Even though the boy had maliciously pushed Chen Ge down the stairs, he had also revealed an important piece of information to Chen Ge. For the 'people' in this world behind the door, Chen Ge had the appearance of a strange man who kept his eyes closed.
"So, there is a possibility that I am not blind. I simply have not peeled my eyes open."
With his back against the wall, Chen Ge reached out his hands to touch his eyes, and he confirmed that both of his eyes were open, mumbling, "How can this be? What is the reason behind this discrepancy of what I feel and what I am told?"
There was nothing blocking Chen Ge's eyes. He used his fingers to dig into the corner of his eyes, he worked slowly and meticulously, but he still could not see anything but darkness. He could not even see the blood that had leaked out from the corners of his eyelids.
"There is only darkness. Perhaps it is not that I am blind but black is the only color that exists in this world."
The corridor had returned to silence. The group of children had already gone away.
"Perhaps from another person's perspective, Ying Tong has always appeared to have his eyes closed, which created the impression that all blind people in the world behind his world have their eyes shut.
"Or is there a possibility that even though Ying Tong has always kept his eyes closed, he has not completely lost his sight. He knew what his elder brother was doing, and to protect his own life, there was nothing he could do but pretend not to see anything. There is color in his world, but he is prevented from opening his eyes to enjoy it. If Ying Chen really has killed someone in real life, if he knew his younger brother Ying Tong is not really blind, he would create some kind of 'accident' to get rid of Ying Tong!
"Nothing is beyond the realm of possibility for a madman. The logical delineation of good versus evil cannot be applied here. The concept of morality does not work like normal when applied to a person with mental problems. For Ying Chen, his blood relative might not represent anything more than a tool for his own person entertainment."
Chen Ge was suddenly reminded of something. In real life, he had peered into the fridge at Ying Chen's home. He had noticed that the bottom compartment of the fridge was stuffed to the brim with minced meat. The meat had all been deboned, and the meat had been given a good chop, so from the appearance, it was hard to tell what kind of meat it was.
"If that meat is animal meat, then it's fine. It's just that I have a feeling that it might not be animal meat." Chen Ge had encountered many crazed murderers before, and in his mind, there were many different levels of crazy murderers. To be able to debone, mince, and disguise the flesh of their victim and store them inside the fridge of their own kitchen, that was definitely not something a normal crazy murderer could do.
"When he was drinking with me, Ying Chen acted just like a normal person. In fact, he was more sociable than many normal people. If my prediction turns out to be true, then this is one hell of a disgusting and scary monster. Ying Chen has been living with a mask before all the living person, and he only sheds his disguise when he is around his younger brother. The kid was exposed to so many horrible scenarios since he was small, so even without the influence from the ghost fetus, Ying Tong might have become an actual door pusher."
The degree of eeriness and absurdity of the world behind the door was proportional to the level of despair the door pusher had the misfortune of experiencing in real life. Even though Chen Ge had not discovered anything particularly unique about this world through his sense of touch and smell, perhaps once he opened his eyes, he would be able to see how scary this world actually was.
"There's no point spending so much time of speculation. I need to go and find a place to hide for now. Among the group of children, only one of the kids pushed me, so that means that there's a chance to communicate and interact with the rest of the children. If I am really cornered, perhaps I should go and persuade one of them." Chen Ge was not feeling all that confident in his plan. He had been paying close attention to his surrounding so that he would be able to react on time should any accident happen.
Earlier, he had been unable to stop himself from being pushed down the stairs for two reasons. One, it indeed did not cross his mind that the boy had not left with the rest of his friends because the sound of the footsteps had been mixed together. Two, the shove from the boy was surprisingly strong; it was not on the level of strength a normal boy would have. After losing his sight, confirming the identity of the other person through the voice alone was something extremely risky, so unless he was truly out of other ideas, Chen Ge would not trust anyone too easily in this world behind the door.
"If this place corresponds to real life, Ying Chen's house is on the seventh floor. I can listen closely to the movement of the elevator to determine the total number of floors in this building, and perhaps I can even take the elevator if necessary."
Once the old elevator moved, it would creak noisily and loudly. It was definitely a source of danger, but it also represented a third path. When Ying Chen realized that Chen Ge had been going up and down the stairs, the elevator would become his only hope of escaping.
Of course, that was something that Chen Ge did not hope to happen; he still did not want to accost Ying Chen at this moment.
"For now, assuming this place is just like real life, Ying Chen's home is on the seventh floor. I am on the landing between the third and fourth floor, and Ying Chen should currently be on the ground floor. He might be waiting at the stairs of the first floor, or perhaps he has already left and run out from this building."
Unable to see anything, Chen Ge could only rely on his instincts to choose his path forward.
"Ying Chen probably does not know that I am blind. Earlier, he came up from the stairs on the right side. If he noticed something was wrong, he might rush down the stairs on the left to check. After all, if he believed the person who sneaked into his house left from the left staircase, then there is a chance that he might leave behind some clues inside the stairwell."
With that in mind, Chen Ge made the swift decision to leave the left staircase, enter the corridor, and walk toward the staircase on the right.
"Hopefully, this is me overthinking it, but it never hurts to be extra careful."
The best scenario for Chen Ge was Ying Chen hearing the commotion on the left staircase from the ground floor and hurrying up the stairs to corner the intruder while Chen Ge moved to the stairs on the right and perfectly avoided encountering Ying Chen and successfully escaping this building. Chen Ge was desperate to leave this building because there would be more options for him after leaving this place and more hiding spots.
That was the plan, but reality always proved that one could never plan for everything. Once Chen Ge stepped into the third-floor corridor, he heard a door creak open. The sound was very close to him. It was just about two to three meters away from him. With his hands on the door, Chen Ge froze and stopped moving. Even though he was inside a building, a draft suddenly picked up, and it carried a heady smell of something horrible.
It was dangerous for Chen Ge to stand exposed in the corridor. After a moment of hesitation, he started to move his legs and take one step forward. He felt like he had stepped on something. It made a crunchy sound like he had stepped on some dead bugs. It was a very unsettling feeling. Chen Ge did not dare stay too long. When he was about to take a second step, he felt someone press on his shoulders.
"Are you a new tenant who just moved here?" A middle-aged man's voice travelled to Chen Ge's ears. It should be this person who had suddenly opened his door.
"Yes." Chen Ge's brain was spinning as fast as he could. The stench in the air was a mix of stale food, dried sweat on unwashed laundry, and horrible body odor. The middle-aged man required a good deal of cleaning and washing. It felt like he had not cleaned his room for a very long time.
"Why is your body burning up if you are a new tenant? I thought you were one of the delivery people here to deliver stuff." The middle-aged man gave this comment that seemed to appear out of nowhere.
Body burning up? Chen Ge felt that his body temperature was already incredibly low. It was a problem that he had been facing ever since his encounter with the Specters. The old woman at Coffin Village had even said that his body temperature would continue to drop if he did not find a solution, so it was strange to hear someone say that his body was burning up. In any case, Chen Ge did not respond to the comment. From the perspective of a living person, his body temperature was not only not high, it was on the low side. But from the perspective of the dead, he would indeed be different from other 'people'. He was an anomaly.
Chen Ge was considering how to answer this middle-aged man when suddenly a cat's meow echoed in his ears. Sucking in a cold breath, Chen Ge focused his ears to determine the source of the meowing. It was from the left staircase!
Before he could say anything, the second meow appeared, and it sounded more urgent and desperate than before. "Ying Chen is coming this way!"
It was already too late to run to the stairs on the right, there was only one option that was presented to Chen Ge. He lowered his voice and said to the middle-aged man, "Brother, I have something very important that I need to discuss with you."
Grabbing his backpack tightly, Chen Ge's hands searched along the wall until he found the frame of the door, "We will go inside and talk. Just give me three minutes. That is all I need!"
Then, without waiting for the middle-aged man to respond, Chen Ge stepped over the threshold and entered his house.
"Hey, who said that you can come in here?"
"Quickly, close to the door!" Chen Ge was unable to see anything. All he could hear was the horrible screeching from the cats. However, it appeared that he was the only person who could hear them.
"What are you trying to do? Who are you?" The middle-aged man moved very slowly and sluggishly. The cats called like they were being slaughtered. It was spine-tingling to hear them. Chen Ge followed the sound and gripped the middle-aged man by his elbow and dragged him into the room. "Close the door!"
The door clicked shut. Chen Ge signaled for the middle-aged man to stay quiet. Even then, the cats did not stop meowing. If anything, the calls had become shriller and sharper. Ying Chen appeared to have heard the door close, and he was heading their way!
"If you do not want to die, don't say anything!" Chen Ge squeezed the command out through gritted teeth, and that finally managed to shut the middle-aged man up. Chen Ge stood frozen at the door, but the middle-aged man had wandered away from him. He seemed to have walked into the living room. The sound of footsteps exposed the presence of someone inside the house, but it was not the time for Chen Ge to worry about that.
The sharp and painful screams of the cats drilled into his ears. It was impossible to determine their location. It was as if Ying Chen was standing right before Chen Ge. The latter did not dare breathe too loudly. All he could do now was wait because Ying Chen was probably standing just outside the door. Between him and Ying Chen, there was only a door in the way. Chen Ge clamped his hands over his lips, thinking, Ying Chen knows that someone entered his house, but he does not know that the intruder was me. If I see this from his perspective, there is a good chance that he might mistake the intruder as the owner of this house. With Ying Chen's personality, he might just decide to kill this middle-aged man.
Assuming the middle-aged man only shares a normal neighborly relationship with Ying Chen, if Ying Chen wants to kill the middle-aged man, that will place me and the middle-aged man in the same boat. So, what I need to do now is wait for Ying Chen to leave and then test the middle-aged man by slowly revealing the truth to him and seeing how he reacts.
The cats kept on meowing for a full minute before they stopped, which meant that Ying Chen had probably left. Wiping away the cold sweat from his forehead and the blood stain from the corner of his eyes, Chen Ge turned around and called into the room, "Brother, are you still there?"
Ying Chen probably went home to grab some equipment before returning to kill the middle-aged man. This was an apartment, so a brutal killing would attract too much attention. Chen Ge believed that Ying Chen would start with some kind of drug, and after the middle-aged man fell unconscious, Ying Chen would make his move. The horrible stench assaulted his nostrils, but at that moment, Chen Ge did not care that much about it. In his mind, as long as the place did not stink of death, it was already better than most places.
"Brother, I know it was rude of me to suddenly barge into your home, but I hope that you will listen to my side of the story." Chen Ge took a deep breath. He knew that once he said those things, the situation might turn even more complicated because he would be introducing even more extenuating factors into the situation. "There are two siblings living on the seventh floor. The younger brother is blind, and the elder brother likes to adopt stray cats. Do you have any impression of them?"
There was no sound that came from the room. It was as if the middle-aged man had disappeared into thin air.
"When I passed by his house this afternoon, I noticed the door to their house was not closed. After I entered it, I discovered a dead body hidden under the elder brother's bed. He is a murderer!"
After Chen Ge dropped that bomb, there was finally a reaction from inside the room. The middle-aged man's voice came from a corner of the living room. "Impossible, I know that man. His name is Ying Chen. He is a naïve and innocent person. He can always be found doing things that are not worthwhile if you ask my honest opinion, like volunteering to take care of the building's surrounding garden and taking in those stray cats."
"Naïve and innocent? Is that how you see Ying Chen?"
"Yes, you cannot find a kinder, more naïve person in this world. Based on what he told me, he just wants to do more good things in the world to gather some good karma in the hopes that his good deeds will touch the heavens above to help recover his younger brother's sight. Tell me, if that is not naivete, what is?"
The middle-aged man did not believe Chen Ge at all. From his point of view, the term murderer could not be linked to Ying Chen.
"Never judge a book by its cover. What you are shown is a front that he has put a lot of effort into. It is all part of his disguise." Chen Ge did not expect that when he had placed the truth so openly before the man, the man would still think that he was joking.
"I do not understand why you are saying things like, but if you are not lying, let me gather some of the neighbors, and we will all go together to his house to look."
"That is a definite no." Chen Ge did not wish to expose his existence. Once Ying Chen had him in his crosshairs, he would be exceptionally vulnerable considering the fact that he was unable to see anything at the moment.
"Actually, what are you doing here?" The middle-aged man grabbed Chen Ge by his hair. "And why are you keeping your eyes closed? Is there a medical problem with your eyes?"
"I am not lying to you. Ying Chen has killed someone, and there is probably more than one victim. He is a madman."
"If there is someone that is mad, it is you. You are blind, so how did you see the dead body in his room?" The middle-aged man started to believe that Chen Ge was lying to him. After all, Ying Chen was a neighbor whom he had known quite some time, and Chen Ge was a stranger whom he had just met that day.
"I touched it with my hands. The dead body was strapped under his bed. It was a headless body!"
"You touched a dead body with your hands? That sounds quite unbelievable." The middle-aged man pulled harder. He was not welcoming to Chen Ge. He dragged Chen Ge by his hair to the front door. "Compared to a suspected murderer, I feel in more danger around someone like you who sneaks into other people's homes without their permission."
His hair was yanked out from his scalp. Chen Ge felt pain jolt through his body. In response, Chen Ge grabbed the middle-aged man's arm. He wanted to fling the man's arm away, but when his finger touched the middle-aged man's skin, his expression changed. The middle-aged man's body was devoid of any body warmth, and more importantly, there were bumps on the man's skin along with something that felt like muscular lividity.
Livor mortis? This medical term appeared in Chen Ge's mind, and he instantly let go. This uncle is dead?
"Get out of my house now. If I see you around loitering around the area, there will be consequences. Do you understand me?" Chen Ge was hauled out of the room by the middle-aged man. Standing in the corridor, a chill crawled all over his heart.
"In Ying Tong's memory, the middle-aged man appeared in the form of a dead person. That means that he is probably already dead in real life. What is the reason behind his death? Was it because he had discovered Ying Chen's secret? Or had Ying Tong once told him something, but he did not believe him, and that caused Ying Chen to place a target on his back?"
Many things behind the door were connected. Chen Ge stood for a while at the door when suddenly he heard the old elevator moving. At the same time, the cats started to meow again.
"Ying Chen is coming this way in the elevator."