Edited by AlexPT and Planetes
It was late at night and there were fewer cars on the road. I stood by the sidewalk unsuccessfully trying to hail a cab but none would stop for me. Just as I was beginning to get anxious, two black Mercedes-Benz sped toward me. Thinking that those cars were heading toward the gated community, I stepped aside to let them through. Who could have guessed that those cars would pull up in front of me, or that men in black suits would alight from those vehicles.
“Mu Ran?” One of the men asked, expressionlessly.
Dread filled my heart. Sensing that the situation wouldn’t play out in my favor, I turned tail and tried to run. A few of the suited men surrounded me, blocking my escape route, while the one who had spoken earlier coldly said, “It’s him, take him away.”
“What are you doing?! I…” I turned around to look at the man who had just spoken, raising my voice in a question. Before I could finish, I felt a sharp pain in my neck and I passed out.
When I regained consciousness, I was back in my old apartment. The furniture and furnishings were so familiar; preserved almost exactly the way I had left them the last time. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was bound to a chair, I might have believed that my entire experience was just a dream.
Outside, the sky was already bright, and there wasn’t a soul in the house. I didn’t know who had brought me here, but I needed to go back to the hospital as soon as possible — my mother was still waiting for me.
My hands were bound behind my back and I struggled to get free, trying to get my hands out of my bindings. I didn’t know how long I struggled for; my head was clammy with sweat and my wrists were rubbed raw, but the ropes showed no signs of loosening. I panted and stopped moving. Seeing the afternoon sunlight slowly fading to dusk, I became more and more anxious.
“Is there anybody out there?” I struggled, wanting to move closer to the door so I could bang on it, but I was tied completely to the chair. The moment I tried to stand up, I crumpled and fell with a heavy thud onto the floor. The door suddenly swung open and a man wearing a black suit walked in, looked me over, and silently left.
“Wait! Don’t leave! Why are you keeping me here?!” The door slammed shut and the apartment was silent once again.
Because I was still tied to the chair, I had fallen on my side onto the floor, and it was even more difficult than before to move. Pressing my cheek against the floor, I crawled forward slowly. By the time I had reached the door, my whole body was soaked with sweat. My wrists were probably bleeding by then, and they throbbed with an intense pain.
“Let me out!” I yelled as I slammed my foot against the door.
There was no response. I continued to shout and kick the door, hoping someone would pass by and hear my pleas. Yet, even when I shouted until my throat was dry and aching, there was still no response.
I closed my eyes and pressed my face to the floor, despair filling my heart.
Just as I had resigned myself to being trapped in the apartment, the door swung open with a click. I looked up hurriedly and saw it was Lin Han.
Lin Han stared at me in astonishment, before he raised the corner of his mouth in a sympathetic smile. “Tsk, tsk. How pitiful.”
As I opened my mouth to speak, two people dragged me back to the center of the room once again. Lin Han walked in, casually saying, “take those ropes off of him.” The two men immediately released my bindings. When my hands were free again, I struggled to get up, ignoring my bleeding wrists and the pain in my body.
Lin Han walked over and kicked me viciously in the chest. I was in so much pain that I wanted to curl into a ball but the two men beside me held me down on both sides, immediately subduing me so I could no longer move. Lin Han squatted down, pinching my chin and forcing me to raise my head. His beautiful phoenix eyes glared at me fiercely as he said, “Mu Ran, oh Mu Ran, I’ve been waiting for this day.”
I knew how much Lin Han hated me — he’d loved Yi Tian for so many years, but at the end, he had to watch helplessly as I used underhanded means to snatch the one most important to him away. He had long hated me to the core. Even if Yi Tian was willing to forgive me, Lin Han would not. I knew I might not leave this place alive, but my mother was still in the hospital waiting for the money that would save her life. I couldn’t just die here, like this, so I looked at him and begged. “Lin Han, just let me deliver this money to the hospital. If you just wait until my mother’s surgery is complete, I’ll let you do whatever you want to me. Please, I’m begging you, just let me send the money over…”
Lin Han shot me a surprised look and then realisation dawned on him. “So you actually do have a mother…” He paused for a second, and then chuckled softly, “then I definitely can’t let you go.”
My eyes widened as I stared at him. In that instant, I hated him so much my body trembled with my emotions. He wiped any expression he had off of his face, stood up and motioned at the others. Immediately the two men next to me began landing kick after kick on my body. I hugged my head, curling up into a protective ball. After a few kicks, they realized I wasn’t sustaining any serious injuries, so the two of them dragged me off of the floor while Lin Han walked over and kicked me repeatedly — hitting my chest, and my abdomen.
I thought I would be beaten to death. I was slightly sad to realise that not only could I not choose the circumstances of my birth, now, I couldn’t even choose the way I was going to die. At this time, I suddenly felt resentment towards God — why did I have to die now? What would my mother do if I was dead? How much longer could she live without money to cure her illness? If I had known that things were going to end this way, I would rather have died all alone than die with so many regrets and so much sadness in my heart.
Suddenly, I was released. Without the two men supporting me, I fell to the ground. I covered my mouth coughing, and my mouth filled suddenly with a sickly sweet taste. Opening my mouth, I spat out a mouthful of blood. My entire body ached intensely, my mind was filled with an echoing buzzing noise and my vision was slightly blurred. Finally, I ran out of energy. The arm which had been supporting my body collapsed, and I fell to the ground.
It was then that I heard Lin Han say coldly, “Remove his clothes.”
My eyes widened when I realized what he was going to do. I struggled to crawl away, but someone behind me kicked me back down to the ground. Lin Han squatted down to look at me, his eyes flashing with an inexplicable excitement. “Aren’t you a slut? I have 5 people here, do you think that’s enough to satisfy you?”
I looked at Lin Han, shaking my head desperately, and my voice trembled when I spoke. “Don’t do this… don’t do this…”
Lin Han stood up. The two men beside him held on to me as they began to peel off my clothes.
I had never been so frightened before. Even earlier when I thought I was going to be beaten to death, I wasn’t this afraid. Until now, I had never allowed myself to experience happiness. I had worked so hard, but the funny thing was that in the end, all that hard work only resulted in misery. I could accept being punched or kicked, I could even accept death, but I could not allow Lin Han to trample on the last dredges of my self esteem.
So when the two men reached for me again, I used the last of my strength to struggle free, grabbing one of the mens’ hands and biting down viciously. The man cried out in pain, and the others standing around the room were struck dumb for a moment. I took advantage of the chaos to reach out and brutally punch my captor’s face before I rolled away, stumbling toward the dining table in the living room.
As I expected, I found a fruit knife in the fruit basket on top of the dining table. At that moment, I was filled with gratitude for my habit of placing a fruit knife there. I knew that although I wielded a knife, I still could not defeat all of them on my own. Lin Han didn’t just want me dead, he also wanted to use every method imaginable to torture and humiliate me. If I was recaptured, the only thing waiting for me was hell. So with no hesitation, I reached out and grabbed the handle of the knife. Gritting my teeth, I viciously stabbed the blade into my stomach.
At first, all I felt was an icy chill in my stomach. It was only later that I slowly began to feel numbness and pain. I supported myself on the table, before I slowly slid to the ground. Lin Han stared at me, eyes wide with disbelief. I smiled at him victoriously, “Even if I die… I won’t…let you… humiliate…” Anger swept his features, and just as he was about to come over, the door was kicked open with a thump.
I looked up. Yi Tian rushed into the room, followed by a few men.
Lin Han hurried to Yi Tian, pulling at his arm as he desperately explained, “Yi Tian, I couldn’t let this bastard continue to blackmail you…So, once he dies… once he dies, everything will be okay again…”
Yi Tian didn’t speak. He just stood at the doorway, staring at me blankly, his face full of disbelief.
Blood leaked continuously out of the wound, I covered the wound and struggled to stand, supporting myself on the table and the sofa the entire way. I left bloody imprints on each piece of furniture as I stumbled toward Yi Tian’s side. Once I reached him, my legs could no longer support me and I fell to the ground.
“Mu Ran!” Yi Tian caught me in a hug, his voice filled with panic.
I gasped desperately. With a shaking hand, I pulled out the check from my pocket and held it out to him. As I opened my mouth to speak, I choked on a mouthful of blood. I swallowed, forcing down the blood rising in my throat and begged, “Yi Tian… please… please… save…my mother…”
After I spoke, the pain overtook me. Without hearing Yi Tian’s response, I passed out.