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Death Progress Bar (Web Novel) - Chapter 25: Pinching

Chapter 25: Pinching

This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog

Edited by Bet from Betwixted Translations

Shi Jin just managed to “faint” when the driver asked, “Did he fall asleep?” The young man was not sure whether Shi Jin had lost consciousness and paid attention to his wording.

Pockmarked Yuan reached out and painfully pinched Shi Jin’s buttocks. When the boy didn’t flinch, he said with satisfaction, “He’s out. After drinking half of the bottle, the kid will be dead to the world until evening.”

Shi Jin silently cursed Pockmarked Yuan and his ancestors to the eighteen generation—this scumbag trafficker pinched him too hard! If not for Xiao Si’s help, Shi Jin would’ve jerked in pain. And why did it have to be his ass?! His ass did nothing wrong!

The young man saw Pockmarked Yuan’s lecherous actions through the rearview mirror and his lips twisted into a contemptuous smile. He asked, “What are you going to do with him? This time, Brother Wolf took the risk to return to China because of that special business. You’d better not fuck things up because you can’t keep it in your pants.”

“I know.” Pockmarked Yuan’s tone was lukewarm; apparently, he did not care for “Brother Wolf” much. He touched Shi Jin’s body up and down, saying, “The customer won’t contact us for a few days yet. I’ll have fun while I wait, then I’ll sell the kid somewhere.”

The young driver snorted but did not reply.

Shi Jin kept cursing Pockmarked Yuan, but his face remained calm. He let the man feel him all over like a piece of meat at the butcher’s.

Pockmarked Yuan soon found everything Shi Jin had on him, including used bus and train tickets, an old purse with small change, and a few candies. There was also a childish chicken drumstick pendant and his identification, hidden in his coat’s inner pocket.

Pockmarked Yuan threw everything aside except for the documents. He examined the ID card and even pulled off Shi Jin’s cap to compare his face to the photo. After confirming it was really him, he returned the documents to Shi Jin’s inner pocket.

Then he searched Shi Jin’s luggage. Upon seeing a jar of pickled vegetables, his lips curled and he put it to the side. When he got to the bottom, he found Shi Jin’s underclothes, which were wrapped separately, and took them out to rummage through. He noticed a pair that looked used, sniffed it, rubbed it, and shamelessly stuffed it into his own pocket.

Xiao Si was narrating to Shi Jin what was happening. It kept in mind Shi Jin’s order to “not skip a single detail,” and diligently described Pockmarked Yuan’s actions blow-by-blow.

Shi Jin: “…”

Later, he must ask Xiang Aoting where he got the used underwear.

Thanks to this account and the earlier intelligence, Shi Jin more or less figured Pockmarked Yuan out—while impotent, the man liked torture and sexual abuse. And he was fond of collecting underwear.

He’s a bona fide pervert!

After deducing this, Shi Jin continued to hurl insults at Pockmarked Yuan.

During the drive, Pockmarked Yuan and the young man spoke from time to time and made several phone calls. Shi Jin collected useful information from the fragmented dialogue—Pockmarked Yuan was the last to arrive, others were already present in T City, where they were heading now. Werewolf obtained several new clients recently, and Pockmarked Yuan was responsible for one.

One of Pockmarked Yuan’s complaints caught Shi Jin’s attention.

“Fuck! If that list of kidnappings we planned abroad hadn’t been leaked a few months ago, we wouldn’t have risked coming home for such a pitiful amount of money. Annihilation’s methods are getting more and more ruthless. The registered underworld organizations are fine, but we are illegal; if this continues, we’re done for.”

The young man’s voice and expression were grave, and, for once, he did not contradict Pockmarked Yuan. “Let’s hope we can finish all our current deals; the government people said they will help our organization register when we do. That should give us breathing room.”

“The times have changed.” Pockmarked Yuan lit a cigarette. As he mulled things over, the expression in his eyes became fierce. He reached out and pinched Shi Jin’s butt again, then said, “If we can’t get legal, we won’t be able to survive. Those hypocritical officials better not break their word or we will drag them with us when we go down!”

Shi Jin was running out of insults—why was it his ass, it hurt! Couldn’t he pinch some other place?!

The journey ended when it was getting dark. Pockmarked Yuan shook Shi Jin vigorously.

Shi Jin, pretending to wake up, opened his eyes and tried to sit up, but his body seemed weak and out of his control. He swayed and fell limply towards Pockmarked Yuan, knocking him down, then pressed his forehead, blinking foolishly. “Weird, everythin’ spinnin’…”

“Ouch! Damn it, get up!” Pockmarked Yuan slammed his head into the car door when Shi Jin collapsed on him. No longer pretending to be a good person, he angrily pushed him off and snarled, “Don’t make trouble or I’ll kill you!”

Shi Jin acted as if he was still groggy from the drug. He stretched out a hand to support himself and grabbed his luggage with the other, asking muzzily, “Where, where’s dis ahere? Muh Uncle Wang fetched me yet?”

The young man knitted his eyebrows. “Brother Liu, what did you give him? It didn’t make him an idiot, did it?”

“It was the same drug as always, how could it make someone stupid? I guess his resistance is poor and he’s still dizzy.” Pockmarked Yuan no longer felt angry. Instead, he decided to play with Shi Jin when he saw him acting silly. He stretched a hand to help him up and lied, “You fell asleep in the car and didn’t wake up when your Uncle Wang came. He said there wasn’t a job for you in his factory anymore, but I’ve been looking for a worker, so I brought you to my place. Don’t worry, if you work for me I’ll make sure you earn a lot of money.”

Shi Jin, who seemed to be a little more awake, believed these words and asked eagerly, “Is dat true? Can Ah git 3000, no, 2000 fer munth?”

Pockmarked Yuan mocked this hillbilly inwardly, but he put a kind expression on his face and promised, “As long as you work hard, don’t say 3000, you could even get 30 000!”

“Fer, fer real?” Shi Jin was so excited he grabbed Pockmarked Yuan’s hand, saying delightedly, “Brother Liu, yer a good fella! Ahm agonna t’pray in da temple fer ya!”

The corner of Pockmarked Yuan’s mouth twitched. He smiled, stroking Shi Jin’s hand holding his. “Xiao Yuan is so affectionate… Come on, let’s get off the car first. Remember to keep quiet for a while, my boss and friends don’t like noisy children.”

Shi Jin immediately nodded to show he understood. He turned to get his luggage and exclaimed, “How comes mah bag is open? Gosh, mine pickles!”

“It opened when the car drove over the bump,” Pockmarked Yuan explained, motioning Shi Jin out. He sent the young driver a meaningful glance and opened the car door.

While they weren’t paying attention to him, Shi Jin picked up the jar of pickles and some of the scattered odds and ends, crushing a particular candy with his fingers. Then he took his bag and timidly followed Pockmarked Yuan.

The car was parked on a cement village road. All the farmhouses nearby looked time-worn and abandoned, the only place where the light could be seen was an old three-story house in front. Shi Jin surveyed the surroundings, pretending to be doubtful and a little scared. He whispered, “Brother Liu, can Ah ‘onest make money ahere? Dis ahere looks like muh home…”

“Of course,” confirmed Pockmarked Yuan. He then scared him: “If you don’t believe me, go ahead and leave, nobody will stop you. Though I have to warn you there are human traffickers in these parts, be careful not to get caught!” He quickened his steps as he talked, as if trying to leave Shi Jin behind.

Shi Jin whipped his head around in horror, observing the surrounding darkness nervously. He picked up the pace to catch up with Pockmarked Yuan and explained anxiously, “Brother Liu, don’t git angry, Ah, Ah jus be askin’…”

Pockmarked Yuan snorted and did not speak.

The young man walking beside him looked at Shi Jin like he would on a fool, smiling ambiguously.

They headed straight for the house and Shi Jin dogged their heels.

Pockmarked Yuan and the young man didn’t enter the house after they approached it, instead, they imitated a particular bird call three times and waited. Only after the lights on the third floor turned off did they go in.

Shi Jin memorized these details as they stepped into the house.

The interior was crude and straightforward. The central room was empty except for an old-fashioned square table and a few chairs. There were two people sitting inside—a cruel-looking, fat man with a large head and big ears, and a broad-shouldered man of average height. Both wore ordinary cotton-padded jackets and warmed themselves over a heater at their feet while they chatted.

“Hello, Brother Fatty, Brother Chen,” greeted the young man. “Is there anything to eat? I’m starving to death after driving the whole day.”

Brother Fatty pointed towards the kitchen. When he noticed Pockmarked Yuan and Shi Jin hiding behind him, his expression turned uneasy. “Old Liu, what are you doing?”

“This little fellow and I are going to earn a lot of money. Xiao Yuan is very obedient, so don’t frighten him.” Pockmarked Yuan’s voice was indifferent as if he was not afraid of this “Brother Fatty’s” anger at all. He patted Shi Jin’s shoulder and said, “Come on, say hello to Brother Fatty and Brother Chen.”

Shi Jin pretended to be almost frightened to death. He took a step forward, trembling like a leaf, greeted the two men with a nearly inaudible voice, then hastily ducked behind Pockmarked Yuan and clung to him.

The beauty’s reliance on him pleased Pockmarked Yuan and he smiled with satisfaction.

Brother Fatty and Brother Chen gazes were filled with disdain, impatience, and discernible anger toward Pockmarked Yuan, but they endured it and calmed down instead. One of them waved a hand toward the stairs and said, “You brought him, you take care of him. Brother Wolf is already asleep so we will talk about this tomorrow. Your room is on the second floor, go rest.”

Pockmarked Yuan led Shi Jin upstairs to find his room. He pushed Shi Jin in and said, “I’ll get some food, stay here for now.” He slammed the door shut and locked it from outside.

Shi Jin was finally left alone. First, he inspected the shabby room but found nothing suspicious, so he took out the candy he had crushed earlier and checked the tracking device inside. After confirming it was fine, he removed the pickle jar from his bag, opened a secret compartment in the lid, and pulled out an ultra-thin miniature phone disguised as a wood chip. He turned it on and made a call.

Xiang Aoting was worried sick. He picked up the call almost before his phone rang.

“It’s me.” Shi Jin lowered his voice. He asked Xiao Si to pay attention to the movement outside the door, then divulged, “I’m in a house in a village on the outskirts of T City. The house has three floors and is covered with white tiles, and we had to imitate a bird call three times to enter. Until now, I’ve seen two people, ‘Brother Fatty’ and ‘Brother Chen,’ someone called ‘Brother Wolf’ also seems to be here but I don’t know in which room. I share a room with Pockmarked Yuan, it’s the third one on the left on the second floor. Pockmarked Yuan does not seem to have a good relationship with the others. All of them seem to work by themselves and are reluctant to cooperate. They have more than one customer this time.”

Xiang Aoting wrote down the information and asked, {How are you?}

“I’m fine. I was drugged with who-knows-what, my ass was pinched two times, and my whole body was molested. Right now I’m locked in the room, and Pockmarked Yuan left to get something to eat. I think he’s planning to drug me again and do something.”

Xiang Aoting: {…}

He kneaded his forehead and began, {Then… you…} He stopped, not knowing how to continue.

“Don’t worry, Fourth Brother, I’ll keep my butt safe,” Shi Jin said confidently, trying to placate him. He whispered, “If the worst comes to the worst, I will also drug Pockmarked Yuan, then pinch his scrawny ass so he can see how it hurts.”

Xiang Aoting came back to himself and frowned. {Don’t mess around. I’m taking some people and coming to get you right away. If anything happens, press the alarm button, then protect yourself and try to stall for a time, do you understand?}

“Yes, I do. I’ll try to collect useful intelligence tonight,” Shi Jin replied. Xiao Si warned him someone was climbing the stairs, so he hung up and hid the phone. Then he sat on the edge of the bed and hugged his bag, pretending to look anxious. “Can the ‘It’s Yummy!’ buff be superimposed?” He asked Xiao Si.

Xiao Si: <It can. What are you planning to do, JinJin?>

“I will make that damn pervert stuff himself until he pops!” Shi Jin gnashed his teeth, calculating in his mind. “Superimpose the buff as many times as possible and I’ll find an opportunity to give him the medicine. This will make it convenient for me to act.”

Xiao Si responded in affirmation and worked like crazy.

Pockmarked Yuan came back with a bamboo basket with three dishes inside, two big bowls of rice and two bottles of water. He glanced around the room but found no traces of poking around. Satisfied with Shi Jin’s good behavior and docility, he smiled and put the basket on the table next to the bed. “Let’s eat dinner, you must be hungry after the whole day without food.”

Shi Jin displayed a touched expression on his face. “Brother Liu, yer be too kind. Ah jes agonna eat mah pancakes…”

“Forget the pancakes. If you follow me, I will make sure you can eat meat every day.” Pockmarked Yuan took out the dishes from the bamboo basket while cajoling Shi Jin.

Shi Jin let himself be cajoled.

The two men sat opposite each other and ate. Xiao Si informed its host that one of the two bottles of water was drugged but the food was safe.

Relieved, Shi Jin did not hesitate to eat at Pockmarked Yuan’s behest, remembering to sing the praises of dinner and “kind fella Brother Liu.” Then he slowed down his eating speed and waited.

The first minute, Pockmarked Yuan even he coaxed Shi Jin into drinking drugged water while he ate.

The second minute, he buried his face in the rice bowl and had no time to talk.

The fifth minute, he finished the rice, drunk half of his water, and ate more than half of the dishes from the bamboo basket.

The tenth minute, he put down his chopsticks and went to the kitchen to get more food.

Shi Jin used this opportunity to pour out half of his own water and exchange the bottles, then he fished out a candy and mixed some of the medicine inside into the water the other man would drink.

Five minutes later, Pockmarked Yuan came back and continued to eat, eat, and eat… When he felt the time was right, Shi Jin “lost consciousness” again. The trafficker glanced at him but ignored him and continued to eat, eat, and eat… When he had devoured everything, he patted his swollen stomach, walked over to Shi Jin and kicked him. A repulsive grin stretched across his face, and he bent down, reaching out his hands. Then he collapsed onto Shi Jin with a flop.

Shi Jin made a face when he felt a body pressing him down. He threw the man off and kicked him hard, not caring that he rolled off the bed and would sleep on the cold floor in winter. Sitting on the bed, he asked Xiao Si for a hearing-enhancing buff and waited for the night to get deeper, listening for any movements in the house.

The power of the buff was no joke and soon, Shi Jin heard what he was looking for.

Two voices sounded from a room on the third floor and stood out from the other jumble of noise, attracting his attention.

“The moment Pockmarked Yuan arrived, he abducted someone. The fucker should get his priorities straight, there are things more important than his dick!” A gruff male voice complained.

“He won’t be able to strut around for much longer,” another male responded, appeasing the previous speaker. “Boss has already convinced the Pockmarked Yuan’s backer to discard him, now we only need to help him kill the faggot and he will become our patron. When Werewolf becomes legal, we won’t need to worry about anything.”

“That’s true. Let Pockmarked Yuan happily eat, drink, and play with men because soon, he won’t be able to enjoy himself anymore,” the gruff voice agreed.

Then they talked about some trivial things and quietened down again.

The eavesdropped conversation surprised Shi Jin. He looked at the man sleeping on the ground like a dead pig and shook his head in amazement.

Unexpectedly, Werewolf had split into two factions. Returning to China for business was just a cover—the whole thing was a scheme the Werewolf’s boss and Pockmarked Yuan’s former backer came up with to get rid of him.

I do wonder what Pockmarked Yuan did to provoke both his Boss and his backer. They actually joined forces to kill him.

This information was beneficial. Shi Jin thought for a moment, deciding to alter his plan and stir up some trouble. He asked Xiao Si to notify him if anything happened, then laid on the bed and fell asleep.

He woke up early in the morning, fresh as a daisy, and eager to act out his little play. He moved Pockmarked Yuan to the bed, took off his coat, trousers, shoes, and socks, covered him with a quilt, then shook him like crazy.

Shaken awake, Pockmarked Yuan felt dizzy, bloated, and as if the food in his stomach could leave at any moment. He angrily slapped Shi Jin’s hand away to make him stop, but it was already too late—he threw up all over the bed.

Shi Jin jumped back, pinching his nose closed.

“What the fuck are you doing, you fucktard?! You wanna die?!” Pockmarked Yuan felt a little better after vomiting and he cursed Shi Jin furiously.

Shi Jin looked taken aback, and his face filled with fear. He said in a trembling voice, “Brother, Brother Liu, Ah, Ah didn’t mean t’ anger ya… Ah jus had ta piss an’ went outside, but couldna found da john an’ Ah got lost. Then Ah heard two fokes tawkin’, an’ they says some weird things, like ‘backer,’ ‘set up,’ ‘cannon fodder,’ dis, uh, ‘dis-pen-sa-ble,’ an’ they says yer name. An’, an’ they has guns… Brother Liu, what is dis place, Ahm skerred…”

Pockmarked Yuan listened to his words with irritation, wondering whether he made a mistake and this country bumpkin wasn’t as stupid as he acted, but when he realized what Shi Jin said, his expression changed. He got up from the bed and grabbed Shi Jin’s collar, snarling, “What else did you hear? Speak clearly!”

“No, nuthin’ else. Ah was skerred an’ came back.” Shi Jin pretended to cower and said, “Brother Liu, don’t skerr me, Ah’ll piss…”

Pockmarked Yuan pushed him away with disgust. For a while, he looked gloomy and conflicted, then his face brightened. He sat at the edge of the bed and beckoned Shi Jin over, saying in a warm voice, “I did not mean to scare you, I was just a little excited. Xiao Yuan, you have to tell me exactly what you heard. If you can, repeat it word for word.”

For quite a while, Shi Jin acted like a frightened teenager unable to say a complete sentence. As Pockmarked Yuan looked more and more impatient, he pretended to calm down and vividly repeated the conversation he overheard, describing the two voices in great detail.

As Shi Jin spoke, Pockmarked Yuan’s expression turned dark and the corner of his eye twitched. He got up and said through clenched teeth, “So this bastard wants to burn the bridge after crossing the river! Want to kill me? Dream on!”

Shi Jin switched back to his “frightened teenager” mode and shrank away, trembling with fear and not daring to speak.

As the silence dragged on, Pockmarked Yuan calmed down again. He observed Shi Jin for a moment with a strange expression in his eyes, then he smiled widely. “Xiao Yuan, you really are my lucky star… Don’t be scared, I will definitely let you earn a lot of money, but you have to listen to me.”

Shi Jin ducked his head and said, “Brother Liu, yer good t’ me, Ah, Ah agonna listen t’ ya.”

“Good.” Pockmarked Yuan nodded, then turned, pulled 30 000 yuan out of somewhere and put it in Shi Jin’s hand. His face was smiling, but his eyes were cold. “This is for you, it’s what your Brother Liu promised you. If you want to make more, you have to become my follower.”

Shi Jin accepted the bribe with an excited expression on his face. So was I promoted from a kidnapped teenager to a fellow trafficker? His identity kept changing like a flag in the wind—missions sure were fun.

Translator’s Notes:

Pockmarked “Yuan” [元, yuán] and Xiao “Yuan” [远, yuǎn] (Shi Jin’s fake pet name) are two different words and they are not pronounced the same way in Chinese.

3000 yuan – about 450 U.S. dollars; 30 000 yuan – about 4475 U.S. dollars.

“The central room” [堂屋] – the main room in a traditional Chinese house (typically used for performing sacrifices and receiving guests). Here’s the Baike entry for anyone interested.

“An old-fashioned square table” [八仙桌] – lit. Eight Immortals table. It can seat eight people and looks like this.

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