The theme park opened at 9 am, so Chen Ge did not have much time left. He decided to continue to investigation right there and then.
"Inspector Lee, don't let your guard down. This man is very dangerous, and he is definitely not as harmless as he makes himself out to be. It is unwise to treat him like a normal mental patient." Chen Ge had no idea when Jia Ming would wake up. He shared a few words with Lee Zheng and then left the hospital.
He hailed a taxi to get to Jia Ming's first rental home. The sun was just coming up, and there were few people on the street. Occasionally, a few cars would pass by, but that was all. Chen Ge had not caught any sleep the previous night. He had first gone to the special education school to chase after the water ghost and then dived into the Eastern Jiujiang Dam to salvage the body before finally going to the hospital to help with the police's investigation of Jia Ming. In other words, he had put his night to optimal use. There was not one second that had gone to waste.
His head was feeling light as drowsiness came at him like waves. Chen Ge got a quick forty winks in the cab, and the driver woke him up when they arrived at the destination. Alas, the quick nap did not prove to be useful; if anything, it only made Chen Ge feel heavier and slower. It was as if his brain was filled with lead.
He rubbed his face and walked into the small alley. A draft of cold wind buffeted his face. Perhaps it was how the buildings were built, but the sun had a hard time showering its rays into the alley.
"No wonder Jia Ming did not dare stop even for a moment after he escaped from his building. He only dared do so after he ran out into the main street."
This was an old residential area, and the surrounding buildings were generally quite low. Most of them were buildings with only two or three stories. They looked worn and old, and some of them even had the term 'to be demolished' painted on the walls in red.
"The story that Jia Ming told at the hospital should have happened a few years ago. I hope the old lady hasn't moved and the building is still there."
He followed the address provided by Lee Zheng and moved in and out of the alleys for a long time before he found the old lady's home. The neighbors on the left and right had already moved away, and there was a large hole in one of the walls. From the looks of it, this place had been abandoned for a long time already.
"This place sure was not easy to find." Chen Ge entered the corridor and noted the pots of flowers placed in the corners. However, due to the lack of sunlight, most of the flowers had wilted, and the stems were old, thin, and yellow.
"Is anyone home?" Chen Ge knocked on the door on the first floor, and he called out softly. There was no answer, but his own echo reverberating in the first-floor corridor. He turned to look up the stairs. For some reason, Chen Ge felt like there was something off about the place. He tried to pull on the door, and the security door was pulled back just like that.
"It's not even locked?" Curious, Chen Ge pulled the door completely open. A heady wave of mold rushed out from within. The room was filled to the brim with old furniture. The sofa was the type that had been in fashion twenty years ago, the type with cloth upholstery. Even the cuckoo color on the wall and the low dining table looked quite worn already.
"There is no dust on the doorknob, and the clock in this room is wound to be able to run punctually, so there should be someone who still lives here."
Without getting the permission, Chen Ge would not be rude enough to trespass into someone's home. He called again at the threshold of the door, but there was still no reply. However, there was a strange noise that came from the ceiling. It sounded like a deflated rubber ball rolling on the ground.
"That came from the third floor." Chen Ge walked up the stairs. When he passed the second floor, he noticed that the door of the second-floor room was opened, but no strange smell drifted out from it, like the place was regularly cleaned.
After stopping for a while at the second floor, Chen Ge continued to move upward. The window at the corner of the stairs was covered up by a black cloth. There was no light on the wall, so even though the sun was already up outside, it was still as dark as night inside.
"Is someone there?" A strange voice drifted into his ears. Chen Ge was like the hapless main character of those horror movies as he took one step after another toward the source of the strange noise. Stepping on the creaking steps, his body moved gradually into the darkness. He gripped the handrail, feeling the chill that came from the center of his palms.
There was no light at all on the third floor of the old building. Chen Ge took out his phone and activated the flashlight. He shone the light at the place that the sound came from. When the light fell on the spot, there was something that slithered past in a flash.
Chen Ge tensed up as he scanned the entirety of the third floor. The doors on the floor had all been removed from their hinges, and the place was filled with various items. The most conspicuous object of all was a piano covered in a layer of dust. There were many keys that were missing, and it looked like an old man with many missing teeth opening his lips.
"They should be a quite well-off family. After all, they own a three-story building and could even afford a luxury item like a piano."
Having walked up to the piano, Chen Ge pressed on a few of the keys. The melody that he expected to come from the piano did not show up.
Chen Ge looked into the piano, and a bunch of hair was stuck inside it. Perhaps he had imagined it, but for a moment, Chen Ge felt like the hair was moving as it curled deeper inside the piano.
Reaching into the piano, Chen Ge calmly pulled out a handful of hair. "There is white hair and black hair. The ends are all neat and clean, so they should have been cut off, not pulled off. Is this the old landlady's special collection? But why would she collect these?"
The landlady's daughter-in-law was young when she died, so her hair had not gone white.
"Why would the old lady shove so many reams of hair into the piano?" Chen Ge tossed the hair that he was holding back into the piano. As he pulled his arm back, the corner of his eyes caught the vision of a gray face amid the sea of hair. It seemed to be watching Chen Ge from the cover of the hair.
"What was that?" The third floor was reserved for the souls, so it was not unusual for him to encounter something supernatural. Chen Ge did not panic. He placed his phone to the side, aiming the flashlight inside the piano. Then he reached into the pile of hair with his two hands and started to search. "Are you still in there?"
No one knew what was hiding under the pile, and no one knew what kind of treasure he could come up with. However, the feeling of bare skin touching against the hair did not feel so good. He rummaged through it for a long time, but Chen Ge failed to find the person. He pulled back and looked at the clock sitting at the side. The clock looked similar to the one in the old lady's room on the first floor, but for this one, only the second hand on the clock face was moving.
It turned again and again, but the time shown on the clock was always stuck at 3:44.
"Is it 3:44 am or pm? And what exactly happens at this particular time in the day?"
Just as Chen Ge's attention was distracted by the clock, there was something that slithered out from underneath the piano. The sound of a ball bouncing returned, and when Chen Ge picked up on it, the sound had moved to the second floor.
"It's escaped? No, it feels like it's trying to lead the way for me."
Chen Ge returned to the second floor. He could not shake the feeling that something or someone was watching his back. The sound disappeared once Chen Ge arrived on the second floor, but strangely enough, the angle that the door was left open was different from before.
"It ran to hide inside the room?" Chen Ge pushed open the door to the room that was featured in Jia Ming's story. However, different from Jia Ming's description, all the windows in this room was boarded up. Even though the place was clean, there was just a creepy feeling about the location.
Entering the room, Chen Ge rushed toward the bathroom where the Yin energy was the heaviest. Pushing the door open, he scanned the place roughly and then stopped before the mirror. Chen Ge stood there and stared at his own reflection in the mirror for a long time.
If a person stared at their reflection for a long time, their brain would create the impression that the reflection in the mirror was becoming more and more unlike them. In extreme cases, there might even be a sense of indescribable strangeness and fear.
Chen Ge stared at the mirror for a full five minutes, but he could not tell what was wrong with the mirror. He believed that after the shadow accomplished his purpose, he left immediately and did not leave behind any trace or trap in the mirror. But out of concern for being thorough, before he left, Chen Ge used his Yin Yang Vision and focused on the mirror one last time. As his eyes narrowed, he caught sight of a pair of gray legs.
It was a boy whose head had almost fallen to the ground. He was standing at the door to the bathroom, looking at him.
Whipping his body around, Chen Ge turned but could not see anything. He looked at the mirror again, but this time, even with the use of the Yin Yang Vision, the boy did not show up in the mirror anymore.
"Where did he go?" Chen Ge walked out of the bathroom to the living room, and his expression shifted. The door leading out of the living room was closed. The windows were boarded up, and now, the door was closed. The air in the room became so stale and heavy that it pressed down on Chen Ge.
"Is this that boy's doing?" He walked to the door and turned the doorknob. He realized that the door was locked, and it would not be able to open without the use of a key. Just as Chen Ge was figuring out what to do with the lock, a sound came from the corner of the living room. Then, the sound of static entered Chen Ge's ears.
He turned to look, and in the dark room, the originally closed television was switched on. A collection of twisted blue and white images appeared on screen, and occasionally, it would flicker.
"This scene appeared in Jia Ming's story before." Chen Ge sounded calm, but his heart was actually racing. Before he finished, the flickering on the television screen turned intense, and the rough shape of a shadow started to appear.
The shadow appeared like it was slowly approaching Chen Ge. Initially, it was only the size of a fist, but eventually, it grew to the size of a brain. As she drew closer, Chen Ge managed to get a clearer look.
It was the shape of a woman, and after each flicker on the screen, this shadowy woman would get closer to him, and Chen Ge's heart would start to involuntarily pick up in speed.
When the woman became the size of an actual person and the television screen was not big enough to hold her, Chen Ge stopped hesitating. He reached his hands back and mumbled two words on his lips. "Xu Yin!"
His fingers searched behind him, but he found nothing, and Chen Ge's heart skipped a beat. He suddenly remembered that he had received a call from Lee Zheng that morning to go to the hospital to help with their investigation.
Due to the time crunch and the fact that his backpack was drenched from his dip at the dam, Chen Ge had not taken his backpack with him. He figured that since he was going to meet the police, no danger was going to come to him.
His frozen fingers hung behind him, and Chen Ge slowly raised his head to look at the television. Cold sweat glided down his face as his eyes slowly moved up. He finally got the television screen in his sight. Only the blue and white images remained on screen-the shadow of the woman had already disappeared.
Chen Ge sighed in relief, but before he could catch another breath, there was a numbness coming from the back of his neck like someone had accidentally brushed their hair against his skin.
His eyes twitched, and Chen Ge remembered hearing this part in Jia Ming's story as well.
He slowly turned around, and from the corner of his eyes, he saw a pair of starkly white eyes looking at him from behind.
The body that had shown up in the television was twisted in impossible angles, and her lips cracked open. The woman whose eyes were popping out of their sockets was standing behind him.
His face twitched slightly, and Chen Ge felt the air around him frozen. He stared at the woman's harried hair that looked like it was brutally tussled and slowly took a step back.
He tripped on something, and Chen Ge fell into the sofa. He looked at the approaching ghostly shadow and almost instinctively said, "Will you believe me if I say I've come here to help you?"