Published at 16th of April 2016 10:45:02 PM

Chapter 1

“Mutualism refers to the relationship between two organisms whereby each individual benefits from the activity of the other individual . When either individual is absent, the other individual experience serious negative repercussions, and may even die . ” The biology teacher’s voice rang out loudly and clearly, as though he was a singing cicada .

The warm glow of the setting sun filtered into the classroom, casting its light on half the classroom, whilst the other half remained shrouded in darkness . Chen Nian sat on the boundary that divided the dark from the light . The bright sunlight caused her to squint, her long, black eyelashes offering little help in blocking the sunlight .

A shadow loomed over her . It was the form teacher . Two police officers trailed behind him .

Silence descended upon the entire classroom .

“Chen Nian,” The form teacher stood before her, a warm smile plastered over his usually stern face . “Could you come out for a minute?”

Chen Nian looked towards the two police officers, her face paling slightly . She took a quick glance at the empty seat in front of her, and slowly put her mechanical pencil down . When she rose from her seat, she tugged at the skirt that had been stuck to her legs .

The gaze of the biology teacher, along with those of the entire class, followed her out of the classroom; and when their eyes could no longer see her, their ears followed her, the hair on their ears standing upright in their effort to hear what little news they could .

The form teacher patted Chen Nian’s skinny shoulders, and attempted to comfort her, “Don’t be anxious, they’re just going to ask you a few questions . ”

One officer had an extremely stern expression on his face, whilst the other young police officer wore a gentle smile on his face .

Chen Nian nodded her head, and silently followed the form teacher to his office . Having taken a few steps, the form teacher suddenly turned his head back into the classroom, chiding the students who were bursting with curiosity, “Concentrate!”

Upon arriving at the form teacher’s office, Chen Nian sat down, the cold air from the air conditioner crawling into her skin……

The form teacher looked at Chen Nian and asked calmly, “Chen Nian, you do know why these two police officers are here today, don’t you?”

“I……kn……know . ” Chen Nian had a habit of stuttering despite not being anxious in the least . Although her face was terribly pale, it was because she was born with naturally pale skin .

The young police officer took sympathy on Chen Nian, and asked, “You know we’re here because Hu Xiao Die committed suicide by jumping off the school building?

Chen Nian nodded her head, her black eyes staring unblinkingly at him .

“You ought to know why we chose to ask you, and not anyone else, right?”

“That day I……I was…… was on clean…… clean-up duty . ”

“That day, Hu Xiao Die, you, and two other classmates were responsible for cleaning up the classroom together . After the four of you had completed the duty of cleaning up the classroom, the two students left, leaving you and Hu Xiao Die in the classroom . ”

Chen Nian nodded her head .

“You mentioned that you left before Hu Xiao Die did?”

Chen Nian nodded her head once more .

“That day, did Hu Xiao Die leave you with any message or reveal any information to you?”

Chen Nian shook her head, her eyes sharp and clear .

“Did you detect any abnormal behaviour on Hu Xiao Die’s part?”

Chen Nian shook her head once more .

The other police officer interjected, “Could you describe to us Hu Xiao Die’s state and behaviour that day when only the two of you were left in the classroom?”

“I already wrote…… wrote my……ob……observations down . ”

The form teacher interrupted at this point, “It’s simply too difficult for this child to speak . The police had already questioned her previously – the interrogation was recorded too . ”

Chen Nian quietly glanced at the form teacher .

The police officer thought for a moment before asking, “You mentioned that you didn’t see Hu Xiao Die after school that day . As such, you decided to return home . ”

Chen Nian nodded her head .

Last week, as the security guard conducted his usual patrol on the school grounds, he discovered a pool of blood on the tiles in front of the staff building, with Hu Xiao Die’s broken corpse lying in the middle of the blood pool . Hu Xiao Die was the school belle, but she died in a most ugly fashion .

The police officers made an initial determination that Hu Xiao Die had committed suicide . However, the reasons for her suicide remain clouded in mystery… . .

When the police had no further questions, the form teacher instructed Chen Nian to return to class .

As Chen Nian walked out of the air-conditioned room, a thin layer of sweat  formed over her body immediately, as though she had been cling wrapped . Chen Nian gazed at the blindingly white sunlight . For a moment, Hu Xiao Die’s milky white corpse flashed before her eyes, causing a cold shiver to crawl up her spine .

Having taken a few steps, a voice rang out from behind, “Chen Nian . ”

It was the young police officer . He passed her his namecard and smiled, his piercing gaze seemingly capable of deciphering the unknown, “My surname is Zheng . If you ever need help in the future, you could always give me a call . ”

Chen Nian’s heart dropped for a moment . She nodded her head slowly .

When she entered the classroom, it was as though someone had accidentally pressed the mute button – all ballpoint pens and assignment books were frozen at a standstill . Chen Nian acted as though she hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary, and simply walked towards her seat . Amongst the ten gazes that were glued onto her body, Chen Nian felt one which was particularly cold and sharp .

Chen Nian glanced at Wei Cai, who was seated in the last row . Wei Cai’s eyes were framed with eyeliner, and her dark gaze conveyed a harsh and cruel threat .

The minute Chen Nian sat down, Zeng Hao, who had been sitting diagonally in front of her, pinched her legs slightly under the table . Chen Nian started feeling under the table, and retrieved a note from Zeng Hao’s hands . The note asked, “What did they ask you?”

Chen Nian fell silent, glancing at Hu Xiao Die’s empty seat in front of her before glancing at the rest of the students surrounding her . Despite the sudden disappearance of one single classmate, the class didn’t appear to be terribly affected – only Hu Xiao Die’s good friend, Zeng Hao, had been found crying on various occasions .

The rest of the class were mostly focused on gossip; rather than being melancholic, the majority of the class was simply curious and confused .

Or rather, they were simply bewildered .

One of the significant traits and advantages of being a youth is one’s forgetfulness . Despite the setbacks one encounters, one is nevertheless still able to easily forge ahead after shrugging off one’s disappointment .

The students who had been whispering away just a minute ago all fell silent at this very moment . Their bright eyes were fully focused on the clock above the blackboard – one last minute till the end of school!

Although students were not allowed to talk or whisper during class, the knowledge that school was about to end gave courage to every single student . The students who were usually extremely disobedient even began to count down aloud, “20……19……”

Gradually, the noise became louder, as though a horde of bees was slowly nearing .

The biology teacher knew about the inherent tendency of organisms to converge and mimic the actions of the group, but he refused to admit defeat by putting the textbook down . An increasing number of students began to join in the countdown, “13……12……”

Chen Nian could feel her heart beating in time with the rhythm created by the disobedient male students . She had finished packing her bag under the table; the moment the school bell rang, she would rush out of the classroom immediately . In the heat of the evening, a thin sheen of sweat formed on her nose .

The biology teacher made a final attempt to gather the students’ attention, “Besides mutualism, parasitism and competition, what is the one other relationship that exists between organisms?”

The entire class shouted out in excitement, “Predation!”

Ring…Ring…Ring… The final bell exploded in the classroom, and the classroom erupted into chaos .

Chen Nian quickly walked out of the classroom, and after ascertaining that she was no longer being pierced with that cold and cruel gaze, she started sprinting with all her might . Across the corridor and into the stairwell, her white canvas shoes moved frantically across the steps .

Her legs were extremely thin, and looked as though they were about to break from the speed at which she was running at . A couple of male students sped past her, roaring along the way . Chen Nian disregarded them, instead opting to pump all her energy and concentration into running . Once in a while, Chen Nian would look back – it was as though there was an invisible evil ghoul racing behind her in an attempt to take her life .

By the time the final bell stopped ringing, Chen Nian’s white school uniform had already disappeared from the entrance of the school .

Chen Nian continued running, only stopping when she no longer had any energy to continue on . By then, Chen Nian had already reached the small alley near her home . Panting from exhaustion, she continued walking forward slowly .

Her heart was beating as loudly as a drum . Chen Nian wiped the sweat from her mouth, and tightened her grip around her bag .

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The small alley was shrouded in the evening glow, with the occasional wisp of freshly cooked dinner drifting out from the nearby homes .

Pingpingpangpang… Amidst the clanging noise caused by the ladles clashing against the metal pots, Chen Nian discerned punching and kicking noises .

A bunch of hooligans was beating someone up in a corner . A boy dressed in a white T-shirt had curled his body up on the floor; he neither resisted the punches, nor did he make a single sound .

Chen Nian lowered her head and attempted to walk past the hooligans, who were shouting and swearing at the boy in the white t-shirt .

Chen Nian kept her gaze straight, and did not even bother giving the hooligans a second glance as she walked past them . However, the minute Chen Nian rounded the corner, she retrieved her mobile phone immediately . Chen Nian managed to key in two numbers with much success – but before she managed to key in a third number, she was suddenly yanked by the collar .

Chen Nian was like a little chick which was unceremoniously dragged into the center of the crowd .

Trapped in such a situation, Chen Nian had little choice but to lower her head .

A hooligan gave her a light slap on the cheek, “Little Bi***, who were you going to call?”

Chen Nian lowered her eyelids, “My mo……mother . ”

The other party twisted her hand, successfully revealing the screen of her mobile phone . The numbers “11” could clearly be seen on the screen .

“110?” Before Chen Nian could react, she was forcefully slapped . “F***ing Bi***, you wanna die?!”

Chen Nian fell onto the boy in the white t-shirt, her face blazing with pain . All of a sudden, she was hit with waves of regret . She should have simply minded her own business . None of this concerned her . Even if these hooligans had beaten this boy to death or had beaten him till he was crippled, it was none of her concern .

“Who’s this little shit!” Just as the hooligan was about to kick Chen Nian, another hooligan intervened . The hooligan who had intervened squat on the floor, grabbing Chen Nian’s ponytail and forcing her to raise her head .

Chen Nian caught a glimpse of the school uniform which was hanging loosely on the hooligan’s waist . Ah, the hooligan was the same age as her . However, despite the similarity in ages, the hooligan and her were worlds apart . It was as though they were natural enemies, organisms which belonged to different classifications .

The hooligan used his chin to point at the boy in the white t-shirt, “You know him?”

Pulling Chen Nian by her hair, he twisted her head to face the boy in the white t-shirt . In the dim evening light, Chen Nian’s gaze was caught by a pair of emotionless and dark black eyes .

“Don’t……”Chen Nian struggled to speak aloud, “Don’t know . ”

“You don’t know him?” The hooligan was still grabbing Chen Nian by her hair, which by now had transformed into a bird’s nest . He shook her head roughly, “How dare you be such a busybody even though you don’t know him?”

“I won’t……won’t be such a busybody anymore . ” Chen Nian’s voice was extremely soft, but her regret and her plea for mercy was still patently obvious in her answer .

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She lowered her eyelids once more, not daring to look at the eyes of the boy in the white t-shirt .

Despite having lost interest in Chen Nian, the hooligans were still unwilling to let her off so easily, “If you don’t know him, why do you still try to help him? Hmm?”

Chen Nian replied slowly, “I’m not sure . ”

Chen Nian gradually felt stirrings of unease within her .

“You think he’s good looking, don’t you?”

Chen Nian remained silent, her mind void of any answer . Chen Nian could tell that the boy in the white t-shirt was an extremely handsome boy when she glimpsed at him a few moments ago . However, she hadn’t had the opportunity to see his face when she first decided to help him .

“Of course he’s good looking – after all, his mother is famous for her great looks in our city . ” The hooligans snickered whilst exchanging glances . “There’s a huge train of people lining up to get into her bed and……”

“Who knows, maybe it’d finally be my turn one day? I’ve been wanting to enter a woman from behind for the longest time……”

Chen Nian grit her teeth; she could feel a sense of shame that did not belong to her exploding on her face . At this moment, she couldn’t muster even the slightest bit of courage to look at the boy in the white t-shirt . When the hooligans finally stopped mocking the both of them, they grabbed Chen Nian by the collar, “Do you have any money on you?”


“He doesn’t have any money . Do you?”

Ah, so these were bullies who frequently extorted money from weak students . As Chen Nian came from a rather poor family, she couldn’t bear to part with her money . However, she decided to part with her seventy dollars as she feared that the hooligans would search her body . As she handed over the money, her eyes reddened in the process, “I on……only have…… this much . ”

The hooligans snatched the money from her, and insulted her as being a ‘cheap idiot’ in the process . However, the hooligans were extremely dissatisfied with the small amount of money, and had to find ways in which they could vent their unhappiness .

“Well… Since you saved the boy, we’ll reward you by allowing you to kiss him on the lips!”

Chen Nian was stunned for a moment before crawling up from the ground, violently resisting the hooligans who had surrounded her . The hooligans easily overpowered her, and pressed her onto the ground . Fury and shame engulfed Chen Nian, but even shame could do little for her .

Chen Nian shrieked and struggled, trying her best to resist the hooligans who were manhandling her; meanwhile, the boy in the white t-shirt simply looked at her coldly from his narrow eyes .

Her mouth knocked into his, her soft lips pressed against his sturdy teeth . Her head was held in place by the hooligans, and the both of them were forced to lie on the muddy floor . The hooligans on the sidelines were happily counting as time passed, and insisted that they had to count till ‘110’ .

Chen Nian finally stopped her resistance, a stream of tears falling from her eyes onto his face .

The boy in the white t-shirt silently looked at her without making a single sound .