Chapter 114 – The Cycle of Karma, What Goes Around Comes Around (28)
This so-called escape room was a kind of common real-life adventure game, where partic.i.p.ants needed to search for clues in one or more rooms to solve puzzles and escape.
To pa.s.s, the players would have to find all the clues and solve the puzzles one after another within a time limit.
Most escape rooms could be divided into two types: Mechanical escape rooms, and puzzle-solving escape rooms. The former mostly depended on physical operations to pa.s.s, while the latter mostly depended on using one’s brain to pa.s.s.
In the half month before the task began, Chi Xiaochi, Yuan Benshan and the Gan siblings would meet up whenever they were free and go through all the escape rooms in the city.
In puzzle-solving escape rooms, Chi Xiaochi had a clearance rate of 85%.
In mechanical escape rooms, his clearance rate was 2%.
In response to such skewed results, even Chi Xiaochi himself was puzzled.
He said to Xi Lou, “I can draw, I can even manually repair radios. Why is it that when it comes to games, I just can’t?”
In Chi Xiaochi’s point of view, this was an unsolvable mystery.
He’d never been able to get past the end of the first level of Super Mario Bros. When he played compet.i.tive mobile games, he could only play against the AI, and was actually about evenly matched with the bots. Once, he’d even been beaten by the AI so badly in a moment of inattentiveness that he deleted the game out of anger, swapping to Minesweeper. Only after clearing expert level three times in a row was he able to regain his confidence.
For these past few days, Xi Lou was simply glowing with vindictive happiness (lit. raised eyebrows as you blow off steam: happiness after being suppressed/beaten down for a long time). “Heeheehee.”
Chi Xiaochi was bitter and hateful. “Tong ah, you’ve gotten full of yourself.”
Xi Lou was in an especially good mood. “Don’t mind me.”
Chi Xiaochi’s weakness wasn’t easy to overcome, but manipulating machines just so happened to be something Gan Yu was especially good at, so Xi Lou could be at ease and mock Chi Xiaochi without having to worry about the next task.
As they spoke, Chi Xiaochi put down the lens he was holding once more and took in a few deep breaths to calm himself down.
This lens was meant to be used to refract infrared rays. He needed to use the lens to refract an infrared ray onto sensor A embedded in the wall, which would then be projected onto sensor B, and finally land on sensor C. Only when sensors A, B and C were all uniformly connected, would the lock on the final door unlock.
So, the angle placement of the lens was extremely tricky.
They’d entered this room fifteen minutes ago.
And after battling with the lens for a full twelve minutes, Chi Xiaochi was going cross-eyed.
Xi Lou was in charge of making sarcastic marks from the sidelines.
He said, “One year later.”
Chi Xiaochi, holding the lens, “……”
Xi Lou, “Ten years later.”
Chi Xiaochi said angrily, “Rubbish game, destroying my youth.”
Because Yuan Benshan was working overtime, he wasn’t here today. Truly unable to watch any longer, Gan Yu took the initiative to take the lens. “I’ll do it.”
He took one minute to observe and measure the angle, then picked up the lens, and adjusted the angle for another minute.
With a “ding”, the final door opened.
Gan Yu put down the lens and smiled at Chi Xiaochi. “Let’s go.”
The prize for pa.s.sing was three little plastic polar bear pendants that would chirp when squeezed. In a bad mood, Chi Xiaochi squeezed his polar bear in his palm to vent his anger, his unhappy appearance making Gan Yu and Gan Tang’s hearts feel both sweet and soft.
Gan Tang gently smoothed his ruffled feathers. “Chunyang, don’t be angry. Tonight, my brother’s paying, so we’ll treat you to something good.”
Chi Xiaochi said, “How many meals has your brother treated already? Tonight let’s go out and have hotpot, Old Yuan will pay.”
Gan Yu said, “Let’s go to my house, I’ll cook hotpot for you.”
Chi Xiaochi thought for a moment, before agreeing.
However, he had a request. “I want to have Gan Tang-jie’s cooking.”
Gan Yu adjusted his gla.s.ses chain, as if to cover his inner disappointment.
While Gan Tang said, smiling, “Alright.”
He didn’t call Yuan Benshan to come share Gan Tang’s hotpot.
Yuan Benshan, busy with work, got back even later than he did.
By the time he reached home, it was already 10pm.
When he put his keys down on the bedside table, weary, he heard the soft sound of conversation from the inner room. Thinking it was Song Chunyang talking to someone on the phone, he casually walked towards the inner room.
When he pushed open the door, his little heterochromatic kitten, who was lying on the bed, looked over at him, his beautiful eyes as precious as any gem filled with an innocent seductiveness.
They indeed should have been lovers, they’d already gone through life and death together, how could there still be anything that could tear them apart?
“……I was so tired. After hugging you for a while, I already feel a lot better.” Yuan Benshan asked, “Who were you calling just now?”
His little kitten replied, “Su-jie. She said she needs to go to a parent-teacher conference with her daughter tomorrow afternoon, so she asked if I could cover an hour of her shift.”
Yuan Benshan pressed a kiss to his hair. “It’s fine this time, but next time, don’t casually accept, otherwise the next time someone needs to do overtime, they’ll all come and find you.”
Yuan Benshan liked Song Chunyang being so obedient. He got up to go shower, planning on having a good round of love making with him afterwards.
It had already been a very long time since he’d properly enjoyed “that” with Song Chunyang.
However, completely unbeknownst to him, after he turned and went into the bathroom, the person on the bed immediately flipped onto the ground and rushed straight out to the trash bin in the outer room, vomiting until he was puking stomach acid.
After it was over, he calmly tied up the plastic bag, went downstairs, and put out the trash as he rubbed his stomach, thinking regretfully, but tonight’s hotpot even had sea cuc.u.mber in it.
When Yuan Benshan finished showering and pushed open the gla.s.s door, he unexpectedly found Song Chunyang waiting outside.
He said, “I still have a bit of smell on me, I’ll shower again.”
Yuan Benshan raised his hand and pinched Song Chunyang’s nose playfully. “Then I’ll wait for you.”
However, he didn’t manage to do so.
When he lay back down on the bed, a rush of unsuppressable sleepiness seized his senses, making him fall right asleep.
In the bathroom, Chi Xiaochi closed the user interface for the Hypnosis card, casually turning the water up to max as he did so. He closed his eyes, quietly enjoying the feeling of hot water flowing all over his body.
The panel in front of him showed that Yuan Benshan’s goodwill value towards Song Chunyang was 89, while his regret value was 0.
He selected his storage from the main panel, pulling out the spirit-sealing bottle.
After playing with it, turning it around in his hands for a while, he suddenly asked, “……Do you believe in karma.”
No one answered his question. The only reply he received was the sound of water flowing from the shower.
He smiled, then put the bottle back into his storage.
Other than practicing escaping from escape rooms, Chi Xiaochi also looked into whether there had been any tragic deaths in the vicinity of the Jinhong building.
The results of that investigation were in no way pleasant.
When the foundation of the Jinhong building had just been built, and it was still a construction site, a murderer had fled there, and killed two young workers before hiding in the building, but in the end, was shot to death by the pursuing police.
This murderer was a pure psychopath, an imprisonment and torture fanatic, to the extent that, in a burst of inspiration from who knows where, he used the bodies of the people he’d played to death to cultivate mushrooms.
Clearly, even if he were already dead, he would use his rotting vocal cords to cry out from where he was lying in his coffin: I haven’t played enough.
This time, this ghost probably wouldn’t obey Basic Law like Miss Balloon and the children in the eighth and ninth worlds.
Other than this, there were still many more things to worry about.
There was too wide a range of difficulties for escape rooms, and for short games, there were an endless number of variables, which were inevitably linked to the players’ luck and state of mind.
But the thing Chi Xiaochi was most worried about, was the people.
With more people, came more running mouths, and with more running mouths, came confusion.
The facts showed, even if they were already at the tenth task, they still couldn’t avoid the strange creatures known as pig teammates.
If only the four of them would be partic.i.p.ating, it would be fine. He was just worried that if there were more people, there would be people who would give random directions, throwing off their trains of thought, or secretly hide props, making everyone lose their head and search in a panic and wasting time for no reason. By the end of it all, everyone would just sit back and stare at each other, making a sight too beautiful to behold.
However, when they arrived an hour earlier than the appointed time at the lobby of the Jinhong building, below room 1207, Chi Xiaochi’s face was already as calm as water.
He didn’t intend to let those unnecessary emotions interfere with his ability to make judgements. Even if he really did end up in the worst situation, he would still be able to counter every move.
It was actually Yuan Benshan who found it hard to hide his excitement. In the elevator, he grabbed Chi Xiaochi’s hand in a death grip, and his palm was full of sweat.
In a soft voice, he said, “Chunyang, we’ll be able to leave soon.”
Chi Xiaochi watched the floor numbers in the elevator tick up endlessly.
The shiny silver wall of the elevator reflected his cold gaze.
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But his voice was still as cheerful and hopeful as ever. “En.”
The guy who had just had his head lowered while playing games looked up. He’d actually already become a completely different person.
A comical-looking clown was smiling at them, his teeth a shiny white. His hair was an afro, dyed a discomforting bright red. A black poker club was tattooed over his left eye, and his lips, as red as pig’s blood, outlined in a smile. The exaggerated corners of his mouth were extended all the way to his ears, making one’s mouth ache at the corners just from seeing it.
He stepped out from behind the reception counter, and made a grandiose bow to the eight people. “Everyone~ h.e.l.lo~”
The eight people didn’t respond.
The clown didn’t feel slighted, taking off his parrot-like hat and fanning himself with it.
“Welcome to my game~ Here, there are only three rooms.” The clown raised three fingers. “As for the rules here, there are also only three.”
“First, do not destroy my carefully prepared rooms. All clues are placed in a place that you’ll be able to see. I hate renovating.
“Second, there are no hints~ You’ll need to find everything by yourselves.
“Third, keep track of the time. As long as you can walk out of the third room within an hour, then you’ll be able to receive my presents for you in the fourth room!”
He pulled out a bunch of brightly coloured hydrogen balloons out of his hat like he was performing a magic trick. He presented it to them, saying, “These are the presents, do you like them?”
Meng Qian summoned up his courage and asked, “……What if we don’t pa.s.s.”
The clown let out a strange laugh. “Then, you all will stay in that room, forever unable to leave! At that time, I’ll admire your expressions from the surveillance cameras, heeheehee.”
His “hee”s made a chill run down their spines. Unable to hold back any longer, Meng Qian, supporting himself with both hands against the table, stood up, saying impatiently, “Then let’s start.”
The clown got up and led everyone to the corridor to stand before a blood red door. “Please line up, and enter one by one. When the last person goes in, the door will shut, and the game will officially begin. ……Oh, right—— Before you go in, I want to give all of you players a free easter egg~”
He waved his finger. “I can see the darkest parts of your hearts.”
After that strange, ominous introduction, everyone had just about guessed that this ghost would not directly partic.i.p.ate in the game, only playing the role of “observer”, and had hence become more at ease. Listening to his instructions, they lined up, preparing to enter the room.
Meng Qian, having volunteered to be the team leader, was of course the first one to enter.
As he pa.s.sed the clown who was standing next to the food, the clown squinted his right eye shut, using his left eye, which was tattooed with a black club, to look at Meng Qian.
“You are——” He purposely dragged out his tone, “Arrogant. Be careful of being killed by your arrogance, heeheehee.”
Meng Qian furrowed his eyebrows and stepped into the darkness.
Second in line was Qiao Yun. The clown used the same method to observe her for a moment. “Heehee, jealous. Who are you jealous of? Is it the woman behind you?”
Qiao Yun was stunned for a moment, before immediately walking into the room, muttering curses under her breath.
Xu Jiayi and Jia Siyuan went in together. The clown’s evaluation of them wasn’t vicious, simply “boring” and “timid”.
When it came to Chi Xiaochi’s group, Yuan Benshan took the lead. When he walked past the clown, he heard him say with a voice full of mockery, “Ha, a cold man.”
Yuan Benshan couldn’t quite stand his pretentious tone and hence didn’t pay any more attention to him, walking straight into the room.
Gan Tang walked over.
The clown took a look at her, and raised his eyebrows, rather interested. “You……”
Gan Tang wanted to wait for his evaluation, but it didn’t come. She couldn’t help but feel confused, but didn’t delay any longer, going straight into the room.
Only when he saw Gan Yu, did the clown start to laugh. “So it’s actually two idiots! Two exactly identical fools! This is really a rare sight!”
Gan Yu didn’t pay him any attention, but didn’t go in, standing by the door and waiting for Chi Xiaochi.
Done laughing, the clown turned to look at Chi Xiaochi. “You——”
He paused, stunned.
Right after that, he placed a hand against the wall and burst into a string of loud laughter, laughing so hard that he was about to cry, as if he’d heard the greatest joke in the world.
Chi Xiaochi looked at him for a moment. Then, he actually smiled back at him.
The clown was laughing so hard that he couldn’t stand up. He waved his hands haphazardly, telling him to hurry up and go in.
Even until the door closed, the clown’s piercing laughter still lingered in Chi Xiaochi’s ears, remaining for a long time.
The author has something to say:
The escape room plot begins!
The pit that President Chi’s been digging for so long will finally come into use!
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