The headquarters of the Dangerous Heretic Handling Department.
Bai Liu was transported there under heavy guard. This time, he entered through the door in a dignified manner.
Everyone was lined up on both sides of the main entrance. They watched with fear, hatred or disbelief as this heretic was welcomed back after escaping from here last night.
The huge white ball turned slowly and the entrance opened.
Bai Liu walked in without squinting. On his left was Cen Buming, the captain of the second team escorting him. To his right was Tang Erda and the numerous team members were behind him.
If it wasn’t for Bai Liu’s hands still being shackled behind his back, he would seem like the leader of the two teams—the former captain of the first team.
Yet in fact, he was only a fugitive who received two teams to apprehend him.
Bai Liu was guided into the elevator. Cen Buming swiped his card to turn on the elevator’s operation button. Then Tang Erda took a step forward, took a deep breath and pressed the button for the lowest floor.
The elevator containing three people descended floor by floor and fell to the bottom.
It wasn’t known where it came from but a fishy smell started to fill the narrow elevator.
“I’m surprised that you would agree to my terms so easily.” Bai Liu looked sideways at Cen Buming, who was standing behind him to his left. “After all, Heretic 0001 seems to be very important to you.”
Cen Buming glanced at him. “No matter how important, it isn’t as important as 2,000 lives. In addition, it was more important to the captain of the first team. He was its guardian and the one who decided to seal it. We don’t know what this heretic is.”
“In addition, you are just going to take a look at it. You won’t hinder us.” Cen Buming coldly glared at the back of Bai Liu’s head that had turned around. “Look in front and don’t look at me. The file says that your eyes have a bewitching effect on humans.”
Bai Liu, who was caught off guard by the sour remark, “……”
Tang Erda, who provided the information in the file, “……”
The elevator stopped and the doors opened smoothly. Bai Liu walked out.
He stepped into the very bottom of the Dangerous Heretics Handling Bureau again. The situation was different from last time but the scene was the same.
There was a long, dark, tunnel-like corridor with the smell of seawater that came from an unknown place. In addition, there was the door that stood quietly at the end, forever closed.
“First of all, we have no intention of opening this door for you. After all, no one knows how dangerous this heretic is.” Cen Buming looked at Bai Liu. “We just promised to let you use the Heretic 7061 ‘Lens of Perspective’ to take a look at what is behind the door.”
“To be precise, you can only look for one minute.”
Cen Buming held up a black box with the number 7061 on it. Then he dangled a strangely shaped watch on his wrist in front of Bai Liu’s eyes. “If you agree, I will remove the handcuffs, hand you the Lens of Perspective and start the timer.”
Bai Liu turned around without any objections to let Cen Buming uncuff him.
Cen Buming removed Bai Liu’s handcuffs. “Additionally, as far as I know, all the people who have seen Heretic 0001 have gone crazy and committed suicide.”
He paused. “This includes my former captain, the greatest captain of the bureau and the first captain of the first team, The Prophet. It is too late for you to regret it now.”
The moment the handcuffs were removed, Cen Buming held his gun against Bai Liu’s head.
Bai Liu naturally raised his hands to show he was harmless. Then he rubbed his wrists that were bruised from the handcuffs and turned to face Cen Buming with interest.
“This great captain—did he say anything about Heretic 0001?”
Tang Erda, who was standing aside, shook his head. “Most of it is sealed in top secret files and no one has the permission to view them.”
“However, there are a few things I know.” Cen Buming looked at Bai Liu. “The Prophet said that everyone is very afraid of what Heretic 0001 shows so they will go crazy when they see it.”
Bai Liu raised an eyebrow. “Is it similar to the Murphy’s Magic Mirror?”
“No, the Murphy’s Mirror is fake while what Heretic 0001 makes you see is real.” Cen Buming approached Bai Liu. The muzzle of his gun pressed against Bai Liu’s forehead and it was as cold as Cen Buming’s eyes. “All heretics have names. Do you know what the name of Heretic 0001 is?”
“What is it?”
Cen Buming answered, “Future.”
Tang Erda was stunned. Bai Liu saw Tang Erda’s bewildered expression out of the corner of his eye and understood that the captain of the third team was hearing the name of Heretic 0001 for the first time.
“Future—is that why so many people go crazy with fear?” Bai Liu raised his eyes to look at the captain of the second team, who seemed to have many secrets.
“Maybe the very meaning of the ‘future’ itself is to make people feel scared and go crazy.” Cen Buming pressed a gun to the back of Bai Liu’s head and forced him to move forward. His tone and expression were calm to the point of abnormality. “Fear comes from the unknown. What is more unknowable and frightening than the future?”
Bai Liu raised his hands and walked forward. “It sounds like Captain Cen has seen his future.”
“I haven’t seen it before. The known future will make me both lose my fear and motivation to pursue it.” Cen Buming stopped. “However, you are about to decide whether to see your future or not.”
Bai Liu looked up. In front of him was the door of Heretic 0001 that had been welded shut.
The door was tall, cold and indestructible. There was no entrance and no key. It was solitary like it came this way and thick enough to block the breath of Xie Ta that Bai Liu had smelt.
In the ‘future’ that belonged to him, Bai Liu smelled Xie Ta.
“Have you thought about it?” Cen Buming looked at Bai Liu. “Do you want to see your terrible future?”
“Maybe sometimes the future isn’t terrible?” Bai Liu replied softly. “When you know someone is in your future.”
Bai Liu didn’t look back and just extended a hand to Cen Buming. Cen Buming was silent for a moment before putting the box containing Heretic 7061 into Bai Liu’s hand. Then he unlocked the box with his fingerprint.
The heavy, stainless steel box was opened and inside was a well-crafted, old-fashioned monocle wrapped in a fine piece of flannel.
“Hold it straight to your pupil, just like when the doctor is measuring you when fitting you with glasses. Adjust the position until the iron door in front of you becomes transparent.”
Tang Erda quietly directed Bai Liu on how to use this monocle, his tone uncontrollably complicated. “Then you can see… the future inside.”
At the same time, Cen Buming pressed the timer button on the watch.
The ticking sound of the watch was heard as Bai Liu looked through the semi-convex, old, scratched lens until the iron door gradually disappeared. There was an empty, pure whiteness behind the door.
The pure white light spread indiscriminately. No matter how much one looked inward, they could only glimpse these emotionless white lights in vain.
Finally, just as Bai Liu’s eyes turned sore, a small TV with static appeared at the end of the white light.
The small TV seemed to realize that Bai Liu was watching it. The buttons on the edge jumped spontaneously like it was searching for a channel. The static screen flashed twice before turning into the white and black letters that appeared at the beginning of an old movie. Light flashed above while the center had a row of large characters.
[Last worldline game.]
[Player: Bai Liu and his friend (?)]
[Setting mode: Extreme hard mode (hell mode).]
[Setting the game’s main plot line part 1 – the tragic drama of the separation between loved ones in life or death.]
The subtitles faded. The bars on the small TV flickered twice and a very unclear scene appeared. It was like the first-person perspective from a single player horror game of the 90s.
On the small TV, Bai Liu saw waves of water, fine ice floes and bubbles rising from his nose and mouth. It was as if he had fallen into the water. Judging from the situation where his limbs were weakly floating on the edge of his field of view, he should’ve been drowning for more than four minutes and it seemed like he was about to drown.
However, he seemed to still be weakly moving his hands and feet. He seemed to still have a certain consciousness.
Curiously, instead of paddling at the water, he continued to dive below the surface. It was as if he was trying to catch something that had fallen to the bottom.
The screen shook and the perspective changed. Then Bai Liu saw what he was grabbing. It was a beating heart that was constantly falling deeper toward the seabed under the ice sheet.
Bai Liu was just about to grab it when a hand passed through his chest and grabbed the heart one step ahead of him. At the same time that this hand withdrew, it seemed to want to eliminate him completely and mercilessly squeezed Bai Liu’s heart.
A bloody mist exploded from his body and spread everywhere in the sea.
Bai Liu saw himself slowly turn around, spread out his limbs and sink. His eyelids closed weakly in the sea of red and blue and the picture on the small TV started to turn black and shake unsteadily.
Even so, Bai Liu did see that the man who crushed his heart had a face that looked exactly like Tawil’s face.
He was so cold and indifferent as he held the beating heart. He floated in the water like a god and watched Bai Liu freeze in the zero degree water.
The faint light from the sky disappeared. The sun on the horizon was incomplete and only a quarter of it remained. The seabed that engulfed Bai Liu was even colder.
The picture gradually faded and a new line of subtitles gradually appeared on the small TV.
[Setting the game’s main plot line part 2 – parting with a friend of over 10 years.]
This time, the footage on the small TV shook even harder. It was as if someone was holding Bai Liu’s collar and violently shaking him while yelling at him hysterically.
“Bai Liu! You can’t go on any further! You’ve done enough to win!”
Bai Liu recognized the voice.
He also recognized the face of the man on the small TV who was beating him with tears streaming down his face. This person’s face was flushed and the veins of his neck were bulging. It was the first time in 10 years that he had seen this guy show such an expression.
Lu Yizhan stood in front of him, squeezing his shoulders and arms while slamming him into the ground over and over again. This was his means against prisoners.
Bai Liu’s body was covered with blood and there were bruises on his arms and legs. However, Lu Yizhan didn’t look much better. His nose was crooked and blue while his face was swollen. His distressed, gentle eyes were full of an unprecedented fierce emotion as he stared at Bai Liu motionlessly. He seemed ready to rush up at any time.
They seemed to be brutally and mercilessly fighting each other.
Bai Liu heard his own fierce, heavy breathing. He should be the one who was more seriously injured. Lu Yizhan had received professional grappling training and Bai Liu couldn’t beat him in hand-to-hand combat.
Lu Yizhan, whose injuries were less severe, seemed to finally be unable to bear it. Tears dripped from his eyes and he raised his hands to wipe them. He wiped his entire face into a mess of blood and flesh and raised his head as he choked out a question. “Bai Liu, what is the meaning of your existence?”
“—Is it to be a monster standing across from me?”
“Aren’t you a person?”
TL: I am holding my annual translation anniversary celebration event with the possibility of winning cash prizes just by participating. Please check out the details below. The deadline for submissions is November 30th.