Person by the Pillow
Flames burst into the sky. Ning Ning opened her eyes from the audience seat.
“Welcome back.” Shi Zhong Tang’s voice rang out beside her ear. He was sitting on the seat beside her, they were shoulder to shoulder with their heads leaning on the other as intimately as lovers. He whispered to her, “Hush, it’s about to start.”
Ning Ning swallowed her words and watched the screen along with him.
The movie began.
A bridal bouquet flew up in the air and descended on a group of people, pairs upon pairs of hands were reaching out towards it. In the end, a chubby hand caught it.
“Congratulations, Yun Lin.” Yan Qing walked towards her while holding up her bridal gown, she smiled innocently. “The next person to get married would definitely be you.”
“Thank you.” Yun Lin smiled at Yan Qing while embracing the bouquet, her smile held a very deep meaning.
“Introduce her to your friends or colleagues.” Yan Qing turned around and looked at the groom beside her. “Yun Lin here is a very nice person.”
Ning Ning’s breath became unstable once the man dressed in a black suit appeared on screen.
“Sure, I will ask around.” Pei Xuan smiled elegantly. He took the opportunity to glance behind him and smiled at Yun Lin as he whisked Yan Qing away.
This happened right under the nose of Yan Qing, but she trusted her husband too much, she trusted her best friend too much, that was why she did not think that anything was off.
“What is this?”
The wedding had ended, the couple returned to their new house. Once they entered the door, Yan Qing saw that the house was filled with photo frames, every photo frame had a photo of herself. At a glance, it looked like she was being stared at by countless versions of herself.
“It’s a wedding gift to you.” Pei Xuan hugged her from behind, saying gently, “Do you like it?”
Honestly speaking, it wouldn’t matter if it was one or two photos, but filling the house with her photos made Yan Qing feel a little uncomfortable. But she could only play along for now, she forced out a smile. “I do.”
“I knew you would like it.” Pei Xuan smiled. His look held a deeper meaning as he looked at the new house. “From today onwards, this villa would be filled with you.”
Yan Qing did not know what he really meant by that statement at the time.
Until a series of events happened later.
A random man forced a kiss on her and she was photographed right at that moment. The photographs were then plastered everywhere across the school. The principal talked to her, her colleagues gossiped about her, the students looked at her in a different way, her parents cried, her best friend distanced herself…
Yan Qing felt like she was being abandoned by the world, luckily there was one person who had not abandoned her.
“The world and the people outside would only hurt you.” Pei Xuan caressed her cheek and looked at her pitifully. “You may as well stay here.”
Yan Qing was taken aback. “What do you mean?”
“You don’t have to explain to those people anymore, they won’t believe you no matter what you say anyway.” Pei Xuan said, “Quit your job, stay in the house and don’t go out, don’t meet anyone outside either. Everyone would forget about it after a month or so.”
Yan Qing was slightly perturbed. She considered it for a moment before shaking her head with a sense of loss. “What about my father and mother? Even if everyone couldn’t find me, they could still find my parents. If they couldn’t scold me, they would scold them. Boohoo…”
She started crying out of sadness the moment she thought of her parents’ hair turning white.1
“Hush, now.” Pei Xuan hugged her to console her as he beguiled her with these words in her ear, “Leave it to me, I have a method that will be the best of both worlds.”
Yan Qing—who was hurt and puzzled—indulged in his false care and nodded gently.
Afterwards, Pei Xuan went to look for her parents. He made use of their love for their daughter—of Yan Qing’s wish to escape from reality—to easily make them agree to his plan. The body of a female vagrant picked up from the streets, a fake funeral, it was there that Ning Ning saw herself and Li Ping Ping.
“This is?” Pei Xuan turned his head and looked at Ning Ning as he pretended not to know her.
Li Ping Ping introduced her reluctantly, “This is mine and Yan Qing’s colleague, Yun Lin.”
“Nice to meet you.” The man reached his hand out to Ning Ning. “Thank you for coming to Yan Qing’s funeral. I am her husband, Pei Xuan.”
Ning Ning also put on a look of someone who did not know him, reaching out her hand towards him.
They held each other’s hands, the two accomplices were officially entwined together.
Afterwards, they would date, get married, and consummate the marriage.
Yan Qing let out a painful wail as she watched everything from behind the walls.
“I treated you as my best friend, I treated you as my lover.” She shed tears from behind the peephole, her fingernails were digging into the wall. “Yun Lin, Pei Xuan, why must you hurt me like this?”
Yan Qing had never hurt anyone before, she had also never made any enemies before. She didn’t understand how a person could be so vicious, didn’t understand why her friend and her husband could stab her in the back.
A stab in the back by an enemy would not make a person despair, a stab in the back by someone you know would be the thing that hurt the most.
“It’s so hopeless, it’s so painful, it’s so regrettable…” Yan Qing knelt on the floor, her tears dripped on the floor, “Oh God, oh God, please save me, rescue me from this place…or…or…”
Her voice was raspy from her sobs, she was only able to form a sentence after a while.
“Or let me redo this again…” She shrieked sadly, “Redo this again!! I will never believe in Yun Lin again, I will never believe in Pei Xuan again, I will never believe in anyone again!!”
As the sad shrill rang out, a knock on the door was heard. Ning Ning who was reading the newspaper in the living room got up to open the door.
The next door neighbour was standing at her door, she was an old woman who had a mix of white and grey hair. She held a letter in her hands, telling Ning Ning with slight disbelief, “There’s a letter here for Yan Qing.”
No one but the people in Life Theater heard Yan Qing’s voice.
They started sending out tickets to her.
The first ticket was hidden in the letter, the second one was hidden in Ning Ning’s newly bought bridal gown, the third one was slipped inside an old newspaper. Besides the second ticket, the other two were intercepted by Pei Xuan.
“…He is intercepting tickets right?” Ning Ning finally could not bear it and turned around to ask Shi Zhong Tang, “Does Life Theater allow him to do that?”
“Of course Life Theater would not allow it, but he is the former doorman, he even managed to successfully defect.” Shi Zhong Tang stared at the Pei Xuan on the screen while coldly saying, “Not only did he escape from the control of Life Theater, he even kept his memory of the Theater…Ning Ning.”
He turned around and looked at Ning Ning, he said earnestly and sincerely, “You will definitely see him frequently in movies from now on. I even suspect that he is still alive right now, somewhere beside you, as someone you may or may not know. You have to be vigilant, don’t let him figure out who you are.”
Ning Ning’s expression turned solemn. She seemed to have understood why Boss Qu and Shi Zhong Tang insisted that this movie was dangerous.
The movie was not what was dangerous, it was the person who escaped the theater’s control in the movie.
“…Is there a need to be this nervous?” Ning Ning attempted to lighten the mood. Even though she recognised that Pei Xuan was a dangerous person, she did not think that he would pose a threat to her. “It’s not a big deal even if he figured out who I am. He was just a ticket seller, at worst he would grab hold of me to ask if I want to buy any tickets.”
Shi Zhong Tang shook his head gently.
“He murdered Yun Lin.” He said, “You are a witness. Not only do you know the whole process of the murder, you even know his biggest secret…you know how to create movie tickets.”
The look on Ning Ning’s face turned for the worse.
She had not known how Life Theater tickets came about.
But in the movie <<Person by the Pillow>>, Pei Xuan practically showed her, step by step, how to create movie tickets with a very scary method.
“…By torturing a person, letting the person go crazy, to despair, to be unreconciled enough to develop the desire to want to change their fate—that’s when Life Theater would open its doors and send tickets to the person according to its rules.” Ning Ning broke out in a cold sweat as she finished her sentence. She looked at Shi Zhong Tang in a shock. “Is there no limit to this?”
If there were no limits…
Then if not for her meddling, Yan Qing might have been imprisoned by Pei Xuan for her whole life, becoming an endless source of tickets.
“Of course there is a limit.” Shi Zhong Tang said impatiently, “The theater would only send a maximum of three tickets per person. Do you understand what that means?”
Ning Ning fell silent for a moment before she bitterly said, “It means that Pei Xuan would have to repeatedly change his targets. He would abandon a victim once he has obtained three tickets, then move on to the next.”
“That’s right, he will need to change targets repeatedly.” Shi Zhong Tang looked to the front as he finished speaking.
Ning Ning shot a strange look at him, then she looked at where he was looking.
She thought she was seeing things.
But she rubbed her eyes and took another look. The wooden chair with carved patterns in the front row was empty—the other customer…disappeared?
“Where did…Li Ping Ping go?” Ning Ning asked, she had a very bad premonition in her mind.
“She was also a witness.” Shi Zhong Tang hugged Ning Ning’s shoulders. “Moreover, she had the guts to transmigrate as herself. Ning Ning, you have to learn from this.”
Ning Ning felt chills running down her spine, she couldn’t help but leaned closer to Shi Zhong Tang for warmth.
Life Theater would definitely bring harm to a person. For a person who was transmigrating into a movie for the first time, it would mainly cause psychological harm. But once the person mastered how to get out of character, they would be able to get out of the cycle. The next stage of harm would be brought about by changing the fate of a main character. On the flip side, as long as a person did not change the fate of a main character, they would not receive any harm.
But now, a more direct and scary type of harm had presented itself to Ning Ning.
A type of harm brought on by the people beside you.
“Ning Ning, don’t transmigrate as yourself readily.” Shi Zhong Tang told her, “If you ever unluckily transmigrate as yourself, you have to be extra careful. Since the enemy is hiding in the dark, you cannot stand out, you have to hide yourself well. ”
“Mhm.” This time Ning Ning nodded her head without hesitation.
“If possible, try your best to stay away from Pei Xuan…Ah.” Shi Zhong Tang looked at the screen and let out a bitter laugh. “It’s done for, looks like there is no avoiding him.”
Ning Ning stared at the scene on the screen intently.
Flames burst into the sky, Pei Xuan picked up the suitcase by his feet before he turned around and left.
There was a woman waiting for him at his destination.
“Finally arrived?” She turned around and took off her sunglasses, revealing Ning Yu Ren’s beautiful face. “Did you bring the tickets?”
1This refers to her parents turning old.