After returning home, I went straight to bed. My hand involuntarily stroked the crimson bracelet on my wrist.
This bracelet is not mine. But what I do know was that this crimson bracelet was only on my wrist during that night’s offering before my parents rescued me.
Thinking back at the dream I had on the plane, and this piece of jewelry that appeared out of thin air, my heart was in turmoil.
I immediately took the crimson bracelet off and threw it out the window with all my strength!
If I discard it, the nightmares that harassed me would disappear forever; I’m sure.
The plane landed in the morning, and in the afternoon, I quickly returned to the cafe I worked part-time at. The summer holiday was both long and warm. The city was like a huge steam basket that was evaporating the fluids of its citizens. I do not really know why but I had this uncomfortable feeling that someone was stalking me, and its line of sight was locked on me.
The sidewalks were bustling with people from all walks of life. I looked around but found no one strange.
I walked past the residential area and to the cafe. A street sweeper, auntie who had always been sweeping the road assigned to her, waved to me, “Xiaohua… you’re here…”
Her voice was hoarse, as if a thorn was stuck in her throat. Though she spoke, the voice that came out seemed to be broken.
I felt a little strange. I’ve been working in the cafe for quite some time now and I've never spoke to that auntie before. But today, she greeted me and even called me Xiaohua?
Regardless, a greeting from an elderly was still a greeting. I greeted back politely.
But are my eyes playing tricks on me or is it just me? The street sweeper had her head lowered. Her face slanted slightly at my direction, and both of her eyes seemed crooked. From where I stood, I could only see the white of her eyes.
On her face hung an eerie smile.
My heartbeat accelerated. I patted my cheeks as I tried to calm myself down; I tried not to think too much about it.
I rushed into the cafe early. Pushing the door open, I slowly entered the familiar cafe.
It was quiet…
A place where melodious music would always be played, was actually very silent today.
What gave me the chills were the customers who were occupying the tables. They were neither drinking their beverages nor chatting. Instead, when they saw me enter, their eyes stared and followed me as I walked. That just gave me goosebumps.
I headed to the staff area quickly. At that moment, the other worker, Xiao Huan who works the same shift as me, pushed the door opened and exited from the staff room. I wanted to greet him but stopped upon seeing the strange expression on his face.
He didn't have the warm smile he always had before. The thought of the street sweeper’s expression made my heart jump. I quickly greeted him as I entered the staff room to put on my uniform.
As I rummaged through my bag, I saw a familiar crimson bracelet in one of the layers in my bag. My heart jumped and cold sweat formed along with heavy breathing.
Xiao Huan who had just left the staff area suddenly stretched his head back through the narrow gap between the doors. His mouth grinned heavily from ear to ear with a strange curve, displaying a ghastly smile.
"Hēihēihēi……hēihēi hēi hēi……"
Seeing that ghastly smile on his face, the hair on my body stood and my heartbeat became stronger. I yelled at him at the top of my voice, “Get out! I want to change my clothes! No peeking!”
No matter how many times my mother told me that there is no such things as ghosts in this world and to believe in science, it was hard to apply ever since I lost my chastity in that bridal offering.
She tried to reason that someone must have sneaked into the little black hut and tainted me. Whatever it may be, there was definitely no such person called Hades. But as for me, I remembered the event like it was yesterday.
Even to today, I could not forget that cold sensation that swept through my body; the things it did to me against my will; and the air that it breathed out that felt lifeless and cold.
Returning my sight to Xiao Huan who did not retract his head and was still laughing hysterically at me, my blood boiled and I treaded towards him with the thought of giving him a piece of my mind. I never imagined that his body would suddenly fall forward onto the floor. His neck was already twisted to an extent that it seemed he had lost his vitality long before this.
His body was cold but on his face still hung a creepy expression.
All of a sudden, his head began to sway violently from left to right. The hoarse gurgle could be heard coming from his mouth.
Everything happened so quickly. I was scared stiff. I had wanted to run home as fast as my feet could carry me but reality struck; my legs would not listen to me and was stuck firmly onto the ground, as if something was grabbing my feet tightly.
The chills rose from the soles of my feet straight up to the tip of my head. Only God knows what expression I had on my ashened face.