he goods will be delivered! Get lost, remember this! From now on, this bathhouse is my turf! Let’s go!”
As I listened to the gradually clear sound of police sirens on the other end of the phone, I couldn’t help but marvel at how good it was to be young.
Around two or three in the afternoon, a young man with a bandage wrapped around his forehead arrived at the adult store.
His right hand was wrapped in a cast, and his left hand was holding a wooden box that looked quite old.
“Jian Ge, come and check out the goods.” Er Gou placed the box on the table and opened it with one hand, revealing a variety of colorful paper talismans and miscellaneous exorcism tools inside.
“I didn’t know what you wanted, so I tied up Blind Liu, the fortune teller from Tianqiao, and all these things were retrieved from his house.”
“Blind Liu?” I had a brief encounter with him at the police station before, when I was warned for installing a camera in a hotel without permission.
He was just a fraud who pretended to be blind…
After I rummaged through the box and found a silver-plated cross and two long strips of garlic, I became even more certain of my suspicions.
“What is this? A fusion of Eastern and Western methods? He certainly has a wide range of knowledge.”
At this point, I had little hope and could only nervously sort and organize the paper talismans in the box, quickly stuffing them into my pockets.
It was a last-ditch effort when all else had failed.
If there was even a slight chance that Blind Liu was some kind of reclusive master, then it would be like hitting the jackpot.
“Jian Ge, if you don’t need anything else, I’ll be going.
Blind Liu is still being held, and I’m afraid my brothers might go too far and hurt the old man,” Er Gou said as he picked up the now-empty box and prepared to leave.
“Wait a minute.” Just as Er Gou was about to pick up the box, I noticed a piece of talisman paper that was different from the others.
This talisman was stuck to the bottom of the box and had been there for so long that its color had turned yellowish, making it almost blend in with the box.
“Jian Ge, this peach wood box was passed down by Blind Liu’s ancestors.
Don’t even think about taking it, or else Blind Liu will have to fight me to the death,” Er Gou said as he rubbed the cast on his arm.
“That old man still has some tricks up his sleeve.”
Hearing Er Gou’s warning, I became even more convinced that this box was no ordinary item.
Indeed, despite its ancient appearance, the wooden box emitted no hint of decay or mustiness.
Instead, it exuded an indescribable charm.
“You can take the box, but I must keep this talisman paper,” I said, as I changed into a pair of disposable gloves for examining corpses.
Carefully, I peeled off the talisùan that had been pressed against the bottom of the box.
The paper was surprisingly thin, and it was impossible to tell what material it was made of, but it was more resilient than regular paper.
“Jian Ge, what’s written on it?”
“If I could read it, do you think I’d be selling adult toys to people?”
The two of us stared wide-eyed at the jumbled characters on the talisman.
We knew they were Chinese characters, but we couldn’t make heads or tails of their meaning.
It’s strange to say, but as soon as I peeled off the talisman, a foul smell emanated from the wooden box.
I knew something was wrong and gave Er Gou fifty bucks to return the box immediately.
As night fell, I sat quietly at the table, fully armed, staring silently at the clock on the wall.
“Eight o’clock!” As the hour hand passed, my phone’s screen lit up.
No ringtone, no vibration, no indication of any kind—just a cold light as an unknown number dialed in.
“Hello…” The icy phone pressed against my ear, and all I could hear was a woman sobbing on the other end.
“Who are you looking for?”
The crying gradually stopped, but the feeling of terror gradually approached, as if the woman on the other end of the phone was crawling out of my phone and leaning on my shoulder.
“I want to find someone.” Her voice was devoid of any emotion, as cold as a lonely gravestone on a pauper’s grave.
“I’m sorry, but this small store only sells adult products.
If you really need it, you can add me on WeChat…” I trembled as I struggled to put my thoughts into words, not even knowing what I was saying.
“Help me find someone.
He hid me under the floor, inside the walls, and behind the bathtub in the bathroom a few years ago.
Find him, find him!” The voice abruptly stopped, and the call was disconnected, leaving me with endless speculation.
“Was she dismembered?” I shuddered as a new text message appeared in my inbox.
“It’s late at night, and my dormant desires are about to erupt.
Pick up the phone in your hotel room, engage in flirtatious banter, and she’ll be waiting for you outside your door, with crimson eyes, ready to come in…”
“Live streaming mission: Check into Room 203 at the peace of mind Inn at midnight and survive until the sunrise.”
Instantly, I knew the location of the mission, and it sent chills down my spine.
Just three months ago, a bizarre and gruesome murder had taken place in that very Inn on the outskirts of the city.
The victim was a male, and the details of the crime were beyond disturbing.
With this knowledge, any doubts I had previously held about the mission quickly dissipated.
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