Safety Manual Labor Tips with a Twist of 2D Chapter 4

Chapter 4 The Reason for Reading the Novel Twice

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Lin Zhaohe purchased some daily necessities and proceeded to the cashier’s counter, joining the queue.

Despite being a fictional being, the laws of the real world still applied. Standing ahead of Lin Zhaohe was a two-headed dragon, while behind him was a towering man, almost two meters in height. He found himself squeezed in the middle, like a stuffed toy made of cloth.

During the dragon’s turn at the checkout counter, which was approximately two meters tall as well, it casually grabbed a few boxes of condoms placed beside the chewing gum. Lin Zhaohe’s eyes widened in surprise, realizing that the appearance of dragons could be deceiving. Despite their imposing size, they could still make use of human-sized items…

To his astonishment, the dragon seemed to have sensed his thoughts. One of its heads turned and uttered, “I happen to be a girl, you know.”

Lin Zhaohe: “…” Ah, that explained it. Wait a moment… something felt even more amiss now.

The other dragon head emitted a cold scoff, speaking in a distinctly masculine voice, , “Humans truly have perverted tastes, don’t they?”

Lin Zhaohe: “…” Yes, ever since the unification of the 2D and 3D realms, people’s fetishes have grown increasingly peculiar.

As Lin Zhaohe emerged from the supermarket, he remained immersed in the bewildering daze brought about by the eccentricities of others’ preferences. This particular area was currently considered safe. However, in other places, he had encountered buildings transformed into lush jungles or rivers flowing not with water but molten lava. These sights resembled a surreal and whimsical dreamscape, teeming with creatures conceived within the human imagination. When reality and dreams melded into a singular existence, he couldn’t discern whether it was a blissful reverie or a frightful nightmare.

Upon reaching his home, Lin Zhaohe discovered that the water stain on the rooftop had expanded, now resembling a faintly human silhouette. Its form differed from the previous indistinct puddle.

Lying in bed, Lin Zhaohe fixated on the ceiling, and a dreadful notion crept into his mind. Swiftly rising from his supine position, he grasped his keys and dashed out.

Today, Uncle Chen was absent from his usual exercise routine in the park. Lin Zhaohe located him in the security booth, where he sat engrossed in reading the newspaper.

“Uncle Chen,” Lin Zhaohe called out.

Uncle Chen let out a sound of acknowledgment and asked, “What’s the matter, Xiao Lin?”

“Is anyone residing on the 18th floor?” Lin Zhaohe inquired.

Uncle Chen responded, “What? The Eighteen Arhats?”

Lin Zhaohe: “… I meant the 18th floor!”

Uncle Chen exclaimed, “Impressive, impressive!”

Lin Zhaohu thought Uncle Chen was truly remarkable. He wiped his face, contemplating whether he should resort to written communication. Just then, he noticed a substantial cluster of keys resting in the corner of Uncle Chen’s security booth. The numbers inscribed on the keys undeniably represented the numbers inscribed on the keys undeniably represented the apartment unit numbers.

Lin Zhaohe had a sudden realization and pointed at the keys. “Uncle Chen, I forgot to bring my keys. Can you lend me the spare ones?”

Uncle Chen wore a puzzled expression, unaware of what Lin Zhaohe was talking about. With hand gestures, Lin Zhaohe finally managed to make Uncle Chen understand. Uncle Chen squinted his eyes and remarked, “You forgot your keys? Young folks these days, so absent-minded… Which apartment unit do you reside in?”

“It’s on this floor,” Lin Zhaohe casually replied. He reached out and retrieved the key for 18-2. After obtaining it, he swiftly bid farewell to Uncle Chen and slipped away.

Uncle Chen, his eyesight dimmed by age, gazed at Lin Zhaohe’s retreating figure. His already small eyes narrowed even further.

Lin Zhaohe obtained the key and headed straight for the 18th floor.

Upon further reflection, previous occurrences, such as the strange sounds and the progressively humanoid water stains, appeared increasingly suspicious. Could it be that someone had encountered an unfortunate incident and perished within their dwelling? Their lifeless body left unattended on the floor, gradually decomposing and causing seepage that corroded the ceiling…

At this point, Lin Zhaohe felt a slight unease in his stomach. But the mere thought of someone decaying and emitting a repugnant odor directly above him sent chills down his spine. He resolved that he needed to go upstairs and uncover the truth of the matter.

The sky had started to darken by now. Lin Zhaohe took the elevator and arrived at the 18th floor.

18-2 was located at the innermost position of the corridor. Whether it was just his imagination or not, Lin Zhaohe couldn’t shake the feeling that this floor seemed sparsely inhabited. Only a few units had their lights on when he glanced down the hallway. The entire corridor was an eerie void, resembling a terrifying gaping mouth ready to swallow anyone who stepped inside.

Lin Zhaohe reached the doorstep of 18-2. He looked at the key in his hand and then at the dark, lacquered door before him. Faintly, he sensed an unusual odor, a blend of repulsiveness masked by an odd fragrance, as if someone sought to cover the foulness with potent perfume.

Following the conventional script, Lin Zhaohe should have opened the door and ventured inside to investigate. However, as a seasoned movie enthusiast well-versed in the countless cinematic tales of the 21st century, the moment he detected the unsettling ambiance, he made a firm decision to postpone his exploration for another time.

“Let’s check it out tomorrow,” Lin Zhaohe muttered to himself, addressing the empty air. “With such a damn ambiance, it feels like stepping inside would thrust me into the role of a horror movie protagonist…”

Whether it was his own illusion or not, the very moment he spoke those words, the atmosphere around him seemed to momentarily solidify.

“Till tomorrow then,” Lin Zhaohe pocketed the key and swiftly turned away, fleeing like a rabbit chased by a hound.

He dashed down the staircase, seeking refuge in the comforting glow of his well-lit home. Nestling under the covers, a sense of warmth embraced Lin Zhaohe. There was no place safer than his cozy sanctuary, he thought, contentedly. The plush bedding swiftly lulled him into a drowsy state, and he closed his eyes. Even then, a faint hint of that peculiar fragrance wafted through his nostrils. Moments later, he surrendered himself to a deep slumber.

The following day, Lin Zhaohe, pushing aside the events of the previous night, met his boss Zhuang Lao at the agreed-upon location.

Zhuang Lao remained as attractive as ever, donning a simple T-shirt and black trousers. His raven-black locks danced slightly in the breeze. Today, he didn’t wear his glasses, revealing his captivating pair of pure black irises. If Lin Zhaohe hadn’t known that Zhuang Lao hadn’t crossed over from a two-dimensional world, he might have mistaken him for the beautiful male lead described in anime.

Like any other person, Lin Zhaohe had an appreciation for beautiful things. Thus, he discreetly stole a few extra glances.

Zhuang Lao seemed oblivious to his subtle gestures. His attention turned to the time. “Is he almost done with work?”

“Seems like it,” Lin Zhaohe remarked. “Finishes at five, heads to the supermarket to fetch ingredients for dinner, and follows it up with a two-hour workout at the gym… A remarkably disciplined routine.”

Zhuang Lao nodded, a hint of contemplation flickering in his eyes.

“With such a structured lifestyle, it doesn’t appear to be the behavior of someone engaged in an affair,” Lin Zhaohe mused, gently stroking his chin. “Do normal people sneak out in the dead of night for rendezvous? Isn’t it more common for them to find opportunities during regular hours to meet their secret lover? Going out at such an hour raises considerable suspicion.”

“You seem quite knowledgeable in such matters,” Zhuang Lao observed.

“I suppose,” Lin Zhaohe modestly replied, his tone tinged with humility. “I owe it all to the boss’s guidance.”

Zhuang Luo: “?”

Lin Zhaohe quickly realized the ambiguity in his words and promptly clarified, “No, I meant to say that the boss always assigns me such tasks.”

Zhuang Lao revealed a gentle smile, his voice adopting an even more tender tone. “Are you interested in engaging in more thrilling assignments, like Zhang Xiaoxiao?”

A sudden chill crept up Lin Zhaohe’s spine. “N-No, I didn’t mean that.”

“Good boy,” Zhuang Lao affectionately tousled Lin Zhaohe’s hair. Lin Zhaohe had fine, velvety hair that felt incredibly pleasant to the touch. Ignoring Lin Zhaohe’s astonished gaze, Zhuang Lao continued to gently stroke his hair a couple more times before calmly retracting his hand.

Although Lin Zhaohe sensed an inexplicable strangeness in his boss, he dared not even let out a sigh, fervently hoping that his boss wouldn’t assign him tasks similar to Zhang Xiaoxiao’s. Otherwise, he would truly find himself in an exceedingly perplexing situation—quite literally.

Amidst the lingering awkwardness, Lin Zhaohe caught sight of a familiar figure descending the stairs—it was their surveillance target, Fu Li.

“He’s coming out!” Lin Zhaohe exclaimed. “Huh? Where is he off to?” It was still half an hour before quitting time, and it was only four-thirty in the afternoon.

After descending the stairs, Fu Li turned and slipped into a nearby cafe. Lin Zhaohe wondered if he had a hankering for a cup of coffee.

Zhuang Lao said, “Let’s go.” Before Lin Zhaohe could even process it, Zhuang Lao had already spun around and headed toward the cafe.

Lin Zhaohe hastened to keep up and, upon entering, his gaze swept across the cafe. When he finally spotted their surveillance target, his eyes widened in surprise.

Over in the corner, sat Fu Li, accompanied by a charming young girl. The girl donned an elegant dress and had a mane of pink hair, resembling a character straight out of an animated world. They were engrossed in a hushed conversation, and the affectionate manner in which they interacted made it hard to believe they were merely friends.

“Whoa.” Little did Lin Zhaohe anticipate such an explosive sight right off the bat. He swiftly retrieved his prepped camera and discreetly clicked a few shots.

However, Zhuang Lao appeared utterly composed, showing no trace of surprise. He calmly summoned a waiter and placed an order for two cups of coffee.

“So, he’s truly having an affair?” Lin Zhaohe whispered, engaging in a hushed discussion with his boss.

Zhuang Lao affirmed, “It certainly appears that way.”

“But doesn’t he prefer men?” Lin Zhaohe inquired. “Why is his affair with a girl, then?”

Zhuang Lao cast a brief glance at him and remarked, “Seems like you’ve been indulging in novels.”

Lin Zhaohe responded, “…But didn’t you give them to me, Boss?”

Zhuang Lao acknowledged, “Seems like I did.”

Lin Zhaohe continued, “No, but didn’t you read them yourself, Boss?”

“It’s too explicit, I couldn’t bear to continue reading.”

Lin Zhaohe remained speechless.

“You didn’t read it all, did you?”

Lin Zhaohe responded, “…No.” He dared not confess that not only did he read it all, but he even read it twice.

Fu Li and the beautiful girl engaged in a heated encounter, their reluctance evident as they parted ways near the end of their shift. If observed by an outsider unaware of the circumstances, they would undoubtedly be mistaken for a couple deeply immersed in a passionate romance. Nevertheless, Lin Zhaohe and Zhuang Lao had to persist in their surveillance since, despite their affectionate demeanor, they refrained from any overtly audacious actions such as kissing or embracing.

Consequently, they grabbed a quick dinner and returned to the vicinity of Yuan Liang’s residence to resume their watchful vigil.

Ordinarily, this kind of assignment would be manageable for Lin Zhaohe alone. However, for some inexplicable reason, Zhuang Lao insisted on joining him. Lin Zhaohe could only speculate that this particular client must hold significant importance, leaving him wondering if there were concealed connections beyond public knowledge…

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