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Chapter 2: Don’t Listen
Ai Yun closed the refrigerator door and helplessly said, “There’s only instant noodles. I guess I have to do some grocery shopping.”
Before she left, Ai Yun first tried to hang the clock back up, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t arrange it upright. After a while, Ai Yun lost her patience and let the clock hang crooked on the wall.
Luo Yan didn’t sleep well. In his dreams, he saw a behemoth with vague facial features and its entire body lit on fire biting Jin Shuang into pieces. Jin Shuang’s body was like broken glass as he miserably shouted at Luo Yan, “Whatever you do, don’t listen to it…”
Luo Yan was startled awake by the nightmare. It was already noon, and the house was unusually quiet. He recalled what Jin Shuang had told him the night before.
Don’t listen to it? Could he be referring to… that music box? Was something wrong with the music box?
Luo Yan immediately sat up on his bed and felt around, but he couldn’t find it. It was on the table! Luo Yan remembered that he had been too exhausted to put the music box away. He walked out of his bedroom. It was quieter than he thought it would be in the living room.
The curtains had been pulled shut at an unknown time. The lights were also off, so although it was daytime, the living room was shrouded in darkness. Luo Yan saw Ai Yun sitting stiffly in front of the table with her back facing him.
“Ai Yun?” Luo Yan called out to her but received no answer.
The sound of a spring turning could be heard. On the table was the music box!
“Don’t listen to it!”
Jin Shuang’s words flashed through his mind. Luo Yan immediately rushed over to Ai Yun. Her expression was vacant, and her hand was mechanically turning the handle. Luo Yan felt that the surrounding air had turned frigid and didn’t dare to hesitate. He grabbed Ai Yun’s hand, throwing the music box onto the floor. As if waking from a dream, Ai Yun stared at Luo Yan, asking, “You just lied down. Why are you up already?”
Luo Yan didn’t reply. He had a bad premonition as he watched the music box’s handle start to turn in reverse. Although he wasn’t willing to believe in the supernatural, he still told Ai Yun, “Come with me!” Not waiting for her to agree, Luo Yan had already dragged her out of the room. He ran without stopping all the way from the twelfth floor to the first floor.
Only after running onto the lawn outside of his apartment did he stop and sit down on the grass as he gasped for air. Ai Yun calmly looked up at the sky, muttering, “Why is the sun so high up in the sky at eight o’clock in the morning?” After looking at her watch, she exclaimed, “It’s already one o’clock?”
“This is just like what happened to me!”
Luo Yan immediately realized this, but how could a music box be able to bewitch people’s minds? It was really too outrageous. Luo Yan shook his head to try to clear up his head.
Seeing his frightened expression, Ai Yun asked, “What’s going on?”
Luo Yan stopped thinking about the music box they had left behind and slowly suppressed his out of control heartbeat. He stood up and told Ai Yun, “Let’s go on a walk. It’s been a while since the last time we walked together.
Ai Yun revealed a smile and walked alongside Luo Yan.
During the moment the two were leaving the apartment, a person’s shadow appeared on the balcony. After hunching over, that person got into the bedroom and looked around, then walked toward the living room. Once he confirmed that there was no one in the apartment, he straightened up. He leaned on the table and seemed to have been pondering something. The music box on the ground caught his gaze, and he overjoyed when he saw it. He went to pick it up, but before he could touch the little box, its music sounded.
Starting from the first note, an extreme fear filled the person’s eyes.
“So… you believe Jin Shuang’s death is related to this music box?” said Ai Yun.
Luo Yan nodded. “Before Jin Shuang died, he told me to send the box somewhere, and he warned me to never listen to its song.
Curious, Ai Yun asked, “Why is that?”
Luo Yan shook his head. “I don’t why, but I always feel like the music box is really strange. Especially when you were winding it up. I suddenly felt really uneasy.”
Ai Yun also frowned and said, “When I saw the music box, I felt my mind go blank and had the urge to listen to it. And when I woke up, four hours had actually passed… That music box is something foul!”
It was the same as Luo Yan’s situation, but he didn’t tell her that. He only comforted her, “Maybe it was just an illusion.”
Luo Yan didn’t want her to be too worried. Conjecturing before clarifying the situation would only cause confusion. He smiled and changed the topic on purpose. “I’d wanted to try your cooking, but I guess we can only eat out now. Go, I’ll treat you to lunch!”
As the two walked side by side, laughter soon followed the shift in topic. To outsiders, it looked like they were a couple out on a date.
The restaurant Luo Yan recommended was very good. The view of the sea that could only be found in a coastal city was perfectly embodied here. Plus, the chefs were good at making Huaiyang and Sichuan cuisines, which happen to be Luo Yan and Ai Yun’s tastes respectively. Ai Yun saw Luo Yan earnestly ordering dishes and commented, “Not bad, you still remember I like eating Sichuan cuisine.”
“They have it?” Luo Yan calmly lowered his head so that the menu just happened to cover his face.
Ai Yun secretly laughed.
Their meal was very cheerful. Its warm atmosphere diluted the day’s mysteriousness.
They returned to the apartment, and Luo Yan had just opened the door when he heard Ai Yun shrieking.
“What’s wrong?” Alarmed, he turned to look at her. She was unharmed, but there was a terrified expression on her face. She trembled as she pointed at the living room. Luo Yan shifted his gaze in the direction she was pointing in.
There was someone in his apartment!
An uninvited guest in black clothes lay in the room. There was a horrible splotch of red on the ground. The clock hanging on the wall had fallen to the ground and had a slight scarlet stain. Luo Yan called out to him, but there was no response. Luo Yan noticed the person’s face was pale and blue. A panicked expression sat frozen on it. The eyes were opened wide and unfocused.
“How is it?” asked Ai Yun as she hid behind the door.
Luo Yan sighed. “Dead.”
He inadvertently glanced at the music box on the table. An indescribable chill arose in his heart.