Ah Li hugged the wooden box and walked at the back of the group. He was honest and loyal. Unlike Xiao Chun, who was more sensitive, he merely felt that something was not quite right. "How come my brain is surfeited with the name Lin Sisi. Is it because I have taken his painting? That should not be. This is probably just my mind playing tricks on me, a psychological effect of sorts."
Walking down the darkened corridor, Ah Li could not help his brain from wandering about. His memory appeared to be covered up by something, and in the corner of his mind, he kept seeing a thin, weak boy standing there. The face was not that clear, and he did not have visible wounds on his body. But his clothes were torn, the zipper of his school bag was broken, his hair was wet and stuck to his face, and his face was dirtied with mud. Compared to the dirtied physical body, the numbness of the boy to the bullying that had befallen him was more heart wrenching.
"What? Did you call me?" The cameraman, Muscle, was given a jolt by Ah Li. "Did you see something?"
"No, no, it is nothing. I'm so sorry." Ah Li quickly apologized. He looked around him, and there was no boy in sight. However, strangely enough, this place that supposed to be dark and eerie gave him a sense of familiarity, like he had been to this place before. "Have I been to this place when I was small? Have I dreamed about this place in one of my nightmares?"
He had gone to a supposedly new place, but there was a sense of déjà vu that arose in his heart. Many people had experienced that feeling before. If it was a normal location out in the open, perhaps it would not have mattered, but they were three floor underground in a Haunted House. This was supposedly an 'unfinished area' that did not even have light fittings. The moment he tried to sort his mind out, Ah Li's brain was overwhelmed by many different scary clips and images. The poor boy was forced into the corner of the room, being pushed into the cubicle of the toilet. Many twisted, eerie faces smiled and laughed at him while they splashed the poor boy with ink and dirty water.
"Enough!" Ah Li yelled at the top of his voice, and it was more than enough to give the other people in his group the scare of their lives.
"Lan Dong, what is going on with your friend? If he keeps going on like this, he's going to scare me to the point the camera slips from my grasp." Muscle was very annoyed.
"Brother, are you okay?" Liu Gang frowned as he turned to look at Ah Li. Since the livestream was still going on, he had to maintain his image. He could not just start going around scolding people.
"I don't know what's wrong. It just feels like I have been to this place before," Ah Li mumbled, but it was clear that there was something on his mind. "Perhaps I have dreamed about this place before. Earlier, wasn't there a news article that said that many comatose patients dreamed about this Haunted House? I have a feeling the articles aren't lying."
"Cough cough!" Liu Gang interrupted Ah Li. He swiftly gave the cameraman a hand signal. Muscle understood what Liu Gang meant and quickly turned the camera away. Putting his hand over the microphone attached to the lapel of his collar, Liu Gang whispered urgently at Ah Li, "We are here to destroy the myths surrounding this Haunted House. Do you understand? Even if you are acting, there has to be a limit to it!"
Liu Gang's attitude turned as quickly as possible. Earlier, in the dormitory, he had been praising Ah Li, but now, his tone had changed completely.
"But I am not lying!"
Ah Li wanted to say more, but Liu Gang was not going to give him the chance. He signaled for Lan Dong to come over. "Watch over your friends carefully. If they do not know how to play this game, teach them."
Replacing the microphone, Liu Gang returned to normal. He walked to stand before the camera and very calmly explained to the viewers that what happened earlier was just an interlude. The camera purposely turned away, and the lowering of the voice along with the strange behavior had started a discussion among the viewers. Seeing the viewers in his livestream talking about the news and Chen Ge's Haunted House, it only deepened Liu Gang's ire.
"Just now, my friend was joking. There's no reason for you to treat it seriously. We have been taking our time and playing around while visiting this Haunted House, but from this moment on, we are going to be serious."
Whether Chen Ge's Haunted House was scary or not, Liu Gang did not have to say much. The atmosphere that was shown through the camera had proven everything. Even if Liu Gang had been trying to lighten the mood and disperse the sense of eeriness, it did not work as well as he hoped.
"A Haunted House that depends on buying popularity on search engines, tricking its visitors, and confusing the viewers also wishes to become popular?" Regardless of whether the accusation was real or not, Liu Gang first added a few defamatory labels to Chen Ge's Haunted House. This way, he would be placed on the moral high ground, and what he was doing would have a sense of duty and vindication to it, so he would feel less afraid.
"We are going to stop wasting time. Today, I will expose its true face for everyone to see!" Liu Gang was highly passionate, and the moment he finished saying that sentence, the phone in his pocket suddenly rang. This was his personal phone, and not many who knew his personal number. Liu Gang hesitated for a moment before pressing the accept button. Before he could react in any way, the male assistant's maddened voice came through the phone.
"Brother Gang! This Haunted House is really haunted! Look above you! All the ghost are crawling above our heads!" The male assistant sounded like he was running for his life, and his breath came unevenly.
"Where have you run off to, and whose phone are you calling from?" Liu Gang's heart cracked a bit. He had just put the microphone back on, which meant that everyone in the livestream could hear the voice of his male assistant.
"I was rescued by the other visitors! You have to turn back! There is no exit in this Haunted House! It will be too late if you do not turn back now! Do not go any further! Help! There are ghosts everywhere! There are ghosts everywhere!" The male assistant's harrowing and desperate cries for help were practically slaps on Liu Gang's face. The corners of his eyes were twitching, and he immediately ended the call. He was there to destroy the name of Chen Ge's Haunted House, but it felt like he was helping Chen Ge promote his Haunted House before the entirety of his online viewers.
"This assistant of mine has a very over the top reaction to the smallest things. This is such a shameful thing to show..." Before Liu Gang finished, the cameraman's phone started to vibrate. Someone had been sending him voice messages. Muscle did not think much of it and instantly clicked on them. Then the male assistant's voice appeared again.
"Liu Gang! Run! Believe me! The ghosts are just beside you! They have always been around you!" The corridor was very quiet, so the voice of the male assistant travelled very far. The man was pushed to the brink of his sanity already, so in his desperation, he called Liu Gang by his full name.
"Switch off your phone. We are going to focus on exploring this Haunted House." Liu Gang's face was darkening. If not for the camera still running, he would have exploded already.
"Of course, Brother Gang." Muscle promised verbally to switch off the phone, but in reality, he did not do so. This muscular man was large, but he had a careful heart. He knew this male assistant well, so he understood that he was not acting; he was really scared out of his wits. After silently replying with a message to the male assistant, Muscle turned the phone to silent mode and shoved it into his pocket.
"Liu Gang! You know I would not purposely harm you! Please answer me!" Holding a female model phone in his hand, the male assistant raced down the narrow corridor. His hair was tussled, and there were tear stains on both of his eyes. His throat was raw from all the yelling.
"Can you please stop yelling? Are you trying to draw all the attention to our group‽" Walking with the male assistant were a couple of students, a middle-aged man, and a very graceful female visitor. It was the middle-aged man who spoke. The shadows lulled and moved behind them, and they could hear the sound of footsteps approaching!
"This way!" The middle-aged man found a classroom with the door open. Without thinking much of it, he pulled the woman who was behind him and dragged her into the classroom to hide. The pair of students also prepared to run into the classroom, but at that moment, the male assistant had a sudden burst of speed and brushed past the couple, shooting into the classroom before them. After he entered the classroom, with a grit of his teeth, he grabbed the doorknob and slammed the door shut!
"What the f*ck! Open the door! We lent you our phone, and this is how you repay us‽" The students banged on the classroom heavily, but the male assistant moved to lock the door instead. The scary footsteps came closer and closer. Cornered, the pair of students had no choice but to escape, and the sound of footsteps was led away by them.
"Thankfully, I acted in time. If we were all hiding here, we would all be trapped, and none of us would be able to escape." The male assistant's action was determined by his subconscious. In this four-star scenario, he seemed to have pull away his normal disguise, and his real self had started to surface. Gasping greedily for air, the male assistant gripped the phone that he borrowed from the students tightly. He leaned against the door to give himself a rest. "I did that for the good of everyone. By the way, I still have not gotten the chance to thank you. What are your names?"
"You can call me Ol' Zhou, and this is my girlfriend, Duan Yue." The middle-aged man very excitedly introduced his girlfriend to the male assistant. He seemed to enjoy doing something like that, but the annoyance was plainly written on the face of the female visitor.
"Brother Zhou, when I was chased by the ghost earlier, it was you who volunteered to help me and allowed me to follow you." The male assistant seemed to have forgotten the heartless thing that he had just done. He knew that it would be dangerous for him to be stranded alone, so he wished to make a bond with Ol' Zhou and Duan Yue.
"We just did what we were supposed to. One more person means one more pair of hands to help. I also did not realize that this Haunted House would be so scary. Turns out that all the ghosts are walking above us, and you will only be able to see them by bending over and looking upside down." Ol' Zhou sucked in a deep breath.
"One more person means one more pair of hands to help? But this man just slammed the door shut to block the entry for the two other visitors from coming in," Duan Yue added snidely. "This kind of person..."
"If he did not do that, all of us would be trapped in here. I am sure he had a reason to do what he did." What Ol' Zhou said was like music to the male assistant's ears. "I can understand you. I have experienced a lot and have seen through a lot. The adult world is not that simple. If given a choice, who would not want to be a pure and innocent child forever?"
"Brother Zhou, I knew you would understand me!" After experiencing so much desperation, despair, and tiredness, the male assistant finally got a sense of warmth from Ol' Zhou.
"Of course." Ol' Zhou patted the male assistant on his shoulders to give him a boost of encouragement. "Earlier, I saw you making the call. I wish to know whether the person on the other side received your message or not. We need to meet up with the rest of the group as soon as possible. It is too dangerous to stay alone inside this Haunted House."
"Don't you worry about that. Brother Gang probably did not answer the phone because he was broadcasting the livestream, but I managed to gain contact with the cameraman. He even gave me a reply." The male assistant opened the inbox, and there was a message that came from Muscle.
"I also feel like there is something strange about this haunted house. We will talk about this in detail later!"
"In other words, they already believe that you are using this phone to communicate with them." Ol' Zhou's words had a deeper meaning to them. Before the male assistant realized what was happening, Ol' Zhou moved to block the door.
"Brother Zhou, what are you doing?" The male assistant had a bad feeling about that.
"I understand you, and I hope you will understand me." Blood leaked out from his shirt, and ghastly wounds appeared before his eyes. Ol' Zhou's face turned as pale as paper. "You need to understand that the adult world is not that simple. If given a choice, who would not want to be a pure and innocent child forever?"
The dried, withered hands reached for the male assistant. At that moment, the male assistant's eyes were about to fall out from their sockets. His knees buckled underneath him, and he dropped to the ground. At that moment, he bounced into something. Slowly turning his head around, a female carcass that was chopped into pieces was floating behind him.
Not a single sound was able to escape from his throat. The male assistant was shivering all over until his pupils rolled back in his eye sockets, and he slumped heavily to the ground. Ol' Zhou picked up the phone that the male assistant was holding. He memorized Liu Gang and the cameraman's phone number and then used this phone to send another message to the cameraman. "Come and meet up with me now! I think I've found the exit!"