\"That day, he told me many things that he normally wouldn't.\"
\"Is this man you mention still living here?\" Chen Ge could hear the quiver in the voice.
\"He has already moved away and hasn't returned for a long time.\"
\"Then, would you like to meet him?\" Chen Ge pulled on the jacket. \"I believe you have many things you wish to say to him. After all, he's the one who put you in this situation where you can't even feel warmth.\"
\"It's okay. I will help. Trust me.\" Chen Ge held the wall and slowly stood up. \"If he hasn't left Jiujiang, within one week, I will bring him back. After you reunite with him, I will bring you to someplace warmer.\"
The woman did not answer, but Chen Ge was in no hurry. \"Now I have one more reason to be alive. Keep the jacket. I will be back.\"
Chen Ge was about to move up when the woman said, \"Don't go up anymore. You won't be able to return.\"
\"Won't be able to return? Why?\"
\"Because above the thirteenth floor is the fourteenth floor.\" A jacket was stuffed into Chen Ge's hand, and the chilling feeling slowly disappeared.
What is she trying to tell me? Chen Ge gripped the jacket tightly. Jiang Yuan Apartments doesn't have the fourteenth floor. It should be the fifteenth floor after thirteenth floor, but she said that fourteenth floor follows the thirteenth floor. So, does the fourteenth floor really exist?
Chen Ge would not surrender at this point; he knew that he was very close to the truth. Counting the steps, Chen Ge came to the thirteenth floor. This level was quiet, like a normal apartment building with nothing extraordinary. He moved up to the fourteenth floor. When he was halfway up the steps, his nostrils twitched because he smelt the scent of food. It was unknown what dish it was, but his brain was able to tell this was a lavish dinner, impressed upon his memory.
This wafted down from the fourteenth floor. Is someone cooking?
Moving up step by step, perhaps due to physical or mental exhaustion, Chen Ge felt like there were so many steps between the thirteenth and fourteenth floor. The number of steps was similar to other floors, but for some reason, it took him much longer. Under his fingertips, the smooth surface of the wall started to crack. There appeared to be changes in the corridor. Everything gave Chen Ge a familiar yet strange feeling.
He mechanically lifted his leg, and with the smell of dinner on his nose, he finally reached the fourteenth floor. When he found footing, the doorknob in the corridor turned noisily. An iron door was opened, and then a male voice came from the deeper part of the corridor. \"Chen Ge, welcome home.\"
When he heard that voice, Chen Ge's voice blanked out. He whipped his body around to face the corridor. He had heard that man's voice for about twenty years. This sentence... he had heard it so many times when he was young. He had memorized his voice inside his heart and carved it onto his bones.
\"Dinner is ready. When you were coming up the stairs, your mom heard you.\" His nails cut into his palm, and Chen Ge slowly raised his arms to grab at that black cloth. He just wanted to take a look. He had never been so desperate to see something. The hands on the cloth tightened until the veins burst on the back of his hands.
\"How was your first day at school‽\"
\"We're sorry we couldn't pick you up.\"
\"You weren't bullied, right?\"
\"Have you made some new friends? You're so much like me, so you should be so popular in class!\"
\"Go and wash your hands. Don't run around...\"
The words drifted out from the corridor until the doorknob turned, and the door closed. The man's voice disappeared, and other people's voices appeared in the corridor. There was a male and a female, young and old.
\"What is wrong with that new family who just moved in? They leave after their child goes to sleep every midnight. No wonder the child suffers from nightmares.\"
\"Haven't you heard? During the day, the house is filled with laughter, but at night, it's just crying. Won't the child be afraid to be left at home alone at night?\"
\"This is strange. I saw all three of them leave in the morning. Why would there be crying at night?\"
\"Bros! I found something. It's not the adults that are problematic with the new family; it's the child! I saw the doctor from some Xin Hai hospital who came to treat the child! You mustn't let your children play with him!\"
\"How come, after the doctor's visit, the child has been even sicker? Do you know? The child tells his parents about his nightmares, and when his parents are not at home at night, he repeats the nightmare to his own shadow. How scary is that‽\"
\"Something's not right, if he doesn't sleep in the day or night, when does he have the time to experience nightmares? Is the child really talking about his dream?\"
\"Don't scare me like that. Never mind, they are moving away in a few days anyway.\"
\"Yes, I hear they're going to Western Jiujiang, the parents are going to work for a theme park.\"
The voices slowly drifted into the background. Chen Ge stood where he was with his hands still on the black cloth. After a while, Chen Ge took a deep breath.
I only remember the good things. I've blocked out most of the things the neighbor said about me. But there are a few key points I should consider.
When I was small, I interacted with a doctor from Xin Hai Hospital. It was after his treatment that I started talking with my own shadow. It should be then that my shadow turned strange. The key to everything is that doctor. The doctor came from Xin Hai, and the cursed hospital is between Xin Hai and Jiujiang. Could this be a coincidence?
Standing on the fourteenth floor, Chen Ge slowly turned around to face away from the corridors with many voices. His hands that grabbed the black cloth tightened, and then he removed the slightly wet cloth. But his eyes were still closed.
\"I really wish to open my eyes and see you, but I know that is impossible.\" Chen Ge did not turn back. With his hand on the wall, he continued to move up. \"You once gave up everything for me, so now I will use everything I have to find you.\"
In the dark corridor, Chen Ge looked different from usual. Fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth...
Counting the number of steps in his heart, Chen Ge knew that he was now on the seventeenth floor. Theoretically, this was the top floor of this building, but he did not hurry to open his eyes.
The fourteenth doesn't exist, but the girl with the cold told me above the thirteenth floor is the fourteenth floor. This building originally had seventeen floors, but if one includes the additional fourteenth floor, there should be eighteen floors like eighteen layers of hell.
Chen Ge nudged his feet. Soon, his toe found the steps that led upward.
So, there is an eighteenth floor.