Scene 2 (Sod had been planted at the campus gate just passed)

In a continuation of the column 2010 Cinema, this is the second in a series of fictional portraits by Hu Fang, each taking the form of loose screen plays.


Sod had been planted at the campus gate just passed, and the pond ornamented with a few stones. Viewed from afar, everything looked like a small bonsai arrangement.

The electronic display of the railway carriage did not read clearly; only vaguely could one make out the phrase, “We wish you a pleasant trip,” which appeared repeatedly in different iterations. From the distance a white Buddha figure suddenly sprang forth, followed by the factory buildings, with the workers’ clothes quilting a brilliant curtain across the dormitories, and then in rapid succession came the campus golf course and the waste disposal area. Across a line of billboards was scrawled the company slogan: “Producing responsible goods for the entire world.”

Having arrived from the frigid north, here he could at last slowly recall the sensation of a humidity that made the skin slack and soft, and dissipated one’s energy.


In the dank and gloomy southern climate, he could discern the wretchedness of daily life. Already winter, some three or four thousand people gathered daily at Yangguangnan Road near Huadushi Mountain. “They are all day laborers; past 9 o’clock they will clear out.”

The old woman hawking vegetables was carefully scraping together the last remnants of the pickles, which with their pallid complexions looked hardly at all like anything produced with the aid of fertilizer, while in the freezing wind a young girl in an administrator’s suit was dispatching enrollment prospectuses.

He wanted to cut through the crowds of the produce market and head toward the bus station, but doing so, there would be no way to avoid colliding with his work image: that of a new-style creative worker, carrying in his pocket an iPhone 4 that required almost an entire two month’s salary to purchase, but without any physical distinction from the middle-aged man selling bonsai plants among the crowds, to the extent, rather, that at least the middle-aged man encircled by those pet-like green plants still wore on his face an expression of pride.

The teens on the subway were either playing with their mobile devices or staring blankly at the floor – momentarily beyond sight of the assembly line here, they whose only existence is usually in the corporate dormitories. He self-consciously fingered the crystalline display of the iPhone 4 in his hands, as though seeking some kind of refuge.

Were there a new rally, a new carnival, he would have unhesitatingly joined up under the calls of Weibo and Facebook. He felt he could do anything, if only he could escape the ashen melancholy hemming in routine, and the pathetic electronic warbling coming from the unemployed youth next door:

Just once, let me love enough /
I’ll give you my all. (1)


Before the incident, he had holed up in a remote, barricaded mountain villa, working on his script. Previously, the volume and efficiency of his creativity had been sufficient to make him a media darling.

When people enjoyed his works, they could never have imagined that he needed a certain kind of stimulant in order to drive his production at such a high speed and consistency. At first, it was only fastfood chains and instant coffee that served this role. Then, gradually, he no longer had time for his family, for his wife. After he completed Struggling for Love to the End, he lost his wife; lost his children. The coffee in his cup turned to liquor, and the liquor to gasoline – it was when he was at a filling station chugging down the petrol there that he was finally found out.

Some suspected he had contracted a type of disease known as “Foxconn,” capable of hardening the body into a machine. This disease originated from Foxconn Technology Group, the global precision electronic components fabricator. At the time, those who contracted the virus all jumped to their deaths, with no exceptions. Later came the emergency development of an anti-virus, but this could only prevent suicides, and was ineffective in eradicating the disease itself. Sensitive ones were the most susceptible, for they had no other way to survive the production lines.

He was quietly isolated.

And so, it was only when large numbers of people began to reminisce about his screenplays that they discovered his virus had already mutated in the mass media and cinema, and now proliferated in the deepest recesses of the collective consciousness, just like that most popular line from Struggling for Love to the End:

People are love machines: it is precisely because we have emotions that we have the potential to become the world’s most special machines.

Translated from the Chinese by Andrew Maerkle.

Hu Fang is a fiction writer and co-founder of Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou, as well as The Pavilion/the shop, Beijing. His latest book is the novel Garden of Mirrored Flowers (co-published by Sternberg Press and Vitamin Creative Space).

  1. From Yu Chengqing’s pop ballad “Give you all my love” (1989), Linfair Records, Taipei. Chinese: 讓我一次愛個夠 / 給你我所有

Copyrighted Image