The residential area that Ying Chen lived in was called Ming Yuan. It was once a famously middle-class area in the old city. It was primarily occupied by the rich and successful. However, following the economic boom and the fast development of Jiujiang, the population moved away from the old city, and the place became more and more deserted. The once high-end apartments looked dilapidated and old. Gone were the security and the efforts to greenify and beautify the area. In fact, walking down the streets of the area, one would be assaulted by this strange smell.
"It was my parents who initially bought the house here. They were businessmen. If the accident did not happen, I might have ended up as the typical rich second generation you read about in web novels," Ying Chen joked, but Chen Ge noticed the well-hidden hint of bitterness under his jibe. There was more than an ounce of truth behind his joke. With Ying Chen leading the way, they came to the deepest part of the residential area.
"My house is on the seventh floor. Why don't you wait down here while I go up there and grab a change of clothes for you?" It was quite obvious that Ying Chen did not wish for Chen Ge to come to his home, and he came up with many excuses.
"It's fine. I do not want you to go upstairs and then have to come down for me again. I wouldn't dare impose on you so much." Chen Ge walked into the building without waiting for Ying Chen to reply. His nose twitched, and the faded stench seemed to get a little more intense. Looking around, Chen Ge noticed that the building came with an elevator, but it was an old-style elevator that had been used many years ago.
"Ming Yuan is the only residential area in the old city that came with an indoor elevator at the time. The place has seen its ups and downs. Currently, it is going through the down. Most who are capable of doing so have already moved away." Ying Chen pointed at the elevator. "Do not take that elevator no matter what. It is prone to accidents, and it occasionally makes this awful grinding sound. It's particularly scary at night."
With Ying Chen's surprising insistence, he and Chen Ge used the stairs and climbed all the way up to the seventh floor. The whole building gave Chen Ge a very bad vibe. It was old with horrible sanitary conditions. There was no sense of living, and it would be depressing to live in a place like this.
"My home is a bit of a mess. I hope you don't mind." Ying Chen's home was closest to the stairs. He took out the key and fiddled with it for a while before opening the door. The stench in the air became more intense. Chen Ge looked into the room. Ying Chen's place was huge, but the décor was tattered, and many items had been horribly scratched.
"I am a cat lover, and I have a few pet cats at home. This is all their doing," Ying Chen said with a helpless sigh. "Make yourself comfortable. I will go and find a change of clothes for you."
After entering the house, Chen Ge subconsciously used his finger to brush against his nose. The sofa, floor, and dining table were covered in cat fur, but strangely, there was not a single cat to be seen in the house. There was not even meowing coming from one of them.
"The stench does not come from the cats. The smell is very similar to the horrible smell at the old city. I smelled the same thing when I entered Yu Jian's room, but after I came out of Yu Jian's door, the horrible smell disappeared." Chen Ge had encountered this strange smell in many places before. He could not tell what exactly gave off the smell, but one thing was for sure, he knew that the smell had something to do with the 'door'.
When Ying Chen was busy finding him some clothes, Chen Ge made use of the time to do his investigation. There was little furniture in the house. There were five rooms in total, and other than the living room, the doors to the four remaining rooms were tightly locked. Soon, Ying Chen walked out from the bedroom, holding a set of his own clothes. "What do you think about this? It is quite formal, but it matches what you are wearing at the moment."
"You are such a life savior. You have helped me tremendously this time." Chen Ge appeared to be over the moon. "Do you mind if I borrow your bathroom?"
"The first door next to the entrance." Ying Chen was quite happy to be of help to Chen Ge. In his mind, the business was about ninety percent already completed. After entering the bathroom, Chen Ge closed the door and took out the comic from his backpack to summon Men Nan.
"I need you and Tong Tong to hide here for now. Find a chance for Tong Tong to possess his phone. Then I will return here before midnight, and I need you to help me unlock the door when that happens," Chen Ge whispered.
"So, you want me to be the insider?"
"Of all the Red Specters, you are the smartest, and only you are capable of something like this." Chen Ge heaped on the praise before the boy gave his promise. After giving his face a wash, Chen Ge walked out from the bathroom. "Ying Chen, thank you so much for your help this time. I will go back to prepare the contract, and we will sign it tomorrow. Is that okay with you?"
"Of course!" Ying Chen was surprisingly greedy with money, but it was unclear whether this was another front or he was serious about his love of money.
"It is a joy to work with people who are such good people. Since I am already here, do you mind I ask you a few more questions?" Chen Ge peppered Ying Chen with many different questions. Many of them were business related, and they revolved around the website. At the very end, Chen Ge sneaked in, as if as an afterthought, a mention of Ying Chen's younger brother. "I hear you are still looking after your younger brother. How are the man's eyes recovering? I know several good optometrists. If you need it, I can make the introduction for you."
"My younger brother was not born blind. He got an eye illness when he was about three or four, and his situation has only deteriorated since then. One of the major reasons I am eager to earn money is to collect the funds to help cure his blindness."
"The relationship between you brothers sure is touching." Chen Ge placed the backpack down. "The earlier the eyes are healed, the better. Do you mind if I meet your little brother?"
Chen Ge's request was rather sudden, but Ying Chen did not think too much of it. After some brief hesitation, he walked to the door that was next to the bathroom. "Ying Tong? What are you doing?"
"Sleeping." A very soft voice drifted out from inside the room.
"Then you should go back to sleep. Sorry for disturbing you." Ying Chen shrugged and turned to Chen Ge with apology on his face. "The child is sleeping. I am so sorry, but I do not wish to disturb him unless it's truly necessary."
"It's fine, I totally get it." Even though that was what Chen Ge said, the seed of suspicion was already buried inside his heart. When Ying Chen asked Ying Tong what he was doing, the answer 'sleeping' had come almost instantaneously like it was already rehearsed. If Ying Tong was really sleeping, there would have been a pause for him to wake up from his sleep before the reply came. Furthermore, Chen Ge could not hear any drowsiness from the reply that came from Ying Tong. Ying Tong appeared to be very afraid of his elder brother; there was some kind of secret hidden between this pair of brothers.
"In that case, I am not going to interrupt you guys anymore. I will come back with the contract tomorrow morning at around 9 am."
"Brother Chen, thank you and take care."
After the front door was closed, Ying Chen and Chen Ge's expressions chilled almost instantly. Chen Ge stood at the door and did not leave. Instead, he leaned his ear on the door to eavesdrop. Soon, the bedroom door was opened, and then a child's crying came from within. "This man is truly the worst."
Without any concrete evidence, Chen Ge did not act recklessly. Tong Tong and Men Nan were both inside the room. If something really bad was to happen, they would definitely stop it. Standing in the corridor alone, Chen Ge glanced at the stairs and the elevator next to him. In the end, he decided to leave using the stairs.
"If Ying Tong is really one of the candidates chosen by the ghost fetus, the world behind his door will be nightmare difficulty. Jing Ming lost his sense of hearing, and I could not hear the sound of the ghosts behind his door. Fang Yu has a poor memory, and my memory was constantly being wiped out and interrupted when I was behind her door. With all these as the basis for comparison, my power of sight will be limited when I am inside the world behind Ying Tong's door. The biggest danger will be the ghosts surrounding me, but I will be unable to see them."
Sight was very important for a normal person. For someone who was used to seeing the world to suddenly be thrown inside a blind maze, it would be very disorientating.
"Zhang Ya is still hibernating. This door poses a very high danger level for me. To be safe, I'd better bring the Tunnel Woman's son with me."
If not for the lack of time, Chen Ge might have considered bringing the Well Lady from Coffin Village with him.
After leaving Ming Yuan, Chen Ge waited until sundown before he went to White Dragon Tunnel. He found the boy at the deepest part of the tunnel. They had already made their promise beforehand, and the boy did not go back on his word. However, when Chen Ge wanted to pull the Tunnel Woman's son into the comic, something unexpected happened.
Probably because there was a door inside his body, Yan Danian's comic was unable to accommodate the boy. This was the first time that Chen Ge had encountered a situation like this. The two negotiated for a long time. Initially, the Tunnel Woman's son proposed to hide inside Chen Ge's shadow. He stood for a long time next to Chen Ge's shadow, but in the end, he voluntarily gave up that idea.
They had tried many different methods. Eventually, the Tunnel Woman's son opened his appendages that were about two meters long and enveloped Chen Ge from behind. It did not feel comfortable being trapped like that by a Red Specter. Chen Ge felt chills run all over his body, and his body temperature continued to drop.
This whole process lasted for about a minute before the Tunnel Woman's son disappeared. In his place was a giant scary spider tattoo with a human face that covered Chen Ge's entire back and arm. This tattoo would only appear in the shadows, and it looked enough to scare one's soul out of one's body.
It felt like Chen Ge's body had sunk into icy water. He hated this kind of feeling, but the key mission now was to search for the ghost fetus, so he tried to not mind it that much. At about 11 pm, Chen Ge returned to Ming Yuan in the old city. But even at 11:30 pm, he did not receive any messages from Tong Tong.
"There won't be any problems, will there? With the protection from a Red Specter like Men Nan and only dealing with a normal human being, nothing will happen to them, right? Or have they encountered the non-smilers from the cursed hospital?"
Chen Ge and Lee Zheng's investigation had led them to Ying Tong. Chen Ge still believed that the chance of the non-smiler showing up was very low, but for caution's sake, Chen Ge moved stealthily. Chen Ge entered the stairwell, and when he reached the fourth floor, his phone-started to vibrate. 'Ying Chen' had just sent him a message-'He is packing his tools and planning to leave the house!'
It should be Men Nan and Tong Tong controlling Ying Chen's phone. With the experience from last time, their cooperation this time was flawless. Ying Chen should not notice anything out of place at all.
"Is the man going out to work so late at night? Why is he carrying so many tools with him?"
After he got the message, Chen Ge quickly went down on the corridor to hide to prevent himself from running straight into Ying Chen. He paid his attention to the stairwell. Soon, he saw Ying Chen hurry down the stairs, carrying a large black plastic bag with a cap pressed very low down his face.
"It is probably not a human body inside that bag. Based on the size, it felt more like a cat."
Ying Chen's unusual actions once again increased Chen Ge's suspicion of the man. The ghost fetus' door would appear punctually at midnight. Now was not the time to do other investigative work. After Ying Chen left the building, he hurried toward Ying Chen's house. Chen Ge summoned Ol' Zhou and had him open the door from the inside. He sneaked into the house successfully. The lights in the room were not on, and the place appeared cold and deserted. Chen Ge stood by the window and looked down. Ying Chen carried the black bag and walked out of the residential area. He walked toward an abandoned building spot that was nearby.
"Is he going to bury the body and evidence?"
Ying Chen would not be gone for long, and Chen Ge did not waste any time. He and Ol' Zhou gave the place a quick rundown. The kitchen and the bathroom appeared normal, but the lower compartment of the fridge was filled with a lot of minced meat. The other rooms appeared normal on the surface. Ying Chen's own bedroom was clean and neat. There was not even a single cat hair in it. This room was unique from the rest of the place. Next to Ying Chen's bedroom was the studio. Chen Ge had seen this room from the videos before. Most of the videos were shot inside this room.
Next to the studio was a room that was locked. Chen Ge had Ol' Zhou entered it. The latter came back with the report that there were several stray cats that were tied with ropes inside the room, and about two of them were dying already. The last room should be Ying Tong's bedroom. Similar to before, Chen Ge had Ol' Zhou slip through the door to conduct recon first.
After knowing that Ying Tong was already asleep, Chen Ge had Ol' Zhou open the door from inside. The moment the bedroom door was opened, the horrible smell hit them like a wave. The stench in this room was even more intense than the smell inside Yu Jian's bedroom. Covering his nose with his hand, Chen Ge looked inside the room.
Ying Tong's bedroom was very small. The windows were boarded up, and the lamps were not even fixed with bulbs. There were many finger paintings on the walls, and many bloodied cotton balls littered the ground. There was a music box, a radio, and many strange-looking dolls that lined the table. Even from the standpoint of an adult like Chen Ge, the dolls looked creepy and scary. They were definitely not meant for children. They would be more fitting inside a haunted house.
Ying Tong did not realize there was another person in the room with him. He was fast asleep. He appeared to have had a tiring day. Chen Ge used Yin Yang Vision and noticed that there were bruises all over Ying Tong's body, but the injuries were nothing serious. "The boy does not seem to have any sense of security at all. Even when he sleeps, he curls his body up toward the wall as if seeking comfort from it."
It was a very uncomfortable posture to sleep in, but Ying Tong appeared to have gotten used to it. He curled his body up in a fetal position, and there was a picture frame that was cradled in his arms. Inside the frame was a picture of Ying Chen. "The two share such a good relationship? Even in his sleep, Ying Tong is hugging the picture of his own elder brother?"
Chen Ge was suspicious and had many questions inside his mind. From his perspective, all Ying Tong had toward his elder brother was fear; there was no love between a normal family. He looked closer and discovered that the size of the picture did not fit the frame that well. The picture appeared to have been shoved in later. Regarding the location and the identity of the original picture, probably only Ying Chen himself would now.
The bedroom was closed and secluded from the rest of the world. On the surface, other than the creepy dolls, it did not feel so different from anywhere else.
Ying Chen would be returning soon, but Chen Ge did not leave. He stood inside Ying Tong's bedroom, waiting for the door to appear. At midnight, a door that was covered fully in red appeared silently next to Ying Tong's bed. The lock jiggled softly, and black patterns crawled on the door. Even without anyone touching it, the door appeared like it was about to open on its own.
The sound of footsteps came from the living room. The front door was opened. It meant that Ying Chen had returned from whatever he was doing. Carrying the backpack, Chen Ge did not hesitate as he pushed open the blood door and stepped through it.
It felt like his body was sinking into quicksand, and it was slowly swallowing him up. Chen Ge struggled to the best of his ability. The oxygen was being squeezed out of his lungs, and the feeling of being asphyxiated was getting stronger and stronger. Just as he thought he was about to die, his eyes flickered open.
Every time he entered the ghost fetus' door, it felt like he had taken a stroll right before the edge of life and death. Before Chen Ge had the time or chance to collect himself, his surroundings started to change again.
"What... is this?"
There was an inky darkness around him, a darkness that light was unable to pierce. This world behind the door felt as if it was covered behind a thick curtain. Chen Ge felt like he was in a world of everlasting night.
Chen Ge stood where he was and did not move an inch. The more he visited the ghost fetus' door, the stranger the world became. He could not allow himself to be too careless.