After hearing the old lady’s story, if was as if the thing that happened twenty years ago had already been settled. What came to Lu Chu’s mind was this – an ordinary woman gave away her true love but didn’t get a result, and the beautiful woman desired wealth went far away. A few years later, the man was finally moved by the ordinary woman, so, they got married and even had a child. However, it seemed that the beautiful woman came back, and the man started to go out frequently. His personality became cold, and in the end, an argument led to their child being lost. Most people in the village thought that the man had died in a strange manner, and that it was his unborn child who came back for revenge.
The village people believed in ghosts and gods, so when Guo Jianping died, the situation was too strange. A house filled with chopped snakes and a missing murderer gave his death a lot of mystery, and things that people couldn’t explain would often be considered as ghostly acts.
However, the old woman wasn’t too clear about many details, and at the same time, she repeatedly told Lu Chu not to ask about these sort of things, as they weren’t things that young people like him should know.
As for whether it was actually the unborn baby taking its revenge, Lu Chu wasn’t too sure, and he felt that things weren’t that simple.
Since it was a two-person task, then this ‘game’ shouldn’t be that simple.
After lunch, Lu Chu talked to the old lady and went out of the house.
Lu Chu finally remembered the missing Song Gui when he thought about the fact that this was a two-person task. He had been so used to being alone for a long time, until the point where he didn’t even feel anything when the teammate who was supposed to be working with him wasn’t around.
On the road, Lu Chu subtlety looked at his surroundings. Until now, his eyes were still adjusting, and while he could recognise most things in his life, he was still unable to distinguish colours. After he could see this world, there was two things that he regretted; firstly, he didn’t bring along his parents’ photos, and secondly, he didn’t see the colour of Carrot’s coat.
With the excuse of finding something to entertain himself, Lu Chu intentionally found some people to talk with, and found the small courtyard that was used as the school back then.
He went over like he was taking a stroll, took a few bricks and stood outside the wall, then leaned over and looked at it. The yard was quite large, suitable for kids to play around, and there was a total of three classrooms. Actually, only one of them was used for lectures – as this village wasn’t big, a single classroom could fit all the school-aged children. The children ranged from six to their teens. For the poor villagers, it was already good enough to have free education, and it didn’t matter whether the classes were divided or not. One of the other two rooms was used as an office, and the other was used as a room for Guo Jianping, who had just arrived to the village, and didn’t have anywhere to stay.
Following what had happened that year, there wasn’t a teacher who taught for free in the village anymore, thus, these rooms were also abandoned.
The meal that Lu Chu had just eaten was lunch, and by this time, the sun was currently at its highest point, bright and shining. Even so, while he stood at this place which had been used to teach others, but now was filled with weeds, Lu Chu still felt a sight chill.
Climbing over in a manner that couldn’t be called smooth, Lu Chu entered into the yard.
Other than the lush weeds and trees, there weren’t any other clues inside the yard. The rooms used for accommodation and the office were locked, but the one used as a classroom was left wide open.
Because of that year’s incident, this ‘school’ was immediately abandoned, and nobody dared to tidy up the things inside, afraid that they would get stained with something dirty. As time went by, people gradually forgot about it, and before Lu Chu came here, he thought about this – perhaps there would be some important clues amongst the things that the people hadn’t had the chance to sort out.
After Lu Chu looked around, he pushed open the door and walked in. Instantly, a musty and mouldy smelled rushed towards him, choking Lu Chu to the point where he took a step back.
When he finally got used to it, he started to search the classroom.
The classroom wasn’t big, and the students’ seats were narrow benches connected in rows, and the tables were also long and connected to each other. A closer looked revealed that the tables and seats were nothing but pieces of wood that had been treated slightly. By this time, they had already rotted, and were letting out a strange smell.
On the table was a stack of assignments books that hadn’t been marked, and the assignment books were made up of rough and thick white paper sown together, and currently, it had already turned yellow and the strings had fallen apart. Lu Chu picked up a copy and opened it, and realised that there were countless marks of corrections on it. If one thought about it, it was reasonable; for how could poor people in this era afford to change their assignment books frequently? They could only do it like this, erase after writing, then write again, until it couldn’t be used anymore, thus being more frugal.
Majority of the words written in these books were crooked, and with a single look, he could tell it had only been a few years since the student it belonged to had learned how to write.
After flipping through all the books, Lu Chu found another book in the desk, and once he saw the smooth continuous strokes inside, Lu Chu knew that this was Guo Jianping’s handwriting. This book was probably originally used as a lesson plan, and there was nothing interesting within its contents.
“Hm…… this is?”
As he flipped through, Lu Chu took out a photo sandwiched in the notebook.
The photo was yellowed, and there was a ‘Guo’ written on the back with a pen. When he flipped it to the front, he saw that it was a black and white photo with a handsome glasses-wearing man intimately hugging a beautiful young girl.
There was a high chance of the man in the picture being Guo Jianping, and the girl looked pretty and sweet, she definitely wasn’t the Wei Rong that he had seen before. Perhaps this was the girl that Guo Jianping had once liked, the one who married him for several years before disappearing again.
Both the office and room next to this room was locked, and the windows were also closed from the inside. Nobody had cleaned the windows for many years, so there was a thick layer of dust covering it, and one couldn’t see the interior from the outside at all. Presently, Lu Chu had no intention of breaking the window to enter and examine the area, so today’s investigation had to stop here.
When he flipped over the wall again, Lu Chu’s actions had become a lot nimbler.
Back home, Lu Chu realised that he had been out for a long time.
The villagers went to sleep early, and prepared for bed the minute the sky turned dark. Expect for new year’s day or other important occasions, very few people went out at night. On one hand, they didn’t have much electricity, and on the other hand, the older generation felt that they would encounter some sort of unclean things1aka things that go bump in the night/ghosts. when going out at night.
He heard that in the village, occasionally, there would be stage shows being performed for several days at a time, where they would sing and dance till late at night. Every time this happened, the people who liked to listen to these shows would bring along their own chairs, and go to that place sit. They would listen for a whole night, and return in the morning carrying their chair back. They would never look at the roof of someone else’s house, lest they see something in white, singing some human song, causing them to end up with some weird disease when they reached back.
When Lu Chu returned home, the old lady was just about to prepare dinner. Lu Chu quickly went up to help, and by the time the two of them had finished eating, the sky had almost turned dark.
Lu Chu laid down this own bed, and thought that although there was no time limit to this task, but Song Gui was some place he didn’t know. It seemed that he didn’t need to worry as much, and he could collect some clues from twenty years ago if he was able to find any. If he couldn’t, he would go with the flow, and wait for Song Gui to arrive. Since it was a two-person task, there would definitely be limitations if he did it alone.
It was a dreamless night, and Lu Chu woke up with the sound of the chickens outside. He went out of his room before he noticed that the old lady had already woken up, and she was on a mat, devotedly burning some paper, and mumbling to herself. After a while, she stood up and patted her knees, then bowed towards the front.
It seemed this was something that had gone on for many years.
The old lady was devout and of the Buddhist faith, and Lu Chu couldn’t help but also bow towards the papers on the wall. When the old woman saw this, she smiled in a loving manner and asked, “good grandchild, are you hungry? Grandma will cook for you.”
Lu Chu gave a shy smile, “a little.”
“Okay,” the old woman turned and went into the kitchen, “wait a while, my good grandson.”
Lu Chu followed, and said, “grandma, I’ll go with you.”
After they had breakfast, they cleaned the yard together, and just when Lu Chu was laughing and talking with the old lady, they suddenly heard some noise from outside. They lived near the entrance of the village, so they would always be the first to know about something.
When Lu Chu heard the noise outside, he put down the broom in his hand, shouted in the direction of the old woman a ‘grandma, I’ll go out to have a look and come back soon’, before disappearing.
The old lady who was left behind shook her head as she smiled and said, “still like a child, so eager and anxious.”
After Lu Chu went out, he found that many people from the village had gathered together, and the village chief was at the front, smiling kindly towards five young people, and from time to time, he bowed a little and shook hands with them with a very respectful attitude.
Curious, Lu Chu pulled the sleeve of a boy next to him, who was around his age, lowered his voice and asked, “do you know what happened?”
The boy’s cheeks were red, and he was a little rough. His eyes were flickering from side to side, looking particularly active. He also lowered his voice and said, “I heard my mother say, that a few young people came to our village to make a movie. They’re planning to stay with us for a while, they said they wanted to…… choose something…… en…… choose a location! That’s right, they’re here to choose a location!”
“Shooting a movie?” Lu Chu showed an expression as if he was looking forward to it, “amazing!”
That boy was also very excited, “right, I think so too! I heard that they gave quite a lot of money to the village when they came here, and if they are interested in someone’s house, or live in someone’s place, that family would probably get quite a bit of money!”
While Lu Chu was talking with the boy, the village chief had also finished his talk with the five young men, and when he thought about the compensation that the five young men had given him, and village chief thought, that now, the young people in the city were really different, suddenly wanting to make a movie, and that they had also gave their village so much money.
Thinking of this, the village chief had an even wider smile, and told the few people, “since it’s like this, let me show you around the village first. Our village is poor, and we’re not as particular as people from the city. If you want to live in anybody’s house, just say, the people in the village are good tempered and kind.”
Although he had said it in this manner, the village chief still hoped that these people would live in his house, that way, maybe he could earn even more money.
But no matter what he was thinking, he still had to go through this.
The five people had driven two cars, and both of them were large off-road vehicles, equipped with their shooting equipment. They were currently parked at the village entrance.
After hearing what the village chief had said, the five people nodded their head in agreement, and one of them said, “then, village chief, please show us around.”
When the villagers saw this, they quickly made a path to let these people pass.
As the people in front scattered, Lu Chu was finally able to see the faces of the five people, and at that moment, he was shocked, frozen to the spot as he stared.
Out of the five people, Song Gui was standing in the centre, and he seemed to have also seen Lu Chu, and was casually waving his hand in this direction. The other people didn’t seem to know what he was doing, but Lu Chu knew that this was Song Gui greeting him.
But what surprised Lu Chu wasn’t the Song Gui that he would have met sooner or later, but it was the man who was at the side of the five people. The man also glanced at Lu Chu, and barely nodded at him, before looking towards another direction.
The translator has this to add: