The sky was slowly getting darker.
Grandpa An lit a candle; the dim yellow light swayed along with the candle flame.
He then took his position beside the shroud sewing table and stood there for a long time. An Ning and I moved two small stools to the entrance of the shop and chatted.
Once in a while, Grandpa An would steal a few glances at us, as the sticky An Ning had gradually gotten closer and closer to me. Because of that, she would always get nagged at by her grandfather who would constantly remind her to keep her distance from me.
“Xiao Hua, the sky is no longer young. You should head back early.”
He waved his rule at me.
I had also thought that I should probably be heading home now. As then, I would be home in time for dinner and would not keep my parents waiting.
An Ning and I bid farewell to Grandpa An before going to the bus stop to wait for the bus. An Ning suddenly dragged me behind an advertisement board and hugged me. I was startled by her sudden actions.
“Xiao Hua! No matter what my grandpa says, I’ll never part from you!”
Her face was red. But fearing that the crimson bracelet on my wrist might harm her, I took a few steps back. My actions had not gone unnoticed by An Ning as she gave me a distressed look.
“I don’t care what that crimson bracelet on your wrist might do to me, because Ronghua, you’ve always been my friend and you know what? Don’t think too much.”
She smiled as she spoke. At this time, my eyes felt teary from the warmth in my heart.
To have such a great friend in times like this truly was great.
Once the bus had arrived, I boarded the bus and waved goodbye to her, before sitting on the seat near the rear end of the bus. A short while after boarding the bus, a buzzing sound was heard from my bag.
Picking up my phone, I checked the caller ID. It seemed that the owner of the cafe was trying to reach me. My body tensed up.
After all, in that cafe was where that unforgettable, and horrifying, event had happened.
My hands trembled as I picked up the call. Putting the phone near my ear, I heard the voice of a middle aged man through the phone.
“Hello? Am I speaking to Xiao Hua? I am Boss Zhang.”
“Boss, I’ve already quit working part-time at the cafe already. May I know why you’re calling?”
I was not sure if it was just me, but the voice I heard through the phone sounded low and hoarse, making me feel uncomfortable. Moreover, the signal seemed weak and a static noise could be heard through the phone.
“I’m at the cafe… but I forgot the key. Is the spare key still with you? Could I trouble you to head over to the cafe?”
The moment I heard what he had to say, I suddenly recalled that even though I had quit working at the cafe, I had not returned the spare key.
As all that was due to my negligence, without thinking too much, I hurriedly rummaged through my bag while apologizing to Boss Zhang.
“Boss, my bad. I’ll head over right now.”
“Okay…I’ll wait for you at the cafe.”
I raised my head and took a look at the map of the bus' route. For this bus to pass by the cafe, my luck sure was great.
I decided to alight near a small residential area as the distance from the small residential area to the cafe was too not far.
I had managed to find the key after rummaging through my bag and the moment I arrived at my stop, I decided to run as fast as I could to the cafe and hand the key over to my ex-boss.
The moment I got off the bus, I hurried past the small residential area and arrived at the cafe.
At the entrance, not a single person was there waiting for her.
Huh? Where had the boss gone? Hadn’t he said that he would be waiting for me at the entrance, so where had he gone to?
I headed towards the entrance of the cafe and pasted my face to the cafe’s glass door. The cafe lights should have still been switched on at this hour, so why was it all pitch black inside? Vaguely, I was able to see the cash counter that was near the entrance of the cafe.
I took out my phone and dialed the cafe’s boss.
“Hello! The number you have dial is out of service.”
I was dumbfounded. I went back to look at all the recent calls received in my phone and it had indeed been my boss who had called me. Ah, but why wasn't I able to get in contact with him? It hadn’t been more than ten minutes and his phone was already out of service?
I stared into the dark environment in the cafe as my heart felt a trace of fear. I do not really know why, but I somehow felt that something was amiss, especially with that phone call.
Suddenly, a shadowy figure flashed from the inside of the cafe. I got startled and retreated a few steps backwards. Cold beads of sweat trickled down my back.
That… that just now, what was it…
I gulped and called the cafe’s boss again, but like before the call did not go through. Enduring the strong discomfort, I glanced left and right. Since my boss was not in sight, I intended to get away from the cafe as fast as I could.
What did I know? The moment my head turned towards the row of glass windows and was about to run, I noticed that one of the windows was not blinded and that a bright light was illuminating out of it – no, the whole cafe was actually brightly lit all of a sudden.
But that was not the point. What made me really scared was what I saw through that unblinded window. A pale young man was sitting motionlessly inside the cafe. His neck was twisted at an unbelievable curvature, his head hung above his chest. His two dead pupil less white eyes were locked firmly on me.
Wasn’t that… wasn’t that Xiao Huan?
Both my legs trembled in fright. My brain was urging my body to quickly leave this place!
However, I was not given the chance to flee. From behind me, the supposedly locked door suddenly flung open as a strong force pulled me inside.