1143 Which Is Scarier, Me or the Curse? 2 in 1
Chen Ge had Ol' Wu show the landlord his real identity, and then the two of them were given the permission to go inside Chi Ren's room to check. It was clear that Chi Ren had left in a hurry. The food that he ordered was abandoned, unfinished on the table; various clothes were abandoned on the couch; the drawers were left hanging open; the room was chaotic and unkempt, like it had been entered by thieves.
"Did Chi Ren tell you where he was going?"
"No, but recently, he has been calling someone. I overheard him begging that person to let him stay with them for a while. During one of the phone conversations, he even got into a huge argument with the other person." The landlord pointed at the wall. "This is an old apartment; the walls are thin. Chi Ren might look very honest normally, but he can be quite scary when he is angry."
"Then, did you happen to overhear any names or locations?" Chen Ge's expression was serious.
"I think they mentioned an eatery called Shi Li Xiang, and the owner of the eatery appears to have the surname Chi as well." The information provided by the landlord was very limited, so during the course of conversation, Chen Ge silently released Men Nan into the room. When they were conversing, Men Nan checked every room rudimentarily, but he did not come up with anything.
After leaving the apartment building, Ol' Wu drove Chen Ge and hurried toward Shi Li Xiang. The shop was situated on the busiest street in Xin Hai, Destiny Avenue. Coincidentally, Shang Guan Qing Hong's haunted house was close to Destiny Avenue. The two locations were in the same business circle.
Destiny Avenue has bright lights twenty-four hours a day. There will always be a crowd here, making it a clever choice for a hiding spot.
In places where there were many people, it would hinder the movement of baleful Specters. Even Red Specters would be influenced.
"Brother Wu, you can just leave me at the eatery. I have troubled you too much already today. When we have the time, I will definitely treat you to a meal."
"Are you sure you can handle this alone? This is Xin Hai. You do not know anyone here, so please do not go and do anything dangerous on your own." Ol' Wu gave Chen Ge his own phone number. "If you run into any trouble, give me a call. I will do everything that I can to help you."
"Thank you very much." Ol' Wu was on an official assignment to accompany Mr. Wang. Due to that, he could not stay with Chen Ge for too long, but just due to the fact that he was willing to bring Chen Ge to Xin Hai, the latter was very thankful.
Carrying two large bags, Chen Ge eventually found the eatery 'Shi Li Xiang'. The shop was not that large, but there were many customers. There was a very long queue that led out the door. "The place has quite a good business."
Chen Ge queued for about fifteen minutes before it was his turn. He looked at the food inside the counter, and the delicious smell of food hit him. "Boss, how come your food smells much better than other shops?"
"That is because it is cooked with a secret sauce that has been passed down through the family for generations. I can guarantee that you won't be able to taste this delicacy anywhere else!" The boss was a big fatty, and he looked incredibly jovial.
"Then, why don't you give me one of everything on the menu? I am particularly fond of meat." When Chen Ge said that, he stealthily observed the boss and the employees. He did not notice any issues. This appeared to be a very normal eatery. After paying the money, Chen Ge left carrying a large bag of food. The sky was darkening, but the streets were still filled with cars. The place did not die down; if anything, it became even more crowded.
"Ultimately, Xin Hai is a big city." Chen Ge carried two big bags and the bag of food and found Shang Guan Qing Hong's haunted house on the corner of the street. Compared to the main avenue, there were obviously fewer people here. "When I came here last time, this haunted house still belonged to someone else."
Just as Chen Ge stepped into the haunted house, an employee came forth to welcome him with passion, but when she saw Chen Ge's face, she immediately retreated several steps. "Chen… Chen Ge…"
The female employee had a very deep impression of Chen Ge. After all, it was due to this scary man standing before her that her own boss had been hospitalized twice.
"You will have to call me boss in the future. New Century Park has already bought this place from your previous boss." Chen Ge took out the proof of purchase from his backpack. "Go and summon all of the free employees. I have something to announce to all of you."
The nemesis had become their new boss; the expressions of all the employees in the lobby turned very ugly. The way they looked at Chen Ge was how a hapless victim would look at the villains in TV shows. To them, Chen Ge was the kind of villain who would not stop even when he had already pushed the victims to the brink of a mental breakdown.
"Don't just stand there, go!" Chen Ge did not intend to bully these employees. Even though it was this haunted house that first ruffled his feathers, Chen Ge was not a narrow-minded person. He had already forgotten about those offences in the past.
About ten minutes later, a few employees in ghost costumes and make up rushed out from their posts. Counting the receptionist and the floor boy responsible for cleaning up the place, there were about five employees gathered in the lobby.
"How come there are so few of you? Where are the rest? Is this some kind of rebellion against me?" In Chen Ge's impression, when he came last time, this haunted house had at least ten employees.
"Due to the dwindling number of visitors and the withholding of the salary, combined with the rumors of this place being haunted, many people chose to leave," the female employee said softly. "Since we are currently so understaffed, we only have our two most popular scenarios open for now."
"With such a good spot in the city, how is the number of the visitors dropping? Looks like Shang Guan Qing Hong really needs to reflect on his job." Chen Ge looked at the remaining five employees. "Shang Guan Qing Hong has already sold this place to me. If you are willing to continue working here, I welcome you to do so, but if you wish to seek employment elsewhere, I will pay the salary that Shang Guan Qing Hong owes you; we shall have a good parting."
When Chen Ge said that he would pay them their owed salary, the remaining five employees wavered. In the ending, including the female receptionist, four of the employees chose to resign. Chen Ge cleared the debt that they were owed on the spot. "You guys do not need to come back tomorrow. I wish you the best of luck in finding a better job."
After dealing with that, the four employees removed their make up and costumes before departing. The large haunted house only had Chen Ge and a female employee left.
"Why didn't you resign with the rest of them?" Chen Ge looked at the female employee, and he thought that she looked rather familiar.
"I actually sleep here. If I leave this place, I won't even have a place to stay anymore."
"You should have saved a bit of money since you've worked here for quite some time, right? How come you still haven't rented a place for yourself?" When Chen Ge asked that, he had forgotten that he himself had been staying at his own haunted house.
"My younger brother has a poor physical constitution; he needs the money for his treatment and education, so I try to save wherever I can," the female employee said softly. She appeared to be very afraid of Chen Ge, but for the salary and a roof over her head at night, she forced herself to stand where she was.
"Family troubles are sometimes the hardest to solve. I understand." Chen Ge nodded. "Why don't me add my phone number first? I will send you the salary that Shang Guan Qing Hong owes you. From now on, you shall stay here to continue to work."
"Thank you… boss."
"Have we met before? I keep feeling like you look very familiar."
"My name is Hu Die. Everyone calls me Xiao Die. When you came to visit last time, it was me who played the Pen Spirit game with you," the female employee answered softly.
"So that was you! Without the make-up, I couldn't recognize you." Chen Ge finally realized who she was. When he played the Pen Spirit game with Xiao Die, during the second round, he had taken out the ballpoint pen where the Pen Spirit was hiding, and he had scared Xiao Die until she fainted. To avoid the awkwardness, Chen Ge changed the subject, "The people outside keep on saying that this haunted house is really haunted. I think you have personally experienced it before, so why do you insist on working here? Are you not afraid?"
"In this world, there is nothing scarier than poverty." Xiao Die squeezed her hands together. She seemed to come from a very bad family.
"Don't think about those unhappy things anymore. Keep working at this job. I do not dare guarantee that you will get rich, but I can at least promise that you shall one day get double your current salary."
Chen Ge did not like to give empty promises. Once he said something, he would try his best to make it into a reality.
"The employee benefits I have are much better than what Shang Guan Qing Hong gave you, so I suggest you find a place outside of this place to stay. Do not take this as me chasing you away, but after I visited this place last time, I realized that there is indeed some problem with your haunted house." Chen Ge started into Xiao Die's eyes. "There are certain things here at night. For your own safety, you'd better move out and find a place to stay."
Xiao Die nodded. She looked rather pitiful.
"Come, bring me on a tour of the haunted house. Last time I was here, I went through the place in quite a hurry. I believe I have not seen many of the scenarios before." Chen Ge and Xiao Die entered the haunted house. Before they visited much scenarios, Xiao Die's phone suddenly rang. Seeing the caller ID, Xiao Die very embarrassingly excused herself to the side and answered the call.
"Sis, where are you now? Can I stay with you guys tonight?" A male voice came from the other side of the phone. One could hear the voice trying to hold back his tears.
Xiao Die was caught in a conundrum. Chen Ge had just told her she could not stay at the haunted house overnight, so she really did not know how to answer her own younger brother. "But don't you have the permission to stay at the dormitory? How come you have sneaked out?"
"I really cannot stay there anymore."
"Are they bullying you again?" Xiao Die was rather angry.
"Sis, don't ask me anymore. I am now at the entrance of your haunted house. Just let me stay with you for one night," the boy pleaded. Xiao Die turned to Chen Ge helplessly. Before her lips opened to say anything, Chen Ge already nodded his agreement.
"That's fine. He can stay here tonight, but this is not going to work for the long term. You'd better find out why he is unwilling to stay at his dormitory."
"Thank you, boss." Xiao Die hung off her phone and ran out of the scenario with Chen Ge. When they arrived at the lobby, there was a lanky high schooler with very fair skin standing there. He had a very small frame and wounds on his face. He was holding a pair of glasses that had been stomped on and broken.
"How come you came here on your own?" When Xiao Die saw the boy, she hurried over. She took a wet wipe from under the counter and cleaned up some of the dust stuck to the young man's shirt and arms. "I will go and find some bandages. Stand here and don't go wandering anywhere."
After Xiao Die left, the lobby only had Chen Ge and the high schooler left.
"Your school allows their in-residence students to wander out of the campus at night?" Chen Ge placed the two big bags he was holding on the seat. He fetched two cups of water. He placed one before himself and the other before the young man.
The male student did not accept the water offered by Chen Ge; he did not seem to like Chen Ge. "Are you my sister's colleague? How come there are only the two of you here tonight?"
"Do you have a problem with that?" Chen Ge took a sip of the water and smiled. They were not on the same level at all. Xiao Die's younger brother stood transfixed. He held the broken glasses and did not dare say a word. Moments later, Xiao Die ran out with the haunted house's first aid kit and dressed her younger brother's wound as best as she could. During that period, Xiao Die asked her brother what had happened many times, but her brother clammed up like a shell. After she was done with his wounds, the young man grabbed his school bag and raced into the haunted house. He appeared to know where the staff breakroom was, so this should not be the first time he had run to the haunted house to seek help.
"Hu Yuan! Wait a minute!" Xiao Die shouted twice before the high schooler stopped moving.
"I do not know anything. Can you please stop asking me questions?" Hu Yuan had great emotional swings. It was a clear representation of his inner emotional state.
"This is my new boss, Chen Ge. If you want to stay at the haunted house, you must at least get his permission first. That is basic manners." Xiao Die dragged Hu Yuan to stand before Chen Ge.
"He can stay here tonight, but what can hiding here one night change?" Chen Ge walked to stand before Hu Yuan. "Fear will not dissipate because you run away from it. Eventually, you will have to face it. Why don't you share your problems with us and let me and your big sister help you?"
Ever since he obtained the black phone, Chen Ge had met many problematic children and had collected many useful experiences when dealing with him. With his coaxing and persuasion, Hu Yuan finally told the truth.
There were four students in his dormitory room, and the other three kept on ganging up on him. Normally, he would have just ignored them, but that afternoon, after school, the three bullies shoved an envelope to him. Hu Yuan did not want it. In the end, the three of them stayed to make horrid jokes about his sister, and that angered Hu Yuan enough to get into a physical fight with them. The thin Hu Yuan was naturally not their match. After being beaten up, he did not want to return to the dormitory room, so he chose to come to his sister's place. It was typical school bullying. Xiao Die was very angry; she wanted to go to the school to talk to the teacher tomorrow.
"They wanted to give you an envelope?" Chen Ge caught onto this strange detail. "Did you take the envelope in the end?'
"Cao Fei shoved the envelope inside my pocket. I initially wanted to throw it away, but I hesitated after I saw the content of the envelope." Hu Yuan took out an envelope from inside his school bag. "I don't think you guys should look at it. I will figure out a way to deal with it later."
Actually, Chen Ge did not mind this detail, but when he saw the envelope, his eyes slowly narrowed. There was a very dark print left on the surface on the envelope. "Why would there be human blood on the envelope?"
Chen Ge took the envelope and held it in his hands. Ignoring Hu Yuan's protest, he opened the envelop. Other than a few strands of hair of varying lengths, there was also a patient list. The list did not have the patient's name, but there were a few sentences written with red ballpoint pen on the back.
"Please clip a piece of your hair and place it inside the envelope and hand the envelope to the next person. If you do not pass the envelope to the next person before night falls, I will appear inside your house at 4:44 am.
"If you do not pass the envelope to the next person within the next three days, I will appear before your eyes at 4.44 am."
"A cursed letter? How juvenile." Studying the hair inside the envelope, Chen Ge knew that many people had received this envelope already.
"You'd better return the envelope to me. I heard Cao Fei say that he really saw something last night." Hu Yuan reached for the envelope but was evaded by Chen Ge.
"At your current age, the most important thing you need to focus on is your studies. Just ignore everything else." Chen Ge patted Hu Yuan's shoulder. "The person who handed you this letter is called Cao Fei, correct?"
"Does he also stay at the school dormitory like you?"
"What do you plan to do?" Hu Yuan was stunned. He turned to his big sister, but Xiao Die also had no idea what Chen Ge was planning.
"I plan to appear beside his bed at 4:44 am tonight." Chen Ge put the envelope away with a smile. "I'm just kidding. You must be tired. Go in and get some rest."
His expression was normal and easy, like nothing had ever happened. Chen Ge had Xiao Die lead him to visit the rest of the scenarios, and then he locked himself inside the headmaster's office.
"Nightmare Academy's sets are slightly better than my own haunted house. The props alone are worth quite a pretty penny." Chen Ge flipped through his comic and had his Red Specters check every corner of the haunted house. After ensuring that there were no hidden dangers, he sighed in relief.
"There are two things I need to do tonight—investigate the eatery and find the source of the cursed enveloped." Chen Ge had seen many patient records, but this was the first time he had encountered one without a name or picture.
"After midnight, I will go and visit Cao Fei and trace it back student by student. Eventually, I will come to the source." Chen Ge placed both of his legs on the headmaster's office table and switched into a more comfortable posture. "The school is a place for education; those that target students shall never be forgiven."