69. Failed Attempt
Warning: Mild graphic/gore description. Avoid if you have an overactive imagination.
XiaoYu woke up at 6. Last night, he only had time for a rushed shower before he collapsed into his bed. He had yet to take a good look at his house’s condition. He planned to wake up early to buy some food online – he was going to have to cook for the next few days – before tidying up the place.
While XiaoYu was buzzing around like a busy bee in his little home, QiYao was on a video call with Lin Qiong in his home.
“The estimated number of attending members this gathering is over a thousand, Chief. We’ll have to book out a field.” It was the first time Qiong disliked just how many people were in the guild, especially the kind that liked to party and gossip. Totalling up the number of people attending took up half the night. He had to go with minimal sleep again.
“Okay. You have full control over this.”
“Is Xiao-Yu coming?”
“No,” QiYao replied, shaking his head. He felt a little helpless.
“Can’t get the reason out of him?” When Qiong later found out Chief had gone after XiaoYu, he didn’t moan as much about having the job thrown at him again. The last time they tested the waters, they knew he can’t leave his house. They didn’t know why, so he thought that it’d be okay as long as Chief dealt with it personally. He didn’t expect it to not work too.
“I didn’t want to push him into a corner. I do plan on going to his place today. Perhaps I can find out why.”
“You’re amazing, Chief. You know his address already?”
“I want to go too…”
“Tee-hee. Just joking. I don’t want to be a third-wheel.” Qiong was the best at reading his boss’s emotions. A single hum with a slight upward tone meant QiYao was asking him, “Are you sure you want to go?”. With how smart Qiong was, of course he quickly backtracked.
“Let me know once you’ve planned out the gathering,” QiYao said as he glanced at the time. It was about time he should be getting ready to leave. He still had to buy some snacks as a visiting gift. He can’t just arrive empty-handed.
“Okay. It’ll probably be in the next two days. I’ll go contact the venue first. You must persuade Xiao-Yu to come, Chief.”
As Hei QiYao was solemnly selecting a cake at the bakery, XiaoYu was spacing out on the couch. He was finally done cleaning up the house. Thank goodness for modern technology. Even after a month of staying online didn’t result in a layer of dust so thick one could draw on. With various high-tech cleaning equipment, XiaoYu’s home was soon squeaky clean.
However, humans always liked to assume and brood when there’s nothing to do. XiaoYu leaned back on the couch. He stared up at the bright white ceiling and imagined what would happen when QiYao arrived at his house later that day.
Would QiYao look different to his avatar? Would he be curious as to why XiaoYu can’t leave his home? Would he be disappointed at how average and useless XiaoYu was?
The more XiaoYu thought about it, the more depressed he became. He flung his head in a shake, attempting to throw out his pessimistic thoughts. He couldn’t help but feel annoyed and exhausted at how weak he was. How nice it would be if he could just walk out the door and not be terrified of the cars speeding by.
Just how long has it been since he last left the house? It seemed to be over six months ago. Back then, he couldn’t even take one step after seeing a car. He just sat on the ground, petrified, until a kind stranger helped him back.
At that thought, an idea popped into XiaoYu’s head. They said time was the best anaesthesia. It has been a long time since the accident. Would his phobia of cars be better now?
He really wanted to give it a try. Yes, he’ll try it out. Rather than wallow in his self-pity like a spiteful old wife, why not try going out? He’s a man too, not some helpless damsel.
The hand curled around the door handle hesitated. He gathered his strength, took a deep breath and slowly opened the front door to his home. The walk down the stairs felt unusually long and tortuous. However, he steadily walked, step by step, towards the outside world.
The final obstacle between XiaoYu and the world was the metal gate downstairs. He just needed to key in the pin code to leave. He entered a string of numbers he knew as well as the back of his hand. A beep and the gate swung open by itself, revealing the world beyond his house.
It was very peaceful outside. This was the inside of a guarded residential area. There weren’t many people walking about at this time either. XiaoYu tried taking a step out. No problems. His legs didn’t turn into jelly.
As XiaoYu tried to walk down the three steps going from his door to the pavement, a black smart car drove past his eyes. XiaoYu felt like he had been struck by lightning. He couldn’t move at all.
He stood there for over a minute. In that one minute, the scene he’d witnessed over a year ago flashed before his eyes. To celebrate XiaoYu’s admission to University of C, the entire family planned a trip out to buy a gaming bed. The light turned green. XiaoYu impatiently rushed across. He turned around, about to wave for his parents to hurry up, and, from the corner of his eye, saw a black car suddenly swirl out of control. The two adults were sent flying. The car’s navigation software couldn’t react to the incident in time. It kept going. Hitting the bodies again and again. Crashing into them time after time. XiaoYu could only stood there in shock and watch. It only took a few seconds. When everything ended, his parents’ corpses were shredded and strewn all over the street.
When the memory faded away from his mind, XiaoYu couldn’t take another step onto the street. His legs collapsed under him and he fell to his knees. His hands pressed down hard at his quivering legs. He bit down at his lips. He still can’t do it. When faced with a car, especially a black car, he can’t take a single step anywhere. He can’t even stay standing.
But XiaoYu still tried. He tried to stand up because QiYao was going to be here soon. He didn’t want the other man to see him in such a horrid state. However, no matter how hard he tried, his legs refused to obey him. They felt like they didn’t belong to him. He can’t push any strength through them. He tried to climb up and fell, and up and down, and up and down. He kept going at it until XiaoYu finally gave up struggling with a big bang at the floor with his fist. His useless legs weren’t going to recover anytime soon. All he could do was pray that QiYao would be late. Just a few more minutes late.