Football that I have carried? The cupboard?
The information revealed by Ying Chen in his words caused Chen Ge's brows to crease. He had just been to Ying Chen's bedroom earlier, and he knew that there was a headless carcass strapped to the underside of his bed.
The football that this man is talking about is not the head of that body, is it?
A human head was wildly different from a football, even a blind person would not mistake them, but the premise here was that his own elder brother was not a normal person. The man was a full-on psycho. Ying Chen was a crazy man and one that had a streak of exhibitionism in him. He uploaded the videos of the tortured cats in reverse chronological order onto the website to ask for aid from cat lovers. Most of his audience members were people who loved cats. Perhaps every night, he would sit inside the room filled with fur and blood, stare at the phone screen, and read through the well wishes that he had received from these innocent people who did not know better.
This kind of unique experience would probably be able to provide the man with some kind of rush and satisfaction, so there was a very high possibility that he would hide a human head inside a normal ball and watch his own younger brother play with it. As that thought crossed his mind, Chen Ge suddenly realized that the twisted dolls and disproportionate bodies on Ying Tong's table might carry a deeper meaning than he had previously believed.
Chen Ge had been staying quiet all this while. The man was silent for a few seconds before Ying Chen on the other side of the line realized that something was wrong.
"You... are not Ying Tong!" Chen Ge had no idea how the man was able to come the conclusion that he was not Ying Tong within three seconds of non-conservation. In any case, this sharp observation and analytical skill caused Chen Ge to become even more unsettled. In Ying Tong's memory, his elder brother, Ying Chen, must be a very clever and scary person, and that would be manifested in the same way behind the door. "What are you doing in my home?"
Ying Chen's voice did not undergo any change, but through the background echo, Chen Ge managed to pick the increased pace of the man's walking. The man was trying to use a level tone to trick Chen Ge, to hide the fact that he was hurrying home. Chen Ge did not hesitate for even a moment; he hung up the phone immediately. He was no longer able to get any useful information from the man. In fact, now that his cover was blown, anything that the man might say could be some kind of vicious trap.
"I need to leave this place as soon as possible."
Both parties were quick thinkers and fast movers. Chen Ge's mind still had a blurry memory of the location of the front door. He did not stop anywhere. He grabbed his backpack and moved to the door. The door that felt strangely cold to his touch was not locked. Chen Ge pushed open the door and walked out. The temperature around him decreased even further; the air outside the house seemed to be even chillier.
"I can't see anything, and I still cannot form a link with any of my employees. How am I supposed to deal that madman in such a condition?" Ying Tong's door was the third door from the last. Since Chen Ge had directly skipped over the door that represented the ghost fetus' heart, the difficulty of the world behind the door had reached an incredibly crazy level. In a way, this went to show the horror of a four-star Trial Mission. This ghost fetus mission was not that simple. The horrors were layered upon each other, and it deepened with each layer. This long night was just beginning.
"Ying Tong lives in a building that was built many years ago. He grew up here, so his main memory will be around the Ming Yuan area." Chen Ge knew the layout of the nearby buildings, but to play hide and seek with a madman when he was unable to see anything, even Chen Ge felt the enormous pressure. Walking out of the front door, Chen Ge had not moved too far away from Ying Chen's house when he felt something brush against his ankle. It appeared like one of the cats had followed him and escaped from the house as well.
"Just how many cats are inside Ying Chen's house?" Chen Ge leaned against the wall and slowly walked down the corridor. "The stairwell bookends the corridor on both sides, and there is an elevator in the middle, provided this world behind the door is a true reflection of the situation in real life."
Chen Ge was not that familiar with Ying Tong. He did not know what the man's biggest fear was, and thus, he could not prepare to handle it. The only thing he could do was take one step at a time. Caution and taking it slow would be his saving grace.
"The old-fashioned elevator will make too much noise, and that will inadvertently expose my location. I am unable to see anything now. If I press the wrong button, I might end up on the wrong floor, and the elevator doors could open to Ying Chen waiting for me outside."
With that in mind, Chen Ge rejected the idea of taking the elevator. Then he was faced with a second choice. Should he take the stairs on the left or the right?
Ying Chen's home was closer to the stairs on the left. In fact, the house was right next to the staircase. Chen Ge felt that if Ying Chen wanted to get home in the shortest time possible, there was a very high chance that he would take the stairs on the left.
"In that case, I will take the stairs on the right."
In this world behind the door, every seemingly unimportant choice could be a matter of life and death.
If Chen Ge made the wrong choice and encountered Ying Chen in the stairwell, the madman might decide to trail behind him noiselessly while he came up with an idea to torture and kill him. After all, Chen Ge had found out about his secret, and the safest way was to kill Chen Ge to guarantee his silence.
Keeping his hands on the wall, Chen Ge slowly overcame his fear of the darkness, and he started to jog. There was no trash littering the corridor, so Chen Ge did not trip over anything. When Chen Ge was about to reach the right stairwell, a cat's meow suddenly came from the direction before him. It was a very soft meow, and Chen Ge was certain that it came from the mouth of the right hand stairs.
"There's a cat there?" If this was in real life, Chen Ge would not have been so nervous to have run into a cat, but this was the world behind the door. A cat was a contradictory creature. It had been a symbol of many things through the history of mankind. In different people's eyes, cats represented different meanings, so Chen Ge had a hard time telling what the cat's intention was by meowing to him.
Ying Chen had adopted many stray cats, but the reason for that was for him to satisfy his twisted and pathological desire. If the cats had the power to resist, the first thing they would have done would be to kill Ying Chen. Alas, in both real life and the world behind the door, Ying Chen was perfectly fine. In other words, it meant that even behind the door, he had the power to easily dispose of the 'cats'.
While Chen Ge was contemplating, there was another cat's meow coming from the right staircase, and this time, it was slightly louder than before. Something seemed to bounce against his ankle. Before Chen Ge could react to it, the third meow occurred, and this time, the cat was calling from right beside him. The cat's meowing became more and more insistent, and the sound became shriller and shriller. It sounded like the cries of a small baby.
"Are they warning me?"
Ying Chen was a cat torturer. The cats had no reason to help him, so if that was the case, the chance of Ying Chen being on the right staircase was incredibly high!
To trust the cats or to trust his own instincts, Chen Ge was faced with another choice. After a moment's hesitation, Chen Ge gritted his teeth and turned around. He ran as fast as he could to the left staircase. The cat's call from behind him became sharper and shriller. They sounded at once like both crying and laughter. It was quite spine-tingling.
Knocking and bouncing against the wall, after losing his sight, Chen Ge had trouble even running without bumping into anything. He tried his best to get to the staircase on the left, and he hid himself on the landing between the two floors. Kneeling on the ground, Chen Ge grabbed onto the railing and lowered his center of gravity as low as possible. This way, even if someone tried to push him from behind, he would not roll down the stairs that easily. Chen Ge did not dare move aimlessly. He stayed motionlessly because he wanted to confirm something very important.
"If the door is pushed open, then it will prove that Ying Chen has come home. He came from the staircase on the right, and that will indirectly prove that the cats were helping me! The louder the cats were, the closer Ying Chen was to me!"
Chen Ge was very courageous. Then again, it was not like he had much choice. To gain the little initiative that he could, he hid on the landing inside the left stairwell. Ying Chen's house was just right next to his hiding place. If he was not careful, he would be discovered easily. As the time moved forward, Chen Ge's palms started to get slick with sweat. He had not been so nervous for such a long time. After about a minute, Ying Chen's house door clicked without warning. It appeared that someone had opened the front door and walked in. Hearing that click, Chen Ge's hands that gripped around the railing slowly relaxed.
"That should be Ying Chen coming home."
He slipped quietly down the stairs. Even though Chen Ge had made the right choice and had managed to confirm his hypothesis, his brows were still deeply screwed together. From that brief encounter, he had come to a few conclusions.
The first one and also the most important one was that he could use the cat's calls to determine Ying Chen's location.
The second one was that Ying Chen moved as silently as a shade. Chen Ge had been using his Ghost Ear power when he was hiding in the staircase, but he did not hear the echo of footsteps at all. He had only heard the door being opened. It was as if Ying Chen had teleported to the front door of his house.
The third conclusion was that Ying Chen should use the stairs on the left if he wanted to return to his house the fastest way possible, but he had opted for the opposite direction. He had chosen the staircase on the right. If this was not a coincidence, it meant that this Ying Chen was a very cunning person, and he was predicting and counteracting to the choice that Chen Ge might have made.
"Without the power of sight, how am I supposed to find Ying Tong?"
He understood that he should not stay at that place for long. After Ying Chen returned to his house and took a look around, he would soon realize that someone had just been in his room and found the dead body. He would give chase soon enough. Using the railing as a guide, Chen Ge moved down the stairs step by step. He planned to temporarily leave this building. In fact, if possible, he wanted to leave this residential area for the moment.
Chen Ge memorized the route that he had taken. A normal person would be in full panic mode at this moment, but Chen Ge was still trying his best to find the way out. After walking down three floors, Chen Ge heard the door from Ying Chen's house being opened again. That signified that Ying Chen had come out from the house.
"This is not good." Chen Ge had to make sure that he made as little noise as possible and had to be careful so that he would not trip on the stairs. Both of these limitations impeded him from moving fast. If Ying Chen chased after him, he would be captured quite easily. "The man does not move with any sound. After he returned home, he probably went to grab a knife and some other tools."
Not long after that, the sound of the old elevator echoed through the building. Someone had taken the elevator and moved down the floors.
"Ying Chen probably believes that he missed me because I chose the staircase on the left. He must believe that I have already left the building. That's why he took the elevator. That's the fastest way to catch up to me if I am on the way out of the building." Chen Ge was blind in the world behind the door, but Ying Chen did not appear to know that. He was predicting Chen Ge's movement and actions based on the hypothesis that Chen Ge was a person with normal sight. "I must not let the man know that I am blind, or else he will toy with me like he did with Ying Tong. Who knows what this crazy man might do in that scenario? He is one sick b*stard."
Chen Ge had encountered many crazy murderers in his life, and Ying Chen was not the most cunning nor the most dangerous of them all, but he was the one with the greatest desire to show off his work. Chen Ge's key issue was, in the world behind the door, this was a world made from Ying Tong's memories. His elder brother, Ying Chen, should represent some kind of inner fear that he could never escape or shake loose. The noise from the old elevator soon halted. It seemed to have stopped on the ground floor. "I am unable to confirm his exact location. This places me in such a disadvantaged position."
Chen Ge slowly approached the corner of the staircase. When he was about to continue downward, he suddenly heard the echoes of footsteps coming from the corridor. "There are people running in the corridor, and there's more than one, huh?"
Ying Chen's movement was completely silent, so these people should not be Ying Chen. Chen Ge froze like a statue. Honestly, in that moment, he could feel the helplessness that was probably part of daily life for a blind person. They were living in the same world as everyone else, but because they were deprived of their sight. Sometimes, they could not even put up the simplest of resistance. The footsteps approached at a rapid speed, and they soon gathered before Chen Ge.
Chen Ge grabbed Doctor Skull-cracker's hammer, which was hidden inside his backpack. He pressed his back against the wall and took the most defensive stance he could in that moment. The footsteps stopped not far away from Chen Ge.
A moment later, a boy's voice entered Chen Ge's ears. "What are you doing on the stairs?"
The child's voice appeared to be normal. One would assume that it came from a very young boy. The tone was laced with open curiosity and confusion.
Chen Ge thought for a long time, but he did not know how to respond. His instincts told him that this was a chance. He could ask one of the children to lead him to their home to provide him with a temporary sanctuary. He could lock the door behind him and wait for Ying Chen to pass. However, his rationality told him that he should not place his trust so easily in the 'people' behind the door. These children might sound entirely innocent and harmless, but they might have the scariest appearance. Perhaps they were monsters who had the voices of children. Like many dark fairy tales, if he followed them believing their innocence, he would eventually end up in their stomachs.
"This is such a strange man. We'd better stay away from him," one of the other boys said. "Let's go and find Ying Tong. I like to play hide and seek with him the most. We will never need to worry about him cheating in the game."
"That is true, but he is so dumb. I was just hiding behind him last time we played, but he did not notice me at all."
"Every time he is supposed to come catch us, in the end, it will become a game of us trying to go and find him. I really don't understand why you guys insist on playing with him."
The children joked and laughed. Chen Ge heard the mention of Ying Tong's name. With his head lowered, he memorized the words that the children had said.
Yet another game of hide and seek. There is often such a game in the world behind the door. This really coincides with the description of the black phone in regards to the ghost fetus' Trial Mission. This is a hide and seek of life and death.
The few children were also looking for Ying Tong, so they probably did not know his exact location. Thus, Chen Ge did not ask them for any information. The children probably lost interest in Chen Ge after they got no response from him. They slowly wandered away. The footsteps disappeared down the corridor. Touching the wall, Chen Ge slowly stood up. His instinct from many instances behind the door told him that this building was very dangerous, and he needed to leave this place as soon as possible. He took his first step downward. But when he first raised his left right, someone suddenly shoved him heavily from behind!
He lost his hold on the backpack, and Chen Ge careened down the steps with the backpack cushioning part of his fall. Jolts of pain came from all parts of his body. Chen Ge shielded his head and gritted his teeth as the pain slowly passed. Ignoring everything else, he quickly climbed up from the ground and held onto his backpack for dear life.
"No wonder he kept his eyes closed all the time. He is a blind man." A young boy's voice came from the top of the stairs. Chen Ge could recognize this boy. The person who had pushed him was one of the children from earlier.
The footsteps slowly moved away from Chen Ge. After pushing Chen Ge down the stairs, the boy walked off.
"That shove was much stronger than what a normal boy should be able to muster. Has Ying Tong experienced something similar?"
Working his wrist, Chen Ge did not chase after the boy, but he was thinking over what the boy just said earlier.
"No wonder he keeps his eyes closed? In the eyes of these people behind the door, I have been keeping my eyes closed, huh? If that is the case, what am I supposed to do to open them?"