Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 1 Book of Thunder – Chapter 39 Sudden Change
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 39 Sudden Change
I still could see the moment when Wen Jiubo opened fire on Wang Zhong in my mind. That terrifying calmness in his eyes almost seemed to say that a human life was nothing more than something easily thrown away. It didn’t seem like he had any sort of…. feeling towards killing someone.
“When you killed Wang Zhong…” I lowered my gaze, trying my best not to let Wen Jiubo see my expression. “There was a moment when I saw that he became a demon. What happened?”
“Before you barged into that house willy-nilly didn’t I tell you?” Wen Jiubo tucked his hands into his sleeves. “That was a ‘live demon’. A human who is still alive, but has already become an evil demon.”
“I don’t understand… was Wang Zhong a human or a demon?”
“How do you decide who is human and who is a demon?” Wen Jiubo raised his eyebrow at me. “Humanity labels anything they fear as ‘demonic’. However, in a so-called demon’s view, is humanity human or demon? Or, if there were suddenly kind demons, would those still be called demons? In the end, human or demon, those are merely stereotyped labels within a human’s heart. Wang Zhong cursed himself by giving away his humanity, which is why he turned into that. By denying his humanity and refusing to use normal human ways to get satisfaction, after a time, his soul became possessed by demons, turning him into a half demon, half human monster.
“So, in the end,” Wen Jiubo sighed lightly. “Only humanity can produce such a deep tragedy.”
“Then Mr. Wen,” I deliberately used a form of address I hadn’t used in a long time. “I have a question to ask of you.”
Wen Jiubo raised his eyebrow. “Ask.”
“What are you then? Are you a man or are you a demon?” I watched him closely.
Wen Jiubo seemed like he hadn’t expected me to ask this question. He looked slightly surprised, but after a moment, the bored expression he usually wore returned.
“Whether I’m a demon or man isn’t determined by me. Which do you think I am?”
Just like I expected, he easily put the ball back into my court.
“I think Mr. Wen… isn’t human.” I said, dropping the words one by one.
“Oh? Why is that?”
“… You already knew that Wang Zhong was the culprit, even before you returned right?”
“About 90% sure.”
“Then why didn’t you say something earlier?” My words were full of suppressed anger.
“Without actual evidence, I didn’t want to startle him prematurely,” he said calmly.
“Even if that was the case, why did you stop me from going in after we saw the shadow?”
“Didn’t I already say? It was very dangerous, you could’ve been injured if you charged in like that.”
My heart started racing in my chest. I breathed in deeply once, before I slowly said, “Wen Jiubo, I just checked on Xiaoying’s injury. That dagger was directed towards her heart. Her hand was injured because she reached out to block it. If I had been the slightest bit later, Xiaoying would be dead right now.”
Wen Jiubo looked at me quietly, not saying a word.
“Did you know that?” I didn’t even realize my voice had started to tremble slightly.
“I did, that’s why I wanted to stop you from going in.” Wen Jiubo said lightly as if discussing the weather. “Firstly, serial killers are the most dangerous right before they kill someone. Charging in then, not only wouldn’t help catch him but rather would mean that the likelihood of you being injured is higher. Secondly, I also said that I didn’t have any solid evidence, therefore instead of expending so much effort trying to find evidence to pin him to the crimes, it would be easier just to catch him red-handed.”
I froze in place, understanding Wen Jiubo’s words with great effort. As I did, an extreme chill washed over me from head to toe.
Wen Jiubo….never intended to save Xiaoying. Quite the opposite, it seemed that he was waiting for her to be killed.
He had patted her hair with that sort of smile, he had even teased me while we were hidden in the tall grass with a smile, that sort of thing…
I suddenly remembered what Shi Yitong had once said. He had warned me that this man was very dangerous and I had stubbornly ignored his advice. To this very day, I never understood anything about this man before me. His identity, his age, his birthplace, his past experiences, I didn’t know anything. Even though I clearly knew nothing, I had pretended to know him well, accompanying him to investigate cases…
“Gu Yu…” When I came back to myself, Wen Jiubo was watching me with a sorrowful expression. He took one step towards me.
“Don’t come near me!” I yelled, taking a step back at the same time.
Horror welled up inside me. The chilling cold that wrapped around me was worse than when I was facing a knife-wielding murderer before.
Wen Jiubo stopped in his tracks, unmoving. He just stared at me sadly, calling my name, “Gu Yu…”
“I’m sorry. Please don’t come any closer.” I shook my head stiffly in apology. “I’m sorry, I…”
— I’m very scared.
Without finishing my sentence, I turned and ran. This might be the fastest I had ever run in my life. Even I didn’t know what I was running from, I just knew I had to run. I had to escape.
When I finally stopped to breathe, I turned to look behind. There was nothing there, except for the darkness of the night.