Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 4: Money is tight, so just drink a cup of hot water
Dong Zhi calmed down and looked over at the attendant again, only to find that she had already moved on, looking at others as if nothing was wrong. Someone sitting in the front seat had asked for a bottle of water and was checking out. As the train attendant handed the bottle over, Dong Zhi almost screamed.
Illuminated by the night light, vague shadows reflected on the top of the carriage. The shadows cast on the parties were moving completely differently than the people they were reflecting. Suddenly, one slowly appeared three-dimensionally as it reached towards the top of the person’s seat!
The originally flat shadow had now protruded out and turned into a substantial black mist that penetrated down. It was about to touch the passenger sitting in the front seat, yet no one around noticed it at all. In horror, without a second thought, Dong Zhi reached for his sunlight talisman that was in his pocket and threw it at the black mist!
The moment the talisman penetrated the black mist, a cloud of light burst out, creating a brief bright flash before dissipating. The talisman exploded with the black mist, as both turned into powder and disappeared without a trace.
The attendant suddenly turned to glare at Dong Zhi. The smile on her face was gone, replaced with a shuddering distortion of ferocity. Her eyes were filled with overflowing resentment. She pushed the dining cart forward as a mass of people rushed over!
Before he had the chance to grasp the situation, his shoulders were firmly grabbed. Pain instantly seared through his clothes and flesh, directly reaching his bones. His vision became blurry, as if it was covered in a bloody fog. He hallucinated that his entire shoulder was about to be torn off, and the extreme agony made him scream involuntarily.
Suddenly, his eyes lit up, like fireworks exploding in the night sky, dazzling, as flames scattered like streamers, brilliant and gorgeous, filling his sight. He heard a piercing shriek that penetrated deeply into his ears, filled with bitterness and unwilling resentment. The people around trembled, wanting to cover their ears to block the sound.
Dong Zhi felt a sudden ease in his shoulder. He was unable to fall back into his seat and gasp for breath.
The chaos was just beginning. Darkness blanketed the area as all the lights were extinguished. The sound of the dining cart rolling along could still be heard, as well as passengers’ shouting, “What’s going on?” or “What’s the matter?”.
At this moment, his shoulder sank slightly, as if someone was holding it down. Unable to fully recover from the fright, he was about to scream, subconsciously, when his mouth was suddenly covered. A voice came to his ear. “It’s me.”
It was the man who He Yu called his leader. Perhaps it was due to fate that he had met He Yu. His heart had almost jumped out of his mouth, but it was seemingly caught by this hand and slowly put back in place.
Aware of Dong Zhi’s loosening, the man let go.
“I’ll treat your shoulder,” he said succinctly.
Dong Zhi immediately felt as if his injured shoulder was poured into a basin of ice water, which instantly eased his burning pain. He had lost the feeling in half his arm, but now, when he tried to move his fingers, he found it was much better than before.
He tried to thank the man but found that his throat was dry and hoarse. All the sweat he poured out just now seemed to have completely dehydrated him, and his body was so soft and weak that he couldn’t stand up.
Suddenly, the lights in the carriage lit up and someone shouted, “Someone’s fainted!”, snapping the attention of all the confused passengers who discovered that the train attendant who was pushing the dining cart had fallen to the ground and was unconscious.
The image of her smiling creepily at him kept appearing in Dong Zhi’s mind, and he couldn’t help but look towards where she fainted. Seeing the sight, he thought he was going mad. He wasn’t sure if it was an illusion caused by the lighting, but he seemed to see a faint red mark on the attendant’s forehead.
Dong Zhi didn’t dare to step forward for a closer inspection. He turned his head, wanting to tell the man about his discovery, but found that the other party had vanished for some time already. He came without a shadow and left without a trace. If it weren’t for the pain in his shoulder, which was feeling much better now, Dong Zhi would have suspected that it was all a hallucination.
A train attendant quickly came over with the police, who pushed aside the crowd. He bent down to check on the attendant, and immediately his face became solemn.
The carriage was a mess. Children were crying from fright, and passengers voiced endless complaints. The body of the attendant was hurriedly taken away, and after a short while, the police returned and started asking the passengers about the situation at that time.
When he was questioned, Dong Zhi, of course, didn’t dare to tell the truth. He only said that he saw the attendant suddenly faint, but because the lights went out, he couldn’t see what happened afterwards. His statement echoed that of the other passengers.
When He Yu returned, he was also questioned by the police. Fortunately, he had his ticket with him. Seeing him, Dong Zhi felt as if he was looking at his savior, catching He Yu by surprise as he saw his pale, stricken face.
Dong Zhi nodded and recounted the events quietly to him.
“The boss was here?” He Yu was relieved. “Fortunately, with the boss here, nothing serious should happen. How’s your shoulder? Let me see.”
Dong Zhi also wanted to see his injury. When he was grabbed, he felt as if his shoulder blade was about to be broken. He took off his shirt and was in utter shock. The area was dark purple, covered by a large handprint on his left shoulder, the exact spot where he was grabbed.
He Yu touched the area of the palmprint with a solemn expression before he finally let out a sigh of relief. “It’s okay. Just a little bruised. Fortunately, you met the boss, otherwise it would have been worse than this.”
Dong Zhi trembled. “Is something wrong with it? Was it fractured?”
He Yu shook his head, his expression tight. “Still good. Once the demonic energy penetrates under the skin and flows through the flesh of the body, the soul of the person will be extinguished, resulting in the person becoming a mindless corpse. By then, no power under heaven can save them.”
So, it’s like turning into a zombie?
Dong Zhi shivered. “Can you make it clearer?”
He Yu slapped him on the shoulder. “In other words, death!”
Dong Zhi quaked with fright from the slap.
Truthfully, before this incident, even when He Yu had given him the talisman, he remained dubious. All his doubts vanished when he saw the talisman explode when it collided with the black mist and the handprint on his shoulder.
No normal human, no matter how hard they try, could leave such a mark by just grabbing a person’s shoulder. The door to a new world was slowly opening towards Dong Zhi. Taking a page out of a girl’s book, he wanted to sob. Wuwuwu. Is it possible to re-lock this door?!
Taking a deep breath to calm himself down, he said, “One more thing. The attendant who fainted just now had a red mark on her forehead. I have seen this mark in a dream!”
He then rehashed the previous dream he had and how he had met He Yu.
Listening to him, He Yu’s expression became serious. “I will take you to see the boss.”
Dong Zhi was still in shock. He walked lightly, as if he was stepping on cotton, and relied on He Yu’s support to help him until they reached the man’s room on the soft sleeper carriage. Upon entering, he noticed that no one was there. There were no traces of luggage, and the only object visible was a book that had a colorful cover beside the pillow on the lower left side of the bed.
“I don’t know where the boss went again. This area is protected, so just sit whenever you like. I’ll buy you something hot to drink.”
He Yu left shortly after. Dong Zhi wanted to hold on to him but felt that it was too embarrassing of a display, so he pretended to be calm as he looked around the room. His gaze unknowingly fell towards the book.
Taking a closer look, he saw the title of the book was <365 Fairy Tales>. The image of the man holding a fairy tale book while solemnly reading it appeared in his mind unconsciously, and he couldn’t help but find it unimaginable.
Could it be that he bought it for a child?
He felt it wasn’t good to go through other people’s things without the owner’s consent, but he couldn’t control his curiosity. The two voices* in his mind were locked in a heated battle. In the end, the devil prevailed, and he reached for the book. He didn’t pick it up but opened it to the latest page.
*Referring to the angel and devil of your conscience.
It turns out it wasn’t a book but a notebook. He gave a light chuckle and found the handwriting was like scribbles and hard to understand, similar to He Yu’s painting when he drew him the talisman, but it gave him a thrilling feeling that he could cut through paper.
The text wasn’t simplified or traditional Chinese, and it didn’t seem to be a foreign language either.
What kind of characters are these?
Dong Zhi knew that he shouldn’t continue reading, so he quickly suppressed his desire to snoop through the other pages and closed the notebook. Suddenly, the door was pushed open, startling Dong Zhi. He hurriedly turned his head around and saw He Yu at the entrance.
“I’m sorry! I thought it was a fairy tale book, so I wanted to look at it!” Before the other party even asked, he had already taken the initiative to confess.
He Yu laughed. “Hehe. It’s okay. I’ve peeked at it many times! The boss often writes and draws in it when he’s idle, but most people can’t understand it anyway, so it’s useless to read it.”
He put down the hot water in his hand and said to Dong Zhi, “Money’s a bit tight, so I can’t buy you hot chocolate, so a cup of hot water will have to do.”
Dong Zhi: …
You have limited funds but were able to cover an entire soft sleeper?!
Seeing his obvious expression, He Yu plaintively said, “It’s because of this that we have no extra money!”
Dong Zhi found it strange. “There are three extra beds here, so why are you taking the hard seat?”
He Yu sighed. “Work needs to be done. You can’t concentrate on just one carriage. The hard side also needs to be watched.”
Thinking of Xu Wan and her daughter, Dong Zhi asked if He Yu had run into them.
He Yu shook his head. “I went back and forth through several carriages, but I didn’t see the mother and daughter you mentioned. Could it be that you were seeing things?”
As they chatted, the man came back.
He didn’t greet Dong Zhi but instead directly asked, “Why is he here?”
He Yu relayed to him what Dong Zhi had told him, causing the man to frown. He looked at Dong Zhi and shook his head.
Seeing this, Dong Zhi became tense, not knowing what this meant.
He Yu hurriedly asked, “How is it?”
The man said, “No abnormality found.”
He Yu released a sigh of relief. “He was grabbed on his shoulder just now. I helped him clean it up, but I’m afraid there are still remnants of it in his body. I wanted you to look at it.”
He also comforted Dong Zhi. “Don’t worry. Since the boss said it’s okay, it means it’s really okay.”
The man said, “Let him get off when we arrive at the station.”
The next stop was Tianjin, which was still far from where they currently were.
Dong Zhi said, “But I want to go to Changchun.”
When he looked at the man’s face, he sensed something was off, so he asked, “Did something happen?”
The man said lightly, “The attendant is dead.”
Dong Zhi was stunned.
He Yu asked, “What’s the cause of death?”
The man said, “There’s no trauma, so I need to check further. I have already told those above. When we stop at the next stop, they’ll hand the person over to us.”
He Yu asked, “Then we’ll also be leaving?”
The man shook his head. “Someone will take over, and we’ll be told the test results.”
He was being vague, presumably due to Dong Zhi’s presence.
He Yu glanced at Dong Zhi and pleaded for him. “Boss, since we’re also getting off at the next terminal, can’t we give him a ride? We don’t know how many… things there are. If Dong Zhi gets off and they follow him, we won’t notice this for a while. At that point, it’ll be quite troublesome, don’t you think?”
The man remained silent.
Dong Zhi was uneasy, feeling as if the mood was like when he was a fresh graduate answering the interviewer’s questions for his very first job interview. He didn’t know whether he wanted to stay with them or not.
He Yu gave a wink towards Dong Zhi.
Tacitly understanding, Dong Zhi hurriedly said, “I won’t inquire about anything, and I will part ways with you as soon as we reach the terminal!”
The man relented and nodded.
Dong Zhi felt both nervous and joy. He wasn’t sure whether it was because he could stay with these mysterious people and witness more bizarre spectacles or because it was the man that was in front of him.
Even though the other party rarely spoke, he was like a book in the dark night, tempting others to open it.