Chen Ge had made the mental preparation that no matter what happened, he would never open his eyes. His body was swallowed up by darkness, and the noises around his eyes fell away. It felt as if he was walking slowly and alone deep into the ocean, departing from the familiar world, with the fear of the future unknown, and carrying with him an anticipation for the final destination. Many feelings blossomed in the man's mind, like an octopus' tentacles wrapping themselves around his shuddering heart.
"I've already experienced this sense of isolation many times before. To prevent this feeling from happening in real life, this time, I have to see this to its end," Chen Ge mumbled to himself, not because he thought someone or something was listening but because he was trying to give himself words of encouragement.
About ten meters later, Chen Ge's felt an emptiness underneath his fingers. On his third trail, the split finally appeared again. Without hesitation, he strode into the split.
The temperature around him dropped. Chen Ge had no idea whether his decision was the correct one or not-he had never been a particularly clever person. The reason that he had been able to survive thus far was dependent on his supernatural observational skill, decisive personality, and a courage that had been cultivated since he was young.
Touching the wet and slimy wall, Chen Ge emptied his mind, not allowing it to latch onto anything. The only sound echoing in his ears was his own footsteps, yet slowly but surely, the originally rhythmic sound was interrupted. Someone or something was following behind Chen Ge.
Don't turn to look, don't even think about it.
Not seeing meant nothing, and not thinking meant not existing. Chen Ge repeated that to himself in his mind, and that was how he kept himself from being distracted.
Many footsteps started to appear in the quiet tunnel. There seemed to be more than Chen Ge walking through the tunnel. The footsteps initially only came from behind Chen Ge, but slowly, other than the side where the wall was, the sound of footsteps came from everywhere.
Chen Ge's heart was itchy like it was being scratched by a cat. He was incredibly curious, but he maintained enough self-control to not remove the simplified blindfold on his face. After going through so much, Chen Ge had a very strong adaptive ability. He soon regained control of himself and slowly got used to the echoes of footsteps around him. He cheered for himself internally, hypnotizing himself with the belief that the footsteps around him were not there to harm him. At least from what he was experiencing, it merely appeared that they just so happened to be on the same path that Chen Ge was travelling on.
Am I on a path that is only traversable by ghosts?
After several more seconds, Chen Ge discovered another problem. Other than the footsteps, there was a new sound, the sound of car tires crunching over items on the road.
Vehicles are passing me by?
Currently, there should only be one automobile in the tunnel, and that was the taxi driven in by the driver.
Who activated the car? Could it be that the driver has found his way back to his taxi? Or is he actually more than a normal taxi driver?
The driver that had driven Chen Ge to White Dragon Cave Tunnel was a random one that he had found on the street; the possibility that he was related to the tunnel was too much of a stretch. The possibility was so small that it could be ignored.
It shouldn't be the driver. Does that mean there's another thing driving the car?
Chen Ge was about to consider the line of thought when something even more incredible happened. He could hear clearly in both of his ears the humming of engines, plural. There was more than one car passing him by.
What on Earth is happening?
With his eyes blindfolded, Chen Ge had no idea what was going on-he could only picture the explanation with what he heard. The footsteps around him picked up pace, and they appeared to be rushing in a unified direction.
Something scarier is forcing him to run? Or has the thing that has been drawing them forward finally appeared?
Chen Ge was unsure whether he should follow them and run. With his eyes blindfolded, it was hard to make a decision. After a moment's hesitation, he decided to maintain his current speed. He kept himself alert and careful with every move and used his remaining senses to slowly dissect this whole new 'world'.
The slick feeling on the wall has disappeared, and what's left is a cold hard surface. It feels much smoother and flatter to the hands, like it has been sanded down before.
Chen Ge desperately wanted to remove the blindfold to confirm his suspicion. Ever since he entered the split, the world had changed tremendously. The split led him to a completely different world.
He continued moving forward, and the tunnel became even more crowded. He could just about make out people talking, and the more he moved forward, the louder the voices became. But the strange thing was, as loud as the person spoke and as sharp as the voices were, he was unable to perceive the meaning that was inherent in the words; he could only process the emotions behind the words-anxiety, anger, and a small inkling of fear.
What is happening out there?
Even though he was still inside the tunnel, the situation outside had completely changed. The footsteps, the screaming, the honking of cars, the tires grinding, and the humming of motors-it felt as if the tunnel was still in use.
If the tunnel hadn't been sealed, it would be this active, I suppose...
Chen Ge had no idea where he was, but one thing was certain, everything that he was experiencing should have something to do with the actual owner of White Dragon Cave Tunnel, and it was probably leading him there on purpose.
The cacophony around Chen Ge grew louder, and more voices entered Chen Ge's mind, making it nearly impossible for him to hear his own voice. The only thing that he could tell was that the footsteps were still moving in one particular direction, and after he paid them more attention, he realized that all the cars were moving that way as well.
Why are they moving that way?
The question was stuck in his mind. While Chen Ge was figuring out the answer, a different sound entered his left ear. The noises drowned out the voice for the most part, such that Chen Ge only managed to tell it was the voice of a child. It was crisp and intermittent, and it sounded like the child was injured.
Chen Ge shuffled another few steps forward along with the 'crowd', and the child's voice appeared again.
"No, wait..." This time, Chen Ge stopped. He noticed something weird. The child's voice was coming from behind his left ear. When all the 'people' and cars were moving forward, the owner of the voice stayed where they were; they had not moved.
Another person might not have noticed a detail as small as this, but Chen Ge was different. To break through this conundrum, he kept his focus sharp, making note of everything around him. He did not dare speak lest he revealed the fact that he was different from the 'people' around him.
"Save me, save me, save my mummy..." Several seconds later, the voice returned, and it came from the same spot as before.
This is strange. I can hear so many sounds, but for some reason, I can hear this soft voice the clearest.
He could read the despair in the person's voice, and the feeling was hard to describe; it made Chen Ge feel comfortable, like the voice was reaching into his heart to squeeze on it.
Turning around, without knowing what kind of danger was coming from behind him, Chen Ge instinctively moved toward the source of the voice. He nudged his footsteps little by little, and like a blind person, Chen Ge slowly searched for his way.
As he got nearer the voice, suddenly, someone tapped him on his shoulder, and then it was followed by an urgent scream. The voice was loud, and it warned him to move faster. If he stayed, he would be in mortal danger.
These are probably the spirits that entered the tunnel with me. They are running for their lives, so the thing chasing after them is probably the owner of the tunnel!
The way Chen Ge thought was different from the 'people' inside the tunnel. He was very clear about his identity; he was a bait, waiting for the owner of the tunnel to show themself.
This was a very risky move, but that was the most direct and simplest way that Chen Ge could think of to tackle the issue at hand. He had always adopted the most straightforward solution to his problem-that was his style.
The 'people' in the tunnel seemed to misunderstand his action, and the voices around him sharpened to become clearer. The 'people' urged him to leave, telling him that if he dared stay any longer, he would really die!
Chen Ge was unfazed by the persuasion of the 'people' around him, and soon, his ears captured a different sound.
It sounded like liquid dripping.
Tik tok tik tok.
It was very close to him.
Seeing Chen Ge's desire to stay, the 'people' that tried to persuade him abandoned him, and the tunnel became quiet again. The footsteps, the crunching of the tires, and the honking of the car disappeared like the tunnel was once again abandoned by 'society and its people'.
"Save me, save me, save my mummy..." The location near the wall issued the child's pleading again. Chen Ge went closer to it and slowly squatted down. His eyes were still blindfolded, and he did not dare to speak, afraid that it might cause some unknown and unbeneficial changes.
After a few seconds, Chen Ge's hands, which were not covered or gloved, reached out toward the source of the voice. His fingertips touched a liquid that was cold, and Chen Ge was very familiar with this sense.
This is blood.
He searched around blindly, and eventually, his five fingers came across a thin and slender arm.
"I'm trapped by the window. Please go and save my mother first. She's stuck in the driver's seat!"
The child's voice entered Chen Ge's ears. He did not follow the child's direction immediately but was instead reminded of something else. The voice had initially come from his left side; Chen Ge was very sure of that. Now that his body was turned, the voice was still coming from the wall. This meant that what the voice said did not make any logical sense.
If the thing is really trapped inside a car, how did it manage to talk into my ear that was facing the wall? I've been walking alongside the wall after all!
Interestingly enough, when the driver disappeared, he had once mentioned that there was something incredibly scary near Chen Ge's left cheek.
This is such a coincidence. The driver said that the thing was near my left cheek, and that is exactly where the child's voice originated from. So, if the driver wasn't lying, the monster that managed to spook him should be the 'child' that I'm hearing now.
Chen Ge slowly understood what had happened. The reason for the driver's disappearance was probably because he had chanced upon the monster's real identity and had ruined the monster's plan.
"My mother is just in front. Can you please save her? Please?" The voice was so desperate that it was hard to reject.
"Okay, I will help you." Chen Ge had no idea what kind of scary face was issuing this childlike, innocent voice. He chose to follow the thing's request to save the mother because he believed that this was the upright and moral thing to do. With the child's guidance, Chen Ge bent down and slowly moved forward.
The sound of liquid dripping had not stopped. A strange scent filled up the air, and the further Chen Ge moved forward, the greater the sense of danger he felt he was in. He could not see on account of the blindfold over his eyes, so Chen Ge could only slowly find his way forward.
His hands soon found the frame of a car. He bent down, and his hands touched a woman's hair. He did not speak, and by applying force to his arms, Chen Ge grabbed the woman by her shoulders and gently shuffled her out of the car.
"Take her away! Quick! Now!" After Chen Ge rescued the woman, the child's voice turned shrill. Unlike normal children, the child had not cried even though he was injured, and his voice was filled with a maturity that was not present in other children his age.
Chen Ge had no idea what the child was plotting. He dragged the woman and walked for several steps before suddenly stopping.
"Go ahead! Why are you stopping? Go!"
Ignoring the child's order, Chen Ge carried the woman on his back and returned to the child. Without his sight, Chen Ge's hands touched around the car window and had a brief understanding of the child's situation. The lower half of the child's body was stuck inside the car window, and the broken glass had pierced through his stomach. If Chen Ge forcibly dragged the child out, it would definitely cause the injury to worsen. Chen Ge tried to lift up the car, but obviously, he did not possess the super strength to do that.
"Just leave me behind, take her and leave!" Perhaps it was pain or perhaps it was something else, but the child wailed at the top of his lungs, and finally, Chen Ge could hear the tears in his voice.
"If I abandon you and your mother manages to survive, she will live in guilt for the rest of her life." Chen Ge could not resist the urge to voice the thought in his mind. When he said that, the surroundings suddenly became a lot quieter, but soon, everything returned to normal.
"My body is stuck, and I can't leave. You have to go, or else everyone will die!"
After confirming that his words would not influence this world, Chen Ge became more courageous. "I have an idea that might be able to save you, but it'll be painful, and I can't guarantee that you'll be able to survive."
"What is it?" As long as there was a possibility, most people would still fight for it.
"Your hip bone is stuck in the warped car window. I can try to force you out, but that way, your lower body will definitely be crippled, and the wounds on your body might worsen." That was the situation that Chen Ge had perceived from the use of his hands, and it was because he had not witnessed the actual gore that he dared come up with such a risky idea. "Like you said, staying here will lead to certain death, but pursuing this chance might lead to a hope of survival."
"But if I die in the tugging process, wouldn't you become the murderer that took my life?" the child suddenly asked.
If this was real life, perhaps Chen Ge would hesitate, but in that strange place, he did not panic at all. "If it can increase the chance of your survivability by even one percent, I don't mind being misunderstood by the world."
He leaned down on the ground and braced his feet against the warped car window while hugging the child's upper body with both of his arms. "It'll be painful, but if we manage to survive this ordeal, then a new life awaits."
He started to apply force, and the boy's body was slowly adjusting to the pull. The sound of bones cracking was eerie to Chen Ge's ears. Other than that, the boy's skin was torn open, and blood oozed, but none of that stopped Chen Ge from continuing his rescue.
He expended all of his strength and finally pulled the boy out from the warped window.
"Good, we've done it! Are you still okay?" No one answered Chen Ge, and the tunnel suddenly became a lot more deserted. Chen Ge had no idea what had happened, but he had a feeling something was not right-perhaps the monster at the back had caught up to them.
Even at a time like that, Chen Ge had not forgotten about the woman on the ground and the child next to him. Even though he clearly knew that neither of them was technically human.
"Something is probably coming, be careful." Chen Ge slung the woman over his back and picked up the broken child from the ground. To his surprise, the child in his arms was much heavier than the woman on his back-they were not even on the same weight level.
However, it was not the time to care about things like that, and he jogged forward. Chen Ge could not see the road, and it did not take long for him to trip and fall. He did not say a word or even curse; he quickly got back up, picked up the child and the woman, and continued running.
He tripped and fell, gaining many bruises as he knocked against the wall and floor. After who knew how many tumbles, when Chen Ge stood up and wanted to pick up the child again, another voice sounded next to him.
"Are you an idiot?" The voice was similar to the child that he had heard, but the voice was no longer in pain. In its place was a trace of coldness and a strange resentment. Chen Ge did not reply. He wanted to go and pick up the child again, but he caught air.
"So, such people really exist in the world." The voice continued, but this time, it was came from right above Chen Ge. Standing where he was, when Chen Ge did not know what to do, someone tapped him lightly on his shoulder, and a pair of bone-chilling arms wreathed around his neck and undid the blindfold around his neck.
Opening his eyes, Chen Ge turned to look and realize that it was the woman in the tunnel standing behind him. But different from last time, she was much prettier-at least, her skull was not broken, and all her facial features were where they should be.
"It's you?" Chen Ge revealed a smile and was about to say something more when he fell under the shadow of a large spider. Looking up, the smile on Chen Ge's face froze. Even though he had met so many ghosts, at that moment, he could not help the fear from curling around his heart.
Just above Chen Ge was a red spider made from endless spirits and Specters hanging upside down. The red on the spider was much brighter than the red dress on the woman's body. It felt as if blood was flowing through its body, and it were slowly dripping down.
"Why have you stopped speaking?" The voice came from the head of the spider. Following the voice, Chen Ge noticed that the spider's head was replaced by a boy's. He only had his upper body remaining, and his lower body was attached to that of a giant spider. With his legs gripping the wall, the boy hung from the ceiling, looking at Chen Ge with cruelty and hatred in his eyes.
"Wait, so I was carrying you with me earlier?" The first sentence out of Chen Ge's lips stumped the boy. In reality, he also did not expect Chen Ge to choose to carry him and run. Both the ghost and the man felt quite uncomfortable after the charade was broken.
"It's fine, that's quite an interesting experience." Chen Ge tried to find an excuse for his behavior. Without waiting for the boy's response, he quickly changed the topic. "I actually came here to discuss something with your mother. I didn't expect something like this to happen. I know your heart is filled with hatred, and I will not try to convince you to let it go. I merely want to say that if you have any dream, I can help you fulfil it, even if it is to take revenge."
What Chen Ge said was completely different from what the boy anticipated. He did not think that anyone would be able to say something like this considering the situation that Chen Ge was in. He did not know how to answer, so he chose to be silent.
"It's fine if you don't want to answer, but can you tell me why the tunnel has changed to something like this?" Chen Ge asked the question on his mind. The White Dragon Cave Tunnel even stopped the shadow, so there had to be a big secret hiding here.
The boy opened his lips, but perhaps he thought that he should not reveal his past so easily, so he closed them again. However, with the persuasion from the woman and the fact that he had nothing to lose, the boy gave Chen Ge a rough depiction of his past.
He was the woman's child, and after his mother divorced his father several years ago, she drove the car, taking her child back to her mother's home. When they passed White Dragon Cave Tunnel, they got into a car accident, a large-scale collision in fact, and one of them was leaking gas.
It was unclear now which of the cars stated burning first, but as the trail of fire nudged toward the oil-leaking vehicle, the people in the tunnel started to run. At the time, the boy had been stuck inside the window, and the woman was injured. She had managed to crawl out from the wreckage, but she had been too weak to able to save her child without help.
She had cried for help from people around her, chasing after the passing cars, yelling for them to stop. If one of them had been willing to help her, they would have been able to save the child. However, under the condition where their lives would be put in danger, no one was willing to lend a hand.
In the end, the woman who had the means to escape did not leave but chose to return to her baby's side, to console him, to accompany him until the fire reached the leaking vehicle.
Ever since then, peace had deserted White Dragon Cave Tunnel.
Many drivers saw a woman in a red dress standing in the tunnel waving for them to stop, and some witnessed a monster piecing indeterminate things onto its body...