Intense malice appeared in the little paper doll’s eyes, and blood was dripping from her eyes. Suddenly the scene before Jiang Lan was changed.
He heard anguished sobs.
This time, the sobs came from the tall thin man, who just received the terrible news from the villagers that his wife and daughter were dead. Kneeling down before the river, he was weeping uncontrollably.
Having just murdered two people, those villagers gathered around him, comforting him with kind words.
“There was no coming back from death. You have to control your sorrow.”
“We couldn’t save them in time. Don’t cry. Your wife and daughter were watching you from Heaven.”
“Oh, yes. We can try again in the river; maybe we can retrieve their bodies.”
These paper men were offering their advice and condolences as if what they said was the truth: His wife and daughter were drowned by accident.
The little sunny doll sat on the thin, tall paper man’s shoulder. Now her body had turned blood red. Even the pitch-black eyes were dyed red.
Tilting her head and widening her mouth, she rested her body on the tall thin paper man’s head. Pointing to the paper men before her one by one, she said.” You all deserve to die.”
In an instant, those chattering paper men froze as if a pause button had been pushed. Their hypocritical and comical looks still remained on their faces, and their paper bodies gradually dyed red. Then, they were suddenly shredded into pieces by an invisible force.
Those red shreds of paper were falling down slowly. Under Jiang Lan’s feet, the ground was receding fast as if the backdrop on a stage were being changed. All the scenes were fast disappearing. Finally, there was only a black void.
A headless body appeared before him. Judging by the clothing, he thought it must be He Laowu who went missing after going upstairs.
This body remained in the running position. Jiang Lan could imagine the horror he felt after being dragged into this parallel universe, how he ran and killed.
There was a crisp child voice singing a tune slowly moving closer:
“Sunny Dolls, Sunny Dolls, If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I will give you a silver bell.”
“Sunny Dolls, Sunny Dolls, If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I will give you a golden bell.”
“Sunny Dolls, Sunny Dolls, If it rains tomorrow, I will cut off your head.”
A girl aged around eight walked towards him with He Laowu’s head in her arms. Looking up, she stared at Jiang Lan viciously. Her frail-looking paper body raised the head steadily to show Jiang Lan while she said in a crisp, clear voice.” Are you looking for him?”
He Laowu’s eyes were bulging, trembling with horror.
He just saw his headless body.
But he was unable to utter a sound.
Jiang Lan didn’t pick up the head. Instead, he looked at the smiling sunny doll and said in a confident tone.” You are not Nan Nan.”
The smile froze on the sunny doll’s face.
With her eyeballs turning in a bizarre way, her sound became high-pitched, like the sound of metal grinding.” Nonsense! I am Nan Nan.”
She threw away He Laowu’s head, which rolled a long way before stopping.
“I think you are on their side. I will kill you.”
In the dark, something fell on Jiang Lan’s shoulder. Turning to look at it, Jiang Lan saw it was a miniature paper man. Dressed like a sunny doll, this paper man was not wielding a broom but a butcher’s knife.
The thin blade was even longer than its body, looking soft and harmless.
But Jiang Lan didn’t doubt its power.
Squinting his eyes, he pinched the paper man with his two fingers and asked.” So this is how He Laowu and his cousins were killed?”
They were dragged into a parallel universe and chased like a mouse being chased by a cat. After they had been teased and were driven mad with horror, the paper man would cut off their heads.
Seeing he had her paper man in his grip, her eyeballs became even redder. She let out a scream, and countless paper men with the same look were falling down like snowflakes.
They fell on Jiang Lan’s head, shoulder and body, with more falling on the ground and quickly climbing up Jiang Lan’s leg. In a flash, he was covered with paper men.
The sunny doll widened her mouth, giggling.
But she soon stopped giggling.
A gigantic black beast’s shadow suddenly appeared behind Jiang Lan. This gigantic beast with bull horns swallowed those paper men and chewed. But he quickly spat them out.
Hard and coarse. It tasted so bad.
Jiang Lan’s face grew pale.
And so was the Sunny Doll.
It didn’t expect this man, whom it had been toying with, to be such powerful and decided to run. Jiang Lan caught up with it and picked it up with ease and smiled at it.” Can we talk now?”
The Sunny Doll screamed.” Let go of me!”
Jiang Lan flashed his teeth.” Stop screaming, or I will swallow you whole.”
Looking angry, the Sunny Doll stopped screaming and stared at him with widened red eyes. In a rage, her weird face even started to look cute.
Jiang Lan held it in his arms and stroked its little braid.” Now can we leave this place? I promise I will not hurt you.”
Its eyeballs turned slowly. Suddenly its face broke into a smile.”Ok, I will let you go.”
Suddenly a shining door appeared in this dark space. From where they stood, they could see Qin Shuyi pacing anxiously in the living room.
Giving the Sunny Doll a glance, Jiang Lan walked to the door with a smile on his face.
The sunny doll’s lip moved upward imperceptibly as if smiling.
Before he reached the door, Jiang Lan stopped and moved his hand in a circle. Countless cotton threads became visible in the seemingly empty space before the door. These cotton threads didn’t look threatening. But the dark red blood on these threads meant these were not ordinary cotton threads. If a person walked towards the door unaware of their existence, those cotton threads would cut him to pieces.
The Sunny Doll widened her eyes and let out an angry scream.
Qin Shuyi, on the other side of the door, seemed to feel something. He looked at the bedroom door with a fearful look.”Nan Nan?”
The Sunny Doll tried to get out of Jiang Lan’s grip. Despite Jiang Lan’s frail look, it could not release itself no matter how hard it tried.
With red tears dropping from its red eyes, the Sunny Doll cried in a bitter voice.” Papa!”
Jiang Lan’s anger turned to a laugh. He smacked its bottom without mercy.” You feel bitter because you didn’t manage to kill me?”
This miscreant needed someone to teach it a lesson.
The Sunny Doll was shocked; perhaps no one had ever done this to it. Looking at its bottom, it took a few seconds to react, and then it shouted.” I will kill you!”
Jiang Lan pinched its opened mouth and said in a threatening voice.” Do you want your daddy?”
Looking at the anxious Qin Shuyi, the Sunny Doll calmed down.
And tears started to appear in its eyes.
Jiang Lan walked out with the Sunny Doll in his arms.
Qin Shuyi watched them walk out of the bedroom. He wanted to say something but decided against it and shut his mouth. Confirming Jiang Lan was unhurt, he muttered.” It’s good you are all unharmed.”
The Sunny Doll extended a hand to Qin Shuyi.” Daddy.”
Without thinking, Qin Shuyi wanted to hold it. But he paused when he met Jiang Lan’s eyes. As if he was afraid Jiang Lan wouldn’t release her, he looked at him pleadingly.” Nan Nan didn’t know a thing. I asked her to kill those men.”
Jiang Lan sighed and loosened his grip. The Sunny Doll then leaped into Qin Shuyi’s arms and buried her face in his arms like a girl who had been mistreated.
Qin Shuyi held her with care, treating her like a recovered treasure. A light appeared in his murky eyes.
The Sunny Doll turned secretly to Jiang Lan, with a provoking smile on her face.
But in the next moment, what Jiang Lan said froze her smile.
“It was not your long-lost daughter.”
The Sunny Doll turned to him angrily.” No! I am!”
It looked pleadingly at Qin Shuyi, asking him to back her up.
But Qin Shuyi didn’t dispute what Jiang Lan said. Instead, he smiled bitterly and signed.
Seeing his expression, Jiang Lan said.” You know.”
Qing Shuyi held the sunny doll gently and said softly.” What it really is doesn’t matter now. In my heart, it is my Nan Nan.”
Then a blank look appeared on his face as if his mind had returned to those painful years.
The pain of losing his wife and daughter was impossible to bear. On the one hand, his heart was still bleeding for those painful memories. On the other hand, he was unwilling to let go of those painful memories. Even though this tragedy took place twenty years ago, he could recall every minute of it.
He Village was located near a big river. In that year, a pouring rain lasted almost half a month, and gaps appeared on the dyke. He went with his fellow villagers to fill those gaps. Before he went out, his wife told him she would send him a lunch box at noon.
He labored on that dyke until noon, but his wife didn’t show up. Instead, he received the news of his wife and daughter’s death.
The village chief’s wife told him that Nan Nan insisted on tagging along when they went out to deliver lunches to their men on the dyke. On the way, she slipped and fell into the river. His wife Cuiping hurried to drag her out, but she also fell into the river and was instantly carried away by the strong current.
Qin Shuyi felt as if lightning had struck him and his world was coming to an end.
He wept and wept by the river until the early morning, but he didn’t dare to come home, choosing to roam outside like a ghost.
At this time, the reinforced dyke, which should at least give them two days’ respite, collapsed under the pressure of the overflowing river. The raging water flooded and destroyed He Village at once.
He had already decided to end his life then and there. But destiny had other plans for him. The surging water carried him to a tree, and he was hung from its branch. At that moment, he had a high fever and lost all his strength, but in a state of half-awake, he could hear the voices of his wife and daughter.
He felt they were with him until the disaster relief army came.
He was rescued, but He Village lost half the population, which wasn’t supposed to happen.
In retrospect, it can only be said that they brought this on themselves.