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37 Expansion

 Brother Feng curled up even more. Looking at Chen Ge, who stood in the middle of the room, he could envision the man killing people and cutting up body parts just to add to the authenticity of his Haunted House. He started to fear for his life.

"Look at you, all serious. I'm just kidding." Chen Ge was quite disappointed. He asked that question because he spotted something unique in Brother Feng. With a little push from the doll, Brother Feng managed to break free from the mirror monster's control and even fought back. His constitution was stronger than most and could have been a valuable ally.

This was what Chen Ge admired about the young man. If possible, Chen Ge wished to befriend him and asked for his help to deal with supernatural events like the spirit inside the mirror. That was Chen Ge's intention, alas Brother Feng was far too distraught to catch the hidden meaning.

Looks like I can only depend on myself,

Chen Ge thought to himself as he locked the door to the Murder by Midnight scenario. When he helped Brother Feng go down the stairs, the black phone in his pocket vibrated. Chen Ge jumped from shock. He quickly pulled out the phone afraid that it might be some bad news.

"Number of Monthly Visitors surpassed 100. Reputation is now 60 percent positive. Congratulations for fulfilling the rules for expansion!

"Warning: Each expansion of the Haunted House will award you with a mysterious reward (After three expansions, the Haunted House will upgrade to a Maze of Terror)!"

I can expand so soon?

Expansion was a good thing, but temporarily, that was not part of Chen Ge's plan. The most crucial thing was still removing the stuff inside the mirror.

After exiting the Haunted House, the sun shone gloriously on the steps. The students from Jiujiang Medical University were collectively collapsed in front of the Haunted House. They were either holding their heads in their palms or hugging their legs. Some had tears staining their make-up while others looked aimlessly up at the sky. The occasional twitching on their faces was the only sign that they were still alive for some.

Chen Ge felt a sense of déjà vu. However, the devastation this time was much greater than before. In just a mere forty minutes, the group of spirited youths had experienced such a drastic change; it was near miraculous.

The surrounding visitors were mumbling and pointing among themselves, but Chen Ge did not think too much of it. After all, if it wasn't exciting, how could it be called a House of Horrors?

He dropped Brother Feng to the ground, completing the collection; the whole 'happy family' was finally together again.

"Xiao Chen! Come here." The gathering crowd once again attracted Uncle Xu's attention. The middle-aged man had on an expression that said 'what am I going to do with you' when he saw Chen Ge. "Explain yourself, what is it this time? You already scared someone until he fainted last time, and this time you toppled seven in one go! Are you that insistent on getting our park on the headlines?"

Chen Ge's eyes darted around, and he coughed drily. "They came to experience the Haunted House, and what I did was present to them the best service, so how is this my fault? Furthermore, I can promise I had zero physical contact with them, which you can check on the security footage. Everything is all within the required rules of operating a Haunted House."

"Stop acting dumb. If that's the case, how do you explain the bump on the back of her head?" Uncle Xu surreptitiously pointed at the back of Xiao Hui's head, afraid that he might accidentally scare the poor girl, and he kept his voice to a whisper.

"Uncle Xu, I swear, I'm completely innocent on that count. I was running ahead, and she pulled on my shirt as she ran behind me. I crawled into the cupboard to hide, and she wanted to follow me. All I did was lie there quietly; it was she who turned on the flashlight to shine on me. It almost blinded my eyes, but before I could say anything, she knocked herself on the wall of the cupboard. See, I'm also a victim here." Chen Ge described the 'truth' with only a slight variation.

"In other words, you're the one who has suffered?"

"Isn't that obvious?"

"Stop treating this like such a joke. Be more careful and attentive in future, and make sure this doesn't happen again," Uncle Xu advised him with a sigh. "What if you cause an accident? Or your client happens to be someone unreasonable? It'll greatly influence your Haunted House's future."

"I know, I know. Is there any more kind advice?" Chen Ge didn't directly retort, but he grumbled internally,

If there is really someone unreasonable, I'll just give them the love letter. We'll see who's more unreasonable then.

Uncle Xu stared at Chen Ge and knew perfectly well that his words would not be heeded. He sighed to himself and continued several seconds later. "Xiao Chen, I know it's not required for you to listen to me, but certain things have to be said now that your parents are no longer here."

"I'm listening."

"This morning, Xu Wan said you were on television, claiming that the key witness who helped solve the arson case four years ago is you." Uncle Xu did not look one bit happy.

"Yes."

"Why would you go to a haunted house late at night? Do you know how dangerous that is? Those are murderers!" Uncle Xu did not leave Chen Ge any openings to counter. "If you're in need of money, there are many other methods rather than going for this reward money. I can help you cover the utility bills you owe the park management for now. You're still young, be careful not to stray from the righteous path."

"Don't worry, Uncle Xu, I know what I'm doing."

"I hope so. In that case, if there's nothing else, I'll be leaving. Quickly get those people off the floor. It reflects badly on the park letting them lie like that on the floor." As Uncle Xu turned to leave, Chen Ge stopped him. "What's wrong?"

"Uncle Xu, I really do have a favor to ask," Chen Ge said shyly. "Can you please lend me 5,000 RMB? I plan to install cameras in every corner of the Haunted House. I'll pay you back when the reward money arrives."

After He San and Brother Feng's 'accidents', Chen Ge was indeed worried. There were too many blind spots inside the Haunted House.

"You still want to invest in the Haunted House?" Uncle Xu stopped moving. "Xiao Chen, I can lend you the money, but I'll be honest with you, this park of ours is on its last legs; investing here is no different from throwing money into the sea."

He led Chen Ge to a shaded area before explaining, "This park has been around for eleven years already; its main attractions are all outdated. Nowadays, people want virtual reality, fashion, and creativity; we're none of those things. To put it simply, we're at the edge of being filtered out. Other than the Haunted House, the number of visitors for every single attraction in the park is on a steady decline."

"I know that." Chen Ge had already planned to work on his Haunted House, and increasing security was a definite first step.

"What do you know?" Uncle Xu turned off the walkie-talkie. "Eastern Jiujiang's Virtual Reality Futuristic Carnival is close to its completion date. It will be one of the few fourth-gen amusement parks we have in this country. When it's open, it'll naturally become the go-to attraction of the city. Tell me, how are we going to compete with that? Now, every member of the park from the highest management to the lowest cleaners are slowing down as they figure out a way out for themselves. You're the only one left dumb enough to keep charging ahead."