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"Wait. You want me to be the director of the tap water factory?" I asked.
"Yes, because no one else knows it better than you do," the a.s.sistant replied.
"No, I don't know anything about that stuff! I'm not suitable for that."
"You've been working for about 12 years and the children who used to listen to you are all grown up now. They believe in your ability. Our nation needs you."
"Let me consider."
"There's no time. You'll start work tomorrow," he stated.
The water factory was a sacred place. I often fantasized about visiting the world's most beautiful underground mineral spring and connecting it to the households in Blue Wave. It was a common dream scene of mine.
When I was young, before the establishment of the museum, my teacher would always repeat the story of the five-colored koi fishes who lived in the underground mineral spring.
Each koi was more than a hundred years old, and they swam leisurely in the water.
The mining worker who found the spring had tried the water and was refreshed by its sweetness.
He pushed it to the whole of Blue Wave and everyone started having access to the incredible water.
Blue Wave's water then became the world's greatest wonder.
And right now, if the a.s.sistant wasn't playing with me, I would have the power to do that.
I took my phone out and did some research.
News of the yellow mud and the factory suicide incident were all entangled.
There were all kinds of interpretations and rumors.
Some believed that the sewage and water tubes had cracked, and that news about the spring being contaminated was found everywhere.
That led to the denial on the government's side.
I also saw what my a.s.sistant was talking about. The people were recommending me to a.s.sume the role of the factory director. They were saying that they knew that I was the key to Blue Wave's future.
I stayed up and continued to browse through the comments.
The next morning, I washed up and headed down to the factory.
When I arrived at the door, I noticed a crowd surrounding it. They were all smiling at me and holding up big banners.
A lady bounded over to me with a wide smile. "You're Mr. Lu Qiao, right?"
"I'll be your secretary. I'll be the one arranging your schedule from here on out," she said warmly.
I nodded again and followed her inside, all the way to the office on the highest floor.
The sign on the door read, "Factory Director, Pang Dahai."
The secretary gave me an apologetic look. "Our director left suddenly and we haven't had the chance to change it."
"Don't worry about it, I understand."
I walked into the office and took in the panoramic view of the factory that the room was decked out with.
I sat down and saw a doc.u.ment with my name on it.
"Is this for me?" I asked the secretary.
"Yes. A reporter will be here in half an hour. It's a live broadcast so I'll need you to read the content in this folder. We prepared it a while ago. You can try familiarizing yourself with it,"
I opened the folder and took out a long script. It contained explanations regarding the yellow mud water in the Western region, an apology from the former director, and my determination to run the place well. I could say anything I please, but it was highly suggested that I talk about my time in the museum and comment on Blue Wave water.
"Director Lu? Are you alright?" the secretary called out.
"What is it?"
"Nothing. It just looked like you were in a daze? Is there a problem?"
"Yes, I have one."
"Is the content wrong? Or something else?"
"Can you take me to the underground mineral spring?"
"Um… you only have half an hour before the interview. I can take you there after everything's done," she said.
I nodded and returned to the script.
The media arrived as planned and a giant camera was quickly pointed at me.
The reporter said his piece and handed the microphone to me.
"h.e.l.lo, everyone, I'm the new director, Lu Qiao. I believe that many of you already know me… the water here is from Blue Wave. Blue Wave is great," I cheered.
The reporter took over the mic and supplemented the interview with a few more lines before the cameraman put the camera down.
The secretary started clapping. "You were great, Director Lu."
After a quick exchange, the cameraman and the reporter left.
The secretary sent them off while I stayed in the office.
I wondered if she was deliberately avoiding me.
I went downstairs and met only a few workers along the way, which was odd to me.
I put on the coat, gloves, mask, cap, and got disinfected before entering the air shower room.
I saw a large machine and figured that it was the water extraction machine.
The strange part was that both tubes were facing upward.
Shouldn't one be facing downward in order to bring the water up?
An old man walked over in regular clothes. "Are you new here?"
"You don't have to wear all the gear, you know. The leaders won't run checks."
"Won't the water and the equipment be contaminated if we don't dress properly?"
"Wow, you're really new. Come see this pointer," he said, shifting a table and placing it in front of a stool.
I walked over to it and he sat me down.
I saw a pointer in the middle of the gauge. On its left was green and its right red.
The old man pointed at the needle. "Your job is to look at this. If it goes toward the red, press this b.u.t.ton and call me over to replace the filter tube. We will take turns once you learn how to change it."
"What if it turns to the green?"
"If it turns green, do you expect the yellow mud water to filter itself without changing the filter?"
"What?" I shuddered, my back turning cold.
"Don't skive and remember to press the b.u.t.ton when it turns to the red. The previous fool fell asleep and the filter overloaded. The yellow mud water flowed out without being filtered and half the unfiltered water reached half the region so the fool got fired."
"The… water… isn't from the underground spring?"
"See those foreign words on the machine? Ocean King Wave's stuff. Just the minimum to keep humans alive. We extract it from the ocean before filtering away the salt and mud. Did you really believe the guy from the museum? That the water will extend your life by 10%?" he mocked.
The door opened and a fat man walked in.
"You haven't been fired, silly fellow?" the old man asked, puzzled.
"Nah, just given a severe warning. I'm here for my shift. I won't fall asleep anymore, promise. Wait. Have you heard that our new director is here? Pang Dahai owed debts and committed suicide. The new director is the museum guy, the 10% guy," Fatty said with a laugh.