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Before departing, Han Lu bought a 15 bottle carton of Nescafe at a 7-11 on the roadside. She sipped on the cold coffee, and it freshened her up a great deal.
It was now was four in the morning, and Han Lu still seemed to be doing fine. After all, there was one too many times when urgent work needed to be dealt with overnight. Hence staying up late was not unfamiliar to her. Although she was aging, she had always maintained healthy habits, resulting in a figure way better than women way younger than her. It also meant she would have more time to figure out a way to save her life.
Soon, the three returned to Zhang Heng’s school, collecting the recurve bow, Lego bricks, and other gadgets before going to the agreed place. It was a small park outside the Fifth Ring Road. Considering it was close to a nearby community, it was a favorite exercising spot for elderly folk.
Han Lu parked the car outside the park.
“Uh, she doesn’t trust anyone,” said Fan Meinan. “So, I’ll go in alone and tell her about the situation. If everything is good, I’ll call you guys in.”
“There is no danger, right?”
“…how do I put it? She doesn’t like me that much, or should I say, she sneers at me whenever she sees me. But it’s alright. Rest assured, she won’t beat me up.” Fan Meinan took a deep breath, opened the door, and walked out of the car.
Now, only Zhang Heng and Han Lu were left in the Lexus.
Han Lu turned on the radio. “Any songs you want to listen to?”
“You choose,” Zhang Heng said. “Play whatever song that lifts your spirits.”
“Is this the privilege of a dying woman?” Han Lu shrugged as she took out her mobile phone, and connected it to the car’s stereo via Bluetooth. After rummaging through her playlist, she hesitated and sighed. “Forget it. I’m not in the mood for any songs.”
After that, neither of them spoke another word.
Han Lu broke the silence after a long while. “How does it feel to have a child?”
“Your mom and I are best friends. When we were studying abroad, I never got tired of sticking close to her. I thought I knew her well, including her habit of secretly picking out raisins from her cereal. However, I had never seen that expression on her face when she held the little you in her arms. Her eyes were shining, and she became so gentle.”
Han Lu paused…
“We also talked about marriage and having children… Little Xia told me she watched a documentary about a mother going into labor before, and she felt that childbirth hurt too much. At that time, she said she would never have children in the future. I told her if that was the case, then no one would marry her. She eveb said that if no men wanted her, she would live together with me. I would be the one who makes the money, and she would be the one to spend it.”
“That sure sounds like her,” chuckled Zhang Heng.
“Not too long after that, she found herself the right man and married him.” Han Lu tapped the steering wheel. “That traitor… she’d always been the one I was most jealous of. She lives like she’s deranged, takes all problems for granted, and shoves them to her people to bear instead. That said, that woman has a compelling intuition. She always makes the right choices at the most critical time. Whether it was marriage or having a child… it’s hard not to admire her. For once, I thought I finally won her over with my career taking-off, but she didn’t seem to care much about that sort of thing. That retard must probably think she is doing as well as me, but her monthly wages can’t even cover my hairdo.”
“You have done well,” Zhang Heng said. “It’s just that people are always reluctant to cherish what they already have, or once they get something else better, the value of whatever they used to have seemingly depreciates. Instead, your desire to obtain what you can’t get would only grow. Like getting married, or starting a career… these are just personal choices at different stages of life, and there are no good or bad in this matter. You’re simply enduring a very depressing phase. Your normal life will resume when this is all over.”
“Is it some illusion… or it sounds like advice from somebody much older than me.” Han Lu was about to elaborate but was stopped by Zhang Heng’s finger.
Han Lu fell shush. “What’s wrong?” she whispered after a while.
“She’s been gone for a long time.” Zhang Heng lowered the window. The park was eerily silent this late at night, and only the rustling of leaves could be heard echoing in the air.
“I thought we are supposed to wait for her signal?” asked Han Lu.
“Yes, but it might be better for us to do something in such a situation.”
Zhang Heng got out of the car and grabbed his recurve bow from the trunk. Taking a ski mask from the backpack, he then put over on his face. “Wait for me in the car and lock the door. Follow the old rules. Keep the engine running; ignore us, and drive away immediately if you notice something not right.”
Then, Zhang Heng turned around and walked into the park.
He strode quickly, but at the same time, paid close attention to his surroundings. To avoid any misunderstanding, he did not pull the bowstring.
It did not take long for him to reach the center of the park. There was nothing there. On the other side was an artificial pond with no water in it, and behind him was a wall. There was no place for anyone to hide. Suddenly, something alerted Zhang Heng, and he stopped in his tracks. He stretched his right hand to retrieve the quiver, but two hands suddenly grabbed his waist. The space in front of him started to distort, and several figures appeared from the dark. Fan Meinan’s mouth was covered, restrained by two people, while another one held her hands behind her.
The last person appeared right in front of Zhang Heng. After the surprise attack, the assailant was about to punch Zhang Heng’s groin.
Thankfully, Zhang Heng’s reactions were swift, and he managed to block the punch with his recurve bow. He moved his head back, hitting the nose of the attacker that was behind him. While the enemy suffered immense pain, Zhang Heng took the opportunity to free himself.
He took two steps to the right, looking at the four unfriendlies in front of him.
A person who was apparently their leader spoke up. “Very well, catch her accomplice as well. The three major guilds will definitely offer a good price for them.”
Zhang Heng raised his eyebrows. “Who are you?” he asked.
“You can call us the enthusiastic bunch. During this period, the players have worked very hard to look for this woman and her accomplices. I didn’t expect our luck to be so good.”
“I’m afraid that you have been misled into capturing the wrong person,” Zhang Heng replied.
“How is it possible? Her face may be devious, but this plasticine game item is definitely real.” The leader put his hand into his pocket and took out a piece of plasticine, smiling casually.
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