Volume 41: Fellow Sufferers Empathize With Each Other
On November 11th at 4:00 in the morning, the housing district was completely dark. Only one window was still lit with a lonely light.
The otaku Little Zhou was drinking Diet Coke with a cigarette in his hand and facing the screen. A hot, domestic TV series was being broadcasted. When he saw a funny clip, Little Zhou rewound the footage and opened the screenshot software. This whole snippet was saved as a GIF and he tapped away on the keyboard to add some text.
His profession wasn’t a normal one in the eyes of his parents and elders. Little Zhou specialized in making online emojis and selling them on major chat platforms. He couldn’t be considered a leader in the industry, and his monthly income could only just allow him to scrape by with the rent and basic life expenses.
He was also a young man with dreams. He wanted to earn enough money to be an illustrator. He occasionally drew a few things with a drawing board, flipped through the books on the introduction of illustrations, and posted his works online for others to appreciate.
However, the gap between his dreams and reality was still too wide. At the moment, he was exhausted just by living in a different place. He was already used to such a life.
There was the sound of a quarrel outside which made him uneasy. He went to the balcony to see that there was a man and a woman arguing below. There were only these two people on the empty street, like two actors standing on an empty stage.
The woman shouted herself hoarse. "You're a scumbag! You’re a scumbag!" As she yelled this sentence, she acted exactly like she was the God of Songs. The man yelled out, "She was the one who took the initiative to seduce me. I just made a mistake any man would have made."
Aiya, aiya, it was a drama people enjoyed watching again. Little Zhou simply lay on his balcony and watched the commotion with a smile.
After lots of arguing, a sneaky figure came out from the corner with a big construction sledgehammer in hand. Anticipating what would happen, Little Zhou's smile instantly solidified on his face.
The black shadow walked behind the couple, picked up the sledgehammer, and smashed the man to the ground. Little Zhou was so frightened that he covered his mouth. He untimely thought of a GIF he saw on the Internet. Someone violently used a stick to smash a pig's head. The pig fell to the ground, its limbs stretched straight, and it kept twitching. The man who fell on the ground at the moment was exactly the same as the pig in the animation.
The woman received a huge shock and didn't even have time to scream. The shadow picked up the sledgehammer again, and the woman instinctively ran away with a sharp scream. Then, she was hit in the spine and fell to the ground.
The shadow lifted the sledgehammer high above themself and smashed it on the woman as if kneading rice cakes until she stopped moving.
Little Zhou was so frightened that his heart thumped wildly. He froze on the spot due to the fear. At this moment, only his window was lit in the whole building, which was more conspicuous than a coffee stain on white clothes. The killer lifted the sledgehammer that was covered in blood and turned around. Their gaze stopped on Little Zhou's stunned face.
"It's over! He saw me!"
Little Zhou went into a fit of craze. He hurried to get his phone to call the police, but a blunder was made in his rush. The phone that was getting charged fell to the ground and the screen cracked. No matter how much he pressed on it, there was no response.
He shook it anxiously a few times, then threw the phone away in anger. "Luo X X, I X X X!"
He ran back to the window and looked out. The Sledgehammer Man was walking into the housing complex. The security in this complex was very weak. There were only security guards on watch during the day and no one was on duty at night.
He must have come to silence me! For sure!
It’s too late to turn off the lights at this time. Run? It seemed that he couldn't escape either. There was only one exit for the unit building. By the time he went down, the opponent would have already come up.
All he could do was quickly bolt the door. He looked around and wanted to move a piece of furniture to block the door, but he was physically weak. He hated himself for not having a habit of exercising. He was in his 30s but he lacked the strength to even truss up a chicken.
There was a suspicious movement outside. Little Zhou put his ear on the door to eavesdrop. There was a pattering movement from the stairs. The Sledgehammer Man was dragging his weapon upstairs. Every time he took a step, the sledgehammer he dragged behind him would slap on the steps.
The sounds were fast approaching, reverberating in the silent stairs. Little Zhou's heart thumped. It was like there was a string tied around his throat, making him lose all hope.
"Don't come in! Don't come in!"
Little Zhou cried in fright. Some hot and humid liquid flowed around his crotch. There was no weapon to defend himself in the narrow rental house. Even if there were, he wouldn’t be able to fight the murderer with his lack of courage.
He was so anxious that he couldn’t keep still. At this moment, the ‘pa-ta pa-ta’ sounds stopped, and Little Zhou stared at the door in a shock. The corridor light that penetrated through the peephole was blocked. There was something blocking it. It was the person!
The other party just stayed outside, motionless, seeming to wait for Little Zhou to open the door before they attacked him.
Time seemed to have stopped. The tears on Little Zhou's face solidified. He curled his back while holding his head, and kept that posture while looking towards the door, motionless.
Why did I have to be dragged into this kind of thing?!
It was unknown how many seconds or minutes ticked past. The other party knocked on the door a few times, and the rhythm and force used to make each sound were exactly the same, like a robot that coldly executed its task. The door blocked Little Zhou’s vision, but it let his imagination run wild. In his horrible fantasy, standing outside the door was the most hideous monster in the world.
After a minute of silent torture, the knocking on the door sounded again, monotonously heavy, reminding Little Zhou of the sound of the sledgehammer hitting the victim’s head just now.
He didn't have the courage to look through the peephole. He only froze in place, allowing his urethral dilator to lose control again and again. His whole pair of trousers had been soaked, and they were clinging wet on his skin.
A minute later, the knock on the door sounded again. The murderer was stubborn and persistent, seeming to believe that Little Zhou would definitely open the door.
"Knock-knock-knock, are you nuts? It’s the middle of the night. Aren’t you going to let people sleep-”
The voice of the neighboring aunt came through the door. Before she even finished speaking, it turned into a scream. The aunt’s husband was awakened in a daze, shouting "Wife?" before it also turned into a fierce scream along with the sound of beating. It was like the sound of tearing down a wall. Little Zhou shivered every time it sounded, and salty tears flowed into his mouth through his nose.
There seemed to be a family of three next door. He suddenly remembered this. Would that child have to suffer too?
Sure enough, the cry of the boy came from outside the door. The sound wasn’t loud, as if his mouth was covered. You could imagine what the little boy looked like at that moment. Little Zhou's heart tightened. Don't! Don't! Don't kill the child!
The crying continued, and the torture made Little Zhou go crazy. He was debating whether to go and help, but it was just a passing thought. Or, he could take this opportunity to run away!
He leaned in front of the peephole and looked ahead. There was a lifeless eye looking back at him outside the door. The two looked at each other through the peephole for a few seconds. Little Zhou's willpower had reached its limit. His eyes rolled back and he fell.
1. The original intended meaning reflected the derogatory nature of the original Japanese word. However, many men have begun to use 宅男 in a self-deprecating or slightly humorous way when referring to themselves.
2. I assume he’s just cursing.
3. Feeble. Lacks strength. This phrase is commonly used.
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