“My husband didn’t come home. I miss him so much.”
Xie Mian saw the text message and slightly frowned. He then thought it was simply spam, so he deleted it.
But not long after, a new message popped up, “I’ve been seeing yellow and blue stars recently. I told my husband about it and he said it was normal. But is it really normal?”
Xie Mian took a glance, then deleted it.
His deskmate Chu Zheng saw that he’d been looking at his phone a lot, so he asked him about it.
“It’s just spam. I deleted it already,” answered Xie Mian.
Chu Zheng joked, “You’re too dense. Maybe it’s a message sent by a secret admirer or something.”
“How could that be?” Xie Mian immediately denied.
It didn’t really matter.
Chu Zheng didn’t say anything else.
They were all senior students in their third year of high school, all very nervous about their studies.
Xie Mian had always been a good student. He was always at the top in his grade. Even until now, he’s still very busy and does endless test exercises.
But what he had thought to be a simple spam number kept on messaging him, “My husband is back. I did a good job today so he brought me a cake that he liked.”
Xie Mian blocked the number, but somehow they were still able to send him messages.
“After eating the cake, I have to do it with my husband. I don’t like it, but he does. He likes it so I have to endure it. I have to endure it all because I love him.”
“Bleeding… My husband did it. He likes to see blood so he’d often hurt me. It’s really painful.”
Xie Mian couldn’t bear it any longer. He texted back, “You have the wrong number.”
Unexpectedly, the other person replied, “Who are you?”
“An innocent nobody who’s been harassed by you. Please don’t send me any more messages in the future.”
“I don’t understand what you’re talking about,” the other person said.
Confused, Xie Mian sent back a single “?”
“I’m so hungry. I just ate the cake, but why am I so hungry?”
Xie Mian decided to call the number to give them a warning. When he did, it was a middle-aged woman who picked up the call. She spoke in a strong dialect and asked, “Hello? Who is this?”
Xie Mian suppressed his anger and said politely, “Auntie, did you send those messages to the wrong number?”
“What? I didn’t send anything. Who are you? A scammer? Let me tell you, I don’t have any money!” The middle-aged woman argued.
Xie Mian explained, “Just now your number has sent me a lot of disturbing messages. It has been bothering me greatly. Can you please stop sending them?”
The middle-aged woman’s tone changed, “I didn’t send anything! How can you blame someone out of nowhere?!” She harshly replied.
Xie Mian said angrily, “Auntie, where are you? I’ll come find you.”
“X city. And I didn’t lie. Why don’t you believe me? Can this Auntie lie to you? Each text message costs a dime. I can’t even afford to send messages to my husband, and you’re telling me I sent messages to harass you? Don’t talk nonsense–”
As the middle-aged woman started to prattle on, Xie Mian got so annoyed that he just hung up.
The messages continued to come in like a steady stream, full of the balderdash of a mentally ill person, they simply made no sense. Each getting more odd as time went on.
“I wanted to eat egg noodles. I told my husband and he asked me to eat a sausage first. It’s so big and smelly. I don’t like it. Who would even like it? I don’t.”
“I wanted to go out, but my husband said no. He said there were a lot of bad people outside who would harm me. How could they harm me? Last time, the nanny sister was very kind to me. She gave me candy and said she wanted to take me away. She was so good to me. How could she harm me?”
Xie Mian was originally very irritated, but he realized something from this person’s words. He asked, “What’s your name?”
The person replied quickly, “My name is Puppy. It’s the name my husband gave me. Is it cute?”
Xie Mian frowned. He bowed his head as his slender fingers slowly typed, “I meant your real name.”
“I don’t have one. My name is Puppy. My husband asked me to be his good dog. I want to be a good dog. I’m a good, cute and lovely dog.”
Xie Mian’s head was in a mess. He asked, “How old are you?”
“How old am I? My husband celebrated my 28th birthday recently. I’m 28 years old this year. My husband said that I was getting too old for him. He wanted to throw me away. What should I do? Ah, it’s over…”
Xie Mian’s frown deepened. He picked up his phone and called the police.
The police soon came, and Xie Mian showed them the messages. As a result, the police said to him with a serious face, “Kid, don’t you know that filing a false report has legal consequences?”
“…You can’t see the messages they sent?”
Several policemen shook their heads. Xie Mian realized that only he could see the messages sent by this person.
Although he supposedly called for a false report, the police officers saw that Xie Mian was just a high schooler who looked quite nervous. They all thought he was hallucinating due to too much pressure so they didn’t pursue it. Instead, they just asked him to go back and get some rest.
After the police left, Xie Mian stared at his phone, incredibly irritated.
Once he returned to school, he asked Chu Zheng to see his text records, “Can you see these messages?”
Chu Zheng held his phone and asked back, “See what? Did your mother send you a message?”
Knowing that Chu Zheng couldn’t see it either, Xie Mian took back his phone and answered with a short “No.”
Chu Zheng, who was lying on his desk, tilted his head and squinted at him, “Your mother really doesn’t care about you, does she? What about your father?”
Xie Mian glanced at him, “Don’t you think you’re annoying?”
Chu Zheng cooly replied, “No, I don’t think so.”
He looked at Xie Mian with deep, unfathomable eyes, “Your father doesn’t want you either. What, you worked so hard to study, but they can’t see it at all.”
Xie Mian gave him a cold look. “You talk too much.”
Chu Zheng’s pale face showed a faint blush. He crossed his legs and laid on the table. With a light voice, he said, “Xie Mian, if it’s like this, even if you went missing, will no one look for you?”
Xie Mian paused. He lifted the tip of his pen and raised his eyelids to look at him, “What do you mean?”
Chu Zheng opened his eyes. They looked especially sharp, with a slight hint of beauty to them, He said innocently, “I mean, you’re a child whose father doesn’t even love his mother nor himself. It’s easy to be targeted by those kinds of bad guys, you know. After all… Even if you disappear, no one will report it, right?”
Xie Mian snorted coldly and said nothing.
His pen suddenly fell. Xie Mian bent down to pick it up and caught a glimpse of something. He couldn’t help but feel a slight shiver. He picked up the pen and said to Chu Zheng, “Don’t get hard in class. What are you, a beast?”
“Aren’t all high schoolers like this?” Chu Zheng said with a smile.
Xie Mian didn’t speak, but his phone lit up again. It was a text from the strange person. He opened it and felt even colder. “My husband took me out, dressed me in a skirt and called me a little bum. What does that mean? I don’t think that it’s anything good, but I can’t seem to remember. Once I use my brain, my head hurts. I’m so stupid, but my husband likes me like this. He likes dumb fools.”
“Last time I picked up a book to read, I didn’t actually read it, but I thought it was easy to understand. When my husband saw it, he was very angry. He gave me a lot of yam and didn’t let me get up for days.”
“I’m so sad. I’m sad when it rains. I’ve been crying. My husband couldn’t coax me so he took me to do it. He doesn’t like wearing condoms and does it roughly so I always get a fever. The doctor comes every day. He also wanted me to be his puppy, but I never told my husband about it. He said he wanted to take me away and let me go back to school to study. But I don’t want to study. Reading is bad, my husband would get angry.”
Xie Mian’s face severely darkened. Chu Zheng came closer but he couldn’t see anything, so he asked, “Xie Mian, what are you looking at?”
“Nothing,” Xie Mian said.
He stood up and went outside with his phone in his hand. He sent a message, “Think about your name and where you are. I’ll come find you.”
The person replied, “My name is Puppy. I am in a big villa. Don’t come to me. My husband will get angry.”
Xie Mian comforted them, “OK, I won’t come to you. I’m just going to ask you something, you have to answer properly, okay?”
The person replied, “Okay, I will. I’m a good dog.”
“What’s your husband’s name?”
“My husband… He’s my husband. He’s my man. We are married. He gave me a very big wedding ring.”
“No, everyone has a name. What’s your husband’s name? If you don’t know, try to look for your marriage certificate.”
“I can’t. I can’t find it… No, my husband hid it. He also hid my ring. He said he was afraid I would eat it. But how could I ever eat it? I’m a good dog. The best dog.”
Xie Mian’s face turned ugly, “You’re not a dog. You’re a person. Your husband isn’t a good man. If he loves you, he wouldn’t treat you like a dog!”
“You! You actually scolded my husband! You don’t know anything. My husband is so good to me. I’m a man and can’t have children, but he still married me. My husband likes children the most. He sacrificed so much to be with me!”
Xie Mian didn’t know what to say.
He didn’t expect that this person would actually be a man. He’s hopeless, he thought.
But he couldn’t give up. He’s also heard of the Stockholm syndrome.
Xie Mian thought long and hard before continuing to type, “Where do you live? Can you see any landmarks around you?”
The man replied, “It’s a big villa. My husband is very rich. There’s a big garden where we’d make love in spring. After doing it, our whole bodies would become fragrant… ”
He extracted important information from the man’s lot of nonsense. He found that there was a winding mountain road outside the villa. After driving for a while, you’d be able to see a tall round tower. It was a landmark of some sorts.
He borrowed the key to the computer room, turned on the computer and looked it up online. He quickly found the location, which turned out to be in the same city.
Xie Mian didn’t know why, but in his heart he wanted to give up and let it go. Especially because it was almost time for the college entrance examinations. But then again, if he didn’t do anything, he felt like he’d feel uneasy for the rest of his life.
When he came downstairs, he ran into Chu Zheng. Seeing that he was leaving, Chu Zheng asked him, “Class is starting soon. Where are you going?”
“I’ll go with you.”
“No, you go to class,” Xie Mian said with a frown.
But Chu Zheng insisted, “I’ll go with you. I already offered anyway.”
Well, that was true. Xie Mian couldn’t think of any reason to refuse, so he had to let him follow.
Chu Zheng took the taxi with him. With the area getting more and more remote, he asked, “Where are we going?”
Xie Mian had always been a man with very few words. He was indifferent and cold. Chu Zheng was used to it and didn’t feel hurt.
After a while they arrived at the location. Seeing that it was a remote mountain forest, the driver asked them, “Do you want to go back?”
Xie Mian got out of the car and said to him, “Please wait for me for half an hour.”
“I’ll add it to the fare.” The driver reminded him.
Xie Mian said that he knew and walked straight into the forest.
Chu Zheng chased after him, “What are you doing here?”
“Don’t ask. I don’t want to talk about it.”
After a while, Chu Zheng said, “It’s so quiet, there’s nobody here. I bet it’d be the perfect place for Tibetans.”
Xie Mian stopped and sent a message to the man, “Why can’t I see the villa you mentioned?”
“I just fell asleep. When I woke up, my husband was very angry. He said that I wanted to run away. How could I run? I am the best, most obedient dog. My husband must have misunderstood me.” The man replied.
Xie Mian repeated himself, “I’m at the place you mentioned, why can’t I see the villa? Did you lie to me?”
The man said excitedly, “I didn’t lie to you. You don’t believe me? I’m a good dog. I’ve eaten everything my husband gave me. I’m the best dog!”
Xie Mian felt like he was on the brink of madness, but he soon calmed himself. He shouldn’t be angry with the mentally ill. He took a deep breath and asked, “Okay, you’re the best dog. I believe you, but you should at least tell me your husband’s name. What’s his name? Think about it. A good and smart dog like you should be able to answer my question.”
The man replied, “But I’m a stupid dog. My husband doesn’t like smart dogs.”
So damn tiring… Love? What the hell is love.
Xie Mian wanted to go back, the exasperation still clear on his face. Chu Zheng asked, “What did you want to do here?”
Xie Mian said irritably, “Can you not ask so much? You’re really annoying, you know?”
Chu Zheng was silent but Xie Mian didn’t bother looking at him. He turned his head and went ahead.
Chu Zheng’s shoulders trembled slightly, his cheeks flushed, and his voice trembled. When he raised his head, he elatedly said, “Ah… It’s hard again.”
Xie Mian didn’t notice Chu Zheng’s …situation. He simply turned off his phone and stopped thinking about it.
Forget about helping, let’s just leave it to fate.
That’s what he said, but Xie Mian made sure to keep his phone on for the next few days.
Later, the phone was suddenly bombarded with notifications. It was all sent to him in one go, as if this person would die if he didn’t tell Xie Mian everything right then and there.
But Xie Mian didn’t want to see it. He knew that this man was suffering, but he couldn’t do anything about it. This man didn’t cooperate with him and wholeheartedly wanted to defend his husband. What else can he do?
Even if he didn’t want to, he still found out a lot from the man’s words. For example, how his husband would always use food to lure him, and play excessive games with him. How he had to feel a lot of pain so that his husband would say that he loved him. Also about how he’d been staying in the villa, waiting for his husband to visit him every day, suffering from extreme mental distress. But he thought everything was completely normal.
Xie Mian was perturbed, but he didn’t reply anymore.
Three days before the college entrance examination, Chu Zheng invited him to play games at his house to relax. Xie Mian had no reason to refuse, so he agreed.
He went to Chu Zheng’s house according to the address given by him. Based on his house, he found that Chu Zheng seemed to be very rich. He was surprised that Chu Zheng never mentioned it to him.
Chu Zheng saw him coming and immediately welcomed him inside.
When Xie Mian was playing games, he would pick up his phone from time to time. Chu Zheng softly smiled and said, “I always see you looking at your phone recently, but no one’s sent you a message. What is it? Are you expecting a text from someone?”
Xie Mian wanted to tell Chu Zheng, but after thinking about it, he changed his mind. “What major do you want to apply for?” He asked instead.
“I want to major in psychology.”
Chu Zheng smiled and said, “I want to be a psychiatrist in the future.”
“Psychiatrists have to receive more patients, it’s also easy to have psychological problems. It’s a high-risk occupation.”
Chu Zheng looked at him, his smile gradually exuding an inexplicable taste, “For others, maybe. But for me, it’s different.”
These words would usually attract the curiosity of others, but Xie Mian was no such person. He was cold by nature and had no intention to establish a close relationship with people, so the topic ended there by default.
After playing games all afternoon, Xie Mian stopped and refused Chu Zheng’s offer to stay overnight.
He took a taxi to go back to the school. When he got on, Xie Mian glanced at the driver casually. He saw that it was a young man, his white and slender fingers were gripping on the steering wheel. It was strange that he was all covered up with a cap and black mask on such a hot day, but Xie Mian didn’t think much of it. He couldn’t have cared less.
After a while, Xie Mian looked out of the window. He saw that the vehicle seemed to be heading for a quiet and secluded area. He couldn’t help but be on guard as he asked the driver, “Mister, did you go on the wrong road?”
The driver’s voice was young and familiar, “No, there was no mistake.”
As soon as he finished speaking, Xie Mian immediately noticed the stream of white gas that was ejected from the car. It was dizzying. As his consciousness gradually fell into chaos, his phone received a notification. Xie Mian inched his finger and clicked on the message, “I found our marriage certificate! I’ll take a picture of it for you!”
Below the message was a photo. A beautiful hand holding a smooth piece of paper, the entire thing was written in English letters. On it he saw two names, Chu Zheng and Xie Mian.
“I remember. I think my name is Xie Mian, and my husband’s name is Chu Zheng! But I still prefer the name Puppy!”