Escape the Infinite Chamber Chapter 4
It took Luo Jian a long while to wake up from his confusion. He was lying stiffly on his bed, dazed for a moment, then he sat upright. He carefully observed his surroundings and found himself back in his room.
Outside the window, the sky was bright. The digital clock on the nightstand marked 6:45 AM; it was early in the morning.
Luo Jian paused, he suddenly bowed his head and touched his abdomen. There was absolutely no wound, no blood, and no pain. Luo Jian felt that his mind was in a chaotic state. He stumbled trying to get out of his bed, then he ran to the edge of the window and opened it; cool air blew onto his face. Outside on the street, there were several elderly people taking walks early in the morning. It was no different from usual.
It wasn't a narrow, enclosed chamber, but his very own home.
"Was I dreaming?" Luo Jian thought aloud, but he couldn't help but sigh in relief a couple of times. If it really was just a dream, that would be great. Although this terrible dream left him breaking out in cold sweat, it also allowed him to truly understand what death was like. After all, in his dream, Luo Jian nearly touched the chilling hands of Death himself.
But fortunately, it was only a dream. Luo Jian comforted himself, he couldn't help but grasp at his own chest. It was only a moment, but when he woke up from his dream, he honestly thought he was dead. It was all too realistic. Luo Jian was able to recall every single detail clearly, as though he has just experienced it.
Luo Jian left his bedroom, and went to the living room. As a single man, Luo Jian's house wasn't particularly tidy, but luckily, he was somewhat 'organized and neat' in his daily lifestyle, so he never made a great mess of his own home.
The miniature buns that he bought from the patisserie last night were stacked on top of the table, along with a kettle, a cup, and a bowl of instant noodles. Everything remained in its original place, there wasn't any sign of movement.
Luo Jian instinctively found his mobile phone recharging on the sofa. Once again, he looked at the time and date. Indeed, it was the correct date; it really was today. He didn't appear to wake up only to find himself sleeping for two or three days, possibly a week or a month, or maybe even longer.
I'm too stressed. Luo Jian stated in his mind. It's all in the past, it was just a dream. Forget about it, Luo Jian!
He took a deep breath, then he walked over to the kitchen, planning to check the refrigerator. He remembered that he had prepared plenty of ingredients; he could probably make some egg fried rice or something else to eat. He woke up this morning feeling extremely hungry, as if he starved for a couple of days.
However, his hand just reached out to touch the handle of the refrigerator, and then he froze in shock.
There was something that shouldn't have appeared on the door of the refrigerator. He didn't know who posted a note on the refrigerator's door, but it was posted it in a very conspicuous location, directly at Luo Jian's eye-level. He immediately caught sight of it when he looked up from the ground.
It was a piece of paper with the mark of a purple flower printed on the lower right-hand corner.
Luo Jian's face paled almost instantly, he felt his fingertips tremble. It was like his entire body was under a curse, it was so stiff to the point that he was paralyzed. It took a very long time before he was able to break apart from this awful state; he forced himself to calm down. Afterwards, he extended his arm and tore the note from the door of the fridge, then he looked down at it. As before, the cursive words were beautifully written:
【Dear Mr. Luo Jian】
【Congratulations, you have successfully passed the first level!】
【Between your outstanding performances, we will present a prize to you. This reward is certainly not the last one, as we will be presenting you with different rewards every time you successfully escape from the chamber and come back to reality. Or course, whether you wish to give up the reward is your own choice. But in giving up these rewards, which may be your tickets to survival, you may not be able to pass the next level as easily. It is worth considering all of your options carefully.】
【P.S. The prize is in the drawer of your desk.】
【The next rendezvous shall be ten days from now. Please stay healthy and sleep well.1 I wish you the best of luck!】
After wordlessly reading this note, Luo Jian turned silent for a moment. He flipped the note in order to see if anything was written on its back, but nothing was written; it was pure white.
"It wasn't a dream."
With a sneer, Luo Jian ripped the note into pieces and threw it in the trashcan. He went back to the desk in his room, and he opened the drawer. There were a few books and documents, and in addition to those, it was as the note stated, there was a small gift.
"I thought it'd be a gun." Luo Jian took out the knife from the drawer. To be more accurate, it should be a combat knife; it was about 20 centimeters long, the handle was black, and the blade was also black. He didn't know what material was used, but it didn't reflect any light; to add, there was no handguard. With the leather knife sheath, it could be tied at his waist, but the sheath had no clips or straps to hold the actual knife in place. In other words, as long as Luo Jian had some skills, he could swiftly draw his knife from its sheath and attack or defend against an enemy at an unimaginable speed, something commonly seen with tactical assault knives.
This knife looked identical to the one the murderer held.
Luo Jian suddenly felt a dull ache in his abdomen where he was stabbed, but when he placed his hand above the area, there weren't any wounds. And yet, Luo Jian's palms were covered in cold sweat, he was stunned out of his mind. Once again, he raised the military knife to observe it. The blade of the knife was unusually sharp; merely staring at it gave Luo Jian the impression that it had already cut him. Luo Jian carefully examined the knife, and he found a compact design on the handle…like the pattern on the note, there was an engraving of the Hell Flower.
"Such an ominous thing." Luo Jian frowned in disgust. He put the knife in the sheath, closed his drawer, then went to the bathroom to brush his teeth and wash up. He still had to go to work regardless of what happened. It didn't matter how exhausted he was feeling; in order to live as a normal person, he had to maintain his ordinary daily routine.
Live an ordinary life. Luo Jian calmly declared in his heart. He held onto a towel and washed his face in front of the mirror, but once again, he soon discovered something wrong. There was something on his body that shouldn't have existed.
On the side of his neck, near the place behind his ear that was covered by his hair, there was a small, purple tattoo, a round ouroboros3 tattoo.
Surprisingly, Luo Jian did not freak out. Although he didn't know when a tattoo appeared on his neck, at least it was able to be hidden with his hair; not to mention, it was rather insignificant4, which is why Luo Jian wasn't too concerned about it.
But even if he did care, what could he do about it? Luo Jian clearly understood this. That note, that chamber, that murderer, that knife that appeared so suddenly in the drawer of his desk, and this tattoo on his neck, all of these proved one thing, and that was whatever Luo Jian encountered was unnatural, it was something human beings couldn't oppose!
So, Luo Jian composed himself and decided to go to work as usual instead of yelling like an insane person and running off to the police only to be sent to the psychiatric hospital. Luo Jian knew that nobody would believe in what he had experienced; he himself didn't even have the confidence to believe in what happened to him.
The arranged time is ten days later? Luo Jian got some things ready so that he could leave, and all the while, he thought about the contents on the note; it evidently revealed two messages: One, this 'escape the chamber' game seems to happen more than once. And two, ten days later, he will be dragged into that strange, enclosed space once again.
Although figuring this out made Luo Jian feel very much dissatisfied, he had to admit that he couldn't go against it.
For the whole morning, he was busy at the company, and at noon, Luo Jian was being harassed on the phone; a friend he hadn't seen in a long time was asking him out to eat dinner.
"Dinner? Someone like you would be so kind to treat me to dinner?" Luo Jian couldn't believe he was listening to the voice of Feng Yu Lan, a crazy man who was a cheapskate, who never even thought about pulling half of a hair strand. Today was the very first time he said he'd treat Luo Jian to dinner; surely, the sun was rising from the west.
"What do you mean? This is how much you don't trust me! It's rare for me to be in a good mood, don't come if you don’t want to."
"Of course I'll come! If I don't butcher you cruelly4, I'll change my surname to yours!" Luo Jian immediately corrected himself. He put everything in order then left through the company's entrance doors; Feng Yu Lan grumbled on the other end of the phone:
"12 o'clock sharp. We'll meet at our usual place."
The usual place was actually a restaurant near Luo Jian's house; it was very close. Luo Jian looked at his cell phone and saw that he still had some time to return home for a change of clothes. Luo Jian didn't know whether he was coming down with a fever, but he felt unusually hot. He was sitting in an air-conditioned office all morning, and yet he had still been sweating; he felt sticky and uncomfortable.
So, Luo Jian quickly went back home to change his clothes. As he was rummaging through his wardrobe for some clothes, something happened. It was as if the gods and demons were at work4, and for some reason, he opened the drawer of his desk and saw the military knife.
It truly was the work of gods and demons6; he spontaneously picked up the knife and strapped it to his waist. The leather sheath should be fastened horizontally across his back; as long as Luo Jian used his right hand and reached for the knife behind him, he could easily draw it from its sheath. His jacket was long enough to thoroughly conceal the knife; there wasn't a single thing out of place.
When he was ready, Luo Jian left his house with his knife; his heart felt a bit complicated. He never thought he would actually carry his knife on the street, but after he returned home, he had this vague feeling in his mind, and it was compelling him to take his weapon. Luo Jian's keen intuition told him he should be more cautious, and so he left with his military knife on his body.
He only took one step outside his house, when he felt a sudden burst of dizziness. Luo Jian lifted his head and looked up at the sky; the sun was glaring brightly, so he had to narrow his eyes.
It's not over yet. Luo Jian had this faint feeling, as if…yes, it was just like that; it was as if he was still trapped in that narrow, enclosed, oppressive chamber. He felt like that victim murdered in the chamber. From beginning to end, there was no escape.
Still struggling in the dark world.
Luo Jian lowered his head, avoiding the glare of the sunlight, and then, he subconsciously touched the small tattoo on his neck. Luo Jian felt that he really had a fever, the temperature of his entire body was abnormally high. However, the only place that was still cool was his neck, where the tattoo was.
1请保持良好的精神状态入睡—Original was more so: "Please maintain a positive attitude/strong mentality/good state of mind to sleep well.
2Ouroboros—snake biting its tail.
3不痛不痒的—Lit: "Doesn't hurt, doesn't tickle" (Idiom); something is wrong, but not quite sure what; not getting to any matter of substance; superficial; scratching the surface; etc.
4He means to say "If he doesn't rip him off by eating a lot", or in other words "If he doesn't take advantage of Feng Lu Yan paying the bill for the meal, he'll change his surname to his."
5鬼使神差—"Gods and demons at work" (Idiom). It just means "for some reason" or a supernatural, unexplained event; a weird coincidence, so to speak.
6Again, it just means an unexplained/mysterious coincidence/reason/event. I just preferred using the literal idiom, because it fits in rather well (at least I thought so).
Thanks to all those who helped me with this chapter!!! OTL
I might have made a ton of mistakes, so I’ll go check it again when I’m not feeling dead… And I am not sure if I'll do another chap of EIC as I previously said or if I'll skip to NG Chapter 9…The next chap for EIC is unbearably long, and I already decided I would get the next chap for NG out by Wednesday or so…Maybe I can manage to get them both up by then…Ah well, I'll decide when the time comes (which isn't even a couple of hours from now).