The shrill calls of cats drilled into his ears. Chen Ge's hands that held Ying Tong were already covered in cold sweat. He still could not see anything, but he knew that Ying Chen had already entered the corridor, and the distance between them was drawing ever closer.
"Ying Chen? Don't you normally use the elevator? Why would you be using the stairs today? Are you doing some kind of exercise?" Miss Dress' voice came from the sixth-floor corridor. Perhaps the shock from seeing the human head had not passed-her voice was still trembling slightly.
"I believed that I heard someone talking in the corridor earlier, so I came up to look. By the way, why are you here?" Ying Chen's voice came from the corner of the stairwell. Currently, there was a less than five meters between Chen Ge as well as Ying Tong and Ying Chen. If he took another few steps forward, he would be able to see Chen Ge, who was leaning closely against the wall.
"I have run out of Ah Mu's medicine, so I came up here to ask Miss Red if she has any extra." Miss Dress had slowly calmed down by then. The excuse that she gave was very convincing.
"Oh, you are here to get more medicine?" Ying Chen's voice had a lilt of relief. In fact, there was now an undercurrent of mirth in it. "It must have been difficult to look after Ah Mu, but soon, the responsibility will be taken off your hands. I have already contacted the related organization, and they will all be sent away in a few days."
"You are going to send Ah Mu away?" Miss Dress' voice betrayed her nervousness. After knowing the real Ying Chen that was hiding the mask of kindness, she could not face him like she usually did.
"Yes, I can't just expect you all to help me look after those children for nothing, right?" Ying Chen's voice echoed down the corridor. It sounded like he had walked right up to Miss Red. "After all, the reason the children ended up that way..."
Ying Chen's voice became lower and lower. Even Miss Dress had a hard time hearing him. "Sorry, what did you say?"
"I said, after all, the reason the children ended up that way..." Ying Chen sounded like he had sidled up close to Miss Dress. "... is all because of me!"
Miss Dress' body slammed heavily into the wall. The sound of muffled screams came from the corridor. Ying Chen probably covered her mouth with her hands.
"Shh, be quiet. Don't panic. I will not cut your neck here. We do not want to ruin your beautiful face, do we?" Ying Chen's voice echoed in the corridor. Like usual, the tone of his voice was like a draft of spring breeze. It brought comfort and trust. It sounded like he was playing with a bunch of kids. "When I was downstairs, I believe I heard you mention a human head. You do not need to answer. I only need you to nod or shake your head. That's all. I am sure you can do that for me, right?
"You did not say that?
"If you continue to act like this, I do not think I will like you anymore. You know what? I have always admired your honesty, just like you have always adored my passion and selflessness.
"I will ask you again. Did you mention a 'human head' earlier or not?
"Ah ha. So you did. Since you have mentioned that word, it can only mean that my little brother is nearby. Is he hiding upstairs, hiding behind one of the doors, or hiding inside the cleaning closet?
"Am I pressing too hard? Your bulging eyes appear to have subconsciously glanced upward?
"Do not worry. I will not go and hunt him for now. Do you know how many times I have imagined squeezing your neck like this? The burly arms strangling such a soft and graceful neck. The fingers pressing on your pulse, as they slowly constrict to crush your windpipe. The joy is watching the change in your expression. How could leave during such a glorious moment? You are like a graceful cat. No, you will become the most beautiful cat that I have ever gotten the pleasure to adopt."
The voices slowly died down in the corridor. By then, Chen Ge and Ying Tong had arrived at the seventh floor.
"Every floor is named according to the day of the week. The whole building is a recurring nightmare that you can't escape from. But this also means that I can probably get back to the first floor from the seventh floor." Miss Dress' room was on the first floor, and Ah Mu was still inside her room.
"Ying Chen knew that Miss Dress had seen Ying Tong, so he will not allow Ah Mu to continue staying in Miss Dress' room. He will go to get Ah Mu sooner or later. Now I have two choices. The first is to enter Miss Dress' room to find Ah Mu before Ying Chen can, but there are two risks to this plan. First, Ah Mu might open the door for me, and the knocking might raise the risk even higher. The second is that after I enter Miss Dress' room, Ying Chen might choose to wait outside the corridor for me to continue-the tiger waiting under the tree for the rabbit to come out of its hole."
Time was ticking, and Chen Ge did not have much time to spend on thinking. Ying Chen could move soundlessly, but the call of the cats was continuously echoing in his eyes. That meant that the distance between them and Ying Chen had not changed.
"If Ying Chen is allowed to take Ah Mu away, it will be incredibly difficult to find Ah Mu again. Ying Chen might even directly kill Ah Mu! If he does that, Ying Tong will lose a part of his memory permanently. If that causes Ying Tong to unable to open his eyes forever behind the door, that will be the worst case possible." Chen Ge held Ying Tong's hand and continued to move forward, but he suddenly felt some resistance from Ying Tong. The latter did not seem to want to move further anymore. "Ying Tong? Why have you stopped? Let's go."
"I think it is better if we split up. Those who wish to help me have all died, I..."
"No matter what, do not stop moving." Chen Ge did not wish to get into an argument with Ying Tong at that moment. He lowered his voice and dragged Ying Tong by his arm along the seventh-floor corridor.
Climbing up the stairs that should not have existed in the first place, Chen Ge found his way back to Miss Dress' room based on the memory that had imprinted in his mind. He knocked lightly on the door. As the knocking travelled down the corridor, so did the sound of the cat's meowing. Other than the sound of the cats, Chen Ge heard a different sound underneath the cacophony. It sounded as if something heavy like a body was being dragged on the ground.
"Ah Mu? Are you in? Would you please come and open the door? Please open the door, Ah Mu!" Chen Ge was so desperate that his forehead was covered in sweat. The cats' wailing stretched his nerves thin. It caused Chen Ge's heart to race. The sound of knocking sounded extra loud and hollow in his eyes. At that moment, he no longer worried about being exposed. Since he had made the choice, he had to suffer the consequences of making that choice. In this building, the consequences of making the wrong choice would be death.
"Ah Mu! Ah Mu!" The sound of pattering footsteps came from inside the room. At the same time, the sound of a heavy object being dragged disappeared, and in its place was a shriller and sharper meowing of the cats!
Ying Chen had abandoned the body and was running their way at full speed!
The door lock clicked open. The moment Chen Ge heard that, he pushed the door open, and dragged Ying Tong into the room by his arm. He did not dare to allow himself even a second of hesitation. He practically fell into the room. After he walked over the threshold, he slammed his body into the door and closed it. He found the lock and quickly gave it a twist!
"Do not speak! Try to not make any noise!" With his back leaning against the door, Chen Ge slid down to the floor with his arms hugging his backpack tightly. In the darkness, the sounds of the cats being slaughtered echoed in his ears. It came closer and closer until it stopped right outside the door.
Dong! Dong! Dong!
With every single knock on the door, Chen Ge's heart skipped a beat. With his back against the wall, the sweat could not stop falling. At that moment, Chen Ge was suddenly reminded of something that made his whole body freeze with dread.
Ying Chen has killed Miss Dress! And Miss Dress might have the key to this room on her body!
One could not account for everything. In such dire circumstances, even Chen Ge could not have predicted everything. After he entered this door, his nerves had been in a very tense state. The death of Miss Dress had only made his already frayed nerves even more stressed.
Calm down, Chen Ge! Miss Dress did not even take her phone with her, so she might not have taken the room key with her as well. After all, we left in such a hurry.
Chen Ge had spent quite some time with Miss Dress. In his mind, Miss Dress was someone who would not mind the details that much. Furthermore, Ah Mu was unable to leave the house. Knowing that someone would always be at home, there was a very high chance that she would not carry her keys along with her. The sound of door knocking was mixed together with the cats' meows. Chen Ge's heart raced. He had not felt so desperate and despaired in such a long time. He did not dare breathe too loudly, and time dripped past.
Half a minute later, the knocking finally stopped, but the cats had not stopped meowing. Ying Chen was still waiting outside the door. He was probably standing to the side, where the peephole was unable to see. He knew how to select a blind spot to hide himself. Chen Ge waited for another half an hour before the cats' meowing slowly faded away.
"Cunning, cruel, and extremely patient, this b*stard sure is a piece of work." Chen Ge did not waste any time. He still guarded the door by using his back to press against it as hard as he could.
"Ying Chen will definitely return. When he heard the sound of the door knocking, he rushed over here as fast as possible. That was the loudest the cats have been so far. But the sound of the heavy object being dragged stopped. This prove that he temporarily dropped Miss Dress, who was holding him back, and chose to come after me first. He has probably gone back to Miss Dress' body to search for the key.
"The sound of the heavy object being dragged stopped at the seventh-floor corridor. He'll need at most ten seconds to make this return trip. The period of time is too short for me to take Ying Tong and Ah Mu to escape with me. The only choice I have is to continue staying inside this room and hope that Miss Dress did not carry the key with her."
Standing up, Chen Ge stumbled his way through the living room. With his hands on the back of the sofa, he tried his best to nudge the sofa to block at the door.
"Ah Mu, come and help me see if the sofa is correctly blocking against the door?" Chen Ge could not see anything, so he had no choice but to ask Ah Mu for help.
"It has blocked the door, yes, but how is Miss Dress going to get in?"
"Did Miss Dress take the key with her when she left the room earlier?"
"I don't know, but I believe she did."
Ah Mu's reply chilled Chen Ge's heart. After using the sofa to fortify the door, he found the broom to angle it against the door lock.
"The two of you need to stay as far away from the door as you can. Ah Mu, can you go grab Miss Dress' phone for me?"
"Okay." Ah Mu had just given his promise when the cats started to meow again. The worst thing was other than the sound of the cats, there came the singing of the girl from the music box.
"Ying Chen and his helper are both outside the door!" The key slithered into the lock. The spring unlocked, and the smallest of clicks caused Chen Ge's neck to be covered in goosebumps. With another click, the door was opened!
But when the man tried to give the door a push, he realized that the door was unwilling to budge. The door rattled violently. Chen Ge stood on the other end of the sofa and used the entire weight of his body to press against the sofa.
"Is that Miss Dress? Has she returned?" Ah Mu's voice was shaking because the action of the person outside the door was very harsh and completely unlike Miss Dress.
"It is Ying Chen. He's the one who put you in your current state," Chen Ge whispered back.
"Ying Chen? But all the adults around me told me that it was him who took care of me. It was him who first found me. Without him, I would be dead already."
"From your understanding of the word death, it is clear that something is wrong. Ah Mu, you have forgotten many things. Perhaps you should have a little chat with Ying Tong," Chen Ge suggested in a small voice. Actually, he was quite interested in hearing the description of Ying Chen from Ying Tong's lips. What kind of elder brother was Ying Chen?
The door rattled for a long time, but with Chen Ge giving it his all, the other party failed to get into the room. Through the door, the cats kept up their calls. The wailing kept getting more and more desperate.
Amid the din, there was a man's very soft voice saying, "It took less than a minute to find the key and get back here. In that time, someone set up a blockade on the other side of the door. Whether it was the ability to make such snap decision in such a short moment or the ability to move big objects, Ying Tong is unable to do either. Other than that woman, there is another adult helping him in this building."
With the power of Ghost Ear, Chen Ge's senses were sharper than normal. After losing his sight, his other senses seemed to have gained even more improvement, so even though the man was supposed to be whispering, Chen Ge managed to hear almost everything.
"Why would someone help that horrible kid?" another voice asked. Chen Ge had heard this voice before. It was that kid who pushed him down the stairs earlier.
"Perhaps the person has been tricked by Ying Tong. As you know, Ying Tong is a very horrible kid who likes to lie." Ying Chen continued to ply his lies. "I will stay here, and I need you to get up to Room 204 on the second floor to check."
The sound of the music box disappeared, but the sound of the cats was still there. Ying Chen's helper had already left, but Ying Chen himself was still waiting outside the door. He was indeed a very patient 'hunter'.
When Chen Ge heard the conversation outside the door, he whispered for Ah Mu to get him Miss Dress' phone and asked him to call Mr. Wood's number. Once the call was connected, Chen Ge cut to the chase. "Do not speak. Just listen to me. Ying Chen has killed Miss Dress. He has currently trapped me, Ah Mu, and Ying Tong inside her room. His next target will be you or Miss Red. In a minute, someone will go to your door to check on you. I suggest you go and wait at the peephole. But do not open your door under any circumstances. That kid is Ying Chen's ally."
After hearing what Chen Ge had to say, Mr. Wood's breathing had an obvious change. He had a hard time accepting that Ying Chen had murdered Miss Dress.
"I have not had any interaction with Miss Red before, so I will need your help to call Miss Red for me and inform her about this. And tell her not to leave her room no matter what and not to open her door for anymore. The last thing I want to say is to carry your phone with you at all times. Only by working together will all of us be able to survive. I beg you to please trust me on this!"
The other side of the phone was silent for a long time before Mr. Wood replied, "Understood."
Everything fell silent, but Chen Ge understood that the danger had not passed. He returned the phone to Ah Mu, and only then did he realize that neither Ah Mu nor Ying Tong had said anything. "Ying Tong, why don't you tell us about your brother? Tell us everything you know about him."
The living room was very quiet; Ying Tong had not spoken a word.
"Are you worried about something?" Chen Ge said in a comforting tone. "Do not be afraid. Only by telling the truth will we be able to help you."
"It's no use." Ying Tong appeared to be gnawed by Miss Dress' death. He was crushed by the pain and guilt. "Everyone who hears the truth will die. Only by not seeing and not knowing will you be able to survive. I do not wish to bring any harm to any of you."
"Is that the reason you are unwilling to open your eyes even though you are not really blind?" Chen Ge grabbed Ying Chen by his hands to give him physical comfort. "But many people in this building already know the truth. Everyone wants to help you. Your world is not covered in darkness. Trust that there is light even here."
"Ying Chen only allows you to see the most extreme cruelty and unshakable sin. He murdered one person after another to try and prove to you there is nothing but darkness in the world. But think about it, even so, there are people who are willing to help you, like Miss Dress, the cleaning lady, and me." Chen Ge squeezed Ying Chen's hand. "Trust me. No matter what, I will bring you out of this place. The world outside is very beautiful. It is filled with the most vibrant of colors, and there is a blinding sea of light."
In this world that was so suffocatingly dark, a world where light could not penetrate, a blind person held another blind person by his hand, telling him the story of the light.