Chapter 20: The Withered Tree In His Dream
Larbre Studio Larbre Studio
AH! Gu Jun suddenly woke up from the nightmare. His eyes shot open, only to see the white ceiling. He was still in the dormitory. That was just a dream, huh.
He glanced at the time on his mobile phone. It only felt like a short while for him, but he had already slept for two hours.
Gu Jun took a deep breath. There was a faint onion-like smell in the air, and the thick stench of formalin came from him. He pressed his still-groggy head and got out of bed.
"Was that really just a dream just now?" He muttered, "It doesn't feel like it though."
Perhaps, it was a dream-a subconscious product of his own recent encounters.
Or maybe it wasn't, but an actual scene that was happening somewhere.
Gu Jun thought about it while rummaging through his closet for clean clothes. He then went to the bathroom of the dormitory building to take a shower. Gu Jun was still carrying around Li Yuerui's mobile phone. As he was showering, the hot water kept pouring from the showerhead. He scrubbed his hands vigorously and washed it over and over again, but the plasticky smell from the medical rubber gloves could not seem to be washed off.
After finishing his shower, Gu Jun returned to the bedroom. He saw that Cai Zixuan had returned and was busy beside his own closet.
"Tycoon Jun, you have only taken a shower now?" Cai Zixuan asked, stunned.
"I went to take a nap first." Gu Jun noticed the dishevelled state his buddy was in. His eyes were red and swollen, and his broad nose seemed to be flushed and enlarged. Perhaps due to over-stimulation from the formalin. Gu Jun couldn't help but say, " Zixuan, you look so miserable right now. "
As the culprit, you still have the gall to say that. Cai Zixuan heaved a sigh, but he couldn't bring himself to let loose the pent-up frustration inside of him. "Look in the mirror, you are way worse than me."
The moment Gu Jun heard his words, he immediately stood in front of a mirror to take a look. Sure enough, his face was indeed more haggard. No signs of tidiness could be seen from his face, and he looked like a crazed barbarian wandering on the edge of madness. He laughed aloud, not knowing what he was laughing at and shook his head while smiling. "Medical dog, medical dog."
"Fortunately, we're not just the only ones who looked like this." Cai Zixuan walked over while carrying his clothes. He stopped and told Gu Jun, "The corpses, other than the malformed parts, are really of high quality. We just went to the neighbouring laboratories to take a look, and everyone is slogging as well. "
What were the usual dissection specimens? Fat guys covered by layers of blubber, the victim of a car accident that was full of blood, the deformed broken corpse of a suicide victim...
Cai Zixuan emotionally said, "You know Shen Wanjie from Class 1, right? The cadaver of their group is a young woman with a malformed left hand, and there are no other abnormalities. The skin is so beautiful! Everyone says it is the most beautiful skin they have ever seen, rivalling those of models from skincare advertisements."
"Do you know how perverted you sound right now?" Gu Jun quipped although he knew that the "beautiful" Zi Xuan meant was referring to the precise structure of the skin.
"Cheh." Cai Zixuan scratched his head and went out with his clothes
Sometimes, there is an inexplicable connection between some things.
Advertisement? A fragment of memory seemed to flash in Gu Jun's head. He seemed to have seen the huge withered tree somewhere. In some advertisement? Perhaps some travel advertising news?
Only if it wasn't a withered tree, but still lush and verdant with the leaves young and ever-green.
Gu Jun sat down at the desk, opened his laptop and searched the Internet. He typed in searches for "domestic big trees" and "Eastern City big trees". He was browsing through the information and suddenly saw a message that gave him a sense of deja vu and immediately clicked on it.
An old banyan tree with a life span of 1,000 years in Gurong Village, Eastern City.
Gu Jun stared at the photos in the news article portrayed on the screen. His eyes were shut together, as though trying to recall something. "That's the tree! What I saw in my dream is this old banyan tree."
Gurong Village was not a particularly famous place. It was just an ordinary village. It was located in a remote mountainous area on the northern edge of Dongzhou City. Although there were some landscapes, it has always been underdeveloped. Only some dedicated backpackers will go there. Gurong Village was best known for this banyan tree.
Because it is placed in the entire Dongzhou city, this banyan tree was undisputedly one of the most long-lived.
The image of the withered tree flashed before his eyes, and Gu Jun took a sip of water before continuing his search for more information about Gurong Village.
The latest news about the village was from last year, and the rest were mostly related to the promotion of this tree. Afterwards, Gu Jun was unable to find new information about the village on the Internet. It was unusual for there to be so little bad rumours about the village to the point of being eerie. It was a small tourist spot after all. Why was it so spotless?
Unless something happened there, and the information there was being controlled.
"Could the origin of the deformity be Gurong Village?" Gu Jun thought, and then opened another news article about Gurong Village. His heart tightened.
The news article was about the director of Gurong Village Cultural Tourism District Management Committee introducing the development plan of their village to reporters.
The face of the director was incomparably familiar to Gu Jun.
After all, Gu Jun had personally removed the eyeball from this face this morning.
"Huff, huff." Gu Jun leaned back against the back of his seat with a series of guesses. Regardless of whether it was the origin, Gurong Village should have a plague outbreak. The fifty bodies were all those of the villagers. Perhaps they were even dead. What exactly happened there for things to become this way?
Looking at the lush verdant banyan tree on screen, he felt an increasingly strong impulse. Rush there this instant and take a look. Go to Gurong Village, the answer you're seeking is right there.
"No!" Gu Jun shouted, cutting off his urge. He absolutely could not just go to Gurong Village on a whim.
This would only expose him to those who were monitoring him. He was not ignorant of this fact.
This was definitely a suicidal act. In horror films, people who acted on impulse were always short-lived.
"Gurong Village... Is anyone still there? Prevention and control work of the plague must have begun. Could it be quarantined?"
Gu Jun thought of another way to verify his guess.
It was past four in the afternoon. Gu Jun deliberated a while, and searched for some information. He then wrote it down on his mobile phone. After clearing his browsing history and turning off the computer, he quickly walked out of the dormitory.
After leaving the dormitory building, Gu Jun quickly left the campus dormitory area and headed to the street outside. He got into a taxi, deliberately asking the driver to detour a few rounds, before finally getting out of the car into a familiar alley. He bought an unidentified mobile SIM card at an ordinary roadside shop.
Gu Jun replaced his SIM card with the new one and opened his phone contacts. There was a new contact saved. "Gurong Village Cultural Tourism Zone Management Committee".
He left the small roadside shop. As he walked along the old alleyway, he tapped his finger and dialed the number.
This was a landline number. With the current state of Gurong Village, he felt that the communication line may have been cut off or perhaps no one would answer his call.
Beep, beep... The sound of waiting to be connected rang. It seems like the line was still available.
Gu Jun looked up at the dusky evening sky and glanced around the worn-down signboards of small shops on both sides of the alley: "Mala Hotpot", "Luo Ji's Grocery", "Health Massage And Footbath"...
The phone beeped ten times, but there was no one answering. Was Gurong Village really a dead piece of land?
Gu Jun raised his head. Just as his right hand was about to click the disconnect button and hang up, a sudden click was heard.
The call connected.