The World Below Surface 32 ☆ Horror games


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In the dimly lit room, Lu Yan sat hunched over his computer, brow furrowed in deep concentration.
His fingers tapped incessantly on the keyboard, searching for information on the screen before him.

“No, there was no mistaking ……” he muttered under his breath, eyes fixed on a particular pattern on the screen.
It was an intricate design that seemed to pulsate with a life of its own.

The image brought to mind a group of people he had seen in the park earlier that day, just before they exploded.
He remembered the tattoos on their skin, each bearing the same unmistakable pattern as before him.

He had a vague notion that these people were part of a religious group and that their actions were in some way related to a sacrifice they were making to their god.
But before, he had not delved too deeply into their beliefs or tried to uncover their motivations.
It was enough that he knew they were dangerous.

As he pondered what to do next, a sudden thought struck him: What if these people were still around tomorrow?

He delved deeper, scouring for any information he could find.
He found what he sought – the religion behind the pattern, the Omniscient Divine Sect.
They believed in an all-powerful and all-knowing god and that by following its guidance, they could reach heaven and wash away their sins.

The religion he stumbled upon in his search was the same one An Xing Yu had told him about.
The Omniscient Divine Sect existed in this world too.

He quickly erased the pattern he had drawn on paper to avoid “misfortune.” He gave himself a mental suggestion not to dwell too much on the symbol.

As he pondered the implications of his discovery, he thought of the people from the other world who believed in science and not in ghosts or gods.
It was a world he once knew that was now lost to him.

Lu Yan had hypnotized dozens of taskers; all seemed to be hailing from the same place and had the same basic understanding of their world, except that their world was not his.
Due to a mutation, there were no famous names or locations overlapping between the two worlds, and many significant events had never occurred.

Whenever he inquired about task-related information, they were suddenly controlled by an unknown force and driven to suicide.
No amount of restraint could save them from a terrifying fate.
There was even a case of someone inexplicably suffocating to death while completely unconscious.
Since then, he had never attempted a similar experiment.

For years, he had been searching for commonalities between the two worlds and exploring the reason for his world's mutation, which seemed to send countless ordinary people over to undertake impossible tasks.
Whenever these people arrived, his world would return to a sense of “normalcy.” If taskers died, they would reappear in this world in another form.

It was as if a force was at play, exchanging humans between two separate worlds like pieces in a game.

Was it just his delusion, or had the whole world gone wrong?

Was he losing his sanity, or was the world losing its grip on reality?

Were there truly two worlds, or was it merely his memory playing tricks on him?


Lu Yan had tirelessly searched for answers, once even placing faith in the divine and attempting self-hypnosis, yet all to no avail.
He was forced to confront this peculiar and crumbling world.

But he refused to surrender.

At every opportunity, he contacted the group of taskers and extracted information from them.
The Omniscient Sect's discovery was a significant milestone in his years-long study!

A sharp scream pierced the air outside the window.
Lu Yan looked at the reflection on his computer screen and saw a red silhouette against the glass.
Its face was ashen, and eyes gouged out, staring unblinkingly into the room.

Simultaneously, he heard tapping at the window.

Ignoring it, he seamlessly switched the computer page to some game.

In the next moment, an icy hand grabbed his ankle!

Lu Yan rose from his seat and proceeded to the living room to prepare tea.
The hand suddenly vanished upon standing as if it had all been a mere illusion.

A figure dressed in red stared at Lu Yan with an intense fixation for a long while before disappearing outside the window.

Lu Yan lowered his head slightly, inspecting the charred handprint on his ankle.

**

In a different world, a youth with ivory skin prayed and reported his latest mission in full detail.
Afterwards, he logged out with a devout smile, thanking the gods and the omniscient deity for their protection.

An Xing Yu may not have survived without the all-knowing Omniscient deity's intervention.
An Xing Yu was fortunate to encounter the first batch of taskers during his first mission.
They informed him of the tasker website's existence.
One of them was a follower of the Omniscient Sect, which led him to join the religion.

Although the tasker had died during a mission, An Xing Yu firmly believed that he had returned to the gods' embrace.
He would exist in a kingdom of eternal happiness and peace without the suffering of ageing, sickness, and death.

“Oh god, please bless me,” An Xing Yu repeated the prayer before opening his book to review.
Following his first mission, An Xing Yu fell gravely ill due to overwhelming psychological pressure.
As a result, he applied for home study, and his teacher, concerned about any potential incidents, reluctantly approved it.

Except for his weekly attendance of classes in weak subjects and sporadic exams, he spent most of his time studying at home.

However, none of his teachers, classmates or even his parents suspected he was engaged in something truly horrific.

Later that evening, An Xing Yu's father arrived home.

An Ru, An Xing Yu's father, was a policeman who frequently dealt with various cases and was often required to travel.
Thus, opportunities to dine together as a family were exceedingly rare.

During dinner, the three inevitably began chatting.

An Ru had previously been very strict with his son, but since that one incident, he had never again hindered his child's studies.
On the contrary, An Xing Yu himself had taken to studying until late every night, and his grades had since skyrocketed.


“Have you seen the news today? The big case at the station, twelve people, all died simultaneously…” An Ru began before being interrupted by his wife, who twisted his leg under the table and quickly retorted, “We're having dinner; why are you talking about this in front of the child?”

“It's alright, Mom; we saw the news during the day, didn't we?” An Xing Yu reassured her, showing no sign of discomfort.
“Dad, did you handle this case today?”

“Yes,” An Ru sighed, shaking his head.
“In recent years, I don't know what's going on, but these cases are increasing.”

As stress weighed heavily on him, his once dark hair gradually gave way to a sea of white, and his brow knitted tightly.

In recent years, there had been a surge in reports about major death incidents.
What was most troubling was that the culprit remained elusive in every case.
Without any evidence to support the notion that it was a homicide, the horrific nature of the deaths made it hard for even the authorities to believe it was a suicide.
As a result, the police station had been flooded with files on these unsolved cases, which could only be suppressed through local officials' intervention.

With a palpable sense of fear gripping the populace, small cult organizations had been rapidly gaining traction.
The one that posed the greatest challenge was the “Omniscient Divine Sect”.
Nobody knew when it was first established, but scores of people would die at every gathering.
To make matters worse, the cult had managed to infiltrate many schools, prompting An Ru to acquiesce to An Xing Yu's home-schooling arrangement.

“Dad, thank you for everything,” An Xing Yu said in a stilted tone.

An Ru looked at his son intently for a while before finally relenting and patting him on the shoulder.
The three of them exchanged glances and couldn't help but burst out laughing.

After dinner, instead of retiring to his room, An Xing Yu asked his father to provide more details about the case.

Upon completing his mission, he rushed home from the train station, oblivious to those around him.
An Ru still bore the unmistakable stench of blood, suggesting that he had been to the crime scene and perhaps even sifted through files at the police station.

An Xing Yu frequently inquired about the details of such cases from his father, An Ru, who had grown accustomed to it.
Occasionally, he shared some information with him.
However, this time, he sighed and said nothing, letting his son return to his studies.

The incident occurred at the most crowded and bustling train station.
It was already late at night, and the old-fashioned green carriages, which had not yet been phased out, had fewer passengers.

In particular, the last carriage was empty.
The door was closed, with the glass window blurred and unclear, discovered only when the conductor checked every carriage.

He retrieved the key and unlocked the door from the outside, but the sight inside was enough to make everyone shudder: twelve people were dead inside the carriage!

Even more chilling was that each person's death was unique yet equally grotesque and repugnant.
Four had their organs scooped out and replaced with straw without a trace of blood.
One male corpse had been cut open, with blood splattered everywhere.
Two female corpses had their hands severed, and another male corpse had been cooked alive…

These deaths were enough to make everyone's skin crawl.
The first conductor to discover the scene was a recent hire, and upon opening the door, he was scared out of his wits.
Many colleagues who went to the scene vomited on the spot.

An Ru's expression was complex.

He had been a materialistic atheist for decades, but the cases he encountered became increasingly bizarre in recent years.
Seeing what he saw today, it was difficult for him to maintain his beliefs.

Could humans truly be capable of such atrocities?

Without prompting, An Xing Yu confined himself to his room and dedicated his time to studying vocabulary, finding solace in the process.

An Ru watched as his son's figure receded, a pang of heartache piercing his chest.


The once jovial young man had transformed into a lifeless shell after the incident in less than a year.

Those cursed cultists!

**

The following day, Lu Yan arose and drew the curtains open.

Beyond the window, many eerie balloons floated by, each one shaped like a human head! Giggling, they ascended into the sky, bursting at a certain height due to air pressure and drenching the area with sticky, red and white fluid as their strings fell below.

One of the strings coiled around an innocent bystander, tightening with a life of its own until the person gasped and cried out in pain.

“Ah – no, it hurts! Mom…”

A little girl nearby suffered a similar fate, her pleas for help falling on deaf ears as her mother looked on, clapping with glee.
The thread eventually snapped the girl's neck, turning her into a new balloon.

Lu Yan kept his distance from those inexplicable balloons and made his way back to the park.

Despite the devastation wrought the previous day, the buildings had been restored to their former glory, as if the explosion had never happened.
Red- and white-robed cultists had congregated in the park.
With keen eyesight, Lu Yan spotted a red tattoo near the leader's ear and another on the back of a woman's hand.
When he raised his arm, a man's tattoo peeked out from beneath his sleeve.

The formation was bizarre, reminiscent of the Yin Yang Fish from Taoism.
But the tattoos adorning their skin bore an inverted cross, emblematic of Western mysticism.
How incongruous.

Lu Yan scrutinized the group, but when they sensed his gaze, he turned promptly and left.

One person halted and watched Lu Yan depart with a sympathetic gaze.
She sighed and wished him well, “May God bless you…”

The wind swept up her robe, revealing her lower leg with a fresh red tattoo: a reversed cross and an inverted seven-pointed star.

Upon his return, Lu Yan submitted a brief report to his superiors.
They were engrossed in entangling with their lovers and granted his leave request without hesitation.

As Lu Yan stepped out of the company's gate, several human head balloons floated in the sky, only to burst with a pop.

To his surprise, the explosion lacked the expected gore and paranormal activity.
The balloons burst like ordinary ones, leaving no trace of cotton thread.

Lu Yan looked back and discovered the buildings behind him transformed, now pristine and orderly.
The street full of suicidal and hysterical people was now replaced with ordinary pedestrians.

“Mom, buy me a balloon.” A girl pulled her mother's hand, gesturing toward a street vendor.
The young mother smiled patiently and indulged her daughter.

Without fail, the taskers had returned.

Lu Yan pondered what it would be this time.


**

“Playing a horror game? This mission is too strange.”

“Each mission always has an eerie air to it, does it not?”

“Although that may be true, I have no desire to eat ash rice.
The mere thought of it is repugnant.”

“Even so, you still ate raw cat meat last time to save your life.”

“Speaking of which, this mission is particularly peculiar.
We must play a horror game for seven days and recruit random pedestrians every midnight to make up a group of six players.
However, only four of us are there, so we need to find two more people.”

“Brother Chu, do you have any ideas?”

Inside a black four-wheel-drive, four individuals engaged in a heated discussion.
Three of them were incessantly chatting away while Brother Chu sat in the front passenger seat, his dark eyes fixed on the road ahead.
He curved his lips upon hearing his name and glanced at the man and woman in the back seat through the rearview mirror.
“Do you not understand that the task's difficulty must be balanced? The more tasks a performer completes, the more arduous the tasks assigned to them.”

In other words, this mission was excessively challenging, and not many people could complete it.
Therefore, ordinary taskers were not required to join.

The man in the back seat let out a long sigh and slumped back.
The woman beside him hastily asked, “So, Brother Chu, have you noticed any clues this time?”

In the passenger seat was Chu Xiu (楚休), a young man whose task count was incalculable and who occasionally joined missions that weren't his own.
No one knew his motives, but the death toll was always lower with his presence.

Thus, their spirits lifted when the three heard of their assignment with Chu Xiu, known on the site as Feng Xiu Zi.

Chu Xiu fixed his gaze on the dimming road ahead and the skies that slowly became overcast, murmuring, “Perhaps we should exercise caution with the required NPCs this time.”

Who could say for certain that they were really “passersby”?

“And the task does not specify a specific number of locals.
We must assemble six people.
So, if one of us dies, we must find one more.”

That would only increase the likelihood of finding ghosts!

The three passengers trembled with apprehension, imagining the dire consequences of choosing a ghost in human guise.
They agreed to select passersby carefully.

And besides…
Chu Xiu recalled the file sent by [Tall buildings will fall].

[Tall buildings will fall] had installed an automatic sending system that would automatically dispatch the file to Chu Xiu's mailbox if left unattended for 24 hours.

The other party claimed that some NPCs had awakened and become aware of outsiders.
What did they mean?

 

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