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  • Chapter 30 To Open or Not To Open

    While time was suspended, Bai Yan took advantage of it and carefully crouched down to take a closer look at the old lady’s situation.

    The grandmother’s head was full of white strands of hair, while her face was deeply ingrained with wrinkles. She looked about 70 years old. Bai Yan held out her arm and saw old liver spots sprayed across her arm, which were any old person’s usual features. The painful look on her face didn’t seem fake either.

    After taking a rough observation of the elderly, Bai Yan shifted his attention to the fallen vegetable basket.

    While the old woman fell, contrary to what you might have expected, her vegetable basket neatly landed on the side after her fall. The basket had a thick layer of cloth on top, causing only a few of the greenery to tumble out.

    Bai Yan pulled open the thick cloth and outstretched his hand to search inside the basket. Inside were merely an adornment of wild herbs that he couldn’t recognize and nothing else.

    “This person seems to be just a regular old woman. But, if she really is an ordinary person, the game wouldn’t specifically set up a storyline just for her.”

    Bai Yan contemplated further, “Is this old lady a ghost or an NPC that knows valuable information?”

    After considering for more or less 20 seconds, Bai Yan decided to not care about the old lady’s true identity. He was determined to warm-heartedly help this old lady out.

    With five resurrection coins, it was clear that the game gave the players a tip.

    During the game’s events, the players would surely be confronted by dead-ends for more than five times. Moreover, the game forces the player to finish the corresponding choice he or she chooses after picking. This not only made the game more dramatic, but it also gave the players a hidden benefit.

    Picking the wrong choice would admittedly consume the player’s resurrection coin, but at the same time, it will give valuable information from experiencing the dead-end.

    Wu Jingang’s story last night was obvious from just one look. It wasn’t even worth it to waste away a vital resurrection coin on it. But, this old lady was someone he was completely unfamiliar with. If he did help her, regardless of the ending would be bad, he would still gather new insights.

    As a result, Bai Yan immediately chose Option B and helplessly watched his body move on its own.

    He quickly walked to the old lady’s side and gracefully squatted down, saying in a soft voice, “Grandmother, did something happen to you? I’ll help you up.”

    The old woman strenuously raised her head and panted, her words weren’t coming out.

    Bai Yan carefully lifted the elder’s arm and exerted some force into propping the old lady up. Even if the game was manipulating his body, he could still feel a small ache in his arms from the strain. This old lady was a bit chubby, making it harder for him to help her up.

    After a while, Bai Yan had finally helped the old person up until she was standing.

    Bai Yan kindly handed over the vegetable basket to the old woman and assisted her as she went up the stairs, one step at a time.

    On their way, the old lady finally calmed down and expressed her thanks to Bai Yan, “Thank you, young lady. My body is old and weary. If you weren’t kind-hearted enough to help me up, I wouldn’t have been able to get up on my own.”

    “Let me tell you, I have a grandson. He’s currently in his first year high school. He’s good with his studies and can surely pass into a good university. You’re still in university right? I don’t know if you’re seeing someone right now, but I’d be happy to introduce my grandson to you. You know, 18 isn’t that old. In our time, babies could be breastfed already.”

    “Grandma, I feel embarrassed from all your boasting. Also, I’m already 24 this year and I married early. How could you assume that I was so young.” Bai Yan heard the embarrassment in his voice, “Moreover, even if I were 18, I don’t think I will be a good match for your grandson.”

    “Female junior holding gold bricks(1).” The old lady shook her head in disappointment, “I didn’t think you were married. But yes, good wives are pieces of gold that fell on the ground. As long as the boys aren’t blind, they will surely fight for it.”

    1. The Chinese saying means that a wife three years older than the husband ensures a richer life.

    While talking, the grandmother finally reached her place. She lived next door in 303 and smiled sweetly as she invitingly said, “Young lady, come inside and stay for a while.”

    At this moment, the story came to its end and Bai Yan resumed control of his body.

    He stared at the numbers ‘303,’ his heart having a bad feeling about this.

    Yesterday evening, the sudden burst of meat chopping sounds that woke him up seemed like it came from the next-door apartment, 303.

    Who the hell was this old lady?

    As Bai Yan started becoming restless and uncomfortable, the old lady had already used her keys and opened the door. Seeing what went beyond the door was a nothingness of pitch black, Bai Yan’s throat felt constricted while his mouth became dry as a dessert. His instincts were going crazy as it screamed danger, but since he was already helping the old lady, he did not reveal any hint of fear on his face and instead, probed in a manner that courted death, “No thank you, grandmother. I’ll visit you some other time.”

    “Dear, don’t be shy. Come in.”

    After speaking, the old granny forcefully pulled on Bai Yan’s arm, leading them to go in. The previously weak and frail demeanor was nowhere to be found.

    Bai Yan tried to struggle himself free from her hold but felt that the old lady’s hand seemed to have a grip of an eagle’s claw, tenaciously gripping on his arm and couldn’t be pried off.

    Inside the dark hallway, the old grandmother’s appearance changed into something incredibly dangerous. She sharply turned around, pushing Bai Yan into another door. Bai Yan couldn’t help but show a bitter smile. He already guessed what sort of trouble would happen next.

    As expected, the old lady dragged him inside and slammed the door behind them.

    After entering the room, the old granny creepily left the lights off and forcefully hauled him over into the kitchen, as if she were carrying a helpless little chick inside.

    Bai Yan could still make out what was happening amid the darkness. The kitchen was clean and presented an orderly row of sharp knives. His finger suddenly jerked about, and he couldn’t help but recall the first time he entered the game, when a fierce ghost cut up his fingers.

    Obviously, it was a terrifying experience, but since Bai Yan remembered this again, he unexpectedly felt a bit of excitement arouse in his body.

    Seeing the old lady select which knife to use, his breathing became more unstable, but the corners of his mouth unconsciously hooked up into a smile. His cheeks were even slowly accumulating a faint layer of red on them.

    The grandmother tested out the selection of knives, one by one, as her vegetable basket started making an ear-piercing sound.

    Bai Yan slowly shifted his line of sight downward until he finally saw the basket full of wild herbs change completely from its previous state.

    The thick cloth covering the basket was now clearly made out of thick paper money(2) while the adornment of fresh wild herbs inside wasn’t there anymore. Rather, it was full of poisonous insects from all shapes and sizes. They were all trying to outdo one another to escape the basket. They were so desperate that they even went as far as climbing up Bai Yan’s leg.

    1. Paper money is a type of ritual money that is burned to offer to the Gods or the dead. People often burn paper money when it’s Chinese New Year, when it’s ghost month, or when visiting graves.

    The poisonous insects outstretched their itchy antennae while their legs secreted a disgustingly sticky mucus wherever they crawled on, leading the neat freak Bai Yan to be extremely uncomfortable. But at this time, his legs weren’t capable of moving. It was as if they were permanently glued to their place. Right now, he could only defenselessly allow the poisonous insects to crawl up his legs and do whatever they please.

    After what felt like a century, the old lady was finally done picking out her knife of choice.

    In the end, he didn’t need to endure the poisonous insects scavenging all over his body. Bai Yan’s eyes quickly flashed with dread, but there was also a hint of slight expectation in them.

    The old lady slowly turned around with her hand wielding a large bone-chopping knife. Her heavy footsteps echoed as she gradually made her way to Bai Yan.

    With her face cold and her true murdering nature finally exposed, Bai Yan calmly shut his eyes. He inhaled a sharp breath as he felt an intense and painful stab from his abdomen, his consciousness gradually sinking into an abyss.

    The moment Bai Yan regained consciousness again, time had gone back right before he decided on which choice he should choose.

    Bai Yan lowered his head and examined the phone in his hand. The phone’s countdown still displayed five minutes while the resurrection coins found on the screen dwindled to four pieces. The situation right now looked the same as when the choices had first appeared, waiting for him to choose an option.

    “…”

    Bai Yan nonchalantly glanced at the ground where the weak old lady was pitifully laying. If he didn’t see her impressively wield a large knife, it would be hard for him to imagine such an old person to do those horrid things.

    Now, Bai Yan had used a life to confirm that this old lady’s body was sturdier than any young person’s.

    He stared at Option A. Faking a bad fall while still in good shape, it is simply but a scam.

    Not helping would mean that he absolutely could not help.

    It was a proven fact that doing good deeds in the game’s world would surely have dire consequences.

    Thus, this time, Bai Yan didn’t think twice about it and immediately pressed on Option A.

    Under the control of the game, his body started taking steady steps. With his chest out and his head held high, he didn’t even give a single side glance to the old person and confidently took a detour to avoid her.

    With the sinister glares from the old lady drilling on the back of his head, Bai Yan went home in an instant, closing the door with a loud ‘pa.’ There weren’t any unexpected events this time.

    Although he fell into the hands of the old woman, Bai Yan was able to experience both good and bad outcomes, so he was able to collect some valuable information.

    Like his apartment 302, someone died inside 303. The people who were murdered were the ones that fell for the scam and helped the ‘nice’ old lady.

    “Currently, this floor has two ghosts. This round of the game altogether has three players in it. Is it possible that each player was related to a corresponding death and that they were all living under the same apartment complex?” Bai Yan analyzed this complicated string of information while preparing their dinner, “I’ll have to talk to Wu Jingang when he comes back. He has lived here since he was young, so it is possible that he knows the other family’s circumstances. It’s far too dangerous to go door-to-door and ask questions myself. I could easily encounter a ghost just like earlier.”

    “There were also two other players here. I hope they see the search notices I put up. I can go to the coffee shop tomorrow.”

    As time went by, Bai Yan neatly placed the finished dishes on the table and patiently waited for Wu Jingang to complete his work.

    At 8:30 PM, Wu Jingang tiredly knocked on the door. Bai Yan then naturally gave him his bowl, and while they were eating, he casually asked, “Jingang, do you know our neighbors at 303?”

    “Yes, I know them. What’s the matter?”

    “I just wanted to get to know the neighbors since I live here now.”

    “Oh.” Wu Jingang ate a bite of rice and continued, “Two old people live at 303. Their children’s jobs are extremely tiring, so the old couple helps take care of their grandson. Considering their age, their grandson should be around high school right now. I haven’t lived here for long, so I don’t know much about their family.”

    After Wu Jingang graduated from college and found a job, he lived at his company. He then married Baiyan and moved into his new home, so he doesn’t know much about the new tenants of the building. All the things he knew were from years ago.

    Since Bai Yan already learned everything Wu Jingang knew, he stopped his polite small talk and concentrated on eating his meal.

    They ate the dishes until they were clean and after, Bai Yan once again ruthlessly declined Wi Jingang’s advances.

    Under Wu Jingang’s bitter gaze, Bai Yan pretended to fall asleep as he laid in bed, following his bath.

    With a lack of a better option, Wu Jingang washed his face and climbed up the bed to lay beside him, soon drifting off into his dreams.

    Wu Jingang fell asleep quickly, while Bai Yan was suffering from insomnia.

    He was still a little concerned about Wu Jingang being possessed by a ghost, causing him to fall asleep a little late.

    The wall clock swiveled its hands as it produced a ‘tick tock’ sound. At around 11 o’clock, Bai Yan could finally feel his sleepiness taking over. During his half-asleep state, there were suddenly sounds of a baby’s cries from outside.

    Immediately afterward, the horrible sounds of nails scraping against glass echoed in the room and amid the bothersome noise, Bai Yan slowly opened his eyes.

    He got up and looked for the source of the horrid noise. He looked at the window and saw bloody handprints on the clear glass and through it was a badly mutilated baby crawling in front of the glass, strongly fixated on the people on the other side.

    At this moment, the phone at Bai Yan’s side had begun to buzz.

    [This evening, you have been experiencing insomnia. Just before you are about to sleep, intense cries had pulled you out of your dreaming state.]

    [You raised your head and saw a baby with its stomach pressed against the window, staring at you.]

    [You have encountered dreadful things for two consecutive days, and you think this is scary enough. However, what was worse was that tonight, you forgot to close the windows. The open space in the window seemed to be enough for the ghost baby to squeeze itself in sideways.]

    [With the ghost baby laying on its stomach and intently staring at you through the window, you’re trembling as you decide to:]

    [A. Run as fast as you can to close the window. Your priority is to not let the ghost enter your house.]

    [B. Closing the window isn’t entirely safe. You grab a long stick, open the window, and push the ghost baby off the ledge, closing the window after.]

    [C. Pretend you didn’t see anything and lie down to go to sleep.]

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    defensivecake

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