Highway 404 (12)
20 minutes passed quickly. By the time Chi Nan and Pei Mo came out of the basement, the bell of the main building had just reached 3 o’clock.
It was as Chi Nan expected. At 3 o’clock, the children came out of the welfare home one after another. This time, no one played hide and seek with them. In order to get revenge, Pei Mo even carried the water gun to chase the ghost children. Ever since entering the Nightmare World, he had never been as happy as today.
Swapping positions with the ghost was such a relief to him. During the one-armed water gun chase, he even found a sense of romance that belonged to a middle-aged man.
It wasn’t until he almost bumped into the incoming Jiang Yu because he was chasing the ghost children and he saw how the other person looked at him that he stopped.
“All the rooms on the second floor were locked. We only opened three rooms. They were rooms 213, 209, and 205,” Jiang Yu told them.
Chi Nan quickly noticed the room numbers. “These are our room numbers from the motel.”
Jiang Yu nodded. “That’s right. We only found a clue from Room 213. There was nothing in 209 and 205. I predicted that 201 would have the same situation, so I didn’t continue to open the lock. I rushed to gather first since it was almost time.”
After all, 213 was Chi Nans’ room number. The welfare home plot line was designed according to Chi Nan’s character and it was unlikely the other room numbers would have clues.
Pei Mo quickly asked, “What clues did you find?”
Jiang Yu’s expression darkened. “The window of 213 wasn’t sealed and we found that the north side of the welfare home is a large cemetery.”
Lu Baizhou said, “There are around a thousand gravestones. Jiang Yu and I roughly scanned a few nearby gravestones and found that none of the gravestones had the names of the deceased written on them, nor were there any photos. There was only some trivial and vague information. First of all, regardless of whether the younger brother’s body is there or not, finding his grave is like looking for a needle in a haystack in the absence of names and photos.”
Jiang Yu’s expression was heavy. “Now we actually only have an hour left. It is impossible to dig up the graves one by one to verify them.”
Chi Nan asked, “Did the gravestones say the date of birth and date of death of the deceased?”
Jiang Yu thought for a moment. “I remember that this was written in quite some detail.”
She paused before turning to Chi Nan. “By the way, have you found any useful clues here?”
“In the basement, there was the body of my character and a photo from when he committed suicide.” Chi Nan pulled out the photo and handed it to them, adding, “I also took some candles. We can use them when we find the grave.”
“Photo?” Jiang Yu took the photo and looked at it carefully for a moment. Then her eyes lit up. “There is the birthday on it!”
Chi Nan nodded. “Yes, the day my younger brother died was exactly our 19th birthday. We only need to find the gravestone with a date of birth and death date of October 31st, with 19 years between them. It is basically foolproof. If there are overlapping gravestones then we can dig the two of them up together.”
“Go, don’t delay. Head to the utility room to get items!” There was a clue, so Jiang Yu led everyone to the utility room in a hurry. It was just that the utility room had long since been emptied. There was only a ladder and several bundles of rope left.
Lu Baizhou pursed her lips. “Wait. Why isn’t there even a shovel?” Digging up a grave without a shovel would be a lot of trouble.
Chi Nan grabbed the ladder and headed to the second floor. Jiang Yu followed behind with the rope. “First go down to the cemetery to find the corresponding gravestone. If it doesn’t work, the four of us have eight hands. We can dig up the corpse with a stupid method.”
Chi Nan went to 213 carrying the ladder. Then he carefully searched the room again as Jiang Yu and the others were fixing the ladder in place.
The quilts of the same color as the iron bed frame were neatly folded, and the clothes in the cabinet were basically the same style. There was a large mirror in the bathroom and the toothbrushes and towels on the washstand were arranged in pairs. There were traces of the twin brothers’ lives everywhere. Everything looked very ordinary, but a small box of makeup on the desk attracted Chi Nan’s attention.
Something like this appeared in a boy’s room, which was a bit abrupt. Then Chi Nan had an idea.
He turned to Jiang Yu and Lu Baizhou. “Was the makeup box already in the room?”
“Yes.” Lu Baizhou touched her pocket. “Mine is here.”
Chi Nan nodded and opened the makeup box. It contained a box of concealer powder, an eyebrow pencil, several disinfectant tissues, and a box of colored contact lenses.
He looked at it for a moment. Then he closed the makeup box and put it in his pocket.
The group of people climbed down the fixed ladder. After landing on the ground, Chi Nan distributed the candles to the people without a flashlight and lit them one by one.
Jiang Yu quickly calculated the layout of the cemetery. “There are 16 rows of gravestones. How about we each search four rows?”
“No problem.” After the distribution, the group took their respective lighting tools and searched for gravestones with birth and death dates of October 31st that were 19 years apart.
In the case of insufficient lighting, the large and fast search work actually consumed a lot of eyesight and energy. Jiang Yu roughly looked at the hundreds of gravestones and her eyes blurred while her temples ached. She just wanted to straighten up and relax when she heard the sound of 4 o’clock ringing from the main building. She became frightened and continued the search.
In another row, Lu Baizhou was so tired that she pressed a hand to her philtrum to refresh herself while Pei Mo used swear words to decompress.
“D*mn, did you say that these ghost children came out of the cemetery?” Pei Mo muttered, “I’m old and my eyes are really bad. I look so slowly.”
Jiang Yu’s patience was almost exhausted by these gravestones and her tone wasn’t good at the moment. “Be quiet! Don’t make a sound!”
Pei Mo had to shut his mouth yet before long, he was once again cursing to relieve his boredom.
Chi Nan had better night vision than ordinary people and his search was twice as fast as the others. By the time it was 4:30, he had already searched all the gravestones within his area.
“I’m done here.” Chi Nan synchronized his progress. “I haven’t seen a gravestone with the corresponding information engraved on it for the time being.”
Jiang Yu was about to suggest that if his eyes could still bear it, he could help Pei Mo, who had the slowest progress, to complete the search.
Yet before she could say anything, Chi Nan had already consciously walked into Pei Mo’s search range and quickly started from the last row.
After another 10 minutes, Chi Nan suddenly stood up straight. “I found it.”
His tone never fluctuated, but this sentence made the three people with sore necks and swollen eyes feel like they had received amnesty. They all straightened their necks and asked in unison, “Really?”
Chi Nan looked at the gravestone. “The date of birth is October 31st, 4385 and the date of death is October 31st, 4404. The dates are right and they are exactly 19 years apart.”
The dream maker of this nightmare seemed to care about the sense of form and unity. Even the death year that was an important clue was deliberately arranged to be 4404, which made a wonderful connection with Highway 404, the 4040404 phone number, and the license plate of EM00404.
Chi Nan had always liked the beauty of symmetry and neatness. He expressed appreciation for such a detailed design, but he also felt that the birthday arrangement of October 31st was somewhat disappointing.
April 4th would be perfect for his birthday and death date. He thought that You Yu would probably do this if he was the dream maker.
The group quickly gathered around and looked at the gravestone that Chi Nan had checked no less than three times. “It should be right!”
“But… do you really want the four of us to dig by hand?” A bit of reluctance flashed in Lu Baizhou’s eyes.
It was silent for a moment before Jiang Yu gritted her teeth. “There is no other way…”
Just then, the bell rang to signal 5 o’clock.
“We are running out of time. Hurry…”
Chi Nan told them, “There is no need to dig with our own hands. I have a way.”
“Huh?” The group looked at him with amazement. No one could keep up with his train of thought.
Chi Nan looked at the ghost children who were never late and who couldn’t learn from their mistakes. The children were standing by the window and grinning at them. “They are probably very good laborers.”
Chi Nan picked up the rope on the ground. “Let’s go upstairs and catch some ghost children. The rope deliberately left behind by the dream maker must be useful.”
So in the next ten minutes, the four adults went up the ladder into the main building. They held water guns and ran around the welfare home with the ghost children who wanted to play hide and seek.
Based on Pei Mo’s previous experience in actual combat, the group had a general understanding of how much water to spray to make the ghost children stop in place. Then one by one, they were tied up and dragged to the window. Around 20-30 of them were thrown down together.
The ghosts were really light and airy. There was no sound when dozens of them were bundled and thrown down together. However, the sound of their crying was a bit noisy
Chi Nan and Jiang Yu dragged the ghost children to the younger brother’s grave. Pei Mo and Lu Baizhou stood on the left and right with the water guns and their guns were pointed at the trembling ghost children. “You have to dig up this grave cleanly within five minutes, or don’t blame me for shooting.”
Pei Mo was very satisfied with his impromptu performance. He thought he had the appearance of a big brother and this was simply the highlight of his middle-aged life.
Yet in the eyes of others, his flamboyant appearance was like a greasy little brother who was hugging a thigh.
These simple and pitiful ghost children could obviously understand people’s words. The moment they heard Pei Mo say this and saw the muzzle of the water gun aimed at them, they were so frightened that they knelt on the ground and moved their hands, feet, and mouth like crazy to dig. The grass and dirt flying up looked like a fast-moving soil leveler.
Everyone: “……” They had forgotten that this was a terrible nightmare.
Pei Mo didn’t forget to shoot the water gun into the sky like a villain in a TV series. “Hurry up for me!”
Jiang Yu rolled her eyes. “…Don’t go crazy!”
At the highlight moment, Pei Mo had to stand up straight and shut up.
The ghost children laborers were so frightened that they went all out to dig at the soil. It took less than five minutes to dig three feet into the ground. Their sharp nails scraped at something hard and made a screeching sound.
Jiang Yu hurriedly used her flashlight to look over. Then she saw the black coffin under the thin soil and was so excited that she instinctively raised her voice. “It is a coffin! Dig it up!”
“Hurry up and get out the coffin! Otherwise, I will shoot you!” Pei Mo gave orders to the children. Under the domination of fear, they quickly dragged the coffin out of the ground according to the instructions.
Once they were finished, they stood in a line in the oak grove behind the cemetery and waited for their next instructions.
Jiang Yu looked at the coffin, so nervous that her breathing changed rhythm. She looked at Chi Nan respectfully. “Do you want to open the coffin now?”
“Open it.” Chi Nan had already bent down and put his hand on the coffin lid. The lid wasn’t sealed or heavy, so he easily lifted the lid.
A dusty and decadent smell swept toward their faces but to everyone’s surprise…the coffin was empty. There wasn’t even a single bone.
At this time, it was already 5:30 and a bit of light was faintly leaking from the center of the sky curtain. It was almost dawn.
To be precise, it was the total solar eclipse that was about to disappear.
“What’s going on? Did we find the wrong place in the cemetery? Or was our inference wrong from the start?” Lu Baizhou panicked and her facial features distorted. Her speech was incoherent. “There is no time left. Should we withdraw first? If going through the gate doesn’t work, then we can climb the wall. It is fine as long as we can get out… We won’t be able to leave once it becomes completely bright!”
Jiang Yu disagreed. “What is the point of leaving now? If we miss this key point of the welfare home then we might not be able to make up for it later. Then as long as one of the four of us doesn’t complete their redemption, the car will go to hell!”
“Then what should we do? There is still an hour left. That is only 10 minutes based on the faster time flow rate! If we can’t find the corpse then we can’t find it! Are we just going to wait here to die?”
“It isn’t the last moment. How do you know we can’t find it? In addition, how do you know we can really get out by climbing the wall?”
Pei Mo weakly hid to the side when he saw that the two girls were about to argue. Then Chi Nan calmly said, “Only the last step is left.”
“What?” The two girls looked at each other in unison, their expressions full of doubt.
Chi Nan took out the makeup box from his pocket and quickly opened it. Tang Yu had dressed him as a woman in the Mosaic School so he knew some makeup steps.
He first wiped his hand with a disinfectant wipe. Then he put black contact lenses into his eyes and used concealer to cover the tear drop moles at the corners of both eyes. It was just like in the dream fragment. The older brother had often done this in the mirror when having a nervous breakdown.
In less than two minutes, Chi Nan had taken the appearance of You Yu. The older brother had become the younger brother.
Everyone was dumbfounded as they watched Chi Nan put on makeup. This lasted until Chi Nan took the initiative to lie down in the coffin. “Please help me close the coffin lid, thank you.”
Not everyone was like You Yu, who could tacitly cooperate with him without a word.
Jiang Yu didn’t understand it, but she trusted Chi Nan and did as she was told. On the other side, Pei Mo was already standing at the ladder and planned to rush to the gate of the welfare home if something went wrong.
The moment the coffin lid was closed, separating the coffin and the cemetery into two worlds, Chi Nan closed his eyes in the darkness and silently counted in his heart.
One, two, three…
[Congratulations to the four guests for successfully finding the younger brother’s corpse and getting the important item, the younger brother’s corpse. Now the gate of the welfare home has been opened. Please leave the welfare home in five minutes. Thank you again for spending a pleasant night with the children.]
The ghost children standing in the oak grove: “……” We didn’t have one!
The intermittent sound of the broadcast made the three people almost jump in excitement. Jiang Yu immediately opened the coffin lid for Chi Nan. The moment Chi Nan walked out of the coffin, he didn’t forget to wave at the ghost children behind him. “Thank you for your help. Goodbye.”
The children: “……” It was better not to see each other again.
The four of them quickly climbed to the second floor and rushed to the gate of the welfare home in three minutes.
The shut iron gate was wide open and waiting for them to leave.
[Thank you again for coming. I hope you enjoyed this special evening.]
The moment they stepped out of the welfare home, the dream maker conveyed one last blessing through the broadcast. The next instant, the radio completely went out and the gate of the welfare home was closed again.
The swallowed sun once again shone on the endless wilderness and it was scorching hot.
Jiang Yu gasped. “I have a question.”
Lu Baizhou added, “I have many questions.”
Jiang Yu said, “Let me say it first… The radio said that an important item was obtained, the younger brother’s corpse. Then where is the corpse now?”
This was a very beautiful question.
The ‘driver’ in the driver’s seat honked the horn and stuck his head out the window to wave at the group. “Here.”
The moment Chi Nan saw the driver, he instinctively rubbed his temples, still expressionless.
It turned out the younger brother’s corpse had suddenly moved.