Chapter 14

Fatty and I both took a deep breath when we saw something moving in the whites of Professor Wang’s eyes, as if something parasitic was inside. We cautiously approached and Fatty shined his flashlight on Professor Wang’s eyes. When we looked at the eyeball—which was actually very thin—we saw a flash of scales inside.

It turned out to be a small fish.

Just like an egg that was about to hatch, the fish had already formed but hadn’t broken out of the egg yet. It was like it was waiting for the moment when its shell would break in the eyeball. I glanced at Fatty. Although this scene wasn’t that horrible, it really made people feel creeped out when they actually saw it. I looked at Professor Wang’s other eye and saw that it was even more exaggerated. There were two fish in that eye. It seemed like the vitreous body (1) had melted, so all of the fish had a small range to swim in.

This underground river was actually quite cool and not too humid. Our diving suits and hair were almost dry by this point, and with the exception of the rough ground, we felt more comfortable here than aboveground. But after seeing Professor Wang’s eyes, I felt that it wasn’t cool here at all. If anything, it was cold. I didn’t know if the temperature had dropped when we came in, or if it was all just in my head.

“Is this a parasite?” Fatty tried to cut Professor Wang’s eye open with the dagger, but I quickly stopped him. If a knife wound was left on his body, I wouldn’t be able to explain it later. I asked Fatty to shine his flashlight on me as I pressed Professor Wang’s body and unbuttoned his clothes. There were more bruises on his torso that looked similar to the stripe-shaped ones on his neck. The bruises from his lower body went all the way up to his neck and into his brain. I gestured at them, “This may be the parasitic route the fish took. It entered his body from the anus and went all the way upstream.”

I felt around the parasite’s route and found that the bruised places were badly collapsed, as if most of the fat and flesh had melted.

“This kind of fish seems to melt human tissue after entering the human body and moving up until it finally reaches the eyes. That’s why it looked like Professor Wang was melting.”

“I seem to have heard of this parasite before. What’s it called again?”

“Colorful trematode larva,” I said.

There was a brief period when a bit of curious news was going around. A new breed of snails that liked to crawl to the top of tree canopies had eyes that began to swell and squirm, which produced a dancing effect. The snails’ eyes had colorful striped markings, and once they moved, it made people feel repulsed and physically disgusted. This dance made it very easy for birds to find and prey on them. Such high-risk behavior in snails had people very puzzled, but later, others discovered that this snail had been parasitized by a colorful trematode larva. It would crawl directly into the snails’ eyes, control the snails’ brain, make them climb directly into the tree canopies and keep dancing so as to attract birds to eat the snails. In this way, the parasites could enter the birds’ intestines and lay their eggs.

I didn’t know if this parasitic fish had been controlling Professor Wang’s actions, but logically speaking, it must’ve been able to control the human brain and cause people to believe that they were being thrown into the river.

The Extreme Sea was just outside, so if this was the case, Professor Wang should have run to it. But he brought us all the way here instead. It appeared that humans with strong obsessions were hard to control. Or I had misjudged the situation and this gaping mouth was the same as those bodies we had pulled out of the water-logged section of the passage before.

Maybe most of these parasitic fish only lived in drowned corpses, and it was rare for them to climb up while their hosts were still alive like what happened to Professor Wang.

“If we let these parasitic fish eat up Professor Wang, I figure he’ll be transformed like those immortals. After a while, only his skin will be left,” Fatty said to me. “We should get them out and stomp on them in case they’re contagious.”

I shook my head. This was no joke. The people here were just a regular team of archaeologists. There was no way I could explain why Professor Wang came in and ended up with stab wounds all over his body. No one except for grave robbers would believe us if we told them that he had been parasitized by a fish.

As I was thinking, I poked Fatty again. We had all been in the water, so we needed to be careful. But after I poked him, I immediately broke out in a cold sweat. I pinched his sweaty skin and found that it was very sticky. Then I looked at his face and found that his expression had changed. “It’s nothing,” he said. “I’m sticky because of the sweat.”

At this time, however, I saw something flash in Fatty’s eyes.

He looked at how my expression changed and immediately fell silent. I looked at the whites of Fatty’s eyes. Although the light had flashed and then disappeared, I knew there was definitely something in there. “You’ve been infected, Fatty,” I said to him at the same time he said, “Professor Wang just moved.”

I immediately looked back and saw that under the faint glow of our flashlights, Professor Wang had actually gotten up and began to crawl on the ground slowly like a sloth.

“Professor Wang?” I thought maybe he had been in a death-like state just now and hadn’t completely died yet, so I pointed my flashlight at his face. I found that his eyes were turning wildly in opposite directions and his nose was pointed towards the ground like he was looking for a path along the footprints he had left before. Then, he started crawling forward.

“Where do you think he’s going?” Fatty asked. The wet footprints must have come all the way from the pool of water. Could this fish control corpses’ brains and make the bodies crawl along the footprints all the way back to the water?

We only had the two flashlights at hand. Although the light was very strong, this back hall had a larger space, so the surroundings were still dark. When I was in the courtyard earlier, everything had looked brighter because there were jewels everywhere that were reflecting the flashlights’ beams. But in this back hall, when we illuminated Professor Wang’s body with our flashlights, everything else was in complete darkness. That, coupled with the corpse crawling on the ground, was enough to make my hair stand on end.

“There’s something in your eye,” I said to Fatty as I looked at Professor Wang. “You may also be infected with this fish. Check me.”

I opened one of my eyes wider for Fatty to look at while keep my other eye trained on Professor Wang. I told myself that we had to get out quickly. It really wouldn’t be worth it to die like this. Fatty looked at my eye and said, “I can’t see clearly, but there seems to be a shadow in it. Have you noticed anything wrong with your eyesight? Have you seen a shadow swimming in front of you?”

My mind buzzed. I really hadn’t noticed anything before, but now I felt as if my eyes were swelling and there was the sensation of a foreign body inside. I started to rub my eyes subconsciously, but Fatty held my hand down. Even though I didn’t know how parasitic this fish was, my eyesight had been fine so far.

At this point, Professor Wang had crawled more than ten meters away from us. When we shined our flashlights on him again, we found that he had stood up and was looking back at us with a very cold and stiff expression on his face.

<Chapter 13><Table of Contents><Chapter 15>


TN Notes:

(1) The vitreous body is the clear gel that fills the space between the lens and the retina of the eyeball of humans and other vertebrates.


6 thoughts on “Chapter 14

  1. I started to rub my eyes subconsciously, but Fatty held my hand down.

    It cross my mind. When Xiaoge held Wuxie’s hand down on Ultimate Note, I just imagine Fatty did that.

    Liked by 1 person

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