At 11:34 pm, Chen Ge received a call from Captain Yan when he was still inside the police car.
"The situation is not looking good. The opponent is on high alert; they seem to have discovered us." Captain Yan sent Chen Ge a picture on his phone. "After our investigator entered the elevator, they discovered a phone that was left inside it. There was this message that they discovered inside the phone. It was still typing."
The picture was of Xiao Gu's phone. There was a weird paragraph in the typing space.
"Daddy killed us and placed us on the stairs.
"Big brother is lying behind me.
"Little brother is lying in front of me.
"Can you find us?"
"What is the meaning of this?" Chen Ge looked at the message on Xiao Gu's phone, and he frowned with confusion. He did not quite understand the message that it was trying to say.
"I suspect they have noticed us, and that's why they purposely left us this message to find in the elevator."
"Your team has entered the third building?" Chen Ge had already warned Captain Yan, telling them not to make such a huge commotion.
"The two teams of plain clothes haven't entered Fang Hwa Apartments yet. Their vehicles are parked at the junction about 150 meters away from the building, but they are fully ready, just waiting for the command."
"Then, how could you have been discovered? Did the scouting investigator slip up or something?"
"Impossible, the investigator that entered the third building to scout is our senior officer. He has seven years of experience and has helped us clear many impossible cases." Captain Yan did not think the problem lay with his men. "Furthermore, the phone was the first thing he saw when the elevator opened. If they wanted to place this phone without anyone seeing, they needed at least three minutes, and three minutes before this, our teams had not even entered Fang Hwa Apartments yet."
"I understand what you mean. In other words, the suspects had placed the phone before you arrived." When Chen Ge understood that, his face shifted. "Where is the investigator that found the phone now?"
"He's still inside the third building; it was he who sent me the picture."
"Damn it! Get him out immediately!" Chen Ge understood that the reason the ghost stories society trapped Xiao Gu was to deal with him! So, the phone with the weird message was probably meant for him as well!
After dealing with many ghosts, Chen Ge had discovered some rules about them. Including the Red Specters, most ghosts needed a medium if they wanted to do something in the physical world. For example, Zhang Ya's love letter, Xu Yin's tape, and the Pen Spirit's ballpoint pen. In turn, normal people needed these 'special items' as a trigger to allow them to interact with the other world.
The message left on Xiao Gu's phone was probably one of these triggers. After reading the message, it meant that the person was targeted by one or several unknown ghosts.
"Understood." Captain Yan did not ask for details. He used the internal communication device to ask for the investigator to escape the scene immediately, but to his surprise, even though only minutes had passed, the investigator had already lost contact!
"This is bad!" Captain Yan did not hang up, so Chen Ge could hear him clearly.
"I still need 3 to 4 minutes before I arrive. Do not send any more people into the building!"
The few officers on the other end of the phone were discussing plans. After several seconds, Chen Ge heard the door being open. It sounded like someone was looking for Captain Yan. After their brief conversation, Captain Yan told the man to stay in his vehicle while he picked up his phone to inform Chen Ge, "The trainee of the investigator that I told you about just came to find me. He said that his instructor just sent him a WeChat message."
"But weren't you unable to reach the investigator when you tried to contact him earlier?" Chen Ge was intrigued. "What did the message say?"
"Just three words-Are you there?"
"Are you there?"
"This message is definitely not sent by the investigator." Captain Yan's voice turned serious. "An experienced investigator would know not to send meaningless messages to his trainee when he is in the middle of a mission. If he needed any assistance or anything happened to him, the first person he should call is the chief commander."
Looks like something bad has already happened to that investigator. Chen Ge did not say that out loud, but he did think it.
"No matter what has happened to him, we have prepared for the worst scenario." An investigator could be in mortal danger. This meant that Captain Yan could not just wait outside the residential area anymore. "Contact Team 1 and Team 2, we move out immediately! Go into the third building!"
"Captain Yan, don't act rashly! The mental patients hiding in that building are very dangerous!"
"The situation has changed. We can only do this now. Give your phone to Ol' Wu. Have him drive the car here to meet up with me."
People's lives were on the line; Chen Ge knew he would not be able to persuade Captain Yan, so he compromised. "Captain Yan, you have to make sure the officer who received the message from the investigator does not step close to the building; he might have been targeted already."
After the investigator saw the message on Xiao Gu's phone, some tragedy befell him. After that, he immediately sent a curious message to his trainee. Chen Ge had a feeling there was something problematic about this. He thought back to what Xiao Gu told him when he made the call. The first thing he said was related to Ol' Wong.
He tried to arrange the information in his mind. After Xiao Gu got his job at the Haunted House, the chances of him returning to Fang Hwa Apartments for night patrol were extremely low. So why did he return to the third building?
Xiao Gu's incident is probably related to Ol' Wong! Perhaps Ol' Wong sent him a message as well! Chen Ge wanted to tell Captain Yan something else, but Captain Yan had already ended the call to command the teams. Three minutes later, Chen Ge finally arrived at Fang Hwa Apartments.
"Have you found the missing investigator?"
"Yes, thankfully, we found him at the corner of the staircase leading up to the second floor. Physically, he's fine, but he's unconscious. According to the men that found him, his eyes were unfocused, and his face was pale." Captain Yan stood beside the fleet. Holding their internal communication device, his brows were creased deeply. "Now I'm curious; how did the culprit manage to knock out a perfectly healthy adult male with fighting experience in less than a few minutes?"
When the two were conversing, said investigator had been taken out. There was a specialized unit looking after him. Chen Ge glanced at the investigator's apparel. Without taking off his shirt, thus revealing the police undershirt, he looked just like a normal citizen. His identity would not have been discovered so easily.
"The ghost stories society probably took him as a stranger who accidentally walked into their trap. They see human lives as disposable and won't hold back even when facing an innocent, but this time, they have made a regrettable mistake."
When Chen Ge arrived at the 24th floor for the first time, Zhu Xiu had once requested the ghost stories society to help him evade the law enforcement. However, the ghost stories society had firmly rejected him. This little detail proved one important thing. The ghost stories society would not dare start an open conflict with law enforcement. They were like rats living in the shadows of the city, creating chaos and rot, but they would never face the light.
"Captain Yan, what about the phone left inside the elevator? Have your people found it?" Chen Ge asked another crucial question. The unfinished message left on Xiao Gu's phone was a trap left behind by the ghost stories society. Taking a look at it might lead to some serious bad luck.
"Team 1 has found it. It's now inside the evidence bag." Captain Yan did not realize the severity of the situation, but Chen Ge was different. Too many people's lives were on the line; he did not dare to waste any more time. "Captain Yan, the bunch of mental patients' real target is me; I cannot let other people fall victim on my behalf."
Then, he walked toward Fang Hwa Apartments.
"Wait a minute." If this was some other citizen, Captain Yan would have stopped him, but he knew Chen Ge was different. He took out a walkie-talkie from inside the vehicle and pushed it to Chen Ge. "Do you know how to use this?"
"Yes, when my Haunted House still had quite a number of employees, every one of us had one."
"Perfect." Captain Yan still worried about him. He waved at Ol' Wu, who had driven Chen Ge over. "You two go in together. At least you'll have the other person to watch your back."
Chen Ge did not reject Captain Yan's kindness, and he entered Fang Hwa Apartments with Ol' Wu. To revent the eruption of unnecessary panic, Captain Yan did not inform the tenants who stayed there, and the third building was eerily quiet. The dim light fell on the curiously white walls. Chen Ge and Ol' Wu walked to stand beside the elevator.
"Captain Yan wants us to follow behind Team 2, so we'll head to the 5th floor immediately." Ol' Wu had just confirmed the location of the two task forces on his walkie-talkie. "Make sure you stay behind me, and don't wander off on your own."
Apprehending the culprit with the victim, that was something that was incredibly rare. However, considering the things that had happened to Chen Ge recently, Ol' Wu soon got over it. The man who was beside him used three weeks to fill up a whole row of filing cabinets at the Serious Crimes Unit. Thinking about this, Ol' Wu subconsciously nudged to the side, introducing a larger distance between him and Chen Ge.
"Ol' Wu, let's go find Team 1 first! That phone is seriously problematic, and Team 1 is in grave danger because of it!" Chen Ge said urgently. The more they dragged this out, the higher the chance Team 1 might come across danger.
"No, we can't do that. Captain Yan has given explicit orders for us to follow Team 2."
"We'll just go to take a look at Team 1. If they're perfectly fine, we'll go meet up with Team 2."
"Alright, fine." Ol' Wu hesitated for a long time before entering the elevator with Chen Ge. He pressed the button for the 8th floor. "Team 1 and Team 2 are each responsible for the stairwells on both sides of the building. Team 1's progress is faster than Team 2's, so the chance of them running into danger is also much higher. That is why Captain Yan wants us to stick to Team 2. He doesn't want us to put you in unnecessary danger."
"I understand," Chen Ge answered absentmindedly. He looked at the number changes but his gaze kept wandering to the button that should not be there-24. The two soon arrived at the 8th floor.
By that point, Team 1 had already reached the 9th floor. They searched the floor one by one, and their speed was fast. Ol' Wu gained contact with the leader of Team 1 on the walkie-talkie, and the two entered the safety passage to gain access to the ninth floor.
They waited in the stairwell for a while until the team leader for Team 1 and two other officers ran out from the corridor. "Why did you bring him with you?"
The leader for Team 1 was large and muscular. When Chen Ge was interrogated at the station, the man had been sitting across from him. Chen Ge remembered Captain Yan calling him Lee Zheng.
"I'm just following Captain Yan's orders." Ol' Wu looked at the two men beside Lee Zheng. "Why are there only three people in your group?"
"I had Xiao Jia and Ah Cheng are waiting for us at the other end of the corridor to prevent the suspects from running away when we're searching through the building." Lee Zheng looked down the corridor. "This is weird. Didn't you come across them when you came up?"
When the man said so, Chen Ge had a bad feeling forming immediately. "The phone that you guys picked up inside the elevator, is it with them?"
"Yes, what's wrong with that?" Lee Zheng knew Chen Ge's name already. Chen Ge's reputation had preceded him even before the interrogation incident at the police station that day. Then something hit him. Lee Zheng frowned. He took out his walkie-talkie and yelled down the darkened, horribly-lit corridor, "Xiao Jia! Ah Cheng!"
The man's booming voice echoed down the corridor. After a long time, the response finally came on Lee Zheng's walkie-talkie. "Brother Zheng, I don't know what came over Xiao Jia; he kept running upstairs! I tried to make him explain it to me, but he is not responding in any way! We're now on the 14th floor, and I just caught up to him... Xiao Jia! What are you doing‽ Have you lost your mind‽"
There was chaos on the walkie-talkie followed by something heavy being thrown to the floor.
"Ah Cheng?" Lee Zheng gripped the walkie-talkie. He yelled behind him and led the remaining group member up the stairs. Chen Ge and Ol' Wu also followed. The group ran up to the 14th floor, where they found Ah Cheng lying on the floor with his hands over his face. Blood seeped through the slits between his fingers.
"Ol' Wu! The two of you escort Ah Cheng back down immediately."
"Brother Zheng, I'm fine. You have to go and get Xiao Jia; he looks like he was possessed!"
Lee Zheng peeled Ah Cheng's fingers back slightly. There was a huge bite mark on his cheeks, and there was a large wound on the back of his hands.
"That phone, is it on Xiao Jia?" Of everyone there, Chen Ge could be considered the one that was the calmest and most collected. "Did either one of you take a look at the message inside the phone?"
"I didn't, but Xiao Jia did glance at it before putting it inside the evidence bag," Ah Cheng answered honestly.
I knew it! It is related to that message. Chen Ge thought back to the content of the message. It was very weird, and he chewed on it in his mind. Father has killed us and placed us on the stairs-the message should be hinting at the stairs, but what is the meaning of the pair of siblings placed one in front and one at the back? Also, why is the directive to find them at the end?
When Chen Ge was thinking about this, Lee Zheng had brought him men up to the 15th floor.
"Ol' Wu, stay here and watch over Xiao Jia. I'll go take a look." Chen Ge did not give Ol' Wu any chance to speak and ran up the stairs straight away. The first investigator who read the message fainted, but Xiao Jia, the second officer who read the message, went berserk. Why is there this difference?
Lee Zheng did not want to split up his group, but they were afraid to miss the floor Xiao Jia could be at, so they chased up the stairs. Chen Ge did not have this worry. He ran to the 15th floor and then walked to the elevator. After he got into the elevator, he pressed the button for the 23rd floor. He planned to head directly to the most dangerous 23rd floor. After all, this was the floor that Xiao Gu mentioned on the phone. Hopefully, Xiao Gu is still safe.
The elevator doors slowly closed, and Chen Ge kept his finger on the play button of the recorder. If he had come alone, he might really have fallen for the ghost stories society's trap, but this time, he had come with the police, and in terms of numbers, he had the advantage.
The number on the elevator kept changing, and when the elevator reached the 21st floor, Chen Ge's phone suddenly vibrated.
He clicked on the screen to open the message, and he was surprised to find a message from Xiao Gu's phone.
"Are you there?"
After reading the message, Chen Ge replied to the number.
"Give me your location. I will go find you now."