Tao Yueyue curled up on the cold, hard concrete floor. The storage room was empty. There was a drain under the window for her to go to the toilet. After using it several times, the smell of urine filled the room.
She organized her thoughts. The police probably started investigating the little boy killed in the housing community last night. It’s unknown whether that neighbor would tell the police the message she left, but she couldn’t pin all her hopes on it.
I must leave a message for Uncle Chen, but how should I leave it? In writing?
However, if Zhou Xiao finds out, the trust I’ve finally built up would fall apart. Then, I’ll truly become a prisoner.
The message can’t be found easily, and even if it’s found, it can’t be recognized.
She had never learned Morse code. If it was another form of code, she and Chen Shi must have the same code reference: a dictionary or a book. She remembered the only book she brought with her when she ran away from home - "Time Machine".
It was a pity that the book had been lost. Zhou Xiao was unlikely to buy a book for her. It was unrealistic to use this book as a code reference.
Tao Yueyue clenched her fists miserably. She didn't even have a pen or a piece of paper to write a message with.
She sat up and walked around the room. A slight gleam of light came through the crack in the door, indicating that it was about to get dark.
The bottle of tap water Zhou Xiao had filled for her had all been emptied. After drinking the raw tap water, Tao Yueyue's stomach felt like she had a lump of lead inside her stomach, causing her pain. What was even more unbearable was her hunger. She thought about how school would be over at this time. She would eat delicious food with "Miso". Grilled meat rice bowls, fried rice noodles, fried pumpkin pie, stinky tofu, grass jelly...
Thinking of this, she began to salivate and her eyes went sour. Tao Yueyue immediately restrained the weakness attacking her and kicked the wall vigorously with her shoes. She must remain conscious, angry, and strong.
Chen Shi said that the human heart wasn’t actually strong at all. Hunger, control, and physical punishment could make a person gradually let go of their dignity and principles. Whether they were a strong-willed person or a coward, as long as they had been exposed to such an environment, it was only a matter of time before they yielded.
Tao Yueyue’s inner weakness was quietly growing. She didn’t have anyone to rely on. Zhou Xiao, who controled her life and death, had become the only person she could rely on. Letting this weakness develop, her inner defense mechanism would crumble, making her have intimate feelings towards Zhou Xiao.
She was like a person who had stumbled on a cliff. She was holding the edge of the cliff with her fingers, struggling to support herself when she had nobody to rely on. The vast abyss below her was tempting her. As long as she let go of her hand and didn’t resist, the pain would be over.
Be strong! I must be strong!
Tao Yueyue sat cross-legged and started meditating according to Gu You's method, carefully counting her breaths, pushing away all thoughts, and repeating to herself - "I will definitely be able to escape! I will definitely be able to escape!"
This inner clarity brought by meditation allowed Tao Yueyue to gradually relax, and her body was no longer restless. Gu You once said to her that people couldn’t do without faith. Faith could be a god, an opposite sex, a TV series, a book, a house, or even money.
Think about that when you’re in your most painful time. Think about what you’ll do after you have overcome these pains you’re going through. Only when you look ahead will you have a direction.
Tao Yueyue imagined what would happen when she left this place. She would go over to Gu You’s to play, and in the summer after the junior high examination, she would go to her counseling room as a volunteer. Or, she’d carry a bag with "Miso" and go travelling together. Or she might get Chen Shi to teach her how to drive. She wouldn’t be able to get her license now, but she could go to places where nobody was around and drive for fun…
Hearing the sound of footsteps, Tao Yueyue opened her eyes as the door opened.
Bright lights shone in from the outside. Zhou Xiao faced her within the light, beckoning her to go out.
Under a swaying incandescent lamp, food was on the table. Zhou Xiao looked tired. His sweat-drenched hair was attached to his forehead, and his shirt collar was stained with blood. He gestured his head towards the table and said, "Eat!"
Tao Yueyue grabbed the braised duck and noodle cakes in the bag and ate it hungrily. Then, she unscrewed the bottle of coke and took a big gulp. The sudden rise in her blood sugar levels made her whole body excited, and she ate even more zealously.
"Don't eat too much. There are still things to do after you eat." Zhou Xiao warned.
Tao Yueyue nodded. "Uncle Zhou, did you kill that person?"
"Almost." Zhou Xiao lit up a cigarette.
Zhou Xiao threw away the cigarette butt and put all the trash back into the bag, including the cigarette butts he had smoked before tightening the mouth of the bag. He took out a switchblade and stuffed it into Tao Yueyue's hand to teach her how to use it.
"...This is called a backhand grip. This is called a forehand grip. You usually use the backhand grip... Be careful to hold your thumb against the top, and make sure your fist is clenched tight, otherwise you may cut yourself..."
After teaching her this, Zhou Xiao stepped back and hooked his finger at her. "Stab me."
Tao Yueyue stabbed him with the tricks she had just been taught. Of course, she moved very slowly. Zhou Xiao easily pushed her wrist away and complimented her. "You learn very fast. Tao Yueyue, do you know why I want to teach you this? "
"Let me out!!!" Suddnely, a man yelled out from the darkness.
Zhou Xiao turned his head and glanced in the direction from which the call came. At this time, his throat with a pulsing vein on it was exposed in front of Tao Yueyue. Tao Yueyue hesitated on whether to seize this opportunity, but finally decided against it.
"Are you ready?" Zhou Xiao patted her shoulder and asked gently.
Tao Yueyue nodded timidly. "What if I can't beat him?"
"Don't worry, I've already broken one of his legs, so you can treat him like a pig."
Tao Yueyue clenched the switchblade tightly, and fear rose from the bottom of her heart. She should have resisted with her own death, but she couldn't do it. She was very afraid of being beaten.
Zhou Xiao patted her on the back, led her to a door, and opened it. There was a man lying in the room. It was a thin man with green hair, wearing a sleeveless denim jacket with metal studs. He was clearly taught a ruthless lesson. He cursed feebly, "Zhou Xiao, I’ll fuck your mum. If my eldest brother finds out, he’ll skin you alive!"
This was the one who sold ecstasy. Zhou Xiao had captured him alive and to use him as teaching material for Tao Yueyue.
For a moment, she thought that since he was a bad person, she seemed to be able to do it without fear. However, her reason warned her to resist quickly. After entering this room, she wouldn't be able to look back!!!
"Enjoy the first murder experience of your life!" Zhou Xiao pushed her, forcing Tao Yueyue to enter the room. Then, the door closed from behind.
Tao Yueyue held the switchblade with both hands. Her breathing became heavier and heavier. A person in a desperate situation was very keen. The man noticed the little girl's timidity and began to instigate rebellion. "Little sister, what is your name? You were also caught by this bastard. Yeah, don’t listen to him. He’s fucking toying with our lives. Give the knife to uncle. Let’s work together to escape, okay? Uncle will give you a lot of money if we escape."
He crawled over with his broken leg, like a terrible monster in the dark. Tao Yueyue backed away in fright and was forced to the corner of the wall.
Zhou Xiao, who was standing outside smoking a cigarette, remained silent.
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