Chapter 9: A Choice (3)
“Maybe this isn’t a good idea?” He asked indirectly.
Baal shot him a glare. “What’s not good about it?”
All of it?
First, the beautiful lady would treat him like a monster and might call the police on him, even if the reason was embarrassing.
Second, the beautiful lady would treat him as a monster and might tell his cousin about it, and then his entire family would find out that… he’d become a monster.
Finally, the beautiful lady would still treat him like a monster and then talk about it on TV. Then he’d become a world-famous monster.
“What are you thinking of?” When Baal had reached the five-meter mark and couldn’t take another step forward, he realized that Wang Xiaoming was still stuck in one place.
“Monster,” Wang Xiaoming reflexively answered.
“Who are you calling a monster?” Baal suddenly appeared next to him.
Wang Xiaoming lifted his head and said with a sad face, “Me.”
“…” Baal stared at him quizzically for a long time, as if he couldn’t figure out why this human—who was so weak Baal could crush him with his pinky finger—thought he had the right to call himself a monster. “Don’t be too ambitious.”
“Even if you grow a couple of antennae, you’re still a useless human.”
Wasn’t that the image Baal had in the game?
Wang Xiaoming swallowed silently. Was Baal hinting that it was because he wanted antennae that he had a crush on the in-game Baal? Suddenly an image of Baal and an octopus appeared in his mind… He didn’t know that he had ever entertained those kinds of thoughts before.
Maybe he needed to go see a psychiatrist.
“Ah!” He found himself floating in midair.
As it turned out, Baal became impatient with waiting and decided to tuck the human under his arm and walk toward the elevator.
Therefore, when the pretty lady finally extracted herself from the whirlwind, she saw Wang Xiaoming’s awkwardly bent body bounce along in midair and finally disappear around the corner.
The beautiful lady reeled 360 degrees and then fainted.
Baal walked into the empty elevator with Wang Xiaoming under his arms. Wang Xiaoming breathed a sigh of relief; luckily they hadn’t run into anyone along the way, otherwise people would pour black dog blood on him and pierce him with a peachwood sword1Both of these are actions that people have done in history to ward off evil spirits.
Baal put him down and sharply pressed the button for the third floor.
Wang Xiaoming saw how familiar he was with the process and asked curiously, “You know how to use the elevator?”
Baal turned around.
Wang Xiaoming jumped in fright and then hurriedly explained, “I’m just curious. I don’t think that Hell is underdeveloped at all.”
“Then you think I’m an idiot?” Baal smiled very chillingly.
Wang Xiaoming shivered and then shook his head rapidly.
The elevator door opened with a ping.
A heavily made-up middle-aged woman holding a stack of documents stood outside. She frowned when she saw Wang Xiaoming furiously shaking his head. “Did you take ecstasy?”
Wang Xiaoming continued shaking his head.
The middle-aged woman became impatient. She’d been in the marketing department for so many years and could tell with just one glance what kind of customer someone was. All of Wang Xiaoming’s clothes added together wouldn’t total more than 100 bucks. “This is a work area. Who are you looking for?”
“Uhh—” Just as Wang Xiaoming was about to answer, he saw Baal preparing to step out and he said subconsciously, “Could you move? You’re blocking his way.”
He didn’t talk as fast as Baal walked.
By the time he finished the sentence, Baal had already passed through the middle-aged woman and had kept going.
Wang Xiaoming looked at the stunned woman and pointed behind her. He smiled awkwardly and said, “He’s already gone.”
The middle-aged woman, “…”
Wang Xiaoming saw the symptoms of a breakdown in her eyes and immediately ran off. He passed by her and caught up to Baal.
They walked for a long time and, just when they had reached the corner, they heard a piercing scream come from the direction of the elevators behind them.
Baal frowned. “What did you do to her?”
Wang Xiaoming pursed his lips and shook his head vigorously. “Absolutely nothing.”
Baal examined him quizzically until Wang Xiaoming couldn’t take it and lowered his head. Then he said, “Is it because you didn’t do anything?”
Wang Xiaoming asked in surprise, “Ah?”
Baal was frustrated at Wang Xiaoming for acting like an idiot and a fool. He turned around and demanded, “Nevermind, it’s more important to find your cousin. Where’s the head manager’s office?”
“…” Wang Xiaoming pointed with his finger. “In front of you.”
Baal lifted his head and saw the words “Head Manager’s Office” shining in front of him. ”Who’d see these blinding letters anyway?!”
Wang Xiaoming debated raising his hand.
Baal’s hands flew up faster than his did. Wang Xiaoming’s sight blurred and, in the next instant, he found himself standing in an office about 20 square meters in size. A practically balding middle-aged man leaned back against a black leather high-back chair and complained, spittle spewing everywhere, “Tony, try not to talk back to me so much. I know the front hall is hard work. Didn’t I agree to give every employee a piece of candy every week? That’s an honor the other departments don’t have.”
Tony’s face twitched quickly and he was just about to unleash a series of curse words before he swallowed them. “Our entire front hall staff thank the head manager for his concern.” So grateful that every day, when he walks into the office, he hears them sending “well-wishes” to the head manager’s entire family. And those days when the candy gets passed out, the greeting would get extended to the head manager’s ancestors.
The middle-aged man was very proud. “You should know that I had prepared those candies for the VIP guests. You don’t know how jealous the marketing department is of your special treatment. Ma Lizhu has asked me so many times and I have never agreed.”
The marketing department was jealous of candy that tastes no different from poison?
Tony had finally discovered the benefit of passing candy out every week—it reduced the number of complaints from the VIP guests. Every front hall worker was maximizing their sacrificial spirit!
“So, Tony, don’t try and find so many excuses to raise the budget.” The middle-aged man squinted and looked at the watch on his wrist. “Did you know your budget is higher than my secretary’s?”
He was comparing the Customer Service Department to that person who sat in the office and did nothing except chat with others?
What kind of budget did she need? For bottled water? The hotel had already gotten rid of their water dispenser and everyone was boiling water now. Air conditioning? That was central air conditioning and didn’t count toward any department’s budget.
Tony felt a flame rise in his chest.
“Tony, I’ve always trusted you.” The middle-aged man began to try buttering him up. “We had so many people returning from overseas, so many graduate students, and so many experienced people apply and I didn’t pick any of them; I picked you. You should know how much of a sacrifice that was and how much trust I had in you.”
Such sacrifice, such trust!
The person returning from overseas came from Ethiopia.
The graduate student came from a major so obscure that he had never even heard of it.
The one with experience had experience being on call at the Silver House.
He would always remember the scene of their first meeting. Those eyes looked like someone who’d gone three days and three nights without eating and sleeping and suddenly found an oasis. Or alternatively, like someone who’d taken an aphrodisiac and then suddenly saw a world-class beauty.
In other words, those eyes were as creepy as possible, as lewd as possible.
He’d just handed his resume over and the man had immediately decided on him. Now he had the nerve to say that was a sacrifice and a show of trust?
Tony was so angry he felt his hackles rise.
Having probably seen the overwhelming discontent in Tony’s eyes, the middle-aged man changed topics and said, “I know you’re good friends with Shi Feixia. But you should definitely not do what he did. You know how hard it is to find a reliable job nowadays. And I heard you still have a mortgage? You probably know how violent banks can get if you can’t pay off the mortgage… tsk tsk.” He left the threat unsaid.
Tony’s courage wilted.
“So let’s wait a bit on giving the employees their raises. Of course, you don’t have to commit to anything right now and just tell them that the management still needs to continue evaluating them,” the middle-aged man said cheerfully. “You know how long it takes for an undercover cop to make their way into the gangs. Let them be patient for a bit longer and they’ll eventually make it to the other side.”
Tony was speechless. No wonder the hotel was so heartless; turned out, the head manager had used the gangs as a model 2There’s a pun here. The word used for “heartless” is 黑 (literally “black”) and the word used for “gangs” is 黑社会 (literally “black society”)..
At the beginning, Wang Xiaoming had been worried they’d find out about him appearing out of thin air. But he’d been listening in for so long—and he’d seen the middle-aged man look his way at least twice with no changes to his expression—that he finally realized they couldn’t see him.
“How come they can’t see me?” He asked very, very quietly.
Baal answered, “Because this is my ward. We’re in a different space and this is the point of intersection.”
Wang Xiaoming pressed, “Is there a simpler explanation?”
“What is it?” Wang Xiaoming was curious about these types of strange things.
Baal looked at him and said, pausing between each word, “I’m too lazy to explain.”
As soon as they stopped talking, so did Tony.
The middle-aged man and Tony both stood up and, to demonstrate his friendliness, the middle-aged man made an effort to stick out his hand.
Tony pretended to not see. “Boss Wu, what do you feel every time you say your name?”
The middle-aged man withdrew his hand, made a fist, and said, “Wu Zhenjian3Wu Zhenjian’s name is 武振剑. 武 (wǔ) is both the last name and also means “martial”, 振 (Zhèn) means to “revitalize/reinvigorate” and 剑 (jiàn) is the character for “sword”. . To revitalize China; to conquer the empty lands with a sword. Every time I say it out loud, I feel the blood in my body reaching a fever pitch!”
Tony coughed drily, “Is that so?”
“Why?” Wu Zhenjian looked at him questioningly.
“Nothing. It’s just that every time I hear you say your name, my blood boils too,” Tony said sincerely and then turned to walk out of the office.
Looking at Tony’s retreating figure, Wu Zhenjian rubbed his head and wondered, “Do I really have such charisma?”
When the door was completely shut, he stood in the same spot for a while. Then he suddenly turned around and walked to stand in front of the French glass windows. He looked at his fuzzy reflection in the glass, took a deep breath, and enunciated loudly, “Wu. Zhen. Jian!”
- 1Both of these are actions that people have done in history to ward off evil spirits.
- 2There’s a pun here. The word used for “heartless” is 黑 (literally “black”) and the word used for “gangs” is 黑社会 (literally “black society”).
- 3Wu Zhenjian’s name is 武振剑. 武 (wǔ) is both the last name and also means “martial”, 振 (Zhèn) means to “revitalize/reinvigorate” and 剑 (jiàn) is the character for “sword”.