The Split Zone
The glowing light around me disappeared. The street I was standing on was gone. The old man was gone. And the strange creatures were gone.
I was now inside a large hall in some kind of building.
The hall was completely empty.
It was several hundred square meters in area, very spacious. The space above me looked endless, like this was a hollowed out building. Around me, there were just four walls. A large screen hung from the northern wall. In fact, it seemed to cover nearly the entire expanse of wall. I was standing not too far away from this wall. The other three walls were covered in shining white ceramic tiles. Even though I was a ways away from them, the brightness still pained my eyes.
Within these walls, the hall contained nothing. It was spacious, but completely lacking in signs of life.
I rubbed my eyes and then looked at the screen in front of me.
A scene suddenly appeared on the screen, like it was broadcasting a video. The perspective appeared to be from above, and the screen showed what appeared to be a hospital room.
A girl was lying on a bed, her eyes closed. And at the side of the bed, a couple sat crying—her parents.
My eyes widened, tears welling up in them.
With muddled vision, even before I could react, two figures suddenly flashed and appeared in front of me.
I looked carefully and saw two people.
One was blond, and he looked mixed. I couldn’t help but to remember my mixed doctor. Only, he had black hair. And not only was this man blond, he had a pair of blue-green eyes. His profile was the only thing that really looked Chinese.
As for the other person…
When I turned to look at him, my eyes had already cleared up.
My eyes were drawn to him, and in that moment, I even forgot about all the things I didn’t understand about this situation.
He looked to be about the same age as me, and wore a black turtleneck, whose collar reached up to his chin, covering up his neck and a pair of black jeans. His hands were quietly tucked into his pants pockets. He had slightly long black hair with choppy bangs sweeping over his eyes. His eyes were dark, deep, apathetic, like black holes.
Seeing this young man, completely clothed in black, I couldn’t help sputtering some nonsense, “A-are you a death god?”
The blond man scoffed at the question. He waved his hand in front of my eyes. “Hey, quit your jokes. He’s like you, someone who’s just arrived here. From your world of the living.”
Our world of the living? My lips twitched again. What was I supposed to make of that sentence now?
Before I could sort my thoughts, my attention was pulled back to the large screen on the wall. The scene was the same as before, but the parents at the side of the bed seemed to be crying harder now. Their bodies trembled and their eyes were filled with distress as they looked at the girl on the hospital bed.
A strong stabbing sensation swept across my heart. I pointed at the screen and looked at the blond man. “What’s going on? Am I dead or what? How is it that I can see myself there? Who are you guys, and where is this place?”
The blond man slowly withdrew his joking smile and looked at me with a deep, serious expression. His voice had lowered when he said, “I can explain it to you, but I trust that you wouldn’t be able to understand my words. Though, I don’t need you to understand. I’m simply here to tell you about living here. So, no matter what suspicions you may have, please remember that I’m not lying to you.”
“You’re really long-w
inded.” I stared at him coldly, my eyes unable to stop from glancing back at the image of my crying parents.
That’s right. The girl lying on the bed on that screen was me. The couple that sat beside me crying were my parents.
The blond man shrugged, seemingly unbothered by my reaction. “This place, that is, this city-like place under the gray sky, is called Split Zone No.13. This place is a different dimension where only people’s consciousness exist.”
He paused and then gestured with his hands. “I’ll explain it as plainly as I can. In other words, this is a space that has yet to be discovered by humankind, and its inhabitants are those who suffer from schizophrenia. Schizophrenia produces increased brain waves, and under certain stimuli, these brain waves can increase tenfold. If a soul splitter in the split zone detects and captures these abnormal brain waves, that person’s consciousness is then brought here, to this place.”
What and what now?
My brows must have been twisted up like a wrinkly beef ball. I stared at him blankly and shook my head to express my inability to understand.
His expression belied that this was a commonplace thing for him. Then, he carefully explained, “Let’s put it this way. When someone with schizophrenia is stimulated by something, their brain waves will greatly increase for a time. Your consciousness—your soul, if you will—can then be captured and brought here by the rulers of this realm, a group called soul splitters. The person who captured your consciousness, to put it plainly, is like a bad guy who took your soul and dropped it into this world. Standing inside of this world right now is not your physical body, just your consciousness, your mind. And the sleeping girl you see on the screen is your true body in the real world, lying comatose inside of a psychiatric hospital. Do you understand?”
My expression was still wrinkled and blank as I tilted my head. “I seem to get it, but what kind of creatures are soul splitters? Why did they bring my consciousness here?”
“Why do soul splitters exist, and why do they bring people here? Those are questions that I am unable to answer. My responsibility is simply to tell you that you’ve been brought here by the soul splitters. Your consciousness will exist here, in a form of its choosing, while your body will remain in a coma in the physical world. As long as your consciousness remains here, your body will never wake, and so we often say that the people who have just arrived have died.”
The blond man pointed at the screen, to my comatose body. His words implied that when your soul comes here, you are essentially dead.
“In other words, I’ve become a vegetable in the physical world?” I looked at the screen, at myself, in astonishment.
“You can think of it that way. However, doctors will definitely interpret it as being in a deep coma, and not as being in a vegetative state.” The mixed boy nodded.
“How can I get back?” I almost seemed to have shrieked the question out.
The blond man pointed to my chest. “Look at the key in front of your chest.” As he pointed, I looked down and discovered that there was now a golden key hanging from my neck.
“That’s called a splitting key. Every person that arrives in the split zone will slowly grow what’s called a split symbol, and then this key will appear around their neck. As for the split symbol, take a look at him.” He pointed at the quiet, black-clothed young man at his side.
The black-clothed man slowly turned around. With his back to me, he slowly pulled down the collar of his sweater, revealing the back of his neck.
On the back of his neck, there was a crescent moon symbol that emitted a faint glow.
The blond man pointed his finger and made a circular motion around the crescent shape on the black-clothed man’s skin. “This is called a split symbol. Everyone in the split zone will form one within an hour of their arrival here. Everyone’s symbol is different, and it can be located anywhere on your body. When this symbol starts forming, your body’s characteristic glow will slowly fade away, and when the symbol has formed completely, you will become one of the “people” here. Since your splitting key has appeared, I reckon that your split symbol will form soon. And when that symbol is complete, you will belong to this place.”
My eyes widened, yet to react to the blond man’s words. The black-clothed man slowly fixed his collar, hiding away his split symbol. He turned back around and looked at me with indifferent eyes, as if looking at me, but also as if looking past me.
I couldn’t help following his gaze. I turned around and saw that there was nothing behind me. In the distance, there was just the other wall of the hall. But there seemed to be a door there, very far away from us.
When I turned back around, the blond man was looking at me with a trace of something in his eyes. Sympathy perhaps, but it also looked a bit like pity.
He looked at me and sighed. “I know that the situation must be difficult to understand, but you just have to remember, you’re dead, and that’s why you’re here. You may feel that this is like a dream, but as the days pass, you’ll slowly come to realize that it’s all real.”
Though everything was very strange and really unbelievable, his words caused my heart to fall into an abyss, continually dropping down.
He paused a moment, and then he continued, “But, I’m also responsible for telling you, every person who arrives here has a counterpart, that is, the soul splitter who brought you here. Everyone has a different soul splitter, and the one who brought you here will have the same split symbol as you, located in the same place, having formed at the same time. You have to try to find them.”
“Find them for what?” I couldn’t help asking.
The blond man fixed his eyes on me and said, “When you find this person, you’ll be able to leave. Or put more directly, when you find them, you’ll be resurrected.”
My eyes suddenly widened. There was a chance to go home?
The blond man immediately answered my question, as if he had seen right through my thoughts. “When you find the soul splitter that brought you here and insert your key into their split symbol, your consciousness will return to the world you came from.”
“Then, what if I can’t find them?” My body seemed to be trembling slightly now.
A mysterious expression crossed his face. “Then your consciousness will remain here forever, and your parents will keep your brain-dead body in the physical world, always carrying a certain aching within them, hoping that you will one day wake up. They will live a life of bitter pain until…”
“Enough!” I cut him off, unable to believe the frightening words I was hearing.