As per usual, Lin Jie proficiently unlatched the bolt and opened the door to his bookstore.
The rain outside hadn’t shown any signs of letting up, and it was as if the heavens above had forgotten to turn the faucet off.
The water level on the flooded roads seemed to have gone down slightly today; according to news reports, it was probably due to the underground sewage system operating at its highest efficiency .
However, the thing that surprised everyone was the several heavy vehicles passing by the usually empty street.
Headlamps shone through the curtain of rain and lit up the street for brief moments. Occasionally, curious faces would peek out from shops and residences on both sides of the street before once again shutting their doors or windows to prevent the rain from entering.
These vehicles came and went quickly and quiet normalcy resumed once more.
“Could there be an accident?” Lin Jie wondered as he watched the waves created from the passing trucks. On further thought, accidents weren’t out of the question in this heavy rain.
There also seemed to be heavy machineries used for construction such as bulldozers and excavators on these trucks.
Lin Jie also wanted to listen to the morning news broadcast from next door to find out what had happened. But after staying in his seat for quite some time, he still had yet to hear the crackling static from the television.
According to the usual routine, Lin Jie found this a little strange. When such unusual occurrences happened, the next-door boss would definitely turn up the volume of his television and set it on a channel that gave reports on the matter that everyone was curious about.
However, he hadn’t done this today and it seemed as if the television wasn’t even switched on.
How strange. Could it be another trip? Or has the next-door boss fallen ill all of a sudden? Lin Jie couldn’t help worrying.
Although this neighbor had some shortcomings, he was just a regular citizen and couldn’t be judged as a bad person.
Already used to listening to news in this way so many times, Lin Jie found it slightly unsettling now that it was missing. Thus, he inched over to the attached wall and called out, “Excuse me…”
Before he finished speaking, a startled cry came from the other end, “Ahh!”
Slightly puzzled, Lin Jie asked, “Did something happen?”
There was a moment of silence before a shaky voice answered, “Nothing, really. It’s nothing… There’s no need to be so courteous, there’s no need to.”
The boss of the audio-visual store next door gulped several times while speaking incoherently and asked, “Is anything the matter?”
“I just wanna ask why your television isn’t turned on. Is it having a problem?”
Oh god! He realized something’s amiss! In movies, those who reveal their bad intentions all end up dying!
The audio-visual store owner scrambled to turn on the television at once. “I’ll turn it on, I’ll turn it on! I’m so sorry! I’ll turn it on at once!”
The television next-door turned on and displayed a current news broadcast about an accident involving several buildings collapsing.
Ahh, so it’s a building collapse. Well, it’s quite probable that some poorly-made buildings would collapse in such torrid weather. Oh, there are casualties as well, seems like this accident is quite serious.
“Alright, thank you.” Lin Jie nodded his head and gave his thanks but suddenly felt that something seemed off.
Wasn’t the neighbor’s tone impatient yet somehow polite? That doesn’t make sense.
Lin Jie couldn’t help thinking about his previous conjecture and thus called out, “Mr. Colin, are you sure you are fine? Your body requires ample rest to live well.”
Beads of sweat started to break out on Colin’s forehead.
Why is he asking me such a question? Don’t tell me that he has gone and done something to my body? Now he is warning me not to act blindly without thinking, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to live well...
Colin eyed the television, then turned his gaze to the cellphone he was holding that displayed a message that he had been hesitating to send for a long time. His entire body was frozen stiff.
Lin Jie’s voice sounded from next door. “Mr. Colin?”
Colin shuddered and his finger slightly moved. Looking down, he realized that he had clicked to send out the text message.
Message recipient: Church of the Dome, Father Vincent.
Colin turned pale and his soul nearly left his body out of fright. Using all his effort, Colin controlled his chattering mouth from unleashing a string of expletives. He gritted his teeth and cursed viciously to himself, What’s done is done, it’s too late for regrets.
Now, this information had already been passed on to the father. If Colin could continue hiding it for some time, he might perhaps still be able to survive.
Oh Father, please save me!
“Haa… It’s nothing, I’m fine. Thanks for your concern.” Colin forced himself to calm down and pretended to be relaxed.
Hearing this reply, Lin Jie felt that Colin wasn’t being entirely truthful but he wasn’t going to probe further anyway.
“If that’s the case, I shan't bother you then,” Lin Jie replied as he wondered whether he ought to pay a visit to check on this next-door neighbor.
At this moment, there was a crisp ringing of the bell by the door.
“Welcome,” said Lin Jie while looking up. Looks like we indeed have a new customer today, Lin Jie thought to himself.
The person who had entered the bookstore appeared to be a tall red-haired girl seemingly in her late teens. This teenage girl had a beautiful face brimming with youthfulness and bright eyes that were especially conspicuous.
She had on a white T-shirt, denim overalls, and a pair of bright yellow round-toed boots. Her long hair was braided into shoulder-length pigtails that were partially hidden under a peaked cap.
Young customers like this rarely popped up in the bookstore.
“May I help you with anything?” asked the young man behind the counter.
Melissa surveyed the entire bookstore curiously before she shifted her sights to Lin Jie.
With three quick strides, she reached the table and pulled out the stool before sitting on it. “Are you this bookstore’s owner?” Melissa queried while shaking her legs.
Lin Jie nodded and replied with a smile. “Yes, that’s me. Let me know if you require anything. Whether it is borrowing, purchasing, or just reading a book, all of it is fine.”
He doesn’t seem very impressive… Is this bookstore really S-rank? Could Dad have made a mistake?
A bunch of doubtful thoughts went through Melissa’s mind. She had carefully examined this bookstore and only noticed that the stone gargoyle seemed like a product of black magicians. Everything else was completely ordinary.
Melissa eyed the young man before her in disappointment and had even forgotten that the reason she came here was because she was curious about the ending of Seed of the Abyss that she had yet to finish reading.
Isn’t this place too ordinary...
She had braved the rain and run the risk of a good scolding from her father to get here, yet this wasn’t the mystical and charming bookstore she had been expecting. Melissa couldn’t stop herself as she thought about it.
“Can you really help with anything?” Melissa muttered as she rested her chin on both hands.
Haa… what even goes through the mind of kids nowadays.
A few beads of sweat appeared on Lin Jie’s forehead but he smiled politely and answered, “Well, overly absurd requests won’t do.”
Melissa slammed both hands on the countertop. “Is having an arm wrestle with you too much to ask?”