Painting paper was cheaper and easier to handle than painting canvas, which meant that new art students commonly used it. However, oil painting was a unique painting style in that students normally had to be relatively skilled before they were taught oil painting. By then, they would have outgrown painting paper. Thus, when Chen Ge saw the painting papers on the easel, he was confused, especially regarding the identity of the painter.
Chen Ge had studied toy design and manufacture in university. His minor was in classes that were related to art and art appreciation. He could tell from stylistic choices and skills employed in the simple sketches that the painter was not a newbie.
"He seems to be attempting to express something through multiple trials." Chen Ge's finger glided across the surface. The upper half was rough and the lower half smooth, giving him completely different sensations. "Why did he insist on oil painting? Is it because only oil painting can express what he wishes to express?"
Two inverted sickrooms and two patients with the same face. There was no problem with the theme, but when he used his finger to touch the painting itself, he noticed the problem.
"Since this is a painting, do I have to use paint on it to clarify the difference?"
With the intention to test it out, Chen Ge peeled back the white cloth from the racks and prepared to choose his paint. The rack was very large and the paints there were different from the ones sold at the shops. They were all stored inside glass jars that came without any labels or signs.
"Why... are there only red paint?" Looking at the rows of glass jars, Chen Ge was stumped. Various shades of red sat on the rack. Other than red, there were no other colors. As he twisted one of the jars open, a faded scent of blood drifted out. Chen Ge was certain that this was not a smell that should come out from a paint can.
"I'll use this one." Chen Ge picked up the brush on the easel, dripped it into the jar, and placed several strokes on the painting. With the first stroke, Chen Ge noticed the problem. There seemed to be an invisible line in the middle of the paper. The paint in the jar only managed to leave behind a faded line on the upper part of the painting, but it left a deep red gash that looked like an open wound on the lower half of the painting.
After several brushes, the painting took on a new look. The upper half looked like a sickroom that was installed with a light red lamp while the latter part seemed to have been soaked in blood. The patients in the painting were supposed to have the same expression, but the feeling that they gave off was completely different. One looked normal, if a little bit lost, but the other was covered in blood, and their expression was frozen in hatred and sin.
"Does this painting reflect the world behind the door, or is it trying to express something else?"
Several seconds later, Chen Ge witnessed something even stranger. On the unique piece of paper, the color of the upper half slowly faded while the bottom part was darkening. It felt as if the paint from the upper half was moving to the lower part.
"Isn't this how the door works? Despair from real life will keep on seeping into the world behind the door. One cleanses itself, and the other sinks deeper into its despair." The more he studied it, the more Chen Ge believed that this painting had everything to do with the world behind the door. He attempted to pull the painting out, but he was only halfway through when he heard knocking coming from outside the door.
"Has it come?" His sweat follicles immediately stood on end. Chen Ge abandoned the painting. He picked up one of the sketches on the ground and raced to stand next to the window. Before entering the building, Chen Ge had noticed from outside that none of the windows were installed with anti-theft nets. Pulling back the thick gray curtains, Chen Ge pushed open the windows. He was about to jump out when he saw someone standing right at the bottom of the building.
The man had his head lowered. He was wearing a pair of leather shoes, on the thin side, and he did not look like he was in a good situation. "Mr. Bai?"
Mr. Bai, who was supposed to be waiting at male dormitory, had suddenly arrived there. He seemed to be searching for something. Chen Ge pulled his body back into the room. He quickly yanked the curtains shut with his heart still pounding. "I was almost discovered!"
Glancing through the gap in the curtains, Chen Ge saw Mr. Bai wandering around the building. He seemed to be hesitating over whether to enter the building or not. "If I jump from here, I'll fall right into his arms, what do I do now?"
BANG! BANG! BANG!
The knocking became more intense. Chen Ge was trapped between a rock and a hard place. His brain was quickly spinning, but the thing outside the door did not give him much time. The sound of the key going into the lock was like a knife piercing Chen Ge's chest. He did not have time to hesitate; the door would be unlocked the next second.
"There's no time to waste. I need to leave now."
Carrying his bag, Chen Ge stepped onto the edge of the windowsill. Since he could not jump down, he was going to seek his escape elsewhere. He adjusted the timing and moved to the windowsill of the room next door. "Hanging out here makes me an easy target. If Mr. Bai lifts his head, he will see me."
Holding onto the rim of the air-conditioning machine for dear life, Chen Ge did not have the chance to take a second breath before the door of the paint storage room was opened. The person inside noticed he open window immediately and rushed toward it!
The sound of footsteps approached. The person only needed to look outside the window, and they would stop Chen Ge!
"Third floor it is!" Gritting his teeth, Chen Ge gripped the edge of the third-floor windowsill with both hands. Without any safety gear, he climbed onto the third-floor windowsill. Just as he did so, a pale arm reached out from the paint storage room's window. Chen Ge perched on the windowsill and did not dare breathe too loudly.
Maintaining this posture required a great deal of energy. Once his grasp slipped, he would fall. Chen Ge tried to push the window. When he realized that it was not locked, he decided to jump through it. With no time to inspect the room, he first squatted down next to the window and observed Mr. Bai from the dark.
"Why is he still there?" The third floor was the most dangerous floor. The elevator was waiting at the third floor, and when he took the elevator earlier, the things inside the elevator had also headed to the third floor.
Staying in the corner, Chen Ge kept motionless. He decided to wait inside this room until Mr. Bai left before working out what to do next.
The night breeze wafted into the room, and the red curtain floated across his neck. Chen Ge was about to close the window when he remembered that the color of the curtain on the second floor was gray.
He paused for a second. Chen Ge retreated a few steps. After he moved away from the curtain, he opened the door and rushed out.
The corridor was dark with not one ray of light. All the doors leading to the labs on that floor were open. Some were creaking noisily. Lightly closing the door behind him, Chen Ge ran into the opposite room. He planned to jump out the window there. The room was on the opposite side of the building, so he would be out of Mr. Bai's line of sight.