"The you inside the painting?" Chen Ge leaned over to look. He had seen all thirteen paintings in the room, and he believed that he had some impression of the fourth painting. "You painted this?"
Zhou Tu did not answer. His soul appeared to have been sucked into the painting as he stared at it. The fourth painting was about this art room.
The upper half of the painting showed thirteen painters sitting at their chairs while the lower half of the painting was blood red. All thirteen painters died on their chairs in different ways. It was strange because the painters in the upper part of the painting were painting their own deaths. Those painters knew about their endings, but they did not choose to escape from it but recorded everything as it was.
When Chen Ge first came to the art room, he had stopped beside this painting for a long time. He was surprised that it was Zhou Tu who had painted this. As he looked closer, he noticed that the painter who sat in the fourth chair bore some similarities to Zhou Tu.
All the other paintings are expressing an inverted world; only this painting is themed with the painters themselves.
Chen Ge did not disturb Zhou Tu. His eyes wandered between the painting and Zhou Tu.
What has Zhou Tu experienced? Why would his painting be so different?
There were thirteen painters, and Zhou Tu was the fourth. He was not the oldest nor the youngest, but he had the most unique perspective. Unlike the others when their memory awakened, Zhou Tu merely stood next to the easel. There was no change to his body, but the atmosphere in the art room was slowly changing. It was hard to describe, like the people in the paintings had all opened their eyes, looking at the people outside the paintings.
"How come it suddenly feel so cold?" Wang Yicheng shrunk his neck and hid behind Zhang Ju. He looked around with a trace of fear in his eyes.
"Zhou Tu?" Zhang Ju had a bad feeling as well. He patted Zhou Tu on his shoulder lightly. His lashes blinked. Zhou Tu's body seemed to have frozen. His eyes scanned the room, and there was no blood on his face.
"Am I dead?" The hoarse voice echoed from the throat. At the same time, the fourth painter in the painting suddenly moved. The painter dropped the paintbrush that he was holding, and his hands gripped his neck. His legs kicked out underneath him like an invisible noose had been wrung around his neck. His eyes bulged out from their sockets. He struggled with all his might, but his body slowly slid down the chair. Blood rushed to his brain, and his expression was one of despair. He was slowly becoming the Zhou Tu inside the painting.
The scariest thing was, in the lower half of the painting, the Zhou Tu who was in the blood world started to have a smile blossom on his face.
"Zhou Tu, your neck!" Wang Yicheng pointed at Zhou Tu's neck and shouted. The Zhou Tu who stood outside the painting started to transform into the Zhou Tu inside the painting. A purple line appeared around his neck. As time progressed, the purple color intensified. His neck turned at an abnormal angle as the sound of dripping echoed in their ears. Following the sound, Chen Ge realized that the Zhou Tu who was trapped inside the blood red world of the painting had come alive. His bloodied body was crawling inside the painting. His face was stuck close to the surface, his lips tore open, and blood slid down his face. The bulging eyes looked straight at the Zhou Tu who was outside the painting. He seemed ready to crawl out from the painting to pull Zhou Tu into it!
"Mr. Bai, do we need to move Zhou Tu away?" The sound of dripping increased; it was coming from all sides of the art room!
Turning to look, the club members realized that every character in the different paintings had come to life. They were crawling on the surface of the painting like they were in the progress of coming out!
Last time, when I was here with the shadow, this didn't happen. Is this because they've sensed Zhou Tu?
Reality showed the uniqueness of Zhou Tu again. Chen Ge signaled for the other members to stick close to Zhou Tu. Once things worsened, they would forcibly drag Zhou Tu away. The blood on the painting turned redder, bursting with a blood mist. The scent of blood started to fill the air.
"Things are not looking good!" Zhang Ju and Zhu Long stood around Zhou Tu. They realized that the blood mist in the room had started to gather toward Zhou Tu like a giant man-eating flower that was opening its petals. "These things want to enter Zhou Tu's body!"
The blood fog avoided everyone else and stuck to Zhou Tu.
"Mr. Bai, we can't wait any longer! We need to hurry and leave!" To prevent Zhou Tu from being consumed by the blood mist, out of concern, Zhu Long reached out to grip Zhou Tu's arm. He wished to pull Zhou Tu out from the fog, but once he pulled, the blood fog coagulated into a physical rope and circled itself around Zhou Tu's neck, hanging the young man in the middle of the room.
"Zhou Tu!" The rope lassoed around Zhou Tu's neck. Zhou Tu swung in the room like a pendulum. He looked just like himself in the painting.
He had already seen his own death and had recorded the picture of his death perfectly.
"I have painted my own death. I can see myself getting hanged to death. I can see the breath leaving my body..."
The atmosphere in the room darkened, and more blood stains leaked out from the paintings. As Zhou Tu swung in the middle of the room, the characters inside the paintings appeared to be caught in a maddening party.
"Hanging is different from any other death. Unlike using knife piercing through the heart, after a short period of numbness, the body will feel like it's being burned as pain spreads through the body. This is a very gentle way to die. As strength seeps away and oxygen decreases, the despair increases. You will be able to experience every second of your death."
A male voice echoed in the room. It seemed to have originated from one of the paintings, but it also felt like it came from the edges of the walls and floor. Chen Ge could not ascertain where it came from, but he knew that the person who spoke then was similar to the one who had intervened at the education block's top floor toilet.
"There is no need to fear death. I know you will return. No matter how many times you try to run, you'll always be one of us." The voice seemed to be speaking to Zhou Tu. It was impossible to tell where it came from. If one listened closely, one might even suspect that the voice had come from Zhou Tu's own mouth.
"Do not resist. You have completed your mission. Take your seat quietly and wait for the last painter to arrive."
The blood mist surrounded Zhou Tu, and the young man became scary. His body was shrinking at an impossible speed. Just as everyone had their attention on Zhou Tu, a fourteenth easel appeared in the room.
The mist rolled around the fourteenth easel, and a faded red color was left on the paper that was as smooth as human skin. From a far, it looked like the fluttering of a red dress.