Little Poplar, Chapter 12: 40 seconds = 4 kilometers

Little Poplar《小白楊》Xiao Bai Yang

Little Poplar, Chapter 12: 40 seconds = 4 kilometers

After a long, tiring day, Bai Xinyu soon drifted off to sleep. But he didn’t feel like sleeping for long, when the alarm clock went off, which he turned to the max and it didn’t stop, he was so sleepy that he couldn’t keep his eyes open, the bed was so warm and comfortable, he didn’t want to move, he covered his ears with the blanket, trying to escape.

Someone cursed in their sleep, muttering loudly, “Whose phone is ringing?”

Then, Bai Xinyu was kicked in the face, that way, it was definitely Yu Fengcheng! He threw off the covers in pain, grabbed the phone on the low cabinet, turned off the alarm clock, he thought, just sleep for five minutes, five more minutes….

Feng Dongyuan whispered above him and said: “Xinyu, Xinyu! Get up.”

Bai Xinyu was whining, he doesn’t want to get up. He rolled over and then another kick to his shin, much harder than the one he’d just received and he raged and said: “What are you doing, stop it! I’m awake!” The voice was slurred and cryptic and he sounded pitiful.

Yu Fengcheng whispered and said: “Then get up quickly, so as not to disturb anyone’s sleep.”

Bai Xinyu muttered, “I’m going to take a nap, five minutes….”

Feng Dongyuan said helplessly and said: “Xinyu, you’ll be punished by Company Commander for being late.”

“I know… I know that….” Bai Xinyu let out a big yawn, feeling a fatal attraction to that blanket.


Across the bed, Chen Jing suddenly whispered and said: “Quiet, don’t disturb the others.”

Feng Dongyuan dared not speak, Yu Fengcheng also turned over, no longer pay attention to Bai Xinyu.

Bai Xinyu thinks to himself “Get up now, get up now” but then he loses consciousness again. After a while, something hits him and he wakes up with a start. He looks at his watch and sees that it’s 5:15 pm, less than 10 minutes before the time Xu Chuang asked him to arrive. Bai Xinyu woke up completely, he got up and looked, there was an orange on the bed, Feng Dongyuan must have thrown it down to warn him. He couldn’t be thankful, so he rolled over and got out of bed. He rushed to the washroom to empty the night’s stock, then brushed his teeth and washed his face.

   He’s making too much noise and he’s pissing off the sleep-deprived recruits.

Having managed to get dressed, Bai Xinyu put on his shoes and tried to run, when Chen Jing, lying flat on his back, suddenly closed his eyes and spoke, “Fold the blanket.”

Bai Xinyu was stunned.

Chen Jing and said: “It’s a disciplinary offence not to get up in the morning, fold it.”

Bai Xinyu looked at the clock and saw that there were less than three minutes left, so he almost cursed but there was nothing he could do about this perverted rule.

And then, the wake-up call rang out.

When they ran to the playground, Xu Chuang and Wang Shunwei were waiting for them on the podium.

Bai Xinyu ran up to them, literally out of breath, “Yeah, Company Commander, Instructor, I’m here.”

Xu Chuang glanced at him, “How do you talk to your superiors in the army?”

Bai Xinyu quickly straightened up, “Report to the Chief, I’m here.”

Xu Chuang turned over his palm, revealing a stopwatch, “I asked you yesterday to be 5 minutes and 38 seconds early today and you’re still 40 seconds late.”

Bai Xinyu was in tears, cursing him for being so perverted as to use a stopwatch, he whispered unconvincingly, “That counts as being late….”

That got Xu Chuang angry on the spot, Xu Chuang glared, “I asked you to come early just to practice your sense of time. What’s up? Are you still rebellious? Forty seconds means nothing to you, right? 40 seconds is enough for a grenade to explode 7 or 8 times, 40 seconds is enough for a machine gun to fire 3 or 4 thousand rounds, I’m telling you Bai Xinyu, in a life and death battlefield, every second counts, as a soldier, punctuality is the first rule.” He jabbed Bai Xinyu in the shoulder, “You don’t understand!”

Bai Xinyu kept his head down, not daring to speak.

Xu Chuang snapped, “Keep your head up and your back straight!”

Bai Xinyu, stood up straight.

All the recruits in the building started pouring down and in less than two minutes, over two hundred of them were out on the playground, starting to line up of their own volition and the squads started taking roll call.

Xu Chuang shouted and said: “Comrade Bai Xinyu, you have been late for two days in a row, I told you yesterday, I didn’t punish you for the first day, I gave you a second chance but today you are still 40 seconds late, for 40 seconds you will be punished by running 4 km, plus the 3 km for waking up in the morning, that’s 7 km in total, when will you finish? I’ll eat at the same time and I’ll give you a warning.”

Bai Xinyu stared straight ahead, “Seven… Seven kilometers.”

“Yes, seven kilometers.”

Bai Xinyu almost collapsed, he almost died running 3 km yesterday and 7 km, that will definitely kill him.

Xu Chuang shouted and said: “At ease, attention – Class Leaders lead, run!”

Bai Xinyu begged, “Company Commander, I’ll never be late again, I swear, really, I…”

Xu Chuang glared at him viciously, shivering with anger, “You, you still dare to bargain, look at yourself, do you have the appearance of a soldier, of a man!”

Bai Xinyu’s pride was a little bruised and he felt like 200 people in the playground were watching him, sending chills down his back.

Xu Chuang yelled in his ear, “Run!”

Bai Xinyu didn’t dare to say another word and ran after the group. He was so sorry that he had to sleep for a few more minutes and now he wanted to fall down and pass out after 7 kilometers.

Feng Dongyuan and Qian Liang ran to his side, looking at him sympathetically.

Qian Liang sighed and said: “Go ahead, tell you to be lazy, you’ve been told so many times you can’t get up, don’t tell me, Company Commander works, you won’t dare to sleep in bed again.”

Bai Xinyu was crying, “If I don’t make it, make sure you take me to the infirmary.”

Feng Dongyuan reassured and said: “I heard that veterans start from 1 to 20 kilometers runs, the human body has great potential, you bite the bullet and get through it.”

Bai Xinyu’s heart grew more desperate.

Yu Fengcheng also ran next to him, teasing and said: “Now do you think I kicked too lightly? Hmm?”

Bai Xinyu’s eyes darted, his lips pursed.

Yu Fengcheng narrowed his eyes, “For your sake, I’ll call you something a little more special next time.”

Bai Xinyu stared at him, “What are you, what are you up to now?”

This guy’s too dangerous, he has to watch out.

Yu Fengcheng smiled at him, showing a mouthful of white teeth and whispered and said: “Guess.”

Chen Jing ran up beside them, “Save your energy for running and less for talking.”

Bai Xinyu gave himself up and said: “There’s nothing to save, it’s better to pass out sooner.”

Chen Jing gave him a blank stare, “Comrade Bai Xinyu, you really don’t need an education. I hope this punishment will help you improve. You go back and prepare an inspection, for a class meeting next week, to analyze your shortcomings and suggest ways to improve.”

Bai Xinyu was going crazy, “Class Leader, please let me go.”

Chen Jing shook her head, “Can’t let you off the hook, every soldier in the squad is my responsibility, if you get to the company and still look like this and say I brought you up, how will I look?”

Bai Xinyu craned his neck, shouted and dragged his feet capriciously forward.

   After running 2 kilometers, Bai Xinyu began to feel exhausted and barely finished 3 kilometers. When he got back to the yard, everyone else began to break up into squads to practice their battle stances and marching, while he ran desperately around the yard. The army’s big playground was 1000 meters in a circle and he had four more laps to do and his legs started to get weak, he couldn’t breathe, his heart and lungs felt like they were going to explode with every step and before he’d finished half a lap he started running and walking as if he was going to fall on his head the next second.

   Bai Xinyu has never done such a self-harming sport in his life and he’s never been so tired, he thinks Xu Chuang is deliberately picking on him, ever since the day he got on the train, Xu Chuang has been pissing at him, making him run 4km 40 seconds late, it’s a damn shame. He pissed off the head instructor on the first day, how can he still have a good time in the future?

   By the end of the run, Bai Xinyu was rolling his eyes, almost as if he was moving forward. He felt like the whole yard was staring at him and laughing at him, the feeling of isolation made him want to cry, he missed his home, he missed his mother, what the hell was he doing here? What the hell are you doing here? You can’t live a normal life. Why do you have to come to this shithole and suffer? He wants to go home, right now, right now, home.

   He couldn’t run any more, so he fell head over heels on the track and in the moment he was on the ground, the dirty ground seemed more comfortable than the bed.

~Little Poplar~


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