This question is just like what Dong Zheng had said; it was a trap set for the first person to take the balls.
Everyone wanted information, and when they were unable to get information, they would try their best to prevent others from getting this opportunity.
If he chose more than 20 beads, such as 21 beads, the second and third person would definitely choose 20 beads, leaving only 19 left for the last player. Therefore, Dong Zheng and the last player wouldn’t get information.
If Dong Zheng selected less than 20 beads, set as n, the second person would have three choices: n-1, n, or n+1. Otherwise, if the discrepancy between the number of Dong Zheng’s beads and the number of the second person’s beads was more than two, the third person could take the average of their two numbers, and the fourth person could take the average of all three numbers. The fifth person could take the average number of the four previous numbers. The third, the fourth, and the fifth person would obtain information.
If the second person selected n beads, the third person also wouldn’t give others the opportunity to obtain information. Therefore, he could only take the average of the first and second person’s beads. In this way, everyone would have the same number of beads, thus voiding the segment.
If the second person chose n-1, the third person would have to take the average n-0.5 of the first two people’s beads. Because there was no half a bead, he could only choose n-1 or n. In other words, he could align with either Dong Zheng or the second person by making the same choice. Similarly, the number that the fourth person and the fifth person could choose was only n-1 or n. Because of this, there were no two people with the largest and smallest number, and the segment would be invalidated.
If the second person selected n+1, the situation would be the same as above. For the people feeling for the balls, there would only be two amounts, thus leaving no people with the largest or the smallest amount. In this way, the segment would also be voided.
Therefore, when Dong Zheng knew that he could not obtain information anyway, he chose to draw out 20 small beads from the box.
When the remaining 4 people divided 80 beads, the situation would be the same as when 5 people divided 100 beads. Everyone knew that they may not be able to obtain information, and so they would definitely prevent others from getting this opportunity.
Therefore, each of them caught 20 beads.
Dong Zheng had expected this situation the moment Mr. Deeds announced the rules. The reason this was so was not him, but because all five people in the room were all sufficiently clever.
The extra game was invalidated and no one obtained valuable information about the “ghost.” They started the first round of voting to identify the “ghost.”
Mr. Deeds distributed paper and pen to everyone. They only needed to write the number of the person and give it to Mr. Deeds. Mr. Deeds would then announce the person with the most votes.
Dong Zheng didn’t hesitate to write the No. 3. Although he didn’t have enough information to guess who the ghost was, he still chose 3. The reason was simple. This person wearing his shell was really too fidgety. Dong Zheng looked at his body that was making all kinds of strange behaviors, and it really hurted his eyes.
Everyone handed their notes to Mr. Deeds, and the bell butler carried them to the only wall without a mirror to tally the results of the vote one by one. He moved a little slowly, passing by quietly. After three minutes, Mr. Deeds finally raised his head in full view.
“Dear ladies and gentlemen, the result of the first round of voting has been released. No. 1 has the most votes.”
Female Doctor looked surprised. As soon as she stood up and was about to say something, she disappeared from the room. There wasn’t even time to make a sound.
“It’s a pity that the ‘ghost’ is still among us.”
This was expected by Dong Zheng. There were still too few clues. In the first round, it was estimated that everyone was like him and randomly guessing.
Even though they casted an “innocent” person out, no one reacted. On the bright side, they had reduced one competitor while the probability of correctly identifying the ghost had increased by a large margin.
“The second round is about to begin.” Mr. Deeds took out a dice and placed the small hexahedron in the middle of the table, where everyone could reach.
“In this round, you will enter the scene corresponding to the points you threw. Please solve the dilemma you’ll face as completely as possible. You can call out the prescribed password at any time if you feel that your life is threatened. It will stop immediately, but you will also be directly eliminated.”
“This time the password is ‘Grapefruit.’ If you gentlemen are ready, you can start throwing.”
Even after Mr. Deed’s voice had fallen for a long time, no one moved. Who would want to test it out and discover the way for others when it wasn’t even clear what the situation was?
Mr. Deeds silently sighed, seeming to have expected this situation. He said, “Then let’s follow the order of the number of answers in the first round. Mr. Toaster No. 5?”
Dong Zheng was helpless at being called out again. He had long known that he would be more conspicuous when he answered the first round of questions.
But it didn’t matter if he went first. He just needed to be careful and nothing would go wrong.
Dong Zheng stretched out his hand, grabbed the dice, rattled it in his palm, and casually threw it on the table.
After the dice rolled a few times, they finally faced up at 6 points.
“Player Toaster No. 5 had rolled 6 points. You will enter scene No. 6.”
Dong Zheng’s sight suddenly darkened. When it became clear again, the first thing he saw was the surface of a fish tank. The oxygen pump gurgled with bubbles, and the motor made a continuous buzzing sound. The dark green water plants swayed, while colorful stones filled the bottom of the tank.
He sat up from the sofa and noticed a test paper beside him. It was elementary school math, marked in red with 100 points.
The tiny feet in his field of vision obviously belonged to a child. Dong Zheng remained silent as he observed the rest of his surroundings. This was an old house. The ceiling slumped down, children’s graffiti scattered across the walls, and traces of flooding marked the northeast corner. It seemed to be mostly water leaking from the upper floor.
The silent light bulb worked with dedication, illuminating all directions. The sofa was very old and threadbare, so dirty that the original dark blue could be barely seen. The TV was an older model from the beginning of the 20th century. It was turned on, filling the entire living room with the sound of singing.
This evening scene seemed very ordinary.
A glass ashtray rested on the see-through coffee table. After dumping out the cigarette butts and ashes into the trash can next to him, Dong Zheng held on to it as a weapon.
Dong Zheng was startled by the sound of something hitting glass. He turned in the direction of the sound. The balcony had no light and was cloaked in darkness; he couldn’t see clearly what was happening.
Vigilantly, he got closer and looked out the glass separating the living room from the balcony. There was a cat’s body lying outside on the balcony.
And what had slammed into the glass door was a black bat.
Suddenly, a series of dog barks broke out in the building, as if the dog had met something bad. According to the house type, the two rooms connected to the living should be bedrooms, though their doors were firmly shut. The doors to the kitchen and the bathroom were opened with the lights off. The only place not swallowed by darkness was the living room with its meager light.
Outside the front door, a string of heavy footsteps gradually approached, staggering as if weighed down by heavy drinking. It approached step by step up the stairs and finally stopped outside the door.
A key was inserted into the keyhole and turned. The door was pushed open from the outside.
A man walked in, reeking of alcohol.
He saw Dong Zheng, and a weird smile stretched across his face. He shut the door behind him, which made a desperate croak.
“You, come here.”
Dong Zheng’s alarm bell sounded. He turned around to run, but the man rushed up and grabbed his shoulders.
The man held him by the collar and lifted him up. His feet separated from the floor, giving him the sense of being out of touch with the whole world. Dong Zheng didn’t bother with unnecessary struggles. He kicked his feet, twisting his body with force, and smashed the ashtray hard into the man’s head.
But the man easily avoided the menacing blow.
He snatched the ashtray from Dong Zheng’s hand and threw it on the sofa with a cold snort. His eyes were hard and bitter.
“Little bunny boy.”
The palm of the man’s hand was merciless. When it fell on his face, his ears immediately buzzed. He felt himself being thrown against the wall, his fingers brushing against the edge of the fish tank. The sharp pain immediately shook his nerves. The moment he fell to the ground, the tip of a shoe slammed hard into his stomach.
Blackness swung in front of him, but Dong Zheng endured the pain. He wanted to get up, rush past the man, and escape. But as soon as he stood up unsteadily, the man caught his arm, nearly crushing his bone.
He was dragged from one end of the living room to another, the blood smearing his body and clothes leaving a trail of blood on the dirty floorboard. At the beginning, Dong Zheng tried his best to protect his head and abdomen, but in the end he could only endure the brutal beating like a cloth bag in pain. The insurmountable barrier in front of him was the physical size and the sheer strength between an adult male and a small child; he couldn’t do anything.
Unable to resist, unable to escape. He could only endure by screaming, and in the end, he couldn’t even make a sound anymore as he waited for the moment the man completely exhausted himself.
Unreasonably, extremely brutal abuse.
The password was on his lips, but Dong Zheng gritted his teeth to prevent it from pouring out. He believed that his true evaluation hadn’t yet begun. These were just appetizers.
The floorboard was already full of blood stains. Based on the length of the hair tangled in it, it belonged to a woman. There was a woman in this family.
Without knowing where his strength came from, Dong Zheng struggled to get up before the man’s fist fell again. He rushed to the closed bedroom door and slapped on it hard.
The man stood in place, rolling his fist and stretching his stiff fingers. He watched without stopping him.
Ten seconds later, the door opened.
It opened a sliver of a gap. A woman stood inside. She wore pajamas with her hair covering half her face and stared down at Dong Zheng, who was covered in blood.
There may be pity in her eyes, but it was drowned out by fear.
“I can’t help you,” she whispered. Her body shrank back when she spoke, and the movement caused her hair to sway, revealing the bruised half of her face.
She closed the door.
Mocking laughter sounded behind him. A hand grabbed the back of Dong Zheng’s collar and dragged him back into the living room.
Scenes flashed in front of his eyes. There was a kitten he’d rescued from the rain and brought home. The man had thrown the kitten at the wall for being naughty and fishing out the fish in the fish tank. He held its furry corpse, sobbing as its body gradually lost its warmth. The first time he was beaten, the woman had stood in front of him and pleaded hard for him. In the end, she was beaten until she couldn’t get up, and from that point forward, she dared not stop the man’s abuse anymore. There were days that he dared not go home and instead wandered the streets after school, hoping that someone would take him away, even if it was a trafficker.
He couldn’t remember how many times such brutalities happened. He could only hide his hatred deep in his bone marrow, and the fear that couldn’t be suppressed entangled him like a ghost.