"I shouldn't get ahead of myself. The landlord is suspicious, but that doesn't mean he's really the murderer." Chen Ge scratched his head and said to himself, "Perhaps I should talk to some of the tenants for more details."
Since Chen Ge arrived at the apartment, he had seen four different individuals: the woman hiding behind the door; Wang Qi, the person who pasted those missing person notices all over the place; the recalcitrant landlord; and the old man in the wheelchair.
"The old man stays with the landlord, so speaking to him is out of the question. The lady on the first floor weirds me out, so the only remaining candidate is Wang Qi. He should know some things about this apartment." Chen Ge placed the bottle in the room, locked the door behind him and went downstairs.
The voice-activated light came on, giving Chen Ge enough light to see Wang Qi hugging the stack of notices, walking down the corridor. He slipped a notice under each door, regardless of whether they were occupied or not. This naturally attracted Chen Ge's attention. Normally, missing person notices were posted at places with high traffic, but this man personally focused on these apartments, which seemed quite deserted.
Chen Ge followed behind Wang Qi quietly. It was not until Wang Qi finished slipping the last notice under the door that he said, "Brother, I can understand your feeling of having a loved one vanish, but you should stay strong and not do this kind of meaningless action to torture yourself."
Wang Qi slowly turned around up hearing Chen Ge's voice. His clouded pupils seemed unable to find a point to focus on. "Understand? None of you will ever understand how I feel, nor have I asked for your understanding..."
Chen Ge did not waste time going down this rabbit hole with him. He grabbed his phone and searched for the police report he made when his parents disappeared several months ago. "I'm not lying to you. My parents suddenly disappeared half a year ago, and at the beginning, I was feeling down in the dumps, too."
Looking at the picture saved in the phone, Wang Qi was silent for a long time before he said, "I emphasize with your situation, but our circumstances are different. My fiancé will return; I can feel that she hasn't gone far."
"Do you mind telling me your story? Considering we're somewhat in the same boat, perhaps I can help you," Chen Ge said. Weirdly enough, he found himself meaning what he said.
Wang Qi hesitated. Perhaps recalling that Chen Ge had helped him pick up his notice earlier, his gaze that fell on Chen Ge softened. "Thank you, but you won't be able to help me. You're a nice young man, so listen to my advice, run away while you still can. Don't try to spend a night here!"
"I've already paid. You'll have to give me a more convincing reason if you want me to pack up and leave." Chen Ge's purpose there was to complete the Trial Mission. If he surrendered, he would lose the opportunity to unlock the Murder by Midnight scenario forever.
"Is your life more important or your money?" Wang Qi looked about them, and after making sure there was no peeping eyes, he lowered his voice to say, "Everyone here knows there have been murders in this building before."
"I've heard a thing or two about that, but I failed to find any information on it on the internet; I suspect that's merely a rumor," Chen Ge replied.
"Previously, this building was called Fu An Apartments; it was after the incident that the name changed to Ping An Apartments. The murders were big news at the time, and until now, they haven't been solved. The will of the dead hasn't been appeased, so they appear at their place of death every day at midnight," Wang Qi said. It sounded like he really believed it.
"You still believe ghost stories like that at an age like ours?" Chen Ge smiled awkwardly. Internally, he was incredibly nervous because he knew better than anyone how real the other world was. If possible, he really did not want to have any more encounters with these spirits.
"Initially, I did not believe it either... that is until the day my fiancé disappeared around this area." Wang Qi pulled on his hair out of frustration, his fatigue plain as day.
"Why would your fiancé come to a place like this in the first place?" Chen Ge was intrigued. The thing that happened to this Wang Qi's fiancé was curiously similar to what happened to his parents.
"To be honest, I don't really know. In fact, I had not even heard of this apartment before her disappearance. I got the place's name from the police; they told me it was at this place that all clues were lost." Wang Qi's hands relaxed, and several strands of hair hung listlessly between his fingers. "I've run out of ideas, and that's why I moved in here."
"Then, have you discovered anything?"
Wang Qi's lips fell open, but before he could say anything, he suddenly stopped himself. Instead, he reached into his pocket to pull out his phone to type something on it.
"My fiancé has been kidnapped by the people who live here!"
Chen Ge was dumbfounded reading the typed message; he had not expected this development. "Brother, a kidnapping and a disappearance are two very different thing."
Wang Qi shushed Chen Ge, telling him to be quiet. He turned his back toward the corridor and flipped his phone over to show Chen Ge. Chen Ge saw the messages in the phone inbox, and his eyes slowly widened with shock.
There was a message from Wang Qi's fiancé in his phone!
The content was simple, it only had two words-'Save me!' However, the most spine-chilling discovery was the message was sent at 2 am last night.
"Someone who should have disappeared sent you a SOS message in the middle of the night?" After the initial shock, Chen Ge quickly calmed down. "Then, why didn't you go to the police with this message? Obviously, your fiancé is still alive."
"You might not believe me when I tell you this, but I receive this message from my fiancé every night after midnight. The content is always the same, but the key point is every time after I wake up, the message will have miraculously disappeared like it never really happened." Wang Qi pointed at his bloodshot eyes. "To preserve this message, I haven't closed my eyes for 24 hours already."
"The message will disappear once you fall asleep?" This was the first time Chen Ge had heard something as curious as that.
"I know you think I'm crazy, but everything I've said is the truth." Wang Qi leaned against the wall for support as he pocketed his phone. "More inexplicable things have happened to me. For example, my fiancé's stuff curiously appears in my room without warning; it's like she's reminding me to go look for her."
When Wang Qi said the last sentence, Chen Ge's eyelids twitched. Based on his experience from the past few days, Wang Qi's fiancé had not disappeared but befallen an accident and transformed into a ghost. She was haunting Wang Qi; that was the only logical explanation, provided the man had not been lying to him.
"My fiancé disappeared around this apartment building, and my life has been changed by this apartment building. Listen to me, this place is cursed. It's the home of many evil ghosts and specters. Misfortune befalls those who get too close, so leave when you still can." It seemed that Wang Qi had not uttered so many words at one go in a very long time, for his face was stark-white as if the conversation had taken a great toll out on him.