Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou casually ate some breakfast and went downstairs. They had just left the hotel when they heard a fierce quarrel from the pedestrian street.
A young man pointed at the menu and shouted, “Isn’t this stealing money? I used to eat a bowl of rice noodles for 800 gold coins. Today you want 3,200! Boss, do you crazily want money?”
The boss spoke with a bitter expression, “This morning, the price of rice noodles has quadrupled. I also have no way. If I sell it at the previous price, I will lose money! Now that everything is going up, my business has nowhere else to go.”
The young man next to him angrily threw the bowl onto the ground. “I won’t eat it!”
The boss immediately chased. “F*k! You want to run when smashing the bowl! Stop for me. You made me lose money!”
The young man turned and quickly slipped away. The slightly fat boss panted as he chased behind the young man. Several customers of the rice noodle store saw the boss chasing and also slipped away. The boss returned to the store and once he discovered the empty seats, his face was as black as the bottom of a pot. He was frustrated as he had the waiters clean up the empty bowl before he closed the door and hung the ‘stop business’ sign.
Further forward, a middle-aged woman and a young man were arguing. The reason was because the man didn’t pay attention when walking and hit her, causing her to break her basket of eggs. She demanded 10,000 gold coins in compensation and the boy refused. The woman grabbed his sleeves and refused to let him go.
There were many people around and the crowd muttered, “Aren’t these prices crazy? Fortunately, I went to the supermarket yesterday and bought a lot of instant noodles…” “I bought hundreds of eggs yesterday. Won’t I be made if I sell it now?” “Don’t rush to sell it, what if the prices still rise tomorrow?” “My god, still rising?” “This makes people not want to live!”
The pedestrian street was the old part of the city and there were many small stores operating.
Due to many people fleeing the rice noodle store early in the morning, a buns store was also smashed by customers and the frightened boss had to close it. Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang saw that bustling pedestrian street yesterday had suddenly become very deserted. Stores hung ‘stop business’ signs on their doors and the pedestrians were also full of panic.
Shao Qingge was waiting for them in the lobby of his hotel. He saw the two people and immediately greeted them, asking, “How was it last night? Did you encounter any thieves?”
Xiao Lou shook his head. “No, the Shanshui Guesthouse was very quiet.”
Shao Qingge rubbed his temple. “I didn’t fall asleep last night because the two girls next door were crying all night. It seems that all their materials were stolen… the thief’s harvest yesterday must be very rich so he doesn’t plan to act against the Shanshui Guesthouse for the moment?”
Yu Hanjiang frowned. “Shanshui Guesthouse is the place with the most number of challengers concentrated. There are more than 20 people living there. If everyone gathers together to deal with him, the thief will be in danger. This thief is very clever and probably planned the order.”
Shao Qingge sighed. “If I knew then I would’ve placed all the materials with you.”
Xiao Lou smiled to comfort him. “It doesn’t matter. The materials stolen are less than one-tenth of our reserve materials The warehouse has no problems.”
Yu Hanjiang opened his mouth. “I will go to the warehouse to check. You act together and pay attention to your safety.”
Shao Qingge and Xiao Lou went to the stock market again.
Today’s real estate stocks were still very stable and some even had an upward trend. For example, Tianhong Real Estate, Rongguang Real Estate and the Fangke Real Estate Group that Shao Qingge paid attention to yesterday had all increased by about 5%.
A 5% increase in the stock market was already a very high dividend. Many investors discovered this and argued, “Is it better to sell all other stocks and buy real estate stocks? The food stocks I bought have fallen to 25%. It is really a bloody loss! If I knew this, I would’ve bought real estate stocks…” “Yes, the prices might be crazy but housing prices are stable.”
Xiao Lou heard these comments and really didn’t know what to say.
The horrible thing wasn’t feeling despair at the beginning. It was to constantly give hope and then destroy it bit by bit.
If A of Clubs controlled the world as Shao Qingge speculated, then he wanted to destroy people’s psychological defenses one by one. Seeing that the real state stocks were actually rising, many people started to switch to real estate stocks. Once these real estate stocks collapsed, would these people still be able to live?
Some smart people noticed something wrong and started selling stocks immediately, but there were always people with a lucky mentality who wanted to earn back their losses. This was the same as a ‘gambling psychology.’ Once they lost 1,000, they felt like they could earn it back. Once they lost 2,000, they still felt that could win it back. They weren’t willing to give up and invested more and more.
Many investors were locked up in stocks. How easy was it to get out?
Xiao Lou walked to the window and saw that a large number of investors had gathered on the rooftop of the building. Today’s stocks had fallen 50% from where they were yesterday. These investors spontaneously organized this and made a banner asking the city’s government to make a statement.
Not far from the central square, some people were holding a demonstration. They raised banners filled with various slogans. “Strongly demanding that prices are restored!” “Please return the stable market!” “A week’s salary can’t afford a carton of eggs? How do we live?”
The square was full of agitation but there was no bloodshed because the police stepped out to maintain order.
At 8:50 in the morning, a middle-aged man dressed in a suit suddenly appeared on the big screen in the central square.
The man faced a large number of cameras and said calmly, “Good morning everyone, this is a press conference. I am Liu Qingming, director of A City’s Market Supervision Administration. Please don’t be agitated and don’t panic. There is a financial storm and this city’s prices will fluctuate to some extent in the next few days. However, we are working hard to regulate and restore the market as soon as possible…”
The people temporarily quieted down and looked up at him as he spoke.
Director Liu Qingming spoke a lot of financial knowledge that people couldn’t understand before concluding it with, “Please don’t gather to make trouble and worsen things. It is better to go home, turn on the air conditioner and watch TV. This nightmare weekend will soon pass and I believe the prices will quickly return to normal levels.”
Xiao Lou, “…”
What was this story? Was it deceiving a three year old child?”
Shao Qingge pinched his brow. “Liu Qingming, this name…is it the Qingming Festival? Does he believe he is a ghost?”
Xiao Lou couldn’t smile. “This world might not have the Qingming Festival? However, all the challengers who hear his name will understand. This is the character that A of Spades or A of Clubs deliberately arranged in order to temporarily stabilize the situation. Maybe he will run away next week.”
Shao Qingge, “……”
Sending out the director to reassure everyone in order to temporarily stabilize their mood. However, deceiving the people in this way would only cause them to temporarily stabilize before they exploded even worse.
It wasn’t just the price rise, but the officials who oversaw the market actually deceived everyone. Who could bear it?
Due to Director Liu’s nonsensical remarks and the police officer’s control, the gathered people quickly dispersed. They were holding onto hope in their hearts. Perhaps as he said, the price fluctuations would only last a day or two before stabilizing.
Everyone actually didn’t believe this but humans were very good at self-comfort. Sometimes they preferred to listen to lies than to face the cruel reality.
The supermarket in the central square was crowded with people.
This morning, the supermarket had restocked and everyone was in a frenzy to buy. The items on the shelves were swept away and the order of the queue was far less than yesterday. It could be seen that the mood was obviously more violent than yesterday.
Shao Qingge and Xiao Lou glanced at the supermarket’s situation before going to yesterday’s Internet cafe.
The Internet cafe’s pries had risen to 1,600 gold coins per hour. Xiao Lou still had change so he paid for the fee for two computers. Shao Qingge sat in front of the computer and continued to short out the real estate stocks. Meanwhile, Xiao Lou went on the Internet to check some information.
He found that he could only find information about the world of the 3 of Spades secret room.
This city was called ‘City A’ and should be a small space in the Card World. Many people in the forums were swearing while the media used various slogans to brainwash everyone. “The financial turmoil is only temporarily, I believe we can pass it!” “Working together to face the difficulties and guard City A!” “The price increase is just to stimulate consumption. Everyone is safe but the market will soon return to normal”…
There were many of these types of feel-good motivational stories (often used disparagingly because the stories don’t really effect change in people’s lives), but the replies showed that many people believed them.
The people on the forum were divided into optimists and pessimists. The optimists said the financial crisis would soon pass as long as they had savings and supplies in their hands. There was no need to be afraid.
Pessimists were already trying to escape from this place. “I booked a ticket for tomorrow to go to the City of the Moon. The ticket price is very high but I believe that leaving City A is the best choice.” “I’ve lived here for many years and I don’t want to leave but I can’t stand it. I plan to visit a relative in the field to avoid it for a while.”
They were freelancers who could leave.
What about people who had jobs, loved ones and houses here? They were rooted here so how could they leave?
Xiao Lou tried to buy ticket to the ‘City of the Moon’ using the online ticketing system. Once his identity was verified, the ticketing system showed ‘you aren’t allowed to buy tickets.’ The result was as he expected.
He was a challenger and definitely couldn’t buy tickets to escape like the free people.
After going through the local forums and news for an hour, Xiao Lou found that the number of free people who bought tickets to escape wasn’t in the minority. These people were undoubtedly smart but the premise was that traffic still operated normally.
Once traffic was down, they couldn’t run away!
Next to him, Shao Qingge finished with the stock market for today and Xiao Lou moved over to him.
Shao Qingge whispered, “Professor Xiao, you checked the web pages. What did you find?”
“Based on the forum replies and the published information on all sorts of networking sites, around 40% of people are optimistic that prices will recover. The rest are in a hurry to buy tickets to escape.”
Shao Qingge touched his chin. “Tomorrow is a working day and there will definitely be large-scale strikes. Once the transportation system is paralyzed, the optimistic people will turn to pessimism.” He thought for a moment before suddenly saying, “I have to be prepared in advance and find the Internet cafe owner to buy a laptop.”
Xiao Lou understood. “You’re worried that the Internet cafe will also close tomorrow.”
Shao Qingge nodded. “I must be prepared.”
After all, today too many restaurants hung up the ‘closed’ sign while this Internet cafe was cold and deserted. Only three to five people were online. If the costs doubled again tomorrow, people would have problems eating and who would run to an Internet cafe to go online?
Shao Qingge came to the front desk of the Internet cafe and asked, “Boss, do you have any old computers that you can sell to me? There aren’t many requirements, just as long as I can access the Internet.”
The boss stated the price. “100,000 gold coins. There are a few machines that aren’t being used and you can pick casually.”
Xiao Lou smiled. “Boss, you know the current market. This Internet cafe has more than 50 seats yet only four or five people are online. Maybe no one will come tomorrow. People are having trouble eating. Who will have the spare cash to go online?”
The boss’ mouth twitched violently because he knew this young man was right.
For the past two days, electricity and Internet charges had skyrocketed. His Internet cafe had to follow the rise in business. The past weekend, all his machines were used yet for this weekend, yesterday only had half the people and today…
Looking at the empty Internet cafe, he also felt bad. This was his investment. He used half his life savings to open this Internet cafe!
Xiao Lou continued to speak with a smile, “You have so many computers and they are no different from a pile of scrap iron if no one uses them. Sell us one.”
The boss thought carefully before saying, “Okay, then what price are you asking?”
Xiao Lou stated, “Not gold coins. I will exchange 10 boxes of chocolates for your old laptop. Chocolate is currently valuable. You just need to go to the supermarket to see. These 10 boxes of chocolates cost tens of thousands of gold coins and perhaps the price might rise tomorrow.”
Shao Qingge thought that Professor Xiao was really witty. After the price crash, exchanging ‘things for things’ was the best way. The excess gold coins could be taken out of the secret room to other worlds.
The boss frowned like he was unsure. Xiao Lou continued, “We don’t want a desktop with a high configuration. We just need a laptop that can access the Internet. I think this one is very old and you can give it to us.”
Xiao Lou spoke while taking out chocolate from his backpack.
The supermarket had sold out of chocolates so the boss couldn’t help gulping.
He was silent for a moment before gritting his teeth. “Okay! I have used this laptop for four years to manage customer information. I will copy the information onto a USB flash drive then you can take it away.”
The thing that an Internet cafe owner was least lacking was computers, let alone a very old laptop.
Xiao Lou happily exchanged 10 boxes of chocolates for a laptop…
He couldn’t believe this was the real world.
Shao Qingge held the laptop and spoke emotionally as he walked out of the Internet cafe. “Professor Xiao, your reaction was too fast. I almost paid for this.”
Xiao Lou smiled slightly. “Mr Shao might rarely consider the price when buying things. However, now the prices are so unstable that it is easy to trade rare items for extra items. It isn’t a loss for him.”
Shao Qingge was full of admiration. “You are too careful. Exchanging chocolates for a laptop… it is a bizarre experience.” He put the laptop in his backpack and squinted. “Should we change two mobile phones for instant noodles?”
Xiao Lou replied, “We can go to the second-hand market to see.”
He specified a laptop because a laptop could be charged. If he changed to a desktop, it was too inconvenient to carry. Secondly, once the power was cut off, the computer wouldn’t be able to turn on. Then wouldn’t they be finished?”
A laptop had a four hours of battery life and could be used in other places with a full charge.
A mobile phone was also necessary. After all, Group Leader Yu always acted alone and it was really worrying. The presence of a mobile phone meant he could call Group Leader Yu. He and Shao Qingge would also buy one, making things more convenient.
Xiao Lou and Shao Qingge came to the second-hand mobile phone market.
This place was very empty and only a few stores were open. After all, the market had gone crazy and most people were running to the supermarket to buy supplies. They weren’t concerned about second-hand mobile phones at all.
The bosses were also sick and had no spirit in their sighs.
Xiao Lou exchanged milk, instant noodles and other materials for three mobile phones. According to the old price of the goods, they bought an old mobile phone for 50 yuan. However, now the prices of materials were so crazy. Instant noodles could be eaten by a broken mobile phone couldn’t be eaten.
The boss happily gave them three mobile phones and three sim cards.
In this world, people used mobile phones only for text messaging and phone calls. There were no videos and WeChat like the smartphones in the real world. Still, this was enough for them. The three mobile phones meant it was convenient to contact each other when the three people acted separately.