Matryoshka Off-Limits Chapter 51

Chapter 51 Big Factory

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Surprisingly, Wen Shi’s cat costume stood out as perfectly ordinary among the sanatorium staff members.

By looking through the transparent masks worn by the staff around, one could clearly observe that many people’s facial skin was covered in raised blisters, bearing a striking resemblance to the outer layer of a Pure-Hearted Beast’s heart, with small white insects wriggling inside.

The highly sought-after Beautiful Soul Elixir from Big Factory seemed inconsequential here, casually piled aside. A staff member who brought Wen Shi in offered him two bottles. “Dr. Aaron, this is an enhanced version of the Beautiful Soul Elixir that only we can produce. You can swallow it directly. Want to give it a try?”

After gazing at the Beautiful Soul Elixir for a few seconds, which had no apparent difference in packaging from the ones he had seen before, Wen Shi took it but didn’t consume it right away. He changed the topic, looking at the residents on the fourth floor, and commented, “What’s their story? They seem pretty normal.”

“Medical reports don’t lie,” the staff’s gaze shimmered slightly. “Besides, they’ll have a follow-up check.”

Wen Shi: “With so many people here, if all the results turn out to be problematic, who will handle the factory’s work?”

“Big Factory always has enough workers. Every year, it hires many young people from poor families. It boosts the employment rate and keeps the factory running smoothly.”

Wen Shi refrained from hastily rescuing people. At the moment, he needed to understand this area as quickly as possible.

“Are there any management regulations?” Wen Shi pinched the corner of his employee badge on his chest. “I’d like to see your rules and regulations.”

“No, there aren’t any,” the staff member replied with a strange smile. “Everyone has their own tasks and works diligently. We don’t need rules to constrain us.”

Wen Shi felt a sinking feeling. Without rules, it meant he had to explore everything on his own.

In the sanatorium, there existed an unsolvable death rule. He could die from taking a sip of water or even from releasing a ‘patient’… Any inadvertent action carried the risk of breaking the rules.

To be on the safe side, he couldn’t personally rescue the residents on the fourth floor.

He needed to “borrow a knife,” accomplishing everything using others’ hands. This way, even if it involved the death rule, he would still have some room to struggle.

The staff member who had been communicating with the escort personnel finished their conversation and came over to greet the other three, heading together to take the blood samples of the fourth-floor staff.

The escort personnel approached Wen Shi, forcing a strained smile. “Welcome to the sanatorium. I’ll be your guide for the tour.”

The blisters on his face seemed to stretch to their limits whenever he made an expression, as if they could rupture at any moment. Unable to resist, Wen Shi took a step back.

Shortly after the escort personnel fell silent, a cold system prompt sounded.

【Congratulations! You have successfully unlocked the hidden map.】

【This is a dark sanatorium that combines love, bloodshed, and cruelty. It serves as a breeding ground for monsters and humanity’s last hope in this land. Please actively explore the secrets of the sanatorium. When your exploration reaches eighty percent, you will have the opportunity to gain Director Jin’s approval and become an outstanding new employee.】

This practically implied that Director Jin was the judge.

Although he had anticipated this might happen, Wen Shi couldn’t help but sigh lightly.

The game indeed wouldn’t let people exploit loopholes easily. By becoming a dormitory supervisor and dominating the judge’s will, Director Jin was the only important figure at Big Factory not residing in the dormitory building.

“Thank you for your help.” Wen Shi ignored the prompt tone and maintained a polite smile, expressing gratitude to the escort personnel.

The escort personnel nodded and walked ahead without glancing sideways.

The walls around were white and yellow, both colors not good at hiding dirt. Aside from the black marks left by accidentally rubbing against boxes during daily transport, there were also some dark red bloodstains. A few days ago, there was a major riot in the sanatorium due to a monster outbreak, resulting in a severe shortage of staff.

As Wen Shi paid attention to the positions of various security doors, he prepared to take photos with his phone and send them to Ji Yuanzhi and the others.

His fingers touched the icy metal edge of the phone, and he recoiled as if feeling an electric shock.

The sanatorium emphasized confidentiality, and taking photos might breach taboos. After a brief hesitation, Wen Shi abandoned the idea. During this time, he kept an eye on the expression of the escort personnel, noticing a hint of disappointment in his eyes, which made him somewhat concerned.

After another ten seconds passed, and it was clear that Wen Shi had no intention of using his phone, the escort personnel obtained a confidentiality agreement from the front desk and said, “Please sign this.”

The regulations were numerous and densely packed, but in summary, they all boiled down to not disclosing anything seen here.

Wen Shi suppressed the chill in his eyes and signed his name, “Aaron,” as if drawing a talisman.

It sounded great to have no rules and regulations, which might be true for the internal staff, but it probably didn’t apply to outsiders.

“The Director is busy today and may not have time for a meeting,” the escort personnel introduced the layout of each floor, “The first floor mainly deals with Big Factory, providing the raw materials needed daily. Zone A on the second floor handles employee health checks, while Zone B is the Pure-Hearted Beast’s breeding area…”

Wen Shi’s expression remained unchanged, but in his heart, he couldn’t help but wonder how these two areas ended up on the same floor. It was hard to evaluate.

“The third floor is the storage room for archives and precious research materials. The fourth floor is the personal office area of the Director, off-limits to outsiders.”

The sanatorium had a security elevator. The escort personnel took him directly to the third floor.

As the elevator doors opened, a chilly and damp wind greeted them, and the lights in the corridor flickered. Whenever the lights came on, Wen Shi could see a room about ten meters away.

The escort personnel continued walking ahead. “Many facilities were damaged during the patient’s escape. We haven’t had a chance to call the technicians for repairs.”

A rusty sign hung crookedly outside the room, indicating it was the storage room.

The escort personnel halted and opened the similarly rusted iron door.

Wen Shi noticed that this door didn’t have a smart lock. Normally, important research materials shouldn’t be treated so carelessly.

Inside was pitch black.

Making use of the dim lighting in the corridor, Wen Shi relied on his enhanced night vision to survey everything inside.

Unlike the neat rows of shelves in the archives room of Workshop Three, the room’s setup was quite simple. In the center, there was an old television placed on a cabinet with its door half-open. This place hadn’t been cleaned for a long time, as the ceiling was covered in broken cobwebs, and a fist-sized spider hung motionless in one corner of the TV screen.

The strangest thing was the inclusion of a very large window. Outside, it was pitch-black with no view to speak of. Given that ventilation wasn’t needed underground and there was a chance of pests getting in, the window seemed quite unnecessary. 

“Recent years’ data are all on videotapes.” The faint light barely illuminated the escort personnel’s expression, but his mouth was constantly upturned. “You can take your time to watch them. After you’re done, come find me at the second-floor breeding area, and I’ll continue the tour.”

The game prompt sounded timely:

【Side Quest: Videotapes

Please watch the videotapes in the storage room. Completing the task will increase the exploration progress of the sanatorium to thirty-five percent.】

Realizing that watching a videotape could increase almost half of the exploration progress, Wen Shi had a premonition that the task difficulty was definitely not low.

The escort personnel didn’t explain much and left with slightly quicker steps than before. It didn’t take long for Wen Shi to hear a ‘ding’ sound, indicating that the other person had taken the elevator downstairs.

He had no other choice but to gather his composure and walk into the room alone.

The spider in the sanatorium was more aggressive than in other places. It had already made the storage room its nest. Even when Wen Shi approached, it couldn’t be bothered to move.

The whole cabinet only had a single videotape placed there. Wen Shi took it out, feeling the damp and sticky surface, which made him uncomfortable. He didn’t rush to complete the task. Instead, he carefully examined the videotape. Eventually, he noticed a line of red small letters in the bottom right corner.

【Videotape Viewing Instructions: 1. Lock the doors and windows; 2. Watch for at least thirty minutes.】

Wen Shi followed the instructions and locked the door first, then checked the window. The old window wasn’t windproof, and the wind that seeped through the gaps carried a faint smell of blood. For a moment, Wen Shi felt the urge to look outside, but he resisted it.

After confirming everything was in order, he plugged in the power and inserted the videotape into the VCR.

The tape was quite old, and at first, it showed static and snow. Wen Shi gave the TV a couple of firm taps, and surprisingly, it worked. The screen flickered twice before starting to play normally.

The picture quality was extremely poor, and a few lines of text scrolled on the screen. Wen Shi had to get close to the TV to make out the almost distorted and overlapping fonts.

“A’Ling, female, twenty-eight years old. While on night duty, she was chased by a monster and frightened to the point of falling out of the window, resulting in instant death. A’Ling was extremely vain. On the night of the incident, she wasn’t wearing her work uniform, but a red dress, which was splattered with brain matter from the impact. It was said that the scene was very gruesome.”

As Wen Shi was halfway through reading, he faintly heard some movement.


It seemed like someone was knocking on the window.

When he turned around to look, there was nothing there again.

The VCR then played the scene of A’Ling’s death. At this moment, the image clarity returned. The floor tiles were covered in spilled brain matter. A’Ling’s eyes were wide open, and one of her eyeballs had popped out, giving her a haunting stare in death.

Before she died, her neck had snapped, and her head tilted towards Wen Shi’s direction. The two of them had an eerie staring contest through the TV screen.


Before Wen Shi could fully process the death scene on the TV, he subconsciously turned his head and unexpectedly made eye contact with a female ghost outside the window.


She was wearing red, and one of her eyes was just an empty socket, exactly like the woman on the TV. When passing by the storage room, her descent had slowed down for a few seconds, and she grinned, knocking on the window.

Not long after, there was another loud noise, but this time it was the sound of the woman hitting the ground, as if she had been smashed to pieces.

Wen Shi took a deep breath and turned to look at the spider blocking a corner of the TV. “Thank goodness you’re here with me.”

In the next second, the spider’s tiny legs moved at their fastest speed, transforming into a blur and disappearing somewhere. The corners were now crawling with cockroaches, centipedes… all escaping through the gaps in the door as if fleeing for their lives.


The VCR continued to play the footage of the second victim.

“Li Minkun, male, twenty-one years old, a new employee. Attacked by a monster at night, he attempted to run to the fourth floor for help. The dormitory supervisor on the fourth floor closed the iron gate, ignoring his pleas for help, and he was torn apart by the monster, bleeding to death.”

Knock, knock, knock.

Just as Li Minkun’s introduction on the screen finished, at the same time, knocking sounds could be heard from outside.

“Open the door, please open the door…!” A hoarse male voice cried out in agony, “Open the door and let me in to hide.”

Seeing that Wen Shi didn’t open the door, the anguished cries turned into anger, and the ghost outside began to knock on the door with force and urgency. “Why won’t you open the door! Why!”

The female ghost outside jumped off the building once again. Wen Shi calculated that she stayed by the window for three seconds last time, but this time, it became seven seconds. As her lingering time increased, it was only a matter of time before she shattered the glass.

The videotape was a total of forty-nine minutes long, and it had only reached a little over three minutes of playback. Given the situation, it was highly likely that each appearance of a deceased person would be accompanied by another ghost.

The best way to deal with a group of ghosts was to push them down violently.

Wen Shi immediately accessed the attribute panel but found that the option for【One Strike Flattens All】was grayed out, indicating that it was disabled in this scene.

He then took out the【Family Crest】. The emblem that used to shine brightly at night now appeared extremely dim.

“Note: The castle master refuses to go to any place for treatment.”

Wen Shi furrowed his brow, understanding the reason behind it. The Earl was only willing to receive psychological treatment inside the castle, showing his aversion to hospitals. It was simply unrealistic for him to voluntarily come to a sanatorium.

“They really don’t leave any way out for people.”

Giving up on relying on external assistance, Wen Shi began to search around the TV, finally finding the remote control in an inconspicuous place. He quickly tested it and confirmed that it had power, but the fast-forward and rewind functions were not working.

“What about the pause button?”

If he could pause, it would give him a chance to figure out how to deal with these ghosts one by one.

Games always knew how to make players feel hopeless. Wen Shi pressed the buttons several times in succession, but there was no response.

The Gatekeeper Ghost also started to panic. He could feel the increasing heaviness of the ominous aura, and the place was filled with unfriendly energy. It was manageable to fend off one or two ghosts, but facing more, he was helpless.

“Quick, escape!” the Gatekeeper Ghost exclaimed.

Wen Shi stared fixedly at the screen. In the time he struggled with the remote control, it had already started playing the cause of death of the fourth victim.


Wen Shi was sure that none of the tasks in the sanatorium were easy. Although they had dealt with the team led by Tu Bianxi, at least one person from their group needed to earn the title of an outstanding employee, or else they would all be eliminated.

He didn’t want to rely on others for hope. He had the advantage of being a doctor, which allowed him to enter smoothly. It was still a question of how Ji Yuanzhi and the others would manage to sneak in. The elevator shaft led directly to the sanatorium, so if they showed up directly, they would be immediately caught.

“You go to the second-floor examination area,” Wen Shi said in a deep voice, “Find a way to release the residents on the fourth floor, then go to Zone B, where the Pure-Hearted Beasts are kept, and try to release those creatures too.”

Based on the feedback from the examination area, Pure-Hearted Beasts referred to the contaminated individuals. Releasing them would cause chaos in the sanatorium.

This was an extremely dangerous plan. The monsters themselves were already a great threat, but there was no better way out. They had to cause mutual harm with the sanatorium staff to give Ji Yuanzhi and the others a chance to enter.

The teenager ordered the Gatekeeper Ghost to protect Wen Shi.

The Gatekeeper Ghost hesitated.

“You staying here won’t be of any help. You should follow my instructions for a chance to survive.”

The Gatekeeper Ghost, using its limited ability to think, agreed with Wen Shi’s perspective. Being immaterial, it treated all walls and doors as if they were nothing, and it left without any obstacles.

After the Gatekeeper Ghost left, the room became much quieter, but the silence didn’t last long. It was broken by the regular knocking on the door and window, and occasionally, there were sounds of children playing marbles on the ceiling.

Wen Shi sat cross-legged, his cat tail tensed nervously.

Hanging, drowning, being devoured alive… In the next ten minutes, he witnessed various ways of death.

The temperature kept dropping, and frost covered the ceiling, walls, and even the floor. Wen Shi carefully buttoned up his white coat, but he still felt cold. He couldn’t help but huddle up, his cat ears perked up, looking quite pitiful in the empty room.

His body was freezing, but his mind was racing.

There must be a way to escape, unless he had the misfortune of encountering an unsolvable death rule.

Another minute passed, and besides the continuously increasing list of deaths on the screen, he found nothing.

“Could I really be this unlucky?” Wen Shi frowned deeply.

Did the 2B Luck stat fail him?

He forced himself to stay calm and continued to watch.

The glass had already cracked from the knocking, and the ghosts outside changed from knocking to banging on the door… Wen Shi could feel that with each break in the door and glass, these ghosts were getting closer to breaking in.

“The video tape’s hint was to lock the doors and windows, but once they break, I guess it’ll be over for me.”

As the malevolent ghosts increased one after another, Wen Shi became more relaxed. At this point, getting nervous wouldn’t help. The Wandering Corpse’s【Heavenly Melody】could slow down the monsters, but if he didn’t find them soon, he would have to bravely venture out.

Wen Shi decided to watch for another five minutes.

When the video tape reached the twentieth minute, a familiar name appeared.

“Jian Haiyang, male, fifty years old, infected and died.”

After Jian Haiyang’s cause of death played out, a recording from inside the dormitory started, showing monsters flooding into the fourth floor. Jian Haiyang’s body was doused with diluted Beautiful Soul Elixir and he was forced to lure the monsters away.

“Haiyang, you are Beautiful Soul ambassador of our factory. It’s your duty to help everyone.”

Almost the same words, the same scene, but this time the protagonist was Jian Haiyang.

In the Ghost Box, the Old Man Ghost struggled frantically, as if he felt a calling, a power guiding him to go out and kill.

Unfortunately, the Old Man Ghost couldn’t break out of the Ghost Box and even ended up scattering its skeletal frame.

Wen Shi was fully focused on the video.

Jian Haiyang couldn’t outrun the monsters. In the recording, his legs were scratched by the monsters, but they didn’t eat him. In the following days, Jian Haiyang grew more and more haggard. He returned home each day with a pile of pancakes and kept complaining about being hungry.

The cafeteria didn’t allow take-out, but the fourth-floor residents brought Wen Shi the same breakfast. He guessed they must have taken the shuttle bus to buy it. Soon, regular food couldn’t satisfy Jian Haiyang anymore. He started going out before 4 AM, bringing back raw meat he purchased from outside, and his appetite grew day by day. Seven days later, he starved to death at the dormitory door.

“It seems that even earlier, the monsters attacked normal people. In the tunnel, they didn’t lay a hand on the players because they were full.”

Just like the chef placing iron barrels with corpses in the workshop every night, the monsters in the tunnel had just finished consuming the driver, but contaminated individuals were their preferred choice of food.

Wen Shi was more concerned about another matter.

The Old Man Ghost experienced the process of contamination and transformation before he died, yet he still possessed rationality, going out to buy groceries every day and going to work like normal.

The game clearly stated that when Soul Purity fell below sixty, immunity would continuously decline, leading to transformation, and under the feeling of hunger, one would attack others indiscriminately.

Liu Yuan and Liu Yun in the quality inspection area were on the verge of transformation and completely lost their rationality. Why was the Old Man Ghost an exception?


Wen Shi’s gaze darkened. The administrator also said that Jian Haiyang was the true ambassador of Big Factory before, and he must have been forced to do many good deeds during his lifetime. In this world, Soul Purity was precisely measured by good deeds and kindness.

The window was about to give way. The female ghost almost stopped falling to her death. Instead, she hung upside down, using her shattered skull to bash against the glass, and her brain fluid kept flowing down the glass, its putrid smell freezing in the air.

Wen Shi didn’t hesitate anymore and took out the Ghost Box.

Almost the moment he opened it, the Old Man Ghost sprang out, shouting, “Kill, kill!”

When he saw Wen Shi, he actually stopped.

Any deceased person that appeared in the videotape would want to kill Wen Shi, and the Old Man Ghost was no exception. But it must be said that his fear of Wen Shi was deeply ingrained. Upon seeing him, his first reaction was to close his legs tightly.

Wen Shi rolled up his sleeve, revealing his fair forearm. “Go ahead, grab it.”

The Old Man Ghost: “……”

F—ck it, you want to provoke me?!

Wen Shi didn’t give him a chance to refuse. He directly grabbed the withered hand bone and forcefully cut into his own arm.

【Warning, you’ve been scratched by a monster.】

Not enough.

The Soul Purity was dropping too slowly. He had just entered the infected state. Wen Shi needed to accelerate this process.

He had the Old Man Ghost leave a few claw marks on his back.

The surrounding ghostly aura was chilling, and the coldness entering his body accelerated the worsening of the wound. Wen Shi experienced intense auditory and visual hallucinations, but the most unbearable sensation was hunger.

Normal people, contaminated individuals, anyone could become a meal for the monsters.

Only in the state of transformation was one relatively safe.

During the night when the monsters besieged the dormitory building, he had told Jian Qingrong that if he could maintain his rationality in the transformed state, there might still be a chance. At that time, Jian Qingrong praised him for being clever, indicating that he agreed with this viewpoint.

“Hungry, so hungry.”

Wen Shi had never felt such a strong desire for food like he did at this moment. His cat-like eyes emitted green light as he locked onto the Old Man Ghost.

“……” The Old Man Ghost crawled back into the Ghost Box and silently closed the lid.

There were still seven minutes left in the videotape. Wen Shi persisted in watching it, but this time, the trouble he faced was no longer the ghosts around him. It was himself.

【Warning, you have entered the transformed state. You have less than seven days to survive.】

The Old Man Ghost also died after seven days. Wen Shi’s Soul Purity gradually and slowly dropped, estimated to be completely depleted at that time.

In the twenty-ninth minute, the glass was shattered, the door was knocked off, and several small ghosts crawled down from the ceiling.

The electric fan, the corridor sink… all kinds of ghosts rushed towards him, turning the entire storage room into a monster den. Just as they were about to indulge in a long-awaited frenzy, they suddenly noticed… a sword drawn, confusion in their hearts as they looked around.

In his transformed state, Wen Shi was mistaken for one of them, treated as a fellow monster.

Thirty minutes had passed.

“Congratulations on completing the side quest: Videotapes. The exploration level of the sanatorium increased by thirty-five percent.”

Enduring the hunger, Wen Shi’s legs felt a bit numb when he stood up.

Vowing never to use bodily transformation again, he had to renew the cat form due to the state of hallucination. While in this altered state, he became even more attuned to malevolent energies, effectively increasing his safety measures.

There were still over ten minutes left in the videotape, but Wen Shi didn’t immediately turn off the TV. He shouted, “Comrades, follow me and unleash a real slaughter feast!”

These ghosts couldn’t possibly listen to him, but they were intrigued by his mention of a slaughter.

Wen Shi kept his original intention of raising favorability. He first sent a message to Jian Qingrong: 【Are you in the medical examination area? I’m coming to rescue you.】

As long as he didn’t relay the message to others, sending messages solely to patients confined in the sanatorium wouldn’t violate the confidentiality rules.

One minute passed without a reply. Wen Shi wondered if the other person’s phone had been confiscated.

Not wanting to waste any more time, he led a group of ghosts to the elevator. The elevator was previously on the fourth floor and quickly descended. When the doors opened, there was a small box on the floor.

The empty elevator cabin made the bow-tied box look particularly eerie.

Wen Shi cautiously touched it.

【Bell: It can only exert five percent of its power in your hands and can ward off evil.】

Any item in the game was usually automatically detected.

It was only after this that Wen Shi felt reassured enough to open the box. Inside, a small bell lay silently, emitting an indescribable aura of innocence.

“A pie falling from the sky?”

No, with a gift box, it seemed more like a deliberately prepared gift.

Wen Shi didn’t know that the person closest to him on the night he used【One Strike Flattens All】was controlling the monsters with this bell.

In the past, Wen Shi always wore a safety charm around his neck. When he heard that the bell could ward off evil, he instinctively tied the bell with a red string around his neck. The string was not long, just enough to rest on his delicate collarbone, complementing the cat ears on his head.

He was too hungry, and seeing anything made him salivate. Every time his Adam’s apple rolled, it slightly moved the bell.

Wen Shi himself didn’t notice this, only feeling that the bell was quite good. After putting it on, the intensity of his hallucinations and auditory illusions lessened. He seized the time to enter the elevator and pressed the button for the second floor.

The elevator doors couldn’t close and kept displaying the prompt: “Overload, overload, overload…”

Wen Shi sneered, glancing at the ghosts around him, and said, “Some of you need to get off.”

The ghosts were packed in the elevator like the morning subway. Some even clung to the top of the cabin, staring at each other, none willing to leave.

Wen Shi was almost suffocating from the squeezing. Worried that his back wound might worsen. He quickly took a potion to restore his health.

“Overload, overload…”

The blaring alarm was annoying, so Wen Shi signaled to the red-dressed female ghost. She and the door-knocking ghost conspired to kick the two biggest ghosts outside.

Seizing the opportunity, Wen Shi pressed the close door button, and as the elevator doors closed, he revealed a faint smile.

The sanatorium sent so many ghosts at once, so it was only appropriate to return the favor.

Outside the elevator, the two angry chubby ghosts unexpectedly felt a chilling sensation when they coincidentally met this eerie smile.

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