Crying Boy (2)
If it was assumed that they started a new nightmare instance the moment they entered the second ghost tunnel, there was a reasonable explanation for You Yu’s inability to return the favorability after Chi Nan disappeared.
It was precisely because they were in a nightmare that everything they saw in front of them was an illusion created by the nightmare. The favorability system was the core system that couldn’t be polluted by the nightmare.
The rain dripped down against the umbrella that was propped up. The wet and bright red umbrella surface was incompatible with the gray world.
You Yu’s hand holding the handle of the umbrella couldn’t help tightening. Then he looked up at the silent base building. “If I was assimilated by the nightmare and forgot about you, I would’ve probably been judged to have failed to break the dream.”
“Thank you for remembering me,” Chi Nan said sincerely. He added after a pause, “Thank you too…for liking me.”
Chi Nan thought it was probably the existence of such things as emotions that made the shelf life of memories last longer.
You Yu smiled. “If that is your guess, I think…the nightmare we are in now should be a dream that the legendary dream god himself has woven.”
It wasn’t at all surprising that Chi Nan was able to enter the so-called ‘god level nightmare.’ He had even predicted this day a long time ago.
Then, why was he pulled into the dream? In what capacity was he involved in this nightmare?
Was it because Chi Nan could only act through him? Was it because his body served as the container of Chi Nan’s soul? Perhaps his special feelings for Chi Nan triggered some type of connection?
Or…were there deeper reasons that they didn’t yet know about?
The mechanical sound of the system pulled You Yu back to reality.
[Congratulations to sleepwalker Chi Nan and dream maker 229 bound to Chi Nan for successfully clearing the first layer of the ‘Crying Boy’ nightmare, which has taken a total of 229 days.]
[The second layer of the ‘Crying Boy’ nightmare has been opened. Please enter the connection port of the deep dream within one hour and continue to explore the dream.]
The system’s broadcast confirmed Chi Nan’s speculation.
The moment they jumped from the 206 loop to the rain curtain, they had already fallen into the ‘Crying Boy’ instance. At that time, from the densely repeated 206 windows, they saw countless ‘Crying Boy’ paintings with only the background left. This was the hint of them falling into the nightmare instance, but they didn’t realize it for more than half a year.
“Any hints please?” You Yu repeated Chi Nan’s words to the system.
System: [Time and light will guide you to your dreams.]
“Time and light?” You Yu expressed his doubts.
However, his questioning voice disappeared in the rain without any response. The system quickly hid its voice after giving a vague hint.
Chi Nan looked at the brightly lit base through You Yu’s eyes. The rain blurred the light into a mottled patch. “But there is light everywhere.”
You Yu’s lips pursed. “The most important thing in the dream making world is time.”
“Could it be light outside the artificial light source? For example, moonlight…” Chi Nan followed You Yu’s gaze to the gloomy rainy night. “I am thinking too much.”
Ever since entering the Nightmare World, it was rare to encounter a clear night where the moon appeared.
“I’ve worked at the Dawn Base for ten years and it was always brightly lit here.” You Yu frowned slightly as he fell into thought. “Perhaps absolute darkness can help us find the ‘light’ that the system mentioned.”
Chi Nan quickly understood what he meant. “Can you turn off the lights of the entire base?”
“I can’t do it myself.” You Yu had already walked toward the base building with the umbrella raised. “But Brother Nan, since you are here… How can we know without giving it a try?”
However, You Yu was soon blocked in front of the glass door of the base building. His identity card, face and fingerprint recognition, and dream maker number were all useless.
The building’s defense system made an annoying sound.
[The base building is in an emergency closed state and the building passage can’t be opened through identification. Please use other verification methods.]
“Other verification methods?” You Yu questioned the system’s cold refusal. “All permissions in the base are opened and used through these identifications. Other verification methods don’t exist.”
He pointed his green right eye at the identification system. The sound of rejection was heard again.
[Unable to open the building’s passage through identity recognition. Please follow the prompts and use appropriate verification methods.]
“Time and light.” Chi Nan silently recited the only hint. “Does it refer to time?”
The dissatisfaction and fog in You Yu’s eyes instantly dissipated. “The pocket watch?”
“The pocket watch?”
The two of them spoke at the same time.
It was as You Yu said. Time in the Nightmare World was infinite and they couldn’t master infinite things. However, the prompt given by the system clearly mentioned ‘time.’
In contrast, You Yu’s time was static and he was always stuck in the moment of 12:20.
As an important participant in this nightmare, the time he represented was very informative.
You Yu quickly took out his pocket watch and placed it in the identification area. He heard a sound and the closed glass door slowly opened to the side.
The base building was as quiet as ever. All the dream makers and NPCs were gone. The lobby filled with French windows was deserted.
You Yu didn’t want to delay for a moment. He rushed directly to the elevator and took it to the floor where the general control room was located.
In the process of rising in the elevator, an inexplicable uneasiness filled You Yu’s heart. It was something he had seen countless times when sleepwalkers faced the unknown.
Why was it that in the dream god’s instance, his time that had stopped and the pocket watch that was used as his death token became the key to opening this permission? Was it just good luck that he became the most senior dream maker?
This was the first time You Yu had doubts about why he appeared in the Nightmare World.
He had a vague hunch that the Crying Boy being hung in his bedroom wasn’t the beginning of all the cause and effect.
All the truths were buried deep in the dream left behind by the dream god.
The thing he and Chi Nan had to do was get closer, opening and craning their necks to see this mysterious box.
The closed door of the main control room still needed to be opened using the pocket watch.
The energy cycle of the entire Nightmare World was normal and all the programs were running as usual.
You Yu got a flashlight from the storage room and walked to the device that controlled the light source of the entire base. “Brother Nan, shall we try it?”
“Okay.” Chi Nan didn’t have a body and he perceived things with his consciousness. He folded his hand over You Yu’s hands and synchronized the movements through the feelings transmitted back from You Yu.
Then he saw the screen of the light source control device flashing.
[The two of you have obtained permission to manipulate the light source. Do you want to turn off the light source?]
[Please note that once the shutdown operation is performed, the entire Dawn Base will sink into darkness.]
The two of them replied at the same time and You Yu had already pressed the button that appeared on the screen.
The base quietly plunged into darkness the moment his finger touched the screen.
The base building was the tallest building in the entire base. The 19th floor where the main control room was located could see the west and north sides of the entire base.
You Yu approached the window and there was no light outside the window.
He turned on the prepared flashlight and left the main control room. He walked toward the office on the other side, which could see the south and east sides of the base. Outside the window was still dark and heavy.
“It seems that the so-called light isn’t outside. It is in this building.”
Then You Yu held the flashlight and walked toward the elevator room.
He returned to the ground floor and looked up at the base building. Then he quickly locked onto the building’s only glowing window.
It was a warm yellow light, like the countless windows that flashed in front of their eyes the day they jumped out the window of 206. The wet light that was drenched by the rain flashed alone, making people feel unreal.
You Yu was familiar with the entire base building and quickly confirmed the location of the room. “Office 2906.”
“What is this office used for?” Chi Nan asked.
You Yu shrugged. “It is just an ordinary favorability accounting spare room. It is nothing special.”
The elevator stopped on the 29th floor. They walked toward the only light in the entire base only for You Yu’s footsteps to suddenly stop.
The white door of Office 2906 was closed and yellow light spilled through the crack in the door onto the red carpet.
You Yu’s flashlight was stopped exactly on the spot where the room number was written. It wasn’t known who did it, but the ‘9’ in 2906 was cut out by someone and the vacancy wasn’t repaired. The number of the room became ‘2 06.’
It was the familiar, nostalgic, and unsettling number.
“You Yu, shall we open the door?” In comparison, Chi Nan was much calmer.
You Yu hesitated for a moment before nodding. “Okay.”
He followed Chi Nan’s example and politely knocked on the door. “Is there anyone?”
You Yu expected no one to respond, but still waited half a minute. Then he tried to insert the key to Room 206 into the door lock. Just like before in the 206 cycle, the door lock easily opened.
The warm yellow light hit his face and You Yu turned off the flashlight.
Through You Yu’s eyes, Chi Nan saw that the furnishings of the room were once again You Yu’s bedroom in the old mansion that he was familiar with.
The wardrobe, bed, carpet stained with medicine, and painting on the wall with the protagonist missing…even the rain and darkness outside the window hadn’t changed at all.
For a moment, the two of them had the illusion of returning to the 206 endless cycle again.
You Yu’s breathing changed slightly. Chi Nan quickly sensed his change and told him in a soft voice, “Don’t worry, there is nobody to burn me this time.”
You Yu forced himself to relax and smile. He opened the pocket watch in his hand and made sure the time was still the same before he could feel slightly relieved.
“The dream god won’t be so boring as to recreate the scene of the bug for us to revisit.”
You Yu quickly calmed down and checked the room according to the hint, including whether the window could be opened.
He soon noticed the most obvious difference between this place and the bug. He walked toward the wall where the ‘Crying Boy’ painting was hanging. “The world in the painting is also raining.”
This time, the rain was different from before. It was dynamic and flowed across the canvas, as if someone had carved a rectangular hole in the wall and framed the picture frame around the hole. It was to take the non-stop rainy night outside the window as a scene in the room.
You Yu took the painting off the wall and stroked the cold frame. However, the still canvas was painted with the dynamic rain and seemed inconsistent and unique.
It was as if a whole world was imprisoned in the picture frame.
Chi Nan also looked at and touched the picture frame. “Take the picture frame off and take a look. Perhaps it is the entrance.”
You Yu’s hand shook. “Can I?”
He would always show the most cautious side about everything regarding Chi Nan.
Chi Nan wondered, “What does it matter?”
You Yu skillfully removed the picture frame. Once the painting was exposed to the air, the light in the room quickly increased and spread rapidly to all sides in an explosive manner.
Under the excessive light, the two of them lost their vision. Then their hearing, smell, and touch all disappeared for a short time.
There was silence as absolute light descended. The world seemed like the pause button had been pressed and they stood still in the soaring light.
Both You Yu and Chi Nan thought they were going to become blind again.
It wasn’t known how long it took, but the strong light gradually receded. Their senses also woke up little by little.
The first thing to wake up was their sense of hearing. Not far away was still the sound of pouring rain, but there was also the friction of wheels moving over a gravel road.
Their sense of smell also woke up. The air was filled with the thick and dizzying smell of smoke. The smell of wet moss on rainy days slightly diluted the smell of smoke.
Then their sense of touch was restored. Chi Nan felt the space that he was in constantly bumping. It seemed to be some old type of transportation. Fortunately, he was wrapped in a soft cushion so he didn’t feel pain from the bumps.
Finally, You Yu opened his eyes.
However, the environment he was in was filled with darkness. He had just woken up from the absolutely bright light and couldn’t see anything clearly.
“Chi Nan?” You Yu’s voice was somewhat unstable.
The unfamiliar, quiet, and invisible environment made his palms slightly damp and he immediately confirmed Chi Nan’s existence.
“I’m here.” Chi Nan felt the other person’s emotions and comforted him in an unfamiliar manner.
You Yu’s nerves relaxed and his sanity gradually returned. He was convinced that he and Chi Nan had been transported to the second layer of the Crying Boy nightmare.
“We seem to be sitting in a carriage.”
The moment You Yu finished speaking, the carriage jolted violently. A ray of sunlight leaked in through the gap in the door curtain and happened to illuminate the right half of You Yu’s face as well as the shackles around his wrists and ankles.
The ankles wrapped in black socks were pitifully slender, and the black leather shoes under the shackles looked much smaller than what they were familiar with.
It was a pair of small children’s feet.
“Che.” You Yu showed a new expression. He tried to move his slightly numb body and the shackles made a clanging sound. “It seems that something is wrong with my body. The current situation is a bit troublesome.”
As he spoke, he touched his pocket with difficulty. Then his actions paused. “The pocket watch is also gone.”
Chi Nan’s vision was in sync with his and Chi Nan soon discovered the abnormality. It was obvious that You Yu had become a child and he seemed like an unlucky child who had been sent to prison in handcuffs and shackles.
“Could it be that the people who escorted us stole it?”
“It is hard to say. Find a chance to knock them down and search them.” For You Yu, there was nothing more common than knocking people down. Even turning into a child seemed to have no effect on him.
Just then, another voice rang out from the carriage. “Are you talking to yourself?”
A chill went down You Yu’s spine. He always possessed the sharpest vigilance and even in an absolutely dark space, he wouldn’t be unaware that there was another person present.
Either his abilities had deteriorated with his change in identity, or the other person was unusual.
By now, he had gradually adjusted to the darkness, so he looked in the direction of the sound.
In the darkest corner of the carriage sat another child who looked to be eight or nine years old.
The two pairs of eyes met each other. Chi Nan saw the strange little boy who had a wary but indifferent expression.
This expression was very familiar to him. He had seen it countless times on little You Yu’s face.
After a moment, the little boy smiled. “We should be able to be pleasant roommates.”
You Yu didn’t dislike the little boy in front of him. “Why?”
He noticed that the little boy was also wearing handcuffs and shackles. In addition, a large easel was pressed against his thin little body.
The little boy said, “I like your eyes. If you don’t mind, I would like to paint a portrait of you.”
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