Chapter 01: As You Wish
“This is the Frog God Rock on Frog God Volcano, which is where Frog God Island got its name,” said a strong-looking young man while pointing at a big rock. He wore swim shorts and had a towel draped over his shoulders.
This young man was a resident of the Frog God Island. Apart from occasionally going out to sea to fish, he also took the role of a tour guide at times and at the moment he was pointing out some of the tourist attractions to a group of ‘Frog God Travelling’ tourists.
Unfortunately the group of around twenty people didn’t seem to be too interested in what he was saying as some of them were gaping at their surroundings, ignoring his introductions, while others were already walking away into the distance. The ones that were listening to him, was less than half of the total number of people.
Among those people, the one wearing a sun hat and wearing western clothes was a woman around twenty. She smiled as she said, “A frog god huh? Sure doesn’t look like one.”
“You need imagination,” the young man laughed. “Look, those two bumps over there are the frog legs, the bumpy bit at the front is really the frog god about to throw out its tongue…”
“Doesn’t look like it.” A few people nodded their heads in agreement.
“It’s special, you see…” the young man’s hand shook before pointing at their surroundings, “no bare patch of soil covers any inch of land around you for kilometres on end, welcome to the top of the volcano.”
“This is the volcano mouth, you’ve said that several times already,” another pretty woman smiled. Perhaps it was the young man’s athletic build but simple looks that had earned the attraction of many women.
“Yeah, this is a volcano…in other words, the rocks here, all come from the molten lava from when the volcano erupted.” The young man continued, “Ok, so where did this huge, metres-tall rock, perched on top of this volcano come from?”
As soon as he said this, everyone hesitated, and couldn’t help but stare at the rock.
“Strange right!” the young man laughed, clearly pleased. “You could say the weather caused stone erosion…but this one can’t have been shaped by nature and it’s too heavy to have been moved here by human hands. Even if the rock came from a volcanic eruption which threw it up here, it’s still quite an incredible story. On our island, the old legend goes that there were once these lovers…”
“Wait, don’t tell us the story,” interrupted a thin middle-aged man with glasses. “Can you take us to the beach first?
The young man paused for a second before nodding. “The beach? Sure.”
“Sorry.” The man gazed at the waves then turned back, saying, “We won’t be using this rock for our film.”
“Director Chen, you’re too strict.” The woman with a sun hat said, pursing her lips. “We only just arrived, can’t we film tomorrow?”
“I need to study the shooting locations today,” the director smiled. “If you guys don’t want to go to the beach, I’ll just go with this guy.”
The young man had heard that this group wasn’t exactly made up of normal tourists, they were here to film. He hurriedly said, “The beach on our island is beautiful too, white shells decorate the sands. We don’t have an airport here, so even in tourist season there aren’t many people. Filming should be quite easy.”
“Of course we have to go to the beach, what’s interesting about this rock anyway?” some of the people in the group yelled, already dashing downhill.
Director Chen was just about to follow them, when he suddenly looked back, towards the only teenager in the group. “What about you, Luonian?”
The teenager was wearing lightweight, short-pants. His skin was pale. There was little expression on his face as he carefully said, “Uncle, if there’s no work to be done today, I won’t be going down.”
“Nothing on today,” said the director, “and it’s true that you just sat through a long boat ride. If you’re tired, you can rest at the hotel.”
“Got it,” Luonian nodded, “I’ll just have a look around here first.”
The teenager’s surname was also Chen. Although he moved alongside the group, he was not an actor but Director Chen Shangshan’s nephew. They were really taking advantage of the summer by using work as an excuse to take a holiday. They had come with the crew to do some easy work. Spending some pocket money and looking at the pretty girls was a pretty good way to spend the holidays on a tropical island in the South China Sea.
Chen Luonian’s parents died in an accident four years ago and after that, Chen Shangshan had adopted him. The unusual nature of Chen Shangshan’s work forced him to be busy all day and night and he’d often disappear months on end, so he was rarely with Chen Luonian unless he had to be. He had brought Chen Luonian along to the filming at Frog God Island, thinking that it would be a good opportunity to interact.
Chen Luonian however, had already gotten used to living alone after so many years so he didn’t like to be in a bustling group of people. As there wasn’t work today, he had quickly lost interest in following the group.
Although he wanted to be left behind, Chen Luonian’s eyes weren’t exactly convincing as he’d occasionally look at the not-so-famous actresses, eyeing their slender body shape.
Looking at girls in such a way was one of his not-so-good habits and occasionally people would glare disapprovingly at him, but he just studied them without thinking anything in particular. As for the glares, he seemed to not care about them at all.
Slowly the group headed into the distance, until they were no longer visible. Chen Luonian glanced back and walked towards the Frog God Rock that didn’t look like a frog; he stood by it and looked down. The volcano mouth was no longer curved inwards, as fertile soil now filled it, from which numerous plants – if not a forest – now grew out of. That was all.
Apart from this strange Frog God Rock, there was nothing else interesting there. Where was he to go, now that everyone was down by the beach? Were there any other attractions on this tiny island?
Chen Luonian gingerly touched the Frog God Rock, wondering whether to leave or not when he suddenly felt a prickling sensation. Surprised, he glanced around him, but couldn’t see anyone.
That sensation was just too strange…like someone had screamed into his ear, but his ear hadn’t heard anything.
“Can’t you see it?”
Again! Without a doubt there was no sound, but why did he feel that someone was talking? Had he just heard a ghost speak? Or saw a ghost? Luonian wasn’t afraid of ghosts, but he could still feel a chilling sensation. He looked up, only seeing the brightness of the sun and sky. Did ghosts come out on such a brilliant day?
“Breathless already…have you waited for long?”
Hearing voices? Geez, was he going crazy?
Bang. A sudden wind picked up, Luonian was caught off guard. He slammed heavily into the Frog God Rock and it hurt so much that he couldn’t help but close his eyes and moan. At this time, he felt a huge pressure against him. Luonian was dazed. His eyes fluttered open, only to find himself seeing a shiny red object, which covered every place he could see. It was as compelling as the sun, but not dazzling enough to hurt his eyes.
What’s this? Luonian looked at the red thing, but he could not tell the exact dimensions of it, nor the actual shape. He was only sixteen or seventeen, and at this moment, his legs really did feel quite weak. If his back hadn’t been against the Frog God Rock, maybe he would have tumbled down…strange, it seemed the Frog God Rock was wobbling too. Maybe it just happened to be an earthquake?
“Now that you’ve found me, I will keep my promise.” The voice was still ringing in his mind, “As for the other part…do you need more or less time?”
What sort of question is that? Luonian looked stupefied, more or less time…of course, more time? But what did that mean anyway?
“More or less time?” the voice asked again.
Luonian couldn’t make sense of it anymore, but felt weighed down by some sort of invisible pressure. Then, as if he couldn’t stay silent any longer, his mouth opened, “M…more?”
“As you wish.” As soon as the voice finished saying this, Luonian’s body suddenly convulsed, as if something had infiltrated his body. His body felt strange and he was just about to lose consciousness, when the red thing jumped up again, Luonian raised his head to look at it. He could only tell that the thing that was pointy at the front but broader at the other end, and its sides reached out…was actually an impossibly large…bird?
He hadn’t any idea whether he was having auditory or visual hallucinations now…Chen Luonian felt even more dizzy when he realised that he had seen a huge red bird, but the next moment it was gone, followed by a gust of wind. It seemed that the oxygen was trying to mend the empty space in the air.
That was when the Frog God Rock behind him burst into pieces with a bang. Luonian was caught off guard and he began to tumble downhill, but after a few rolls, something heavy fell on his chest, and his body just somehow stayed perched on the mountain. Chen Luonian struggled to look up, ever more surprised to see something bigger than himself, pressing against his chest. It was an enormous white giant beast and it was glaring nastily at him.
Two sharp teeth sat out from a huge mouth, pointy ears, blood-shot eyes, and a head bigger than an average car…what? A giant dog? Or a giant wolf? First a giant bird, now he was seeing this giant beast. What the hell was going on here?
Geez! Was this a dream? Chen Luonian looked at the beast, not sure about the development of this dream.
The giant beast didn’t make a sound, there appeared to be a trace of anger in his bloodshot eyes as he stared into Chen Luonian’s eyes. After some time, it lowered its head, and licked his head.
He’s not planning to eat me? Luonian couldn’t care less whether this was a hallucination or not now, he couldn’t help but say, “are…are you a monster?” Legend has it that monsters can talk, so maybe something would happen if he talked to it? Novels, manga, don’t they all say so? Everything says that monsters have a human side, so they should be able to communicate, right?
The giant beast didn’t seem to understand what Luonian had said – it just looked at him. Luonian wasn’t sure whether to continue, when the giant beast suddenly opened its blooded mouth, biting down on Chen Luonian’s left hand.
As those strong teeth clamped down, Luonian felt a jolt of pain. He was about to scream when he saw his attacker pull back, at full strength. His out-of-control body flew into the air and he ended up tumbling into the giant mouth, the saliva flooding towards him…Chen Luonian felt himself gradually being swallowed. He was not afraid, but felt relieved for some reason…geez, ending life this way is pretty unique huh, he thought.
As the saliva was about to carry him down its throat, Chen Luonian was struck by something foul-smelling. He was surrounded by darkness and though he could see nothing, he could still feel a sense of rhythm…he could not help but shake his hands and feet as the feeling of being bound was suddenly gone. His left arm stung with pain, he cried out in pain as he opened his eyes, hesitantly.
This place didn’t look like a giant beast’s stomach…white ceiling, soft lights, he was lying in a bed. Was that a dream? Had he not been eaten?
“Luonian?” That was Chen Shangshan’s voice. Luonian rolled over, and could see his uncle holding a book, sitting on a chair beside him. “You’re finally awake.”
“Uncle? What…what happened to me?” Chen Luonian was still confused and couldn’t express himself clearly.
“You fell down the volcano mouth.” Chen Shangshan said, “Your left hand was hurt, lost a lot of blood, and you even had a minor concussion. You’ve been out for three days already.”
So the giant bird and giant dog, that was just a dream? Chen Luonian sighed in relief, but he was still confused. He shook his head saying, “I don’t remember how I fell…”
“It might have been because Frog God Rock exploded and you fell down with it.” Chen Shangshan frowned slightly at this, “Some of the people on the island think that we were the ones who caused the explosion…did you see the process?”
“Frog God Rock…exploded?” A shiver ran up Chen Luonian’s spine, goose bumps appeared again…maybe that wasn’t a dream? Beasts really came out of the rock?
“It doesn’t matter if you didn’t see anything, maybe it was just an earthquake.” Chen Shangshan put down his book and walked closer, “The doctor said you were fine, so why were you unconscious for so long?”
“I don’t know…” Chen Luonian used his left hand to lumber himself up. Looking around he asked, “Is this Frog God Island Hospital?”
“We’re in Taitung, not on Frog God Island,” Chen Shangshan replied.
Back in Taitung already? Chen Luonian’s voice was laced with shock as he asked, “No more filming?”
“Impossible.” Chen Shangshan shook his head. “The earthquakes wouldn’t stop that night and there was even smoke coming out of the ground in some places. Even the island’s residents had to leave. Thanks to you, I was able to come in the direct helicopter to Taiwan for the injured. The other members of the crew are still on the boat though.”
“Eh, he’s awake now?” came a soft voice from behind the door.
The two spun around, seeing a round-cheeked nurse wheeling a cart full of medicine into the room. She seemed to be a bit surprised as she said, “Mister Chen, why didn’t you tell us?”
“He only just woke up,” Chen Shangshan said.
The nurse answered, “Then I’ll tell the doctors and see if they’re free to come over.”
“Thank you.” Chen Shangshan said, “If there’s nothing wrong with Luonian, can he go home?”
“That’s up to the doctors, I’ll get them,” the nurse smiled before leaving the room.
The nurse usually had difficulty expressing herself, but Chen Luonian’s old habit was back. He eyed the nurse’s shape, only God knows what he thought.
A while later, the round-cheeked nurse came back inside. “The doctor is fortunately free, he’ll come over soon, I’ll change your medicine first, and maybe your drip can be changed too.”
The nurse worked fast, within seconds she had changed to drip’s needle head and the bandage on Chen Luonian’s left arm. Chen Luonian was still weighing her out, but all he could see now was a huge scar on his left shoulder, and white skin around the scar. Whenever he moved his left arm, there was a searing pain. Not moving it however, only made it feel numb.
“No one would have been able to tell that you would have such a healthy, fast recovery,” said the nurse, half to him, half to the bandage.
Was this from when the beast bit me? Or had I gotten it from tumbling downhill? Chen Luonian was more than just confused at the sequence of events, some of which had seemed very real, but because no such existing organism he knew looked like that…even if there was, hadn’t he been eaten? Then why was he alive again?
Can’t have been monsters…it was probably just something he’d dreamed up during his tumble downhill. In other words he still had to live on…Chen Luonian didn’t want to think about that anymore. He lifted his head, and saw that there was an additional man in front of him, this one wearing a white coat.
This person was the doctor in charge. After checking him through and asking some questions, he suggested him to stay for a little longer. However, not only did Chen Luonian want to leave the hospital himself, his uncle Chen Luonian was also keen to leave, so the doctor couldn’t refuse. After thinking for some time, he eventually announced that Chen Luonian was allowed to go home.
After the doctor and nurse had left, Chen Shangshan studied Chen Luonian, slowly and carefully saying, “Staying here for a few more days won’t do you any harm.”
“I don’t want to stay.” Chen Luonian shook his head.
“I’d better stay in Taitung to wait for the rest of the crew and look for somewhere else to film.” Chen Luonian said, “Do you plan to go back to Banqiao or come back with me to the hotel and wait?”
“I’ll go back,” Chen Luonian shook his head again. He was injured anyway; he wouldn’t be able to work.
“Then I’ll order the tickets to get you to Taipei and your luggage will be packed for you.” Chen Shangshan opened his wallet and took out a couple of one thousand yuan notes. He paused for a moment, thinking, then added, “Take a taxi, don’t run around too much with an injured hand…and don’t pick fights.”
Why fight when injured? Besides, he rarely fought, although he had been taken to the police station a couple of times before…Chen Luonian looked unhappy as he grunted, “Got it.”
After getting on the taxi, he noticed that the driver was a man around fifty, and he followed the coastal road to the north, towards the airport. He tried to talk a little at the start, but he soon found out the Chen Luonian didn’t want to talk, so he eventually stopped speaking altogether.
In Taitung, the further away from the city centre, the fewer cars there were. Sometimes they went for miles without seeing another car. Chen Luonian didn’t seem bothered by this however, as they were driving across the Taitung coastal route. He could see the sea, which was extremely soothing to look at.
During their journey north, just as the taxi began to go over a bridge, the car abruptly served to the side. Chen Luonian – who had been mesmerised by the sea – jumped in surprise. He grabbed onto the handrail to stabilise himself. He was just about to ask but the driver was already hurriedly trying to explain, “Prob…probably just a flat tyre.”
The driver’s hands tightened and he decelerated while the car still swayed. With much difficulty, he parked the car on the side of the road. He looked back and laughed awkwardly, “I’ve never had a…”
At this, the faces of the two suddenly changed. The driver could not continue his sentence, because although the car had stopped, the car was still swaying right and left…not a flat tyre but an earthquake?
Chen Luonian was puzzled over what to do next when he saw that the driver had opened the door and had leapt already outside. He was yelling something unintelligible at him.
Was it best to run outside and leave the car in this situation? Chen Luonian didn’t agree, but he thought staying in the car alone was strange, so he followed the driver outside as well.
As Chen Luonian was getting out of the car, he finally noticed that the earthquake had already stopped. He stood beside the driver and the two of them gazed the sea opposite them. All they saw was azure blue seawater, and further out was a darker blue that extended far beyond what they could see.
Perhaps Frog God Island’s volcano had erupted? Chen Luonian gazed out at the sea, temporarily too stunned to speak.
“This earthquake seemed to be pretty strong, thank god the bridge held.” The driver swallowed in relief. “Little bro, let’s get on the car. After I get you to the airport, I’d better go home and check on my family.”
“Ok.” Chen Luonian nodded, getting onto the car.
At the airport, because of the earthquake that happened not long ago, the flights were slightly delayed. However, as planes are things that fly in the sky, schedule was mainly kept to. Not long later, Chen Luonian had successfully boarded the plane, was on the way back to his home in Banqiao, and was going to have a peaceful recovery time.
A month later, Chen Luonian’s injured arm had healed, only leaving a lumpy bump of meaty scars. As for the dream he’d had on Frog God Island, it only served as a strange memory that he’d think of when his shoulder would hurt, but that was all.
As what happened to his uncle Chen Shangshan, he hadn’t returned home in the last month or so and had only called twice. Also, the private school Chen Luonian attended had opened for the school term two weeks earlier. He had returned to his everyday life: finishing school on time, reading, handing in homework, facing exams…and life passed day by day, like how every other normal highschool student was doing, that is, living through a boring student life.
At the moment, school had finished and his classmates were leaving. Sitting by the window, only Chen Luonian was left in the classroom, he was staring blankly at the girls running on the field, admiring the members of the softball team.
“Hey you?…Chen…Chen Luonian right?” said someone from inside the classroom.
Chen Luonian almost jumped back in surprise, he turned around. His voice was even more surprised when he said, “Teacher.”
Standing by the classroom door was a young man called Zhu Guoyong, an English teacher. He had taught Chen Luonian in his first year; Zhu Guoyong was young, he often joked with his students and most of them got on well with him. However, Chen Luonian never liked crowds and apart from being in the classroom, he had never really talked to this teacher before. That’s why he was surprised that he still remembered his name.
“Why are you still in class?” Zhu Guoyong laughed as he came closer, “or are you preparing for a date?”
“No, I just want to go a bit later.” Chen Luonian shook his head, and turned back towards the window. After some time, he finally asked, “anything else?”
“Nope,” Zhu Guoyong said, “I’m on duty today, so I have to lock all the doors.”
“Eh?” Chen Luonian replied, “But the sports teams finish quite late, a lot of people still have their bags in their classroom.”
“That’s okay, that’s okay,” Zhu Guoyong smiled, “everything will be safer for the night, I don’t mind unlocking and relocking more doors later…Chen Luonian, since you aren’t waiting for anyone, why are you still here?”
This teacher really was quite bossy in a way…Chen Luonian frowned, “The later it is, the less people on the train.”
“Won’t your family be worried?” Zhu Guoyong tried again.
Chen Luonian looked pointedly at Zhu Guoyong, saying, “No one’s at home so it doesn’t matter.”
“What?” Zhu Guoyong looked shocked, his expression saying that he wanted to ask more, but didn’t know whether that would be the right thing to do.
Chen Luonian didn’t avoid his unspoken question though, he continued, “My parents died and now I live with my uncle who is rarely at home.”
“Oh I see.” Zhu Guoyong looked a bit awkward, when he had a thought, “All’s good then. Do you want to come to the staff room with me? We can talk.”
“No thanks.” Chen Luonian didn’t want to talk. He grabbed his bag and said, “I’ll get going.”
“Oh?” Zhu Guoyong looked a bit dazed, but he knew he shouldn’t stop Chen Luonian. He finally said, “Be careful while going home.”
“Got it.” Chen Luonian spun around and walked out the door.
While walking down the stairs, Chen Luonian was thinking that if he stayed any longer, Zhu Guoyong would have probably started a counselling session which would be trouble. There was nothing he felt unhappy about, and even if he did, nothing could solve it.
The death of both his parents, whenever someone found out, they always acted cautiously around him and wouldn’t ever mention related topics. Sometimes they’d avoid talking about their own parents altogether. Although this was convenient at times, it was really just unnecessary to him.
Not many people knew that Chen Luonian had never felt really sad about his parents in the last four years. It wasn’t that his parents weren’t nice to him – for some reason he couldn’t explain – he had only been thirty percent sad when they died, then twenty percent to nothing; Chen Luonian had quickly accepted reality.
Was his personality really that unusual? Chen Luonian wasn’t sure himself, but almost every novel, manga, TV show, he had ever seen or read, both their main and supporting characters had a secret fear of being alone – whether they were hot-blooded idiots, over-friendly fools, clever jerks or not, they all had the same problem…but he had never felt lonely before…was he really just an unusual person? Or was it because authors themselves often feel lonely?
Walking out of the building, Chen Luonian noticed that there was no one around. His stride widened; in a few seconds he had jumped over a platform full of flowers and had disappeared behind the adjacent building. He only needed to turn at the corner and then he’d be at the school gates. It was much faster than any other route you could take, except students were usually forbidden to go this way, for the platform was a bit scratched and dirty due to trespassers like Chen Luonian.
Taking the alleyway behind the building, Chen Luonian continued to think about the problem from before, that the reason why characters in stories are afraid of being alone is because authors feel lonely – if they didn’t write their characters that way, maybe no story could ever be written? This seemed quite logical and thinking of this, he couldn’t help but smile.
“Oi, sup with ya smile little fart?”
This struck Chen Luonian by surprise. He raised his head and realised that he had already turned the corner and that there were three people in front of him. Two of them had a very serious expression on; their eyes bored into Chen Luonian. The third was a short and chubby guy leaning weakly against the wall. He wore glasses and he too, was staring at Chen Luonian.
So this was the infamous school bullying? Chen Luonian had heard about it before but he had never experienced it himself. It was quite cliched actually because the short chubby guy, the one being bullied looked like the perfect victim. It seemed that all of them were third years. In other words, didn’t that mean the short guy had been bullied for the last three years?
But there was no time to admire the situation as it seemed that their anger, that was directed at himself just a moment ago, was just a misunderstanding. He didn’t usually go home this early, but then again, he hadn’t expected someone else to know about this place either.
Chen Luonian appeared to be weak but in reality, he couldn’t care less if he was forced into a fight. However, he decided to not fight this time as the opposition had more people, and it would be tiring and sore after the fight. Chen Luonian stopped in his tracks and looked at the two bullies in the face, his own face expressionless. “I didn’t notice that there were other people here, you see, I was smiling over something else.”
The two people eyed Chen Luonian from top to bottom this looked back at the glasses kid. Then, the thin triangular-faced teenager narrowed his eyes, saying, “You’re a second year, right? What are you doing here?”
“The route here is the quickest.”
Although Chen Luonian appeared to be weak, one’s attitude is much different if they feel no particular hate or dislike. The two saw that Chen Luonian’s strong desire to not interfere with their mess. They exchanged looks, then finally, the other guy, whose face was much more tanned and had a very athletic build said, “If that’s it, ya can get lost.”
Chen Luonian nodded, but as he passed through the group of through, he couldn’t help but look at the victim in the eye, who seemed to feel a little braver with someone else around, but Chen Luonian didn’t want to bother. His eyes just flicked past him as he continued on his way.
He had only taken a few steps however, when someone behind him suddenly called out, “What are you guys doing here? Chen Luonian?”
Chen Luonian turned around in surprise, only to see Zhu Guoyong looking very serious indeed.
Had he seen Chen Luonian jump over the flower platform and decided to punish him? Chen Luonian was alarmed; he was still trying to think of some suitable excuse when one of the three, the thin-faced guy laughed. “Teacher, we were just talking about life.”
“Talking?” Zhu Guoyong frowned.
“Yeah, just talking,” said the tanned guy.
“You three…are in which third year class?” Zhu Guoyong asked again.
“Humanities. Why ask, it’s not like we did anything wrong.” The tanned guy looked a bit uncomfortable.
“All three of you studying humanities?” Zhu Guoyong’s gaze swept towards the short guy and in a much softer tone, he asked, “And you? What were you doing here?”
“Just talking,” said the triangular-faced guy, smiling sweetly at the short guy, “right?”
“Yeah…just talking,” said the short guy.
Zhu Guoyong had guessed that the short guy was bullied, but he couldn’t punish them unless the short guy said so himself. He thought for a while before asking, “What are your names?”
“I…I’m Huang Zongru,” said the short guy.
“Fine, Hou Tianliang,’ said the tanned guy, looking rather annoyed.
“I’m Zhang Zhiwen,” said the triangular-faced guy, smiling. “Why are you asking anyway, teacher, it’s not like we did anything wrong.”
Zhu Guoyong’s eyes darted towards Chen Luonian, “What about you? Were you talking as well?”
“I just happened to walk past and was about to leave,” Chen Luonian answered with the truth.
Although the students before him were obviously lying, if Zhu Guoyong really wanted to punish them, he could simply use the reason of jumping or stepping over the flower platform, but that wasn’t his style. He was about to say something when his eyes widened and he was gaping at something behind Chen Luonian. “What’s that?”
“What?” Everyone was shocked by Zhu Guoyong’s expression, but they followed his gaze nonetheless. Chen Luonian turned around, only to find something not far from himself, on the wall, was a yellow snake-like thing. It was as thick as a finger twisting itself out of the wall.
Chen Luonian was aghast; he quickly backed away from the wall, eyeing the thing nervously.
“Oi, so this wall has a snake den, yeah?” said the tanned guy. He no longer cared that there was a teacher beside him, as he broke into informal language again.
Zhu Guoyong didn’t have time to be picky about language either. Rather, he looked a bit stupefied as he asked, “Is that really a snake?”
The snake-like thing was about twenty centimetres out from the wall when it fell onto the ground and stayed wriggling there.
“What the hell is that? It hasn’t got any eyes and it looks incredibly disgusting,” Zhang Zhiwen said carefully.
Hou Tianliang lightly touched the strange thing with his foot and laughing, he said, “Maybe it’s a worm? So fat.” It wasn’t big enough to be menacing and as far as the group was concerned, it could only wriggle. The only problem left was the strange nature of its appearance.
“But…but…” the short guy, Huang Zongru said, abruptly.
“What now?” Hou Tianliang flashed him an annoyed look.
“The wall…nothing…” Huang Zongru wasn’t very clear.
“What’s wrong with the wall?” Hou Tiangliang looked again at the wall, but still couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. “Oi, yer too slow man!”
Chen Luonian looked at the wall and answered for Huang Zongru, “There’s no hole or crack in the wall.”
“Eh?” The remaining three were shocked, looking back at the wall, they realised that the snake had come out of a completely smooth patch of wall. Not even a single crack.
The crowd of people were staring at the wall blankly when Zhu Guoyong suddenly yelled, “Hey…come over here, quick!”
The four students jumped back, only to see the yellow worm on the ground had grown to be as fat as a shoulder, nearly a metre long and it was, in fact, still getting bigger.
It grows? Just what was this thing? The four students were traumatised by the sight of the ever-growing worm, which had also grown two eyes and a mouth. It was more than two metres long and as fat as an average adult’s leg. It was spitting snake-like sounds at the students, who were still backing towards Zhu Guoyong.
What the hell was it? This time they didn’t need to talk; all of them simply ran away from it, down the alleyway, to safety.
“Ahh!” screamed to short guy, Huang Zongru, who had fallen behind. The other four turned towards him and were surprised to see a huge python wrapped around his left foot. His tears were falling and his nose was dripping as his hands flailed around wildly.
The group was terrified. They stopped dead in their tracks. They were still wondering what to do when they heard Chen Luonian scream in an awkwardly funny way, then saw him hit the huge python on the head with his bag.
That person is so damn brave…they thought. The group of three observed him from a distance, although they felt that they should help, they felt a nasty chill whenever they looked at the big python. They just stood there, like statues, not knowing what to do.
The big python had wanted to wrap itself around Huang Zongru when its head was unexpectedly thumped – and was still being thumped – by someone. It jerked upwards, pushing with a mighty force that threw Chen Luonian into the air and smashed him heavily into the wall. His bag flew to the side as well, spilling its contents onto the ground.
“Shit!” Chen Luonian hurriedly picked up a pen. He scrambled towards the snake-like thing that was still wound around Huang Zongru and stabbed it with the pen.
This big python for once, was not as invincible as the monsters in manga, where their skin cannot be pierced through by knives or guns of any type. It writhed painfully in response. To the huge snake-like thing, the pen was like something hard stabbing at its insides. It let go of Huang Zongru and tossed Chen Luonian off. Then, opening its mouth wider, it aimed for Chen Luonian’s head and chomped down.
Chen Luonian, who had just been tossed into the air, was still rolling on the ground when he saw the giant snake-thing coming. He yanked his head away in response. The snake-think bit down on his left shoulder instead.
Come to think of it, it really was quite strange that this thing didn’t have any teeth. There was no sharp pain. Rather, the mouth was like a clip with an awfully tight grip. Despite all, Chen Luonian still raised his pen and aimed at the snake-thing, not that it was about to fall for the same trick again. It wriggled out of the way and wrapped itself around Chen Luonian’s body.
Zhu Guoyong knew that this was a terrible situation. He somehow forced down his fear and dashed towards the snake-thing’s tail, trying to peel it off Chen Luonian. He was also yelling something like, “one of you…find help!”
Zhu Guoyong had really been talking to Huang Zongru but he was in a world of his own, shivering. He hadn’t heard Zhu Guoyong at all.
“Oi damn snake, get a move on!” The tanned guy, Hou Tianliang had finally plucked up his courage as well, rushing over to thump the giant python’s head.
Following behind was Zhang Zhiwen. In his hands was a broom that no one knew when he’d gotten and he almost joined in the messy, chaotic fight as well. Unfortunately he was afraid he’d hurt someone, so he stood at the side, not knowing what to do.
A few moments later, Zhang Zhiwen still couldn’t find the right moment to attack. He threw down the broom and helped Zhu Guoyong instead.
But of course, human power cannot defeat snake power. The three people pulled and pushed with all their strength, but the python clung on ever so tightly. Every bone in Chen Luonian’s body hurt and his right hand, that had been trying to attack the snake-thing, was slowly going numb as well. Then, there was a loud rumble and the crowd saw a flash. They didn’t realise what had happened even after the four felt themselves being tossed into the air.
Chen Luonian slammed into the wall; he was dizzy and saw stars. When he came back to his senses, he recognised to figure of an energetic teenager wearing a uniform and carrying a massive backpack. He was standing behind the giant python and in his arms was a long, silver spear. The tip of the spear had penetrated through the giant python, pinning it to the ground.
Although the giant python had been pierced through, it was still wriggling, trying to reach for the wall. That loud sound and the damaged wall proved that something incredible had happened, yet the teenager stood like a rock, unmoving. After some time, the giant python stopped wriggling, stopped moving altogether.
“Are you guys okay?” The teenager looked at the group and breaking into a smile he asked, “May I keep this?” He looked ecstatic.
This novel is set in Taiwan, which is a place in the South China Sea, which is sometimes considered part of China but also sometimes considered a separate country, so there are lots of place names. Below are some place names, explained.
Taipei: The capital of Taiwan – a bit like a county, northern Taiwan.
Taitung: Another county of Taiwan, south eastern Taiwan.
Banqiao: A metropolis (large city) of New Taipei, which falls under the Taipei County.