Qin Ye walked in.
It wasn’t well decorated. In fact, the entire coffee shop was in heavy disrepair. Old school movie posters were plastered all over its yellowish walls, while the old wooden boards of the floor reeked of the peculiar dingy stench of old coffee stains. The dusty overhead lights were dim and yellow.
His footsteps caused the floorboards to creak loudly. When Qin Ye opened the door, the first thing he saw was a young man with blond hair yelling loudly into his phone, “I’m the oracle. Lynch number 2. Don’t ask me why I checked on him. It’s my prerogative who I want to check on. Number 8 is just pretending… Oh… hello.”
The man probably never expected someone to even enter the shop. He immediately switched off his mic, “What do you want?”
I’ll rate your service standards a tragic one out of five!
Qin Ye didn’t respond. Instead, he simply rubbed his hands as he glanced around, before asking, “Is this coffee shop open twenty-four hours?”
“That’s right. Someone takes over the night shift at six.” Seeing that Qin Ye didn’t appear to have any intention to order a drink, the attendant glanced at his cell phone from time to time. Qin Ye was rather displeased. There’s such a charming specimen of a man standing in front of you right now, so how could still be in the mood to play Werewolf?
This baby isn’t happy.
“Do you have a menu?” Qin Ye strolled around the shop as he asked.
“This is a coffee shop…” The attendant’s eyes glanced at his phone and saw that others had already begun hurling all forms of allegations at him. He gritted his teeth and barked, “Shrimp noodles, gala noodles, huainan beef soup, we’ve got everything.”
Come on, hurry up!
I’m going to lose soon at this rate!
Qin Ye coughed lightly, “Didn’t you say that this was a coffee shop… why does it feel like you’re selling something completely different from what I’d expected… What’s gala noodles? Can you give a brief introduction of it? I’ve not heard of shrimp noodles either…”
You can say that the quality is poor to the extreme!
The attendant switched off his phone with resignation, “Gala noodles is…”
“Give me a bowl of shrimp noodles.” As soon as Qin Ye saw the attendant switch off his phone, Qin Ye immediately placed his order.
The attendant swallowed his words and glared at Qin Ye. Brother… that’s antisocial behaviour… are you messing with me…
“How many taels?!” He gnashed his teeth and barked at Qin Ye.
“I’ll have two taels.” Qin Ye smiled as he searched for table number four. The attendant turned around and yelled into the kitchen, “Two taels, shrimp!” Turning around, he noticed that Qin Ye was just about to take a seat at table number four, and he immediately yelled at him, “You can’t sit there!”
Qin Ye froze.
The attendant looked somewhat stunned. Seconds later, the attendant replied with much hesitance, “Someone has… reserved that table…”
“But he isn’t here yet, is he?” Qin Ye smiled and took his seat. He suddenly discovered that this attendant was rather cute and adorable.
“Brother!” Unexpectedly, the attendant ran over and began pulling him by the arm, “You really can’t sit there…I’ll find you a better place. How about table number six instead? There’s a comfortable little couch there.”
Dong… Just then, the door opened with a soft sound. The attendant gasped and sprang back behind the counter.
Tuk… tuk… The rhythmic pulse of a knocking sound silenced the dilapidated coffee shop. Seconds later, a silhouette stood at the door. One could tell from the gaps between the multitudinous advertisements that the visitor was very tall.
Creeaaakk… With a cringeworthy creak, the door opened slowly, and a strange-looking man walked in.
He wore a fleece coat, a hat, sunglasses and a face mask. He even wore black leather gloves on his hand. There wasn’t much of his body that was exposed to the elements.
He didn’t appear too mobile either. Relying on the support of a walking stick, he slowly made his way over towards Qin Ye.
Tuk… The floorboards sank slightly, and a figure that was approximately 1.85 meters tall appeared in the coffee shop. His voice was incredibly hoarse, “Is it… you?”
“I saw a new reply today.” The tall man stood with his back against the light and pointed at the seat across the table, “Please, have a seat. It’s on me today.”
The attendant desperately sought to signal to Qin Ye with his eyes. Unfortunately, Qin Ye ignored the attendant, smiled faintly, and sat down.
The man didn’t give off any Yin energy or corpse energy. But at the same time, his body was equally devoid of any traces of vitality.
It was as though he were a walking corpse hidden under the skin of a living person.
The man wore an old coat that was visibly covered with lint, and he didn’t appear to be in good health either. The man was already panting by the time he sat down. He ordered a glass of plain water, and then turned to look at Qin Ye through his sunglasses.
“You seem to have been… waiting?” Qin Ye was the first to speak up.
The attendant served the man water and quickly slipped away. Qin Ye gazed deeply into the man’s eyes and said nothing more.
The man slowly set down the walking stick and picked up the glass of water. However, he didn’t drink from it. After catching his breath, he finally responded several seconds later, “That’s right… I’ve been waiting.”
“Every second of every day, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the moment when someone would respond to my post and accept my commission.” He leaned back into his seat somewhat wearily, “Thus, I came especially early to this place immediately after seeing your reply. I had hoped to meet you as soon as possible.”
“My name is Li Jiankang, and I’m forty-eight years old. I live here at the Tianxi Seafood Market.”
“There’s no need for banal chatter.” Qin Ye turned around and saw the attendant serving up his food, so he waved his hand to indicate that he didn’t need the food for now. Then, Qin Ye turned his gaze back to the man’s sunglasses and continued solemnly, “Since we’re all in a hurry, why don’t we get straight to the point?”
There were several people searching high and low for the mysterious 40 teaching credits right now. Since Qin Ye had already taken the lead, he didn’t mind doing everything in his ability to stay ahead.
As if somewhat surprised by Qin Ye’s straightforwardness, the entire room fell silent.
“This is something that only happened this year…” After a long time, Li Jiankang finally began, “I live by myself in the Tianxi Seafood Market. There aren’t many residents left in the vicinity because of the nearby demolitions works.”
“I’ve always had a cat. Its name is Jingle Bells. It’s an adorable black cat. It’s very obedient too, and hardly ever meows. But… ever since August this year, it… changed.”
The glass in Li Jiankang’s hands rattled slightly. He drew a deep breath and continued hoarsely, “I didn’t notice it immediately. But then, it went on everyday for the next ten days or so. It would just sit outside the door, refusing to enter the house. Then, at approximately 11.50 p.m., it would begin meowing and crying persistently.”
“Can you believe it… It does the exact same thing everyday at 11.50 p.m. sharp… It can’t be in heat either, since it had previously already been neutered. It’s as though… as though there’s something in the house that’s creeping it out. It… doesn’t dare to enter the house.”
Splash… His hands were now trembling so much that water had even spilt out of the glass. He set down the glass and leaned back into his seat to contain his shivers.
“Then, one fateful night in mid-September… Jingle Bells came into the house for the very first time.”
He closed his eyes and raised his head slightly. Yet he continued to grip tightly to the armrests on his seat as though he were a taut bow, “I still remember vividly what it looked like that night… Its entire body was hunched, and its hair was all standing on end. It glared at me cautiously with its green eyes, and it slowly approached me, step by step…”
“And then… it bit me.”
He suddenly shot up from his seat and stared at Qin Ye as though he were a fraud, “Do you know something? Jingle Bells was practically acting like a frenzied beast. I-I had a feeling that it didn’t intend to bite me in the first place. Rather… it was aiming its fangs at something else… something right next to me… something right by my side!”
“Because it pounced straight for my shoulder as though there were an extra head growing out of my shoulder!!!”
He was panting hard by now.
His chest rose and fell heavily with his breaths.
Li Jiankang’s tone of voice had escalated so much that it was well over an octave higher than what it had begun with. After a protracted pause of approximately ten seconds, Li Jiankang raised his right hand and pointed to his glove. His voice had softened once more, yet there were still traces of breathlessness in his speech, “The bite was so deep that it left a scar on my hand. I had no choice but to go to the hospital. But I usually deliver my goods from midnight to 5 a.m. everyday, so I had to trouble a friend to help attend to my shop…”
His voice trembled as though he were trying desperately to suppress the fear welling up in his voice, “But… but…”
Qin Ye lifted his eyelids and twirled a pencil casually on the table, “He’s dead?”
There was no response.
Seconds later, Li Jiankang finally muttered, “He’s dead.”
“How did he die?” Qin Ye appeared hardly affected as he continued asking.
“Bitten to death…” Li Jiankang’s body shuddered uncontrollably. He wrapped his arms around his body tightly and continued trembling, “It’s definitely a case of an unnatural death… The bite marks on his body can only have been left by a massive, vicious beast. But, guess what…”
His voice was laden with marrow-chilling horror as he stared at Qin Ye with his ghoulish eyes, “I asked a friend who’s a forensic analyst. His body was mauled and mutilated like how a wild beast would attack a human being, but the teeth marks… were made by man!”
“It’s… it’s caused by a person!!”
“The door was locked! The windows hadn’t even been opened! My friend… was in my house when he got… bitten to death by a human being!!!”
Li Jiankang shrieked at the top of his voice. It was evident that his emotions were running wild. The attendant had already slipped away as soon as Li Jiankang had started his spiel, and the only two remaining in the entire coffee shop were the two who were seated at table number four right now. Li Jiankang’s voice reverberated throughout the coffee shop and lingered in the air.
Faint traces of sunbeams peeked into the musky, dusty shop, illuminating the dust particles that drafted through the air. A peculiar chill suddenly blanketed the already desolate shop.
“Was there anything else?” Qin Ye probed further.
Li Jiankang’s body continued to shiver, “When I finally returned, I saw bloody scratch marks everywhere, on the bed and on the walls!! The scratch marks must have been left behind by human hands! It must be! He was bitten here…”
He pointed to his own neck, “Half of his neck was gone… but, there was no blood…”
“The entire room was devoid of a single trace of blood. My friend’s body looked like it had practically been… sucked dry and shriveled up… Haa…”
It was clearly daytime, yet Li Jiankang was shivering like a sieve. It was almost as though… there was someone staring at him from behind. He pulled out a silken scarf and wiped off the sweat from his forehead. Qin Ye tapped his fingers on the table, “Do you have a wife or children?”
“They’re dead.” Li Jiankang replied mournfully, “They’ve passed on a few years ago…”
“Have you asked anyone else for help before?”
1. This is a popular mystery/deduction game where players have to find the werewolf hidden among the villagers and lynch him before he kills everyone else. There are also other characters with power like the oracle, who has the ability to see a character’s role.