The situation had gotten to the worst state that it possibly could have, but Chen Ge not only had not given up hope, he still had time to comfort and encourage the people around him. Ever since he had obtained the black phone, he had been in too many impossible situations. As harrowing as those experiences were, they had taught him a lot. Pain and tragedy trained his mind and instilled in him a heart of gold, one that would not succumb to pressure so easily.
"Ying Tong, after leaving this building and walking out that door, you will be able to see the outside world. You do not need to keep yourself locked up anymore."
Not many people would be willing to talk about the outside with Ying Tong. The world that Chen Ge described, the one that was filled with color and light, was a place that Ying Tong had been yearning for all his life. The child slowly had his confidence returned to him, and he started to share the story of his elder brother.
Before Ying Chen could even remember knowing right from wrong, his mother had tried her best to stop him from playing with Ying Chen. If there was an occasion where the two siblings were together, there would be at least one of their parents staying close to watch. At the time, Ying Tong had merely thought that this was a strange arrangement. He loved spending time with his brother. He thought his brother was a very interesting person. He could always come up with many interesting new games and had many friends in the neighborhood. People liked to hang out with him. At the time, Ying Tong was like a shadow, trailing behind Ying Chen everywhere he went.
Seeing the brothers sharing such a good relationship, their parents were not happy. More than that, they were more than a bit worried. Ying Chen had been born with a problem in his sight. His eye sight was lacking compared to other normal children. When they were out playing, his elder brother would always look after him and made sure that no one bully him. For that, he always appreciated and adored his big brother. But one day, after they came back from a game of hide and seek, Ying Tong's mother dragged Ying Tong angrily into his bedroom. From outside the door, Ying Tong heard the sound of Ying Chen crying and screaming. It sounded like their father was beating Ying Chen.
Ying Tong, who was locked in his room, did not know what was happening. He even pleaded with his mother on his big brother's behalf, telling them that Ying Chen had done nothing wrong. Why would they beat Ying Chen?
In the end, his mother did not tell him why Ying Chen deserve the beating, but through the nanny, Ying Tong found out what had really happened that day. When they were playing hide and seek, Ying Chen had led Ying Tong quietly out their building and sneaked into a nearby building that was still under renovation. And then Ying Chen had made Ying Tong stand on the balcony of the third floor. The balcony did not have a safety railing. If Ying Tong had moved an inch, he would have fallen to a gristly death. Thankfully, they had been spotted by the construction workers, who quickly put a stop to the dangerous game.
Ying Tong could not wrap his mind around why his brother would do something like that to him. From that day onward, fear entered his life. He always had nightmares, and he had trouble falling asleep. The warnings that he received from his parents when he was young echoed in his mind. Slowly but surely, the impression that he had of his big brother slowly changed.
A few months later, Ying Tong woke up early one morning and realized that his elder brother's room was empty. His parents told him that his brother had been sent to receive treatment. At the time, Ying Tong was still too young to understand the full scope of the things they were telling him. His understanding of treatment was perhaps that Ying Chen had gotten a cold and needed a shot or something. He did not read too much from his parent's sad expressions.
Half a year later, a month before the tragedy that befell Ying Tong's parents, Ying Chen finally returned home. After his treatment, Ying Chen became more 'normal' than a normal person. But seeing Ying Chen in this manner, Ying Tong's father only got more worried.
One month later, Ying Tong's parents died in a car accident, and Ying Chen and Ying Tong started being taken care of by their relative, who moved in with them. Based on what Ying Tong remembered, even though the relative was greedy and stingy, he was a nice person overall. He tried his best to do right by the siblings. This completely contradicted Ying Chen's description of the period of time that the siblings had spent in their relative's care when he told Chen Ge his story outside the door.
The early passing of his parents meant that Ying Tong was far more mature than his peers. When he was five, he was forced to understand that death meant the people would never return. During the period they spent with their relative, Ying Tong also slowly discovered the other side of his big brother that he had not seen before.
Ying Chen had a very unique hobby; he liked to make insect specimens. He would dissect the insect and then put them all together. There were many similar specimens in his bedroom. This hobby lasted for some time until Ying Tong discovered the specimen of a dead bird inside Ying Chen's bedroom. To perfectly replicate a bird's living image, one would need not only the expertise of a professional taxidermist but also many taxidermy tools. Ying Tong pulled open Ying Chen's drawers out of curiosity, and they were filled to the brim with strange-looking equipment. He told his relative this, but ultimately, the relative was not close family, so they did not intervene with Ying Chen's hobby.
In the ensuing days, Ying Chen spent more and more hours away from home. He came back from school later and later. He would be covered in cat scratches or bruises whenever he showed up. This continued for some time until the people from the neighborhood watch came over with the complaint that the relative was torturing Ying Chen and Ying Tong. Even though Ying Tong tried his best to deny this baseless accusation, no one believed him. It was hard to tell what Ying Chen had fed these people, but they refused to listen to Ying Tong's side of the story. If anything, they treated Ying Tong with pity, like a child who was too afraid to tell the truth.
The relative was warned by the authorities. That night, the relative got into a serious argument with Ying Chen. The next day, the people from the neighborhood watch came again to pay another visit.
Ying Chen joined many anti domestic violence groups. It was also since that period that he started to manage his online social media account. He created this illusion that he was a poor kid who was being bullied and tortured by an outsider. The issue grew bigger and bigger until the relative was chased out of their house half a year later.
Ying Tong clearly remembered what happened that day. Before the relative left, he keyed his phone number into Ying Tong's phone that was specially made for blind people and told Ying Tong something. When Ying Tong was still a baby, Ying Chen once sneaked up to his crib and stood there, watching him for a long time. No one knew what he was up to, but they knew that he was holding something in his hands.
This was probably something that Ying Chen's father had told Ying Chen's psychiatrist, and later, it was the psychiatrist who told Ying Chen's relative. As the main victim, Ying Tong was the last to find out.
Ying Chen started to feel afraid. It was from that day that he started to stay away from his big brother, but nothing seemed to change with Ying Chen. He was still as sunny and friendly as ever. He invited Ying Tong with him every time he wanted to go out, but Ying Tong began to reject all of his invitations.
After the relative left, Ying Chen's real personality started to show little by little. Strange smells started to leak out from his room, but at that moment, Ying Chen still had not done anything to harm Ying Tong. In fact, he took great care of Ying Tong. He helped Ying Tong manage his eyes every day, and he would inquire about the recovery of his eyesight.
Following the early treatment, Ying Tong had recovered part of his sight, but he did not dare to reveal that to his big brother. He acted like it was the same as when he was young. He kept telling Ying Chen that nothing had changed. Ying Tong was lying; however, the scary part was that Ying Chen probably knew that Ying Tong was lying, but he did not burst that bubble.
From insect, to birds, to stray cats, when Ying Tong thought that his big brother would not get any worse, he found clumps of hair that was matted with blood inside his brother's school bag. Ying Chen spent more and more time outside the house. He changed the locks all over the house, and only Ying Chen had access to the keys.
Ying Tong hid inside his own bedroom, but he could not stop hearing the noises that came from outside his door late at night. Ying Chen's footsteps would echo between the kitchen, bedroom, and the bathroom. Occasionally, there would be these noises that were impossible to describe.
This continued for a while until Ying Chen went out to 'throw away the rubbish' one late night, and Ying Tong noticed that Ying Chen's bedroom door was open. He sneaked into it, and the sight that he saw would forever be seared into his mind. There was an arm that dangled out from the bottom of Ying Chen's bed. That was undeniably a human body that Ying Chen was 'working on'.
Ying Chen did not go into detail about what happened later that night. He only told Chen Ge and Ah Mu that it was at that moment that he decided he need to run away from home. But the problem was, Ying Tong did not have the keys to their house. Normally, he was locked inside his room by his big brother. That continued until the date of his sixth birthday. Ying Chen said that the relative wanted to come and see him, and he was waiting downstairs with presents and cake for him.
Ying Chen left home for the first time with joy and hope surging in his heart, but when he reached the first floor, he did not see his relative. He took out his phone and called his relative's number. After it rang for a few times, it was answered. To his consternation, it was his own brother's voice that came through the line. "Look behind you."
He turned subconsciously around, and he came face to face with a pair of scissors that Ying Chen aimed right at his eyeballs. The fear in his eyes was impossible for hide especially for a young kid at the age of six. Ying Chen noted down the change in Ying Tong's expression to the smallest detail.
It was then that Ying Chen knew Ying Tong was not completely blind, so based on his own ideals, he started to 'fix' his younger brother.
At this point of the story, Ah Mu room started to act up in the small behind the door. He started to cry so badly that his breath was catching in his throat. It felt like he was being held hostage and had his eyes pulled wide open while someone use something sharp to stab his eyes again and again. The fear of the tip of the scissors as they slowly approached the eyes before they stopped at the very last moment burned and singed his brain, and this experience was repeated again and again.
The front door kept shaking. Ying Tong had revealed to Ah Mu the real reason behind his aichmophobia. The night of his sixth birthday was one of the few memories that he was most unwilling to remember.
"I have tried to escape three times in total, and Ying Chen used three different kinds of methods to warn me each time," Ying Tong said. "Now I am attempting my fourth escape. Who knows what he will do to me next?"
"The first time you tried to escape, he caused you to suffer from aichmophobia, and that led to the creation of the persona Ah Mu. There are still Ah Ying and Ah Tong inside this building. They should correspond to your other two escapes." Chen Ge squeezed his body against the sofa and tried his best to push against it. Ah Mu had already lost all control. His breathing was coming unevenly. If they did not do anything soon, the boy would be in fatal danger. "Ying Tong, I need you to go inside the bedroom to look. I remember Miss Dress fed Ah Mu his medicine inside the bedroom. Perhaps there are still some pills left on the bedside table."
Chen Ge waited for a long time, but Ying Tong did not budge. He stood frozen where he was.
The louder Ah Mu screamed, the more violently the door shook. It felt like Ying Chen was getting desperate as well. Of all the people present, Ying Tong stood in the living room like the chaos was beyond him, like he was looking in from the outside. Chen Ge wanted to reach over to give Ah Mu a comforting pat on his back, but when his hand touched Ah Mu, he noticed that Ah Mu's body was deconstructing. His joints were broken, and his limbs were getting twisted like the dolls placed on Ying Tong's bedside table.
"What's going on?"
"When I was conversing with Ah Mu earlier, I was reminded of something." Ying Tong's voice started again. He was standing next to Chen Ge. "Do you know what the medicine that Ying Chen gave them is made of?"
"What is it?" Chen Ge had no idea why Ying Tong would suddenly bring this up. The most urgent thing to do now was to save the boy.
"It was made from my flesh and blood." Ying Tong gave a gory answer. "Ah Mu is the representation of my pain and my anxiety, but he is also the obedient kid that I have presented myself before Ying Chen..."
The door vibrated harder and harder. Hearing Ah Mu's spine-tingling screams, it seemed to have spurred Ying Chen on.
"They are me, and I am them. I will accept their pain because they are originally a part of me. I cannot separate myself from them. I have been searching for them throughout the building. Only by finding them will I become a complete person, and I will no longer be a monster who has been 'dissected' by Ying Chen."
Ying Tong held Chen Ge's hand and then went over to hug the thin and weak Ah Mu. He was embracing his own past, listening to his past self's screams and wails. This continued for some time. When the screaming finally stopped, both Chen Ge and Ying Tong felt a jolt of pain through their heart.
The darkness before their eyes seemed to have dissipated slightly. It was still blurry and hard to discern, but there appeared to be pinpricks of light.
Due to his fear of Ying Chen, even though Ying Tong had already recovered his power of sight, he had to act like a blind person. If he wanted to open his eyes, he needed to first face his innate fear of Ying Chen. Only by accepting the memories from the past would he have the chance to open his eyes.
Ah Mu had disappeared. What was left behind was a doll with a contorted body beside Chen Ge and Ying Tong. They reached out to touch it. The doll was very small, and there was an uneven depression on its face. It probably meant that it had an ugly face. Chen Ge placed the doll into Ying Tong's pocket. Honestly, he did not know how to feel at that moment. Ah Mu had already been accepted by Ying Tong, and some blurry light had returned to their sight. Their eyes had recovered slightly but only ever so slightly.
"Looks like to fully recover our sight, we need to find Ah Ying and Ah Tong."
The only person in the room who was not blind had turned into a doll. Ying Chen was still waiting to pounce on them outside the door. The situation had not changed. If anything, it had only gotten worse. Chen Ge took Miss Dress' phone. He could feel the heft of the phone in his grasp, but he could not see it. In his line of sight, in the world of darkness, there was only a small halo of light that appeared to be very far away.
"Ah Mu found Mr. Wood's number through the contact list. After I ended the call with Mr. Wood, the phone should have returned to the contact list number." Chen Ge was trying to give Mr. Wood another call when the vibration of the front door suddenly stopped.
The shrill cat's meowing was fading away as well. Ying Chen appeared to be leaving the door in a hurry. "He's left?"
It was impossible for Ying Chen not to have heard the great commotion coming from inside the room. He would know that Ah Mu had been accepted by Ying Tong, so he would continue to search for the other two kids. Chen Ge grabbed his backpack with one hand and Ying Tong with another. He knew that this was their chance.
"We are on the ground floor, Miss Red is on the sixth floor, and Mr. Wood is on the second floor. If Ying Chen runs to the second floor, we will go downstairs to find Miss Red. If Ying Chen goes to Miss Red, we will go to second floor to find Mr. Wood. We only have a window of a few seconds."
Staying in this room was too dangerous, the door might be broken through at any time, so Chen Ge was ready to leave.
"Ying Tong, be prepared. No matter what happens, you have to stay close to me."
Chen Ge trained his focus as he moved to the door and grabbed hold of the doorknob. The cat's noises were getting smaller, but strangely enough, it unsettled Chen Ge that they had not completely disappeared. Ying Chen had left, but he could be waiting at a spot not far away from the door. In fact, he could be hiding in the stairwell.
"The b*stard is waiting for me to open the door and then he'll jump out at us, huh?"
After a few minutes, the cats' meows disappeared completely, but Chen Ge was still too worried to leave.
"Ying Chen keeps moving away. He must have noticed something already. Even though he has already left, there might be another person standing outside the door." Chen Ge held his breath and focused on his hearing. "Assuming the words that he said outside the door earlier were purposely meant for me to hear, it appears like he has ordered his helper to go to the second floor, but in reality, his helper might have switched off the music box and currently be waiting for us outside the door."