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1085 The Lonely Island of Humanity 3 in 1

 An unknown monster hid inside the black fog, but probably due to the limitation of the rules behind the door, the fog did not spread into the apartment, so the tenants were relatively safe as long as they stayed inside the building. The space outside of the apartment appeared to be a completely different world in contrast to the safety of the space inside the apartment. Their entire lives were within the apartment, as if something bad would happen to them once they tried to leave the apartment. Doctor Li walked over to close the window like the tragedy that had just happened before their eyes was not registered in his mind. He did not appear to even notice the blood stains that still lingered on the windowsill.

"Only the landlord is free to leave the building. If any tenant wishes to leave at night, they have to be accompanied by the landlord." Doctor Li looked at the thick black fog outside the window. "He must have been feeling extremely guilty to be desperate enough to break the rules and leave through the window."

What Doctor Li said attracted Chen Ge's attention. This place was far stranger and more dangerous than he had previously thought.

As Doctor Li had said, if one needed the landlord's accompaniment to leave the building at night, then what would happen after the landlord died? What if the space was stuck in nighttime forever? What if this was just a recurring nightmare that would never welcome the first ray of dawn? After all, many worlds behind the door stopped at a specific moment in time because it was that period in time that caused the mark of despair within the door pusher.

"We have already confirmed the landlord's murderer. Now we only need to focus our attention on capturing the killer who murdered Qu Gui, and then we can call it a day." Doctor Li's words were cold and calm, carrying an undercurrent of threat. He seemed to be treating the whole building as his hunting field. Now that a new hunter had entered his territory, it was his natural reaction to find this trespasser and then deal with them.

"I suggest we search this place further. If he is really the killer that killed the landlord, there must be other clues inside his house. For example, the spare keys that have been taken from the landlord's home." Qu Yin could not care less about the lives of other people. He only wanted the key to his own home. From his perspective, that was the only safe place within the whole building. If the spare key was not recovered, it meant that even his only sanctuary was not as safe as he thought. How would one expect him to sleep peacefully at night?

"Er..." Xiao Sun appeared to have something to say. He looked at the people around him before his eyes landed on the blood stain on the windowsill. "Are we being a bit too brash with our speculation? We determined the man as the murderer through a letter and some teeth, huh? Plus, I just feel that there is something not so right about this. I went into the bathroom before, and I also looked down the drain, but at the time..."

"We only wanted him to tell us the truth. It was the man who made his own choice. He had a guilty conscience, so he chose to run." Doctor Li glanced at Xiao Sun before his eyes quickly flitted away to address Chen Ge. "What do you think?"

Of everyone there, the only person that Doctor Li could not read was Chen Ge. He picked up an uncomfortable feeling from Chen Ge. It was like he had encountered a kindred spirit. He knew that Chen Ge was an extremely dangerous person. That thought had occurred to Doctor Li when he first laid eyes on Chen Ge.

"I agree with your opinion. The most important thing that we need to do now is focus on our capture of Qu Gui's murderer. All of us here have perfect alibis, so the murderer must be someone other than ourselves. If we start to question ourselves, it will only benefit the true murderer."

Everything was falling into place according to Chen Ge's plan. He was making use of these small group of tenants to go investigate the other tenants inside the apartment. When the latter's secret was at the threat of being exposed, they would naturally turn hostile against each other. When they were busy attacking each other, things would slowly turn for the better for Chen Ge. When the number of tenants lowered to a certain amount, Chen Ge would expose his own fangs.

Chen Ge held the same opinion as Doctor Li; they both believed that they would end up as the final victor. The difference between them was that Chen Ge knew that Qu Gui's killer was an outsider, but Doctor Li had no clue about anything that happened outside the building. One of them was constricted by the rules behind the door, and the other was setting up the trap using a combination of the knowledge from both inside and outside the door. This imbalance in information had already decided Doctor Li's defeat from the very beginning.

On the surface, everyone appeared to be peaceful and cooperative. But in reality, everyone was hiding a secret, with the only exception being Xiao Sun. This naïve and honest young man was still playing his detective game. He wanted to find the truth and was indeed trying his best to do so. He did not understand that truth could be found only when the sun was shining. When night fell and he was surrounded by crazed criminals, no one could care less about the truth. The thing that everyone focused on was how survive on their own.

The group failed to find the landlord's spare keys in his room. They turned his room upside down but came up with nothing. In the end, they had no choice but to give up. After leaving the middle-aged man's room, they searched every room one by one, starting from the third floor.

If the tenants refused to open the door, they would try their best to break the door down to gain entry. Many dirty corruptions were hidden inside the building. Years of darkness were spliced open by a sharp knife that was even darker. A cross-dressing maniac, extra marital affairs, crimes of passion, fugitives in hiding, a mental patient...

Every single door was home to many twisted souls. They guarded their dirtiest secrets with their lives. As Chen Ge's group pushed further, they slowly shed their human skin to reveal the monsters that they were. Chen Ge saw the bottom line of humanity in the world behind Xiang Nuan's door. These monsters were hiding among regular people. Perhaps he had even brushed past them every day on his way to school in the past.

As they moved from the third floor to the eighth floor, in the name of searching for the murderer, Chen Ge's group was met with great resistance. When their secrets were exposed, many of the twisted tenants resorted to the most extreme method to resist. Most of them did not care about the murders; they only wanted to safeguard their own secret. Doctor Li himself did not expect such resistance. During the process of investigation, Big Head was stabbed by one of the hiding fugitives, and the doctor himself suffered from light injuries.

A trapped beast was a dangerous beast. To prevent their human disguise from being peeled away, these tenants had used everything that they had at their disposal. Some used flowery words to trick and misdirect; others used brute force to chase them away; some wanted to lie to escape the investigation; some even wanted to kill everyone prevent so that their own secret would not be exposed.

Of the whole group, other than Wen Qing and Granny Lee who stayed at the back of the group, only Chen Ge remained uninjured. He stood to observe detachedly. His Yin Yang Vision was trained on the darker side of humanity being exposed. They soon arrived at the ninth floor, where the landlord's room was. They gathered at the door to Room 901 again. The murderer was not found, the spare keys that belonged to the landlord were still missing, and everyone looked worse for wear.

"When the front door is open, I swear to move away from this place." Xiao Sun's face was pale and devoid of color. His view of the world was inverted within one single night. The scary and gory scenes that he had encountered in the past hour were more intense and numerous than the gory scenes that he had seen from horror movies in the past twenty years of his life. The high intensity and high frequency trauma left a deep scar in him. He seemed to have gained a new type of phobia, the phobia of opening doors. He lacked the courage to open any more doors.

"If the keys are not found, the lock on the front door cannot be opened; none of us will be able to leave." Chen Ge held his backpack in one hand. He had been reserving his energy. He kept calling the names of his employees, and he did nothing beyond that.

"But we have already searched most of the rooms. There are so many keys. What could the killer that murdered the landlord have done with them?" Qu Yin and his girlfriend were given quite a fright as well. Compared to the other monsters that were exposed that night, they were only on the level of a beginner.

"We have been to most of the room, but there is a portion of the rooms in this building that we have not been to." It was about time to face the music. Chen Ge was in very good condition. After all, all he had done so far was follow along with everyone else.

"You mean the other rooms below the third floor?" Qu Yin nodded. He could only place his hope on the first and second floor.

"No, I mean our own rooms. The rooms of the people among us." When Chen Ge said that, Doctor Li and Big Head's expressions changed instantly. "The murderer knew that it would be dangerous to carry the evidence with them, so there is a high chance they would plant the evidence on each of us. For example, they might have placed some unimportant evidence inside our homes."

What Chen Ge described was exactly what Doctor Li and Big Head had done to the middle-aged man. Of the tenants inside the building, some were dead, others were injured, and the remaining ones were tied up and detained. They had lost the power to resist. Chen Ge did not need to be afraid around them anymore.

Many criminals and monsters lived inside this building. If they ganged up, Chen Ge, whose physical condition was not at its best, would not be their match, but their own selfishness and darkness had provided Chen Ge with an opportunity. It allowed Chen Ge to find a 'path' that practically should not exist within the gap.

Doctor Li was lightly injured, Big Head was seriously injured, Auntie Ding was hiding in her own room, and Qu Yin was too selfish and shameless to help others, so the only real threat to Chen Ge at this moment was Doctor Li. Laying the cards on the table had become one of the best choices for Chen Ge. But he still had not torn down the walls between him and the tenants. After all, if he could stand and watch as the tenants bit into each other, why should he even lift a finger?

If a normal person entered a building such as this, the first thing they would consider was how to safeguard themselves and then look for the keys through various clues, escaping from the building as soon as possible. That was how most horror games on the market would have set up the plot. But Chen Ge's method was completely different. He wanted to kill all the monsters and creeps inside the building. Since everyone had lost the ability to resist, even if he did not escape from the building, in a way, he had gained victory.

"The few of us are not the murderers, but your suspicion is valid. We should check each of our homes to be sure. If we find anything in our houses, we should share them with the rest." Doctor Li's eyes were still sharp, but fatigue had started to appear on his face. The water at this building ran too deep. Many of the tenants even managed to surprise him with the depravity of their secrets. "The killer is very cunning, and they might do what you suggested. We must be careful not to fall for it and remember to have trust in each other no matter what."

Doctor Li and Big Head knew full well that even though they had killed the landlord, they were not responsible for Qu Gui's death. There was a real unknown murderer that was lurking inside the building. That was why they had chosen to cooperate with Chen Ge's investigation. They had killed the landlord and were in possession of all the spare keys, but the murderer could enter other people's rooms freely through the window. This was a very big hidden threat to them. What if the secret in their own rooms was found out by this mysterious third party?

To protect their darkest side, humans would do many thing, and Chen Ge made use of this psychology to slowly edge this group of crazy people into the darkness of the abyss.

"We should check the ninth and tenth floor first. If we fail to find anything here, we shall start by investigating our own homes, we have to take care of our own safety." Chen Ge's initial plan was to borrow the tenants' power to deal with the monster from the cursed hospital, but he did not expect the monster to be so clever. They did not present him with a chance at all. By then, almost all the tenants had been incapacitated already, but the monster from the cursed hospital still had not shown themself. Without the key, Chen Ge's group had to use a lot of energy to break down the doors.

After a long effort, they finally got all the rooms on the ninth floor to open. The six rooms on the ninth floor had the same interior design and furniture placement. From appearance alone, it appeared like the same room had been copied six different times.

"Why would the landlord have six completely identical rooms made on this floor?"

"The appearance might be the same, but the inside might not be." Chen Ge's memory was very good. He remembered the details in Room 901. After some comparison, he noticed many problems. "One of the rooms had a mirror in the bathroom that could be removed, and there is a hidden compartment behind it. The other had the wall behind the fridge hollowed out. Some had a hidden space under the bed. It was large enough to hide a person."

"But why would the landlord do something like that? He is the only occupant of the rooms on the ninth floor, isn't he? Why would he do these adjustments to all of the six rooms?" Xiao Sun still had not realized the scary details in the observation that Chen Ge proffered.

"Perhaps it was to observe someone and slowly torture them to the edge of madness."

"How do you come to that conclusion?"

"Have you guys noticed that all of the windows in all the rooms on the ninth floor are sealed up by cement? The whole room is an isolated space, and there is no way to escape other than through the front door." Chen Ge stood next to the window. "This makes these rooms perfect prisons. Assuming you stayed in one of the rooms here, after you were knocked out and transported to another similar looking room, would you even realize that you'd been moved?"

"But why would someone do something like that?"

Chen Ge pointed at the bed and the mirror in the bedroom that had been tempered with. "Imagine a person woke up in the middle of the night. He went to the toilet, and when he walked past the mirror, he realized that the reflection that looked at him was not his. Would he be afraid?"

"The culprit wanted to force his prisoner to go mad?"

"It goes far deeper than that. Have you noticed there are unlabeled medicine bottles littered all over the six rooms?" Chen Ge initially did not want to waste too much time on the landlord since he was already dead, but he was surprised that the landlord himself was hiding such a big secret.

"These bottles are the clues?" Xiao Sun picked up one of the bottles and opened it to look.

"If the imprisoned person took the drug and went to sleep, when he woke up and realized that everything had returned to normal, wouldn't he be given the impression that he was mentally ill? Wouldn't that increase his reliance on these drugs?"

At this point, Chen Ge turned to look at the coffee table and the dining table.

"Basically, all six rooms had these unlabeled bottles placed everywhere. This is a kind of powerful mental suggestion, and the purpose is for the prisoner to get hooked on them. The person might initially suspect the use of these drugs, but as the situation around him became stranger and stranger, he would slowly accept the fact that the drugs were useful for his condition. And the cruelest thing was that these drugs were not helping him at all. If anything, they were the source of his problem. They were the reason he was slowly spiraling down a rabbit hole of madness."

Chen Ge went and collected a large number of unlabeled medicine bottles from all six rooms. None of them were named. "Doctor Li, can you identify them? Are they all the same kind of drug?"

"Some appear to be common sleeping pills, but I can't identify the others. They should be used for mental illness treatment. I cannot be sure."

"Only you can help us identify these drugs, but since even you can't be sure, this clue is not that important to us." Chen Ge was about to put the bottles away when Wen Qing, who had not said a word, poked him on his back. Chen Ge definitely noticed that, so he said, "There should be other clues hidden in these six rooms. Why don't we split up to look for them? If there's nothing else, we will meet up at the tenth floor."

After everyone filed away, Wen Qing finally spoke. "Chen Ge, these are drugs for manic psychosis. I have bought them many times for Xiang Nuan. Before the landlord moved away from Jin Hwa Apartments, he had a lot of similar drugs at his place as well."

"Wait a minute, so these drugs belong to the landlord?"

"Yes."

When he first saw the drugs, Chen Ge had come up with two speculations. First, the drugs belonged to Doctor Li. After all, he was a doctor, and he was related to the landlord's death. But the timeline did not match up. One would need a lot of planning to build six near-identical rooms on the same floor. The second speculation was that the drugs belonged to the landlord, and the b*stard who had been imprisoning others was the landlord himself. He was the one who built the six mirroring rooms, and the intention was to push a person mad.

"In your mind, what kind of person is the landlord?"

"The landlord is the old CEO for Jin Hwa Company. He was an unlucky old man. His whole family died in a fire, and after that, it was like something switched off in him. However, he would brighten up around children, and he was one of the few people who did not hate Xiang Nuan."

"So, you have a good impression of him."

"When I was very busy, he would offer to help me look after Xiang Nuan."

"You had a person with a clinical manic disorder look after your son?" Even Chen Ge was surprised by that revelation.

"The drugs were for the landlord's son. His youngest son suffered from this illness. He was not able to shake it off. His illness came and went, and he's been using this drug since as far back as I can remember."

"Do you believe everything the man tells you? The chance of inheritance for mental illness is as high as twelve to fifteen percent within family members. That is a number far higher than a normal person." Chen Ge really did learn a lot from his time with Doctor Gao. Through the psychiatrist, he had learned many things related to psychology.

"But the old man has always been kind. He is friendly with everyone. Everyone who knows him respects him sincerely."

"You can still believe something like that after what we have been through tonight? The kinder they are on the surface, the darker the secret they are hiding." Chen Ge suddenly became urgent with his words. "Did you let him look after Xiang Nuan often?"

"Not really that often. It only happened once or twice." Color drained from Wen Qing's face. Suddenly, a very horrible realization dawned on her. "Chen Ge, are you trying to say that these six similar rooms were specifically built to imprison Xiang Nuan?"

"I cannot tell for sure, but there is one thing that I have understood." Chen Ge stood at the corner and lowered his voice. "The world behind the door is built according to the memory of the door pusher. When I first got here, I was confused. How did Xiang Nuan manage to learn the secrets of all these tenants? Initially, I thought it was because Xiang Nuan had the exceptional ability to see through one's disguise and into a person's heart. But now, after hearing what you've said, I know the truth is much crueler than I predicted."

"The truth?"

"Do you remember the television set in the bathroom and the convoluted wiring behind it?"

"I do." Wen Qing had a very bad feeling about this.

"The landlord had been spying on the tenants' lives with it. He saw the ugliest and darkest side of humanity, and he could have shared that experience with Xiang Nuan, who was as pure as a sheet of white paper. Before everyone else, he told him how beautiful the world was, how bright the flowers were, and how blue the sky was, but behind closed doors, he kept feeding Xiang Nuan this information. The things shown on the television are the real appearance of the world that he lives in."

Chen Ge voiced his own speculation. He tried to make it sound as comforting as he could, but it still almost caused Wen Qing to faint. She had not dared imagine that Xiang Nuan was in the state that he was now due to her own negligence and trust in the landlord.