Chapter 936: The Last to Turn the Tide (4)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The loud crash and vibration caused by the fallen elevator was heard by almost everybody in the building. Everyone was holding their bright phone screens up as they came out of their dorm rooms. They looked at each other in fright along the dark corridors.
“I think I heard a loud noise coming from the vicinity of the elevator.”
“I heard that, too. I thought it was an earthquake…”
They chattered on as they raised their phones and walked down the corridor in front of the elevator. The double leaf elevator doors remained shut, unable to open due to the power cut. If anyone wanted to get down, they would have to take the stairs instead.
The warden suddenly realized what had happened. “Ahhhhhh!” She let out a blood-curdling scream. Panicked, she started making phone calls. She called the School Security Division, the off-campus police, and even the elevator’s maintenance team.
Five minutes later, the blaring sound of police sirens was heard approaching the school. Members of the School Security Division were already there.
The electrician repaired the main switch, but the elevator… The elevator itself was wrecked beyond repair.
Blood was slowly seeping through the bottom of the elevator, bathing the front of the elevator on the first floor dark red.
“There are people in the elevator!”
It wasn’t clear who started shouting first, but everyone suddenly started screaming in fright and running off in different directions. Almost all of the students in the building ran out, some even without their coat on and were thus shivering from the cold in the frosty winter night.
Ma Qiqi had just returned from her study session and could not help but feel surprised when she saw her classmates surrounding the front of the dormitory building. She pulled aside a female student who lived on the same floor and asked, “What happened? Why is everybody running out? Is it a fire alarm?”
“No… That’s not it…” She looked terrified. “There was a problem with the circuit just now, and the elevator malfunctioned. It fell from a great height while there were still people inside…” As she spoke, she couldn’t hold herself together anymore, so she found a place to the side and started vomiting.
Having heard that, Ma Qiqi turned white and took a few steps back. “Were there really people inside?!”
“Yeah, that’s what I heard. I wouldn’t dare to go downstairs to see it.” Another female student approached, pinching her nose. “Qiqi, are you still going upstairs? I’m afraid to stay here. I want to go home…”
“It’s alright, it’s alright. The elevator probably malfunctioned. It’ll be fine once it’s been repaired,” Ma Qiqi persuaded the female student though she felt perturbed.
The police came in the blink of an eye and cordoned off the area on the first floor where the elevator had fallen with yellow barricade tape. There was only one working elevator left in the entire building, and the door to the other elevator was closed.
Everyone stood in a circle in the cold winter night and watched for more than an hour before the faulty elevator was completely cleaned up.
The people inside were carried out in body bags.
None of the students saw what happened. They only heard that of the two female students who died in the elevator, Gui Suyao, their class counselor, was one of them. Gui Suyao was the counselor of this year’s first-year postgraduate students and had interacted with them fairly frequently. She even collaborated with the class committee and initiated the recent Christmas ball at Bar Jinling on Christmas Eve. It was hard to swallow that she was no longer there with them when barely half a month had passed.
Everybody felt a little uncomfortable.
At last, the students were all able to ride the elevator upstairs, but they all chose to take the stairs instead. Until the trauma of the elevator accident dissipated, all of them would probably avoid using it.
Ma Qiqi followed the rest of the students and returned to her dorm room. She suddenly felt a little scared as she looked around the empty room. She took out her mobile phone, swiped at it for a while, and then called Yin Shixiong.
“Qiqi? It’s late. You’re not asleep yet?” Yin Shixiong had been suspended from his duties for a month, so there was no work for him at the moment. He was making arrangements for his marriage proposal back home and intended to bring Ma Qiqi back to his hometown after her exams to meet his parents.
Trembling, Ma Qiqi sat up in her bed, pulled her quilt close, and said, “There was an elevator accident in our building today. Seems like there were two students inside… They didn’t survive.”
Yin Shixiong froze momentarily, then stood up immediately. “What did you say? Say it again!”
Ma Qiqi felt terrible and was starting to get irritated. She pouted and said, “Didn’t you hear what I just said? I said that the elevator in our building broke down, but thankfully I was at the library studying and not in the dorm. If I had been there at the time…”
“Qiqi!” Yin Shixiong interrupted her hastily. “Don’t say that!”
It was only then that Ma Qiqi started laughing. She felt better now. She held her cell phone close to her face, tilted her head, and said, “You’re worried about me.”
“Of course I’m worried about you!” Yin Shixiong tut-tutted. “Duh! You stay well and pay attention to safety. Is the dorm still habitable? What about Nianzhi? Did she get a scare from this too?”
Ma Qiqi shook her head and said, “Nianzhi got lucky. She’s been staying at her apartment for the last two weeks, so she didn’t get a scare from this.”
What Yin Shixiong said reminded Ma Qiqi of something. She said, “I need to go. I’m going to call Nianzhi and see if she’s okay with me staying at her place for a few days.”
Yin Shixiong agreed and hung up the phone. He thought that this was all so unexpected. He paced around his room, scratched his head, and called Huo Shaoheng.
At that hour, Huo Shaoheng was still in his office working overtime. The period before and after Chinese New Year was the busiest time of the year for senior officials. The lower ranking soldiers could look forward to taking a holiday at the end of the year, but not the senior officials. At this time, those who were on duty were all senior officials of different levels. Huo Shaoheng was not an exception.
For the past six or seven years, he had been on duty every Chinese New Year. Like the preceding years, he was going to be on duty at his station as well during Chinese New Year this year.
The switchboard operator connected Yin Shixiong’s call to Huo Shaoheng. Huo Shaoheng had his Bluetooth earphones on and was performing computer operations. While doing so, he asked, “Big Xiong? What’s the matter? Suspended and unhappy, missing work already?”
Yin Shixiong laughed a little. “How could that be?! Master Huo, I’ll get to the point. I have something to tell you.”
“What is it?” Huo Shaoheng looked at his watch. It was 11:30pm. Usually, a matter at that hour would not be something trivial.
Indeed, Yin Shixiong’s voice deepened as he said softly, “Master Huo, I just heard from Qiqi that the elevator in their dormitory building malfunctioned suddenly. There were still two students in the elevator, and they didn’t survive.”
Huo Shaoheng stopped moving his hands for a moment, then continued typing on the keyboard as if nothing had happened. “Mhm, anything else?”
“Master Huo, are you not worried about Nianzhi at all?!” Yin Shixiong almost yelled, “I’m telling you, if you keep this up, you really won’t have a girlfriend!”
He stopped moving his hands again and proceeded to annihilate Yin Shixiong in an unaffected manner. “If you continue to speak to me like that, I’m telling you, you won’t get a wife.”
“What do you mean?! I’ll be proposing to her soon!” Yin Shixiong rolled his sleeves up in delight. “Even if you’re my superior, it’s impossible for you to break us up.”
“Is that so?” Huo Shaoheng chuckled. “It’s said that the poorest garrison in Southwest Africa is shorthanded recently. I’m currently considering whom to deploy…”
Yin Shixiong froze for two seconds, then apologized to Huo Shaoheng, wailing and crying bitterly, “Master Huo, Master Huo, I was wrong! Please don’t send me far away to Africa! At least wait until I get married before you deploy me, please?”
If he got deployed to Africa now, even if Ma Qiqi didn’t mind, Ma Qiqi’s parents would surely object. They would not allow their daughter to follow him to a remote and desolate area in Africa, and they would not let her stay apart from her husband at such a young age. Hence, when Huo Shaoheng said that he could be without a wife, he was not exaggerating.
Huo Shaoheng typed one last word before shutting down his computer and calmly allowing Yin Shixiong to settle down. “As long as you understand.”
Yin Shixiong sensed that the danger had passed and laughed a little. “Master Huo, you possess the grace of a general, indeed. When I received Ma Qiqi’s phone call just now, my heart almost jumped out of my chest.”
Huo Shaoheng’s gaze turned cold for a second as he rose from behind his desk. He tidied his desk calmly and locked up the items on his desk. Then he said, “The fact that you’re able to call me in high spirits indicates that Nianzhi is completely fine. To see you getting flustered with something so trivial, Big Xiong, you really let me down.”
“Master Huo, you shouldn’t say that. My behavior is only natural. Qiqi is someone special to me, so even if I know nothing has happened to her, I’d still be worried about her. To be honest, when I think about how dangerous the situation was, how afraid Qiqi must’ve been, and how I couldn’t be by her side, my heart gets restless. I really want to drive over to her now and give her a hug.”
Huo Shaoheng felt a little sting from his words and interrupted him calmly, “You are currently suspended, so you can visit Qiqi anytime you like. What’s with this public display of affection? You already have me trampled.”
“Well, I wish, but Qiqi wants to stay at Nianzhi’s apartment. The fact that you’re at ease, you probably sensed it, right? Nianzhi’s lucky she didn’t stay at school this entire week. She’s been staying off-campus at her apartment, driving to and from school every day, living a simple and beautiful life…”
Yin Shixiong was all talk.
Huo Shaoheng frowned. “She’s been staying at her apartment?” As he spoke, he switched the call to another line and called the Secret Service member who had been protecting Gu Nianzhi.
“Where are you?”
“Master Huo? We are at Miss Gu’s apartment. She has gone back already. Everything is as per usual.”
Huo Shaoheng tightened his fist and did not say much. He nodded. “Okay, continue to monitor.” After hanging up his call with the Secret Service member, Huo Shaoheng gave Gu Nianzhi a call. However, her phone line was busy. Ma Qiqi happened to be calling Gu Nianzhi at the same time.
“…Nianzhi! Nianzhi! I’m begging you! Let me stay with you for a few days, please?! There are only four days left until exams are over, then I can go back home!” Ma Qiqi held onto her phone as she stomped around the dorm.
“Huh? Why do you want to come and stay at my place?” Gu Nianzhi leaned against the bed yawning as she hugged her iPad. She rubbed the corners of her eyes and saw that it was almost 12:00am. She wanted to sleep.
“Nianzhi, you were lucky, so you don’t know about the terrifying accident that happened at our dorm building today!” Ma Qiqi gave her a vivid account of how the elevator fell sharply from the 12th floor and said, “I heard that there were two people inside! One of them was our counselor, Gui Suyao!”
Gu Nianzhi sat upright at once. Her voice quavered as she asked hoarsely, “What did you say? The elevator… was there really an accident?!”
“Yeah! Why would I lie to you?! Just now the police, ambulance, fire department, and members of the School Security Division were all here and had the area completely surrounded. We couldn’t even squeeze our way in to see what was going on!” Ma Qiqi shook her fists. “Nianzhi, can I stay at your apartment? I’m really scared!”
For a while, Gu Nianzhi felt alarmed. She then shook her head slowly. “Qiqi, I’m sorry, you can’t. You should stay in the dorm. It should be safer.” Living with her would be even more unsafe.