ITTMB 44

The Hunt

Mama is in a bind, she could not decide.

Then let me help her decide.

 

Ning Ning reached out towards the Masked Man. “Give it to me.”

Under the pale-white street light, a smiling mask was looking at her.

“The one you want the most is me.” Ning Ning asked in reply, “Isn’t it?”

She had long known that she was the Masked Man’s first choice, he only switched his target to Mama when he could not get what he wanted.

 

A laughter rang out from beneath the mask, it had a hint of slyness of someone who had had their way. It was enough to let you suspect his motive for luring Ning Yu Ren, was it to lure Ning Ning then force her to accept the ticket in his hand?

As he was about to hand the ticket over to Ning Ning, he suddenly seemed to have heard something from one side of his ears.

“…That was quick.” He tsk-ed, then turned and ran before he could hand the ticket over to Ning Ning.

He looked big and tall but he made no sound when he ran. The white prison uniform was fluttering in the air, as you looked at him from afar he looked like a paper person twirling in the wind.

 

Then, Ning Ning also heard the sound.

What sound was it? Footsteps, and…

A figure galloped past her the moment she turned her head.

White socks, black cloth shoes, carrying a bulging bag, with a snow-white mask on his face that was covered in raging flames.

It was the Doorman.

 

“Where do you think you’re going?” He let out a ferocious laugh towards the direction the Masked Man had escaped to. He chased after the Masked Man, leaving a trail of flames behind his mask. The flames burned and danced dyeing the surrounding air in crimson.

Something fell out of his pocket from behind him. It fell to the ground and spun around twice. Ning Ning bent over and picked it up.

It was a mask.

She held the mask and looked up in the direction the Doorman had left. Although he had already left, the air was still filled with the smell of something burnt, it was quite pungent.

 

“What, what was that?” Ning Yu Ren’s legs were wobbly from being scared, she held herself up on the wall. “Was that a human?”

Was he a human?

Were they humans?

Ning Ning also wanted to know the answer to this question.

 

The sound of the commotion had finally attracted people, a few residents turned on their lights and opened their windows. Someone poked their head out, a few people ran over from a short distance away, there seemed to be a few familiar faces, a few familiar voices.

“The crew is here for us.” Ning Ning turned back. “Let’s go back.”

Ning Yu Ren unexpectedly took a step back and shook her head.

“I’m not going back. It’s useless if I go back like this anyway.” She fell silent for a moment, then suddenly looked up and gnashed her teeth. “35 Rouge Street, right?”

Ning Ning was stunned, then answered with helplessness and bitterness, “Yes.”

 

The two of them arrived at 35 Rouge Street. When the two familiar clusters of lanterns appeared, when the words Life Theater reflected within Ning Ning’s eyes, she actually felt relief.

It really was there. It also looked the same, no matter the two clusters of lanterns in front of the door, or the position of the poster, they were no different from what they were in 2017. If you had to point out a difference, maybe it was that the lanterns and the door looked a lot newer.

Something was missing.

Looking at the surroundings, right, the Doorman was not here.

 

Ning Yu Ren also looked at the surroundings. Seeing as there was no one, her vision fell upon the entrance which no one was guarding. Just as she was about to walk in, she was held back by Ning Ning who was behind her.

“Don’t sneak in.” Ning Ning remembered the warning the Doorman gave her, she told Ning Yu Ren with a serious face, “There will be very scary consequences if you sneak in.”

 

“Heh heh, not bad. The consequences of sneaking in are indeed very scary.” A familiar male voice rang out from behind her, a burnt smell filled the air before he even arrived.

Ning Ning turned around, the Doorman had indeed returned.

The masks in the bag on his back clanked as he walked.

Ning Ning looked behind him, but she did not see the man in the smiling mask. She swallowed, wondering if he had escaped or had become one of the masks inside the Doorman’s bag.

 

As he walked past Ning Ning, the Doorman took the mask out of Ning Ning’s hand. Back at the entrance, he tossed the bag on the ground and opened it up, revealing the male and female masks within. There were smiling and crying masks. The Doorman loosened his right hand and let the mask fall into the bag.

Afterwards, he slowly turned his head and looked at the two people in front of the door. “Do you have tickets?”

His expression was neither warm nor cold, he looked at people as if they were meat on a hotplate, anyone he stared at would feel chills.

 

Ning Yu Ren answered with a stutter, “I do, do.”

“One person per ticket, invalid upon admission.” The Doorman took the ticket from Ning Yu Ren. Her palms were sweaty to the extent that the ticket was soaking wet. He tore the ticket and gave way to the entrance and said blandly, “Go in.”

Ning Yu Ren slightly puffed her chest. She took a look at the dark interior then turned back and looked at Ning Ning. In the end, she gritted her teeth, closed her eyes and rushed in.

 

The Doorman immediately blocked off the entrance after Ning Yu Ren went in.

“What about you?” He looked at Ning Ning and asked, “Are you going back?”

He looked at Ning Ning the same way he looked at Ning Yu Ren.

Ning Ning stared at him blankly for a moment. Just as she was about to ask, ‘Do you not recognise me anymore?’

A lazy voice rang out from behind her, asking, “Where are you going back to?”

 

Ning Ning turned back, Shi Zhong Tang walked towards her as he stepped into the moonlight. He looked like he was smiling yet not at the same time, his peach blossom eyes leisurely turned towards the side of the Doorman, then he twitched his eyebrow and whistled once.

Ning Ning followed the direction of what he was looking at, sweat was rolling down the back of her head.

Beside the Doorman was a poster.

It was a poster in an antique style. The (background) setting was the deep part of a cold palace, the weeds were dismal, there was an old concubine hung on a pagoda tree.

 

Title: <<Fighting for Favour>>

Starring: Chu Qiu’er

 

And now, the naked eye could see three words appearing in the space behind Chu Qiu’er—Ning Yu Ren.

The Doorman, “…”

Ning Ning, “…”

Shi Zhong Tang, “…”

The air suddenly turned quiet. Oh Mama, how am I supposed to explain this supernatural phenomenon to another person?

 

“Ha, what just happened?” Shi Zhong Tang looked like a curious cat, he walked in front of the poster without so much as a by your leave. He reached out and touched the names on it and rubbed his fingers. There were no traces of new ink on them, thus he was even more excited. He turned around and asked Ning Ning, “Did you see that?”

“…I didn’t see anything.” Ning Ning lied blatantly.

“An additional name suddenly appeared on this.” Shi Zhong Tang said.

“No, there were two names all along.” Ning Ning insisted.

 

Shi Zhong Tang stopped talking. He looked at Ning Ning as if he was smiling, her blood froze from being stared at. He then smiled happily and said, “Alright, then. It was my mistake.”

Then he turned around and walked towards the entrance of the theater.

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4 thoughts on “ITTMB 44”

  1. Ohhh! Oh no!!! Okay, so, um. Theory. Shi Zhongtang didn’t commit suicide. Or at least, he didn’t do it of his own will. I think he tried to enter the theater without a ticket. I think that’s why/how he dies. Maybe.

  2. I did NOT expect Shi Zong Tang to be there!! Will he try to come back and sneak into the theater? Was his suicide driven by whatever happens to him in there?

    Also, I wonder what would happen if you gebrer the Life Movie Theatre again while inside the movie. How much farther can you go back in time?

    So interesting!

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