After viciously scaring Mu Ke, Bai Liu (6) took back his hands and returned to his expressionless look. “Even if all the investors here are blood-suckers, my investor is still on our side. It is because it is too easy for him to kill you. He will help us so you had better listen to him and not act rashly.”
Mu Ke nodded wildly. He was shocked by Bai Liu (6) and his heart was a bit uncomfortable. He stuttered, “Y-Yes, I know!”
After determining that Mu Ke would be obedient, Bai Liu (6) turned and headed toward the corridor. He stood behind the bedroom door that was opened by something and looked out into the corridor. Suddenly, Bai Liu (6) frowned.
In the corridor where the flute sound was heard, the doors of several rooms were open. The hanging open lamps covered with cobwebs swayed gently with the night breeze. In addition to the flute, there was the sound of children’s running feet and soft laughter coming from somewhere, echoing distinctively in the long, empty corridor. None of this was the reason for Bai Liu (6)’s frown.
“Something is coming in.”
Mu Ke hid behind Bai Liu (6). He didn’t dare to stay alone and he couldn’t sleep after waking up. He had to work up his courage to imitate Bai Liu (6) and look at the corridor. Now he was confused hearing Bai Liu (6)’s words. “I don’t see anything coming in…”
“Look up.” Bai Liu (6) quietly opened his mouth. “On the ceiling.”
Hearing Bai Liu (6)’s words, Mu Ke’s neck was like a rusty machine as he slowly looked up.
The long corridor of the welfare home had deep and high arches more than one meter wide. They were high and narrow, with many colorful animal oil paintings on the surface. In the night, these animals looked ghostly, as if the light of a real carnivore had appeared in their eyes. This was generally what Mu Ke feared most at night but now there was something even more frightening than these animals—
Many children hung from these oil paintings like bats. These children were tangled with blood-stained infusion bags and infusion tubes. The dense infusion tubes were wrapped around the children while the needles of the infusion tubes were stuck in the wall. They relied on continuously inserting the needles into the wall to move around.
These children seemed to have been completely sucked dry, just like in Mu Ke’s dream. The skin on their faces were wrinkled and dry, like sun-dried orange peels attached to their skulls. Their hands and feet were extremely thin like malnourished big-headed dolls. Their eyes were black and white on their withered faces and were frightening. Due to the eyelids shrinking, the entire half-eye protruding from their face could be seen.
Translucent infusion bags of various colors were wrapped around them like a floral dress and they were playing the flute.
The flutes they were playing weren’t regular flutes but a very long and large needle tube. The surface had holes drilled into it to make a flute and the needle was stained with dried crusts of blood. It made a very strange, high-pitched flute sound under their dry, thin mouths.
“The Pied Piper.” Bai Liu (6) seemed to have realized something. “No wonder why I didn’t see a flute player yesterday but felt the flute coming from all directions. It is because this group of flute players is on the ceiling.”
Mu Ke’s legs were soft and he pulled at the corner of Bai Liu (6)’s clothes. “L-Let’s go back to sleep.”
Bai Liu (6) didn’t care about Mu Ke at all. He stared up at the children playing the flute for a while. After seeing them enter through different open bedroom doors, he followed them with ease. Mu Ke almost fainted when he saw this but he was afraid to be left alone in a bedroom with the door wide open. Finally, the tearful Mu Ke followed Bai Liu (6) while shaking. He was like a follower not dedicated to his work.
The group of flute playing children entered different bedrooms and rolled their big eyes that seemed about to fall out of their eye sockets at any second. They stood on the ceiling, twisting their heads to an angle that was almost parallel to the ground and observed the sleeping children below.
Bai Liu (6) hid next to the half open door. He didn’t go in but leaned slightly forward to watch through the crack of the door what these children would do. The child on the ceiling walked around the bedroom. He cocked his head and carefully observed every sleeping child from above. Finally, he stopped at one sleeping child as if he finally locked onto his target. The tentacle-like IV tubes lowered and gently lifted the child’s quilt.
Mu Ke saw it and couldn’t breathe. He covered his mouth in a death grip out of fear he would cry out.
Soon, the child woke up. He had obviously woken from a terrible dream created by the flute, just like Mu Ke. There were tears and panic on his face. All of a sudden, he saw such a terrifying child and he almost screamed, but his mouth was blocked by the IV tube.
The child on the ceiling used the IV tubes to make gestures to the awake child. Soon, the child broke out into laughter. He quickly jumped out of the bed to put on shoes and followed the child on the ceiling out. Bai Liu (6) quickly returned to his bedroom and closed the door, leaving it open a crack so he could watch the scene in the corridor.
Every child who played the flute entered a different bedroom and came out with a happy, smiling child. The children on the ceiling played the weird flute syringe and the children lined up while singing. They went out one by one, just like the scene Bai Liu (6) saw yesterday.
Suddenly, the group stopped. All the children on the ceiling suddenly cocked their heads and gazed at the crack where Bai Liu (6) was peeping at them with their dead eyes. Mu Ke, who was hiding behind Bai Liu (6), tugged frantically at Bai Liu (6)’s coat. He looked at Bai Liu (6) with an expression so frightened that he was on the verge of tears.
Mu Ke covered his mouth and controlled himself so he couldn’t cry. Then he waved his hand and slowly pointed above their heads.
Bai Liu (6) was quiet as he slowly looked up. He saw a child with a crooked head, a wrinkled face and eyes the size of ping pong balls staring at him.
The child should’ve come in when Bai Liu (6) went out just now. The IV tubes below him were still wrapped around a child. This child was in the same bedroom as Bai Liu (6) and the others. Now he was wrapped in the IV tubes and looked at Bai Liu (6) and Mu Ke with a strange smile on his face.
Bai Liu (6) slowly opened the door to let them go out. The child bounced away while the one on the ceiling observed Bai Liu (6) and Mu Ke who was covering his mouth and crying. He stroked them with the IV tubes as if to confirm something. Finally, he took back the IV tubes and walked away on the ceiling with no expression.
The sound of the flute was heard again in the corridor, spreading through the blood-stained syringes and fading away in unison along with the singing voices of the children who had been taken away. It echoed ethereally in the corridor before disappearing at the end of the corridor.
Bai Liu (6) checked that there were no more monsters on the ceiling and quickly locked the bedroom door from the inside.
Mu Ke completely collapsed on the ground. He covered his heart and breathed with difficulty, adjusting the frequency of his heartbeat. He was almost scared to death just now. Then when Mu Ke recovered and turned his head, he saw that Bai Liu (6) acted like nothing happened. Bai Liu (6) was already lying on the bed, lifting up the quilt and preparing to go to sleep. He didn’t look like he had been almost taken away by a monster just now.
Mu Ke was speechless as he walked over to Bai Liu (6)’s bed and lowered his voice to accuse this person, “We were almost taken just now! Can’t you think before rushing out next time?!”
Bai Liu (6) had covered himself with the quilt and closed his eyes. Once Mu Ke came over to scold him, he didn’t even open them as he explained in a nonchalant manner. “They won’t take us. I have observed before that this flute is very directional in the children it takes.”
He noticed this when observing yesterday. The sound of the flute was hypnotic to all children but only a few children were taken away. Previously, Bai Liu (6) had wondered how they did it. His door wasn’t opened by the flute player yesterday. He had observed the corridor from his window in the bedroom but his vision was limited. Therefore, he didn’t see the children on the ceiling.
Yesterday, the children playing the flute hadn’t entered Bai Liu (6)’s bedroom so he didn’t know how they selected a child to take away.
Now Bai Liu (6) felt he had to figure it out. After all, his investor would be very interested in this information. Thus, Bai Liu (6) would take the risk.
“Even if it is directional, how do you know that we aren’t the children who will be taken away?” In fact, Mu Ke had also perceived this. The flute playing children were obviously looking for children who met certain characteristics to take away. The problem was that he didn’t know the other party’s criteria for choosing a child.
Mu Ke wondered, “Our door opened tonight. This means there was a child in our room who was eligible to be taken away. How did you know it wasn’t us?”
“It is because today is Tuesday.” Bai Liu (6) finally opened his eyes to look at Mu Ke. “Today is our baptism day so we won’t be taken away.”
The author has something to say:
The 14 year old Bai Liu (6) told the 11 year old Mu Ke: You are no longer a 10 year old child. You have to be a quiet adult. Don’t be emotional, don’t stealthily remember with longing, don’t look back. To live another life, you have to be obedient. Understood?
Mu Ke (confused): Is that so? I am an adult now?
Bai Liu (6) (expression not changing): Yes, so you have to listen to me.
Little Mu Ke: There seems to be something wrong…?