The martyr

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“The next day, I was told that Dad was going on a business trip.

Buying that is much easier than dealing with the fear for a little girl.”

Girl holding a skull example

Stepping out of the exam room and knowing that there was only one test left, Daisy sighed with relief.

“Hey, Gabby. You finish all the finals, right? I still have the last one. You can pack first while waiting for me, and we’ll go when I finish.”

“I’m going to a demonstration in the afternoon. You may have to wait for a while.”

“Demonstration? Come on. You’ve got something else with points.

“It’s not pointless. It’s essential for a government not to conceal the truth.”

“But what’s the point of yelling at the air? Just irritating people, making messes.

“If we don’t sacrifice a little convenience for now, we’ll lose the entire peaceful life in the future.”

“Listen, this world has its rules. We’re playing in this game, we’ve got to follow the rules. No one is 100% satisfied with their lives. You keep the rules, and you get the award, which is a peaceful life. Why don’t you play fair and play hard, instead of always trying to take a shortcut?”

“We are working hard, just in a different way.”

Sigh, “anyway, please be safe. See you in the afternoon.”

“Alright… I will come back earlier. Thank you.”


Wearing the headphones, Daisy put some books into the cardboard box.

“I’m back!”

The rustle of beats flowed out when Daisy took off the headphones and turned to Gabriela.

“Let’s pack the luggage quickly so that we can leave earlier and won’t drive until late night.”

Gabriela handed her a pile of papers, “see what I found in workroom 302.”

“What’s this?” They were a pile of copies of some aged files, titled “Fire & Blood.”

“The truth.”

Daisy sighed soundlessly, sliding the papers into the box, “good. Hey, don’t forget to pack while you’re talking.”

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They hopped in the red Polo and hit the road, driving it into the orange dusk.

Gabriela kicked off her shoes and crossed the legs. The evening breeze ruffled her raven hair.

“In the papers I gave you, it’s said…”

“Argh… Gabby, can we talk about other topics? My brain is so drained out.”

“You can’t cover you eyes and pretend you can’t see, and block you ears and pretend you can’t hear.”

“Gabby, you’ve got to protect yourself. Sometimes you must run away from it. Don’t be a martyr. They can blacklist you, and give you big trouble for landing a job and surviving in the society. You know, others want to protect themselves.”

Gabriela sank her eyelashes, looking at her knees, “I know you worry about me. Just kind of frustrated if we don’t fight.”

“Sorry. Got a messy brain after all the tests.”

The setting sun showered the two profiles while the wind whistling. The humming engine took the travelers home.


From orange to crimson, the landscape then turned from indigo to dark navy. The little red spot emerged from a distance and drove close to park in the lot. Gabriela jumped out of the car and rush toward the restroom. Daisy after her.

Slamming the doors shut, each of them released the tense frown.

“What we’re going to have for dinner, Gabby?”

“Like we have choices.”

Stepping in the MacDonald, they both took a paper bag. Two Big Mac takeaways. That’s virtually the only meal they’d order, and this is virtually the only situation they’d go to a MacDonald.

Gabriela behind the wheel, didn’t want to waste a minute, so it was Daisy’s job to keep her mouth full.

After sticking in the last strip of fries, and tuning in every single channel, Daisy found the time riding shotgun is way longer. The light poles flew by over and over, and the shadows shifted on Gabriela’s face again and again when she kept a look straight ahead. Daisy crouched on the seat, stretched her arm to search the back seats. After withdrawing her upper body back in the seat, she aimlessly turned the pages drawn from the box.

Gabriela switched on the reading light for her, gave her a glimpse. Her eyes flew through the papers, page after page. The papers flowed back and forth between her fingers.

She looked out the window at the vast ink dark, blanketing her laps with the papers, no words.

“Gabby, are you free tomorrow?”

Looking at her reflection on the glass, “well, yes. Why?”

“Let’s go exploring the forest, like we used to do as kids.”

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Shoveling into soil under the woods. The sounds in a rhythm.

“What? No, I’m not dirtying my hands.” Gabriela looked at her confusedly.

“You said you want to look up information, didn’t you?” Daisy didn’t even turn a little bit, “about the papers you found.”

“Well, I do need more information about the incident 515. I thought you were talking about the lost treasure we used to find.”

“Of course you did. Anyway, you want to help or not?” Her soft bangs had stuck to the reddish sweaty face.

“Oh, sure. There must be a lot books hidden underground.”

“Don’t you know I have a secret library here?”

“Yeah, better keep the secret. ‘Cause Daisy doesn’t even tell her best friend why she’s digging.”

“I’ll tell you while we’re getting things done.” Daisy looked at her sincerely.

Knowing there was nothing hidden behind that eyes, she picked up the shovel.

Behind dense trunks, two young women laboring their bodies awkwardly, yet still diligently.


“When I was really little, one night, I couldn’t fall asleep. When I noticed the lights were still on, I got off and wanted to find my parents.”

“Wait, ‘parents’. So that’s a memory with your dad?”

“Right, but not as much. When I was about to open the door, I heard people walking through. I peeked out and saw him well-dressed, followed by two men in black suits, heading outside. They talked, but I couldn’t catch a word. I couldn’t even see their faces. Only deep, serious voices.”

“Don’t tell me the two in suits were…” Gabriela whispered, although there was no one else there.

“Yes they were, I think, secret polices.” The air flow seemed slower, “I wasn’t seen by anyone. I went back to bed after, being afraid. The next day, I was told that Dad was going on a business trip. Buying that is much easier than dealing with the fear for a little girl. Maybe that’s why I didn’t remember that night anymore, and believed my dad died from an accident on his trip.”

“Or your memories are actually your dreams?”

“I lost the memories for near two decades, until I read those old papers. I don’t think dreams can be recalled after such a long time.”

“Or that’s a new dream. You might just be a little girl in that dream, so you think that’s the memories from the distant past.”

“Well, those memories ‘smell’ old. They can’t be new.”

Gasp. “Bones, a body!” Gabriela couldn’t help yelling.

“Really?” She got closer right away, “here must be more.”

“What do you mean?”

“Keep digging.”

“You’re not talking about the massacre after 515, do you?”

“I do.”

“This really creeps me out. I’m getting out of this place.”

“You lose your nerve? I thought you don’t believe in ghost.”

“I don’t believe in ghost.”

“So why bother?”

“Well, Daisy, do you know what you’re doing? This will cause big trouble for you.”

“Not as bad as being two buried skeletons. Or is it?”

“What? Hey, it’s you said don’t be a martyr.”

Daisy froze, like electric flowing through her.



“What? Must not a gold nugget.”

“Pretty much.” She took off a ring from a white bone hand, then handed over.

After taking a close look at the crest of it, Gabriela tensed up, “is this… that man?” She whispered again.

That man?”

“The leader of the riot in the incident 515, being described as a rebel in history classes.” She raised her voice, “this is really precious, literally invaluable.”

Wordlessly, Daisy took off her necklace. The identical crest of the pendant made Gabriela’s jaw drop. Looking at the necklace, looking at the ring, and looking at her friend, who was holding up the skull slowly, she gradually restarted her overloaded brain.

“You are…”

That girl.”

Girl holding a skull oil painting

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