Chen Ge’s shadow was quite long under the street light. There was not one person on the road other than the occasional street cat, which shuffled noisily across the street.
Who would have thought such a quiet street is hiding in the city? Chen Ge walked down the road between the buildings, deeper into the residential area. There was a light horrid smell in the air; the trash that littered the street had been left there for a long time. The trash spilled out of the trash bags, and some critters occasionally squirmed out from them. Compared to the few buildings that faced the road, the building Chen Ge arrived at looked more dilapidated. There were dirty stains on the building walls, and there was a lot of trash crowding the stairs.
Found it. Chen Ge looked at the six-story high apartment building. Based on the advertisement that stuck to the wall, this was the place he was looking for. The mission venue given by the black phone was Room 303, so that should be Men Nan’s room.
Chen Ge glanced at the time; it was 7:54 pm. It might be rather inconvenient after Doctor Gao arrives, so perhaps I should go take a look around first.
He did not call Doctor Gao but entered the stairs directly. The ceiling of each floor was low; they were perhaps about 2.1 meters. The railings were made of iron, and at every interval, there was a piece of red string tied around it, but Chen Ge had no idea what purpose they served. After entering the building, a weird smell hit Chen Ge. It was very light, and it was not particularly smelly. Those who stayed there might have gotten used to it already, but Chen Ge was a first-time visitor, so he was sensitive to the smell.
It smells like food that has gone sour. Chen Ge stopped for a while at the first floor to search for the source of the smell but came up with nothing. The smell seemed to come from the building itself, seeping out from every brick. There was no light in the corridor, so Chen Ge took out his phone for light.
There were four rooms on the first floor, and it appeared very cramped. The sound insulation was not that perfect, so Chen Ge could hear the sound coming from within even though he stood outside.
Chen Ge snuck up to the third floor. He did not knock on the door to Room 303 but stood outside the door to listen in.
There were also four rooms on the third floor. The television in 301 was very loud. There was a man in 302 speaking on the phone, and it sounded like he was in a heated argument. Chen Ge could hear him repeat two sentences constantly—Stop forcing me. Do you two wish to push me to my death?
There was no sound coming from Room 303 and 304; they were very quiet.
After two minutes, Chen Ge tapped on the door to Room 303 lightly. Interestingly enough, when he did so, the television volume in 301 decreased, and the man in 302 got off his phone. The whole third floor became eerily quiet.
Chen Ge knocked on the door for a full minute, but there was no answer. He called out softly, “Men Nan? Are you home?”
There was no answer. Just as Chen Ge thought he had gotten the wrong address, the door to 301 opened.
An unshaven middle-aged man leaned against the frame, and the haze of alcohol formed a miasma around him. “Hey, who are you looking for?”
“Men Nan in 303, he’s a student at Jiujiang Medical University. I heard he’s not feeling well, so I came to visit him.”
“You got the wrong place. I have no idea who this Men Nan is, but I’m sure he is not living in 303.” The man scratched his face. His left check had been bitten by a mosquito, and the wound had been scratched until it was bleeding.
“But my friend told me he lives here.” Chen Ge tried to get some information from the man. “Furthermore, you said you don’t know Men Nan, so how can you be sure he doesn’t live here?”
“Someone died in Room 303 before, and ever since then, the room has been vacant.” The man moved his fingers before his face to look at the blood left underneath his nails. “Stop knocking on the door; it’s bad luck. You hear me?”
The middle-aged man then slammed the door in his face. However, Chen Ge realized the man did not return the volume of the television back to normal. The man was probably hiding behind the door to listen to his movements.
Chen Ge did not knock on the door anymore, but he had acquired an important clue from the man. Someone had died in Room 303, and ever since that unfortunate incident, the room had remained vacant.
He had found the mission venue, so the key now was how to gain entry before midnight.
The black phone hasn’t made any mistakes yet, so Men Nan’s illness is probably related to this room. Chen Ge looked at his watch; it was already 8 pm, so he called Doctor Gao.
The good doctor had been afraid that Chen Ge was not able to find his way, so he had been waiting outside the residential area to meet him.
After explaining the situation on the phone, several minutes later, Doctor Gao entered the corridor with Men Nan behind him. When he saw Men Nan again, Chen Ge had a shock. The young man now looked completely different from a normal person; he looked like a naturally deformed person.
His head was practically perpendicular to his spine, it looked as if someone was pressing down hard on his head. Chen Ge pointed at the door and tossed Doctor Gao a confused look.
Doctor Gao understood what he meant and shook his head slightly. “His condition worsened. The medication helped stabilized his situation for now. Let us go in first.”
Men Nan took out the key from his pocket, his head still lowered. The light in the corridor was dim. He tried multiple times, but he failed to get the key into the keyhole. His hands shook angrily, and it felt like he was going to act up again. Seeing this, Chen Ge immediately went over to help him open the door to Room 304.
When the three of them entered the room, Doctor Gao and Men Nan probably had gotten used to it, but Chen Ge frowned as a curious smell overwhelmed him.
It seems to seep out from the walls. Chen Ge looked around the room, the place was clean and neat. There was no rubbish in the waste bin, so he did not understand where the smell came from. Another body sealed inside a wall?
Chen Ge denied the thought quickly. The wall at the end of the third-floor corridor at Ping An Apartment had purposely been strengthened by Wang Qi. The wall of a normal apartment would not be thick enough to hide a body.
Doctor Gao noticed how weird Chen Ge was asking so he asked him, “What are you looking for?”
“Do you not smell a very weird odor?” Chen Ge stopped at the wall between 303 and 304; the smell was the most intense there.
“There is, but old buildings tend to have weird smell.” Doctor Gao led Men Nan to the bed, but the young man refused to go near it. He would rather stand than sit on the bed.
Chen Ge glanced at Men Nan, and he whispered to the doctor, “What’s going on with him?”
“He’s afraid of falling asleep. In the previous dream, the man was already strangling his neck. If he falls asleep again, he’s afraid it might be his eternal slumber.”