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Chapter 1
My best friend was Jessica Smith, an orphan who went to college on government aid. During college, we were inseparable.
On the day of graduation, she said that she was going to go back to her hometown to take the civil service exam. I chose to stay in the capital.
When we parted, we hugged each other and cried hard. However, after half a month, I could not contact Jessica. Even though I tried to reach her in every possible way, I still couldn’t find her.
Unexpectedly, one late night a year later, I received a message from her, [Bonnie, I’m Jessica. I guess I’m dying. You’d better watch out for Eaton.]
Eaton was my boyfriend at the time. Three days ago, he had booked me a package trip to Bradford. At this point, I was packing my luggage.
I was so excited that Jessica finally got in touch with me. But when I thought of the last sentence of the text message, I was a little stunned.
I stopped packing my luggage and turned to look at Eaton, who was playing video games on the side. Why would I watch out for him?
Eaton and I had been dating for four years, and Eaton and Jessica were from the same county, and they had a good relationship. Eaton was introduced to me by Jessica in the first place. I couldn’t figure it out.
So, I called back, but it kept saying it was a vacant number. I thought it was very strange. Could I get a text message from a vacant phone number?
Then I called customer service and was told that it was a virtual number, the signal was sometimes delayed, and the messages received were not necessarily sent on the same day.
I was so confused.
In the evening, I saw a new message in the university alumni group, [Do you know Jessica Smith? I heard she had been missing for a year. She was found yesterday on the border of Bradford and Svanrika, drained of all her blood.]
After reading that message, I felt like a hole had been dug in my heart, and I cried out in pain. Covering my heart, I slowly squatted down, unable to hold the table with my hands several times.
I didn’t believe that she was dead. A year ago, she was still alive and healthy in front of me, saying that if I went to Bradford, she would take me around to see where she grew up. But then, why couldn’t I reach her?
I covered my mouth and wailed until I retched and fell to my knees. When Eaton came back early in the morning, I was still crying, and my throat was sore and dry that I couldn’t make a sound. Eaton asked me what was wrong. I sobbed and told him about it.
He immediately went to flip through the group chat records, found the person who sent the message, and privately messaged him. But he never replied.
Two hours later, Eaton went down to buy me something to eat. The person replied, [I just heard about it, but I don’t know the specifics.]
I made a voice call, but he hung up immediately, and then blocked me.
After Eaton came back, he persuaded me, “Look, Bonnie, this person must be spreading rumors, so he dared not talk to you. We are going to Bradford soon, and I will ask about it then.”
I choked and asked Eaton, “Is she dead?”
Eaton shook his head and said, “No, don’t worry.”
Late that night, for the first time in years, I had a nightmare in which Jessica vomited blood as she ran and asked me to save her. I woke up, frightened. When I woke up, I was sweating profusely and my hands were shaking.
I couldn’t fall asleep again. I took my phone, opened Instagram, looked at Jessica’s profile picture, and sent her a message, [Where are you? I’ve missed you so much!]
I couldn’t hold back my tears anymore. I covered my mouth and wept softly.
I didn’t know how long I cried, and then I suddenly remembered the WhatsApp account number of the person when I tried to call him. I habitually sent him a friend request on Instagram and I saw a profile picture of Kevin Garnett’s back.
I immediately thought of Eaton. His favorite basketball player was Kevin Garnett.
I remembered what Jessica had said, [watch out for Eaton].
My heart sank.
I immediately opened WhatsApp and found I was removed from the alumni group. Something crossed my mind, and I sent a message to Eaton on Instagram, [You helped me quit the WhatsApp alumni group?]
Eaton hadn’t gone to bed yet and he texted back, [Yeah, I quit it for you because I was afraid you’d be sad when you saw the rumors.]
I clenched my fists and tried to calm down, “You shouldn’t have quit it, right? Can you give me the account number of the person who spread the rumor? I was so sad during the day that I forgot to send him a friend request. I want to check if I can find him on Instagram.]
It took ten minutes for Eaton to send me the WhatsApp account number. It was the same as I remembered, but this time I didn’t find any results on Instagram.
This account number belonged to Eaton. In just ten minutes, he had turned off the option of accepting a friend request on Instagram, and the profile picture of Kevin Garnett’s back was him. In other words, he was the one who had said Jessica was drained of all her blood in the group chat.
In the night, I stared blankly at Eaton’s Instagram account, shivering. In seven hours, I would be leaving for Bradford. Jessica was clearly in danger.
But I was well aware that there were few clues. If I called the police at this time, it would not only startle the villain but also wasted the police manpower. But if I went with Eaton, I might get new clues. I decided to take a risk.
I was praying in my heart, [Jessica, please be safe…]
I kept murmuring until it was dawn.
Eaton arrived at seven in the morning, four hours before departure.
He looked very excited, “Bonnie, are you ready? The city is badly stuck in traffic jams right now. Let’s start a few hours early.”
I looked at his familiar face, and there was fear in my heart. The man I had been dating for four years might be a monster.
I could only pretend to smile and said, “Okay, I’ll call my mother and talk to her for a minute.”
I went to the balcony and called my mother Jason. I saw Eaton follow me out of the corner of my eye. It seemed he started to guard against me.
I froze for a moment and said, “Mom, I’m going to travel to Bradford with Eaton. You don’t have to worry. Remember to come and help me feed the fish. I’ll write down the precautions and put the note on the table.”
Hanging up the phone, I laughed at Eaton, “Why are you following me? Aren’t tired of being together with me every day?”
Eaton hugged me and smiled, “Tired? What should I do? I want to stay with you for the rest of my life.”
I nodded perfunctorily and said, “The rest of your life? It depends on your performance. I’m thirsty. Go and make me a glass of lemonade…”
I sent Eaton away with an excuse, but I was very uncertain. Before we set off, Eaton was so vigilant. He might be fully prepared. If I touched the red line, I might be threatened.
I had to figure out a way to deliver the message.
While Eaton was making the lemonade, I ran to the bathroom and sent a text to my mother, [Mom, after I go to Bradford, I will report to you three times a day, in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. If I don’t call on time, please call the police.]
Within three seconds after I sent the message, my mother called.
But before I picked it up, I heard Eaton say, “Mr. Long, what’s the matter? Oh, don’t worry. We’re just going to have fun and come back. Bonnie used to travel abroad a lot. Don’t worry too much. Oh, she asked you to call the police? Well…it’s alright. She just had a nightmare. If you don’t believe me, I’ll call her…Bonnie…”
“Coming!” I was holding onto the sink, sweating all over.
After going out, Eaton looked at me with a smile, “Your mother said you sent a message to ask her to call the police or something. Bonnie… what’s wrong with you? What are you worried about?”
I could see a fleeting creepy smile on his face.
I knew I must be very pale at this time, but I couldn’t panic. I looked into his eyes and cried. Then I ran to him and hugged him, “Eaton, I dreamed about Jessica. I dreamed that she was dead. I dreamed that I was dead too. I’m so afraid…”
Eaton stroked my hair and reassured me over and over again, “Baby, don’t be afraid. I’ll protect you.”
I sniffed on and off. I looked at the lemonade on the table and clenched my hand, which contained a cotton swab I got from the bathroom. I was going to use it to leave my mother a message.
The real danger was coming.
From the bottom of my heart, I was hesitating whether I should go with Eaton or not. It was safest to leave with an excuse now. But when I thought of Jessica’s message [I’m dying], tears welled up in my eyes.
She was my best friend in the world and I had to fight for her once.
After making up my mind, I asked Eaton why he had answered it when my mother called me.
He said, “You don’t remember? That day when you were drunk, you had to use my iPhone to log in to your iPhone ID and sync your address book. Well, I didn’t log out of your account. When your mother called you, the phone number was also displayed on my phone… So I answered it for you.”
I pursed my lips and said nothing.
He knew I wouldn’t go to check my iPhone for authorization, so he had been plotting for a long time to get my information.
I followed his words and said, “When did I get drunk? Why don’t I remember?”
Eaton was stunned for a moment, and I rounded it up for him, “Forget it, I don’t remember it either. Now you can log out of my account.”
Eaton didn’t say no
While drinking the lemonade, I wrote down the precautions for raising fish for my mother, and then secretly used the cotton swab dipped in lemonade to leave a message on the back. As long as she held the paper close to the heat source, she could see the words.
Eaton looked at the note and said, “The paper smells of lemon!”
I grabbed the note and said, “Because I spilled my lemonade. Look, at the precautions for raising fish. Have you read it?”
I flicked the note past Eaton’s eyes and put it back on the table. Eaton felt bored and didn’t take it seriously.
After leaving the house and exiting the underground garage, I deliberately let Eaton hold my suitcase. Then I ran to the security guard booth, and told the security guard, “Sir, if my mother comes to feed the fish, remember to remind her that my fish likes playing games, those games I played with her when I was a child. The fish also like to play these games…”
The guard smiled and nodded.
Before getting in the car, Eaton said, “What did you tell the guard just now? I’ll go and talk to him too…”
He smiled brightly, but I felt cold. He was so discreet and suspicious.
I glanced at the side and found his watch lying there. Something vaguely flashed by. I pretended to take a picture of the scenery and secretly took a picture of his watch. After googling, I found it was a watch of a foreign brand with a recording and camera.
Eaton had put the watch in my house before Jessica sent me the message, saying that it was accidentally left at my house.
I couldn’t imagine what would happen if I called the police! The panic in my heart increased, and I kept breathing and quickly took a few pictures to cover it up.
I told myself not to be afraid, [Bonnie, you’ve logged out of your account, and Eaton can’t see your browsing history.]
But I didn’t expect that I was still not careful enough. Soon after getting on the plane, I felt groggy.
In a daze, I heard him whisper in my ear, “Bonnie, you know what, that guard is my uncle, my father’s brother.”
When I woke up, Eaton said, “Hey, Bonnie, we’re in Southville. This is Jessica’s hometown. I called my uncle just now, and he said someone saw Jessica go to Cardiff. If you want to know the specifics, you have to go to Cardiff.”
Cardiff was located in Svanrika, and it was a strange and dangerous place for me.
I became more and more uncertain, “I think I should call my mother and tell her I’m safe!”
Eaton said, “I just had a video call with your mother.”
I pretended to be calm and nodded.
I saw Eaton holding my phone with a smile out of the corner of my eye. I realized that from this moment on, I fell into a cage.
Continuing to deliver the message was the only thing I could do.
I asked Eaton casually, “Do we have Southville on our itinerary?”
Eaton stroked my hair and said, “No, but aren’t you looking for Jessica? So I’ve brought you here. Maybe soon, you’ll be reunited.”
He smiled more and more weirdly.
I tried my best to stay calm, “Well, give me my phone. I have to pay for the hotel later, and my Paypal account needs face recognition…”
Eaton refused, “You’re in such bad shape. I’ll hold your phone for you.”
Eaton cut me off from the outside world. Even at the hotel, we stayed in, I couldn’t borrow a phone or a charger.
I guessed that this hotel might be one of Eaton’s strongholds. Although I didn’t know what type of illegal activities Eaton was engaged in, it must be powerful enough to infiltrate the domestic universities.
He had been lurking around me for four years. Just thinking about it made me shudder.
Late at night, I lay in bed and couldn’t fall asleep. I was breathing heavily because of fear. I was praying again from the bottom of my heart, [Jessica, please be safe. I’m confident I’ll find you. I have never fought for anyone in my life, and I hope to fight for you once. My friend, please!]
There was a glass of water on the table, but I dared not drink it.
At two o’clock in the morning, there was a noise outside, and I pricked up my ears.
There was a squeaking sound from the door lock of the shabby hotel… and someone cursed, “Damn, Eaton, why is this door so hard to open? You open it!”
My body started to tremble. I got up quickly and picked up the bedside lamp tightly. If they got close, I would smash it at them.
The door opened with a quick twist, and I saw Eaton’s face and that of another man. The man’s eyes flickered.
My heart beat faster and faster like it was about to jump out, and I could barely breathe.
I burst into tears and said, “Eaton, who is this person? I had a nightmare again, and I want to call my mother. I’m so scared…”
Eaton came up to me and said, “This is the hotel owner. Our room lock is broken, and I asked him to fix the lock. The signal is not good here. I’m sorry, Bonnie. You are sick and need to rest…”
He hugged me and comforted me cautiously. But I didn’t believe it at all.
I asked Eaton tremblingly, “Have you got my phone? I want to see pictures of my mother.”
Eaton shook his head and said, “No, baby, the phone is outside.”
I grabbed Eaton’s clothes, and I got a sweat on the back of my neck. My eyes were fixed on the iPhone held by the strange man.
The man seemed impatient, “Eaton, don’t talk nonsense with her. She didn’t drink the water… How are we going to deliver her? It will be forty-eight hours soon. What if her family calls the police?”
At this moment, I grabbed the man’s phone with all my strength and yelled, “Siri, call the police…”
The man was irritated by me. He grabbed me, pulled my hair, and quickly hung up.
He stepped on me with his leather shoes and scolded, “You little bitch, you’re asking for trouble…”
I was too weak to get up. Seeing this, he kicked my stomach hard.
My entire back was wet with sweat, and I was still mumbling, “Siri…Siri…call the police…”
Eaton pulled him and said, “Stop kicking. The higher-ups above need her to work. Such a high intellectual will be the killer at the top of the interest chain if we use her properly.”
At this time, Eaton had already removed his disguise. His eyes were cold, and he was looking at me like I was a dog.
I stared at him with widened eyes without saying a word.
Eaton smiled, “You found out, didn’t you? Bonnie, I should have thought it. You are the smartest student in our class. How can you not doubt me? Yes, it’s me who messaged you with a virtual number. It’s also me who spread rumors in the group chat. And there’s a secret I want to tell you…” He slowly leaned closer to my ear and whispered, “Don’t trust Jessica!”
My lips were quivering, and my mind was a mess.
[Don’t trust Jessica.] What did he mean?
I tried to wake myself up, but the man squeezed my chin and poured the cup of water I didn’t drink into my mouth. Soon, I lost consciousness again.
When I woke up, there was a loud noise.
I opened my eyes in a daze and found myself surrounded by slender teak wood. I was lying on the soil.
I saw the most unforgettable scene in my life. There were two large shredders in operation. A dozen girls were standing beside them. They looked very young, but their stature was rickety. Some of them were pale and thin, and could hardly stand.
On both sides of the shredders, several stout men were scolding.
I opened my eyes and stared motionlessly at the girls walking forward.
A girl walked to the shredder, and the two men quickly stripped her clothes and threw her into the shredder… Then there came the sound of the crawler turning…
My mind went blank. I felt like I couldn’t see, and my throat couldn’t make a sound… In the air, blood splattered, and it seemed to splash on my face.
I touched my face mechanically and found it was indeed blood. I panicked instantly. I stumbled and ran over, yelling, “Are you Phenese? Are you Phenese? Ah…”
I was going crazy. My mind was about to explode. The pain was unbearable. I wished I was blind.
[It’s not true! What I see is not true…]
No, God, no!
Someone grabbed me and knelt on the ground, and I vomited. I kept gasping for breath. With tears in my eyes, I saw another girl thrown in, and her upside-down feet gradually disappeared from my sight.
The crawler kept turning… Blood splattered, and the flesh and blood residue was sifted into a vat on one side. I vomited constantly.
I couldn’t cry anymore… I hold my head and keep knocking it on the ground… I told myself that what I saw was fake… It was fake… It didn’t exist…
But those noises kept lingering in my ears and I was at a loss. It was so painful, and my bones were hurting…
Suddenly, I saw someone familiar, Jessica. She was standing at the end of the line.

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