With the combination of the strange expression as well as the weird tone, Huang Ling's husband looked and sounded like he was sleepwalking. He stood up in bed and stood on his tiptoes. There seemed to be something tied around his neck even though there was nothing there, and he glanced down right at Huang Ling.
His eye lids were peeled back, and his eyeballs bulged outward. Inside the bedroom that was suffocated by darkness, the husband whom Huang Ling had shared the bed with for more than a few years stared at her darkly and creepily. "The soup that I specially cooked for you is in the kitchen. You'd better savor it while it is still piping hot."
The place that they rented was not big. The bedroom was very small. Huang Ling leaned against the wall with her back and her fingers curled tightly around the phone. There was a very bad feeling in her heart. If she made a call, this man that she called her husband might just reach forward to kill her.
"I... I'm not that hungry." Huang Ling moved to the door of the bedroom. She grabbed the door handle, but before she could pull the door open, her husband jumped down from the bed. Jia Ming's body was very stiff. None of his joints seemed like they could bend normally. It gave the impression that he was a puppet pulled along by strings.
The scarily white hands grabbed Huang Ling's arms, and a rush of iciness overwhelmed her. This was the first time that Huang Ling had discovered that she could feel no warmth at all from her husband's palms. She was so nervous that she lost the ability to talk. Her body shook slightly, and her pupils darted about nervously. She was on the verge of collapsing.
To make matters worse, her husband's face leaned close to her. His eyelids were fully peeled back, and most of his eyes were dominated by the white of his eyes. The pupils had practically disappeared. "I've already cooked it, so why don't you just have a few sips of it? Are you that afraid of my cooking? I assure you, it's very good."
"Okay, I'll drink the soup..." Caught in that situation, Huang Ling did not dare say no; she was afraid that she might die inside this little, dark bedroom if she made the wrong decision. The husband opened the bedroom door for her. The familiar yet strange man stood on his tiptoes and used a very strange pose and gait to drag Huang Ling out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. The door and windows of their rental home were all closed. It felt like they were inside a different dimension, detached from the rest of the world. It made Huang Ling felt isolated and alone. Normally, she would not have felt that way because she had the company of her husband, but that night, it was exactly because of her husband's presence that she felt so strangely unsettled.
Huang Ling did not dare to resist, and she allowed herself to be dragged by her husband into the kitchen. Once she walked in, she saw a pot that was used for boiling soup sitting on top of the stove. "I made sure to stew it for a very long time, so the ingredients are soft and tender. Quick, come and have a taste of it."
Jia Ming stood on his tiptoes and very awkwardly raised his hands to remove the pot from the stove. This was because his elbows were unable to bend. He then placed it on the dining table. After Jia Ming opened the lid, the temperature in the room seemed to have lowered even more. He found two sets of bowls and chopsticks and placed them next to the pot. Then he stared right at Huang Ling, adding darkly, "Quick, come and have a taste. I'm sure the soup is very nice."
"Er... okay." Huang Ling nodded slightly. She glanced inside the steel pool. There was a torn-up doll floating inside. Various tattered parts floated on the clear soup, and the most conspicuous part was definitely the plastic doll face. The doll's face was partially melted, but Huang Ling managed to recognize with a glance that this doll was the first doll that Jia Ming had given to her.
It was very cheap. At the time, the two had just moved to Jiujiang, and they were still dating, not yet married. They had been young and in love, full of hope for their future together. Seeing the doll floating inside the pot, Huang Ling felt like a part of her heart and her memory was yanked apart and brutally chopped into pieces.
"How could you use this doll to make soup? How could you do something like this?" Huang Ling could not resist it and complained.
Yet, Jia Ming did not answer Huang Ling's question. He found a ladle to scoop up the soup and fill up a whole bowl for Huang Ling. "Come, have a sip. It tastes so good."
"This is the memory between the two of us!" Huang Ling stood next to the man, and she felt like the energy within her body was slowly seeping out of her.
"Memory?" Jia Ming looked at the doll inside the pot and used a very confused tone to give a scary answer. "Isn't this our child? What does it have to do with memory?"
He swallowed a mouthful of saliva, and a very ugly laughter issued from his throat. "There are so many children. Even after tossing them away, they still return, so the best solution is to consume them all!"
Huang Ling held a spoon in her hand. She looked at the broken pieces and the doll's face inside the bowl, and she felt like vomiting. Her fingers touched the screen of her phone. She wanted to call Chen Ge's number, but then she had a different thought. What good would that do? Chen Ge could not rush over immediately, and when he arrived, she would most likely be dead already.
"Why aren't you eating it? Is it not good? Do you not like the taste? But listen! Don't you hear the sound of children crying? That is such a wonderful sound. It is music to my ears." Jia Ming picked up the ladle that was still inside the pot. He drank directly from the ladle. The soup was nothing more than boiled water, but from the way he reacted, one would think that he was drinking some kind of incredible broth. He looked so satisfied and happy. "I hate children the most, especially those horrible kids that ran out from the red house. They have stolen stuff from behind the door-how I wish to eat them and put them in my stomach."
After having his fill, Jia Ming's pupils, which had rolled upward, slowly returned to normal. He turned to look at Huang Ling. "Why aren't you drinking‽ Or do you want me to feed you?"
Gripping the spoon, Huang Ling tried her best but was unable to put the spoon to her lips. The conflict that was apparent on her face fell into Jia Ming's eyes.
"You don't know how to eat it? Come, let me help you." Jia Ming picked up the fruit knife that was left on the dining table. "Let me help you cut it open. Don't worry, very soon, you will be able to finish this whole pot of soup. In the future, I will make more delicious soups for you, using even fresher ingredients. You will never be able to resist them once you have a taste."
Jia Ming walked toward Huang Ling on his tiptoes, and his words and tone sounded incredibly scary. Huang Ling could not help it anymore. Things had gotten way out of control. She threw the soup spoon in her hand away and quickly pressed speed dial number 1. Coincidentally, when she was about to press the one button, the display on her phone changed. Someone was calling her at a time like that. Before her finger landed on the number 1, her finger pressed the accept button to answer the call.
"You are the passenger who took my taxi ride tonight, right? You have ruined my car, and you think you can sweep the issue under the rug by tossing me 200? If you do not give me a valid explanation and enough compensation tonight, then I will..."
"Help me! Help me! Please call the police! I'm staying on the fourth floor! My husband has gone insane, and he's trying to kill me!" Hearing the voice coming from the other end, Huang Ling immediately lost control. She held the phone in her hands and screamed at the top of her lungs as she ran to the living room door. Like a drowning person coming across the last straw, the potential within Huang Ling exploded. She ran so very fast.
There were two layers to the living room door. She pulled the inside door open easily, but the outside door was locked. She needed to find the key if she wanted to open it. "Help me! Please someone, come and help me!"
Huang Ling's voice echoed down the corridor. The chilling wind rushed into her sleeves as she shook at the door lock violently. Perhaps she thought that by shaking the lock hard enough, it might unlock on its own.
"I am warning you, don't play games with me. Don't try to scare me into submission. I will still require an answer from you." The young driver's voice was shaking on the phone. He had been unconscious for almost the entire night. He had just woken up and seen the note that someone had left next to his phone. It was the reason he had made this call. He wanted to ask for a clarification about what had happened that night and, if possible, get some more compensation.
Huang Ling was still screaming at the top of her lungs. She rammed against the door, and the door shook violently. It could be heard echoing throughout the entire building.
"Come and just take a sip. Just one sip." The husband appeared behind Huang Ling silently and without warning.
"Help me!" Huang Ling tore through her throat as she continued to scream. She slammed into the door using her back, and her phone shone its light on Jia Ming. The scene that she saw made her mental state collapse even further!
Jia Ming's head was lolled weakly on his shoulders. His pupils had already disappeared, and his eyes were bulging. He appeared like he was standing on his tiptoes, but in reality, that was not the case. It was the shadow behind him that was holding him by his neck, and he had been moved across like that. "Come, take a sip."
"Help! Don't come any closer! I'm warning you!" Huang Ling's voice travelled very far down the corridor. Several seconds later, the door of the family across from Huang Ling was suddenly pulled open from the inside. An old lady poked her head out to look around. By then, Jia Ming had already managed to shove the soup inside the bowl down Huang Ling's throat. He watched as Huang Ling's body softened and lost its power. The woman's eyes slowly turned dull and lifeless.
The old lady from the opposite room seemed to be familiar with this happening. She opened the door and walked to Huang Ling's door. With a trace of pity in her voice, she asked, "Xiao Jia, is Huang Ling acting up due to her illness again?"
Jia Ming held Huang Ling in his arms, and his lowered head slowly rose. His face looked perfectly normal, but his expression was rather awkward. "Sigh, she always suffers from nightmares at night, but she refuses to take her medicine."
"This must be so hard on you as well, taking care of a patient alone." The old lady shook her head. "I think you should take her to an official state hospital to have the doctors check up on her. This is the third time she has reacted this way this month. If you let this go on, it will only get worse."
"Of course, you have a point." Jia Ming took the phone away from Huang Ling and deactivated it. He dragged Huang Ling back into the room and closed the door.