Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
“Let her go!”
Dong Zhi’s cry didn’t cause any reaction. The man continued walking forward like a puppet. Dong Zhi noticed that a small piece of Zhang Xing’s scalp was torn, and blood was flowing to the back of her ears. It’s no wonder why she screamed so badly. Judging from the damage, it seemed that the man was extremely strong.
Disregarding his hesitation, he stepped forward as he tried to free Zhang Xing’s hair from the man’s grip. Unfortunately, the man was holding on so tightly that he couldn’t break it free. Dong Zhi shoved the man, but he didn’t even budge an inch. As if he wasn’t even there, the other party didn’t even look at him, as he continued staring straight ahead with blank eyes that were filled with more sclera than pupil.
Something’s wrong. This doesn’t look like a normal person at all.
In a moment of desperation, a flash of inspiration hit Dong Zhi. He quickly took out a utility knife from his backpack and slashed it at Zhang Xing’s hair, only to miss and instead cut the back of the man’s hand. Blood gurgled out, startling Dong Zhi. Despite the damage, the man didn’t shout in pain or shrink his hand as he still remained expressionless, gripping tightly on Zhang Xing’s hair.
Dong Zhi slashed again, but this time he grabbed onto one side of the hair with one hand and used a much fiercer force. The sharp blade cut through most of the hair but left a small part that was still in the man’s hold. With such a small area being applied the full force of the man’s pull, it made the pain more excruciating that Zhang Xing was bawling as tears and snot flooded down her face, and she screamed even louder. Seeing his chance, Dong Zhi grabbed the clump of hair and forcefully pulled it back from the man’s hand, finally freeing Zhang Xing from the opponent’s clutches.
The man finally noticed something was amiss. He stopped, turned his head, and stared straight at Dong Zhi. There were no longer any hints of jealousy that he had when he had struck up a conversation with them earlier. The white parts in his eyes had turned blue, making him look vividly creepy.
He lunged towards Dong Zhi, as the latter was trying to help Zhang Xing get up, managing to catch his arm. A burst of pain shot throughout his body straight towards his brain.
It was still early spring, so the mountains were cold. He had worn two layers, including his coat, yet he felt immense pain through these thick layers. He understood now how truly strong his opponent was and why Zhang Xing couldn’t break free.
Without saying a word, he kicked his opponent, causing him to shake and stagger back two steps. The man regained his balance and reached out with his other hand to try and encircle Dong Zhi’s neck, but he’d tripped over a stone and fell to the ground.
Paying no heed, Dong Zhi didn’t bother looking back and instead grabbed Zhang Xing and ran. Zhang Xing’s legs softened, and almost half her body was leaning on him. Seeing that it couldn’t be helped, he gritted his teeth and carried her on his back. While running, he paid careful attention to the road but couldn’t help but look back and almost lost his soul*!
*(魂飞魄散) Idiom that means so scared that your soul leaves your body and scatters. Used to describe the feeling of being extremely frightened.
The man got up quickly and chased after them. His movements weren’t fast, but it was weird. He was running on tiptoe as if someone was holding his shoulders from behind his back and manipulating his limbs like puppet strings. Dong Zhi’s scalp went numb as he suddenly remembered the woman who jumped off the building in the hotel!
After stumbling along for some time, Dong Zhi was getting tired, so he had to slow down. Zhang Xing suddenly screamed, “He’s catching up!”
Due to the fear, she subconsciously tightened her hold around Dong Zhi’s neck to the point of straggling him. Dong Zhi almost couldn’t breathe as he shouted, “Don’t choke me! I can’t run!”
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Let me down, I’ll run on my own!”
Unable to carry her any longer, he put her down and the two ran for their lives while holding hands. The road seemed endless, and their physical strength was limited. The man, on the other hand, seemed to never tire as he chased them relentlessly, slowly catching up to them as their physical strength weakened. It was a thrilling sight to behold as he caught up to them several times, barely missing their clothes when he reached out to grab them.
“I-I can’t run anymore!” Zhang Xing cried as she kept running.
“Hold on for a little longer!”
“No, I can’t do it. I’m going to die!” Zhang Xing’s face was a mess as snot, tears, and blood flowed everywhere. Her hair was completely maimed, looking as if it was dog fur that was cut by a knife, leaving no traces of beauty left.
“You still have the strength to speak!”
Just after he spoke those words, Zhang Xing tripped over and staggered to the ground, pulling Dong Zhi down with her. The man had caught up, and his eyes were completely white, no longer possessing any pupil. His face was covered with cyan veins that were faintly glowing under his skin, and there was a shallow red mark on his forehead. He walked towards them on tiptoe, neither fast nor slow, but each step was wide, as if he was like those entertainers who wore tall stilts. The sight was incredibly supernatural and indescribable.
Seeing that he was about to grab the back of Zhang Xing’s neck, with a stroke of luck*, Dong Zhi subconsciously touched his pocket and took out the “fake and shoddy product” he had painted and threw it at the man.
*Blessed the soul (福至心灵) Idiom that means when good luck comes, a person’s mind is open and flexible. It describes people who are flexible in thinking and act appropriately when they encounter the right time.
The moment the talisman touched the man’s face, the movements that couldn’t even be triggered by a cut from a knife had made him pause. The talisman scorched, slowly disintegrating into black powder at a speed visible to the naked eye.
At this time, Dong Zhi heard a sharp scream coming out of nowhere as the man’s body lost its support and suddenly collapsed onto the ground, unconscious. Dong Zhi hurriedly pulled up Zhang Xing and continued running until they were at the brink of exhaustion and had to stop.
Zhang Xing’s face was pale. She opened wide-mouthed as she continued panting, making a huff-huff sound as if she was pushing bellows. Dong Zhi’s condition wasn’t any better. When he surveyed their surroundings, he realized that they hadn’t met a single person along the way since he had found Zhang Xing.
Where did all the tourists go from this originally lively scenic spot?
“What the hell is going on?” He asked Zhang Xing.
Zhang Xing was on the brink of mental collapse. It was like she was deaf and didn’t hear what Dong Zhi asked her. With no other choice, he acted cruelly and gave her a slap, finally bringing her back to reality.
Seeing that she started crying again, Dong Zhi had to threaten, “If you keep crying, you’ll lead that guy to us!”
This abruptly stopped Zhang Xing’s sobs and she was able to recount what happened.
After they had split from the waterfall, the hiking group continued to set off. Yao Bin, the man just now, was walking with her. He was a tall, handsome guy, sunny and talkative, and was quite popular in the group. He was also traveling by himself. While she didn’t think he was bad, her eyes were set on Dong Zhi, so it made things awkward between the two of them, especially during the exchange they had at the waterfall. When Dong Zhi left, Yao Bin took the initiative to apologize to her, admitting that his attitude was poor just then and saying that he would apologize if he encountered Dong Zhi again. After a while, the two chatted and joked around and eventually fell behind the hiking group.
The group planned to head to lvyuantan*. When they reached a fork in the road, there were relatively few people there. The group leader had asked everyone to stay on the trail, but many wanted to stop and take photos. As a result, Zhang Xing and Yao Bin, who weren’t paying attention, went from being last to being first.
*Waterfall in Changbai. When the fog rises, the water on the lake is filled with mist, making it look like a fairyland on earth.
“You mean that the team leader had already asked everyone to set off, but everyone was busy taking pictures, so you two eventually ended up in the front, and when you turned around after a while, you didn’t see anyone else around?” Dong Zhi frowned.
Zhang Xing gasped and said, “It was strange. We thought the others hadn’t caught up, so we waited for a while, but they never came, so we followed the same path back to find them. Who knew, after walking for so long, we actually came back to the waterfall again! At this point, I couldn’t walk anymore, so Yao Bin suggested I sit down and rest while he go and find someone to ask for directions.”
“I waited for almost half an hour before Yao Bin came back slowly. At that time, he had become very strange. He hung his head and walked on tiptoe without looking at me. I thought he was injured, so I went over to help him. Who knew that he suddenly knocked me down and dragged me forward by the hair…” Thinking about what had happened gripped her with fear.
The weather was already depressing, and the sound of endless thunder roaring in the distance only made it worse.
“What are we going to do now?!” Zhang Xing grasped his arm tightly. She was so frightened that her voice trembled involuntarily as she spoke.
“We need to find a way out first!”
Zhang Xing wept bitterly. “But no matter where we go, we can’t get out!”
“Then we have to keep looking. Look at the time. It hasn’t moved at all!” He said as he stared at his phone.
Zhang Xing hurriedly took out her phone and saw that the time was 2:01 PM. It was 1:45 when the hiking group passed by the pool. It would be impossible from that time until now for only 15 minutes to have passed… Unless time was frozen when she and Yao Bin separated from the group. This realization struck fear in her heart as it started to quickly spread.
Were they not on Changbai Mountain anymore, but in a different dimension?
Dong Zhi overturned his backpack, only pulling out a drawing board, a pencil, stacks of blank and scribbled papers, a few pieces of chocolate, a bottle of water, and a portable charger. He packed lightly, so he left the cinnabar and yellow paper behind at the hotel.
Originally, he thought the two talismans were enough as no normal person would expect this kind of encounter to happen to them when hiking up a mountain. He thought for a bit and then pulled out a blank piece of paper, wiped a utility knife casually on his shirt, and used it to cut his fingers, causing blood to instantly gush out.
He ignored Zhang Xing’s face that had the expression saying “are you evil as well?”, while he forced himself to calm down and started drawing symbols on the white paper. If He Yu could do it, he should be able to as well, even if the effectiveness was minimal. As long as it had any kind of effect, it’ll still give them a chance to escape next time…
“Take this. It’s a talisman. Throw it at the enemy if you encounter danger.”
Zhang Xing took the triangular talisman from him, speechless. She didn’t know how to react to such a sight.
He shook his hands. The first two talismans he drew were useless. Thankfully, the next two were adequate. He had several wounds on his fingers due to the cuts he made and it stung him so painfully that he couldn’t breathe.
Zhang Xing silently opened her backpack and took out band-aids to bandage him up. Seeing as his phone was low on power, despite having a portable charger, he didn’t want to use it so casually. He was about to continue onwards when he heard movements coming from behind him. He turned his head to look and was caught by surprise as Yao Bin had appeared again and was walking towards them, step-by-step, on his tiptoe!
Zhang Xing screamed, jumped three feet high, and tossed the talisman she was holding at him.
Dong Zhi: …
While it wasn’t good, it was still a talisman that he shed a lot of blood to draw successfully! He wanted to cry without tears*.
*(欲哭无泪) Metaphor for extreme sadness of helplessness.
When the talisman hit Yao Bin, he momentarily paused before continuing to walk towards them.
“It’s useless!” Zhang Xing turned her head and shouted at Dong Zhi.
“Run!” Dong Zhi yelled as he pulled her up and sprinted away.
Thanks to the break they had taken, they had regained some strength. They were still tired but tried their best to continue forward, losing track of how long they were running for. They noticed that their surroundings gradually dimmed and saw a few beams of light that looked like flashlights from a distance dangling in front of them.
“Who!” A low shout came from the other end, full of caution and vigilance.
Usually, hearing this kind of tone, Dong Zhi would stop to assess the person before moving forward, but currently, with danger behind them, he threw caution to the wind and quickly darted to the voice shouting, “We’re lost tourists!”
Poor Dong Zhi, can’t catch a break.