It was some time before Xiao Lan found the office.
From the traces left behind, it seemed that the door had been violently broken down a very long time ago; the damage on the door was covered in dust. The office was also a bit of a mess: chairs had been overturned and the things on the table had been swept roughly to the floor. A large hole had even been smashed in the computer, as if it had been a deliberate target.
It looked like an angry person had rushed in and vandalised the place as if to vent, and time in the supermarket seemed to have stopped not long after that.
After all, if a vandalised supermarket still continued to operate after that, it didn’t make sense not to tidy up the manager’s office.
The spot on the wall to hang keys was completely empty; who knew whether they were somewhere in the mess on the floor.
The things on the floor were in too much of a jumble. Xiao Lan meticulously rummaged through them for a while, but didn’t find anything.
【What are you looking for?】
Xiao Lan answered as he rummaged around, “Keys or something related to Zhang Dong.”
【Please allow me to serve you】
Xiao Lan: “You?”
【Please wait a moment】
The shadow in the envelope spread outwards to cover a radius of two meters around Xiao Lan as it searched the office. After a moment, there were a few black marks on the floor.
【There are no keys in the office, but there are a few scraps of paper with information related to Zhang Dong】
Xiao Lan was astonished. The speed of this search could practically be called a portable detector. If Luo’s search range was a little larger, Xiao Lan could simply win without needing to lift a finger. Could it be that this guy was sealed because he was a cheat?
Xiao Lan spent some time piecing together the paper scraps, and realised that it was a disciplinary notice:
Due to frequently sleeping during work hours, leaving his post, insulting customers, destroying goods, violating supermarket regulations, and severely harming the supermarket’s image, warehouse employee Zhang Dong is hereby dismissed and the relevant compensation fee is deducted from his pay.
We hope that all colleagues will take this as a warning to strictly abide by supermarket regulations and adhere to good professional ethics and work behaviour.
Notice is hereby given!
XXyear XXmonth XXday
Xiao Lan waved the notice that he had stuck together with adhesive tape, and laughed lightly. “It seems that big brother Zhang Dong isn’t just a terrible miser; his conduct is also indescribable ah.”
【He’s also very stingy when sending gifts, and ended up choosing the least valuable-looking envelope】
Xiao Lan: “…Probably to match my unique personality ba.”
【Your poverty leaves a very deep impression on people】
Looking at the graceful handwriting which appeared on the wall, the veins on Xiao Lan’s forehead twitched. “…I’ll just pretend that you’re praising me.”
Calculating the time, the players should be gathering soon. Xiao Lan went out and walked towards the checkout counter.
When Xiao Lan arrived at the checkout counter, many of the players had already gathered and were waiting nervously.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
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Xiao Lan immediately took out the disciplinary notice, with no plans to hide it.
He knew very well that his opponents in this game weren’t the players. Despite the fact that Lin Yan had other intentions, the exchange of information was essential.
Xiao Lan said, “I found this disciplinary notice in the warehouse manager’s office; Zhang Dong’s work scope should be the warehouse.”
Lin Yan took it for a look, then asked, “Did you find the key?”
Xiao Lan shook his head. “I ransacked the manager’s office. Nothing.”
Lin Yan nodded, then turned his head to say to the people around them, “Does anyone else have clues?”
Everyone silently shook their heads.
“It looks like this is the only clue we have for the first selection round,” Lin Yan muttered to himself. “Zhang Dong was someone with a low position, who wasn’t committed to his work, and who was even punished for it.”
“He hates people who waste money; does that mean we should find the cheapest stuff?” the middle-aged woman asked.
Lin Yan: “Not necessarily. It’s also possible it might be something that he deems a necessity. For example, drugs are a must for drug addicts, while drunkards will spend large amounts of money on alcohol. This isn’t a waste of money to them at all.”
“Then… what should we do?” someone asked.
Lin Yan replied, “We’ll do this ba: let’s start with low-priced daily necessities, or try to choose something the boss might like.”
After saying that, he even secretly gave Xiao Lan and a long-haired schoolgirl a meaningful look. The girl gave him a slight nod.
Xiao Lan frowned slightly. How many people did he find to test the waters?
“Welcome! Welcome, everyone!!! My — Terminal Supermarket!”
A hoarse voice rang out, attracting the players’ attention.
At some point, a person wearing a supermarket uniform had appeared In front of the only checkout counter in the place. His skin was grey and his eyes were cloudy like a corpse’s. He danced and gestured frenziedly at the players. His movements seemed strangely uncoordinated, and there was an exaggerated smile on his stiff face.
He took off his hat and bowed to the players, revealing that the back of his head was completely smashed in.
Seeing this, the complexions of some of the players changed, and they couldn’t help taking a step back to hide in the crowd.
Seeing the players’ reactions, Zhang Dong was even more delighted, and he raised his voice slightly. “All of you must have been looking forward to this for a long time, right? Now, let us start a pleasant game —
“— And we’ll start with you.”
He pointed a grey finger at the bald, middle-aged man who had previously blocked the shop assistant’s way.
The middle-aged man turned deathly pale and his sweat flowed like a waterfall. He turned and ran up the escalator, yelling, “I won’t choose! I won’t choose!!”
Once again, the female shop assistant appeared without anyone noticing her. Standing at the bottom of the escalator, her smile remained unchanged. “Please choose one item and hand it to the cashier.”
“I won’t —” The middle-aged man ran upward in a panic, but the escalator suddenly started to go backwards, and he still remained in the same spot despite running for a long time.
He tried to speed up so that he was faster than the escalator, but the escalator also sped up along with him.
“Please choose one item and hand it to the cashier.”
“Huff… huff… That person is a demon! A demon! Mortal me won’t go!” The middle-aged man was still gasping as he did his best to run, but the gap didn’t widen at all.
“Please choose one item and hand it to the cashier.”
Seeing that he still had no intention of turning back after the third reminder, the female shop assistant’s sweet smile grew wider, the corners of her lips stretching up to her ears. “Foul —”
As soon as she said the word, the escalator suddenly split down the middle.
The middle-aged man was caught off guard, and was directly drawn into the escalator. “Save me! Save me —”
The escalator gobbled him up extremely quickly. The middle-aged man barely had time to struggle, when it already reached his waist. His bones crunched as they were squeezed together, and bright red blood flowed down both sides of the escalator to the sound of his screams, creating a red lake in front of everyone.
The players watched this with deathly pale complexions; the three schoolgirls covered their mouths to stop themselves from screaming, and the adults had ugly expressions as well. They were silent, and no one made a sound.
Zhang Dong’s loud, hoarse and ugly laughter broke the silence that hung over the players. He rocked back and forth with his laughter, his cloudy eyes moving between the players’ faces as he pondered their reactions, as if enjoying the fear of his prey.
“Come, come, come, come before me. Let me have a proper look and see whether you’ve been wasting money.
“This time — you come.” He pointed at Xiao Lan.
Xiao Lan walked out of the crowd under everyone’s alarmed and uneasy gazes, and went to the commodities section.
He looked through a pile of strange goods.
In the end, he stood before a cart. There were black eggs in it, and several chickens that had been dead for a long time hung from red strings above. Ravaged by time, their bodies were shriveled, their eye sockets were empty, and their open, withered mouths were pointed up at the ceiling.
There was no price tag, and the eggs were a strange colour.
But from the display around the eggs and how it was positioned, Xiao Lan determined that this should be a product on special offer, the kind of ‘lose profits’ offer advertised on posters. After all, few people would go to the supermarket just to buy eggs. This way, not only would it make the customers feel that the supermarket’s products were cheap, it would also drive the sales of other products.
Xiao Lan, who often rushed to be first in line during a special offers campaign, knew this like the back of his hand — this was the wisdom of the poor.
He picked up an egg and returned to the checkout counter.
Zhang Dong stared at him, no emotion visible in his cloudy eyes. “You’re choosing this one? Seeing your poverty makes me happy, so I can give you another chance.”
The expressions of the players who were watching changed, and they nervously whispered to each other quietly.
“Is it no good?”
“This black colour looks very ominous…”
“Have you seen everything else? How much more auspicious do you think they can be?”
Xiao Lan was unmoved. “This one.”
Zhang Dong picked up the black egg with an eerie smile, but didn’t say a word.
The atmosphere turned heavier at his silence. The players’ nerves were stretched thin by the cruel deaths that had happened one after another. They looked at Xiao Lan with some sympathy, and some had already turned their heads away.
After a moment, Zhang Dong let out a hoarse laugh.
“You pass… Don’t disappoint me later.”
Everyone let out sighs of relief. Only Lin Yan gave Xiao Lan an indecipherable look.
Relying on the fact that no one else could see it, Mr Luo directly wrote the word on Zhang Dong’s face, and even drew a heart.
The image was a little amusing, and Xiao Lan nearly couldn’t restrain himself.
If he laughed in the boss’s face, big brother Zhang Dong might slap Xiao Lan back to reality. Xiao Lan had to stick his hand in his pocket to lightly flick the envelope before Mr Luo withdrew the writing.
The next person chosen was the middle-aged woman.
With a pale expression, she cringed and hugged herself as she walked round and round the supermarket. In the end, she chose a carton of milk.
The carton was a strange, dark red colour, and there were several strange-looking eyes drawn on it. It gave off an ominous air.
However, the printing on the packaging was haphazard, and the quality so-so. At one touch, a person could tell that this was the cheapest type of milk one could find in a supermarket — don’t underestimate a middle-aged woman’s eye for identifying low-priced products.
Zhang Dong took the milk and curled his lip in dissatisfaction. “Pass.”
After that, everyone basically mostly selected daily necessities. No matter how strange the packaging was, they were ultimately things that they were most familiar with, and the prices were also the easiest to guess.
However, Zhang Dong’s expression became increasingly gloomy. How could these annoying lucky ones clear his checkpoint so easily? He wouldn’t allow it.
Until, a long-haired schoolgirl, who was the last to come forward, chose alcohol which was splendidly packaged in a beautiful bottle; there was even an exquisite wooden box. The carved monsters on the box were extremely vivid, as if they could leap out the next moment and choose someone to devour.
She gave Lin Yan a cautious look. Lin Yan nodded at her, and the schoolgirl walked over with a pale expression.
The moment he saw the wine bottle, Xiao Lan’s heart leapt. This thing looked nowhere near the range of a low-priced product, let alone something that, going by Zhang Dong’s ‘I hate people who waste money’, might either refer to a general sense of not wasting money, or something that wasn’t a waste of money in Zhang Dong’s eyes.
If it was the former, this girl was screwed. Even if it was the latter, under what circumstances would a stingy and poor middle-aged uncle find it reasonable to buy top quality wine? Lin Yan was using this girl’s life to test the terms for selection!
“Hahahaha…” Hoarse laughter rang out.
Under the long-haired girl’s nervous gaze, Zhang Dong started capering joyfully once more, an excited and malevolent smile on his face. “A bad child who wastes money!”
He raised a strong hand.
An invisible hand seemed to grab the schoolgirl by the ankle, and she was yanked directly to the floor. She was dragged all the way forward and couldn’t break away no matter how hard she struggled. Her fingernails screeched over the floor futilely, and she was completely unable to slow down.
The schoolgirl’s entire body was crammed into the narrow gap under the freezer, and the crunching sound of breaking bones rang out nonstop.
After a while, everything was as serene as ever, and that gap was peaceful and still there.
The players stared at the gap in absolute silence. The price for choosing wrongly was too heavy. At that moment, no one could relax. The remaining two schoolgirls huddled together and let out muffled sobs.
Xiao Lan glanced lightly at Lin Yan and saw that there was no sorrow on his face; instead, there was a faint smile on his lips, as if he was pondering something. His eyes behind his glasses were dark and indecipherable.
At some point, Zhang Dong and the female shop assistant had disappeared, only leaving behind a restarted countdown — 00:59:59.