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“Frank get up! Someone’s at the door looking for you!”

Frank Wang groaned, he hugged his pillow tightly and buried himself deeper inside his sheets.
“KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK” a knocking sound came at his bedroom door, “Frank wake up!”

“Ma, today is my day off. Let me rest please!!!” Frank yelled.
Currently his Mother was staying with him, she’d come to visit a while ago.
At the time she’d said it would only be a short visit, but now it had nearly been a month since she came to his house. At first Frank had been glad, as someone who lived alone and always busy, having his mother cook for him and clean the house for him was very comforting.
Yet now her constant nagging was getting him annoyed, he felt his freedom being taken from him. Especially when she asked about what he was doing and where he was going all the time. Frank felt like he was a suspect in an interrogation room.
It only got worse after the Earthquake that caused a large crater around Zhongshan park. Almost all of Frank’s colleagues, who’d been there with him, had been heavily injured. A few even died after that incident. Frank had been lucky and only suffered a few scrapes, but that was enough for his mother to become extremely worried about his safety. And now she refused to go back to the UK. He loved his mum but it was really becoming too much.

Frank had done an all nighter at the police station, so he had wanted to enjoy his day off and sleep through the afternoon, but now his mother was yelling for him.

“Are you not going to get up!? Fine, then I’ll tell them that you don’t want to be disturbed okay!” His mother yelled in English.
Frank tiredly grumbled, “Yh just do that…wait WHAT?!!!!” Frank jumped out of his bed. He just realised what his mother had said, someone was at the door looking for him.
“Is it Qi Zhou?” he wondered.

Ever since that awkward housewarming party, where they had all met Chàng Bo, Qi Zhou had been ignoring Frank. She’d stopped answering his calls and only replied to his texts, sometimes she left him on read for ages.
Frank felt terrible about it, and he wondered if he’d done something to hurt her feelings. But when he asked her if anything was wrong over text, she just replied with “I’m not attracted to you anymore and I want to break up”.
Frank had felt heartbroken and had gone to her workplace to talk to her, but when he went to the coffee shop he’d found out that she’d quit her job.
After that he felt extremely dejected and depressed, so he ended up working more and more to distract himself from thinking about her.
Even though he hadn’t heard from Qi Zhou in two weeks, he still couldn’t stop thinking about her. He couldn’t help but hope she would have a change of heart and come to see him.
So when his mother said there was someone at his door he became very excited, thinking it was Qi Zhou.

He quickly threw on a tracksuit and checked himself in the mirror. Running to the bathroom and brushing his teeth before he ran to up to his mother, who was standing in the hallway next to the door.
Frank felt his heart thud faster and faster, but when he saw who was standing there all his excitement vanished.
There was Fei Bing Bing, Zhao Detong, Tanaka Kato and Bei Lao at his front door.
His mother was talking warmly to Zhao Detong, “Ah Detong, look how much you’ve grown. I haven’t seen you since Frank’s high school graduation. You’ve gotten even more handsome.”

Zhao Detong smiled and replied to her respectfully, “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you as well Mrs Wang, you haven’t grown older even by a bit, you’re as youthful as ever.”
“Aiyooo, don’t lie Detong, ever since I entered my fifties I’ve been getting wrinkles all over the place. When I was younger I was just as pretty as Bing Bing, I was a flower and I had all the young men chasing after me. Not anymore though.”

Fei Bing Bing smiled, “What are you saying Mrs Wang, you’re still gorgeous, I’m sure you have all the young men still stealing glances at you. You don’t look a day over thirty.”

“Aiyooo, both you and Detong are such flatterers. Frank told me that you two have set the date, you’re getting married next year in June right? How wonderful. Now if only I could get Frank married off.”

Zhao Detong chuckled, “Yes we’re getting married in June. We haven’t sent out the invitations yet, when we do I’ll be sure to send you one Mrs Wang. And don’t worry about Frank, we’re all still young. He has plenty of time and I know he has someone right now.”

Mrs Wang, Fay Wang, was a petite middle aged woman. She had fair skin and round owl glasses. Her hair was black with a few grey strands. It was cut into a charming bob that framed her pretty face that still had hints of her youth.
She smiled excitedly, “Ohh, so he has a girl does he. I knew it. He seemed to be having all kinds of mood swings lately and he’s always looking at his phone like a teenager. I should have known, but he’s been so tight lipped about it all. You must tell me all the gossi-”

“Mum! Leave them alone.” Frank said as he pulled Zhao Detong’s arm. “They came to visit me! So we’re going to talk in my room privately, okay. You’re not getting any gossip from them.”
With that Frank took all of them to his room. His mother was left alone in the hallway. She laughed, “Gosh he gets more childish with age, aiyoo”

“Why did you guys come to visit?” Frank asked once he closed his bedroom door.
“We need your help” Fei Bing Bing said.
“My help?”

Frank was confused.

“Let me explain the situation.” Zhao Detong said.

[A few moments later]

Frank was flickering through the news channels on the TV. He couldn’t believe it. ” So you’re saying it was all a cover up and not a bomb?”
“Yes, Tanaka and I were there. All that chaos was caused by a single man who was abnormally strong. Even as we were running away we didn’t hear anything like a bomb.” Bei Lao confirmed.

“But it was very chaotic, for all you know a bomb could have gone off after you left. And that young man could have been a terrorist on some type of steroid drug. You weren’t there to see what happened afterwards.” Frank argued.

Bei Lao couldn’t refute that, it was true. Tanaka and himself were one of the first to run away, they didn’t see anything that happened.

“It’s not that I doubt your ability as a witness, it’s just that a coverup of this scale is unlikely for this type of incident. Terrorist attacks are major news and a lot of police are usually involved, although sometimes information about such a case can be covered up and changed by the government, but this case is in the spotlight. The media is focused on it and there are a lot of witnesses and six dead. It would take some super powerful perhaps illuminati level organisation to cover something like this up and deceive the public. And even then they’d need magic powers to change everyone’s memories of the incident right? And if they could do all that then why would they send the country on high alert by claiming it’s a terrorist attack, why not frame it as an accident, like a gas pipe explosion? And if there was such a powerful group behind this then why would they leave your memories intact? Why are you the only two that remember differently than the other witnesses who are giving testimonies?” Frank analysed.

He had a point. Why a terrorist attack? Why not an accident? Perhaps it wasn’t a coverup.
“But!” Tanaka exclaimed as he pointed at the television screen, “That guy there is the one that went crazy, yet he’s being portrayed in the news as a victim and not as the perpetrator. Don’t you think it’s strange?”

“Well maybe he is a victim, you never saw him explode the bomb. It might have been someone else and that guy was caught up in it as well.” Frank said.

“But that doesn’t explain why he attacked Mao Lu and Chàng Bo. And Mao Lu said he was involved in something dangerous. What if it is terrorism?” Tanaka worried.

“Mao Lu involved in terrorism? And you all call yourselves his friends. I know Mao Lu well enough to know that he wouldn’t be involved in something like that, but I do think he might be involved in something troubling.” Frank added as he began rummaging around his desk and pulled out a file.

Bing Bing, Detong, Tanaka, and Lao stared at the file in confusion.

“You see I got curious about Chàng Bo, since he’s apparently Qi Zhou’s brother and all. And especially after you told me about the incident at Xiling Hotel. So I ran a bit of a background check, and I got my friend at immigration to take a look into him for me. And guess what” Frank threw the file which had a small summary on a piece of paper inside of it, “He doesn’t exist. There is no one by the name of Chàng Bo that has travelled to this country recently from Nepal. Of course that only means that he isn’t from abroad. So I did a check and there are five hundred people in Beijing that are living here or visiting that have the name Chàng Bo, but none of them fit his image or look like him. Of course that could mean he’s going by a fake name. So I found some images of him online where some girls had posted pictures of a ‘mysterious sexy foreigner’ on weibo.
I ran those pictures through a programme but other than that girls blog I found zero matches. He doesn’t have any social media accounts or anything, and there’s no records of him being in the country. He’s like a ghost. These days everyone has some kind of trace and you can’t get anywhere without an ID or something, but I couldn’t find anything on him.”

This statement caused the atmosphere in the room to become heavy.

“When I realised this I was concerned, and I thought to myself that Lu must be involved in something strange. But, it’s his business. If he wants us out of it then maybe we should just not butt in.” Frank shrugged. “And Lu seems infatuated with Chàng Bo, whether he’s an illegal immigrant or a contract killer, since Lu likes the guy then we should stay out of it until he’s ready to confide in us about the real situation. I’m not acting unless Chàng Bo is a suspect in a crime, but currently he’s not, so let’s just leave them be. I have other cases at work that are a lot more threatening and serious than this that I have to follow up on. And whatever this terrorist incident is, I don’t think Mao Lu is involved it, and if he is I don’t think he caused it. The Mao Lu I know is a good guy.”

“Wow I expected more from you Frank, what if he’s in serious trouble!?” Bing Bing shouted angrily.
“In such serious trouble that he has time to go on a Christmas eve date and run into Tanaka and Bei Lao? Yeah okay, whatever.” Frank sighed, “Since the day I met Lu he’s always been a quiet and secretive guy, he’s good at hiding things, it’s not the first time he’s done it. He kept from us that he was gay. He hid that gangster debt collectors found him and were harassing him in the past as well. We only found out about that because he was kidnapped by those gangsters and he nearly had all his organs taken out. He would have been dead if the police hadn’t done a raid on that place the same day. Do you know how shocked I was when I found out he was involved in that?
What I’m trying to say is that he likes to bottle things up, but compared to the past he’s a lot happier now then he’s been in years, and I think he’s safer as well. He’s not living in a dodgy area or working at all times of night. You all can see that. And whatever secret he has I’m sure he’ll tell us with time, and if Chàng Bo loves him and is there to protect him then I don’t think he’s in any danger.”

” You wouldn’t be saying that if you saw that freaky guy who attacked us. I think Lu is in danger.” Tanaka muttered.
Zhao Detong contemplated Frank’s words, “Whether or not Lu is in danger, we can’t really do anything if he doesn’t tell us. We should just leave it. We should be there to help him when he’s ready and we should respect his words. If Lu doesn’t want us to know then we shouldn’t be digging into anything. What if we get dragged into whatever he’s hiding because of that and cause trouble for him?”

“What if he’s in serious trouble though? What if he turns up dead tomorrow? What if the terrorism is linked to him? If we do nothing then I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.” Fei Bing said, teary eyed.
“Ah so you are doing it out of guilt.” Frank said, “You’re usually not the type to worry about others Bing Bing, you’ve always been selfish, especially around Lu. You just don’t want to feel guilty in case something does happen to him.”

“You’re right, I don’t want to feel guilty. I don’t want to feel useless and evil like I did the day my parents turned their backs on his family. The day I ignored Lu because I didn’t want to go against their wishes. Everyday I regret hurting my best friend because of my selfishness. I have wanted to make it up to Lu for ages, but he’s so stubborn and he always refused what I gave him.
When I found out he was in love with Detong for years, my happiness for him became jealousy because of how close Detong and Lu are. I know it was a dumb feeling to have and when I look at it from Lu’s perspective I can imagine how much pain he’s been in all these years. But I still felt jealous. And I know he noticed that, and that made me feel even more guilty. I always make mistakes around Lu.
Lu is my best friend. I love him, I want to look after him. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, I want to do something to make it up to him. So if he’s in a bit of trouble I don’t want to just leave it I want to find out if he’s okay. And I want to help him. If something happens I’ll never forgive myself!” She began to cry.

Frank watched her tears and sighed, “It’s not just you who would feel guilty if Lu turned up dead…fine let’s investigate what’s really going on with him. I also want to find Qi Zhou, she’s been avoiding me for a while. Let’s get to the bottom of this.”

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Alexia

September 2019
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