Plague Doctor - Chapter 71

Published at 19th of October 2020 09:28:30 AM

Chapter 71: Forgotten Past

It was quiet in the barracks . Gu Jun looked at the screen, and it felt like the patient inside the video was looking at him as well .

“This is just a simple line up procedure meant for facial recognition,” Wang Ke explained . “The people doing the identification are all 1024 patients who have suffered from hallucinations inside this camp . ”

‘A line up procedure?’ Gu Jun knew that was a type of investigative procedure used in criminal investigation . Normally, the victims or witnesses would be asked to pick out the suspect from a line-up .

“We mixed together the pictures of thirty people . They have different builds, facial features, and hairstyles . The psychology group assured us that there is no existent unique property within the selection of pictures, and before the process, we did not drop any suggestions toward any of the patient,” Wang Ke said . “The procedure starts with the computer randomly playing the pictures of the thirty people to the patient . The first time, the patient only needs to look through them, but after the second rotation of random thirty pictures, the victim will be asked, was there anyone among the thirty that was similar to the person they encountered during their hallucination? If they had to pick a picture among the thirty, which picture would it be?”

Right then, in the video, the eyes of the patient suddenly widened . He raised his finger to point . “This is him . I have seen this man . ”

The video swapped to another angle . Gu Jun now saw that there was a computer placed before the victim, and the picture showing on the monitor? It was his internship ID from Phecda . It was him, Gu Jun .

“…” Gu Jun took a deep breath, but it did nothing to unfurl his heart . He did not recognize this patient; he had not met this man in his life . Before he could settle on his thought, the video switched to the next patient and the next… but the picture they all identified was of the same man, Gu Jun . The members of the Investigation Department around him sliced at him with their gazes that spoke of suspicion, danger, and violence . They were demanding an explanation from him . Or perhaps this was their psychological tactic to pressure him into submission so that he would surrender for a lighter punishment .

“Doctor Gu, of the 1024 patients, 751 of them identified you . ” Wang Ke probably elected himself the role of the mediator . His tone was objective and even . “The other 206 did not choose . Sixty-seven chose others . And of the 751 that chose you, more than half of them, 397 of them to be precise, were certain that they had met you in their hallucination, but they could not recall the details . ”

Cai Yichong, Tang Ziyin, and the rest were basically glaring at him now . They did not know Gu Jun in private . After a brief interaction, they thought he was quite a trustworthy person . But the uniformity of seventy-three percent, that was enough to convict a criminal in a normal case, and that was probably with just several witnesses and ten pictures . But now they had 1024 sample size . From thirty pictures, seventy-three percent identified the same person . Gu Jun was not a public figure, and he had not been in the news . He did not even use his own picture on his social media profile . The Investigation Department must have known about all that, so why did this happen? Well, it could only be due to abnormal energy .

Wang Ke’s face now only had severity left on it . “Doctor Gu, we suspect that you are that ‘thing inside the banyan tree’ referred to by all these patients . ”

“Captain Wang, everyone,” Gu Jun said lightly . The hope in his heart was drenched by a cold sweat . The bone-tingling chill transmuted into a complete loss . “I have no idea what is behind this . I hope you can provide me with the truth…”

He glanced around him to find some support, but he realized that other than Wang Ke, the rest of them were still levelling stern and rigid looks at him . They were still applying pressure on him . This lit up the anger within him .

‘I am different from those killers from the Afterlife Cult!’

He was reminded of Wang Ruoxiang, Zixuan, and his friends . He thought of Surgeon Zhu and the gang, Brother Qiang and Professor Gu…

He thought back to his hard work in the lab, the effort he had put into training, the fight he had at the surgical table, the laughter that he had shared and the tears he shed . The sense of belonging that he found again as well as the determination to become a doctor that finally returned .

“I am a doctor . ” Gu Jun’s eyes were laser-focused, and his tone was peaceful and powerful . “Before I came here, I was just in an arduous operation . We had to pull out the young parasites left behind by the subterrain giant worm inside a patient’s upper right arm . All the possible nutrients, worms, and sacs had to be cleaned properly . We worked hard for thirteen hours . ”

He had seen the cruelty of the Afterlife Cult . He had also gained some clues from his illusions and memory . He had never once suspected that the Afterlife Cult or even himself would be related to this . But… Gu Jun swept over the faces of Wang Ke, Cao Yichong, and the rest . “Officers, I too hate the culprit behind this Malformed Banyan Disease as must as you do . I wish that I could help you catch them all tonight, but I am just a doctor . I can only help save the victim; that is the most I can do . ”

Hearing the confession from Gu Jun, the gaze from the group softened . After more than ten hours of surgery where he had not consumed even a drop of water, this was truly a good doctor .

“Doctor Gu,” Wang Ke said in a softer tone, “we do not suspect that you are the one who spread the disease, but we believe you might be connected somehow . All this suspicion is based on clues and proof, and this is merely one of the scenarios that we are contemplating . ”

“What other scenarios are there?” Gu Jun asked .

“Well, let us conduct an experiment to find out . We are pressed for time . Just consider this as working overtime, Doctor Gu . ” Then, Wang Ke and a few of his people led Gu Jun into a smaller barrack . This was the room in the video . The front room was separated from the backroom with a clear glass wall . Gu Jun was told to sit on the chair in the backroom and face the front room .

“Doctor Gu, we will lead the 1024 patients into the front room in teams of ten each time to look at you, and we will see what happens . ” That was all Wang Ke gave him before he and the rest of his team exited . He could see the soundproof door between the two rooms .

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“…” Gu Jun could see the camera in the four corners of the room . Through the glass window, he could see Wang Ke’s team standing to the side . Soon, Tang Ziyin and another investigator brought in a batch of ten patients . They were of different backgrounds—male, female, young, old . There were grandparents in wheelchair, middle-aged ladies using cans, young people already familiar with the fake limbs, and children who were missing a sleeve . Once they looked at them, they were overwhelmed by fear and disbelief . How could someone from their hallucinations be sitting right before them?

The color drained from one girl’s face . She hid behind the adult in panic, but even so, she could not stop crying until Tang Ziyin had to cancel the session early to bring her out . Gu Jun did not move . His expression did not even change . He only sat there quietly, listening to the soft whispering of the patients giving more details that might further condemn him to the investigators .

The batch of patients swapped endlessly . More faces of horror were seared into his mind, and the whispering kept on going, ringing…

The faces and whisperings assaulted Gu Jun, and his head started to throb . Blurry lights danced before his eyes . He was no longer familiar with this feeling . Could this mean that the illusion from the black and white picture… was about to be triggered?

‘But why now?’ Gu Jun did not get it . The headache became stronger . This was not at all similar to the scenario inside the picture . To make things worse… he was under heavy surveillance of the people from Investigation Department . Even the smallest discrepancy would not escape their eyes .

‘Please don’t come now!’ He gritted his teeth to stop the illusion from coming, but as the batches of patients walked in and out, the dancing mirage became more real… and the whispering in his ears became clearer .

Gu Jun clamped his hands tightly over his head . But he could see the faces of every patient . Slowly, they all changed into the very same one, the face of that withered man .

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What if… this was Wang Ke’s plan all along? They knew about the picture, and this was the only way to trigger the illusion?

“I need the truth . I need answers… Let me look…” Once that intention crossed his mind, Gu Jun fell into his illusion immediately . It was that nightmare again…

The clouds were dark and low . A large banyan tree stood before him . The thick branches and convoluted roots appeared to have grabbed the world and twisted it out of shape .

On the muddy ground, more than a hundred people in black and about ten people in red knelt on the ground, their heads touching the decayed mud . They were genuflecting at the large banyan tree, mumbling some unknown whispers . It sounded like nonsense but also feverish praise . Inside the main trunk of the big banyan tree, there was a large tree hole that had rotted out of the trunk .

Inside the tree hole, a figure appeared to be seated there . It was a boy just several years old . He was dressed in a strange outfit, wearing a crown made from the banyan tree’s leaves and roots . He was like their king, their god . The boy looked down on his worshipers, his young face devoid of emotion . His two eyes were pure black like an abyss staring back at them .

There was a chilling voice that echoed through the heaven and earth . It was the little boy who was speaking . “I am the Son of Misfortune . But you, you must know, you are creations of filth, creations of foolishness, creations of perversity…”

Gu Jun recognized this little boy as himself .

Gu Jun, the thing inside the banyan tree .