Li Mazi screeched then fell to the ground. He rolled in pain while holding his hand.
I finally heaved a sigh of relief. He was back to normal…
Then, the door of the antique shop was pushed open. The old beggar and his wife rushed in. After seeing the horrible situation, they screamed then looked at me bewilderedly.
I was annoyed. “What are you looking at? Hurry, come and help me!”
They finally reacted and tried to control the fat man. “What happened?”
“The thing inside that ring is really fierce. I can’t deal with it. The people here are all hurt. Hurry, take them to the hospital.” Then, I lifted Er Kui, supported Li Mazi and got in the car.
Then, I asked the beggar to stay in the shop and watch over the fat man. He was scared but agreed to do it.
When we arrived at the hospital, Er Kui was awake. As soon as he saw that his fingers were gone, he screamed and shouted like crazy.
The doctor had to inject sedatives in him to help calm him down. Eventually, they took him to the operating room.
Li Mazi’s injury was not really that bad. After he got several stitches, he was alright.
I felt bleak and sat on the bench. It was a hard blow to take!
I never imagined that my careful preparations would only result in a devastating ending.
What’s hiding in that jade thumb ring? How could it be so fierce?
After thinking about this, I felt restless. I had left the beggar and his wife to take care of the fat man in the shop. Would something dangerous happen to them? What if someone died? How would I face their family then?
The more I thought about it, the more anxious I became. I made up my mind and returned to the shop shortly after.
I originally wanted Li Mazi to stay at the hospital for one night. No matter what, he should recover from the injury before he was discharged. However, Li Mazi couldn’t ease his mind. As he was worried about me, he insisted on returning to the shop with me.
Sure enough, when we returned to my antique shop, we discovered that something had happened!
The lights in the antique shop were still on, but the shop was deadly silent. There was no commotion or sound. I stood outside the shop and looked around. The beggar and his wife were nowhere to be seen.
It was very strange. Where were they?
Obviously, since his fat son was unstable, the beggar couldn’t just leave.
I had a bad premonition. I stood at the door and said, “Sir, are you in there?”
There was nothing but dead silence.
I glanced at Li Mazi. Li Mazi was also scared and said, “Did the old couple go to the hospital to look for us?”
“That fat guy could turn crazy at any moment. Do you think they could go to the hospital?”
“What if they took a taxi?” Li Mazi insisted. “I think we should get back to the hospital!”
“No.” I immediately rejected his proposal. “What if the old beggar encountered some danger? I can’t just stand around and watch them die!”
I took a deep breath then took out the key to open my shop.
The moment the door clicked open, I was frightened and shuddered. My back was damp with sweat.
The shop was empty. The family of three were nowhere to be seen. I looked at the middle of the room, where the tea table was. I had left the jade thumb room on the tea table. The entire table was now covered with some thick, slimy liquid which looked really disgusting.
That liquid substance seemed erosive as it had eroded many small holes on the glass surface and the plastic parts of the table.
Is that slimy thing sulfuric acid?
However, the faint smell of rotten fish in the room suggested that it wasn’t sulfuric acid.
I carefully took a bucket of water and started to clean the slimy liquid on the table. It was similar to snot, which made it difficult to clean it thoroughly.
What is this blasted slime? Why it is in my shop in the first place?
Where did the beggar’s family go? Were they… dissolved by this horrible slime?
This thought made my scalp numb in fear! Then I remembered Er Kui, who was still in the operating room at the hospital. This was terrible, he could be in danger too!
After considering this possibility, my face paled. I told Li Mazi to wait at the shop then rushed to the hospital.
Fortunately, a doctor at the hospital told me that Er Kui was undergoing treatment in the Intensive Care Unit. He had non-life threatening wounds, which they had controlled.
I exhaled a sigh of relief and decided to go home and investigate on the slime.
However, a panic-stricken nurse ran to us from the Intensive Care Unit. She stuttered and told us that the patient who had lost his fingers had disappeared.
What? A grown-up man, in broad daylight, has disappeared from the Intensive Care Unit?
I was taken aback and asked the nurse to take me to the Intensive Care Unit to see.
Indeed, Er Kui’s bed was empty.
“What’s going on with this hospital? My friend just disappeared right in front of so many people? How do you treat the patients here?” I was infuriated and poured my anger out on the doctor.
The doctor and the young nurse couldn’t explain the situation. No matter what, the Intensive Care Unit was completely isolated from the other wards and there was no window. The entrance was a steel door that required the staff to swipe their ID card to enter.
I asked them to quickly find the patient. Feeling mentally and physically exhausted, I returned to my antique shop.
When I entered the shop, Li Mazi walked forward to welcome me. Seeing his shocked face, I knew something had happened!
“Little Brother Zhang, the table has been eaten…” Li Mazi stammered when he saw me.
“What?” I dropped my jaw and thought that I had just misheard something.
My eyes were still wide open while Li Mazi explained to me that the plastic and glass tea table from the living room had been dissolved by the bizarre slimy substance. Nothing was left behind.
What the heck was that slime?
It was a big table. How could it have been melted that fast?
The fat man’s appetite had strangely increased and he wanted to eat everything in his reach. Could this be related to this slime?
This family had come to me under strange circumstances and now they all mysteriously went missing. During the whole process, even though I wanted to help, I couldn’t do anything but watch them get harmed. I was really sorry.
And now, I was confused as to whether I should continue with this case or not.
At this moment, I understood the situation much better than anybody else. If I gave up, it wouldn’t have a thing to do with me. No one was alive to tell, and I couldn’t even find their corpses. The police wouldn’t come to me.
But if I just ignored the case like this, wouldn’t I owe the old beggar?
What about my promise?
The more I contemplated, the more uncertain I felt. I sat absent-mindedly in the living room and looked idly at the disgusting slime.
I asked Li Mazi, “What should we do? Should we just ignore them or continue to investigate?”
Li Mazi hesitated for a while then asked me, “Don’t you otherworldly merchants have a rule? Either you don’t start a case, or you have to pursue it for a lifetime!”
I looked at Li Mazi. “You mean… We should continue?”
Li Mazi nodded.
“Alright.” I nodded. The faith in my heart was restored.
However, what should we do next?
All the people involved in this case were missing. The jade thumb ring had also gone missing. We had no clue so we didn’t know where to start.
Eventually, Li Mazi suggested, “What about investigating this family’s origin? We can go to their hometown to check!”
I remembered the old beggar had stayed in a nearby motel. The motel must have their names on the registry.
I wasted no time and brought Li Mazi to the motel. After we got their information from their ID cards, we got in our car.
The old beggar’s hometown wasn’t far from us, which was around four or five hours of driving. After driving through a muddy field, we reached a small town by a river.
This small town looked old. Everywhere we looked were advertising boards about dried stinky tofu and farm eggs.
Although it was broad daylight, no one traveled on the streets. The entire town felt somewhat humid and damp…
This atmosphere made my heart more restless and anxious…Previous Chapter Next Chapter