Chapter 2 Sharing
Note: I use ‘handbrain’ in place of cellphone and personal computer to denote a personal and portable computer that is a step above and beyond a mere phone, appropriate for a tech society 200 years in the future.
And apparently KFC is still in business two centuries from now.
After Ouyang Shuo got up, his sleeping bed and covers quietly retracted back into the wall of his room, leaving behind not even a bit of furniture to be seen. It was a high technology society he lived in, everything was modernized and cleverly put together.
He was in the house of his parents, a fairly high-end residence. He came into the living room, and there his sister Ouyang Bing"er was waiting on the couch, pitifully looking at him.
Bing"er this year was only eight years old, wearing pink clothing and with chubby little cheeks that people could not help but pinch on impulse. She was wearing a ball cap with a black poncho shirt, tight pants, and had small feet with red shoes, so cute that his heart felt like it would burst just by looking at her.
“Brother is always lazy, he woke up later than Bing"er today! Shame-shame!" The little girl stood up after chiding him, her eyes circling as she snuck a glance or two at the door while trying to keep her clever look off her face.
The brother and sister were too familiar with one another, and with one look at her eyes, Ouyang Shuo knew what she was thinking. Today was the weekend, so he did not have to work. Yesterday he told Bing"er that he would take her to the playground to play. Because of that promise, the lazy her who needed his wake-up call every day, shockingly got up early. She even put on some kind of makeup.
Ouyang Shuo did not tease her, instead going to the sofa and sitting down. He then picked up the little girl and set her on his lap. He rubbed his chin on her forehead, provoking a giggle of laughter as his scruffy beard tickled her.
“Bad brother! You are bullying me…" Bing"er laughed.
"Well, today the pretty little princess is really beautifully dressed. I’ll go make you some breakfast, and afterwards we will go down to the playground to play, okay?"
Hearing that her brother didn’t forget his promise, the little girl smiled so hard her eyes were squinting, and gave him a happy kiss on the cheek.
Good times were always fleeting. He spent the entire day with her in the children"s play park, taking her out to KFC afterwards to eat a whole bucket of chicken. Bing"er was so happy and excited after her wonderful day that she could not sleep. Finally, after reading her a third fairy tale, she finally fell asleep.
The night was now quiet. It was a good time for Ouyang Shuo to go over his past, and consider what he was going to do for his new future now.
He was definitely going to quit his job. Anyways, he had worked there for less than six months, and did not have any great loyalty to the place. As far as assets went, the most valuable thing he had was this house he was living in. His parents’ bank account had lasted him throughout his university years, but it was running out.
This was also why he’d found a job quickly after graduating college. But in this highly mechanized and technology-driven era, more than 90% of the work out there had been replaced by machines. There were a lot of people who had no jobs and were unable to find work.
The government had been forced to develop a comprehensive social welfare system in order to insure everyone"s basic safety and lifestyle. Now, a single institution, Skynet, had been put in place to monitor everyone and everything with a harsh and even eye. Its influence extended across all sections of society, and general crime had fallen greatly under the ever-watching eye of Skynet"s monitors.
The bitter fruit of this was the division of society into two levels: the wealthy and politically connected, generally formed of large consortiums or families in political positions, and everyone else. It was a division of society that was difficult to overcome.
At the same time, the general age of the people was rising. Depressed young men and women were often unwilling to have children and put up with the additional costs and demands of parenthood, resulting in a negative worldwide population growth for the last twenty years. The global population had fallen down to under 1 billion people, and forty percent of them were elderly. Even in the densely populated areas of China, the total population was falling.
Right now, Ouyang Shuo didn"t even have enough money to buy the game cabin for Earth Online. Fortunately, due to his rebirth, he knew what was coming, and so he had insights that others did not. Within a year after the interstellar immigration started, all the fixed assets and housing on Earth would become little more than wasted construction, worthless. Accordingly, he planned now to sell the house they were now living at, and take the money to rent a temporary house to live in.
With that in mind, Ouyang Shuo opened up his handbrain, the ubiquitous personal and portable computer everyone on Earth possessed now. Locating the official real estate trading site rapidly, he went to the quick sales channel, marked the price as 10% below the current market value, and immediately sold it off to the real estate transaction center.
An information society as advanced as this was very convenient. Ouyang Shuo didn"t have to even leave the house, let alone go to a government office. Because all of his personal information was stored in Skynet, as long as his handbrain could dual certify his fingerprints and retinal scan, it took only half an hour to complete the entire transaction. After he was done, Ouyang Shuo"s account was promptly credited and grew by more than two million credits.
Taking advantage of the late hour and quietness, Ouyang Shuo began looking for the right rental housing online. Bing"er was still in primary reading school, so they couldn"t move too far away, no farther than a nearby district. This was a bit difficult to work with. According to the advanced search parameters he had input, the system recommended a house in Tianyuan community which had three rooms and one living room, with a monthly rent of 3000 credits.
Coincidentally, Bing’er attended a school in Tianyuan community very close to that, making this even more convenient for Bing"er. But the house was shared, the lessor was not the owner himself, but a tenant, which made Ouyang Shuo a bit hesitant to accept.
Adopting an attitude of "let"s see what happens", Ouyang Shuo dialed the video phone. Appearing on the phone promptly was the image of a twenty-year old girl, with a beautiful oval face and willowy eyebrows. She looked like she"d just come out of a bath, with her hair wet, and was wearing a pink kitten style of pajamas, incredibly and unexpectedly cute.
Ouyang Shuo was more than a little embarrassed. After all, men and women living together was all well and good for the romantic serials on TV, but in reality was something that was very uncommon and rarely happened before marriage. However, this girl was the opposite of what was expected of women, immediately taking the initiative on him.
"Hello? Who are you? Are you looking for me for something?" she asked him.
“Hello! I was linked to you through the rental network. The rental information that I saw was very in line with my needs. I did not think you were a girl, I am sorry if this is inconvenient." Ouyang Shuo was ready to disconnect, having little hope of anything coming out of this.
"Oh!" she answered, a little surprised at him. "I have two rooms to rent here, but you are only a single person, this is a little strange…" She did not directly refuse, instead asking a reasonable question.
"Ha, I am sorry, I did not explain clearly. I have an eight year old sister; her school is near your location, so…" Ouyang Shuo said hesitantly.
Hearing that he had a young sister seemed to reassure the young woman a lot. "Oh, in that case, you look pretty honest, so I agree! It"s almost the end of the month, you can help pay the rent, hee hee!"
It was so simply and unexpectedly agreed to, it caught Ouyang Shuo by surprise. He was wondering if he had unknowingly become much more charming and handsome to convince her so easily.
They discussed the specific rental matters, and through the network signed an electronic contract. Ouyang Shuo found out that the girl was named Sun Xiaoyue, and was a junior student at the Jiao State University Department of Architecture.
He agreed to move in tomorrow, and was about to hang up the call when he heard, "Hee hee, I"ll finally have the money to pay the rent!" His ego and self-image took an immediate blow as he realized why she had agreed so quickly.
The next morning, Ouyang Shuo told Bing"er that they were moving. Bing"er found out that they were going to live with a beautiful big sister, and close to the school, so she had no objections. They spent all morning packing up their luggage and few belongings, and called a moving van to take them to their new home.
They arrived at Tianyuan community quickly, and actually found Sun Xiaoyue standing in the doorway, holding onto her handbrain and waiting for them. It was surprising that she was so courteous.
Bing"er was carrying her little pink bag and holding the hands of a tiger doll as she opened the door of the taxi. After getting out, she looked around fearlessly, not afraid at all of the strange new environment. Her expression was one of curiosity and mischievous intent.
Seeing the lovely little girl, Sun Xiaoyue"s feminine heart was instantly touched. She quickly stepped forward with arms outstretched. "Wow, such a cute little girl! Come here, little sister, and let me hold you!"
Bing"er smiled and retreated a step, saying sweetly, "Beautiful sister, hello! My name is Ouyang Bing, sister you can call me like my brother does, Bing"er!"
Sun Xiaoyue was not embarrassed and did not hold it against Bing"er for ducking her embrace. Instead, she smiled and said, "Ouyang Bing"er, a good name. I am Sun Xiaoyue, you can call me Sister Xiaoyue. Does Bing"er like it here?"
"I like it, it is as pretty here as at our home, but there is a more beautiful sister here, Bing"er is very happy, hee hee!" Bing"er smiled back.
Sun Xioayue completely forgot all about Ouyang Shuo, tossing him out of her mind before directly taking Bing"er"s hand to take her upstairs. Bing"er turned her head to look at her brother; he merely nodded, smiled, and indicated that she should go ahead. She quietly followed Xiaoyue upstairs.
Seeing Bing’er so adorable, Ouyang Shuo"s heart was a bit jealous. Maybe, he thought, he could take her to Jiao State University and walk around with her, attracting a pretty girl who he could marry, hehe…
"Boss, move your things?" the driver of the moving van asked, interrupting his private fantasies mercilessly.
"Oh! Yes please, up to the fifteenth floor. Follow those girls in front of us, quickly!" Ouyang Shuo snatched up his suitcase and hurriedly chased after Sun Xiaoyue.
Sun Xiaoyue lived in room 1503, and coming inside, his first impression was that it was very clean. There were three bedrooms, a main and two smaller ones; she was living in one of the smaller ones. Ouyang Shuo brazenly claimed the main bedroom, Bing"er living opposite him in the other small bedroom. After arranging their rooms, bringing in their luggage and other belongings, it was already five in the afternoon.
In order to express his gratitude to Sun Xiaoyue, and to celebrate their moving, Ouyang Shuo treated everyone to a good meal. After buying food from the local supermarket, ‘mighty chef’ Ouyang Shou even took over the kitchen to fix it.
He did the usual good food; fish, pork, sweet and sour pork ribs, boiled beef, roasted lungs, and seven or eight other dishes. All this cooking inspired little kitten Bing"er to slip into the kitchen in the middle of his labors, and her little hands snatched up the ribs to eat. However, she declared she was doing it to help him out and test the taste, so as not to shame him in front of her new elder sister.
After the sumptuous dinner, the three of them retired to the living room to sit around and chat, and gain a more mutual understanding of one another. Bing"er was lying on the couch, her belly bulging out. With her satisfied expression, she looked deadly cute.
“Xiaoyue, why do you have such a big house for rent?" After getting more familiar with one another, Ouyang Shuo had no scruples and directly asked this question to clear his heart of any doubts. This girl didn’t seem like a wealthy person, muttering about not being able to pay the rent. But she still rented a house with three bedrooms, that was kind of stupid, right?
"Oh, big brother Ouyang, don’t mention this, blame my two girlfriends who are off with their boyfriends. Originally the three of us signed the lease for this home, to live together until college graduation. Both of them have moved out to live with their boyfriends, leaving me here alone. In order to pay the rent, I had to rent out the rooms they were staying in. If you had not come in time to pay a share, I would have been eating instant ramen every day," she explained, with a resentful look in her eyes.
It seemed her irritation with her former roommates was quite deep, and she was quite willing to keep talking about them. Ouyang Shuo knew that continuing to ask about this topic was probably not a good idea, and quickly turned their chatter to more about school.
He had also graduated from Jiao State University, so he could actually be seen as Sun Xiaoyue"s senior. Thus, they had a lot of things they could talk about. It was past ten o"clock before everyone finally retired to their own rooms.
Finally settled down, Ouyang Shuo knew he could start playing the game tomorrow, it was the fundamental part of his plan for his new life. With great expectations for the future, Ouyang Shuo fell asleep on the second night after his rebirth.