The dilapidated paths crisscrossed like a maze. Afraid of being left behind, Chen Ge also picked up the pace. After many turns, a squat two-story terrace block appeared before his eyes, and it was into this place that the woman and the boy disappeared.
The drains surrounding the building were fetid with a horrible stench, and a large poster stating that the original tenants had moved was pasted on the first floor. Everywhere Chen Ge turned, there was rubbish piling up either at the corner or directly on the floor.
Chen Ge walked toward the building, and many questions floated up his mind. The pair lived in such a horrible environment, so this meant that their living conditions were too good. However, at the park, the woman readily pulled out 100 RMB just for the boy to visit the Haunted House. This went to show how much she cared for the boy. Yet, the boy was cruelly indifferent to her. He had said only two phrases while he was inside the Haunted House, and they were both directed at Chen Ge. The boy seemed to dislike the woman vehemently.
Is it because of his mental issues, or is something more sinister at work?
After walking up the stairs, Chen Ge realized there was only one tenant residing on the second floor. The corridor was swept clean, and there was laundry hanging on poles.
“Is anyone in?” The door was open, but Chen Ge still knocked on the door out of courtesy.
Footsteps could be heard coming from inside the room. When she saw Chen Ge, she was visibly stunned.
“Why are you here? Did we cause some damage when we visited the Haunted House?” the woman asked cautiously.
“No, it’s not that. I’m just interested in the little boy’s situation, and I have something to ask him.” Chen Ge realized the woman did not show any sign of wanting him inside the house so he continued. “I have some friends at Jiujiang Medical University, and I thought, maybe they can help.”
“Thank you, but it’s alright.” The woman rejected him without thought. Then again, Chen Ge also felt like he was being a little too forward. “I am really not a bad person. You can look on your phone for today’s Jiujiang Morning News.”
Since the woman did not move, Chen Ge took out his own phone to look for an article on him helping to solve the Ping An Apartment case.
“Look, I’ve once helped the police solve a buried case and was awarded a medal of honor.” Chen Ge passed the phone to the woman, and she took a glance at it. “Supernatural Livestreamer trapped and was finally saved by the police? The intrepidness of a Haunted House operator almost caused his death?”
“Ignore the headlines. There should be my picture inside the article.”
Chen Ge explained for a long time before the woman put her suspicion aside. She returned his phone to him and said, “Come in for a seat then, just leave the door open.”
The woman led Chen Ge to the ‘living room’, which was more like a thirty square feet space that had a dining table and beds pushed to the corners.
“Forgive the mess, I wasn’t expecting any visitors. Would you like to have something to drink?” The woman was embarrassed. In that moment, Chen Ge could see the boy’s shadow on her.
“That won’t be necessary. I just want to ask some questions about the boy’s parents.” Chen Ge took out his phone to record anything he deemed important.
“It has been so long already, why are you asking that now?” Regardless, the woman sat down across from Chen Ge and told him everything that had happened at Mu Yang High School three years ago.
Three years ago, Mu Yang High School had still been a normal school. That summer day, it had poured down with rain. When the boy’s parents returned home, the boy had been nowhere to be found. They had gone out to search for him, but in the end, it was the boy who had returned and not them.
This sounds like the reason for the parents’ disappearance is also because of the boy… Chen Ge recorded the key points that was given by the woman on his phone. He tried his best to recreate the event.
Fan Yu’s parents had realized that their child was missing after they came home after work. When they went out to look for him in the pouring rain, the last place they had been seen was unknown, but their bodies were most likely trapped under the water well at Mu Yang High School, and the boy was probably the sole witness of the whole event.
It was also probably because he had witnessed the whole process that Fan Yu had become like this.
Chen Ge looked at the surface of the table and frowned. He pulled out the black phone to look for the details of the side missions for School of Afterlife. The description for Side Mission 6, Deep Well, was ‘One brother and one sister went to school, but how come no one returned?’
The black phone would not make a mistake, so what did the pair of siblings have to do with Fan Yu’s parents? According to the hint on the black phone, it was the siblings who fell into the well and not the boy’s parents. Why was that?
Chen Ge put the black phone away and looked at the woman with tears in her eyes. He asked with uncertainty, “Is Fan Yu an only child? Does he have brothers or sisters?”
The moment the question left his lips, the woman’s expression changed. Her nails scratched deep into her skin, and her tears fell freely. “If the accident did not happen to my two children, then Xiao Yu would have had a brother and a sister to play with.”
“Your children?” Before Chen Ge entered the room, he had noticed that the clothes hanging on the rods outside were mostly women’s and children’s, so he had assumed the woman was not married.
“They died when they were still very young, mere toddlers.” The woman was on the verge of a breakdown. She blurted a quick sorry before escaping into the kitchen to collect herself.
Then, Fan Yu does have a brother and sister, but according to the woman’s description, they passed away a long time ago. Why would the black phone say the pair of siblings did not return home after school? Why would toddlers attend school? Is the black phone mistaken, or is the woman lying? Or was Fan Yu hallucinating?
The woman stayed inside the kitchen for a long time. Chen Ge stood up and headed toward the only other room in the house. Fan Yu should be inside; he was the focal point of this whole mystery.
Chen Ge pushed open the door, and the bedroom he stepped into was very clean. Fan Yu was standing before the table, seemingly writing something. Chen Ge walked up to the boy and looked over his shoulder. He realized the boy was drawing, and he had a preference for black and red colors.
“Xiao Yu, what are you drawing?” Afraid that he might spook the boy, Chen Ge spoke in a soft voice. The boy turned to look at Chen Ge but did not answer. He turned back to focus on his drawing.
As he continued to add colors, the picture on the paper started to materialize.
In a pure black house stood several red miniature humans.
After finishing the drawing, the boy crumpled the paper up and threw it onto the floor before starting a new drawing.
Chen Ge stood and watched for a long time. He realized the central theme of Fan Yu’s drawings comprised of only these two things—A black house and small, red humans.
What is he trying to convey? Chen Ge picked up the finished drawing from the floor and flattened it out. After studying it for some time, he silently slid it inside his pocket.