This time, they slept for nearly twelve hours. Dong Zheng woke up, feeling sore all over his body.
After a good rest, the aftereffect of pushing himself too hard gradually revealed itself, causing his hands and feet to protest against him. Victor was awake, and seeing that Dong Zheng was moving stiffly, he couldn’t help but smile. With a dexterous leap, he went over to purify his soreness.
Dong Zheng looked around and saw no trace of Cui Zuojing and asked, “Where is he?”
“He went to the bathroom.” As the faint white light soaked into Dong Zheng’s body, a refreshing sensation swept over him, easing his aching muscles.
After a while, Cui Zuojing came back. It was quite troublesome to solve the three-pressing problems in the box. The temperature outside was so cold that urine would basically freeze up the moment it came out. There was also the risk of getting frostbite. But, it was impossible to go in the safe house, which wasn’t considerate enough to design a restroom for them. Therefore, they could only find a corner to resolve nature’s call.
Female pilgrims had the worst of it. Not only did they not have the convenience of a toilet, but they also needed to pay attention to their menstrual period as that it wouldn’t conflict with entering the box. If there was no choice, the only alternative they had was to take medication to delay it.
Dong Linhai and Lin Hangzhi were taking inventory of the weapons, while Wang Que was sitting in a corner in a daze. Since Allen fell off the cliff, she’d been mostly silent. Dong Zheng glanced at her but decided to let her have her solitude. Every individual needed to slowly digest their pain by themselves. No matter how much others may try to help, the effect would only be minimal.
She was still young, so strong emotions may seem too overwhelming. But, as the card on the stitched-hear bear had said, ‘Only time can mend all wounds.’
There were still 35 hours left before the end of the box.
Estimating that their rest time was almost coming to an end, Dong Zheng put his helmet back on and said, “Get ready to go. Once we find the master control room and send the signal, this will be over.”
Cui Zuojing took one final sip of water and put the empty canteen away. He stood with the Tang Sword at his waist, pressing down on the handle with one hand and his gun with the other. He was ready for any unknown creatures that might come through the door once it was opened.
In the past, it was Allen who was the fastest and the strongest. But now Dong Linhai had become the strongest one among the four of them. Therefore, he took the lead. Wang Que carefully sent out her perception and noted only a few small insects outside. She gave them the signal to proceed.
Dong Linhai took a deep breath, leaned sideways on the wall next to the door, pressing the doorknob with one hand, and slowly opened the door of the safe house.
The little flying insects resting on the wall were startled and immediately flew towards everyone. These insects were only the size of a rice grain and were gray all over. Although they died easily, it was hard not to be frightened when there was a large group of them.
Dong Linhai pointed the muzzle of the flamethrower at the insect swarm, gently pulled the trigger, and the flames spurted out. The high temperature of thousands of degrees directly burned the insects to ashes.
There was only the sound of breathing in their communication channel as everyone carefully focused their full attention on their surroundings. They advanced quickly. After walking through a corridor of more than ten meters, they arrived at the first fork in the path.
They paused, and Wang Que frowned. Due to her perception of the insects, she had a general outline of the entire layout of the Institute of Biochemistry. Every room and passage had these ubiquitous creatures that conveniently provided her with considerable data.
The door ahead could not be opened. The left path would lead to the outermost section where the light spots gathered in large numbers, indicating that this was probably the outskirts of the institute. The master control room could not be located in such a remote place. She thought for a moment and pointed to the right, “This way!”
She specifically focused on the locations of a few insects and told everyone about the layout along the way. The general control room in the military base had also provided Dong Zheng with general information about the institute’s layout. However, it wasn’t very detailed.
Fortunately, Lin Hangzhi had a great deal of understanding. During his PhD, he worked as an intern in a medical research institute. The specific layout between the two should be similar.
The research institute was in a dormant state in the middle of an ice age. No one thought that anyone would come here after thousands of years and so there was no lighting along the path. The only light source was from the fluorescent glow of insects, making the darkness glimmer eerily.
Soon, they saw a few lights coming from the other side. The hallway very quickly turned a corner, and the lights not only illuminated the path in front of them but reflected their solemn faces.
“How big is this place?” Dong Linhai asked. They’d been walking for forty minutes. There were countless doors along the way that required a chip from the research institute to open. In addition, there were many important pathways that wouldn’t be easy for them to provoke, housing large bugs that would take them a great deal of effort for them to get rid of.
“There’s more than one floor here,” Dong Zheng said. “Let’s see if we can find an authorization chip. We’ll need it to open the door to the master control room.”
Cui Zuojingsaid, “We’ll need to restore the power system first, otherwise a chip won’t be useful.”
The room numbers in the hall were covered by a layer of insects. Dong Linhai had to burn the insects on the door one by one, and then Cui Zuojing had to cut the lock. Because the insects could also enter through the ventilation system, they also found more insects inside the enclosed rooms. Unfortunately, many important paper documents were bitten into pieces and turned into a pile of waste.
The institute’s floor plan was originally hung on the wall in the corridor. Now, there was nothing left.
Dong Linhai gave full play to his talent for finding things and rummaged back and forth through the cabinets. Under the base of a metal trophy in the cabinet, he found a hidden compartment.
He weighted it on his hand and estimated that the base of the entire trophy should be hollow.
Cui Zuojing hadn’t forgotten that Dong Linhai had shown amazing talents in finding things since the very first box. He raised his eyebrows and said, “This skill of your isn’t bad.”
Dong Linhai waved his hand and said, “I have lots of practice. When I was younger, my parents used to hide my game console, so there’s no place in the whole house that’s safe for me. I even found a mouse hole once.”
It seemed like everyone’s childhood was similar…Cui Zuojing nodded, expressing his deep understanding.
“At that time, I took advantage of the fact that no one in my family was home and secretly played on the computer. The moment I heard the sound of the car door outside, I would hurriedly close the door and pretend to study.” Dong Linhai chuckled twice. “I had a special cushion for playing and would just spread it on the chair the moment my parents and brother came back. Once they saw the chair, they would know that someone had sat there.”
“Your trick didn’t fool our mother.” Dong Zheng couldn’t prevent the corners of his mouth from hooking up. “Did you really think turning off the computer and changing the cushion worked? All mother had to do was check how warm the computer was and she’ll know that you’d been playing games on it.”
Dong Linhai was stunned and howled, “What?! Then why didn’t you tell me earlier?! No wonder Dad beat me several times!”
“I was waiting to see when you’ll figure it out, silly boy.” As Dong Zheng spoke, he’d been trying to open the secret compartment. As soon as his voice fell, he succeeded. In the hollowed base was a U disk, which was taped to the wall of the compartment.
Dong Zheng took out the U disk and said, “Now we need to find a working computer.”
Dong Linhai checked the fuel in the flamethrower to confirm that it was still fine. He said, “Then let’s go.”
Cui Zuojing didn’t say a word. He stared at the black telephone, as if he had a certain premonition and was waiting for something.
Five seconds later, when everyone was walking towards the door, the screen on the phone suddenly lit up, and it began to rang.
Everyone was taken aback. Wang Que screamed and clutched Dong Linhai’s arm. She turned her head and stared at the ringing phone in horror.
Although Dong Linhai had played countless horror games and was used to the trick of the phone suddenly ringing, he was still shocked. Experiencing it in a game was one thing, but experiencing it in real life was quite another thing!
Biochemical spill, numerous insects, a sudden telephone call….Zoe is your Zoe. Don’t call me. I want to save Mia! (1)
Lin Hangzhi took a few steps back, holding the radium gun, which began to tremble. Weren’t they the only group of people here? How did the phone rang? Was it possible that…the insects had evolved enough to make calls?!
Dong Zheng was also alarmed. He stared at the ringing telephone and glanced at Cui Zuojing, not knowing whether to answer it or not.
The phone rang persistently. An insect became attracted by the sound and climbed onto the dimly lit screen, blocking the number 6.
On the display screen was a string of six-digit numbers, which was an internal number.
The call came from inside the research institute.
Dong Zheng took a deep breath. He walked over and picked up the receiver without answering.
He didn’t speak, and likewise, the person opposite didn’t say a word. He could only hear a slight sound from the other end of the phone.
After about half a minute, he heard the person say, “Go down the second fork in the corridor and turn left. At the end, there is an elevator leading to the next floor. After going downstairs, in the second room on the left is a computer with a good backup power supply.”
Dong Zheng was shocked. They needed to find a working computer. The call came, as if… as if someone was watching them from an unknown location.
“Who are you?” Dong Zheng didn’t panic. He stared at the string of numbers on the screen and secretly memorized it.
There was no answer.
Just when Dong Zheng thought that the person on the other end of the phone had already left, the person spoke up again, “Take care of Cui Zuojing, and do what you want to do.”
The person’s voice was low and a bit distorted due to static.
Do what I want to do?
Dong Zheng keenly sensed that there was something in his words. He was just about to open his mouth to ask when a beeping, busy tone came from the other end of the phone.
He held the receiver and looked at it for a few seconds, frowning tightly. The man knew that he was the one answering the phone and had also specifically mentioned Cui Zuojing.
Dong Zheng looked at Cui Zuojing, who was also looking back at him inquisitively. The earpiece had a good sound muting effect. Aside from Dong Zheng, no one could hear what was said to him.
Dong Zheng gently put the receiver back in place.
Putting aside the question of why this mysterious man wanted to help him, what about the sentence ‘Do what you want to do’?….What did that mean?
Cui Zuojing asked, “What’s the situation?”
“Someone told me that there is a working computer in a room downstairs.” Dong Zheng didn’t tell them the second part.
Everyone was startled when they heard this, Dong Linhai exclaimed, “What? Could it be…someone was watching us?!”
Dong Zheng shook his head and said that he didn’t know. The voice just now seemed a bit familiar, but because of the static, he couldn’t remember who it was.
He glanced at the phone one last time, as if he wanted to see through the line to the person on the other end.
“Let’s go and find that place first.”
(1) Zoe is your Zoe! Don’t call me. I want to save Mia! — According to the author, this was in reference to Resident Evil 7, wherein the protagonist had to chose between using a life-saving serum on his wife Mia or on Zoe, who had been secretly helping him.