Translated by: TaffyGirl13
Chapter 6: Theory of Evolution
Shao Yue Hua was dead.
Bizarrely, her killer was her own twin sister, Shao Yue Ting.
The way Shao Yue Ting had murdered her own sister was simply horrifying.
When Ye Xiao and Su Mu used the air ducts to return to the room they had come from, Zhou Yue’s dried-up and deformed corpse was still lying on the ground.
Ye Xiao glanced at it with lingering trepidation, his panicked state of mind not yet recovered as it was still trapped in the scene he had just witnessed. After spacing out for a while, he finally muttered, “The perpetrator is Shao Yue Ting? Then that means Zhou Yue and Yang Wen Jie were also killed by her?”
Su Mu stared at the dead body on the floor and did not reply.
Ye Xiao swallowed hard and after some thought, added, “But w-what was that thing? Did you see it? Those snow-white fangs, and-and that…needle in its mouth. She killed a person like it was as simple as drinking a can of Coke with a straw. She-she isn’t human, is she?”
Su Mu still did not speak. He turned his head to peer at the three hexagonal mirrors on the opposite wall, as well as that strange symbol above it.
“What did you say that symbol looked like before?”
Ye Xiao focused his eyes on it as well and said, “Like a child’s scribble.”
“No, not that. Like a child’s scribble of what?”
“Er, like…a child drew some kind of winged insect.”
“What kind of insect?” Su Mu pressed further.
Ye Xiao blinked. “Why are you suddenly asking this? I was just randomly guessing before.”
Su Mu shook his head and pointed at the strange symbol. “Based on what you previously said, if the middle long oval-shaped section is the insect’s body and the circular parts on either side are its wings, don’t you think it resembles a bee?”
Ye Xiao walked closer to study it more carefully. He rubbed his chin and murmured, “Oh, now that you’ve mentioned it, it really is quite similar to a bee. But how is that related?”
“Of course it’s related.”
Su Mu said, “If we go by our previous conjecture, then every person on the last carriage had received a mysterious invitation letter to board that train. In that case, the one that started this all by sending out the invitation letters is a certain family that uses this bee symbol as their crest.”
“The mysterious family?”
“Yes.” Su Mu nodded. “Think about it closely. Actually, the list of passengers in that final carriage had been arranged from the beginning of this entire incident. Then the carriage that those set-up people were sitting on suddenly detached in the tunnel. Following that, we found this empty house that was the only place with a visible light source. Soon after, the people in this house began to die one after another—everything was unpreventable, irreversible. Every single move we make seems to change according to the situation, but in reality, it has all been staged by some invisible person. Someone is controlling everything from behind the curtains.”
“You mean…” Ye Xiao stared at the symbol on the wall and let out a hollow laugh. “The great demon king behind the curtains this entire time is the mysterious family that uses this bee crest?”
“Yes. The name of the family is Havlen.”
“Havlen?” Ye Xiao started and cried out in surprise, “You actually knew the family this entire time?”
Su Mu shook his head. “No, I’ve only heard others talk about it before when I was very young, so I don’t know the exact details either. But there probably isn’t anyone that would know, since the Havlen family has lived hidden for generations in a place that people of this world cannot find. No one ever saw them after some point, and they just became legends.”
“Oh? What kind of legends? Let me hear them.”
Ye Xiao’s eyes were wide with vibrant curiosity.
Su Mu stared at him in faint exasperation. He felt like he had become a storytelling kindergarten teacher.
“The legends say that Havlen is an enormous, mysterious and ancient family. They have their own culture and language system, as well as their own dedicated way of life. There are even some that say they look different from ordinary people. They also never marry people from the outside world, only marrying within the family from generation to generation to maintain their pure bloodline and genes. In the legends, the Havlen family emblem is a symbol similar to a bee, which is why I vaguely thought of something after you mentioned that this thing resembled an insect. Think about it, what do bees use to attack people?”
“Er, they use…needles?”
“That’s right, a bee’s weapon is a needle.”
Ye Xiao stared blankly for a moment at Zhou Yue’s body on the ground. Realisation dawned on him as he said, “Huh, so through all that talk, what you really meant to say is that Shao Yue Ting might be a descendent from that Ha-whatever family?”
But as soon as he blurted this, he immediately felt that this did not make much sense either. He muttered to himself, “That’s not right, she and Shao Yue Hua are twin sisters. If she was that weird family’s descendent, then how would you explain Shao Yue Hua?”
After a brief silence, Su Mu replied, “I cannot explain it. At this point, everything is just a conjecture with no final conclusion.”
“Oh, alright.” Ye Xiao helplessly scratched his head then asked, “But, based on what you just said, those Ha-whatever people from the legends don’t look the same as humans. Does that mean they look like Shao Yue Ting did earlier? With fangs, and a fatal weapon inside their mouths? If that’s the case, then do the people in this family count as humans or not?”
Su Mu glanced at the three hexagonal mirrors on the wall that combined to form the shape of a beehive and slowly said, “There are two different versions of the legends regarding the origin of the Havlen family.”
“Oh? What two versions?”
“The first is that the members of the family did not evolve from the same ancestor that humans did.”
“Meaning that, unlike how everyone knows how humans continuously evolved from apes billions of years ago, the Havlen family members evolved from a different animal. However, this animal might be unknown to humans even to this day; perhaps they are extremely rare, or they’ve already become extinct. This unknown animal was very similar to apes, so the evolved Havlen family resembled humans in terms of appearance and habits. However, they had some particular aspects that differed, such as fangs that could grow from the mouth.”
“Um, simply put—” Ye Xiao tilted his head and concluded with an example, “If humans evolved from a red orangutan, then that Ha-whatever family might’ve evolved from a green orangutan. But since the green orangutan has already become extinct, no one knows about its existence. Thus, all that remains alive in this world is the product of their evolutions. Is that right?”
“In theory, yes.”
“Alright, understood. Then what about the second version?”
“The second version is that the Havlen family evolved from humans.”
“Pfft, what? Evolved from humans?”
Ye Xiao chuckled and stared at Su Mu as though he was an alien.
Su Mu did not bat an eyelid as he seriously replied, “Yes, they might be the product of human evolution. Actually, long before Darwin’s theory of evolution appeared in the nineteenth century, some human scholars had already brought up this suspicion. Were humans truly the final form of evolution? In other words, could humans just be a temporary phase in an unending evolution process?”
“Er, you mean that humans haven’t completely evolved yet?”
“Yes. Evolution has no limits. There’s no such thing as ‘complete evolution’.”
Ye Xiao doubtfully rubbed his chin and asked, “But if it’s like the fangs we saw sprout from Shao Yue Ting’s mouth, I feel like that’s more regressing back to animals instead of evolving?”
Su Mu shook his head and replied, “You know about ‘natural selection’s survival of the fittest’, right? An animal can only change from a lower level to a higher level of complexity through heredity, variation, and natural selection. The number of species then increases as evolution progresses. Natural selection is an important factor that leads to gene variation in life forms to continue evolving.
“For example, if the earth ends up being completely submerged under the oceans in the future, then as a land creature, humans would inevitably need to evolve gills to breathe underwater like fish if they wanted to survive. The alternative would be dying out and naturally being eliminated. That’s why an animal’s evolution cannot be judged by any physical trait, as it is determined by its environment. Do you understand, student Ye?”
In a smooth flow, Su Mu patiently explained everything in detail to Ye Xiao, who stood there listening attentively, completely sucked in. Finally, he blinked and cheekily chuckled while saying, “Why does it sound so complicated? Professor Su, could you repeat it again?” There was no knowing if he truly did not understand or if he was feigning dumb.
Su Mu immediately rolled his eyes in response and wordlessly spun around to walk out.
Ye Xiao scratched his head and shouted out after Su Mu.
Right then, a high-pitched scream suddenly rang out on the other side of the door.
The person screaming was Shao Yue Ting.
When everyone rushed to the door of her room, they only saw her curled in a corner, cradling her head while sobbing uncontrollably in panic. Her entire body was trembling in fear, and she could not even stand up.
Next to her lay the shocking sight of a withered, dried-up corpse on the floor. Based on the clothes, this person was Shao Yue Ting’s older twin, Shao Yue Hua.
“How did this happen, how did this happen…Another one dead…another one dead!”
Feng Jing Jing tightly hugged her own shoulders and stumbled backwards as her face twisted in terror. Her thick makeup was now blurred, her black eyeliner mixing with her tears to leave dirty streaks down her cheeks.
Yuan Meng Yu clutched Duo Duo’s hands and covered the girl’s eyes. “Duo Duo, don’t look, don’t look.”
“Seriously fucking cursed! Did we collectively run into something evil tonight?” Zhao Fei Peng muttered coarse swears.
Zhang Xiao Long silently stood at the very back. He bit his lip and did not utter a sound.
Xue Qing was still hiding in her room.
Yan Kai snapped a few photos and then asked the curled-up Shao Yue Ting, “Weird, weren’t you with your sister the whole time? How did she suddenly die?”
Shao Yue Ting shook her head, tears covering her face as she choked out “I don’t know…I don’t know…”
“Then did you see the perpetrator?” Yan Kai asked.
“Don’t ask me, I don’t know…I didn’t see anything…When I woke up, Sis was already like this…I don’t know anything…”
As Shao Yue Ting spoke, she buried her head into her arms as she sobbed spasmodically.
“Tch, what a good actress,” Ye Xiao muttered.
Su Mu watched Shao Yue Ting without saying a word.
After a while, Ye Xiao had everyone in the rooms gather together in the living room for safety purposes. There were only eight people left at the long table. The eight seats fit everyone perfectly.
Ye Xiao and Su Mu stood, as well as the wanted criminal cuffed to the staircase railing: Ma Hong Liang.
When everyone sat around the table, no one attempted to speak first. Only Shao Yue Ting’s broken crying echoed through the vacant living room. The atmosphere was heavy and stifling.
“Hehe, did another person die upstairs?”
Ma Hong Liang sat on a step to chew on some bread Ye Xiao gave him while enjoying their misfortune. “I’m not saying this because I want to, but the perpetrator behind these people dying one after another must be among you.”
When he said this, everyone turned to look at him, then exchanged glances with each other.
Indeed, Ma Hong Liang was correct. The perpetrator was among them.
Ye Xiao kept his eyes locked onto Shao Yue Ting, who continued crying.
At this point, she had returned to her original appearance, the fangs and killer needle hidden away as her head nodded slightly. With her beautiful facial features, her crying appearance was like raindrops on a pear blossom, inciting a feeling of pity. It was impossible to imagine that she was the same person that had sported such a fierce and sinister form just now.
“Sigh, it’s a shame she didn’t go into acting,” Ye Xiao grumbled.
However, Su Mu shook his head and quietly stated, “No, I don’t think she looks like she’s acting.”
“Ah? How is that possible? We clearly just saw…”
Ye Xiao stared at Su Mu in shock, but Su Mu shushed him.
Ye Xiao swallowed his doubts. Puzzled, he watched Shao Yue Ting, who was still shaking as she hugged her knees by the table.
Indeed, if she’s acting right now, it’s a bit too realistic. Her traumatised fear didn’t look like an act either. But we clearly witnessed her commit murder when we were in the air ducts, so why does she now seem like she’s lost her memory?
Ye Xiao suspiciously furrowed his brows.
At this point, Yuan Meng Yu quietly asked, “What time is it?”
Yan Kai checked his watch and replied, “Four.”
Four in the morning. The long dark night had not yet ended.
Yuan Meng Yu gazed out at the dense, inky darkness outside the window and murmured, “When exactly will it be daytime?”
Yes, when will daytime come?
Everyone remained silent.
Feng Jing Jing dropped her forehead in her head from both physical and mental exhaustion as she asked in despair, “So what if it’s daytime? Even if it’s daytime, we cannot leave. There’s no transportation, no internet, no phone. We can’t seek rescue either way.”
“Do we really have no choice but to stay here for three days and three nights?” Yan Kai sighed.
“No, I can’t. I don’t want to sit here and wait for death!” Feng Jing Jing suddenly shot up onto her feet.
“What do you want to do?” Zhao Fei Peng looked at her.
“I want to go out!”
Feng Jing Jing hugged her arms and took a deep breath to say, “This place is so big, I refuse to believe this is the only house. If I go out, I’ll definitely be able to find someone else. There might even be a hotel, a restaurant, a public phone booth—we just haven’t searched hard enough! As long as we step outside this house, we have a way to live. How about it, does anyone want to go out together with me?”
As she said this, she surveyed the other seven people sitting around the long table.
All of them seemed somewhat hesitant. No one spoke.
After all, in this strange and unfamiliar place, this house was currently their only shelter. If they left to go out into that remote and desolate place that didn’t even have streetlamps, they might end up running into ferocious beasts like wolves. There might even be bandits. Moreover, this place had no road signs whatsoever. If they got lost and could not even find the railroad they had started from, then wouldn’t that mean starving to death stranded out in the wilderness?
There were too many unknown factors outside. The reality of the situation was not as optimistic as Feng Jing Jing painted it to be. As a result, no one was willing to take the risk, and they kept their heads lowered in silence.
Feng Jing Jing tilted her head back and laughed out loud before shouting angrily, “You’re all cowards!”
She roughly gathered her fur coat and her purse while resentfully declaring, “Fine. You guys stay, and I’ll leave by myself. We’ll see who ends up alive in the end!”
“No, you can’t. You must not leave alone,” Ye Xiao suddenly voiced his objection.
“It’s too dangerous for a girl like you to go out like this.”
“Heh, Mr. Officer, I’m not a criminal of yours and I’m free to do what I want. Where I go is none of your business!”
Feng Jing Jing rolled her eyes.
Ye Xiao shook his head and warmly urged, “I’m saying this in consideration for your safety. It’s best if you don’t leave alone. Even if you do leave, you should at least wait until daytime.”
“Hah, what a joke! In consideration for my safety? Let me ask you, is staying here safe?”
Feng Jing Jing’s tone was harsh as she declared, “Even you two police officers being here is no damn use! Don’t people continue dying one after another anyways? Honestly speaking, I believe that this house has a ghost, and staying here means choosing only death. If I leave, I’ll at least have a chance to live! I’m still young, I have no desire to die here. Whether you guys want to leave or not is up to you, but I’m definitely leaving for sure!”
After agitatedly announcing this, she was met with only silence.
The living room instantly went still.
A few seconds later, a gloomy voice rang out.
“Death, upright position. Meaning is courting disaster, failure, destruction, and reaching a dead end.”
Xue Qing was dressed in her usual black robe, sitting in a cross-legged position with a card in her hand. She lifted her eyes to look at Feng Jing Jing and directly communicated for the first time. “Leaving also means death.”
“Heh, death? Just based on your forecast off those tattered cards? Cut the delusional lies!”
Feng Jing Jing sneered and strode off. With a flutter, the cards fell down to the ground.
Xue Qing did not get angry. She merely stared blankly in silence at the scattered cards.
Yuan Meng Yu let out a light sigh. “Must you leave?”
“Yes, I must leave. I have to find a way to live.”
Feng Jing Jing straightened her face and she pulled out a pocket mirror from her bag. Then she used the mirror to begin fixing her makeup; first she removed the black eyeliner on her face, then she blotted on some powder and carefully redrew the eyeliner. Her actions and her technique were quite skilled. It was evident that she was a woman that normally could not go out barefaced.
Everyone watched her wordlessly.
As she put on her makeup, she bitterly smiled, “I can’t help it, I’m used to it. Without putting on makeup, I can’t bring myself to face people. Whose fault is it that I’m a woman who relies on her face to make a living?”
Her shoulders shook slightly as she laughed, though there was no knowing if it was out of regret or self-derision. She slowly said, “I’m not like you city people that have been pampered since a young age. I’ve never had a smooth and steady life. I was born in a rural village and my family was very poor, so I grew up eating coarse grains every day. When I was sixteen, I went to S-City alone to work. I was still a minor at the time and hadn’t learned any skills; aside from doing that, I couldn’t earn any money. Fortunately, I later ran into a major financial backer and became his mistress for six years. But in the end, I was dumped. Despite this, I haven’t given up in despair. I’m still young, and I have a long path ahead of me. Eventually, I’ll be living beautifully in a life that will make others envious. So I cannot die here. I must go out alive.”
After she finished speaking, Feng Jing Jing shut the compact mirror in her hands and swept a glance over the crowd. She flashed them a lovely smile and said, “The fact that we all came together by chance despite being strangers means we are tied by some kind of fate. I hope that you all take care. If I find a phone, I’ll notify the police for you.”
Then she confidently turned to stride out the door.
“You must be careful by yourself as well,” Yuan Meng Yu stood to watch Feng Jing Jing’s back.
Feng Jing Jing glanced back and smiled sweetly, like a scarlet rose blooming for the last time.
She reached out to push open the front door and walked down the steps one by one before blending into the night.
The front door slowly closed, isolating her outside.
The living room was doused in that pungent smell of cheap perfume. All of them wore an indiscernible expression that appeared melancholic. Perhaps it was due to Feng Jing Jing’s final words before leaving, or perhaps it was because of the dismal, gloomy atmosphere before them.
While everyone was deep in their own thoughts, a shrill scream abruptly came from outside the door.
It was Feng Jing Jing’s voice!
What had happened?
Zhao Fei Peng was closest to the door. He dashed over in a single large stride and yanked the front door open.
The light from the living room shot outside the porch, illuminating a woman’s back in the dense night.
Feng Jing Jing stood motionless; she had only taken a few steps out. Her back was facing the house, and she was slightly bent over as she shrieked like she had gone insane. It seemed like she was enduring some kind of immense pain.
They stood at the front entrance and stared at her in astonishment.
As she hysterically screamed, she slowly turned around. They were met with the shocking sight of her hands covering her face as blood poured out from between her fingers.
“My-my face…my face…”
She wailed and slowly put down her hands, revealing her blood-covered face.
“Ah!” Shao Yue Ting couldn’t help but cry out in alarm.
The rest of them gasped in unplanned unison.
“Help-help me look…at my face…what’s wrong…”
As Feng Jing Jing cried and shouted, the blood on her face began to gush out more…and more…Soon after, her face slowly began to melt, starting from her forehead. The layers of blood poured downwards, and her nose gradually collapsed as well. Then the corners of her mouth drooped downwards as her eyeballs began to protrude outwards.
At first glance, it looked like her face was an ice cream cake under high temperature, the layers peeling off one after another and gradually melting into a viscous pool of blood.
It was not just her face; blood began to drip down from underneath her giant fur coat and her dress.
She raspily wailed out as her eyeballs that were on the verge of falling off stared miserably at the group of people standing at the door. She pleadingly extended out a pair of bloodsoaked arms towards them…
And they all took a step backwards in fright. No one was willing to save her except for Ye Xiao, who gritted his teeth. But right as he was about to dash out, Su Mu grabbed him by the collar.
“It’s useless, you can’t save her.” Su Mu shook his head.
Ye Xiao turned his head to watch Feng Jing Jing with an aching heart.
Feng Jing Jing’s cries grew weaker and weaker. Soon, she could not even utter a sound. Her throat was already melted away, while her entire body was quickly shrinking. In the end, she completely melted into a puddle of rotten-smelling blood.
Lying in the dense blood was a pile of messy, long wine-red hair, as well as two round eyeballs that glared at them unblinkingly.
“Ugh…” Nausea washed over Yuan Meng Yu, and she hurriedly covered her mouth and spun around.
Shao Yue Ting began crying again, the tears falling as she blankly stood still. She was not crying for Feng Jing Jing, who had now turned into blood, nor her own dead sister. Rather, she was crying for herself, not knowing if she would end up facing the same fate.
Ye Xiao glanced at her, then exchanged a look with Su Mu as a trace of doubt crossed their minds.
“The spirit of the tarot cards will never lie to people.”
Xue Qing quietly murmured this then slowly walked back to the living room to pick up her cards from the floor.
Duo Duo lowered her head as she tightly clutched the corner of Yuan Meng Yu’s clothes while trembling in fear.
The three men, Zhao Fei Peng, Yan Kai, and Zhang Xiao Long, stood motionless with somewhat ashen complexions.
Outside, the night was as dark as before; the heaven and earth remained a formless mass yet to separate.
A pale light illuminated Feng Jing Jing’s purse lying on the dark grey ground. A corner of an envelope had accidentally slipped out from inside the purse. It was an exquisite white envelope…