Chen Ge looked at the two statuettes with his parents' names and remained quiet. No one knew what he was thinking. The sun was rising, and Chen Ge summoned all the Red Specters back into the comic. He held the two statuettes and stood beside the dam. "I once heard from the shadow that should the ghost fetus be born, the whole city might end up being its mother."
The water was too deep to see right down to the bottom. Under the clear and calm surface, no one knew what kind of horrors were hidden right underneath it.
"The ghost fetus probably wishes for his own parents as well." Putting away the two statuettes, Chen Ge turned to leave. "The change in the shadow happened after he entered the world behind the door. It was the door at the haunted house that completely changed him. After this ghost fetus trial mission is over, I will need to push open the door to go in and look."
Taking a cab back to the New Century Park, Chen Ge gave his employees a makeover, and then he squirreled into the staff breakroom. Once his head hit the pillow, he was sound asleep. He needed to have a good rest because the last night was coming. The next time the sun rose, the person that opened his eyes to the sunlight might not be him anymore. The haunted house's business was booming, and he no longer needed to worry about it as much as he did previously. The employees at the haunted house had gotten used to the life there; their 'lives' had been extended via a different kind of method.
At one in the afternoon, Chen Ge was woken up by the alarm. He grabbed his bag and hurried to leave the staff breakroom. He followed the address on the business card and once again found himself in the part of the old town.
"After so many twists and turns, I am surprised that I have returned to this place."
The old town was a sparkling city in itself. The places that Chen Ge had once visited were only a small part of it. He held the business card and asked the pedestrians along the way before he found the location where the woman worked beside a very old looking residential area.
"Jiu Hong Housing Agency?" Half of the characters on the billboard were missing, and the glass doors were left open like there was something wrong with them that stopped them from closing completely. The utility pole that faced the door was covered in an array of advertisements. There were those looking for partners, those offering treatment for skin diseases, and of course, the quintessential missing person ads. A few bicycles were placed unevenly next to the utility pole, and one of them even had a punctured tire. From the looks of it, it was purposely done by human hands.
The tiles that covered the entrance were quite neat, but it was only the small part near the entrance. The tiles around it were all cracked, and if you stepped on one, dirty water would seep out from underneath them. As Jiujiang continued to reap the benefits of industrialization and modernization, most places in the old town had been given a new breath of life, but this place was clearly an exception.
Chen Ge held the business card and glanced into the building. On a wooden sofa sat an old man who was sighing. He held a cup of murky tea in his hands. There was the sound of arguing coming from inside the house. The argument was so loud that even Chen Ge, who stood outside the building, could hear it clearly.
"Big sister, the place that you recommended me is really not to my taste. No matter what, you will need to help us move away from that place today!"
"Yes, it is not that we are being unreasonable, but who dares to live in a home like that?"
"Yes! Get us away from that place now! Do you think this is easy for us‽ If you insist on not doing that, then we will come here every day and create a ruckus!"
A group of people were surrounding the service counter, and emotions were high. It sounded like they had been swindled by the estate agent, and they were demanding retribution.
"Uncle, what they are arguing about?" Chen Ge sneaked into the room. He did not announce his arrival to the workers there bu took a seat next to the old man like they had been good friends for years.
"Are you here to find a place to rent as well?"
"Of course, why else would I come here?" Chen Ge took a curious glance at the service counter. The boy's mother had a bitter expression on her face as she kept trying to explain the situation to the people around her.
"Do not use the service of this place no matter what. Hurry and leave while you still can." The old man warned him in a small whisper.
"Why?" Chen Ge had to know.
"Do not be fooled by your greed. I know that the rental price here is the cheapest around Jiujiang, but..." The old man scratched his head. "It is hard to say."
"Sir, don't just start the sentence but not finish it. You are only making me even more interested to know what is happening."
"It is not that I am trying to play with you, but it is mainly because I do not know how to explain it to you myself. In any case, the places here are very strange. Something is bound to happen. There was a rumor going around that the boss here was in the business of renting out and selling haunted houses where people died." The wrinkles on the old man's face were folded together. "You know about those places, right? Their boss knew that people had died into those houses before, but he still rented them out at a very low price without revealing that piece of information to the renters.
"Coincidentally enough, the renter was an avid ghost story lover. He spent his hours online scouring actual ghost stories, and one night, he saw an article online, and the picture that was used in that article was the house that he was currently living in."
"I can barely imagine how creepy that must have been." Chen Ge realized that the old man was quite interesting. He even knew about actual ghost stories in the world.
"Well, you are not wrong that. It almost scared the daylight out of the renter. The bed that he had been sleeping in was once the final resting place for a dead body, and the bathtub that he used was the place where a person drowned. Who would be able to take a 'surprise' like that?" The old man sighed, and the wrinkles on his face seemed to deepen.
"Then, did the estate agent allow him to move away?"
"If they did, this would not have been exposed to the neighbors. The estate agent refused to entertain the man's request of claiming his deposit back. The most he would do was find him a new home. The person came from another city, and he still had not landed a firm occupation at the city, so he had no choice but to take the offer. And then you will never expect what happened next." The old man put down the cup of tea. "He started to move that afternoon, and the moving continued into the night. When he settled into his new home, the first thing he did was to get online to check if there was any connection between his new home and murder cases, and it turned out..."
"So, what was it this time?" Chen Ge's interest was piqued. He felt that the renter would not be that 'lucky'.
"The last place that he moved away from was the site of a murder, and the place that he had just moved into was the site of a suicide. He tried to peel back part of the walls, and he even found some hairs stuck behind it." Even the old man did not know how to continue.
"That is just too much. Was the estate agent purposely trying to scam the poor renter?" Chen Ge put down his backpack and leaned against the back of the sofa as he adjusted himself into a more comfortable position. "Did the estate agent finally agree to help the renter move to a better place?"
"The man had already been scammed twice. Do you think he would use the service of this place? Naturally, he demanded the deposit and wished to leave this place as soon as possible."
"So, this time, the estate agent finally agreed to return to him his deposit?"
"Do you see the tallest fella inside the room? If the estate agent had agreed to return his money, he would not be here today," the old man said with a bitter smile.
"So, that is the main character from the stories!" Chen Ge used Yin Yang Vision to scan the man. The man had very serious eye bags. Even though his frame was tall, he was weak and lacking in Yang energy.
"He was not the only victim of this place. Since the housing agency's boss refused to return their deposits, all the victims decided to gang up together to demand an explanation. In the end, the boss refused to meet them, and the boss went straight into hiding, leaving this poor receptionist to deal with the mess every day." The old man sighed. "We have been here many times already, but this boss is a slimy one. He refused to present us with a valid solution, and we still need to go home with our hearts hanging in our throat."
"Have you guys try calling the police or informing the local reporters? This is truly the mistake of this housing agency. Maybe some formal pressure will get things moving."
"We have tried all the methods that we could, but it won't work because every single one of us has our own reason to move away from our homes. Even though we all know that all our reasons, different as they might be, are valid, the people outside might not believe that." This statement from the old man once again aroused Chen Ge's attention.
"The reason for moving away is different for each of you? How is that?"
"That's right. Take myself for an example. I am the oldest tenant here. Every day, at midnight, I hear the chime of clock. After so many years, I have already gotten used to it, but I only recently found out that all my neighbors are unable to hear the chime at midnight. I am the only one who is able to hear it." The old man sighed helplessly. "I've stayed here for so long because I did not know about this, but now that I have found out, how am I supposed to stay here? And this reason will sound preposterous to others. They might not believe me. In fact, some of them already think that I am getting old and say that I have started to hallucinate. Just the mere mention of it incenses me even further!"
The old man stared at the murky cup of tea. "Finding a place to stay that is suitable to your taste is not easy, but there is one other way. The neighbors are slowly moving away, and the place is getting deserted. It becomes scarier and scarier now I spend my days at that place all alone at night."
While Chen Ge and the old man were chatting, the argument at the service counter had reached a new height. The boy's mother kept bowing and apologizing. Obviously, she was the scapegoat that was pushed out by her boss to suffer the blame from the disgruntled tenants.
"Sir, what are the reasons for these other people to move? It can't be that every single room at this place is a haunted, can it?"
"Only the tall guy's place is haunted. The reasons for the others are almost similar to mine," the old man whispered back. "The pair that is making the most noise is a couple that has just moved here. They live on the fourth floor. Young people like to stay up late, and there is nothing wrong with that. One night, when they were playing games, the man heard a knock on the window. He thought that the window was not closed properly, so he went to check. But he found out there was a black shadow waving at him from the room of the opposite building as if it was inviting him to go over there."
"A black shadow? What happened then?"
"He thought that was just some trick of the light, so at the beginning, he did not care too much of it. But when he woke up the next morning, he felt a chill just thinking about it. The next day, he made a vigil voluntarily next to the window. At around 2 am, he once again saw the shadow standing on the fourth floor of the opposite building waving at him, calling him to get over there." The old man was a gifted storyteller. His pacing and intonation were well-placed, and even Chen Ge could not help but be drawn into his tales.
"So, did he go over there?"
"It was right in the middle of the night. Who would do that? He waited until noon the next day before he went over to the opposite building. But people on that floor told him that the room was supposed to be empty. The person who stayed there had moved away a long time ago.
"And do you think that was all? When he returned that night, he once again waited next to the window. This time, there was no more shadow waving at him from the opposite side, but the glass windows at his place kept making noises at night, like someone was leaning outside his window and trying to pry his windows open to get in."
"What the... Now that is a scary thought." Chen Ge placed his hand over his heart. "But could it be a psychological effect, just the man scaring himself?"
"Who can know for sure? But the issue is, these strange events have happened to more than a handful of us." The old man pointed to a student who was filling in a document on the left side of the service counter. "The student often hears a woman's whispering coming from the room above him, as if she was whispering some kind of secrets to her partner. He thought the sound-proofing between the floor was not that good, so he did not mind it that much. After a week, his neighbor from upstairs came down to warn to stop chatting with people so late at night. Only then did he realize that the woman's voice did not appear to come from upstairs but probably came from a corner of his own room."
"That might not be true. Since both the upstairs and downstairs neighbor heard her so clearly, perhaps the woman is hiding between the two floors, and her body is buried inside the cement?" Out of habit, Chen Ge could not help but provide his one analysis.
"Now that you mention it..." The old man's face blanched immediately. "It might be true!"
"I was just giving a casual observation. Don't take it to heart."
"How can I not‽" The old man stood up and moved toward the service counter. What Chen Ge had told him gave him a boost, and his desire to move away became even firmer. To help share the burden from the mother's shoulders, Chen Ge also hurried over. "Please keep the noise now. Arguing will get you nowhere. I will help solve your problem."
To be honest, the boy's mother did not have a good first impression of Chen Ge, but when she was surrounded by a mob and Chen Ge came to her rescue, her impression of Chen Ge improved tremendously.
"Who are you?" For many of the tenants, this was their first time meeting Chen Ge. They were at the height of their temper, and since Chen Ge had come as a volunteer, they turned their anger toward him.
"Who I am is not important. The important thing is that I can help you solve all of your problems." Chen Ge carried his backpack and stood before the crowd. "Can you just give me one night? Since your method is going nowhere, why not give me one night to try? Trust me one time."
The few tenants were victims of horrible business practice, so to have them trust a stranger was too difficult.
"What nonsense are you talking about. Why should we trust you? This keeps getting dragged out day after day. You people keep finding excuses to blow us off. At the end of the day, you do not wish to help us with our problems at all..."
"If I am unable to help you solve your problem tonight, then I will rent all of your rooms. The deposit that the estate agent is keeping from you, I will replace it, and the rent that the estate agent refuses to return to you, I will compensate as well. If you still do not believe me, we can sit down and draft up a contract. It will be written down in ink. Whichever party violates the contract will have to give a ten times compensation." After Chen Ge said that, the whole room was silent. All the tenants who wanted to leave stared at him quietly.
"Are you sure?"
"Of course, but before any of you go, I need you to tell me everything there is about your room. All the details regarding the strange events that have occurred the you." Chen Ge was doing business here. He would not only gain new employees-he could also help these poor tenants and get the most direct and truthful information from the source. "Alright, please queue up, and we will do this one by one."
The old man who stood to the side wanted to advise Chen Ge to reconsider this, but seeing how excited the other tenants were, he could only shake his head and keep his words to himself. What the student and the couple told Chen Ge was not much different from what the old man told him earlier.
The main character there was the tenant who was very tall. He was in a very horrible condition. The two rental experiences had drained him both mentally and physically. "Both of the places that I rented are haunted. The landlord ganged up with the housing agency to scam me. If they refuse to give me my money back, I plan to go through legal channels to protect my own rights."
"Are you hiding something from the rest of us?" Chen Ge had a feeling that the man was acting strangely, like he had a secret to hide.
When asked this question by Chen Ge, shock crossed his eyes. He hesitated for a long time before he said, "I do not think you will believe me, but I dreamed about dead people talking to me."
"Anything is possible in a dream."
"But the problem is, when I woke up from my dream, I opened my eyes and saw that dead person lying flat on the ceiling." The man did not seem to have revealed that information to the other tenants. When he said that, everyone in the room could feel a chill running up their spine.
"Then, do you still remember what that person told you in your dream?"
"Brother, did you not hear me? The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was a dead person lying on my ceiling. Would you remember what they had said in your dream?" The man gasped. Whenever he mentioned this, his body would shiver involuntarily.
"In other words, you have forgotten the things that the person told you." Chen Ge nodded before he moved onto the next question. "How often does this happen? Every night or only occasionally?"