Sha Qing - Chapter 53.1
Arc 5: Luna Twin Islands
Chapter 53.1: Amidst the Darkness(1)
The blade scraped the flint, and sparks landed on a ball of coir.
A small orange flame swayed and lit up, and it spread throughout the round lump of coconut fiber. A hand carefully added some dried branches and leaves, and soon, the fire became big enough to keep that area of the cave warm.
The sea cave at night was wet and cold. Although not to the extent that it’s unbearable, the wet clothes wrapped around their bodies still felt very uncomfortable. Sha Qing and Leo each took off their coats, and skewered it on a few branches near the flame.
Although the fire was not very bright and they could only vaguely see each other’s silhouette, the fact that they were only wearing a pair of underwear made Leo feel a bit odd. It would have been somewhat better if the other party was a stranger, but unfortunately, the one he was with right now was the criminal he had been chasing down for a relatively long time.
‘A federal agent and a serial killer sitting with each other, almost naked, by the fire’. If the Bureau were to know about this, I would probably become one of the FBI’s object of teasing for a whole year— the dark-haired agent thought helplessly.
Sha Qing on the other hand, didn’t show any discomfort. He just continued working on a coconut with a dagger and after finally hacking it open, he threw it over to Leo “There’s only coconuts, a few oyster, and sea urchins left here. Can you eat those?”
“No problem. I’m not a picky eater.” Leo answered after drinking the coconut juice in one breath. He then cut open the spiny sea urchin with the Swiss Army knife he had with him, digging out a small clump of yellow eggs inside and stuffed all of it into his mouth. Only a small part of the sea urchin was edible, as the rest had to be discarded; the oysters, though quite large, were only a handful. But it’s not like he was expecting a seafood feast like from those fancy restaurant—he was satisfied enough to fill his hunger, albeit barely.
After eating dinner, the two put on their half-dried clothes. They each found a relatively flat area and nestled on a large banana leaf.
Despite his extreme physical exhaustion, Leo’s mind was still tense. Whether it was because he had not been taking his medication (although the dosage was gradually decreasing) or because there was a serial killer lying two meters away, he found himself completely awake. Still, he forced his eyes to close while his thoughts raced wildly through his head.
His eyes were already closed and his body remained motionless, but the other man, as if sensing his active mind, suddenly asked: “Can’t sleep?”
“Because of me? Don’t worry, I’m not going to stab you while you’re asleep.”
Leo heard the ridicule in the man’s tone. He sneered in reply: “Don’t overestimate yourself. Instead, you’re the one who should be careful of being handcuffed by me when you fall asleep.”
“Oh, I’m not worried about that at all. It’s not like you have any handcuffs with you—well, even if you did, I’d still be able to escape, just like last time.”
“Speaking of which, how did you slip away that time? The handcuffs were obviously intact …… Hell, did you break your own knuckles?” Leo rolled over and looked into the vague figure of the person lying some distance opposite him through the dim firelight.
“Just a dislocation.” Sha Qing answered nonchalantly.
Leo then said in a somewhat cold voice: “Have you ever heard the saying ‘if a person can be cruel to himself, he can be more cruel to others’? No wonder you could gut your prey without any hesitation.”
Sha Qing paused for a moment— then, with his words carrying a hint of icy mockery, he spoke in a tone full of disappointment and annoyance: “Then what do you think should I have done at that time for it to be considered normal? Was I supposed to cut off your wrist? Doesn’t matter, does it? Because to you, I’m just a psychopathic killer and is no way different than those murderers who enjoyed raping, torturing, or mutilating their victims just for fun!”
“——No, I don’t think so.” The federal agent immediately denied. He subconsciously sensed that some of the hidden meanings in the other man’s words came from real emotions, which, to a killer accustomed to disguise, were like the accidental crack on an extremely hard amber, revealing a bit of soft, flowing resin 1
Although it was only a tiny trace which would soon solidify on contact with the air and become part of the hard shell thus eventually closing again, he still witnessed this fleeting process and was able to glimpse at some of the hidden secrets within the amber’s depths: Did he choose to hurt himself because he didn’t want to hurt me? Does he really care about what a police officer thinks of him…. or is it just because the said officer is me?
This sudden realization brought Leo not only a bunch of chaotic thoughts, but also words to his mouth: “You’re not like them! Even though I insisted on arresting you, I never lumped you in with those people!”
“Different?” Sha Qing smiled cynically, “Are you referring to the charges I’ll face and the length of my sentence?”
“No, in here,” the agent pointed to his heart, “I’ve always felt that the things that are hidden and repressed in your heart, the things that drive you to kill, whatever they are, are not meant to satisfy selfish, ugly desires.”
Sha Qing was silent for a long while.
He then said in a hoarse voice, “There is pleasure in doing that… and it gets stronger every time… Even if you don’t think so at first, even if you feel nauseated and disgusted …… but as time goes by, you will eventually become addicted to it, just like drugs.”
“I know what it’s like to be addicted to drugs2,” Leo whispered, “and I’m working on my withdrawal. As long as you have the same desire and determination…”
This time, Sha Qing didn’t hesitate to retort: “A lot of things in the world can’t be achieved by desire and determination alone. Are you a naive idealist, agent?”
“But you have to at least try.”
“I’ve been trying, in my own way …… I don’t expect you to understand, and I don’t care about other people’s opinions either —all their ‘twisted sense of justice; high IQ crimes to prove himself’ nonsense reports on television and newspapers— let them argue on their own. I’ll just do what I think should be done.”
The speed of Sha Qing’s speech was quite fast, an obvious attempt to stop the rhythm of their conversation. He then said stiffly to the federal agent, “Do you want to continue this futile argument with me, or do you want to get some sleep? The tide will rise in five hours and the cave will be flooded with seawater by then.”
“You sleep, I’ll watch the time and wake you up in four hours.” Leo didn’t want to stick to this conversation which was in a stalemate either, so he let him change the subject.
“You don’t want to sleep?”
“Why? Missing a good night kiss?”
“ …No, I’m missing a pair of handcuffs.”
Sha Qing chuckled “Well, I promise not to attack you while you sleep, but if you come over and sneak up on me, I would very much welcome it. ”
Leo turned his face away silently. This guy always likes to play ambiguous when talking to me. Is his personality really just like this or is he having a good laugh from my reactions? So that kiss …… was actually a cheap prank, right?
He said in a quiet voice after a short while, “I’ll wake you up at ten minutes past seven.”
“Good.” said Sha Qing, and then there was further no movement.
Tip: You can hover (or click) on the number beside the orange-colored texts to see the notes
- To those confused
like me, the gemstone Amber, is a fossilized tree resin/tree sap, thus the metaphor.
- Just so we’re clear:They’re talking about different kinds of drugs, illegal vs. specifically prescribed (for Leo’s insomia, etc.)— but you get the gist, no matter which, you’ll become dependent on it if you take it for too long.