In Virtual Reality
The police station was well-lit at night.
A man sat in his chair.
He repeatedly compared the two records while maintaining a stern expression.
His hand taps some place on one file before sliding to another.
Cao Wei Min chewed the words over and over as the man cocked his head, his eyes narrowed slightly, clearly thinking about something.
The crisp knocking cut the silence.
Li Tao stood sideways in the doorway with a glass of water in his hand.
After seeing Cao Wei Min's attention on him, the older officer walked in.
Cao Wei Min hurriedly stood up and nodded, “Lieutenant Li.”
“Don't stand; sit down.”
Li Tao casually picked up one of the files on the table.
Tian Si De.” He scanned it roughly to get the information and then said, “The survivor of that haunted house Spirit Shenanigans today, right? Do we have a problem with him?”
Cao Wei Min also focused his attention on the information.
“There's no problem with him personally, but he and the 'Eternal Bus' survivor Wang Zhou Zhou mentioned the same person.”
He took a red pen from the somewhat cluttered desk, opened the cap and scratched a red mark on the printed transcript of Wang Zhou Zhou.
“Yes, I checked the two men's recent social tracks, and they have not crossed paths.”
Tian Si De was in Jiang City for the holidays, but he was studying in another city.
His earlier movement tracks have nothing to do with Wang Zhou Zhou.
“Yet, during different shenanigans, both men encountered a person wearing a pink hoodie.” Li Tao tapped at the keyword, 'pink hoodie' Cao Wei Min had circled, “You find it suspicious?
“The 'Eternity Bus' incident occurred yesterday, the haunted house incident began the day before, and the survivors escaped just this afternoon.
A day,” Cao Wei Min frowned, “all in 24 hours.
One person in two shenanigans.”
Li Tao took a sip of water from his glass and asked to continue the conversation, “What does that tell you? The other side has a lot of energy?”
“No, the time flow between the real world and the other world is different.
That's why the other party managed both Spirit Shenanigans seamlessly.”
Li Tao gave a “Hm” but didn't comment too much.
But he quickly discovered additional key information in the document he was holding: “Tian Si De knows the other person's name?”
He narrowed his eyes, feeling that the word looked a little familiar.
Cao Wei Min glanced at it disinterested, “I believe it was a made-up pseudonym that they used to avoid Tian Si De's question.”
“Don't be so arbitrary, little Cao.” Li Tao smiled and secretly took the word to heart.
“Even if it's a fictitious name, the words individuals select at the moment are related to things they're familiar with.”
Cao Wei Min thought about it and nodded, “I see.”
“There's also the claim: “they've visited the haunted house several times”…” Li Tao suddenly said, “You should return to Morphy's Amusement Park tomorrow.
Search for visitor registration forms from the last few years.
Check if any visitors have the word 'silent' (噤) in their name.”
After a moment's thought, he added, “Check for 'Jin' and 'Jing' as well.
First, do a preliminary screening.” [TN: He used Latin letters to spell out pronouncing.]
“We currently have no additional leads on [Silence].
We'd rather find the wrong person than let them go.”
“If we had spotted them sooner, or if Old Ye had run into them, he may not have…” Li Tao sighed as he handed the file back to Cao Wei Min.
Cao Wei Min tensed, his hands reflexively clutching the folder tighter.
“I'll find them,” after a lengthy hush, remarked the young policeman, “I'll find 'Silence'.”
Another escape and murder nightmare.
Xu Jin Yi gasped as she lay on the cosy bed.
After a long time, she threw up the blankets and wailed.
“Why is it yet another escape dream?!!!”
The mattress groaned just as loudly as she did.
She wasn't frightened; after all, she'd played so many horror games that she'd become numb to dread.
But dreaming about escaping murders every night put a burden on her psyche! She couldn't get a decent night's sleep.
“Get up!” yelled Xu Jin Yi as he yanked the blankets skyward.
At seven o'clock in the morning, the breakfast shop below greeted its most notable customer.
Xu Jing Yi dug into the yellow and black striped booth and hollered at the young couple selling breakfast: “Uncle, one portion of steamed pork dumplings (小笼包:Xiaolongbao), one bowl of dumpling with soup (馄饨:Wontons), half a bowl of pan-fried dumplings (煎饺).
Finally, two fried dough sticks (炸根油条) to take away!”
She pulled out her phone.
Last night, the Green V's dormitory group received hundreds of chat messages.
Xu Jin Yi casually flicked through postings, disinterested, and exited after removing the red dots.
Meanwhile, her Penguin chat remained silent.
It was still the middle of the holidays, and nothing much happened on the internet.
The pair manning the breakfast shop worked swiftly, and everything was ready in no time.
Except for the youngsters who hadn't yet gotten out of bed, most folks in the neighbourhood were rushing to work.
They stopped over to get some buns and soy milk before leaving.
Xu Jin Yi was the only one who took a seat.
She took a sip from the bowl of wonton soup with a bit of chopped spring onion and shiny oil, swallowing it in one go.
The warm soup slid comfortably from her lips to her stomach pouch.
Xu Jin Yi couldn't help but stutter, “Uncle, your soup broth is sooo go-goood~.”
“Of course!” Uncle smiled, “It's prepared with fresh pig and chicken bones, so it must be delicious!”
Xu Jin Yi couldn't help but smile.
The pink filling was visible through the transparent shell of the little dumplings.
She bit in eagerly.
Only a light touch was necessary to break apart the dumpling and taste the luscious contents and broth.
Xu Jin Yi used a plastic spoon to scoop everything up to the last drop.
The little dumplings were a morning staple.
A portion of six nicely organised.
The thicker dough and fatty meat fillings, with the scent of minced beef exploding on the tongue with a smidgeon of juice.
Xu Jin Yi could have eaten ten more servings without stopping with a splash of sour vinegar!
Then there were the crispy bottom pan-fried dumplings.
Inside, meat and maise kernels were stuffed.
The crispy shell was sprinkled with a mixture of chopped pepper and vinegar.
The word “scrumptious” surged into her brain.
Xu Jin Yi ate her steamed buns and dumplings while she watched the folks outside the diner.
She wiped her lips after the last sip and paid the bill.
“See you next time!” The older guy yelled, hoping to keep his clients coming back.
Xu Jin Yi responded quickly before slipping out of the steadily growing shop queue while carrying the fried doughnuts.
Only about a half-hour had passed, and there was still plenty of time today.
Yesterday's Scream Haunted House gameplay was quite lengthy.
Not to mention the unexpected new ending.
Xu Jin Yi stopped for a moment, thinking she couldn't spend her whole vacation playing VR games and decided to visit the city's largest lake, Willow Leaf Lake(柳叶湖), to enjoy the amusement park there.
A single adult ticket costs 150.
Even if you ride the bus, you'll have enough money left for snacks.
Visitors favourably appreciated Morphy Amusement Park's recently opened haunted house, so it was a perfect opportunity to test it out.
Morphy's Amusement Park was situated in a remote area near Willow Leaf Lake.
If you take the bus, you must change stations at the drop-off spot.
Xu Jin Yi reached the station stop sign, checked for the number of bus routes, compared it to the bus schedule on her phone, and eventually decided on the route.
7 to No.
41…AB line can all be reached.”
Xu Jin Yi put her phone away after confirming the bus and silently waited for it to come.
7 bus arrived at the station after around ten minutes, however…
It was almost empty and weirdly silent.
She stepped inside and swapped her code.
She was used to the elders' and aunties' constant chatting.
Today's silence of the No.
7 bus made her ears feel stuffed with cotton.
Although there were only a few passengers on the bus, no single seats were available.
The only seats remaining were for the old, the ill, and the disabled, so Xu Jin Yi opted to stand as she didn't want to sit on a double seat.
She'll have to change buses a few stops later, anyhow.
What she didn't expect was that when she couldn't locate a seat, the driver looked in the rearview mirror and stated loudly, “Sister! Find a place to sit!”
Xu Jin Yi: “…..”
She dawdled and sat down next to another girl, nervously smiling at her before looking down and messing with her phone.
Not only that, but the next bus, 41, appeared the same.
The bus would only leave when she sat down, and if she rose before reaching the next stop, she would be reprimanded.
Xu Jin Yi stepped off the bus at the station, somewhat perplexed.
What went wrong today? Is it National Good Behaviour Day?
Xu Jin Yi rubbed her head in uncertainty, but when she couldn't obtain an answer, she gave up pondering.
But it seemed as though today was conspiring against her.
When Xu Jin Yi paid for her ticket at Morphy's Amusement Park's front desk and arrived at the haunted house, she saw a blue and white iron wall encircled it.
As she read the written notice affixed to the iron panel, Xu Jin Yi's face contorted, and she let out a snort of fury and incredulity.
'Should I check the yellow calendar (黄历) before I go out in future?'
Xu Jin Yi could only go and have a blast at the Big Swing and the pirate ship roller coaster.
As the sky darkened, an orange-red smoky haze spread out overhead.
Unknown birds spread their wings and soar into the sky, leaving a fantastic snapshot in the tourists' cameras.
After nibbling on a doughnut, Xu Jin Yi yawned and stretched her somewhat weary body as she boarded the bus.
The journey was bumpy but quiet.
Xu Jin Yi finally arrived home with a starry, moonlit night and a tired body in tow.
She flung herself on the bed and groaned in pain.
'…won't go out tomorrow; playing games at home is more fun than going out.'
——— Translator's Notes ———
Xiaolongbao refers to a type of small Chinese steamed bun (baozi) traditionally prepared in a xiaolong, a small bamboo steaming basket, hence the name.
Xiaolongbao are traditionally filled with pork.
More modern innovations include other meats, seafood, shrimp, crab meat, and vegetarian fillings.
A wonton (traditional Chinese: 餛飩; simplified Chinese: 馄饨; pinyin: húntun) is a type of Chinese dumpling commonly found across regional styles of Chinese cuisine.
Wontons resemble jiaozi (餃子) dumplings but usually have less filling and are wrapped in a thin 6 x 6cm2 yellow square dough wrapper or an isosceles trapezoid and folded into a triangular shape resembling a Chinese gold ingot known as yuanbao (元寶).
Jiaozi are wrapped in a slightly thicker circular white dough wrapper with more filling and either flat or pleated edges.
Wontons are traditionally served in soup, but jiaozi is usually eaten with dipping sauce.
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