A light fog started to roll over the abandoned small town, and the buildings by the sides had shadows flitting through them. The temperature dropped some more, and the whispering of women and children could be heard. However, whenever the female assistant tried to focus on the sound, she discovered that there was nothing but silence, and all she could hear was the frantic beating of her own heart.
"Sir, you're kidding me, right?" It was dim inside the scenario and the combination of the light fog meant that the female assistant had a hard time identifying the hand prints on the back of Wei Jinyuan's neck. "Perhaps it was the doing of the workers inside the Haunted House? When Wei Jinyuan poked his head into the window earlier, could the actor have slathered some kind of unique paint on his neck? We have seen similar paint overseas before. The original color is very light, but once it mixes with human sweat or water, the color will instantly deepen."
"Honestly, I don't quite understand what is happening just yet, but I have a feeling this Haunted House is different from the ones we have visited overseas. Whenever I visited Haunted Houses in the past, there hasn't been this feeling of nervousness." Shinozaki held his hand over his heart. "There isn't anything overly gory like blood or fake limbs at this place, but walking down the path, there is a strange sense of suffocation. It feels as if right at this moment, there are endless pairs of eyes studying and observing our every move."
"In any case, I would not believe something as preposterous as an invisible person riding on the man's neck, but it is undeniable that this is very good material for inspiration. You can draw it into your own work." The female assistant believed that Shinozaki had been under too much pressure lately, and he had been in the artistic business for too long, so it was easier for him to make this kind of horrifying connection.
The mention of his own comic caused Shinozaki's eyes to brighten. "On that front, you are absolutely right. Whether it is real or not, this is perfect for my next project. For now, let's follow the two of them. With them scouting ahead, it will be much safer for us."
That was Shinozaki's personality, a mind that was only able to focus on one thing. He could reach an obsession-like focus on the thing on his mind, and this was how he managed to transform himself from a homeless guy, Lee Baofu, to become one of the brightest stars in the comic business, Shinozaki Daisen.
It was very dark underground with very dim lighting coming out from the nearby buildings, but once people got near, the lights would go off on their own. Only after the visitors had wandered away would the lights come back on.
"This is quite interesting. Looks like this Haunted House has made use of a lot of new technology, sensory lights, mist-creators..." Wei Jinyuan tried to use his knowledge to break down the Haunted House, and his analysis sounded quite sound and logical.
When he planned to move forward, his phone suddenly rang. He lowered his head and saw that it was Lee Jiu who was calling him. He picked up the phone because he was interested in finding out how things were going with the other team. "How are things over there? Did you find any useable clues?"
Lee Jiu's voice came from the other end of the line. "This Haunted House is much more boring than we expected. We've looked through a few rooms, but they are all empty. There were no hidden pathways or actors."
"I asked around before coming over. This Haunted House has unlocked many new scenarios within a short period of time, so it's a given that not all of the scenarios will be perfect. Furthermore, I'm not sure if you have noticed this or not, but this scenario is supposed to have a 3.5-star difficulty. That itself sounds like this scenario is incomplete. That Chen fella was probably forced to open this incomplete scenario to the public due to the pressure from the futuristic theme park." Wei Jinyuan walked down the street, and the number of rooms on both sides grew.
"Alright, I'm going to hang up now. I'll call you in ten minutes; we're going to focus on searching for the clues now." Lee Jiu said that and hung up immediately.
"What's wrong with him? The call lasted barely a minute. In that case, why waste time calling in the first place?" Wei Jinyuan put the phone away and scratched his neck. He kept feeling that there was something itchy on the back of his neck like he had been bitten by a mosquito there.
The road ahead narrowed even further, and they walked another ten meters before Lee Changyin saw a wooden plaque hanging on the wall beside them. A sentence was written in blood. "I am one of you."
"Now he's starting to play psychological games, huh? Such tedious trick." Wei Jinyuan aimed his phone's camera at the wooden plaque and snapped a picture. He saved the photo. "This is the first thing that is relatively scary I've encountered since entering this Haunted House. It is so unbelievable that a Haunted House with such unreasonable pacing would get so popular."
"Don't treat this too lightly. The warning on the plaque might be real." Lee Changyin was still expressionless. "Based on the analysis I've read online, people suspect that the Haunted House boss once had his actors mix into the visitors to disturb their judgement. Of course, this is mere speculation; no one has any concrete proof."
"It does not matter either way." Wei Jinyuan moved the plaque around, and the term 'Dong Zi Residence' was written on the back of the board. "This place should be the residential area. The boss said that the second clue is hidden inside the residential area, so things should finally get more exciting once we enter this place."
Lee Changyin nodded, and the two headed into the small yard immediately.
"Sir, now is not the time to space out. We need to hurry to catch up to them," the female assistant urged, but Shinozaki stood outside the yard and studied the wooden plaque on the wall like he was putting the warning on the board into serious consideration.
"By the way... do you think that there really might be something that has slipped into our ranks?" Shinozaki croaked as he looked around. "This Haunted House has such a perfect handling of its created atmosphere that I cannot shake the feeling that something sinister is going on."
Shinozaki and the female assistant later shuffled into the residential area. Almost as soon as they all entered the area, a few black shadows flashed behind them. There were three squat buildings that sat next to each other inside the residential area. They were numbered one to three, and strange noises kept coming out from the buildings. It sounded like children using some small objects to hit against glass.
"Other than the decrepit appearance, this place does not look that different from our town's old city." Wei Jinyuan looked at the peeling paint on the wall, and he stopped before the first building. "Should we move together or separately? I suspect that there are different things hiding inside each of these hovels."
"I'll go alone, and you can lead the two of them." Lee Changyin walked into the third building alone, and he soon disappeared out of sight. Only the sound of his footsteps remained.
"Such an impetuous person. I hope he won't scare the actors working at this Haunted House." Wei Jinyuan turned his head back and realized that Shinozaki and the female assistant were still standing in the middle of the yard. "What are you two doing there? Stop wasting time!"
"I'm so sorry, we'll be there in a minute." The female assistant pulled on the corner of Shinozaki's shirt. "Sir, it's time to go."
"Okay." Shinozaki stared at the bush that reached his waist lining the edges of the yard. There was no wind at all, but the bush kept moving like there was someone or something hiding inside it.
Without getting closer to the bush, Shinozaki, the female assistant, and Wei Jinyuan entered the first building. There were water stains left on the ground, and the walls had cracks running down them. In the darkness, they looked like smiling lips. The stairs led downstairs, and the place was dim. The only things that they could see were the half-open doors.
"How far does this go down?" Wei Jinyuan took out his phone and activated the flashlight function. The light pierced through the darkness, but it failed to bring them any sense of security. If anything, the more they saw, the more unsettling it felt.
White powder kept falling on their heads, palm prints were left on the rusted banister, and that feeling of asphyxiation grew; it felt like there was a heavy boulder pressing on their hearts. Scratching his neck, Wei Jinyuan pushed open the door to the first room. There was some assorted old furniture littered inside the room, and it could not have looked more normal.
Even though he had claimed that he was not afraid multiple times, as he entered the room, he was observably more cautious. He examined every corner that might be used to hide a trap, but he looked for a long time and found nothing. This was a normal room.
"The Haunted House boss wishes to use this method to disrupt us?" Wei Jinyuan checked a few other rooms on the same floor. There was nothing remotely scary and definitely not a Haunted House actor hiding behind the corner waiting to scare them.
"Is there something wrong with the boss? He built these empty rooms to use as mere decoration?" If it was not built inside a Haunted House, Wei Jinyuan believed that these rooms would actually have been rentable as cheap housing.
He walked down the stairs and came to the second-floor basement. The layout was almost the same with only one difference. There was a dark corridor, one that connected all three adjacent buildings underground. Wei Jinyuan walked to the end of the corridor and shouted, "Cold Guy, can you hear me?"
The response was a series of footsteps, but no human could be seen.
"Has Cold Guy gone down to the third floor basement? That's impossible! We're so close to each other, so if he heard me, he would have responded." Wei Jinyuan's forehead was slick with sweat. All the buildings aboveground might be a red herring-the real terror was all hidden underground. "All the buildings are connected underground; this place is like an underground maze."
He looked down the corridor, and the chilly air overwhelmed him. This was a completely different sensation from when they were outside. He opened the door that was closest to him, and Wei Jinyuan looked into the room with the light of the phone while standing outside. "The layout of all the rooms on the second-floor basement is the same as the ones above it. What is the purpose behind such a design? I cannot understand what his aim is!"
Wei Jinyuan had been trying to perceive the secret behind Chen Ge's Haunted House's popularity, how he managed to attract so many visitors. However, until now, he had come up with nothing. He opened door after door, and just as Wei Jinyuan was about to give up, he realized that one of the doors was different from the others. The edges of the room were pasted with tape, and even the peephole was covered with tape.
"Something's not right." Wei Jinyuan pulled off the tapes on the door and slowly pushed the door open. The room behind this door was indeed different from the others; all of the furniture was covered with tape.
"Looks like the clue should be hidden inside this room." Wei Jinyuan pulled off the tape around the shoe rack. He looked into it, and five pairs of shoes sat inside. There was a pair of female open-toes slippers, a pair of old lady cloth shoes, and three male sneakers, each a different size.
"Are these pairs of shoes part of the puzzle?" Wei Jinyuan picked up the shoes and studied them one by one. But after a while, he gave up. "Is something wrong with the boss' brain? How come he keeps wasting resources to design these things that are completely useless! Does he even know how to design a Haunted House?"
The more he looked at them, the more agitated he became. Wei Jinyuan noticed that most of the furniture was covered in tape, and he was not going to go through them alone. "Hey! Come over here and help!"
"Did you discover anything?" The female assistant and Shinozaki ran over to him. When they saw the tape-filled room, they were given quite a shock.
"Help me tear off all of this tape. The clue should be hidden here somewhere." With the orders from Wei Jinyuan, the group started to undo the tape pasted on the drawers, cupboard, under the bed, and on the door. They ransacked the place but still failed to find anything of value.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click for visiting.
"Is the boss toying with me?" Wei Jinyuan became more and more annoyed. The frequency of him reaching behind his neck to scratch also increased. The itchiness grew more and more pronounced. "You two stay here and continue tearing down the tape. Do not leave any stone unturned. I will carry on to the lower floor."
Wei Jinyuan left Shinozaki and the female assistant behind, and he departed alone. The lowest floor was even dimmer than the floors above. One could not even see clearly without a flashlight. This floor was different from the ones above; there were two corridors, leading left and right.
One of the corridors connected the other two buildings, but no one knew what the other corridor led to. Wei Jinyuan took a deep breath. He gripped his hands tightly, and without even realizing it, his palms were filled with sweat. He looked down the corridor on his left, and he saw a vague shadow of a man standing against the wall.
"Lee Changyin?" Without using the man's nickname, Wei Jinyuan called Lee Changyin's full name instead. He raised his flashlight to aim at the spot where the shadow was standing. There was no response-it was clear that the shadow did not belong to Lee Changyin.
"How come it feels like Cold Guy disappeared completely once he entered the building? But how is that possible? There were only several meters between us!" If it was not Cold Guy, then it had to be one of the workers. Wei Jinyuan raised his phone and ran ahead. "Normally speaking, the actors at a Haunted House will hide near the corner or something hidden so that they can jump out to scare the visitor when they passed. But what is up with this guy? He just stands there on the corridor, isn't he afraid of being exposed by the visitors?"
No matter how loud the commotion Wei Jinyuan made, the shadow refused to budge. After he got closer, he slowly realized the strangeness about the shadow. The shadow's body was slowly shifting until it matched his own body shape. This was a strange experience; it was like he was looking at his own body from the back. Wei Jinyuan's Adam's apple shook, and he was finally within three meters of the 'man'.
After adjusting his breathing, Wei Jinyuan was about to speak when the phone that he held before his chest suddenly vibrated!
"F*ck!" After cursing out loud, Wei Jinyuan lowered his head to press the accept button. Before he had a chance to glance at the name on the caller ID, when he lifted his head again, the shadow before his eyes had already disappeared. "Where did he run off to?"
"Hey, Jinyuan, I've found a map for this town. There is an area that is crossed off with red paint on your side..."
"I'll talk to you later!" Wei Jinyuan ended the call immediately, and he used the flashlight to quickly scan around him. "Didn't he just call me earlier and now he's calling me? What's wrong with him?"
"Where did the man disappear to?" It took less than one second for him to lower and raise his head, and the shadow had already disappeared. Furthermore, Wei Jinyuan did not hear any sound-it was as if the man had evaporated into thin air.
"I didn't hear any footsteps, and the doors on both sides are still open. So, he should have sneaked into one of the rooms." Wei Jinyuan walked to the spot where the shadow was standing earlier. "The closest room to him is one meter away. Just how many times he must have practiced this to be able to slip away in the blink of an eye."
Wei Jinyuan looked into the room. The structure inside was no different from the other rooms, but there were many blood trails left on the ground.
For the sake of visual effects, most of the fake blood used by a Haunted House was intensely bright, but the blood in this room had a brownish color. It felt as if a real murder had happened and the blood was left from years ago. It had seeped into the building itself and could not be cleaned no matter what.
"Did he run into this room?" Certain rooms were filled with a liveliness and warmth that would blanket one upon entry, but there were some rooms that would cause one intense discomfort once one stepped into it. Goosebumps rose, and there was no logical explanation for this phenomenon. That was exactly what Wei Jinyuan was feeling. There was no sense of liveliness inside this room; it was no different from a morgue used to store dead bodies.
"Come out now! I've already seen you!" Wei Jinyuan screamed into the room, but he could only hear his own echo in reply. He nudged further into the room, and he saw more blood stains. "All the blood has dried into the ground; it is not just slathered on the surface. How did he manage to do this?"
Walking through the living room, Wei Jinyuan stopped at the door to the bedroom door.
"The blood trail leads here, so the secret should be hidden inside the bedroom." Pushing the door open, Wei Jinyuan grabbed his phone tightly. Cold sweat was pouring then.
Eye-grabbing blood stains were splattered all over the room, and standing in the middle of this sanguine piece of art was a woman in a red dress. She was standing, facing away from Wei Jinyuan, and knocked her head lightly against the wall repeatedly, creating this strange persistent echo.