3 The Boy with No Palm Prints (Part 3)
Nie Zun's POV
There wasn’t an ounce in my body that felt like moving after I let Jie Pa treat me with his medication, and so I conveniently indulged in my afternoon nap on the couch of his clinic. As for the psychiatrist himself, who didn’t have much fame to his name, he was staying up late to peruse various medical texts.
Dee dee dee!
I never bothered changing the ringtone on my phone, so the simple default tune sounded off at the incoming call.
“Hello, is this Nie Zun, brother of Nie Xuan? She was on her way back from a business trip when she got involved in an accident, and is currently in XXX Hospital. Can you please come down as soon as possible?”
I let out a cry and scrambled up from the couch. Jie Pa, who had been reading another thick medical book, jolted in shock, his glasses almost slipping from his face.
I stared straight into his eyes, my voice quivering. “Xuan got into a car accident…”
When we got to the hospital, the light to the emergency room was glaringly lit.
I leaned against the wall along the hallway and watched Jie Pa with anxious, red-rimmed eyes opposite me, rubbing his hands together. Lowering my head and I tugged at the black glove on my left hand, staring at the empty canvas without palm prints.
Ehehe, I’m a freak indeed… Even my most beloved Xuan has been hurt because of me…
Xuan… You know that I won’t cry, because I promised you that I would be the most resilient Zun’er.
But… You can’t leave me…
As I looked at this hand of mine, I felt a sudden urge to laugh. Lifting the hand, steadily and without fluster, I smashed it repeatedly against the hospital wall.
Thump, thump, thump.
Fresh blood had already started dribbling down, but I still had no desire to stop. Jie Pa walked over to me, his eyes alarmed and bewildered, “Nie Zun, don’t worry. It’ll be fine. Xuan will be fine, this is not your fault.”
Not my fault…?
Just as I was about to lift my hand again, I heard hurried and cluttered footsteps, followed by screams that bounced off the walls from behind me.
“Ah—Hurry up and get him to the emergency room!”
“Oh God, let’s leave here quickly, she’s crazy!”
“Doctor, doctor! Hurry up and send our senior into the emergency room!”
“Get that freak away from our senior!”
I didn’t have much interest in the chaos within the hospital, but my interest was piqued at the word “freak”. Without realizing, I had stopped smashing my hand against the wall and turned around instead.
Even I was taken aback by the sight that greeted me.
Along the hallway there were several people, around university age, surrounding a hastily moving emergency bed which was heading in our direction. On that bed lay a guy, although with blood drenched across his face and body, I couldn’t get a good look at him.
Fresh blood dripped onto the floor forming a trail as the bed moved forward, leaving a vivid and glaring streak upon the mirror-like hospital floor. Soon, the emergency bed, escorted by the group of students, rolled past me and into the other room.
Trailing behind them, a girl stopped in the middle of the corridor. She did not follow them in, but instead was staring at the bloodstains on the floor.
She was the girl I had just met that afternoon. The girl in red, at the salon.
Her hair was now a fresh shade of scarlet red. It seems that she had dyed it eventually, whether in the salon or by herself, but it was her face that struck me, decorated by splatters of blood which extended from her collar to her smooth, exposed shoulder. She was still wearing the same red clothes, though I couldn’t tell if they were coated in crimson blood too. However, she was standing not far from me, and I could almost smell the sanguinary scent on her.
I gave her a once-over; from her hands which were sticky with blood, steady and without tremble, to her eyes.
It was at the moment that I saw her eyes that I was stunned. For a moment, I began to doubt myself; was this really the girl I saw that afternoon? Her eyes did not hold the same indifference and reclusive stillness. Instead, they were unusually bright with a touch of taunting playfulness. Her occasional glance had a hint of charm, and alongside the blood, an alluring smile hung at the corner of her lips.
I was caught in a trance; the difference was just too great.
As though she had noticed my gaze, she shot me an indolent yet captivating look; the tinge of flirtation seemed to come naturally to her. Looking at me, she started to speak, her voice soft yet enthralling, “Why do you keep staring at me? Are you afraid of me?”
On the contrary, I thought she was fascinating. A smile tugged at my own lips, and I stuffed both hands into the pockets of my jeans.
As I approached her, I locked my gaze on her blood-splattered face, “Why should I be afraid of you?”
She tilted her head and a beautiful smile escaped her. There was a glint in her eyes, and her tongue poked out to lightly lick the spots of blood on her lips. With each movement, her red hair cascaded down the side of her shoulders.
“You’re an interesting person,” she hummed. “What a pity though, I’ll have to return this body to her soon. We may never meet each other again.”
I gleamed with interest as I fixed my eyes on her own bright pair; it was been a while since I last saw such beautiful eyes. Eyes filled with life, just like Xuan’s, void of hopelessness and despair.
There was always hint of despair to anyone’s eyes, the extent of which flickering from time to time. Yet, the eyes I was looking into right now didn’t seem to know or comprehend despair: they simply looked like they could kill at will.
“Who is ‘she’?” I laughed.
Lazily, she lifted a finger, still dripping with blood, and lightly covered her mouth as she chuckled. The gesture, along with the scarlet blood that covered her entire being, was bizarrely alluring. It was impossible for me to look away. “Ah,” she said simply. “She lives in me.”
She pointed to her heart, “She doesn’t know how to protect herself. And me? I lend her a helping hand whenever I reach my limit, when I can’t bear to see her like this any longer. But she… She doesn’t understand my good intentions.”
Along the hallway, another wave of footsteps echoed noisily.
She seemed to have sensed them too and looked up to check her surroundings. Then, out of the blue, she removed a ring from her finger.
With her blood-clad hands, I hadn’t noticed the unique, black skeleton ring ring on her index finger. The blood on her hand stained the ring as she plucked it from her finger slowly. She reached out swiftly, tugging my left hand from my pocket. I was dumbfounded by the sudden action, and stood there motionless as she busied herself. A tender yet unfeeling smile slipped from her lips, her lashes fluttering as she stared at my now equally bloodied hand before spreading my palm open wide.
And that was how that bloodied hand of mine, lacking in palm prints, was exposed to her.
I didn’t object.
She glanced up at me, her glistening eyes meeting mine. “Her name is Li Shen. If you have the chance to meet her one day, will you stay by her side on my behalf?”
I stayed silent for a moment before speaking up softly, “Why should I agree to that?”
She laughed suddenly, and I felt it could make the world tremble with its beauty. “Because I know that you’re just like her. I could smell it on both of you, that scent called ‘loneliness’...”
Without a care for my bewilderment, she slipped the ring on my little finger. As if predestined, the ring fit my little finger like a glove, clutching tightly to it, covered with fresh blood.
She stroked my face with the same bloodied hand then, her eyes still as enchanting, “You must always stay with her… Even if she turns into a monster…”
She didn't seem to be finished her sentence when several policemen came running up from behind her. At the same, the few university students who had been with the injured boy shouted from behind me, “That’s her! Quick arrest her, she was the one who stabbed our senior!”
Before I could respond, she released my hand and took two steps back, looking at me with a dazzling smile on her face.
Then, it was as though her soul left her body in an instant. Her entire being fell backwards to the ground stiffly and she fainted.
Right then, the policemen and students surrounded her. One of the policemen took a look at her and the other stated, “She didn’t fake it, she has genuinely passed out. I’m afraid we’ll have to hand her over to the doctors for examination first.”
“What has she got to lose consciousness over? She wasn’t even injured. She’s a murderer!” One of the university girls with bloodshot eyes said, glaring at the girl in red.
The scene changed hurriedly; they sent her into an emergency room, leaving the ground stained with blood, and then me, still rooted dumbly to the spot.
I didn’t notice Jie Pa beside me until he spoke, his brows furrowed, “That girl’s a little strange—from what I observed earlier, I believe she lost her sanity.”
Just as I parted my lips to respond, a nurse rushed out from the emergency room and hurried to our side, “You’re family members of the patient, Nie Xuan, right? She’s critically injured and we’re about to get the director to conduct her surgery. However, the chances are slim; we aren’t sure she can be saved. We strongly suggest that you see her one last time before we proceed with the surgery.”
Without even waiting for her to finish, I scrambled into the emergency room. Jie Pa sped in after me as well.
The moment I arrived at the operating table, all I could see was Xuan’s pale face. She was wearing a respirator and, as though she sensed my presence, her eyes began to open slowly.
Those sallow eyes still had their usual radiance to them, mesmerizing as always. Her voice was weak, tinged with agony, as she said to Jie Pa, “Jie… Pa… I—I’m leaving Zun’er… in… your care… H—he’s… not… a monster.”
Jie Pa kneeled beside her. I just stood there frozen.
The doctor was rushing us, “Hurry on out once you’re done. We’ll do our best.” Then right away, he and the nurses began preparing themselves for the complex operation.
I couldn’t tell if I cried, but I no longer felt any warmth. I just stood at my spot, watching Xuan on the operating table.
Xuan looked at me tenderly, then glanced back at Jie Pa, her voice had became so weak that I could barely hear her, “Jie Pa… You look… really… nice… today…”
Jie Pa finally wailed in exasperation. The psychiatrist who had been so unlucky since his graduation, unaccomplished in his career, was also one I had never seen cry over the many years I’ve known him, despite the many tribulations he had faced. Yet now, he was weeping too much to even speak.
Finally, I could not bear it anymore. I could feel darkness creeping up on me.
I didn’t struggle in the moment. I watched as the infinite darkness fetched me into its world. I wasn’t scared in the least, I welcomed it with open arms. There was only a thought in my mind as I fell back:
Dad, Mum, I’m finally coming back to you, right? Just let me fall… I’ve always been the one who deserved death… Right…?
Like a never-ending black hole, I fell endlessly.
I didn’t know how long it had been, but just as I was about to shut my eyes, I heard the voice of a man.
My eyes snapped open.
Looking ahead, all around me was empty and in the distance stood bleached-white walls. It seemed like Heaven, but at the same time, felt more like Hell.
A blond man with blue eyes approached me. He was carrying a goblet filled with an unknown scarlet red liquid and his handsome, mixed-blood face donned a mysterious smile.
“Nie Zun, welcome to Split Zone No. 13.”