Chapter 40.1 – Luosa Tree (2)
Amidst the crowd, noise erupted. Xu Tonggui averted his gaze as another vehicle screeched to a halt by the roadside. A person in uniform hurriedly got out, panting, and rushed to his side, saying, “Captain Xu, there are issues in a few more places.”
Apart from the cinema, several other buildings had sprouted this eerie phenomenon. The people inside hadn’t managed to escape; by the time they realized it, they were all trapped within the buildings covered by roots. Fortunately, this happened after the cinema incident. It hadn’t progressed to the stage of spore growth yet, so the people inside were temporarily safe, but it didn’t seem like they could hold on for much longer.
Xu Tonggui asked, “Do we have enough manpower?”
The other person honestly replied, “It’s not enough.”
Too many things had been happening recently, and the department staff had been working overtime frequently, burdened with their own tasks. It was challenging to find additional help to handle this situation.
After checking the surveillance footage, Xu Tonggui said, “Send the surveillance video to the HQ and let them figure it out. Let’s handle the branches of the Luosa tree for now.”
The person holding the screen nodded, sent out the video, and swiftly moved to the next location, informing the finance management department to assess property damage levels on-site.
As the SIU vehicle departed, the onlookers at the scene lingered for a while.
After randomly grabbing a few passersby, Jiang Yujin managed to collect several brothers with different parents and some friends before leaving the area.
He wasn’t great with long-term memory, but his short-term memory served him well. The few people he just caught were individuals who had appeared in the surveillance footage. He vaguely recalled the person with a symbol on their face and saw them heading in a certain direction.
The person’s route seemed random, wherever they walked counted, without a specific direction. Their choice of locations to act upon was also random, with branches sprouting along the way, some branching out in bustling marketplaces, while others ended up in abandoned buildings.
This person seemed to have no specific target; it was purely to observe the effect of the branches.
Clearly, the effect was significant.
Moving his gaze from the building entangled by plant roots that was still under construction, Jiang Yujin casually crushed fluorescent green spores like mosquitoes and continued forward in a chosen direction.
Guided by several enthusiastic passersby, he stopped in front of an amusement park and walked toward the ticket booth.
He leaned slightly forward, bending down in front of the ticket window and asked with a smile, his eyebrows and eyes slightly lowered, and he looked quite charming.
The ticket seller blushed and nodded, “Yes, he has been here before.”
Though there were many visitors at the amusement park today, this person’s distinctive features made him memorable.
Jiang Yujin politely thanked her, appearing pensive.
This person not only didn’t change clothes but also had the habit of casually littering. In addition, they also liked to visit the amusement park alone.
After confirming, Jiang Yujin spent a hefty sum to buy tickets to enter the amusement park, lifting his foot through the gates in front of the ticket seller’s gaze.
Today was a workday, with most adults at their jobs. However, this didn’t stop the elementary and middle school students from enjoying their summer vacation. The park was filled with youthful, energetic faces alongside the tired expressions of adults accompanying their children.
Having been away from the amusement park for a long time, Citizen Jiang noticed that the facilities had advanced significantly since his last visit. The various rides and attractions puzzled Jiang Yujin, who had to stand aside and observe for quite some time before understanding how they worked.
It all seemed quite amusing, with plenty of parent-child activities around.
Thinking about his usually solemn child, old father Jiang snapped back to reality, reminding himself of the reason for being there. His gaze shifted from the parent-child attractions, diverting towards a map posted on the wall for guidance.
During a previous conversation with the ticket seller, Jiang Yujin learned about an observation deck within the park, the highest point in the entire area. From there, one could see the entirety of the park and its surroundings. It was a spot for admiring the scenery and perhaps finding someone.
The view from there wasn’t particularly outstanding. Compared to the long queues elsewhere, there weren’t many people on the observation deck. Some children leaned against the railings, trying to catch a glimpse of the scenery beyond.
Jiang Yujin walked to the railing. A gust of wind blew from the distant sky, causing his clothes to flutter backward. With already drooping eyelids, he glanced downwards at the scene in the amusement park. From this vantage point, the liveliness of the park was more apparent, with screams from the roller coaster echoing from afar.
Jiang Yujin’s gaze settled on a person sitting on a bench by the central fountain, within a small grove of trees. The person wore a hat, legs crossed, and casually twirled a twig in their hand, spinning it like a pen before confidently catching it right after letting it go.
‘There you are.’
Leaving the observation deck, Jiang Yujin followed the crowd towards the central fountain. Along the way, several people dressed in costume offered balloons. Of course, the adult male Jiang Yujin accepted them, holding a bunch of balloons, eliciting envy from passing children.
Next to the small grove of trees, someone in a mascot costume sat resting. Jiang Yujin passed by, then hesitated and turned back, smiling at the person wearing a costume.
In just a few minutes, the person who had taken off the mascot costume happily went to buy water.
Carrying a large bunch of red balloons, the newly appointed mascot performer slowly walked into the small grove.
Within the grove, laughter could still be heard not far away, but overall, it was much quieter than other places, suitable for relaxation.
The teddy bear mascot walked along the path, its massive figure blocking the sunlight. The balloons it held swayed as it moved, brushing against the branches of a tree, emitting a spine-chilling sound.
The person sitting on the chair paused from playing with the tree branch, hearing a sound just before tossing the branch. They tightened their grip, lifted their eyes, only to see the teddy bear mascot already reaching the end of the path. It seemed to be approaching them, but its pace was neither hurried nor slow. It was trying to offer a balloon, appearing purely intent on giving one to them.
As the figure drew closer, the man with the branded face ceased fiddling with the branch, returning it to his pocket. He raised his gaze. His pupils were slightly smaller than normal, resembling those of a wild animal, exuding a predatory aura, fierce.
The teddy bear mascot stopped in front of him, extending its plush hand to offer a balloon. With a scoff, he swatted the doll’s hand away, straightforwardly asking, “Who sent you?”
The teddy bear mascot glanced at its paw, where a couple of strands of fur had been knocked off, then turned around to tie all the balloons onto the tree.
The branded man persisted, “Was it someone from the SIU or that kid from the previous incident in F City?”
The response to him was silence followed by a right hook.
The small grove was an ideal place, devoid of surveillance and visitors, except for the short-statured kids who peeked through the tree trunks, observing the teddy bear mascot playing with someone. And the person playing with the teddy bear seemed to be so happy that they were dancing around with their hands in the air.
After a while, maybe a considerable duration had passed, the teddy bear emerged from the small grove once more, holding a bunch of balloons and generously distributing them to the passing children.
On the bench within the deserted grove, a person lay bruised and swollen, legs and feet twisted in a peculiar angle. The branch, originally in his pocket, had fallen out and been broken by someone’s step. The tender green shoots atop it had turned dry and brown, brittle enough to break with a gentle touch.
The janitor, intending to take a break and rest here, abruptly halted midway upon seeing a sight not far away. Eyes widened, they swiftly turned and called out to the nearby security.
By the time the janitor led the security back, the person previously lying on the bench had vanished without a trace. Brown leaves from the branches lying on the ground had been crushed, their fragments scattered around. Amid explanations and confusion, the janitor chose to sweep away the litter on the ground.
While sweeping, they noticed beneath the brown withered leaves on the small branches, a cluster of tiny, fresh green leaves.