*Disclaimer: This chapter has strong themes that may trigger you when you read it. Please read with caution.*
The scraps of paper with writings on them were torn to shreds, as though someone had deliberately ripped them up and didn’t want anyone to find out what was written on it.
Bai Yan wasted some time to put together the pieces of paper.
Luckily, although there were a lot of pieces, it didn’t affect the legibility of the content on the paper. When the pieces were completely assembled into one full sheet, Bai Yan finally realized that this was a suicide note.
‘My greatest crime was being alive.’
‘I shouldn’t have lived. I shouldn’t be back. When I became aware of this, it was already far too late. Even if I’ve already decided to die, it won’t solve things.’
‘Kind-hearted person, I don’t know who you are, but when you set your eyes upon this letter, I have long been dead. May I trouble you to help me handle my corpse or simply notify the police. I’m still bothering others even after my death and could only bring everyone more misery. My life is a complete and utter joke.’
‘Even after death, people like me have endless troubles. Please settle my estate according to this will. I have a haunted house in my name, please help me sort out my employees’ wages and ask them to find new jobs. As for my other worldly possessions, please make sure that they will all be donated to charity. Don’t set anything aside for my parents or brother. If you want to inherit my things, then you can take as much as you like. But, I must warn you, being involved with me isn’t a good thing.’
‘Lastly, to the person reading this, run away, leave this country, and go as far away as possible. Although you can’t easily escape your ultimate fate, you could still live longer than most people. That is until total despair strikes you out of nowhere.’
Bai Yan didn’t know what to think after carefully reading the suicide note.
Beside him was Su Yize, who was done with inspecting the wardrobe long ago, and was also reading the note.
This short suicide note seemed to carry many secrets, even if it did only contain a few paragraphs. Bai Yan and Su Yize both felt that things were not as simple as they seemed.
“It looks like the lady boss encountered some certain troubles, leading her to have no other choice but to die unjustly. It must be because of these matters that drove her to give up all hope and not want to live anymore, leading her to commit suicide as an offering to appease her wrongs.” Bai Yan said in a low voice and turned his attention to Su Yize, asking, “Did you find any clues in the wardrobe?”
“None at all. Inside the wardrobe, it was completely filled with ordinary women’s clothing. There wasn’t anything odd with them.” Su Yize shook his head in disappointment, “I believe that there’s something amiss with this suicide note. The haunted house must be connected to the note. She wrote there that she wanted to dissolve this haunted house. That’s why she asked the staff to seek other work. If what was written in her will should be followed, why is this haunted house still open?”
A chill welled up in Su Yize’s heart. Du Zhaodi was already dead, but who in their right mind was still running the haunted house?
“I see your point, but it may not necessarily be correct. The lady boss wants to donate her assets to charity, but her family might not agree with her decision.”
Bai Yan intentionally refrained from calling out her name in the room where Du Zhaodi died, to not stir the fire and get burnt, “I have another scenario in mind. Since she asked the person who found the suicide note to leave the country, this strange prophetic warning sounds like it came from a cult. She mentioned that nothing good could come from getting involved with her, so could it be that she was the source of this curse?”
“Her surname ‘Du’ sounds like it values men more than women, so she must have encountered some misfortune within her family that may have partially led to her commit suicide.” Su Yize swallowed the woman’s name down his throat, thinking bitterly and then frowning, “But no matter how she died, the suicide note must be carrying the curse with it, and since we’re clearly going against a dead person’s wishes, like continuing to open the haunted house, we may suffer a terrible fate in here.”
“Perhaps.” But, Bai Yan still believed that this wasn’t the case.
However, even though the suicide note implied a lot of things, they still didn’t know much about the situation, so there was only so much that they could decipher.
There was one thing for sure, Du Zhoadi was a woman who kept a room full of secrets. She harbored away numerous terrifying mysteries that could even affect the game’s current world.
Nevertheless, Bai Yan and Su Yize had nothing to do with this. They were players. They didn’t need to be involved with the matters of life and death in this world. Both of them only needed to survive this level using the game’s clues and leave. Du Zhaodi’s story was barely a story in their eyes. If it didn’t help them escape the haunted house, it didn’t hold any value.
They left the suicide note on the table and didn’t want to touch it again.
When they were laying out the suicide note, Wang Ziwen and Xu Xiaojing found a plastic mannequin under the bed, leading for Xu Xiaojing to make a big fuss over nothing.
Although the two men had a deep understanding of the girl’s timidity, this was still the room where Du Zhaodi died, so they insisted on looking at what they found and walked towards the bed. As they were walking closer, they could see Wang Ziwen drag the plastic mannequin out.
“I say… This doesn’t look good. With just a glance, I can already tell that the boss was just a profiteer and invested all of his money on the female ghost at the entrance.” Wang Ziwen ridiculed, “This plastic mannequin’s eyes aren’t even painted on. Besides the blood on the body, who would be scared by this? Of course, Xiaojing, you’re an exception. You’re the type that haunted house owners love the most.”
Ghosts from haunted houses that suddenly pop out of nowhere will give anyone a good scare. But now that she could clearly see the plastic mannequin, Xu Xiaojing wasn’t frightened anymore. She lowered her head, feeling completely embarrassed due to the two strangers in front of her.
“Anyway, what did you find over there? Xiaojing and I didn’t see a key by the bed area. We even took out the pillows from the pillow cases and lifted the mattress but still didn’t find anything. There was nothing outside nor inside the landscape painting as well.” Wu Ziwen said, “Adding together both rooms, we only have 20 minutes to solve them. Right now, we’ve already used up 7 minutes. If you found any clues, tell us. I don’t want the guide to come in here and help solve the puzzle, that would only ruin the experience of the game.”
“We saw a suicide note that was torn apart, but there wasn’t anything written about the location of the key.” Bai Yan tried to urge Wang Ziwen to take a look at the suicide note. Maybe a born and bred NPC like her would know something, “The suicide note is on the table. You can take a look if you want and spot some clues while you’re at it.”
“A torn up suicide note? There’s no way someone really died in this room.” Wang Ziwen’s eyes opened wide, “When I was rummaging through the bed, I found some crushed insect eggs as well as some maggots crawling about. At first, I thought that the staff was just neglecting their cleaning responsibilities, but now that I look at it, this bed seems as though it belonged to a dead person. The fly eggs on it haven’t even been cleaned up yet.”
Just thinking of where these disgusting maggots came from, Wang Ziwen suddenly felt a chill run down her spine, “No wonder this room smells so bad!”
“Wenwen, don’t say it. It sounds weird and scary.” Xu Xiaojing’s arms were covered with a layer of goosebumps while her back felt a cold, “From the start, I knew that the boss was telling the truth. He isn’t a good person. He’s using a dead person to earn money, but you still didn’t believe me.”
Xu Xiaojing nervously rubbed the bumps on her arms and seemed like she wanted to continue what she was saying, but all of a sudden, her head felt numb as her eyes fell on an extremely terrifying object.
She shakily pointed at the ceiling and cried in alarm, “Ghost! Ghost on the ceiling!”
The others immediately raised their heads and looked to where she was pointing, but it was completely empty. Just like before, there was nothing there.
“Xiaojing, don’t joke around. There’s clearly nothing ther…” Wang Ziwen laughed lightheartedly as she made fun of her friend. But, her words abruptly fell as her gaze froze.
She saw the hangman’s noose hanging from the ceiling swaying lightly in the air. The arc of its sway was getting bigger and bigger on its own. The upper part of the rope distinctly stretched down, as if a person was hanging from it.
A person that none of them could see.
“How could this be?” Wang Ziwen rubbed her eyes, “There must be a machine at the base of the rope to make it move like that.”
Wang Ziwen tried to convince herself this, but the room where someone died, along with Xu Xiaojing’s cries, led her heart to feel tense.
She liked playing in haunted houses, but Wang Ziwen simply didn’t believe that ghosts roamed in this world.
To dispel these silly and cowardly thoughts, she leaned in closer to the chair and raised her head, trying to find the concealed mechanism connected to the rope. With her dangerously courting death, the two players didn’t warn her to do otherwise.
While Wang Ziwen was looking above and examining the rope, Su Yize couldn’t help but get as far away from the noose as possible. He was afraid that the ghost had silently entered the escape room and was hanging on the rope by its neck, taking advantage of them not seeing it to stalk them.
Fearing that not solving the escape room would lead the ghost to kill them, he hurriedly went over the places that haven’t been searched yet and rifled through them, wanting to find the key and leave this horrid place.
Since Su Yize was preoccupied, Bai Yan helped while also asking the frightened and doubtful Xu Xiaojing, “Was the ghost you saw a female ghost? What did it look like?”
“Yes, it was a female ghost with unkempt and disheveled hair. She was on the ceiling, laying on her stomach. Her eyes were especially bitter and dismal while her mouth hung in a sinister smile. It looked exactly like the female ghost that was suspended outside.” Xu Xiaojing’s eyes were brimming with tears, “I was saying that this was disrespectful to the dead, and I continuously said to not play here. Now, it turns out, this haunted house is really haunted.”
“Xiaojing, don’t scare yourself. You must have seen wrong.” Over there, Wang Ziwen was standing right below the rope. She turned around and yelled at Xu Xiaojing, “How could ghosts exist in this world?”
Wang Ziwen was unconcerned about Xu Xiaojing’s words. She was sure that Xu Xiaojing was just scared of the haunted house boss’s story, and these hallucinations of the ghost were simply made up in her mind.
Furthermore, it wasn’t a big deal if a female ghost suddenly appeared on the ceiling. In certain haunted houses, they have this new technology that could project images of ghosts up in the air. Perhaps that was what her friend saw.
Seeing Xu Xiaojing’s cheeks wet with tears, Wang Ziewn wanted to console her and shoo away her restless thoughts.
“Wenwen! Wenwen!” Xu Xiaojing loudly cried out as her finger pointed to Wang Ziwen’s side with tears streaming down her eyes.
Wang Ziwen turned her head, the rope’s noose had unknowingly dropped and hung down beside her neck, having just enough space for her head to go in.