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    Being an Extra Actor in an Escape Game

    Vol. 1 Chapter 8


    Dirty and Messy

    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    After the trio has entered the room, they quickly begin to search.

    Only Ponytail entered the bedroom next to them before because they were afraid of waking up the man inside, but they’re not worried about that now. They tacitly divide into three sections to search individually and quickly.

    Ponytail rushes right for the desk and picks up the letters on the desk.

    There’s three of them. Looking at the address and names, and skimming through the content, she realises this is communication between the dollmaker and his friend.

    The first letter, addressed to the dollmaker from his friend, was asking about how he was and asking about his missing daughter.

    Nothing important there, mostly platitudes and statements of blessing and hope.

    She skips to the second letter, the reply from the dollmaker to his friend, written about a pretty long time after the little girl has gone missing and the couple has divorced already.

    “…
    Thank you, my old friend.
    I was busy looking for xiao-Chun and couldn’t really attend to business like usual, so I replied late […]

    Xiao-Chun… xiao-Chun. I do not know if we can still find her. I should know that kids eventually leave their parents to venture out into the world, but xiao-Chun was […] perhaps, the Heaven’s punishment to me […]

    She went missing in the store. I was making dolls upstairs, and my wife went to work. She was playing alone, but when I realised, she had already gone.
    I asked to see the report from the police. They have looked at CCTV footage, but haven’t found xiao-Chun at all, but as you know, this street sees a lot of foot traffic and there are a lot of CCTV blind spots. Whether she just got lost or did someone just… We don’t know.
    They’re still sifting through CCTV footage further away. There’s no news yet. It can’t be helped. There’s too many. The police are also busy in general too. My wife and I always searched outside every day. We’ve practically gone through every nook and cranny of the city. We found nothing […]

    Say, is that even possible? How could she have just vanished without a trace? How is that even possible […] My wife said she might have already… she doesn’t want to continue anymore. She feels like we’ll eventually just find a corpse at this point. I had an argument, and we ended up divorced. I didn’t agree with what she thought. I can’t… xiao-Chun can’t be dead!
    I was angry. I knew she didn’t like xiao-Chun. No… not that, but she’s jealous… She’s jealous! She’s jealous of the attention I give to her!
    She already felt that way when xiao-Chun was born. Always complaining I wasn’t caring for her. She complained about her body losing curves after giving birth. She complained about the stretch marks, she complained about her irregular periods, she complained about her ageing skin […]

    I can still remember all her complaints. So much of them. She’s always like this, and so xiao-Chun was always distant to her. She would ask me, if mommy didn’t like her.
    She always lashed out at her, making xiao-Chun scared and hide behind me. When xiao-Chun liked reading, she’d say she’s too weak and should go out and work out more; xiao-Chun liked dolls, she’d say she’s too introverted and won’t be able to make friends.
    I remember all that. I know she also wants the best for xiao-Chun, but now, she went missing…
    She’s our daughter! Both mine and hers […] now she’s missing, but she says she doesn’t want to look for her anymore. I really want to give her a slap on the face. I was trembling. That’s how angry I was!
    What kind of mother is her?!
    Sometimes, I’d think, if it was because of her attitude to xiao-Chun, that she decided to run away from home altogether […]

    It’s possible. She was already six. She knows things already. She wouldn’t just leave with a stranger.
    Perhaps, because of the scary woman, she left! She left our family! […]

    I’m sorry, I’m getting worked up.
    It’s been two whole months and more. I’d sometimes think that she might have really… She’s so young. Even if she did run away from home, how is she doing? Is she happy? If someone did kidnap her, what would they do to her […] I’m scared just thinking about her.
    If possible, I’d also like to ask you to help search for her over at your neighbourhood. You might come across some clues […]

    I already, did everything I possibly could […]”

    After the letter, Ponytail makes an involuntary sigh of relief.

    The viewers in the stream are also discussing.

    “the owners wife wasnt a good person i think”
    “Hard to say. Sometimes detective novels would set up this kind of antagonistic person as a scapegoat when they’re actually innocent”
    “a missing daughter… sigh, i dont have a daughter, but just trying to picture a cute, little girl thats just now gone from the world is already making me sad”
    “not only do u not have a daughter, u dont even have a girlfriend”
    “? why the ad hominem qaq”
    “You should make a comeback like this: I don’t have a girlfriend, sure, does that mean you have a boyfriend yourself?”
    “oh shit, detective dalao, mercy!!”

    The viewers, already familiar enough with each other, begins ripping into each other; Ponytail looks into the third letter in the meantime.

    The friend’s reply to the owner’s reply.

    Yet in his letter, the friend not only mentioned the missing daughter, but even talked a little bit about the owner’s relationship with his wife. The wording would indicate that his position is quite subtle.

    “[…]

    I’m also searching for xiao-Chun myself, having asked some friends of mine to also distribute posters and make a missing person’s post online. Now we can only wait. She was right there, she can’t have disappeared without a single trance.
    By the way, I think I would like to put a word down about you and the missus […] all those years of you already spent together; you know how she is. She’s a bit temperamental, sure, and xiao-Chun might set her off often. Their relationship is strained.
    Therefore, you think she doesn’t like xiao-Chun, and doesn’t want to look for her anymore. It is possible. I think it is.
    But the divorce […] you let the blood rush to your head, sigh. More than a dozen years of time spent together. You know they say ‘soulmates in youth; partners in life,’ you know how she is, and so does she know you. The more you thought like that, the angrier she would be. She can’t help it, she’d have rebounded for sure […]

    Since xiao-Chun was born, you also did ignore her more and more. It was all the store and xiao-Chun, xiao-Chun. It’s not like business in your doll store was booming either. It was all her working long hours at her job to feed the family. She handled all the house chores besides too […] must have lots of pent-up emotions. The anger is understandable.
    Of course, naturally, I believe she was also at fault. If she really just wanted to abandon xiao-Chun… Then leave such a wife by all means! No parent can possibly just up and decide to give up on their child altogether. But, Ping, have you actually properly talked to the missus? Your divorce […] really was rushed.
    And I’m going to say no more about it. It still depends on your own thoughts. I don’t want to meddle in your family affairs much either […]

    I know you’re wallowing in regret over xiao-Chun going missing, but what happens, happens. Xiao-Chun definitely wouldn’t want to see you dejected forever. Keep searching, by all means, but can you even last much longer searching like this?! […]”

    Ponytail furrows her brows slightly, then decides to glance down at the wastepaper basket on the floor. As expected, there are several rolled up pieces of paper inside.

    She kneels down to unfurl a few of them. She realises that, as expected, they were the owner’s replies, but he wrote several greetings without getting any further. He ended up sending nothing, it seems.

    She throws the paper back down and stands up, mulling over it.

    And she is not alone. Xü Beijin, who also read it all, is also in thought.

    Did the wife of the owner really end up kidnapping or even killing the daughter?

    Ponytail is suspecting Xü Beijin and the owner’s wife, but Xü Beijin knows that he’s just an extra, so he must be innocent. Therefore, the only remaining suspect is the wife who remains unseen to this point, said to be temperamental and on bad terms with her daughter.

    From the owner’s diary and letters, it seems she is highly suspicious. She toiled between family and work ever since giving birth. Her husband did not care much for her. She may have suffered from postnatal depression, and took it out on her child.

    And while they’re at it, the owner also said it was possible she just ran away from home.

    That is, without considering the reply from the friend, which seems to suggest there is more to this situation than these guesses. , blaming the owner for neglecting her, and the friend seems to blame him for agitating the wife’s tempers in the first place with all his accusatory arguments with her.

    Before they can talk to the both of them, it’s really up in the air at this point.

    Ponytail seems to think so as well. After thinking briefly, she decides to stop and calls out to Quarrelsome and Glasses, to quickly sneak a peek at the room next door in the last bit of the five minutes’ time.

    Glasses and Quarrelsome didn’t discover any clues of value, by the way.

    In two simple words, the room is just ‘dirty’ and ‘messy.’

    It’s piled up with all sorts of everyday trash. Remains of leftovers, cans, wilted plants; blankets on the bed are so dirty mould is even growing. Everything is a sign of really how desolate the owner’s life has been since his daughter went missing.

    No wonder the wife would throw tantrums at him, really.

    Glasses didn’t want to search the bathroom, but this room… really isn’t any better in any sense. He’s really glad Ponytail called off their search through what is effectively a landfill.

    Ponytail briefly summarises her findings while walking outside.

    When they leave the room to try and examine the next, suddenly, the bedroom door next to them creaks and opens from the inside.

    The sleeping man is awake. He is stretching himself, slowly walking out of the bedroom, running right into the three Missiontakers.

    He then looks warily and confusedly at these strangers in his home, yelling, “who are you?! Why are you in my house?!”


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    boilpoil's notes:

    In any case, I'm wondering why the owner's letter reply to his friend was still here? Like, he kept a copy? That is really strange, so probably a plot hole, but never mind.

    boilpoil

    This should go without saying, but considering the nature of this novel, please think twice before posting a comment on any chapter in order to avoid spoiling any possible future plot points or twists from later chapters.

    Travis Translation

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