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    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    Meanwhile, Laosan is too absorbed in the scene to notice Mu Jiashi’s oddness.

    He murmurs, “the man in black is at the gas station… he killed his wife, escaped, was pursued… he ran to the service area. He was isolated at the gas station… Or rather, he hid in the gas station? All along?”

    He starts organising his thoughts.

    By this point, he has also realised that Mu Jiashi’s analysis was faulty.

    Not the first part, but perhaps starting from his analysis of the boy and the man in black’s journeys. The boy’s path wasn’t actually just the loop of his mother’s road to death. It was more, an addendum to his father’s escape.

    While Mu Jiashi said that the man did not bring the boy along in his escape, but this being the boy’s Nightmare, whichever path he goes through must still incorporate all the factors they have seen so far in this Nightmare.

    The boy’s reaction towards Dai Wu also proves that his mother was already dead when he leaves the dark bedroom himself.

    However… How should they explain the disappearance of the man in black when both he and the boy appears in the service area together?

    Why can’t they appear at the same time?

    Wait, at the same time?!

    … When the word leaps into Laosan’s mind, he suddenly understands.

    Why can’t they appear together?

    Because they aren’t supposed to in the first place!

    The contradiction is that, when this event actually took place, when the boy’s father reached the service area, the boy may still well be inside the dark bedroom, as the newspaper attested, waiting for the police to rescue him.

    So of course it is impossible for the man in black to meet the boy at the service area.

    This is the contradiction between reality and Nightmare.

    In fact, because the Missiontakers brought the boy outside of the bedroom after the numbering off was over – the death of the mother, they changed the sequence of events in the Nightmare as well.

    Without Missiontakers present, the Nightmare, playing out the same as reality, should have been –

    The boy’s family had a family trip. At the service area, the mother went to the supermarket to buy drinks for the boy. She made small talk to the cashier, which the boy’s father took as proof of her unfaithfulness. They argued, and the father then lashed out at all the people in the service area.

    After they returned home, the father killed the mother, forcing the boy to number off next to him. After she died, the boy hid in the bedroom wardrobe as the man fled for the service area. The neighbours called the police, who broke in to discover the crime scene and the boy.

    Then, the police issued a warrant. Soon enough, the father begins his murderous spree in the service area which immediately attracted police attention. They went after him as he retreated to the gas station, or he has been hiding in the gas station all along, and in the end, he began another killing spree in the gas station.

    Whether the father was arrested and what the boy’s journey was after the police discovered him are still unknowns for which the Missiontakers have found no clues yet.

    The only information they have so far is what Dai Wu told them, that when the man in black was at large, the boy was already missing.

    Outside of these uncertainties, the Nightmare should be going in a loop in that order——Both for the road to death of the mother of the boy, and his father’s escape journey.

    The Missiontakers who brought the boy out of the bedroom changed this, which caused the man in black, who shouldn’t see the boy in the service area, to see him.

    Because the Nightmare revolves around the Nightmare owner, therefore, when the boy is in the service area, and because the owner himself cannot disappear, naturally, the man in black has to disappear.

    His disappearance happened exactly as he was about to begin what he would do after reaching the service area. What happens after he disappears is what Laosan thinks Mu Jiashi got right.

    That is, because all others behave accordingly to the Nightmare owner, the man in black should undergo a journey fitting with the little boy’s. At least, nominally.

    Mu Jiashi thought that the boy’s journey is the journey when his mother was still alive, and that the man in black was slaughtering in the service area because he is already a caricature for a murder psycho that would blow up at any time——Laosan sees these as rather forced explanations, but they were reasonable enough at the time Mu Jiashi explained them right after the analysis. Nobody had a better hypothesis.

    But in fact, the boy’s journey must be after his mother’s death. If so, the journey of the man in black heading back out from the dark bedroom and reaching the service area is not actually recreating the process of the family’s original trip out, but his escape after his murder.

    Which would be a better explanation for why he would start murdering as soon as he arrived here.

    This is his readjusted, repeated route. It can explain everything that happened in the fourth run.

    However, in the fifth run, the crumbling of the Nightmare caused the time to move forward; or more accurately, caused the time beyond the dark bedroom to flow forward, while the time in the dark bedroom continues to be fixed at the eight minutes of the mother’s death——Suddenly, something brilliant feels like it has flashed through Laosan’s brain.

    Because of the flow of time, so their confusions only compounded during the chaotic development of the fifth and much of the sixth run.

    But in essence, when they first opened up the Nightmare, the time was when the father killed the mother.

    In the dark bedroom, the murder was ongoing; outside, was the journey of the man in black’s escape. This would explain why the man in black cannot appear in both places at the same time when they got a number wrong.

    Since the fifth Nightmare’s crumbling, though, the Nightmare began slightly off-course. The time shifted to when the man in black has already escaped to the service area.

    The dark bedroom was still when the mother was dying; outside, it was one step quicker.

    This step quicker is like a wrong cogwheel; the one step ahead means the whole timeline will be shifted one step ahead forever. The crumbling of the Nightmare brought catastrophically adverse changes to this tight repeating cogwheel set.

    Therefore, when the man in black disappeared the second time, instead of locking in step with the boy’s journey, he was going one step ahead on his own route instead——So, just like the TV said, the police are closing in on the man in black, who, by now, went a step ahead to the gas station.

    And committed the mass slaughter.

    This time, they failed to stop him in time.

    Because this is already the sixth run, the man in black’s attacks have become much more lethal.

    When the Missiontakers finally hear the commotion, blood has already soaked the floor over at the gas station. They do not even have time to work out how long the man in black has been slaughtering people over there already.

    The Nightmare, restarts again.

    As soon as the seventh run of the Nightmare begins, the mood is especially strange.

    The team in the dark bedroom is naturally numbering off again. Xü Beijin switches the camera source over at the corridor team, where, never mind Lin Qin and Scapegoat, Mu Jiashi has this sombre expression and Selfish is taunting already.

    Selfish says, “I knew it. All these analysis and thought experiments are futile. They were all fucking wrong.”

    Mu Jiashi gives him a glance, the gloominess in him makes Selfish spooked.

    Well, this…

    This wouldn’t do, Selfish thinks.

    He has seen many a Missiontaker enter such a phase in Nightmares, only to never return, alongside all the other Missiontakers who entered alongside them.

    In fact, some desperate Missiontakers will choose to drag everyone down and wallow in Collapsed Nightmares alongside them.

    Mu Jiashi’s look makes Selfish wary.

    And also irritated.

    Shit, why does he have to take care of this?!

    Mu Jiashi, unaware of Selfish’s thoughts, merely sighs and, after a brief pause, just says with an exhausted tone, “let’s go. To the service area.”

    They board a car in silence. Mu Jiashi is driving.

    Although he mentioned he isn’t much of a driver, but because the man in black is no longer here anyway, Mu Jiashi’s driving skills will do.

    Nor does he really care about such trivial things anymore.

    They split into two cars the last run, as Mu Jiashi suggested; this run, Mu Jiashi said nothing, and Selfish and Scapegoat are happy to just go. They board the backseats without question.

    As the car drives along the expressway, Mu Jiashi has slowly calmed down. Then, his analysis of the Nightmare starts bubbling in his mind again.

    After a period of silence, he says, “perhaps this time, we will need to use utility cards to deal with the man in black.”

    Mu Jiashi would not count of Lin Qin to do it again now, of course.

    Though what he said seems to agitate Selfish a great deal.

    “Hah? Utility card? You don’t even have one, you’re expecting me to use one?” Selfish mockingly chuckles, “Wake up, sonny.”

    He did think about measures he might have to take now that Mu Jiashi looks odd, but utility cards aren’t one of them. He is just merely thinking about if he should take a more active role now.

    Utility cards?

    No bloody way.


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    boilpoil's notes:

    This is where the raws basically lost me on how the Nightmare works, but I did try to translate the raws as accurately as I could. I'm impressed if you could wrap your head around that, though.

    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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