Yan Si

City D*, Fújiàn Province, China

The sun was warm and bright high in the sky. My skin absorbed its rays. The ocean water glistered like a million diamonds. I watched absent-minded the foam formed near the shore. My body was sluggish. A few more minutes, and I would fall into a deep slumber. Anticipating this, I closed my eyes, ready for a dreamless rest. This was the only way I could sleep.

A week ago, when I came to China, I realised I could not sleep at night. I had constant nightmares where I screamed and begged while my bones were breaking. There was a demon with Xavier's face with hellish eyes and scalpel in hand. I woke up in cold sweat and with a shaking body. After this happened for three days in a row, I was afraid of falling asleep. Intentionally, I stayed awake for two whole days before I felt my eyes were unable to stay open anymore. Exhausted, I slept for fourteen hours. My mom was worried about me. She constantly asked how I felt and even offered a psychologist's help. She thought if there was something which I couldn't tell her, maybe I should speak with a specialist.

But how could I share my past? How could I tell somebody that I travelled back in time? This was a direct ticket for the asylum. Besides, I didn't want to talk about it. I tried to forget it. However, everywhere I was, it showed it's ugly head, ready to recall itself. It was bearable during the day, and I could ignore it, but at night it was a living hell. It was so dark and silent. There was nothing that could distract me. Sleep stopped being an option. I read books until my vision was blurry. I knew it wasn't good for my body to deprive it of sleep. I wondered how to solve this problem.

And yesterday the solution was found. I was getting my tan when the sun's warmth and waves' melody drifted me to sleep. Unlike the other three times, I didn't dream of anything. I had a peaceful rest until dusk. So, until the weather became cool, I would sleep on the beach every afternoon.

''You know, it's not a good idea to bask for so long under the sun.'' My eyes snapped open from irritation when I heard the teasing voice of my cousin.

''What do you want?'' I asked, masking my true feelings.

''Father and aunt worry for you.'' He answered with a straight face. ''You don't visit our family dinners and avoid talking with people. Only a week passed, and you look as haggard as we bully you here.'' He pouted, shooting blaming daggers at me. ''What will people say when they see you? Accusations are bound to circulate saying Yan Si disrespect his dear cousin.''

''Stop spouting nonsense!'' I couldn't restrain my indignation. Seriously, I had never seen such a self-centred person. ''No one cares about you. Most likely, they will blame grandfather. After all, he is the notorious tyrant of the Yan family, not you.''

''Well, that's true. No one can say otherwise. But, you drift from the topic. My point is that you look depressed. I stayed away from you for all this time, afraid that you will bite me if I ask what makes you that sad.'' He sat next to me on the sand, looking like some kind of motivational guru. ''Tell me, tang mei*, which idiot had the misfortune of being the centre of your unrequited love?'' My eyes twitched unpleasingly. This brat was seriously getting on my nerves.

''First of all, unless you have a problem with your brain which looks highly possible, I am a year older than you, so you should call me tang jie*.'' He scoffed, making me pinch his cheek hard. This reminded me of our times when we were kids, and he used to annoy me to tears. It was a miracle that our relationship was still the same after thirteen years of separation. ''Secondly, I don't have any problems with my love life.''

''Well, you don't have one, to begin with.''

''True.'' I agreed and changed the topic, not wanting to discuss anymore. ''If you dare stick your nose into my business, let me return the favour. Now, tell me what your fiancée is like?'' Immediately, a gloom cloud almost appeared over his head. He lay on the beach unceremoniously, not giving a damn about his clothes.

''I hate her.'' He spat, and I lifted my eyebrows quizzically.

''But, you didn't see her even once. How do you know what type of person she is?''

''If grandfather chose her, she can't be any good. She surely is some socialite thinking only of her appearance. I doubt she has a working brain in her surgery-made face.''

''Well, I don't know how natural her assets are, but at least her brain capacity is on the same level as yours.'' I smiled at my biting remark, but the next second he threw sand on my face. I choked and coughed violently, to which he burst in a maniacal laugh. After I calmed down, I looked at him murderously.

''Are you courting death?'' I asked in a low, threatening voice. He trembled visually and tried to appease me.

''Xiao Luo, calm down. Nerves are not good for the skin.'' He stepped backwards, afraid as if I will jump on him. Undeniably, he deserved a beating. But he was lucky today. I was too sleepy to mind his antics.

''If you have nothing else to say, leave me alone. I want to enjoy the sun.'' I just closed my eyes when his tall and lean figure loomed over me. I opened one eye angered.

''Actually, there is something else.'' His voice wasn't playful like a moment ago. He was serious now. Not that I cared.

''Could you say whatever you want without hiding the sun, please?''

''I can, but you will fall asleep before I finish. I know you didn't sleep the whole night and want to do it now.''

''Wow, such an observational person you are.'' I murmured ironically. He paid me no heed.

''I have a meeting tonight with a potential business partner. We have to discuss a real-estate project, but there is something fishy about him.''

''Why do you need me? There is nothing I can help with.'' He gave me a knowing half-smile.

''My people tried to dig information about his past. However, they couldn't find anything. Like he didn't exist until eight years ago.'' Hmm, that was quite interesting. A person whose past was erased indeed kept bad secrets. The question which worried Yan Si was would these secrets hurt Yan Corporation.

''I repeat. What exactly do you need me for?'' He looked at me thoughtfully.

''Apart for a few drinks, I want to observe him and to you use your hacker skills to check on him.''

''Yan Si, I told you before I don't want to be a hacker. I don't want incidentally to find myself in trouble because I know things I shouldn't.'' There was a time when I was fifteen years old. It was five years since I moved from China to Scotland. Yan Si and I were still close and had taken an interest in surfing on the dark web. That was the place I learned my hacker skills.

One day he told me to hack a person named Qi Jou. I didn't know why I had to do it, but I accepted. Yan Si wanted information from Qi Jou's personal laptop. What I found there were his illegal activities as a human trafficker. He sold underage girl from little children to seventeen years old. I was disgusted, shocked and scared. I sent the information to Yan Si, and later, he told me Qi Jou was put in jail. But, very soon, I received a threat. Someone followed a trace I left before sending the files on his laptop. I was afraid I would be assassinated. Thankfully, I only spent two months living in fear. Nothing really happened. Which didn't mean I wanted to live in constant stress.

''Oh, you a talking about Qi Jou case.'' As always, Yan Si guessed what I was thinking about.

''He was really angered back then. Even in prison, he found a way to hire an assassin to find the hacker who dared to help my father expose him. Good thing, our Yan family is resourceful, and we can take care of each other.'' I stared at him, processing what I just heard. The fact that my life was on the wanted list slowly sank into my consciousness.

''I received a threat years ago.'' I said with an empty voice. Si Yan grinned widely.

''See, you received a threat, but nothing happened. Which means there will be no problem to help me?'' He was so enthusiastic while I nodded calmly.

''Sure, I'll come with you tonight and see what kind of person he is. After that, I'll check him. Drinks are on you, and if I receive another threat, I'll point at you.'' I said firmly.

''Deal, tang mei!


City D - imaginary city tang mei - younger cousin tang jie - an older cousin

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