Taking off the bag on his head, Chen Shi found himself in a building where all the windows were closed and the outside could not be seen.
It seemed like they were standing in the reception area of a company. There was a female employee standing at the front desk and the thin man was bent down registering at the table. The man with the big gold chain looked at everyone with contempt and everyone was too nervous to move.
"You, come with me!" The thin man picked a man who followed him into the hallway. The others stood there waiting.
Half an hour later, the man came out. He had a thick file in his hand, but his expression was very complicated. The thin man poked his head out of the corridor and pointed to Chen Shi. "You, come in!"
The long corridor was narrow and covered in multiple colors. The doors on both sides were locked. There was a woman’s laughter coming from behind a certain door. Chen Shi asked, "What is the name of this big brother?"
The thin man ignored him.
When they got to one particular door, the thin man halted and asked, "Did you bring your ID?"
"I definitely did."
Pushing the door in, an office could be seen. The entrance had a rest area with a sofa, a coffee table, and a potted plant. Further in was the office area. A man wearing a suit, tie, and gold-rimmed glasses sat behind the desk and nodded at Chen Shi to sit down.
"Give me your ID."
Chen Shi took out his ID and the man in the suit searched for him in the system. Chen Shi was a bit surprised. This was a software similar to the police household registration system which could check the ID and the records with it.
The ID naturally had no problems with it. The man in the suit turned his chair around again. "Let's get to the point. How much do you want?”
"Of course, the more the better."
"I still need a number."
"I owe a lot of gambling debts. At least 10 million."
The man in the suit smiled and shook his head. "Ordinary injury and disability insurance can't get this amount unless it’s life insurance. Do you have a trustworthy beneficiary?"
"Are you asking me to die? If I’m dead, what debt would I still have?"
"If you really need 10 million, I have another service here, but I don’t really recommend it. You can find people to buy life insurance and the beneficiary must be yourself. Then, we can operate.”
"Can I get 10 million?"
“It’s difficult. The amount is too high. The insurance company will underwrite it and check it, so we need to repackage your identity along with the person the policy covers. The effective period is two years.”
"I can't wait!"
"It seems that cooperation is not going to happen. Then, we can only try again next time.” The man in the suit stretched out a hand prepared to shake hands to say goodbye.
"Actually, I have another purpose."
The hand was retracted, crossed with the other hand, and placed on his lap. The man in the suit listened.
"I want to join your group."
"For the sake of money! No matter what kind of insurance you buy, it’s a transaction. I can’t earn 10 million in the short term, and I also don’t want to be disabled for the rest of my life. If I join you guys, I’ll be able to earn this money easily.”
"Sorry, we are not lacking people."
"You are lacking! Very lacking!"
"Why do you say that?"
"I noticed that the accents of these 'volunteers' are all from Lujiaji and Shangmazhuang. There are dozens of counties and hundreds of villages around Long'An. It seems that your market expansion isn’t too good."
"Do you think this is a sales job? This line of work is not about the market. There are only a dozen insurance companies here. If you claim from one, you have to change companies. The insurance companies that can do these have already been used up."
“For those who sell their eyes or their hands, one earns more than 200,000 yuan? If your customer base was bigger, you could find more quality orders and do the big ones you just talked about.”
"I don't usually do that. I can only do it with 100% trustworthy people. This requires careful screening.”
"Yes, so you lack people."
The man in the suit raised his eyebrows and revealed an expression of interest towards him. He touched his chin with his finger and smiled, "You wouldn’t be a policeman, right?"
"Do I look like one?"
"Mr. Chen, I have been doing this for a long time. For me to be able to do it for so long, I relied on two magic weapons. Vigilance and patience. Although you are talking about the sky, I can't believe you immediately."
"I hope that you can give me this opportunity. I really need the money. I also think about living the good life where I can play with women all the time and spend bills casually. I fucking saw through it. How much is conscience worth? You can only live a good life without it.”
"I appreciate your thoughts, so let's talk later. There are still many fellows waiting outside."
"Where should I wait?"
"Someone in the corridor will take you."
Chen Shi reached out to shake his hand and asked, "I haven't asked what I should call you?"
"My surname is Yang."
The thin man was not in the corridor. This time the muscle came over. Chen Shi went to him and said, "Mr. Yang called me..."
The brawny pointed at himself with his thumb and widened his eyes. "My name is King Kong!"
"Hello, my name is Chen Shi. Where are we going?"
The brawny one pointed to himself again. "My name is King Kong!"
“Do you like to smashing things on the top of a skyscraper?”
"My name is King Kong!"
"Yes, I know that you’re King Kong. Where are we going?"
King Kong turned and led Chen Shi away. The building was more complicated than he imagined. After a few turns, they came to another door. King Kong opened the door with a keychain and pushed Chen Shi in by the shoulder. Compared to his ginormous hand, Chen Shi’s shoulder was like a stick.
Chen Shi staggered into the room of less than 20 square meters. There was only one sink, a flush toilet, a mouldy bed placed on the ground, and a shelf with magazines. The room smelled of pungent urine and amine water.
When Chen Shi turned back, he noticed that the corner of the room had a CCTV monitor installed. He questioned King Kong outside the door, "Hey, what is this supposed to mean? House arrest?"
"My name is King Kong!"
The door slammed shut. Chen Shi rushed to the door and banged on it. "Voice repeater, let me go!"
Chen Shi couldn't help but sit down on the bed. The bed was not only moldy, but also wet, which made him feel sick. He took out his mobile phone and saw that there was no signal and no network.
He picked up the magazines on the shelves. They turned out to be brochures from that company which had no reading value.
The illustration on one page was a picture of an office lady. Her smiling face was covered by a suspicious white coagulum. Chen Shi studied it closely. It should be semen...
Yes, there must have been other people here previously!
On the wall, you could see a row of tallies carved out by nails. After engraving 20 “zheng” characters, there were frantic nail scratches on the wall. The corner of the other wall had some dark red splatters which seemed to be blood.
When he thought about the fate of the last man who was locked up in this room, he also felt panic for his fate...
3. In English, we use tallies to represent sets of five, but in Chinese, their tallies are five strokes making up this character. See “usage notes” from the link https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E6%AD%A3