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Li He stared at Su Bai wrathfully. But Su Bai's sharp look was softening, even with a little timidity.
That was unusual for a psychopath.
And Su Bai's hand was shaking; his fingers seemed to be so weak that he couldn't pull the trigger at all.
At last, all his strength and energy seemed to be drained and he looked helpless.
However, just when he hit the bottom, he suddenly roared and...
[Hidden Main Task] Accomplished. Players returning to reality.
Award 1: Recover everything (including equipment and outfit brought into the story world) P.S.: only those exchanged from the e-shop.
Award 2: 300 Story Points.
Award 3: One chance to enter one former story world for three hours.
Qinhuangdao was a coastal city. But unlike coastal cities in Yangtze River Delta or Pear River Delta, Qinhuangdao was far behind in its economy and city construction. However, its natural scenery was kept almost untouched and had thus become a perfect choice for vacation.
It was night time, rather cold compared to the hot daytime with a salty, moist breeze. Su Bai walked along the beach in a thin coat by himself.
It was a residential zone with a small wharf, but it was nothing comparing to those busy docks near the estuary of Yangtze River. However, it was really tranquil.
Unlike those designated scenic spots, it was really rare and commendable to keep a quiet place in the city for the beach and the sea.
Besides Su Bai, there was a young mother with her little boy. The boy was busy digging out sand with a small plastic shovel and a bucket; the mother crouched down to help him, but she didn't realize that her clothes were pulled up, exposing her skin.
Luckily, Su Bai was the only one saw it and he was not in the right mood for a romantic encounter.
He had flown from Shanghai to Beijing and then took a CRH train to Qinhuangdao. It was a long trip, but didn't take much time, and he was not feeling tired at all due to his special physical condition.
He just looked beaten.
He was never a triumphant guy but also never a man of low spirit. It was really rare to see him so upset.
He crouched down on the beach, lit a cigarette and blew the smoke towards the sea. It suddenly occurred to him that there was a cliche "it's not a cigarette that I'm smoking, it's my loneliness".
Now he was feeling so lonely.
Seven was far behind schedule. He was wearing his yellow training clothes, looking rather elegant. He was only twenty seven or twenty eight years old; he only seemed to be lacking in youthful vigor because he always wore those kasayas.
Seven walked to Su Bai and said nothing.
Su Bai flickered his cigarette and sat on the beach. It was an artificial beach, and high buildings were only hundreds of meters away. but sometimes artificial enhancement could make natural scenery even better.
"Seven, I'm here to chat." Su Bai threw the b.u.t.t into the sea, ignoring the sign beside him that read "Do Not Litter".
"I know." Seven sat with him with his legs crossed.
"I used to… well, look down upon you."
Seven didn't reply to that.
"You're such a person full of cunning and craftiness, and you are always willing to set anyone up. Nothing's fun when you're involved." Su Bai stretched out his arms and put his hands in the sand. It was soft and warm. "I don't like that. Sometimes it's better to be simpler."
"I know. You've got violence deep down in your bones."
Su Bai nodded. "I'm sick, truly, I'm a psychopath. Honestly, if I wasn't found by the Dreadful Radio, in a few years I might have become a most-wanted criminal, then I may get caught and my trial's gonna be live broadcasted, or I may have to flee out of the country and end up in Africa or the Middle East."
Su Bai fell silent for a while. Then he told Seven exactly what happened in his last story world. When there was no interest involved, Seven was rather reliable. Besides, he seemed to be the only one Su Bai could talk to about his innermost thoughts and feelings. After all, they seemed to be on the same boat.
There were very few people in this world that Su Bai could count on.
It might seem to be nothing, but some days he woke up and felt so isolated as if the whole world had abandoned him. That was a horrible loneliness.
After Su Bai finished telling his story, Seven thought it over and said: "In my opinion, this story was quite attractive, and it showed Dreadful Radio Game's change after three months. I think I'm going to enter my next story world very soon. With your experience and feelings as reference, I'll be better prepared. I owe you one."
"F**k off! I didn't come here to offer you help. You're just a sc.u.mbag who betrays everyone else! And I don't want you to return the favor, you'd just set me up and even kill me, then stand before my tomb and say 'I owe you another one'."
Seven didn't mind Su Bai's taunt. In fact, Seven was pretty good at controlling his temper. Even when Su Bai turned the table over to protect that demon fox's baby, he just watched quietly, didn't curse or say anything bad.
In this aspect, be it Seven or Gyatso, or even Fatty, they were much better than Su Bai. They could still sit down, chat over meals and discuss about their next move after they stabbed each other in the back, but Su Bai couldn't. Sometimes his tolerance was really limited. Besides, he would go crazy from time to time, which was no good for teamwork.
"You fired eventually," Seven said slowly, "which means you do love yourself a bit more."
"Tell me about that." Su Bai grabbed a handful of sand and threw it out towards the sea.
"That's understandable. He's your friend, not your parent or family, and you don't owe him your life. Just a close friend since childhood, that's all.
"There's nothing wrong with saving your own life over his. I believe, if that was your parent or other close family member or someone who saved your life, you would rather die than shoot at him.
"Beside, it was not really him. Of course, that's not your point. I know your point is that you fired at a friend."
Su Bai clapped his hand but said nothing.
Seven continued, "Actually, it is necessary for us to cut off relations in the real world. Seriously, you've got some advantages in this way. Apologize if what I'm going to say makes you uncomfortable.
"Su Bai, your parents died when you were really young. Therefore you're more mature than others, and more freed from family relationships. You have no pressure for survival and no goal to fight for because you've got a lot of money. You've been on your own for more than ten years, almost twenty years since your parents died, and such a life has shaped you in many ways, including your character and mentality.
"In story worlds, there are many pa.s.ses testing audiences' mentality, so you should have more advantages than others.
"But now you're blaming yourself for that shot, thinking you betrayed one of your pathetically few friends. That's just a waste of time."
Seven stood up, patted on Su Bai's shoulder and said sadly, "Someday, you're be just like me. You'll finally become someone you used to hate.
"Because that's the kind of people Dreadful Radio really wants. Most of the people who are not have already died."
Then Seven put his palms together and chanted a mantra for inner peace for Su Bai.
Su Bai let go of his thoughts and let Seven influence his mentality. At last, he slowly closed his eyes and lay down on the beach.
Seven turned around and walked away. His business in Qinhuangdao was not over yet, and he had to finish it before his next story world began. To have spent so much time here with Su Bai and offered him a ma.s.sage on his mind, that was Seven returning the favor since it was Su Bai who took them back when they were almost disabled.
Su Bai didn't wake up until the next dawn. The morning sun was shining, warming him up from the chill after sleeping by the sea.
He took out his cellphone from his pocket and called Chu Zhao. It was picked up after a long while.
"Hey… Su Bai… Finally you're calling… Cough…"
Chu Zhao was drunk. Apparently, he had been drinking the whole night. Again.
"Don't drink so much. It's bad for your health." Su Bai said.
"c.r.a.p! Now you owe me an explanation, now… now…"
"I owe you nothing." Su Bai's eyes turned cold.
He only shot a ghost that looked exactly like Chu Zhao, but he couldn't deny that, at that very moment, he meant to shoot and kill Chu Zhao. Li He was acting weird; apparently Dreadful Radio had changed something.
For example, Li He might actually be saying "Su Bai, I'm Chu Zhao", but Su Bai might hear "Come on, fire at me".
And Su Bai knew it.
He hung up, feeling a little sad. After returning to the real world, he could reach out to Chu Zhao but failed to find Aroma. She seemed to have vanished from this world. Even the emba.s.sy and Chinese government didn't notice her disappearance.
He knew what that meant. It was a task after which the partic.i.p.ants were sent back to reality in batches. Now he could only pray that Aroma was just an experiencer and Dreadful Radio would not be hard on her as long as she could hang in there.
"d.a.m.n it! Hung up on me. Again!"
In the bedroom, Chu Zhao was lying among empty wine bottles. Out of rage, he threw his cellphone out. It fell onto the floor with a clash and the screen broke into pieces.
But the phone rang:
["Welcome to the Dreadful Radio. I am your host. I have no name because names have no significance here."]
"Sh*t… WTF…" Chu Zhao burped and yelled.