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Chapter 2

The world.

At this moment, all humans stopped and looked at the black tower closest to them.

They had never felt that the black tower was so huge. No matter how far away they were from the tower, they could clearly see a blue dot of light that appeared on it. The blue dots flashed and formed a string of characters, like an old computer crashing. Then a row of blue words appeared in the centre of the black tower—

“Ding dong! In three days, all players are asked to eliminate any player. This is including, but not limited to games.”

The clear child’s voice was heard at the same time.

Tang Mo stood on a balcony and stared without blinking at the black tower. The cold autumn wind blew against his cheeks and a large drop of sweat slid down his forehead. He fixed his gaze on the black tower, but the black tower had returned to its calm state. The blue words and child’s voice disappeared.

Half an hour later, Tang Mo arrived at the entrance of the library. Countless people were crowded near the black tower, even managing to block the road to the library.

The noisy crowd blocked the city center. Tang Mo watched for a moment before walking into the library.

10 minutes later, Director Wang came to the help desk and ordered, “There is no need to work today. Go home and wait for a notice.”

Xiao Zhao excitedly looked up and couldn’t help asking, “Director, is it related to the black tower? The black tower made a noise this morning. You must’ve heard it. What is going on? Where did this thing come from? Is it really the end of the world?”

Director Wang immediately made a cold expression. “What end of the world nonsense? As a young person, don’t talk nonsense all day and look at your mess.”

Xiao Zhao was the youngest worker in the library, a girl born in 1996. There was a hint of fear in her round eyes, but there was more surprise and curiosity. After Director Wang left, she said, “Tang Mo, you heard it. The black tower spoke. What does it mean by online and eliminated?”

Tang Mo was packing up his things to go home. He felt annoyed and spoke in a short manner, “I didn’t pay attention.”

“Do you think this is the end of the world? I don’t think it is the end of the world where there are zombies. The black tower told us to eliminate players. Wouldn’t that turn us into zombies? This must by a conspiracy of the country...ah, that isn’t right. The Internet said that all the black towers in the world spoke. Which country would be able to do that? I don’t think the United States would do it.”

Tang Mo wasn’t in the mood to discuss such things. He didn’t know why, but after he heard the black tower and say the words that appeared, his heart started to race quickly.

A normal adult heartbeat was between 60 to 100. Tang Mo had been counting his heartbeat while Xiao Zhao was talking.

He now had a heartbeat of 130 per minute.

He didn’t feel any discomfort. He just felt panicked, as if something was wrong.

Tang Mo looked to the left and right. The borrowing desk was in the middle of the room and the bookshelves were all around them. The left contained the humanities book while the right contained the historical books. He didn’t know what he was looking for. From his line of sight, the sun shone through the window and small pieces of dust floated in the air.

“Tang Mo!” The loud female voice woke Tang Mo up. Xiao Zhao’s voice contained some dissatisfaction. “I just spoke to you several times. What happened? What are you thinking about that you won’t talk?”

Tang Mo wiped his face with his hand and found that his palms were wet with sweat. He turned to look at his colleague. “...It doesn’t matter.”

His heart was beating faster.

Xiao Zhao picked up her bag. “I want to see the black tower. Would you like to come with me? As I was entering the library, I saw that a lot of people were there. Should we drop by there together?”

Tang Mo quickly shook his head. “I’m going home.”

Xiao Zhao didn’t seem happy as she waved and left the library first.

But Xiao Zhao failed to visit the black tower. Tang Mo saw a group of police officers escorting the crowd around the black tower as he left the library. They surrounded the black tower with white plastic. The white plastic wall started from the library doorway and blocked the black tower tightly, not letting people in.

Many people were standing outside the wall and using their phones to take photos of the black tower.

Tang Mo took a photo and grabbed a taxi to go home.

On the Internet, the black tower incident had become the world’s hottest headline.

Tang Mo laid in bed and checked his friends circle. Students studying in Japan and the United States sent photographs of the black tower, with the text in Japanese and English instead of Chinese.

Tang Mo didn’t speak, but the students studying in the United States replied to several people in the friends circle.

【 Yes, it was in English, not Chinese! I was scared to death. My school stopped classes and many people are marching in front of the White House, asking the government to give a statement. 】

【 Right now, it is too hard to buy a ticket at the airport. I can’t buy a ticket back home. My roommate is rich and will return home in the afternoon. 】

【 When it spoke, it was evening here. There was also a nursery rhyme. My friend has a video and I uploaded it. 】

Tang Mo opened the video that this person posted. A familiar black tower was suspended over the Lincoln Memorial. It flashed with a colourful light and was particularly eye-catching. The song wasn’t ‘Jingle Bells’ but was clearly a nursery rhyme. After the song finished, the same high and clear child’s voice was spoken in English.

『 Ding dong. November 15th, 2017. The earth is online. 』

What the hell was this?

Tang Mo anxiously dropped his phone onto his bed.

The authorities hadn’t disclosed information about the black tower. However, there were too many of these towers and it couldn’t be hidden. People had already sent out information on the Internet. On average, every 10,000 square kilometres of land would have a black tower.

There were even countless black towers on the ocean.

Tang Mo stood up and walked around the room irritably. His heart wasn’t calm, beating so quickly that it was like his heart was jumping out of his chest. Tang Mo was on his 160th time around his room when he suddenly stopped.

...This wasn’t like him!

Why was he upset all of a sudden?

Tang Mo walked to the bathroom and placed his head under the faucet. Rather than worrying about a cold, he directly turned on the cold water and let it pour over his head. He felt calmer and returned to his room, pouring a glass of cold water. Then he turned on the computer and opened the bridge software.

He needed to be calm.

This sudden sense of anxiety wasn’t under his control.

Maybe it was because his heartbeat was so fast that it affected his judgment? Just now, it should’ve reached 150 times per minute.

Tang Mo looked indifferently at the computer screen. There were too few people who wanted to play games at this time, probably due to the big event. He waited for 10 minutes before entering a room and opening a handful of cards. The game progressed and his brain turned quickly. Tang Mo’s heart gradually calmly down, just beating as fast.

He played from day to night, until he was too sleep and fell asleep in his bed.

The next day, that irresistible sense of anxiety came again. Tang Mo reopened the bridge software and continued to play cards. He played all day like this and his condition became the worst. His eyes were bloodshot and his brain was too tired. He could sleep just by closing his eyes.

Then there was the sound of the QQ prompt.

【 Victor: Have you been playing all day? 】

Tang Mo rubbed his eyes and replied, 【 Yes, I was feeling a bit uncomfortable. 】

【 Victor: It must be uncomfortable to play for so long. Rest early. 】

【 Grinding Sugar: Yes. 】

【 Victor: Stay away from the black tower. 】

Tang Mo had already fallen asleep at the computer table.

He woke up the next morning and saw Victor’s message. He hurried to reply, but Victor had already gone offline. Tang Mo stretched and felt much better. His heartbeat was still fast but the strands of anxiety had disappeared without a trace.

The black tower event was still being discussed online.

The government didn’t give any specific explanations but strongly suppressed public opinion. Many netizens could only discuss information relevant to the black tower in private. The discussions were also useless, as sensitive vocabulary couldn’t be sent in succession.

Tang Mo opened a few posts that speculated about the black tower. Most people thought that they black tower was the result of some research. A small number of people thought it was the end of the world. However, their tone was joking so their posts weren’t deleted. These people were just casually posting nonsense.

In the afternoon, Director Wang made an announcement in the library group chat.

【 Director Wang: Emergency notice! The day after tomorrow, the library will be requisitioned as a temporary research centre. Please take away any personal belongings today or tomorrow. I’ll say it once again. The day after tomorrow, the library will be requisitioned... 】

The group blew up.

Several old employees asked why the library was being requisitioned and where they would work. There were a few young employees who joked: 【 The world is ending. What job? 】

Tang Mo looked up at the black tower in the distance. Then he picked up his bag and took the bus to the library.

He had to admit that China was doing a good job with social stability. Apart from the people who were too close to the black tower and had to go home, the other public facilities were running as smoothly as usual.

But once he got on the bus, Tang Mo saw that there was an ashtray in front of the driver who was smoking.

A middle-aged woman complained, “Mister, how can you smoke while driving?”

“It is annoying. I don’t want to drive if I can’t smoke. Or do you want to drive?”

“Hey, how can you speak like this? Isn’t smoking on the bus against the bus company’s regulations? Do you think that people won’t say anything if you are smoking?”

The driver and the woman kept arguing and the two female university students sitting near Tang Mo rushed to intervene. Finally, they were persuaded and the two girls sat back in their seats. One of them said, “Today is the third day?”

“Ah, it is as you said. It really is the third day.”

The girls spoke while playing with their phones. “What does it mean by eliminating players isn’t limited to game mode? It has been three days and nothing happened. What is a game? Is it talking about a game of rock paper scissors?”

“Hehe, do you want to try it?”

“Rock paper scissors!”

“Ah, I lost. Then am I eliminated by you?”

The two girls looked at each other and laughed.

The people on the bus continued their daily lives without caring much about the black tower incident. Once Tang Mo arrived at the library, he saw thousands of people holding signs and confronting the armed police. They were people who were very concerned about the black tower incident and who really thought the black towers would bring about the end of the world.

Tang Mo detoured around the library to the back door. It seemed that only he was anxious to come and pick up his things. There was no other person in the empty library. The shouts of the crowd outside the door echoed in the library. Tang Mo found his cabinet and took out several books.

He was about to leave when he heard a dull voice from the southeast corner.

Tang Mo stopped moving and looked there. A moment later, he took out a black explosion-proof stick from the security cabinet and tiptoed gingerly towards the corner.

“Who’s there?”

There was no answer.

He could vaguely hear the sound of someone around the corner. The other person was putting a book back on the shelf and pulled out another book.

Tang Mo walked around the corner and shouted, “Who’s there?”

An ordinary young man with messy hair looked at Tang Mo in a panicked manner while holding a book in his hand.

Tang Mo relaxed his grip on the explosion-proof stick and looked surprised. “Huckster...I mean, Mr. Chen? What are you doing here?”

The huckster looked stiffly at Tang Mo before giving a hollow laugh and placing the book back on the shelf.

Tang Mo frowned. “How did you get in?”

“There is a window in the east that isn’t closed... I just came in to see...”

Tang Mo recalled that there was a window on the east side of the library. But the window was attached to the ground and connected to the basement. It was mainly for ventilation. How did this huckster get in? Did he really climb through the window?

Tang Mo reprimanded him “Mr. Chen, this is very difficult behaviour. It is considered as stealing.”

“I’m not stealing anything!” The huckster hastily denied it.

Tang Mo looked him up and down, holding the explosion-proof stick tightly in his hand. He walked to the bookshelf in front of the huckster and looked carefully.

There were indeed no fewer books than there was when he left three days ago.

“Then what do you want by entering...”

“Ding dong! The game ‘Who stole my book?’ has been triggered. At 17:52 on November 17, 2017, players Tang Mo and Chen Fangzhi have safely entered the game. The players have entered the sandbox, the game map is completed, the data is loaded...”

In an instant, all the noisy chanting from outside the library disappeared.

In the empty library, a clear child’s voice was heard in thin air, singing an unknown nursery rhyme.

“La la la, la la La.

The stick moves gently,

Two players entered the house.

Don’t speak for three days and three nights,

The angel and demon wants it.

Hehe...who stole my book?”

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