Chapter 3 - Fetal Respiration of the Cat
It was night time already, yet at a quiet place in the park it was unusually lively. A group of fluffy and cute cats circled Jiang Li, fighting over the cat food in his hands.
Within the cats there was a large ‘Striped King’ cat that was haughty and bold, and bullied the smaller cats, wrenching away quite a bit of food from them.
Jiang Li slapped the Striped King cat and with severity warned him, “If you continue to push around the others, there will be no more food for you.”
The Striped King cat didn’t dare to cause a ruckus, and sulked to the side.
A few of the small bullied cats immediately ran towards Jiang Li purring, rubbed against Jiang Li’s legs, goofed around non-stop, and were extremely happy. Jiang Li bent down to caress their tiny heads, checking to see if there were scratch marks on them. The kittens’ mum died to a feral dog just last month, and being motherless the kittens’ chances of survival were slim, thus Jiang Li had to be especially attentive in catering for them.
17 year old Jiang Li had been feeding these feral cats for 2 years. From the initial few to the current tally of more than 30, the feral cat army was getting bigger and bigger.
Only surrounded by these cats could Jiang Li feel truly at ease, far away from the oppressive atmosphere of school. High school was filled with youthfulness and the ardour of purpose, but should be avoided by those without hope, so as to not feel at loss.
“Come on fellas, eat quicker, otherwise the big black cat will come.” Jiang Li ushered.
Recently it had been kind of strange. A bulky black cat that moved as fast as a whirlwind had appeared amongst the feral cats. It would always emerge near the end of the feeding session and devour all the cat food. Sometimes it even took food straight from Jiang Li, clearly unafraid of humans.
Jiang Li had attempted to follow the big black cat quite a few times to see where it had come from, but lost it every time once it entered the sewers.
Whilst in the middle of feeding, Jiang Li eyed the bushes surrounding the park to see when the big black cat would appear.
“Feeding the cats again Jiang Li?”
There was a passage of a clear voice. A girl wearing all white came running out of a path in the woods. She had a tall and slender figure, and the night wind bellowed at her long hair, a breath of youth.
“Lara, how come you have the time to go for a walk in the park when studies are so intense?” Jiang Li nodded at her.
The girl’s name was Lara Zhou, and would come to the park every evening to take a walk. She was the president of the Student Representative Council, and was very influential in the school. Her family was of an impressive background, and countless boys had tried to get close to her only for her to be too lazy to even bother with them.
She did not share the same class with Jiang Li, however, they were both year 12 students.
Class captain Zhang Yue had made many efforts to woo her but to no avail, and so he forbade Jiang Li from interacting with her by threatening to give him a beating every time he saw them together.
“Walking is a way of relaxation.” Lara naturally and easily came over to help Jiang Li feed the cats. She gently stroked the little kittens.
The duo fed the cats silently without talking, forming a natural synergy.
Jiang Li fed these feral cats every day, and was seen by Lara more than half a year ago. Lara wanted to help as she also liked these cuddly friends, and so in this timeframe the act of a boy and girl feeding cats in the park every evening became scenic.
“Jiang Li, what are your plans after graduation?” Lara suddenly asked.
“Not much, getting into Astral University is impossible as I only have a life force of 0.7.” Jiang Li answered without raising his head, still stroking a kitten.
“Do you have any troubles? Maybe I can help.” Lara looked at Jiang Li, eyes determined.
“You help me?” Jiang Li looked a bit incredulous, and then proceeded to shake his head, “Thank you for your kind offer, but I should live my own life.”
Having declined Lara’s offer, the pair did not speak and it got slightly awkward.
Lara stood up after remaining silent for a while. “From tomorrow onwards I’m going to special training, and will not have the time to feed the cats. Hopefully you can take good care of them.”
“No problem, these guys have already become a part of my life.” Jiang Li felt himself lighten up, fondling a kitten.
With a sigh Lara turned around and left.
This was the meeting of chance likes patches of grass drifting in water, gentle and light, leaving no trace.
“How could I not know that you want to help me? But our karma resides only in feeding feral cats. I cannot make friends with you for your family background is way too grand.” Looking at Lara leave, Jiang Li smiled bitterly deep in his heart. The toad and swan ultimately go their separate ways.
A roar and disturbance akin to that of a leopard cut Jiang Li’s thoughts short.
A big black cat leaped out from the bushes, forming small wind currents in its path. Its slick fur shone with luster, like a mini black tiger.
Boom… The strongest cat of the group Striped King was sent flying.
The big black cat rushed to the front, and swiftly wiped the cat food clean, fleeing away after picking up a kitten.
“The black cat is back!”
Jiang Li hurriedly followed after it. It didn’t matter that the black cat took food, but it could not take the kitten. “This time I will discover where you’re actually from”
Zoom… The big black cat scurried extremely quickly, and like a gale exited the park.
Jiang Li closely tailed. Though his life force was only 0.7, he was not slow at running.
However, truly fast speeds belonged to individuals of the school with powerful life forces. They could sprint 100 meters in 5 seconds. If Jiang Li were to meet those people, he would be beaten instantly.
His brother Jiang Tao’s 100 meter sprint time was 6 seconds.
The big black cat’s speed was phenomenal. Jiang Li had chased from the park till the river, yet he still couldn’t catch up. This was a peculiar cat, with stamina more than 10 times that of a normal cat.
The big black cat suddenly went down into the city sewers.
Jiang Li was unwilling to give up this time, and followed suit.
The sewers were quite wide, almost like an independent underground palace and kingdom. The phenomenon of flash floods killing people hundreds of years ago had long become history. In modern human-inhabited cities, no matter the size of the rain, floods have become impossible to form.
Inside the sewers it was chilly and damp, spacious with paths that lead everywhere like a labyrinth. Surprisingly there were no putrid odors or gaseous stenches, an imminent effect of the technological development of mankind.
The sewers could even function as emergency bunkers in case of exploding missiles.
The big black cat continued to leap around in an attempt to get rid of Jiang Li, but Jiang Li did not easily give in. Under normal circumstances he wouldn’t enter the dirty sewers, but today he was persistent in finding out what was special about the cat, and also preventing it from harming the kitten.
One ran whilst the other one chased. Gradually the duo got deeper into the sewers, where traces of human presence were scarce.
Finally, the black cat stopped at a corner, its eyes glowing eerily green. Jiang Li was relieved that the kitten was put down.
Jiang Li got out his microchip phone and illuminated this section of the sewers with bright light.
“What is that? A corpse?”
After seeing what lay before him, Jiang Li was stunned.
Behind the black cat, there was a dry corpse in a sitting position!
The bone structure of the corpse was extremely big and majestic. It did not have a frightening aura, but rather gave off a sense of loftiness, like a towering mountain that pierced the mortal realm, having seen everything there was to offer, and such that life was but a dream.
The dry corpse cupped an opaque stone with floral engravings. The stone did not look particularly special.
“What type of man is this?” Jiang Li was cautious and did not dare move brashly.
Sewer! Black cat! Dry Corpse! Opaque stone!
The four objects formed a bizarre scene. Jiang Li thought maybe he was dreaming.
The black cats green eyes met Jiang Li’s stare. Having perceived no threat, it turned around and jumped to paw the opaque stone on the big dry corpse.
A strange thing happened.
Before the cat’s claws even met the opaque stone, its whole body fell straight down to the floor as if tranquilized by some power.
Zzzzzzz… The black cat did not encounter any danger, but instead started to snore.
The opaque stone seems to possess a mysterious power that hypnotizes things without direct contact.
Jiang Li starts to postulate. “What could that thing be? The black cat got hypnotized… But it looks like there’s no danger.”
Observing carefully, Jiang Li discovered that the sleeping black cat had very calm life signs, almost undetectable. In the end breathing completely stopped, but bodily tissue and fur faintly moved, as if in cellular respiration, entering a vegetative state.
“This is… Fetal Respiration! How is this possible?” Jiang Li was shocked beyond words. He was not wrong. This was indeed fetal respiration, a marvelous type of innate respiration that strengthened cells and excavated potential. But such a legendary state had been reached by a cat?
The black cat was very powerful, with a speed that is almost unbelievable. It seemed all this was due to reaching the state of Fetal Respiration, with transformed internal secretions that had strengthened its bodily cells. It was as good as guaranteed that this was the work of the opaque stone.
“My god, to think this white stone could make a cat enter Fetal Respiration!” Jiang Li’s heart was thumping out of his chest; this was truly extraordinary.
Tatata… Taking one step at a time, Jiang Li walked towards the opaque stone to see if he will also be hypnotized.
Sure enough, before he even got close, he felt his eyelids twitching and an immense drowsiness reach his head, blurring his vision. He felt so tired, as if he was a person who had been awake for three days and three nights with his eyes open, having finally seen a bed. Even if it was the apocalypse, sleeping mattered more than anything else.
“No! You can’t sleep now, grab the opaque stone first.” Jiang Li bit his tongue, using pain to stimulate his conscience. His body continued moving forward, and his fingers touched the stone.
Finally, at the exact moment his fingers came in contact with the opaque stone, drowsiness overwhelmed his entire mind. Unable to cope any longer he slumped down and entered the deepest form of sleep, forgetting himself, forgetting state and forgetting the world. Never had he been in such a wonderful sleep
“Dream of many millenniums, what era is this dusk?”
In his sleep, Jiang Li seemed to be dreaming, and heard a voice that faintly sighed.