“Xiao Chen, where have you been? Why are you so late for work?” Uncle Xu pulled Chen Ge to stand behind him, afraid that the mob might harm the young man.
“I just came back from the district station; I was helping the police with a murder case.”
“Huh?” Not only Uncle Xu, even the mob who surrounded Chen Ge was shocked. Normally, the reason given for truancy was either a traffic jam or stomach ache; being involved in a murder case was truly an excuse they had not heard about before.
“Murder case?” Uncle Xu looked at Chen Ge with shock and had forgotten the urgent matter at hand.
“Yup, but the case is different from the earlier murder at the apartment; it probably won’t be broadcasted on the mass media.”
There was an earlier murder? The raging mob’s aggression suddenly dwindled.
“Alright, leave this to me.” Chen Ge stood facing the crowd and said, “You guys are looking for me?”
With just one question, Chen Ge managed to extinguish the little momentum the mob had left. The crowd that blocked the entrance to the Haunted House looked at each other before shoving out a middle-aged man, who was shortest among them, to face Chen Ge.
“We are from Qin Guang’s studio. Last night, you employed unethical tactics by hiring a 50-cent army to spread rumors that are damaging to Qin Guang’s reputation.”
“I’m the one who employed unethical tactics? You people sure know how to create story. Who the real unethical plagiarist here is, you know yourselves.” Chen Ge cut the man off instantly. “If there’s nothing else, please leave the premises; you are interrupting my business.”
“Qin Guang merely chose to have the livestream at the same location as you. That is not a basis for you to claim that he plagiarized your work simply because you happened to shoot at the location first.” The middle-aged man stood his ground and tried to argue with Chen Ge.
“A simple comparison between our livestreams show that Qin Guang mimicked even my starting analysis while trapped inside the bedroom. If that is not plagiarism, what is?”
“At most, he only copied your beginning. The plot that developed after that was his own creativity. Of course, it cannot be called plagiarism. At the very worst, you can call it a homage.”
Chen Ge had never seen such a shameless person before. He knew reasoning with them would be a waste of time, so he walked past them to open the gate and prepare for business.
“You are new to the scene, so we understand your drive to succeed, but you have to know that this job is not that easy.” The middle-aged man pulled out a document from his bag. Chen Ge had initially thought it was some kind of lawyer’s letter, but he had overestimated his opponent’s conviction.
“You are not from this field, so you don’t understand certain things—that’s fine—but most established hosts are made with gold and popularity. It might appear that you have caught some popularity for now, but the platform will never support a newcomer and abandon Qin Guang because Qin Guang is the platform’s key promoter. His success is tied to the success of the platform itself.” The middle-aged man waved the document in his hand. “If you agree to stop the malicious attacks against Qin Guang and post a public apology on your personal account, we will compensate you accordingly. However, if you insist on walking down the wrong place and harassing Qin Guang and any of his affiliates to brush up the popularity of your own livestream, we will contact the platform to block you from all of its channels.”
“Don’t try to shift the blame onto the viewers; they are completely innocent. If anything, the viewers simply cannot stomach the open bullying and came to support me.” Chen Ge did not give a damn about the threat. After all, the platform had never helped him once before. Even he himself did not know how he had managed to achieve his current popularity.
“Being rash benefits no one, why don’t you think about it first?” The middle-aged man’s attitude softened; the unreasonableness that was evident before Chen Ge arrived had completely disappeared. Around six of them had come to create trouble for Chen Ge, but the first sentence out of the man’s lips when he arrived had thrown a wrench into their plan. Then again, they could not totally be blamed. Any normal person would be cautioned when they realized that the person they were dealing with had been involved in not one but two murder cases.
“There’s nothing to consider. I’ve already discovered the unique selling point of my livestream and videos. Even if I’m forced to leave this platform, I’ll just regain my follower base elsewhere.” Chen Ge chased the people from Qin Guang’s studio aside and informed Xu Wan to start preparing for work.
He had raced about the whole night, so he was tired. He sat in the ticket booth selling tickets. After the first few waves of visitors exited the Haunted House, the people from Qin Guang’s studio returned.
“You people sure are insistent! If you’re not here to visit the Haunted House, please move aside; you’re blocking the path for the real visitors!” Even a saint would lose their temper when pushed too hard. Chen Ge had been polite enough, but these people kept testing his patience.
“Who said we’re not here to visit the Haunted House? We also wish to experience the place that is dubbed the scariest Haunted House in Jiujiang.” Two young men from the studio with backpacks blocked the gate.
“You also want to visit the Haunted House?” Naturally, Chen Ge suspected that these people were up to no good.
“If you’re afraid that we might expose your fake advertising, then fine, we won’t enter.” Of the two young men, one was extremely well-built. He wore a tank top to purposely reveal his body that was the result of constant weight training.
Honestly, Chen Ge was a bit taunted by this guy. “Let me remind you, the last person who made a claim like yours came out lying on his back.”
“You’ve only managed to arouse my interest even more.” Standing beside the muscular man was a meek looking bespectacled man. “I’ve watched scary movies since I was young. Before being recruited by Brother Qin, I was part of a scary movie film crew. Alas, most of the movie settings were too fake; they were barely challenging.”
“I do love customers like yourself who are constantly searching for a greater scare.” Chen Ge pulled the curtain back. “Come in then, remember to sign the disclaimer agreement.”
Since there were willing lab rats, Chen Ge naturally would not send them away. Even the smile on his face had turned several degrees sincerer.
When Uncle Xu saw the smile on Chen Ge’s face, he shivered involuntarily, and the image of the forensic science students from Jiujiang Medical University lying weakly on the floor appeared in his mind.
Uncle Xu coughed and pulled him to the side. “Xiao Chen, don’t go overboard. Remember, they are still park visitors.”
Before Chen Ge could reply, the bespectacled young man thought that he had seen through their plot and scoffed with derision, “Well, well, well. That’s some pretty good acting. The experience has started even before we enter the Haunted House?
“Before I arrived, I saw the reviews on the Haunted House, and many people said that the owner knows a bit of psychology. It looks like they weren’t lying.”
Uncle Xu looked at the young man with a speechless expression on his face. I’m trying to help you here. If not for the fact you might die inside there, I would not have cared about you!
“Uncle Xu, I know the limits. Don’t worry.” Chen Ge led the two young men into the Haunted House personally and saw them sign the disclaimer agreement.
The larger, muscular man was called Zhu Jianing, and the bespectacled man was Fei Youliang.