——- Volume 5: Dusk Island [Begins] ——-
A giant cruise ship was sailing on an endlessly deep blue sea.
This luxury cruise ship, named Gabriel II, was 290 meters long, 59 meters wide, and 63 meters high. It departed from Canada, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and was headed for France.
Compared to most ships, this particular ship looked more like a white fortress moving on the sea.
It was occupied by pilgrims from all over the world and from all walks of life. They were invited aboard by the cruise ship company for a free luxury sea voyage. The only flipside was that they must follow the staff’s arrangements and be filmed participating in a series of activities. The films collected will be compiled into a reality TV show of amateurs.
There were at least 30 guests on board, while the crew and program staff totaled about 500 people.
The setting seemed like the beginning of a standard horror mystery film, but at this moment, no one cared.
The moment Lin Hangzhi entered the box, he woke up in his cabin in stupefaction. He thought he’d entered some palace by mistake. Everything in the room had the luxurious and elegant splendor of classical Europe. Even the sink was gilded. There was an open balcony with a direct view of the sea.
His identity was that of a journalist from Malaysia.
Lin Hangzhi stroked the delicate patterns on one of the four bed posts as if he’d never seen it before. Suddenly, the phone on the bedside table rang.
“Mr. Lin Hangzhi, it’s almost time for dinner. The director would like to explain some precautions during the filming process. Please go to Restaurant No. 7 at 11:50 dressed in formal wear.”
The other person spoke fluent English. Lin Hangzhi guessed that the ship provided European-style service and politely replied, “Thank you.” Afterward, he opened the large, solid wardrobe and was stunned.
Half an hour later, Lin Hangzhi finally found Restaurant No. 7. The restaurant was palace-themed, with waiters dressed in white shirts and black trousers. They wore bowties and carried plates of delicate food to the table.
It’d been a long time since Lin Hangzhi had put on a suit, and he felt a little uncomfortable. Even with such formal wear on his body, he still couldn’t prevent his dispirit from showing.
There weren’t many people in the restaurant. Lin Hangzhi looked around, wondering if he’d come too early.
“Hey, brother!” Suddenly, someone slapped him hard on the back, almost causing him to spew out a mouthful of blood. Allen enthusiastically grabbed Lin Hangzhi’s shoulders, and then carelessly ruffled his hair twice. Smiling, he said, “Don’t you know how to get your hair done?”
“I’m not used to using hairspray.” Lin Hangzhi tugged his arm down and looked behind him. “Is anyone else here?”
“I didn’t see anyone else. Let’s go inside and wait. Lunch looks delicious.”
They randomly picked a round table and sat down. Allen looked around to see whether anyone else was looking before sneakily dipping his fork into the foie gras and tasting it. Meanwhile, Lin Hangzhi touched the white lilies in the vase, noting that the petals were still stained with crystal water.
People walked into the restaurant in twos and threes, and Lin Hangzhi secretly observed these strange pilgrims with their different skin tones and hair colors, until he suddenly caught a glimpse of light blue.
Wang Que also saw him at the same time. Her eyes lit up, and she wanted to wave at him. Her arm was halfway raised when she realized that it wouldn’t be appropriate. So, she quickly put it down and hurried over.
Wang Que was wearing an ankle-length dress, with the skirt studded in brilliant diamonds that looked like stars glistening in the sky. Her hair was pulled up and fixed with a pearl headdress. She also wore make-up, making her look a little different.
Allen said, “The color of your lipstick is very beautiful.”
Wang Que showed him the inside of her wrist, which had many light marks that came from her testing the lipstick colors. She smiled. “I tried a lot of them.
Dong Zheng and Dong Linhai also walked in. Unlike Allen and Lin Hangzhi, whether it was their shirt sleeves showing through the cuffs of the jacket, the edges of white parcel exposed in their decorative chest pocket, or the cufflinks that shine with a luxurious light, they didn’t panic when walking. Their unhurried pace, their mannerism in not allowing their gaze to wonder wildly, all clearly expressed one thing–the two brothers looked like they belonged to the wealthy people of the upper class that would comfortably appear in this kind of setting.
Lin Hangzhi couldn’t help but sigh. “Children from different families are different.”
Allen cheerfully said, “Well, maybe we’ll also have the chance to experience the life of the wealthy?”
Once the Wonton Insurgency team was gathered, Allen asked, “Where is Cui’er?”
Dong Zheng replied, “He’s not on the list. He and Victor went elsewhere for food.”
As a prisoner, Cui Zuojing wouldn’t be counted among the 30 people invited by the director. Therefore, he couldn’t enter the restaurant. As a result, he was free to go to the bar next door and ordered something to eat.
He was wearing suspenders with his suit, and a small plush bunny doll was pinned on his left chest. Dong Zheng had pulled his soft, black hair back and forcibly sprayed it down with hairspray. As a result, each strand stayed smoothly where they should be.
Because he was holding a cat, Victor’s white fur inevitably clung to his black pants.
Cui Zuojing drank a cold Coke. With the straw still in his mouth, he lazily looked around. In addition to him, there were also some other program staff in the bar.
This looked like a good place to overhear intelligence.
When a man in a brown vest with many pockets walked into the restaurant, the pilgrims who were talking in low voices immediately became silent.
He wasn’t tall, and he had curly, dark brown hair and an ordinary appearance. He wore a brown hat and the dozen pockets on his clothes were all bulging with who knew what.
Seeing that everyone had gone quiet, he nodded in satisfaction. He stopped in the middle of the aisle, glanced at everyone’s faces, and said loudly, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the filming of “The Seventh Day” in Gabriel II. I’m Director Akers, and I’m very pleased to meet you here today.”
He spoke standard American English. Naturally, as an American, Allen understood him perfectly. As a high-achieving student, Wang Que’s English was also good. Only Dong Linhai was confused.
So, Allen quietly began to interpret for Dong Linhai.
“Three weeks ago, I invited the 30 guests present today to participate in this Atlantic Ocean voyage. After the end of the journey, everyone will receive a notice fee of one million U.S. dollars, of which 100 thousand had already been paid. You should have received it already.”
“Our program is filmed under the sponsorship of the American HEM company. It will take approximately two months from filming to post-production to broadcast. During this time period, you will need to follow the principle of confidentiality, and you cannot disclose the program details to anyone outside the program.”
“What we want to create will be the greatest, most exciting, and most popular show in the entire history of entertainment! After the broadcast, everyone will become a star who will enjoy the applause and cheers of fans!”
In contrast to Akers’ excited speech, all the pilgrims present were indifferent, and there was only some lackluster applause.
Lin Hangzhip whispered to Dong Zheng, “It’s obvious that there’s something tricky going on.”
Akers didn’t feel embarrassed and continued, “Starting today, once we’ve entered high sea, we can begin the official filming. The content and precautionary details of the first activity will be sent to you after the meal. There will also be staff to assist you in preparing your script.”
“The primary reason I’ve asked everyone to gather here at this time is so that you can all get to know each other. After all, for the next few months, you’ll all be spending this wonderful time together.”
A smile appeared on the corners of Akers’ lips. He took off his hat and bowed to them. “Okay, I’ve said everything I wanted to say. I won’t delay everyone and wish you all a happy meal.”
After the director left the restaurant, the scene revived. Everyone began talking to their companions in whispers. Dong Zheng looked around for a while, frowning.
“What’s the matter?” Allen asked in a low voice.
“There are only 29 people here.”
Once he heard this, Allen began to count and realized that there were indeed only 29 people present.
“If the person’s really not here, wouldn’t the director count before beginning the meeting?”
Dong Zheng shook his head, not knowing what was going on. He retracted his gaze, picked up his knife and fork, and began eating.
Since the plot hadn’t started yet, there were no task prompts. The name of the box was Dusk Island. Looking at it from this perspective, this cruise ship probably wouldn’t be able to safely reach its destination.
The so-called program was probably just to give them a reason to gather here. Therefore, they needn’t bothered to care too much about it.
It was better to relax and enjoy their meal.
At the bar, Cui Zuojing was almost full.
He took a glass of whisky and fed it to Victor. As he drank, Victor used his sensitive cat hearing to eavesdrop on the program staff’s conversations nearby.
They were talking about the filming process.
After Victor listened for a while, he began to understand what was planned. In the first round of the show, they would give each guest different identities, as well as give out the identity of the person that needed to be “assassinated” within three days. The guests must use the prop provided to “assassinate” their target until there was only one person left.
It was worth noting that casualties were allowed during the “assassination” process. If a person killed someone due to negligence, there won’t be any legal liability per the terms of the signed contract.
Everyone’s one million dollars remunerations fee was actually life money.
If this program could be broadcasted normally, it would definitely catch a lot of people’s attention.
Cui Zuojing took the last sip of his Coke, poured the ice cubes that hadn’t melted into his mouth, and chewed. Then, he left with Victor.
Because there were numerous facilities, the route back was a bit complicated to navigate, particularly for someone like Cui Zuojing, who’d only just arrived a mere few hours ago. It took him awhile to figure out which floor he was on, but he wasn’t in a hurry. He ended up wandering around aimlessly.
He’d also experienced a box set on a cruise ship before. At that time, he was very busy fighting and killing people so he hadn’t been able to enjoy the experience.
Now, he finally had a chance.
When he turned a corner, he almost ran into the man coming from the other side.
Cui Zuojing backed up two steps, moved to the side, and gave way to the other party. “Sorry.”
In many cases, he could be very polite when facing random strangers.
“It’s fine.” The man’s voice was low. He probably stood close to 1.9 meters and had short, blond hair and light gray eyes. Deep grooves ran down both sides of his mouth, making him look a little cold.
Dressed in a suit and leather shoes, he exuded an air of unapproachability.
He stared at Cui Zuojing for two seconds. The corners of his lips twitched slightly, and something seemed to surge violently within the depths of his eyes. Finally, his expression settled back into a mask of intimidating calmness.
The man moved his gaze to the white cat in the youth’s arms, then he retracted his gaze and walked past Cui Zuojing without a second glance.
Feeling a little inexplicable, Cui Zuojing turned his head and watched the man’s back until it disappeared at the end of the corridor.
The man walked without a sound.