The phone spirit looked at Chen Ge shyly and fearfully. He picked up the old phone around his neck with both of his hands. The display that was glowing weakly had ninety-nine unanswered calls, and every single one of them came from the same registered number-Mom.
Chen Ge felt like the phone spirit was not an evil spirit; he could not feel any vengeance or venom from him. If anything, the phone spirit felt like a boy who did not know anything.
"You want me to help you find your mom?" The phone spirit nodded. He raised his thin arms and waved them before Chen Ge, trying to tell him something. However, Chen Ge could not get what he was trying to communicate. The phone spirit then grabbed the phone around his neck and wrote a message to send to Chen Ge. His phone vibrated, and Chen Ge read the message that he had just received.
"My mom has been searching for you. I want you to use my phone to send a message to her. My phone is in Eastern Jiujiang's Li Wan City."
"Your wish is for me to send a phone message to your mother?" Chen Ge nodded. Each of the ghosts had their own story, and it was because of unfulfilled dreams that they remained in the human world. Chen Ge put the phone spirit back into the comic. He planned to help him fulfill his wish that day. The ghost stories society has wasted such a special spirit. Only I will be able to support him to his full potential.
The phone spirit would be immensely useful to Chen Ge's Haunted House. If the phone spirit was willing to help him, the number of visitors using their phones to take pictures and videos inside the Haunted House would drastically decrease.
After taking a cold bath, Chen Ge changed into a set of clean clothes and then cleaned the Haunted House for a while. The theme park opened for business at 9 am. The sky was rather dim and cloudy, but that did not dampen the visitors' passion. Compared to the previous few days, the number of visitors had increased a lot.
One-star scenarios had already lost their attraction to the returning customers. Most of the visitors had started to challenge the two-star scenarios, and the most experienced visitors were already challenging three-star scenarios. In just one morning, six to seven batches of visitors entered Coffin Village and Third Sick Hall. The visitors' adaptive skill toward the new scenarios was much greater than Chen Ge had expected.
Everyone had a threshold for fear inside their heart, and as they experienced more scary scenarios, the threshold would slowly increase, which created pressure for Chen Ge.
The reward for the Third Sick Hall's Trial Mission was the ten mental patients. If I really place them inside the Third Sick Hall, even without the other set-ups, I will be able to scare the visitors until they pee their pants. However, the key problem is that I cannot guarantee that the souls of these mental patients will listen to my command. They are mental patients after all.
To ensure the patients' safety, Chen Ge did not use the patient's list for the Third Sick Hall.
There is temporarily no better solution. When someone is close to beating the scenario, I'll just have to ask Ol' Zhou and his friends to go 'help' the group of visitors. Chen Ge's concern for the visitors' enjoyment was multi-faceted. While he was thinking about ways to scare the visitors, he was still concerned about their safety as well. Nowadays, it is certainly hard to do business.
Sitting inside the Haunted House, after Chen Ge sent the visitors in the underground scenario, he grabbed a chair and sat down to rest. His current biological clock was almost similar to Zhang Ya; his day was night, and night was day. He had tons of activities at night, and in the morning, he needed to find time to sleep. Taking out his phone, Chen Ge went online to look for information on Li Wan City. It was just a normal small town.
The phone spirit's phone is in Eastern Jiujiang, so he should have been haunting Eastern Jiujiang. How did he end up in the hands of the ghost stories society? Does this mean the society is also somehow related to Eastern Jiujiang? Chen Ge shook his head. He believed that the chance of that was very low.
After a whole day of working, the Haunted House only stopped operations at 6:30 pm. After Xu Wan and Gu Feiyu got off work, Chen Ge first gave Lee Zheng a call, asking how he was supposed to cooperate with them. The answer given by Lee Zheng was for him to not do anything for now and wait for their update. Since the police had said that, naturally, Chen Ge would not go and stir the pot.
He entered the staff breakroom to put the hammer and the tape recorder inside his backpack. After making sure that he had not forgotten anything, he exited the Haunted House, closed the door, and hailed a cab to get to Eastern Jiujiang.
Unlike the previous night, Chen Ge felt confident. He did not feel any trace of fear in his heart. If anything, he felt anticipatory and excited. Li Wan City was not that isolated; the taxi drove for thirty minutes before Chen Ge arrived at his destination.
During the journey over, it started to rain. The rain was not heavy, but Chen Ge did not have an umbrella with him. After paying the fare, Chen Ge rushed into a mobile operation center that was close by.
Seeing how curiously dressed Chen Ge was, the person behind the counter eyed him suspiciously and asked with caution, "Sir, how can I help you?"
"It's okay. I'll just be looking around on my own." Chen Ge took out the comic and found a silent corner to communicate with the phone spirit. After a while, his phone received a new message from the phone spirit.
"Pu Ming Apartments' top floor on Li Wan City's East Street? Is this the address?" Chen Ge read the address on the phone and then turned to find that person who served him earlier. "I'm sorry, but how do I get to Pu Ming Apartments?"
"Just follow this street and walk straight until you see the oldest building." The person was quite nice, and she thought that Chen Ge was an outsider who had just moved to the city and was looking for a place to rent. "East Street is rather unsafe, and the place is not clean. I suggest you find a place at West Street. Yes, the rent might be higher but not by much."
"Thank you." Chen Ge carried his backpack and ran to Pu Ming Apartments in the rain. After about ten minutes of light jogging, he finally found the apartment building that was described by the phone spirit. The building looked like it was well over thirty years old-it looked old and decrepit. "Is this the place?"
Chen Ge entered the building, and the place looked vacant. Most of the room doors had a thick layer of dust. He climbed all the way to the top. The door that led to the rooftop was locked. The lock was rusted until the keyhole was completely rusted shut.
Looks like this place has been abandoned for a long time already. Chen Ge took out the hammer from his backpack to smash the lock away. He pushed the door open. The rooftop was filled with garbage, and there was a row of potted plants by the wall. However, the plants inside were all already dead. The phone spirit's phone is here?
Chen Ge looked around the place before focusing his attention on the few water tanks. The water tanks looked like they had been used by the tenants to marinate cabbage. The tanks were all sealed, and a boulder was placed on top of them. Chen Ge inched closer to them with the hammer in hand. He moved the boulder away and opened the first water tank. The tank was empty; it had nothing inside.
Then, Chen Ge moved the boulder away from the second water tank. Before he even opened the tank, a weird smell drifted out from inside. He flipped open the lid, and when he looked in, Chen Ge's eyelids twitched.
There was a desiccated child that was as thin as a twig trapped inside the tank. His facial features were similar to the phone spirit's, and there was an old-fashioned phone hanging around his neck. Chen Ge stood beside the tank for a long time until his hair was slick from rain. "Found you."
He took out his phone to prepare to call the police when the phone spirit sent him a message. "Before calling the police, I wish to use my own phone to send my mom a message. She must be very worried."
"Must we use your phone?" Chen Ge did not know why the phone spirit stopped him from calling the police, but he respected the boy's decision. "Okay."
He did not want to ruin the crime scene. He snapped a few pictures of the water tank and removed the phone from the boy's body. After so many years, of course, the phone could not be operated anymore. He replaced the tank's lid and prepared to return after he completed the phone spirit's wish.
Putting away the hammer, Chen Ge ran downstairs to return to the mobile center where he had hidden from the rain. The rain became heavier, soaking his shirt.
"Sir, how can I help you again?" The person had just met Chen Ge, so she was surprised to see him return so soon.
"Can you help me charge this phone? Is there still charger for this model? If the phone cannot be used anymore, then please help me remove the sim card." Chen Ge passed the phone to the woman. The woman looked at it, and her face scrunched up in difficulty. She rummaged through the counter but could not find a suitable charger. "Sir, your model is quite outdated already."
"I haven't used this phone for many years already. I understand the difficulty. If you cannot really turn the phone on, can you help me remove the sim card? I need to get the phone number." Chen Ge understood the phone spirit's thought. His mother had been looking for him, so he wanted to use his own phone to send his mother one last message.
"Hasn't been used for many years?" The person shook her head. "But sir, if you haven't paid the phone bill for more than three months, the number will automatically be deleted, so I believe your number has been deactivated already."
"Deactivated?" Chen Ge stood beside the counter; his hand subconsciously went to grip the comic in his pocket.
"Wait, let me check for you." The person was very patient and kind. She opened the casing and removed the sim card. She then copied the number on the card into the computer to pull out its information. Looking at the information that came on screen, the person was shocked. "Your card is still in operation."
"Really? But didn't you say the number would be deactivated after three months? The phone hasn't been used for years already." Chen Ge tried to glance at the screen. He also felt this was rather impossible.
"Yes, that's if you haven't paid for over three months. But since your number was activated seven years ago, every month, someone would come to pay the bill. Here is the payment record." The screen showed all the payment records for the past seven years, and the latest transaction had happened the day before!
The woman looked at Chen Ge, and her face turned up into a smile. "Sir, even though you forgot about this number, someone did not. She held on for seven years-that is quite unbelievable on her part."
"Thank you." Chen Ge bought a new phone that could use the sim card from the woman and left the center. He slotted the card into the new phone. Looking at the dim sky, he walked into the nearby alley to summon the phone spirit.
"This is our deal." Chen Ge passed the phone to the phone spirit. The small boy held the phone, and his body was shaking. The rain continued to pour. Chen Ge squatted down silently before the phone spirit and looked into his eyes as he asked, "How could I bring you to go meet her?"
The phone spirit shook his head. He held the phone but did not dare send the message. After a long time, he passed the phone back to Chen Ge.
"She is afraid that you will not be able to contact her after your number gets deactivated, so she goes to pay the phone bill monthly to keep your number activated. She has been waiting for you." It was unknown whether it was Chen Ge's words or not, but the phone spirit sent Chen Ge a message and disappeared.
Opening the message, it contained an address-thirty-seven Pu Yuan Road, Tong Tong Florist. Chen Ge did not stop to rest but called a taxi to drive him to the address given by the phone spirit.
At around 8 pm, Chen Ge reached thirty-seven Pu Yuan Road, and by then, it was pouring heavily. Chen Ge's shirt was completely drenched. He leaned against the wall and studied the florist that was on the other side of the street. The shop was small, but the décor was comfortable and welcoming. When he walked toward it, he could even smell the flowers in the air.
He pushed open the glass door, and the wind chime jingled. A woman who looked about thirty was working on a flower arrangement. When she heard the wind chime, she stood up and quickly put the flower arrangement down.
Chen Ge studied the woman before him. She looked very normal. "Hi, I wish to buy a bouquet of carnations."
"Is it for your mother? What type of carnations does she like?" The woman led Chen Ge deeper into the shop.
"I don't quite know. How about you pick the ones that you think are pretty."
"Okay, then you can come pick it up tomorrow morning. Or I can send you a picture, and if you're satisfied, I can have it sent to you."
"Okay." Chen Ge looked around the shop and found a small wooden board on top of the cashier counter. There was a picture of a cute boy pasted on it. "Is that your son?"
The woman nodded, and the emotions in her eyes were complicated. "His name is Tong Tong. He disappeared around the shop about six years ago. The police suspect that he was kidnapped by human traffickers."
"Human trafficker?" Chen Ge did not ask for the woman to elaborate. When she was spacing out, Chen Ge left the money for the bouquet on the counter. "I'm sure your boy is fine, perhaps he is thinking about you now."
Chen Ge walked out the store, not wanting to disturb the woman anymore.
"Wait a minute!" The woman suddenly called after Chen Ge.
"What is it?" While Chen Ge was surprised, the woman came out from the shop with an umbrella. "It's raining outside, take this and use it. You can return it to me tomorrow when you come to collect the bouquet."
Chen Ge thanked the woman, but he did not accept the umbrella, striding right out of the florist. The sound of the wind chime was swallowed up by the rain. Chen Ge walked around the block before entering the café across from the florist. He picked a spot that was next to the window and summoned the phone spirit. "Talk to her. She has been waiting for you."
Chen Ge passed the newly bought phone to the phone spirit. The little boy, who looked thin and vulnerable, held the phone in his two arms and stood beside the window, looking at the opposite street.
The lights in the florist went off, and the woman came out with her bag and the umbrella. Like usual, she locked the door and walked away.
Seeing her shadow disappear into the distance, the phone spirit finally picked up the phone. He thought about it for a long time and used his phone number to send a message to the woman.
Across the street, when the woman heard the message alert on her phone. She did not pay it any heed at first. She held the umbrella in one hand and pulled out the phone with another. However, when she saw the message on screen, her body seemed to freeze.
The umbrella fell from her hand, and she stood alone in the pouring rain with the phone in her hand.
Inside the café, the phone spirit leaned against the window, and the window reflected the tears that poured down his face.