Mosaic School (17)
There was the sound of the train moving over the tracks and the cold smell of rust filled his nose.
The half asleep and half awake Chi Nan felt that the entire space he was in was shaking regularly.
He seemed to be lying in a train carriage.
As the connecting hub for instances and the Dawn Base, trains in the Nightmare World were the most common means of transportation.
However, he was obviously still in the 229 Boarding School of Dawn City. How could he be in a rickety carriage in the blink of an eye?
Before he could open his eyes, the sound of the system was heard in his mind.
[As the best student of Dawn City’s boarding school, you have chosen ‘sadness’ as the theme of the performance. You have entered the immersive performance class.]
Unlike the previous explanations from the system, this was the familiar voice of the female teacher.
[You were born in a famous and wealthy family in Gongcheng. 11 years after, you were sent abroad to study and never returned to your hometown. Four days ago, your father died unexpectedly. You took your girlfriend and flew from the other side of the ocean to attend your father’s funeral.]
[This is a warm and sad family story. Please cooperate with your partner to complete it. Improve the relationship between the character and their family during the performance, improve the family’s liking for the character, make up for the missing love and memories of the past, and complete this sad story.]
Girlfriend? Chi Nan suddenly opened his eyes. He was facing the iron bed of the train and his vision was framed by glasses.
At this moment, Ye Chang’s repaired glasses were on the bridge of his nose.
A familiar voice was heard from above. “Are you awake? I received the subject of the acting class from the female teacher.”
Tang Yu’s lips pursed in embarrassment. “I am your girlfriend.”
Chi Nan: “……”
Just as the two of them were feeling speechless and embarrassed, the female teacher’s voice was heard from the system again: [Please note, the girlfriend here is in quotation marks. In fact, the role of the young master that Chi Nan is playing is gay, and Tang Yu is playing the role of his best friend. In order to cooperate with his father’s funeral in his hometown, he pretended to have a girlfriend in order to comfort his sad mother.]
Both of them sighed with relief.
[This is the first immersive acting class for the two students so in order to enhance the sense of substitution, the names of the characters are your names.]
Chi Nan said, “I don’t believe the dream maker of this school will really assign us a warm family script.”
As he spoke, he sat up from his bed, removed the glasses resting on the bridge of his nose, and rubbed his eyes.
“Eh, Chi Nan, your eyes…” Tang Yu showed an expression of disbelief.
“What’s wrong?” Chi Nan didn’t feel anything uncomfortable about his eyes.
“They have turned black…” Tang Yu stared at his face. “Your teardrop moles are gone.”
She observed people’s appearance and clothing very carefully and could basically recognize people with one glance even when they changed their makeup, let alone such a big change to Chi Nan’s face.
Chi Nan looked sideways at the glass of the window. Its reflection showed that he had a pair of dark and heavy eyes. The two teardrop moles under the corners of his eyes had disappeared from his face without a trace.
His whole face suddenly looked very different and it made him feel a bit strange.
Was it possible that after entering the acting class, his makeup and appearance was adjusted according to the role? Looking at Tang Yu, the other person was still a gentle girl with long hair, but she had changed into a floral dress.
So the change of his face was a clue?
He intuitively felt that 229 could do such a thing.
Tang Yu saw that he didn’t speak and broke the silence with a smile, “It doesn’t look like the original you, but it is quite suitable.”
Chi Nan nodded. The attendant selling snacks was just passing by the carriage. He looked at the cart of spicy beef strips and marinated melon seeds and asked the attendant, “Do you have any chewing gum?”
“There is an orange flavor, is that okay? 10 yuan,” the attendant replied.
Chi Nan quickly paid and put the orange flavored chewing gum on his palm. The flavor didn’t matter as long as it was sweet.
The cheap orange sweetness spread in his mouth, but Chi Nan’s tear glands didn’t become hot as usual. He even felt that his eyes were a bit dry and he had to rub them with his hands.
The feeling of his eyes being dry when eating sweets was too unfamiliar and strange.
“What’s wrong?” Tang Yu was puzzled by the series of actions and looked over with some concern.
Chi Nan held out a hand. “Please touch me.”
He didn’t cry when eating sweets. Now he had to test to see if physical contact would make his old disease recur.
“Huh?” Tang Yu’s face was full of confusion.
Chi Nan insisted, “Just touch it. I am doing an experiment.”
If this sentence was said by another boy then it would easily make her feel it was harassment. However, Chi Nan wouldn’t make people feel such doubts. His eyes were pure like a good student doing a chemical experiment.
Tang Yu nodded and lightly touched the back of Chi Nan’s hand with a finger.
Chi Nan’s eyelashes trembled instinctively, but there was no wet feeling in his eyes and no tears flowing out.
He really didn’t cry any longer. What was going on? Was it because he had to conform to the character design in this instance, so the conditions to trigger his tears were all invalid?
It just so happened that this was a ‘sadness’ themed story… 229 deliberately…
Tang Yu quickly withdrew her hand. She saw Chi Nan’s thoughtful expression and didn’t ask much. She started to observe the passengers coming and going in the carriage.
These people were obviously NPCS fabricated by the dream maker. They ignored her curious gaze and were all busy as they moved around in a strange order.
20 minutes later, the train stopped at the final station, Gongcheng. This happened to be the place where Chi Nan had left for 11 years.
The temperature outside the carriage was very high. The sun was scorching while the water on the platform showed that it had just rained heavily. Even so, this didn’t alleviate the heat of the city. The humidity shrouded the tropical city in an airtight heat wave.
The two people walked out of the carriage onto the platform. Based on past experience, Chi Nan searched in his pockets. Sure enough, he touched a crumpled note with Ye Chang’s handwriting on it.
[Apartment Building 229, Liming Road.]
Tang Yu looked over and quickly knew this was their destination, so she stopped a taxi.
After getting in the car, Tang Yu pretended to make small talk and asked the driver, “Are there any legends about this Apartment 229 or any strange things happening recently?”
The driver glanced at the two of them through the rearview mirror. “Is it a legend that you can only live in a high-end apartment if you have money?”
Then he added, “More than 10 years ago, Apartment 229 of Liming Road was one of the best apartments in Gongcheng. In recent years, its reputation isn’t as high as before, but everyone in Gongcheng knows about this apartment building. The grandeur is still there.”
“A couple bought this apartment building 10 years ago. It is said that their child isn’t around and there are no other relatives. The couple themselves live on one of the floors while the rest are rented out. Many people want to live there as soon as the rental information is put up and supply exceeds demand.” The driver sighed. Then he asked curiously, “Do the two of you have relatives there?”
Tang Yu smiled politely. “Yes, we haven’t been here for over 10 years and we’re going to visit relatives.”
“A rich person…” The driver sighed and said nothing more.
20 minutes later, the taxi crossed the steaming roads and arrived at a quiet, tree-lined area.
The driver looked at the five storey building approximately 20 meters ahead. “We’ve arrived. That is Apartment 229.”
The street was empty and the quietness magnified the cries of the cicadas in the afternoon. It made them inexplicably anxious and restless.
Not long after they got out of the car, a small, mobile street vendor suddenly appeared from the corner of the empty street. His bicycle rack had plastic bags filled with water hanging from them and the plastic bags contained colorful, tropical fish.
Chi Nan had always been attracted by colorful things. At his moment, he stared at the small fish seller. The excited vendor felt a business opportunity. He saw the way the two people were carrying their luggage and knew what was going on. He cleverly came over to sell it. “Are the two of you going to visit relatives? Do you want to buy some paradise fish as a gift? This is our specialty. In Gongcheng, it is most popular to give paradise fish when visiting relatives and friends.”
Chi Nan knew that since this was an acting class, all coincidences in the script couldn’t be real coincidences. Thus, he happily paid for a dozen or so beautiful paradise fish. The small vendor thoughtfully gave him a glass jar and colorful mesh bag to carry them in. It was a delicate and unique souvenir.
The female teacher’s voice was heard the moment he took the paradise fish.
[Congratulations on getting an important performance prop to enhance family affection, the paradise fish tank.]
Tang Yu said, “It seems we have to find a way to gather the performance props that can enhance family affection.”
Chi Nan added, “Judging from the story information given by the female teacher, the young master’s father has passed away. The target to enhance family affection should be the mother.”
Tang Yu agreed, “Yes, there was no mention of any other relatives. It should be the mother.”
Chi Nan looked down through the gaps in the mesh. The red and blue colors of the paradise fish were like fresh colors flowing in the water tank. It was only then that Chi Nan realized the eyes of the paradise fish were green.
The green, which looked like the color of his own eyes, multiplied and diffused under the refraction of water.
He withdrew his gaze.
An aunt who looked like a maid stood by the intersection in front of the apartment and smiled respectfully at them. “Young Master, you’ve finally returned home. Madam has been waiting for you for a long time.”
Then she looked at Tang Yu next to Chi Nan. “Miss Tang, Madam welcomes your arrival. You must be tired after coming all this way. Please come with me.”
The exterior of this apartment was a dark yellow that had a sense of age. There were three stores on the ground floor, a women’s clothing store on the left, and a restaurant and florist on the right.
They entered through the iron door and it was the common area of the apartment. A family elevator was parked downstairs with a sign that said it was under repair. The right side had a stairwell with inlaid wooden floors. The entire apartment building looked a bit old, but there was a special touch to it.
“Young Master, you’ve been studying outside since you were a child and your memory of home must’ve faded. This apartment was purchased by the madam after you left and there have been several groups of tenants that have come and gone.” The maid led them to the stairwell. “The madam is quite lenient when it comes to requirements for tenants.”
“There are two ladies who are in a relationship on the second floor. The madam’s faith and education makes it impossible for her to accept the twisted feelings between the same gender, but Madam was kind and allowed these two deviant ladies to rent a place,” the maid whispered while passing by the second floor. “Of course, they won’t have children in this relationship. This is with consideration for the madam, who is afraid of the noise that children make.”
Chi Nan and Tang Yu listened very carefully. The maid’s rambling speech provided them with hidden information.
“The third floor contains an old lady who is a foreign painter and her housekeeper. Now she is too old and she is almost blind. Her mind also isn’t very clear. This old lady who doesn’t have long to live is very taboo to ordinary landlords, but the madam doesn’t mind at all.”
“A young lady lives on the fourth floor and she sprays perfume every day.” The maid curled her lips and looked very contemptuous. “I heard that she can’t conceive a child due to multiple miscarriages, so the madam was merciful and agreed to let her live here. Of course, the rent was paid by her lover.”
They quickly reached the fifth floor and the maid pulled open the iron door of the stairwell. A slow and gloomy, mournful music filled the corridor. “Young Master, please go home. The madam is waiting for you.”
A middle-aged woman in a black dress stood behind the door. Her face was thickly covered with white powder and her lips were painted a fiery red that seemed incompatible with mourning.
She was stunned for a moment when she saw Chi Nan and Tang Yu. Then she quickly controlled herself and smiled gracefully at them. “Nan Nan, you are finally willing to come home to see your father and I.”
“I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.” Looking closely, the madam and Chi Nan were 50-60% similar. The details of this immersive acting class were still quite careful.
Tang Yu had a bad premonition when she heard the word ‘father.’ It was because the woman’s tone was light and natural. It was as if the protagonist of the funeral was still alive and would soon come over to greet them.
In addition, the woman might be dressed in black, but there was no sadness on her face.
“Come in. It has been 11 years. Let me take a good look at you and…” The madam looked at Tang Yu. “The elegant Miss Tang.”
“Hello Madam, this is a little bit of care from us.”
Tang Yu hurriedly handed over the fish tank bag in her hand. The performance class hadn’t prepared decent gifts for the students. There was a reminder that the paradise fish was the key to improving goodwill, so it shouldn’t be wrong to give it.
The madam looked at the mesh bag and politely took it. “Let me see what you have prepared…”
She couldn’t finish speaking. The moment she opened the mesh bag and saw the green-eyed fish in the fish tank, her expression abruptly froze. Her hand holding the fish tank shook violently and the glass tank flew in a colorful parabola in the air. The fish tank fell to the ground along with the madam’s screams.
“Take these ominous things out of my sight!”
The water in the tank instantly soaked the carpet and more than a dozen green-eyed paradise fish fluttered on the ground.
The tranquility of Apartment 229 was shattered in an instant.