Regardless of what Fan Yu’s aunt had done in the past, at least at that moment, she was putting Fan Yu first.
“I will try my best to watch out for the boy,” Chen Ge promised without hesitation. In this whole incident, Fan Yu was the most innocent.
“Actually, you don’t need to worry so much.” The officer behind the desk also walked over to say, “We have already contacted child services. If you truly repent, you might still have the chance to see your child in the future.”
“My child?” Fan Yu’s aunt looked at that officer, and her blank expression slowly shifted. Her lips fell open as she stared at a spot above the officer’s shoulder, and for some reason, she smiled. “Okay, I will tell you everything I know.”
They then entered the normal interrogation process. Chen Ge felt he was not needed there anymore, so he asked to leave. After exiting the station, he hailed a cab to go to Fan Yu’s home.
The incident might appear to have reached its conclusion on the surface, but there was still a huge question that had not been solved, a question that only Chen Ge knew and only Fan Yu could provide the answer to.
The sun was coming up, but its rays seemed to be unable to penetrate the maze-like alleyways. After exiting the taxi, Chen Ge walked deeper into the alleys, following his memory.
Eventually, he found the place that Fan Yu’s aunt rented. He knocked several times on the second-floor door before he heard the lock being moved from within, and the door opened a sliver. Chen Ge pushed it open, and to his surprise, there was no one standing behind the door. He stood at the entrance for a long time, and even with the sunlight falling on him, he did not feel a trace of warmth.
“Fan Yu?” Chen Ge stepped into the room, and he felt even chiller. The living room and kitchen were empty. Chen Ge shuffled toward the bedroom. He tried to push on the door, and similar to before, the door was not locked and was pushed open easily.
Heavy curtains blocked all the light in the room, and the lights were not on. The place was dim, and the floor was littered with paper. Chen Ge picked up a random piece, and it was still a drawing of a black house crowded with red people.
“Why did you toss these drawings away? Are you not satisfied with them?” Chen Ge held the drawing in his hands while he looked toward the table. Fan Yu sat on the chair, facing away from him. The boy looked like he was spacing out.
Chen Ge avoided the drawings on the floor carefully, and when he walked closer, he saw there was one last drawing that was left on the table. On the white paper, a black crayon was used to draw the outline of a house, and a small black figure was standing isolated in the middle of it.
“What happened to the red people?”
Chen Ge did not expect Fan Yu to answer, but Fan Yu turned his head to look at him and whispered, “They have found a new home.”
“Meaning, they have moved away?” Chen Ge was reminded of the twenty-four uniforms he had seen inside his Haunted House and something clicked. “Are you friends with them?”
The boy shook his head. With his eyes on his drawing, Fan Yu reached into his drawer to pull out a paper box to give Chen Ge.
“For me?” Chen Ge looked into the box, and inside sat twenty-four school name tags with twenty-four different names. In the middle of the box was a photo group, and twenty-four students stood facing away from the camera.
These twenty-four name tags should reveal the mystery behind the sealed classroom, and now Fan Yu had handed them to Chen Ge. After surrendering the box, Fan Yu stopped saying anything. Chen Ge had no idea what the boy was thinking.
Neither of them said anything. Looking at Fan Yu, Chen Ge did not have the heart to ask the question that was on his mind. Suddenly footsteps came from the corridor, and soon, a man and woman appeared at the door.
“This should be the place.”
“Why isn’t the door locked? Fan Yu? Are you inside?”
Hearing them, Chen Ge ran out to see what was wrong. “And you are?”
“We are workers from Jiujiang Children’s Home; this is our identification. We are here to take Fan Yu for a physical check-up and then follow up on the documentation for his future,” the woman explained as they both looked at Chen Ge with suspicion. They did not understand why an unknown man had appeared at Fan Yu’s home.
“Fan Yu is inside the bedroom. The boy is very independent, so please do take care of him.”
“We will; that is our job.” The woman entered the bedroom to fetch Fan Yu while the man stood outside to keep an eye on Chen Ge. They did not seem to trust him. Realizing that the woman had stepped into this territory, Fan Yu’s reaction was rather agitated. He grabbed the drawing on the table and ran outside like he was trying to make an escape.
“Grab him!” the woman yelled from inside the house. The man at the door heard her, and when Fan Yu ran to his side, he grabbed at the boy’s arm. The man was experienced at dealing with troublesome children. Very easily, he pinned down Fan Yu’s arms. This way, he would not be scratched by Fan Yu, and Fan Yu had no opportunity of harming himself.
Fan Yu struggled like his life depended on it. This greatly unsettled Chen Ge, and after some negotiation with the man, he finally released Fan Yu. Fan Yu, who was released, did not attempt to make another escape. He gripped the drawing silently, like he knew running would be futile.
Watching Fan Yu being led way, Chen Ge could not hold it in anymore. He chased after the boy and squatted down before him to ask a question that had troubled him for a long time.
“You know heaven is inside the well, and you witnessed everything, so why didn’t you say anything?” Chen Ge had never treated Fan Yu as a normal boy—the house of red people had prevented him from doing that.
A blank-faced Fan Yu thought about it for a while when he heard Chen Ge’s question. In the end, he did not answer but raised his head to flash an innocent smile at Chen Ge.
As he watched Fan Yu leave, Chen Ge’s back started to become drenched with sweat. This was the first time he had seen the boy smile. Hugging the paper box with twenty-four names and the photo that had been given to him by Fan Yu, Chen Ge returned to New Century Park.
The trip to the police station and then Fan Yu’s place had taken up plenty of time. When he arrived at New Century Park, it was already past 10:30 am.
After the whole night of rain, the sun was shining brightly. Chen Ge’s mood also improved when he saw the crowd that had gathered inside the park. As he entered the park, he immediately noticed the crowd that had formed outside his Haunted House.
Initially, he had thought those were customers, but he realized he was wrong when he got closer. None of them were lining up for tickets but very unreasonably blocked the entrance from other real visitors.
What’s happening? Chen Ge walked over and realized that Uncle Xu was also there, negotiating with the unruly crowd.
When they saw Chen Ge approach, they quickly surrounded him.