During this time, Chen Xiao passed by the first door he entered after waking up. The sign on the door frame, which he did not manage to read on the way in, read “No Smoking”.
After a while, he was pushed into the elevator. Within his sight, he could see the screen next to the door with the number 3 displayed in a scarlet font.
Then, the elevator shook.
The elevator continued to descend, but the number on the screen did not change. Finally, after a much longer time than before…
The words appeared on the screen, and the noise of the elevator opening sounded overhead.
Chen Xiao was pushed out of the elevator.
The ceiling was not very high, which meant that the basement did not need a lot of space. It was just deliberately built in a deeper place. Was there a second basement? It did not matter.
The lighting here was bright, making the surroundings appear pale in comparison, and the creaking wheels reverberated in the surroundings. From the echo, it seemed the place was relatively empty. Chen Xiao turned his eyes to the side again. He saw a few metal grills similar to that of a prison cell, only painted white. It was quiet. He wondered if there was anyone inside.
Just then, a man’s voice came overhead. “Done?”
Then, there was the chime of keys jingling, and a heavy-sounding —presumably iron— door opened.
“Yeah, the kid seemed to have passed the test. Someone will come to pick him up tomorrow,” the man pushing the flatbed said, then continued to move it forward.
Chen Xiao saw a door frame made of thick iron rods cross his vision, followed by the sound of another door being pulled open. However, he could tell that it was not an iron door this time.
“I don’t know why they chose this kid. Don’t they know how dangerous he is?” said the person pushing the flatbed. He pushed it into the room that opened after.
This room was special. Chen Xiao could tell just by looking at the ceiling. Except for an embedded bulb in the middle, the rest of the ceiling was padded with thick sponge.
It was the kind of room designed to prevent mental patients from bumping around when they go crazy.
At that moment, the flatbed was raised straight, and Chen Xiao saw that the wall in front of him was covered with the same sponge.
“Forget it. We’ll have an easier time without this kid around. I can finally stop feeling on tenterhooks.” Just then, the owner of the voice appeared in Chen Xiao’s sight. It was a man in his forties. He also looked very strong, but he had a receding hairline. At present, he was conversing with the man who was pushing the flatbed while tying a restraining belt to Chen Xiao’s arm.
“What do you think those people are up to?” the man pushing the flatbed asked. He also began to tie Chen Xiao up.
The balding man shrugged and said, “Who knows? But judging from how the dean’s grandson acted, they must be some big shot! They’re probably from the government.”
At this point, both men finished tying the restraints. Then, they wrapped the rest of the straps around Chen Xiao’s neck and pulled them to the opposite side.
The two men counted together. The cuffs on the flatbed were released with a snap, and at the same time, the two men tightened the restraining belts, circling them around Chen Xiao, then fastened them behind his body.
Chen Xiao’s arms were pulled into an X shape. He could only move his wrists and hands.
After that, the two finally lowered Chen Xiao from the flatbed.
During this period, Chen Xiao had been quietly listening without saying a single word. Of course, with his mask on, he could not say anything even if he wanted to.
The balding man reached behind Chen Xiao’s head to unbutton his mask and unintentionally made eye contact.
The man’s expression suddenly froze.
“Hm? Old Li, look at the kid. He seems off.”
The man called Old Li, who was the person who pushed the flatbed, leaned over and looked at Chen Xiao.
“What? I don’t see anything different,” he responded.
The balding man frowned and looked at Chen Xiao again before saying, “No, look at his eyes. They’re not as… dumb and unfocused as before.”
At those words, Old Li inspected more carefully. “Huh, now that you mention it, there really is something off!
“Whatever. He’ll be sent away tomorrow anyway.” Old Li waved his hand and said, “Now that this is over, we have to go drinking later! We finally don’t have to stare at his damned face all day.”
After saying that, Chen Xiao’s mask was removed. The two men walked out of the room side by side and closed the door.
It was only then that Chen Xiao began to move his body.
The restraining belt was very sturdy, so there was basically no possibility of breaking free. He could still move his hands, but only to a very small extent. He could not even eat without the help of a spoon or such tools.
He looked at his palms. His nails were not long, and his skin was quite clean. He just looked a little thin. Then, he quickly wiggled his fingers.
‘Hm, quite flexible,’ thought Chen Xiao.
Then, he looked down. He was in a very ordinary white hospital gown. His ankles were linked by an elastic restraint, so he was able to take very small steps. He did not wear shoes. Of course, since he was locked up in a sponge-padded hospital room like this, there was no need for shoes.
He squatted down and fell face-flat on the ground.
‘Hm… I’m about 175 cm. My strength is average. There’s no discomfort in my major joints, so I shouldn’t be physically hurt. That’s not bad for a skinny mental patient.’
After looking at himself, he began to observe the ward again.
There was a white squatting toilet in the corner that was slightly recessed into the ground.
Chen Xiao walked over to it and squatted down to take a closer look at its structure. There did not seem to be anything special. It was very clean inside with nothing… Well, you know.
However, it was because there was nothing special about it that caught Chen Xiao’s attention.
“Come on…” he muttered. Then, he whirled around and began to observe the rest of the place.
The three walls and ceiling were the same; covered in sponge and nothing else. As for the remaining wall with the door, only the door itself was solid. It did not look like the metal bars that he saw on the way here. However, most of the door was also covered in padding. There was only a very small opening next to the door, presumably used to deliver food. Naturally, there was no doorknob or anything of that sort either.
“There’s absolutely nothing to see!” Chen Xiao grumbled. He glanced at the squatting toilet. “Are you serious?”
He frowned and walked over. His heart felt suffocated. It was like an OCD patient seeing a neat pile of eggs, but at the very corner was a black kiwifruit. It was infuriating. He wanted to grind his teeth!
“Even a dummy would know what this is. There’s no need to test it out…” he said as if struggling to justify himself.
There was a moment of silence.
Suddenly, a fierce and resolute light flashed in Chen Xiao’s eyes. He jumped high, snapped his legs together, and stepped into the squatting toilet!
“Mm… Although it’s not soft, there’s elasticity. There won’t be any problems if someone bumps into it. It should be made out of some kind of plastic!” He muttered to himself. His expression was a little disgusted, but he obviously looked more relaxed.
After doing that meaningless action, Chen Xiao sat down contentedly against the wall opposite the door and began to think.
He thought of many things from the behavior and conversation of the two men earlier, but most of them were useless.
For example, Old Li. From his nose hair and beard, it was clear that the man had thick body hair. However, his forearm was not hairy, so he probably had his arms exposed often. His upper limbs were strong, and his right shoulder blade was very wide, asymmetrical with his left side. He had a slight hunchback. His shoulders often carried heavy loads. His left thumb and forefinger’s nails were thick and dark in color, and his right hand’s purlicue and palm calluses were pronounced but not rough. This meant that he was a worker before and often used a hammer. Furthermore, he was a long-time heavy drinker, which resulted in him often smashing his fingers by accident. When he walked, he tended to sway to the left, indicative of a calf injury. He most likely quit his original job because of that reason and came to this mental hospital to do odd jobs. Judging by the thick calluses on his hands that were beginning to soften, he should have been working here for at least a year.
As for the balding man, He was still single and slept in a single bed, maybe in a duty-room in this very hospital. He was a gangster when he was young. His thumb tendon was cut before, and he had tattoos below his neck. There were other traces. He liked gambling, liked smoking, and had not gotten laid in a very long time. Recently, he had some spare money and bought a new belt. It should be money from his gambling winnings. However, why did he not take the opportunity to get high instead?
…Was he impotent?
In fact, these observations really were quite useless, but they just naturally appeared in Chen Xiao’s head. From beginning to end, he had only glanced at them once.
Nevertheless, he still learned some useful information.
‘First: These underground wards should be a place where dangerous mental patients are locked up, and the room I’m in specifically is obviously some kind of ‘special treatment’. I’ve probably been locked up here for at least three to four years. I didn’t hear any sounds when I was brought here, so there might not be other patients. Either that, or they are in another hallway somewhere else. After all, I can’t speculate on the floor layout of the building.
‘Second: The two men earlier obviously knew that I was going to take a test, but they don’t know the details of the test, let alone what that ‘Ms. Liu’ does. However, one thing is certain. The place she’s affiliated with has much more power than this mental hospital.
‘Third: I’m a very dangerous person. I just don’t know what about me is dangerous. Is it because I can’t control my behavior sometimes? Or because I have an obsessive-compulsive disorder? Maybe I’ll suddenly go crazy and bite people…’ In short, Chen Xiao felt that he was doing well for the time being… He was just feeling mildly frustrated. ‘Also, why did those two men say that I changed? They said I looked dumb and unfocused before. What’s that supposed to mean?’
The fourth point, and the most important one, was that Chen Xiao could tell that he was… how to put this… not conventionally attractive. In fact, he was so unattractive to the point that it affected people’s moods, which made him a little depressed again.
‘Argh, what do I look like?! Someone release my hands so I can at least touch my face! It’s been three chapters but I don’t even know what the protagonist looks like. This must be a joke!’
Chen Xiao wailed in his heart.