Highway 404 (2)
The group followed Jiang Yu’s gaze to a roadside billboard, but there was only the pouring rain.
“What’s going on…” Jiang Yu looked out the window with a frown. She seemed a bit confused.
She felt eyes staring at her. However, there was only the gray wilderness through the thick rain curtain and the glass window covered with water droplets.
The car fell deadly silent. There was only the sound of each other’s breathing.
The SUV drove for another five minutes in disturbed silence. Then, the silhouette reappeared.
This time, Qu Yijun stood on the highway and held out a hand, making a gesture to stop the car.
Due to the close distance, everyone finally saw her tragic state. Qu Yijun’s forehead had a large hole cut into it. She should’ve been killed by a sharp weapon penetrating her skull. Blood was mixed with white brain matter on her face. Rain dripped down her broken facial features and a red puddle gathered under her feet.
Pei Mo noticed that the driver’s speed had dropped to 40 and he raised his trembling voice, “D-Don’t stop!”
He was numb all over and his voice changed because he was too nervous. “Hurry up! I heard a saying that when a dead soul stops a car on a rainy day and the car stops, the dead soul will be invited to get in the car and take away the soul of a passenger…”
The driver whistled briskly and sped past Qu Yijun.
Everyone was relieved to see Qu Yijun getting further and further away from them in the rearview mirror.
Yet in less than two minutes, Qu Yijun appeared less than 50 meters ahead. This time, she stood closer to the center of the highway…
She held out her hand as usual and made a gesture for the car to stop.
If the car just drove past like this, the windshield would definitely hit Qu Yijun’s arm that tried to stop the car.
The driver glanced at Jiang Yu through the rearview mirror and asked for her opinion with his eyes.
Jiang Yu made a decisive judgment. “Keep driving.”
The moment she finished speaking, there was a loud bang. Qu Yijun’s arm was slammed into and a large red mist exploded on the windshield. It was particularly bright and dazzling on the gray, rainy day.
The inside of the car was quiet. There were tiny cracks in the windshield and the wipers were moving non-stop, quickly scraping off the blood.
Through the rearview mirror of the car, Chi Nan noticed that the driver’s lips were raised upwards, but his eyes were much colder than when they first got in the car.
“W-What is going on again? She came again…”
Pei Mo’s breath stagnated when he saw Qu Yijun appearing on the highway again to stop the car.
This time, Qu Yijun had a severed arm as she stood in the middle of the highway. She faced the SUV driving at a speed of 80 km per hour and held out her only remaining left hand…
Jiang Yu looked ahead and said calmly, “Keep driving past.”
Chi Nan saw from the rearview mirror that the driver’s smile was more obvious and his eyes were much colder.
He stepped on the accelerator and rushed toward Qu Yijun in the middle of the highway. Everyone closed their eyes tightly as the car accelerated. Pei Mo and Lu Baizhou instinctively clung to their seat belts, the blue veins of their hands bursting out. They knew that Qu Yijun, who was standing in front of them, wasn’t a living person, but no one wanted to witness the tragic scene of a car accident.
Chi Nan was the only one looking ahead with his eyes open. He was unwilling to let go of the bloody image that might be a clue.
There was a loud bang and the car body vibrated violently. All those with closed eyes consciously gritted their teeth. Chi Nan saw the moment when the front of the car hit Qu Yijun. Her body seemed to have been split apart long ago. In an instant, the fragmented blood plasma was splattered. Her limbs, torso, and head were scattered on the highway, or rolled under the wheels and ground into paste.
Blood sprayed on the entire windshield and Chi Nan’s vision was stained red.
He looked at the bloody mist in the sky and thought for a moment. The ‘car accident’ scene just now was strange. The feeling when the car hit Qu Yijun…was as if the car had crashed into a patchwork block that cracked neatly at the moment of collision.
So who ‘cut’ Qu Yijun before?
Among the three people who closed their eyes and waited for the ‘car accident’ to pass, Jiang Yu was the first to open her eyes. She looked at the blood-stained windshield and turned white.
Even someone as experienced as Jiang Yu wasn’t accustomed to facing blood.
Lu Baizhou and Pei Mo also opened their eyes one after another. They continued to look forward, waiting for Qu Yijun. It was only when she didn’t appear for 15 minutes that they dared to sigh with relief.
Then, Jiang Yu lit a cigarette in the silence and took several deep puffs to stabilize her emotions.
Lu Baizhou, who was sitting in the back row, patted the back of Jiang Yu’s chair. “Give me one, thank you.”
Jiang also lit one for her and handed it over.
“Why are you so certain that you ran over her directly?” Lu Baizhou took the cigarette and inhaled. Then she looked up and asked Jiang Yu, who was breathing in the clouds of smoke.
Jiang Yu naturally replied, “Right now there are too few clues and the situation isn’t clear. The risk of bumping into her is far less than stopping.”
She paused before adding, “If we hit her, then we might lose a clue. If we stopped, then we might’ve lost our lives, unless there are sufficient clues to prove that she won’t hurt us. Otherwise, I am gambling with my life.”
Lu Baizhou thought about it and nodded in agreement. Jiang Yu thought of the pros and cons so thoroughly in such an urgent amount of time, which was very admirable.
Pei Mo was the one with the least amount of experience in this instance and was still pale and unable to recover. He hit his chest several times while feeling afraid that the ghostly Qu Yijun would appear on the highway again.
The driver glanced at the group in the rearview mirror. “Don’t worry, they won’t appear when the rain stops.”
They? In other words, the people waiting for the car on a rainy day weren’t only Qu Yijun.
However, it seemed that they were lucky today. The rain fell for over an hour but they didn’t meet anyone waiting for the car after this.
Jiang Yu never stopped smoking. She always felt that the eyes staring at her through the gray rain curtain never disappeared. From the cracks in the windshield to the wet rain everywhere, these eyes were watching her…
The contrast between the cramped interior space and the empty wilderness outside the window magnified the uneasiness in the hearts of the people.
[Listeners, it is the weather forecast time: It is expected that in the next hour, the stormy weather within the entire range of Highway 404 will end. The ultraviolet rays are stronger on sunny days. Please pay attention to sun protection while enjoying the sunshine…]
The sunny broadcast came in time and the group was relieved for a while. This unfortunate rainstorm had tormented them to the point of a nervous breakdown.
The SUV drove quickly in the rain for about 40 minutes. Then, the rain gradually subsided. After an hour, the sky completely cleared up.
The long-lost hot daylight completely relaxed the crowd.
A relaxed, slow moving song once again flowed in the car and the driver hummed along.
The sunlight quickly evaporated the blood stains that couldn’t be washed away on the windshield. The dry air was filled with a dusty smell that made everyone instantly return to a comfortable road trip, as if the terrible and bloody car accident never existed…
There was only a slight crack in the upper right of the windshield to remind them that nothing was an illusion.
Pei Mo finally relaxed his nerves. Then he turned to look at Jiang Yu’s appearance in the sun and couldn’t help saying softly, “You… When did you get hurt?”
Jiang Yu was stunned. “What?”
Pei Mo looked at her incredulously. “Here, here, and here. You are all bruised.”
He pointed to his forehead, the bridge of his nose, and his jaw.
Jiang Yu frowned in confusion. She looked in the makeup mirror handed to her by Lu Baizhou and her expression became more solemn.
Her face was mottled with bruises, as if she had just fallen from a high place.
“How can this be?” Jiang Yu touched the bruises on her face. They really hurt.
Chi Nan told her, “It should be related to Qu Yijun’s appearance just now.”
Jiang Yu wondered, “Is it because I chose to hit her that I became like this?”
No one could answer her question.
Chi Nan thought about it. “You should try not to let the sun shine on your body. The radio just now said to pay attention to sun protection. Maybe it is related to the injuries on your body.”
Jiang Yu would’ve noticed it earlier, but she had been a bit absent-minded since the car accident just now. Therefore, she was stunned when she heard Chi Nan’s reminder. “Yes, thank you.”
She took off her coat and placed it over her head to block the sun.
Pei Mo saw the inexplicable wounds on Jiang Yu’s body and said in horror, “It is over. I thought we would be safe when it is sunny, but this…”
Chi Nan stated, “These should be targeted injuries. It doesn’t matter if we are illuminated by the sun now.”
Jiang Yu calmly agreed. “Yes, it should be that the plot of Qu Yijun related to my character was triggered.”
After all, she was basking in the sun the whole time before it was raining and she was fine.
Jiang Yu sighed and bit her cigarette. “You should cherish the time now when you can bask in the sun.”
The car drove in the daylight for another hour. Then Chi Nan noticed a road sign that said ‘3600 km to the end of the road.’
Highway 404 had no fork in the road, so it was a straight road that stretched to the horizon. Before they knew it, they had traveled 400 km.
[Listeners and friends having a good trip, this is the weather broadcast. It is expected that for the next ten hours, the entire section of Highway 404 will usher in heavy fog. Your field of view will be greatly affected. Driver friends, please drive carefully…]
“Foggy weather? Could there be some monster hiding in the fog… It also lasts 10 hours… That is too long…”
Pei Mo’s first reaction when he heard the weather forecast was that it was nonsense.
After all, in countless horror movies, thick fog symbolized the unknown and death.
Lu Baizhou’s expression was also very bad. “If there is really something hidden in the thick fog, we should be safe in the car.”
The moment she finished speaking, the originally hot sunlight once again faded into the clouds. In less than five minutes, a thick fog shrouded the entire wilderness.
Chi Nan looked out the window. Highway 404 seemed to be enclosed in frosted glass and the world outside the window was chaotic. Not long after, he vaguely saw a few blurred light spots floating and spreading in the thick fog.
“There seems to be a residence there.”
The group of people in the car followed Chi Nan’s gaze and looked over, only to see that the lights were getting clearer and clearer. It was a flashing neon billboard.
The driver’s speed quickly decreased. “The visibility is too low so the car can’t drive forward. Let’s go to the motel and rest for a while.”
Everyone looked at each other and gradually understood the weather and rules of Highway 404.
On rainy days, they had to continue driving until they met a ‘person’ waiting for the car, while a motel would appear in foggy weather.
“The weather forecast says the fog will last for 10 hours. We can get a good night’s sleep in the motel.”
The driver quickly parked in the hotel’s parking lot. Once the engine was turned off, the group got out of the car one after another. This was the first time they had exited the enclosed vehicle after entering the nightmare instance.
Chi Nan looked in the direction of the hotel. Only the vague outline of the hotel was shown in the thick fog. It was as if the monster lurking in the fog was waiting for them to come.
“Let’s go. The accommodation fee is already included in your travel fee and there is no need to pay extra,” the driver urged them.
The group couldn’t just stand in the parking lot, so they had to follow the driver into the hotel.
The driver seemed to be familiar with the hotel. The moment he pushed open the door, the female owner of the hotel greeted him warmly. However, the three men who were drinking in the restaurant suddenly stopped drinking and gazed in a very unfriendly manner at the group.
The hostility in their gazes was too explicit. The group was at a loss for a while, but the driver seemed used to it and continued to chat warmly with the female owner.
“Come in, four…delightful young people.” The female owner looked over the driver’s shoulders and examined the four sleepwalkers from head to toe. Then she gave them an inexplicable smile and said, “Remember to help close the door for me.”
After entering the motel, Jiang Yu focused her attention on the three men who were drinking. It was as if she was evaluating their chances of winning if they fought.
Chi Nan was the only one who noticed the black and white TV next to the wine cabinet that was broadcasting the news.
[Today is the one year anniversary of the death of the famous writer ‘The Judge,’ whose masterpiece called ‘Killing Intentions with Nowhere to Escape’ profoundly influenced the thinking of a generation of young people. Today, thousands of people have come to the scene of the accident of ‘The Judge’ with bouquets and candles to mourn…]
Chi Nan looked at Pei Mo. ‘I remember that Killing Intentions with Nowhere to Escape is the book placed under your seat.”
Just then, Pei Mo also noticed the news. The clue was related to him so his face became visibly nervous. “Yes, I am worried that the important clue is still on my body…”
Chi Nan politely turned to the female owner. “Hello, what is the cause of this writer’s death?”
The female owner raised an eyebrow with a subtle expression, “An explosion. His car was tampered with that night and there was an explosion when he started the engine. He was blown apart along with the car and died on the spot.”
Chi Nan wondered, “Has the murderer been found?”
The female owner obviously looked stunned. “Of course they were found. The photos were published. Unfortunately, I can’t find the photos now, but I remember his appearance.”
“A 35 year old middle aged man with curly hair and monolids with a very obvious black mole on his left cheek. He has no reason to retaliate against society, but suffered from bipolar disorder. The writer unfortunately became his victim. That bas*ard was probably…” Her gaze fell on Pei Mo. “That tall.”
The female owner compared the murder’s height to Pei Mo and directly frightened Pei Mo.
Pei Mo stuttered, “You…what do you mean?”
The female owner’s lips curled up. “Just joking.”
Chi Nan asked, “What happened to the murderer?”
The female owner shrugged. “Who knows? I don’t know everything.”
She gave Pei Mo a strange look. Then she smiled and turned around to check them in.
Pei Mo scolded in a fearful manner, “What does this female owner mean? Is she deliberately trying to scare me?”
The others didn’t have time to answer him. Jiang Yu went directly to the phone in front of the counter and asked, “Can I borrow the phone here?”
The female owner made a gesture of ‘feel free.’ Jiang Yu immediately called the contact number on the missing person notice: 4040404.
There were three beeps before the call was transferred to voicemail.
[Hello, if you have any information about my fiancee, please leave me a message…]
Jiang Yu’s lips pursed as she muttered, “Fiancee? So Qu Yijun had a marriage partner? It is a bit dog blooded.”
She didn’t delay things and pressed the button to leave a message. “Hello, I hit and killed your fiancee on Highway 404. Please come and collect the body.”
Everyone: “……” They knew that Jiang Yu was fishing for clues, but they were still speechless about her wording.
Jiang Yu hung up and Chi Nan immediately came forward to call the 4040404 number as well.
Jiang Yu didn’t understand what Chi Nan intended at first. Then she had an epiphany. The number on Lu Baizhou’s note was also 4040404. It was exactly the same, so this number should lead to somewhere in the nightmare instance. Different people dialing it would have different effects.
She looked at Chi Nan, who was holding the phone, with admiration in her eyes. This boy reacted quickly enough.
There was a long beep before a young woman’s voice was heard on the other end. “Hello, this is the Angel Welfare Home. How can I help you?”
Welfare? Chi Nan’s expression froze. Then he spoke very naturally, “Hello, I am Chi Nan’s friend. Recently, there was an emergency and I couldn’t contact him. He left me this phone number before leaving and I want to confirm his safety as well as ask about the specific situation.”
Through the matters of Jiang Yu and Pei Mo, Chi Nan was sure that the clues found by each person were related to their own character. Thus, he was very bold in using his own name.
He paused before adding, “Help me contact You Yu.”
He believed that You Yu’s words about meeting in the nightmare weren’t just empty talk.
“Sir, please wait. I need to check the situation here.”
He waited for half a minute which seemed infinitely long.
Chi Nan felt that his hand holding the phone was numb before the staff member of the welfare home came back to respond to him. “Sir, I’m sorry. We can’t contact Chi Nan. He has been missing for a year.”
“Missing?” Chi Nan’s expression stiffened. “What about You Yu?”
“I’m sorry, we can’t help you.” Then the other person directly hung up the phone.
The busy tone of the ‘beep beep beep’ was particularly merciless. Chi Nan had just removed the phone from his ear when there was a static sound from the receiver, as if someone had twisted the radio frequency.
The call was instantly transferred to another channel and there was a ‘beep—beep’ sound.
Chi Nan raised the receiver to his ear again. “Hello?”
There was a brief silence before a familiar voice was heard from the other end of the phone. “Brother, it’s me.”