Because of the turtle attack accident, the entire crew except Guan Shui didn’t attend the training session here in the Qing Yang Lake Park.
He tried to call Zheng Yu but he didn’t answer.
After repeating the call a few times, he stopped trying with a grim face.” I can’t reach him. He doesn’t live in Jiang City and I have no other means of reaching him.”
Jiang Lan nodded. Seeing his dry lips, he handed him a bottle of water.” Could you tell me what happened? Those turtles wouldn’t follow you guys for no reason.”
Guan Shui thanked him and gulped the offered water. Then he tried to describe the whole story.” Actually I don’t know what actually led those turtles to follow us. We found out that a turtle was following us half a month ago when we returned from a job.”
“We have never seen turtles this big and joked that we should catch it for its meat.” He recalled.” Our master scolded us for this idea, saying a turtle of this size was usually the host of a supernatural being. We couldn’t afford to offend them, because we have to dive into the bottom of the water and cross over into another world to carry out our works.”
“Our master was afraid that we might accidentally offend those turtles, so he asked us to sacrifice a rooster and threw it into the water as an offering to this supernatural being. After this, turtles disappeared for two days. Just when we thought this trick had worked, they reappeared and started to follow us everywhere.” He paused and smiled bitterly.” This behavior was so spooky. There was a time when I dived into the water to bring to surface a body; I turned around to face a turtle the size of a millstone staring at me quietly, no more than half a meter away.”
There was a visible fear on his face when he said.” It was so close that I could see the emotion in its eyes like a human. It’s so spooky.”
Jiang Lan interrupted him.” They just followed you? They didn’t attack you?”
Guan Shui shook his head.” At first, they were like this. They silently followed our boat. When we thought they had no intention to attack us, we carried on working as usual since now is the busiest season of the year and there was a backlog of jobs that needed to be finished. They first started to attack us a week ago. Zhang Zi and I dived into the water to recover a body floating down from upstream and stuck between two rocks. Zhang Zi dived underneath the body, trying to free it from below and I will lift it from above. After Zhang Zi stayed below the surface for a very long time, I got worried and dived down, trying to find him. I soon saw he was being dragged by two turtles to the bottom of the river. Alarmed, I tried to pull him away. Unexpectedly, those two turtles instantly released him and I raised Zhang Zi to the surface.”
“ After that, We realized these turtles would not hesitate to attack people. Zhang Zi, Zheng Yu and the other three members of our crew were attacked soon afterwards. Our master was worried more accidents like this would follow, so he forbade us to dive into water again. Our jobs would be done using tools while we were in the safety of our boat.”
Guan Shui sighed with a bitter look.” But we couldn’t carry on like this. An intense fear was now spreading among the entire crew and no one dared to dive into the water. Without working in the water, we are now operating at a loss.”
Jiang Lan thought for a moment.” Zhang Zi was still in the hospital?”
Guan Shui nodded.” Yes, he sustained a grievous leg wound.”
“Let’s visit him now?” Jiang Lan said.” There was a gap between following you and attacking you. And those turtles didn’t attack your crew indiscriminately. The way I see it, they just targeted a selected few in your crew.”
Pondering his words and what happened to the wounded Zhang Zi and Guan Shui, Guan Shui said.” You are saying these turtles singled out these two people for attack?”
“It’s just my speculation at the moment.” Jiang Lan said.” Could you please tell me when these two wounded people were not around, would those turtles still attack your crew or follow you?”
Guan Shui thought long and hard, finally he shook his head.” We usually work in a group with two or three people. And these two people would usually be in one of these groups.” He paused for a second.” Oh, yes, the three other wounded people were in the same group as Zhang Zi and Zheng Yu when they got attacked.”
Jiang Lan had a thoughtful look.” Then it’s very possible that these turtles were targeting these two people and the other people just suffered some collateral damage.”
Hearing this, Guan Shui became angry.” If they bring this disaster on our crew, they will pay for this.”
The members of his crew were ill-educated but willing to work a tough job. After their master’s firm recruited and tutored them, the quality of their lives has undergone a great improvement. Their job was hard but well-paid. Without this job, the kind of life they had now would be beyond their reach.
Guan Shui was Master Guan’s apprentice and they shared the same family name. He had no family and treated his master and his crew as his family. After the turtle accident, he was constantly worried about the impact on his crew.
If they suffer this misfortune by accident, he might find it easy to accept. But once he was sure someone in his crew somehow provoked those turtles, he would make sure this person would pay for it.
Driving a minivan, Guan Shui and Jiang Lan went to the hospital.
Zhang Zi was still in the hospital ward with a heavily-bandaged leg. Master Guan and other teammates were also with him.
Guan Shui and Jiang Lan greeted them.
It was the first time Jiang Lan met this legendary Master Guan. He was in his forties, but with white hair, wrinkled dark skin, he looked much older than his age. The only thing that set him apart was his strong muscles.
Guan Shui acted in a very respectful and intimate manner around him. At first, he talked to Master Guan outside the room and then sent the other teammate back. In the end, only Guan Shui, Master Guan, Jiang Lan and Zhang Zi remained in the room.
The original name of Zhang Zi was Zhang Ze. He had a shrewd look and a slim body. According to Guan Shui, he was very skilled in water and had a way with people.
Jiang Lan kept staring at him while Master Guan and Guan Shui kept silent with a serious look. Sensing the focus on him, Zhang Zi smiled awkwardly.” Big Brother, what’s the matter?”
Despite the rough look of Guan Shui, he was very protective of his crew and treated his teammates very well. Zhang Zi was pleading with him.
But this time, Guan Shui didn’t protect him. Instead, he asked with a grim face.” Those turtles were actually targeting you and Zheng Yu?”
This sudden question caught Zhang Zi off guard. Smiling nervously, he tried to look calm.” What do you mean? How come they tried to target us? We didn’t do anything to provoke them.”
As experienced as Master Guan, he had already detected the guilt in his voice. He coughed angrily.” We make a living in the water. If you somehow provoked those things in the water, we would have a big trouble in our hands.”
With an evasive look in his eyes, Zhang Zi still tried to defend himself.” I don’t know…..those turtles also bite other people, why do you think they are just targeting me in particular?”
Having remained silent so far, Jiang Lan said.” Those turtles have a long memory. If you want to remain alive, you better stay away from the water.”
Zhang Zi paused for a second and said.” I didn’t do anything wrong…it’s just a few turtles, why should we fear them?”
“Zheng Yu didn’t tell you?” With a mocking smile on his face, Jiang Lan said.” It’s not just a few turtles. There are more than a dozen, perhaps more. Every one of them is the size of a millstone. One bite from them could easily rip a piece of flesh from your leg.”
Jiang Lan was trying to intimidate him.” Last night, Zheng Yu was almost dragged down into the river by them. If not for me, he would definitely lose his life. But next time, he probably wouldn’t have such luck.”
At this, Zhang Zi had a look of horror on his face. Gripping his bed cloth tightly, he appeared to be agonizing over something.
The other people present didn’t prompt him, they just waited patiently.
Finally, Zhang Zi said.” We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary….one day by the river, seeing a big turtle, Zhang Yu and I decided to catch it and sell it to the people in the wet market….we split the money we got from this sale, a few thousand yuan.”
After he confessed, he collapsed.” We didn’t know this turtle was not an ordinary turtle. People eat turtles everyday, how come we had such bad luck of incurring the wrath from a magical river turtle.”
Master Guan said angrily.” What did I often tell you? And you still chose not to follow my advice. You should always act respectfully around any creatures in the river.”
Wiping off the tears from his face, Zhang Zi’s face was twisted by the horror.” A turtle this big could easily fetch a high price from the market. It’s very hard to resist such a temptation.”
“Where is the turtle you sold now?” Master Guan said.” I will go and buy it back.”
Zhang Zi’s crying suddenly stopped. He said.” We had already asked the people we sell the turtle to. Too late, he had already resell it to a restaurant…. A big wild turtle was a rare thing on the menu and many people would pay a high price to taste it. It had already been made into turtle soups.”
Master Guan had a shocked look on his face. Finally he sighed.
Guan Shui tried to seek Jiang Lan’s help.” Zhang Zi didn’t know who those turtles were. Do you know any way to remedy the situation? We can compensate.”
Shaking his head, Jiang Lan said coldly.” You still refused to tell the truth. I can’t help you. The only advice I can give you is to stay away from the water.”
Then he left the room.
Master Guan and Guan Shui look at Zhang Zi incredulously. A moment ago, they thought Zhang Zi had already told them the truth.
Catching up with Jiang Lan, Guan Shui asked him.” Is there some misunderstanding?”
Jiang Lan liked this man. So he stopped to explain.” Maybe those turtles haven’t acquired human intelligence, but they are still very clever and understand humans. You always worked in the water, have you ever seen them before?”
“No.” Master Guan shook his head firmly. He had never seen a turtle this big in his lifetime.
Jiang Lan asked him.” If you have never seen them in your life, that means they conceal themselves purposefully, and take measures to ensure they are not seen by humans, which brings us to the question as to how and where Zhang Zi and Zheng Yu met these turtles. Even if these turtles accidentally revealed themselves, considering their considerable strength and intelligence, how did one of them end up being caught by two of your crew members?”
Guan Shui finally realized there was something wrong in Zhang Zi’s narratives.
But before he had time to say something, his phone rang. He excused himself and answered the call.
The color of his face turned to ashes after the other end said a few words. After hanging up the call, he said with a heavy tone.” Zheng Yu is dead.”