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“Isn’t it Manager Cai? My god, it has been a while, hasn’t it? How are you?” Anfey asked, smiling warmly and holding out his hand in front of him.
Cai Guangyao started moving his hands away from his belt. In fact, he found himself disliking this man who greeted him in the bathroom. For someone experienced with the way of the business world, the first thing one needed to do was stay calm, keeping their emotions a secret to the world. The man was wearing a friendly smile, and his clothes were finely made. It was in Cai Guangyao’s best interest not to offend anyone, especially someone whose background was unclear. Cai Guangyao, realizing this, put on a smile and took the man’s hand, “Evening! Pardon me, I was a little bit drunk, you know, but you are…?”
“Powerful men never remember us little guys,” the man said, blinking. “I heard Manager Cai’s real estate business is going through the roof; of course you would forget someone like me.”
“Nonsense,” Cai Guangyao said awkwardly. Before he could finish, something pricked his palm. Instinctively, he yanked his hand back. “What was that?” he demanded, holding his stinging hand.
“Me? I didn’t do anything,” Anfey widened his eyes.
“Nothing?” Cai Guangyao said angrily, looking down at his hand. There was no wound.
“Oh, I got it,” Anfey said, throwing his hands into the air in a moment of sudden realization. He pointed to a ring on his finger. “It must have been my ring,” he said. “You see, it is uncomfortable to wear, but it is a family heirloom, what with my father’s recent passing…”
“Alright, alright,” Cai Guangyao said impatiently. “If you don’t have anything else to say, would you please leave? I have other people to attend to.” At first, he didn’t want to offend anyone, but as soon as the pain shot up his hand, Cai Guangyao felt a sudden irritation he hadn’t felt before. He didn’t know where it came from, since pricking his hand was usually the least of his problems.
“I am very sorry,” Anfey said, defeated. “I am very sorry. I will stop bothering you, Manager Cai.” He bowed and left the bathroom with a troubled look on his face.
“Weird,” Cai Guangyao said, as he turned around and unbuckled his belt.
As soon as he was out of the door, Anfey exchanged his upset look for one of nonchalance. The jade-colored floor glowed softly beneath his feet, weaving together with the golden light of the wall lamps. All around Anfey, the sound of men’s coarse laughter and women’s soft flirts flooded into the long hallway. All the doors were crafted from exquisite eaglewood, filling the hall with a gentle fragrance. However, none of these could distract Anfey now. To an onlooker, he was walking rather slowly. In reality, his speed was almost two times faster than a normal man’s, and he did not slow down until he had reached the staircase.
Just as he rounded the corner, he saw the elevator door close. He sighed in a moment of defeat. Nothing seemed to go well today. He had rented a Chevrolet to get to the Jingdu Hotel, but somehow the brake had broken halfway, and it took him way longer than he found comfortable to get rid of the police officers nearby. After that he found a Toyota, but had only had it for a few minutes before ramming it into another car. The young man that drove the other car refused to leave him alone unless Anfey agreed to drive the young man to the hospital; it cost Anfey three thousand dollars to get rid of him. Anfey was a fairly skilled driver and had never been in an accident. What happened today could only be described as strange.
When he arrived at the Jingdu hotel, he was prepared to do his job, but the elevator broke only ten minutes later. He remained calm and didn’t appear too agitated, gesturing to the video camera to hurry the hotel security team.
He was rescued after ten long minutes. Anfey had always been a strict follower of time, and he thought that it was all but certain that he would fail his mission tonight. Luckily, he found a chance to finish what he intended to do at the last minute. Of course, luck was an unreliable thing. Anfey smiled bitterly as he glanced at the number blinking above his head.
The elevator next to him was broken, and the other two were approximately a hundred meters away. Should he walk? He quickly estimated how much time he had left. Three minutes should be enough. The number twenty flashed above him. Anfey pulled out a stick of gum and began walking towards the other end of the hall.
Thirty seconds later, Anfey found himself standing in front of an elevator. After another thirty-five, the door slid open. Anfey disguised his anxiety as he stepped into the elevator. There were only two young women in there. They shot a glance at him and returned to their whispers.
Fifty seconds later, he was in the eighth floor bathroom. He glanced around, making sure there were no approaching footsteps. Then he jumped upwards, his left hand grabbing the pipe, and his right hand sticking his gum onto the surveillance camera. Having cameras in bathrooms tended to cause unrest in customers, but the hotel management did so anyways. Of course, to avoid problems, they were kept hidden, and only in the men’s bathroom, but it was still an amateur move. It only took him a few seconds to find them the first time he came to the hotel.
He let out a sigh of relief. Thank god he was alone in here. If there was anyone else in the bathroom he would’ve been in big trouble. The hotel’s surveillance room was on the thirtieth floor, and the security teams were on the first, seventh, and twenty-first. If the surveillance team was doing their job well, then they would have already found the malfunctioning camera on the eighth floor. Still, the nearest security team was on the seventh, and it would take them a minute to arrive. A minute was more than enough time.
Anfey grabbed onto one of the bathroom doors and jumped up, landing in the stall. He had already prepared his getaway clothes and hid them in that bathroom. He had glued the door shut to prevent anyone from messing up his plan, since any normal person would simply move on to the next stall. They wouldn’t contact security if a bathroom door refused to give way.
Nowadays, though, weird people were on the rise, and would cause Anfey great trouble should he ever cross paths with one. There was no such thing as being one hundred percent safe, so Anfey had prepared for all the scenarios he could imagine. With extensive preparation, he could outwit anyone.
Anfey walked out of the bathroom looking like another man. His hair was shorter, the black suit became a t-shirt and jeans, and his dress shoes were changed into sneakers. At the same time, Cai Guangyao, who was flirting with an escort, slumped over the couch and clutched at his heart.
Anfey looked very relaxed as he stepped out of the hotel. He didn’t bother hailing a cab, instead walking south along the road.
Anfey was an assassin. He was an odd one, but one nonetheless, because he would never admit that he was a killer. He believed that killers were mechanical, emotionless, and numb—obeying their masters’ every command, or forsaking their lives, to achieve their goals. He, however, was noble, free and elegant, and would never place himself in danger. Before he exposed his intentions, he would be a respectable guest, and no one would realize his purpose. Afterwards, there would not be anyone able to reveal his identity. Some jobs he would take, some he would never take, some he would regret taking, all without a care for his reputation. He thought that the world was dark enough, and he didn’t want to harm those people with talent and sparks. Although he was exceptionally skilled and could often mask his work as anatural death, he lacked a steady stream of customers.
A kebob peddler poked his head out from an alley, made eye contact with Anfey, and nodded. These people didn’t have an easy life. In a city this size, they lived in the poorest houses, leaving before the sun rose and returning long after the sun had set. They could only earn enough to feed themselves. A few decades ago, even a street peddler could earn more than a nuclear physicist. Now, after years of government interference, these peddler’s lives sank below the average. Of course, they could fight to raise their living standards, but there were a lot of people who didn’t want them to do that. As soon as the police cars appeared, the peddlers scattered in fear of confiscations and beatings. It wasn’t anything new that city police beat people to death.
Under the teachings of a few skilled men, the general masses had mastered the skills of guerilla warfare. Running when the enemy appeared and coming back when they left, a man was able to earn a living.
Anfey was an easy-going man. He smiled at the kebob peddler. “Busy?” he asked. “I want ten dollars of lamb.”
The man glanced around, making sure the coast was clear, and then he smiled. “Of course, sir,” he said. “Right away.”
Anfey glanced towards the hotel, waiting. Not long after, an ambulance howled past, stopping sharply in front of the hotel. A few emergency workers rushed out, carrying stretchers and emergency kits.
Anfey sighed. He had the habit of lingering near the scene whenever he finished a job, so that should anything be amiss he could formulate a plan to deal with the problem. For now, the death attracted no suspicion. Cai Guangyao had an extramarital relationship, and the two women, each with his child, had always been at each other’s throats. Now that he was dead, the two women would redirect all their attention to his inheritance. No one would care whether he had a natural or an unnatural death. He would barely be cold underground. Pity!
The police should pose no problem either. The officers with more unclosed cases were more likely to be fired. No one wanted to be in charge of a cold case, and no one wanted to be investigating a case like this. If the two women were just focusing on his inheritance, of course the case would be dropped.
“Hey, want any spices?” the kebob peddler asked.
“Not too many,” Anfey said, rubbing his hands together, causing a lump of white putty to come off into his hands. His fingertips were covered with a specially made grease that concealed his fingerprints. It dried off when applied; even if he shook hands with someone, it would leave no residue. The only loophole was his clothes, but he had sprayed them with chemicals. The police canines would suffer a hard blow should they inhale too much. Plus, unless the death was suspected to be foul play, his clothes would never become evidence. If the police didn’t interfere, his clothes would simply be left at the hotel’s lost and found, waiting for an owner who would never return.
“There you go,” the peddler said, handing him his kabob.
Anfey took it, thanked the man, and stood there, eating it in small bites. He needed to wait a bit to see what the doctor’s verdict would be. If it was suspicious, the police would be here in no time. If Cai Guangyao was determined to have died from cardiac arrest, his family would be contacted to take care of the aftermath. For now, the truth about the man’s death was in unknown, but Anfey was careful and hoped to get some confirmation.
At that moment, a Santana and a small truck drove towards where Anfey was standing. Instinctively, Anfey took a few steps back, trying to figure out the situation within the alley.
“That’s him! Get him!” a fat man called out, sticking his bandage-wrapped head out of the car.
Anfey recognized the symbol on the car. It was a car from the city police, and it had nothing to do with him.
The peddler looked like a spooked animal. He grabbed his cart and dashed into the valley, right into Anfey. In a moment of panic, the peddler pushed Anfey aside, “Get out of my way!” he called.
Anfey was well trained. If the man was coming at him with a knife, he would have known exactly how to deal with it. He didn’t want to hurt him though, and only took a step back.
The peddler slipped, and his hand pushed against Anfey’s, triggering a series of reaction that would otherwise only happen in movies.
Perhaps it was because the peddler wanted to save money, but the peddler didn’t use disposable skewers; he used a sharpened bicycle spoke, to more conveniently pierce the meat chunks. Anfey was eating while the peddler dashed towards him, and since the peddler had no intention of attacking, Anfey wasn’t alarmed. In a moment of confusion, the spoke was pushed into his throat. Anfey grunted in pain, and tears welled in his eyes. Not out of pain, but out of natural reflex; wounds to the mouth and throat always triggered tears.
The peddler froze and cried out in panic. After seeing someone hurt, he was terrified out of his mind. He ditched his cart and dashed into the alley.
Unfortunately, the police car stopped, but the truck did not. It crashed into the cart, which was sent flying into Anfey’s face. He was holding onto the spoke, trying to remove it from his throat. His eyes were blurry with tears, and then it went completely dark.
When the cart flipped over on the ground, Anfey was slumping as well. The spoke was pushed in so deep it came out under his hairline on the back of his head. To a normal man, such a wound would be fatal.
The next day, a headline made it to a newspaper that city police had killed someone, again… Why did they use “again” again…?
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