"I can understand why the chairperson is targeting him. The man has probably gone into the door before and might even have a 'door' of his own." Kong Xiangming kept his voice very low, afraid that a third person might overhear him.
"It does not matter-so what if he has gone behind the door? Ultimately, there is only one of him." Wei Wu did not sound that confident when he said so; it sounded more like he was trying to convince himself. "Since this mission is so important, the chairperson wouldn't have sent only the two of us. The other members from the society are probably also here already."
"Don't put your hopes on others. What if the chairperson's plan is to sacrifice the two of us to scout out the way for everyone else?" Kong Xiangming closed the door. "The society's members can change at any moment, but the number will never change. Each number corresponds to a monster behind the door. Owning this number means you have a cohesive relationship with the monster that it corresponds to. Therefore, in the chairperson's eyes, the real thing of import is the monsters living in us and not ourselves."
He narrowed his eyes and suddenly brought up something that was not relevant. "The rules of the ghost stories society forbid us from exposing our own identity and investigating others. The two rules are to protect our personal safety since the members of the society either are crazed maniacs or butchers with bloody hands. However, have you considered the opposite implication?"
"What is it? What is the opposite implication?"
"Not interacting with the other members means that we will never find out who the chairperson is." Kong Xiangming's thoughts went deep. "Everyone knows that the chairperson is hiding among the ten people at the dining table, but none of us know who the chairperson is. I now have my suspicion that the chairperson might be a monster behind the door, and we are nothing but vessels to contain monsters."
"Why are you telling me all this?" Wei Wu tried to distance himself from Kong Xiangming. "No one has ever betrayed the ghost stories society, and that is the scariest point. Do you understand what I mean?"
Kong Xiangming shrugged. "You joined the society in the same batch as me, so I can be sure you're not the chairperson. That is why I actively approached you during our last mission together and revealed my real identity. You're the only person I can trust inside the society."
Wei Wu had a feeling there were other things that Kong Xiangming did not tell him. He wanted no part of this, but he had already been roped in.
"All the monsters are escapees from behind the door. Therefore, it is a certainty that the chairperson has a door of his own!" Kong Xiangming's voice stopped as a thin smile appeared on his face. "Owning the door means owning the right to create the rules. Don't you want to be the chairperson?"
"You really have lost your mind."
"I have not. I simply have no other ghost stories left to share. If the rules aren't changed, the next time we meet, I might be the food served on your plate, turning from diner into dinner." Kong Xiangming's words were like cold water hitting Wei Wu's face. The ghost stories society was not a place for charity. Even the members were afraid of the power of the society.
"Tell me your plan."
"If this was before, I wouldn't have done something so risky, but I found a chance recently. The chairperson has been having more constant interaction and communication with us. He is in deep waters, and that is where his weakness is exposed."
"The chairperson communicates with us through the monsters that are possessing our bodies, but the monsters can only communicate when they are within fifty meters of one another. We have tested this out ourselves before." Kong Xiangming came to the key point of his speech. "In other words, the chairperson was within fifty meters of us when he communicated with us."
"During the meeting, I've always sat close to No. 10. Whenever I'm next to him, the monster in my body will reveal a strange emotion. It is akin to a desire. I can sense its desire; it wants to consume No. 10."
"But that doesn't mean that No. 10 is the chairperson. The monsters in all ten of us are different from one another."
"I know, but the point is several seconds before my monster received the message from the chairperson, it also responded with this strange desire." Kong Xiangming's voice slowly changed. "When the message was sent, both No. 10 and the chairperson were around the vicinity of my house. Is this not the perfect proof of their relationship?"
"Could this be a coincidence?"
"The society chairperson should be the one who sent us the flyer. He is also the only one who knows the real identity of all the members. For both times when communication was made, No. 10 and the chairperson appeared around my house; I don't think there is such a coincidence in this world."
Kong Xiangming finished his speculation, and Wei Wu gone completely silent. The mysterious chairperson was like a sharp sword hanging over all the members' necks.
"No. 10 is the chairperson? Then how do you plan to cooperate with me?" Wei Wu walked alongside Kong Xiangming. Since they had the same target, they formed a temporarily truce. If there was no shared benefit, the two would be at each other's throats because they knew the other person's real identity.
"The chairperson wants us to target the boss of this Haunted House. This means that the boss is not an easy character. We must let them fight it out among themselves, and we'll find the opportunity." Kong Xiangming entered the bathroom and removed the female body from the ceiling. He pulled out a nametag from her pocket. "We're here as visitors, so just be careful not to let the boss think otherwise."
The two left the room with the nametag. One or two minutes later, there was a sound in the room. It sounded like something rolling on the floor.
A mannequin's head had rolled out from underneath the bed.
The three medical students congregated together. Without the map, they finally understood the 'joy' of visiting a Haunted House.
"Lee Xue, wait for us!" The girl with a babyface walked in front all alone. The two male students followed behind her, leaning so close to each other that it would have been easier if they were holding hands.
"When we were outside, every one of you boasted more than the other, but without the guide from our seniors, how come you are so weak?" Lee Xue turned around to look at her partners and sighed. "Are you two even men?"
"What does this have to do with gender?" Even though Wang Dan was hiding at the very back, his attitude had not changed. "This is called being careful. Can't you see that we're just trying to watch your back?"
Yang Chen was blushing from embarrassment. "I'm not afraid, but this place is too similar to my high school. The set earlier looked fake at first glance, but this place gives me the feeling that I've returned to my high school."
"What is so scary about returning to your high school?" Lee Xue did not quite understand.
"If the set is obviously different from reality, I can convince myself that everything is fake, but this set is so similar to the high school from my memory that no matter how hard I tell myself, I cannot help getting immersed into the atmosphere." Yang Zhen was still holding the notebook and a pen. He was drawing out the map with shaking fingers.
Most of Western Jiujiang's Private Academy had been cut out due to certain reasons, so the space that it occupied was not big. The three students soon reached the end of the corridor, and before them sat a very common glass door.
"Wait a minute!" Yang Chen stopped Lee Xue, who was trying to open the door. He leaned against the door and looked through the dusty mirror. "This looks like one of the floors of a dormitory. There is even a number on the door."
"Could this be the female dorm that was supposed to be on the map?" Lee Xue urged Yang Chen to open the map to do a comparison and realized that the location was much too different.
"Should be a hidden scenario," Yang Chen said as if that was the answer, "When I first got the map, I was wondering why there was only a female dorm and not a male dorm. Now it looks like the male dorm has been made into a hidden scenario. But I'm curious, how did we manage to trigger the hidden scenario? We didn't do anything out of the ordinary, did we?"
"The boss probably felt too afraid because we were clearing the map too fast." Wang Dan laughed cockily as he joined Yang Chen at the door. "This looks similar to our school dorm. Let's go in and take a look."
Although he said that, his body did not move. Eventually, it was Lee Xue who pushed the door open. The rusted lock fell to the ground, and as the glass door slipped open, a strange smell permeated from within.
"Why does this smell like body decay?"
"Should we even go in?"
"To be honest, since we're here and discovered the hidden scenario, we've already broken the seniors' record." Wang Dan raised his hand. "I suggest we leave while we can."
"It's not a guarantee that we'll be able to trigger the hidden scenario next time. Since we're already here, why don't we enter the place? Are you really going to leave just like that?"
Yang Chen and Lee Xue grabbed Wang Dan as they entered the corridor.
There were half open room doors on either side of the dark corridor. It was unclear which room the horrible stench came from.
"This place is so unnecessarily creepy." Wang Dan's voice became low as if being too loud might awaken the monsters that were slumbering there.
"We still have time. We mustn't give up on any of the rooms. This place must be hiding plenty of nametags." Yang Chen accompanied Lee Xue as they walked in front. Wang Dan followed unwillingly at the back. He was deeply unsettled, but he did not have the courage to leave on his own, so he could only power on with everyone else.
"Don't be such a scaredy cat. The scary scenes are probably at the back, so the front few rooms should be perfectly safe." Yang Chen tried to use his own experience to console Wang Dan. "Which Haunted House will put the scariest scenario at the beginning of the scenario?"
As he said so, he pushed open the door to the first bedroom on the left side of the corridor. Dust fell from the wooden door frame like a curtain. It appeared like it had been many months since someone visited the place. As the door creaked open, Yang Chen walked into it. However, he only took one small step before he stopped. His upper body was leaning forward, but his lower body was frozen to the ground.
"Ol' Yang? What's wrong with you?" The door fell fully open, and Lee Xue as well as Wang Dan behind him took in a cold breath. There was someone hanging in the middle of the room.
"A mannequin?" Yang Chen was the first one to recover. He rubbed his hands on his clothes to wipe away the cold sweat that had formed in the middle of his palms.
"Don't go in first." Wang Dan pointed at the mannequin's feet. "It doesn't look like a real hanging. Look at the feet, they're still standing on the ground. I suspect this is a Haunted House actor."
"I don't think so." Lee Xue was the most courageous of the party. She walked into the room directly. "The rope is pulled taut. Maintaining this pose for a long time, even while standing, will heavily stress one's neck."
She walked to the other end of the room carefully. The hanging mannequin was wearing a dark black coat and had its head lowered, so the face could not be seen clearly. Lee Xue reached out slowly until the tip of her finger touched the 'dead body's' skin.
"It's not human skin. Come in, it's safe." There was an audible sigh of relief. All three of them had been given quite a shock.
"What is the meaning of hanging a mannequin in the middle of the room? And even purposely letting it stand on the ground?" Wang Dan touched the dead body's hand. He was a forensic science student, so he understood the difference between fake skin and real human skin. The fake skin felt colder and harder to the touch.
"Don't touch anything randomly. This dead body might be the answer to a puzzle that we haven't discovered yet." Lee Xue's hands lightly pulled on the dead body's chin, slowly raising its head. When they saw the dead body's face, the three medical students started to get bothered.
It looks too real!
Because they had seen actual dead bodies before, the fear that gripped them at that moment was far greater than if this had happened to a normal individual.
"The rope stressed the front of the neck, causing the tongue to be squeezed upward, blocking the back of the throat and the windpipe. The cause of death is probably asphyxiation."
After Lee Xue said that, she herself was stunned. She did not expect that the first time she would use her professional knowledge that she had picked up in class would be inside a Haunted House.
"Look closer at the mannequin's face. There are irregular blood spots. This is different from a normal asphyxiation." Yang Chen walked around the mannequin. "The neck snapped, causing a lack of blood flow to the brain. The real cause of death should be brain anemia."
"Guys, does it really matter how the mannequin died‽ We should focus on leaving this place!" Wang Dan urged. "Don't you two feel afraid? A dead mannequin in the Haunted House not only has the looks of an actual real body but perfectly mimics its cause of death!"
"The Haunted House's boss also knows forensic science?" Lee Xue turned to look at Yang Chen standing beside her.
Yang Chen did not look so good. "An amateur wouldn't be able replicate the unique properties of a dead body so perfectly... unless he had a real dead body as a model."
There was an image that appeared in the minds of the three students. None of them said anything, and they very uniformly left the bedroom.
"We have gone deep enough into the Haunted House-how about we leave now?"
"Let's look at a few more rooms first. By the way, did you spot any nametags in the room earlier?" Yang Chen asked, and both Lee Xue as well as Wang Dan shook their heads.
"Didn't pay much attention."
"Oh well, let's go look in the other room, then we'll return to this room last."
The three students discussed their tactics outside of the door. None of them realized that the standing body that was facing their backs inside the bedroom slowly opened its eyes.
There was another junction at the front of the corridor. The deeper they went, the stronger the stench in the air.
Dirty stains started to appear on the floor tiles and walls. The three students reached the end of the corridor at one go. The few rooms at the end of the corridor were all locked.
"The stench seems to flow out from this place." Lee Xue walked in front, so it was her who pushed open the door to the deepest room.
There were four beds in this room, but only one of the beds had a mattress on it. The other three beds were piled high with various rubbish.
"That's it? I thought something very scary would be hiding in this room. Hell, the first bedroom is a lot scarier than this."
"We're running out of time; focus on locating the nametags. Wang Dan, stop spacing out, come in and help!"
Yang Chen and Lee Xue entered the room, and only Wang Dan was left in the long, dark corridor. Something seemed to be jumping down the corridor!
"Ol' Yang, come out quickly! I seemed to hear the footsteps of a fourth person."