"Why would something like this happen? Most psychological problems can be traced back to a source. He would not suffer from this kind of illness for no reason. One is not born like this. Something must have happened to trigger this."
Many people had phobias in their lives, but they could often get it under control so that it would not affect their everyday life. However, the child inside the room had reached the stage of being unable to cope with this trauma without the use of drugs to shake off the fear. This was a very dangerous situation.
"You are not wrong, but I have no idea how the child got this illness. I suppose you can consider me his nanny." The woman spoke in a very slow and drawn out voice. After the boy inside the room had his medicine, his situation seemed to turn for the better, and the woman gave an audible sigh of relief.
"He is ailing from a psychological problem, and to cure this problem, we have to go to its source." Chen Ge took several steps toward where the woman was standing. Since he was unable to see anything, he could only use the wall as his guide.
"I wish I can find the source of the problem as well, and I want the best for him, but no matter how hard I try to ask, the child does not seem to have an answer. If anything, it feels like he is not aware of the source of the problem himself." The woman sounded helpless and weak. "So, in the end, I had no choice but to give up."
"Do you mind if I have a few words with him? I am a doctor that specializes in psychology and psychiatry." Chen Ge was in a way thankful that he had met Doctor Gao before. The doctor, despite everything, had taught him many things, especially those related to the human psyche. Chen Ge sounded like Doctor Gao before he had become all unhinged. A psychologist first must have the ability for the patients to put their guard down around him before he was given access to the patient's world. In terms of his appearance and presence, Chen Ge fitted this condition perfectly.
"You are a psychologist? I do not remember anyone from our building who works in this field. Are you a new tenant who just moved here?"
"I suppose you can say that. I can swear on my life that I only want what is the best for the child." Chen Ge pointed toward his eyes with a bitter smile. "I have trouble seeing with my eyes. I am unable to do anything harmful. If you think I have done anything that is unsatisfactory, you can chase me out any time you want."
The blindness turned Chen Ge into one of the more vulnerable party, but that did not mean that he would not use that to his advantage to earn some pity points.
"The child is rather fragile. It is fine as long as you watch the words that you use." The woman reached out voluntarily to grab Chen Ge by his elbow. "Be careful. The sofa is in front of us. At this point, we have to turn left..."
Chen Ge noticed something. In this world, the adult tenants of this building did not appear to be as evil as the adults in the other worlds. Of course, they were not saints. If anything, they felt like normal living human beings to Chen Ge.
I really hate to associate them with dead bodies.
With the woman leading the way, Chen Ge entered deeper into the house. The smell in the air intensified, and to make things worse, there was a smell of rotting meat mixed into the air. This was something that was not present in the middle-aged man's house. "By the way, do you mind telling me what your relationship with the boy is?"
"Our relationship?" The woman was silent for a while before she gave an answer that Chen Ge did not expect at all. "I suppose you can consider the two of us as friends. He has nowhere else to go, so I am temporarily looking after him."
The woman's answer was too ambiguous. After she said that, she left the room, leaving Chen Ge together with the boy inside the room. Tracing his steps by the cupboard and closet, Chen Ge walked until his leg bumped into the edge of the bed. He sat down slowly. "Can you hear my voice? I am so sorry that I am unable to see you. If you are by my side, can you please say something or pat me lightly on the palm of my hand."
Chen Ge opened his palm, and he waited for quite some time before he felt a chilly jolt coming from the center of his palm. The chill was different from the lifelessness of a dead body. The touch felt soft. If anything, it did not feel like he was touched by a person. Rather, it felt like his palm was brushed by a gust of wind.
"Ying Tong?" Chen Ge subconsciously called out the name, but he did not get any response.
Moments later, about one meter away from Chen Ge, a boy's voice said, "My name is Ah Mu."
The boy's voice was about sixty percent similar to Ying Tong's voice in real life, but it was exceptionally young. Chen Ge had seen the information on both Ying Chen and Ying Tong at the police station. In real life, Ying Tong should be ten years old already, but the boy before him sounded more like a boy about four or five.
"Ah Mu, can you please tell me how you got to know the big sister outside the door?" Chen Ge first wanted to get to know the identity of the adults. If the woman was trustworthy, he would try everything within his power to get her to be his ally. Staying alone in this building was much too dangerous.
"You mean Miss Dress?" the boy asked in a surprisingly frightened voice.
"Miss Dress?" The boy had a strange way of addressing the woman. It felt like the name a child would give his toy. "Do you call her that normally?"
"Yes, Miss Dress and Mr. Wood have always been taking care of me. They are very nice people. They play games with me and often include me in different activities." The boy sounded innocent and bright, but what he said caused Chen Ge to break out in goosebumps.
From his perspective, all the tenants in this building, other than Ying Tong and Ying Chen, were dead bodies. It was clear that the names Miss Dress and Mr. Wood were names given to them by the boy himself. There was a speculation that appeared in his mind, but it was too cruel of an assumption, so Chen Ge did not dare voice it lest it triggered the boy.
"Are Miss Dress and Mr. Wood husband and wife?" Chen Ge asked a random question to break the tension.
"No, Miss Dress has a very bad temper, and she pops off very easily. That's why Mr. Wood does not like her very much," the boy said in a scared voice. "Mr. Wood and I are both a bit afraid of Miss Dress."
"Don't think that I didn't hear that!" The woman's voice came from the living room. "Who taught you to say those horrible things?"
Well, in that moment, the woman did sound like she had a temper.
"But even though Miss Red has a bad temper, she has a gentle side to her as well. Whenever I am sick, she will always appear to take care of me. She sits down to chat with me and tell me stories." The boy painted a very beautiful picture. When he said these things, he should have had a big smile on his face. Even though Chen Ge could not see it, he could hear the smile in the boy's voice.
"She will always appear whenever you are sick, huh? Is she here because your father and mother ask her to?" Chen Ge tried to probe around with the boy's memory.
"Yes, my father and mother went to somewhere very far away. When they left, they asked Miss Dress, Mr. Wood, and Miss Red to help look after me."
"There are three of them?" The boy made it sound like they were three living caretakers, but Chen Ge was thinking about three dead zombies.
"Ah Mu, do you mind describing what the three of them look like?" Chen Ge did not reach into the boy's painful memory. He did not bring up aichmophobia or ask how did the boy get an illness like that, but he followed along with the fairy tale that was made up by the boy like a loyal listener who had submerged himself fully into the boy's story.
"Miss Dress always dresses herself in a long dress, and the dress is embroidered with many flowers. Each flower feels different to the touch. Mr. Wood does not like to speak. His skin feels hard to the touch like the bark of a tree. Miss Red is a very clean person, but her hair is always wet. She has a special preference for the color red, and everything she owns is red in color."
The boy did not have an introverted personality. He seemed to like chatting with other people. Like someone who was showing off his toys, he rattled off the names and the properties of the three 'people'.
Chen Ge did not pay much attention to the introduction to Miss Dress and Mr. Wood, but when the boy talked about the last person, Miss Red, his interest was piqued. Miss Dress and Mr. Wood's properties could be felt from the sense of touch, but Miss Red was different. There was the word 'Red' in her name, but theoretically speaking, a blind kid should not be able to tell the difference in color.
The boy before him referred to himself as Ah Mu, and Miss Dress had mentioned earlier that the boy had perfect sight, so he should not be Ying Tong. However, after hearing the boy's voice, Chen Ge felt like the boy sounded very similar to Ying Tong. Such a coincidence could not exist in the world. He believed that the boy must be connected to Ying Tong somehow, but he just had not figured out what that connection was.
Chen Ge asked the boy more questions about his parents. From what the boy said, Chen Ge could determine that the boy missed his parents very much. In the boy's memory, his parents always cared about him. They lavished him with unconditional love. The boy's parents were like a pair of a gentle hands that cupped the boy within them to shield him from the rest of the world.
At this point, Chen Ge noticed something out of place. Based on what the boy had told him, he had had a wonderful childhood. There was nothing traumatic about it, so where did the source of his phobia come from? It made no sense at all. Why would a child living in such a warm and healthy environment end up with aichmophobia?
Based on what Miss Dress said, once the boy saw something with a sharp edge, he would imagine people using that to poke his eyes blind. What kind of experience had he been through to have an impression like that? What was the moment that caused this change in his life?
After getting a brief impression of the boy's life, Chen Ge asked the next question cautiously, "Ah Mu, do you know Ying Chen and Ying Tong who live on the seventh floor?"
"I do not know them. I have been staying put in my room. I have never left this room."
"You do not know them?" To seek a second opinion, Chen Ge turned to the living room to shout the question at Miss Dress, "Has Ah Mu never walked out of this room before?"
"Naturally, with his aichmophobia, he acts up whenever he hears the word sharp or pointed, much less seeing a sharp object in person. In the state that he is in, how could I allow him to leave the room? I'd worry too much about him." Miss Dress' voice drifted in from the living room. Then Chen Ge heard the sound of water being poured. After a while, the footsteps came to the room. "Do you want something to drink?"
"It's fine." Chen Ge was not brave enough to accept a drink from a stranger, especially when he was in the world behind the door and unable to tell what the drink actually was. "Ah Mu does not know Ying Tong and Ying Chen, but as a tenant here, you should know the two siblings, right?"
"Of course, they are a pair of poor brothers too. Their parents died when they were young, and they raised by their relative." Miss Dress seemed to know Ying Chen and Ying Tong very well.
"Then, what is your impression of the brothers? Can you tell me more about them?" Chen Ge finally found a 'person' who was willing to communicate with him, so he used this opportunity to ask as many questions as he could.
"The big brother is the most perfect man you will ever meet in your life. He is kind, generous, and the best around animals. He is very serious with his work and is a very good student. I like him very much.
"About the younger brother, I cannot say the same thing. If anything, I feel like the younger brother has dragged down his elder brother. Without him, Ying Chen would have a much better life. His younger brother is blind in both eyes, and he cannot even look after himself. He also likes to say these strange things. If you ask me, I believe there is something wrong with his mind."
What Miss Dress said unsettled Chen Ge very deeply. In Miss Dress' eyes, Ying Chen was as perfect as an individual could possibly be, but it was the complete opposite for Ying Tong.
"Sometimes, what you see might not be the real deal." Chen Ge felt like even if he told the woman directly that Ying Chen was a murderer, she would not believe him.
"I am so sorry. I forgot that you are blind as well. I hope that you understand I do not have anything against the blind. It is just that the younger brother is a very strange boy. He cannot survive on his own without his elder brother, and he likes to create problems. He always tries to run away from him, but at the same time, he cannot leave his elder brother because how is a blind boy supposed to look after himself?" Miss Dress was very direct with her words.
"You hate Ying Tong that much? But don't you think Ying Tong is rather similar to Ah Mu?" Chen Ge might be blind, but he could sense something through the things that he had heard. However, Miss Dress did not appear to be able to make the connection between Ah Mu and Ying Tong.
"You have to be kidding. Ah Mu just celebrated his sixth birthday, and that Ying Tong is about ten already. Their heights are completely different."
"I wasn't talking about their appearance. Why did you mention their height instead?" To prove his suspicion, Chen Ge pressed further.
"Now that you mention it, their appearance couldn't be more different. Ying Chen has a very horrid face. It is completely different from Ah Mu's." What Miss Dress said next send a chill down Chen Ge's spine. "Ying Tong rarely leaves his room. I remember this one time when he tried to sneak away from home, but he tripped among the field of pebbles. A large part of his face was scratched, and a nail almost pierced into the space near to his eyes. If his elder brother did not find him in time, I can't begin to imagine what would have happened next."
"His face was ruined?" Chen Ge had a sneaking suspicion that this 'accident' was created by Ying Chen. Ying Tong probably knew about this as well, so he had been trying to escape again and again. But in reality, every time Ying Tong tried to escape, he would be captured back by Ying Chen. Chen Ge should be reliving Ying Tong's life. As a blind person, it was practically impossible to escape from Ying Chen.
"Fine, even though their height and appearance are different, did you notice that they sound quite similar?" Chen Ge still had not given up. It was hard for him to find a reasonable 'person' to converse with behind the door, and he did not want to give up so easily.
"Fine, I will concede to you on that point. They do sound quite similar, but that cannot really prove anything. Before puberty, most boys sound the same anyway."
"How come you just cannot get it?" Chen Ge wiped away the sweat from his forehead. "Fine, we will not talk about that anymore. Then, can you tell me more about the exact situation with Ah Mu's parents? Why would they come to you to look after Ah Mu?"
"Are you really that dull, or are you acting dumb?" Miss Dress' tone had a hint of dissatisfaction weaved into it. She grabbed Chen Ge by his elbow and dragged him out of the room.
"What are you doing?" The woman closed the door and ensured that Ah Mu would not be able to hear them. "Hasn't Ah Mu already told you that his parents have gone to a faraway place? Why would you ask a question like that? Now, I really suspect you are not really a psychologist at all."
"Are Ah Mu's parents dead?"
"Yes, Ah Mu is an orphan. In fact, he was an orphan found by Ying Chen outside the residential area. He was helpless and alone. In the end, after an internal discussion among the tenants, we decided to look after them together."
"Wait, you said 'them'?" Chen Ge caught the keyword within the sentence that the woman said.
"Yes, they are triplets. Ah Mu, Ah Tong, and Ah Ying. It was Ying Chen who found these three kids. He saw how pitiable the children were, but he was unable to take care of all of them on his own, so he pleaded with us to help him look after them. When he was done with the procedure, he would send the three kids to the nearby orphanage." What Miss Dress said caused Chen Ge sucked in a cold breath.
"It was Ying Chen who asked you all to look after these three kids?"
"What do you think? In today's society, there are very few people who are as kind and as selfless as Ying Chen anymore. He has done so much and gone to so many places for these three children. He has given them so much of his time and energy." Miss Dress had a very good impression of Ying Chen. It felt like if she was asked to praise Ying Chen, she could go on for the whole night.
"Then, do all the three children all suffer from some kind of illness?" Even though he was given only the barest of information, Chen Ge cut through the dredge and asked the most vital question.
"How did you know that? Then again, if they were perfectly fine, they would have been adopted already," Miss Dress whispered softly. "Ah Mu has aichmophobia. Ah Tong has claustrophobia, and he will act out if he is left alone inside a room. Ah Ying has the rarest illness. It is called lygophobia. He will act up when he hears loud noises like screams and shouts."
"Have you ever considered why the three kids got illnesses like these and why it was Ying Chen who first discovered them?"
"I have not wondered about that question before, but it is probably related to their biological parents."
"But in Ah Mu's memory, his parents are nothing but a pair of angels. They are the warmest part of his memory." At this point, Chen Ge's expression was very dark. Through these little clues, he had a very dangerous speculation forming in his mind.
Miss Dress, Mr. Wood, and Miss Red should be Ying Chen's real life victims. Ying Tong, who was his prisoner, knew about the truth, but he did not dare tell anyone else. In fact, he ended up befriending these three 'people'.
From how Chen Ge saw it, even though there was a problem with Ying Tong's eyes, he was not completely blind.
Living within the ugly world that Ying Chen had created, he suffered from many different mental traumas. But he knew that only by pretending to be fully blind would he be able to survive, so he locked up the fragile, fearful, and remaining beautiful memories that he had in his life and split them into different personalities. They were the innocent Ah Mu, Ah Ying, and Ah Tong.
Ying Tong himself would continue to be an honest blind person and kept searching for his way out.