by Chonghao Liu
Only illusion comes persistently
Blindfolded, I can only hear a car radio reporting the start of mankind's first space program.
The car stops, and my blindfold is removed. An old man in white breaks the silence: "Forgive us for bringing you here this way."
I look around a small room, my eyes resting on a large mirror on the wall. No, it's a one-way transparent glass. I can feel somebody watching me behind the glass.
"Where am I?" I ask.
"Sorry, no comment," says the old man. He points to the files on the desk. "Tell me, when did you start with the idea?"
I leaf through the files. They're my grant applications, submitted five times. How did they get here?
When I was a college student, I saw a photo of the sky taken by a camera with an 8mm fisheye lens. The image is round, with the ground and trees standing along the edge, encircling the sky in the center. It was this photo that gave me the idea.
"According to Doctor... umm... Professor Guide, you once voiced your idea in class," says the old man.
That day, Professor Guide said in class: "Ferdinand Magellan's expedition proved that we live on the surface of a sphere, the Earth."
"I beg to differ," I said, standing up. "Why not on the inner surface of a spherical shell?" Ignoring my classmates' sneers, I continued: "I'd say Magellan could also arrive back where he started after sailing on and on in the same direction along the inner surface."
Some of my classmates tried to convince me, citing natural phenomena, but I retorted with an old Chinese saying: "My eyes lost the true shape of Mount Lushan, for I myself reside right there."
"Later, I wrote several articles, but they all were rejected. Then I began to apply for funding. Drilling through the ground beneath our feet will bear me out."
"Feedback is negative. Why keep going?" asks the old man.
How does he know so much? It dawns on me that this is a special interview. I try to convince him to fund my project, but he interrupts me: "Well, well, young man, I appreciate your insistence. Give up your ridiculous idea, and I'll offer you a job, okay?"