48 Hours a Day
Chapter 53: Moresby
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Shen Xixi was sitting on her own by the window, reading intently. The warm sun rays lit up a side of her face, making her glow to the point that some guys sitting nearby were unable to focus on what they were doing.
Zhang Heng forcefully quickened his pace, hoping Shen Xixi would look up to see him waving at her.
Seeing him, Shen Xixi put down the book in her hand and smiled. Since they were in the library, they had to be quiet. As they were not allowed to talk, they did not say anything else to each other.
Zhang Heng found the book that he wanted, so he waved at her to say goodbye, but before he walked out of the library, his eyes fell on the half-opened book in Shen Xixi’s hand, catching a glimpse of the title, ‘The Criminal Personality.’
Of course, as someone who had read ‘Bill of Quantitates for Water Drainage, Heating, and Gas Engineering,’ he was not qualified to question others’ personal reading preferences.
But Zhang Heng had to admit that this girl’s hobby was somewhat unique, especially with her incredible observational skills and reasoning skills. Did she plan to work in the criminal investigation field? But then again, she was studying public relations.
He had simply acquainted with Shen Xixi and was not about to interfere with others’ life choices, so Zhang Heng went to another floor to study. He was simply surprised to discover Shen Xixi’s interest in topics of criminal investigation.
In between, he dropped by the canteen to have dinner, then in the library until its closing. Since he was going to return in an hour, he did not take the grammar book with him but left it on the shelf.
Done with the washing up and brushing teeth, Zhang Heng checked his inbox and found an email from the photography society informing him that his work was shortlisted for the ‘urban impression theme’ competition, which would be entered into the judge selection section. He would know the results in about a week.
He had been so busy recently that he had nearly forgotten all about this—joining the competition to see how much he had discovered. Making it through the intermediary contest was already meeting his expectations. As for getting the price money and rewards, it would be great if he got them, but even if he did not, he would have no problem with it.
Zhang Heng browsed forums and posts on his phone to pass the time. Midnight came quickly, and silence filled the whole town. He got dressed and was about to continue his revision in the library when he noticed that someone had sent him a text.
It was an arbitrary message from an unfamiliar number:
‘I need your help! Meet me at the place we first met.’
This was the first text message he had ever received in still time. For countless nights, he had been the only one who could roam around the sleeping city while everyone froze in time. Right away, a figure in a Tang suit and fedora popped into Zhang Heng’s mind. Everything supernatural that had happened to him so far had to do with the strange old man. If there was someone who could enter this world, it would be that guy. From the looks of the message, it seemed that he was in some sort of trouble as well.
Zhang Heng changed into his sports attire and went to retrieve his sf recurve bow from the archery range, then bought a small knife from the outdoor sporting goods store next door and strapped it to his waist. After he was done, he jumped on a yellow public bike and cycled to the maid’s café.
The door into the mall was uncharacteristically unlocked and half-open, a light coming from within. Zhang Heng unstrapped his bow and armed it with an arrow, treading as carefully and quietly as he could.
“I really liked that milk tea shop on the second floor, but there’s always a long line! It’s seldom empty like it is now, but then again, at least there’s one to make a cup of milk tea for me. Perhaps this is life—it’s difficult to find the best of both worlds.” The old man in the Tang suit sighed. Sitting on the handle of the stationary escalator, he was dressed in the same way as they first met two months ago. This time, however, he wore a baseball cap instead of that formal hat. Other than that, everything else was nondescript.
The old man was holding a bag of M&Ms, which he tore open before emptying half of its content into his mouth.
Zhang Heng put down his bow and said, “Forgive me for being indiscreet, but you don’t look like you need any help.”
“Trust me, I care more for your privacy compared to all the employers you’ll find out there. I wouldn’t come to you unless something dire happened,” said the old man as he chewed on the M&Ms.
“We’ll talk about it on the way. We don’t have much time.” The old man poured the rest of the chocolate-coated candies into his mouth and then got up. “Let me as you a question: you’ve probably played two rounds of the game now, what kind of skills have you acquired?”
“Wilderness survival skills, archery skills, and driving skills,” Zhang Heng listed all of his level 2 skills.
“That a pretty good start. You’ll be able to use them soon. Right now, find us a mount first—oh, sorry, old habits die hard—go get the car.” The old man tossed a set of car keys to Zhang Heng. “Black Audi A6. Carpark B34, one level down. I promise I’ll tell you everything in the car.”
Zhang Heng took the elevator down to the parking lot and was able to locate the car pretty quickly. When he opened the glove compartment, however, he spotted a driver’s license belonging to a heavily-set guy called Wang Jianguo. It was obviously not the old man’s. The guy in the picture looked at least 20 years younger.
The old man was waiting for Zhang Heng at the mall’s front entrance carrying a piece of broken luggage looking like he had just escaped from a nursing home. Zhang Heng drove to the front, where the old man climbed into the back seat.
“Don’t mind these small little details. You have probably done some things in the game that you would never have in the real world, right? Considering the enemy we’re going to face, you wouldn’t make me sit in the front on our way to battle.”
“What enemy?” Zhang Heng asked.
“There’s a tribe called Alkiz in Papua New Guinea. Their ancestors traveled to that place early in the days and fought a few battles with the island’s overlord Huli tribe. Both sides won and lost. Even though the Alkiz soldiers were very mighty and brave, each of them as powerful as ten men combined, an underpopulation problem developed as the war continued. FOr every Alkiz, there was twenty Huli. If they continued to deplete in numbers, they would soon be wiped out. In desperation, the Alkiz offered prayers to a monster called Moresby.
“They offered the old, weak and lame, as sacrifices to Moresby. In return, the monster aged the Alkiz babies into able-bodied young men in the span of a few months so that they could have one batch of soldiers after another. Thankfully, in the end, the tribe was snuffed out by the Huli tribe. Everything related to the Moresby, it’s totems, the altars all destroyed. In most circumstances, this meant that the monster was also exterminated.
“But, by the way—I really hate this phrase—but… Moresby is a monster with time attributes, making it very difficult to completely eradicate it. In the last moment, it somehow found a way to seal itself into a small stretch of time, escaping death. Of course, in a way, you can say that it’s dead, trapped inside for over 20,000 years, dragging out its feeble existence until… err, the equilibrium was broken.” The old man suddenly became really quiet as his gaze fell on Zhang Heng.
Zhang Heng was suddenly filled with a sense of foreboding. “You’re kidding, right?!”
The old man sighed again. “Unfortunately, when I gave you the gift, I accidentally broke the time balance and released the creature.”