CNC: Chapter 29

Dusk Cruise (11)

The style of the painting was different from the bloody horrors in the death painting exhibition hall.

There was no blood on the painting, only the boundless dark blue that fell into darkness. In the center of the dark blue was the wreckage of a cruise ship in two.

The seaweed spread wildly among the mottled hull and the sign ‘Dusk’ could be faintly seen on the side of the ship. It was anchored forever on the seabed, barren and lonely…

So… did the Dusk encounter a shipwreck?” The red-haired youth muttered, his voice taut with fear.

No one present could answer his question accurately. It should be said that there was no need to answer the question.

The facts were in the painting in front of them.

“Look, there are sentences behind the painting!”

The woman with the big chest moved the lighter closer and the group immediately crowded in to see. Ye Chang often blocked Chi Nan’s side, trying to prevent others from touching his body.

“Dear guests, you now have two choices. Wait for the storm on the sea like welcoming hell or sleep forever in the dream I have prepared for you.”

The woman lightly read the words on the back of the painting, her voice getting lower and lower. “It is letting us make the decision.”

“What does this mean?”

“Either die in the shipwreck or never wake up and become a part of the Dusk. It is obvious.” The woman’s voice was helpless as she irritably lit her cigarette

“Fuck, how can people choose?” Hei Cha wasn’t calm. He looked at Ye Chang next to him and asked, “What should we do?”

Ye Chang was silent for a moment before pushing up his glasses. “I will listen to Brother Nan.”

Thus, the problem was thrown to Chi Nan.

He looked thoughtfully at the painting. “I don’t think there is a choice. The answer is obvious.”

“Huh?” Hei Cha was confused again.

Chi Nan looked at him strangely. “Aren’t we here to find the painting to remind the captain of his own fear before using the Dusk Ship to visualize the fear and break the dream?”

The red-haired youth pointed at the painting with a trembling finger. “…Then the ship will be sunk by the storm and we will all drown in the sea!”

He instinctively raised his voice out of fear and silence fell in the room.

Both roads seemed to be dead ends. One was a fierce death and the other was a chronic death. It just depended on what type of death the guests wanted…

The people who had barely raised their hopes had their hopes dashed and fell into an unprecedented silence of despair.

“However, it is the old captain’s fear. It is his dream.” Chi Nan’s calm seemed a bit out of place.

The woman’s eyes lit up with excitement. “Yes! The shipwreck is his dream! It isn’t a real death if we die in someone else’s dream!”

She saw that some people were confused and explained it, “We will choose to let the captain remember his fear. His fear will become real so even if the ship sinks, we are dying in his dream, not the so-called reality. This should be the key to breaking the dream and the answer to this nightmare instance.”

Everyone understood it after her explanation.

If they wanted to escape from the Dusk Cruise ship, they must first die and live, going through what the captain went through.

If the ship didn’t sink, it would be a never-ending dream that greeted them. They would become part of the Dusk, forever trapped on the sea and unable to land like the ghost of the old captain who died at sea.

The answer couldn’t be more obvious.

“Come on, time is running out.”

The sunset had been swallowed up by the sea and darkness had fallen.

The woman picked up the painting and the group walked quickly toward the deck in the faint light.

The corridor outside the captain’s room toward the main deck was usually only five minutes away. However, perhaps it was due to the darkness or the tension in the air that the corridor seemed to have no end. It extended infinitely on the swaying waves.

It was so quiet that only their breaths and heartbeats remained.

“Don’t get separated. Keep up.”

The woman warned as if to break the terrible silence. “Confirm the people around you and see if there is any less. It is best to hold onto each other.”

“Wait a minute! Ah Qing is gone!” Hei Cha at the back of the group suddenly exclaimed. “She was next to me just now!”

Ah Qing was a little girl so Hei Cha was too embarrassed to hold her hand.  He could only check on her from time to time using his eyes. Yet in the blink of an eye, she disappeared! 

“Ah Qing! Ah Qing!”

They might be in a hurry but the group still stopped. They called out Ah Qing’s name in the narrow and length corridor.

“There! She’s over there…” It was the red-haired youth who first found the shadow of the young girl in the darkness. Her shadow was faintly illuminated and printed diagonally on the red carpet floor. “Ah Qing? Who are you talking to?”

“Ah Qing? Who’s there?”

The group approaching the shadow suddenly stopped. They found that Ah Qing was standing alone and seemed to be talking to herself. From time to time, there was the sound of giggling that was light and creepy.

Meanwhile, Ah Qing had her back to them and was motionless like she was in a daze.

She quietly gazed into the void and talked to it.

“Ah Qing?” The woman with the big chest walked over and patted Ah Qing on the shoulder from behind. “What’s wrong with you?”

Ah Qing trembled. She suddenly turned back and looked at the frightened looking group. “I… I saw Ah Yu and Ah Xue just now.”

It was fine when she didn’t speak but it was scarier when she spoke.

The woman followed her gaze but there was only darkness. She took a deep breath and held Ah Qing’s hand. “Let’s go. You saw it incorrectly.”

The moment they held hands, she felt Ah Qing’s warm body temperature and sighed with relief.

“We are running out of time. Let’s hurry.” Seeing Ah Qing look back reluctantly, the woman pulled her away. “Don’t be confused by the things in front of you.”

The group exchanged looks but didn’t dare say anything.

After leaving, Hei Cha spoke to Chi Nan in a low voice, “What just happened? It is strangely terrifying…”

“It is dark. Maybe something is going on,” Chi Nan answered.

Hei Cha, “……” He shivered severely.

The woman opened her mouth. “It should be that night is falling and we are gradually assimilating with the ship. Therefore, we are seeing things that we couldn’t see before.”

For example, the people who died on the ship and whose souls were trapped forever… yet even if she was brave, she didn’t have the courage to say this directly.

“Sister, can I stay?”

Ah Qing suddenly stopped walking and looked back at the darkness where there was nothing.

It was the place where she had just stopped. There seemed to be something standing there, waiting for her and calling her.

“I hurt Ah Xue and Ah Yu in my dreams and was actually very sad. I want to stay with them.” Ah Qing’s voice was unusually calm.

The woman with the big chest was anxious. “Don’t talk nonsense. The ones you saw in the dream aren’t really Ah Yu and Ah Xue. How can you say that you hurt them?”

“Sister, thank you.” Ah Qing smiled a bit sadly. “Still, they are calling me.”

“They are waiting for me…”

The woman with the big chest, “……”

“I was born with them and we seemed destined to be together for a lifetime. Now I am the only one left…” She smiled apologetically. “I probably… can’t live on my own.”

Everyone fell silent before the woman eventually let go of Ah Qing’s hand. She turned her head to avoid looking at this girl. “Then you go. Be careful.”

“Yes, thank you Sister.” Ah Qing smiled and walked happily into the depths of darkness.

“Be safe.”

“You too.”

Seeing the little girl making her choice, the woman sighed before regaining her energy. “We should hurry.”

On the deck, the sea had sunk into darkness. The originally pleasant sea breeze had disappeared and the Dusk Ship, including the entire sea, seemed to be forced to stand still.

There was no wind or waves. Only silence and endless darkness spread.

The old captain, still tied to the railing, also stopped struggling. His appearance might be embarrassing but he still showed a gentlemanly appearance to the unkind guests, as if he had been rebooted. “Dear guests, you will soon be able to enter the dreamland of the Dusk Ship and enjoy the wonderful sea journey on the Dusk forever.”

“Thank you but perhaps we can’t enjoy it.” Ye Chang really made a regretful expression. “It is because the ship will soon sink.”

The old captain’s expression stiffened for a moment and fear flashed through his eyes. “Sir, please don’t talk nonsense. The Dusk Cruise Ship is the greatest cruise ship in the world. I am her captain. There is no way I will let my guests and the ship encounter this horrible thing.”

Ye Chang’s lips curved regretfully. “Captain, please carefully remember and think about it.”

Then he took out the painting that was hidden behind him and went straight to the captain.

The woman was also afraid that the captain couldn’t see clearly so she held the lighter to the painting so the other person could clearly see the contents.

A broken and sunken ship, rusty cabin doors, the French windows of the banquet hall covered by seaweed, schools of fish passing by the deserted ship…

The captain’s fear was multiplied in the flickering fire. In his eyes, people could see that something had collapsed.

In an instant, the self-confidence, glory and brilliance of the ship’s captain faded away and was replaced by bottomless despair…

The captain was like a man who woke up suddenly from a nightmare. He couldn’t stop shaking and he was whimpering…

The memory was too far away, as if he deliberately erased it.

Yet with the recovery of his memory, pain spread wildly in his soul… the beauty and tranquility he had built for himself for a long time completely collapsed.

As early as a hundred years ago, the Dusk had forever sunk in the sea due to a huge storm.

Together with thousands of guests and hundreds of staff members on board, he was buried in the undisturbed depths of the sea. There was no chance to arrive at the harbor and reunite with the people they missed.

The old captain remembered the evening before the big storm. The sea and waves were abnormally calm and the sun was hanging on the horizon of the sea.

He looked at it from a distance and thought of the harbor in his hometown. The sunset was beautiful. Not far away, bells rang and flocks of seabirds flew over his head. The red clouds dyed the entire harbor red.

Unfortunately, he never had a chance to land at sunset.

His soul was trapped at sea for a long time before he and his beloved Dusk weaved a dream for the souls on the sea.

As long as someone boarded the Dusk, they would always sail home at sunset…

It was a quiet and peaceful dream, a never ending dream. There might be no way to return home and the road experience was full of fear and death, but hope would last forever.

The Dusk fed on the fear of passengers and used it as her power to move forward. Once the ‘sea value of fear’ was exhausted, the sun would slowly sink toward the sea.

The captain let out intermittent sobs. The group of people felt sad and sympathetic for him but there really wasn’t much time left. Soon, they would be completely assimilated by the eternal dream and become souls trapped at sea.

“What should we do? The captain is afraid but he is showing no signs of falling asleep? Isn’t the visualization of fear achieved through sleep?”

The red-haired youth was anxious as he watched the captain shaking in pain. If this didn’t work, they wouldn’t be able to get out of the nightmare.

Ye Chang rolled up his sleeves and formed fists. “This is simple.”

How could it be simple? Could a person with extreme sadness and fear suddenly fall asleep?

The group was feeling confused when Ye Chang whispered ‘good night’ in the ear of the old captain. This was followed by a muffled sound as he raised his hand and hit the back of the old captain’s neck accurately. The old captain trembled before his eyes rolled back and he fainted…

“Let him faint.”

Ye Chang wiped the hand that just hit someone and smiled at Chi Nan like a child who got full marks in the exam and wanted his brother’s praise.

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