The Great Worm Lich Chapter 87
The dirt road close to the jungle between Lunuk and Tuikano made Zhang Lisheng realize how bumpy Lunuk City's roads were. It was akin to sitting in a rumbling raft, but he didn't mind that and admired the dense jungle's ecology along the way. The speed would never go more than 15 kilometers per hour. The bumpy ride felt like it was a worn out bus that was going to collapse anytime.
The iguanas, veiled chameleons, prehensile-tailed skinks and more that were resting by the road were forsaken Zhang Lisheng spent more than three hours to finally get back to Paradise Hotel, after being away for the whole day.
The bill came up to $1,300. It was more expensive than traveling around America on the Greyhound Line. After getting off the car, Zhang Lisheng withdrew some money for payment. The first thing he did after that was to go to the hotel's front desk to ask if they offered a GPS rental service. He planned to be 'independent' everywhere he went in Tatetutu from now onwards.
"Of course we have GPS rental service, there are two types which is a professional one and for travel. Which one" While the hotel's front desk attendant was answering Zhang Lisheng's question with a smile, a lady's voice could be heard far away, seemingly discontented. "Zhang Lisheng, you're finally back. Do you remember you have friends who came to Tatetutu with you? It's only the third day today"
"I'm sorry Tina, it's my fault this time, but I'm trying my best to make it up to you. I'm asking the front desk lady if they have GPS"
"Walter has prepared it for you last night. Eh? `hat's that on your palm? Are you hurt?" Tina saw the colorful gauze on his hand as she walked closer and asked in panic.
"No, it's something interesting that I bought in Lunuk. The seller said that he got it from the supernatural dimension. Its form can be changed as one wishes and can be stuck on the body" Zhang Lisheng removed the jelly gem from his palm as he spoke and pulled it as if he would never be bored from playing with it. He tied it around his wrist casually.
"Are you a kid?" Tina had zero interest in the little toy on Zhang Lisheng's hand and said while lowering her voice, "We might go into the jungle tomorrow"
"It's much earlier than I imagined. It seems like the overbearing Captain Hatton's appearance backfired. Before we depart, I thought we would stay at the hotel for at least a week. I thought Trish would drag you guys along to die with her when she finally can't wait any longer"
"Can you not be so mean since you're going with us?"
"I'm sorry. Sometimes the truth's depressing."
Tina glared at Zhang Lisheng fiercely. "In reality, Hatton's behavior was not the factor that caused such a sudden departure. Mr. Tubalin who appeared yesterday afternoon was another factor. It's hard to imagine that there's such a cultured old man who is a jungle native with an extraordinarily wide range of knowledge. At the beginning of the 70s, he only spent three years to achieve a Ph.D. at Cambridge University. Just when he was going to shine in the physics world, there was a great plague in Tatetutu that broke out of nowhere with at least 10,000 casualties. The incident affected him greatly. Back in that generation, the scientists did not emphasize on humanitarianism as they do now. Seeing that the suffering of the people of his own kind didn't spark any attention to those top international biology labs, he changed his course to biomedical science and obtained his second doctorate.
"Trish's high fever didn't get any better yesterday, so the hotel doctor recommended us to look for this Professor Tubalin who had just come back from a jungle expedition"
Zhang Lisheng found out from Tina's naggy description which was filled with respect that Trish's high fever could not go away after he left. Tina and Sheila took the Paradise Hotel's doctor's suggestion to get help from a native old man who possessed a double doctorate in fundamental physics and biomedical science which did not match.
The old man used magical herbal powder to heal Trish's high fever like a piece of cake. He accepted the invitation to have dinner with Trish. As they spent time together, his wide-range of knowledge and high EQ, as well as chivalry, won the young people over. After learning about Trish's reason to come to Tatetutu, he forcefully recommended these young people a group of reliable guides after his failed attempt to stop them from going.
"We'll have lunch with those guides this afternoon. I heard from Mr. Tubalin that they were born as jungle natives. They've been working as guides for more than ten years, plus they're powerful in Tuikano. They could find out who brought Henry and Henrick to the jungle adventure easily and analyze their route then.."
"Then they'll bring you guys to piles of animal feces I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that...but don't you think what you've just told me sounded ridiculous?"
Tina fell into silence for a moment. "Then do you have any other solution?"
"Then shut up. Follow me to see Trish and Sheila right now. Both of them are waiting at the restaurant."
Zhang Lisheng opened his arms wide and shut up helplessly as he followed Tina to the restaurant. Very soon, Zhang Lisheng saw Tubalin eating a simple fried egg, bacon, and toast on a long table by the restaurant window while chatting. A simple lunch was one of the three meals that the Westerners were accustomed to. They would call it a meal with a few cherry tomatoes, the old man clearly took up the habit.
"Walter, although I'm a science professor, I'm advising you not to go for fundamental physics. Such a subject where you're required to analyze the secret of the entire universe is very hard to manage to people who are sane. From what I know, among the outstanding fundamental physicians, I and the fella who's sitting on a wheelchair who goes 'eeeeee' when he speaks are the only sane ones. The rest either become the ancestors of mail bombing or become hippies after they turn 60. The reason we're both sane is because I love my country, while he could only move his eyes."
"Oh. I've never thought you're so humorous, Mr. Tubalin. But this joke would be a humiliation to Professor Hawking," Sheila said while laughing with her body who was rocking back and forth.
"Don't worry Ms. Sheila, Hawking wouldn't mind what I said about him. We used to squeeze in a small brick house together for a full four years back then. We've cracked all sorts of jokes at each other."
"Oh my god! You You were Professor Hawking's classmate!"
"Yes, in reality, we came up with the theory of The Universe in a Nutshell from our imagination. Later on, God gave him the responsibility to simplify the theory to tell it to the world, while I'm responsible for looking at the bookmark to travel through the pages freely"
"Calling it a bookmark is very new and cool. Professor, do you mean the string that could travel through time?" Walter who was very interested in the frontier of physics could not help but ask. Hearing the word bookmark, Zhang Lisheng thought it was familiar all of a sudden and blurted it out loud, "Bookmark, my friend's brother who's a mathematician is also studying that"
"Mathematics is the mother of all sciences, only mathematics could fight fair with fundamental physics Oh, talking about this is a little too boring for you young people. You must be Mr. Zhang Lisheng, nice meeting you."
"I'm Zhang Lisheng, it's my pleasure meeting you Professor Tubalin."
Shittu who was sitting aside shrugged suddenly when Zhang Lisheng was shaking hands with the old man. "The topic you were talking about wasn't boring at all. Time traveling is one of the sci-fi themes that young people are most interested in"
"It's not just merely time travel, it might be the overlapping of physical planes" Tubalin smiled as he said, "But such a theory's too unreal, it might just stop on the theory itself forever and will never be experimented. Although that's the case, I'm determined to study into it...whenever I have the time."
Walter said respectfully hearing what he said, "Professor Tubalin, you'd definitely be a great scientist whose name will be in history forever, if not for your country."
Tubalin was stunned for a moment, he revealed an odd expression on his face faintly and smiled without saying anything.
At that moment, the hotel waiter brought a few skinny, barefooted natives to the long table, "Professor Tubalin, these few men told me that they're your friends?"
"They're my friends, thanks for bringing them here. My friends Tuta, Duta, Wataruru, and Pujita, it's nice to see you guys again."
The leader of the pack had flame-like black patterns tattooed on his face. His skin was tanned, his bald head was made into one that could not guess his age. He smiled stiffly and spoke with straightforward English, "Professor Tubalin, I didn't expect to get your call, not long after hearing about the news that you've come back from the 'green lake'. Don't you want to rest for a while before departing again?"
"No you've misunderstood Tuta, it's not me who are hiring you guys today. These young people are hoping to hire you to the jungle, to look for their family member who has lost his way."
Tuta then turned his head to look at Trish and the rest next to Tubalin. "Our asking price is very high."
"I heard from Professor Tubalin about your price. I'm willing to pay $20,000 for you guys to be our guides. I'll give you an additional $50,000 if we manage to find my brother."
"$20,000 is the price for Professor Tubalin, I'll need $50,000 from you."
"That's not fair. Professor Tubalin would hire you guys for at least three months in the jungle, we might not even need one month this time"
"Professor Tubalin's different from you guys. He could take care of himself in the jungle, but you guys are a burden," Tuta said coldly, without any mercy.
His arrogance surprisingly gave Trish a sense of relief. "Alright then, I'll pay $50,000. Tina, my dear, I might need your help."
Hearing that, Tina showed the 'everything is okay' sign. "Mr. Tuta, do you guys prefer cash or a cheque, or would you want us to transfer the money to your account?"
The deal went unusually well, after adding a few details. After receiving the deposit, Tuta and his underlings rejected Tina's lunch invitation coldly and left the hotel to prepare themselves. Thinking that they were going for an adventure tomorrow, the young people showed a mix of expressions including excitement, longing, a little fear, and worry. Zhang Lisheng, on the other hand, seemed unusually calm as he removed the jelly gem from his wrist and continued playing with it between his fingers.