Highway 404 (8)
Everyone in the car was so surprised that they couldn’t say a word. This was until Chi Nan completely tore off the bandage, revealing a clean and intact next. Jiang Yu was surprised, but at the same time, she also let go of her worries. “Sure enough, you weren’t really killed.”
Chi Nan touched his neck and his Adam’s apple before gulping. The wound that cut his artery and trachea was completely gone.
His entire body seemed to be ‘new.’
“But the scene where you were killed in the hotel… How did you do it?” In addition to admiring it, Jiang Yu questioned it, “It was so realistic. We couldn’t detect your pulse and breathing at all. There were no flaws.”
From a short time ago, she suspected that Chi Nan wasn’t really dead. It was just that the overly real corpse and bloody scene forced her to accept reality.
Chi Nan looked at the dried blood stains on his clothes, spread out his hands, and looked at them carefully in the sunlight. “There were no flaws because I really committed suicide.”
As he expected, the sunlight easily penetrated his palm and dust fell on the leather seat.
Suicide, real death… Chi Nan’s words were too informative and the group couldn’t believe their eyes.
Jiang Yu was incredulous. “You committed suicide?”
Chi Nan nodded calmly. “For an experiment.”
Jiang Yu: “……” She might’ve long since been accustomed to Chi Nan’s enthusiastic behavior toward dangerous experiments, but the fact that he killed himself was still beyond her comprehension.
Chi Nan continued, “The last time Qu Yijun chased after you, I was wrong in my judgment. Our characters died a long time ago. Being killed again by the vengeful evil spirit is just a formality and we won’t really disappear.”
Pei Mo’s face was both terrified and confused. “I don’t understand what you’re saying. What does it mean that our characters are long dead? Aren’t we living well now?”
Chi Nan shook his head. “We just think we’re alive, but there is nothing to prove that we’re really alive. It should be that the moment we got on this road, our characters were already dead.”
Pei Mo and Lu Baizhou were confused. Was ‘we just think we’re alive’ a philosophical or literary problem?
Jiang Yu couldn’t keep up with Chi Nan’s train of thought for the time being, but she was more interested in Chi Nan’s inference process than questioning it. “Since you can’t prove that we are alive, how can you prove that we are dead?”
Chi Nan pressed his finger to the originally wounded Adam’s apple. “I did this suicide experiment to confirm my speculation. If I am really dead, it means that the experiment failed and the inference that the character is dead isn’t established. Now that I am awake, it means the experiment is successful.”
The group looked at him with complicated expressions. The cost of failing this experiment was too great.
“But how did you think of this possibility?” Jiang Yu asked.
Chi Nan explained, “First of all, every time we encounter the corresponding character’s ‘waiting for the car,’ bruises will appear on the character’s body. Perhaps the nightmare is giving us a clue hint. These bruises are actually corpse spots.”
“The second point is that after encountering the person waiting for the car, the wound on my neck wasn’t a cut but from rope strangulation. I suspect that the wounds on our body correspond to our character’s death method, not the victim’s death method.”
“Third, when I first got in the car, the driver reminded me that we can’t get out of the car and walk on the road at will. It happened to be sunny at that time. Then the second time it rained, I offered to get out of the car and the driver gave me an umbrella instead of stopping me. My guess is that it was because the rain on the ground acted as a medium. This broke the taboo of ‘getting out of the car and walking around.’”
Pei Mo, who had been unable to keep up with Chi Nan’s thinking, suddenly realized. “The driver explained it on the first sunny day…the dead seem to need water as a medium to walk on a yang road… It rained and wet the ground, allowing dead souls to walk on the road. So we are also…undead?”
Chi Nan nodded. “Our characters died after our victims were killed.”
Chi Nan was speaking calmly and rationally, but everyone in the car was extremely frightened when they heard it. They couldn’t help shivering and they felt extremely cold.
“There are also small clues. The hotel on a sunny day looks like a coffin, the accommodation area on the second floor of the hotel looks like a morgue, the strange words on the stairwell and walls might be a spell that suppresses us, and the non-stop cycle of the hotel might also hint at the fact that we are dying.”
“The most convincing thing is that I saw my whole character’s death process when I was in a state of near death. My character hung himself. This is in line with the wound mark on my neck.”
Everyone might be reluctant to believe that they were dead, but the inferences and clues given by Chi Nan all matched it. They had to believe it.
Jiang Yu quickly examined the various clues in her mind and her expression was terrible. “If our characters are dead, then the end of this journey…”
Even someone who acted as neatly as Jiang Yu would hesitate in the face of this desperate inference.
Chi Nan knew that she had guessed it and said bluntly, “It isn’t breaking the dream. It is really the end.”
“W-What?” Pei Mo couldn’t breathe any longer and his entire body froze in the chair.
Jiang Yu explained for Chi Nan, “If we are sinners, this 4000 km journey might be our last road to atonement. If we don’t grasp it well, the car will drive to the end and it will be judged that we haven’t completed our redemption and rebirth. Then we will fail to break the dream and the end point is likely to be hell. We will never be reborn.”
Pei Mo was so frightened that his face turned gray. His lips shook a few times, but he couldn’t say a word. Jiang Yu frowned and murmured to herself, “The 4000 km can be understood as the countdown to our death. This nightmare isn’t for us to avoid the evil spirit and the pursuit of the evil spirit. Through the various road conditions and risks, we have to complete the task within a limited time. If the task isn’t completed, everything is over.”
Lu Baizhou held his arms and her fingernails almost dug into her flesh. “So our task is to atone for the victims? After being killed by them, let the evil spirits dissipate their grievances?”
Chi Nan said, “Being killed is just one step. I didn’t receive the notification that I completed the task.”
Jiang Yu asked, “Then do you have a clue about your next task?”
After this suicide experiment, she believed in her previous judgment that Chi Nan was the sleepwalker with the most potential to clear the dream.
Chi Nan nodded. “Find the body of the character’s younger brother.”
He remembered that before he cut his neck and life completely flowed out of this body, You Yu had whispered in his ear.
“Remember to come to me.”
Chi Nan didn’t think it was You Yu’s nonsense.
“Yet this nightmare has only this road and the motel that appears on a foggy day. Will the corpse really appear in these two places?” Jiang Yu questioned.
Chi Nan lowered his eyes. “I can’t be sure now.”
Jiang Yu opened her mouth. “You said that you saw the character’s death process during a near death state? Were there any clues about the corpse there?”
Chi Nan thought about it and shook his head. “The near-death dream didn’t give me any information about how the character dealt with the corpse.”
After the death of his younger brother, the older brother found that he couldn’t get rid of his younger brother’s influence on his life. All aspects and details of his life were completely infiltrated by his younger brother’s previous actions. The other person was everywhere like a shadow, influencing him… He gradually couldn’t tell who he really was… Older brother and younger brother—they seemed to have become one person.
The thing that frightened him the most was the pervasive loneliness that spread like a virus to his organs and blood. A deformed longing grew in his bones and he started to miss his brother helplessly. He was like a terminally ill Stockholm syndrome patient.
In order to alleviate his pain, the older brother even started to learn the appearance of his younger brother. He disguised himself as the other person through colored contact lenses and makeup. He wore the other person’s clothes and learned his expressions and way of speaking. Then he talked to himself in the mirror all night. One person played two roles to fight against the loneliness of being separated.
In the end, the older brother lost his resistance and hung himself in the place where his younger brother had imprisoned him, ending a life of confusion and pain.
Chi Nan couldn’t understand the character’s morbid and complex emotions, which were messages that the character directly conveyed to him.
Chi Nan thought that human emotions were really unpredictable. The background of this story was so intricate that it made him drowsy. Perhaps You Yu’s colleague was even worse than You Yu. After all, similar people gathered together.
It was a pity that in such a detailed and tortuous near-death memory, only the scene of the older brother disposing of the younger brother’s corpse was missing.
The atmosphere in the car was so quiet that it was heavy. Then at this moment, the radio was heard again.
[Dear listeners, it is now the weather forecast time: It is expected that in the next six hours, there will be a once-in-a-century total solar eclipse over the entire Highway 404 section. The total eclipse is also known as the Tengu eclipse day, and its appearance often brings surprises and challenges to travelers in the dark. Danger and uncertainty will follow. Please enjoy this celestial wonder and seize the opportunity to better enjoy the journey…]
“Total solar eclipse? What’s going on? How can a total solar eclipse last for six hours?” Pei Mo couldn’t withstand any more blows and collapsed against the leather seat with a look of despair on his face.
Jiang Yu went through the broadcast content in her mind. “Since the broadcast mentioned surprises and challenges, it should be that Chi Nan’s death has triggered a plot point. This should be helpful for our task.”
At this moment, Lu Baizhou looked at the road signs flying by outside the window. Their Highway 404 journey only had 2400 km left. “Time is running out. We have to speed up.”
Less than ten minutes after the broadcast, the warm sunlight seemed to have weakened.
The window glass was covered with a blackout material. Chi Nan looked up and clearly saw that a corner of the sun had been engulfed.
The speed of the SUV slowed down. The originally straight road became twisted and ethereal like a mirage, making people feel unreal during the drive.
Around five minutes later, a potholed forked road appeared in the wilderness next to Highway 404.