Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Shen Jize was stunned for a few seconds, and then walked in the direction that Little White left in, first walking then trotting. This passage should be safe enough to leave Lu Rong in wait here, and he continued to explore the way forward.
Turning the corner to the beginning of the passage, the iron door that was born out of thin air had disappeared, the passage was brightly lit, but he also didn’t see Lu Rong who should have hurried to meet him.
Shen Jize froze, and ran while shouting for Rong Rong.
The shouts and footsteps echoed in the empty building, but there was no response from Lu Rong. He ran behind the protruding wall pillar and saw that there was no one there either. Now his heart was falling, and sweat was seeping from his forehead.
Shen Jize turned around and ran back, simulating the route he had just taken, and ran around the corner to make sure he hadn’t taken the wrong path, and that this was where he had told Lu Rong to stay.
“Lu Rong! Lu Rong!” He continued to shout Lu Rong’s name while stopping in front of the door of the room closest to the wall post.
After a moment of silence, he took two deep breaths and pushed the door open.
The moment the door opened, he was ready to meet a terrible scene, while the iron bar leaned across the chest. But the room was empty of anything, except for an unpacked bag of cement in the corner. There was neither a scary ghost, nor Lu Rong.
Shen Jize closed the door, and then pushed the door of the next room.
A series of banging sounds connected, he looked through all the rooms of this passage, but didn’t find anything strange.
Shen Jize’s left hand was on his forehead, the back of his right hand holding the iron bar was bruised. He anxiously turned around a few times, his mind only had one thought.
Brother was gone.
After Lu Rong finished with the woman in red, he wanted to take credit with Shen Jize. But was reminded that he was currently a deer and had not yet become a human, so he hurriedly ran back with his tail between his legs.
His brother would be there to pick him up soon, so he had to change back quickly.
Lu Rong’s hooves flipped and he ran back to the iron gate as fast as he could, and after a sharp brake he turned into a naked, white boy, staring at the corner with excitement, waiting for Shen Jize’s figure to appear.
Shen Jize was sure to tell him about what happened, and would always praise the deer warrior, using phrases such as ‘golden armor’ and ‘meter-long antlers’. The only regret was that he couldn’t say he was the deer warrior and had to force the joy down. Because of the excitement in his heart, his two feet kept stepping in place, waiting for his brother to come, rushing like a cannonball into his arms.
Lu Rong looked forward for a while but didn’t see anyone, and couldn’t help but want to go to see. A few steps away, he only saw plastic sandals and scattered clothes, remembering that he was still naked, and hurried to put on his clothes.
He tiptoed around the corner and looked out, but was disappointed to find that there was no one in the passage. He went to the place where the fight with the woman in red began, there was still a puddle of black water on the ground, but Shen Jize was nowhere to be seen.
Lu Rong stood with his head hanging for a while, then turned around silently, collapsing his shoulders, and returned very slowly to the place where he started, squatting against the iron door and staring at the concrete floor in front of him.
“Brother must have gone on to look for the light mass, and when he finds it, he will come back to pick me up. That must be it, he will come back to pick me up.” Lu Rong buried his head and muttered while stretching out his thin white fingers to draw circles on the ground, plucking the topmost fine sand together. “Brother will definitely come back to pick me up.”
A moment later, a crystal drop of water fell down, haloing the fine sand with a dark dot.
Shen Jize navigated the cobweb-like passages like a headless fly.
He didn’t know where he had gone and where he was now, but could only look down one passage after another, his mouth shouting Lu Rong’s name, his voice becoming a little hoarse.
The heavy iron bar wasn’t convenient to hold all the time, so it was dragged on the ground, all the way creating an ear-piercing scraping sound. He began to wonder if he had just left and Lu Rong had been taken away by something terrible…
When he thought of this, he was filled with remorse, cursing himself for not having left the boy alone just then, for what could have happened.
His eyes were red and he bit his lower lip, thinking that if he didn’t find Lu Rong, he wouldn’t go out even if he found the light mass until he found him.
The passage gradually became misty, the overhead lights were no longer clear, hazy and only creating a white halo. He couldn’t see in the distance, and his visual range was around a couple of meters.
He didn’t know when the fog had risen.
Shen Jize didn’t bother to think about why there was fog in the building, only continued to look for the boy, from time to time shouting Lu Rong’s name.
There were often trailing wooden bars underfoot, and some piles of sand, and he didn’t pay attention, tripped and fell down heavily. The iron bar in his hands clanked and rolled to the corner. This fall was very solid, he lay on the ground for more than ten seconds before slowly getting up, when a sharp stabbing pain in his knee almost made him kneel on the ground again.
His knees and palms were covered in sand and mud, oozing red blood, and his calves were covered in blood marks. He grimaced and slapped off the sand, picked up the iron bar in the corner, and limped onward.
Lu Rong squatted for a long time, and the sadness in his heart seemed to ease a bit. He wiped away the two tears still hanging on his face and stood up to go to Shen Jize, only to freeze as soon as he took a step.
Instead of the gray concrete passageway, he was in an alley. The sky was dark above, and the light came through from the courtyard next to it, tinting the wall in front of it with a layer of orange.
There was a wooden door on the left side of the fence, with a small yellowing advertisement on the wall, above which was a certain old Chinese doctor, with a row of small letters below leaving a phone number.
He abruptly turned around, his pupils then plummeted, and his breath stopped for two seconds.
There were two blue garbage cans in sight, standing quietly next to the wall. It was very large and round, one open and full of garbage, and the other with the lid closed. Next to it hung a worn plastic bag, rustling in the wind.
Lu Rong looked steadily at the closed garbage can and was slowly surrounded by a long-lost feeling that he hated so much.
——It was the fearful despair and powerlessness of being abandoned by his loved ones.
That feeling had been with him for a long time and made him feel sad from time to time.
He would play with Puppy and start to drift off, and would throw his arms around his grandfather’s neck and ask over and over again, ‘Grandpa, I’m your good boy, right? Grandpa, you like me the most, don’t you?’ Only when Grandpa Cai gave an affirmative answer would he feel a little more at ease.
Although under Grandpa Cai’s company and love, all those worries and fears gradually disappeared, and he himself thought that everything was over. But when he was faced with this situation again, his tears instantly came out.
It would never pass.
A rustling footsteps came from his left, he quickly turned his head to look and saw Wang Tu actually standing not far away.
He hadn’t changed, and was exactly the same as Lu Rong remembered.
Short hair cut thinly, almost revealing the scalp. Wearing the same black down jacket that day, the familiar smile on his face, with two gentle smile lines at the end of his eyes. Wang Tu took two steps forward and held out his hand to him, his voice as soft as ever, “Rong Rong, come, Brother Tu will take you home.”
Lu Rong heard his heart beating so fiercely that his chest rose and fell rapidly with it. He opened his mouth slightly to catch his breath, as if so as not to close it over, both hands clenched into fists, hanging down next to his shorts.
“Rong Rong, sorry it took so long to pick you up.” Wang Tu took another step forward, his face full of apologies.
Lu Rong’s vision was already blurred by tears as he softly spat out three words, “Brother Tu…”
The sound was so soft that all but himself could hear it.
“Yes, it’s me, Rong Rong, I’m your Brother Tu.” Wang Tu half-crouched down and held out his hands to him.
Lu Rong wanted to hiss, wanted to cry and howl, wanted to wrap his arms around Wang Tu and then punch and kick at him. The questions he had summed up in the dead of night, he had taken to heart, one by one, and was ready to ask Wang Tu clearly when he saw him.
“Where have you been for so long?”
“You left me in the garbage and said you would come to pick me up, but why did you come only now?”
“Do you know how hard it was for me…”
“You’re so mean.”
Lu Rong had a lot of words pouring out, but they were clogged in his throat, and he couldn’t even say a word.
Wang Tu looked moved and choked up, “Rong Rong let’s go, Brother Tu will take you home.”
Lu Rong thought he must be very indifferent when he saw Wang Tu again, and there was no expression on his face. A cold child who walked away after questioning and never ignored him again. But he couldn’t control his tears and his desire to be close to Wang Tu.
The longing that was hidden deep under the resentment and fear, which couldn’t be easily touched, grew wildly in his heart when he saw this person again, and instantly took over all his thoughts. He couldn’t help but take two steps forward, grinning and crying silently.
“Rong Rong, let’s never be apart again.” Wang Tu continued to hold out his hand, his voice softer.
Lu Rong stopped and sobbed, “And Grandpa… Grandpa and Brother.”
“Yes, let’s pick up Grandpa and Brother again and go back to our home.”
“And Uncle Bai and Uncle Chen.”
“Uncle Bai and Uncle Chen are already at home, so when we all go back, we will live together.”
Wang Tu’s words carried a great temptation, Lu Rong’s body was trembling with happiness just thinking about that image. He looked at Wang Tu with blurred teary eyes and slowly moved closer to him.
“Let’s plant all kinds of flowers in the yard and make a swing for you.” Wang Tu said softly.
As soon as the words left his mouth, the dreamy light in Lu Rong’s eyes faded away, and he stopped standing in his tracks, cocking his head to look at Wang Tu.
“What’s wrong?” Wang Tu asked.
Lu Rong asked, “But isn’t there a swing set in our yard?”
Wang Tu’s face remained unchanged, “I almost forgot, but we can also plant flowers, fill the yard with flowers, and put up a grapevine, so we can sit under it in the summer and drink the best juice.”
“You mean we’ll plant all kinds of flowers in the yard?” Lu Rong asked. After asking this question, he held his breath and stared nervously at Wang Tu’s mouth.
“Yes, don’t you like it? If you don’t like it, we won’t plant anything.” Wang Tu said with a smirk.
Lu Rong’s footsteps moved gently, but backwards.
“What did I plant in the yard before?” His face was covered in tears, and his voice was trembling, his dark eyes looked like something was about to break, yet with a hint of expectation.
“It doesn’t matter what you planted, just go back and dig it up.” Wang Tu stared at his retreating feet and gradually withdrew the smile from his face.
Lu Rong’s heart froze in an instant, sinking downward into a deep, dark hole.
If he looked closely, he could see that his knuckles were white with tightness on the side of his shorts.
“When we get out of here, we’ll go pick up Grandpa—”
“You’re lying!” Lu Rong suddenly shouted, interrupting him, “You’re not even Brother Tu, you’re lying!”
“I’m your Brother Tu, you—”
“You lied, you lied, you lied, you lied…” Lu Rong shouted repeatedly in agitation, tears gushing out frantically, the veins on the side of his neck bulging to the surface.
“…Let’s plant small flowers for the yard, whatever you like, and put a slide, the kind with a pattern…” Wang Tu’s face grimaced and he spoke faster and faster.
“Liar! When you smell flowers, your face swells! You say that’s called allergies, we don’t have flowers in our house. What I planted in the yard was an ice cream, you gave me that one to plant and it’s gone.” Lu Rong screamed, his teeth clacking uncontrollably as he stared at Wang Tu’s two constantly colliding lips, transforming into a white deer, lowering his head and crashing into the front.
Wang Tu finally shut up and hurriedly dodged to the side, but he was still a step too slow, and his right hand was poked by the small silver horn.
After a sound, his hand turned into a gray mist and drifted in the air.
When the deer saw this, he kept crashing into him, and his careless attitude seemed crazy.
“Wang Tu” woefully dodged left and right, but was still frequently hit by hooves and all the parts that were hit turned into gray mist. Soon, his waist was missing a section, and his left leg and right arm were gone. The man was in pieces, looking bizarrely horrible and somewhat comical.
He stopped trying to disguise himself and kept saying while hiding, “You’re a monster, Wang Tu threw you in the trash because he was afraid of you…”
The deer that was pouncing didn’t stop moving, its eyes were red and the red stripes on its legs were glowing with a burning light.
“You’re still waiting for that kid you were with, aren’t you? Do you think he’ll come back for you? I just saw him already find the exit and couldn’t wait to get out. He didn’t even think about coming back for you, you’re a piece of shit to him too, just like for Wang Tu. After finding out you’re a monster, he will also throw you away and stay away from you…”
The fawn whimpered in pain, not only using his horns to topple and kick with his hooves, but even opening his mouth to reveal two rows of tiny teeth to tear.
“Wang Tu” was fading away, but laughed uncontrollably, “You will still be abandoned…”
After the fawn’s final heavy blow, his entire body finally turned into smoke, only the last words sounded, still lingering in the air.
“…You will still be abandoned…”
Lu Rong stood frozen in place, his slender four legs trembling, as if he was unable to support his body under the load, his nose letting out a breath.
Only after a long time did he turn into a naked little boy, slowly squatting down, hugging his shoulders and burying his face in his knees.
Shen Jize groped his way through the thickening fog barrier, scouting ahead with an iron rod, like a little blind man. Both of his legs were like walking on wood, getting heavier and heavier, yet he still called out to Lu Rong in a dry, hoarse voice.
But just after he turned a corner, the fog that enveloped the surrounding area suddenly dissipated rapidly, like the canopy when the clouds opened at sunrise, even faster than that.
As if there was a large extractor fan, the fog that obscured his vision was swept away, suddenly opening up and becoming clear. He immediately saw the end of the passage directly in front of him, a small boy curled up in a ball crouching on the ground.
“Lu Rong!” Shen Jize shouted in surprise and joy, voice breaking. He didn’t care about the pain in his body, but also instantly had the strength to throw the iron bar in his hand and run forward in a big stride.
When he was about to run close, the boy with his head buried suddenly raised his face, so he stopped in his tracks, stunned. The delicate little face was black and white, and covered with tear marks.
But what surprised Shen Jize wasn’t this. The moment he saw him, the residual sadness in his dark eyes disappeared instantly, floating layers of thick alarm.
“Rong Rong, I’m here to pick you up.” Shen Jize thought he was frightened just now, so he said softly.
He didn’t expect Lu Rong not only not to have any reaction after hearing this sentence, but also having a bit more hatred on his face.
Shen Jize explained, “I’ve been looking for you for a long time just now, and only now—”
“Did you turn into Brother’s appearance to trick me again?” Lu Rong interrupted him coldly.
“Turned… turned into Brother’s appearance?” Shen Jize was confused and stammered, “What are you talking about? I’m Shen Jize.”
“I don’t believe you.” Lu Rong’s mouth was turned down, and he looked like he was about to cry again.
“I’m really Brother.” Shen Jize tried to explain and moved forward, but Lu Rong shouted, “You’re not allowed to move forward!”
Like an angry little lion, his fur exploded and he was about to flash his little paws as soon as Shen Jize took one more step forward.
Shen Jize had to stand still and say, “What are you doing? I shouldn’t have left you alone just now.”
Seeing that Lu Rong didn’t answer, but only looked at him, he continued, “I was really wrong, but I also met with some accidents. You have no idea… I just met a female ghost, really a female ghost, crawling around on the ceiling.”
Shen Jize started to get energized, as he began to gesture, “Her hair was this long, see? Very long.” He stretched his arms out as far as possible, “I won’t give you the details of her looks, for fear of scaring you, just know it was pretty scary.”
Lu Rong looked at Shen Jize, a trace of confusion in his eyes with tears, as he tilted his head.
“Of course, I definitely wasn’t afraid, I had a weapon, so I beat her up real bad, that female ghost was smashed and wailing. Look at me, pay close attention, I was using this move.” Shen Jize pretended to still have the iron rod in his hand, posed a few times, and made a thumping sound from his mouth.
The light in Lu Rong’s eyes dimmed and he dropped his head, looking at the ground and wondering what he was thinking.
“I was going to give her a few more hits, and you know who came back?” Shen Jize asked, pretending to be mysterious.
Without waiting for Lu Rong to answer, he lowered his voice and answered, “It was Deer Warrior!”
Lu Rong shuddered and looked up abruptly, his eyes glowing again.
“The deer warrior was still as good as ever, it swung out with a hoof, the female ghost’s whole body was like on fire! And with his horns, the female ghost was poked by his horns, and could only cry for mercy—”
“Brother…” Lu Rong first mumbled, his voice inaudible, and then shouted, “Brother!”
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Shen Jize was interrupted by the movement and hurried back after seeing Lu Rong’s excited appearance, “Brother is here.”
Lu Rong stood up, naked and jumped into Shen Jize’s arms, bawling, “Did you throw me away like garbage? Did you not want to come back for me? Do you think I’m horrible and don’t want me anymore?”
Shen Jize caught the naked little body, not understanding why he was saying these things.
But Lu Rong cried, and was so sad that his crying was also full of heartbreaking sadness and aggression. He suddenly felt very heartbroken, his eyes also turning red.
“Rong Rong is not garbage. How could Brother not want you? I said I would pick you up, so I will definitely come back to pick you up, Rong Rong is not garbage.” He explained incoherently.
“But sooner or later you will not want me, will throw me into the trash, sooner or later you will leave me…” Lu Rong clung desperately to Shen Jize and hung himself on him, afraid that he would leave. His tears soaked through the material on Shen Jize’s chest, and also seemed to burn his skin and flow into his heart.
Shen Jize listened to his heartbreaking cries, his eyes were red, his chest rose up and was smothered. He didn’t want anything right now, he just wanted Lu Rong to stop crying… If he stopped, he would do anything, as long as Lu Rong didn’t cry. He cupped Lu Rong’s face and solemnly made the promise of a pre-teen.
“Rong Rong, I won’t leave you, I will never leave you.”