Chapter 5 – Convenience Store Clerk (3)

The sound of sirens and ambulance pierced through the quiet night.

The number of onlookers outside the caution line only grew.

Someone noticed another person collapsed at the entrance of the Hongsheng Tower, wearing a blue uniform, identified as one of the building’s security guards. This time was different from the previous occurrences. It wasn’t just a single individual encountering an accident; instead, several security guards were found lying together at the entrance.

Police and medical personnel arrived, cordoned off the area, swiftly removing the security guards, and the special operations team was also dispatched.

Within the team was a detector specialized in sensing strange energies, as extracted from the game. Everyone else remained on the perimeter, while two team members, outfitted in specialized gear, approached the inner side of the entrance with the detector.

The detector was reliable, capable of sensing even the faintest strange energy. However, it was eerily quiet now, showing no signs of activity.

It matched the detection results from the previous incidents.

The two team members exchanged glances and slowly withdrew.

Back at their original positions, someone took out pen and paper, jotting down the detection results.

Another team member looked at the rest, who were waiting for the outcome, and said, “No signs of strange energy. We’ve thoroughly searched the entire building previously and found no trace of strange species. This seems to be an act of human cause.”

Knowing that this chain of events wasn’t related to the strange species, none of the people present seemed relieved.

If it wasn’t linked to the strange species and was instead an act of human cause, it somehow felt more intricate and mysterious.

“Beep—”

As the conclusion was drawn, a sharp sound suddenly echoed, piercing the eardrums of everyone present.

All eyes turned to the detector, which was previously silent but now emitted a continuous alarm.

The expressions of the two team members changed. They quickly thought about the nearby team on duty.

One of them grabbed a walkie-talkie, urgently stating, “Vice-Captain Hu, there’s a strange energy disturbance detected at the Hongsheng Building, preliminarily categorized as A-Class. Second Unit requests backup.”

Fourth floor stairway of Hongsheng Building.

After Jiang Yujin spontaneously commented on the puppet, its expression instantly changed, faint traces of blood seeping onto its originally pallid face.

Wide-eyed, Xiao Li, more astonished by Jiang Yujin’s statement, incredulously said, “It broke the barrier just like that?”

Facing something seemingly supernatural for the first time, Xiao Li’s hand holding the phone trembled involuntarily. He slowly stepped back, then tightly grabbed Jiang Yujin’s arm and turned to run.

While being dragged along, Jiang Yujin reminded him, “Look back.”

Xiao Li glanced back, his eyes widening instantly, evident red streaks in his eyes.

In the brief moment of turning around, the distance between the puppet and them significantly decreased. Its speed reached an eerie level. However, as soon as Xiao Li turned back, it froze in place again, completely motionless.

Xiao Li dared not shift his gaze away, nor even blink. He stared fixedly at the puppet, gingerly stepping backward.

The puppet remained motionless as it continued to be watched.

The probable reason why those people’s eyes were wide open and dry before they fell into a coma was found – it was probably because they encountered this ghostly thing.

Despite knowing the reason, Xiao Li didn’t feel like rejoicing.

The light from the phone shifted, and the shadow of the doll changed accordingly, stretching out into a long shape.

After circling the doll, Jiang Yujin and Xiao Li returned to the side of the stairs and slowly descended step by step.

The building was quiet, with faint footsteps audible. Despite a wall separating them, outside was excessively noisy.

Hu Li had arrived at the scene. Finally, he wasn’t wearing that floral shirt anymore, looking slightly more serious.

Someone at the scene was briefing him: “Except for a few security personnel, all the staff in the building had clocked out and left this afternoon.”

The person briefing paused, then handed a tablet to Hu Li, saying:

“However, after investigating the people entering and exiting the building after work, we discovered that someone entered the building through another entrance a while ago and hasn’t come out since.”

On the tablet was footage captured by a surveillance camera. The building’s cameras couldn’t be accessed temporarily, so they had to rely on roadside cameras, which were a bit distant and produced slightly blurry images, but at least they showed clear silhouettes.

A person in the footage rode an electric scooter into the surveillance range. After parking the scooter and removing the helmet, the person revealed their iconic messy hair—it was the convenience store clerk Hu Li had seen earlier today.

The clerk patted the electric scooter before heading towards the building. They stood at the entrance for a moment, then stumbled and fell into the building.

The footage ended there.

Hu Li nodded, putting on his operational gloves. “Got it.”

Other members of the special search team checked their firearms and emergency supplies. He glanced at them and said, “I’ll go alone.”

Others paused in their actions. “But…”

Hu Li smiled, eyes narrowing. “Don’t add extra trouble for me.”

The others refrained from speaking further, indeed stopping their movements.

Some people usually appeared friendly and approachable but held absolute authority.

Without meticulous preparation, Hu Li wore night vision goggles, unlike the others who were gearing up with weapons. He walked straight into the building.

The security room where several security personnel worked was on the ground floor. He looked at the building’s layout prepared by the data team and easily found the security room.

The building’s power seemed to have been disrupted, as the lights couldn’t function properly, but the security room, like the elevators, had alternate power. The door was partially open, allowing the light inside to be visible.

The surveillance in the security room was still operational.

Among several static surveillance screens, two figures moving between the third and fourth floors in the emergency stairwell were particularly conspicuous.

Surprisingly, there were two individuals.

Noticing the motionless puppet on the screen, he sensed something and turned his head.

A human-sized puppet dressed in black stood at the doorway, quietly observing him under the light.

The puppet didn’t smile. Hu Li smiled faintly, taking a step toward the puppet as a long blade slid out from his sleeve.

As they drew closer, the puppet rapidly transformed into a creature resembling a spider, with six long and sinister black limbs tearing through what seemed like papery skin, swiftly lunging towards his sides.

The metallic blade reflected the light from above as it struck. The deformed puppet split in half, its six long limbs twitching involuntarily.

Hu Li held the long blade aloft.

The once-empty ground floor was now filled with human-sized puppets dressed in black, all silently watching him.

On the third floor, Jiang Yujin was slowly retreating with Xiao Li.

Honestly, walking backward was far more exhausting than walking normally, and constantly staring at the strange and ugly human-sized puppet around them was incredibly dull.

While Xiao Li was intensely focused, Jiang Yujin began to glance around.

The light from the phone moved slowly, revealing a broom placed near the stairwell with a wooden handle.

Seemed like it could be useful.

Jiang Yujin took a few steps to the side and reached out his hand.

“Clang—”

A noise echoed from downstairs. He glanced downward slightly, then casually withdrew his hand as if nothing had happened, patting Xiao Li’s shoulder. “Hang in there, we’re almost on the first floor.”

His pat startled Xiao Li, who almost turned directly around, causing a subtle movement from the doll.

Slowly descending to the second floor, from here, they could vaguely see the lights outside. Xiao Li was completely on edge. However, as they proceeded downstairs, they heard a rustling sound that felt ominously overwhelming.

Xiao Li kept staring at the doll and asked Jiang Yujin, “What’s that noise downstairs?”

As they reached this corner, they could already see what the first floor looked like. Anyone on the first floor could also see them standing here.

Jiang Yujin peeked and thought for a moment before replying candidly, “Quite lively.”

Xiao Li, puzzled, asked, “Huh?”

Unable to turn his head, Xiao Li didn’t notice the swarming, overlapping, headless humanoid figures.

Jiang Yujin took two steps forward, leaning against the railing and gesturing towards the mass of spider-like puppets.

“Help us,” he shouted.

The voice wasn’t particularly loud, but its drawn-out tone sounded oddly lazy amidst the tension, yet it was enough for the people downstairs to hear.

Hu Li swiftly slashed a few spider-like puppets and glanced up to the second floor. With a leap supported by his long blade, he jumped onto the staircase leading to the second floor.

Xiao Li felt a blur beside him, only to witness the human-sized puppet that had been following them since the fourth floor cleaved in half.

“Head up and find a sealed space to hide,” Hu Li instructed.

Jiang Yujin nodded first, pulling the still bewildered Xiao Li up the stairs, expressing gratitude before moving, showing complete cooperation.

He led Xiao Li into the second-floor restroom. After a startle, he looked at Xiao Li with a worried expression. “I sense it now.”

Initially planning to hide in one of the restrooms for a sense of security, Xiao Li immediately volunteered to hide in the adjacent one.

He remained quiet, listening to the sound of fabric rustling coming from the neighboring compartment. Then, there was silence.

After a while, using a whisper, Xiao Li asked, “Are you okay?”

No one responded from the neighboring stall.

Jiang Yujin, without a doubt, took off, pushing open the unlocked stall door and leaving the restroom. It was almost time to clock out, and his phone’s battery wouldn’t last for a game while hiding in the restroom all night. He had no intention of spending a lengthy night in the restroom.

Despite the building still being devoid of lights, it didn’t affect him much.

The faint red glow from the cameras on the floors was easily identifiable and avoidable.

He circumvented the ground floor and headed for the basement.

The basement was soundproof, and upon entering, the sounds from the first floor were completely muted. The dark corridor only echoed with footsteps.

The signboard ahead suddenly lit up with green light, revealing something that appeared abruptly in front of him.

It was a humanoid figure, just like himself.

Jiang Yujin continued walking without stopping, getting closer to the figure.

“…”

In the silence, before it even had a chance to extend its long limbs, the puppet disintegrated into pieces of fabric scattered on the ground, its six long legs disappearing into the shadows, indiscernible.

At the end of the basement corridor was the electrical room, followed by a wall covered in dust, and there was nothing else beyond that.

Jiang Yujin reached out and touched the wall, then exerted some force.

The wall instantly turned into strands of thread, slowly drifting down and accumulating on the ground in a substantial layer.

Behind the dusty wall lay a vast space, surrounded by thick threads, impenetrable. The ground was littered with oval-shaped objects.

Jiang Yujin greeted with a polite smile, waving his hand. “Hello, old acquaintance.”

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