The cheapest costs 3,000? Chen Ge coughed, and his hand moved involuntarily to the 20,000 or so in his backpack. He uttered in a calm voice, “Money is not a problem, but the new scenario will be open in a few days; I need the mannequins to be finished soon. You said that you don’t have enough employees to rush the order, but do you have the materials here?”
“I do.” The boss did not know why Chen Ge would suddenly ask that. “If you give us a few more days, I’m sure you’ll be satisfied with the result.”
“The Haunted House will open the new scenario for visitation the day after tomorrow; there can be no delay.”
“We’re not doing so well; did you not see the sign in the window? Before this, I was only responsible for the designs, and the workers would handle the rest. But since there have been no large orders, I sent them all away to save money.” The boss also did not want to give up on Chen Ge’s order so easily. “How about this, I will call the workers tonight, and I will have them rush the order for you in a week?”
“A week is still too long; I need them the day after tomorrow.”
The boss sighed helplessly. “Even if we work at full speed, I can only give you three or four mannequins the day after tomorrow.”
“You have enough materials but not the workers.” Chen Ge put down his backpack. “How about this, lend your workshop to me for twenty-four hours? You only need to prepare the materials for me.”
As the conversation continued, it started to head down a weird direction. The boss did not quite react to it yet, “Then what shall I do?”
“Just stand to the side and watch.” Chen Ge moved his fingers and looked around the space. “After all, it’s not like you have other customers. After the place is sold, the stored materials will be disposed of or sold at a low price. Since that’s the case, you might as well lease the place to me for a day. Don’t worry, I will purchase the materials at market price.”
The man had a point, but something felt off! The boss thought about it and realized he had nothing to lose. Looking at the excited Chen Ge, he nodded with difficulty. “Alright, but you have to give me 10,000 as deposit. I’ll remove the material price from the deposit, and I’ll return the rest when you’re finished.”
“You have a deal.”
After paying the boss, Chen Ge entered the work space. The place was huge, and multiple tools covered the floor.
“You sure you want to do this yourself?” The boss was still hesitant. “If you need it, I can help. After all, I’m free.”
“Then, I shall thank you in advanced.” Chen Ge was familiar with the tools because he had spent his internship at a toy factory. He took a tour, and after a plan formed in his mind, he pulled out his phone to call Inspector Lee.
“Uncle Lee, I have a favor to ask; it’s related to Mu Yang High School.”
“The station has already closed the case. Why are you still so hung up over Mu Yang High School?” Every time Inspector Lee answered Chen Ge’s call, his heart would quiver in worry, afraid that he might hear some bad news.
“It’s not related to the case, I just want to…”
“Stop getting involved with the school.” Inspector Lee became serious. “According to the main city’s investigation, there might be a darker history there before the school was built.”
“A darker history?” Chen Ge did not press him. “Inspector Lee, you misunderstood me; I don’t intend to meddle in police business. Didn’t you tell me that a whole class got into an accident last time? I just want to ask if you have a picture of all twenty-four students?”
“Have you lost your mind? Why do you need something like that?”
“It’s very important, but I cannot tell you the reason for now. I swear it’s not for malicious use.” Chen Ge was planning to build bodies for the twenty-four lingering spirit to possess so that they would not be homeless anymore. In a way, he was doing a good thing.
The phone was silent for a long time before Inspector Lee said, “Don’t do anything stupid! Call me if you find out anything. I’ll take a look in a bit.”
After hanging up the phone, Chen Ge did not think too much of it, but he scared the boss speechless. The man hesitated for some time before sidling up to Chen Ge to ask, “Are you a cop?”
“No, have you prepared the materials?”
“Yes.” Even the tone used by the boss had gotten more reverential.
“Alright, it’s time to start working.” Chen Ge and the boss went to prepare the clay first. Ten minutes later, Inspector Lee sent a group photo with twenty-six people and said it was the only picture they had in the files. There was a bespectacled senior sitting in the middle of the photo, and behind him stood twenty-five students.
“It’s a lot easier with the picture as a guide.” Chen Ge thanked the boss before asking him to move away. He carved out a rough head shape from the clay before activating his skill, Dollmaker’s Talent.
Using the different types of carving knives, Chen Ge made a human skull that was similar to the face on the picture in less than few minutes. His pair of hands were as delicate as flying butterflies as he masterfully employed the carving knives. The ease with which Chen Ge conducted his work stunned the boss; it felt like he was watching an art documentary sped up thrice.
What is this person’s actual occupation? After he was done with the carving, Chen Ge used the wet sponge to carefully wipe down the skulls. His touch was so masterful that after he wiped the dust away, a skin-like consistency appeared on the clay body.
After a while, the clay body hardened, and Chen Ge sprayed it with sticky plaster. Then, there was nothing left to do but wait. The plaster needed at least one hour to dry. Utilizing this downtime, Chen Ge went to work on something else.
After one and a half hours, Chen Ge finished all the clay bodies. Then he retrieved the first few clay bodies from the hardened plaster. He slathered them with a layer of latex, which would act as the mannequin’s skin.
After applying the latex, Chen Ge inserted a bendable stick into the clay body, this would act as the mannequin’s spine. Finally, he injected the filler. Everything was completed in one fell swoop, Chen Ge only needed ten minutes to finish one fake mannequin head.
“It’s getting late. Take this 10,000 as the deposit, and don’t touch anything in the work area. I’ll be back to finish the rest tomorrow.” Chen Ge washed his hands and planned to leave for Hai Ming Apartments.
“Don’t worry, I won’t go anywhere near them.” Looking at the twenty-four heads left on the counter, the boss shivered. He had seen many mannequins in his life, but the mannequins created by Chen Ge’s hands gave him a different impression. They were exceptionally real, like they would wink at him at any moment.
Shrugging on his backpack, Chen Ge exited the underground workshop. He hailed a cab to head toward Hai Ming Apartments. It was about time for his meeting with Doctor Gao.
Hai Ming Apartments was situated at the older part of town where the buildings were not high. After crossing several busy streets, the surroundings turned quiet. With the directions given by the taxi driver, Chen Ge finally arrived at his destination.