Because of committing a federal offence, Yi Dong was banished indefinitely to this desolate asteroid by the Intergalactic Courthouse. Compared to his petite form, the asteroid was relatively large, and it was seemingly boundless. Yet, in the vast universe, it was as futile as Yi Dong was, and wasn’t worth being remembered by others.
Yi Dong had been spacing out all alone for some time. It had probably been a billion years. He wasn’t too sure, since he had given up on counting the days long ago. Do you know? In the endless infinities, counting time was a painful thing to do. It shared the same weight of loneliness, and it was shooting yourself in the foot.
Everyday, Yi Dong talked to the dust swirling in the sky. Sometimes, he would count the number of raindrops falling from the sky. Then, he would play with his fingers and toes, and speak to himself… Right before he made his decision to commit suicide, an unknown object drifted near the asteroid. It brushed against the atmosphere rapidly and sparks went flying. Yi Dong was on cloud nine. Without demur, he sprinted energetically. One giant leap in the mid-air as he drew the distance closer between them, and he grabbed hold of the device.
The object was a low-tech metal box, and Yi Dong opened it almost effortlessly. Inside it were two products of the far past. He believed they were gadgets from an underdeveloped world, which may have concealed signals dispatched to other life forms of different planets. If it were Yi Dong before his exile, he would definitely scorn these widgets and would get rid of them without hesitation. Yet, at this moment, he had already undergone the torture of isolation. He thought that the objects in his hands were a gift from the universe. He cherished them dearly, wrapping his arms around them and weeping bitterly.
‘No matter what you are, welcome to my world!’
After having cried for some time and with no more tears left to shed, Yi Dong carefully assembled the two articles that were way behind the times, a disc and a disc reader. The message was somewhat corrupted. It was choppy and its meaning wasn’t very clear. No big deal. He played it again patiently.
Was it music?
Yi Dong didn’t understand the language sung in, but the melody was full of grace and the singer’s voice was gentle and tinged with a speck of delight.
Enchanted by the song, he played it again and again. He couldn’t figure out what the song was about, but he was pleased about the fateful encounter with the disc player. It added meaning to his life.
On a rare starry night, Yi Dong sat next to the disc player. When they both gazed at the stars with admiration, he wondered curiously. If I had a glass of moonshine in my hand right now, how good would that be! He glanced at the player and teased himself for being silly, so silly that he wanted to make a toast with an inanimate object.
Alright then! Yi Dong wanted the stars and the night sky to witness his nonsense.
His existence instantly became meaningful, and time was no longer a suffering.
With the machine in his arms, Yi Dong treaded every inch of the asteroid’s surface, trying to find the perfect land. He could make containers by mixing half-dried mud and dry soil. He could make wine by mixing wet soil (which contained micro-organisms) and rainwater (with glucose in it) together, then putting the mixture into a vacuum container for fermentation. During the process, Yi Dong spent a good amount of time examining how else could the mixture be used for. Eventually, he ended up building a mini-bar.
Although everything was made of soil, the mini-bar was well-furnished with all sorts of equipment: chairs, tables, cellars… All except for customers who would drink with him.
How many nights had Yi Dong passed by listening to music the universe had granted unto him, while drinking to the empty chairs opposite to him. He imagined about the old days when he would gather with his old friends, tasting the wine he made in elation until they were absolutely plastered. Laughter erupted among the sea of faces with red flushes.
He was drunk. He cried like a homeless child, until he was too tired to shed any more tears and drifted off to the paradise of dreams…
‘This is some good wine! Did you make it yourself?’ A stranger’s voice came through him nearby. The hungover Yi Dong thought he had misheard something and didn’t reply. It wasn’t until the other person half-drunkenly walked towards him from the cellar with a light gait, and landed a hard slap on Yi Dong’s back. ‘Why didn’t you answer me? I’m asking you a question! Did you make this yourself?’
Yi Dong was at a loss for words. Watery blood dripped down from the corner of his eyes quietly. Even by widening his eyes, he still couldn’t spot the other person’s figure…
He was a prosecutor from the Intergalactic Courthouse, and he was responsible for patrolling every asteroid which held prisoners in captivity in the universe. After keeping guard of countless asteroids, he had finally reached the asteroid where Yi Dong’s small bar was located. The sight of Yi Dong groggily resting his head against the table immediately awoke the official’s bibulous appetite, before he found himself silently creeping into the cellar to taste the wine.
It was outlandishly delicious! Its sweet aroma! Its mellow flavour! Its rich texture!
He drank and drank, and got so drunk that he had forgotten he was on duty…
‘Haha!’ The prosecutor couldn’t justify his over-the-top behaviour, so he shied away with a smile. ‘You won’t report me, right?’
‘No.’ Yi Dong gently caressed the bandage wrapped around his eyes. ‘Take this as a token of thanks for bringing me to get my eyes treated.’ The prosecutor checked Yi Dong’s eyes, and suspected that the damage to his eyes leading to blindness was due to excessive crying.
‘After your treatment, I’ll bring you back to the asteroid and you’ll continue your sentence.’ The official was a kind soul, and he carefully packed necessities for Yi Dong’s three-day trip. (Of course, he also brought along ten bottles of wine for himself)
‘Can we not bring the CD player? It’s pretty large…’ The prosecutor’s spaceship could barely hold two people, and it couldn’t take in any more luggage.
‘It is my everything!’ Yi Dong uttered out nonsense like a child would say.
‘Right…’ The official was deep in thought for a while, before reluctantly putting a few wine bottles back into the cellar to make space for storing the machine on the spaceship. ‘Indeed! People who could make good wine are hopeless romances.’
On their way, Yi Dong kept on playing his disc, enthralled by the music. Watching him relishing in the melody, the prosecutor instantly understood how much the music meant to Yi Dong. He couldn’t help but to reveal the truth behind the disc player.
He studied the metal box, which contained the disc and the machine, with great detail. From the coordinates engraved onto the box’s lid, he confirmed that the box was from an underdeveloped planet called ‘Earth’. The disc didn’t play music, but an ‘emergency alert’ from the Earthlings, which roughly meant, ‘Due to fluctuations in climate, the Earth is on the edge of extinction. Please send help.’
Earth had once sent out millions of boxes carrying the same message. After receiving numerous boxes of this kind, many planets referred them to the Intergalactic Courthouse. The courthouse believed that the Earthlings were the main culprits behind the cause of Earth’s tragedy. As a result, they had to get taste of their own medicine. Nobody should draw on their resources to rescue these idiots.
‘Let them fend for themselves.’ The Intergalactic Courthouse had made such a judgement.
After arriving at the clinic, the doctor easily found out the cause of the disease like it was child’s play. He applied eye drops and bandages for Yi Dong. ‘You have to let the eyedrop reach every part of your eyes… You can only remove the bandages half a month later,’ advised the doctor.
‘So I can’t see things immediately?’ Yi Dong was taken aback.
‘No, you can’t.’ The doctor gave a cold reply.
Yi Dong was miserable and didn’t say another word.
‘Don’t worry. I will stay on the asteroid to take care of you during this time.’ The prosecutor comforted Yi Dong while sipping wine on his little spaceship.
‘I’m not worried about this.’ Yi Dong sighed at the end of the song. ‘On my way back, I planned to witness the planet which sent out these boxes… According to the coordinates on the lid, that planet should be between the asteroid and the clinic.’
This time, it was the official’s turn to plunge into silence.
‘I really want to see the planet where magnificent symphonies are created! That should be a beautiful planet!’ Yi Dong’s words were overflowing with hope.
‘How about this? I’ll activate the spaceship’s “invisible mode”, then I’ll hover low over the planet’s surface and describe its landscape for you…’ The prosecutor hit on an idea. Yi Dong couldn’t see anything anyway. There shouldn’t be a problem if he made everything up.
‘Great!’ Yi Dong was bouncing off the walls like a child.
They had arrived at the place directed by the coordinates. The prosecutor couldn’t help but to feel shivers down his spine. Earth had met its inevitable demise as expected.
‘We’ve arrived! This place is amazing!’ The official forced out his enthusiasm. By the magic of his tongue, the gloomy, grey clouds casting over the land were replaced by a clear and boundless sky. Meanwhile, corpses strewn all over the ground were described as an idyllic scene painted by flora and fauna. In the meantime, cities left in ruins were brought to life with their hustle and bustle…
Listening to his description, heavenly sights of the scenery appeared in Yi Dong’s mind. It was a lovely planet indeed! This beauty and happiness left a deep print in his heart. He curled up the corner of his mouth, presenting a radiant smile.
Half a month later, Yi Dong took off the bandage and bade farewell to the prosecutor. He told Yi Dong he wasn’t sure when he would come back again, and that he would miss him and his wine dearly. Yi Dong thanked him for his care during his stay and also for taking him to the ‘beautiful planet’.
‘Though I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I will always cherish the beauty within it!’ Yi Dong thanked him from the bottom of his heart.
The prosecutor left with his spaceship, and Yi Dong was all alone on the asteroid once more. Yet, he didn’t feel lonely anymore, as the beautiful memories were there to stay within him.