After bringing Hemingway home, Lu Junchi realized the weight of responsibility on his shoulders.
Hemingway was a young male cat who hadn’t been neutered and refused to be lonely.
When he slept, he revealed his pale pink paws, and his belly gently rose and fell, resembling an adorable little angel.
But when he woke up, he transformed into a little devil who would let out milk-suckling meows. He would deliberately climb up high cabinets and suddenly jump down. He would engage in battles with tissues pulled out from tissue bags. Occasionally, he would playfully extend his claws and toy with the mouse pad. On the second night after arriving home, he even knocked over a small potted plant.
But just as Lu Junchi wanted to criticize him, Hemingway would act particularly affectionate, with his ears drooping and his big eyes filled with tears, as if begging for someone to reach out and hold him. Then he would stick close to the person’s back.
Lu Junchi’s attempts at disciplining him didn’t continue. Helplessly, he said, “Why are you so mischievous?”
Su Hui initially thought that Aristotle might fight with Hemingway, but the two cats managed to peacefully coexist.
On the third morning after arriving home, when they were about to leave for work, the in-heat Hemingway first circled around Aristotle’s rear end. Eventually, he started pressing against Aristotle.
The whole kitten draped himself over Aristotle, repeatedly rubbing his neck with his head, and letting out pitiful milk-suckling meows. He even buried his entire body in Aristotle’s fur, as if preparing for a live cat show.
Initially, Aristotle struggled a bit, but eventually, he lay still, wagging his tail from side to side, seemingly enjoying the attention.
Lu Junchi picked him up and turned to Su Hui, saying, “Look at Hemingway…”
Su Hui calmly walked over and said, “It’s alright, Aristotle has been neutered.”
Lu Junchi couldn’t help but laugh and cry, “Is the key not how two male cats end up in such a shy posture?”
“Same-sex behavior in animals is more common than in humans, far exceeding the general public’s awareness, and some of it is quite common. As for Hemingway, he’s still a kitten, so he may not understand many things.” Su Hui calmly glanced at the nursing kitten. “We can take him to the pet hospital when it’s available.”
Hemingway tilted his head, looking utterly clueless.
The expression on Lu Junchi’s face momentarily turned sympathetic.
Oh, ignorant youth, you have yet to grasp the meaning behind your master’s words, the loss you will suffer.
Before leaving, Lu Junchi pondered for a moment and, feeling somewhat worried, confined Hemingway to the bathroom.
“I am but a wanderer, a fleeting visitor in this world. Aren’t you the same?” – Goethe
The current Hua City is developing rapidly.
Construction sites can be seen everywhere, with towering buildings and numerous shopping malls. Even the subway has been extended to the tenth line.
However, every city has corners and crevices, metaphorical scars that refuse to heal. Among them, Wanhu City is the largest wound in Hua City.
Several decades ago, Wanhu City was the largest slum in Hua City.
Situated in the southwest of Hua City, this area accommodated a population of four hundred thousand, covering a significant expanse. It was once the most undesirable part of the entire city. The impoverished people gathered here, like ants, exerting all their strength to survive.
It’s hard for many children today to imagine the kind of life
people led in those places.
In those areas, every household lacked a private bathroom, and one had to walk a long way to reach a toilet.
There were no kitchens in the houses. Families of several members lived in tiny shelters that offered no protection from the wind and rain.
The living room was also the bedroom, the dining room, the study. The children squeezed together at the dining table to do their homework. During the rainy season, there was a constant damp and musty smell in the air.
Every family used gas canisters for cooking, which had to be done in the yard. Water had to be fetched from a far-off place, and washing clothes required going to distant locations. The final rinse water from washing vegetables couldn’t be discarded; it had to be saved for dishwashing.
Nowadays, several decades have passed, and the city has undergone several rounds of demolition and reconstruction, making life for the lower class much better.
However, it is somewhat regrettable that this large shantytown area has only been reduced in size and not completely eradicated. There are still tens of thousands of people living in such harsh conditions.
In the southeast direction of Wanxiang City, a large shantytown was once demolished, but the construction of new buildings did not go smoothly. As a result, several buildings were left unfinished with their roofs completed, but they became abandoned due to the bankruptcy of the developers.
The old houses were demolished, but the new ones were not ready yet, so the displaced residents were even forced to live in the unfinished buildings.
Their living conditions were slightly better than the shantytown, but only slightly.
Because the buildings were left unfinished, there were no windows in this area. Occasionally, some residents added window frames and glass, but most households simply patched them up with paper, which couldn’t provide proper protection from wind and rain. Taking a wrong step forward could make a person fall, and there were several instances of electrical problems that took a lot of effort to fix.
The residents living here faced hardships every day, and they had short tempers. Their only pleasure was to gather together and have a few beers while cursing the boss of the development company that left the construction unfinished. They wished that these scoundrels who bought the land but didn’t do their job would meet a tragic end, descending to the 18th layer of hell, never to be reincarnated.
After venting their frustrations, they would also share stories about the past shantytown.
Heroes don’t ask about their origins. Even in the most difficult places, there are people who can break through adversity. This shantytown has also produced many talents, entrepreneurs, educators. These people left this place but remembered the residents who stayed behind, and they gave back to this land.
After finishing the stories, they would get drunk, continuing to live in these crude unfinished buildings.
No matter what, this is still home.
Even in the cold winter, they can gather a bit of warmth.
In stark contrast to the shantytown and unfinished buildings, in the eastern part of Wanhu City, there is already a large area that has been successfully renovated into residential communities. Many new houses have been built, making it indistinguishable from other parts of the city.
There are small supermarkets and vegetable markets near the community, providing a comfortable living environment. However, due to its unfavorable location, it is a bit messy. The housing units here are small, and the property prices are much cheaper compared to other places. Many people from outside the city who want to settle in Huadu choose to live here due to financial constraints.
Shantytowns, unfinished buildings, and numerous ordinary residences accommodating migrants create a complex situation in Wanhu City, and the wealth disparity among people is significant.
At five o’clock in the afternoon, inside Wanhu City in Huadu, a dilapidated unfinished building.
A young boy sat on a worn-out chair, with ropes binding his body and his mouth and eyes covered.
The smell of gasoline filled the air, and several empty oil drums were placed on the ground nearby.
A calm voice announced from the side, “Get ready to start!”
It was an ordinary autumn Friday afternoon.
Office workers eagerly awaited the end of work and the start of the weekend. They had plans to meet up with relatives and friends, stay at home to read books, or go to the cinema to watch a movie. These were all good choices.
In today’s society, with the advent of the 5G era, live streaming has become a part of people’s lives.
Many people casually open live streaming websites to watch familiar hosts sing a song or play a game. It has become a common form of leisure and entertainment for many ordinary individuals.
At five o’clock in the afternoon, on a foreign live streaming app, an unfamiliar room named “JUSTICE” suddenly appeared in the Chinese live streaming section.
To support new streamers, each newly opened room is arranged in chronological order and gets a few minutes on the recommended list.
Some visitors were intrigued by the name of the room and clicked to enter, only to discover that it was a unique live streaming room.
Initially, the screen was pitch black, as if the camera was not turned on.
As the number of viewers increased, the image gradually transitioned from black to a visible scene. It was completely different from other streamers’ luxurious rooms with exquisite backgrounds. The viewers could see that this live streaming room was set up in a messy empty space.
The room had not been cleaned, with thick dust on the floor. There was a dim yellow emergency light providing a faint glow.
The background was a window, without glass, covered with a large piece of white paper. Part of the paper was torn, allowing the wind to blow through, causing it to rustle.
Through that bowl-sized hole, one could glimpse some eerie sights outside. They were buildings covered in peeling paint, with almost all the windows on the upper floors missing, making them appear pitch-black.
In the center of the livestream room, there was a chair, and a young boy sat upright on it. He wore a dark school uniform and had a black cloth covering his eyes, with tape sealing his mouth, leaving only his nose for breathing. He lowered his head, and it was evident that his hands and feet were bound with duct tape.
There were no handsome men or beautiful women, no colorful lights or luxurious props, and no dazzling array of merchandise. This livestream seemed both ordinary and unique.
“What is this?”
“A new type of streaming host?”
“I haven’t seen this host before. Must be a newcomer.”
“What kind of content is being streamed in this room? Horror exploration?”
“How do you translate the room name?”
Everyone was puzzled, speculating.
Suddenly, a male voice, altered by a voice changer, came through, saying, “Hello, everyone. I am the owner of this livestream room. Those of you who have entered, please do not leave. If you leave, you will miss tonight’s thrilling performance.”
The voice came from off-camera, followed by a hand adjusting the angle of the camera to focus on the boy sitting in the center.
The boy, who appeared to be in his early teens, seemed to hear the voice and lifted his head, emitting a whimpering sound.
At this moment, people noticed that his head and body were wet, and he couldn’t help but tremble slightly. The boy struggled in fear, but he couldn’t break free.
“What’s this? A gimmick?”
“What are they streaming? If they don’t say, I’m leaving.”
“What thrilling performance? Are they going to beat up this boy? Haha…”
The host continued, “This society is often unfair and unjust, with people turning a blind eye to evil. So tonight, I want to play a game with all of you.”
“What kind of game?”
“A lottery? Pick me, pick me!”
“Quickly tell us, what are the conditions?”
“Have any of you felt that something is off about this livestream room?”
The host announced, “Tonight, I will present a few riddles. If someone discovers the truth and answers correctly, they will be saved. Otherwise, someone might die.”
“I didn’t hear it wrong, did I? What is he planning to do?”
“Is… is he suggesting murder?”
“Could that boy be kidnapped?”
“Call the police!”
“He’s a lunatic!”
After the first person cursed, many others followed suit, and the word “madman” flooded the screen.
However, the host remained indifferent, and his tone didn’t change at all. “Feel free to call the police and have them find me, catch me, if they can find me, that is.”
“He must be lying, right?”
“Hey, host, you’re just seeking attention.”
“It’s true, listen to his voice, he’s a psychopath!”
The barrage of comments in the livestream room exploded instantly. Some believed, some were terrified, and some immediately dialed the emergency hotline.
Many messages expressed doubt.
“Host, if what you’re doing tonight is real, you’ll end up in prison tomorrow. If what you’re doing is fake, you’ll be beaten to death tomorrow!”
“It’s just a gimmick, he wouldn’t actually dare to kill anyone.”
The host seemed to check the time and said, “I am currently in Huadu, China. It is 5 PM in the evening, and the game officially begins. The first question involves a person named Long Xiaochen. He is 38 years old and works as a foreman for a construction company in Huadu. You need to find his guilt and expose it to the public. You have one hour. If you can complete it, you will save the person in front of you. If not, he will die before your eyes.”
After speaking, a hand reached out from off-camera and pinned a paper with Long Xiaochen’s name, an enlarged photo of him, and his basic information on the boy’s chest.
By this point, many people finally believed that he wasn’t playing a prank or joking.
“What the hell, this is insane! One hour?”
“We don’t even know this Long Xiaochen guy.”
“Does anyone know about him?”
“Post on Weibo, post on Weibo!”
“Did anyone really call the police?”
“We definitely need to get the police involved.”
“Can anyone stop this madman?”
After 5 PM, the number of viewers in the livestream room began to skyrocket. It went from the initial 98 people to over 5,000, and more people continued to pour in.
At the same time, the Huadu Public Security Bureau received the first report. It was a call from a member of the public, reporting that someone was going to commit murder in a livestream room and provided the room number.
Before the operator could verify the information, the second and third calls came in. The emergency hotline in the bureau was soon overwhelmed with a flurry of incoming reports.
The on-duty dispatchers were experienced police officers, but they had never encountered a situation like this before.
Due to the gravity of the situation, the person in charge urgently called the superiors, providing them with a detailed report. By the time the call reached Director Tan, it was already around twenty minutes into the livestream. Director Tan and several other leaders quickly held a teleconference to discuss the matter.
The leaders believed that they should find a way to stop the livestream from spreading at all costs, as it could have a significant impact on society and might lead to copycat crimes. However, shutting down the livestream was not easy and had its drawbacks. The livestream was hosted on a foreign website, utilizing servers outside the country, which required negotiations. Moreover, once the livestream was closed, the police would be unable to save the person, and even after their death, it could still have a negative impact.
The Huadu police promptly initiated preliminary communication with the livestream website, but the website claimed that they did not have sufficient evidence to prove that the user was about to engage in illegal activities, and they had no authority to shut down the livestream. They then made exorbitant demands, asking for millions of US dollars and requesting the funds to be transferred before they would stop the broadcast.
Director Tan wished he could personally go abroad and cut off the opponent’s internet connection. The leaders even discussed the possibility of involving Interpol, but it was eventually concluded that it was not feasible.
With the negotiation yielding no results, the leaders decided to block the domestic dissemination of information first, preventing the video from being accessed through normal channels.
During this period, the number of viewers in the livestream had skyrocketed in a short amount of time, rapidly reaching tens of thousands of people.
At 5:40 PM, Lu Junchi and Su Hui were preparing to leave work when they suddenly received a call from Director Tan.
The case was handed over to the Major Crimes Unit, and they needed to apprehend the culprit as soon as possible.
All members of the Major Crimes Unit would be working overtime tonight, preparing to respond to this urgent situation.
Certified member of the IIO(International Introverts Organization), PhD holder in Overthinking and Ghosting, Spokesperson for BOBAH(Benefits of Being a Homebody), Founder of SFA(Salted Fish Association), Brand Ambassador for Couch Potato fall line Pajama set.