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Chapter 682: Essay
This should be the most unforgettable night in Bai Qing’s life, second only to that nightmare that happened in her house not long ago.
When only white noise could be heard from the earpiece, Bai Qing began to go into full panic mode. Although she repeatedly told herself to be calm, she still couldn’t stop those dreadful thoughts from pouring into her mind.
What happened at Workshop No. 3?
Had Zhang Heng encountered any danger?
Had someone spotted him? Had those creatures captured him? Would they kill him?
Bai Qing wanted to rush into the gla.s.s factory, but her wise mind told her that it would be best for her to stay in the car and wait for Zhang Heng’s instructions. Even she herself did not know how she could survive the past six minutes.
Every second was torturous. When the white noise disappeared, the connection between the two was reestablished. A familiar voice then came from the other end, much to Bai Qing’s relief.
“I’m out of the gla.s.s factory,” Zhang Heng said, “The signal was lost when I went underground just now.”
“It’s okay. Did you find anything there?” Bai Qing asked curiously after she calmed down.
“I figured out how those beings replaced the people around us and planted them into human society. That includes how they reproduce and live,” Zhang Heng paused. “And I don’t think those missing people are dead.”
Bai Qing was overjoyed when he heard this. “Are you saying that my mother is very likely to be alive?”
“Yes,” Zhang Heng said, “They can’t inherit the memory of their target, which means a living target or at least a temporarily alive one would be more useful to them. They can extract more information by doing this, including the victim’s interpersonal relations.h.i.+ps and living habits. But your mother’s situation is quite special. The being that took your mother’s form chose to kill herself to send your father to prison. Since there are no more requirements for your mother, I have no idea what they will do to her. I’m not ruling out the possibility that they might keep her as a research subject.”
“Then, do you know where my mother is now?” Bai Qing asked.
“I’m going to look for her,” Zhang Heng said. “If someone from the factory gets detained, there should be signs of it.”
Zhang Heng waited another fifty minutes in Workshop No. 3 until his cat turned back into Lego bricks. As expected, the vines were not interested in things like plastics and metals, and they immediately let go of it.
He picked the bricks from the ground, put them into his school bag, and with one last glance at the underground entrance, he returned to Workshop No. 3, backpack on his back.
Escaping that h.e.l.lhole felt so good, especially now that he had gotten away from that putrid stench. Since the security camera outside the workshop had been readjusted to its original position, Zhang Heng could not leave the same way he came in. Now, the window was the only way out. Entering the factory via the windows was challenging, but opening it from the inside was easy. Once he was out, a string could then be used to close the window.
Half an hour had pa.s.sed by the time Zhang Heng returned to the van.
Bai Qing had been waiting anxiously for his return. Zhang Heng opened the car door, sat in the driver’s seat, and drank a few sips of water. “I have good news and bad news.”
Before Bai Qing could ask further, Zhang Heng continued, “The good news is, I’ve found evidence that someone had been imprisoned in a room on the first floor. The bad news is that there’s no one there anymore. I’m afraid I might have spooked them with my previous investigation. Perhaps they were afraid that I would find out about Workshop No. 3 and moved the prisoners to another site.”
“Where are they now?” Bai Qing asked. Her mother’s whereabouts remained her biggest concern.
“I don’t know the answer to that yet. They moved them carefully and quickly this time. Some of them didn’t even get to pack their things, But don’t you worry, I will find them. Before that, we’ll have to deal with that underground thing first. Otherwise, more people would only keep disappearing. And even if we manage to rescue all of them, there is no guarantee that they won’t be replaced again.”
Bai Qing had received the photos and videos from Zhang Heng earlier.
Due to the tiny ashes floating in the air, they looked somewhat blurry, but it did not stop Bai Qing from seeing the alien tree and the cicada pupae on the branches.
If she had not seen it with her own eyes, she wouldn’t have ever believed that such a curious being would call this would home. It was a plant but seemed to possess some animal characteristics as well, especially the trunk’s beating heart. The sound it emitted was enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine.
“Now that we have the evidence, how about handing it to the police so that they can kill the… alien?”
“I’m afraid that’s unrealistic,” Zhang Heng said. “What are we going to tell the police? Are we going to tell them that a monster is living in a gla.s.s factory?”
“Aren’t the videos and photos enough to make them send someone?”
“A few vague photos and a video can’t explain anything,” Zhang Heng shook his head. “No one will believe us, and we don’t even know if the aliens had replaced the police, so it’s too great a risk to expose these to them. They might just be prepared to deal with us. By the time the real police get to Workshop No. 3, they will find nothing there. And how do you plan to explain the fire at the cardboard factory?”
Bai Qing seemed a little discouraged the moment she heard that.
“Well, what should we do? You’ve said that ordinary physical attacks have no effect. Are we supposed to steal an ICBM to kill it?”
“There should be other ways,” replied Zhang Heng. “With the alien tree’s defensive abilities and survivability, why were they so afraid of the three children? They were willing to go through all that trouble to kill them. They treated adults like your father and the college student like fools. No one will believe what we tell them.”
“Do you think the three children had something that could deal with them?”
“Yes, but it’s late now. Let’s rest first,” said Zhang Heng. After he drove Bai Qing back to the hotel, he did not return home immediately. Instead, he pulled out his mobile phone and looked at it. Other than the pictures of the underground creature, another two new photos were stored in his gallery.
It was an essay written by Lin Sisi.
She turned out to be one of the three drowned children. Zhang Heng had gone to her school earlier and learned about the existence of this weekly diary from her cla.s.s teacher. And this was his first time reading the full version of the essay. Apparently, the aliens in the gla.s.s factory were studying her essay as well.
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