Chapter 26: Howls Of The Deceased
Larbre Studio Larbre Studio
At this moment, Gu Jun was standing inside the iron cage and right beside the tree made out of human body parts.
It was not that he did not feel any psychological pressure. In fact, the sense of oppression caused by the iron cage and the close proximity of the giant human tree grated on his nerves and made him want to gasp deeply for breaths.
Gu Jun didn't do that. It was definitely a disastrous idea to take a deep breath inside the cage. Just by gently breathing, he already felt that he had fallen into a pool of formalin.
Professor Qin and the rest were all intently staring at him. Gu Jun knew that he could not afford to hesitate and continued to observe the human tree seriously. Underneath the skin of the twisted corpses, the black substance coursing through it was noticeably darker than that of the cadavers. The dead pieces of skin were the same colour as withered trees. There was no livor mortis, but it was definitely the strangest and most tainted skin he had ever seen.
He thought that if this abomination was still alive, then the black liquids were like river water that circulated back and forth. It should be a scene of brimming vitality.
Gu Jun looked towards a head on the "tree trunk". A pair of listless, bottomless eyes seemed to be staring back at him.
It's more accurate to call them eyeballs.
The cornea of the eyeball was so cloudy that the pupil could not be clearly distinguished.
However, he could distinctly feel something lurking within the dark abyss and staring at him through this pair of eyes.
"..." Gu Jun suddenly felt an impulse in his heart which grew increasingly fervent; a sudden urge to stretch out his hand and touch the humanoid tree.
Seeing Gu Jun slowly raising his hand, the observing students in the various schools all grew nervous. This guy, what is he planning to do?
At that moment, the pair of eyes that Gu Jun was facing suddenly seemed to come back to life. He wasn't sure if the pupils he saw were hallucinations, but he clearly noticed the mouth of the head slightly opened and suddenly hissed!
It was not the sound of the air flowing through and causing the vocal cords to vibrate. Instead, it was the result of the vocal cords, throat, mouth, and nasal cavity working in tandem, squeezing and rubbing together to produce a voice.
The voice was hoarse and spoken in a low tone, but still clearly identifiable. "Sa-save me..."
Gu Jun felt suffocated. His hands froze midair while trembling uncontrollably. He almost retreated a few steps. However, he intensely resisted the instinctive horror rising from the bottom of his heart. The reason why he could bear the fear was because he had heard a similar voice when he made the call at Gurong Village yesterday.
The other heads on the humanoid tree also started to move. Dozens of already-dead faces burst into frantic wailing, "I, I'm not dead..."
All the frenzied howling rushed into his ear like a typhoon. Gu Jun's body could not help but stiffened a little bit.
Yesterday the person speaking on the other end of the phone... Was it really only one villager?
"Ah!!!" The venue immediately burst into a cacophony of chaotic screams. Many students were paralysed in their seats, and many others jumped in fright. A portion of their consciousness seemed to be perpetually trapped within this horrifying scene, desperately waiting to be awakened from this nightmare.
The jury of judges paid close attention to the surrounding. Those students, who were scared to the point of irrationality were all kicked out from their considerations. Perhaps after some time, they would become more tenacious and resistant to fear. However, the department does not need them for the time being. The judges sincerely hoped that the situation would not devolve to such dire straits that they would be required to. After this stringent round of screening, only less than a tenth of the remaining students still have the qualifications to be selected.
Although the teachers and professors were able to maintain their calm, the department never considered them as candidates from the very beginning.
That was because the department needed young people. Only young people possessed enough flexibility to adapt to these abnormal circumstances. Furthermore, many ordinary positions needed these experienced teachers and professors.
Professor Qin had been watching Gu Jun all along, paying attention to his every move.
At this time, the entire humanoid tree let out a harsh screech that was at least ten times more piercing than before!
This shriek felt like it came from the depths of hell and seemed to want to tear the whole stadium into pieces.
"Ghost, ghost..." More students were scared senseless, and some even broke down into tears.
When some animals encounter a tiger, even if they have never seen one before or even if it is a fake puppet tiger, they will become extremely terrified. They would lose all their reason and only want to flee. This was a primal fear engraved in their genes. The shrieking voice was like that metaphorical tiger, and humans were like those animals. They were unable to understand it and only understood that it was ghastly and terrifying.
"Hoo," Gu Jun sucked in a deep breath to adjust his breathing, not letting the instinctive fear overwhelm him.
Even though his consciousness willed him to do so, his subconscious told a different story. His body was stiff, and he was unable to move even one step. What was he supposed to do?
From the corners of his eye, he caught sight of the serene expressions on the faces of Professor Qin and the other judges. It seemed that they harboured no expectation for him to pass this assessment. They were simply a group of sadists.
"Since I was allowed to enter, then there should be no real danger," Gu Jun's mind started rationalising, and he calmed himself down. He digested the knowledge and thought, ‘There should be a way to cope. Why did the humanoid tree suddenly make a sound? What changed? Was it just the fact of me entering? There should be some sort of trigger...'
The more frightened one was, the more he would be unable to escape.
As Gu Jun was thinking, he stared at the turbid eyes on the humanoid tree again and looked at the eyes of the other heads.
Facing the pressure brought about by those screams, he felt slight changes in those eyes. The pupils dilating...
Under normal circumstances, the cornea of a person's eyes will become turbid due to the loss of water after death. The longer the period of death, the cloudier the cornea would be. Forensic medicine can estimate the time of death based on the degree of corneal opacity.
Even shortly after death, the pupils could no longer shrink or dilate due to the smooth muscles slackening. It would only remain at medium size.
Those dead people within the humanoid tree seemed to be alive again.
Did I wake them up? Gu Jun's urge to touch the humanoid tree resurfaced again. Or were they calling for him?
I'll give it a try. Gu Jun fixed his gaze and raised his hand, reaching out once again. Instead of stopping this time, he stretched out to close the eyelids. The orbicularis oculi muscles were tight and had an abnormal strength so he needed to exert some force to make them move.
Once the eyelids closed, the head quickly quieted down.
So, it turned out that this was the case. Gu Jun went on to close the other eyelids and silently apologised to them: I can't save you. Please rest in peace.
"Hmm?" This was not the scene the judges had imagined. They looked around at each other and saw the joyous surprise on each other's face.
This kid can exhibit this level of performance the first time he encounters the humanoid tree. Able to show such calm and rationality, what a rare find! This time, they might have struck gold.
As the ghastly wailings gradually weakened, the students also clearly noticed Gu Jun's calm response and instantly clamoured with excitement. The screams of terror around Gu Jun also ceased. Everyone gritted their teeth, trying their best to reorganise their spirits. Isn't this just a scam. Well, what's there to fear. We, medical "slaves", are fearless!
"Well..." Professor Qin watched as Gu Jun closed the eyelid of the heads within his reach. The satisfaction in Professor Qin's heart blossomed. His medical ability was still unknown. At the very least, the psychological quality of this young man was excellent. "Student Gu, you can stop. The assessment is over. You can come out now."
Creak. A staff member stepped forward and pulled the cage door open.
Gu Jun stared at the humanoid tree again before walking out with steady footsteps. Once he left, the heads, whose eyelids had not been shut, also gradually ceased their wailing.
When Gu Jun exited the iron cage, the audience broke into rapturous applause. Qingyun University, Jihua Medical School... Many students from various universities spontaneously applauded Gu Jun. Of course, the Eastern University students were more proud than everybody else. They treated Gu Jun who had just returned to his seat like a hero who had returned home triumphantly.
"Tycoon Jun, you really outperform yourself this time!"
"You are so calm."
Gu Jun returned to his seat in response to everyone's praise. Professor Gu gave him a thumbs-up. Xu Hai, Zhang Haoran, and He Yuhan were extremely jubilated, seeming like they wanted to put him on a pedestal to worship him. They were beyond terrified just now, and his actions were akin to saving their wretched lives.
However, it wasn't until Gu Jun sat back down before his taut nerves relaxed a little. The horrifying and unique beauty of the humanoid tree was still wrapped around his heart.
He was still pondering about the meaning behind that scream. Perhaps it had no meaning at all, or maybe it's just that humans don't understand it.
"Tycoon Jun," Cai Zixuan said emotionally. "The way you walked into the iron cage reminded me of Zhao Zilong walking up the longboard slope."
Wang Ruoxiang, who was sitting on the other side, patted him and asked, "Actually, did you panic a bit just now?" She noticed that he was still a little nervous and deliberately made a joke.
"No." Gu Jun smiled self-deprecatingly. "But there were two bits of panic. Thank you for the concern, class monitor. I'm fine now."
On the other end, Professor Qin did not rush to proceed. After the applause died down, he explained sternly, "Dear students, you didn't meet a ghost just now. That was one of the caged creatures - let's call it a creature. That was one of the symptoms it exhibits before death."