111 The Delusion of Dominance?
I kept looking around as we made our way to the laboratory. I was pretty sure I have never been here, or I might have forgotten all the times which I had been here. This place was absolutely foreign to me, and I did not have the slightest inkling of it. I did not even know there was such a laboratory in our school.
The hallway was rather eerie. All hallways that lead to medical laboratories or morgues always seem this eerie.
There was a tiny window in each laboratory door. I saw a myriad of sights through the windows as Gao Qi led me past those doors.
There was a stone head contained in one of those spaces, and sometimes specimens of various colors could be seen in the tall, white cabinets within. I also saw a diagram of the human body hanging on one of the walls.
Without pausing, Gao Qi kept walking past these tiny windows, leading me forward. I looked down at the back of his ankles; his pace was firm and steady. We were walking in tandem, and I was about to put a foot forward every time he stepped out. We kept going forward with this pace until we arrived at the end of the hallway.
"It's here." Gao Qi let go of my hand, pointing at the door in front. The door was painted red, and it looked like the color of dried blood.
I frowned slightly. Through the glass, nothing could be seen from the outside, and it looked as if the windows had been covered with newspaper on the inside.
I started to feel a little uneasy. I have always liked strange, mysterious, and dark places, even if I was a little afraid of them.
"Come on in." Like a gentleman, Gao Qi welcomed me in as he stood at the door. Looking at that smile of his, I walked in slowly.
It was almost evening now, and daylight was sparse in the room. There were a few desks placed horizontally across the room, and at the far corners on both sides were life-sized human figures. One of those figures had half of its brain exposed, and I felt slightly uncomfortable as I could see the entire structure of the brain hanging there.
I felt Gao Qi's breath as he moved closer.
"Ah Shen, want to take a look at my experimental subject?" I shivered as I heard that spellbinding voice.
Without waiting for my reply, he walked over to the first desk and took out a glass jar. I held my breath as he walked towards me with the jar.
"Look, this is the end point in life." Following his keen gaze, I saw the head of a cat, completely submerged in formalin, its eyes open. The cat did not look like it suffered much. The cut on its neck was clean and even, and each one of its whiskers could still be clearly seen.
"This…" I felt waves of stinging pain at the bottom of my throat, as if something was stuck in it.
"There's nothing to be afraid of. I know this might look frightening to some, but it was a sick cat. To this cat, death was equivalent to freedom.
"I didn't want to see its life end just like that, so I kept its final appearance in here." Gao Qi looked at the cat's head with warmth in his eyes, caressing the glass jar with his fingers.
"Gao Qi, you…" I was rooted to the ground, dumbstruck.
This was unbelievable. How could Gao Qi, such a warm and gentle individual, have such a hobby?
"Do you think I am dark?" He asked, smiling at me.
Subconsciously, I backed away from him.
The specimen of a cat's head should not have frightened me, considering the bloodshed and horror I have witnessed in the Split Zone. But I could not stay composed in this situation. This person was someone I loved, someone who would never do such a thing.
Gao Qi noticed me backing away. He put the glass jar back onto the desk and started making his way towards me.
"Ah Shen, I thought you were different from the rest. You understand me. This isn't cruelty, it's art. Ah Shen, are you frightened too? Are you going to leave me?" Sadness flashed past Gao Qi's gentle eyes.
I felt sympathetic to such solitude and sorrow, and quickly said, "No, that wasn't what I meant."
"Ah Shen, are you willing to stay with me until I uncover the true meaning of life?" The sky turned dark outside as Gao Qi came closer.
I felt his breath closing in. My breath was heavy and my heart started beating quickly.
Just when I was at a loss of what to do, a knocking sound was heard at the door.
"Oh…" I backed away in slight surprise, furthering the distance between Gao Qi and me.
Gao Qi looked rather angry as he heard the knock, as if someone had trespassed into his territory.
The door opened shortly after he asked, "Who is it?"
My jaw dropped as I turned my head towards our visitor.
It was Pomelo.
Why did she come here? She… Should I say she's like a spirit that's haunting me?
Pomelo's expression was cold and dark. It was different from that usual smiling demeanor of hers. She stared at Gao Qi, and her glance swept past the specimen of the cat's head within the glass jar on the desk.
"Ah Shen, what're you doing in such a scary place? Go back with me. It'll be dark soon, don't loiter outside. Have you forgotten about your illness? It might be triggered under certain circumstances."
Pomelo walked towards me quickly, pulling me behind her.
I felt a surge of anger. Pomelo was always like this, directing and controlling everything. She wanted to be in control of my life, whether I liked it or not.
She kept bringing up my illness, pretending to care about me while she actually hurt me.
She might have known that she was hurting me, but she would rather keep me by her side in this way so she would not need to share me with anybody else. I was just like a toy that she could trample on in any way, something belonging solely to her that nobody else could touch.
I wanted to say something in protest, but I realised I was not able to speak at all.
Was this because I had a different mindset now? Or was it because this represented what happened in the past, and it could not deviate from what happened originally?
I am now much braver than I was. I did not know how to resist previously, nor did I think that there would be any good in resisting - this was the reason why I was overwhelmed by Pomelo before.
"She's my girlfriend. What now, you want to be involved even in matters of the heart?" Gao Qi's voice sounded icy, and his lips turned into a creepy smile as he held Pomelo's stare.
I stared with wide eyes. This, this expression, this gaze, it was too much like Gaoqin Jiuye!
But that cannot be possible! I rubbed my eyes in a bid to see clearly. This is different from Gao Qi's gentle gaze, this gaze belonged only to Gaoqin Jiuye!
Why would Gaoqin Jiuye's expression appear on Gao Qi's face?!
What is happening?!
"Huh," Pomelo scoffed, "you'll need to be alive to be in love right? Gao Qi, do you think you can fool me after duping so many other girls? Don't even think about influencing Li Shen! The condition of her illness is worsening nowadays, you better stay away from her, or else, you can count on me telling others about your secrets!"
What did Pomelo mean by all this? Does this mean that Gao Qi was hiding something that? It did not seem like it was something decent either. Before I knew it, I already reacted in anger.
I swung Pomelo's arm away. "Pomelo, that's enough. Stop trying to meddle with everything. Can't you just leave me alone with Gao Qi? I'm begging you, I'm already being controlled by you in every way, what else do you want?"
I felt rather edgy. I did not intend to say this! Was this a fragment from my memory?!
The Li Shen of the past might have said something like this, but now, I would not.
Was it because I no longer liked Gao Qi as much as I did before…
There was no time to think about this, as I saw Pomelo's eyes fill with hurt and sorrow.
"Li Shen, you can't be together with him. He'll destroy you." Pomelo looked at me, while pointing at Gao Qi.
I tried to calmly analyze the situation before me, but Gao Qi started laughing.
"Can you have her forever?"
Pomelo argued, "I can't, and I won't let you do that either!"
I frowned. They were talking about me like an object!
Hmph, and in the end it was me who turned into a vegetable?
I no longer wanted to remain silent. Trying hard to free my voice, I spoke my mind, "I don't belong to either of you. Why compete over this?"
Both Gao Qi and Pomelo looked at me in surprise.
Pomelo previously grabbed my hand when she walked into the room, and I could feel her palms starting to sweat.
"She's about to be triggered…," she muttered, staring at me.