"Hello? Hello! Where are you now! I can help you, I can help you!" Chen Ge screamed into the phone, but his only answer was the sound of fire burning. "Calm down, you have to calm down!"
He gripped the phone tightly and kicked the door open, rushing to the highest office building inside the park. He ran with all his might up to the roof. He stood at the highest part of the park and looked down over Jiujiang.
There were lights from neon signs, from buildings, from street lights, and from cars, but he could not see any fire. However, on the other end of the phone, the flame was rising and engulfing everything, causing the sound of crackling to keep coming through. The fire was spreading.
"Hello, I don't know whether you can hear me or not. I just want to tell you that I can help you. There are people in this world who are willing to help you."
The line was filled with static. It appeared as if the fire had burned the phone line. There was no reply, and the call ended. Hearing the busy tone on the other end, Chen Ge was feeling rather unsettled.
The last declaration by the author had probably been his own imagination. His determination and perseverance did not lead to a reward-after the dream collapsed, his mental state probably collapsed as well. Holding the rail on the edge of the building, Chen Ge looked toward the horizon.
Several minutes later, with some remnant of hope in his heart, he called that number again. He knew that the chance was not big, but at least he wanted to give it a try. The dial tone began beside his ears again, and Chen Ge had no idea how long it would go on. Chen Ge sighed to himself, and just as he was about to hang up, the call was suddenly connected.
"Hello." It was a completely different voice that came from the other end.
Did I dial the wrong number? Chen Ge glanced subconsciously at the number; all the digits were correct, but the crackling fire had disappeared, and in its place was an eerie silence. The same number but a different sound. Chen Ge started to calm down. He thought back to the introduction that the black phone had given this number. The police discovered that, before they died, every victim called this number. There is more than one victim!
After realizing that, Chen Ge swiftly adjusted his thoughts, changing his voice and tone. "Hello, is there anything that I can help you with?"
Since he had no idea what the other person's experience was, that was the only thing that Chen Ge could say in the circumstances.
"You want to help me? That's not necessary, thank you." The voice on the other end sounded weak like they were falling asleep.
"You don't sound that well." Chen Ge felt weirdly anxious. The person was too calm, and this reminded him of the author from before. "Then, do you mind telling me where you are now? If you want to find someone to talk to, I can get over to you immediately."
"There's not enough time." The man spoke very slowly. "If you really want to help me, can you tell my landlady that the payment for the utility bill is placed on top of my luggage?"
"Landlady? Then how can I contact her?" Chen Ge listened to the man, and it sounded like he was leaving behind his will. He understood that the landlady was the best opening that he had to find the man's location.
"She lives at the residential area that is to the left of Fairytale Theme Park. The sixth building and first floor." The man sounded tired and weak like even speech was something that was very exhausting for him.
"Fairytale Theme Park?" The location of the park flashed across Chen Ge's mind. It was located at the southern part of Jiujiang. It was a theme park that catered specifically for children, but it had later been closed for some mysterious reason. "Then, do you have her contact number? I'm afraid I'm unable to find her place."
Chen Ge headed toward the exit of the building without wasting any time. He was ready to go to Southern Jiujiang personally to take a look. A human life was on the line, so he did not hang up and tried to extend the conversation. "Listening to your voice, I feel like you're very sleepy. Did you not sleep well last night?"
"I've not had a good night's sleep in a very long time." The man laughed. "I don't know why, but I can't seem to operate in the morning; however, at night, my mind starts to wander to strange places. I toss and turn in bed, unable to fall asleep."
"I understand your pain; I have trouble sleeping at night at well. I often spend the time wondering all over the city at night." Chen Ge could share in his pain, and technically, he was telling the truth.
The man seemed to have found a kindred spirit from Chen Ge's sincere words. "Do you also suffer from insomnia?"
"Yes, my parents disappeared about six months ago, and even now, there have been zero leads. I spend my daily life in pain and anxiety. I can only rely on others to find some semblance of comfort for my heart." At this point, Chen Ge's tone suddenly changed. "But I will not give up. When I find them, I will loudly tell them the anger and worry that I have in my heart and then run forward into their arms."
"I hope that you reunite with them soon." The man's voice softened, but his condition sounded worse and worse like he could collapse at any minute.
"Can you tell me your story? Just treat me as a stranger who is passing by." Chen Ge realized that it was about time, so he tried to ask this question.
"My life is quite boring." The man thought about it and replied with this answer.
"Life is boring and meaningless. The homework for everyone is to apply one's meaning to it so that life will not be so meaningless." Chen Ge already ran out of the office, and he was running toward the park entrance.
"Perhaps. My birth was an accident; it was my father who raised me. He worked very hard and had a small salary. He was just like any random guy you see on the street, a very normal person." The man's voice dwindled, but the speed of his words did not change much.
"I was a weak child from the moment I was born, and for that, I gave him plenty of trouble. It only got worse after I got into primary school. I was a stupid boy and couldn't do anything well. I was unable to focus in class, and no one wanted to be my friend."
The man took in a deep breath before continuing. "Initially, the teachers thought that I was just a silent boy, but in fact, I just don't like the company of people. However, one day, the teacher called my father to the school, and they suggested that he take me to see a doctor."
"See a doctor?"
"Yes, the analysis result was that I suffer from Nobita-Giant Syndrome. It's an interesting name, and when I heard it for the first time, I thought it was quite amusing."
The man laughed, but Chen Ge could not hear any joy from it. Chen Ge also heard this illness for the first time. Giant and Nobita were characters from a certain comic, were they not? "What are the exact symptoms for this illness?"
"Other countries call this illness ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The Nobita represents attention deficit and is the symptom that I suffer from.
"At the time, I knew nothing of this illness. When I went back to school, the other students only knew that I was ill, but they did not really understand what kind of illness it was. Actually, when people want to isolate you, anything is a good enough reason, and having a mental illness was the perfect excuse for them."
When the man said these things, he sounded so calm like he was unrelated to the person that he was describing.
"After finishing high school, I stopped my education because I felt guilty toward my father. I found many jobs, but I always got fired due to my illness. I started to be afraid of people, and my sickness exacerbated. In the end, it escalated to serious depression, and I was sent to an asylum to seek treatment. At the time, I was just over twenty. I was not only unable to help my poor father, but instead, I was like a leech, sucking him alive. With the many circumstances, I thought about it for a long time and eventually decided to leave.
"I uploaded everything that I want to tell my father online and set it as a delayed post." The man took in a deep breath. "If I had left behind everything that day, perhaps the tragedy later wouldn't have happened."
"Do not have that thought! You'll only have hope if you're alive!" Chen Ge had already hopped into the taxi and told the driver to get to Southern Jiujiang as fast as possible.
"I was saved, but during my coma, the words that I had set were released online. It was the first time that I received so much care and concern; I was overwhelmed. After I made my recovery, I went online to do some clarification. I apologized to everyone for creating the trouble. Many people comforted me, telling me that as long as I'm fine, they did not mind the trouble, but I also saw many private messages.
"Why are you still alive?
"Why are you still here?
"I was planning to light a joss stick for you, so please die.
"Suicide via sleeping pills is not a good method. Listen to me, if you're really serious, you should try rat poison.
"Couldn't you have died off silently?
"I was confused. I didn't know those people, so why did so many of them wish for me to die? Would my death bring them happiness?" The man's voice came and went.
Even Chen Ge felt disgusted listening to those comments. "You shouldn't let them have the satisfaction. The more they wish for you to die, the more you have to live a happy life. Live your life with a smile and show them that they're wrong!"
The man on the other side laughed lightly. "You're an interesting person. Honestly, I admit that I was conflicted for a period of time, but I saw the light after having a chat with my father. He did not care about my sickness and did not mind that I was slowing him down-he only wanted me to be alive, saying that I could always depend on him.
"At the time, I was twenty-two. My father's words gave me the biggest encouragement. I wasn't useless; I could make it. I cooperated fully with the treatment, and three months later, I was discharged from the hospital.
"Father knew about my condition-he knew I would be nervous around people-so he went around to find me a job that I did not need to interact with people. He had me pretend to be a giant cartoon character at a children's theme park.
"On my first day of work, a theme park worker brought me to the warehouse and told me to pick from the mountain of cartoon costumes.
"The Doraemon costume caught my attention immediately. It had a large head, and inside it was a small fan. The main reason was because I was diagnosed with Nobita-Giant Syndrome, and I felt like Doraemon could always bring good luck to Nobita.
"After some simple training, I was sent to work. Every day, my job was to put on the Doraemon costume and play with the children that came to the theme park. I even had candies and little presents hidden inside my pocket to share with the children.
"I liked that feeling. Seeing the smiles on children's faces, I would smile involuntarily. Hiding inside the costume, I gained a sense of security. I stopped being afraid of people and even actively went to approach the visitors. I thought that the job was custom made for me. I told you, Doraemon would always bring Nobita good luck.
"I worked there for a long time. Occasionally, my father would silently come to visit me. Actually, I knew it every time, and whenever he was around, I would be extra serious because I didn't want him to feel like his son is a useless person."
The man's voice was shaking. He yawned and yawned like he was very sleepy.
"When I was twenty-five, my father came to me. He told me he was proud of me. I had not been beaten down by life, and I was already much better than many other people.
"He believed that I had the courage to continue this life, and then he told me that this meant that he felt good enough to leave me and work elsewhere. His friend had introduced him quite a lucrative job. At the time, I didn't question anything. Every week, I would talk to him on the phone, but gradually, I realized that there were changes to his voice.
"One day, I asked for a day off from the theme park. I went to this place and found his friend. However, the man said that he did not introduce my father to any job and that my father was not there. Returning home, I looked for a long time and finally found him at an old rented apartment.
"The place reeked of Chinese medicine. He looked so thin and fragile. It was not until then that I knew he was suffering from leukemia. He had been silently fighting it. Since he had no money for treatment, he had to rely on traditional medicine. He found the excuse of going off to work because he did not want to worry me.
"My father eventually left. I felt like I was such a useless son. The sole reason that I powered on back then was to have my father enjoy a leisurely life, but I failed to do even that."
There was no emotion to the man's voice, but Chen Ge's heart did not feel so good.
"I understood my father would have wanted me to carry on, so I tried my best to survive. However, there was something missing. When I was twenty-seven, the theme park had to close down due to various reasons. I tried my best to hold onto everything, but ultimately, I was just a Nobita, not a Doraemon.
"Actually, the cartoon costume was very uncomfortable; it was very hot in the summer, and I had to wear another layer inside or else the fur would get stuck to the skin. However, once I had to take it off, I found myself missing it.
"Wearing it, I was Doraemon in the children's eyes. I had endless candies and presents in my multi-dimensional pocket, but after the costume was shed, I became nothing more than a Nobita.
"After so many years, I realized that I had not actually changed. Every day, I was fighting with myself, but I never really won. This year, I am thirty, and I don't want to be so tired anymore. I just want to sleep peacefully."
The man's voice became lower and lower until Chen Ge could not hear it anymore.
"Hey! Don't fall asleep yet!" Chen Ge was worried that once the man fell asleep, he would not wake up anymore. The taxi drove on the highway-Chen Ge was still a distance away from the man.
"Please don't sleep! I'll be there in a minute!" Chen Ge's voice grew, but the response from the other side dwindled. It felt like the man really had fallen asleep. Chen Ge did not dare hang up, and he urged the driver to drive faster. Half an hour later, he finally reached the place that the man had mentioned.
Chen Ge ran into the building and knocked on the landlady's door. After some time, the door finally opened.
"Hello! I'm looking for a man, around thirty, is rather shy..." Chen Ge gave all the information that he had managed to get from the phone. However, he was only halfway through when the expression of the woman who opened the door dropped.
"Why are you looking for him?"
"Where is he now? His situation is very dangerous!"
"Huh?" The woman looked at Chen Ge strangely. "The man is already dead. He found a cartoon costume and ran into the closed children's theme park alone. When the police found him, it was already too late."
"When was this?" Chen Ge had not hung up-the phone was next to his ear.
"Several months ago. The man liked to be alone and had no friends. He left very suddenly. He didn't even pay his utility bill." The woman took a step back and started to close the door.
"Then, I'll go to theme park to take a look." Chen Ge nodded, and he was reminded of something as he was about to turn. "By the way, that utility bill, you can go and look through his luggage-it should be there."
"Luggage?" The woman's eyes on Chen Ge became even weirder. "Who are you? What is your relationship with him?"
"I'm his friend." Chen Ge ran back out the corridor and toward the abandoned children's theme park.Doraemon is a Japanese manga series that has also been adapted into a successful anime series. The story revolves around a robotic cat named Doraemon, who travels back in time from the 22nd century to aid a boy named Nobita Nobi. (Wikipedia)