"Pretty!" The little girl exclaimed, with excitement and delight.
Qin Zheng's beautiful face flashed with a radiant smile. "Luo'er, do you like this place?"
"Like it! Like it!" Two years old Luo'er was entranced by the golden sun which illuminated the sky above. The flaring fireball brought tears to her frail eyes. She was so captivated by the light that she refused to look away; she didn't want to let go of the light.
"Daddy's little treasure loves nature, doesn't she?" said Han Ying Wei, the husband of Qin Zheng. Han Ying Wei was the CEO of the prestigious Han Corporation, and because of his busy schedule, he can only take his wife and daughter for an outing once a month. On this very occasion, the family was returning home from camping, driving through the hilly countryside. This place is one of their most favorite spots. They come here at least twice a year.
The sun had soon begun to set, and the golden gleam of the sun was diminishing. As their car turned right, moving towards the east, little Han Luo had lost her friend of fire. "Ahh…" Han Luo felt disappointment grow on her. "The fireball is gone!" she mumbled while pouting.
"You will see your fireball soon." Qin Zheng rubbed her daughter's head affectionately, smiling at how enthusiastic her little girl had become in only two years. Qin Zheng was sitting in the passenger's seat, right beside her husband, realizing that the scenery that she was admiring had become difficult to see. The night was overtaking the day. "Honey, slow down a little," she whispered. "It's dangerous."
Hang Ying Wei let out a small chuckle. "As you wish, my queen," he replied playfully. He glanced at his wife. "Maybe if my gorgeous queen gives me a kiss, I will agree to slow down."
"Oh, you – not in front of our daughter!" Qin Zheng laughed, with a crescent-shaped smile.
Han Ying Wei also didn't want to teach his little treasure some weird kinds of stuff. He agreed, "A kiss on the cheek will do then."
"All right, my dear husband." Qin Zheng planted a small kiss on her husband's left cheek, as Han Luo stared in awe.
"Kiss! Kiss! Mommy, kiss me too!" Han Luo reached out and touched her mother's face.
Qin Zheng kissed her daughter's forehead, causing little Han Luo's to light up.
Han Ying Wei smiled tenderly at the sight of the mother-daughter bonding, thanking the heavens for giving him a loving family. He knew that he was their protector, so he instinctively fixated his eyes on the road again. Han Ying Wei drove under the moon's refuge, guided by the ailing source of light.
He followed the trajectory of the light until he saw it – a man. A man lying on the road, his skin pale and his body puny. His arms draped on the roughness of the concrete. His figure fulgent under the fragile light.
Han Ying Wei's smile had faded, as his face drained of color. Out of overwhelming fear, he steered the car to the opposite direction of the man, in an attempt to shield his wife and daughter from the danger. The wheels of the cars screeched piercingly, like the sharp shrieking of a fox.
Han Ying Wei didn't turn around to look at his family, knowing that what he does now will determine their fate. He could feel their distressed eyes staring at him, but he couldn't bring himself to look or even ask if they are all right. His heartbeat was audible and off-beat. He failed to steady it.
Han Ying Wei looked at the rearview mirror and monitored the unmoving man. He wanted to check whether that man was dead or alive.
His voice had begun to break. "Zheng, should I-"
"No, keep driving." Qin Zheng commanded – half-serious, half-anxious – as she hugged her daughter securely. The color of her face had also faded, but her eyes remained shrewd. "I think I saw some injuries on the man's body. There was no sign of a car-related injury." Though she saw that man for a moment, she saw him properly.
Han Ying Wei regained his composure. "Someone must've left him there. Maybe a gang? He could've got into a fight!"
Qin Zheng firmly replied, "Yes, however, why would they leave the poor man on this road? They could've just thrown him off the cliff if they wanted him dead and gone. It's like they wanted to scare people on purpose!" She was a police detective and solved the most unsolvable cases; her deduction skill was always correct.
"I understand." Han Ying Wei's grip around the steering wheel tightened, knowing that his wife and daughter's lives were on the line. He wasn't going to let any risk get in his way.
Han Luo had grown quiet, as she sensed something was wrong. The only sound left was the vicious growl of the speeding car. This time, Han Ying Wei was careful when he took turns. He started to relax his body after the fourth turn. Another ten turns and they would reach the main road. A short burst of hope inflamed inside of him, and his blood burned with determination.
Fifth turn. Five more to go. Sixth turn. Four more to go.
Seventh turn – an inordinate truck collided with them. It was an unfair match, like a battle between a lion and a mouse. The car was drawn into an abyss of darkness, as Han Ying Wei's partly closed eyes could only make out the driver's sadistic smirk.
The gray-colored car was thrown off the cliff, and it stumbled down the steep gradient of the hill. It had come to an abrupt halt when it crashed into a boulder. The impact caused substantial damage, particularly to the front half of the vehicle.
Everything happened in the blink of an eye. Little Han Luo could see nothing but only feel her in the arms of her mother. She cried and wept like she never had before, and her watered eyes drenched her face.
Time was crawling. Han Ying Wei gained consciousness upon hearing the painful cry of his little treasure. His only little treasure. Though he did not scream, his body wailed in agony. Han Ying Wei's eyes opened slowly yet his vision was blurred by the blood dripping down his face. His discomfort wasn't through the pain but through the thought of what happened to his family.
He turned around to check on his wife and daughter. Qin Zheng's body was submerged in blood, as though a red pall was pulled over her. Shattered glass pieces injected her skin. She had no sign of consciousness, yet she was still shielding her daughter. Han Luo wasn't injured – she could only feel the unsettling warmth of her mother's blood.
"Z-Zheng…" Han Ying Wei's voice was hoarse and shallow, his tears mixing with his blood. His hand blindly searched for his wife and touched Qin Zheng's shoulder. She didn't react.
Han Ying Wei's cell phone was connected to his car, allowing him to tap some buttons with his shaky hands. The screen too was being wrapped with crimson liquid. However, the small candle of hope inside his heart wasn't completely extinguished.
"Hello?" a man picked up casually. "Uh, Xiao Wei? Have you come back?"
"B-big brother…" Han Ying Wei coughed out, as his breathing weakened.
Hearing his unusual voice, his older brother Han Changhong asked worriedly, "Xiao Wei, is everything all right? You don't sound too well? What happened? And why is Luo'er crying?"
"Sa…ve… my… fa…mi…ly…" Han Ying Wei lost the power to speak. The agonizing pain was so unbearable that he had lost consciousness.
From the car's glitched speaker, Han Changhong spoke. "Xiao Wei? Xiao Wei! Talk to me dammit!"
The light of hope could no longer be rekindled.