In a few minutes, that turtle was moving swiftly to the shore. Jiang Lan thought the turtle was the one he had seen in the Qing Yang Lake. But looking carefully, he could see it was not the same one. This turtle was much bigger.
He then turned towards the man hiding in the bushes. With a hood covering his head, Jiang Lan couldn’t see his face clearly, but he was certain this guy was a member of the corpse recovery team he saw in training during the day.
Recalling the shocked expression on Guan Shui’s face at the appearance of a turtle under their boat, Jiang Lan thought it bizarre that a member of their team now appeared by the river shore to hunt another turtle.
There was nothing extraordinary about these two turtles. They had gone through a long life and grew clever, but were far from acquiring a human level intelligence.
While pondering this, Jiang Lan saw that the turtle had approached that cage. There was a bait of some sort in the cage, but that turtle just kept circling around the cage instead of entering it.
Meanwhile, the man waited patiently.
After a short time, that turtle suddenly extended his neck and bit the nylon rope attached to the cage.
That turtle’s strength must be considerable because the man was now struggling to keep his balance. After finally regaining his footing, he grabbed the rope with his two hands, trying to drag the turtle out of the water.
Due to the low visibility at night, the man didn’t notice the appearance of several more turtles around him. These turtles now converged on the rope, and started to bite and drag the rope in unison. Caught off the guard, the man was dragged from the bush to the river side.
Below the bush was a slope. In panic, the man even forgot to let go of the rope and was dragged into the water.
If not for the presence of these menacing turtles, a man falling into this part of the river was usually not a life-threatening situation because this segment of the river was quite shallow.
When he tried to get out of the water, he found himself dragged in the opposite direction. He turned around and found to his horror that there were a dozen turtles gathering around him. Those pointed heads and dark small eyes must be a scary sight to the man in the water.
Frightened, the man desperately tried to climb back to the shore while shouting for help.
But those turtles seemed determined to drag him to the water.
This chaotic scene even attracted the attention of Jiao Tu and Suan Ni, who stopped playing and looked in the direction of the noise.
There was no one around to lend a hand except Ying Qiao, Jiang Lan and his brothers. Jiang Lan hesitated since he was not sure about the nature of their quarrel. But he finally decided to intervene when the man was on the verge of being dragged down into the river.
Sensing the approach of Jiang Lan, those turtles wisely decided to release the man and swiftly dived back into the river.
Breathing heavily on the steps of the stair, the man turned around to thank Jiang Lan. But he paused.” It’s you?”
He obviously recognized Jiang Lan.
Jiang Lan asked.” Are you ok? Do you need me to contact your teammates?”
“No need.” The man squeezed out a smile.” I am all right, no need to concern them.”
Even though he tried to act calmly, Jiang Lan could still sense his panic underneath his face.
It was as clear as daylight that he didn’t want his teammates to know what had just happened here.
When he tried to rise up, he stumbled and almost lost his footing again. He discovered to his surprise that a hole had been ripped on his pants, revealing a fresh wound.
A moment ago, when he was recovering from his shock, he didn’t even feel the pain.
Squinting his eyes, Jiang Lan pointed to an old wound on his leg.” It’s not the first time this thing happened? How come you angered those turtles?”
Chinese soft-shelled turtles were aggressive freshwater carnivores, which people breed and raise for meat. Wild soft-shelled turtles usually wouldn’t attack humans unless they felt threatened. But once they were antagonized, they would attack ferociously with their amazing bite force and wouldn’t easily release their bite. The wounds left by this kind of wild soft-shelled turtles were usually serious.
The look of this man’s old wound indicated that a piece of fresh had once been ripped off his leg.
Before this wound was properly healed, he came to the river to hunt the turtles again.
What kind of feud had been developing between them?
Jiang Lan’s casual questions prompted a very strong reaction from this man. He suddenly increased the volume of his voice.” A stupid question! How do I know why these crazy turtles choose to bite me?”
Then he limped away.
Watching his departing figure, Jiang Lan calmly advised him.” Those turtles have a long memory. If you had provoked them somehow, you better stay away from the river.”
Pausing for a second, the man turned around to give Jiang Lan a nasty look and limped away.
Ying Qiao snorted.” You can’t talk some sense into a foolish man.”
Jiang Lan warned him out of the kindness of his heart, but the man obviously ignored them and didn’t respond kindly. Jiang Lan agreed.” You are right.”
This incident cut short an otherwise pleasant date.
When he drove them back home, Ying Qiao managed to give away two lollipops hiding in his pocket.
Two dimples appeared at the corner of his mouth when Jiang Lan accepted these lollipops.
Watching him, Ying Qiao’s look grew soft. He had much to say to him, but those words were condensed to a “good night” before leaving.
He thought to himself: just wait a little longer.
Jiang Lan waved him goodbye and walked towards his apartment with Suan Ni and Jiao Tu in his arms. Taking a few steps forward, he suddenly turned around without thinking. At the entrance, Ying Qiao still stood there watching him walk away. The yellow glow of the street lamps cast a gold silhouette around him and he could vaguely make out a smile on his face.
Seeing him turn around, Ying Qiao waved again.
Smiling, Jiang Lan turned back to resume his walk with a feeling of happiness bubbling up.
With this happiness beyond description, he felt he was floating above the ground with an uncontrollable sense of happiness taking hold of him. The kind of feeling he was supposed to feel after he finally managed to fill his belly and wound never go hungry.
Despite the fact that he was always hungry and couldn’t imagine the joy of having a full belly, he assumed that happiness must equal the happiness he felt now.
The next day, Jiang Lan and Xue Meng stayed in the office while Zhang Tianxing and Xiao Xiaoyu went to the ceremony construction site.
With a lollipop in his mouth, Jiang Lan worked on his work report while humming a soft melody.
Suan Ni and Jiao Tu lay on the small cushions by the window, bathing in the sun. They knocked the golden pearl, which had become their favorite item recently, back and forth. It was a very leisurely morning.
In the afternoon, Jiang Lan suddenly received a call from Wang Qing, who said a friend of his might have become involved with something not from this world. He asked if Jiang Lan had time to help him.
“My friend’s name is Guan Shui. He is a decent fellow from the Jiang City Corpse Recovery Team, which has been a great help to us in the past.” Wang Qing said.” I won’t ask you if this matter is anything ordinary. But so far all the signs point to the possibility that they had somehow got involved with something from another world. And one member had even been attacked. If you could come, they would pay you. If you don’t want to get involved, that’s fine. I will find an excuse.”
“Guan Shui?”Jiang Lan didn’t expect Guan Shui to know Wang Qing. He smiled.” I have just met this man. Give him my number, and ask him to meet me in Qing Yang Lake Park tomorrow.”
Wang Qing took a breath of relief and thanked Jiang Lan.
Guan Shui was puzzled by the choice of the meeting place. When he met Jiang Lan the next day, he laughed.” The master Wang Qing recommended is you!”
Jiang Lan smiled.” I heard your teammate was attacked? When did it take place? Was he bitten by a turtle?”
Guang Shui’s smile vanished at the mention of the turtle.
“It happened when we returned the day before yesterday. When you said you saw a turtle following us, I became so worried that I called back my team. I thought it’s enough to keep us safe by staying off the water. But when Zhang Zi was counting the ships on the shore, a turtle suddenly leapt out of the water and bit his leg. If Zhang Zi didn’t act quickly, using a pole to knock the turtle down, he could be dragged into the water.”
There was a fear lurking underneath his otherwise calm appearance.” I have never seen a turtle this big with feet as big as a human’s palm and neck as thick as a human’s neck. A piece of flesh was ripped off Zhang Zi’s leg and he was now hospitalized.”
Jiang Lan said.” He was not hurt during the night?”
Guan Shui shook his head.” No, after he was attacked, my master and I sent him to the hospital. And the rest of the crew stayed in the dorm.”
Jiang Lan then proceeded to tell him what he witnessed that evening and described that man’s appearance.
Guan Shui’s face turned dark and his whisker was shaking.” That man must be Zheng Yu. After the training session in the lake, he asked for a personal leave, saying his family needed him back home ….”
It turned out to be a cover for his adventure to the riverside to hunt turtles.
Jiang Lan also sensed something was terribly wrong.