He San tried his best to convince them, but his seniors were unfazed. They all believed that He San was exaggerating to hide his cowardice. After all, seeing is believing. They had been inside the Haunted House for a few minutes already, and there was nothing particularly scary about the place… yet.
“Xiao San, if you’re that afraid, you can hide behind your big sister.” The girl called Sister Hui took the frontline and walked into the room next to them alone. “All the decor is the same; staying in bed watching crime drama would have been more interesting.”
“Then, we’ll separate according to the grouping mentioned earlier.” Monkey chased after Sister Hui adding, “Let’s find that exit soon, I’m getting bored.”
Lao Song and a quiet girl by the name of Shi Ling also made to follow, leaving He San, Brother Feng, and Lao Zhao in the corridor.
“Honestly, I’m quite disappointed.” Lao Zhao was a rotund fellow with skin that was fairer than most girls’. He was physically unhealthy to the point where he would start to sweat after taking few steps.
“Save your breath, and let’s start moving.” With a wave, Brother Feng moved forward with Lao Zhao following behind.
He San was soon left all alone in the corridor. He was the only one who maintained a state of high alert. Something bad is bound to happen.
After taking two steps, he stopped. Wait, the background music seems to have changed, but why does it sound so familiar?
Before he could focus on the sound, a crisp sound entered his ears. He tried to focus on it, but it quickly disappeared. The source of the sound seemed to come from further down the corridor.
Someone is chasing after us? He San did not dare stay to find out and hurried to catch up to his seniors. Black Friday marked the real beginning of the Murder by Midnight scenario. The light in the space dimmed, the stuff that littered the corridors started to move on its own, and the sound of clinking chains came up from the staircases.
“I’ve found something!” Sister Hui, who was in front, walked out of a room with a ragdoll in her hand. “Look at this, this doll was sitting right in the middle of the room.”
“Senior, please don’t randomly move the stuff in the Haunted House. Last time, the trap was activated after we moved the coffin.” He San was relaying his experience, but no one paid him any attention. Ignored by all, he could only stand quietly at the outermost circle of the group, watching his senior walk down the figurative and literal dark path.
“There has to be something important about this doll. Could it be some kind of clue that it was sitting in the middle of the room?” Monkey held the doll up to the dim light. The doll looked like a little girl about five or six years old. She had no eyes, and her body was burnt. “No eyes should represent darkness, and the burnt body represents the fire of hell?”
“Or could it be murder by arson?” Brother Feng pressed the doll with his hand. “There’s something other than cotton inside; it’s something solid. Open it and see.”
Monkey pulled down the zipper that was on the back of the doll. The doll was filled with shredded paper. He took out a random piece and the handwriting was scrawled and difficult to read, not unlike the handwriting of a child.
“What does it say?”
Monkey, who was the only one who had read the paper, had his face overcast with gloom. He placed the paper in his palm and showed it to the group; there were only six words on it—All of you have to die!
“All the pieces say the same thing.”
“How deep is the hatred to do something like this?”
“Quickly put it back, it’s making me uncomfortable.” Shi Ling, who had been quiet, seemed to be creeped out by the doll. She merely glanced at it before retreating several steps back.
“It’s just a doll, nothing to be afraid of, probably just a decoration used by the Haunted House.” Monkey pushed the paper back into the doll’s body and flung the doll to the side, allowing it to fall to a random corner of the corridor. “Let’s move onto the next room.”
However, the quiver in his voice betrayed the anxiety that he was feeling within.
“Wait a minute.” Xiao Hui raised her left hand, which was holding a crumpled piece of paper. “Other than the doll, I also found this in the room earlier. Take a look, I believe it’s a diary entry of some sort.”
“Let me see.” Lao Zhao grabbed the piece of paper and started to read. “I feel like there’s another person hiding in the house. I wonder if he is hiding under the bed or inside the cupboard. I’ve told this to Mommy, Daddy, and my big sister, but they were too concerned with some other thing to pay me any attention. When the night fell, Daddy inspected all the doors and windows to make sure they were all locked before going to bed. I don’t know why they’re so afraid of the things outside when there’s a person hiding inside the house.”
“F*ck! What is this?” Lao Zhao stopped reading halfway and shoved the paper back to Xiao Hui. “This is all designed to disturb us; we mustn’t fall for the trap.”
“I’m impressed by the attention to detail, but alas, that won’t be enough to scare me.” Xiao Hui placed the paper back where she found it before the group moved on to the next room. None of them realized the doll that they dropped on the floor suddenly twitched.
“Let’s stop wasting time and find the exit.” After searching five rooms, they came up with nothing and ended at the right most end of the corridor.
“This floor is huge; there wouldn’t be enough time for us to finish searching it within the time limit, so I feel like the chances of the exit being on the third floor are slim. If I were the Haunted House proprietor, I wouldn’t have set up the entrance and the exit on the same floor,” Brother Feng analyzed logically.
“Are we going to split into groups again?”
“No! If we’re not on the same floor, it’ll just make it easier for us to be divided and conquered!” He San added, but the group decided in unison to ignore him.
“We’ve been in here for more than ten minutes already, but nothing has happened. Yes, the atmosphere is not bad, but it’s still far from being scary. I agree to separate into groups.” Lao Zhao wiped the sweat from his forehead before continuing. “Don’t forget our real purpose here. We have to leave the exit within the designated time to gain back the face that our university has lost!”
“You’re right! We’ll split up according to the original plan.”
Just as the discussion was about to be concluded, He San finally stepped forth to say, “Will you guys please listen to me‽”
He walked to the middle of the group and pointed down the corridor. “Starting from a few minutes ago, I’ve been hearing some weird sound coming from the staircase; something is following behind us!”
With this reminder from He San, the group did start to notice the sound of the chains that was getting clearer and clearer.
“The boss already said this scenario is called Murder by Midnight, so in that case, there has to be a murderer.” Lao Zhao patted He San on his shoulder, saying, “Don’t overthink it. The murderer has to be a character portrayed by the Haunted House worker, and since it’s only an actor, what is there to be afraid of? Am I right?”
The group laughed, thinking He San was being overly sensitive.
“Don’t worry, your seniors are here to protect you, don’t be afraid.” Lao Zhao pulled out his phone, adding, “By the way, didn’t we decide to shoot a short video inside the Haunted House and post it on the boss’ account page to make fun of him? I feel like this location is not bad. Everyone, remember to look at the camera.”
He tilted the camera around to look for an angle that could capture everyone. His eyes glanced at the screen, and when he was about to say something, an indescribable chill crawled up from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head!
His fat body shook, and he threw his phone away with a trembling hand.
“Fatty! Have you lost your mind?”
“What are you doing? You scared me!”
Lao Zhao did not speak. His eyes scanned everyone there, and with scattering teeth, he said, “Count it yourself, including me, why are there eight of us‽”