On an ordinary night
The sound of flying insects was fluttering in Ke Han’s ears, and his face, which was already swollen to three times its size, was a bit ugly.
His hands were tied to the back of the chair and were already bloodstained from the friction with the hemp rope. He gritted his teeth in pain. The piece of cloth covering his eyes was soaked with sweat, and his mouth was tightly sealed with yellow tape.
He was terrified.
How did he end up tied up like this? Ke Han had no idea. His last memory was from the private room where he was having dinner with his colleagues. He toasted the general manager of the marketing department together with his boyfriend, Sheng Fan. They were thanking the leaders for allowing them to join the Sheng Jie Real Estate investment project.
Ke Han returned to his seat and put down his wine glass, and the next one to toast was Mo Li, the newly hired finance department cashier. Ke Han couldn’t help sneering. A workplace rookie who was able to sit at the table with the company’s elite leaders. He turned his head toward Sheng Fan, leaned closer to him, and whispered, “I can guarantee that Mo Li climbed on the general manager’s bed.”
Sheng Fan’s expression turned cold, and he reprimanded him in a low voice, “Don’t gossip behind others’ backs.”
Upon hearing this, Ke Han raised his eyebrows, put down his chopsticks, and turned towards him, creating a terrifying movement that drew a lot of surprised looks. He became furious, his chest was heaving violently, and then he squeezed out a few words between his clenched teeth. “Sheng Fan, do you like Mo Li?”
His consciousness gradually cleared, and Ke Han shook his head. After a few seconds, he completely woke up and regained movement in his stiff limbs. However, he had no idea where he was, whether there were people around him, or whether it was day or night.
After pulling at the rope a few times, the pain in his wrist intensified, and Ke Han suddenly lost all his strength. He could hear the faraway wind blowing through the forest. The hair was tangled on his temples, and hot sweat slid down his cheeks into the collar of his already soiled white shirt.
The many flying insects and the unbearable itching and tingling on his bare skin made him almost lose his mind. He clenched his fists with all his strength, and the blue veins popped out on the back of his hands. Ke Han took a deep breath and decided to gamble again, so he concentrated all his strength on his hands, endured the pain, and tried his best to pull the sides. At some point, he tore the hemp rope.
Overjoyed, Ke Han broke free from his restraints and immediately took off the cloth from his eyes and tore off the tape from his mouth. His surroundings were pitch black. His pockets were empty, and once his eyes completely adjusted to the darkness, he cautiously looked around the room. There were two single beds placed against the wall on the left, and several wardrobes stood on the right. Other than that, there was only a book-sized half-open iron window.
He ran to grab the window edge and kept squeezing his head through. The bushes were blocking most of the view. It was extremely quiet, the dark night was very deep, and he was terrified.
There was no door in the room.
Ke Han was physically and mentally exhausted, and his voice was already hoarse. He shouted through the window for nearly half an hour, calling for help, but the only response was the lonely whisper of the wind.
The heat and humidity on his back were unbearable, and the previous high summer heat wrapped around him so tightly that he felt slightly oxygen-deprived.
A cloud covered the moon, and the surroundings became completely dark. Ke Han slid dejectedly down on the ground, and his consciousness was about to collapse.
It was almost 11 pm when he heard a familiar sound. Ke Han was taken aback and immediately started searching for the source of the sound. Opening the fourth wardrobe door, he saw the bright screen of the mobile phone, and the caller displayed “Shen Fang,” which immediately made him feel at ease.
Ke Han answered with an excited and angry tone, “Hey, Sheng Fan, I’ve been kidnapped! Come and save me!”
“I’m afraid he’s not free now.” The strange voice sounded lazy and casual. The man on the phone said with a smile, “He’s taking a bath.”
Sheng Fan had a habit of writing in a diary. To relieve stress, he would record everything about his life in leather books with combination locks, filling a whole row of the bookcase.
The password was the birthday of his first love.
The sound of flowing water could be heard from the bathroom; hot steam was leaking through the curtains, so the temperature in the living room was rising, making the man on the sofa take off his suit jacket. He got up and walked to Sheng Fan’s bedroom, grabbed the diary in the middle of the third row of the bookcase, unlocked the password with ease, and then spread it flat in his hands.
This was not the first time he has read it, and the content in it had long been engraved in his heart.
Xi Bai’s fingertips rubbed a line of text, which said, “I’m a coward, I’m sorry, Xin Yi.” The man was wearing a Bluetooth headset, and his delicate red lips were curved in a cunning arc. He said, “Ke Han, you are so stupid that you can’t even find the door. How could you be smart enough to cause an accident which killed your best friend?”
At first, he was trembling in anger because Sheng Fan had another lover behind his back, but the next second, Ke Han was shocked while facing the wardrobe. His mind went blank, the tightly pursed lips trembled violently, and all the sounds were gone from his ears at once.
After a long time, he reluctantly found his voice and murmured in disbelief, “What did you say … what?”
The other party stopped talking, and Ke Han didn’t dare to ask any more questions. Filled with suspicion, he forcibly calmed down. He re-examined the row of wardrobes in front of him and then moved them one by one until light flew into the room from the half-height hole in the wall.
This bright light also illuminated a secret door in the ground below the bed, with several steel pipes as thick as a basketball bat piled up beside the door.
Ke Han slapped his forehead in anger. He was too panicked just now. The confined space, the dark around him, and his extremely tense nerves made him unable to look for a way out.
It was so ridiculous.
Immediately, he wiped the sweat from his forehead, instinctively abandoned the secret door, made a hole in the wall, raised the phone, and asked in a sharp voice, “You kidnapped me? Who the hell are you?”
Ke Han lost his dignity and looked like a lunatic. “What the hell are you keeping me here for?”
Bending through the wall, Ke Han saw the surrounding place, which was an abandoned construction site. With sweat soaking through his shirt, he scurried around like a headless fly, circling until he found the descending stairs at the southeast corner of this floor.
“Let me guess.” The mail voice laughed on the other hand and asked in a playful tone, “Did you drill a hole in the wall?”
Ke Han stopped, looked up, and found no surveillance. An uncontrollable chill rushed up to his spine. He didn’t dare to stop, and asked while sprinting, “How did you know?”
Fleeing from the dilapidated and dangerous building in panic, Ke Han bent down and supported his knees with his hands, gasping for breath. Arriving at the empty flat ground, his reason returned. He grabbed the phone, straightened his back, looked at the gloomy moonlight, and said coldly, “Listen to me, no matter who you are, once I catch you, I’ll never forgive you.”
The other party replied with a sarcastic smile and a curious tone in his voice. “Oh, what’s wrong?”
Ke Han said sternly, “I will hire the best lawyer and sue you straight to jail!”
“Then I’m really looking forward to it.” The man narrowed his long eyes, which were as dark as a deep pond. “But if I go to jail, I’ll have to bring someone to accompany me. Why not choose Sheng Fan.”
“You’re fucking crazy!” Ke Han gnashed his teeth with hatred. “I warn you, if you dare to slander him, I’ll never let you go in this life!”
“Slander? Uh … I think you have a video of him on your phone, don’t you?” The man smacked his lips and said with interest. “The content is probably about how he accidentally pushed his alcoholic father, who frequently asked him for living expenses, down the stairs.”
“So he’s done something so ‘brave!'” the man sneered. “I think it’s very ‘rare,’ so I made a copy, but I don’t know for how many years will the judge sentence him?”
With his heart plunging into a pool of ice, Ke Han stared wide-eyed at the shrubbery ahead. His limbs seemed to have been devoid of muscles and bones. He became so limp that he could no longer move. He swallowed twice, and his throat tightened: “Why do you know that I have … ?”
“Because Sheng Fan has written it in his diary.” The man snorted and shrugged innocently. “He also recorded in detail how you secretly filmed him to force him to be with you.”
Ke Han was frightened and asked with jealousy. “He told you the password?”
“No.” The man snorted disdainfully, and said, “It’s just that his password has something to do with me.”
The sudden tinnitus clouded Ke Han’s mind. He stood up from the ground. He hated the feeling of being played by others the most, so he roared at the mobile phone in irritation. “Who are you? Come out and confront me face to face!”
“Oh, are you worthy?” The man happily crossed his legs, took a photo of Sheng Fan and Xin Yi on the bedside table, and said with a cold expression. “Since you are so curious about my identity, then I will simply help you recall your memories.”
Before the man’s words were out of his mouth, a sharp metallic clanging sound came from far away and then much closer. Ko Han raised his head hesitantly. He saw dozens of steel pipes falling from the roof, causing his face to contort in fear. He covered his head and ran for his life.
In less than two seconds, the earth trembled, and Ke Han fell forward in embarrassment, unsteady on his feet. The flying dust made him cough, and he was about to curse, but the next thing he knew, his breath hitched and his mouth dropped open as if he were being choked.
The familiar scene automatically popped into his mind, and his memory instantly went back to the night of the class reunion before his senior year graduation. Xin Yi and his boyfriend, Sheng Fan, toasted their headteacher and thanked her for her care over the last four years.
Ke Han sat lonely at the other side of the dining table, drinking wine alone, and watching Sheng Fan from the corner of his eyes. When the two of them returned to their seats, he stood up slowly, reached out his hand respectfully, and touched the head teacher’s wine glass.
After several rounds of drinking, after dinner, Sheng Fan was caught by his alcoholic father at the door of the restaurant. Xin Yi drank a bit too much, and as he was worried that his behavior was unsafe and knowing that he really couldn’t interfere in his boyfriend’s family grievances, he went back to the dormitory with Ke Han.
The dark night was like a sunken shaft. The only thing left on the road to the University of Finance and Economics was a warm spring breeze. Very few lights were still on. Ke Han put his hands in his pockets and walked silently with his head down. His state was very abnormal. Xin Yi noticed his strangeness, naughtily poked his elbow with his shoulder, and asked worriedly, “Why are you so depressed today? Are you reluctant to part with your teacher and classmates?”
Ke Han raised the corners of his lips pretending to be relaxed, scratched his scalp and lowered his eyelashes, then answered the question. “Xiao Yi, will you always like Sheng Fan?”
“Yes.” Xin Yi didn’t hesitate. He answered bluntly, turned to approach Ke Han with a blushing face, and whispered. “I won’t hide from you. We have rented a house outside and plan to move in this weekend, and then look for a job nearby.”
Ke Han was disappointed. Nodding his head, his jealousy reached a peak. He couldn’t hide his envy and said, “So you guys have already planned your future.”
“This was Sheng Fan’s idea.” Xin Yi bent his bright eyes and said sincerely, “I’m really lucky to meet a boy who loves me so much and is so good at living.”
Ke Han stared at the building under construction in the distance, and he was very jealous: Yes, since childhood, your luck has always been better than mine.
Even my favorite person can only have you in his eyes.
The breeze was blowing on his face, and as he was slightly drunk, Xin Yi’s steps became unstable. Approaching the perimeter of the construction site, Ke Han followed behind Xin Yi, staring coldly at his back.
If only you could disappear.
As the sky completely darkened, the large machines on-site stopped working one by one, and the last of the alloy steel pipes were being delivered at high altitude from a tower crane a dozen meters away from the scaffolding.
The workers hadn’t found any signs of deterioration in the machine’s components before, and the rope, which was nearing the end of its life, had a defective partial twist of the strands, so the hook connection was about to break, and there was a persistent odd sound from the metal shaking and rubbing.
The behemoth obscured the moonlight above, casting a dark shadow of death. Ke Han, who saw this scene, suddenly had bad thoughts. He raised his eyes in prayer and looked at the towering crane. His eyes changed from clear to cloudy.
God, can you be on my side this time?
After a short thought, Ke Han took out his mobile phone, smiled, and said to Xin Yi. “We didn’t take a photo at the dinner tonight. I spent so much time choosing the clothes, why don’t you take two photos for me?”
“Show off.” Xin Yi nodded drunkenly. “Now? Here?”
Ke Han said “Yeah. You walk a few steps forward. I’ll check the composition first, find a good shooting angle, and then call you over.”
Xin Yi didn’t think too much. “Ok, since it’s what you want to do, I’m happy to cheer you up.”
Forcefully squeezing out an ugly smile, Ke Han turned around and ran quickly in the opposite direction. Stepping on the curb, a few meters away from Xin Yi, there were thick bushes behind him. He placed himself in a safe area. He held the phone to zoom the image on the screen, then gradually reduced his expression and raised his voice in command with a wooden face. “Go a little to the left.”
Xin Yi followed the shadows on the ground in parallel, taking one step, two steps, and three steps. Laughing heartlessly, he waved his arms to Ke Han.
Sweat spilled from the corners of Ke Han’s forehead as the pipe hovered urgently in the air. The foreman judged that the noise was coming from the wire ropes on the tower crane, and others focused on the area of imminent danger, sprinting to the edge of the site to drive away pedestrians.
At that moment, there was a sudden “creaking” sound from above. Xin Yi tilted his head in confusion and was halfway up when he was pulled back by Ke Han’s shout. With his best friend standing in the center of his field of vision, Xin Yi didn’t think any further and continued to work earnestly with the other party, opening his lips and saying, “I know.”
Ke Han shouted, “Xin Yi, don’t move.”
On the narrow path leading to the main road, the bushes were so thick that the light could not penetrate the dense branches, and there was no one around. The phone was still on, with tiny spots of light swaying on the ground as if ghosts were chasing behind him.
The man flipped the diary to the next page. Sheng Fan had neatly written, “When I learned about Ke Han’s crime and wanted to call the police, he threatened me with a video. I was tossing between “exposing him” and “protecting myself,” and, in the end, I chose the latter.
Right now is the best time of my life, and I must not end up in jail.”
The last two lines of text were obviously written with too much force, and the tip of the pen pierced the soft paper, leaving crooked handwriting that was enough to show Sheng Fan’s despair: Do I really love Xin Yi?
Everyone in the world must have told the “till death do us part” lie, right?
When the soles of his shoes hit the flat asphalt road, Ke Han gasped sharply, almost suffocating, and a layer of sticky sweat was covering his palm as he gripped his phone.
He drew in oxygen hungrily as the streetlights near him lit up a true warm yellow, and Ke Han gradually calmed down, his twisted expression becoming more and more gruesome. Lifting the phone to his ear again, he said, “You can’t be Xin Yi because he’s long dead.”
“No matter what you saw at Sheng Fan’s place,” Ke Han said word for word, “whether it’s a prank or an attempt to extort money from us, don’t even think that you can get away with it.”
“You underestimate me too much, Mr. Ke,” the man said gently, “I don’t want something as petty as money.”
“Since you still have doubts about my identity, I’ll just have to prove myself again.”
Ke Han tightened his eyebrows as he listened and kept walking. When his line of sight turned at the next corner, the feel of the soles of his feet suddenly became lighter, and he dropped his eyes in surprise to find that he was standing on a slim, round wooden slab, which, by its contours, should be a well, but the mouth of which should be covered with a thick cast iron lid.
The camera not far away faintly flashed a red dot.
Just as Ke Han lifted one foot, cautiously ready to take a step elsewhere, the words rang out clearly over the receiver. “Ke Han, don’t move.”
The board snapped with a crash, and the weightlessness overwhelmed his head like a rising tide. Ke Han screamed and plunged into the well, where two sharp steel pipes awaited him.
Sheng Fan dried his hair, put on silk pajamas, and opened the bathroom door, but Mo Li was not in the living room.
Walking into the bedroom, he saw the unlocked phone on the pillow. He stood beside the bed and bent down, intending to make a call to Mo Li, but his hand stopped in the air, his eyes stung by the video playing on the screen.
On the diary spread out beside him, underneath the words “I am a coward, I am sorry, Xin Yi”, someone left a dashing line in red pen. The sound of sirens penetrated the neighborhood, red and blue/light shadows lighting up the windowpane. Sheng Fan held up the book with trembling hands, covered his face with sobs, and groaned in remorse and pain.
- Helped you turn yourself in. No need to thank me. You owe it to Xin Yi.