Doomsday Wonderland Chapter 542
"We can keep her here."
After the young man commented quietly, he tossed glance at the old prostitute standing nearby. Her arms were crossed and she stood proudly.
"Huh?" the brothers asked quizzically with a curt exclamation as they stared at the young man.
"She is the third victim. If she stays here for a night, Jack the Ripper will just choose another victim… I still won't be able to figure out who Jack is. But, if we let her go out…" the young bit his lips when he said that, showing a little nervousness, "We just have to follow her. Then, we can catch Jack the Ripper!"
"Yes! And, once we catch Jack the Ripper we can get out of here immediately, " Lin Sanjiu added unrestrainedly. Her eyes lit up slightly. For her, it was obvious that getting out as early as possible was the best option. "If that's the case, I'll go with you."
When the potato brothers heard them, they exchanged glances as if they were contemplating. After a few seconds, the younger brother spoke, "Count me in. Since the victim sought us out, we might be related to the murderer somehow."
Though the younger brother agreed to their plan, the elder brother shook his head, "You can go wherever you want. I am going to stay here and sleep. Who cares? Anyway, whatever the murderer does, he isn't going to come for me."
Since they all made their decision, the younger potato brother took the lead. He sent Annie away with a few pennies he found. Once she left, the posthumans followed her. Many people watched her through their ajar doors as she walked on the street, perhaps, after hearing her loud rant. Those people watched her for a while and slinked back into their homes.
Even though there were coal-fuelled street lamps in London during the 19th century, the cold, wet streets were still shrouded in darkness. They were in a slum area filled with migrants, so there were barely any street lamps around. The weak yellow lights from the lamps were like mere grace notes in a piece or a drop of dye in a deep, black river. The lights disappeared into the darkness without traveling far.
As Annie sucked on her cheap cigarette, she strolled into a small alley. Whenever someone walked past her, she would stop and tout herself with a hoarse chortle. Unfortunately, it was drizzling tonight and heavy gray clouds hung in the sky. Hence, there were fewer people on the streets. They barely saw any passers-by even after a long time. As there were only a few people on the streets, Lin Sanjiu and the others had to stay far behind Annie so that she would not hear their footsteps.
Evidently, nighttime in the simulation was much longer than the day. Annie's spiritless and haphazard footsteps rang through the streets while her long shadow lurked behind her. Roaming the streets like a drunkard, she was unable to get a single client even after some time. Based on the information given by the young man, Annie was 47 this year. She couldn't deceive any of the johns on the streets even with the guise of night.
Nothing happened even after they walked for a long time so the younger Potato brother started growing inpatient.
"Maybe she isn't going to die today," he whispered when Annie turned into a corner, "We can't possibly follow her day and night—"
Before he finished his sentence, a woman's scream pierced through the night. Startled, the three of them raced toward the voice. Lin Sanjiu took the lead, but when she turned into the corner, she heard a "crash". The flame from a coal-fuelled street lamp was suddenly extinguished. There were scattered glass fragments on the ground. Darkness enveloped the street and all of them inevitably stopped.
The woman's scream echoed softly through the empty alley. There were a few horse carriages on the road and the shoddy doors along the alley remained tightly shut. There were no signs of anyone around.
"Where is she?" the young man asked while he gasped.
"Let's split up and look for her!" the younger potato brother commanded while he walked to the other end of the alley. The splashing sound of the puddles he stepped through resonated through the night.
The small alley was connected to several forked roads. It was entirely possible that Annie had been dragged into one of these other darker alleys. Lin Sanjiu and the young man worked separately. Lin Sanjiu walked down a forked path.
"Annie!" she shouted a few times as she walked, but there was no reply.
The last bit of ambient light was kept well away from the narrow and cramped alley. Lin Sanjiu listened as her voice slowly faded into the air. She touched the wet, slippery moss on the walls. The alley got narrower further ahead and was filled with junk. Lin Sanjiu hesitated for a while in the dark. She thought for a moment and decided to return to the previous alley.
She turned around, and she suddenly stopped breathing.
Unbeknownst to her, a dark figure had followed her and was now standing behind her. White wisps appeared as he breathed heavily. Taken aback, Lin Sanjiu took a large step backward and prepared to take a pre-emptive strike.
"Don't be scared! It's me," the person suddenly spoke with a trembling voice.
Lin Sanjiu froze for a moment and realized that the dark figure was the young man.
"Why did you follow me?" Lin Sanjiu questioned quietly with her muscles still tensed.
"I… I… I want to show you something," the young man sounded nervous, "I don't want to talk outside this alley."
"Get out this instant," Lin Sanjiu emphasized each word. "You can show me what you want once we're out of here. I won't hold back otherwise."
"Why are you talking to me that way?" the young man was mildly infuriated. He eventually scoffed and turned around. "I don't get you women! Can't you even think? The only one you can trust in this game is me!"
Lin Sanjiu frowned slightly and hurried behind him. The two of them stopped at the intersection of the forked path. Lin Sanjiu stood some distance away from the young man before she questioned him cautiously, "What did you mean when you said that? What do you want to show me?"
The alley past the intersection was connected to the main street so it was brighter. Lin Sanjiu could now see the young man's expression. When he was furious, his pair of single-lidded upturned eyes seemed even sharper. His lips were pursed. However, when the man saw the alley ahead, his anger abated. He shuddered. Taking a step back, he hid back in the shadows. Without making a sound, he took out a penny from his shirt pocket. The edge of the penny was dented as if it had struck something.
Lin Sanjiu inspected the penny carefully and was baffled, "A penny? Why are you showing this to me?"
The young man held the penny tightly. Gulp. He swallowed his saliva. After hesitating for a few seconds, he finally stammered, "Isn't this plot common in detective novels? A group of people goes out to seek a murderer only to find that the murderer is among them…"
Lin Sanjiu didn't say a word. She shifted her gaze slowly.
"I f-found this among the glass fragments from the street lamp," the young man lowered his voice. Looking at Lin Sanjiu with earnest eyes, he continued, "I think this penny broke the street lamp. Do you still remember? When we left, the younger brother gave some pennies to Annie. I-I think…"
Lin Sanjiu suddenly shook her hand. Before the young man could react, Lin Sanjiu raised her voice and spoke to the person behind the young man, "You're back? Did you find her?"
Surprised, the young man nearly bit his tongue. He quickly slipped the penny into his trouser pocket. Noticing the shadow on his shoulder, he turned his head nervously and found himself looking straight at the younger brother's uneven, potato-like face. A pair of round black eyes stared back at him.
"I don't know where she ran," the younger brother replied. He didn't look any different than before. He eyed the young man for a while, "What were you discussing?"
"We were talking about Jack the Ripper," Lin Sanjiu tried her best to keep an unperturbed chuckle.
"He's just someone that killed a couple of people," the younger brother laughed for a bit. "I don't understand how he gained his infamy."
The young man's lips quivered and didn't say a single word.
The three of them suddenly fell into an awkward silence.
"Since we can't find that woman, let's go back." It was the younger brother who broke the silence. He scratched his chin and stared at them blankly before heading in the direction where they came. Lin Sanjiu exchanged a glance with the young man before they delayed their steps simultaneously. Keeping some distance between themselves and the younger potato brother, they slowly followed behind him.
The alley was as dark as before. There were puddles everywhere on the cobblestone pavement. Their footsteps reverberated through the silence. Before the echo of their first footsteps even faded, their second footsteps quickly followed, making it sound like there were more than three people in the alley.
As the walked, the young man suddenly asked a question with a trembling voice, "You...you and your brother, where are you from?"
"Why is he asking that?" Lin Sanjiu was startled but the potato brother turned around and looked at the young man. Then, he answered, "You probably never heard of the place we came from."
The young man shut his mouth and didn't say a word. The three of them left the alley and walked into a road. The wet streets were once again lit, albeit dimly, by the street lamps and the light from the pubs along the street. Once again, the streets were filled with human voices. A few prostitutes stood on the street, drenched. Their wet hair stuck tightly to their scalps while they continued soliciting. It seemed that no one noticed Anne's scream.
As the number of people around them increased, the young man grew braver and finally walked closer to Lin Sanjiu. He kept his eyes tightly glued on the younger brother's back. When he saw a few prostitutes surrounding and flirting with the younger brother, the man quickly whispered, "Don't you get what I mean? The only one you can trust in this game is me, and I can only trust you."
Lin Sanjiu raised a brow, doubtfully.
"Do you know where those two brothers came from?" the young man shook his head. His face was pale. "Anyway, I can't tell. They could pass as Europeans. They could be Asians or even Arabians. It all seems possible. What if-if they are just characters in this game? They might be pretending to be players… But, this is 19th century London. That's to say, anyone that doesn't belong to this game is probably…"
Lin Sanjiu looked at the man's mono-lids. She was starting to get a vague sense of what he was getting at.
"East Asian," she answered softly.