At 7 pm, after taking two wrong turns, Liu Dao and Chen Ge finally arrived at their destination.
“Come on, I’ll introduce you to the other workers of our studio.” Liu Dao parked the car and walked into the nearby brush.
“We’re at the outskirt of the Jiujiang district, yes?” Chen Ge inspected the content of his backpack before getting out from the car. The road was filled with holes from lack of maintenance, and there was a small mound of rocks in the way like someone was purposely blocking up the road. The trees that lined the road were tall and lush, probably planted decades ago.
The canopy blocked out the moonlight completely, and after entering the brush, it was as dark as night. Chen Ge turned on the flashlight and followed behind Liu Dao. They had been trekking for ten minutes already, and they were still trapped among the trees.
“Brother, are we lost?” Chen Ge looked around him, and there was no trace of any human activity.
“Don’t fret, don’t fret.” Liu Dao made a call before turning down a small lane. “This area is very complicated. There’s nothing for us to refer to, so it’s very easy to get lost. You’re entering the mental hospital alone, so be careful. I advise you to mark some trees as you move toward the building.”
After a few more minutes of walking, Liu Dao and Chen Ge finally exited the brush. A large tent appeared before their eyes.
“This is the only open ground nearby and the place with the best signal.” When they spotted Liu Dao, the people inside the tent walked over.
“Brother Liu, where have you been? You know we are lacking in manpower; are you trying to work Sister Lee and myself to our death?” a young man who had a crew-cut and the head the shape of a pot lid grumbled. He looked about twenty and was forward with his words.
“Why did we let him go fetch the person knowing he’s horrible with directions?” Sister Lee asked. Her skin was rough, and she was more muscular than most men.
To diffuse the awkward situation, Liu Dao dragged Chen Ge over. “This is the host who will be livestreaming inside the Third Sick Hall alone—Chen Ge. There’s still some time before the livestream. You can teach him how to use the livestreaming equipment and camera techniques.”
“This is Chen Ge?” Sister Lee pushed Liu Dao aside and started studying Chen Ge alongside the teen. When they saw Chen Ge’s get-up, there was a flash of confused shock in their eyes. Isn’t he going to do a supernatural livestream? Why did he bring a chicken with him?
They wanted to mock him, but since this was their first meeting, they held their tongues.
“I’m Zhang Pin, and this is Sister Lee. We’ll be responsible for helping you relay your livestream.” The teen led Chen Ge into the tent. There was plenty of equipment inside. He taught Chen Ge how to use it all and then had Chen Ge open the black suitcase. He explained each piece of equipment’s usage one by one.
Outside the tent, Sister Lee whispered, “Ol’ Liu, you sure this kid can work? We have sacrificed the slot of two hosts with 100,000 viewers to earn a level two platform recommendation. The platform is afraid of earning Qin Guang’s ire and purposely making this difficult for us.”
Liu Dao lit a cigarette. The platform’s recommendation could be delineated into five levels; one was the best, and five the worst. The highest they could wrangle for a newbie was a level two.
“He only has a level two recommendation while Qin Guang has three level one recommendations and a featured ad on the front page. It’s obvious who will lose.” Sister Lee did not have confidence in Chen Ge, and that feeling only heightened after seeing Chen Ge in person. To be a famous host, one either had to have unnaturally good looks or immense charisma. Chen Ge seemed to have neither. He was just a normal guy, going about his life normally. He was not over the top but calm and collected. Compared to a host, he felt more like a doctor.
“You’re only seeing his surface. If you chat with him, you’ll realize this person has a unique charm to him. His understanding of fear is different than most.” Liu Dao was reminded of his first interaction with Chen Ge. He was led throughout the conversation, and his mind screamed, Crazy person alert!
Later, he reflected on it and realized that it was because their thinking was not on the same level.
“It’s not that I look down on him, but we have invested too much on him.” Sister Lee sighed. “Also, the fact that we’ve helped him gain a recommendation will definitely get Qin Guang to target us. Now that the platform is pushing Qin Guang as their featured host, when Qin Guang’s power is solidified, it’ll be hell for other hosts from our studio.”
Liu Dao hushed Sister Lee so that their conversation was not overheard. “Have some faith in Chen Ge! To be honest, both of Qin Guang’s previous livestreams were copies, and this man before us is the real deal.”
“But he has no script, props, or actors. This kind of dull livestream will get viewers?”
“I’m not going to argue with you. In any case, do your work and make sure that there are no technical problems tonight.” Liu Dao composed himself and entered the tent. He greeted Chen Ge and took out his laptop. He opened the bookmarked website and said, “Chen Ge, come and take a look at this.”
Chen Ge thought it was going to be a script, but it was actually a news article.
“Writing scripts will be easily exposed, and it’ll seem fake, so we’ll leave it to you how you want to go about the plot.” Liu Dao pointed at the news. “But here is some inspiration. These are three things that are most discussed online about the mental hospital. The first is the missing hospital director; his existence remains unconfirmed to this day, and no one knows whether he is still alive or dead. The second are the weird noises that reverberate through the buildings every midnight. The third is the appearance of the bloody words that seem to appear out of nowhere. Some people swore they have seen them appear at night, but as dawn arrived, the words disappeared. Focus on these three things, and the effect should be good.”
Chen Ge nodded. After reading the articles in detail, he had a better understanding of the mental hospital.
“Let’s take a break for dinner first. Then we’ll discuss some of the details.” Sister Lee took out a few rice boxes from an insulated cabinet and passed them around. At 9:30 pm, Liu Dao went out to make a call. When he returned, he told Chen Ge that it was time to start.
Zhang Ping took out the equipment from the black suitcase, and Chen Ge was making his final preparations. He opened the bag, and with the crowd watching curiously, he snatched the jacket away from the cat and put it on.
The jacket had the smell of the kitchen, so only by wearing this jacket would the white cat follow him into the mental hospital.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Chen Ge stuffed a ragdoll inside the jacket’s pocket and released the white cat. “Isn’t it normal for a supernatural livestream to have a cock, a doll, and a white cat?”