Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The doors on both sides of the passage were closed, and Shen Jize tiptoed to the door to listen. Lu Rong nervously held the corner of his coat, opened his mouth to say something, but Shen Jize put up a finger in his mouth, “Shhh.”
After listening to several rooms in a row, the rooms were quiet, as if no one was there, but he was determined not to open the door to see.
What if? What if there’s another ghost like that lying on the floor? What if there was more than one, a room full of them, like in a class? There were many more, and sooner or later they would show their ghostly faces to scare them.
He stopped listening to the rooms and walked to the end of the passage, where two similar passages appeared in front of him, one on the left and one on the right.
“I’ve just gone that way.” Shen Jize wanted to turn to the right, but Lu Rong tugged his sleeve, “Don’t go that way.”
“So did you turn around and come back?”
Lu Rong shook his head, “No, I was walking ahead and returned here.”
Shen Jize was puzzled, so he led him to the right, “Let’s go and find out what’s going on.”
“That… That…” Lu Rong was led to walk for a period of time, finally honestly explaining, “There are other paths ahead. I walked to the right, turned a circle and went back.”
He was a little ashamed after saying that, but Shen Jize didn’t laugh at him, as if he hadn’t heard, picked up an iron bar at the base of the wall, waved it twice and said, “Let’s go. Let’s not keep circling around.”
When two more passages appeared in front of him, Shen Jize chose to go to the left.
This passage was a bit damp, the concrete floor rough crevices were full of water stains, the walls were covered with dark green moss, so Lu Rong skin felt sticky and slippery.
A gust of wind blowing from nowhere, with an unlikely summer chill, the two shivered in unison.
The faint sound of dripping water came from the end of the passage, but it made the surroundings more silent.
Lu Rong was close to Shen Jize, and they held hands tightly together. Shen Jize licked his lips, which were a little dry, and asked, “Rong Rong, have you been in this building before?”
“Yes, I have.” Lu Rong rolled his eyes and looked around.
“And is it the same as now?”
Lu Rong shook his head in denial, “No, only the beginning was the same, the straight passage, but it didn’t have so many paths.”
Shen Jize’s voice was a little tense, “Don’t be afraid. This is a dream. It’s normal that the building is different from the one you saw before.”
“I’m not afraid.” Lu Rong put his forehead against his arm and rubbed against it, “I’m not afraid with Brother here.”
There was no ceiling light in the front section, it was gray and blurred, as if there was something hidden in the darkness, snarling and moving. Shen Jize’s heart was weak, so he stopped and said, “There’s nothing to see ahead, let’s turn back and go the other way.”
“Okay.” Lu Rong nodded obediently.
“I’m not afraid, look at the darkness there. There’s no light there, it’s a waste of time to go.”
Shen Jize finished and then stared at Lu Rong with a sullen gaze, as if to see if he believed it, but Lu Rong only increased the tone of voice, “Mn!”
The two held hands again and turned back, but they didn’t even take a few steps, when there was a heavy sound ahead of them, and the dust on the ground became a thick smoke. Shen Jize hurriedly pulled Lu Rong back, until the smoke and dust cleared. He found an iron door across the middle of the passage but the path was sealed tightly.
Shen Jize was stunned for a moment before asking, “Did you see clearly where this door came from?”
“No, it fell from the top.” Lu Rong said.
The two children went to the iron door, observed for a while and then used their hands to push. But the iron door didn’t move, as if it was welded in the wall, the door was smooth, and there was no handle or anything.
In the silence, Lu Rong turned to Shen Jize in front of him and wrapped his arms around his waist, “Brother, I’m a little scared.”
Shen Jize forced himself to calm down, “I’m not afraid, isn’t this a dream? Anything can happen in a dream, and it’s not strange to have an extra door somehow.”
“But before you said this wasn’t a dream—”
“That’s my nonsense, it’s a dream.” Shen Jize interrupted him sharply.
The two boys hugged without speaking, their heartbeats fierce and clear, accompanied by the sound of water dripping in the distance. Shen Jize was already scared out of shape, but he looked down at the top of Lu Rong’s soft head, and his heart had a jolt of sudden courage.
He couldn’t just stop here, Rong Rong was still with him. Rong Rong could only rely on him, so he must think of a way to get both of them out safely. He said, “Rong Rong, this will not work, we must find the light out.”
“So… should we go forward?” Lu Rong looked up from his arms and went to look deeper into the black tunnel.
Shen Jize said, “Just wait here while I go ahead.”
Lu Rong grabbed his arm, “I’m going with you.”
Shen Jize looked down at the fingers on his arm, which were thin and white, as if they would break with the slightest effort, and said, “Wait here, I will go alone.”
“No, I don’t want to.” Lu Rong immediately let go of his arm and wrapped his arms around Shen Jize’s waist again, hanging on like an octopus.
Shen Jize said, “I’m a man, you’re a child, and children have to stay where they are and wait for me.”
“But I’m a man, too.” Lu Rong looked at him with wet eyes.
Shen Jize said, “I’ll be in sixth grade soon, and you just finished second grade.”
Lu Rong’s mouth opened, but he couldn’t argue.
Although there was only a three-year difference between the ages of eleven and eight, there was an insurmountable gap between the upper grades and the lower grades. In the minds of the senior students, there was no difference between the lower grades and kindergarten children. And in the eyes of the junior students, the senior class was the top of the mountain that could only be looked up to.
Shen Jize, with Lu Rong hanging from his body, struggled to move to the side and stand behind a raised wall post. He said seriously, “Listen, just wait here, I’ll come back after I scout.”
“But I don’t want to listen now.” Lu Rong pleaded, tilting his head. He was a head shorter than Shen Jize, his baby-fat face a mass of boyishness. His hair was brown in the light, soft and fine, like a newborn’s hair.
Shen Jize patiently explained, “What if I need to run? You can’t keep up. If I need to jump out at a demon to protect you, then Brother’s combat power will weaken, right? Won’t we both be finished then?”
Lu Rong thought he could turn into a deer, run fast, and still be able to fight, but how could he dare to say these words out loud?
“Just wait for me here, I will come to get you.” Shen Jize said again.
Lu Rong’s body suddenly stiffened, as he was breathing sharply. Shen Jize silently went to move the hands away from his waist, using several times the force, but the boy didn’t break away.
“Let go.” He reprimanded in a low voice.
The corners of Lu Rong’s mouth stubbornly skewed downward, his eyes were red, and his face was torn between crying and not crying, but did not let go.
Shen Jize saw him like this, felt a moment of weakness, but hardened his heart and wasn’t going to change his mind. “Just watch me here, if there is something wrong, you can come help, okay?” He helplessly whispered to persuade, “I don’t want you to be in danger, at least there’s a steel door here. Whatever is behind there can’t pass. Brother will also not go far. Every section I explore, I’ll come back to take you to that section, okay?”
A few moments later, Lu Rong nodded imperceptibly and slowly loosened his hold.
“I’ll be back soon, don’t be afraid.” Shen Jize removed his hand around the waist, dragged the iron bar two steps, and then stood and turned back, “Go back behind the pillar to hide.”
Lu Rong took a step back and hid his body behind the wall pillar, his head still poking out. Shen Jize knew he wouldn’t listen, so he gave up and went straight to the depths of the passage.
He walked to the place not illuminated by the corridor light, slowed down, both hands clutching the iron bar, watching vigilantly for movement in front of him and the security doors on either side. There was a layer of wet sand on the ground, and the soles of his sneakers fell on it, making a slight rustling sound. He couldn’t help but look back again and saw Lu Rong had come out from behind the pillar and was standing in the corridor, facing his direction, looking like a small mass.
Shen Jize had the courage again, he took a deep breath, turned his head and strode forward to find the light that would let them leave this hellish place. The young man’s figure was thin and slender in Lu Rong’s eyes. He was tall and powerful, and Lu Rong had been watching Shen Jize’s back. With his disappearance in the depths of darkness, he didn’t turn his eyes away, only when they were beginning to become sore and swollen, did he retract his gaze.
He was still uneasy, feeling that there would be something terrible ahead that would hurt his brother. Hesitantly, he took a few steps forward, stood still, paused for a moment and then took a few more steps forward and stood still again.
After a few times he stopped walking and followed quietly with small steps.
Shen Jize finally got used to the dark environment, and with the help of the light from somewhere, he was also able to identify the outline of the items in the passage, avoiding those against the wall of sand and concrete slabs.
His palms were full of sweat, the iron bar was hard to hold, and he had to keep changing hands, rubbing the sweat off on his clothes. If it were normal, he would have stayed put, not daring to go alone to find the light.
But as soon as he thought of Lu Rong, he felt a sense of pride, and felt that no matter what, he had to bring him out.
There was a swish, and a light suddenly came on.
Shen Jize was stimulated by the light, as he half squinted eyes. At that moment, the iron bar in his hand slipped out and he hurriedly grabbed it again. But when he had just adapted to the light, the light went out again. Going from dark to light to dark, his vision went into complete darkness.
Shen Jize stood still and didn’t dare to move, straining his ears to listen to the movement around him, but the suffocating darkness only lasted a few seconds, and the lights came back on with a swish.
After waiting for a while to make sure the light was no longer going out, he looked to where the light source came from. It was a passage light overhead, emitting a slight electric current hum. It should be because of a bad connection and that the light went dark randomly.
This section of the passage was the same as the previous one. The walls were covered with wet moss, the floor was mixed with water and fine sand, and the sound of the water dripping echoed.
While the light was still on, Shen Jize quickly moved forward. He could see that in about 20 to 30 meters, the passage came to an end, and his heart was secretly excited.
With this section was explored, he turned his head to pick up Lu Rong. The child waiting there must be very anxious, and it was possible he was crying.
The result was silent, the light disappeared again instantly. He tried to open his eyes wide, but he could only see the darkness as thick as ink. Shen Jize didn’t risk going forward, standing still and waiting for the light to come back on. He listened to his own breathing and the sound of water dripping from a stone’s throw away.
There was water here, so was there a water pipe? If he followed the water pipe, would he be able to find the light mass?
The light came back on in the middle of his thoughts, and he squinted to get used to it before taking a step forward. As a result, just a step was taken and then stopped. His entire being seemed to be nailed in place and couldn’t move a bit.
A woman dressed in red was hanging upside down on the top of the passage, her white face barely half a meter from him and her pupil-less eyes stared at him. The woman’s long hair was hanging in the air, blood dripping over the sides of her nose, and then dripping down her hair onto the ground.
A sticky, scarlet puddle pooled around his feet.
This was the most horrific scene Shen Jize had ever seen in his life. He forgot to scream, and forgot to run and breathe, his heart seemed to stop beating, his mind went blank, and his soul flew out of his shell.
The woman slowly twisted her body upward, in a bizarre position, and moved across the ceiling like a gecko. Shen Jize slowly watched her upper body, her face dripping blood coming closer and closer.
Shen Jize finally reacted, moved his legs to escape, but his body was trapped by an invisible hand, confined, and he couldn’t move at all. His fingers also stiffened, the iron bar banged on the ground and rolled to the wall with a thunk.
The woman stretched out her thin hand, grabbed Shen Jize’s neck with her cold fingers and began to choke him, her grip slowly tightening.
Shen Jize couldn’t move, he could only watch and hear the slight creaking of bones in his neck. Maybe in another second, or less than a second, his neck would be broken by this woman.
He didn’t know what was going through his mind at that moment, maybe he was so scared that he didn’t have any more thoughts. But in that instant, a shadow swept past him, and with the heavy sound of impact, his choked neck was loosened, and the confinement around his body disappeared.
With his lungs refilled with oxygen and his throat gurgling, Shen Jize staggered backwards a few steps, covering his neck and coughing violently.
The lights suddenly came on brightly, illuminating the surrounding area, and he looked up as he coughed. There was a fight ahead, and a deft, familiar figure leaped up high, its front hooves curled up on its chest, its hind hooves stretched out, its head hanging slightly, a pair of small, shiny silver horns hitting at the woman hanging from the ceiling.
——It was the little white deer that he had met twice.
The woman was obviously very afraid of the little white deer. Her hands loosened, and she moved from the ceiling light to the ground to avoid him.
After the deer landed, his hind hooves stomped on the ground, and darted over, planning to crash into the woman.
The woman shifted and moved quickly. The deer hit nothing, raised his hoof the moment he staggered, the red pattern on his leg lit up with light, and his left hoof snapped and hit the woman’s back.
“Akh…” The woman let out an inhuman howl. The hit area revealed a fist-sized hole, the edges, as if burned, were black, and smoke rose.
Shen Jize stood against the wall, pale as he watched the scene.
The deer tried to stop, trying to stabilize his momentum forward, the wet sand floor showed four long marks that he dragged into it. He swung his tail and turned to face the woman, four hooves slightly apart, head down, round eyes pressed into a horizontal knife shape, fiercely glaring upward.
The red-dressed woman was obviously angry and scared, the blood on the side of her nose kept dripping down, and her cloudy white eyes were staring out of their sockets, looking even more gruesome. Seeing her like this, Shen Jize avoided looking at her, picked up the iron rod that fell, and held it tight with both hands.
In the blink of an eye, the woman in red suddenly disappeared from her spot. Shen Jize hurriedly pressed his back against the wall and looked around vigilantly.
The bright light was covered by a piece of black, it was long hair, thousands of hair strands like steel wires stabbing at the fawn.
“Watch out!” Shen Jize shouted, out of breath.
The deer had his head down, moving his horns but his entire body was wrapped tightly in hair and had turned into a small ball.
Shen Jize’s heart was terrified, and held the iron bar to rush over. Before he had time to lift the step, he saw the tightly wound black bundle begin to smoke, the middle part burst in the flames, the air was filled with the smell of burning hair.
After a heart-breaking howl, the woman in red appeared on the ceiling. She crawled as fast as a spider, then pounced on the fawn, long nails shining green and black in the air.
Undaunted, the fawn leaped into the air at the same time and kicked out his hoof.
The woman fell from the ceiling to the floor after a series of pops, rolling and howling, with a few more holes in her chest that almost went right through her. She got up and pounced frantically on the fawn, as if she wanted to die with it. But he was like a sulphuric acid deer, where everywhere he touched, the woman would smoke, emitting the sound of burning flesh and sizzling.
Her ten fingernails were soon gone and her long hair was singed short like a crazy woman. Her body was covered with black holes made by the fawn’s savage impact and four hoof strikes, her red shirt ripped to shreds.
Shen Jize put his mind at ease and continued to watch the battle, holding the iron bar.
The woman suddenly turned her head toward him, her face still hideous, but he was no longer so afraid. As she hissed and approached, he raised the iron bar in his hand and hit her hard in the chest.
Shen Jize was using all his strength, and the force of the iron bar bounced off his wrist, making it numb. Although this rod didn’t cause any damage to the woman, she fell back a few steps.
The woman was ready to come up again, but suddenly shivered as if electrocuted, opening her mouth wide and wailing with her head in pain, Shen Jize could see two rows of white teeth in that mouth. The fawn was standing behind her, with silver horns against the bend of her leg, where a burning black hole was rapidly growing larger and deeper.
The woman struggled to climb upward, and fell heavily to the ground. She was completely afraid to stay here, limping towards the ground in Shen Jize’s direction to escape.
Seeing her coming too close, Shen Jize didn’t think much, and swung the heavy rod. The deer behind her caught her with his horns.
The woman was able to escape, and in Shen Jize’s stunned gaze, she looked like a piece of melted chocolate, twisting and slowly turning into a puddle of black water. Shen Jize and the fawn were staring at the puddle of black water gasping for air, huffing and puffing like pulling two small bellows, tired but also excited.
The surrounding scene had changed some time ago and the eerie cold feeling had disappeared, the sticky moss attached to the cement was gone, the wall and floor were back to dry surfaces.
Shen Jize looked at the fawn and was about to say something when he saw it run over kicking and screaming in small steps, straighten up, hug his legs with his front hooves, spit out his little pink tongue and continue to pant.
“Little White, are you okay?” He asked, looking down.
Lu Rong heard the name Little White and quickly tilted his head, noticing how tall his brother had become, which made him realize that he was still a deer. His body stiffened and he slowly withdrew his front hooves, put them behind his back and took a half step back, looking left and right, pretending that nothing happened.
“Little White, thank you. I have to go back to pick up my brother now, come with me—” Shen Jize didn’t finish this sentence when he saw the fawn’s eyes glaze and he raised his front hoof to cover his open mouth. Then turned his head to look at him again, without any warning, suddenly ran backwards down the passage.
“Little White!” He hurriedly chased a few steps forward.
But the deer ran out of the passage without looking back, and the white figure disappeared around the corner.