178 Broken Finger 2in1

    Chapter 178: Broken Finger (2in1)

    Inside the dim loft, the swaying light reflected on the tall mirror. A mutated face colored in shock and surprise stared back at Gu Jun.

    "What kind of sick joke is this?" Gu Jun staggered over unevenly. His heart was clenched with worry. The strange man in the mirror approached him as well. The man was wearing a cotton suit, and underneath the foreign race's feature and the zombification, Gu Jun could pick out features of his own face.

    Was the outward reflection of the self an accurate portrayal of the real self? Certain cultures claimed that the mirror could steal fragments of one's soul, but how much of that was true? When he looked into a mirror, was it the real Gu Jun that stared back?

    Gu Jun reached out to touch his own face in the mirror. The strange man in the mirror did the same thing. It was as if he could feel the protruding bones under the skin through the mirror. The facial bone structure was mutating. Even the touch of the skin was different. It felt mottled like lichen that grew in dampness and darkness. He could hear a whispering in his heart.

    'You are Chandler. This is the real truth. Everything else is part of a hallucination. At the end of the day, they are mere stories that you have told yourself to escape the misery of your life inside this broken house...'

    "That is not true!" Gu Jun swiped with his hand, and the sword pierced the mirror. With a crisp shatter, the mirror broke into pieces. He lowered his head to look and saw that millions of the ugly faces were staring back at him.

    'No, no...' Gu Jun shook his head vehemently. 'It is this house that is muddling my mind. Is this part of the nightmare? Has it infiltrated my thoughts? Wait, this feels like the draining of my sweet dreams on the ship before it was interrupted... Could this house be the source of Nightmare Illness? It drains people's sweet dreams to replace them with nightmares?'

    He glanced around and saw the drawings on the wall staring back at him.

    Gu Jun's head was pulsing with pain, but within that wrenching pain, he was struck by inspiration, but it was quickly overwhelmed by a new voice convincing him, 'No, that was just your imagination. You are hallucinating.

    'No, there has to be a way to break out from this nightmare...

    'So, I am Chandler? I am a zombie?

    'You have shown me my face, but what about the rest of my body? Through the process of zombification, the human body will mutate into something different.

    'I need to wake up from this nightmare...'

    Gu Jun narrowed his eyes as he stared at his two hands. Suddenly, an idea came to him.

    'I am a doctor. I can dissect myself!'

    Earlier, the medic kit had been given to Wu Siyu to carry, and it had disappeared alongside the girl, but thankfully, Gu Jun had a toolbox strapped around his waist. He immediately took out a tourniquet and wrapped it tightly around the proximal phalange of his left pinkie to stop the blood circulation. He could feel the finger going numb and the skin turning purple. Everything was ready, well, except the anesthetic.

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    Thunder boomed outside the house, and it brought with it a heavier storm. The lashing winds took on the sound of screaming ghosts, an ominous portent if there ever was one. Gu Jun planted himself on the floor and placed the oil lamp beside him. He leaned his left hand as close as he could to the light, and the Carlot Scalpel was gripped tightly in his right. The dancing flame was a direct contrast to the cold glint of the steel.

    "Is that so?" Gu Jun was drenched in sweat. The skin and muscles of his fingertip had been shorn off to expose the bone inside. But the wound was still covered in too much blood and residual tissue for Gu Jun to see clearly...

    He grabbed the bandage to wipe away the blood and then used the scalpel to par away the excess. Each slice of the knife sent an electrifying pain through his body. His heart was almost bleeding from the pain. His face was a mask of terror, and he was sure his screams were getting more and more demented. The storm appeared to have picked up. It knocked against the manor until the whole structure felt like it was shaking. The light from the oil lamp was dancing so wildly that it could be extinguished at any moment.

    From Chen Defa's autopsy, Gu Jun knew that the surface of every bone in the zombie's body would be covered in that corrosive pattern. It was a biological change brought on by the mutation. This was the knowledge that would provide Gu Jun with the needle to poke through the nightmare. With the shimmering light, Gu Jun moved his shuddering left hand to the oil lamp. It lit up the dissected fingertip and the bone inside it. Gu Jun widened his eyes to look. The surface of the phalanx... there was no pattern at all. It belonged to a normal human being.

    "I told you I am not Chandler. I am definitely not a zombie," Gu Jun grumbled under his breath. It was not a loud proclamation, but something was lifting from his mind. It was as if a haze had been blown apart. The darkness that had enveloped his body earlier slowly faded away. Now, Gu Jun was sure he had been trapped inside a nightmare. Gu Jun looked around him. The manor was a prison for many people's souls, including their sweet dreams and nightmares. One of them was the nightmare of the watcher and perhaps even the nightmare of Chandler himself.

    The watcher's diary should be a creation of this nightmare and not the actual one from the foreign world. In other words, the system's reward was not just a diary but a figment pulled out from this nightmare that provided Gu Jun the connection to it. The system remained an unreadable factor, but the fact that the abyssal mission would give this kind of reward meant that the watcher's nightmare was going to be the key. This nightmare the watcher had about the epidemic sweeping over the foreign world might be what the R'yleh Cult and Ol' Uncle Dog had used to cultivate the Nightmare Illness that was currently ravaging Eastern State.

    Since a change in the dream would cause a shift in the watcher's mind, causing a change in his diary entry, could the reverse be true as well? Gu Jun settled down and believed it was worth a try. He opened the diary in his mind and focused his mind to write a new entry.

    "Just as I thought the night was going to end in the worst way possible, the Carlot Doctors have arrived! They have rushed ahead of schedule to come rescue this poor town. To our village's hope and surprise, there was one notable member among the doctors. It was the legendary Son of Steel. He has arrived at our humble village!"

    Gu Jun watched as the outpouring of happiness, and joy filled the page. Suddenly, it felt like an earthquake had hit the surroundings of the house. Everything was shifting and changing again.
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