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271 Are You There? 2 in 1

 After fixing the door and the lock, Chen Ge and Xiao Gu dragged the ghost stories society's members back to the first floor and locked them inside the dressing room.

"Boss, are you sure this is safe?" Xiao Gu wiggled the door lock. "I mean, do you want me to go grab some ropes to tie them up?"

Chen Ge could see the improvement in Gu Feiyu. He removed the outfit that he was wearing and handed it to Xiao Gu. "That won't be necessary. Put this back on and return to the third floor. The visitors are already waiting."

"No problem, leave it to me." This time, Xiao Gu put on Doctor Skull-cracker's uniform without hesitation. In fact, he looked quite enthusiastic, so enthusiastic that Chen Ge wondered if he had been taken over by the monsters from the ghost stories society. After all, it was as if he was a completely different person from how he had been that morning.

"Weird, when you entered the Haunted House earlier, it felt like I was asking you to walk to your execution-why the sudden change?"

"Change?" Xiao Gu scratched his head in embarrassment. Wearing Doctor Skull-cracker's outfit, doing that action, it gave Chen Ge a sense of incongruity. "Actually, I thought your Haunted House was only meant to scare people to their death. I don't quite approve of that way of making money, but after seeing you fix the relationship problem of that couple, I suddenly feel like our Haunted House is quite warm."

"Looks like you have been having these misunderstandings about our Haunted House. Fear can help people remove the disguise that they wear daily. Here, you don't need to watch your every move or calculate how to appear to others; just focus on screaming," Chen Ge said seriously. "A fast-paced life means plenty of everyday pressure. In this city, there has to be a location where people can vent their pressure without fear. You assumed we're earning people's money by scaring them, but in reality, we're merely here to add a little color to their mundane lives."

Patting Gu Feiyu on his shoulder, a smile that was as warm as the rising sun appeared on Chen Ge's face. "Try your best to scare the visitors. The couple from before is the perfect example. We often forget the things that we have, so only in the deepest despair can we be reminded of what is the most important in our lives."

"You're right!" After listening to what Chen Ge had to say, Gu Feiyu heavily nodded several times. He suddenly found his job to be quite saintly. "I will try my best to do my job!"

"Good luck." Looking at how eager Gu Feiyu was, Chen Ge felt comforted. "That is how you should do it. By the way, you better set my phone number as your number one speed-dial. If you come across anything you cannot solve inside the Haunted House, call me immediately."

"Okay." The arguing couple was nothing more than an interlude for Chen Ge, so he really did not expect it would be the incident that would help him gain Gu Feiyu's approval. Of course, it was the Haunted House that his Boss Chen had 'built' in his mind.

Opening the thick curtain, Chen Ge walked out of the Haunted House. The resting tent was filled with waiting visitors. The promotion's effect was much better than he had expected. Many visitors who could not wait any longer went to try out other attractions. For the first time in a long time, there were bustling crowds inside the park. Even though it was still far from how it had been during the height of New Century Park, it was good enough to make the park workers rejoice. They finally had things to do and get busy with; the theme park that been built for almost a decade saw life again.

After losing two members, the ghost stories society stopped coming to test Chen Ge. Perhaps they had sensed the problem. If they continued to test Chen Ge's Haunted House out like this, the society would run out of members in a few days. The crowd was still bustling outside the Haunted House when it was 6:30 pm. However, for the sake of security, Chen Ge stopped accepting visitors. The workers began to clean up the park, and the visitors started to leave the park around 7 pm.

The number of visitors had broken the record at New Century Park in the most recent six months. During lunch, Uncle Xu was called away by Director Luo. They seemed to be discussing the next phase of the promotion plan. "Thank you for your help today!"

After closing the gates, Chen Ge counted his earning. Combining the online payment and cash payment, he earned almost 15,000. The number was smaller than he expected, and the main reason was because Chen Ge limited the number of visitors that could visit his Haunted House simultaneously. This was for the sake of their safety. Minghun could only allow 4 visitors at most, and the limit for Murder by Midnight was seven. Due to the demand for Mu Yang High School, Chen Ge upped the limit to twelve. The first two scenarios took about twenty minutes per visitation, but Mu Yang High School was so large that a normal visitation even for twelve visitors would last forty minutes.

The rate of earning money was low, but the good reputation kept climbing. More and more people actively helped Chen Ge promote his Haunted House by telling their family and friends either in person or through social media.

This was a positive cycle. For a normal Haunted House, due to its limitation in setting, once the freshness was over, the number of visitors would drop. However, since Chen Ge's Haunted House was delineated according to the scare levels, as long as he could provide newer and scarier scenarios, the number of visitors would only continue to increase. For him, a good name and reputation was far more important than temporary benefits.

After a whole day of operation, only one group managed to find eighteen nametags. The group included other students from Western Jiujiang's Medical University that came with Yang Chen and other visitors who had tried the scenario once before. Chen Ge asked them whether they would give the other scenario a try, and the team, who all looked like they had been ravaged, very adamantly rejected Chen Ge's offer.

The day's operation finally ended. After Xu Wan and Xiao Gu left, Chen Ge used his phone to transfer some bonus money into their accounts. After dealing with all the miscellaneous tasks, Chen Ge opened the door to the dressing room. Wei Wu and Kong Xiangming had already woken up.

However, since the monsters that possessed them had left, their minds seemed to be heavily affected. They looked dull and dim-witted, like they could not remember anything. Chen Ge led them out of the Haunted House and personally took them to the police station to find Captain Yan.

...

Xiao Gu wandered aimlessly down the road. He kept touching his face. After wearing the weird mask for a whole day, even after taking it off, it felt like something was still sticking to his face.

Where will I sleep tonight? After the big falling out with Manager Huang, it doesn't sound like a good idea to return to the security dormitory. Brother Chen has helped me so much already-asking him for early pay is too hard to do.

He pushed his hands inside his pockets. While he was desperate for a solution, there came a message from the bank on his phone.

Brother Chen has given me a bonus? But it's only my first day.

Xiao Gu looked at the message that stated 800 had entered his account. It was enough for him to rent a comfortable room at Western Jiujiang. Comparing that the experience he had had at the security team, Xiao Gu could not help but be touched. Boss Chen is a really good man!

After pocketing his phone, Xiao Gu headed for Fang Hwa Apartments' security dormitory. He was going back to pack his stuff and would leave to find a place for himself tomorrow. He arrived at his destination at around 8 pm. When he walked in, he saw Manager Huang standing there with a lousy expression on his face.

"Where have you been?" He was in a sharp suit, and his suede shoes were sparklingly clean. Manager Huang seemed to always have a bone to pick with Gu Feiyu.

"I've been looking for you. I've found a new job, so I'll be moving out of here tomorrow." Gu Feiyu had always been straight-shooter, so he told the man everything that was on his mind. Ol' Wong was also inside the bedroom. He quickly rushed out to pull on Gu Feiyu's sleeves. He lowered his head to apologize to Manager Huang. "Please don't mind him. Xiao Gu is too young to mind his words."

He then turned to glare at Gu Feiyu, "Why don't you know how to edit that temperament of yours?"

"There's no need for him to change. After all, this place is too small for a personality as big as his." Manager Huang placed the piece of paper he was holding on the table. "Even if you don't plan to quit, I won't be keeping you around. Fill out this form, and I don't want to see you here again after tomorrow."

Pushing Ol' Wong aside, Manager Huang walked to the door and stopped. "There's another thing. Ol' Wong, the kid came on your recommendation, so the money to pay for the damage that he has done and his medical fees will be taken out from your salary."

"What does this have to do with Uncle Wong? Just remove that from my salary." Xiao Gu tried to keep himself calm.

"Your salary? When you came, things were clearly written in the contract. You have to work for a full month before your salary can be counted. Now you're quitting in less than a month; do you really think the contract is just a piece of paper? Think about how much trouble you've created for me even though you've been here less than a month." Manager Huang walked away without even turning back. "You want to talk to me about salary? In your dreams!"

Gu Feiyu wanted to charge forward to punch the man into a pulp, but he was stopped by Ol' Wong. "Xiao Gu, don't act too rashly. Be patient."

"Uncle, I don't mind if he didn't give me my salary, but I cannot rest easy knowing he'll take those fees out from your salary!"

"How old are you already? Why are you still acting so rashly?" Ol' Wong asked for Gu Feiyu to sit down while he walked to close the bedroom door. "It's not easy to find a job these days. Tell me what kind of new job you've found. If the conditions are good, perhaps I'll also want to switch over to help."

Ol' Wong was worried about Gu Feiyu. He was afraid that he might have been tricked, so he used a round-about way to ask about Gu Feiyu's situation. The mention of his new job did make Gu Feiyu calm down slightly. "I'm currently employed at a Haunted House, and the job is to scare people. The boss is very nice. It's my first day of work, but he's already given me a bonus."

"Is that so?" Ol' Wong was still a bit suspicious. "You're too trusting. You'd better be on the lookout for yourself even if you're working for others. Don't create trouble for people, but you have to be careful of cheaters."

"I'll be fine, Uncle."

Ol' Wong gave him plenty of advice because he worried about the young man. He changed into his security uniform when it was about 8:30 pm and prepared to leave.

"Uncle, I remember you had the morning shift today, right? Where are you going so late at night?"

"After the murderer was discovered at this place, everyone has been quite unsettled, and there has to be more than one person for the night shift."

"How about I help take your place for one night?" Xiao Gu felt guilty. If not for him, Ol' Wong's wages would not have been docked.

"You take a good rest so that you can be energized for work tomorrow morning." Ol' Wong exited the room with his thermos cup. He walked out the door before turning back. "If you don't like your new job, remember to give me a call. I still have some connections here."

"Don't worry. As tiring as the new job is, it's still much better than working security."

"You cheeky kid." Ol' Wong shook his head and left for real this time.

He walked slowly to the backdoor of Fang Hwa Apartments. After chatting with the guard whose shift he was taking over, he stood in the guard post alone. There were two guards on night shift-one looking after the front door, the other the back door-so they would not meet each other.

The night darkened, and the normally deserted backdoor became even more desolate. Since a murderer had just sneaked into the residential area, Ol' Wong did not dare lower his guard. He sat beside the window and kept raising his head to inspect the backdoor. After a whole morning of work, combined with his advanced age, Ol' Wong soon found himself collapsing on the table.

At around 11 pm, the phone on his table suddenly rang. It woke Ol' Wong up from his sleep. He looked around the room guardedly with his forged police baton. There was no one under the dim street lights.

Phew, scared me.

Ol' Wong opened his thermos cup to take a sip. He looked at his phone. There was a message on his WeChat.

"Are you there?"

He was far too old to use much social media, so Ol' Wong was confused. Who sent this message?

The messenger's profile was private, so only friends could see it. Ol' Wong looked at the person's name and profile picture, but he really could not remember adding this person as his friend before. Other than my family and colleagues, the only people who would know my WeChat are the tenants of this residential area.

Holding the phone in his hands, Ol' Wong thought for a long time, but the memory did not come to him. However, for some reason, the person did seem familiar. He placed the phone on the table. He thought about replying with a voice message, but considering how late it was, that might have been impolite. So, he used his fingers to slowly type out a message. "Yes, how can I help you?"

Several seconds later, the reply came.

"I'm a tenant on the third building's 23rd floor. I don't know what's going with the family across from me, but the children in the room keep crying. However, I cannot hear the voice of any adult. Quickly call someone to come take a look."

Crying children? 23rd floor third building? Ol' Wong looked at the message and assumed it was from a tenant. After all, something similar had happened before.

"Okay, I'll be coming in a minute." Out of caution, Ol' Wong messaged the guard that was manning the post at the front door. Then he called Manager Huang, but the call was not picked up.

Why is it the third building again? So many things are happening here.

Ol' Wong picked up his baton and ran to the third building. He had heard the rumors about the elevator at the third building, but the tenant lived on the 23rd floor, and climbing the stairs would have been too slow if there was an emergency.

I should wait for Ol' Wei before I get into the elevator. Ol' Wong waited in the lobby for the other guard to come, but then his phone rang again.

"Are you there?"

"Yes."

"The children are crying even harder. Something is wrong! Where are you people?"

Reading the message on his phone, Ol' Wong pressed the elevator button. To his surprise, the elevator was already waiting on the first floor. "Coming, don't worry."

As the silvery-gray elevator door slowly closed, Ol' Wong's heart started to race. The claustrophobic environment made his breathing become rather uneasy. The number on display soon turned to 23, and the doors opened. The darkened corridor was unusually quiet, and Ol' Wong stepped out of the elevator carefully. He switched his flashlight on, but for some reason, the light did not give him the sense of security that he wanted. It only made him feel even more uneasy.

"I'm already on the 23rd floor. Can you give me your room number?"

"3239."

Taking a deep gulp, Ol' Wong slowly nudged forward in the dark. He used his flashlight to shine on the room number, and it felt like he had walked for a long time before he found room 3239.

There's no crying‽ He stood at the door for a long time, and Room 3239 was very quiet. There was no sound of children. Is this a prank, or has something bad already happened?

Ol' Wong was not sure. He took out his phone, ready to ask the person, but the person sent him another message.

"Are you there?"

"I'm already at Room 3239, but there's nothing here. Are you mistaken?" Typing was too slow, so Ol' Wong sent a voice message. Not long after that, his own recorded voice appeared behind him.

"Who's there?"

Ol' Wong slowly turned around. The door opposite from Room 3239 was slightly ajar, and a deathly pale figure was squatting at the door, holding the phone.

...

Xiao Gu planned to lie down for the night at 11:15 pm when his phone vibrated. He picked it up to read and saw it was a message from Ol' Wong. The content was simple; there were only three words.

"Are you there?"