I frantically rushed back to my room and made more than a dozen phone calls, calling up all of the more capable partners in Hangzhou. I assigned several tasks, with one group of people searching for that person. I didn’t see what he looked like, so I could only tell them to look for someone acting suspiciously. The second group of people was to dig through nearby garbage cans and see if there were any videotapes. He couldn’t have taken away so many that quickly, so he either destroyed them or hid them somewhere else. Even if only a pile of ash was found, it had to be brought back to me. The third group of people was to bring me everything inside that secret room. I wanted to study it all inch by inch, unwilling to believe that there wasn’t a single trace to be found.
Unsurprisingly, the first group of people didn’t come up with any results. I was just desperate and had looked for a few people to give it a good go, but no one was found. The second group never came back and the third group was even more of a letdown. Maybe it was because the furniture was put inside before the room was first constructed, but now it was impossible to get it out of such a small passage.
When the man asked me what to do, I knew there was no other choice and said, “Tear it down!”
Everything inside was broken into pieces and piled up in the yard. I examined every piece and turned them all over one by one, not calming down until I found that there really weren’t any clues after all.
I drove everyone away and then sat alone in the yard, smoking a cigarette and thinking over everything. I felt like a failure for losing such a good opportunity, but when I looked at the bedding and the table and chair, I suddenly thought of something and sneered.
I realized that I hadn’t failed at all and everything I wanted to know was already right in front of me. I just needed to take some extra measures to parse it out.
I picked up my cell phone and called a guy, “No matter the cost, find me a DNA testing agency.” I then spread out the quilt, searched carefully inside, and picked out one of the hairs. “Right, money isn’t a problem.”
If a person stayed in a secret room for decades and the only person who communicated with him was my Uncle Three, what was the biggest problem?
This person must have little knowledge of modern technology. I didn’t know how they communicated before using computers, but they obviously didn’t know much about technology.
I sent several hairs I found to be tested. If my guess was correct, then I would finally fucking know the half of it.
Meanwhile, I sent both computers to my classmate to continue his research. I knew that it wasn’t possible to completely delete something on a computer, and even if the hard disk was reformatted, the data inside could be restored. I already knew everything, but some fragments could turn out to be extremely precious hints for me.
To make a long story short, the DNA results didn’t come out all that quickly, but my classmate came the next day.
To my surprise, he came empty-handed. When I gave him a questioning look, he shook his head, “The hard drive on this computer is useless. It’s just an empty shell.”
“This was a workstation,” he said. “I found this in the CD drive.” He took out a disc. “The hard drive of this computer is a device and this is a workstation driven by a CD drive.”
I couldn’t understand it very well, so he explained, “In short, this computer doesn’t have a hard drive. All the information was in short-term data storage so there’s no record. As long as the computer was turned off, everything would return to zero.”
I lit a cigarette, sat him down, and asked, “Is this technology very high-end?”
He shook his head, “No, it’s actually a relatively low-end technology. Most of the time, it’s used in multimedia classrooms and internet cafes at universities. In this way, there will be less trouble from viruses and having to re-install the system.”
I sighed. This was really watertight, but looking back on Uncle Three’s terrible computer skills and this person who lived in a dark room all year round, how did these things come about? There had to be someone who knew enough about technology to guide them.
I didn’t believe that Uncle Three was a person who had secretly studied a lot of modern knowledge, so there had to be another person.
I sighed again and asked him, “Then have you checked these two computers carefully. Is there anything strange? Is there any difference?”
He scratched his head and sat down beside me before saying, “I don’t know how to say it.”
“Speak up and I’ll give you more money,” I said.
“I’ve been repairing computers in the city for many years and have seen all kinds of things,” he said. “It’s said that you’re one of the best in the antique business and I believe that, but you also have to believe me. I’ve repaired computers for so many years, and I can see what kind of person the owner is and what habits he has at ordinary times when his computer comes into my hands. Even fat or thin, I can see what he likes to play on the computer.”
I lit a cigarette for him. It was amusing to see this kid’s eyes light up with pride as he spoke.
When he saw me lighting his cigarette, he was immediately encouraged and said, “You may not believe me, but here’s an example: the computer used by gamers is absolutely different from that used by office workers, including the wear and tear of the keyboards. I can judge all this just by looking at the keyboard.”
When I nodded and asked him to continue, he said, “This computer was popular seven years ago. In other words, this computer has basically been in use for seven years. In this day and age, that’s considered a long time, but I checked all the parts and found something very strange.” He paused. “Basically, none of this computer’s components are worn out.”
I frowned, realizing that what he said could actually be considered valuable.
“We know that if a person uses a keyboard, the grease on his fingers will definitely stick to it. No matter how clean he is, after using it once, the grease will form a thin film on the keyboard and then dust will adhere to it to form dirt. No matter how clean it is, a computer that’s been used for seven years will inevitably have this kind of dirt.”
“Just say what you mean.”
“The keyboard is too clean, the mouse wheel is too clean… this kind of cleanliness isn’t the result of wiping. The mouse is very difficult to clean, you know. But how clean is this? I wouldn’t be surprised if this computer had just been taken out of the warehouse. But according to the degree of oxidation and yellowing of the printed matter and casing of this computer on your desk, it’s indeed been placed outside for a long time. So that means one thing,” he said. “These two computers are rarely—or almost never— used.”
I touched my chin, fully understanding what he meant. I patted him and thought to myself, damn it, so that’s how it is.
This definitely wouldn’t be the case if Uncle Three frequently used the computer to communicate with that guy in the dark room during these seven years. But the computer was definitely placed here and I saw it every time I came by. If this computer wasn’t commonly used but was placed here, it would still play the role of communicating with the guy in that dark room…
This was a contradiction. The evidence was at odds.
I pinched off the cigarette butt and cursed at myself, it’s a trap, bastard.
This was a test mechanism. When the person in the dark room sensed something was wrong, he would use this computer to send a message. If it was really Uncle Three, he might reply to the agreed code.
But I didn’t think that far ahead or pay close attention, so I immediately got caught. After so many conversations, I always thought that I was the one testing him, but now it seemed that he had been testing me by answering so vaguely.
In every scenario, I was at a complete disadvantage.
Based on this crafty trap and setup, it could be seen that the previous battle of wits between these forces had reached an indescribable stage. Everyone was treading on thin ice and everything had to be fully calculated.
“Uncle, what exactly do you want to find out from this?” My classmate asked. “If it’s convenient, please tell me; otherwise, I have no direction.”
He knew from the look on my face that I approved of his statement and his enthusiasm soared immediately, “Wu Xie always asked me to check things before, so it’s easier to check if there’s a purpose.”
I snorted, “I’ll tell you a story.”
I quickly compiled a very ambiguous story about what happened in this house and told it to him.
After hearing this, he thought it was very funny, “It’s like a spy drama during World War II.”
“I just want to find this person; they must be the key.”
“But it doesn’t make sense,” he said. “Uncle, the story you just told really doesn’t make any sense.”
<Chapter 69> <Table of Contents><Chapter 71>