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I observed the big fellow through the peephole. Without his coat on, he looked like an average individual. Well, that was if an average individual owned a gun and creepily stood guard on innocent people's doors.
I was living in an area with common citizens, and my neighbors were all from the Three Religions and Nine Schools.
I wondered if someone would send for help after seeing these strange foreigners.
I looked away from the peephole and whispered to the lady, "He's guarding the door. Call the police, quick."
She took her phone out, pressed a few keys, but then suddenly stopped.
"Did they take your card out? It's fine, I have my phone," I told her, taking my phone out from my pocket.
"It's not that. Aren't you afraid that they will charge in and kill us when they hear the police sirens?" she asked.
I hadn't considered that.
I walked toward my only window. I lived on the fifth floor but there were always ways to get out of the block.
However, when I looked down, I saw another man standing in the alley.
He was quite tall but I couldn't see his face clearly. He was casually dressed and had pale skin.
It was obvious that he was one of the guards that the old man had put on us to prevent us from escaping.
I turned to look at the lady. "This area's sealed off too. Any ideas?"
She only stared at her phone blankly.
I walked over and patted her shoulder. She jumped up as if she just realized that I was here.
"Any ideas?" I repeated.
"How about we just act according to their wishes and escape when there's a chance?" she suggested faintly.
I nodded and looked over at the manual given by the old man.
The unremarkable looking book had two Chinese words on it: Brilliant Silver.
Surprisingly, the content inside was in Chinese as well.
I flipped open the first page.
The words were simple and all about Luciferian teachings.
I browsed through the content, which was mostly rea.s.suring the reader that it was a harmless society.
Self-worshipping, the self is the G.o.d...
But I gradually discovered strange things, like how the seventh chapter talked about strategies to break into the China market.
It was circled in red ink and I figured that was a must-read.
I quickly flipped to that chapter and was utterly shocked by what it talked about.
There was a whole list of brainwashing techniques that apparently were effective overseas but completely failed in China.
They had even invented a game with a t.i.tle of a particular large ocean creature, but China did not fall for it.
And it all originated from a chat group. I looked at the chat group on my monitor not far away and finally understood why I became their target - the keyboard warriors.
A chat group with 26,000 members would create a much bigger impact than any of the strange methods they had been employing.
I noticed that a few pages were folded at their corners and immediately flipped to those.
There was a line written at the top of a page with red ink: Acquire or a.s.similate into local religious groups and reform from within.
I thought about my current situation, opened the suitcase and examined every roll of banknotes.
The lady asked, "Real money?"
A roll contained about a hundred banknotes and there were over a hundred rolls in total. I nodded. "Probably. I think there's a million in here."
"The money's yours already but I'm afraid you might not live to spend it," she said.
"Their goal is for me to spread their beliefs," I responded.
"So you're going to do as they say?" she asked.
"You'll try to preach?"
"Yeah. Not sure if I'm capable enough to do so, though," I answered helplessly and sat in front of my desktop.
She moved over to me and asked, "What are you planning to do now?"
"Didn't they say that they'll cover all expenses?" I smiled.
"They did say that."
"I thought of a good idea. Tell him I need a bank card with a hundred thousand," I said.
She paused for a moment before leaving the room to relay the message.
The big fellow made a call while another walked in to hand a black card over to me.
After a short conversation with the lady, the fellow left.
She shut the door and hurried to my side. "Done."
I linked the card to my mobile before writing down valuable phrases from the book and also information from the web.
Bullsh*t phrases like, 'Luciferianism is the real me'.
I tried to a.s.sociate the teachings to the fictional world of games and comics by saying that revenge must be taken, but no innocent must be harmed and that we were our own masters.
I opened all 13 chatgroups with 2,000 partic.i.p.ants each and carelessly gave away 51 red packets to them.
The first reaction I got was them asking if my account had been hacked or if I'd struck the lottery.
I simply said that I had made some money and was very happy. I did not slow down my gifting speed.
The gifts lasted for half an hour and tens of thousands of dollars had already been distributed.
The partic.i.p.ants started messaging me privately about my outburst.
Frightened, I blocked my private inbox and only left the chat groups open.
The members got increasingly hyped up and were discussing what might have happened to me.
It was during this chaotic moment that I made a move.
I sent a ma.s.s message: I have been enlightened and have won a huge prize. I'll continue sending money tomorrow. Wait for it.
All sorts of guesses flooded the chatrooms.
Again, it was time for me to send the information I have prepared.
People started questioning what Luciferianism was about.
Without answering, I started giving away money again.
I leaned back in my chair, and the lady asked, "Will this really work?"
I shook my head. "I'm not sure, but I believe that the word 'Luciferianism' will start trending in China within the next few days."
She continued, "So far you've used less than 100,000. You think it's enough?"
"Get those big fellows to get us food. We'll wait until tomorrow and see," I replied indifferently.
After the meal, I went straight to bed.
I laid a comforter on the floor and offered my bed to her.
She seemed unsatisfied with my bed, but since she had no other choice, she made do.
I didn't fall asleep until the very early morning.
I had been thinking a lot.
About how I, who had been flaming people online, had become a group master and a member of a cult.
I woke up in the afternoon and noticed that my mobile had been spammed with calls from the other coordinators.
I gave one of them a call and he informed me that practically all of them had created a separate chat group.
'Luciferianism' really did spread across the whole Internet.
I opened all 13 chats and started sending money again.
The group chat was exceptionally noisy and many had already changed their names.
Some even repeated the lines I had sent about Luciferianism.
With a bitter smile, I continued sending red packets until my hands went numb.
This was when I noticed that the lady had gone missing.
I looked over at the suitcase, but the money was still all there.
Did she escape? How?
Just as I was about to ask a guard, she walked out of the bathroom wearing one of my T-shirts.
"You were showering?" I asked.
"No, I already showered this morning. I was just using the toilet. Oh, and um, I hope you don't mind me borrowing your shirt."
I waved a hand dismissively. "We're a success. Luciferianism has gained a small group of supporters."
I opened Weibo and keyed the word into the search engine.
It wasn't trending yet, but there were already hundreds of thousands of news about it.
There were a few types of discussions.
Some believed that Luciferianism could bring good luck.
Some were already claiming to be pious believers.
Some were criticizing its sudden popularity and discussing its origin.
Others were just flaming one another. A majority of these people were merely keyboard warriors, of course.
They attacked with extraordinary powers, dragging fathers, mothers, and ancestors in.
I was baffled by these ongoing discussions but my method was clearly working.
The lady picked my phone up.
"Why don't you use your own?"
She looked startled by my question and it took her a few beats before she replied, "I ran out of battery and I don't have my charger with me."
I returned to my seat. "I think a few more days will do."
She handed me my phone and I picked hers up.
"Should we get them to buy you a charger?"
She nodded and walked out.
Her phone suddenly lit up in my hand, and I caught a glimpse of a message written in English.
She stood rooted to the spot for two seconds before I spoke up, "Not out of battery?"
She retreated a few steps and stuttered, "About to run out."
"But I'm pretty sure you said your phone wasn't on?" I questioned, slowly getting off the chair.
She took something from her waist pocket, came straight at me, and stabbed it into my arm.
It all happened so fast I wasn't even sure what went on.
I staggered a few steps back, pulling out the tube-like thing sticking out of my arm. It was too late. Whatever it contained had already been injected into my body.
"What... what have you done?" I yelled at her.
She shook her head. "They made me do it. This phone isn't mine."
My knees gave way but I could still control my upper body.
I saw her opening the door and a few big fellows pushed the old man into the room shortly after.
She reported, "I've followed your orders. You'll spare me, right?"
The old man paused briefly before replying, in Chinese, "I'll forgive you, don't worry."
She was astonished. "You can speak Chinese?"
Again, using his somewhat shaky Chinese, he responded, "I've been here for over 40 years so it's only natural."
She added nervously, "There are 13 group chats on his computer, just continue spreading the teachings and distributing money. It will work."
"Did you get his pa.s.sword?" the old man coughed.
"Pa.s.sword? You didn't tell me anything about getting his pa.s.sword. Anyways, you could get that yourself, his computer is right there," she continued.
"Get rid of her and launch Project Brilliant Silver," the old man ordered.
The lady started crying for help but was forced into silence by one of the guards.
I saw him twist her neck with a quick motion before she dropped to the ground, lifeless.
I was completely helpless as I sat there, paralyzed on my chair, with no strength to speak or even blink my eyes.
The old man came over to me and shook my hand. He coughed out, "Mister Luqiao, I only have a rough understanding of your teaching methods but they are really effective. Thank you for letting us into China."
He's been in China for over 40 years? And he could understand Chinese?
I looked at him in shock. It all made sense since the manual was in Chinese, too.
He stood up with much effort and I was dragged by his goons onto his wheelchair.
The old man moved over to my seat and started operating my computer.
I was being taken care of in a nursing home for half a year.
I couldn't move or talk.
All I could manage were groans.
The nurses simply couldn't understand what I was trying to say.
One day, the old man came to visit.
He brought along a brand new wheelchair with all sorts of b.u.t.tons.
The big fellows he always had with him moved me onto that chair and before I knew it, I was being pushed into a s.p.a.cious auditorium nearby.
The auditorium was filled with people who were dressed in black robes.
The old man walked onto the stage and smiled. "Let us welcome the man who had direct contact with Sir Lucifer himself, Mister Brilliant Silver. Although he's paralyzed, his thoughts are almost perfectly in line with Sir Lucifer. There's a translation device to help us communicate with him. His speech will be amplified by the loudspeaker on the wheelchair. He will continue to spread Luciferianism."
I was led to the center of the stage.
I tried as hard as I could to shake my head. I wanted to scream. The audience was being fooled.
Unfortunately, I could only groan and move my eyelids non-stop.
The loudspeaker was activated.
"Good evening, everyone. I'm Sir Lucifer's emissary. While I'm unable to move, please believe that I will lead all of you to the one and only truth and miracle."