The single mother came over and sat beside me and said to me, "Shall we talk for a while?"
"Okay." I moved a little to the side--obviously I was not the only one who was bored.
She talked a lot. Speaking of her five-year-old son with a congenital foot disability, how she insisted on raising him, even though her husband divorced her for this. She said that her son's feet finally improved, and he wanted to be a sprint champion when he grew up...
Hearing this, my face burst into tears, and the softest part of my heart was gently held up. Unexpectedly, the single mother didn't cry. She let out a sigh of relief, looked at me and said, "I'm sorry, I'm so annoyed to talk to you so much, right?"
"No." I shook my head and said, "Thank you for sharing with me the happiness and sadness in your heart, and--your son's little secret."
The single mother stared into my eyes. For a long time, she whispered to me: "Let me tell you another little secret."
She slowly put her mouth close to my ear, and said softly, "I think I understand a little bit what is going on. I know what happened outside and inside."
I looked at her in amazement: "What? How would you know?"
She nerdy said: "It's been so long, we should figure it out, right?"
My numb brain turned mechanically: "What the hell...what is going on?"
The single mother stood up from the ground and said, "I also guessed it, and I'm not sure, so I can't tell you about it. I'm afraid... it will affect you."
I felt that the more she talked about it, the more confused I became, and I wanted to ask more questions. The single mother looked at me sadly and said, "Thank you for talking so much with me. From now on, you can do it yourself." After speaking, she turned and left, and walked around a few rows of shelves.
I stood there, dumbfounded, unable to react for a long time. She said we should all figure it out. What did it mean? What did she mean by saying that she was afraid of affecting me? What did she realize? Since she understood, why can't she tell us all? A series of questions hovered sharply and became bigger and bigger in my anxious imagination, weighing heavily on my heart and out of breath.
At this moment, I heard a gunshot. This gunshot touched my mind and caused some kind of explosion. I seemed to foresee what was going on, and my eyes went black. I struggled to get up from the ground and staggered to the spot where the gun shot. The scene in front of me made me feel like the sky was spinning around--the single mother who was still talking to me a minute ago fell by the wall at this moment, with blood on the wall behind her. The bullet was shot from her mouth to the back of her head. And the red-haired man knelt beside her, holding the pistol in his hand.
"No--!" I shouted hoarsely, tears streaming from my eyes.
Quick footsteps—A few other people in the supermarket also ran over at this moment, staring at the scene in front of them gapingly.
The red-haired man seemed to realize something at this moment. He slammed the pistol off and explained hurriedly: "No, it wasn't me! I was just the closest. I heard the gunshot and ran here. I saw that she had shot herself and committed suicide! I stepped forward to confirm, and picked up the pistol that fell under her feet by the way..."
"Enough! You murderer!" the fashionable girl screamed, "The facts are in front of you, what else can you quibble about! You haven't had time to escape this time, so we caught you in force!"
She couldn't help but rushed to her boyfriend and the middle-aged man next to her and said, "What are you doing in a daze! Go forward and subdue him!"
As if to prove something to his girlfriend, the boyfriend of the fashion girl mustered his courage to take two steps forward. The red-haired man picked up the pistol in a panic and pointed at the boy: "Don't come!"
Everyone dared not move, and froze there. I think I was completely filled with grief at the time, and I didn't make any response. In fact, through all the signs when the single mother talked to me a few minutes ago, especially the decisive expression she showed when she said the last sentence to me, I should be able to infer that she did die by suicide. If I came forward to say a few words at this time to prove that the red-haired man said the truth, maybe the tragedy that happened next could be avoided. Unfortunately, the grief and confusion in my mind caused me to do nothing.
I didn't know what irritation the boyfriend of the fashion girl had received. Instead of being timid and cowardly, he was still trying to get closer to the red-haired man. He stretched his hand forward while slowly moving forward, and said: "Hey, don't be impulsive, you put the gun down first, okay?"
"I said, don't come here!" the red-haired man roared, shaking his pistol, "Don't force me to shoot!"
"If you fired, you would really be a murderer." The boyfriend of the fashion girl looked at him directly.
"Shut up! Don't be pretending!" the red-haired man roared, "Don't you think of me as a murderer? You always suspect me, are you? Just because I dress like this and my hair is dyed like this, you don’t think of me as a good person! You bastards who judge people by appearance, don’t listen to my explanation at all, just condemned me in a self-righteous manner!"
"We didn't convict you." The fashion girl’s boyfriend slowly moved forward, "What happened just now? Let's sit down and say slowly, okay? Put the gun down first."
"Don't get one step closer!" The red-haired man has retreated to the wall, his face turned crazy, and the hand holding the gun was trembling with tension. "You think I don't know what you’re thinking now. Really? You guys hold me steady first, wait for me to relax a little, then swarm up and subdue me. Stop dreaming! I won't let you succeed..."
A gunshot sounded.
Everyone was stunned, including the red-haired man. He looked at the pistol suspiciously, as if he didn't know what he had just done. The boyfriend of the fashion girl in front of him also slowly looked towards his chest with the same suspicion, then covered his heart in pain, his legs softened and knelt down. The fashionable girl screamed, swooped over, held her boyfriend's body, and yelled: "What's wrong with you? Gosh, don't scare me!" She raised her hand and looked at the blood on her hand. There was a blood hole on her boyfriend's chest. She shook her head in pain, holding her boyfriend and crying.
He looked at his girlfriend with difficulty, his voice was weak and hollow, "Am I ... strong and brave in your heart?"
"Yes...yes, of course you are." The fashion girl held his face in tears.
"Really?... That's great... It's a pity, I can't protect you from now on... You have to... protect yourself... I love..." At the end of the word "you" before he could say it, he suddenly choking a bite of blood, his neck tilted, and his head drooped weakly to the side.
The fashionable girl yelled twice in panic and helplessness, swaying her boyfriend's body from side to side, crying for another burst, but all was to no avail. She put down her boyfriend's body in grief, suddenly her face changed, and raised her head. Two spiteful and resentful eyes pointed at the red-haired man like sharp knives, and said, "You murderer!"
"No... I didn’t want to shoot." The red-haired man explained hurriedly, "It was the gun that went wrong..." At this point, he seemed to realize how pale the excuse was at this moment. The fashion girl had already stood up from the ground, as if she was about to rush forward to fight him desperately. The red-haired man suddenly yelled: "Okay! I know it's useless to say anything now! Fuck, I can't live anyway, I will die sooner or later!"
He took the pistol in front of him, broke the barrel, took a look at the bullet inside, and said to himself: "Give the last bullet to one of you." After speaking, he raised the pistol and pointed it at his temple, looking at us in dismay, finally said:
"Actually, you guessed right. I am indeed a fucking street gangster. But I tell you, I have never killed anyone--except myself!"
"Bang!" The gunshot sounded for the third time today. He fell in the fireworks blooming of blood.
This time, I finally fainted.
When I woke up, I saw the middle-aged man staying beside me. He saw that I opened my eyes and asked, "How about it, are you all right?"
I nodded slightly and glanced at the place where the serial tragedy happened just now—the three bodies were gone. I thought of the storage room, and my heart felt tight.
The middle-aged uncle sighed and said to me: "We seem to have really wronged the red-haired young man. Just now the female clerk told me that she remembered that this afternoon, she saw the single mother wandering in front of the counter for a while -- Maybe it was at that time, she quietly took the pistol in the drawer, which she was using for suicide. Alas, a series of misunderstandings and confusion later caused three lives to leave us!"
I felt choking in my heart, like being held down by something invisible. I dare not tell the middle-aged man that the three lives that have gone away are more or less related to me--if I can make some judgments and actions in time, maybe I can keep their lives. It's a pity that everything is too late now.
I didn’t want to be in self-blame and regret all the time, so I changed the subject and asked the middle-aged man: “What about that girl? How is she?”
The middle-aged man sighed: "She was hit hard. After her boyfriend died, she kept holding his body and crying by the wall. We persuaded her to put the body down and cheer up, but it was completely useless." He gave me a glance, and raised his head obliquely behind, "Or, go and persuade her again."
I looked at where he was pointing, and the fashionable girl was sitting on the ground against the wall, holding her boyfriend's body tightly in her arms, and sobbing sadly with her head buried, looking extremely pitiful. I hesitated and said, "It's useless to persuade her. What can I do?"
"Try it. Even if you can't persuade her to let go of the body, it's always good to talk to her."
I thought about it and said, "Okay."
I organized some words of comfort in my heart and walked in the direction of a fashionable girl. When I came to her, I found that all the comforting words I had prepared were all stuck in my throat. I felt that in the face of great grief, any comfort is pale and feeble. I wanted to go back, let her stay quietly for a while, but then I realized that I had agreed to the middle-aged man, so I had to squat down and said, "Don’t be too sad, okay? After all,...the people who live are also not better than the dead."
She buried her entire face in her elbow, twitching, sobbing, and completely unresponsive to my words.
I said again: "I remember what your boyfriend said to you. Take care of yourself. You should fulfill his last wish. Don't be sad anymore, or your boyfriend will be worried even when he is underground..."
She still maintained the same posture, without even lifting her head. I sighed: "Well, maybe you want to be alone for a while, then I won't bother here, but I hope you can cheer up as soon as possible."
I stood up, ready to leave. Unexpectedly, the fashion girl suddenly stretched out her hand to hold me, raised her head and said to me: "I want you to do me a favor, can you?"
I immediately nodded and agreed: "Of course, what do you want me to do?"
"Please... go get that gun and shoot me to death."
I was shocked, backed away, and shook my head again and again: "This...how does this work!"
"Please..." she pleaded, "I could have committed suicide, but I just lacked the courage for that moment. So please, let me end this endless torture and be completely free!"
I squatted down to look at her, and said solemnly: "Don't say such things, don't think so! I know you must be sad and distressed if you lose the person you love. But you can't let this emotion continue to occupy you, make you give up the hope of living. You have to be strong and show your boyfriend a good life. That is the best comfort for him!"
"No..." She shook her head painfully, "I didn't want to die just to follow him. I just can't stand this torture. I know, I can't escape sooner or later... instead of being killed in fear, it's better to die early and have an easy time."
I was taken aback and asked: "Why do you say that?"
She looked at me: "Did you not hear the last sentence that the red-haired man said before he died? He said that he had never deliberately killed anyone--I think he will not lie to us before he shoots himself. Do you remember what he said?"
I stayed for a while, and then my heart tightened: "You mean, the real murderer is still among us?"
"Isn't it?" she asked, and then pleaded me, "That's why I beg you, help me out! I'm tired of it, and I'm tired of surviving and suffering from this endless suspicion and panic. This kind of physical and mental torture, and I don’t know when I will be killed by the frenzied murderer, death is even better in such a day, so...please, okay?"
I bounced off like I got an electric shock, shook my head with my back to her and said, "Stop making such terrible demands. I don't care what you think, but you can't force me to be a murderer! "
She was silent for a few seconds, as if desperate. After a while, she said in a low voice, "Since you are not willing to help me, then I have to choose another way of self-protection--then, don't blame me for losing my mind and doing extreme things."
I slowly turned my head to look at her, feeling that her words were clearly threatening and crazy, which caused a chill in my heart. "What do you want to do?"
She stopped talking to me, lowered her head and pressed her mouth tightly, and merged with her dead boyfriend.
I stood there for a while, turned and left with an inexplicable panic. Just a few steps out, I caught a glimpse of a row of shelves on the oblique side. The little boy was looking at me steadily. I guess he heard all the conversations we had just now, and his face still had that strange expression. I can never read his expression, just like I can never look at him. I walked quickly to the middle-aged man, avoiding him like a plague.
The middle-aged man walked over and sat down when I saw my face, and asked: "What, you persuaded her, or there is no effect at all?"
I said sadly: "Not only was it ineffective, she also made a terrible request to me!"
"She said she couldn't stand the torture at the moment, so she asked me to find the pistol and shoot her to death so that she could be free from it!"
"Oh my god, this is ridiculous." The middle-aged man was also shocked.
"Yeah, how could I do such a cruel thing?"
The middle-aged man shook his head hurriedly and said, “It’s too dangerous to put the pistol in the drawer of the counter.” He thought for a moment, as if he felt that there was no more suitable place to put it, and muttered to himself, “It looks like some precautions must be done..."
I was thinking of another thing in my mind. I hesitated whether to tell the middle-aged man all my guesses and doubts about the little boy, so that he would be alert, too. But when the words came to my lips, I forcibly swallowed them again. I remembered that the boy who existed like a ghost could hide in a dark place and watch or listen to us at any time. If I let him know that I suspect he was a murderer, I may be the next victim.
The middle-aged man noticed that I was hesitant to speak, and asked, "Do you want to tell me anything?"
"Ah..." I was embarrassed for a while, and when I didn't know how to answer, I suddenly remembered the last words the fashion girl just said to me. "By the way, when the girl knew that I refused to 'help' her, she said something puzzling. She said that in this case, she had to choose another way of protecting herself, and told us not to blame her for extreme things."
"What does she mean by this?" he asked with wide eyes.
"I don't know, but this makes me feel uneasy."
The middle-aged man frowned and pondered for a moment, and said in amazement: "The extreme behavior she said was irrational. Could it be that she will kill us all in order to protect herself?"
I was shocked: "That's... too crazy!"
The middle-aged man looked worried and said: "It’s impossible to say. People who stay in this dark and closed space for a long time may become distorted and abnormal. Many extreme behaviors that are usually unimaginable would be done right now."
Hearing what he said, I turned pale in fright and asked in horror: "Then we...what should we do?"
He sighed and said, "Only to be more careful and be careful everywhere."
I wanted to tell him that I did this a long time ago, and most of the other people are the same as me, but the problem is that people continue to be killed, which shows that this is impossible to prevent--but, as he said, what can we do? Can't really answer that girl's request and shoot her to death, right?
After hesitating for a while, I suddenly summoned the courage to say: "Or, let's smash the door out! I think the danger inside is almost the same as outside."
The middle-aged man slowly turned his face to look at me, his expression was very elusive.
I think he still hesitated because of lack of confidence, so I said: "We broke out and asked for help, anyhow there is still a way out. Staying here is tortured and just killing each other. It is a dead end."
The middle-aged man suddenly looked sad and said, "Seek help? I'm afraid... there is no help."
I stared at him blankly: "What do you mean?"
The middle-aged man was dull for a long time, and finally spit out a breath with difficulty from his chest: "There is one thing, I kept hiding from you. At that time, I was afraid that after telling you, everyone will become desperate in an instant, completely lost the belief to live. But now it seems that the general situation is set, and it doesn’t matter if you say it or not."
He turned his face away, deliberately not looking at me, as if he didn't want to see my expression after listening to him. "Remember that MP3? The last day it ran out of power, I told you that I didn't hear any reports about it in the news. Actually, it was not like this. The real situation is...all radio signals disappeared that day. I didn’t receive any channels at all.”
I am frozen like a lifeless sculpture. I can't feel a trace of body temperature all over, and my mind is blank. I can't think about what this means to me or everyone else, because for a long time, I can't even feel myself.
Amy (9.4) - Text
Guo Yutong - Zeichnung