After forcing the cubicle door open, Chen Ge immediately squatted down when he saw Qu Changlin collapsed on the ground. "Are you alright?"
Seeing the man enter, Qu Changlin's first reaction was not to ask for help but to try and retreat as fast as he could. He held both of his hands over his face, like if he could not see anything, the monster outside the door would not exist.
"What's wrong? Are you hurt? Do you need me to call the emergency number?"
Chen Ge's voice was laced with concern. In Qu Changlin's memory, ghosts would not ask questions like that. The fingers that shielded his face opened a slight gap, and Qu Changlin peered at Chen Ge through it.
It was a common, honest face with concern in the eyes. How could someone like that be a bad guy? Qu Changlin gradually put down his hands. He was about to ask Chen Ge for help when he was suddenly reminded of something. After he was scared by the hanging man inside the secret room, there came a constant knocking from the door of the fourth cubicle, which meant that there should be a second ghost prowling the scenario!
Suppressing the anxiety in his heart, Qu Changlin tried his best to calm down, but when he spoke, his voice was still shaking. "Did you hear some kind of weird knocking earlier? It had a constant rhythm and sounded completely different from a normal knocking sound!"
"A knocking sound?" Chen Ge scrunched up his brows before relaxing them. "I think I know. You probably heard this."
Taking one step back, Chen Ge grabbed the mannequin that was dangling in midair. He nudged it slightly, and the mannequin's head bounced into the door again and again. "When I came in, I saw this mannequin swinging back and forth. Its head was bouncing against the door, which is probably what you heard."
After hearing Chen Ge's explanation, Qu Changlin fell into deep contemplation. The knocking definitely did come from the mannequin, but now, there was another question in his mind. He found Chen Ge's voice suspiciously familiar. When the ghost threated him earlier, it was this voice that had spoken to him!
"Let's get out of here first, this place smells." Chen Ge reached out to grab Qu Changlin's arm, trying to help him get up.
"Don't come near me!" He swung Chen Ge's hand away and sat between the cubicle and the secret room.
"Why? What are you so afraid of, or are you still acting? Then, what shall I do to cooperate?" To ease the pressure on Qu Changlin, Chen Ge moved out of the way and allowed the former a free route toward the exit.
"Acting?" Qu Changlin lay on the ground for almost a full minute before he calmed down. After confirming that Chen Ge did not mean him harm, he slowly let his guard down. "Are you one of the visitors?"
"What do you think? Could I be one of the workers here and you're the visitor?" Chen Ge attempted a joke, but the way he looked at Qu Changlin was like how one would appreciate a piece of moving art. Qu Changlin tried to stand up by pushing both hands against the ground, but he failed. He was about to try it again, but he suddenly realized how preposterous that would have appeared to the visitor.
To preserve his own pride as the Haunted House's worker, Qu Changlin coughed drily and said in an unnatural tone, "That's right, you're lucky enough to have found the hidden plot inside this scenario! I am the key character at this scenario. Unfortunately, I'm currently injured by a spirit, and I need you to help move me to the headmaster's office."
"You're the key character here? But according to the entry I read in the diary and the words written on the walls, shouldn't the main character that this scenario is based on be called Xiao Lin?" Chen Ge was not purposely trying to make Qu Changlin look bad; he was merely curious about everything.
"Ha ha, actually, I am that Xiao Lin," Qu Changlin admitted shyly.
"But the Xiao Lin in the story is only a child, whereas you look almost thirty already. At least the hair on your head points toward that."
"You..." Qu Changlin had just experienced the scare of his life, and he was still recovering. That, combined with his natural reticence, meant that he did not know how to respond to Chen Ge.
"In any case, you need to rest. The headmaster's office, is it? Okay, I'll take you there." Chen Ge gripped Qu Changlin's arm. "Can you stand up?"
Qu Changlin held the wall as he stood up. His legs were weak, and he tittered like a toddler learning how to walk for the first time.
"Aren't you a bit too in character?" Chen Ge then proceeded to do something that surprised even Qu Changlin. He picked Qu Changlin up on his back. "Lead the way then."
"Okay..." Qu Changlin did not know how to feel. Just minutes earlier, he had received a message from his boss telling him to scare this visitor, but several minutes later, he was being rescued by the same visitor. The phone in his pocket vibrated several times. Qu Changlin silently took it out. His call to the boss had already disconnected. The phone was filled with messages from his boss.
"What are you doing‽ I told you to go scare him, not to reform him!"Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
"Where is the modified mannequin that you often boast about? Didn't you tell me you've placed multiple traps inside the toilet and could scare even the boldest of individuals?"
"Why are you climbing on his back now?"
Reading the messages on his phone, the bitterness in Qu Changlin's heart grew. He did not like to speak and was not good at maintaining interpersonal relationship. He really did not know how to answer his own boss now. His boss continued to message him, but Qu Changlin stopped looking at them. Helplessness and worry overwhelmed him. He felt like a failure, and his head sunk even lower.
"This Haunted House is quite scary. When I entered the toilet earlier, I was given quite a fright by the mannequin that dropped down from the ceiling. Especially the mannequin's pair of eyes, they look so real. The creator must be a genius." Chen Ge made it sound like this observation was made casually.
"You think that mannequin is scary?" Qu Changlin's lowered head slowly lifted.
"I've been to many Haunted Houses, and this was the first time that I've been scared by a mannequin. The creator must be a genius, and he must have spent a great load of time studying this. The design of the toilet is quite amazing as well. The visitor knows that there will be a scare inside the fourth cubicle, so when they open the door, their attention is attracted to the mirror. So, when the mannequin suddenly drops down from the ceiling then, it creates such a scary effect. This is an ingenious design." Chen Ge was sincere with his praise.
Hearing the compliment, color returned to Qu Changlin's eyes. "Actually, there are seven traps in total hidden inside the toilet. This time, there was an accident, and only one was triggered."
"That's impressive. Even with just one trap triggered, this is already one of the scariest experiences that I've had inside a Haunted House, but the story behind it annoys me somewhat." Like he was talking to a friend, Chen Ge's tone was friendly and natural.
"The story? I think it's fine..."
"I got the gist after reading the diary entries and the words on the walls. Xiao Lin is a child that no one pays much attention to. No one wants to be his friend, so he tries to get other people's attention by playing pranks, but in the end, everyone in the class ganged up on him."
"Is there a problem with that story?"
"No, the story is fine, but I personally feel like Xiao Lin's tragedy could have been easily avoided." On the surface, Chen Ge was discussing Xiao Lin's story with Qu Changlin, but he was actually sharing some of his personal thoughts. "When a person tries to mix in with the rest, he will only make his life that much more tiring. To give up on one's hobbies and habits just to pander to others is truly a sad life."
Qu Changlin nodded slightly but did not respond.
Chen Ge did not mind it and continued talking. "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I've wandered too far from the topic. Actually, it's because I see my past self in Xiao Lin. Like him, I used to be alone and afraid; my goal in life was to make friends with everyone. Eventually, I confessed my feeling to a girl whom I had a crush on, but she rejected me."
Qu Changlin listened to Chen Ge's experience and found resonance without even realizing it. "It must have felt awful to be rejected."
"Naturally, the pain stuck with me for a long time. During that period, I tried my best to stand tall again, but only those who have experienced this will be able to understand how difficult that really is!"
Chen Ge practically took the words out of Qu Changlin's mind, and the latter found himself nodding along.
"Relationships are something that is very hard to explain. One day, I overheard a conversation between my friends. The girl that I had a crush on actually hated how I always try to pander to others. At that moment, I understood, I needed to rediscover my true self."
A melancholy not reflected by his age coursed through Chen Ge's voice.
"I moved to a new company and started a new life. I stopped trying to live my life for other people's sake. I gave my new life and new job my best, trying to become my best self. Now, I am successful both career-wise and relationship-wise. I am even my own boss, and I don't need to care about pandering to others anymore."
Just hearing Chen Ge say that, Qu Changlin felt rather jealous, and he breathed out sincerely, "You are an amazing person."
"It's not me that's amazing. If one is willing to change, anyone can be that amazing, including the Xiao Lin in the story." Chen Ge stressed on the word change. "Everyone is their own main character. What we need to do is to spend time and effort on things that can make us truer to our real self."
Chen Ge's words left such an impression on Qu Changlin that his eyes were glistening. "Brother, actually, I have a similar experience to yours. I did have a crush on a girl, but now, I'm a bit lost..."
"There's no need to be lost, just remember this." Without raising his head, Chen Ge moved past the door of the storage room where Xiao Die should be. "Be your best self. When you bloom, the butterfly will come."Little Butterfly