In Virtual Reality 35 ☆ Death Notice (19/25)
Updated: 2 hours ago
As Xu Jin Yi reached into the vending machine, she tugged, and the system indicated that she had acquired an [—unknown origin phone].
She crouched before the machine and absentmindedly flicked around the phone.
The phone case was adorned with tender pink cherry blossoms, harmonising with the white background.
The dense clusters of petals formed a woman's profile gazing upwards at the sky.
Xu Jin Yi flipped it over and discovered a dark blue hair tie resembling a large intestine tied vertically to the outside of the phone case.
She had to unhook the hair tie with a tug to extract the phone from the vending machine.
Upon opening the screen, a large number of “7” made of colourful roses filled the entire display.
Xu Jin Yi swiped the screen casually, only to be prompted with a request for a four-digit password.
Bewildered, she murmured to herself, “Whose phone is this?”
Ah Ma, standing nearby, spoke up, “Senior, may I have a look?”
Xu Jin Yi handed her the phone, and Ah Ma turned it over to the back of the phone case, rubbing it carefully with her thumb.
“This appears to belong to Zhou Xiao Han,” she announced.
“I saw it when I visited 503 to mooch a meal.
Xiaohan designed her phone case herself, and it's exquisite.
The raised pattern on the case has a dark texture, and you can feel out her surname's print on it.”
Ah Ma verified that the phone belonged to Zhou Xiao Han from Dormitory 2, Room 503.
“As for the password…” She opened the screen again and saw the number “7” on it.
She hesitated, “Is it her birthday?”
Ah Ma had only known each other for two months, and they had not delved into Zhou Xiao Han's birthday.
Besides, who would still focus on birthdays in this school?
Xu Jin Yi stood up: “The hair tie is just an ordinary hair tie, there is no other information.”
As they pondered the password, Shen Jia suggested, “Try her name's nine-square grid – 0994 or 9940?”
“No,” Ah Ma tested the suggestion and shook her head.
“The password is four digits; I believe it is likely to be a date.”
“But we don't know her birthday, and we have no other information,” Xu Jin Yi remarked.
“There's a 7 on the screen, so let's try July 7th first.”
Ah Ma nodded, and to everyone's surprise, the password worked.
The lock screen disappeared.
Ah Ma showed the newly unlocked phone screen to the other two, staring blankly.
Xu Jin Yi raised her eyebrows and said happily: “It seems our luck is good.”
As they looked at the phone, Shen Jia furrowed his brow and remarked, “Is this really Zhou Xiao Han?”
The other two turned their attention to the phone wallpaper, where a stunning girl gazed back at them.
It was not just her looks that caught their attention but also her confident, cheerful, and radiant demeanour that seemed to exude from within.
The young woman in the photograph exuded confidence as she stood on the campus in a black short-sleeved T-shirt and grey wide-legged pants, clutching a crystal trophy.
Behind her were towering educational buildings and a steady flow of people.
The sun illuminated the trophy, casting a dazzling glow on the brilliant crystal.
Yet, the woman herself was the true star of the image.
Her victorious smile and self-assured gaze were more alluring than the trophy.
A high stool with another trophy was placed to her right, suggesting that she had won with someone else who was absent from the award ceremony.
Shen Jia momentarily scrutinised the photo and whispered, “Could it be her…?”
Xu Jin Yi, who had received the phone from Ah Ma, began searching for more information.
Hearing Shen Jia's murmurs, she asked casually, “You didn't mention knowing Zhou Xiao Han before.”
“I didn't know her name,” Shen Jia replied, “but I do recognise the girl in the wallpaper.”
If the woman in the photograph was indeed Zhou Xiao Han, then Shen Jia had encountered her before.
During their sophomore year, when the school had just started, a senior student who was the president of the tea club invited Shen Jia to participate in making up the numbers.
Despite being busy, Shen Jia was fooled into joining by luring new students to join the club with his handsome schoolboy good looks.
The tea club's team-building activity at the time was to play a game called tearing name tags.
Upon hearing this, Xu Jin Yi couldn't help but interject, “The tea club held a tearing name tag activity?”
Ah Ma was also stunned, “Your tea club…
held a sports event?!”
Shen Jia: “…Tearing name tags while drinking tea.”
Xu Jin Yi was amazed, “Quite a fancy way to play.”
Ah Ma looked like she couldn't bear to imagine it.
Observing the reactions of the two, Shen Jia couldn't help but speculate that the former president of the tea club might be suffering from a severe mental ailment.
The story continued.
While the classroom of the tea club was on the first floor, the event required a larger space.
Nearly forty participants were divided into seven teams.
Shen Jia found himself in the same group as Zhou Xiao Han, comprising three women and two men.
Due to unfamiliarity and reluctance to socialise, no one bothered exchanging names.
The competition was intense.
Each team had a ten-minute window to hunt the other.
For the better part of that afternoon, the only sounds heard were the faint tinkling of bells reverberating across the vacant building, interspersed with occasional eerie laughter and many screams of terror.
Halfway through the contest, three of Shen Jia's teammates had already been eliminated, and his only remaining partner had gone missing.
When it was their turn for the “Phoenix Narcissus Tea Team” to take the field, Shen Jia had not even caught a glimpse of his comrade.
He strapped on his bell in the classroom with no other option and dashed out.
The top priority was to locate his teammate and strip the opponents' name tags.
He was unaware of his teammate's name, but a ringing bell would undoubtedly indicate their presence.
As Shen Jia climbed to the third floor, he heard the crisp, urgent sound of bells emanating from the fourth floor.
He sprang into action, ascending two steps at a time, but glimpsed only a fleeting dark figure rush by him.
A few strides away, tearing fabric accompanied a male student's anguished wailing.
Approaching slowly, Shen Jia saw a girl holding a white name tag, who turned her head sharply, her gaze piercing as she looked at him.
Reacting instinctively, Shen Jia raised his hands and exclaimed, “Teammate!”
She strode over to him, revealing the bell on her ankle, and declared, “Phoenix Narcissus.”
The boy's expression relaxed as he said, “Oolong Tea.”
As if having uttered a secret password, the girl turned back and handed the name tag to the male student whose name tag she had just snatched, patting his shoulder and saying, “Let's go, rest in the lounge by yourself.”
Watching the male student depart, Shen Jia remarked, “Our team has been reduced to two, and the hunting time is almost over.”
The team had already lost three members, including the boy the girl had just dismantled.
Nonetheless, the number of eliminations was less than half of the original count.
“It's safer to hide,” Shen Jia suggested, pointing towards the classroom.
He proposed locking the door from the inside, assuring their survival until the final round.
“And what about you?” inquired the opposing side, raising an eyebrow.
“I'll do the hunting,” Shen Jia responded confidently.
The girl was taken aback for a moment but immediately burst into laughter.
“Friend, I've already eliminated one person,” she boasted, shaking the bell on her foot with a smirk.
“Compared to being hunted, I prefer to take the initiative.
Don't underestimate me.”
“Then let's cooperate,” Shen Jia suggested without any hesitation.
“We may not have the numerical advantage, but we can outsmart them.” He pointed towards the girl, stating, “The mantis stalks the cicada.” Then, pointing towards himself, he continued, “The oriole comes from behind.”
The girl paused for a moment, then smiled.
“First of all, I really, really want that brooch.”
Brooch? Oh, right.
Besides the trophy, the winner would receive a unique brooch from the tea club.
It had a small, delicate green tea leaf, which looked cute.
Shen Jia lowered his gaze, revealing a confident smile.
He extended his hand, stating, “I have the same intention,” the two of them clasped hands.
After a round of hunting, they eliminated many members of the Flower Tea team.
The girl with the bell raced towards Shen Jia, exclaiming, “I'll go first~” before quickly running out.
Shen Jia was astonished and couldn't help but shake his head, smiling.
He waited for a while before following suit.
Though their plan was rough, it was perfect for the already intense game.
Soon, the girl targeted a new prey.
Although she was a hunter, they didn't think much of a little girl.
Compared to the three tall boys in front of her, she looked like the prey.
However, the rules prevented them from attacking the hunter, so the three boys began to trash talk.
“Miss, look, you don't have any teammates to help you, so let us go.” one of them said.
“It's not so easy to fight against us, three against one,” another chimed in.
“Release us, and we shall spare you when it's our team's turn, alright?” the last one offered.
The young woman smirked deviously at them, crossing her arms in defiance.
“Do I appear weak?” The young woman asked the boys, who shared a knowing glance before responding, “Not weak, not at all!”
“I am confident that I can take you down,” she declared, flexing her arm with a serious expression.
The three boys were taken aback by her boldness.
Seriously? Did this petite girl believe her own words?
Before they could respond, they heard the sound of two tags being ripped off by Shen Jia, who was standing at the back.
The last remaining boy attempted to resist as Shen Jia approached him, but soon as he turned around, he heard a sharp, tearing noise behind him.
“Why would you expose your back to a hunter?” A slow, deliberate voice came from behind, and the girl revealed the boy's tag, a look of satisfaction on her face.
“I'm a hunter too, you know.”
The praying mantis hunted the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind it, waiting for the perfect moment.
Did they ever realize that it wasn't a cicada but a hunter with a gun?
“You ambushed us!” The three boys protested, feeling somewhat aggrieved as they looked at the smug girl.
The young woman feigned deep thought, shaking her head and pointing to her temple.
“This is strategy, you understand?”
“Then we counterattacked and eliminated the other teams, making it to the finals,” Shen Jia recalled.
“But that day, I had to leave early because one of my teachers urgently called me,” he continued, “I didn't expect her to win by herself.”
Looking at the wallpaper on Zhou Xiao Han's phone with her infectious smile, Shen Jia sighed.
“At that time, she was completely different from the girl I saw in front of the teaching building.”
Zhou Xiao Han, with dishevelled hair during the execution, did not exude the same confidence she had displayed before, only a straight back and a heart-rending cry.
Shen Jia did not get a clear look at her appearance, nor did they exchange names.
He did not know the name “Zhou Xiao Han,” but he remembered the girl who had surprised him countless times during the activity.
Shen Jia shook his head.
Xu Jin Yi, who had listened to the entire story, appeared lost in thought.
She had also found photos of the tea club activity on Zhou Xiao Han's phone.
As Shen Jia had claimed, the wallpaper inside offered a stunning panoramic view of the tea club.
Xu Jin Yi then stumbled upon her chat history with Shen Jia, and noticed that the interface was stuck on the page where they had last chatted.
Shen Jia: “?”
“My phone didn't receive this,” he asserted, producing his device to display his QQ page.
Xu Jin Yi scrutinized the information once more.
“She also sent voice messages to two other people, but they are all temporary chats…
After her death, all the friends on QQ were deleted, so the chat records became temporary interfaces.”
Thankfully, the voice messages could still be listened to…
Wait? Xu Jin Yi soon discovered that “all the voice messages were not sent out.” She speculated, “Maybe it's due to network latency or it was blocked.”
She surveyed the surroundings.
The library's fourth-floor study area was silent, with no phantom students to be found anywhere.
Xu Jin Yi recollected that electronic devices in the PC version of “Death Notice” were prohibited in the library.
After all, it was a [study area].”
Xu Jin Yi seated herself and began playing the voice message Zhou Xiao Han had sent to Shen Jia.
“Shen Jia, listen to me, I am now on the fourth floor of the library.
This phone contains some notes I made in Yin De University, which you can carefully study with everyone.
I hope you can escape from here in the future.
I went to the principal's office on the sixth floor and took the seal, and placed it on the bookshelf on the fifth floor of the library.
If it were you, you should know which book it is in.
Something has discovered my actions, and they are coming to catch me.
My ending is probably not going to be good…
But Shen Jia, do you remember the sentence I said to you back then?”
“I really, really want that badge.”
“I really, really want to win.”
“But now I know that one person's power is not enough, after all, this is not that game.
If it were you, you could definitely lead everyone out, just like in that game back then.”
“I have made some modifications to your file —— be careful and follow the rules here before leaving.
I put it in the memo.
My phone is stuck inside the outlet of the vending machine on the fourth floor, and the password is 0307…
There isn't much time left, so I hope you can add me and everyone can create another miracle like that again——.”
The resonating voice message abruptly halted, yet Xu Jin Yi's astute mind could anticipate the forthcoming events.
Upon acquiring the seal from the sixth floor, Zhou Xiao Han descended and stashed it in the fifth-floor library.
Perceiving a sense of unease, she hastened to the fourth floor, where she deftly diverted the attention of the ghouls and phantoms scouring the fifth floor.
In a last-ditch effort, she urgently dispatched a voice message, unaware of the constraints of the “study area,” leaving Shen Jia with no inkling of the chaos unfolding.
To safeguard her phone, Zhou Xiao Han unfastened her hair tie and secured it around the device, wedging it inside the vending machine on the library's fourth floor.
As the exorbitant prices of the drinks deterred the ghostly students from purchasing them, Shen Jia, with prior knowledge, could have made his way to the vending machine and easily retrieved the phone.
Just like the unwavering conviction Shen Jia displayed when Zhou Xiao Han implored him to collaborate, she was confident in his ability to rise to the occasion.
If Shen Jia had received the message, everything would have gone without a hitch.
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