Lu Chen had a dream. A very, very long dream.
The world in his dreams were both familiar and strange. In this world, the characters each had a different kind of genius, and, unexpectedly, he actually experienced the lives of three different people!
The first life was the life of a singer named Xu Bo. He had an unrestrained personality and was crazy about music. Even though he had uncommon talent, he was never able to hit the jackpot and lived out his life like duckweed drifting in the currents.
The second life was the life of an actor named Mo Ran. His appearance was nothing special but had a steady and calm personality. He played different roles in many movies and television series, but all of those roles were supporting roles. His acting, while remarkable, only served to act as a foil that allowed the other actors to look better.
The last life was that of the freelance writer called Fang Mingyi. He enjoyed music, movies, traveling and good food. He would often take his backpack and roam the world. He relied on a satirical and comedic writing style on the internet to earn money from his readers.
Fate is a strange thing. A coincidental gathering allowed Xu Bo, Mo Ran, and Fang Mingyi to meet and get to know each other. Despite the fact that their personalities were nothing alike, they still managed to find common topics for conversation. Subsequently, they became close friends.
The three of them planned an outing to Mt. Yulong. However, when they were driving on Panshan Road, the road leading to Mt. Yulong, there was a landslide.
Countless rocks and mud crashed into the car window and into the car. A sense of terror and suffocation shocked Lu Chen awake and he abruptly sat up in his bed.
He violently gasped, his forehead beaded with sweat, and his eyes were spiritless.
Only after a long time did Lu Chen manage to regain his spirit.
His eyesight gradually adjusted and the incomparably familiar dorm room came into focus. The dim light from the small desk lamp barely lit up the ten square meter room. The only furniture in the room, other than the bed he was laying on were a worn-out desk and dilapidated wardrobe.
He was a bit confused if he was Xu Bo, Mo Ran, or Fang Mingyi. The memories of the three people were still vivid, almost as if they were etched into his mind, impossible to remove.
Lu Chen distractedly put on his jacket and staggered to the small bathroom. He speedily turned on the sink and used his hands to splash water on his face.
The cold faucet water energized him and allowed his befuddled mind to become clear.
A young face appeared in the mirror.
The face was symmetrical and chiseled, making him appear very handsome. The sword-like eyebrows, clear and profound eyes, firm nose, and thin lips brought about a feeling of stubbornness. It was only his brow that seemed to conceal a slightly dejected feeling and a haggard appearance. It reflected a feeling of discouragement and disappointment.
Only after seeing this could Lu Chen finally decide that he was still himself. That he was still the 22-year-old college student that hasn’t graduated yet and have already been drifting in the capital for over a year.
Beep- beep- beep- !
The phone beside the headboard suddenly began chirping loudly.
Lu Chen vigorously shook his head back and forth to clear his mind of the confusing jumble of thoughts. He hurriedly brushed his teeth and washed up, then left the small room in the basement to go to work.
The place he was living at the moment was in the Jingming Community, which laid between the Third and Fourth Ring Road 1. It was one of the dozens of rooms in the basement of an old building.
The rent for a room that was barely ten square meters could be as much as twelve hundred RMB. However, Lu Chen’s day-time job wasn’t very far from the room and the closest subway station was not even 5 minutes away.
In the capital, this city with a population of over thirty million, there were many people that came from outside the city like Lu Chen to live or chase their dreams.
They were dubbed “capital drifter” or “ants”2. Some of them called themselves “drift ants” in self-mockery.
As a “drift ant”, Lu Chen ran out of the district and onto the sidewalk. He broke through the early-morning fog and sped towards the place where he worked.
Everything was the same as usual; it was almost as if nothing had happened.
At dusk, Lu Chen dragged his exhausted body back to his gloomy room.
He threw himself heavily onto the single bed and closed his eyes to rest for a moment to regain his spirits before sitting back up. Then, he grabbed the guitar that was in front of the bed.
This veneer guitar was one of Lu Chen’s most valuable possessions. The front of the guitar was made with white pine and the back of the guitar was made with rosewood. White pine was publicly acknowledged as one of the best materials for guitars around the world. The timbre of the wood was very firm and gave a marvelous feeling. Furthermore, the sound of the guitar only improved the more you played it.
Even in the most difficult of times, Lu Chen didn’t even consider selling this guitar because the guitar was given to him by Lu Xue on his eighteenth birthday.
Lu Xue was Lu Chen’s younger sister. She used all of her savings to buy this guitar!
In three hours, Lu Chen will use this guitar to earn money at his second job.
In the daytime, Lu Chen was a KFC employee. However, at night, he was also a server and singer at a bar in the Houhai region of the capital. Every day, he worked for more than fifteen hours because he had these two jobs.
Lu Chen didn’t want it to be like this, however, his family was buried under a mountain of debt and didn’t give him much of a choice. If he didn’t work these jobs, his sister would be in danger of not being able to go to school and debt collectors would come find them.
Lu Chen also had an older sister who was also working to pay the debt like Lu Chen was. As the man of the family, he didn’t have an excuse to shirk his responsibilities.
Lu Chen hugged the guitar and gently strummed the strings. A pleasing sound flowed like water in torrents and filled the room.
He didn’t know how, but he felt much more comfortable than usual when he played the guitar. The slight difficulties he usually had with fingering disappeared and his fingering became much more skilled. It was as if he had millions of hours of experience, reached the limits, and could freely do anything he wanted.
Lu Chen’s heart moved. He straightened his back and began to seriously play the guitar.
The song he sang was “Soaring Pigeon”.
“Soaring Pigeon” was a pop song that was more than a decade old and composed by the famous singer, Tan Hong. It had a beautiful melody and was considered one of the most suitable ballads to be played on a guitar. However, the requirements for the fingering and singing was very high.
Lu Chen wasn’t a music student; he could at most be considered a pop music enthusiast. He studied the guitar for a couple years to pick up clueless girls.
Honestly, at that time, the family was still well off and Lu Chen used his guitar skills as a way to show off.
However, when he actually used it to make a living, his skills only allowed him to be an on-demand singer at a bar – he would be able to play only if someone requested him. His rank was the lowest amongst the bar singers.
Lu Chen had performed “Soaring Pigeon” in the past. However, his abilities weren’t enough and his performance was lacking. His skills weren’t enough to get the precise fingerings or capture the correct mood of the song, causing others to laugh at him.
However, when Lu Chen sang “Soaring Pigeon” this time, he realized that there were no longer any difficulties in the fingering. He opened his mouth and breathed softly, a melodious voice that possessed a charm that moved others resonated throughout the room.
“In my dreams, I became a pigeon that soared through the skies, la la~”
He finished singing; his fingers that pressed on the strings slowed to a stop.
How did it become like this?
Was this really him singing and playing of the song?
The door of the room was suddenly knocked on by someone.
Lu Chen regained his senses, put down his guitar and said, “Come in, the door isn’t closed.”
The door was pushed open by someone, then a tall and skinny bespectacled man walked in with an exaggerated smile on his face. He gave Lu Chen a thumbs up and said, “Superstar, that was amazing!”
Lu Chen laughed and said, “Then hurry and give me a tip. It can be a few thousand or a few hundred thousand, up to you!”
“I don’t have any money,” The bespectacled man loudly howled. His expression showed a “rather die than submit” attitude that made anyone that saw him want to kick him.
This bespectacled man was Lu Chen’s neighbor and his name was Li Feiyu. He came to the capital from Xiangnan more than three years ago and was currently a sales representative at a 4S car store. 3
Since the basement space was enclosed and there was only a piece of wood between the rooms, the sound insulation was very poor. When Lu Chen practiced in his room, his neighbors could all clearly hear the sounds.
Superstar was the nickname that Li Feiyu gave Lu Chen. It could be considered good natured teasing. Since both of them were good-natured and they were of similar ages, they got along well and became friends. Li Feiyu would often drop by during his free time.
Li Feiyu also loved to sing. However, he was tone deaf; whenever he sang, it was like ghosts wailing and wolves howling. Contrary to expectations, he had an appreciation of pop songs and, when he passed by, Lu Chen coincidentally was singing “Soaring Pigeon” and caused him to come to a stop.
Li Feiyu became serious, “You sang this song very well. Even though the style was a little different from Tan Hong, you got the essence of the song. It was better than the songs you covered in the past by at least ten times!”
He spread his ten fingers to indicate ten times.
Lu Chen smiled, “thank you!”
He knew that the way he sang in the past really wasn’t anything special.
“It really is strange…”
There was a mysterious expression on Li Feiyu’s face. He glanced around then leaned down and said, “You weren’t possessed by the God of Music right? A young good-for-nothing that managed to encounter fortune and improve. From then, he stepped on the path to the peak and marry Ms. Perfect. Every night, seeking perfection in music…”
Li Feiyu had another hobby, reading online novels. Hence, his imagination was very rich.
Lu Chen didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and sent out a kick, interrupting the other side’s nonsense.
However, Xu Bo’s memories from his dreams suddenly surfaced in his heart. Xu Bo was not only good at singing, he was also an expert at playing the guitar. Whether it be the steel-string acoustic guitar or the classical guitar 4 , he had achieved perfection.
Li Feiyu nimbly escaped to the doorway. He laughed, “Superstar, if you had original songs, it would add to your performance levels. I can assure you that you can definitely earn money!”
Can definitely earn money?
Lu Chen bitterly smiled as he shook his head. He stood up and closed the door.
The capital was the cultural gathering place and cultural center for the entire country. Millions of talented artists come to the capital, but how many could actually earn money?
If you want to earn money, you must have the talent, strength, network, and luck! If you’re missing any of those qualities, you’ll definitely fail!
What did Lu Chen have?
Also, original works weren’t easy either…
Suddenly, a flash of inspiration appeared in Lu Chen’s mind and illuminated. It was as if a divine ray passed through his brain.
Original works? Right, original works!
He threw himself in front of the desk and impatiently turned on his old laptop.
He was used to the fifty second startup time, but it now felt like a year. It was with great difficulty that he got to desktop. Lu Chen immediately clicked on an icon for a software that he very rarely used.
It was as if he was opening the door that would change his fate.
- Beijing have ringed roadways extending from center of Beijing. If you’re interested, here’s a wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_roads_of_Beijing
- “Ant Clan” is often used to refer to the large amounts of college graduates that live in cramped conditions to develop their career, hence the name “Ants”.
- 4S stands for Sale (Vehicle sales}, Spare parts, Service, and Survey (collect information on customers). These shops common in China and offer all four types of services there.
- It said “ballad guitar” or “classic guitar” but ballad guitars weren’t a thing according to Google. It was reasonable to think that the guitars are acoustic and the two major types of acoustic guitars are steel-string and the classic guitar