Chapter 56 – Impending Danger

6-8 minutes 14.03.2023

If you bit into an apple and found some worms, what would be the most horrifying number of worms to see?

Some might say one, or two, or even half a worm, but Bai Zhi would say the most horrifying outcome was… to take a bite and, instead of apple flesh, get nothing but a mouthful of wriggling worms.

It certainly painted a vivid picture.

Bai Zhi only stared warily at the person before him as these thoughts went through his mind.
Seeing that Bai Zhi seemed reluctant to speak, the university student decided to introduce himself.

“My name is Lin He*.
If I recall correctly, you were the last one to get on the bus, yes? Do you remember how many people there were on the bus when you boarded?”

“Including the driver and myself, eight in total,” said Bai Zhi with a twitch of his eyebrow.
“By the way, could you move a little? I can’t see the rest of the bus.
And since you asked, do you know if we’ve gained half a passenger or lost half a passenger?” 4887

Their conversation went unnoticed as the droning made by the moving bus perfectly masked the sounds.
Meanwhile, Lin He dutifully cleared a space between them by sliding into the opposite seat, next to the other window.

“I hope you’re mentally prepared for this—don’t freak out, it will attract the attention of ‘those things’…
Take a close look at the old lady sitting behind the driver.”

Bai Zhi clearly recalled that he had seen six other passengers when he had boarded the bus.
Naturally, the old lady sitting in the second row behind the driver had made the strongest impression, as she had placed, on the seat next to her, a bulging burlap sack so large it threatened to hang over the edge.
That odd feature was so unique that he couldn’t forget it even if he wanted to.

However, looking at her now, Bai Zhi spied, through the space under the chair, a pair of legs that had not been there before, dressed in white stockings and a pair of leather shoes.

From all appearances, whomever those legs belonged to had to be sitting right where the burlap sack was, but the very full sack was still firmly planted in the seat, and from what he had seen earlier, should have left no space for anyone to share the seat.

From where he sat, Bai Zhi had no way to see what it looked like from the front, but the sight of the legs alone was enough to indicate a problem.

“So?” said Lin He, jerking his head in the direction of the old woman.

Bai Zhi turned to make eye contact, then solemnly gave him a thumbs-up.

“Legs for days.”

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Bai Zhi’s unexpected response threw Lin He for a loop.
After a long pause, Lin He shifted closer to Bai Zhi once more and asked in a conspiratorial tone, “Bro, you’re a Player too, aren’t you?”

It was phrased as a question, but there was a ring of certainty in his voice.

“Those who are can say something like that with a straight face in such a spooky situation are either incorrigible perverts or seasoned Players who’ve seen it all, am I right?”

Bai Zhi shot a glance at the left side of the bus, where the mother-daughter pair and the delinquents were seated.
They seemed oblivious to the unusual development.

“How can you be so sure that I’m not one of ‘them’?” said Bai Zhi as he looked back at the legs motionlessly dangling over the chair.

“Well, I have a passive skill—Spirit Sense.”

Perhaps aware of the importance of making an ally in this situation, Lin He quite readily revealed his Player handle, as well as the details about his passive skill.

[ Salted Fish**: Level 9 ]

[ Skill Name: Spirit Sense ]

[ Type: Passive ]

[ Rank: Rare ]

[ Effect: Increases Perception by 2 points, grants some ability to detect hidden danger, sense falsehood and identify illusions ]

[ SE Consumption: None ]

[ Requirements: Perception of 12 or above ]

[ Note: “Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality.” – Einstein, probably ]

“Level 9…” said Bai Zhi as he narrowed his eyes thoughtfully.
A moment later, he decided to share his handle and level as well.

[ Black&White: Level 4 ]

After he revealed his Player information, Bai Zhi saw Lin He visibly sigh in relief.

“I’m glad we met.
When it comes to facing down the supernatural, there’s safety in numbers.
Well, any ideas how we’re going to handle this?”

Discretion was always the better part of valor when encountering a supernatural entity for the first time.
Those who would rush in gun blazing tended to go the way of the dodo, so in this, Lin He clearly showed the wisdom of experience.

We don’t make the first move, be still that we may adapt to change.^” said Bai Zhi, glancing at the increasingly unfamiliar landscape passing by his window.

Turning to look at Lin He, he said, “The doors and windows are all sealed off, while other means of leaving the bus have also been disabled.
It’s not like we’d be able to jump off the bus safely anyway, so all we need to do is sit tight and wait…
By the way, can your skill detect anything weird about the other passengers?”

Lin He shook his head.
“All I know is I get bad vibes from the spot next to the old woman, but good vibes at the back of the bus.
There’s only so much this skill can do.

Bai Zhi gazed out of the window.
The scenery was getting more desolate the further along the bus travelled, while the sky seemed to get gloomier by the minute.
Clearly, the bus was shuttling them toward a strange, uncharted location.

Lin He seemed to arrive at a similar conclusion as he watched the passing scenery from his side of the bus, but he pulled a long face that only grew longer the longer he stared.

“…Are we just going to twiddle our thumbs? I have a feeling that the longer we wait, the more deadly it’s going to get in here.”

“Just until the bus stops,” said Bai Zhi casually.
“Buses gotta stop sometime.”

The darkening sky loomed over a landscape that was rapidly transforming into something eerie.
The clouds took on increasingly grotesque formations as the trees themselves twisted into unnatural shapes, bizarrely resembling tortured human figures.

The way things were going, even if they successfully got off the bus, returning to the normal world seemed impossible.

The both of them had been keeping an eye on the mysterious pair of legs that had appeared out of nowhere, just in case something more unusual happened, but to their relief, nothing new had appeared since the disembodied legs.

However, something was rapidly changing inside the perfectly sealed vehicle.

The other passengers had finally wised up to the strange goings-on outside their windows.

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