T’s Story: I’m Not Turning Back Part 2
“You will be called T from now on.”
“Does the name have any meaning?”
“You can give it many different meanings, but it can also carry no meaning. It’s because it is you, T.”
Xie Lu——or perhaps he should be called T from now on. He felt that the man’s thoughts were deeper and clearer than anybody that he had met.
He was completely different from the typical atrocious criminals that T thought that he would be.
Therefore, even though he followed him to killed others, it felt like they were a righteous act.
From fifteen to twenty-three years old, T followed him for eight years.
But he only stayed by his side for the first three years.
It was because on the third year, that case happened.
It was also coincidently T’s first solo mission. He was taught by him personally every move, so he carried his style on his mission: intricate planning, observant of others’ feelings, vicious, merciless, and flawless.
Eight people; all died within a week. No traces. He was called the “perfect criminal” by the police. But T knew very well that he had only learned a very tiny set of skills from that man.
And he never asked the man why he wanted to kill those people.
If he told him to kill them, he would kill them.
But during the celebration party that night, someone provoked him, “T, although your shooting skills are incredible, your jobs are the most boring out of us all. What’s good about lying down several hundred meters away to shoot someone dead? I like to be in the same place as my target. I like to chat with her, give her a bath, sniff every inch of her body, and watch the frightfulness increase in her eyes! And then, in her feeling of fright, I torture her bit by bit and kill her off slowly——this is how you kill a person for real. Kid, do you want to try?
T answered without even needing to think, “No!”
Someone on the side chuckled. And then T saw that person standing in the light not far away and staring at him quietly.
T couldn’t make him out clearly. He couldn’t tell if his eyes were showing regret, upset, or pity.
But T knew that the feeling of having a pair of hands covered in blood would disturb and follow him for the rest of his left.
But no one would have thought that in the same year, their organization would almost be exposed in the light and be completely defeated.
And because it was T’s first solo mission, he was chased after by the police.
He was a perfect criminal, but he had finally met his rival.
And it was at that time that T met those two. Those two super detectives who were also just as young. He heard that they were also a loving couple.
And when they met again, they almost became two dead bodies with one last breath left in them.
After the case, the man whom T viewed as an older brother and a God-like figure, disbanded the organization and disappeared.
Everybody including T who were still alive started living their own lives.
“I’m sorry, T,” that man said, “I promised you five years, but I only led you three years.”
But T smiled, “I will always follow your orders in my lifetime.”
That man nodded and didn’t look at him again. He stared at the setting sun that was like a blazing fire. T knew that what that case burned most was not Han Chen and his girlfriend, it was the man in front of him.
After leaving the man, T had nothing to do but to kill people.
Therefore, he started accepting requests from hirers. His name and fortune grew quickly. Although he had left that man, T still saved half of his commissions and sent them to him. He believed that the others also did the same.
But he was killing more and more people and his fee for doing so became higher and higher. The feeling of his hands being torn apart in his dreams became more and more intense. Sometimes, he would wake up from fright. He would grab the gun beside him but don’t know where to shoot.
He returned to his hometown to visit his dad. The restaurant was no longer there. There was only a forty-year-old man who looked sixty sweeping the streets with a broom. He was still angry and incapable just like he was in the past. He frowned at someone who walked by and threw a piece of trash in the area that he just swept. But he only frowned to himself and didn’t dare to go up to the person.
T walked up to him.
His profession as a killer made him good at disguising himself. He was wearing his baseball cap very low, donning a thick mustache, and had changed his skin tone. But if anyone looked carefully, you could still kind of tell that he was the refined looking young boy from the past.
But his dad didn’t recognize him. He simply lifted his head, glanced at T, and murmured, “Please move aside, I’m sweeping!”
T backed up to the side.
He watched him sweep the streets with a crooked back. He actually looked a lot like his Grandpa from the back.
T tossed a heavy sack by his foot. The money in there was enough for him to live a good retired life.
It was then that he looked up in shock, “Mister, your sa-……”
T turned around and left. After a short distance, he heard a raspy voice full of doubt and excitement say, “Are you……Are you our Lu Lu?!”
T walked faster and never turned back.
Dad, my life is no longer what you can understand.
Ever since the day you gave up on understanding me.
In the final year, T’s insomnia was getting worse. He often kept his eyes open till dawn, sleep for two hours, and wake up at the exact same time. He was like this every day.
He read some books and found out that what he had was depression.
But he felt calm. He felt that it was just like what that man said. People lived to burn out themselves. And he had probably killed too many people and was burning too fast, so the ashes accumulating in his heart was piling thicker and thicker. So thick that it could not be swept away. He couldn’t make out the world around him clearly anymore.
The last time he carried out a mission, he finally made a mistake.
It must have been because he was not focused, or maybe because he saw a four to five-year-old boy beside his target. He placed his hand on the trigger three times but let it go three times.
In the end, he left the building in a daze but his face was captured by the surveillance camera. Although it was his face in disguise, he was pursued by the police. He was shot twice as he escaped into the forest.
The forest was where he felt the most familiar and free in. He used his knife and fire to extract the bullets from his body. And then he ran deep into the mountain for eleven days.
He finally got away from the police, and he was exhausted. He didn’t know that he had already entered the border of Province K, which had the most dangerous mountain paths and forest area.
On the second night, he lost his footing, fell off of a cliff, and became unconscious. All the guns that he was carrying fell into the river.
He was having a fever accompanied by the pain from his leg. He wasn’t aware of his surroundings. In his dream, many pairs of hands reached up from the bottom of the cliff and were pulling him down.
He thought that maybe dying this way wasn’t so bad.
It was because that man said that people like them, even if they were able to build a new world for themselves, they would still end up dying as nobodies in this boring and ordinary world.
When he woke up, he saw a lamp.
He was in a farmer’s house made of wood, just like the one that he lived in when he was little. It was simple yet tidy. An old man had his back towards him and was sewing up the shirt that had been taken off of him.
When T saw this, he was almost in tears.
“Grandpa……Grandpa……” he called out.
The old man turned around.
But it was not the face that he was familiar with. He was the most ordinary looking old farming man. He was skinnier, more crooked, and older than what he remembered his grandpa to be.
But his smile was so similar to him as if they were the same person.
“My child……” the old man walked over to him, “You fell into the valley. Your leg is broken, so grandpa here carried you back. Don’t worry, I’ve already put some herbal medicine on it. It’ll get better.”
T didn’t show any expression on his face, “Why did you help me?”
The old man was a little stunned. He was lost in his own thoughts and actually didn’t answer.
“My surname is Guo. You can call me Grandpa Guo,” he said.
Grandpa Guo was busy every day. He got up every morning when the rooster crowed. He would go to the back of the house, watered and fertilized the half acre of crops, and then returned to cook breakfast. He had to cook breakfast for everyone. T stared out of the window. Surrounding the small house were a few brick houses. According to Grandpa Guo, they were his sons’ and grandsons’ dwellings.
With T staying there, Grandpa Guo had to cook an additional portion of food every day. But the land was barren, so when there was not enough rice for everybody, Grandpa Guo would give T the remainder while taking only a bowl of congee with some vegetables for himself and say smiling, “I’m already so old, so I can’t eat so much. You’re still recovering from your wound, so you need to eat more.”
T didn’t refuse and ate big gulps of rice with his head down. As a killer, he understood that his ability to fight was zero at that point, which made him feel extremely unsafe. If he didn’t recover his strength soon, he would feel as if his life was hanging in midair.
After staying there for a few days, T found something strange about the family.
For example, those strongly built grandsons of Grandpa Guo didn’t have wives.
For example, Grandpa Guo didn’t let them know about T’s existence. It was as if he was afraid of something, or more like insisting on protecting him. Grandpa Guo hid him in the small house. Whenever someone came over, he would immediately take some haystacks and mats and cover up the wooden bed that he was sleeping on. He removed them only after when the others had left.
He didn’t explain why and T didn’t ask.
Usually, the two of them didn’t converse much. Grandpa Guo didn’t seem to like talking either. When it was nighttime, he would pull up a chair and sit by the entrance, staring at the moon between the mountains and fall into a trance. And T would do the same and stare at the bright shining moon that he hadn’t seen for a long time and fall asleep.
His insomnia was cured. He slept throughout the night until sunrise. Sometimes, he didn’t wake up until Grandpa Guo called him. The moment he opened his eyes, he would see Grandpa Guo’s earnest smiling face, and then he would be given a bowl of hot congee.
Occasionally, they would chat. Grandpa Guo asked, “My child, what is your job?”
T answered, “I’m in IT.”
Since Grandpa Guo didn’t say anything, he felt the need to explain, “It’s computer related.”
Grandpa Guo understood him then, “Oh, oh, oh——I’ve heard of that before. That’s amazing,” he paused before continuing, “Here in the mountain area, there are a lot of wolves and other wild animals. You must have ended up here for an ‘outdoor’ event too, right? Don’t ever come again. Go to other places with better mountainous and river sceneries.”
T looked at him. He recalled seeing those unsophisticated looking farm men walking past the window in the morning and didn’t say anything.
As a killer, he had a sharp intuition towards some things.
T’s leg was slow to recover. One day, Grandpa Guo gave him a bowl of chicken soup with a few pieces of meat in it. He gave him the worse parts of the chicken: the head, butt, and neck……but T took it and drank it all. It was the first time he said to Grandpa Guo, “Thank you.”
Grandpa Guo smiled again.
But that night, when T was lying in the small house, he heard a man scold, “You old geezer! That was the only chicken that laid eggs and you killed it! Are you insane!? Have you lost your mind!?”
And then he heard Grandpa Guo respond, “I was seeing that Old Six (sixth child) didn’t have very good posture, so I wanted him to get more nutrition……AHH……”
And then there were sounds of beating and kicking, “You old geezer! You damn old geezer! I think it’s more like you wanted to eat it yourself, didn’t you? Where did the chicken head go? Where did the chicken butt go? Did you eat it all yourself?”
The sound of Grandpa Guo panting could be heard, “I ate it, I ate it……”
T’s hand resting on the side of the bed curled into a fist and then loosened up again.
That night, Grandpa Guo coughed continuously while lying down in the small house, which bothered T a lot. It wasn’t until dawn when his coughs gradually stopped.
“Aren’t they your sons and grandsons?” T finally couldn’t help asking, “Why are they treating you like this?”
Grandpa Guo kept quiet for a long while before saying, “My child, if a person’s heart is blinded by filthiness, what can we do to get rid of the filth?”
T didn’t answer.
After a while, he spoke, “Wait till I’m well again. Go back to the city with me. I’ll buy you a house and find a person to take care of you so that you can enjoy your retired life.”
Grandpa Guo shook his head, “I should die here.”
That girl named Gu Ran was caught by them a few days later.
It was pouring that day from morning to night. T was already able to sit up but still couldn’t walk. He sat on the thin wooden bed and listened to the farmers’ laughter coming from next door.
And Grandpa Guo kept cooking and warming up wine. When Old Three came back, he tossed a big bag of rice, meat, and vegetables. He must have used the money found on the girl to buy them from outside of the mountain.
When he finished cooking and had delivered them to his sons, Grandpa Guo was exhausted. He sat on the doorstep and started crying suddenly.
“It’s a very young girl,” he said to T, “What a sin!”
T kept silent for a moment before asking, “What are they planning to do?”
Grandpa Guo’s voice became a bit shaky, “They’ll dump her into the water and let her die from the cold. And then they’ll wait for people to come and help fetch the dead body.”
T thought for a second and understood everything, so he didn’t comment.
In his killing career, he had long viewed other people’s lives as nothing. Although his dreams made him stress, but after he woke up, he would be the usual cold and merciless T. It was that woman’s fate that she fell in the hands of these farmers. What did it have to do with him?
It was at that moment that Grandpa Guo suddenly stood up, walked to the stove, grabbed the bottle of wine and started drinking it.
T watched him become drunk with his face turning red and didn’t say anything. If it made the old man feel better, he thought that he might as well let him drink.
But who knew that after he drank half of the bottle, Grandpa Guo would stand up suddenly.
“I’m going to them!” Grandpa Guo said in tears, “I can’t let them kill the girl. If they won’t let her go, I’ll leave the mountain and report it to the police!”
T looked up at him immediately, “You can’t go!”
Grandpa Guo pulled open the door and left.
T wanted to stand up, but he was too anxious and ended up tripping and falling on the ground, “Grandpa Guo! You won’t be able to come back if you go!” he roared.
The old man was gone already.
That day, from morning till night, the old man never returned.
T kept waiting while sitting on the bed.
It was not until eight or nine o’clock when he heard footsteps outside. And then something heavy landed on the ground with a thump. And then someone cursed sounding drunk, “Old geezer, you’re finally dead.”
T sat and waited.
It was 3am, which was the time that most people would be in a deep sleep. He grabbed a wooden stick from the side of the bed, used it as a crutch and got up slowly.
He knew that he couldn’t stay there any longer. Grandpa Guo was dead already. He knew that those men would come inside in the morning and take everything, or burn the whole house down.
Although his leg had not fully recovered, the bullet wounds had not fully closed, and his whole body hurt whenever he walked, his basic skills as a killer were still there. He entered the farmhouse next door making almost no sound.
The backyard was a complete mess and everybody was lying on the ground all over the place. They were all drunk and sleeping. But in the front yard, there were still two people awake smoking and chatting with each other. They were Grandpa Guo’s son and eldest grandson.
“Where should we dump the girl tomorrow?”
“How about the Monkey Creek at the back of the mountain? The water there is cold and there have been some landslides in the past two days.”
T avoided them and without much effort, he found the woman chained and locked up in a shed.
The woman was indeed very young. She was also very pretty would fair white skin. But she was like a puppet lying on the ground with her face down looking lifeless. When she saw T enter, she lifted her eyelids and closed them again.
Seeing her made T felt as if he saw himself again during the time when he was almost burned out.
T walked up to her and lowered his head to look at her.
“Today, someone died because of you.”
Gu Ran opened her eyes again. She looked like she was in a bit of a trance, “It’s that old grandpa……”
T said slowly, “I can’t save you today. If you have any final wishes, you can tell me and I’ll fulfill them for you.”
I owe him a life. And now he has given up his life to save you.
Therefore, I will also go the distance for you.
Gu Ran’s voice was soft and weak, “Can you avenge me?”
“Yes. You just need to tell me the names.”
Gu Ran lifted up her eyes and took a look at him.
T kept his silence.
The air was humid inside the dark shed. Two people, who originally wouldn’t have met each other, came to an agreement due to the world’s biggest sin and the most fragile kindness.
“Le Luo Xia,” Gu Ran said softly, “She stole my compass and map.”
“Ke Fan, Fang Xu, Yan……followed me.”
“Li Ming Yue, Zhang Mu Han, Le Luo Xia……They were in the bushes.”
“Professor Sun……refused to take me back to the camp site.”
“Lastly……these people here. I wish that they can all be dead. Don’t let a single one of them escape.”
T’s Story: I’m Not Turning Back Part 2