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48 Hours a Day Novel Chapter 275
Chapter 275 Time To Take A Breath
Zhang Heng lowered his utility knife and sliced through Zhang Jinli’s thumb until flesh and blood were seen. In this unnaturally still world, living beings defied the laws of physics, and no blood flowed out from the small cut on the boy’s thumb. Now, Zhang Heng could finally see the color of his blood.
Surprisingly, his thumb’s blood was in a different color from the blood on his leg. It was red. To be safe, Zhang Heng scraped away all the dried blood on his leg, and found that only the top layer was black. It was still the regular red blood underneath it. From here, he confirmed that Zhang Jinli wasn’t the creature and was just an ordinary child from the orphanage. That said, he figured that the kid might be connected to the creature somehow, willing to shoulder the blame, conceal the bandages under his blanket, and even take an arrow to his calf. Even an adult would think more than twice before attempting such brazen feats.
However, the child had no idea the price he would have to pay for helping the creature. If Zhang Heng hadn’t been paying attention to the staff’s reactions, he would have killed Zhang Jinli by now. After that, Zhang Heng kept his utility knife away, remembering that his real target was the monster and not some cynical orphan. If Zhang Jinli was the one that assaulted them, where was the black liquid then?
Almost 20 hours had passed since he entered the world where time stopped. In two hours, the hour hand in his watch would complete a full cycle, and factoring in the time needed to return to the dormitory, he was only left with an hour and a half to look for the monster. Right now, Zhang Heng had searched the entire orphanage building. Other than Zhang Jinli, he found no one else suspicious.
If his target left the orphanage after it treated its wound, it would be bad news for Zhang Heng. He simply didn’t have time to search another area. He knew, however, that the creature must have had a purpose for choosing the orphanage. Orphans, like Zhang Jinli, rarely had the chance to interact with outsiders. Mostly, the kids simply didn’t trust them due to personal reasons.
Since no orphans had left the orphanage, only one possibility could explain the whole situation. Zhang Heng entered the records room beside the B-super room and looked for the adoption records. He then picked the names of the orphans that had been adopted recently. Initially, he thought that he would spend a long time checking out the records, but when he saw an attached picture, he was left in shock. It turned out he recognized the person.
Zhao Xiaotian was his name, given by this orphanage upon his arrival. The kid in the picture was someone Zhang Heng had met before. It was the one he rescued after witnessing the wall consuming an old woman on the street. During that time, Zhang Heng attempted to save the homeless woman but only managed to save her grandchild in the end.
After the harrowing incident, he made a police report at the local station. He left the kid there as well, knowing that he was now in safe hands. According to the law of the day, if the police failed to locate the kid’s relatives, they would be immediately sent to an orphanage. Zhao Xiaotian had been sent here about a month ago. Coincidently, Zhang Heng spotted him at the amusement park a few days before Christmas Eve, only to think that he misrecognized someone. Besides, he forgot about him completely when Hayase Asuka and her pursuer exited the horror house.
In retrospect, Zhao Xiaotian’s true identity was actually shadowed by doubt. Whether it was information that Zhang Heng gave the officer or his assumptions, both of them believed that Zhao Xiaotian was the old lady’s grandson. The boy had presented himself as the victim throughout the entire incident, but yet, there was no solid proof of his relationship with the old lady. Generally, those who lived on the lower strata of society were close-knit, generously helping each other out in hardship. It was perfectly normal considering a stranger as a family member.
When the black liquid engulfed the old lady, Zhao Xiaotian simply stood there and watched silently. He did not cry or scream. At first, Zhang Heng thought that the boy must be in shock, but now, he looked at it in another way. Perhaps the kid was enjoying the scene of the old woman getting consumed by his masterpiece. Shen Xixi once told Zhang Heng that the creature would only target people of a lower class.
To get close, Zhao Xiaotian realized that he had to be accepted as part of their community. With his young age, they would let their guard down without much thought. Most homeless wouldn’t think of Zhao Xiaotian being a threat, considering what little they already had. It was the perfect camouflage, a wolf in sheepskin. Without anyone knowing the boy’s real identity, he could take his time and pick his dinner.
Now, Zhang Heng had a question in mind. Where could Zhao Xiaotian be? According to the records, the boy had been adopted by a middle-aged couple that couldn’t bear child, and they lived in a humble Sihuan neighborhood. Even though a lead was in hand, Zhang Heng didn’t rush there immediately. Up until this point, Zhao Xiaotian was the most cunning nemesis he had ever encountered. A master at eluding its enemy, Zhang Heng had already made three wrong decisions thanks to him.
When they first met, he made Zhang Heng believe that he was a victim. Then, during the library incident, he attempted to turn Li Shengyue into a scapegoat. There was too little time for Zhang Heng to deal with him in the library and in a split second, Zhang Heng had to shift his bow to aim at the true target. Now, at the orphanage, Zhang Jinli volunteered to help Zhao Xiaotian confuse Zhang Heng. Even Zhang Heng had to admit that it was a complicated strategy.
Zhang Heng believed that Zhao Xiaotian’s framing of Zhang Jinli wasn’t the end of the saga, but the beginning of his retaliation. There were surely more evil plans up his sleeve, and if Zhang Heng stepped into his trap, high chance he would be thrown in jail for murdering someone innocent. Though Zhang Heng had some powerful game items on him and a wealth of experience, this place was, after all, not 18th century Nassau. A single person couldn’t go against an entire country. Even if he managed to escape the authorities, he would need to live in the dark for the rest of his life.
Zhao Xiaotian had an exceptional understanding of human society. All the while, he hunted in extreme caution and managed to stay under the radar of the authorities and the public. He even knew how to take advantage of the law of the day to benefit himself. The only thing he didn’t realize was that Zhang Heng had an extra 24 hours each day. Based on Zhang Heng’s understanding of him, once Zhao Xiaotian marked his target, he would stalk it and control it. It appeared he was somewhat of a sadist, fond of watching his prey struggle and fight for their lives. Unfortunately, he messed with the wrong people this time.
After that, Zhang Heng studied the orphanage’s blueprints again, and this time, he found something new. The walkway on the second floor was 50cm shorter than the one on the plan. A window which was supposed to be there was also gone. In other words, the wall’s original structure had changed.
“I think it’s time for you to come out and take a breath.”
Zhang Heng didn’t wait for an answer and proceeded to the construction site next to the orphanage. Around ten minutes later, he returned with a huge demolition hammer in his hands.