Gift Yourself to Me
Shi Zhong Tang could hear the salvo within the theater before he stepped in.
“What’s going on?” He said as he entered.
He looked out, a group of heads were gathered round.
Ever since the doorman disappeared, the masked people scattered, although some of them came back one after the other, they had never gathered together like they did today.
“Ah, you’re back.” Rabbit Mask turned around. “Just in time, I was about to get someone to go look for you.”
He walked over and pulled Shi Zhong Tang into the hall.
Indeed, the hall.
The wood carved chairs of the audience seats have been pulled to the side, a big space opened up at the floor in the middle, on the empty space sat a man and a woman, the rest of the masked people surrounded them, some of them cheered, some of them pulled the party poppers, some of them waited to catch the bride’s bouquet.
Shi Zhong Tang whistled. “Wedding?”
Having been in the movie theater for over a decade, this was the first time he had seen a wedding between masked people.
He knew the groom. He was wearing a dog mask, a very simple and honest man, as for the bride…a venice mask inlaid with gems, sparkling with endless luxury and beauty, Shi Zhong Tang had never seen this mask before. A newcomer?
Venice Mask threw the bouquet in her hands on the floor, saying coldly, “Who would want to get married to you?!”
This caused the cheers and salvo of poppers to stop.
“Little Lin, Little Lin, where are you going?” Dog Mask shouted as he chased after her.
The two of them ran past Shi Zhong Tang one after another as they rushed out of the theater entrance.
The crowd looked at each other. One of them said, “Let’s go, follow them and see what’s going on.”
The crowd chased after them with a rumble. Shi Zhong Tang touched his chin and asked Madam Cat, “Who is that girl? Why do I have the feeling that I’ve met her before?”
Mr. Rabbit gave him a side eye. “You seem to know every pretty girl.”
“You sound jealous.” Shi Zhong Tang suddenly started laughing. “Ah, I remember now, Ning Ning’s makeup artist…so she didn’t die.”
Ning Ning had told him about what happened at the set.
They all thought that the makeup artist had died, killed by Mr. Rabbit. But by the looks of it now, she didn’t actually die, she had turned into a masked person.
As for why everyone thought she died…heh heh, didn’t everyone think that he had died too? It was even suicide. Yet, he was completely fine, standing here right now. The movie theater just used a special method to make everyone in the world think that he had died, so he could be removed from the sights of normal people.
“I wanted to kill her.” Mr. Rabbit had a complicated expression on his face. “Who knew she had such good luck, she turned into a masked person before I could.”
There were a few ways to turn into a masked person. Every person who could see masked people seemingly would all turn into a masked person, of course, there were also exceptions, for example…
“Only I’m this unlucky!!” Mr. Rabbit kicked a chair by his side, he was sad and angry. “My wife is the only one who refused to become a masked person and come in to accompany me!”
Shi Zhong Tang was taken aback.
He did not understand it at first, how did this weak and honest fellow who had not even dared to scold his wife suddenly get the courage to kill her?
“So that was your plan…” Shi Zhong Tang shook his head, he said blandly, “You have the wrong kind of ideas. Let’s go, we should go over to see if we can save it.”
The wedding could not be held anymore.
They had become enemies after failing to become lovers.
“I was living a very good life, it’s all because of you!” The makeup artist broke free of Dog Mask’s hand, she turned around and roared angrily at him, “It’s your business that you are not living well, why did you have to drag me down with you?”
“I…I…” Dog Mask was speechless.
“And the rest of you!” The makeup artist pointed at the other masked people, scolding them without thinking, “What are all of you kicking up a fuss for? Birds of the same feather really do flock together. I’m different from all of you, different! The chief of Dark Blue Company had already proposed to me, the ring had already been prepared, I…don’t want to wear this toy…”
She forcefully tried to tear off the mask on her face, but she could not tear it off no matter how much she tried. She slowly knelt down on the floor, hugging herself and sobbing.
“What are you still standing around for?” A hand gave Dog Mask’s back a push. “She needs you.”
Dog Mask rushed up to the makeup artist’s side frantically and reached out a hand towards her.
“Get lost!” The makeup artist swatted his hand away. “I don’t want to see you!”
Dog Masked turned his head and looked at Shi Zhong Tang with a pleading expression.
Shi Zhong Tang let out a deep sigh. “How do you expect me to help you?”
He walked over, ignored the struggles of the makeup artist as he forcefully stuffed it into Dog Mask’s hand.
“What are you doing?” The makeup artist screamed.
“He’ll accompany you back.” Shi Zhong Tang said.
The makeup artist was taken aback.
“Since you aren’t willing to stay in the movie theater, then you should go back.” Shi Zhong Tang smiled at her. “No one is stopping you.”
“…I don’t need him to accompany me!” The makeup artist tried her best to get free from his hands. She turned her head to look at Dog Mask whose eyes were filled with hope. She said in an ice cold tone, “I am someone who is already engaged, please maintain a distance away from me!”
After she said that, she turned around and left. As if she was deathly afraid of them going back on their words, her pace grew faster and faster. She finally started running, seeming like there was a group of mad dogs that had been starving for a week behind her, that if she were to slow down even a little they would pull her back and eat her.
As they watched her figure gradually disappear, Shi Zhong Tang gave Dog Mask’s back another pat. “Go after her.”
Dog Mask felt dejected. “She doesn’t want to see me…I think I’m the whole reason she became a masked person, she must hate me to death.”
After he said that, he suddenly turned around and walked towards Rabbit Mask.
“Hey, hey, what are you doing?” Rabbit Mask was shocked. “I helped you, you can’t return kindness with ingratitude…”
“Help me my ass!” Dog Mask punched him in the face.
The two of them got into a tussle on the floor, the other masked people either watched coldly from the side or came up to try and talk them out of it.
“You dog!” When he was being pulled apart, Rabbit Mask kicked and scolded, “If not for me, who knows how many other men she would have been with! That gold digger, there were a few rich and good looking guys by her side, you really want to be the cuckold king?”
“That’s none of your business, is there a problem with me willing to accept her no matter what she did?” Dog Mask’s words astonished everyone, “Based on my looks and income, if my goddess is willing to let me be a rebound, then that would mean she has enough respect for me!”
“…” Rabbit Mask was dumbstruck and speechless!
“In the past, I could still be the rebound, but now I don’t even have a sliver of a chance anymore!” Dog Mask broke free of the arms that were holding him back, he rushed over again. “I’ve never done anything against you, why must you do this to me!”
The two of them argued and fought each other, in the end the two of them got beaten up like dogs, lying flat on the floor as they gasped for air.
“It’s over, it’s all over.” Dog Mask looked at the ceiling, a sparkle of tears flashed in the corner of his eye.
“That’s right, your life as a rebound has ended.” A tall figure walked up beside him, his shadow enveloping Dog Mask’s body. “Now you have to restart.”
Dog Mask looked over at the figure.
“What do you think will happen when she gets back?” Shi Zhong Tang slowly knelt down beside him.
Dog Mask, “…”
“Everything that you have gone through, she would have to go through as well.” Shi Zhong Tang said with a laugh, pedestrians walked past behind him, but they were blind to him. “No one could see her, no one could hear her, her fiance would be sad at first, but it would not last forever. He will have a new girlfriend, get married, have children, he will gradually stop thinking about her, forget about her, have no need for her…”
Dog Mask suddenly sat up from the floor and murmured, “I have to go.”
When she didn’t need me, I could be away from her, but when she needed me, I had to be by her side.
He left so frantically that he did not even have enough time to listen to the last part of Shi Zhong Tang’s words.
“In the end she would realise that…” Shi Zhong Tang looked down and muttered, his hair covering the emotions in his eyes, “The only people who could be with masked people are only masked people…”
It seemed like something had quietly changed.
No one noticed, only Rabbit Mask felt it to some extent, he took a deep glimpse at Shi Zhong Tang.
“What exactly was that?”
Shi Zhong Tang was stunned for a moment, he turned his head to take a look.
“Why were you the only one who can see it?”
The other masked people also turned around and looked at it one after another.
“Look at me! Look at me, Ning Jie!” On the store counters, rows and rows of television all had the same shot, the shot was that of a person.
“Hero?” Ning Ning let out a bitter laugh, “I’ve never thought of being a hero, it was just…I also had one, a mother that would throw away her life for me.”
Shi Zhong Tang slowly looked back.
He did not know when Madam Cat had appeared behind him, she told him and the crowd, “Ning Ning is going to the movie theater, she wants to redesignate a doorman.”
At night, Life Theater entrance.
“I can’t go in without a ticket.” Ning Ning took off the sunglasses on her face and said, “But I know you can hear me. Answer my question, what is the selection criteria for the doorman?”
The masked people problem was getting worse and worse. She originally thought that she still had time, that she could wait until she finished filming, but after the incident today, she changed her mind.
There must be a new doorman.
She was not a hero, she did not have the ability, nor the courage. After all, she was but one person. Adding on Wen Yu and Shi Zhong Tang would only make them a group of three, the enemy had a whole group! It was better to solve the problem with one fell swoop with a new doorman!
It was a windless night, the two rows of lanterns hung low. A few moths circling the lanterns, fluttering their wings, there was no other sound besides those. Just as Ning Ning was hesitating on whether to knock on the door and shout for someone, a lazy voice rang out, it sounded like a man and a woman, it sounded old and young, “I don’t want to answer the same question one, two, three, or four times.”
Ning Ning breathed a sigh of relief. She was not here to sing the same old tune either, she was using this question to see if it was here instead, if she could communicate with it outside the movie theater.
“Don’t worry, I remember. The first condition is that the person has to be willing.” She said, “Speaking of willing, I have a candidate in mind…Li Bo Yue.”
He was also the only person who told her he wanted to be the doorman.
“Is he hated?” The voice rang out from behind the entrance.
Ning Ning was taken aback, she hesitated before saying, “He is a very outstanding manager. He plays his cards well, he is very resourceful, he generally doesn’t make enemies… Alright, because he is outstanding, it is hard for him to not get hated by people from the same line as him.”
“Then he fits the criteria,” the movie theater said, “bring him to me.”
Ning Ning held her phone, but she could not make the call at all.
Li Bo Yue had both gone against her and helped her. Moreover, their parents had an ambiguous relationship, the two of them might even be biological siblings. He knew some things about Life Theater, but most of them were from the mouth of Pei Xuan, Ning Ning reckoned Pei Xuan had only told him about the benefits of being the doorman and not the downside.
If she didn’t tell him either, Li Bo Yue would definitely agree.
Her phone suddenly started to vibrate, her screen lit up with the caller’s name—Li Bo Yue.
Speaking of the devil. Ning Ning answered the call, “Hello.”
“There is no need to let many people know about Life Theater,” Li Bo Yue’s voice sounded quite unhappy, “moreover, you are the future movie empress, not a pretty girl who subdues demons!”
Ning Ning, “Yes…”
“I will think of a way to suppress this matter, you watch out on your end. If there are any more reporters who approach you for an interview, don’t say anything weird, you can get them to talk to me instead.” Li Bo Yue said, “Alright, we’ll leave it here for now, I’m hanging up.”
“Is there anything else?”
Ning Ning hesitated for a moment before she decided to tell him the truth. As for how he would choose, it was completely up to him. “I want to talk to you about the matter of the doorman.”
“Explain it to me in twelve words.”
…Are you a high school teacher? Ning Ning took a deep breath. “The doorman is a lifelong tenure, they give their lives to the entrance of the theater. Other masked people have a movie which belongs to them, they have a chance to change their fate, the doorman doesn’t!”
“You went over the limit.” Li Bo Yue said slowly, “What else?”
Ning Ning, “Don’t…you feel vexed?”
“You did not see what Pei Xuan looked like on his sick bed. He was so fierce and ambitious when he was young. Once he got old, he could only live while wearing a diaper. He crawled back to the theater entrance a few times but he could not enter. The biggest regret he had when he died was that he had given up on his immortality and run away from Life Theater.” Li Bo Yue sighed. “I don’t want to end up like him, I have to leave myself a way out.”
A way out? Ning Ning felt a trace of ill omen from his words.
As expected, Li Bo Yue’s next words were, “So stop asking about that, I won’t be the doorman for now.”
“…You plan to become the doorman after you get old?” Ning Ning asked.
“Of course.” Li Bo Yue laughed. “There are so many things to eat and experience in the world, I will not be able to enjoy them once I become the doorman, I would go in after I have had my fill.”
He said that he didn’t want to be another Pei Xuan, but the two of them were already very similar, similarly calculative, everything had long been planned.
Unfortunately, it was hard to disobey God’s will, no one could predict what kind of accident would happen in the next moment.
The instant she hung up, the voice that sounded like a man and a woman, old and young, rang out from behind Ning Ning, it asked, “Do you really want to round up all the escaped masked people?”
“Are you hated?”
Ning Ning looked back, she looked at the entrance in front of her with a weird expression. That was strange, didn’t it ask a similar question just now?
“I’m but a small-time actor…usually busy with work, I don’t even interact with people, who would hate me?” Ning Ning’s words got slower and slower, finally she said with a bitter laugh. “These were matters of the past. Now, I have acted in a few consecutive popular shows, I have snatched roles out of the hands of a few big time actors, now I’m even the female lead headlining <<Phantom of the Theater>>…the amount of people who likes me would be the same as the amount of people who hates me.”
The movie theater laughed.
Its voice was already weird, it sounded even weirder when it laughed, it was like a crowd of people of all ages laughing together, the echoing laughter scared off the moths around the lantern.
“Then,” it said as it laughed, “you also fit the criteria.”
Ning Ning was taken aback.
“You can choose to give Li Bo Yue to me, but if he’s unwilling to come…,” its laughter had a trace of almost undetectable urgency, along with enchantment between the lines, “you could also give yourself to me.”
Ning Ning could only feel a jet of cold air.
Like a moth flying into a spiderweb, being unable to see the spider in the darkness, every thread of the spiderweb was trembling slightly, the avaricious appetite of the spider was conveyed through the threads of the spiderweb.
Ning Ning looked back and saw Shi Zhong Tang rushing towards her. He was panting hard, extremely frantic, he started shouting at her from a long distance away, “Quick, quickly get in a car!”
There was a taxi that was driving past right at this time, Ning Ning hailed it, the two of them got in the taxi one after another, Ning Ning mouthed her question to him, “What happened?”
“Quick, we need to leave this place first.” Shi Zhong Tang urged.
“Driver, start driving.” Ning Ning told the driver.
The car started up, but before it could drive off, bang—! It gave the people in the car a huge fright. Ning Ning turned her head and looked over, she saw that the window beside her head had cracked, the cracks spreading out in all directions, in the middle was a marble that sparkled coldly.
The driver looked back and almost jumped out of his shoes, he immediately stopped the car, got off and scolded madly, “Which son of a bitch did this? Comrade traffic policeman, comrade traffic policeman, come have a look at this…”
Besides the traffic police, the other pedestrians and vehicles on the road also stopped out of curiosity, the road clogged up in an instant. Ning Ning was about to get out, but Shi Zhong Tang held her from the side. “Don’t get off, get Wen Yu to come fetch you!”
Ning Ning called Wen Yu as she asked with a lingering fear, “You know who’s doing this?”
“Yes…” Before Shi Zhong Tang finished speaking, he suddenly pushed Ning Ning out of the car.
With a crash, a refrigerator fell from the sky and caved the roof of the car in.
Screams rang out from around the car, the driver’s eyes turned dark, he looked up and roared, “Which son of a bitch did it this time?? Don’t think of escaping, I’ll break your legs!!”
Shi Zhong Tang dragged Ning Ning along as he ran madly.
“Who are we running from?” Ning Ning asked as she was getting pulled along.
Before Shi Zhong Tang could answer, a Buick flew in and stopped in front of the two of them, Wen Yu wound down the window. “Get in.”
Ning Ning frantically hopped on, seemingly almost immediately after they closed the door, a marble was shot on the window.
She looked over.
A man holding a slingshot, a grinning urchin mask.
It was a masked person.
The car started, Ning Ning turned her head back, her body shivered slightly. She gritted her teeth and said, “Why are they trying to kill me?”
The Buick drove past a bus stop. There were some people that were either standing or sitting at the bus stop waiting for the busm every one of them were holding their phones. Coincidentally, every one of their phones were playing the same video, in the videos was the same person.
“Hero?” Ning Ning let out a bitter laugh in the video, “I’ve never thought of being a hero, it was just…I also had one, a mother who would throw away her life for me.”
“Because the masked people don’t need a hero like you.” Within the car, Shi Zhong Tang sighed, he slowly turned his head to look at Ning Ning. “Even less so for a doorman.”
Ning Ning looked at him speechless.
“Ning Ning, you need to be prepared.” Shi Zhong Tang told her word by word with a serious expression, “From now on, every masked person will be coming for you. Besides me…every masked person is your enemy!”
Masked People: Masked people will never be slaves!
[The picture cut out… ]
It was raining flowers, three people sat on a swing.
Ning Ning: Sigh, it’s really not easy to get into a pure relationship.
Movie Theater: Sigh, it’s really not easy to find a doorman.
Ah Xia: Sigh, it’s really not easy to end the series this month.
Shi Tou Ge+Wen Yu pushing the swing with all their might: huff, puff, huff, puff, huff, puff, huff, puff…