In Virtual Reality 40 ☆ Death Notice (24/25)

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On Hungry Ghost Festival, Cao Wei Min took a brief break from Old Li and headed home early in the evening to prepare for the occasion.
After sundown, he descended the stairs with a black bag in hand.

In the courtyard, an Osmanthus tree of remarkable height and straightness stood.
Heavy porcelain flower beds arranged around its base supported the tree's growth, leading it deeper into the earth.

As the night deepened, many people gathered in the courtyard to burn paper money in honour of their deceased loved ones.
Cao Wei Min noticed some young individuals being forced by their elders to bow towards the fire pit while muttering, “May our ancestors bless the younger generation with academic success.”

Cao Wei Min averted his gaze, carefully stepping over the burning and unburned paper ashes, and walked towards the Osmanthus tree.
He located a small empty space and drew a neat white circle on the ground with chalk.
He took his belongings from the bag, revealing a white paper with “Ye Chengjing” written on it.

As he was about to begin, a cough from behind startled him.
He turned to find Auntie Jiang, an old lady in thin black clothes and pants.

“Weimin?” Auntie Jiang said, coughing twice.

“Auntie Jiang,” Cao Wei Min responded.

“Are you here to burn paper money?” Auntie Jiang asked.

Cao Wei Min hesitated before saying, “No, I came to burn something.”

“Good, good!” Auntie Jiang nodded approvingly.
“You forgot to do this in previous years.
This year, you should burn something for the ancestors underground and let them bless you.”

Her coughs intensified, and her chest heaved violently.
“Cough, cough…
I can't, I can't stay here.
Weimin, you go ahead and burn it.
I'll go back first…
the smoke in this courtyard is quite big.”

Cao Wei Min offered to assist her, but she declined, insisting she could walk alone.
“I just choked a little, it's not like I broke my legs!” she exclaimed.

As the woman staggered away, Cao Wei Min reached into his black plastic bag and retrieved a miniature paper gun model.
He rifled through the pack, producing a lighter to ignite the model.
Placing it within a white circle, he softly muttered, “Old Ye, wherever you may be, I hope this offering for the Hungry Ghost Festival will reach you.
Forget about paper money, let's burn something for self-defence so that you won't be bullied by any ghosts.”

While speaking, Cao Wei Min retrieved a small Gatling gun model from his bag.
“I don't know if you have used this before, but you are familiar with firearms anyway and can figure it out by fiddling with it,” he mumbled as he burned the small model, eschewing traditional paper money.

Once everything was consumed by the flames, it was nearly 11 o'clock.
Cao Wei Min hesitated momentarily, then pressed his palms together and bowed to the remaining white ash.
“I also burned a cellphone for you.
If you receive it, remember to call me and give me some news…
Over the years, I have been searching for you head down, but I haven't found any decent clues.
You have to work hard on your own.”

A breeze swept by, cooling Cao Wei Min's face, which had heated up from the fire.
After extinguishing the flames and ensuring they would not reignite, he packed up the plastic bag and headed inside the building.

Cao Wei Min's house was on the third floor, with an anti-theft iron on the second and third floors.
The first and second floors belonged to an advertising company with no anti-theft measures.
This residential building had no elevator, and the overhead lights were motion sensors.
Cao Wei Min clapped his hands as he entered the building, triggering the lights to automatically turn on.

His phone rang as he climbed to the second floor under the warm yellow light.
Startled, he froze before quickly answering after three rings.
“Hello? Uncle Ye?!”

“…Don't scare me in the middle of the night,” exclaimed a young male voice on the phone.
“It's me, your buddy Yang.”

Yang was Cao Wei Min's college classmate and had been appointed to the Calmnorth City Public Security Bureau after graduation.

“Hoo…” Cao Wei Min breathed out, unsure whether it was relief or regret, “What's up? Why are you calling so late?”

“Isn't there something strange happening in your Jiang City recently?” Buddy Yang asked.

At the Calmnorth City Police Station, Officer Yang turned his head to look at the young male and female college students crowded in the lobby with different expressions.
He spoke to Cao Wei Min on the phone, “We've had a major incident here.
36 people have just escaped from some 'Dark Virtue University.' I analyzed it just now, which is likely related to the 'strange' incidents.
We're currently reviewing the surveillance footage and should know soon if it's related.
We've been investigating this all along, haven't we? We're all colleagues investigating Spirit Shenanigans, so let me give you some information.
Is that enough for you?” Buddy Yang said.

“I appreciate it,” Cao Wei Min said as he pushed open the iron gate and went up to his door, jangling his keys.
“Are you in charge of this matter?”

“It seems so because I'm on duty tonight.” Buddy Yang chuckled.
“I'm interested in these things, as you know, but there have been too few Spirit Shenanigans events discovered.
I thought this was just a gimmick.”

“If your chief heard you say that, he'd knock your head off,” Cao Wei Min sneered.
He pushed open his door and paused momentarily before asking, “I'm going to Calmnorth City tomorrow.
Can you arrange for me to meet those people?”

“Why don't you apply to Li's team directly?” Buddy Yang felt strange.
“Since you're all investigating strange incidents, meeting with related personnel isn't a big deal.”

Cao Wei Min didn't say anything and just clicked his tongue.

“Oh~ He's afraid you'll act impulsively, right?” Buddy Yang immediately found the core reason.
“But you need to change that temper of yours.
Don't just rush forward when it comes to anything related to Officer Ye.
With your momentum, you might fall into a pit one day.”

“Can you arrange something?” asked Cao Wei Min over the phone.

“Sure, since you're already here, wouldn't Captain Li approve of it? Hurry up and come over,” replied Buddy Yang, before hanging up.

Immediately, Cao Wei Min purchased a ticket on his mobile phone and rushed to Calmnorth City to be there at 4 o'clock in the morning.

Meanwhile, Officer Yang was feeling a little troubled.
This mysterious incident occurred ten minutes ago while he was on night duty at the Calmnorth City Police Station.
A male student, Shen Jia, called to explain his and his classmates' strange experience.

Officer Yang alerted the chief and assembled a team of colleagues before heading to Bright Virtue University, where more than thirty people had suddenly appeared at the gate on the night of the Hungry Ghost Festival.
The security guard on duty was frightened by the shocking scene when Shen Jia collided with another student and fell to the ground.
The security guard called the police.

Officer Yang left a colleague to retrieve the surveillance footage while he and another colleague escorted the group of people back to the police station.
Fortunately, the others had no severe injuries except for Shen Jia and the male student he injured.

The doctor treated Shen Jia and Peng Jia Lang, one with a broken arm and the other with both arms fractured.
Shen Jia had suffered a broken arm, while the other student broke his arms unexpectedly when trying to support himself after being hit.

As the group of people waited in the police station lobby, Officer Yang confirmed that they were all students of Bright Virtue University.
“I just listened to your descriptions and have a general understanding,” he said.
“But now there is a small problem.
Some of you are locals, and some are not.
This incident is related to 'Shenanigans,' and until we figure out the cause, I hope you all can sit here at the police station for a while.
You can inform your families that you are safe, but please don't mention anything about entering the 'Shenanigans' yet, okay?”

Officer Yang addressed the group of students, emphasizing the gravity of the situation.
“This is a serious matter, and it's important that everyone remains calm.
I will speak to some of you later to gather more information.
You can trust that the Calmnorth City Police Station has everything under control.”

Upon hearing Officer's reassurance, the group of students breathed a sigh of relief, although the tension in the room was still palpable.
Given that more than thirty people were involved, Officer knew that if the situation was not handled carefully, it could spiral out of control.

He turned to his colleagues and requested a notebook and pen.
“Please write down your name, ID number, and phone number, and include the contact information of your family members, so that we can notify them as quickly as possible.”

As the paper and pen were passed among the group, Buddy's colleagues returned with surveillance footage of the incident.
The male police officer connected the USB drive to the computer, and Buddy leaned in to watch.

The footage revealed that thirty-six people had suddenly appeared at the gate of Bright Virtue University, including a male student named Shen Jia.
As he watched, he noticed that Shen Jia had fallen in a parabolic arc on the back of another male student.

As Officer Yang continued to watch the surveillance footage, he wondered if the incident could be classified as a Spirit Shenanigans Event.

He watched the footage repeatedly, searching for clues until he was interrupted by Shen Jia, who had a bandage on his left hand and stood outside the front desk.
“Excuse me, police officer,” he said.
“Did you get the surveillance footage? I want to know if there was a person wearing a pink hoodie in the footage.”

Pink Hoodie? Officer Yang was intrigued.
'Why does this adjective sound so familiar?'

He asked, “What's wrong? Is that person your classmate?”

Shen Jia explained, “Uh…
no, but they helped us a lot.
We were able to come out because of their help.”

Officer Yang paused, contemplating this new information.
“I'm sorry, student, I didn't see the person you mentioned in the surveillance footage,” he said.

Shen Jia and the other students were stunned.
“What?!” they exclaimed.
“How could that be?!”

“Are you sure they didn't appear?!”

The students eavesdropping on the conversation were taken aback by this revelation, expressing their shock and disbelief in varying degrees.

“They, how could they not come out? They are Silence!” exclaimed one of the group members.

“Why…” others murmured, unable to comprehend the situation.

Some individuals couldn't help but secretly sob.

Lu Er Er's small face turned pale.
After the intense exercise, she felt a bloody taste in her nasal cavity and throat.
When she heard the news, the little girl almost spat out blood.
“She, she couldn't have died…?” Lu Er Er fell beside Cao Ya and muttered, “If I had known, I wouldn't have let her turn back…”

Lu Er Er was one of those who were carried by Silence.
When she stumbled and rushed towards the gate, she saw Silence turning back without hesitation.

Ah Ma covered her throbbing forehead and didn't say anything.
The people in Room 502 appeared particularly despondent.

Shen Jia, who knew why Silence turned back, clenched his right hand.

'Did Silence…
really die?'

Although Officer Yang didn't know who Silence was, he deduced something from the group's reactions.
He patted Shen Jia on the shoulder and said, “Rest for a while, and we'll talk about some things later.”


Later, when Cao Wei Min rushed to the Calmnorth City Police Station, it was already 7 o'clock in the morning.
Officer Yang, who had been snoozing, thought some wild man had reappeared in the forest when he saw Cao Wei Min's scruffy beard rush into the police station.

Buddy Yang rubbed his sleepy eyes and yawned, “You came fast.”

“Where are the people?”

“They've been arranged to rest in a hotel.
Most of them are out-of-town students.
With the approval of the bureau chief, some of the out-of-town students have contacted their families, and they're rushing over.”

Buddy Yang stood up, fiddled in his position, and handed a thick file to Cao Wei Min, yawning again.
“Take a look…
Ha~ this is the compiled information.
Check if there's any contact with Officer Ye.”

Cao Wei Min took the file and flipped through it directly.

After a long time, he closed the file.

“Still nothing?” Seeing his calm expression, Buddy Yang knew what was going on.
“Okay, okay, don't be discouraged.
Maybe all of them will appear suddenly later.”

Cao Wei Min nodded attentively as Officer Yang provided him with the latest information.
“According to your report, there were fifty students who entered the mysterious place, but only thirty-six survived, leaving…
fourteen dead?”

Buddy Yang corrected him, “Actually, there were thirteen casualties, and one individual volunteered to stay in the so-called Dark Virtue university.”

Cao Wei Min felt his heart sink at the thought of so many lives lost.
“What is the plan now?”

“The chief is in a meeting discussing whether to publicize the 'Spirit Shenanigans' and increase public awareness.”

Cao Wei Min frowned, gripping the documents tightly.
“But there have been too few incidents.
Even if we raise awareness, we cannot prevent it.
I fear it may do more harm than good.”

“We can't keep it a secret.
Plus, remember how your city in Jiang province released precautions for the 'Eternal Bus' earlier? The public didn't panic.”

“But many people died this time,” Cao Wei Min replied.

Fourteen people, thirteen lives, and one went crazy and stayed in the mysterious place.

Officer Yang attempted to reassure him, patting his shoulder.
“Don't worry, the decision hasn't been made yet.
For now, let's focus on what we can do.
There's something important I need to tell you.”

Cao Wei Min raised an eyebrow, curious.
“What is it?”

“Hey, look at you, curious old man!” Buddy Yang laughed, but he also knew that the situation was urgent.

“Well, it seems that these students also encountered the pink hoodie,” Officer Yang said, a mischievous glint in his eye.
“Especially this person named Shen Jia.
He had a lot of contact with Oh-Silence, the guy in the pink hoodie.” Tiezi Yang threw his phone to Cao Wei Min, and the screen showed Shen Jia's phone number.
“You can talk to him.”

“Thanks.” Cao Wei Min saved the phone number, feeling complicated.

Silence again…
Was that really the guy's real name?


Cao Wei Min's meeting with Shen Jia was brief.

Based on information from his friend Yang, Cao Wei Min proceeded directly to Shen Jia's hotel room.
As he approached the door, it opened to reveal a handsome but wan face with dark circles under the eyes.
Shen Jia had not slept well.
After confirming Cao Wei Min's identity, he allowed him to enter.

Both men sat in silence for a while before Cao Wei Min spoke up.
“Shen Jia, I have acquired more information about the case.
I am here to ask you some questions.”

“Please proceed; I will cooperate,” replied Shen Jia calmly, apparently unimpressed by the unusual behaviour of the detective.

Cao Wei Min inquired about “Silence,” a person mentioned by many of the witnesses.
Shen Jia hesitated momentarily before responding, “I can only say that Silence is an outstanding senior who was instrumental in our escape.
They are intimately familiar with Dark Virtue University and claim to be a junior there.”

Cao Wei Min pressed for more details, but Shen Jia's response was disappointing.
“Their name is Silence, and although it may seem strange, I believe they were not lying to me.
As for their birthplace and other information, I'm sorry, I have no idea.”

After a few more questions, Cao Wei Min's notebook remained empty of valuable clues.
Silence was too enigmatic, and obtaining information about them seemed almost impossible.
Cao Wei Min prepared to leave, but as Shen Jia closed the door behind him, a thought occurred to the detective.

“Wait,” he said, grabbing the door frame and looking back at Shen Jia, who appeared surprised.
“Do you have a sister named Shen Xi?”

Shen Jia nodded in response.

Shen Xi was one of the survivors of the Eternal Bus!

Cao Wei Min's mind was racing with questions about the survivors of the haunted house incident.
He couldn't help but wonder if there was any connection between them.
Tian Si De and Fang Wen Wen, both were alumni to Shen Jia.
This left him with a sense of unease.
But before he could come to a conclusion, his phone rang.
He answered it cautiously, “Hello?”

Ever thoughtful, Shen Jia closed the door so as not to disturb him.

“Is there something wrong?” Cao Wei Min asked.

“It's me, Li Dui,” a harsh and low voice came through the phone.
“I heard you rushed to Calmnorth City overnight? Are you going on a business trip or trying to switch jobs?”

Cao Wei Min hesitated to respond.

“Come back quickly.
The bureau is going to hold an important meeting.”


In one day, Cao Wei Min shuttled back and forth between Jiang City and Calmnorth City.
He finally arrived at the Jiang City Police Station before 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

When he pushed open the door and entered the conference room, Old Li glanced at him.
“Why are you standing? Sit down.”

After everyone sat down, Old Li continued, “The higher-ups have decided to selectively reveal the 'Spirit Shenanigans' to the public, one is to protect more people's safety, and the other is to strengthen the investigation of the mystery! The direction of the online discussion needs to be controlled, and too much panic should be avoided.
Comrades responsible for this aspect must be cautious.
And Little Wang,” Old Li pointed to Wang Ju, “You and He Du have both dealt with survivors of the buss incident.
You have experience, so the two of you will be in charge of coordinating with Calmnorth City on this mystery.”

Cao Wei Min's mind was still racing with thoughts about the mystery.
“Li Dui!” he suddenly exclaimed.
“I have found out that Shen Jia, one of the survivors of this university mystery incident, is the brother of Shen Xi, a survivor of the Eternal Bus incident.
Tian Si De and Fang Wen Wen are also Shen Jia's alumni.
There is some connection between them.
Moreover, there were 36 survivors this time, and they also came into contact with the pink hoodie.
We can draw the hoodie image from the descriptions of these mystery survivors—.

“Comrade Cao Wei Min,” Old Li interrupted him, “as I said before, you are responsible for searching the visitor records of the Mofen Amusement Park in recent years.
You don't need to focus on anything else for the time being.”

“But!” Cao Wei Min opened his mouth, wanting to refute something.

“Officer Cao, what is your duty? You were brought into the investigation of these strange and mysterious events to ensure the safety of the public, not to vent personal emotions! Obey orders!” Old Li said firmly.


The meeting ended unpleasantly, and after Cao Wei Min left, Wang Ju found Old Li.

“Captain Li, what about Xiao Cao?” Wang Ju asked.

Old Li waved his hand.
“It's fine.
Young people need to follow orders and gain more experience.
Otherwise, when they face big problems, they'll charge ahead without listening, causing our police station to suffer.”

Wang Ju hesitated for a moment, then laughed.
“You're right.
Little Cao's temper needs to change.”

Old Li changed the subject.
“Have you found any more information?”

“We've found more information about 'Jin,'” Wang Ju said, handing him some records.
“Not everyone thinks that the young person wearing a pink hoodie is male.
Some survivors think they are female.”

“How many survivors?” It could be due to mental shock or misidentification if it was a small number.

“Half,” Wang Ju handed him the records she had in her hand.
“It's not a small number.”

Old Li thought about this.
If they couldn't determine the gender, could they trust any other information they had on 'Silence'?

“This is really…” he muttered, his eyes narrowing.


The clues were as delicate as a spider's silk, barely visible but still discernible.


After clearing the game, Xu Jin Yi immediately turned off the recording and rushed to the gaming website.

…Tsk, she wasn't the first to clear the game.
Someone had beaten her by only three seconds!

Logging into her account, Xu Jin Yi edited the video and submitted it to the official “Death Notice” channel.
Although she didn't clinch the top spot, she could still get the annual Outstanding Video Contributor award, right?

The video was soon uploaded to her personal gaming account as well.

After loosening her muscles, Xu Jin Yi rose and grabbed a bottle of lychee soda.
She looked at the nearly-empty fridge and decided to go for a walk and buy some things from the supermarket in the evening.

In the brief time since submitting her video, she had refreshed the gaming website platform and saw numerous comments in the comment section.

The top comment read: [Thank you to the “Death Notice” official channel.
Excelsior, who had disappeared, finally remembered their account.
[Serene smile.jpg]]


——— Translator's Notes ———

Old Li Captain/Lieutenant His title might change since I am not sure about his position.
He might be the Captain of their little group but his official position in the police hierarchy is Lieutenant?

Zhongyuan (中元节) Festival: a traditional Chinese festival, also known as Hungry Ghost Festival, held on the fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month to commemorate and honor deceased ancestors and ghosts.
People usually burn offerings, including paper money, and items believed to be useful in the afterlife during this festival.

Paper money: a type of paper burned during traditional Chinese ancestor veneration ceremonies to provide currency for the deceased to use in the afterlife.

Osmanthus tree: a common ornamental tree in China with fragrant flowers.

The Gatling gun is a rapid-firing multiple-barrel firearm invented in 1861 by Richard Jordan Gatling.
It is an early machine gun and a forerunner of the modern electric motor-driven rotary cannon.

“Tiezi” (铁子) means “iron buddy,” which is a common way for friends to address each other in casual conversations.
I don't know if this is his real surname, so for now I use it as a Buddy

Yang 杨 = poplar

“Anbei” (安 = (bound form) calm; peaceful / to calm; to set at ease / safe; secure; in good health / content; 北 = north / (classical) to be defeated)

“野人重出森林了” (wild man reappeared in the forest) is a Chinese idiom that means something unexpected has happened.

“唰一下” (shuā yī xià) is a colloquial expression that means something may happen suddenly.

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