The Beginning – Eve: Coldness
That winter night, the seventeen-years-old Xiao Li was on his way back home.
He only had one shoe on his foot and one sleeve was missing from his down jacket. With the back having been torn by a sharp weapon, the feathers fell from the opening from time to time. However, he staggered and walked slowly as if he did not feel cold at all.
In the dusky street light, he stepped on the frozen hard snow, but his knees gave way and he slipped down—suddenly feeling dizzy.
He took a few deep breaths and once he felt the dizziness lessened, he opened his eyes only to see the dark marks on his sleeves in the dim light.
That was blood.
He closed his eyes and stood up. The road seemed to shake as Xiao Li walked with caution, and after what seemed like forever, he finally arrived home.
He leaned against the wall by the door and gasped heavily as his foot rested at the foot of the wall. The color of the snow looked clean and soft. He bent over, grabbed a handful and used it to clean the blood on his hand first and then grabbed more to wipe his face.
Since his fingers were still a bit stiff, it was not easy to take the key that was attached from his belt to open the door. Every time he tried to insert the key, it would not meet the keyhole. A task that normally took seconds, took him ten minutes to accomplish before he entered the small courtyard.
The light in Xiao Yang’s room was lit and he was probably working on an assignment. Xiao Li did his utmost to close the door with the intention of quietly returning to his own room. But somehow, he tripped and bumped into Xiao Yang’s bicycle that was parked in the yard. Consequently, the bicycle fell down and knocked into something, creating sounds similar to when ping-pong balls struck the table.
Soon, the entrance light flashed on and Xiao Yang pushed the door open and rushed out. Since he only had on a wool sweater, he stood under the light and hugged his arms looking as though he was afraid of the cold. He stared at him in anger and shouted: “You broke my flower pot!”
Xiao Li wanted to get up, pick up his bicycle or look at his shitty flower pot, but he could not move; he could not stand either. He sat on the ground and looked at Xiao Yang, “Help me up.”
Xiao Yang pouted as his brows pulled together tightly. He looked down on him with arrogance and a bit of anger before he cautiously examined Xiao Li as if he was determining whether Xiao Li had drunk too much or was injured.
There was a burst of noise akin to a buzz swarming Xiao Li’s head, and the uncomfortable feeling made him want to vomit. He glowered at Xiao Yang: “Fucking help me up!”
Hearing that, both of Xiao Yang’s hand clenched into tight fists. “Why the hell are you acting all tough at home? If you have the strength to curse me, then you must have the strength to stand up yourself!” With that, he turned around and went back inside; that was followed by a firm slam of a door.
The rough slam caused the tinnitus in Xiao Li’s ears to increase. He sat on the ground for quite a long time; his body began to feel numb, but the noise seemed to have lessened.
He mustered what strength he could find, slowly got off the ground and staggered to open the door. Once he was inside, he went to his room, and without closing the door or turning the lights on, he sat on the bed, pulled the quilt over and wrapped it around him without changing.
When all was said and done, the house was warmer than the outside, not to mention the quilt that wrapped around him. After a while, his body warmed up and the place where he was beaten began to hurt; only the foot that had lost the shoe remained unconscious.
He wanted to call Xiao Yang over and ask him to give him a pot of hot water, but in the end, he never opened his mouth.
Surrounded by silence, the light in Xiao Yang’s room emerged from the window above the door—the reflection that shined on the ground was rectangular in shape and grayish-yellow in color.
Xiao Li stared at the corner of the rectangle—the inside of his brain seemed rigid, and there seemed to quite a lot of things running around.
He recalled his mother’s tombstone which was also a rectangle. The white marble was as white as snow, and it was paid for with the money sent by the gang. Money, yeah, money was also rectangular. The first stack of money that he received was six hundred yuan (about $88), just enough to pay for a course that Xiao Yang had to retake. There was also the account book; after Rong Ge patted his shoulder and praised his strong fists hard, he received a rectangular account book.
The bricks were also rectangular—one block after another of rectangular bricks stacked together to form a road in the alley. He ran on that road. There were stalls on both sides of the alley during the day, but now, not even one was there. Only the tarpaulin raised atop the wall of the stalls had yet to be confiscated. These shacks covered the alley, making it seem as if he was running in a cave.
Someone was chasing from behind and there were noises up ahead as someone came over to block him.
He heard the sound of the iron rod dragging on the ground, and the machete illuminating in the light that leaked through the gap of the tarpaulin stalls.
He bit his teeth, groped around in a stall that he did not know and grabbed a wooden stick. It could have been a wooden board or a rolling pin…
The strength of the person that held the iron bar was tremendous, but the one that struck the hardest came from the shortest person. When his punch flew over, Xiao Li felt like he was hit by a piece of iron…
There was also that machete; when it was cut down, it brought along the sound of the wind. In order to snatch that weapon, he had even resorted to biting. What a scoundrel…
The lights in Xiao Yang’s room was finally off, and even the last bit of brightness disappeared.
Xiao Li pulled his legs on the bed and curled up in this silent darkness. He was still cold, and his body was in pain, but what made him unable to sleep was not the frigid cold or the searing pain.
His dizziness was better; however, the uncomfortable feeling did not fade away. He felt like vomiting, but as he lied at the edge of the bed, nothing came out.
He could only wrap tightly himself up with a quilt and imagine that it was his mother’s arms. His mother was not dead. She did not know what happened, but once she saw him like this, she would be extremely worried—she would come over and hug him, and immediately ask about what had happened.
But how can he tell her?
He just killed someone.
He was blocked by five people. He was very cold. He did not know the proper action to take. He snatched that machete.
He killed someone.
Xiao Li began to tremble even though the quilt was wrapped very tightly. The scent…the bloody scent that was not washed clean by the snow still lingered in the air, making him want to vomit again.
He did not know whether or not he would be caught. Rong Ge was very powerful. Rong Ge could always settle these matters for his subordinates, but what if it was different this time around?
Even if Rong Ge settled it, what will happen to him in the future? Will he still encounter the same thing, will he still have to kill?
He stared into the black void—desperately missing his dear mother.
When the day rapidly brightened, he finally cried in silence. The tears in his eyes were scalding hot but as it dripped down and landed on his arm, it was actually cool.
In the extra chapter 82 part 9, the scene where Xiao Li was blocked in the alley by five men was also mentioned.