“It’s good that you understand. Listen closely to Principal Chen. He ah, is a very capable person. Grandpa is old and will not be able to teach you much.” Grandpa Gen stuck the pipe onto his waist before smiling at Ye Jian. “Come, I’ll bring you to a nice place. I’m sure you’ll like it.”
Ye Jian quickly hung the towel around her neck and carried the wooden bucket filled with water before following along at a steady pace. With a cheerful voice, clearer than the chirps of the birds in the bamboo forest, she asked, “Grandpa, to where? You haven’t had breakfast, why don’t we go back and cook a bowl of noodles first?”
“No need. When we’re there, there’ll be food. Put the bucket down, we’ll carry it back at night,” Old Man Gen chuckled and walked. The 70-year-old man walked in the mountains at a steady pace. Even young boys would have to admit defeat.
Behind the mountain was a large bamboo forest. Shrouded in the morning fog, it looked like a fairyland.
Old Man Gen stopped at a root cellar. Many households in a village would have it to store their sweet potatoes and other vegetables. “Lass, come over and lift the door open.”
From Ye Jian’s memory, she recalled having one at home, but, she saw something unexpected in it! There was a tunnel right after the cellar hole!
“Careful with your steps. Don’t be afraid, follow Grandpa closely.” Walking in the dark, it was like passing through a deep underground tunnel. Ye Jian used both her hands to touch the dry stone walls around her, and her heart could not stop pounding. It was like the time when she was reborn.
She finally understood how those soldiers would appear from time to time at their home!
It turns out that they had to pass through this long mountain tunnel to enter directly into the village without alarming the villagers.
The tunnel was quite long, and after walking for nearly half an hour, Ye Jian finally saw a faint light coming from the end of the tunnel.
Half an hour… It must have been a few kilometers long. Such a massive project to create such a tunnel, yet no villagers were even aware of it.
“Close your eyes, don’t let the light stab your eyes.” Standing at the end of the tunnel, Old Man Gen kindly reminded Ye Jian, “Open your eyes after three minutes.”
When her eyes finally adapted to the light, she then opened her eyes to see that the troops that were hidden in the depths of the mountains were actually just close by.
Out of the cave, they continued down the mountain. It was another half an hour journey before they finally reached the paved road which had a red sign. The sign had white words written on it: “Military Restricted Zone!”
Within the four hundred meter distance, there was a stretch of metal fence. Behind it was a barbed iron door, and further behind were four armed soldiers on post to keep watch.
Glancing slightly towards the dense forest up in the mountain, she could see the outpost hidden among the trees.
Here, the place was heavily guarded. But with Grandpa Gen leading at the front… it was so simple to enter!
A soldier armed with a rifle walked up and saluted to Old Man Gen before doing a routine inspection on him.
Ahead, the sound of a vehicle driving towards them could be heard. An ordinary car arrived and steadily stopped in front of the outpost.
The left and right doors were opened at the same time. As the driver handed over his documents to be inspected, a young soldier jumped off from the passenger seat and walked steadily to where Ye Jian was.
“Old Man, you’ve come.” The young soldier in military uniform smiled before saluting to Old Man Gen, “The promise we had before to meet, I’m afraid there’ll be a need to postpone it. I’ve received an urgent call from the school, so I have to head over there. Let us meet later when I return.”
Old Man Gen laughed, “A soldier obeys orders and is bound by duty. Captain Xia, the meeting can wait until your return.”