"Want me to go and find you? Have you lost your mind?" The uneven handwriting on the back of the medical history made him feel a certain kind of way. He was currently on the first floor of the hospital, standing in the middle of the corridor.
Even though the drafts had stopped, the doors that were left half-ajar moved back and forth, creaking noisily. Showers of dust fell from the old ceiling, and there was occasionally the sound of paper brushing against the ground filtering into his ears. Standing alone in that situation after midnight, it would be a lie to say that one was not afraid.
Scissors held the pair of scissors in his hand tightly, and he forced himself to appear as unfazed as he could be. "When did someone place this on my back?"
Turning back, Scissors studied the few sickrooms that he had just passed. "The person who was behind this prank should be from inside one of the rooms that I've just walked past."
He was very afraid, but fear had not taken control of his rationality or sanity yet. He reminded himself consciously that he was currently playing the role of a cold-blooded, maddened killer and he needed to keep his cool no matter what.
The weaker I appear, the more I'll be bullied by the ghosts, so I cannot appear weak, I can't show any trace of fear.
He folded the medical history neatly and placed it inside his pocket. Scissors carefully pushed open the half-closed door that was closest to him. Inside the sickroom, the bedsheet had been shredded into pieces, and the mattress was toppled to the side; it was as if the bed was once the home of some feral beast that needed to be detained.
"Is this a hospital or some kind of mental institution?" Scissors did not enter the sickroom and only observed it from beyond the threshold. The bed was not big, and the only space to hide someone was underneath the bed or inside the dresser.
"The person behind the prank is not here." He could see clearly into the space under the bed, and the doors of the dresser were hanging open. It was empty inside-all contents had been taken away. "He should be in the other sickrooms."
Internally, his heart had been quivering like a leaf, but it did not translate to his expression. With unnaturally frigid limbs, Scissors retreated out of the room and moved toward the other sickroom.
"This one is empty, no one is here either..." Scissors moved quickly through the rooms until he reached the sickroom that was closest to the hospital entrance.
"After I entered the hospital, I walked straight into the corridor. I've only passed these few sickrooms since then. As all the other sickrooms were empty, then he has to be hiding inside this last room." The hand that held the scissors was sweating profusely as he slowly pushed the door of the sickroom open. A strong pungent smell wafted out from inside the room, a mixture of blood and disinfectant.
"Someone has died here before?" The scene inside the room gripped and shook his head. The blood-dyed bedsheet had hurriedly been shoved under the bed, and from the window that was installed with anti-theft webbing hung a patient's garb that had plenty of torn holes on it. A long wig stood inside the dresser, and the scariest thing was, on the snow-white wall, someone or something had written in fresh blood 'Guess where I am?'
After comparing the handwriting, he noticed that the hand that had written the blood message on the wall and the hand that had jotted down the message on the back of the medical history were different. This discovery unsettled Scissors even more. "There's more than one 'person' playing hide-and-seek inside this hospital?"
The urge to turn back and run burst forth. He retreated from the sickroom, planning to leave the hospital and temporarily stay away from it. "The most dangerous spot is the safest spot. That is theoretically true, but it is so difficult to put that into practice."
Returning to the entrance of the hospital, Scissors' expression changed completely. Someone had locked the giant iron gate of the hospital without him noticing!
"What do I do now?" Scissors was panicking due to helplessness. He bit on his lips, and that tore open the wound on his face. The pain helped him focus and calm down. "I should go look for any open windows."
When he was looking through the sickrooms on the first floor earlier, he had confirmed that all of their windows were installed with anti-theft webbing, so he could only place his hope on the second floor. "I've trained so much for this day. The injury shouldn't be serious from jumping down from the second floor, but I can't say the same if the jump is made from the third floor. The risk will be too high."
Holding the bag, Scissors leaped up the stairs to the second floor.
By then, he had completely given up on the idea of playing hide-and-seek. Then again, it had never been his intention to play games with ghosts. Running up the stairs three steps at a time, when he turned around the corner of the stairs, he spotted a pair of gray-colored feet from the periphery of his eyes. The pair of feet was slightly above his head. He instinctively turned to look up, and a pair of ashen legs fell into his sight, but when he looked up even further, the thing had already disappeared.
"What the f*ck‽" The 'surprise' came so suddenly that it caused Scissors' legs to weaken. He did not expect the thing to be so close to him. In fact, there were only several steps separating them. "He was just around here. Perhaps he has been watching me from some hidden corner!"
Stopping at the landing in the middle of the staircase, Scissors was unsure whether he should continue to move upward. He had gotten a good look earlier; the thing had indeed been waiting for him upstairs.
"All the windows in the sickrooms on the first floor are locked behind anti-theft webbing. There is no way I'll be able to escape from them. So, the only way to leave this cursed place is through the windows on the second floor."
Devoid of other choice, Scissors forced himself to walk up the stairs.
Please do not show up again.
Reciting a silent prayer to himself, Scissors jogged to the first sickroom on his left. He shoved the door open with hope in his heart, but that hope deflated when he looked toward the window. Pieces of torn clothes were stuck inside the iron anti-theft webbing.
"Even the windows on the second floor are installed with the webbing?"
His lips drying, Scissors' heart was slowly festering with despair. He walked to the window and reached out to shake the webbing roughly. The metallic webbing cut into his fingers, and the pain that came from it was so real, but the blood fog right outside the window felt so surreal.
If this is a nightmare, I hope I'll be able to wake up soon.
The anti-theft webbing was secure, so there was no way he was going to open it without tools. Scissors let his hands go and prepared to leave. But when he reached the door, footsteps echoed down the safety corridor coming from the other end. It sounded like people were running.
They sound like they are coming this way, and there are so many of them!
Without hesitation, Scissors closed the door and locked it. He moved to stand behind the door, hoping to inspect the situation outside through the window on the door. The footsteps came closer and closer. Scissors could see several shadows flashing down the corridor, seemingly heading his way.
I cannot allow myself to be discovered! It's over for me if I'm stuck inside this room!
The shadows were incredibly close to his location. Scissors scanned the room behind him and, in the end, grabbed his bag to hide inside the dresser. The hospital was privately operated, and the amenities were different from the ones provided by big government hospital. The space inside the dresser was separated into two with a wooden board, and after removing the partition, the dresser was just big enough for a person to hide inside.
The footsteps drew close from afar before completely disappearing outside the sickroom.
They've stopped outside the door? Is it because they've discovered me?
Scissors did not think it was wise for him to leave lest he was captured by those things once he showed himself, so he decided to stay hidden inside the dresser.
Hide-and-seek, hide-and-seek, I have not even found them yet, so why have them come to find me already? Could it be because they have detected my intention to escape?
Holding the rhythm of his breathing, Scissors changed into a more comfortable posture, but as he adjusted his position, his shoes knocked into something. His heart froze, and cold sweat poured down his forehead. Scissors forced himself to maintain his calm as he searched for his phone from his pocket.
Activating the phone, background on the screen showed the picture of two young men taken in front of the entrance of a children's home. One of the young men had a goatee, very tall and buff, while the other one looked exactly like Scissors. At the time, he appeared to be quite camera-shy. When the picture was taken, he raised his hands like he was trying to shield his face from the camera.
"You have been taking care of me for so long-it is time for me to take care of you." Scissors let out a deep sigh and increased the brightness of the phone screen to its maximum. Then, he shone it underneath his feet.
The thing that his shoes brushed against was a patient's garb, and poking out from underneath the clothes was a diary. It was because Scissors had read his older brother's diary that he had decided to take the last bus on Route 104 to come to Li Wan City. Now that he had come across another diary on his journey, he picked it up without much hesitation and started to flip through it.
"Liu Feiming? That's the name of the diary's owner?"
As he flipped through the diary, he noticed a medical history chart slit inside the pages. The patient's name was indeed Liu Feiming, and according to his diagnosis, both of his legs were broken due to a fall from a high location.
How come it feels like it's narrating my future? The only solution to escape from this haunted place is to jump down from the third floor.
With more than a trace of anxiety, Scissors started to read through the content of the diary.
"1st June: I'll definitely go and settle the debt with that limping guy once I leave the hospital! Even though he's limping, his heart is still as dark as sh*t! At the very least, I've worked in his team for so many years already. He planned to get me to shut up with a few hundred RMB after I fell from the third floor, suffered from heavy injury, and went unconscious? No way! This will not be the end of this!
"2nd June: Due to the injury to the nerves and bones, I'll need to stay in this hospital for at least one hundred days. I wonder when will I be able to leave this place. It's so boring staying here at the hospital. I wonder how my family members are doing. I hope my buddy, Brother Lee, hasn't told them about my injury. I don't want to worry about me.
"3rd June: How come it feels like the nurses are purposely trying to avoid me? They leave the moment they finished changing the drip. It is like I'm some kind of evil god. Is it because they look down on poor people? They'll regret this when I strike it rich.
"4th June: Oh god, I'm so bored. There's not even a single person to talk to. The doctors and nurses have stopped coming. Weren't they saying that they're lacking empty beds? There is an empty bed right next to me, but they leave the patients out in the corridor instead of placing them next to them, letting them share the same room with me. What kind of discrimination is this? This bunch of people with eyes that grew on the top of their heads.
"6th June: What is going on with the patient next door? How does he plan for other people to fall asleep if he keeps up the noises through the night? The service at this old hospital sure is horrendous. I plan to write an anonymous letter to the relevant party to expose them.
"7th June: At 2 am this morning, the patient next door started to act up again. I really wonder if they have locked up a mental case next door. Why else would there be the sound of people ramming against the wall?
"8th June: I finally lost it and yelled back at the neighboring patient tonight. I thought they would roar back at me, but they're a bunch of wusses. There was not a peep from them in return. Actually, I was rather thankful for the distraction. After getting bored out of my mind for so many days, the yelling was quite a relaxation.
"9th June: When I woke up this morning, there was a child lying beside my bed. It gave me quite a fright. After I asked him, I realized that he was the child of the patient next door. His parents sure are brave to allow a boy as young as him to wander about like that. Then again, the boy is quite cute, and he's not afraid of strangers. I've stayed here for so long, and this is the first time someone's approached me willingly to talk to me.
"10th June: I became friends with the boy, and he was cleverer than he appeared. To evade the discovery of the nurses, whenever someone was about to enter the room, he would go into hiding, and so far, he had not been discovered.
"13th June: I've completely familiarized myself with the kid. He likes to play hide-and-seek and comes to visit me in the middle of the night. Isn't it surprising for someone like myself to be loved by kids? I promised him that once I can get out of bed, I will play hide-and-seek with him inside the hospital. By the way, the kid's parents must be good people-at least they don't seem to look down on me like the nurses and doctors at the hospital. I wonder what kind of illness they're suffering from to still be hospitalized after so many days.
"14th June: Tonight, a cancer patient in Room 305 died. Many doctors and nurses came and went. But strangely enough, I noticed they still gave my sickroom a wide berth when they had to pass it to go downstairs. They'd rather take a longer journey in this case of emergency and refused to walk past my sickroom. Is it because I'm on some kind of black list?
"15th June: It's finally the day to remove the cast, and here I thought the doctor had forgotten all about me. It's a windy day today, so I think I'll just stay indoors.
"15th June: Something is not right tonight. How come I still hear a familiar sound coming from next door? The voice sounds similar to the old man who died yesterday. I asked the boy about it, but he didn't wish to tell me anything. All he wanted was for me to play hide-and-seek with him at night. If I can find him, he'll tell me the answer. My legs are still recovering, and if I wonder out at night, I will definitely give the nurses on duty a big scare.
"16th June: Oh God, what is happening to me? Today, I woke up early in the morning and went outside with the crutch. When I wanted to go next door to visit my neighbor, I realized that I was leaving in the first sickroom on the left of the staircase! Beyond my room was the storage room, and there was no sickroom beyond mine! But I could hear the conversation every night and that boy! F*ck! Now I finally understand why the doctors and nurses refused to come close to my room.
"16th June: The doctor refused to let me leave. After all, I still owe them plenty in medical bills. None of my friends can be trusted! I don't care, I have to leave this place tomorrow, but the biggest issue is... how am I supposed to survive tonight? Will that boy appear again?
"17th June: No way, I need to leave, I need to go. Last night, the boy has returned and asked me to join him in a game of hide-and-seek! He stayed in my room and ran about. Have I lost my mind? Why did I promise to play with him earlier? I cannot stay here anymore. Even if the hospital forbad me from leaving, I will find a way out. If I stay here any longer, they will eventually claim my life!
"17th June: What do I do? What do I do? I think I've finally lost it! When I wanted to leave this afternoon, I stood on the top of the stairs, and I suddenly felt there was someone behind me. I turned and saw the boy. He asked where I was going and demanded to know why I hadn't played hide-and-seek with him!
"18th June: None of my colleagues have returned my calls, and the leader has already escaped. The hospital refused to let me go, and the medical bills are piling up. Even if I survive, the debt will crush me to my death! However, I don't care anymore-escaping this place should be my highest priority.
"18th June: When I was running down the stairs, someone pushed me from behind, and it caused my legs to break again. The doctors said that according to the surveillance, I threw myself down the stairs on my own, but I saw it with my own eyes that it was the boy who pushed me! He did not wish for me to leave; I'm telling the truth, but why won't anyone believe me?"
"1st July: This should be the last entry in my dairy. Both of legs are broken, my eyes have been poked blind, my throat burns from the acid, and my digits are bent-there is no way I can run from this place anymore. I know the boy is staying by my side. There is no sickroom next to mine. They are all inside this room with me. I've found them, but that means I'll never be able to leave anymore."
Reading through the last page, Scissors' heart was cold. "There is no sickroom next door? They are all inside this room?"
A chill ran down his spine. Scissors refused to stay a second longer in the room, and he pushed the door open.
After rushing out the dresser, Scissors looked toward the door next to him, and his brain instantly drew a blank.
In the glass window of the door, many pale human faces were peering in. "We've found you."