The doors closed, and the engine revved. The young man's Adam's apple shivered slightly. He squeezed the umbrella between his legs, sought out some coins from his pocket, and tossed them inside the ticket machine. Following the crisp sound of the coins falling against metallic tin, all the few passengers on the bus turned to look at the young man.
Being stared at by so many strange individuals, he quickly lowered his head as if he thought that if he could not see them, they would not notice him. The bus swayed on the road, and the young man gripped the rail tightly to stop himself from falling. Perhaps due to his nervousness, one could see the green veins popping on the back of his hand.
"A new arrival?" It seemed to be the first time that the doctor had encountered the young man. His brow raised slightly, and his lips pressed into a straight line, but ultimately, he did not say anything.
Two minutes later, the young man silently looked around him. He sighed in relief when he realized that the passengers had stopped paying him any attention. He reached his hand into his pocket to silently take out his phone. It seemed like he was planning to utilize the camera function.
"It's a bit much trying to take a picture." Chen Ge was unwilling for his hearse to be exposed, so before the young man could do anything, he stood up to walk toward him. Seeing someone approach, the young man was so scared that the phone almost slipped out of his fingers.
"There are so many empty seats in the bus. Why are you standing?" Chen Ge's smile was infectious, and his voice was friendly.
"I..." The young man did not explain that it was because he was too cowardly to do so. Ever since getting on the bus, he had realized that even his brain had started to move slower, and for some reason, he could not land on a believable excuse.
"Are you still in school?" Chen Ge very naturally placed his hand on the young man's arm. "Sit here, stay away from the wind, or you might catch a cold."
Before the young man realized what was happening, he was already dragged by Chen Ge to the last row. Calculating the distance between himself and the door, and then turning to look at the locked window, he predicted that it would be faster to break the glass and jump out.
"Don't be so nervous. Is this your first time taking the last bus on Route 104?" Chen Ge was like the big brother next door. "You've probably been misled by some of the baseless articles online. In reality, the public transport company occasionally adds a last trip running at midnight on certain days. I have no idea why, but you don't need to worry. We're all living humans."
To increase the persuasiveness, Chen Ge even opened his travel bag to grab the white cat. "Have you seen a ghost who has a pet cat?"
The white cat who had been hauled out to be shown was annoyed. It waved its claws but was too far away to actually touch Chen Ge, so its anger caused its fur to burst.
Seeing such a lively creature, the horror in the young man's heart dissipated. He scratched his head and said uncertainly, "But it's midnight and raining so heavily, why are there so many passengers?"
"Even at night, there are many who need to work to keep their lives afloat, like telephone operators, late night drivers, night-shift guards, and radio personalities with early morning programs. The contributions of these people can't be overlooked for the advancement of our city."
Such a positive statement felt strange inside the eerie bus, but Chen Ge ignored the incongruity. "By the way, what do you do for a living? Why are you still outside so late at night?"
"I..." The young man hesitated. He turned to look at the other passengers. Since the lights inside the bus were not on, he could only see clumps of shadows. His palms were slick with sweat. After a long time, he silently put the phone away and told Chen Ge, "I am a student at Lin Jiang First High."
"A high schooler?" Chen Ge studied the child's face. "You look so mature for your age."
"I've repeated my studies for two years already, and it seems like I'm going to have to repeat again, but that is not that important anymore." The young man's tone was laced with a bitterness that was far beyond his youth.
"Brother, you've repeated two years already. Is there really anything that is more important than that?"
"Yes." The young nodded firmly, and he took out his phone. "In my class, three students went missing. I know where they are, but the police refused to believe me."
Opening the phone, the young man showed Chen Ge a group picture. "They are my best friends."
There were four people in the picture. The young man held a basketball at the back, a pair of twins with obvious distinction in personality stood on both of his sides. The one on the left was shrouded in a negative aura, carrying a black backpack in his hands, while the one on the right looked at the girl at the front with overflowing love in his gaze.
"Why did they suddenly disappear?" Chen Ge studied the students in the picture, paying extra attention to the backpack that the boy on the left was carrying. In Xiao Bu's game, there was a black schoolbag placed at the last row of the bus, and when Xiao Gu took the hearse, he had come across a high-schooler on the bus. That high-schooler had also been carrying a black bag.
"Black school bag, a pair of twins who look similar but have completely opposite personalities..." Chen Ge seemed to be remind of something. "Did the three of them disappeared after taking the last bus on Route 104?"
The young man nodded again. "The twins have a rare surname, Bei. Even though they looked identical, they couldn't have been more different. The elder brother was Bei Ye. He was easily angered and didn't have many friends. His favorite activity was pulling heinous pranks that only he would enjoy. The younger brother was Bei Wen. He was a good student, quiet and shy. He kept to himself unless when he was approached.
"The four of us stayed close to each other, so we normally went home together. Some time ago, for some strange reason, Bei Ye and Bei Wen got into a fight at the bus stop. Apparently, it was because Bei Ye got tired of living in Bei Wen's shadow.
"At the time, we didn't think so much of it. Bei Ye stormed off, but the next day, we realized that Bei Ye hadn't returned home that night. During class, Bei Ye came back to us, and strangely enough, the first thing he did was apologize to Bei Wen. Then he told us a secret. He said, after midnight, there would be a bus carrying all dead people heading toward Eastern Jiujiang.
"Naturally, we didn't believe him. Bei Ye invited us to wait for this bus with him. Neither Bei Wen nor I wanted to give him the time of the day, but he forced our hands by provoking Bei Wen in front of the girl."
The young man stopped to take a breath. He looked at his phone, and the more he thought about it, the more scared he became.
"And then all three of them disappeared. Bei Ye and his father disappeared on the same day, then it was the girl and finally Bei Wen."
This sequence was similar to the sequence in Chen Ge's memory. He felt like there were a great chance Bei Wen and Bei Ye were trapped inside the world behind the door in Li Wan City.
"Get off the bus at the next stop. If I run into your friends, I'll bring them back."
"You'll bring them back? No way." The young man shook his head. "You have no idea how much courage I needed to summon before I could even get on this bus..."
"Follow my orders if you don't want to die." The smile on Chen Ge's face was still gentle, but the young man felt like he had been splashed with a basin of cold water in winter. He could not help but shudder.
The child was like the main character in a normal scary movie, but he was lucky to have run into Chen Ge.