Chapter 10

Zheng fell asleep in the second floor bedroom that same day. He slept peacefully, sweeping away the pain and fatigue accumulated over all these days. Zheng did not wake up until LiuYu came to know on the door morning of the second day. He walked out of the room refreshed.
LiuYu asked in a cautious tone, “Did you sleep well last night? Was there…”

Zheng laughed. “Yes. It was very quiet and I slept well. You here to call me down for breakfast?”

LiuYu nodded. He glanced at the sides then said, “Did you… did you see anything paranormal last night? I heard ChengXiao said that ghosts have no forms. They can appear as anything. Their forms are given by our minds. Ghosts can be scary, exotic, or beautiful. They are the materialization of a person’s desires. He said…”

Zheng didn’t know whether to laugh or not as he interrupted LiuYu. “Did he say the reason I came up here is because I haven’t tapped in over ten days and couldn’t hold it anymore? So I used my lust to conjure a female ghost?”

LiuYu instantly nodded. “Yes. He was moving his hands furiously as he spoke. So did you see the ghosts?”

Zheng rubbed LiuYu’s head and said, “Don’t listen to that pervert’s nonsense. Ghosts come from your desire, but they come from your violent and evil desires. When your mind is filled with the fear of ghosts, how could they come in the forms of women? They will be the most popular existence if that can be true. Pretend you never heard him said anything. Speaking of which… that is probably what he is lusting to try.”

Zheng saved LiuYu from the corrupted training of ChengXiao. They headed down stairs to the living room. Zheng continued to give LiuYu advices. “You have to be extra careful of that being. Stay as far away from him as possible. If that isn’t physically possible, stay firm within your heart. I really fear that he taints you.”

“Taint?” LiuYu’s face turned pale. He instinctively reaches for his butt and then laughed awkwardly.

By the time Zheng enlightened LiuYu to stay aware of ChengXiao, they had come into the living room. There were five people already inside. Counting LiuYu and him, that made it seven people. The team split up last night but no one disappeared. He had won half of this bet!

Zheng let out a sigh of relief. He sat down by the dining table. Everyone had been eating convenient food from the supermarket these days. Nearly twenty continuous days of canned food made them want to throw up at the sight of another can. However, the situation did not allow them any other choices. Furthermore, their minds were tied to figuring a way to leave this world, so the food wasn’t as important.

Zheng meditated on the sofa after breakfast. He seemed to be ignoring the rest of the team. The others also did their own things. Xuan was reading. Kampa, TengYi, ChengXiao and LiuYu were chatting. YinKong was resting with her eyes closed. Time slowly passed by. Kampa exited the four men group at 3pm.

“I am going to the toilet.” Kampa gave Zheng a heads up and headed to the toilet.

Zheng’s hands trembled. He wanted to open his mouth but in the end, he simply nodded and continued meditating.

(No use trying to stop it. Believe in the team. Believe that they will never give up when confronted with their weaknesses. We have all been through the edge of hell many times. We have our weaknesses but our hearts also grew tougher… Stay strong, everyone!)

Kampa did not know the fighting Zheng was going through in his mind. He walked toward the toilet as he hummed a song. He pushed the half broken door open, his hand reached for his pants, then suddenly he heard the same tune he was humming. The two voices overlapped.

kampa’s mind paused for an instant. Without thinking, he gathered his strength. Black hair grew from his body. His muscles expanded. He didn’t turn into a complete werewolf but he was much bigger than a normal person. He struck his fist to the side.

Just then, an arm passed over a bottle of cheap vodka. Kampa’s claw halted 10 centimeters before the bottle.

“Mate… We promised to finish this vodka the next time we meet. How have you been?”

The arm and voice came from the cubicle to his side. The man didn’t come out from the cubicle.

Kampa’s fist was shaking. He was hesitating whether he should punch ahead. As the vodka reached closer and closer to him, he finally opened his palm and grabbed the bottle.

Battlefield, fire, comrades… Kampa’s life was spent in a complex yet pure world. He came from a place of wars. His country abandoned him but he never left the battlefield. The journey he walked was difficult. Two things accompanied him through his journey, weapons and comrades.

“O bella, ciao! Bella, ciao! Bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
E se io muoio da partigiano, tu mi devi seppellir.”

The song started again from the cubicle. The deep and coarse voice gave the song a hint of melancholy and boldness.

Kampa’s heart tightened. He popped open the vodka and binged it in one go. Then he howled and punched the cubicle’s wall. His fist struck a hole on the wall. Through the hole, he saw a man dressed in a black and white striped shirt, wearing a black hat and a pair of scissor like gloves. The man’s face was burned.

The people in the living room heard the sound of impact on the wall. YinKong was the first to rush toward the source of the sound. ChengXiao followed right behind her. Then TengYi and LiuYu. Zheng got up the moment he heard the sound but he hesitated. By the time he got himself together, there were only Xuan and him left in the room. Xuan seemed to be slow. He just put down the book by this time.

Zheng gave a good look at Xuan before he ran toward the toilet. YinKong was running so fast that she had passed through the hallway and made a turn when the others just arrived at the hallway. She disappeared from everyone’s sights.

ChengXiao, Tengyi and LiuYu came to the door of the toilet. ChengXiao gave it a hard push. The already broken door collapsed and exposed the room behind it. There was nothing.

Zheng arrived at the scene right after the other three people. They looked at each other baffled. ChengXiao said, “You did hear sound coming from this way right? Like something smashed a wall or a rock. But the toilet looks perfectly intact, aside from this door.”

“Yes… Kampa is no longer in my dream.” Zheng sighed then muttered.

The three people looked at him confused. ChengXiao asked, “Who’s Kampa? And what does it mean by no longer in your dream?”

Zheng didn’t reply. He looked over the three of them then to the sides as though he was searching for something. After being unable to find it, he sighed again. “YinKong has also… left my dream.”

YinKong followed the sound into the hallway. She ran ahead of everyone since she was the fastest and Zheng hesitated before he moved. As she left everyone’s sight after making a turn, an unnatural feeling struck her. She drew out Excalibur and held it in front of her throat.
Clank!

The invisible sword clashed with something. Sparks flew in every direction. YinKong was pushed back from the force of impact.

“Hoho. You blocked it. You added protection to your throat after dying to the string last time. An assassin shouldn’t have any fear, my little cousin. You can’t be an assassin anymore once fear sprouts in you.”

A man with long hair walked out of the darkness from the other end of the hall. He lightly flicked the string with his finger then looked over to YinKong with a smile. He was the person YinKong had been chasing after for so long, the ZhuiKong from team Devil.

YinKong did not charge up like she did the previous times. The gap of their strengths was wide. It wasn’t possible for her to take him head on. She was also cautious as she had noticed the strangeness of this place. No one caught up to her after the few seconds she stopped. She knew Freddy might have targeted her. This wasn’t the same dimension as the others were in. Lastly, she was wavering. Her hatred toward ZhuiKong wavered.

Seeing that YinKong was staring at him with a pair of cold eyes, ZhuiKong laughed. He slowly walked to her. “Do you really not plan to fight me? Do you think I am merely an illusion created by Freddy? Oh, my little cousin.”

YinKong did not move until ZhuiKong said these words. She leaped backward because a wave of killing intent exploded from ZhuiKong. The killing intent forced her to react with her instinct. She leaped out of the hand reaching forward.

“See? I am not just an illusion… I am the materialization of the one in your heart. Or should I say the materialization of your fear. Do you like such a real me?” He continued walking toward YinKong.

The materialization of fear? It struck YinKong when she realized the hole in her heart had grown so big. A feeling different from hate had manifested from her. It was hope or a sense of expectation she had for ZhuiKong. She was hoping that ZhuiKong only killed their friends and comrades due to a concealed reason. This hope contradicted with the hatred she had. That was why she wasn’t as impulsive.

Wavering was fatal to an assassin compared to intense emotions such as anger, affection, fear. Conflicts in the heart would halt her blade, because weapons waver between hitting its target or not like its user.

YinKong took a deep breath and calmed herself. “Yes. I shouldn’t waver. No matter if there’s a reason behind what you have done, their deaths have become a fact. The end result is I can only seek revenge from you. Is that it? This is the result you wish for.” Her eyes looked a little watery.

ZhuiKong laughed. “You are basically right except the result is a little different. You aren’t seeking revenge. You became my toy. I can’t wait to slice the person that I loved so dearly into pieces. Do you know how I killed your stupid friends? I sliced them like this, one slice at a time.”

ZhuiKong suddenly pulled out a head from behind. His dagger carved on the head. Blood and flesh was falling to the ground. Worse yet, the head was crying miserably as if it was alive.

YinKong clenched her teeth and tightened her grip on the sword. She stared at ZhuiKong coldly. That head belonged to one of her friends. She was a girl quite close to her. Despite knowing this was probably an illusion, anger boiled within her from sight of the brutal treatment.

The extensive assassin training since YinKong was a child held her back from attacking. She wouldn’t even have felt such anger if it weren’t ZhuiKong. She gripped Excalibur tightly and watched the illusion show.

ZhuiKong was entertaining himself without regard of what YinKong was thinking or doing. He tortured this human head until all the flesh and blood were shaved clean, leaving behind a white skull. Yet, the skull continued to cried in pain on his palm.

“Don’t you feel ecstatic, my little cousin? Watching someone you know so well die in my hands, and then dismembered, tortured, or perhaps even worse, destroy them mentally before their death, make them into a maniac and retard. Isn’t this feeling ecstatic? Haha.” He threw the skull to the ground and pulled out another head from behind. He carved the lead in the same manner.

The skull rolled toward YinKong. The illusion was so real that she couldn’t notice any flaw despite knowing everything was fake. As she intended to step away from the skull, it stopped. A girl’s voice came out.

“It hurts, sis. It hurts. My whole body hurts. I can’t see. I can’t hear. Sis, kill me. It hurts so much… kill me. Sis…”

The voice weeped as if a pitiful girl was talking to her sister. Yet, the scene of a skull talking and a man carving a crying human head was appalling and disgusting. It was enough to stop a normal man’s heart from fright.

YinKong could no longer contain her tears. Her mental defense collapsed when she saw those who she had known, heard the voices of her friends, and witnessed what ZuiKong was doing. She swung Excalibur as tears rained down her face. The sword crushed the skull. YinKong charged at ZuiKong in madness.

She disappeared into the hallway.

Zheng couldn’t help but bring the rest of the team back to the living room. Everyone followed the same script. No one remembered Kampa nor YinKong after their disappearances. Their names also vanished from the paper. If he didn’t still remember them, it would appear that the two never existed.

(Five people left. Xuan, ChengXiao, TengYi, LiuYu, and me. If my analysis is correct, things are coming to an end. The only question is what HongLu last said. What other method is there to wake a person than physically waking him? And how do you make the nightmare disappear?)

Zheng pondered quietly in the living room. He thought about the ordeal the team was going through and whether or not they could persevere through the mental battle. All he could do was wait… wait until the thing he was clinging on broke apart.

(If the dream is really constructed with my mind as the foundation, then breaking apart my desire to live on will allow Freddy to drag me into the despair dream. The result will be decided at that instant. However, I still don’t get the last step. I have found the origin. I have found the key. I know my the desire I cling onto. But how do I stop the nightmare? How do I accomplish the last step HongLu said?)

Zheng looked at the people around him again. He sighed then pinched his hair.

(I don’t have much time left. I need to figure it out before they all get dragged into the despair dream! What other way can you stop the nightmare?)

Chapter 9

Lan felt as though her soul had frozen. She couldn’t find the courage to turn around. It was not due to fear but the person whom this voice came from.
“Is that… you?” Lan’s voice was shaking. She couldn’t move a finger as the warmth approached her from behind. She didn’t even use Psyche Scan. This voice alone nearly crippled her.

“It’s me and not me. Freddy’s power allows me to appear for a short moment. The only thing I can do… is hold you again.”

A figure embraced Lan from behind and the warmth enclosed her tears. It was a warmth that had nearly faded her memories but deep down in her soul, she never forgot this feeling.

Lan basked in this feeling quietly. Tears continued rolling down her cheeks. She knew he had died long ago. She knew he couldn’t be here even if he were still alive. This was an illusion, an illusion created by Freddy. But this feeling was so real. She wanted to relive this experience again, even if this was merely an illusion.

The words that came from the figure was nothing gentle like the embrace. “You betrayed me, didn’t you? You fell in love with someone else, didn’t you? You are not the woman waiting to marry me anymore… you betrayed me!”

Lan cried. She felt her heart cracking. It was as though something very important within her shattered. She clenched her teeth then said. “Please no… Freddy. Please. Kill me… don’t toy with my heart!”

The figure’s words remained ugly. “You… are not a virgin anymore, aren’t you? You have been soiled. Hahaha.”

The figure spread out and enclosed Lan in her entirety. The two disappeared, like Lan had never been here.

The rest of the team were running toward the toilet. They heard a loud bang similar to the sound of a wall breaking from an impact. They looked at each other then hurried their steps. YinKong jumped out the window to take the shortcut. The others followed her.

WangXia was running at the front so he didn’t see the others taking the shortcut. By the time he looked around, he had already arrived at the toilet. He placed his hand on the doorknob, pushed the door open, and rushed in. The door closed behind him.

Behind the door was not the toilet. It was an old and slightly weathered house. WangXia stared around the house with a bit of uncertainty. Then he spread his arms and activated this demon energy.

“Freddy! So you’ve come for me!” WangXia shouted. “Come! I will not fear you! I don’t know how you replicated my old home but did you think a simple house could break apart my will? Did you think my heart will waver? Come! Come and face me if you dare!”

WangXia channeled his demon energy onto the plasma grenades by his waist. He would attack at the instant Freddy appeared close. No one, not even Zheng could escape from this attack without damage at such close distance.

An old man’s voice came through the door. “Is it my nephew, WangXia? Have you returned?”

WangXia became silent. He recognized this voice very well. The man was a distant relative in the village who looked after his family since he was a child. Before he replied, an old man carrying a walking stick walked into the house. Tears began to roll down the old man’s face as he hit WangXia with the walking stick.

WangXia hesitated even though knew he couldn’t let down his guard once Freddy caught him. The gap in his heart was the thinnest compared to the rest of the team. He entered the world through hypnosis so he was confident on taking Freddy. However, when a senior he knew appeared, he didn’t know how to react. The beating from the walking stick wasn’t anything painful fortunately so he just let it go on.

The old man spoke as he wept. “You unfilial child! Your mother raised you and watched you off with silver hair. Yet, no one was there when she died. How could she give birth to such an unfilial child. I am going to beat you on behalf of your mother…”

WangXia grabbed onto the walking stick and shouted. “Mother… Wasn’t she healthy when I left? The army said they would look after her. How in such a short period of time? How did she pass away? That’s impossible. Right. You’re Freddy! This is all just a dream!”

WangXia was going to throw the grenade at the weeping old man. Yet, he couldn’t do it despite knowing this was merely a dream. He was wrong. His mother was the weakness that he had in his heart. The woman with silver hair.

The old man pointed the stick to the ancestor altars behind WangXia. That was when he noticed his mother’s name. He was the only person left in this family.

Redness overtook WangXia’s eyes. He dropped to his knees and knocked his head against the floor repeatedly. Blood stained the floor. WangXia finally broke down and cried. He couldn’t contain the tears of a man.

Something approached him from behind. Not the old man’s walking stick but a scissor like glove. It grasped WangXia by the neck…

Zheng leaped up abruptly and looked around. The scene was peaceful. He didn’t notice anything abnormal. Several members were standing next to him, looking worried.

“You alright? You fell asleep last night. Fortunately, Xuan found out and took over the night watch. We would have been in danger otherwise.” ChengXiao asked him.

Zheng was stunned for a moment before he yelled. “Shit. I fell into a dream again? How? Why did I fall asleep as soon as I went near Freddy? Fuck it! How are we supposed to kill him?”

The rest of the team looked confused. Kampa patted Zheng on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry. It was safe last night. The seven of us have been in the house the whole night.”

“Seven?”

There was no time to feel angry. Zheng quickly searched around. He had confirmed the death of the two newbies. But Zero, Lan, and WangXia were also missing. They disappeared as though they never existed. The team had forgotten about them.

Zheng pushed Kampa to the side and ran over to the table. He picked up the piece of paper that recorded their names. All he could feel was ice cold. There were only seven names. He wrote down fourteen names but there were only seven names. Seven disappeared. Even the words that he wrote down disappeared!

The rest of the team heard Zheng mumbling, “Zero, Lan, WangXia, Heng, HongLu. We can forget about the newbies but the five of them fought alongside us! How can I ever forget them? How can I? Freddy… I am going to kill you!”

A wave of killing intent surged from Zheng. He almost couldn’t contain himself from picking up Tiger’s Soul and kill stuff. He could take on anything in a direct fight. All these movies he had been to didn’t take him down. However, the helplessness, the disappearances one by one, and the possibility of forgetting his comrades struck him. How could he forget those who had fought with him, who had traveled to hell and made it back together?

“There’s definitely a solution to this movie. There must be!” Zheng clenched his teeth and roared. “God wouldn’t give a movie without solution! There has to be a solution to this movie! Xuan… help me!”

Team China dropped to only seven members all of a sudden. The rest of the members vanished, including the memories of them. Zheng was the only person to still remember their names.
Despair clouded Zheng. He never once felt so close to the border of despair. The situation had no relation to his combat strength at all. The despair came from his inability to see anything, to touch anything. All he could do was witness his team disappearing one by one while he didn’t even come to touch Freddy. He was defeated by helplessness.

Xuan was Zheng’s biggest support. He didn’t know why Xuan had been quiet throughout the movie, which differed from his person in the previous movies. In this case, Xuan must be preparing for something. He would not do anything without a value… However, that relied on a premise…

The other five members turned to Xuan after Zheng spoke. They had equal amount of faith in him. LiuYu though seemed curious at what someone who rarely spoke could do to bring the team back. So he asked ChengXiao.

Xuan was as calm as always, as though nothing mattered to him. He shook his head and said, “There is no solution to this movie… at least for the moment. There’s nothing I can help you.”

“Lies!” Zheng lifted him by the collar and shouted. “You are lying. This movie could be too difficult for us but it’s not the same to you! No! You shouldn’t even feel the difficulty! How could you have admitted defeat?”

Xuan patted his collar, picked up a book and began to read. He replied, “We can only wait… Quietly wait.”

Wait? Just keep waiting quietly?

Zheng’s hand moved but he suppressed what he was going to do. He sat down on the floor and pinched the hair in front of his forehead. The other five members didn’t know what happened between the two of them. After a while of thinking and coming up with no idea, they all sat down. The room fell into silence.

(No. I still can’t be certain. The possibility is higher than 60% but if I am wrong, his life… His personality and actions are also similar to how he has always been. Am I just too paranoid?)

(The second point is, judging by all the information, Freddy has only appeared in front of me. I am the only person who have seen him. Perhaps some other members saw him but they all disappeared. I am the only one who have seen him and am still here. He had to put me to sleep in order to avoid meeting me directly. But why?)

Zheng had entered the third stage. His simulation had reached a fairly high degree compared to before. He couldn’t perfectly simulate HongLu’s thinking process but it was enough for him to solve a lot of questions. HongLu was way above them after all.

(If Freddy’s main attacks aren’t physical and rely on breaking through a person’s mental defense, then dragging him into the despair dream, does that mean everything that has happened so far is for the purpose of breaking my defense?)

Zheng frowned. This was the first time he came up with this possibility. He might reach something by following this train of thoughts.

(If that is the case, could it be possible… this is all my dream? Everyone aside from me is fake. Then it can explain their disappearances and vanishing memories. The fake members are the origin of my nightmare. All I have to do to stop the origin is to eliminate them and then wake up. But this is too risky. What if they aren’t fake? My mental defense will collapse at the instant I attack them. I will hesitate and feel unease from attacking even if they are fake. These feelings will open up a gap in my heart. Furthermore, my mental state has been unstable. Pressing myself to kill my team will break my defense either way.)

“Damn it! I can’t get rid of the origin even knowing what it is. Then there is the question of how to wake up after getting rid of the origin.”

Zheng pulled a few hair from irritation. His mind was in a mess. The situation was more muddled than his mind. He was pushed up against a wall.

Just then, LiuYu carefully came up to him and said, “Hey, Zheng. Are we really in a dream?”

Zheng looked at him with surprise and nodded. “Yes. We are indeed in a dream. I can’t be 100% sure but judging from what has been happening, it should be the case.”

LiuYu followed, “If this is a dream, then we should be able to imagine our strength. A disabled boy could stand up in his dream in the third movie. He could even become a wizard. Why can’t our imaginations come true in this dream? Maybe we are still in the real world.”

(No! I get it!) Zheng was thrilled. He Patted LiuYu on the shoulder then twirled his hair.

(It’s our belief. Or perhaps the habit of our consciousness. This dream world is too real. So real that it’s like the Matrix. We can’t break through the confinement of our imagination despite being in a dream. That’s due to the habit of our consciousness. If my analysis is correct, my mind is the foundation of this dream. Then there’s one thing unique in this world!)

Zheng scanned over the people in the room then moved his eyes away.

(Which means the three newbies did die in front of me. The rest of the members disappeared. The newbies are complete strangers to me. I know nothing of their past, of the gaps in their hearts. That’s the reason Freddy selected me. I have the biggest gaps in my mental defense. I lust for everyone to return to the real world, which becomes a weak spot at this point. And I know of the past of the members. I get what HongLu was trying to say. We have to wait for the key to solve the puzzle. And then once it’s confirmed, the last step is to eliminate the nightmare.)

Zheng took a deep breath then stood up. He walked toward the stairs and said, “There’s no point staying in the living room since people are still disappearing. I will go sleep in a bedroom. Call me if something happens. You can also find a room to sleep or continue to stay in the living room.”

Xuan headed up the stairs after Zheng was gone. Five people were left in the living room. LiuYu asked, “What happened to Zheng? Is it something that I said?”

Everyone looked to the stairs clueless. No one answered his question. A few seconds later, YinKong also got up and walked up stair. The four people left got goosebumps as they continued to stare.

ChengXiao forced an awkward laugher and said, “We… should continue to stay here. Those three are psychopaths. I don’t want to be in the second floor with them. How about we stay here?”

The rest nodded, especially LiuYu. He was scared of being alone the most. He was the weakest person here since he was a newbie.

Zheng pulled a string of hair as he walked up the stairs. “If my deduction holds, I will save you all! That is our only chance of surviving.”