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Zero o'clock

by Salam 3 months ago in Short Story
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During that time, I often missed school and went in and out of various floors at night. I only steal worthless things. This is my principle. Even if I get caught at most, there is no danger of being expelled from the school.

During that time, I often missed school and went in and out of various floors at night. I only steal worthless things. This is my principle. Even if I get caught at most, there is no danger of being expelled from the school.

There are many things that may be worthless to you, but they are of immeasurable value to those who need them. For example, some employers paid me two hundred dollars to steal an old leather shoe; others paid four hundred dollars to get an old notepad. I have been working very carefully, and gradually I became famous.

That day, I went to his office at the request of a special client. He was wearing sunglasses, his back was to the window, and most of his face was in the shadows. I shivered when I entered the door, and his office was shady.

"What do you want me to steal?" I sat on the sofa and asked directly.

"I know you're good at stealing worthless things." He smiled, stiff and grotesque. Perhaps the sun had blinded my eyes, and I saw that his teeth were amber, and, sharper than the average person.

"There is no difference between valuable and worthless things, the key is to see what is needed." I deliberately said in a tough tone.

I felt his gaze pierce my pupils through his sunglasses. He nodded.

"It really lives up to its reputation." He stood up and changed his tone, slow and hoarse, "I need a butterfly specimen."

"Stealing butterfly specimens?" I wanted to make sure.

"No, it's a butterfly specimen." His voice was gloomy, but there was a unique sense of solemnity.

See his big-headed ghost, in my place, there is no essential difference between the two words.

"Well, when will I get it back?" I asked.

"Next Wednesday. I'll let you know the details." He squeezed his fat body into the sofa.

"What species?" I asked.

He took a picture from the drawer and put it in front of me.

Jade-spotted phoenix butterfly. There are two smears of yellow jade on the wings, and the appearance is small and exquisite. I know very well that although this butterfly specimen is very popular overseas, the price is not high, only a few hundred dollars.

"Jade-spotted butterfly specimens are sold in every insect ornamental store." I said jokingly.

"The specimen I need is at No. 73 Garden Road." His tone suddenly became sharp, accompanied by a painful hiss.

"The price?" I reminded him.

"Five thousand," he said coldly.

I was stunned. I want to make sure first, is this fat guy across from me crazy?

"The price is far beyond your expectations, isn't it?" He smiled gloomily. "I ask you to take this business seriously and get it next Thursday."

"Expedited fee, I understand." I swallowed.

He still gave me a wad of bills. "Here's two thousand dollars, and the rest will be paid upon delivery."

"Aren't you afraid I'll run away?" I stared at the money, a little overwhelmed.

"You'd better not even think about it," he hissed.

The money was in my arms. I took the deal, and although there was no contract, I knew I had no choice. I had to steal that butterfly specimen, no matter how fierce the owner of 73 Garden Road was.

At dusk, the wind picked up, and dead leaves circled the side of the road, making a sound of "sand hissing". The windows facing the street lit up like cold eyes. I started to tremble, maybe sick, the money in my arms was like a block of ice, and the cold seeped into my veins. I kept fighting, cursing the fat man with sunglasses in my heart, and his office, like a grave.

I had a strange hunch that this business was going to be in big trouble. I sat on a bench in the park in the middle of the street, my shoulders shrunk, the wind was pouring into my skull, whistling, and my whole body felt like I was being scratched by a cat, a sharp, dry pain.

I leaned back on the chair and took a nap. In the short dream, the cat kept approaching me, with two bloody holes in its eyes, bottomless. The cat suddenly grinned and showed a stiff smile.

"You should wake up... wake up..."

I woke up suddenly, terrifying daydreaming. I turned my face inadvertently, suddenly creepy! The fat guy, wearing sunglasses, sat silently beside me with a stiff smile on his lips. This time I saw clearly, those amber teeth with saliva hanging from the tips.

"It's time for you to wake up... wake up..." he said.

"What are you doing?" I shouted in horror. "Why are you following me?!"

"I'm here to inform you that you must go to No. 73 Garden Road to take out butterfly specimens on a rainy night, remember!" He said hoarsely, "There happens to be a heavy rain next Thursday night. After you finish your work, come directly to deliver. I will inform you of the specific location."

I turned to go, and he held me down, rubbing his soft fingers against my cheek. "Listen, little one, you have to take this business seriously," he hissed.

The rain poured in the night, and No. 73 Garden Road was as silent as death. The walls dragged deep shadows, the creepers grew wildly, and the leaves trembled in the rain with bright green luster, staring at me like countless eyes.

This is a single house. I stepped on it the other day, and the old house was unoccupied. This made me even more terrified.

It's too late to bring it up now. That guy has already warned me in the park in the middle of the street. He can sneak up by my side at any time and strangle me at any time.

I pushed open the rusty courtyard door, and the sound of rain could not hide the moaning as the door pivoted.

I accidentally glanced at the second-floor window, through the rain curtain, where a yellowish light passed by in the dark night. I took the wine bottle out of my arms and took a swig, hell, it's time to work!

Wrapped tightly in my black raincoat, I slipped in like a ghost through the first-floor gate. The cold wind rushed into the room with me. I turned on my flashlight and moved forward. The house seemed to be shaking, perhaps an illusion after drinking. The empty hall was heavily carpeted, and it was impossible to see where to hide butterfly specimens. It was strange that what I was seeing now was not the same as what I had seen when I stepped on the spot two days ago. Maybe it was the rain, whose refracted light can cause a slight mental disturbance. The beam of light from the flashlight moved up the wall, and suddenly, a reflection hit me, and I almost cried out in shock.

Why is there a mirror hanging there? I'm sure this wall was empty that day... wait a minute, it's a picture frame with a big picture on it.

I raised my flashlight trembling, and with the help of metering, I saw a black-framed photo of a girl looking at me with a half-smile. Her face was pale, and the mole on the bridge of her nose was the size of a soybean. Her eyes were empty, and the whites of her bulging eyes were glowing with phosphor. I hurriedly moved the flashlight away. There was a large wriggling black shadow in the corner of the room, and I took two steps back. There was a group of cats, huge in size, staring at the blue eyes and motionless. I threw away the flashlight and fled to the door.

I tried desperately to open the door, but it wouldn't open. I slumped on the carpet, my eyes adjusted to the darkness, and I looked at the picture frame on the wall, where the portrait was tilted and swayed slightly. The girl in the photo raised her long, pale hands, which seemed to be clutching something, and her fingers kept tightening and shaking. I looked into her eyes, and two black holes made her face look terrifying.

I screamed and twitched. The girl smiled eerily, her hands slowly sticking out of the slanted photo, something rolling from her loose palms. My throat was dry and prickly, like coke, and I watched the girl climb from the photo to the wall, a thin layer of body, gradually merging into the cats in the corner.

I was creepy and crazy like running to the second floor, anyway, find the butterfly specimen first, that's my job. I believe it could save my life.

The second floor was even more bleak, the sound of wind and rain whimpering outside the window, and the window made a "click click" sound, as if a dark shadow desperately wanted to come in. I blindly rammed around the room, surrounded by dilapidated furniture like beasts, crouching in the shadows.

I stopped and forced myself to calm down.

Time was running out, and the guy in sunglasses informed me that I had to be at the subway station before twelve o'clock. I believe that as long as the butterfly specimen is found, the door on the first floor will automatically open to let me out.

I rushed to the big wooden cabinet by the wall, opened the drawer, it was empty. Open the second drawer, it was still empty. In the third drawer, a photo suddenly appeared. The girl was smiling in the photo, the mole on the bridge of her nose was striking, and the whites of her eyes were shiny. I closed the drawer tightly, controlled my breathing, and then gritted my teeth to open the fourth drawer, which was empty.

I kicked the cabinet angrily, and the loud echo startled me, and something fell from the top of the cabinet and fell to the ground and shattered. I put aside the shards of glass, and there was another portrait of the girl staring at the black hole in the eye socket, the palm of my hand was spread out, and I couldn't see anything in the darkness. I fell to the floor with a scream, my palm pressed against the shards, scratching, and a sharp pain spread from my fingers like a whole body.

I shook my hands, and a little blood flashed in the darkness. Suddenly, a yellowish light passed across the refrigerator in the opposite corner. Yes, I had seen this light in the yard, it was a calling. It dawned on me that the power in the dark made me scratch my finger just to make my blood stir up that light.

I opened the dilapidated refrigerator door, reached in, and fumbled randomly. My fingers touched the sharp ice slag, but I didn't feel the same. I pressed down on something hard and dragged it out. It turned out to be a cat skeleton.

I shook the cat's bones, and the ice crumbled, making a "click, click, click" sound. On the cat's skull, I saw two dark eye sockets, and a light yellow light loomed inside.

Unexpectedly, the specimen of the jade-spotted phoenix butterfly was embedded in the cat's eye hole.

I stuffed the small and delicate specimen into my pocket, quickly went downstairs, then rushed out the gate, broke into the rain curtain, and went all the way to the subway station.

Yeomen Station. Twenty minutes to zero. I breathed a sigh of relief and looked eagerly for the man in sunglasses. As long as I handed him the specimen, I could call it a day.

The subway station was very strange today. It was too quiet. Everyone was walking like a marionette, with indifferent expressions and scattered eyes. I saw a woman in a wide-brimmed hat with a mirror frame under her arm, and the photo in the frame showed a side, as if...

I couldn't help but walk through the crowd, keep up, all the way to the frame.

"Hi, hello..." My outstretched hand froze in mid-air, creepy.

"What's the matter?" She turned around, and under the wide-brimmed hat was the girl's pale face, with a cold smile on the corner of her mouth, a soybean-sized mole on the bridge of her nose, and the whites of her eyes looked like a layer of phosphor.

There were a few "clucking" noises in my throat, my eyes darkened, and I fell straight back. I fell into someone's arms.

"Hey, what are you running around for?" The fat man in sunglasses grabbed my neck and said viciously, "The delivery time is coming soon!"

"Thank goodness you're finally here." For the first time, fat men were cute.

He suddenly pulled out a knife, and the cold blade was on my neck.

"What?" I shouted, caught in his arm.

"Follow me!" he said hoarsely.

I was taken on the train by him, and I was stunned for a moment. The dark carriage was full of cats.

The crowd on the platform kept boarding the train, and the moment they passed through the door, they turned into cats.

Is this a special car for transporting pets? That's ridiculous! I wanted to laugh, but my laughter was drowned out by fear.

The long arms of the fat man around my neck were many slender hairs, thicker and thicker, like a furry scarf. I was pulled into the last car by this fat cat in a semi-coma.

This car is a mourning hall, and there are portraits on both sides. The photo is of the same girl. But this time they were alive, wearing wide-brimmed hats and frames on their backs, smiling indifferently, like some kind of meeting. The fat cat let go, and I slumped on the floor. The butterfly specimen was caught in his hand.

"Thank you first." The girls opened their mouths together, and the chaotic echoes echoed in my eardrums. I don't know who is the protagonist.

"I've been dead for four hundred years, and my soul was absorbed by a butterfly and stored at No. 73 Garden Road. It's the Jiazi Century, Jiazi Year, Jiazi Moon, Jiazi Day, Jiazi Time, the Gate of Zero is about to open, and I must bring my soul in, otherwise, I will dissipate forever."

The girls' voices were like 10,000 dying birds chirping, "Fortunately, we found you a week ago."

"Why choose me?" I asked weakly.

"Because you are a person of the water phase. A person of the water phase can awaken the butterfly spirit on a rainy night with blood."

"The Cuoglu tribe, the nation of cats." They answered simply.

"I understand, today's train will hold a grand revival ceremony for you, and you will be resurrected." I smiled wryly.

The fat cat picked me up and dragged me to the middle portrait. She was probably the protagonist. The fat cat grabbed my arm and stabbed it down with a knife. My blood flowed down from my arm, soaking the jade-spotted butterfly specimen, and the whole carriage burst out with a golden halo.

The fat cat took off his sunglasses, and there was nothing in the eye sockets, two deep black holes with tiny cracks on the edges. He stuffed the butterfly specimen into his eye sockets, and in an instant, the hair began to melt, and the whole face became golden translucent.

"Princess, it's time to start," the fat cat said respectfully. His voice was both solemn and empty.

Butterflies, hovering over us, overlapping, turning into a gorgeous rainbow, poured into the girl's body. Her body shook violently, and then a huge force threw me out of the speeding train.

The bell struck zero.

I lay on the cold booth, struggled to get up, and saw the paper bag beside me, opened it, and it was a stack of banknotes. I smiled wryly and threw the money into the air.

It's over, I'm not a thief anymore, I'm going back to class.

On the day I entered the classroom, it was raining, and my classmates were surprised by my appearance. I walked in through the back door of the classroom and saw a beautiful girl sitting at my desk. I stopped suddenly, and the girl's back reminded me of the cat princess. There were a few "clucks" in my throat, and she slowly turned her face.

"Hello, I'm your new deskmate." She smiled, her eyes full of sunshine.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Anyway, the nightmare is over and a new life begins.

Short Story

About the author

Salam

I love to write and love interesting stories.

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