A soft sound resounded as a drop of water detached from the ceiling. Gracefully falling, it’s descent was forcefully interrupted as a swirling river directly underneath devoured the drop, completely ravaging and assimilating it without another trace.
The next moment, tranquility had returned, the river’s soft gurgle the only reminder of the drop of water’s presence. Above, the ceiling strained to give more, another drop gradually coalescing on the underside of the concrete surface.
Suddenly, slow, quiet footsteps echoed, accompanied by light pants. There beside the water channel, limped a young girl dressed in a pair of jeans and a simple cotton shirt, appearing no more than eighteen years old.
Pressing her hand on the wall to support her fatigued body, she walked for a few steps more, slumping against the cold concrete surface as she panted for breath. Shrugging her shoulders and allowing the small bag slung around her body to fall onto the ground, she rummaged through to extract a plastic bottle of water.
Popping the cap with trembling fingers, she achingly raised the bottle to her lips. However, she allowed no more than a few sips before setting it back down once more. Massaging her chest to ease her breathing, the girl packed the bottle, holstering the bag before limping once more.
Once again, the soft chuckle of the river harmonized with the gradually ragged breathing of the young girl. Eventually, she could take no more, her legs giving out from the fatigue.
Her body collapsing and embracing the cold concrete once more, the girl lightly groaned when the rough surface brushed across her sensitive skin, yet did nothing more than pull herself into a sitting position.
“I didn’t think you would run this far, and for so long. Truly impressive!”
The soft sound of clapping and a man’s appraising voice entered her ears, triggering forth a wave of disgust, hatred, and apprehension within the girl. Leaning her head towards its source, she discovered a man’s outline observing her from the edge of the water channel, slowly approaching.
When he had come to a distance close enough for her to view his features, she almost couldn’t contain her emotions, struggling to maintain an indifferent facial expression.
Short, black hair that presented a sharp, formal demeanor. Rectangular-rimmed glasses, hazel eyes that only presented amusement towards the world. The consistent formal attire of a black suit and tie, that arrogant yet reserved self.
She remembered it all, his actions, his words, his expressions, everything.
That middle-aged man before her looking no older than someone in his thirties, one that would appear before the world each day as a prestigious, deity-like businessman.
“…I see you’ve been well, Father.” The girl spat out, her countenance morphing into one of disdain and exhaustion.
“Mhm, I’ve indeed been well,” the man replied.
“Rather, life couldn’t be any better. Securing two multi-billion-dollar business deals within an hour’s time, who wouldn’t be happy?”
Crouching down, the man reached out to gently pat the girl’s head, to which her hatred aggravated and accumulated even further.
“Don’t touch me.” She snarled, flinging her right hand towards his arm, attempting to strike his hand off of her head.
Unfortunately, her arm merely twitched once, and the man continued to pet her hair, the searing heat of his palm continuing to engrave itself onto her body.
“Why can’t I touch you?” the man asked playfully, gently poking the girl’s forehead with his index finger.
“You’re my daughter! Even if I had been a little rough to you, I can’t just callously toss you away, no?”
“Isn’t that exactly what you did?” she glared at him, her body trembling with rage.
How she wished to tear him apart! This hypocrite, one who claimed benevolence, how she wished she could rip open his chest to see if he even had a heart!
“Hmm…that matter can’t be determined by a single perspective, you see.”
Sitting next to her, the man looked towards the river, wistfully sighing as he spoke.
“I had no choice back then. The Chen Family’s influence was rather powerful at the time, and it was only recently that I’ve managed to suppress them.”
Glancing at the girl, he sighed before standing. Stretching his waist and loosening the tension in his muscles, the man released a pent-up breath before turning to the girl.
“To preserve the family, I had to temporarily sacrifice your mother and you. I’m sorry about that,” he spoke, completely ignoring the wrath in the girl’s eyes.
“But Fei’er, your mother and little sister are happy nowadays! It’s only that…to protect the family, I’m going to need to permanently sacrifice you.”
“Hah! Sacrifice? Just say it plainly,” the girl spoke mockingly, derision infused within her voice. “All you want is that blasted mirror of mine.”
“Yes, the mirror.” The man spoke, his eyes narrowing as a dangerous glint emerged within.
“Fei’er, Father will promise you one thing. Your mother and sister will be fine, and I will disavow anyone from the Chen Family.”
“However,” he leaned forward, an imposing aura exploding from his body, encapsulating the girl within.
“You must disappear, and not only that, hand the mirror over!”
The girl couldn’t help but begin to laugh uncontrollably, laughter spilling from her as her body slumped further down the concrete wall.
“Mirror, mirror, mirror. All of you only want the mirror.”
“But the truth is,” she giggled once more, the chokehold of mania beginning to fringe her gaze.
“I have no mirror! I have no mirror! Sorry to disappoint you, oh great father of mine, but I have no f****** mirror! Not in my bag, not on me!”
“…you’re lying.” The man spoke haltingly, enunciating each word.
“You must be lying. The mirror has never left your side ever since you received it from Father.”
“You’re right, you’re absolutely right!” The girl chuckled, her body gently convulsing.
“That mirror had never left my possession ever since grandfather passed it to me. It’s just that the mirror suddenly disappeared a week ago!”
“Have you forgotten where you last placed it then?” the man raised an eyebrow, a graceful smile breaking out on his countenance.
Though it was a gentle, warm smile, it represented the devil’s leer in the girl’s eyes.
“That’s fine, everything is fine,” the man continued. Rummaging in his pocket, he extracted a pair of entwined wires, dangling them before the girl’s eyes.
“Father can help you remember where you placed the mirror.”
Firmly pinching one end with his index finger and thumb, the man pierced the girl’s right thigh with the wire, eliciting a pained groan from the latter. With a light chuckle, the man began to rotate the wires, the sharp diamond edges on its surface wreaking havoc within the girl’s leg.
Amidst the hiss of pain, scarlet blood soaked the jeans and dripped onto the grey concrete.
“Why don’t you hurry and confess?” The man crooned, giving the wires a fierce jerk, causing the girl to fiercely shudder as her eyes snapped open, unfocused and with dilated pupils.
“If you hurry and tell Father, Father will end your pain.”
The girl haltingly spoke, a scream swallowing her final words as the wires tore through her tendon, blood spurting all over the ground. Withdrawing the intertwined wires, the man produced a handkerchief, slowly wiping the deadly pieces of coiled steel.
“You’re indeed correct, I did hear a statement from you,” he smirked.
“However, it wasn’t a statement I was searching for, nor was it one I liked. Fei’er, when will you stop being so stubborn? Father has another business meeting in half an hour, let’s get this over with quickly, and we can both be on our ways!”
“Be on…our ways?” The girl laughed once more.
“Aren’t you simply going to kill me once you get the answer you wanted?”
The man nodded. Gazing at the girl’s ragged appearance, the threads on the jeans beginning to fray and tear as well as the various burnt spots in her clothing, the man could not help but cluck his tongue in distaste.
“You’re quite ragged these days. Shouldn’t you find it in yourself to wear cleaner clothes, as my daughter?”
“Hah!” the girl spat.
“Chased by you, chased by the government, hell, even the world, who would have time to wear fancy clothing such as you, oh great father?”
“That’s indeed a shame,” the man spoke. Seemingly desiring to speak further, he was suddenly interrupted by a melodious ring. Extracting the vibrating phone with a grimace, he turned away before answering the call.
“Hello?” his voice echoed throughout the water channel.
“Right now? Sheng Dao’s corporation wants to negotiate a contract? Alright…I’ll be there in twenty-no, ten minutes.”
Ending the call, he turned back to the girl, distaste evident on his countenance. Washing it to the customary polite expression, the man reached forward to grab the girl’s bag as he departed, his voice resounding throughout the spacious, dimly lit tunnel.
“My cute little daughter, Father will return in a few hours, perhaps a day at most. Until then, be obedient and stay there, alright?”