北京折叠在线阅读(中英对照)

《北京折叠》(Folding Beijing)是科幻作家郝景芳创作的中短篇小说。该小说创造了一个更极端的类似情景,书里的北京不知年月,大概在 22 世纪,空间分为三层,不同的人占据了不同的空间,也按照不同的比例,分配着每个 48 小时周期。

2016年8月21日,《北京折叠》获得第74届雨果奖最佳中短篇小说奖。

译文取自网站:http://uncannymagazine.com/article/folding-beijing-2/
原文:取自原作者博客
作者:郝景芳    译者:刘宇昆
BY HAO JINGFANG, TRANSLATED BY KEN LIU

1

清晨4:50,老刀穿过熙熙攘攘的步行街,去找彭蠡。

At ten to five in the morning, Lao Dao crossed the busy pedestrian lane on his way to find Peng Li.

从垃圾站下班之后,老刀回家洗了个澡,换了衣服。白色衬衫和褐色裤子,这是他唯一一套体面衣服,衬衫袖口磨了边,他把袖子卷到胳膊肘。老刀四十八岁,没结婚,已经过了注意外表的年龄,又没人照顾起居,这一套衣服留着穿了很多年,每次穿一天,回家就脱了叠上。他在垃圾站上班,没必要穿得体面,偶尔参加谁家小孩的婚礼,才拿出来穿在身上。这一次他不想脏兮兮地见陌生人。他在垃圾站连续工作了五小时,很担心身上会有味道。

After the end of his shift at the waste processing station, Lao Dao had gone home, first to shower and then to change. He was wearing a white shirt and a pair of brown pants—the only decent clothes he owned. The shirt’s cuffs were frayed, so he rolled them up to his elbows. Lao Dao was forty–eight, single, and long past the age when he still took care of his appearance. As he had no one to pester him about the domestic details, he had simply kept this outfit for years. Every time he wore it, he’d come home afterward, take off the shirt and pants, and fold them up neatly to put away. Working at the waste processing station meant there were few occasions that called for the outfit, save a wedding now and then for a friend’s son or daughter.

步行街上挤满了刚刚下班的人。拥挤的男人女人围着小摊子挑土特产,大声讨价还价。食客围着塑料桌子,埋头在酸辣粉的热气腾腾中,饿虎扑食一般,白色蒸汽遮住了脸。油炸的香味弥漫。货摊上的酸枣和核桃堆成山,腊肉在头顶摇摆。这个点是全天最热闹的时间,基本都收工了,忙碌了几个小时的人们都赶过来吃一顿饱饭,人声鼎沸。

Today, however, he was apprehensive about meeting strangers without looking at least somewhat respectable. After five hours at the waste processing station, he also had misgivings about how he smelled. People who had just gotten off work filled the road. Men and women crowded every street vendor, picking through local produce and bargaining loudly. Customers packed the plastic tables at the food hawker stalls, which were immersed in the aroma of frying oil. They ate heartily with their faces buried in bowls of hot and sour rice noodles, their heads hidden by clouds of white steam. Other stands featured mountains of jujubes and walnuts, and hunks of cured meat swung overhead. This was the busiest hour of the day—work was over, and everyone was hungry and loud.

老刀艰难地穿过人群。端盘子的伙计一边喊着让让一边推开挡道的人,开出一条路来,老刀跟在后面。彭蠡家在小街深处。老刀上楼,彭蠡不在家。问邻居,邻居说他每天快到关门才回来,具体几点不清楚。

Lao Dao squeezed through the crowd slowly. A waiter carrying dishes shouted and pushed his way through the throng. Lao Dao followed close behind. Peng Li lived some ways down the lane. Lao Dao climbed the stairs but Peng wasn’t home. A neighbor said that Peng usually didn’t return until right before market closing time, but she didn’t know exactly when.

老刀有点担忧,看了看手表,清晨5点。他回到楼门口等着。两旁狼吞虎咽的饥饿少年围绕着他。他认识其中两个,原来在彭蠡家见过一两次。少年每人面前摆着一盘炒面或炒粉,几个人分吃两个菜,盘子里一片狼藉,筷子扔在无望而锲而不舍地拨动,寻找辣椒丛中的肉星。老刀又下意识闻了闻小臂,不知道身上还有没有垃圾的腥味。周围的一切嘈杂而庸常,和每个清晨一样。

Lao Dao became anxious. He glanced down at his watch: Almost 5:00 AM. He went back downstairs to wait at the entrance of the apartment building. A group of hungry teenagers squatted around him, devouring their food. He recognized two of them because he remembered meeting them a couple of times at Peng Li’s home. Each kid had a plate of chow mein or chow fun, and they shared two dishes family–style. The dishes were a mess while pairs of chopsticks continued to search for elusive, overlooked bits of meat amongst the chopped peppers. Lao Dao sniffed his forearms again to be sure that the stench of garbage was off of him. The noisy, quotidian chaos around him assured him with its familiarity.

“哎,你们知道那儿一盘回锅肉多少钱吗?”那个叫小李的少年说。

“Listen, do you know how much they charge for an order of twice–cooked pork over there?” a boy named Li asked.

“靠,菜里有沙子。”另外一个叫小丁的胖少年突然捂住嘴说,他的指甲里还带着黑泥, “坑人啊。得找老板退钱!”

“Fuck! I just bit into some sand,” a heavyset kid named Ding said while covering his mouth with one hand, which had very dirty fingernails. “We need to get our money back from the vendor!”

“人家那儿一盘回锅肉,就三百四。”小李说,“三百四!一盘水煮牛肉四百二呢。”

Li ignored him. “Three hundred and forty yuan!” said Li. “You hear that? Three forty! For twice–cooked pork! And for boiled beef? Four hundred and twenty!”

“什么玩意?这么贵。”小丁捂着腮帮子咕哝道。

“How could the prices be so expensive?” Ding mumbled as he clutched his cheek. “What do they put in there?”

另外两个少年对谈话没兴趣,还在埋头吃面,小李低头看着他们,眼睛似乎穿过他们,看到了某个看不见的地方,目光里有热切。

The other two youths weren’t interested in the conversation and concentrated on shoveling food from the plate into the mouth. Li watched them, and his yearning gaze seemed to go through them and focus on something beyond.

老刀的肚子也感觉到饥饿。他迅速转开眼睛,可是来不及了,那种感觉迅速席卷了他,胃的空虚像是一个深渊,让他身体微微发颤。他有一个月不吃清晨这顿饭了。一顿饭差不多一百块,一个月三千块,攒上一年就够糖糖两个月的幼儿园开销了。

Lao Dao’s stomach growled. He quickly averted his eyes, but it was too late. His empty stomach felt like an abyss that made his body tremble. It had been a month since he last had a morning meal. He used to spend about a hundred each day on this meal, which translated to three thousand for the month. If he could stick to his plan for a whole year, he’d be able to save enough to afford two months of tuition for Tangtang’s kindergarten.

他向远处看,城市清理队的车辆已经缓缓开过来了。

He looked into the distance: The trucks of the city cleaning crew were approaching slowly.

他开始做准备,若彭蠡一时再不回来,他就要考虑自己行动了。虽然会带来不少困难,但时间不等人,总得走才行。身边卖大枣的女人高声叫卖,不时打断他的思绪,声音的洪亮刺得他头疼。步行街一端的小摊子开始收拾,人群像用棍子搅动的池塘里的鱼,倏一下散去。没人会在这时候和清理队较劲。小摊子收拾得比较慢,清理队的车耐心地移动。步行街通常只是步行街,但对清理队的车除外。谁若走得慢了,就被强行收拢起来。

He began to steel himself. If Peng Li didn’t return in time, he would have to go on this journey without consulting him. Although it would make the trip far more difficult and dangerous, time was of the essence and he had to go. The loud chants of the woman next to him hawking her jujube interrupted his thoughts and gave him a headache. The peddlers at the other end of the road began to pack up their wares, and the crowd, like fish in a pond disturbed by a stick, dispersed. No one was interested in fighting the city cleaning crew. As the vendors got out of the way, the cleaning trucks patiently advanced. Vehicles were normally not allowed in the pedestrian lane, but the cleaning trucks were an exception. Anybody who dilly–dallied would be packed up by force.

这时彭蠡出现了。他剔着牙,敞着衬衫的扣子,不紧不慢地踱回来,不时打饱嗝。彭蠡六十多了,变得懒散不修边幅,两颊像沙皮狗一样耷拉着,让嘴角显得总是不满意地撇着。如果只看这幅模样,不知道他年轻时的样子,会以为他只是个胸无大志只知道吃喝的怂包。但从老刀很小的时候,他就听父亲讲过彭蠡的事。

Finally, Peng Li appeared: His shirt unbuttoned, a toothpick dangling between his lips, strolling leisurely and burping from time to time. Now in his sixties, Peng had become lazy and slovenly. His cheeks drooped like the jowls of a Shar–Pei, giving him the appearance of being perpetually grumpy. Looking at him now, one might get the impression that he was a loser whose only ambition in life was a full belly. However, even as a child, Lao Dao had heard his father recounting Peng Li’s exploits when he had been a young man.

老刀迎上前去。彭蠡看到他要打招呼,老刀却打断他:“我没时间和你解释。我需要去第一空间,你告诉我怎么走。”

Lao Dao went up to meet Peng in the street. Before Peng Li could greet him, Lao Dao blurted out, “I don’t have time to explain, but I need to get to First Space. Can you tell me how?”

彭蠡愣住了,已经有十年没人跟他提过第一空间的事,他的牙签捏在手里,不知不觉掰断了。他有片刻没回答,见老刀实在有点急了,才拽着他向楼里走。“回我家说,”彭蠡说,“要走也从那儿走。”

Peng Li was stunned. It had been ten years since anyone brought up First Space with him. He held the remnant of the toothpick in his fingers—it had broken between his teeth without his being aware of it. For some seconds, he said nothing, but then he saw the anxiety on Lao Dao’s face and dragged him toward the apartment building. “Come into my place and let’s talk. You have to start from there anyway to get to where you want to go.”

在他们身后,清理队已经缓缓开了过来,像秋风扫落叶一样将人们扫回家。“回家啦,回家啦。转换马上开始了。”车上有人吆喝着。

The city cleaning crew was almost upon them, and the crowd scattered like autumn leaves in a wind. “Go home! Go home! The Change is about to start,” someone called from atop one of the trucks.

彭蠡带老刀上楼,进屋。他的单人小房子和一般公租屋无异,六平米房间,一个厕所,一个能做菜的角落,一张桌子一把椅子,胶囊床铺,胶囊下是抽拉式箱柜,可以放衣服物品。墙面上有水渍和鞋印,没做任何修饰,只是歪斜着贴了几个挂钩,挂着夹克和裤子。进屋后,彭蠡把墙上的衣服毛巾都取下来,塞到最靠边的抽屉里。转换的时候,什么都不能挂出来。老刀以前也住这样的单人公租房。一进屋,他就感到一股旧日的气息。

Peng Li took Lao Dao upstairs into his apartment. His ordinary, single–occupancy public housing unit was sparsely furnished: Six square meters in area, a washroom, a cooking corner, a table and a chair, a cocoon–bed equipped with storage drawers underneath for clothes and miscellaneous items. The walls were covered with water stains and footprints, bare save for a few haphazardly installed hooks for jackets, pants, and linens. Once he entered, Peng took all the clothes and towels off the wall–hooks and stuffed them into one of the drawers. During the Change, nothing was supposed to be unsecured. Lao Dao had once lived in a single–occupancy unit just like this one. As soon as he entered, he felt the flavor of the past hanging in the air.

彭蠡直截了当地瞪着老刀:“你不告诉我为什么,我就不告诉你怎么走。”

Peng Li glared at Lao Dao. “I’m not going to show you the way unless you tell me why.”

已经5点半了,还有半个小时。

It was already five thirty. Lao Dao had only half an hour left.

老刀简单讲了事情的始末。从他捡到纸条瓶子,到他偷偷躲入垃圾道,到他在第二空间接到的委托,再到他的行动。他没有时间描述太多,最好马上就走。

Lao Dao gave him the bare outlines of the story: Picking up the bottle with a message inside; hiding in the trash chute; being entrusted with the errand in Second Space; making his decision and coming here for guidance. He had so little time that he had to leave right away.

“你躲在垃圾道里?去第二空间?”彭蠡皱着眉,“那你得等24小时啊。”

“You hid in the trash chutes last night to sneak into Second Space?” Peng Li frowned. “That means you had to wait twenty–four hours!”

“二十万块。”老刀说,“等一礼拜也值啊。”

“For two hundred thousand yuan?” Lao Dao said, “Even hiding for a week would be worth it.”

“你就这么缺钱花?”

“I didn’t know you were so short on money.”

老刀沉默了一下。“糖糖还有一年多该去幼儿园了。”他说,“我来不及了。”

Lao Dao was silent for a moment. “Tangtang is going to be old enough for kindergarten in a year. I’ve run out of time.”

老刀去幼儿园咨询的时候,着实被吓到了。稍微好一点的幼儿园招生前两天,就有家长带着铺盖卷在幼儿园门口排队,两个家长轮着,一个吃喝拉撒,另一个坐在幼儿园门口等。就这么等上四十多个小时,还不一定能排进去。前面的名额早用钱买断了,只有最后剩下的寥寥几个名额分给苦熬排队的爹妈。这只是一般不错的幼儿园,更好一点的连排队都不行,从一开始就是钱买机会。老刀本来没什么奢望,可是自从糖糖一岁半之后,就特别喜欢音乐,每次在外面听见音乐,她就小脸放光,跟着扭动身子手舞足蹈。那个时候她特别好看。老刀对此毫无抵抗力,他就像被舞台上的灯光层层围绕着,只看到一片耀眼。无论付出什么代价,他都想送糖糖去一个能教音乐和跳舞的幼儿园。

Lao Dao’s research on kindergarten tuition had shocked him. For schools with decent reputations, the parents had to show up with their bedrolls and line up a couple of days before registration. The two parents had to take turns so that while one held their place in the line, the other could go to the bathroom or grab a bite to eat. Even after lining up for forty–plus hours, a place wasn’t guaranteed. Those with enough money had already bought up most of the openings for their offspring, so the poorer parents had to endure the line, hoping to grab one of the few remaining spots. Mind you, this was just for decent schools. The really good schools? Forget about lining up—every opportunity was sold off to those with money. Lao Dao didn’t harbor unrealistic hopes, but Tangtang had loved music since she was an eighteen–month–old. Every time she heard music in the streets, her face lit up and she twisted her little body and waved her arms about in a dance. She looked especially cute during those moments. Lao Dao was dazzled as though surrounded by stage lights. No matter how much it cost, he vowed to send Tangtang to a kindergarten that offered music and dance lessons.

彭蠡脱下外衣,一边洗脸,一边和老刀说话。说是洗脸,不过只是用水随便抹一抹。水马上就要停了,水流已经变得很小。彭蠡从墙上拽下一条脏兮兮的毛巾,随意蹭了蹭,又将毛巾塞进抽屉。他湿漉漉的头发显出油腻的光泽。

Peng Li took off his shirt and washed while he spoke with Lao Dao. The “washing” consisted only of splashing some drops of water over his face because the water was already shut off and only a thin trickle came out of the faucet. Peng Li took down a dirty towel from the wall and wiped his face carelessly before stuffing the towel into a drawer as well. His moist hair gave off an oily glint.

“你真是作死,”彭蠡说,“她又不是你闺女,犯得着吗。”

“What are you working so hard for?” Peng Li asked. “It’s not like she’s your real daughter.”

“别说这些了。快告我怎么走。”老刀说。

“I don’t have time for this,” Lao Dao said. “Just tell me the way.”

彭蠡叹了口气:“你可得知道,万一被抓着,可不只是罚款,得关上好几个月。”

Peng Li sighed. “Do you understand that if you’re caught, it’s not just a matter of paying a fine? You’re going to be locked up for months.”

“你不是去过好多次吗?”

“I thought you had gone there multiple times.”

“只有四次。第五次就被抓了。”

“Just four times. I got caught the fifth time.”

“那也够了。我要是能去四次,抓一次也无所谓。”

“That’s more than enough. If I could make it four times, it would be no big deal to get caught once.”

老刀要去第一空间送一样东西,送到了挣十万块,带来回信挣二十万。这不过是冒违规的大不韪,只要路径和方法对,被抓住的几率并不大,挣的却是实实在在的钞票。他不知道有什么理由拒绝。他知道彭蠡年轻的时候为了几笔风险钱,曾经偷偷进入第一空间好几次,贩卖私酒和烟。他知道这条路能走。

Lao Dao’s errand required him to deliver a message to First Space—success would earn him a hundred thousand yuan, and if he managed to bring back a reply, two hundred thousand. Sure, it was illegal, but no one would be harmed, and as long as he followed the right route and method, the probability of being caught wasn’t great. And the cash, the cash was very real. He could think of no reason to not take up the offer. He knew that when Peng Li was younger, he had snuck into First Space multiple times to smuggle contraband and made quite a fortune. There was a way.

5:45。他必须马上走了。

It was a quarter to six. He had to get going, now.

彭蠡又叹口气,知道劝也没用。他已经上了年纪,对事懒散倦怠了,但他明白,自己在五十岁前也会和老刀一样。那时他不在乎坐牢之类的事。不过是熬几个月出来,挨两顿打,但挣的钱是实实在在的。只要抵死不说钱的下落,最后总能过去。秩序局的条子也不过就是例行公事。他把老刀带到窗口,向下指向一条被阴影覆盖的小路。

Peng Li sighed again. He could see it was useless to try to dissuade Lao Dao. He was old enough to feel lazy and tired of everything, but he remembered how he had felt as a younger man and he would have made the same choice as Lao Dao. Back then, he didn’t care about going to prison. What was the big deal? You lost a few months and got beaten up a few times, but the money made it worthwhile. As long as you refused to divulge the source of the money no matter how much you suffered, you could survive it. The Security Bureau’s citation was nothing more than routine enforcement. Peng Li took Lao Dao to his back window and pointed at the narrow path hidden in the shadows below.

“从我房子底下爬下去,顺着排水管,毡布底下有我原来安上去的脚蹬,身子贴得足够紧了就能避开摄像头。从那儿过去,沿着阴影爬到边上。你能摸着也能看见那道缝。沿着缝往北走。一定得往北。千万别错了。”

“Start by climbing down the drain pipe from my unit. Under the felt cloth you’ll find hidden footholds I installed back in the day—if you stick close enough to the wall, the cameras won’t see you. Once you’re on the ground, stick to the shadows and head that way until you get to the edge. You’ll feel as well as see the cleft. Follow the cleft and go north. Remember, go north.”

彭蠡接着解释了爬过土地的诀窍。要借着升起的势头,从升高的一侧沿截面爬过五十米,到另一侧地面,爬上去,然后向东,那里会有一丛灌木,在土地合拢的时候可以抓住并隐藏自己。老刀没有听完,就已经将身子探出窗口,准备向下爬了。

Then Peng Li explained the technique for entering First Space as the ground turned during the Change. He had to wait until the ground began to cleave and rise. Then, from the elevated edge, he had to swing over and scramble about fifty meters over the cross section until he reached the other side of the turning earth, climb over, and head east. There, he would find a bush that he could hold onto as the ground descended and closed up. He could then conceal himself in the bush. Before Peng had even finished his explanation, Lao Dao was already halfway out the window, getting ready to climb down.

彭蠡帮老刀爬出窗子,扶着他踩稳了窗下的踏脚。彭蠡突然停下来。“说句不好听的,”他说,“我还是劝你最好别去。那边可不是什么好地儿,去了之后没别的,只能感觉自己的日子有多操蛋。没劲。”

Peng Li held onto Lao Dao and made sure his foot was securely in the first foothold. Then he stopped. “I’m going to say something that you might not want to hear. I don’t think you should go. Over there … is not so great. If you go, you’ll end up feeling your own life is shit, pointless.”

老刀的脚正在向下试探,身子还扒着窗台。“没事。”他说得有点费劲,“我不去也知道自己的日子有多操蛋。”

Lao Dao was reaching down with his other foot, testing for the next foothold. His body strained against the windowsill and his words came out labored. “It doesn’t matter. I already know my life is shit without having gone there.”

“好自为之吧。”彭蠡最后说。

“Take care of yourself,” Peng Li said.

老刀顺着彭蠡指出的路径快速向下爬。脚蹬的位置非常舒服。他看到彭蠡在窗口的身影,点了根烟,非常大口地快速抽了几口,又掐了。彭蠡一度从窗口探出身子,似乎想说什么,但最终还是缩了回去。窗子关上了,发着幽幽的光。老刀知道,彭蠡会在转换前最后一分钟钻进胶囊,和整个城市数千万人一样,受胶囊定时释放出的气体催眠,陷入深深睡眠,身子随着世界颠倒来去,头脑却一无所知,一睡就是整整40个小时,到次日晚上再睁开眼睛。彭蠡已经老了,他终于和这个世界其他五千万人一样了。

Lao Dao followed Peng Li’s directions and groped his way down as quickly as he dared; the footholds felt very secure. He looked up and saw Peng Li light up a cigarette next to the window, taking deep drags. Peng Li put out the cigarette, leaned out, and seemed about to say something more, but ultimately he retreated back into his unit quietly. He closed his window, which glowed with a faint light. Lao Dao imagined Peng Li crawling into his cocoon–bed at the last minute, right before the Change. Like millions of others across the city, the cocoon–bed would release a soporific gas that put him into deep sleep. He would feel nothing as his body was transported by the flipping world, and he would not open his eyes again until tomorrow evening, forty–hours later. Peng Li was no longer young; he was no longer different from the other fifty million who lived in Third Space.

老刀用自己最快的速度向下,一蹦一跳,在离地足够近的时候纵身一跃,匍匐在地上。彭蠡的房子在四层,离地不远。爬起身,沿高楼在湖边投下的阴影奔跑。他能看到草地上的裂隙,那是翻转的地方。还没跑到,就听到身后在压抑中轰鸣的隆隆和偶尔清脆的嘎啦声。老刀转过头,高楼拦腰截断,上半截正从天上倒下,缓慢却不容置疑地压迫过来。

Lao Dao climbed faster, barely touching the footholds. When he was close enough to the ground, he let go and landed on all fours. Luckily, Peng Li’s unit was only on the fourth story, not too far up. He got up and ran through the shadow cast by the building next to the lake. He saw the crevice in the grass where the ground would open up. But before he reached it, he heard the muffled rumbling from behind him, interrupted by a few crisp clangs. Lao Dao turned around and saw Peng Li’s building break in half. The top half folded down and pressed toward him, slowly but inexorably.

老刀被震住了,怔怔看了好一会儿。他跑到缝隙,伏在地上。

Shocked, Lao Dao stared at the sight for a few moments before recovering. He raced to the fissure in the ground, and lay prostrate next to it.

转换开始了。这是24小时周期的分隔时刻。整个世界开始翻转。钢筋砖块合拢的声音连成一片,像出了故障的流水线。高楼收拢合并,折叠成立方体。霓虹灯、店铺招牌、阳台和附加结构都被吸收入墙体,贴成楼的肌肤。结构见缝插针,每一寸空间都被占满。

The Change began. This was a process repeated every twenty–four hours. The whole world started to turn. The sound of steel and masonry folding, grating, colliding filled the air, like an assembly line grinding to a halt. The towering buildings of the city gathered and merged into solid blocks; neon signs, shop awnings, balconies, and other protruding fixtures retracted into the buildings or flattened themselves into a thin layer against the walls, like skin. Every inch of space was utilized as the buildings compacted themselves into the smallest space.

大地在升起。老刀观察着地面的走势,来到缝的边缘,又随着缝隙的升起不断向上爬。他手脚并用,从大理石铺就的地面边缘起始,沿着泥土的截面,抓住土里埋藏的金属断茬,最初是向下,用脚试探着退行,很快,随着整快土地的翻转,他被带到空中。

The ground rose up. Lao Dao watched and waited until the fissure was wide enough. He crawled over the marble–lined edge onto the earthen wall, grabbing onto bits of metal protruding out of the soil. As the cleft widened and the walls elevated, he climbed, using his hands as well as feet. At first, he was climbing down, testing for purchase with his feet. But soon, as the entire section of ground rotated, he was lifted into the air, and up and down flipped around.

老刀想到前一天晚上城市的样子。

Lao Dao was thinking about last night.

当时他从垃圾堆中抬起眼睛,警觉地听着门外的声音。周围发酵腐烂的垃圾散发出刺鼻的气息,带一股发腥的甜腻味。他倚在门前。铁门外的世界在苏醒。

He had cautiously stuck his head out of the trash heap, alert for any sound from the other side of the gate. The fermenting, rotting garbage around him was pungent: Greasy, fishy, even a bit sweet. He leaned against the iron gate. Outside, the world was waking up.

当铁门掀开的缝隙透入第一道街灯的黄色光芒,他俯下身去,从缓缓扩大的缝隙中钻出。街上空无一人,高楼灯光逐层亮起,附加结构从楼两侧探出,向两旁一节一节伸展,门廊从楼体内延伸,房檐延轴旋转,缓缓落下,楼梯降落延伸到马迷途上。步行街的两侧,一个又一个黑色立方体从中间断裂,向两侧打开,露出其中货架的结构。立方体顶端伸出招牌,连成商铺的走廊,两侧的塑料棚向头顶延伸闭合。街道空旷得如同梦境。

As soon as the yellow glow of the streetlights seeped into the seam under the lifting gate, he squatted and crawled out of the widening opening. The streets were empty; lights came on in the tall buildings, story by story; fixtures extruded from the sides of buildings, unfolding and extending, segment by segment; porches emerged from the walls; the eaves rotated and gradually dropped down into position; stairs extended and descended to the street. On both sides of the road, one black cube after another broke apart and opened, revealing the racks and shelves inside. Signboards emerged from the tops of the cubes and connected together while plastic awnings extended from both sides of the lane to meet in the middle, forming a corridor of shops. The streets were empty, as though Lao Dao were dreaming.

霓虹灯亮了,商铺顶端闪烁的小灯打出新疆大枣、东北拉皮、上海烤麸和湖南腊肉。

The neon lights came on. Tiny flashing LEDs on top of the shops formed into characters advertising jujubes from Xinjiang, lapi noodles from Northeast China, bran dough from Shanghai, and cured meats from Hunan.

整整一天,老刀头脑中都忘不了这一幕。他在这里生活了四十八年,还从来没有见过这一切。他的日子总是从胶囊起,至胶囊终,在脏兮兮的餐桌和被争吵萦绕的货摊之间穿行。这是他第一次看到世界纯粹的模样。

For the rest of the day, Lao Dao couldn’t forget the scene. He had lived in this city for forty–eight years, but he had never seen such a sight. His days had always started with the cocoon and ended with the cocoon, and the time in between was spent at work or navigating dirty tables at hawker stalls and loudly bargaining crowds surrounding street vendors. This was the first time he had seen the world, bare.

每个清晨,如果有人从远处观望——就像大货车司机在高速北京入口处等待时那样——他会看到整座城市的伸展与折叠。

Every morning, an observer at some distance from the city—say, a truck driver waiting on the highway into Beijing—could see the entire city fold and unfold.

清晨六点,司机们总会走下车,站在高速边上,揉着经过一夜潦草睡眠而昏沉的眼睛,打着哈欠,相互指点着望向远处的城市中央。高速截断在七环之外,所有的翻转都在六环内发生。不远不近的距离,就像遥望西山或是海上的一座孤岛。

At six in the morning, the truck drivers usually got out of their cabs and walked to the side of the highway, where they rubbed their eyes, still drowsy after an uncomfortable night in the truck. Yawning, they greeted each other and gazed at the distant city center. The break in the highway was just outside the Seventh Ring Road, while all the ground rotation occurred within the Sixth Ring Road. The distance was perfect for taking in the whole city, like gazing at an island in the sea.

晨光熹微中,一座城市折叠自身,向地面收拢。高楼像最卑微的仆人,弯下腰,让自己低声下气切断身体,头碰着脚,紧紧贴在一起,然后再次断裂弯腰,将头顶手臂扭曲弯折,插入空隙。高楼弯折之后重新组合,蜷缩成致密的巨大魔方,密密匝匝地聚合到一起,陷入沉睡。然后地面翻转,小块小块土地围绕其轴,一百八十度翻转到另一面,将另一面的建筑楼宇露出地表。楼宇由折叠中站立起身,在灰蓝色的天空中像苏醒的兽类。城市孤岛在橘黄色晨光中落位,展开,站定,腾起弥漫的灰色苍云。

In the early dawn, the city folded and collapsed. The skyscrapers bowed submissively like the humblest servants until their heads touched their feet; then they broke again, folded again, and twisted their necks and arms, stuffing them into the gaps. The compacted blocks that used to be the skyscrapers shuffled and assembled into dense, gigantic Rubik’s Cubes that fell into a deep slumber. The ground then began to turn. Square by square, pieces of the earth flipped 180 degrees around an axis, revealing the buildings on the other side. The buildings unfolded and stood up, awakening like a herd of beasts under the gray–blue sky. The island that was the city settled in the orange sunlight, spread open, and stood still as misty gray clouds roiled around it.

司机们就在困倦与饥饿中欣赏这一幕无穷循环的城市戏剧。

The truck drivers, tired and hungry, admired the endless cycle of urban renewal.

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