Zhang Jingjiu was the most kind-hearted and innocent actor at the Haunted House. Actually, it did cross his mind to scare the visitors like his colleagues. He thought back to his memory of the real hotel boss and the crazy little games that he had come up with.
However, this was his first day at work, and he was still not mentally prepared. When he saw the sorry state that the visitors were in, he could not bring himself to harm them anymore.
"Come in, this will be your shelter." Zhang Jingjiu thought that since he was unable to scare the visitors, he had to at least let them feel his sincerity. That was the most basic requirement for someone in the service business.
The woman hesitated, but the man was already preparing to leave.
"Don't go over there!" With each of Zhang Jingjiu's words, the male student took one step backward.
"I really don't have an ulterior motive. I just thought that you might need a place to rest." Zhang Jingjiu sincerely wanted to do them a favor. Why was it so difficult?
"Wang Dan, shall we trust him?" the girl whispered into the man's ear.
"Haven't learned from the lesson before‽ All the employees are either wolves in sheep's clothing or demons wearing human skin! How can you be naïve enough to think to trust any of them?" The male student dragged his tired body to run into the 'dog house' opposite from the hotel.
When the girl noticed her partner retreating, she made to follow.
Seeing the two visitors voluntarily enter the 'dog house', the smile on Zhang Jingjiu's face was hard to describe. He did not know whether to laugh or cry. "I'm a wolf in sheep skin or demon wearing human skin, huh? Looks like I have seriously lowered the overall professionalism of the workers here."
"Wang Dan, I really cannot run anymore, let's rest for a moment." Wang Dan's girlfriend leaned against the wall to rest. As breaths came more evenly, she realized for the first time how tiring a Haunted House visit could be.
"Now is still not the time to rest; this house gives me the creeps." Wang Dan's instincts were now incredibly sharp after many visits to Chen Ge's Haunted House. He scanned the yard before his eyes landed on the wooden doghouse.
"We didn't come across any pet-related objects at the other places, so there must be some scares hidden here." Wang Dan felt like there was a ball of fire burning in his chest, but he did not dare slow down. There was nowhere in the scenario that was safe. Stopping would only mean being captured.
He slowed his breathing, leaned against the wall, and looked outside.
The hotel opposite was still bright with lights, but the worker did not wander away from his earlier spot; he was probably still waiting for them to return. The streets were dark, and he swore that he could see shadows flitting through it. For a moment, he believed that he saw someone waving at them from across the street.
The hotel was not safe, the streets were not safe, and now they had reached the limit of their physique; they could not run anymore.
"How about we just surrender?" Wang Dan's girlfriend suggested. Tears were rolling in her eyes, and her make-up was already ruined.
"I've visited this place many times, but not once have I managed to walk out on my own two feet. The time for the tour is almost up, so it'll be too much of a waste if we give up now." Considering how tired his girlfriend was, Wang Dan decided to temporarily hide inside that building. "We hid inside many empty buildings earlier, and nothing happened. Hopefully, it is merely my imagination that this place is different from others."
Closing the gate of the yard, Wang Dan and his girlfriend entered the 'dog house'. The door creaked open, and the wind chime that hung above the door tingled, as if informing the owner that he had a guest.
"It's quite artistic to hang a wind chime above the entrance." Wang Dan looked inside the room. The place had Japanese-style décor. A corridor in the middle split the space in two. Half-opened doors led to rooms on either side. The floor was laid with tiles, and several slippers were placed at the entrance.
"Wang Dan, do you smell that? It smells like air-freshener." Wang Dan's girlfriend pulled on his shirt as she shuffled carefully forward. "Other Haunted Houses purposely create horrible smells to accentuate the horror, but this place invested in so many air fresheners, as if afraid that the stench might disgust the visitors."
"Wait a minute!" Wang Dan suddenly stopped. He whipped his head around to look at his girlfriend. "What did you just say?"
"This house smells heavily of air fresheners..."
"I told you there is a problem with this place! We need to retreat; we're going somewhere else to hide." Wang Dan had just stepped into the room. They had not even moved onto the corridor, and he was already prepared to leave.
"What's the problem with air fresheners?" Wang Dan's girlfriend still had not grasped the connection.
"This smell is absent at other houses, it's only limited to this place, and the smell is very intense. It can only mean that the person intended to use the scent to cover up the original smell in this place!" Cold sweat was sliding down Wang Dan's forehead. "Last month, during an open lecture by forensic officer Liu, for one of the cases, after the suspect dismembered the body, he hid the body parts in different rooms of his house, and he would smuggle a small part out every day. Afraid that the smell might betray his secret, he purchased a large number of air fresheners to cover up the decay. When the law enforcement discovered the body parts, Doctor Liu discovered the traces of air freshener left on the body parts, and that was how they traced the case back to the killer."
Wang Dan did not imagine the knowledge that he had learned in class would ever be applied during a Haunted House visit. If he was studying for another course, it would have been fine, but he was studying forensic science.
"You mean the smell of the air fresheners is to cover up the smell of a dead body?" Wang Dan's girlfriend started to panic as well. Then again, who would be calm when they came across a murder case while in the middle of a Haunted House visit?
"It is not necessarily to cover up the smell of decay; it could easily be another smell." Wang Dan was no longer the reckless and explosive teen. The experience inside Chen Ge's Haunted House had made him a stand-up young man.
Pulling the door open, the wind chime jingled sharply once more. Initially, Wang Dan did not think much of it, but just as the silvery tingle faded away, a very weak male voice said, "Save me, bring me with you."
Standing at the door, Wang Dan turned back to look. There was no one in the dark corridor.
"Did you hear the voice of a man calling for help?" Wang Dan turned to ask his girlfriend, and she shook her head.
"Is it because I'm too nervous that I've started to hear things?" He pulled the door closed.
When the door touched the wind chime, the man's voice reappeared. "Please do not leave me here! Save me!"
This time, Wang Dan was certain of the voice that he heard. He lifted his head and tried to see where the sound came from.
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"The wind chime?" The man's voice seemed to come from inside the wind chime. Wang Dan opened the door again, and he reached out to grab the wind chime. He shook it lightly, and on the inside wall of the wind chime, a man's face started to surface.