If we calculate, the old campus of Longcheng University was actually built during the Republican era and has a history of over a hundred years. The campus is filled with ancient trees that almost block out the sky. The old-style buildings nestled within, which still retain the Western-style architecture unique to the concession area, appear aged and out of touch with reality.

Only this newly constructed office building near the west gate stands out, with its relatively tall floors. It stands out amidst the old buildings, like a patch that doesn’t quite fit, disrupting the overall atmosphere of the campus.

Shen Wei claimed not to recognize the student, so he suggested taking them to the college office to inquire.

However, when Zhao Yunlan saw the brand-new college office building, he couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow—it had eighteen floors, he didn’t need to count to know.

In the past, when some real estate developers built residential buildings, they avoided using the number eighteen. But later, as housing prices skyrocketed and more developers joined the market, with many places having height restrictions, most of them built as high as possible and sold as much as they could. As a result, this “feudal superstition” gradually ceased to be of concern to anyone except those in the know.

Only those who were knowledgeable could tell that something was amiss.

Perhaps it was due to the air conditioning, as a cool breeze greeted them as soon as they entered the college office building, causing Daqing, who was perched on Zhao Yunlan’s shoulder, to shudder. Its sharp claws extended from the pads of its paws and tightly hooked onto the man’s shirt.

“The student’s ID indicates that they are from the Department of Mathematics, and the office of the Mathematics Department is on the top floor,” Shen Wei said as he led them into the elevator and pressed the floor button.

Suddenly, Zhao Yunlan asked him, “Professor Shen, aren’t you curious about what’s going on here? Most people would ask a few more questions when encountering something like this.”

Shen Wei lowered his head slightly and softly said, “The deceased is of utmost importance. I will help you investigate within my capabilities. It doesn’t matter whether I know or not.”

Zhao Yunlan placed his palm on the black cat’s back and absentmindedly stroked its fur. “Professor Shen is such a dedicated good citizen. My Daqing never gets close to people. It seems like the two of you get along well.”

Shen Wei smiled gently. “It’s only natural.”

Zhao Yunlan briefly closed his mouth, his gaze flickering. He felt that something was off about Shen Wei. Apart from the initial accidental eye contact, Professor Shen seemed to deliberately avoid his gaze.

As the elevator reached the fourth floor, it suddenly shook and stopped without any warning. The light on the top seemed to have poor contact, flickering twice. Guo Changcheng anxiously looked up at Zhao Yunlan, but the man, whether he was thick-skinned or something else, didn’t even blink his eyes. He continued to study Shen Wei thoughtfully.

A voice echoed faintly in the elevator, “Professor Shen, what are you doing on the eighteenth floor?”

Shen Wei calmly replied, “There was an incident at the school, and these two are police officers. I’m taking them to the Mathematics Department to gather information.”

“Oh,” the voice seemed slow to react, and after a long pause, it responded, “Okay, please be careful.”

As soon as the voice fell, the elevator returned to normal, the light stabilized, and the stuck elevator continued its ascent as if nothing had happened.

“Startled?” Shen Wei turned around, still looking at Guo Changcheng, deliberately avoiding eye contact with Zhao Yunlan. He smiled and explained, “That should be the security guard of the building. Last semester, a student jumped from the roof and committed suicide. Since then, if anyone other than those from the Mathematics Department goes to the top floor for no reason, the security guard will stop the elevator and ask a few questions to prevent a similar incident from happening again.”

Guo Changcheng breathed a sigh of relief and smiled somewhat awkwardly. “Oh… Oh, so it’s the security guard. I thought it was…”

“A paranormal incident?” Shen Wei asked with a half-smile.

Guo Changcheng’s face turned red.

On the way to the top floor, the entire eighteenth floor was empty, not even a mosquito or a gecko found a home here. It was gloomy and damp.

Unable to resist, Zhao Yunlan sneezed.

Shen Wei immediately turned to him and asked, “Are you catching a cold?”

Even though he didn’t make eye contact with anyone, his words still seemed exceptionally sincere.

Perhaps due to his personal temperament, every time Shen Wei lowered his head or nodded, there was a sense of “gentlemanly dignity” about him. Even though his eyes seemed a little evasive when talking to Zhao Yunlan, it didn’t make people uncomfortable.

Zhao Yunlan rubbed his nose. “No, it’s just that when I entered this corridor, I smelled a special unlucky odor, as if someone had an endless pile of unfinished math assignments.”

Shen Wei cooperatively squinted his eyes and gave him a gentle and restrained smile.

“Don’t laugh,” Zhao Yunlan joked, “Professor Shen, let me tell you a secret. When I was a student, teachers were my archenemies. My homeroom teacher once predicted that I would definitely grow up to be a little ruffian, but who would have thought that I would become a police officer instead. When I met him during the school anniversary, guess what he said?”

Shen Wei pretended to listen attentively. “What did he say?”

“That old crank said, ‘Zhao, my student, look at you now. I wasn’t wrong. You’ve become a textbook example of a uniformed ruffian.’”

Zhao Yunlan, accustomed to interacting with people from all walks of life, had honed his skills of smooth-talking. Usually, with just a few words, he could make people feel a sense of closeness. Even Guo Changcheng, who was as timid as a quail, seemed to resonate with his mention of “math assignments,” and his posture while walking behind them appeared slightly more human.

But this Shen Wei… his demeanor while listening to Zhao Yunlan made Zhao Yunlan himself feel an illusion. It was as if he wasn’t casually joking around but rather reciting some kind of “read it only once” high-level listening comprehension question in a challenging foreign language. Every word was treasured and precious, as if Professor Shen couldn’t bear to miss even half a word.

But he truly “listened attentively,” just not daring to look Zhao Yunlan in the eye. The smile on his face, at first glance, seemed refined and cultured, but after a while, it became apparent that it was highly rehearsed, like it was painted on his skin.

Zhao Yunlan couldn’t help but suspect that his face was about to freeze from smiling.

The three of them continued chatting and walking. Their footsteps echoed in the corridor, masked by the man’s boisterous laughter… but among them, there was a fourth person’s footsteps mixed in.

Quietly, softly, like the sound of soft-soled cloth shoes dragging on the ground.

The college office building was designed like a tall tower. The so-called “tower” typically meant an elevator in the middle, with the corridors circling around the “tower” after reaching the floor, creating a tall and slender structure.

As they walked forward, Guo Changcheng inadvertently noticed that Zhao Yunlan’s watch was undergoing a peculiar change. It started from the area where the two watch hands connected, spreading out in a shade of rose-red deeper than light red and shallower than crimson. It rippled outward like ripples on water, making his men’s wristwatch appear almost like an expensive work of art. The metal strap clasped onto the man’s pale and slightly thin wrist, exuding an indescribable eerie sense of luxury.

Guo Changcheng hesitated for a moment and whispered, “Zhao… Chief Zhao, your watch…”

“What’s wrong? Is it turning red?” Zhao Yunlan, who was walking ahead, turned around with his mischievous smile. “Do you know why?”

Guo Changcheng honestly shook his head.

Zhao Yunlan grinned. “Ghosts love red. I think this building has bad feng shui. Who knows what dirt and impurities it’s harboring. Perhaps it’s the shadow of something projected onto it…”

Guo Changcheng’s face turned deathly pale. Instinctively, he glanced at his watch face. This time, he saw an old man on the glass—a person of average build, slightly overweight, wearing all-black clothing, staring expressionlessly at him!

Guo Changcheng’s footsteps came to an abrupt halt.

However, Zhao Yunlan, as if he hadn’t seen anything, laughed casually. He twisted a small button on the side of the watch dial, and suddenly a mist rose on the dial, instantly diluting the previous hint of red. Upon another glance, it was still a clean and ordinary men’s watch, with a standard style and nothing peculiar in the form of red or the reflection of a female ghost.

“Have you ever seen a mouse wheel that changes color? It’s the same principle. This silly kid fell for it.” Zhao Yunlan teased the intern for a moment, then suddenly turned to Shen Wei without any warning. “Professor Shen is an intellectual, adhering to materialism. I’m sure he doesn’t believe in these ghostly things, right?”

Shen Wei pushed his glasses and once again avoided Zhao Yunlan’s gaze. He calmly said, “Ancient sages say, ‘Outside the realm of the six senses, the wise remain silent.’ Whether it exists or not, no one can say for certain. However, I do feel that if it exists, it exists; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. There’s no need for everyone to pursue it too much. ‘Not questioning the world of mortals, but questioning the gods and spirits’—that was something done by foolish rulers in the past. If people can’t even understand their own affairs, is it not absurd to have idle thoughts about whether there are gods and spirits in the world?”

His words were filled with the taste of a scholar, but at the same time, they were ambiguous and evasive. Zhao Yunlan, having failed in his probing, simply smiled, casually changing the topic as if nothing had happened. “Professor Shen teaches humanities?”

“Yes, I teach Chinese language and some elective courses in humanities.”

“No wonder… But I did hear from an acquaintance in real estate that newly built residential buildings rarely have this kind of design. Such tower-like structures are usually commercial office buildings that are over 100 meters tall. They are not easy to clean, and they lack good lighting and ventilation, so living in them wouldn’t be very comfortable. I guess that’s what ‘bad feng shui’ means.” Zhao Yunlan took out a cigarette case from his pocket and shook it. “Oh, by the way, is smoking prohibited? Do you mind?”

Shen Wei shook his head. Zhao Yunlan put one hand in his pocket, and with a gentle flick of the other hand, he lit a cigarette. He lowered his eyes slightly, then calmly exhaled a puff of white smoke, assuming a veteran smoker’s appearance.

As if determined to ignore him completely, Shen Wei couldn’t help but furrow his brow. “Smoking and drinking are not good for your health. Chief Zhao is so young; it’s better to exercise some restraint.”

Zhao Yunlan smiled but didn’t respond immediately. His face was concealed behind a veil of smoke, making it difficult to discern his expression. Small flecks of ash fell from the cigarette, intentionally or unintentionally, landing on Shen Wei’s shadow.

Zhao Yunlan lowered his gaze and swept it across the floor before cupping the smoke with his hand. “In our line of work, sometimes we have no days or nights, so our lifestyle habits indeed tend to be not very good.”

It seemed that Shen Wei wanted to say something, but the words got stuck in his throat. After a while, he furrowed his brow and somewhat stiffly changed the topic. “There aren’t many departments in the old campus area, nor are there many teachers. Only a few offices facing south on the eighteenth floor have people in them. Most of the other rooms are vacant. We’ll reach there once we turn this way.”

Neglected corners are prone to the growth of mold and moss, as well as… other things.

For some unknown reason, the corners of the corridors that circled around this building were not smoothly curved but closer to right angles. They appeared awkwardly sharp-edged. When someone reached the corner, their line of sight would be blocked by the protruding corner, resembling a large snaggletooth. If two people happened to approach each other from opposite directions, it was easy for them to collide.

Shen Wei led the way, with Zhao Yunlan closely following him, carrying the cat. Guo Changcheng walked at the rear. As they gradually approached the corner, Guo Changcheng suddenly had a feeling as if something would suddenly emerge from that shadow. At this moment, he couldn’t listen to the conversation between the other two anymore. He simply stared fixedly at that corner—where the dim light from the oddly angled window outside cast long shadows on the floor, creating an intermittent boundary of light and darkness.

Then, Guo Changcheng noticed that the edge of that black shadow… was moving.

It was as if someone hidden there was secretly poking their head out, followed by… what seemed to be the shape of a hand!

Author’s Note:

Living in an eighteen-story dormitory for a year, still being able to eat, drink, and frolic, the author wants to emphasize that the feudal superstitions and extreme feng shui content in this story are purely fabricated. If there are any similarities…

Well, I don’t know what to do about it. Orz…