Soon after, it was the day when the rich came to the church to hold a strange sacrifice.
Usually, the dean would call ‘him’ to the church a day early. On that day, ‘he’ wouldn’t go back to his normal bed and would instead sleep in the church.
Bai Liu held the ‘Killing Records of a Slenderman’ that ‘he’ gave him. Finally, he got up, carefully put on his shoes and headed to the church.
The church was locked by the dean but Bai Liu had been at the church for a long time and knew some small passages that would allow him to sneak into the church. For example, a small broken window blocked by a curtain.
Bai Liu climbed through the window into the church. He used the moonlight to search for traces of other people and finally, Bai Liu found ‘him’ behind the statue.
The moment Bai Liu saw the other person, there were no emotional fluctuations on Bai Liu’s face.
‘He’ was curled up in a bathtub that was slightly smaller than his body. The bathtub was full of blood and his almost transparent face was half soaked in blood. His breathing couldn’t even be felt. There was a thin layer of frost on his eyelashes and his hands, feet and forehead were still bleeding from the blood drawing.
“Xie Ta,” Bai Liu called out ‘his’ name for the first time.
In the bathtub, Xie Ta woke up slowly. He opened his eyes and saw Bai Liu. He reached out his hand like he was about to touch Bai Liu, but something in the bathtub wriggled. Thorny vines full of mushrooms protruded from the blood and wrapped around Xie Ta’s neck, wrists and ankles. One second before Xie Ta’s fingers could touch Bai Liu, he was wrapped up tightly and confined in this blood-colored baptismal pool.
“What are you doing?” Bai Liu heard himself ask calmly.
Xie Ta explained, “A baptism. This is the ritual before my blood is drawn.”
“Those people are here to draw your blood, right? They need your blood to save themselves.” Bai Liu continued to ask very calmly. “So much of your blood has been drawn. Won’t you die?”
“No.” Xie Ta looked at Bai Liu. “I am a monster so I won’t die.”
Xie Ta exhaled white fog as he spoke. This was enough to show that his current body temperature was very low.
“Then aren’t you cold sleeping here?” Bai Liu wondered.
Xie Ta shook his head honestly. “I don’t feel it.”
Bai Liu placed one foot into the blood. He knelt down and forced himself into the gap where Xie Ta was curled up. Bai Liu’s warm body temperature penetrated the blood and passed to Xie Ta. Xie Ta blinked slowly and the frost on his eyelashes melted at Bai Liu’s breaths.
He could feel the cold now because Bai Liu was so warm.
Then Bai Liu casually opened the book Xie Ta had given him and asked, “Do you want to look at it together?”
They slept together in the filthy, blood-filled baptismal pool. They chatted aimlessly as the statue looked down on them.
“What does baptism mean?”
“A baptism means that God bestows blessings on his beloved, newborn believers.”
“You receive blessings like this?”
“…They are the ones being blessed.”
“Do you believe this? Do you really think there is a god?”
Bai Liu curled up in Xie Ta’s cold arms and fell into a deep sleep. He woke up the next day and found himself in his own bed with no blood on his body.
In the afternoon, Xie Ta returned and he was even paler than before.
This time, the pinpricks had spread to his face. The back of his hands and his feet were covered in shocking bruises from the repeated blood draws.
Bai Liu silently wrapped the bandages he had stolen from the infirmary around the needle marks that were still bleeding.
Xie Ta watched him quietly before suddenly saying, “Remove these bandages. Then your Slenderman doll will have a face.”
Bai Liu’s lips pressed together in a straight line.
The group of wealthy people who drew blood came more and more frequently. This meant Xie Ta’s appearance became less frequent. Even when he appeared occasionally, the smell of blood and mushrooms from Xie Ta’s body made it hard for people to accept.
Once Xie Ta appeared, the children would stay far away from him and continue to fan the tip of their noses with disgust. It was as if they wanted to fan this strange smell away along with Xie Ta.
Xie Ta also seemed to know that the smell on his body wasn’t good. He rarely appeared in front of Bai Liu and just watched from a distance. Occasionally, Bai Liu would walk over to find Xie Ta but Xie Ta would disappear.
Once he didn’t want to come into contact with people, it was as if he didn’t exist. No one could find him at all, including Bai Liu.
Bai Liu started to get into contact with adults outside, doing things not appropriate for children in the gray area. He could use this to make a lot of money.
Once he had enough money, ability and preparedness, he would definitely take Xie Ta away from this group of investors and run out of the welfare home—albeit, it was a very immature and naive plan.
A faint sense of uneasiness and urgency made Bai Liu realize that if Xie Ta didn’t leave, there was a good chance he would never be able to leave.
However, Bai Liu’s matter was still exposed.
The child who exposed Bai Liu shrank back behind the dean. He was cowering and gulped several times before raising his hand in a trembling manner, pointing at the blank-faced Bai Liu. “I saw him doing… some strange deals with that adult! He helped the adults do bad things! I saw it! The adults gave him money!”
“Have you done this type of thing, Bai Liu (6)?!” The dean looked at him sternly.
Bai Liu didn’t say anything to deny it. He just stared at Xie Ta in the crowd and remained silent.
He had no explanation for what he did—because it was meaningless.
These people didn’t care what he had done. Even if they didn’t ask him about his actions, they would still convict him of the crime.
Of course, what he did wasn’t anything good.
It was just that these teachers were afraid of him—the odd child who was always mixed up with Xie Ta, becoming more eerie and terrifying. He liked to look at bloody stories and always looked at other people like they were livestock to be slaughtered.
Thus, it was natural that he was going to be punished. Bai Liu wasn’t in the mood to judge these teachers’ measures for punishing people. In any case, it wasn’t the first time he had been punished.
Yet when the teacher came over and grabbed Bai Liu’s arm, wanting to drag him away, Xie Ta placed one hand on the back of his chair and stood up shakily.
His face and tone were unchanged as usual. “I made him do it.”
Now these teachers completely had their hackles raised.
Compared to Bai Liu, they were naturally more afraid of Xie Ta. They surrounded Xie Ta but they vigilantly maintained a one meter gap, forming a vacuum encirclement.
The dean cautiously, fearfully and condescendingly asked him, “Why did you make Bai Liu (6) do such a thing?”
They never suspected that Xie Ta didn’t do it, just like the previous process of convicting Bai Liu. They simply sentenced him to this crime with certainty.
It was because he was a monster and Bai Liu (6) was a bad boy who accompanied the monster. Everything they did was taken for granted.
Xie Ta glanced sideways at Bai Liu who was being pulled up by the teachers. The corners of his mouth raised abruptly. The moment that Xie Ta smiled, Bai Liu felt that his silver-blue eyes would surely become very gentle and beautiful. Unfortunately, they were blocked by his hair and Bai Liu couldn’t see it.
Xie Ta confessed with the same soft tone as when he gave the book to Bai Liu.
“It is because I want to contact the people outside and run away with Bai Liu (6).”
“How dare you run away?!” The dean screamed hysterically. “You know what trouble you will cause us if you run away! The second round of screening has started! Those investors won’t give money without your blood!”
The children dispersed in a panic. They were frightened as they discussed it in whispers,
“Blood? What blood? Is it the blood flowing from his pinpricks?”
“He is a monster!”
The dean instinctively covered her mouth after finding her mistake. The next second, she looked viciously at Xie Ta and held him by his slender wrist to drag him toward the church.
“Everything you have is given by this welfare home yet you want to escape!” The dean’s anger overcame her fear and she cruelly sentenced Xie Ta to a punishment. “I think we have given you too many privileges. You should receive some education. Tonight, I will lock you up in the church so you can be baptized!”
Then she dragged Xie Ta by the wrist and left.
Bai Liu struggled past the noisy children and teachers. He chased laboriously through the crowd, reaching out to try and grab Xie Ta who was being taken away from him. “Xie Ta!”
Xie Ta looked back at him. The wind blew up his curly hair covering his forehead, revealing those silver-blue eyes that were as beautiful as a lake after the snow melted.
Bai Liu stared blankly at Xie Ta’s eyes that weren’t sad at all. Instead, they were calm and seemed very satisfied as these eyes reflected Bai Liu in a wholehearted manner.
Xie Ta also reached out to him, holding the hand that Bai Liu was using to try and grab him through the crowd, their fingers interlocked together.
It was a cold and warm touch that allowed Bai Liu to feel the bulging scars on the back of the hand.
“Bai Liu (6).” Xie Ta smiled very shallowly while squeezing Bai Liu’s hand. “Don’t be afraid. I am a monster and I won’t die.”
“Let go!” The dean pulled away their hands.
Bai Liu gritted his teeth. He didn’t want to let go but Xie Ta quietly let go of his hand. The tight grip disappeared in an instant.
Xie Ta shook his head at Bai Liu, telling Bai Liu not to chase after him. Then he turned around and calmly walked with the dean to the church that he was already familiar with.