244 Returning to the Laboratory
White fog surrounded me as I regained my vision.
This fog was familiar. It looked exactly the same as that fog which appeared when I looked into Si Luo's heart, where I saw Gaoqin Jiuye attack Nie Zun.
No matter how much I tried to tell myself that this was an effect of that hallucinogen I just ingested, I was still paranoid. What if something terrifying happened again?
I walked aimlessly in the fog, realizing I was in a white dress only when I happened to look down at myself.
I looked at my hair. It was black.
A white dress and black hair that fell across my shoulders? Wasn't this how I looked like when I was alive?
Was I in that world now?
Looking around me, there was nothing but endless white fog. It was all around me, and there seemed to be nothing else here. No, this was merely an illusion.
"Nie Zun…" I subconsciously called out for him. I didn't know if I was calling out for help or if I was afraid of seeing Nie Zun get hurt in this place again.
A chilling cold emanated from my chest the moment I called out.
I pressed down on my chest. This cold…
No, it was a chill.
It was a bone-chilling cold. It felt just like… just like…
Just like how it felt when I held Piercer. This was the chill I experienced when the female soul in Piercer tried to devour my soul and overtake my consciousness.
Was there something else trying to overtake my consciousness here?
I turned to look around me again. There was no one else here.
Feeling afraid in this empty space, I tried to activate my MF.
But I realized there wasn't MF at all.
To be more accurate, instead of a lack of MF, I simply felt lost. I didn't know what I was doing at all.
What was MF? How do I sense it? How does it manifest?
I felt was like an ordinary human being instead of a body of consciousness in the Split Zone.
But I knew this wasn't possible. Even if I had really returned, there was no way that I would go back in this form and end up in such a weird place.
As I thought about this situation that I was in, Song Lu's words reappeared in my mind.
Right, this isn't a mere illusion. This was in my subconscious mind. This was the second coma.
My body in the real world would have entered a deep coma, I would be brain dead.
But having lived in Split Zone 13 for quite a while, death was no longer what I feared most.
What I was afraid of is how we cannot die, how we cannot afford to die, or how we were afraid to die.
The chill in my heart grew as my thoughts ran wild.
I pressed down harder on my chest.
It felt like something was trying to gnaw its way out of my chest, and I'm trying to prevent her from doing so because I was afraid of her.
But in truth, she might just be coming out to protect me.
"Ugh…" I called out as my heart felt painfully frozen. That chill seemed to be gaining some sort of strength.
Just when something seemed to have successfully clawed its way through, the white fog suddenly began to dissipate.
I looked around in surprise, distracted from the chilling cold in my heart.
The white fog subsided slowly, as if a scene from a fairytale was being unveiled. An image of the real world then appeared before me.
There were rows and rows of desks, and a model figure in the corner of the room. The curtains were black, blocking all light from the outside.
This was the laboratory where Gao Qi took me.
An immense fear suddenly overwhelmed me.
I felt extremely insecure. I didn't know whether it was because of what I was wearing, making me feel like I was back in the real world, or whether it was because I wasn't able to sense my MF, but I felt like there was this monster hiding in the darkness. That monster seemed to be looking at me as it monitored my every move from its hiding spot.
It was waiting for an opportunity. It was waiting for me to lower my defenses before it jumped out to tear me apart and devour me.
I felt nothing but fear and helplessness. I wasn't even able to tell where that monster would jump out from.
Regarding this laboratory, Gaoqin Jiuye's words reappeared in my mind. Was Gao Qi really a bad person? Were there dead rats floating in formalin in here?
But that wasn't important. What's important was the reason behind my killing of Gao Qi. What could have happened that led to such an action on my part?
I heard Gao Qi's voice in my mind. "Kill me if I end up hurting you."
Right, that knife. He was the one who gave me the knife. But why did he do so… What exactly happened then…?
I then heard a voice in my mind. Do you want to know?
Do you really want to know?
Are you scared?
I shook my head quickly, trying to clear my mind.
At a loss, I began to look around me. A glass bottle caught my eye.
That bottle was hidden right in the back of the cabinet inside the laboratory. For some reason, the bottle was partially exposed now, and I noticed it immediately.
Taking one step at a time, I walked over slowly. Bending, I tried to take the bottle out of the cabinet.
However, it seemed to be stuck.
I tried again, pressing my other hand against the cabinet as I pulled the bottle out. Finally.
The bottle toppled, but it did not look broken. It rolled all the way over to where my feet were.
I then picked it up slowly from the ground.
There were two eyeballs floating inside the transparent glass bottle. Those eyeballs looked so bright, and there were huge black irises on them.
My hands started to tremble. But I knew I shouldn't break this, so I put it back carefully on the ground.
My knees gave out under me as I sat onto the ground. Those were… Jiao S's eyes.
An enchanting voice said, "Ah Shen, you're here."
Jolted by the voice, I stood up abruptly.
In my attempt to turn around to look at the source of the voice, I lost my balance and fell backwards instead.
The glass bottle rolled over to a corner of the room after being accidentally kicked by me.
Those eyeballs were rolling around in the bottle, as if Jiao S was blinking at me.
I hit the cabinet behind me as I reached out with my hands to break my fall, while my eyes were glued to those eyeballs which were rolling farther and farther from me in that glass bottle.
A chilling cold shot through my palm as I came into contact with the steel cabinet behind me.
"Are you okay, Ah Shen?"
It was Gao Qi. He reached out with those strong and gentle hands in an attempt to steady me.
"Ah." I called out as I raised my arms to stop him.
"You… You're afraid of me?" Gao Qi's gaze was gentle, with a hint of solitude in them. His hands stopped in midair.
Try as I might, I just couldn't stop my arms from trembling.
I didn't dare meet his eyes, and my eyes darted around the room, trying to find something else that I could focus on.
I happened to see that glass bottle stop, and Jiao S's eyes were staring straight at me. That caused me to call out again.
"Don't be afraid, Ah Shen. It's nothing," Gao Qi said as he followed my gaze to that glass bottle.
"It's just a specimen that's inside."
I tried to suppress my disgust as I spoke. Surprisingly, my voice sounded rather hoarse. "No, it's not a specimen… Those are Jiao S's eyes… But why would they appear here…"
Gao Qi looked as if he couldn't hear what I just said as he continued, "I know you're scared. It's okay, take a moment. I'll explain everything to you later. Come over here, how about you take a seat first."
Before I knew it, Gao Qi was already pulling me towards a chair behind a desk. Pressing on my shoulders, he pushed me onto the seat.
The desk obscured my view of that glass bottle and those eyes, but my gaze did not shift.
"Stop looking, Ah Shen. Look at me."
I felt a warmth on my cheeks. It came from Gao Qi's hands.
He turned my face to him. Looking at me with those gentle eyes, he said, "Ah Shen, didn't you say you liked this place? Why are you still afraid?"
Blame seemed to emerge in those eyes. "Didn't Ah Shen say that you'll forever be by my side to support me?
"Why, are you scared now?"
My lips started to quiver.
Gao Qi's hands pressed hard on my cheeks, squishing my face like it was dough, but I didn't avoid his touch.
"This is my hobby, Ah Shen. It's weird, and it's not accepted by others. It's not just what I'm learning. You said you'll always be by my side, you said you'll be with me forever. You don't mind it, right?"
My heart sank.
I pushed his hands away from my face.
Staring straight into his eyes, I said, "I'm asking you if those are Jiao S's eyes."