Once Bai Yan finished looking through the explanations, 30 seconds had already passed.
On the upper right-hand corner of the phone, an hourglass icon appeared, displaying a countdown beneath it.
30 minutes may seem like a lot of time, but the problem was that no one knew how many pieces were needed to complete the jigsaw puzzle.
Time was pressed, so Bai Yan did not try to strike up a conversation with the group of players he was randomly matched up with. He walked towards the desk behind him and pulled open a drawer to inspect.
Seeing someone leave, the other players also no longer had the heart to speak, and one after another, everyone left their seats, each finding their respective places to search through.
The desk Bai Yan was searching for had two drawers. He originally thought that these jigsaw puzzles were hard to find. But unexpectedly, when he opened the second drawer, he discovered an unsolved puzzle, silently laying inside the drawer.
“The game’s difficulty level was shown to be ‘Easy,’ but was it this easy?”
Bai Yan swept a look across the base of the puzzle. The one he found was a 7×9 jigsaw puzzle with a total of 63 pieces.
Generally speaking, an ordinary person only needed approximately 15 minutes to finish a 63-piece puzzle, so long as they weren’t mentally handicapped. Even a dim-witted person could solve this within 20 minutes. The game had given them a full 30 minutes, so no matter what circumstances there were, the time given was more than enough.
Moreover, he had already found the pattern of the puzzle. It had just happened to be a panoramic view of this room. With the actual objects to compare and contrast with, even a kindergartener would be able to easily complete it.
This game had specially brought in a group of people, even threatening them in the process. If the goal of the game was for them to solve the puzzle, it wouldn’t conform to conventional reasoning at all.
Bai Yan remembered that the name of this game was ‘Supernatural Jigsaw.’ He reckoned that the difficulty of the game laid not with the puzzle itself but with the supernatural phenomenon attached to the puzzle.
Since this was the case, he was not in a hurry to solve the puzzle.
With tangible objects as a reference, he could further improve his speed to complete the puzzle within roughly 10 minutes.
However, as a precaution, Bai Yan decided to use 15 minutes to complete the puzzle and use the leftover 15 minutes to observe and gather more clues.
After placing the puzzle on top of the table, Bai Yang started to carefully examine the desk, trying to find something useful.
On top of the table, aside from the puzzle that he had just placed, was a messy pile of stationery.
Discarded drawings, broken pieces of oil pastels, and leftover food were piled on top of the desk.
Bai Yan picked up a piece of drawing paper to examine carefully and only saw a big majority of it colored black by a pencil. And at the center of the paper, four eerily smiling people were colored in with crayon.
“There are two people who are evidently taller than the other two. This is probably a drawing of parents with their two children, a family of four?”
The stickmen on the paper looked clumsily drawn on as if a child had scrawled it.
Based on the outlines of the drawing, Bai Yan concluded that the drawing was done by an elementary student. He flipped the paper over and discovered two lines of words written on the back.
[First Grade Second Class, Xin Meng.]
“It really was by an elementary school student. Xin Meng. Judging by the name, she’s probably a girl.” He said to himself.
To make sure that he didn’t overlook any information, Bai Yan examined the other drawings. Seeing that the contents of the other drawings were more or less the same, he settled the drawings on the table and began to rummage through the schoolbag sitting on the chair in front of the desk.
The schoolbag on top of the chair was bright pink, even having cute cartoons printed on top of it.
Inside the bag were books on literature, mathematics, and other subjects, as well as a couple of workbooks.
Bai Yan roughly flipped through the books and found that aside from the textbooks having Xin Meng’s name written on them, they were completely pristine and clean without any traces of them being used.
In the end, Bai Yan had managed to find a diary hidden in the pocket of the school bag which also had Xin Meng’s big-name crookedly scribbled on the cover.
Judging from the bloodstains on the school bag, the little girl called Xin Meng had an inauspicious fate.
Since the person involved was already dead, their rights to privacy were null and void.
Thus, Bai Yan opened the diary and found events written in disjointed——
“April 16, Clear Weather, Today, Xiao Hua and Huan Huan did not come to class. Going to school was boring, I don’t want to go to school.”
“May 2, Cloudy Weather, Little brother disappeared. Father and mother are sad. I am also sad.”
“May 19, Cloudy Weather, We still haven’t found little brother. Father and mother are afraid that I would also go missing, so they want me to stay at home and not attend school, but I want to go to school to play with Xiao Hua and Huan Huan.”
“May 28, Cloudy Weather, Father and mother did not go to work. Their faces were twisted in a frown everyday, and when I asked them why, they would turn even more upset. Mother hugged me as she cried nonstop, she’s probably missing little brother. I am also missing little brother.”
“July 1, Cloudy Weather, Father had disappeared. Mother cried all day long. I had also been crying because I couldn’t find father anymore.”
“July 6, Clear Weather, Mother went off to buy some items, but she didn’t come back. Mother had also disappeared. I’m so scared, I don’t dare go out. I shut the door and decided to wait for mother.”
“July 7, Cloudy Weather, Mother hadn’t returned.”
“July 8, Cloudy Weather, Mother still hadn’t returned.”
“July 9, Cloudy Weather, I can’t find mother. I eat chocolate everyday. After counting them, I still have 12 pieces left, I will continue waiting for mother.”
“July 10, Cloudy Weather, Mother had finally come back, even bringing father and little brother with her. I am very happy, but I am also very scared. Mother’s face was so pale. When I pulled her hand from worry, mother’s body was terrifyingly cold. She also said she felt cold.”
“July 11, Cloudy Weather, Father was hungry, so as usual, he snatched my food away. I was very angry with him. Little brother was also disobedient, but father and mother were minding their own business, not paying him any attention. Mother nailed the door shut. She said that we as a family, could not go outside, this way, we can be safe.”
“July 12, ?, It hurts. It hurts. I can’t move. I am in pain. I can’t move anymore. Mother carried me as she helped me write in my diary, but I’m in pain. Mother, will you bring me to a doctor? I really don’t feel so good.”
“July 13, ?, I don’t feel well. I watched father eat and watched little brother play, but I can’t move. I don’t feel so good. But, mother said that our family will always be together. We are extremely blessed…”
The diary contained logs until July 13. Bai Yan continued to turn the pages up until the end, but there were no other writings. Xin Meng’s diary seemed to have ended there.
After looking through the diary, Bai Yan closed it and sorted out his thoughts.
Seeing the contents of the diary, the girl called Xin Meng was still attending school, but one day, her brother had gone missing. After that, her father also went missing. And lastly, her mother.
After her mother’s disappearance, this little girl continued to wait at home and was too afraid to go outside. After three days had passed, her mother had brought home her missing brother and father.
Reading up until here, it still seemed to be a comparatively normal story. However, from Xin Meng’s description, her parents seemed to behave abnormally after their return. One had an extremely cold body while another had a binge eating disorder, even stealing his daughter’s food away. There was something dreadful that had happened to these two people.
Connecting the ‘Supernatural Jigsaw’ with the matter at hand, Bai Yan felt that he roughly knew what would happen next. Considering the contents of the diary, will solving the puzzle release the four ghosts upon them to wreak havoc?
Of course, the diary only described the bizarre behavior of the parents and the little girl, but not much was said about the younger brother.
In Xin Meng’s diary, it only mentioned that the ‘little brother was disobedient,’ but Bai Yan did not believe that the boy was perfectly alright and alive. Their whole family was acting strangely, considering that they even nailed their door shut. A family of 4 trapped inside a room with no surplus of food. Can that little kid who had barely reached 6-years old life safely and humanely?
Perhaps, Xin Meng’s little brother and her parents were alike. Dead before they even returned home. Xin Meng had completely let the wolf into the house, allowing the ghost of her loved ones to enter her originally safe home!
Amid his pondering, Bai Yan heard a noise to his right.
While deep in thought, he simultaneously listened to the jostling and commotion.
Beside the wardrobe, the man, who was the newcomer, and the junior high student were arguing. Because after they’ve interacted, they both found two puzzles with a terrifying ‘ghost’ printed on them. But the size of the ghost on the junior high student’s puzzle was a lot smaller than the one the man had found, so the man had threatened the junior high student, wanting him to hand over his puzzle and leaving behind his piece to the junior high student.
Nevertheless, the junior high student was not foolish. Regardless of the man’s threats, he tenaciously protected his puzzle, not willing to let it go. The naive junior high student perhaps thought that he could protect his puzzle this way, but through Bai Yan’s years of experience in fanning the flames, if he didn’t let go, the strong man would soon deal with him using his fists.
However, since they both said that their pieces had a ghost on it, why didn’t he have one?
Bai Yan reflexively took a look at the woman who was staring at a jigsaw puzzle and standing before the food cupboard. The woman seemed to have also found a jigsaw. Unfortunately, Bai Yan’s eyesight was poor, so the girl’s figure was extremely blurry. He couldn’t even see her facial expression and as such, he couldn’t speculate whether the girl’s puzzle had a ghost on it or not.
…Nevermind. It was probably best to assume that her piece also had a ghost on it.
Bai Yan had originally wanted to intervene in the man and junior high student’s argument but in fear of raising their suspicions, he didn’t ask the girl questions rashly.
In any case, there were only two possibilities, either the girl’s puzzle had a ghost on it or it didn’t.
If it were the first scenario, it raised a problem for his puzzle piece. The explanation could be that there was an important clue hidden inside the puzzle. If it were the second case, the explanation could be that the game had two different patterns. The players with no ghosts on their pieces were playing a different version of the game, with the possibility of it being harder or easier.
But no matter what kind of scenario it was, he needed to inspect another puzzle.
And so, Bai Yan had decided to take another look at the puzzle.
His field of vision was mediocre at best so he bent over and leaned in closer to further study the puzzle on the desk. He separated the overlapping pieces to take in each piece of the whole puzzle.
After examining it for a full minute, he found the anomaly in his.
On the puzzle, the piece matching the chair unexpectedly had a distorted face on it.
Looking at it carefully, the face was stuck on the back of the chair and its four limbs were twisted like a fried dough twist, creepily twining around the legs of the chair.
Bai Yan calmly studied it further. These were the four limbs of a person. Her neck looked painfully wrung out long, allowing the deformed face to stick close to the chair.
The instant that he saw this piece, Bai Yan immediately had a realization. He finally knew why the girl in the diary had been in so much pain at the end.