Chapter 9: Darkness
Su Min felt that horror was truly everywhere.
He didn’t know when or how long the eyeball had been watching him.
Perhaps it realized it was discovered, because the eyeball quickly turned and vanished behind the bookshelf.
Su Min promptly ran over to the other side, but he found nothing.
Right, it definitely wasn’t a person.
He wasn’t certain if the thing that disappeared was a ghost. In any case, it didn’t appear to have any malicious intentions, at least for the time being.
Su Min continued looking through the files. Right now, this was more important than anything else.
He touched his chin. “The auntie taking care of the dorms has been working here for the past six years. This is an important matter that must be kept secret to everyone, so it should have happened during these six years.”
If it happened before, she wouldn’t have reacted so strongly when he tried to probe for information.
She might not have been there to witness it personally, but the incident should’ve happened somewhere in this school. That would justify her reaction.
He was currently in the second semester of his junior year. It was now 2018, and he had been enrolled since 2015. The past three years had been smooth sailing, so he could rule them out. That left 2012, 2013, and 2014.
After the elimination, the range narrowed greatly.
However, that girl’s graduation year was still unknown. Maybe she was admitted in 2012; maybe 2012 was the year she graduated. All these factors influenced his search.
The school files were divided into admission and graduation.
Despite whatever incident had happened that year, her graduation would’ve still been recorded. After all, she was a student at this school.
The earliest time it could’ve happened was 2012; the lastest was 2014.
So did she graduate or not?
If she had graduated during this period, he would have to search for graduation files from 2012 to 2014.
If she hadn’t graduated and her expected graduation was after 2014, then he would have to search for the 2015 to 2018 files.
Over the years, the school had offered a variety of majors, all of which were further divided into several classes. The file he was looking for would be a hassle to find.
Su Min stood deeply in thought. After a moment, he felt that there should be no holes to his logic.
The school archive was generally sorted by grade and term. Normally, the graduation files were arranged by year.
Su Min eyed the bookshelf from top to bottom. The files were neatly organized, and soon, he found the 2012 section.
This time, when he took the file out, he kept a lookout for any eyeballs that could be hiding in the gap.
Just in case, however, Su Min moved further away from the hole to browsed through the graduation records.
Naeda Translations. Do. Not. Re-upload.
Thanks to the network’s development, the school had both electronic files and paper copies.
But, due to his current predicament, Su Min was unable to look online and could only flip through the files one by one.
Because it had probably been stored for so long, the photographs in the files changed slightly, seeming a little bit off. The students crammed together and posed with their teachers. All their faces were quite small.
If one stared long enough, it would appear normal.
Su Min stared hard at the photographs, examining each and every one. As long as the girl he saw was a student in this school, she would be in one of these photos.
Lin Xiao Yan suddenly cried, “Su Min, look at this!”
Su Min quickly put down the file and ran over.
On the corner of the newspaper in Lin Xiao Yan’s hands was a small article recounting a major case that occurred in this school. After a student had been brutally murdered, his parents came here and caused a scene, demanding a compensation for their loss.
“Is this what we’re looking for?” Lin Yiri also scooted over.
Su Min skimmed through everything. When he saw that the story was from seven years ago, he shook his head and answered, “No.”
It wasn’t related.
Realizing that his analysis wasn’t yet known to them, Su Min said, “You guys only need to look at the newspapers from 2012 to 2014.”
He explained what he had just analyzed.
Lin Yiri’s eyes lit up. “That’s much easier. There’s only 12 months in a year, and 36 months in three.”
It was smoother now that they weren’t aimlessly searching.
Su Min nodded and headed back to the archive shelves.
The more he looked at the files, the number he became. The longer he stared at the graduation photos, the stronger the feeling that the people captured inside would jump out.
He found the files for 2013.
To his astonishment, when he flipped to a random page, Su Min found a photograph that contained people with no faces. The blank faces that scattered about the picture were all parts terrifying.
The hair on his arms rose immediately.
Within this graduation photo were dozens of students and several teachers. However, nearly half of the students had missing faces. It was as if their facial features had distorted and disappeared.
How can this be?
If all these students are dead, how did this photo come about?
Bored of flipping through newspapers, Lin Yiri went over to see what Su Min was up to. Upon seeing the latter motionless, Lin Yiri peeked at the file in his hands, then let out a shout of horror, “What the hell?!”
Why do some people have faces while others don’t?
This graduation photo looks just like those paranormal pictures circulating around the internet. Too fucking scary.
Su Min calmed down after his initial fright.
“This photograph is unusual. Those without faces should be connected to the incident,” he mused.
They were in a horror movie, and everything had to be scary, so this was very consistent with the trope.
Placing the file in Lin Yiri’s hands, Su Min took another one out from the shelf and opened it. Inside, he found ordinary graduation photos.
This confirmed that the one just now was special.
Lin Yiri flipped through the file and said, “2013.”
Su Min took it back and, once again, looked at the strange photograph. “Since the graduation year is 2013, the incident should be around 2012 and 2013.”
Lin Yiri understood what he was implying. “I’ll look for newspapers issued during those two years.”
Why did figuring out this puzzle suddenly feel so good?
After the graduation photo were individual photographs of students. Next to those photographs was their personal information and a couple of praises written by staff members. Su Min skipped over those and continued flipping the pages.
The photographs in the personal information section were normal.
Su Min was about to turn to another page when, before his eyes, the color drained from a two-inch photograph.
It now looked like a picture of the deceased.
Enduring the discomfort, Su Min looked down.
Do the black-and-white photographs symbolize their death?
Su Min turned back to the graduation photo. Those with intact faces were unlikely to have their pictures transformed. It had to be the ones without faces.
Why there were faceless people, why their pictures were devoid of colors–he only had one guess: they were dead.
This should be in line with the movie’s plot.
As Su Min was staring at the picture, he suddenly felt a compulsion from behind him. However, when he looked back, there was nothing.
The illumination from his phone created a clear boundary between light and all that hid within the darkness. Only the sounds of wrinkling from newspapers could be heard.
Su Min bowed his head and continued reading.
Without warning, the light vanished, and the whole archive room plunged into darkness. Inside, the three people felt the seedlings of fear sprout in their hearts.
Su Min immediately turned around. “Why is my phone’s light turned off?”
No one answered. It was if he was the only one in the room.
It was quiet–too quiet. The silence was dreadful.
Although he couldn’t see, Su Min knew that his phone was on the table, so he blindly fumbled his way to it.
While he walked, he listened carefully for any noise.
Lin Xiao Yan and Lin Yiri didn’t call for him or make any sounds, which in itself was too unusual. According to their personalities, what they would want to do most currently was scream.
When Su Min felt his leg touch the table, he let out a sigh of relief and groped around for his phone. It wasn’t long before he finally grabbed it.
He had not yet opened it when a dark shadow appeared ahead.
Before Su Min could even blink, the shadow disappeared like it was never there.
But Su Min knew it was still there. Maybe it’s that eye’s owner.
He quickly turned on the flashlight function, and soon, light flooded back into the room.
Looking around, Su Min spotted Lin Xiao Yan and Lin Yiri crouching on the floor, shivering as their arms covered their heads.
Lin Yiri raised his head, surprised with joy. “Su Min, I called for you just now, but you didn’t answer. It nearly scared me to death–I thought you ran away.”
“You called for me?” Su Min was doubtful.
“Yes, when it was all dark a moment ago, I shouted your name, but you didn’t reply. I got scared, then...”
Then, he crouched on the ground.
Su Min frowned. As expected, it was an illusion created by specters. They were unable to hear one another, as if there was a space separating them.
“It’s dirty here.” Lin Xiao Yan stood up and whispered, “Just now, I didn’t hear Lin Yiri’s voice...”
She had shouted herself, but when she didn’t hear Lin Yiri, she knew at once that the others couldn’t hear her voice either.
If you continue waiting, it will fall apart.
“I’ve already found a clue,” Su Min said.
He was about to grab the file but halted when he discovered that one next to it had been drawled out.
It was obviously tucked in before.
Su Min felt the familiar fear creep up on him. That file was half drawn out, as if somebody had wanted to take it but stopped because something unexpected happened.
The “unexpected” thing could’ve been him turning on the light.
If he had turned around then, maybe he would’ve seen whoever it was.
Su Min felt that there were many faults to this archive room. First, it was the eyeball. Now, it was the shadow and sound manipulations.
“Did you find any clues in the newspaper?” he asked.
Lin Xiao Yan and Lin Yiri both shook their heads. “The newspaper have a lot categories, and most of them are social news. There are too many homicide cases to read through one by one, and none of them were even related to our school, or at least, not the ones we’ve re–”
Before the sentence was finished, there was sudden sound of footsteps coming from outside.
Su Min’s complexion turned cold. “That might be the manager making his rounds. We have to leave at once.”
They couldn’t risk staying here.
Su Min walked quickly to the door and leaned against the keyhole. The sound was coming from the other side of the stairs, and it was getting louder.
Once they get out, they would have to turn a corner in order to reach the staircase connecting to the first floor. There were two staircases, each located on one end of the corridor.
Returning to the table, Su Min used his cell phone to snap a couple of pictures. Along with the graduation photo, he took a picture of all the photographs that had turned black-and-white and their corresponding student information. Once he was done, he said, “Let’s go.”
Using this information, they could ask people what really happened.
“Hurry, hurry, hurry,” Lin Yiri rushed. “Run fast, ah.”
The three went straight to the other staircase. As soon as Su Min turned the corner, he caught a glimpse of the manager arriving in the corridor.