Chapter 44: My Date with the Corpse (Part Two)
After the slight shock in the kitchen, the group returned to the lobby and couldn’t find the innkeeper. They decided to investigate the situation, collect essential information, and buy some food from the locals. As for the missing Xiao Qing, if she was “dead,” it meant she was out of the game, and there was no need to look for her. If she was still alive, she would return on her own.
The group split into three teams, heading in different directions. They planned to meet back at the inn later to exchange information. The external environment was public information, but the task clues were only accessible to those who discovered them. If two or more people found the same clue simultaneously, they could pursue it together. However, the more people, the higher the risk of being hunted by the “ghost.” The game also had an element of competition – whoever completed the challenge would receive the ultimate prize.
By evening, the group returned one after another to the inn. The tables in the lobby were already cleared. They gathered to share the information they had collected. Starting with details about the inn, the townsfolk mentioned that it used to be a regular house owned by a man named Wang. However, five years ago, he died of illness, leaving behind a mute widow in her twenties. To sustain herself, she converted the house into an inn to accommodate passing travelers. Due to her reclusive and mute nature, she rarely interacted with other townsfolk. Whenever there were guests, they were directed to this inn as a priority due to the widow’s difficult circumstances.
“So, she’s a mute; no wonder she never speaks,” Huang Wei exclaimed.
“Then, the ghost in this inn might be her deceased husband?” Zhu Shanhu speculated.
“It’s hard to say,” Cheng Ziming stroked his chin. “The conditions for passing each stage are different. Even if we identify the ghost, we don’t know the next steps – should we kill him, find his remains, or investigate the true cause of his death? For now, the only thing confirmed is that this inn is our first challenge.”
Everyone nodded in agreement.
Wan Feng, carefree as always, said, “Today is just the first day of the game, and we can’t do much without task clues. Let’s disperse for now, and the real game will begin tomorrow.”
Others had no objections, so they each fetched water, freshened up a bit, and returned to their rooms.
Zhu Shanhu pushed open her room door, about to enter, when she saw a person lying on her bed. The figure had its back to her, covered in shadows, resembling a black cocoon.
Feeling a sense of fear, Zhu Shanhu grabbed Yi Zheyan, who was passing by behind her, and whispered, “There’s a person lying on my bed…”
Yi Zheyan took a quick look and said, “Looks like it’s Xiao Qing who went missing earlier.”
After careful scrutiny, Zhu Shanhu confirmed that the figure indeed resembled Xiao Qing. She breathed a sigh of relief, thanked Yi Zheyan, and quietly entered the room, closing the door behind her.
Standing at the door for a moment, Yi Zheyan eventually decided not to warn Zhu Shanhu. If Xiao Qing had been missing for so long, she might have turned into a “ghost,” and there was no need to trust her. Seeing her naive and defenseless appearance, he didn’t bother to say anything more and turned to walk towards his own room.
There wasn’t much entertainment in the town, and people usually went to bed around nine. Zhu Shanhu admired Xiao Qing for daring to return to her room alone to sleep.
Taking off her shoes, she lifted the blanket and lay down. Leaning against the headboard, she couldn’t sleep, so she took out her phone to pass the time. There was no signal in the inn, so she could only play some boring games.
Since arriving in this town, her mood hadn’t been great, but with hidden cameras everywhere, she couldn’t show it.
The room was unusually quiet, with only the faint vibration of her phone and her own breathing.
Hmm? Breathing? Zhu Shanhu suddenly felt something was off. Xiao Qing, lying next to her, was incredibly quiet, as if she didn’t exist.
Feeling a bit uneasy, after hesitating for a while, Zhu Shanhu pushed Xiao Qing’s shoulder and softly called out, “Xiao Qing, Xiao Qing…”
Just as she was about to get closer, there was a creaking sound, and Xiao Qing’s head suddenly rolled off her neck, turned in a direction, and ended up face to face with Zhu Shanhu. In the dim light, a pair of bloodshot eyes stared straight at her.
“Ah!” A sharp scream shattered the silence of the night.
Zhu Shanhu, without wearing shoes, jumped off the bed and rushed out of the room, frantically knocking on Yi Zheyan’s door.
“What’s wrong?” Yi Zheyan opened the door, looking at Zhu Shanhu’s pale face.
Pointing to her room, Zhu Shanhu trembled as she said, “Xiao Qing, Xiao Qing is dead…”
Yi Zheyan walked out of his room, closed the door behind him, and followed her to the adjacent room. Seeing the severed “thing” on the bed, he took a step forward, picked up the head, and said to Zhu Shanhu, “It’s just a dummy.”
“A dummy?” Zhu Shanhu patted her chest, sighed in relief, and then couldn’t help but be furious, cursing the planning team in her heart. Did they have to make it so realistic!
Yi Zheyan’s eyes moved slightly, and his fingers found something on the head. Without showing any change in expression, he quietly took it out and cupped it in his palm.
“I’ll help you get rid of the dummy. You can continue resting.” Yi Zheyan held the head with one hand and the dummy with the other, walking toward the room exit.
Zhu Shanhu grabbed his sleeve, looking at him imploringly, “I dare not sleep alone…”
“I am a man, and it’s not convenient to share a room with you.” Seeing her desperate expression as if doomsday had arrived, Yi Zheyan said indifferently, “Since you’ve decided to participate in this supernatural program, you should be prepared to face fear. This situation will continue to happen, and you better adapt sooner.”
Having said that, he didn’t care about Zhu Shanhu’s reaction, took the dummy, and walked out.
Zhu Shanhu stared at his back despondently, and her gaze inadvertently fell on the severed head he was carrying. The head was facing her, and the moment she saw that face, she felt like she had fallen into an ice cellar, chilling from head to toe.
She vividly remembered that the dummy’s face was expressionless when she first saw it. But now, it had a creepy smile on its face. Watching Yi Zheyan disappear at the end of the corridor, Zhu Shanhu felt limp all over. She leaned against the door frame for a while, trembling, and then shakily entered her room.
On the other side, Yi Zheyan threw the dummy into the inn’s courtyard and returned to the lobby. He took out something he had just found—a rolled-up piece of paper.
Opening the paper, it read: “Enter the second-to-last room on the right side of the corridor and find the widow’s hairpin.”
Yi Zheyan stuffed the note into his pocket and walked towards the designated location.
The second-to-last room on the right side of the corridor was next to the innkeeper’s room. Yi Zheyan treaded lightly, trying not to make any noise, and quietly reached the room’s entrance. Grasping the doorknob, he slowly turned it and gently pushed the door open.
The room was pitch dark. Yi Zheyan felt along the wall for a while, found the light switch, and pressed it a few times, but the lights didn’t come on. Obviously, the light in this room was broken.
Yi Zheyan took out his phone, raised it, and was surprised to see a black and white photo placed on the front table. The photo depicted a man with sunken eye sockets, expressionless, staring blankly at him.
Yi Zheyan’s breath hitched, and he instinctively moved the phone away, suspecting that the man in the photo was probably the innkeeper’s deceased husband.
The phone’s light swept to a corner near the front table, revealing a pitch-black coffin.
Yi Zheyan found it strange. The innkeeper’s husband was already buried, so why was there still a coffin in the room? Did the innkeeper keep her husband’s body at home? But he couldn’t smell any decay; there should be no body inside the coffin.
Yi Zheyan stopped thinking about it and, using the phone as a light source, began searching the room. The room wasn’t large, with only a front table and a coffin. If there was really a hairpin hidden here, the only possible place to hide it was the coffin.
He couldn’t help but admire the planning team; they were indeed cunning. They actually made someone fumble in the dark to open a coffin.
Yi Zheyan walked sternly to the side of the coffin and found a seam at one end. He used his phone to shine into the gap, only to be startled by a pair of feet wearing red shoes.
Yi Zheyan: “…”
No surprise at all. The planning team indeed placed a “corpse” inside the coffin.
He held the phone in his mouth, reached out, and pushed open the coffin lid, fully exposing the neatly dressed “corpse” inside. When the light from the phone illuminated the scene, he unexpectedly saw a familiar face – the innkeeper, the mute widow of the deceased husband.
Yi Zheyan’s first thought wasn’t about the plot but rather admiration for the innkeeper who personally took part in this. Lying alone in a coffin, pretending to be a dead person, was truly dedicated.
Given her dedication, he couldn’t afford to appear lazy himself. He started seriously contemplating the meaning of this plot—was it implying that the innkeeper was already dead, or did she have a peculiar habit of sleeping in coffins?
As he pondered, he searched for a hairpin inside the coffin. In a short while, he found the target in the innkeeper’s hair.
When Yi Zheyan reached for the hairpin, he inadvertently touched the innkeeper’s face, which felt ice-cold and devoid of warmth.
He felt a slight movement in his heart and subconsciously approached her nose; surprisingly, there was no breath!
Yi Zheyan’s face paled. He reached out with two fingers and lightly pressed above her left chest—2 seconds… 4 seconds… 10 seconds, no heartbeat!
His complexion turned white, and he swiftly withdrew his hand, stepping back a few paces, looking at the person inside the coffin with disbelief. He couldn’t determine whether this was a lifelike dummy created by the planning team or if the innkeeper was truly dead!
He had seen a dummy before, and although it looked very realistic, he could still see the differences up close. However, the innkeeper in the coffin was different; she was incredibly lifelike.
Yi Zheyan felt a shock in his heart. Could this supernatural show turn into a crime scene?
He gritted his teeth, pondered for a moment, and ultimately chose to leave the room, holding his ground. He had obtained the task hairpin, and there was a note tied to the hairpin: “Obtaining the widow’s hairpin can save your life.”
The next day, one by one, everyone walked out of their rooms, and each person’s face didn’t look too good.
Yi Zheyan surveyed the surroundings and noticed that the missing Xiao Qing from yesterday was present, but the noisy Huang Wei was nowhere to be seen.
“Hey? Xiao Qing, you’re back?” Cheng Ziming also saw Xiao Qing and asked in surprise.
Xiao Qing smiled, “Yes, I encountered a ‘ghost’ yesterday and didn’t dare to come back, so I stayed at a villager’s house for the night.”
“I see.” Everyone understood now and was about to inquire about the details when Yi Zheyan spoke up, “Cheng Ziming, wasn’t Huang Wei in the same room with you? Where is he?”
Cheng Ziming replied, “He left the room a little after 1 a.m., and he hasn’t returned since. I don’t know where he went.”
Cheng Ziming had sensed when Huang Wei left and took a look at the time. He guessed that the other party might have discovered a task clue. Since Huang Wei didn’t inform him, he naturally wouldn’t follow.
Hearing Cheng Ziming’s words, everyone could probably guess that Huang Wei must have encountered a “supernatural event.” However, they didn’t know if he could return alive.
However, within just one day and night, Xiao Qing, Zhu Shanhu, Yi Zheyan, and Huang Wei successively triggered traps. This supernatural program was tightly scheduled with pitfalls everywhere. There were still six days to go, and after those six days, who knew if they would be driven crazy by the planning team’s antics!
At this moment, Cheng Ziming suddenly seemed to recall something. He stood up, walked behind the counter, and pulled out the accommodation registration book. Finding the page with everyone’s signatures, he glanced at it, and his face changed. He exclaimed, “Huang Wei is dead!”
“What?” Everyone immediately gathered around.
Cheng Ziming handed the accommodation registration book to them, and they saw that the name “Huang Wei” at the top had turned red, while the other names remained black. This hint couldn’t be clearer – Huang Wei was likely eliminated.
Following Huang Wei was Wan Feng, who chuckled, “I hope I’m not the next one ‘dead.'”
Cheng Ziming thought about how, at the beginning of registration, the members of the filming crew had only written code names. They likely anticipated something.
“I think it’s best not to leave our names in the registration book.” Cheng Ziming suggested.
The others agreed.
Just as Cheng Ziming was about to tear out that page, a fair hand suddenly reached over, pressing on the registration book.
Everyone followed the arm’s gaze and saw a familiar face – the innkeeper.
Yi Zheyan’s pupils contracted, staring at the innkeeper standing straight in front of him. His shock was beyond words.
If the planning team wasn’t godlike, then this supernatural show was real!
On the other side, in the planning team’s headquarters, the leader, watching the recorded footage, suddenly had an idea. “I think we can do a special episode during the New Year.”
“What special episode?” everyone asked.
“Live-stream it online simultaneously.”