Chapter 1: A Bizarre Anomaly
It all started with a single frightful shriek, turning a once busy corridor of a commercial complex, filled with passersby, deadly silent. This sudden high-pitched scream, followed by a loud thud, put a halt to everybody’s movement. For a very brief moment, time seemed to stand still.
Those nearby immediately noticed a middle-aged woman, with a look of utter horror on her face, standing close to a young man. Fear and shock clearly written on her face, her body trembled visibly.
She wasn’t looking at the young man’s face, exactly. Her gaze focused solely on the bloody knife currently being held by his right hand.
A few feet down lay the body of another man grasping his throat, convulsing fiercely on the ground. Blood poured out uncontrollably, staining the soles of their boots. Before anyone could react, the man grew motionless and seemingly lost consciousness, the look of shock still evident in his eyes.
Panic ensued when the crowd realized that actual murder had been committed right before their eyes. Most of them ran away without looking back, fearing for their lives. This whole incident shook them to their very bones.
Only a few stayed. Some, the woman included, simply stood there completely petrified, unable to move even if they wanted to. She appeared to be the lone witness to the crime among the crowd.
In the midst of all this chaos, no one seemed to notice another bizarre anomaly...
The young man suddenly jolted, stirred wide awake by all the noise around him.
“What’s going on?” Still dazed, he woke up as though from a deep slumber. With his vision still a blur, he saw only fast-moving silhouettes of different shapes and sizes.
The young man blinked once to regain his bearings, fully restoring his sense of sight. A pale-looking woman suddenly appeared right in front of him from seemingly out of nowhere, clutching the front exterior of her thick down coat.
At first glance, she seemed to suffer from an agonizing pain. A closer look at her face, however, revealed absolute terror.
Unexpectedly, this sight he found all too familiar. As to why he seemed so certain, he didn’t know. He simply knew.
The young man had long observed the woman staring at something. Following her gaze, he found himself gripping a knife stained red. In between them, another man sprawled on the floor with blood still oozing out of his neck.
The feeling of indifference and the normality of this scene baffled him even more. Anyone of sound and rational mind would be able to connect the dots right away. He knew for a fact that he just killed this man.
As to why he slit this man’s throat in broad daylight, he didn’t know. Yet, deep inside him, killing felt as natural as breathing.
At this moment, he realized that he didn’t even know how he got here. He glanced around only to discover a sense of familiarity with both the people and his surroundings. However, this familiarity somehow felt strange at the same time.
“Freeze! Stay where you are.” A male voice commanded. The order interrupted the young man’s attempt to ask the still horrified woman a question.
“Drop your knife!” Another imposing male voice ordered. “Very slowly, put both hands behind your head.”
The young man’s gut instinct urged him to flee but he decided against it. “Why should I run?” While contemplating on his options, he turned around to see two men wearing police uniforms.
The two men approached the young man slowly, aiming their handguns at him. Both cops seemed to be wary of this type of assailant, calm and cold on the outside, but calculating on the inside.
Stationed at Central Square, the biggest luxury shopping mall complex in the city, the two cops expected this new post to be a breather. Prior to this assignment, they both endured a three-month long grind in another neighborhood filled with criminals. It would have never occurred to them, even in their wildest dreams, that they would have to respond to this kind of lawlessness in an area known for its zero crime rate right on their very first day.
“Ma’am, please move this way,” the first cop said. Currently in the line of fire, the woman ran the risk of becoming collateral damage. The woman still did not respond, as though stuck in an invisible cage only she alone could see.
Noticing the woman’s shock-induced trance-like state, the cop turned to the young man. “You there, drop your weapon! Step away from the woman and put your hands behind your head.”
The young fellow remained strangely calm and collected, showing absolutely no hint of emotion. He casually threw his knife to the ground. The knife landed near the corpse. He then moved a few steps away from the woman before obediently putting his hands behind his head, staring at both police officers as if waiting for them to do their jobs.
Sensing the absence of hostility, the first cop carefully approached the young man’s side. He locked his pistol and secured it in his concealed holster before retrieving a set of handcuffs.
The second cop remained vigilant, standing at a considerable distance, still aiming his gun towards the suspect. He found the calmness of it all a bit unusual, a far cry from the typical run-and-chase scenarios that they normally experienced. Despite that, though, he could still feel an intense aura of danger coming from the young man.
Just as the first cop was about to handcuff the culprit, the young man suddenly smirked, instantly alarming the second cop who had been watching him like a hawk. In a split second, the first cop collapsed to the ground, groaning on the marbled floor as if on the verge of losing consciousness, both his hands now handcuffed.
Before the second cop could even react, the young man immediately attacked. Both police officers fainted, the handcuffed cop first immediately followed by the second cop.
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