560 Suicide Prevention Hotline Operator
The atmosphere froze, and Chen Ge stopped where he was. The train tracks separated the man and the shadow into different sides. Facing normal lingering spirits or ghosts, Chen Ge was already not afraid, but there was still pressure when facing a Red Specter. To save the man, he had abandoned the bag with the Doraemon costume and his backpack. This meant that he was defenseless.
Chen Ge was unsettled as his hand tried to grab something. The night was like a cover smothering the moonlight and stars. The changes to the black shadow were continuing. The weakened body slowly straightened itself. The lines on the edge of the eyes were smoothed out, and blood leaked out from the forehead. It painted a strange pattern on the face, which looked like a birthmark or a red tattoo.
Chen Ge stood across from the man. He looked at the man and did not dare wander too close.
This was the first time that Chen Ge had seen a ghost like this. The blood would form a pattern on the face. Upon closer inspection, he realized that the thing that looked like birthmark seemed to be formed from innumerable human faces. They dominated half of the man's face. In other words, one half of the man's face was his own, and the other half kept shifting.
This presence is even more powerful than Xu Yin's. No wonder it's a Red Specter that's only weaker than Zhang Ya.
Chen Ge swallowed and looked behind him. The backpack was dropped at quite a distance away. It would be too late for him to run for it.
Standing there, Chen Ge told himself to calm down. As if he was unable to see the changes that were happening before him, he used a natural tone to ask, "Are you the one who has been on the phone with me tonight?"
The man looked very smart. In fact, he could be described as pretty. His eyes were not big, but there was a wealth of knowledge inside it. They were like tidepools that could pull you in if you looked at them for too long. It was truly the first time that Chen Ge had come across such a Red Specter. The feeling that he got from the Specter was very weird. There was no cruelty and viciousness that he sensed from a normal Red Specter—it was a feeling that he could not describe, like the silence and chill of a moon on a cold night.
"I'm here to help you." Chen Ge did not know what to say. He had no idea how powerful the Red Specter was, so he did not dare act recklessly. The two looked at each other for a long time, and the strange man spoke for the first time.
"These people's life and death have nothing to do with you. Why would you try so hard to save their lives?"
"Why are you still hung up on that question? I'm not a saint, but if I happen across someone that needs my help, then naturally, I have to help them to the best of my ability," Chen Ge said sincerely. "Even if I know they will seek death after my intervention, at least I've tried to help them gain one chance to reconsider."
It was unclear which of Chen Ge's words had touched the man. The blood on his face stopped flowing, and his expression softened. He looked down the train track that led into the darkness and sighed. "If I was half as clever as you are, perhaps he would not have died."
"He? Who would not have died?" Chen Ge was confused. "What do you mean? I ran into these victims after calling a number. Have you called that number before, or is that your number?"
The reward that he had gotten from the black phone was the Phone Number That Is Kissed by the Dead. Every victim called this number before they died. Chen Ge was worried because he had called that number many times tonight.
The man heard Chen Ge, and he pulled his gaze back. He was on the thin side, and his skin was pale. He looked gentle and weak, but half of his face was covered with the scary-looking blood tattoo, creating a strange contradiction. However, strangely enough, this contradiction felt fitting for the man. The man did not answer Chen Ge's question. He stood on the other side of the track and looked down a different direction.
"Did you notice a similarity about these people?"
"Similarity?" Chen Ge thought about it. "Every one of them met something tragic when they were still alive. They could see no escape, so in the end, they chose to leave the world their own way."
"Then do you know why they would call that number before they bade farewell to this world?" The man's voice was emotionless. It was unclear whether the man was naturally devoid of emotion or had lost all hope. Chen Ge had come up with a lot of different theories since he obtained this number, but he had vetoed them all. The purpose of this number was merely to communicate with the victims, to hear their story.
It was not evil and did not mean the victims any harm. Shaking his head, Chen Ge had a guess in his heart, but he did not voice it.
The man seemed to expect that. He stood beside the track and went down memory lane. His face twitched with pain and self-recrimination, but the most powerful emotion was confusion. "When I was still a student, I saw a classmate commit suicide. At the time, I was standing at the window, and he was standing at the roof of the opposite building.
"I waved at him and smiled, but he did not reply—he looked like he was possessed. I felt that something bad was about to happen, so I called his name loudly. Yet, in the end, I failed to save him.
"That was my first encounter with death. It happened right before me, just less than ten meters away.
"People say that those who study psychiatry either want to treat themselves or they're saints who want to treat other. I believe that I'm the former."
Hearing that, Chen Ge blurted out, "So, you're a psychiatrist?"
He actually did not want to interrupt the man, but he had seen so many doctors lately, like Doctor Gao and Doctor Chen. Both of them were top doctors of their field, but they had failed to cure themselves, instead dropping deeper and deeper into the abyss. This explained Chen Ge's caution around this particular profession.
"I am in the counselling field, but I'm not an actual doctor. Have you heard of an occupation called suicide prevention hotline operator?"
"Suicide prevention hotline operator? Can you tell me the actual job scope?"
The man was a Red Specter, but he could communicate freely with Chen Ge. This type of Red Specter was often exceptionally brilliant but physically weak, like Men Nan.
Chen Ge had more experience dealing with such Red Specter. He needed to communicate with them using reason and empathy.
Chen Ge called Zhang Ya's name silently. In front of an unknown Red Specter, he did not dare act too confidently. If the situation changed, then he would adopt a different strategy.