"Boss! Mr. Han! Look behind us!" Xiao Du ran to the rest of the group. He gasped for air, and his face was white.
"Behind us?" Guo Miao looked behind them, and the long corridor did not have anything weird in it.
"The mannequins! The mannequins are chasing after us!" The scream from Xiao Du caused the group, which had walked several meters into the Third Sick Hall, to stop moving again.
"Are you sure you're not mistaken?" Song An asked Xiao Du softly as his body moved closer to Guo Miao.
"I'm sure! They really did move!" Xiao Du gasped for air. "Come talk a look for yourself. Those mannequins were at the end of the left corridor earlier, right? But now, they've reached the point between the two scenarios!"
"Don't fret," Han Chu said calmly. "I saw something like this in a Japanese Haunted House three years ago. It was a doll-themed Haunted House. The smaller dolls were equipped internally with machines, so they could move and change facial expression. Only four fifths of the larger dolls were props; the rest were played by actual actors."
"So, these mannequins are real people?" Mr. Han's explanation confused Xiao Du, and he felt even more unsettled.
"I noticed the mannequins when we first came in." Han Chu crossed his arms before his chest. "The mannequins are life-size, as if they were meant to model actual humans. You have to understand something, even for Tian Teng Medical School, there are natural deficiencies to the mannequins that are used at normal props. This is because manufacturing a custom-made mannequin requires too much money. One of them costs about 30,000 and requires a master dollmaker. This is not something a normal Haunted House can afford."
"Then, why would this Haunted House invest so much money into making these mannequins?" Ye Xiaoxin kept writing on her notebook, but no one knew what she was writing.
"Very simple. This goes to show that these mannequins are an important scare point for his Haunted House!" Han Qiuming held his chin as his gaze fell on Ye Xiaoxin. "Mixing real actors among mannequins could have startling effects-just look at what happen to Xiao Du. It looked like the mannequins had moved on their own, but it was actually the live actors who moved. If we hide in the dark to observe, perhaps we might even see them in motion."
Song An nodded. "Mr. Han has a point. We've used similar tactic in Tian Teng Medical School last year, but the mannequins were too fake. The visitors identified the real actors immediately."
"That has to be it." Color returned to Xiao Du's face. "I was really spooked just now. Those mannequins look so real that I though they knew how to move on their own."
"You know that's impossible." Mr. Han said confidently; he had logic on his side. "If not for the time limit, I would hide in this room to record the whole scene of the Haunted House's actors moving the mannequins for you to see."
"Alright, let's move on. We still need to find the tape recorder." Guo Miao had a feeling that things were not as simple as that, but he had no basis to counter Mr. Han.
"Ol' Guo, we have to pay attention to two things with regard to that tape recorder." Mr. Han might have said that he was not afraid, but it was clear that he was extremely cautious. "That Chen fella told us that our tape recorder is hidden inside this place, so he must have put down some traps around the tape recorder."
"I know that." Guo Miao moved forward. The mattresses made a mess of the place. Stepping on them had a curious feeling like he was stepping on bundled up hair.
"That is only the first point. I have to tell you another thing. Don't you think that the game rules that he laid down are also very weird?"
"Finding the tape recorder won't clear the scenario. We have to bring it out of the Third Sick Hall to end the game."
"But that recorder belongs to us. Isn't it normal for us to take it out with us?" Xiao Du chimed in.
"You have underestimated this boss' cunning." Han Qiuming took out a cloth to wipe his glasses. The glasses were very thick. "The recorder itself is probably tied to some mechanism inside this place. In other words, when we find the recorder, the scary stuff will start to appear inside this scenario. Until then, we should be safe."
"That sounds logical, but no one can guarantee that." Song An was the largest of them all, but he was quite a coward.
"In any case, I personally don't think we have any reason to be scared. Familiarizing ourselves with the environment and memorizing the route should be the most important. After all, this scenario is open-ended. The environment will be complicated. Only by retracing our steps will we be able to leave as quickly as possible when the recorder is found and the actors start to move in earnest." Han Qiuming finished his analysis. It was unclear whether the others bought his words or not, but he believed himself.
"You have a point. Haunted Houses still need to rely on actual actors to scare us. As long as we're collected and don't scare ourselves, we should be fine." Ye Xiaoxin shoved the notebook into her pocket.
Han Qiuming was validated after getting the approval from Ye Xiaoxin. The fear in his heart slowly dissipated. He was about to increase his pace to walk beside Ye Xiaoxin when someone pulled on his shirt. He turned to look, and this moment-wrecker was none other than the witless and youngest Du Chaojin.
"Mr. Han, look." They turned to look outside the Third Sick Hall. In the middle of the entrance that led to the Third Sick Hall stood a female mannequin in a school uniform. Her head was lowered, and her limbs were slightly twisted.
While they were busy with their analysis, the mannequins had moved closer to them.
"This is nothing out of the ordinary, the most basic of psychological tricks. The Chen fella is probably hiding inside the control room to give the actors their commands. He wanted to use this group of advancing mannequins to pressure us, to make us lose our footing."
Han Qiuming tried to rationalize everything. "At the end of the day, this is all fake. A few years ago, I used something similar. Don't worry, these mannequins won't dare to come to within five meters of us. Five meters is a safe distance. Once the mannequins got too close, the actors will have a hard time controlling them. I can use my decade of experience to promise you that."
Then he ignored Xiao Du and ran to walk beside Ye Xiaoxin. He started to judge the various decorations inside the Haunted House.
"This guy." Guo Miao sighed. He told his group, "All of you stick close to me. Don't touch anything in the corridor, and don't enter a sickroom alone."
"Okay." Xiao Du walked at the back of the group, but he did not realize that when he moved, the mannequins outside the door also started to move.