Chen Ge silently sneaked his way to the dam. He slowly approached the pair of mother and son. When he was about five to six meters away from them, he yelled, "Calm down! What are you planning to do!"
At this distance, no matter what kind of rash decision they made, Chen Ge would have enough time to stop and rescue them. Hearing Chen Ge's voice, the mother turned around to his direction with shock. She appeared to have not expected to run into anyone so early in the morning at a place like this.
"Can we sit down for a talk?" Chen Ge reached his hand out. He stopped where he was and maintained a safe distance so that he would not place too much psychological pressure on the pair. After experiencing so much, Chen Ge was not so different from a trained suicide intervention worker.
"I think you have some kind of misunderstanding." The woman smiled. She pulled the boy's hand and wanted to walk away from the dam, but the boy was unwilling. He kept making this grumbling voice and used every ounce of energy in his body to resist. The woman's voice when she spoke and the expression that she had when speaking were completely normal; she did not appear like those who had been pressed by life to the end of their line.
With an audible sigh of relief, Chen Ge slowly walked toward the mother and son.
"Why would you bring your son over the railing? That is too dangerous. What if either of you slip and fall? The dam is very deep. If you were captured by the water ghosts, imagine how scary that will be."
"I am so sorry. We will pay more attention to this in the future." The woman still held the boy's hand, and when Chen Ge's approached, she silently moved to stand guardedly before him as if she did not want Chen Ge to see the boy's face.
"Do not stay too close to the water, especially when you have a child with you." Chen Ge was not joking about the danger of the water ghosts. Chen Ge had encountered them on his mission before. The little boy was standing at the edge of the water, and he had been reaching out to touch the surface of the water. If a water ghost had reached out to pull into the dam, the consequences would have been unimaginably bad.
After a lot of time and effort, the woman finally managed to drag the boy away from the dam and over the railing. The boy did not appear to know how to speak. The voices that came out of his lips were more akin to mumbles. His hands gripped the railing tightly as he continued to struggle.
"He seems to like water a lot," Chen Ge commented when he saw this strange reaction from the boy.
"It's not that. The boy just likes to come to this particular dam to play. I also have no idea why. If he does not get to come to Eastern Jiujiang Dam at least once a day, he will make life very difficult for me."
"Your child..." Chen Ge's eyes leaped over the woman to look at the boy whom she was guarding behind her. The boy had a very cute face, but perhaps because he had been crying and struggling, his eyes were particularly red-rimmed. There were blood vessels at the bottom of his eyes, and they were not as clear as a normal boy's eyes should be.
"I promise to pay more attention in the future." The woman did not answer Chen Ge's floating question. It appeared like she did not like discussing her own child with other people. Holding the boy's hand, the woman told the boy gently, "It's time to go."
Her voice was laced with heavy love and concern. It was clear that she adored this child even though he was slightly different from other children.
"I have heard some things about this dam from the manager of this place before. I do not know whether they are real or not," Chen Ge whispered as if in an afterthought. "He told me that there are water ghosts living inside this dam, and at the bottom of the dam, there is a sunken coffin. Some children saw piles of black grass floating at the side of the water. They went to look out of curiosity, and they shockingly realized that the grass was actually the hair of the water ghosts. When the children got dangerously close to the water, they would be dragged down by the water ghosts and then locked up inside the sunken coffin."
When Chen Ge said those things, he kept his attention on the boy. Unfortunately, he did not discern any unusual reactions from the boy.
"You still believe these things? The manager probably made up those stories to warn the children from getting too close to the water and to stop them from jumping into the dam to swim and play." The woman did not believe in talk of the supernatural.
"I have some pictures with me that might prove that the manager was telling the truth." Chen Ge took out his own phone and found the picture when the police came to the dam to salvage the dead bodies and when they took out the large number of dolls from inside the coffin. The sun was slowly rising. It dispersed the light fog that had lingered on the surface of the lake. The scenery there was actually breathtaking, but unfortunately, no one at the dam was in the mood to admire it. Chen Ge held his phone up for the woman and showed her the pictures that he had saved.
From the perspective of a normal person, Chen Ge would appear to be a very strange fella. Early in the morning, he intercepted a mother and son who appeared to be passing by, and then he started to tell them scary stories and show them horrifying pictures. A normal person's reaction would be to brush Chen Ge off and come out with an excuse to hurry away, but the mother's reaction was slightly different. While holding her son's hand, she kept countering Chen Ge's statements.
Even when she was given the proof of the pictures, the woman refused to believe any hearsay about ghosts and Specters. If anything, she kept insisting to Chen Ge that all those supernatural stories were made up. Chen Ge initially thought that the woman was just a firm believer in her faith, but soon, he noticed something wrong. The woman eventually started to appear like she was not trying to persuade Chen Ge, but she was feeding herself the words again and again.
Is it possible that she knows something? But she refuses to acknowledge them?
Chen Ge had a good impression of this woman. After going through the many doors during the ghost fetus trial mission, he had a newfound respect for parents who took good care of their children. When Chen Ge was still in an argument with the woman, each trying to convince the other their point of view, the boy started to make a scene again. He gripped the railing tightly and started to shake. He wanted to get close to the water.
"Has something happened to you or this boy here?" Chen Ge turned his attention back to the boy. He felt like he would not get any further information from the parent.
"No, the boy has been like this since he was young. He will only calm down when he comes here. I personally do not understand why." Once the woman was brought back to the topic of her own son, her voice softened. It was obvious that she harbored no ill intention toward her child, and she did not want others to think that her child was that different from the other normal kids.
"I worked at an orphanage for quite some time. I have encountered a boy with similar condition, but the difference was that the child like to visit haunted houses." Chen Ge walked to the boy and knelt down beside him. He followed the boy's gaze and looked into the distance. "Are you looking for something? Is there something that is bothering you under the water?"
The woman did not wish for Chen Ge to have a conversation with her child. She pulled her boy behind her, but the boy refused to let go of his grip on the railing. He cried and resisted. The woman had probably already gotten used to all this already. No matter how big a commotion the boy made, she did not get mad, but the worry at the bottom of her eyes was getting more and more obvious.
"Can you tell uncle what your name is?" Chen Ge felt like he had always been good with children, but this boy before him had completely ignored him. It was like he was locked in his own world, and he only kept only crying and wailing.
"I have toys with me. Would you like to play with them?" Chen Ge opened his backpack and poked his head in to take a look before silently zipping his backpack up again. None of the things inside the backpack seemed appropriate for a child.
"I am so sorry, but we have been here for quite some time already. It should be time for us to go home." The woman picked up the boy who was still crying, and she wanted to forcibly carry the boy away. Chen Ge kept his eyes on the surface of the water. He dropped this question in the intention of a test. "Are you looking for your past?"
Seeing as the woman continued to carry the boy away, Chen Ge stood up and asked another question, "Are you looking for the ghost fetus' past?"
He was just trying his luck. He thought that the boy was acting very strangely, but to his surprise, when he mentioned the term 'ghost fetus', the boy suddenly stopped crying. It was so sudden that it even startled the boy's own mother. The breeze caused ripples on the surface of the water. The boy's eyes moved to fall on Chen Ge for the first time. It seemed like the term 'ghost fetus' carried a very special meaning to him.
"Sir, what did you just say?" The woman stopped moving and turned around to accost Chen Ge.
"It was nothing." Chen Ge's expression was severe, and he gave off a very unsettling presence. It was like a patient had gone to the hospital suspecting that he had been infected by some horrible disease. Then he was sitting in the consultation room after his inspection, but the doctor held the results and said nothing while looking at him with a serious countenance. That was how the woman was feeling. The more Chen Ge was unwilling to share, the more curious she was because this situation had never happened before.
"Fine, if you do not want to tell, so be it." After standing there in a stalemate for a long time, the woman bowed slightly to Chen Ge.
As she turned to leave, Chen Ge's voice came from behind her. "Now, do you believe me?"
The woman's footsteps halted again. The expression on her face was one of helplessness. "What is it that you want from us? Can you please get to the point already?"
"Your child might not be yours."
When Chen Ge came up with that statement, it obviously triggered the woman. She ignored Chen Ge and turned to leave.
"I know that it will sound grating to your ears, but I do not wish to lie to you. There is another person living inside your child."
Initially, Chen Ge was just testing out his theory. He himself did not expect that once he mentioned the words 'ghost fetus', the boy would react like he did. This could only mean that the word had a place in the deep recesses of his memory. In other words, Chen Ge felt like he had perhaps stumbled upon the ghost fetus' very last candidate.
Assuming that his previous analysis was all correct and the ghost fetus had buried his past in the cave inside the dam, the fact that the boy would be pulled here every day was obviously because he was attracted by his buried memory, and he wanted to look for his past. The chance of the ghost fetus being inside this boy's body was very high. Of all the children, only this boy was attracted to this place by the ghost fetus' memory. Of course, this was all mere speculation from Chen Ge. There was a chance that this was just misdirection by the ghost fetus to confuse him.
"I know that my child is a bit different from other children his age, but I still think you have crossed the line for saying something as horrible as that." The woman hugged the boy, and the tiredness was plain in her eyes. It felt as if she had repeated this statement to many other people before. By now, she had tired herself out by explaining the situation, and she did not feel like doing it anymore.
"Chill down. I do not mean you or your child any harm. Honestly, I might profess that I have very rich experience in helping children like your boy."
"Who exactly are you? Have we met each other somewhere else before?"
"I know it is pointless for me to say anything else. I only need you to trust me this one time." Chen Ge opened his phone to click open the past news on the local crime channel and news network. "These are all the articles on me. I assure you that I mean you and your child no harm."
It was extremely difficult to gain a stranger's trust, but Chen Ge had an advantage that worked in his favor, and that was his 'reputation' within the Jiujiang law enforcement system. With the testimonials from the police, most people would choose to trust Chen Ge. The woman's attitude softened slightly. She studied the articles and even suspected that some of them were made up.
So, she took out her own phone and did her own search, and in that process, she found out about Chen Ge's actual occupation-the operator of a theme park's haunted house. That just made this already strange encounter even more interesting.
"I was not lying to you, was I?"
"You are quite famous." The woman appeared gentle and soft on the surface, but after spending some time with her, Chen Ge realized that this was a protective layer that she put on. It was not that the woman refused to trust others-she had gotten too used to relying on herself.
"Now, I hope that we can sit down and have a good chat." Chen Ge turned to look at the boy. "When did this happen to him?"
"I honestly do not know how to answer that question. Perhaps he was born different. I could not stop feeling that this was all my fault. But either way, the boy is innocent. Perhaps we merely have not learned how to accept the way that he is." The child was a soft spot for the woman. It was the thing that gave her a backbone, and it was also the thing that scarred her heart the deepest. "The doctors say that my son suffers from autism, and he should receive treatment as early as he can, but I feel like... Sigh... never mind. The doctors are probably right, and I was just overthinking it."
The woman was still hiding something. She refused to share it with Chen Ge, and Chen Ge did not pressure her to do so.
"Do you mind letting me see where the boy normally lives?" Chen Ge wanted to go to the woman's home to see if he could find any clues but coming out directly with that request sounded quite rude, so he phrased it in a more rounded way.
"That is no problem, but I have to get to work. How about I meet you again at noon?" The woman passed Chen Ge a business card. Then, as if she did not wish to waste any more time, she left in a hurry.
"An estate agent?" Chen Ge took a glance at the business card before placing it inside his back. "New Century Park is about to open for business soon. It is unrealistic for me to get into the dam myself."
He carried his backpack to a place that was shaded from the sun. Flipping through the comic, he summoned Xu Yin, Xiao Bu, Men Nan, and the Red Specter water ghost.
"There is a favor that I need to ask from you." Chen Ge stared at the water ghost. "In a minute, I need you to lead the three of them into the dam. I need you to help me look for a coffin. There is a large hole behind that coffin. I want you guys to go inside the hole to investigate it for me and see what's hiding inside."
"I can do this alone. There is no reason to trouble them." The water ghost was being so kind and friendly, a complete 180 from his first encounter with Chen Ge.
"Don't worry, I'm not asking them to follow you because I am afraid that you might run away. I want them to protect you. The hole is very dangerous. You must not let your guard down." Chen Ge sent them into the water dam, and then he waited beside the dam. About half an hour passed, but none of the Red Specters returned.
"Could there have been an accident? Impossible, with Xiao Bu there, even if they run into a Top Red Specter, they should be able to at least retreat safely." He continued to wait for some time. Just as Chen Ge was about to flip through the comic to summon more Red Specters to find the earlier group, the smell of blood in the air thickened, and the few Red Specters appeared soundlessly beside Chen Ge.
"So, did you find anything?" Seeing how blanched the water ghost was, Chen Ge had a very bad feeling.
"The cave appears to be connected to the few major rivers across Jiujiang. It is an underwater maze down there. We swam for a long time, but we still could not find an exit." Men Nan was the first to speak. "And there appears to be something very scary residing inside the cave. The thing gives off a presence that threatens even Xiao Bu."
"Even Xiao Bu feels threatened? A normal Red Specter cannot do that."
"The thing that gave off that presence did not appear to be a Red Specter." The water ghost looked worse for wear. Initially, he really did think about escaping but once he entered the cave, he abandoned the thought and stuck as close to Xiao Bu as he could.
"Then, what do you think it is?"
"I am not sure, but it is probably not a ghost or a spirit. Oh, we also found these inside the cave..." The water ghost took out two roughly-hewn statuettes. They were a pair, one male and one female. Chen Ge's parent's names were blurrily carved on them.
"Where exactly did you find these inside the cave?"
"The whole cave system is filled with their statuettes, but almost of them have been destroyed in some way. It felt like someone made them and then purposely ruined them. We searched for a long time before we managed to find these two that were still relatively intact."