used his tail in place of a finger to tap the ringing “Answer” button on the screen.
But poking at it achieved nothing; the screen remained unresponsive.
Shu Shuishui tried swiping with his tail for a while, but it was the same result.
As the tail didn’t work either, Shu Shuishui let go of it, grabbed the phone on both sides, and held it in front of himself like a mirror.
He then used his slightly moist little nose to target the answer button.
Realizing he was a bit short, he stood on his tiptoes, aligning his nose with the answer button on the same plane.
He then bumped it with precision.
This series of actions from Shu Shuishui was completed within seconds.
Clearly, Shu Shuishui had used these methods frequently on Earth to unlock phone screens.
That is, until one day, Shu Bao saw Shu Shuishui pressing his whole body onto a phone screen.
That was when he realized that touchscreens were not very friendly to Shu Shuishui and bought him a stylus pen.
With the stylus pen, the little dormouse could finally place the phone securely on a stand and use the stylus to navigate the screen.
However, despite this series of attempts, the phone screen remained unresponsive.
Shu Shuishui looked at the phone in front of him with some concern.
The ringtone had been playing for dozens of seconds, and who knew when the call would be disconnected.
He shook the phone in front of him, wondering if there was something wrong with it.
His gaze wandered over the body on the ground.
Shu Shuishui’s small ears twitched, suddenly remembering fingerprint recognition.
The dormouse immediately walked to the other side of the body and found the dried, exposed palm.
Fortunately, the person’s palm was facing upward, with fingers slightly spread.
Just as Shu Shuishui was about to try each finger one by one, the phone suddenly connected the moment its screen aligned with the palm.
And so, Shu Shuishui stood there holding the phone in astonishment.
“Why did it take you so long to answer?”
In this silent world, the voice from the phone sounded extremely clear.
Shu Shuishui nearly shook the phone out of his hand, but fortunately, the voice was quite pleasant, and the sound-sensitive dormouse felt he could tolerate it.
“Why aren’t you saying anything? Are you still mad?” After receiving no response for a while, a note of puzzlement and subtle appeasement tinged the voice on the other end.
The voice on the phone sounded young, around thirty years old, with a clean sound that was rather soothing to Shu Shuishui.
He had flipped the phone over and laid it flat on the ground.
Upon touching the ground, a very faint sound emanated from the phone.
The person on the other end seemed to notice something odd.
Hearing those words, Shu Shuishui instinctively looked behind him, only to find there was no cat.
He breathed a sigh of relief and then cleared his throat, addressing the phone.
Hamster, this is Mr.
There was a moment of silence on the other end of the line, as if there was some confusion.
“Who are you? Let Wu Lan answer the phone!” After a while, the clean voice filled with vigilance resumed.
Shu Shuishui lowered his head and looked at the elderly person who had aged and passed away on the ground, feeling a bit at a loss.
“He’s on the ground.
Are you Mr.
Shu Shuishui’s voice abruptly stopped, and the phone emitted a jarring noise.
His small ears involuntarily pressed against his head to protect them from the harsh sound.
After the noise subsided, there was silence on the other end of the phone.
Although the call was still active, there was no sound at all.
Shu Shuishui spoke into the phone.
“Hello, are you there? Hello? Can you hear me? If you’re there, make a squeak sound, squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak…”
After a moment, perhaps due to the prolonged signal loss, the phone automatically disconnected.
Standing next to the phone in confusion, Shu Shuishui found that after the inexplicable phone call, there seemed to be no progress at all.
He looked at the body on the ground, which remained in the same state as before.
Perhaps the only thing he had gained was knowing the name “Wu Lan,” although he didn’t know which characters made up the name.
Shu Shuishui looked at the briefcase half pressed under the body, his small ears twitching.
Perhaps this world also had something akin to an ID card.
Although it might not be much help, it was the only thing he had discovered so far that could be considered a clue.
After failing in the attempt to call back, the little dormouse repositioned himself to the other side of the body and then squeezed into the briefcase, with his chubby little rear end almost following suit.
After a moment, Shu Shuishui began to meticulously retrieve the contents of the briefcase.
Apart from the earlier phone, there was a stack of documents, a set of keys, a box of business cards, a purely black cube-shaped box, and a strand of hamster fur.
Extracting the cube-shaped box proved a bit challenging due to it being lodged between the body and the ground, but Shu Shuishui managed to get it out one by one.
Glancing at the stack of documents, it seemed to be a rather significant contract with signatures from both parties.
He wasn’t sure where the set of keys belonged, but the box of business cards confirmed Wu Lan’s name.
Perhaps the most unexpected find was the purely black cube-shaped box.
Opening it revealed a pair of rings.
Based on the information he had gathered so far, this world was quite similar to Earth, making the meaning of these rings rather self-evident.
Sitting down on the ground, Shu Shuishui found himself in a state of introspection, pondering, “Shui Shui peeked at someone’s secrets, Shui Shui’s not being good.” After a brief moment of self-blame, he gathered his spirits once again.
Holding the box with the rings, Shu Shuishui read a line of text on the inside of the lid: “Can Mr.
Hamster extend a paw, allowing the big cat to cherish him for a lifetime?”
Staring at the line of text on the box, Shu Shuishui was left somewhat stupefied.
What did this mean? Why did the hamster need the big cat to cherish it for a lifetime? Had the hamster offended some big cat? To receive such punishment?
Could it be that rings in this world weren’t meant for marriage proposals? Shu Shuishui had initially thought he could help fulfill Wu Lan’s last wish by delivering the other ring to Mr.
Hamster, but now he needed to mull it over.
After all, hamsters were also rodents, and rodents should not deceive each other.
In a daze for a moment, Shu Shuishui recalled the words Mr.
Hamster spoke when the call connected—two words, “big cat.” And since the call was actually for Wu Lan, that meant Wu Lan was the big cat? Moreover, the pair of rings belonged to humans, something that rodent paws couldn’t wear.
So, in essence, the big cat and the hamster were both humans or perhaps both were spiritual entities transformed into human forms.
A cheesy pickup line successfully bewildered Shu Shuishui for a moment, but eventually, he grasped the meaning behind it.
The rings were indeed engagement rings; Wu Lan was planning to propose to Mr.
However, before Wu Lan’s proposal, something unknown happened in the city.
Everyone lost their vitality, life abruptly reached its end in an instant.
In his final moments, Wu Lan could only subconsciously clutch the briefcase tightly, without time for anything else.
After rummaging through the contents of the briefcase, Shu Shuishui’s focus returned to the phone.
He unlocked the phone using the same method as before, using his tail as a makeshift stylus.
He intended to search for more clues about Mr.
However, it turned out that Wu Lan had likely just gotten a new phone.
Shu Shuishui only found one photo in the gallery, accompanied by the caption of a kissing emoticon.
The phone’s contact list did contain several call records, but they were just strings of numbers, likely not yet saved.
The only name was Mr.
Shu Shuishui tried to call back, but once again, it didn’t connect.
Scratching his head, Shu Shuishui walked over to Wu Lan’s ear, which was currently pressed to the ground.
He spoke solemnly, “Mr.
Big Cat, I apologize for touching your personal belongings.
As compensation, I will deliver the other ring to Mr.
Since I acted without permission, you don’t need to say thank you to me, but I must say sorry to you.”
After saying this, Shu Shuishui bowed apologetically toward Wu Lan.
Having bowed, he was about to move his tiny paw to leave, but then he thought better of it.
He moved his paw back, then proceeded to bow two more times toward Wu Lan.
From his mouth, Shu Shuishui retrieved a small bouquet of delicate flowers.
These flowers had accompanied him through countless hibernations and had been intended to accompany him in death.
Now, the little dormouse placed them beside Wu Lan’s head with great respect.
Having done all of this, Shu Shuishui stowed away the items he had taken from the briefcase into his spiritual storage.
Then he attempted to change the phone’s settings.
Because it was a new phone, Shu Shuishui easily disabled the palm print unlock function.
Trying it out, he found that he could unlock the phone with a swipe of his tail.
Of course, Shu Shuishui didn’t take both rings with him.
The pair of rings in the box differed slightly in size, likely due to differences in the thickness of Mr.
Big Cat’s and Mr.
However, at this point, the dried-out Mr.
Big Cat could no longer show such differences.
With his head tilted to the side, Shu Shuishui pondered for a moment.
Hamster could be cherished, the larger one should be Wu Lan’s.
Shu Shuishui took the slightly larger ring out of the box and placed it on Wu Lan’s emaciated ring finger.
The ring almost slipped onto the finger, showing a hint of impatience.
Suddenly, Shu Shuishui felt a tinge of sadness, though he wasn’t sure what exactly was making him sad.
“Though I don’t know where Mr.
Hamster is, I will do my best.
Big Cat, you should rest.”
After making this promise once again, Shu Shuishui finally turned around to leave.
Hamster was still alive, he must be outside of this city.
At the very least, Mr.
Hamster was now in a safe place.
Shu Shuishui wasn’t sure how vast this spacetime was, but as long as he remained in this dungeon, he would keep his promise.
Now, Shu Shuishui could only hope that Mr.
Hamster would call again or that he would find the brown hamster himself.
After all, that hamster had a piece of fur.
The desolate city was eerily silent, even the wind avoiding this realm of death.
Shu Shuishui felt like he had been walking for a long time without reaching the city’s edge.
As the sky gradually darkened, Shu Shuishui realized he needed a brief rest.
In this unfamiliar environment, every change made him vigilant.
Shu Shuishui found a building and slipped inside.
He was surprised to find that the elevator within the building was still operational.
Jumping up, he used his paw to press the elevator button accurately.
After a moment, the elevator doors opened.
Shu Shuishui pondered for a moment and then directly selected the highest floor.
Jumping to select the floor, Shu Shuishui then quietly waited for the elevator to ascend.
Watching the red numbers above continuously change, Shu Shuishui couldn’t help but feel a sense of wonder.
He had never taken an elevator so openly and independently before.
With a ding, the elevator came to a stop, the doors gradually opening.
Shu Shuishui was about to step out, but he suddenly froze because he saw that the elevator had stopped on the 33rd floor, not the 36th floor that he had originally pressed!
Startled, Shu Shuishui’s fur stood on end.
The elevator was about to close again after a brief pause.
Just as it was about to close and possibly trap Shu Shuishui inside, the little mouse jumped out in a hurry!
The doors closed behind him, and Shu Shuishui turned to see the elevator continue to ascend, stopping at the 36th floor and staying still.
Shu Shuishui sighed to himself, “…” I am the successor rodent of socialism! I am the successor rodent of socialism…
Comforting himself, Shu Shuishui inspected the 33rd floor.
The decoration was elegant and tasteful, with a soft carpet covering the floor.
The little dormouse walked toward a wall and then slowly inched forward along it.
Shu Shuishui perked up his ears to catch any sounds, but he heard nothing.
The surroundings were as quiet as ever.
Finally, Shu Shuishui reached a spot by a window and climbed onto the windowsill to look outside.
The window faced the setting sun.
The desolate city was covered in a thin golden veil, as if the world was showing the last bit of tenderness to the city.
The little dormouse sat by the window, gazing at the sunset in a daze.
“Gu Gu, where are you? Shui Shui misses you.”
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