Standing in the dark corner of the stairs, Lan Dong held the dirty ball of paper, and the more he studied it, the more unsettling he felt.
"Lan Dong, what does the paper say?" Liu Gang asked behind him. Lan Dong kept his head lowered and did not answer.
"Brother Dong?" Ah Li was worried about him, so he jogged over.
"It's fine, just a ghost story." Lan Dong tossed the ball of paper next to the mannequin's feet. He used the phone, bent over, and aimed the screen's light at the face. The mannequin looked about five years old. It wore clothes with red and white stripes. There were brown stains on its shoes, and the collar and wrists had red thread tied around them, as if afraid that something might escape from inside its clothes.
"Ghost baby?" Xiao Chun also walked over. She stared at the child in the corner, and her voice changed.
"What's a ghost baby? Have you seen similar mannequin somewhere else?" Liu Gang was feeling afraid.
"The ghost baby is a school ghost story. According to legend, if you stay in the school compound after school, you will meet a child playing ball on the staircase. He will ask you to join him. If you refuse, his head will roll off to chase after you. If you agree, the child will disappear." Xiao Chun's voice was low.
"Then what are we waiting for? We should agree!" Muscle urged.
"If you agree, something worse will happen. The boy will follow you home, and after you fall asleep, he will twist off your head." Lan Dong heard this story before. "Regardless of whether you agree or refuse, the endings are horrible. This is a ghost story with no solution."
"No solution? I personally think it is quite meaningless." Liu Gang stood where he was and did not move.
"If I ran into such a child in real life, I would definitely avoid him, but we are inside a Haunted House." Lan Dong did not see anything weird about the child, and he reached out to grab its head. "Actually, I've been curious, why is the mannequin's head so strange?"
He yanked upward and pulled the whole mannequin up. The mannequin's head was joined to his body and could not be separated.
"Looks like this is just a decoration. There's no trap." Lan Dong held the mannequin's head and swung it about. "It's very sturdy; the head can't be removed. The hint should be in the paper notes then."
Lan Dong opened all the paper notes, and he realized that all the handwriting was different. However, scarily, all the notes ended with with the same line.
'At the time, just like you, I walked to his side and picked up the paper ball that he dropped.'
"This feels like an endless curse. Those who pick up the paper notes will have a bad ending." When Ah Li said that, he obviously had not considering Lan Dong's feeling.
"Compared to a curse, I have more confidence in psychological influences." Lan Dong undid the red thread on the mannequin. With a few shakes, a ring of keys fell out from the clothes.
"Have we found a hidden clue? What are the keys for?"
"I think I get it now." Lan Dong held the keys and matched them to the paper notes. "Look, the note states that today is my duty day. When I prepared to throw the rubbish, I saw a child squatting in the corner of the stairs. The second note said that when I went to male dormitory Room 413 to borrow hot water to cook some instant noodles, I saw a child squatting in the corner of the stairs. The main clue is on this third note-it says, when I was carrying the homework to Mr. Bai's office, I saw a child squatting in the corner of the stairs."
"Mr. Bai? Isn't that the person we're looking for?" Lan Dong realized that.
"Many clues we found point to this Mr. Bai. He must be an important character here. Obtaining the key to his office will be crucial to us." Lan Dong frowned and kept the keys.
"I don't think we should mess with the ghost baby's things," Xiao Chun reminded him out of kindness.
After knowing the mannequin was just a normal one, he sighed in relief and returned to normal. "The ring of keys should be a normal prop. Let's not scare ourselves."
"I suggest we stop here. I've heard the ghost story about ghost baby before. Whenever it appears, there are many dirty things to follow. The ghost baby is just the beginning." Xiao Chun suggested for them to leave, but Liu Gang was forced by his fans. After all, he had said that if he retreated, he would have no face to see his fans anymore.
"Girls are always more cautious, but don't worry, we're all here. As long as we're not separated, I guarantee you'll be fine." Liu Gang patted his chest, and everyone praised him for his bravery. Even some of the Haunted House's old fans created new accounts to cheer Liu Gang on. Perhaps, from Liu Gang's perspective, it was his own sincerity and charisma that had won over his enemy's fans, but in reality, he did not capture the real intention of these fans at all. After those fans had been tortured so badly, there was someone noble who was willing to use his own life to tell others about their struggles. How could one not give support and cheer for someone like that?
The five did not realize the seriousness of the male assistant's disappearance. After all, normally, when one visited a Haunted House, they would not think so far. After turning the corner, they came to the lowest floor. The lights in the corridor were all broken, and it was dark, but strangely, there was some faded red light that was flickering at the other end of the corridor. The lights were dancing like ghostly flames.
"Brother Dong, something doesn't seem right." Ah Li patted Lan Dong's shoulder lightly. "The ghost baby's neck was twisted to the side earlier, wasn't it?"
"Yes, what's wrong with that?"
"Take a look again." Ah Li shone the light behind them. The mannequin's head sat straight on its shoulders like the head was about to fall off.
"That's probably because I was gripping its head and pulling it up earlier." When Lan Dong spoke, he felt a chill coming from his neck like a pair of hands was pulling on his head.
"Careful! Something is coming down the corridor!" Muscle suddenly screamed, and everyone turned to look down the corridor. The red light slowly approached. When they were few meters away, it suddenly slithered into one of the rooms.
"Is it one of the Haunted House's actors?"
Lan Dong shone the light at the door. The room number was 413.