Chapter 47.1 – No.6 Middle School (3)

However, it was obvious that the helmet wasn’t soundproof.

“…I deeply reflected on this; I shouldn’t have been late again just because I witnessed an argument between two aunties on the roadside.”

Jiang Yujin was certain he hadn’t mistaken it; he saw Xu Tonggui smile!

With a “pop,” he removed the helmet once again and immediately grabbed Xu Tonggui, forcefully pulling down the corners of his mouth. “Stop it, no smiling allowed.”

The television continued playing. The person standing on the podium glanced at the audience below, maintaining a steady expression and a calm voice.

“Furthermore, I believe the aunties also need to reflect. Engaging in arguments on the roadside brings negative impacts to society, fostering crooked trends. So, what are these crooked trends? Crooked trends refer to improper social norms. The above is the entirety of these crooked trends. If you like, the Author—ahem, that’s the entirety of the reflection.”

He hadn’t anticipated that the dead reflection would attack him from such a distance in time. Jiang Yujin released Xu Tonggui’s mouth and squatted to the side.

Xu Tonggui turned to ask him, “Where did the last part come from?”

Jiang Yujin replied, “I didn’t have enough words, so I copied it from the internet.”

Because he got caught up watching the middle-aged women argue on his way to school, he forgot the time and ended up being late, catching the attention of the headmaster, resulting in a thousand-word reflection as punishment.

Half an hour later, he had to attend the graduation ceremony rehearsal. He hastily put together a reflection, falling short by a dozen words. Thus, he resorted to the power of the internet and unintentionally ended up copying a bit too much while mindlessly doing so.

The ceremony began with a segment of the reflection, and then the graduation ceremony officially commenced. The person who had already left the stage returned with a different script:

“Hello, everyone. It’s me again.”

The person who delivered the reflection returned as the outstanding representative of the graduating class, receiving a round of applause louder than the welcome for the leaders, from the audience below.

Xu Tonggui turned his head to look at the person beside him.

He had heard from people at the SIU that most of the outstanding graduates from No. 6 Middle School had gone on to lead high-paying and comfortable lives, making significant achievements in specific fields.

The person in the videotape was dressed in white shirt. Though he didn’t exhibit an extremely positive or enthusiastic attitude toward life, he seemed somewhat spirited compared to his current appearance, drooping eyelids and a look of utter despair.

What happened in the missing years between graduation and now?

Jiang Yujin glanced at the television and said, “There’s a change.”

The videotape reached this point, continuously displaying an inexplicable scramble of visuals. In the middle of the screen, the person standing on the podium amidst black-and-white interference gradually lifted his head, his smile beginning to distort.

Jiang Yujin hurriedly distanced himself, holding onto his helmet. “I don’t think I’d ever smile that hideously.”

Xu Tonggui agreed, “I know.”

He pressed pause, removed the videotape, and then Xu Tonggui put in another one. This time, unlike before, he fast-forwarded, quickly reaching the problematic segment.

This tape should have been the normal one. Up until the interference, everything seemed fine. The person on it finished reading the script and stepped down normally. As he descended, a student from the audience suddenly ran up and handed him a large bunch of flowers.

Jiang Yujin scratched his head. “Seems like there were quite a lot of flowers at the time.”

Finally, these flowers, along with others given by students to teachers, all ended up filling the classroom’s office vase, nearly bursting with blooms.

Xu Tonggui remained silent.

Xu Tonggui rewound the tape and looked again at the student’s face who had presented the flowers.

Once the videotape finished playing, the abnormal one was immediately disposed of.

At the moment the videotape was destroyed, the air around them seemed to distort for an instant, then returned to normal.

Shifting their gaze back from the mid-air, they returned the normal videotape and circled the area one more time, finding no anomalies for the time being before leaving.

Apart from the storage room, they hadn’t checked the items on the stage they noticed as soon as they entered the auditorium. After coming out through the small door leading to the backstage, they ascended the stage.

Similar to the clutter in the backstage’s cardboard boxes, the items piled on the stage were mostly props used during performances, ranging from set pieces to wigs—everything you’d expect from stage setups.

Jiang Yujin pulled out a white wig from within, examined it briefly, then put it back. Xu Tonggui, standing opposite, glanced over. His movement hesitated slightly, and his ash-grey pupils seemed to shift.

Familiar, yet nothing came to mind.

After inspecting the pile of items and returning everything in place, they closed the auditorium doors and returned the keys before leaving.

Not far from the auditorium was the playground, where they could see students frolicking. It seemed to be the peak time for physical education class, with crowds gathered on the field.

Jiang Yujin sighed, “Genuine youthfulness.”

Indeed, it was youthfulness, but high schoolers with youthfulness weren’t always obedient. Two students sneaked away from the playground and left in another direction.

Near the auditorium, there was a board thoughtfully displaying a map of the school. Redirecting their attention from the playground, the two looked at the board.

Jiang Yujin glanced at it and then pointed in a direction. “I remember there’s a warehouse over there.”

The warehouse wasn’t stocked with much; fewer people visited after the new warehouse was built.

Two students slipping away from the playground and returning to the classroom held a high risk of being caught by the headmaster. Roaming around other areas of the school posed significant risks as well. Ultimately, they decided to stay in the school warehouse.

There wasn’t much value in the items inside the warehouse; even the garbage collectors wouldn’t bother with it. It was completely safe here.

Quietly, they pushed open the warehouse door and retrieved their privately kept phones.

The warehouse was dimly lit, lacking proper lighting, so they resorted to using their phone flashlights to find a place to sit.

They couldn’t find anywhere suitable to sit, but they discovered a plain grey staircase.

Recalling how the warehouse looked from the outside, someone questioned, “Was there supposed to be a second floor here?”

They hadn’t frequented the place much, but they remembered there wasn’t supposed to be a second floor.

Uncertain, the two couldn’t find a place to sit on the ground floor. Consequently, they slowly ascended to the second floor together.

Unlike the faint light on the ground floor, the second floor had no visible sources of light. They used their phones to illuminate the immediate area, but it remained pitch-black further away.

One of the students realized something was amiss, saying, “Is this second floor supposed to be this big?”

They weren’t sure about the actual size of the second floor, but it was evidently larger than the warehouse they’d seen from the outside.

Their hands holding the phones trembled. They directed the phone lights towards the floor, attempting to find their way back.

After groping in the darkness for a while, one of them finally caught a faint glimmer of light. Excitedly, he patted the person beside him, exclaiming, “I found it!”

In the distance came a surprised voice: “Really?”

The student who initially spoke paused, and the light from the phone slowly moved upward, illuminating the person beside him.

The person next to him was his classmate, with an identical face and clothing. He even smiled.

—However, when the flashlight shone into his eyes, this person didn’t blink at all.

A terrified scream echoed in the warehouse.

The person who had just reached the door instantly reacted, pushing it open.

This used to be a spot for slacking off, although the layout was nearly forgotten. Jiang Yujin remembered there definitely wasn’t a second floor here and took the lead to climb the stairs.

As he ascended, a student fell down the stairs, and he reached out to catch him. He turned to Xu Tonggui and said, “There’s no second floor here.”

Understanding his meaning, Xu Tonggui hurried up the stairs.

There wasn’t the anticipated intense pain. The student, wide-eyed, hadn’t reacted yet.

When he noticed something was off with his companion, the other person shoved him. Falling down the stairs, he had initially thought he might not make it out of there, but until now, he didn’t feel anything particularly unusual.

It was just a bit warm, and he could faintly smell something strange yet pleasant. A voice came from above him, saying, “Buddy, you’ve got a good appetite, huh?”

His pupils focused again, and his gaze rose, meeting the light-colored pupils above his head.

Realizing what had happened, he quickly regained control of his body, straightened up on his own, his voice trembling as he politely bowed in gratitude.

Jiang Yujin glanced up, then at the student beside him, before looking down at the helmet in his hand. Finally, he decided to put the helmet on the student’s head, saying, “Please hold onto this for me, for now.”

After saying that, he ascended the stairs.

The student, belatedly realizing, hastily said, “I have a friend still upstairs!”

His friend was saved by Xu Tonggui. Unlike the one pushed down the stairs, his friend was grabbed by a hand in the darkness around his neck, and after being rescued, he coughed violently, as if it tore at his lungs.

While the student coughed, Xu Tonggui brought out the flashlight and surveyed the surroundings. The light never reached the boundaries; this place wasn’t an extra second floor in the warehouse but an independent space. The darkness not illuminated by light seemed to hide endless things.

Someone emerged from the darkness, also holding a phone, its light visible only when he drew near.

Upon successful reunion, Jiang Yujin saw the high schooler standing behind Xu Tonggui and waved, greeting, “Hello.”

Student: “He… cough, cough, hello.”

He seemed to be in considerable pain.

Jiang Yujin redirected his gaze to Xu Tonggui and asked, “Did you find anything?”

Xu Tonggui shook his head. “Let’s get the student downstairs first.”

The two students successfully returned to the bright sunlight.

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