Chapter 7: Corpse
Su Min’s eyes followed Lin Xiao Yan’s.
When they had entered the washroom, Zhang Yuan’s body was laying on sink. No one had touched it, yet it was now missing.
Damp patches of water scattered around the sink. The faucet was still slightly open; water droplets were trickling out and plopping into a small pool.
If it wasn’t for the wet mess before their eyes, there would’ve been no indication that Zhang Yuan was ever there.
“Did it run away?” Horror coated Lin Yiri’s voice.
“That’s unlikely...” Lin Xiao Yan whispered.
But, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t think of any other explanation. Liu Lili’s corpse shouldn’t have been able to move, but it did. It wasn’t a stretch to say that Zhang Yuan’s corpse really did got up and ran away.
“No, we should have heard it,” Su Min rejected the idea. “I didn’t hear two sets of footsteps. It’s not possible for it to have left by itself.”
Corpses were still solid matter. Unlike ghosts, their footsteps would produce noise.
“Then who knocked on the door just now?” Lin Xiao Yan asked, “Whose footsteps were those?”
Su Min thought of the discrepancy, and his mind raced to fill up the holes. “It’s impossible for Zhang Yuan to have been the one knocking.”
After the words left his mouth, Su Min was even more convinced.
The sound of those footsteps started from a distance and then got closer. At that time, Zhang Yuan’s body was still at the sink, so it couldn’t have been her.
Lin Yiri scratched his head. “What if the person knocking was Liu Lili?”
Both had met a mishap while playing Kuai Xian, and both had died in this school.
Something flashed in Su Min’s eyes. “It’s possible.”
Because of the darkness, they were unable to see the clothes or features of the figure that stood by the door.
“Now that I think about it,” Lin Xiao Yan said, “the silhouette did look a bit like Liu Lili’s. We were roommates for several years, I’d recognize her back.”
She hadn’t made the connection a moment ago, but when Lin Yiri mentioned it, she could see the similarity.
“Wasn’t Liu Lili taken away by the police?” Lin Yiri asked.
Su Min was aware that this was a horror movie, and in horror movies, walking corpses weren’t all that surprising. Maybe Liu Lili’s corpse didn’t want to enter the morgue and ran back here. Whatever the case, it was a setting decided by the director. Common sense couldn’t be used during situations like these.
“If it was her, why did she knock on the door?” Lin Xiao Yan asked.
If you’re dead, you’re dead. Why do you still need to knock on the door? It nearly made them faint from fright.
Su Min’s eye twitched. “I don’t know, but the most important thing to do now is find Zhang Yuan’s body.”
The missing corpse was like a ticking time bomb.
Out of nowhere, Lin Xiao Yan exclaimed, “Su Min, your wink just now was really handsome.”
Su Min: “...”
Lin Yiri said as a matter of course, “You’re too naive. He looks handsome even if he doesn’t wink. I’m used to it.”
Su Min really wanted to roll his eyes at the two people.
He silently maneuvered his way around the puddles on the floor, intending to go upstairs. “We haven’t gone to the seventh floor yet. Maybe it’s there.”
The seventh floor was very peculiar. There were definitely secrets waiting to be uncovered.
Lin Xiao Yan and Lin Yiri naturally followed.
Having them stay in the washroom where a ghost had just appeared was asking for the impossible.
The echoes of footsteps disturbed the quiet of the staircase.
Walking up the stairs is terrifying during the night time. There is the feeling that someone is following you, trailing your every move. However, when you turn around, you are only met with the silence of darkness.
Su Min’s sixth sense was exceptional.
When he was in high school, he would stay in after class for additional studying and usually head home at around nine in the evening. As he walked through desolate roads and empty alleyways, there was always a strange feeling in his gut that he was being followed.
That feeling would persist even after he entered the outdated building of his home and passed through dark corridors and pale yellow flickering lights.
Fortunately, that odd feeling disappeared once he had moved into a new house.
As Su Min trod carefully up the stairs, however, the same familiar feeling arose in him. It felt strange, like he had returned back to the past.
Behind him was Lin Yiri and Lin Xiao Yan.
Lin Yiri glanced back from time to time and nervously asked, “Do you know the story of the staircase?”
Lin Xiao Yan’s face was cold and detached. “Don’t know, don’t care, don’t say.”
He promptly shut his mouth.
His silence didn’t last long. A few steps later, Lin Yiri began to feel the restlessness stir up inside of him again, and the urge to share his thoughts grew stronger.
“I heard that these stairs have 12 steps, but sometimes, they will become 13 when you walk,” he whispered.
Lin Xiao Yan, “...”
Having reached the top, Su Min turned back and said, “What are you thinking? There’s 12, I’ve counted.”
In this frightful ambience, counting the number of steps made him feel a little better.
“That great,” Lin Yiri sighed.
He promptly skipped up three steps and hopped beside Su Min.
“The ghost stories aren’t the same for every school.” Su Min pointed out, “See, none of the things you’ve said actually happened.”
A ghost never touched their heads, and there was no extra step in the stairs.
Lin Yiri, “It’s easy for me to associate... It’s not my fault my brain is like this. If I had known earlier, I wouldn’t have read so many ghost stories.”
Who would’ve imagined that they’d be in this kind of situation?
Su Min didn’t wait for him to continue talking and advanced up.
However, halfway up the stairs, he could faintly distinguish a shadow of a person lying on the ground of the seventh floor.
The black doors into the corridors were locked.
Su Min halted. “There’s Zhang Yuan’s corpse.”
The two behind him hurriedly ran up. A cry of alarm involuntarily escaped their mouths when they saw the corpse.
“How did she come up here?”
“Why did she come up here?”
Su Min shook his head. “Maybe it’s because there’s something on this floor.”
His intuition told him that Zhang Yuan didn’t come up here on her own. The one that carried her was either Kuai Xian or Liu Lili, he couldn’t say for sure.
Lin Xiao Yan recalled something and shrugged. “Maybe we’ll get the news that Liu Lili’s body disappeared tomorrow.”
–And the news of Zhang Yuan’s disappearance after that.
Zhang Yuan was lying on her stomach. Rather than being together, her two legs were twisted in a strange and awkward angle.
They looked like they were positioned that way deliberately.
“Is it trying to tell us something?” Su Min thought to himself.
He was certain that a ghost had dumped Zhang Yuan’s corpse here. But why? Was this its idea of a bad joke?
A group of horror movies belong to the decrypted category: the protagonist would go through all kinds of spider’s threads and horse tracks1 before they finally dig up the origin of the evil spirit.
Campus horror thrillers, for the most part, fall into this category.
There must be a reason why Zhang Yuan’s body was placed on the seventh floor. Perhaps it was trying to tell them what happened here before.
Lin Yiri was curious, “But we can’t even get in the seventh floor. What does it want to tell us?”
With Su Min here, Lin Xiao Yan was inexplicably filled with the sense of security. She boldly inched closer, observing Zhang Yuan’s body.
Lin Yiri crouched on the side.
“Look at her posture.” Pointing at Zhang Yuan’s legs, Su Min asked, “Doesn’t it look like she wants to run outside?”
He tried to mirror her position and twisted his back so that he was staring at the staircase.
It looked as if he was running away from something.
The other two nodded. “Like!”
Su Min straightened. “In other words, her posture could be copying the people who were once trapped in the seventh floor. Maybe they were running away from Kuai Xian.”
–And died in the end.
But, the location–right at the doors–of their deaths was strange. Why couldn’t they escape from the thing they were fleeing from? Unlike the elevator, the stairs actually gave them ample room to run away, or at least, they’d be able to run a distance.
How did it end up like this?
Su Min stepped forward, trying to push open the doors. It was locked from the outside. The reddening lock revealed the show signs of rust.
Unsurprisingly, the doors didn’t budge.
When Su Min retracted his hand, he felt something sticky. On a closer look, it was a black substance with a mud-like consistency.
He lifted his hand to his nose and took a sniff. It smelled familiar, but he was unable to remember from what or where.
Left with no other options, Su Min clasped the fruit knife in his pocket and slammed it into the lock. The sound that resonated was dull and oppressive.
“So violent,” Lin Yiri was astonished.
“If I’d known earlier, I would’ve taken a brick up with me,” Lin Xiao Yan said.
Although the lock was rusted, it still held together under Su Min’s attacks. He sighed and took back his hand. It was a pity; any further clues they could find were on the seventh floor.
Su Min felt that he’d be able to see something once he entered.
Maybe it’d be the sea of ghosts Lin Xiao Yan and Lin Yiri encountered last time; maybe it’d be something different. Whatever it is, at least he’ll be able to get something from it.
A flash of light from the outside caught Su Min’s eyes. The light moved quickly, like someone was waving around a flashlight.
Su Min turned away. “There’s a security guard outside. Let’s go down first. Don’t linger here or else we won’t be able to explain this.”
He took the lead down the stairs, the other two on his heels.
As Su Min paced down, he thought about the arrangement of Zhang Yuan’s corpse. His mind went to all kinds of possibilities, diving into several layers of ideas. However, he dismissed them all in the end.
When he went down another set of stairs, Su Min realized that he wasn’t nearing the ground floor.
The office building hadn’t installed any signs to indicate the floor numbers, so he didn’t know which floor he was on–Su Min already forgotten the number of floors he had descended.
He turned back and asked, “How many floors did we go down?”
Lin Xiao Yan shook her head, supporting herself on the railings as she gasped for breath. She used to run frequently in high school but now would stay home all day. As a result, her physical strength crumbled and became very poor.
“I think around six or seven,” Lin Xiao Yan spoke with hesitation.
“Why do I feel like we’ve walked down more floors?” Lin Yiri couldn’t help but say. “Was this building so tall?”
Going upstairs was exhausting, but going downstairs should be easier.
Su Min had a bad premonition.
Why did it feel like a ghost had hit a wall2? They couldn’t have been going back and forth between the sixth and seventh floor, right?
Su Min approached the handrails and looked down. It wasn’t very clear in the dark, but he could make out the several floors below.
Frightened, Lin Yiri said, “I don’t feel good.”
Lin Xiao Yin straightened her back. “We aren’t able to go down, ah?”
“Let’s go down another two flights to see,” Su Min suggested.
They continued walking down several set of stairs–Su Min kept count this time–but the flat ground of the first floor was still not in sight.
The hairs on Su Min’s body began to rise up.
Lin Xiao Yan and Lin Yiri didn’t dare utter a word.
Su Min stopped in his tracks. He went to the railings again and looked up, wanting to see if they were really still on the sixth floor.
However, he didn’t expect that he’d see something else.
Several floor above, three heads poked out from the handrail.
They were looking down at him.