Uncle Xu was worried about Chen Ge. “We will let the visitors enter happily and then escort them out safely, what is so bad about that?”
“Okay, okay. Don’t worry, everything is within my control.”
With Uncle Xu’s repeated advice, Chen Ge led the five visitors to the underground parking lot.
“Please sign these disclaimers first.” Chen Ge passed a few copies to the visitors. “All the notes and warnings are written there. Feel free to browse through them.”
“This is quite official.” The leading young man signed the agreement without even reading it. His name was Wang Hailong; he was about 1.85 meters tall and roughly the same age as Chen Ge.
“Boss, will you renege on the promise of the reward money? If someone really manages to find all twenty-four nametags, will you give him the money?” There was slightly shorter man standing next to Wang Hailong. They appeared to be siblings. His name was Wang Wenlong, but their personalities seemed to differ.
“Of course, where would I be today without honoring my promises?” Chen Ge replied with a professional smile.
“20,000, 1 person, twenty-four nametags. Since we have five people, if we manage to find all the nametags, can you give us 4,000 each?” The person who spoke was Wang Hailong’s girlfriend. She wore a thin shirt and hot pants. The buttons of her shirt were not tight, and there was a fluttering butterfly tattooed on her collarbone. The girl’s name was Dou Menglu—a pretty girl but horrible handwriting.
“Why not? The aim is to have fun. If you can manage to find all the nametags in twenty minutes, you’ll each get not a penny less than 4,000.” Chen Ge continued to smile.
Wang Hailong dropped the pen and promised, “Nice! I’ll definitely call my brothers to come support you next time.”
“Then I shall thank you in advanced.”
Such a kind visitor. Chen Ge was touched. “After signing the agreement, please come with me. A word of advice, don’t stay too long in the sealed classroom.”
The group walked to the end of the corridor, and Chen Ge pulled the boards away. “There are many rumors about the abandoned school. Whether you believe them or not, be careful. Remember, no cameras when you’re inside. You’ll be responsible for the consequences.”
“It’s underground?” The five looked at the dim tunnel which felt like someone was walking on it.
“F*ck, what was that‽” The fatty who had not spoken suddenly screamed as he staggered back. He had a beer belly and beady eyes. He did not seem to be that courageous.
“Pei Hu, you’re scared before we’ve even gone in?” Wang Hailong grabbed Pei Hu’s bouncy arm. “It’s all fake. If you’re that scared, hide behind Meili.”
“Stop whining. Are you going in or not?” This time, it was the other woman who spoke. She had a perpetual frown on her face and was short in stature. Even though she already tried her best, standing beside Menglu, she was like a green leaf accompanying the bright flower. Chen Ge glanced at her agreement; this girl’s name was Xia Meili.
“What’s the hurry?” Wang Hailong winked at Chen Ge. “Boss, remember to start the countdown only after we’re in the tunnel!”
“Sure.” Chen Ge took out his phone to prepare. After the five visitors entered the tunnel, he closed the boards and put his phone away.
Countdown? What was that?
If they could walk out on their two legs, it was already good enough. Inside the dressing room, Chen Ge put on Doctor Skull-cracker’s outside and skin mask before going to the control room. He looked at the list of background music and decided against putting Black Friday on a loop.
Uncle Xu is right. We’re in the service industry; we should put our customer first. He moved the cursor to lower the volume and added Wedding Dress to the playlist.Listening to the same music again and again will bore the visitors.
The boards above their heads were sealed. The five visitors stood in the dim corridor looking at the half-opened classroom doors as shuffling noises drifted into their ears.
“This place is huge.” Pei Hu nudged backwards to stand beside Meili.
“Isn’t that a given? How else was he going to hide so many nametags? The boss isn’t dumb.” The slenderest man among them, Wang Wenlong, took the first step. “Let’s get moving. Five of us should be able to find all twenty-four nametags. After we win the 4,000, we shall go for hot pot and karaoke.”
“Since we’re already here, let’s finish this. My little brother is right.” Wang Hailong took large strides. When he passed the first classroom door, he stopped. This sudden movement spooked the others.
“Hailong, what have you seen?” Dou Menglu whispered.
“Look at yourselves! What is there to be afraid of?” He kicked the classroom door open, and the nametag that sat on the doorframe fell to the ground. “This is easy!”
He picked up the nametag, and a girl’s name was written on it—Chen Yalin.
“This nametag was placed at such a conspicuous location. It’s probably to help us recognize the shape and size of the nametags.” Wang Wenlong took the nametag and gave it a look. “Every nametag should have a student’s name then. The edges are yellowed; this looks old and wouldn’t be easy to replicate.”
“What has that got to do with us? We’ve been in here less than ten seconds, and we’ve already found one. As long as we’re not afraid, finding the remaining twenty-three should be easy.” Wang Hailong took the nametag back and continued moving forward. The easy success also relaxed the remaining members.
Wind made the blank test papers that littered Mu Yang High School flutter. None of them realized that even though all of them were wearing shoes, there were fuzzy bare footprints that appeared on the papers. The temperature lowered, and in the darkened corridor, a creepy children’s lullaby began to play. It sounded like crying and laughing all rolled into one.
The atmosphere turned weird, and there seemed to be something hiding inside the classrooms on both sides. It was as if pairs of eyes were looking at them in the dark.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of, but how come I feel weirdly unsettled?”
The five separated to find the nametags faster. Xia Meili and Wang Wenlong went into the classroom on the left-hand side to search while the rest searched the ones on the right. They searched a few rooms but came up with nothing.
“This boss is smarter than we gave him credit. Let’s move forward, we cannot waste any more time.” Wang Hailong walked at the forefront. When he passed the sealed classroom, he halted.
“What’s wrong, Brother Long? Did you discover another nametag?” Pei Hu turned his head in the direction Wang Hailong was looking. He only took a glance, and a chill surged through his body. There was someone standing by the classroom window, and he appeared to be smiling.
The scariest part was, behind him, there were twenty more mannequins who were sitting or standing in the classroom!
Their bodies did not move, but their necks were twisted in weird angles, and all of them were turning to smile at the visitors outside the window!