After dinner, Ling Ran headed for the old bomb shelter behind the school mortuary.
The bomb shelter had been long since been neglected. Once upon a time, it had served as a makeshift hospital. In another tale, it was a temporary mortuary. After the new medical block was constructed, it once again fell back to its old days of being a lonely, dilapidated corner. Not even dogs in heat would pound each other doggedly through the unbearable stench.
In contrast, Ling Ran did not mind the smell.
Medical students often had their gag reflexes tested since their first witnessing of a public dissection. Give them a couple of years and they would start yawning throughout the process.
Of course, it was not like they would go out their way to pay the mortuary a visit on boring evenings.
Ling Ran stood quietly in the middle of the bomb shelter, thinking, 'A leader-level Transformer should be around twenty to twenty-five feet tall, maybe thirty at most. This should be enough standing room If the Transformer ends up surpassing even that, what do I do?'
As Ling Ran was thinking, he brought a finger up and tapped on the Newbie Gift Package in the top right-hand corner of his eye.
[Reward: Appositional Suturing Technique (Master Level)]
A calm, professional voice echoed in Ling Ran's mind.
From that moment on, whenever Ling Ran thought about the appositional suturing technique, the intricacies of the skill would fly into his mind: the distance between two needles, the force for applying the sutures, the choice of thread, the varieties of knots
"Hmm, isn't the system a little too stingy if all it gives is a mere suturing skill? An appositional suturing technique, what's more!" Ling Ran muttered softly to himself.
"The appositional suturing technique includes simple interrupted suturing, simple continuous suturing, subcuticular closure, gambee suture, cross mattress suture, and interlocking suture, totaling up to six types," the system explained in a voice that sounded suspiciously pre-recorded and rehearsed.
Ling Ran grumbled, "You can give me a dozen suturing methods, but it's still suturing. I could learn the tension suture and inverting suture from elsewhere, so why not just give me a Transformer?"
This time, the system's reaction was slightly delayed before it finally answered.
"The Medical System only passes down medical knowledge, not Transformers."
Ling Ran pursed his lips, thinking, 'Doesn't look like the system is being controlled by some intelligent being.'
An intelligent entity would have asked, "Why the heck would you want a Transformer?"
"What exactly is this Master Level you speak of?" Ling Ran pressed on.
The voice of the system continued in the same artificial politeness, "The techniques are categorized from lowest to highest starting from Novice, Specialist, Master, and Perfect. Master is the third rank on this list."
"Soooo... Your Newbie Gift Package is only limited to this crappy, suturing technique?"
"Only suturing techniques?"
Ling Ran frowned. Unless this system had convinced him into thinking that it is dumb, it would most probably fail the Turing Test (a test to determine whether the subject is a man or a robot).
The few questions he had asked had been a classic sequence in the Turing Test. If faced with the same questions, regular human beings would most probably have said "I've already answered that question" or something like that, provided that they did not start cursing first. Only a script would repeat these routine yeses.
'But, what if this thing is just feigning it?' Ling Ran shook his head. With the limited resources he had in his hands, he really could not prove it either way. Even if he performed the complete Turing Test, those same doubts would still arise.
"Alright... But what a waste of such a good bomb shelter." Ling Ran raised his head and looked at the sky, disappointed that the bomb shelter could not be used for anything better.
Upon his return to the dorm, his housemates came back from their dinner, but every one of them had their phones raised to take either selfies or pictures of each other.
Chen Wanhao was the first to see Ling Ran. He said a few words to him, and then lifted his phone.
"Ling Ran, hurry up and collect your white robe. They dug it out of some dingy storeroom and it's more wrinkled up than an old cabbage. You can bring it to 306 to iron it out."
"Goodness is this really necessary?" Ling Ran looked at the medical students lying about in the room, still in their white robes. He sighed dejectedly.
"We're going for our internship tomorrowin an actual hospital. We should leave a good impression on others. The school's white robes are wrinkled. If I don't iron it, how am I supposed to wear them?" When Chen Wanhao spoke, he tilted his head at a 45-degree angle towards the sky, then his camera emitted an audible click.
"Where do I get the stethoscope?" Ling Ran pointed at the red stethoscope on Chen Wanhao's neck.
Chen Wanhao laughed and said, "I bought it. It's from 3M, it gives you super-hearing. Wanna try it?"
"The stethoscopes in the hospital aren't up to your standards?"
"Interns are only given white robes, no stethoscopes."
"And why is that, I wonder?" Ling Ran gave a sympathetic glance at Chen Wanhao. "Stethoscopes must be very expensive."
Chen Wanhao blinked in surprise for a moment before he took them off sadly. "I sacrificed five foot spa sessions for this, and you're telling me that I don't get to use them? This red one burned a hole in my pocket."
"I told you so. Stethoscopes are of no use; interns only need gloves."
Wang Zhuangyong stretched out his hands that were already wrapped in white gloves, shaking them in an incessantly flamboyant manner.
Ling Ran refused to look at him any longer. He lowered his head and took out a banana from his drawer.
Wang Zhuangyong clicked his tongue twice. "Wow, that's quite a size."
Ling Ran silently used the surgical knife to cut through the banana peel. Wang Zhuangyong could not help but avert his gaze, saying, "Ling Ran, your suturing should be fine from all your practice, you don't need to do any last minute preparations now."
"I'm feeling particularly sharp today," Ling Ran lied. He turned on the table lamp and took a 70cm Johnson Ethicon thread from the drawer.
This #00 thread was particularly abrasive. It got caught easily while trailing after the needle, and was relatively unwieldy. Many foreign medical schools recommended using it for practice. The only problem was that it was comparatively more expensive than the ones manufactured locally. It was not something many students could afford to practice with over an extended period of time.
Fortunately, Ling Ran's family owned a clinic. They had some savings, and they understood the expenses of a medical student. They were happy to provide for him.
Ling Ran held the forceps in his left hand and controlled the needle holder with his right. The moment the head of the needle fell on the banana peel, countless bits of information jumped to the forefront of his mind. It all happened in a flash. Without a moment's hesitation, he gave his wrist a deft flick and the needle passed through like it was liquid.
'Get the needle in, get it out, tie the knot...'
Ling Ran had garnered a fair level of proficiency through his own practice. It was largely the reason why he did not find the 'Master Level Appositional Suturing Technique' particularly helpful.
In retrospect, Ling Ran may have been overestimating himself. His new insight only served to show him just how wet he was behind the ears. What once took him intense focus in the past now came to him subconsciously.
Throughout the entire process, the banana remained utterly still. His repeated actions of pushing the needle in and pulling it out did not move it in the slightest.
The distance between the two needles remained the same. One could use the most precise ruler available and still find nothing wrong. The knot had been executed to mechanical precisioneven closely resembling industrialized embroidery.
The accuracy, precision, the mature judgment, the chosen angle and depth, the balanced and stable movements It was something as simple as suturing, but executed at a level of mastery that transcended one's wildest imaginations.
"F*ck me, you sewed that thing up so quickly!" Wang Zhuangyong suddenly appeared from behind Ling Ran, grabbing the big sutured banana with one hand. Then, as if he was surveying an art piece, he lifted it to his nose and scrutinized it.
Ling Ran suddenly felt the loneliness of a solitary master. 'After everything that I did, all you have to say on it is the "speed"?'