Yun Feiyang accompanied Shen Shian until January 31st when he was ready to depart home. February 5th was the Spring Festival. If he didn’t go back now, he would hit the highest peak traffic of the Spring Festival and it would be uncertain if he could reach home before New Year’s Eve.
Yun Feiyang pushed his suitcase to the door and spoke reluctantly, “You really won’t go home with me for the New Year? My parents are looking forward to it and said they prepared a lot of delicious food for you. The island is also warmer at this time. We can swim and surf in the sea, catch fish and touch shells. How happy will it be?”
Shen Shian handed him a cloth bag filled with sealed ketchup and freshly squeezed tomato juice and shook his head. “Please thank Uncle and Auntie for me. I wish them a Happy New Year but I can’t spend this year with them. You can rest assured, I won’t be alone. I have Shen Xun and besides, Mr Gu is coming over on New Year’s Eve.”
Yun Feiyang was surprised. “Mr Gu is coming over to spend New Year’s Eve with you?’
“Yes.” Shen Shian nodded, no emotion in his expression. Mr Gu was the first successor of the family. In the past years, he accompanied his family’s elders on New Year’s Eve to worship their ancestors. He could usually only rush to H City for the small New Year. It was unknown why this year, he called Shen Shian a week ago and said he would come over to eat on New Year’s Eve.
Relatives were coming to spend the festival with Shen Shian so it naturally wasn’t good for Yun Feiyang to bring the person to the island. He swallowed back his words of persuasion and hugged Shen Shian. “Okay, we will make an appointment for next year. Have a good Spring Festival. Once I come back, I will bring you an authentic coconut bigger than a basketball. It is fragrant and sweet and you will still want to drink it after you finish.”
Then he looked down at the child clinging to Shen Shian’s leg. “Xun Xun, come say goodbye to your Uncle Yun.”
Shen Xun didn’t want to talk to him and rushed out with two rows of fans. “Wu…”
Ruibao on Yun Feiyang’s shoulder immediately flapped his wings and screamed. “Goodbye! Goodbye! Baby, goodbye!”
“Yes, yes.” Yun Feiyang quickly appeased. “He isn’t Xiao Hei and won’t threaten you to peel melon seeds. What are you afraid of? Tsk, you are becoming more and more terrified.”
Shen Shian smiled and hid the child behind him. He said to Yun Feiyang, “Are you sure you can go home with a parrot? Otherwise, it is fine to leave him with me. It is no trouble to raise it.”
“Don’t worry, there’s no problem.” Yun Feiyang pulled down his jacket zipper a bit, placing Ruibao in the inner pocket so only the head was revealed. “I am sitting on a train carriage, not a plane. The inspection isn’t as strict. I will place Ruibao in my clothes and wear a scarf around my neck. As long as he doesn’t call out, no one will notice. I have already rehearsed it with Ruibao last night. The little thing is smart.”
He also told Shen Shian, “It is cold outside, you don’t have to send me away with the child. I have a suitcase and cloth bag. I can take a taxi after going down the elevator.”
Shen Shian wasn’t polite and nodded. “Get on the carriage and message me after you arrive.”
“No problem. Then I’m going. Brother, Happy New Year!”
Shen Shian waved. “Happy New Year and a pleasant journey.”
He watched Yun Feiyang take the elevator before returning home and closing the door. Shen Shian looked down at the child. I want to enter the space. You watch TV alone…”
He hadn’t finished when Shen Xun quickly hugged his calf, hands and feet intertwined while his face was tearful. “…No… want to be with An An… together…”
“I have important work to do. What if you mess it up?”
Shen Xun immediately shook his head. “…No… mess… obedient…” He put out his white hand and stretched out three fingers. “…Promise…”
Shen Shian thought about it and decided to believe him this once.
He entered the space with the sticky Shen Xun. Shen Shian placed a glass bowl filled with cherries in his arms and had him sit on the green grass beside the black land. “You stay here and don’t move unless I call you.”
The child blinked and nodded. Once Shen Shian left, his fiery gaze immediately turned to the spiritual spring not far away. There was no cover around the spring but without Shen Shian giving him permission, he couldn’t get close at all. Shen Xun recalled the last time his claws were burned by the thunder and reluctantly retracted his gaze.
Shen Shian walked into the tomato forest. The lush and large area filled with tomato trees looked no different from before. The big tomatoes the size of basketballs were still red and their full flesh was almost transparent, which looked very attractive. Most importantly, there were no signs they were about to rot.
It seemed the fruits growing in this space had a longer shelf life than expected. This was good news but it wasn’t Shen Shian’s purpose behind entering.
When planting tomatoes, Shen Shian initially only laid out a square that was three metres by three metres, for a total of nine square metres of planting area. He didn’t expect the more than 2,000 seeds to almost all survive and become a large and prosperous tomato forest. The even more amazing thing was that when he looked from outside the tomato forest, the original nine square metres planting area didn’t change. It was only after entering that the surrounding space would suddenly expand by hundreds of thousands of times, showing the whole image of the tomato forest. It was as if stepping into a different space.
If his inference wasn’t wrong, there was a space fold on the land and the area could expand freely with the growth of plants. Shen Shian’s purpose was to test how many times the land in the space could expand through experiments.
The experiments were originally planned for after his exams. The materials and tools were ready but the spiritual spring protection was unexpectedly discovered and then the dog became a child, temporarily delaying in. At this time, there was only Shen Xun and Shen Shian at home. There was no need to worry about outside interference and it was a good opportunity to continue experimenting.
The space was completely isolated from the outside world. This meant there was no way to receive satellite signals and ordinary land measuring instruments couldn’t be used. Shen Shian took out the industrial tape measure prepared in advance and after several measurements, he successfully obtained the area of the tomato forest: 3,600 square metres.
It was a full expansion of 400 times the initial area he had drawn.
Shen Shian wrote down this number in his notebook and calculated the optimal growth area required for each tomato tree based on the total number of total trees. There were 2362 trees so it was 1.524 square metres.
Then three experimental areas were drawn next to the tomato forest. They were 10 centimetres long, 10 centimetres wide and 0.01 square metres in area.
The reason why he made the experimental fields so small was because there were enough tomatoes in the space. The shelf life might be sufficient but it was still a big problem if he couldn’t finish them.
Secondly, Shen Shian estimated that the original total area of the land in the space was 100 metres by 50 metres i.e. around 5000 square metres. It was around half the size of a playground. Even if this area could be expanded, every inch of the original area was very precious. He shouldn’t waste as much as possible before determining the end use.
The experimental fields were well-marked with numbers and Shen Shian planted three tomato fields in the first field, five in the second field and ten in the third field. A pot of spring water was collected from the stream and the irrigation completed. For the rest, he could only wait quietly.
According to the space default, the optimum growth area required for each tomato tree was 1.524 square metres. Ideally, if the space expansion multiple wasn’t limited, the three experimental fields would expand to 4.57 square metres, 7.62 square metres and 15.24 square metres respectively. The corresponding expansion multiples were 457 times, 762 times and 1524 times.
Shen Shian wrote a string of numbers in his notebook. If the expansion of the third test field was successful, it meant that 1524 times wasn’t the limit on the expansion of the land. Then he would further increase the number of seeds in the same area test field until the expansion limit was determined.
He placed the pen in the book and closed it. Then Shen Shian sat next to Shen Xun and grabbed a big cherry from the glass bowl. The cherries were just bought yesterday. They were black-purple and sweet. The child especially liked it and wouldn’t give it to anyone apart from Shen Shian. Last night, Yun Feiyang deliberately teased him and the result was that the two people almost fought.
After eating, Shen Xun spat the cherry pit into the palm of his hand. He looked around and asked Shen Xun, “Where did you put the pit?”
Shen Xun’s cheeks were bulging on both sides like a squirrel storing grain in winter. He pointed to the black land in front of him. Oh, they all went into the earth. Then he took the pit from Shen Shian’s palm, buried it and poured a bit of spring water on it. “…Delicious…”
Today he buried a cherry pit and tomorrow a cherry tree would grow.
Shen Shian laughed and raised a hand to rub the child’s head. After a long time, he turned his head and glanced at the test fields. His eyes widened and he immediately stood up. The seeds had sprouted.
Last time, Shen Shian discovered that the seeds had grown into the tomato forest after one night. If he counted the difference in the time flow between the inside and outside of the space, it was actually two nights. He thought that it would take at least a few hours to see the change. He didn’t expect the seeds to grow so fast after pouring the spring water.
It was a completely different experience between seeing the mature tomato forest and witnessing the whole process of a seed growing into a big tee.
It felt like he was watching a plant growth video that had been fast-forwarded hundreds of thousands of times. The tomato seeds planted more than 20 minutes ago were sprouting at an amazing and breathtaking speed. In just one short hour, they had grown as high as Shen Shian.
The veins grew along the stalk, the skin gave birth to find fluff and small buds stretched from green leaves… if he listened quietly, he could even hear the sound of juice flowing in the rhizome. The static plants exploded with dynamic vitality. Such a carnival of life could only be described as a miracle.
Once the height of the stalks exceeded Shen Shian’s head, the pale yellow flower buds gradually emerged from the leaves. Shen Shian had long opened the phone to record the growth time of the tomato seedlings. The flower buds would completely bloom and once the pollination was successful, fruits should be able to grow…
Shen Shian stiffened as he realized a crucial problem that had been ignored by himself. How were the tomatoes in the space pollinated?
The space was completely isolated from the outside world. No objects or creatures could enter unless through him. He had stayed in this space for so long and never found any bees. In that case, how did the previous batch of tomatoes succeed in pollination?
There was no need to wait for Shen Shian to understand. The 18 new tomato trees all bloomed and it was as if a certain condition was triggered. A strange humming sound was suddenly heard in the entire space.
Shen Shian jerked around and followed the sound to the two trees in front of the bamboo building.
There were two trees in front of the bamboo building. One was a peach tree and was full of green leaves. The other was unknown but was full of yellowish translucent flowers. At this time, the dozens of light spots decorating the flowers scattered and turned into numerous flying creatures.
Where were the flowers? They were clearly hundreds of bees gathered together that were the size of melon seeds. The bees were a translucent pale yellow colour. Once they stood still on a branch, they looked like blossoming flowers.
Shen Shian hugged Shen Xun and jumped to the opposite side of the creek before the bees swarmed. However, the bees apparently had no interest in them. The bees flew directly to the 18 tomato trees and danced among the flowers.
Approximately 20 minutes later, the bees gathered back on the branches and formed still flowers. When Shen Shian entered the space, he was faintly aware that these ‘flowers’ were somewhat different from when he first saw them but he couldn’t work out the specific difference. Now he finally understood.
After collecting pollen, the heads of these bees increased a bit. It was difficult to detect in a single one but once hundreds were gathered together, the size of the ‘flower’ changed significantly.
Shen Shian waited another moment to make sure that the swarm had returned to stillness without any movements before he realized. It appeared that the colony in the space only reacted when the plants were flowering and increased in volume as the number of collected pollen increased. Although the species was still uncertain, as long as there was no aggression, the existence of the bee colony was rare good news for Shen Shian. At the very least, it wasn’t necessary to pollinate with bees from the outside.
Shen Xun apparently considered the longer term as he gulped while staring at the bees. “…Honey… delicious…” The flowers came from the spring water so the honey from the pollen must be delicious!
After this, the flowers on the tomato trees withered and left big grape-sized fruit. Shen Shian saw that the tomato trees had almost stopped growing and took the tape measure to measure the area of the three test fields.
There were three tomato trees in test field one. The initial area was 0.01 square metres and the completed area was 4.57 square metres. This was an expansion of 457 times.
There were five tomato trees in test field one. The initial area was 0.01 square metres and the completed area was 6.66 square metres. This was an expansion of 666 times.
There were ten tomato trees in test field one. The initial area was 0.01 square metres and the completed area was 6.66 square metres. This was an expansion of 666 times.
In other words, the expansion limit of the land in the space was 666 times. The test fields two and three reached the expansion limit and the average floor area of each tomato tree was smaller than the space’s default, making it somewhat crowded.
According to this figure, the initial area of 5000 square metres multiplied by 666 meant Shen Shian’s actual planting area in the space was around 3.33 square kilometres.
He had really become a big landlord.
On the other hand, the cherry pits buried by the landlord’s stupid son hadn’t yet responded. Shen Shian believed this should be due to the difference in growth between herbs and woody plants.
The experimental goal was successfully achieved and Shen Shian was very satisfied. He turned around and saw the child around the bee tree. He didn’t know that the child wanted to do and didn’t care about him. He tidied up the seeds and tools and prepared to enter the spiritual spring for a while. Previously, Yun Feiyang was present and he couldn’t enter the space for too long. It had been two weeks since he took a bath in the spiritual spring.
He had just walked to the edge of the spiritual spring when he discovered that something was wrong. The fog around the spring wasn’t as dense and the sound of turbulent water coming from the spring wasn’t heard at all.
His heart was tense. Shen Shian walked through the mist to the spring.
The spring was dry and there was only a trace of spring water.
The author has something to say:
Spring: It feels like my body has been hollowed out.
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