The doctor fell and knocked his calf into the operating table. He limped out of the operating room and shouted, “Catch him!”
The male nurse ran two steps, but the anesthetic was very strong. It worked very quickly, and he gradually slowed down and soon fell behind.
The doctor’s shouts attracted the attention of the other staff in the hallway. Cui Zuojing ran downstairs. It was just after meal time so a large number of patients were still in the dining hall. It would only take a small action to trigger unimaginable chaos.
More nurses joined in trying to catch Cui Zuojing, but he dodged them completely. A male nurse opened his arms and tried to block his path, but the young man sneered and rushed straight through him. As their bodies passed by each other and his opponent stretched out to catch him, he slashed at the back of his neck.
Cui Zuojing rushed downstairs. Behind him, the male nurse lost consciousness and fell to the ground.
He ran into the dining hall without any further obstructions. Meal time wasn’t quite yet over. When Cui Zuojing rushed in with a group of nurses after him, it was like a spark falling into a barrel of oil, immediately detonating the dining hall.
The young man jumped on the long table and ran forward, kicking aside plates amidst the screams of the patients on both sides of the table. Someone quickly joined him, threw a bowl into the clamor, and yelled and jumped on the table. The patients who were relatively mentally stable watched the nurses rush in and understood that the situation wasn’t good, so they quickly left their seats in horror and hid in the corners to prevent harming the innocent.
A patient dancing atop the table stepped on another person, and the two quickly scrambled into fisticuffs. Some patients even took advantage of the chaos and tried to attack the nurses. Suddenly, the entire dining hall became a mess.
By this time, Cui Zuojing had already hidden under the table. He looked coldly at the chaos around him and snorted triumphantly. Avoiding the countless legs around him, he crawled out from the other side of the table and had just got up when something caught him.
He whipped around and was just about to attack the man, but in that split second, he saw the man.
It was a fat, middle-aged man with brown eyes that were so calm he didn’t look like a mental patient at all. Half an hour ago, this same man had his head on the table, talking to the radio about the sun exploding.
Cui Zuojing stopped, his fist a mere five centimeters away from the man’s face.
“Follow me,” the man said in a low voice. Even though he was almost punched in the face, the man’s expression showed no fear, and he didn’t let go of Cui Zuojing either. They walked through the crazy crowd and took advantage of the chaos to run through a small door in the corner of the dining hall that led to the back kitchen.
A nurse saw Cui Zuojing’s back from a distance and shouted loudly but couldn’t follow after him.
The man took Cui Zuojing on a very complicated route. The structure of the lunatic asylum was much more complicated than Cui Zuojing had imagined. It was clearly built like this on purpose.
They hid in the toilet. The man climbed on the window sill, removed the filter on the ventilation duct, and climbed in first.
The pipe wasn’t too dirty. It’d obviously been cleaned. As for who cleaned it, it was clearly the gentleman in front of him.
Cui Zuojing followed behind the man and climbed all the way up. When he finally jumped out of the pipe, he fell into a room.
The room was very small, with only one bed, one table, and a cabinet on the wall. Due to budgetary reasons, only very few patients in the lunatic asylum could live in a single room. Cui Zuojing was supposedly very sick and extremely difficult to control. Patients with violent tendencies like him would live in isolation, and so the people subjected to prefrontal lobe resection were likely these people locked in confinement. After all, once they were no longer dangerous, they didn’t need to live alone anymore.
For example, just like the boy in the lounge. The scar on his forehead was obviously left over from surgery.
The man patted the dust off his clothes and sat on the bed. Cui Zuojing stood vigilantly with his back against the table, keeping a relatively safe distance from him.
He looked at the man, and the man looked at him inquisitively.
The two didn’t speak for a while, but eventually Cui Zuojing broke the deadlock.
“Why did you help me?”
The man suddenly said, “If a person is sitting on a chair, who is the chair sitting on?”
Cui Zuojing: “…”
Was he pretending to be crazy?
“Regardless, it doesn’t matter to me who sat on whom.” Cui Zuojing didn’t waste time with him. “My name is Cui Zuojing. What about you?”
“Rudolf,” the man replied. He was just testing him. It might be difficult for two mentally ill patients to understand what each other was thinking, but it was much easier for two normal people.
“The reason I’m helping you is very simple, just because I want to.”
Cui Zuojing raised his eyebrows. “Because I am as ill as you, right?”
Rudolf heard him and seemed to find it funny. He said, “How can anyone not be sick in this lunatic asylum?”
Cui Zuojing nodded in agreement. “Indeed, in this place, sound people can also be sick. Why? Do you want me to help you escape from here and return to your original life of luxury?”
Rudolf looked surprised. “How did you…”
“You don’t have any calluses in your palms, meaning that you rarely work. There are also very few opportunities to go out into the sun, but the color of the small piece of skin where you used to wear a ring is slightly different from the rest. You also subconsciously looked down at your wrist, and the time you’ve been here shouldn’t be short, so this meant that you haven’t been able to change your watch-looking habit all this time. This habit was obviously deeply rooted in you.” After making his hypothesis, Cui Zuojing added, “I guess your identity shouldn’t be simple.”
Rudolf forced a smile and said, “You’re right. My father is a wealthy Belgium businessman. My half-brother wanted to compete with me for the family property. My stepmother declared to the world that I was crazy and sent me to England to be treated here. I’ve been here for…three years.”
Cui Zuojing wasn’t very surprised. He’d seen similar plots in literary works, and he said, “Do you want to escape?”
“Definitely,” Rudolf said. “In the past three years, I’ve always been thinking about how to get out of here. I’ve been pretending to be a lunatic as they wished as I try to figure out the layout of the whole lunatic asylum. I’ve already planned everything and am just waiting for the right day.”
“You probably still need help.”
Rudolf smiled. “That’s right. My brother must have sent someone to watch me. Even if I escape from the asylum, my step-mother would find me very easily. I need someone to help cover for me.”
“Then you might be disappointed. My goal might conflict with yours.” Cui Zuojing saw Rudolf frown, and he added, “Are you sure you can really go back?”
Rudolf said, “I don’t know, but it’s better to try than to stay here for a lifetime. If you don’t leave, you will really go crazy.”
Cui Zuojing nodded. “I can’t say, but I’ll try to help you as much as possible. But you must be prepared to leave at any time.”
Rudolf didn’t agree. “What are you planning to do?”
“I don’t know yet.” Cui Zuojing crossed his arms over his chests. He watched Rudolf attentively for a few seconds, and then suddenly asked, “If everything in this world is false, what would you do?”
“What do you mean?” Rudolf didn’t understand. He’d known Cui Zuojing, a highly aggressive patient, for a long time. He always felt that the other party’s mental illness wasn’t light. However the brief contact in the lounge today made him aware that Cui Zuojing might be pretending to be crazy like him.
So he tested Cui Zuojing, and the other party was indeed of sound mind. But now, he said something that didn’t make sense at all.
“It’s nothing.” Cui Zuojing didn’t say much. “Let’s talk about your plan.”
“Do you know those doctors and nurses forbid patients from leaving their ward at the beginning of each month?”
Cui Zuojing shook his head. He didn’t know anything, but he took into account his patient identity and didn’t ooc. He asked, “You discovered something?”
“Yes, I spent many nights busily mapping the structure of the asylum and found out that when patients weren’t allowed to go out, there would be movements outside. Sometimes, I would hear the sound of someone walking through the hallway, as if the person was dragging something. Everytime I hear these movements, a patient would disappear the next day. The nurses said that the patient was taken away by family.” Rudolf looked at Cui Zuojing. “Do you believe this?”
“Of course, I don’t believe it,” Cui Zuojing said. “What do they do with the missing patients? Organ sales? Human experiments?”
“They kill those patients and sell their bodies to the medical school for dissection,” Rudolf said. “The law strictly prohibits using stolen corpses for experimental autopsy, and those who steal corpses were often caught. The cemeteries are now equipped with anti-theft iron railings and iron coffins. Since thieves can no longer obtain fresh corpses, they are focusing on insane asylum. They colluded with the doctor in charge to regularly take one or two corpses. After all, who would care about the whereabouts of lunatics?”
Cui Zuojing recalled that the career of corpse thieves had been around for a long time. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, when modern medicine first began, the United Kingdom enacted laws to reduce the number of prisoners on death row. As a result, medical schools no longer had a sufficient amount of corpses, so they ended up spending money to buy corpses instead.
As a result, corpse thieves stole freshly buried corpses from cemeteries and sold them to anatomists for huge profits. The most notorious corpse thieves were William Burke and William Hare, who opened a hotel and killed as many as 17 guests and sold their bodies.
Later, when their schemes were discovered, Hare fled and Burke was sentenced to hanging. After his death, Burke’s body was dissected in public. His skeleton was stored in the museum of the Royal College of Medicine in Edinburgh, and his skin was made into a wallet.
Unexpected, nearly a hundred years had passed, and these things were still happening. Cui Zuojing quickly accepted this setting and said, “So you want to take advantage of patients not leaving their rooms on the night when the corpse thief comes and flee while the doctors and nurses are being less attentive?”
“Yes, this is the safest time. Since the lunatic asylum has reached an agreement with the corpse thief, it means that no matter what happens that night, there will be no doubt that all the patients’ rooms will be locked so that no one can disturb them. At this time, you can leave through the ventilation duct.”
Cui Zuojing thought about it and decided that it was feasible. “Okay, when will the corpse thief come?”
“Today,” Rudolf narrowed his eyes and said with a smile. “Your time here isn’t short, right? Why can’t you even remember such a special day?”
His tone seemed to be joking, but Cui Zuojing understood what he meant and didn’t care about his suspicions. He said, “You don’t need to sound me out. I don’t deny that I have many suspicious points, but it has no effect on tonight’s plan.”
Rudolph fully demonstrated his courage as the son of a wealthy businessman. He smiled, lifted the bed board, took out the map that took two years of surveying and mapping from the hollow tube at the foot of the bed, and laid it flat on the bed.
He said, “I hope you are worthy of my trust.”