39 The Sound from the Third Floor
With the arrival of night, silence fell over the Haunted House like a blanket.
Suddenly, a weird sound like someone was sawing something shattered the peaceful quiet. In the staff breakroom, Chen Ge's eyes slowly peeled open. He glanced at the phone—it was 1:10 am.
He turned to bury his head under the pillow, but the weird sound kept drilling itself into his ears.
Am I dreaming? Who is making all that noise?
Every single prop in the Haunted House was hand-made or upgraded by Chen Ge, so he knew that no prop in the building would make a sawing sound. After only six hours of sleep, Chen Ge was still feeling a bit blurry. He pinched the inside of his leg hard to wake himself up before putting on his clothes and grabbing an iron hammer out of the nearby toolbox.
He switched on the flashlight and pushed the door of the breakroom open. The Haunted House at midnight was many times scarier than it was during daytime. Chen Ge leaned against the door, not in a hurry to go out.
Can't be a burglar, would any sane person choose to rob a Haunted House near midnight? Can't be the rats either, the sound of their chewing wouldn't be so loud and clear.
After vetoing these two normal possibilities, Chen Ge's mind wandered toward the not-so-normal possibility.
Could it be that the monster has escaped from the mirror?
Due to a lack of cloth, not all the mirrors on the third floor's Murder by Midnight scenario were covered up. He stared down the darkened hallway and retreated back into the breakroom. He only dared wander out after grabbing the doll his parents left behind for him. The sound came from above, so Chen Ge followed the sound up the stairs before stopping at the door to the Murder by Midnight scenario.
As I expected, it's coming from here, but now it's unclear whether the source is the lingering spirits from Ping An Apartments or the mirror monster.
Chen Ge hesitated at the door. Honestly, he too was not that willing to enter a scary scenario so late at night.
However, allowing himself to be tortured by the sawing sound was not a valid solution either. Chen Ge gripped the hammer in his hand and said in his heart,
I have The Specters' Favored title and have received the goodwill from the residents of Ping An Apartment's lingering spirits. Therefore, even if it is the thing from inside the mirror, it won't be able to do me much harm.
He was reminded of what happened to He San. It was Xiao Wan's sudden appearance that ruined the thing's plan, so in a way, the monster probably was not as powerful as he made it out to be.
I have to go in. After all, I'll need to deal with it eventually. The more I know about it, the greater the confidence I'll have in dealing with it.
Chen Ge calmed himself down. He told himself, he was not afraid of the monster itself but rather the unknown it represented.
After pushing open the door, a faded smell of mold drifted into Chen Ge's nose; this place was getting closer to the actual environment of Ping An Apartments by the hour. The room doors on both sides of the corridor were half-closed. Chen Ge held the phone in one day while the other grabbed hold of the hammer.
The sound of sawing intensified, a sign that Chen Ge was getting close to the truth. He walked through the entire third floor before stopping at the door that he was sure the sawing sound was coming from. The room door was closed, and as Chen Ge placed his palm over the doorknob, the icy feeling of steel jolted him awake. His muscles tensed as he shoved the door open.
"Who's in here‽" Chen Ge yelled as he dashed into the room with the iron hammer raised high. He saw a well-built dark shadow half-squatting inside the toilet. It looked suspiciously like He Feng!
The black shadow did not expect the interruption; it dropped what it was holding and jumped inside the mirror and disappeared.
"Stop right there!" Chen Ge screamed as he waved the hammer. It only made contact with air. The toilet was now empty like everything that he had just seen was an illusion.
That shadow can't be He Feng! Why would it have a similar build to He Feng?
Standing before the mirror, Chen Ge looked at his reflection, and he felt weirdly uncomfortable.
This monster is mimicking He Feng‽ But why would it do that?
The appearance of the black shadow brought many questions, but it also answered two for Chen Ge. One, the mirror monster had now gained the ability to leave the mirror; two, it could morph into the person who once looked inside the mirror.
This thing is more dangerous than I thought.
The sawing sound that echoed through the building had finally stopped. Chen Ge squatted down to examine what the black shadow had dropped earlier. Four ragdolls and several sharp mirror pieces were littered on the rough-hewn cement floor.
Chen Ge held the dolls in his palms. The dolls that represented the mother and two sisters were fine, other than the normal dust and mud that covered their bodies. However, the doll that represented the father had its neck almost sawn off, and there were cuts all over its body.
Why is the father doll the only one that's injured?
However, Chen Ge soon realized why. The father doll helped He Feng escape from the monster's clutches, so this was an act of vengeance.
It seems like the four lingering spirits aren't strong enough to stop the monster inside the mirror, so they could only allow themselves to be bullied by it.
Chen Ge had no idea about the situation of the other world, so he could only come up with the explanation from all his previous observations.
The victims have no attack methods other than scaring people. The mirror monster is at least one level higher than the lingering spirits of the victims, but it runs whenever it is around humans. This means that the monster's physical combat ability is rather weak as well; its main method of attack is psychological, manipulating people's internal weakness to create an illusion and then take control of them.
Combining He San and He Feng's experience as well as what happened earlier, Chen Ge came up with this hypothesis. The mirror monster was troublesome, but if Chen Ge could face it in person, then most of its power would be void. Therefore, if Chen Ge manage to lure the monster out of the protection of the mirror, everything would be easy.
I need to figure out a plan. If possible I wish to take care of it tonight so that I'll be able to use this scenario tomorrow.
Chen Ge was cool and collected. The monster inside the mirror was acting more and more wantonly, so if he did not deal with it soon, he would not be able to operate the Haunted House peacefully.
Chen Ge hugged the four dolls in his arms as he left the Murder by Midnight scenario. He locked the door behind him before going to the Props Room. As he sewed the cuts back up, he tried to come up with a plan.
The creature is highly aggressive and seems to have a curious interest in live humans. So the simplest way of luring it out of the mirror is to use a live human as bait.
Chen Ge was a master seamstress because he patched up most of the injuries in just a few minutes.
But the real question is, after I've lured it out, how do I kill it? Rumors say that ghosts are all afraid of salt and garlic, but must I risk my life to try out such hearsay?
Chen Ge thought about it before deciding to log into the supernatural forums to ask the experts.