1145 From Today Onward, We Are Friends 2 in 1
A heavy stench of blood permeated the air. The originally spacious room suddenly felt so incredibly crowded. The chilling cold light from the screen lit up his surroundings. Lan Xiaochen stood before the computer table, holding the cursed envelope, and slowly turned around. "Who's there? Come out and face me!"
The man who was normally so courageous and fearless shouted loudly in the direction of the living room. Unfortunately, all that replied to him was the static of electricity. Inside the empty living room, the television set was suddenly switched on, and the black and white static appeared on the screen like snowflakes. Lan Xiaochen picked up the badminton racket next to his computer table and slowly nudged step by step to the living room. Perhaps it was a psychological trick or something else, but he felt a sense of déjà vu regarding this whole situation.
A barely discernible sound of crying came from a corner of the room. The computer suddenly started to play the horror movie that he had been watching earlier. The segment that Lan Xiaochen had critiqued as extremely cliched to the point of boring him was replayed again and again. The things that occurred to the main character inside the movie when he was watching a horror movie had replicated it perfectly now in his real life.
The familiar conversation floated out from the speakers. The heavy breathing and the nervous tone kept on stimulating Lan Xiaochen's brain. Even though he was unwilling to admit it, he was really afraid at that moment. "Come out now! Or I will call the police!"
An overwhelming sense of helplessness overcame his body. Lan Xiaochen yelled at the living room as if raising his voice might increase his courage. He was facing away from the screen of the computer as he moved to the door between the living room and his bedroom. He noticed there was a bloody handprint left on his front door's handle, as if someone had opened the door from inside his house.
At that moment, the horror movie playing in his computer reached its climax. The male main character realized that the ghost from the horror movie he was watching had escaped into his own home. He wanted to escape from his house, but he suddenly noticed that the door of his house was locked.
Seeing the bloody handprint on the door handle, Lan Xiaochen suddenly realized that someone had entered his own house; this place was no longer safe. He moved very slowly, but as he approached the front door, he suddenly picked up speed.
When both of his hands gripped the door handle, he realized, no matter how hard he tried, he could not turn the door open. Fear had completely swallowed up his sense of rationality. The man who thought he was so above other people, the man who spent his daily nights trolling fans of different horror movies, that man felt the prick of fear for the first time in his life.
"How come the door won't open?"
He shook the door as hard as he could, but the door refused to budge even an inch. However, blood started to leak from the edges of the door!
The main character on-screen was caught in the same conundrum. He took out his phone to call the female lead for help. In real life, Lan Xiaochen also took out his phone in a panic. However, this person had no close friends, so he was calling the police for help. The scene in the movie and the scene in real life had run parallel, and the result was surprisingly similar. The phone call was soon answered, and a stranger's voice came from the other side of the line.
"You cannot escape."
Trickles of blood and pale faces started to appear in the room. Shadowy figures wearing red outfits surrounded Lan Xiaochen, who was so scared that he had started to convulse. Lan Xiaochen, who was never afraid of voice his opinion and who was always ready for a fight on the internet, was currently shivering with the corner of his mouth bubbling with white froth, calling his mother with tears in his eyes. A boy in a red shirt dragged Lan Xiaochen to his side. He opened the front door, and there was a young man carrying a backpack standing outside the door.
"He is the source of the curse? Not even a Red Specter?" The young man entered the room and closed the front door behind him. "So, I was getting excited for nothing…"
Sitting on the sofa, the young man took out a comic from his backpack, and he started to flip through it. A pail of blood splashed on the top of Lan Xiaochen's head. The man instantly waved his hands as if he was thrown inside an icy pool. His first instinct was to cry out for help.
"Chen Ge, wouldn't it be much easier for you to have Zhang Yi look through his memories? Why waste time with this extra step?" Men Nan clamped his hand over the Lan Xiaochen's mouth. He looked at the sticky white stuff on his palm and felt disgusted.
"Zhang Yi's ability is to hide and remove part of one's memory. If this man's memory has already been tampered with, Zhang Yi will not be able to recognize it. To prevent us from being misdirected, I'd prefer hearing the truth from the horse's mouth first. We cannot afford to be too careful." Chen Ge was a very cautious person. He first wanted the young man to very carefully think over the things that he had done. "Hey, I will ask you a few questions now. I hope you will answer them honestly. If I find out you're lying, I will make you see how difficult living can be."
With his brain slowly coming back online, Lan Xiaochen was half lying on the ground. He used the remaining energy in his body to force his head to nod. Just from the tone that he employed, Lan Xiaochen knew that the young man sitting before him was someone he could not afford to offend. Lan Xiaochen might not be afraid of anything or anyone on the internet, but in real life, he was even more cowardly than a mouse.
"Who gave you the blank cursed letter?"
"No one gave it to me. I stole it from an abandoned hospital." Lan Xiaochen placed the envelope on the ground with his trembling hands. "This is yours, right? I won't dare do this again. Please forgive me."
"Someone like you dared to sneak into an abandoned hospital to steal something? You have to be kidding me." The incredulity was clear on Chen Ge's face.
"I made a bet with someone on the internet that we would all go spend a night inside that hospital. I was just saying it for fun. Who knew they would really come to Xin Hai in person? I could not hide from them, so I was dragged by them along to the hospital."
"Where is the exact location of that hospital?"
"The hospital was in Xin Hai's countryside. The surrounding area has basically not been developed. It's a very desolate place." Lan Xiaochen was clearly at the point of crying already. "There were three of them in total. They were all visitors from Jiujiang. Jiujiang must be a very incredible place because each of them was more courageous than the next. Who knows what kind of training they underwent daily?"
"They entered the hospital with you?" Chen Ge did not expect visitors from Jiujiang to appear in Xin Hai.
"I was the first to enter, but once I escaped from their line of sight, I instantly went into hiding. After they had all gone into the building, I ran out of it immediately." This proved how nefarious this Lan Xiaochen was. To put it more frankly, he was human scum, plain and simple.
"Did the rest of the visitors come out from the hospital?" Chen Ge was more concerned about the safety of the visitors.
"I have no clue. I have waited outside the hospital for half an hour, but there was noise at all coming from inside the hospital. It was as if the three of them had been eaten by something inside the hospital." Lan Xiaochen's voice was stammering. He was still very afraid of Chen Ge. "The place was very scary at night. I did not dare stay there for too long, so I ran home on my own. But I returned to the place the following afternoon. I found one of the visitors' wallets in a corner of the hospital lobby. All the identification documents inside the wallet had disappeared. Instead, all that was left were the three blank patient records and a paper note."
"Did you call the police after that?"
"No, I assumed they'd left on their own. This could not be counted as a disappearance, and there was no sign of any dead bodies, so I had no reason to report to the police, right?" It was unclear whether Lan Xiaochen was trying to convince Chen Ge or himself.
"Where are the three blank patient records and the paper note now?" Chen Ge's face was dark as a storm, and the atmosphere inside the room was equally suffocating.
"I have already used two of the patient records. The last one is inside this envelope." Lan Xiaochen shrunk his neck back like a turtle. "Initially, I really did not know this patient record can curse someone. It was not until the day the neighbor's dog would not stop barking. I was just intending to give it a try, so I wrote down their name. Who would have thought the whole family would get sick and die? The dog was the last to perish."
"You said, other than the three patient records, there was also a paper note, right? Go and get it for me. I want to take a look at it."
Lan Xiaochen initially wanted to use that paper note as a bargaining chip, but he realized that he did not have the courage to sit on the bargaining table with Chen Ge. "The paper note is inside the locked drawer inside my bedroom. The key is inside my pocket."
Men Nan took out the key and headed into the bedroom. Moments later, he handed the paper note to Chen Ge. Lan Xiaochen might call it a paper note, but it was actually a page that was torn out from a book. There was a dark stain of dry blood left on it, and once one looked closer, one would realize the blood stain was hiding a sentence.
'This is a sickened world, why have you not discovered that fact? I swear to cure you!'
These simple words had a very special power. They would give the reader a strange feeling, as if the statement was meant for them.
"A sickened world? I think you'd better work on curing yourself first." Chen Ge used Yin Yang Vision to study the words on the page. The more he looked at them, the more confused he became. The black blood stain had a clear layering to it, as if people kept writing the same message on the same part of the page over and over again. "This feels like a notice, but at the same time, it could be some kind of hint. Could it have been left behind by the doctors of the cursed hospital? But why would this page be placed together with the three blank patient records?"
Chen Ge had fought with the cursed hospital several times already. This was the first time he had encountered a blank patient record. This was not something that someone could pick up randomly from the floor.
"I have already told you everything I know," Lan Xiaochen whispered. "So, can you…"
"I can give you a quick release." Chen Ge waved his hand, and Zhang Yi directly crawled into Lan Xiaochen's brain. A person the size of an adult crawled into another person's body through his head. This kind of horrifying scene happened almost daily before Chen Ge. With regards to Lan Xiaochen, it was not that important anymore. After all, when Zhang Yi exited his body, some of his memory would be hidden away. Ten seconds later, Zhang Yi crawled out of Lan Xiaochen's body, and all the red Specters in the room disappeared. The television screen switched off, and everything returned to normal, but the world had lost an internet troll and had gained a young man who had a renewed appreciation for life.
"Lan Xiaochen was not lying, but there was a part of his memory that was very blurry. Even I could not see through it clearly." Zhang Yi followed beside Chen Ge, walking in the shadows of the city.
"Be it the first time he entered the hospital or the time he returned to the hospital, the details about these two incidents were all very blurry. In fact, perhaps he had not actually entered the hospital, but he was made to believe that he had entered the hospital." Zhang Yi gestured with his hands. "I believe the enemy have an entity that can control memory as well, and they are much more powerful than me."
"The cursed hospital also has someone who can control memories? Looks like I have to figure out a way to turn you into a Red Specter. Your current state as a Half Red Specter is no longer good enough to deal with the current dangerous situation." The Specters who had more unique powers would have a harder time achieving a breakthrough. Chen Ge was very familiar with that fact. He wanted to cultivate Zhang Yi, but unfortunately, he had not found sufficient 'food' for him. He had befriended most of the Specters in Jiujiang already. He could not bring himself to feed them to his employees, but the situation was completely different now that he had arrived in Xin Hai.
"Do you think it is possible that Lan Xiaochen was a chess piece employed by the cursed hospital? Be it the cursed letter received by Xiao Die's younger brother or the supposed disappearance of the visitors from Jiujiang, these two incidents feel so premeditated. It's as if they're inciting me to speed my investigation up." Chen Ge's mind was moving quickly, contemplating various possibilities.
"I honestly have no idea."
"You'd better return to the comic to rest. Thank you for everything you have done tonight." Chen Ge pulled his employees back into the comic, and he strode down the street alone. "I mustn't act too rashly. Both Zhang Yi and Yan Danian are extremely rare Specters, so what I need to do now is train them to become Red Specters.
"Once these unique Specters around me become Red Specter, they will become a force to be reckoned with!"
Chen Ge's mind was made up. Yan Danian, who was just a baleful Specter, was already determined by the black phone as a Lesser Red Specter, a Specter most powerful among all the baleful Specters, so if he turn into a Red Specter, would he not become a Lesser Demon God?
"I need to find a chance to sneak Xiao Sun over first and then take it slow. We will see who exhausts the other first."
At 5 am, Chen Ge returned to Destiny Avenue. He was about to return to Nightmare Academy when he saw someone walk out from the backdoor of Xi Li Xiang eatery. The person looked similar to Chi Ren from behind.
Carrying his backpack, Chen Ge quietly snuck over. The sun was just coming up. It was the time of the day when Destiny Avenue least crowded. The person who snuck out from the backdoor of Xi Li Xiang was pulling along a suitcase. He carefully looked up and down the road as if trying to hide from someone. Chen Ge slowly approached, his footsteps not making any noise. He stared at the man for a long time before finally matching the man to the picture of Chi Ren that he had seen on at the management center.
"Have you been chased out by the boss?" Chen Ge's voice suddenly appeared beside the man's ear. It scared him so much that blood drained from his face.
"Who are you‽"
"I am the new boss of the haunted house next door. If you have nowhere else to go, I'd be happy to take you on." Before Chen Ge even finished, the man made a very strange gesture. He closed his mouth with both of his hands.
"What's wrong? Are you not feeling well?" Chen Ge used his body to block the road. The man shook his head quickly. Finally, he took out his phone and type the following on it. 'I do not want to harm you! Please go away!'
"Harm me?" Chen Ge used his Yin Yang Vision to stare at the man for a long time. After he ensured that he was indeed dealing with Chi Ren, he looked at the surrounding. They were at the backdoor of Xi Li Xiang eatery, and there was no surveillance camera there.
"You have trouble looking after your own safety, but you still care about harming an innocent passerby. Looks like you are indeed someone trustworthy." Chen Ge took out the comic. Blood vessels boiled behind him, and it swallowed up the light of the dawn.
"Red Specter!" The veins popped on the man's face. He realized the presence of danger. He directly abandoned his luggage and turned to run.
"Don't be afraid. I just want to help you."
"I do not need your help!"
"I never give the people a chance to say no when I feel like helping them." Chen Ge grabbed the man by his hand and forced him to stay where he was. "Be quiet. There are at least five Red Specters around us. Do you think you will be able to escape?"
"F, f, five‽"
"Do not panic, maintain your breathing." Chen Ge helped the man reposition his cap. The rim of the cap was placed just right to cover half of the man's face. Walking down the street, Chen Ge led the man back to Nightmare Academy. After he locked the door, he grabbed the man and basically dragged him into the haunted house's headmaster's office.
"Okay, you are safe now." Chen Ge and the man stood inside the office, along with Men Nan and the water ghost Red Specter. The man did not dare say a word. He believed he had failed to escape.
"Are you Chi Ren?"
The man nodded carefully. "How did you know that?"
"It was you who was responsible for guarding the storeroom at the old location of Xin Hai hospital, right?"
"Did you give the note to Doctor Fang?"
Chen Ge took out a piece of paper. "Repeat the message one more time on this paper."
Ten minutes later, Chen Ge finally confirmed that the man before him was Chi Ren. A few days ago, this man had tried to save Doctor Fang, but he had failed to do so.
"Why would you risk offending the cursed hospital to help Doctor Fang?" Chen Ge wanted to know the answer to this.
"Doctor Fang is a very good person. Even though he is the best doctor in his field, he never had any sense of arrogance. He treated even us normal employees equally, and he has helped so many of his patients. He is the epitome of a good doctor." Chi Ren sighed. "How could I watch such a kind person lose his life?"
"Then, do you still want to save Doctor Fang?" Chen Ge was gradually coaxing the man.
"Of course." Chi Ren's eyes lit up, but soon, the darkness dimmed them again. "But now, I can't even save myself. How am I supposed to save him?"
"It'll be fine. I will help you." Chen Ge patted Chi Ren's shoulder with a smile. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend, so from today onward, we are friends."