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Chapter 24 –  The first person


Ever since he returned from Granny Wang’s place, Lu Chu felt a little worried.

Tonight, they were going to the old school to see how it looked in the dark, and he felt as if something was going to happen.

After they returned, Lu Chu first helped the old lady cook the withered grass with some vinegar, then poured it into a foot basin while it was still steaming. The old lady sat on the sofa, rolled up her pants, and placed her feet on a small stool, to help fumigate her calves with the boiled soup.

Apparently, this was an effective folk remedy.

The old lady was quite a cordial person, she chatted happily with the young people for a while, and was totally amused by the sweet Song Gui.

While the old lady was fumigating her leg, Lu Chu helped the old lady to make her bed, so that she could directly go and rest after the process.

“You have a good grandson,” Song Gui said when he saw this scene, then glanced at Lu Chu, with a faint smile on his face.

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Obviously, in Song Gui’s eyes, this kind of ‘filial piety’ seemed unnecessary, since sooner or later, they would leave. Instead of wasting their time and emotions on these NPC-like people, it would be better to solve the puzzle earlier and return to the ‘rules’, then take a short break before entering the next ‘game’. Maybe, they could even find an opportunity to leave this ‘death game’.

When she heard those words, the old woman laughed even wider, and said proudly, “my grandson has always been the most obedient and filial one in this generation of children.”

Lu Chu gave a slight smile, and didn’t look at Song Gui, choosing to simply pick up the washbasin and say, “you flatter me.”

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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 things 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.

That night, after they had finished packing and were planning to go out, the old lady stopped them.

She asked nervously, “it’s already quite late, where are you planning to go at this time?”

Song Gui said, “Granny, we’re going into the village to shoot a night scene, and we’ll return immediately.”

The old lady didn’t approve, “nights in the countryside aren’t as peaceful as you think, it’s best not to casually run about.”

However, since they had already prepared to go out, how could they simply walk away? Thus, the rest took turns to explain, “Granny, don’t worry, we know our limits. We’re just going to get a scene, and we’ll return soon.”

The old lady still didn’t approve, but in these couple of days, she really liked Song Gui, this young man, and felt that he was steady, capable, and clever. With his repeated assurances, she finally stopped persuading them, and agreed to let them go out.

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Thus, they carried their equipment to the old school’s yard.

The village was exceptionally quiet at night, and this place was patricianly remote. Perhaps, because something unclean had happened before, it gave this place a bit of eerie weirdness. Standing in front of the gate, the group of young men looked at each other; they couldn’t even hear the sounds of chicken squawking or dogs barking, and there weren’t any street lights. Other than the flashlights in the hands, only the half-moon in the sky gave some form of illumination.

Yang Cheng gave a couple of dry laughs, “I’m not the one that said it but, I feel a little bit scared?”

He Mingde scolded him, “shut up, don’t scare yourself.”

Song Gui looked up towards inside, and tsk’ed a couple of times, “we’re all men, so our Yang Energy’s1Yang Energy: 阳气. In Taoism/Xianxia novels, Yang = Men/The Sun. Ghosts are considered to be Yin (the opposite of Yang), so they’ll supposedly avoid Yang energy really strong, so it won’t be that easy to run into a ghost. But, if we think of it in another way, we’re here to film this kind of ‘paranormal’ event in the first place. If we really end up meeting some unscientific thing, who knows, it could become something gimmicky.”

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.

“What gimmick? I choose to live.” Li Jiapeng sighed, “how did I end up becoming partners with you careless fellows? Qi Li still the reliable one, he doesn’t speak much and works hard, and he’s calm.”

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.

Song Gui laughed, “how is he reliable? He’s obviously always daydreaming away from the current situation, emptying his mind, and not doing anything.”

Climbing over in a manner that couldn’t be called smooth, Lu Chu entered into the yard.

Seeing that these people were going to be stuck on this matter, Lu Chu interrupted them, “don’t we need to return after filming? It isn’t that peaceful at night in this village, and we’re also out here in the middle of nowhere. Even if no paranormal event happens, there would inevitably be other problems, so it’s best not to waste too much time outside.”

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.

When Song Gui heard Lu Chu’s words, he turned and started to tease, “other problems? Such you dragging me into the woods?”

Lu Chu: “……”

Qi Li, who hadn’t spoken that much before, suddenly opened his mouth, “let’s start.”

Li Jiapeng opened the door, Song Gui shrugged, and was dragged in by Yang Cheng.

It had to be said, this area was already deserted enough when they came in the day, and at night, it was even creepier, causing people’s hair to stand on their ends. The sound of footsteps on damp grass was exceptionally horrifying, and under such a strange atmosphere, everybody unintentionally lightened their footsteps.

They had already discussed the filming sequence in the day, so nobody stopped walking, and they all made their way to the room that was once used as a classroom.

Pushing open the door, it was still the same rows of dilapidated tables and chairs that were present in the day, and dim moonlight that fell onto the mottled rotten wood from a gap.

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Yang Cheng coughed with, and said with some false bravado, “that, shall we start to divide the work?”

He Mingde, “sure.”

Everybody split up and started to work.

Lu Chu took advantage of the time where everybody was busy to check the tables and chairs in detail, to ensure that he didn’t miss out on any important information.

Speaking of this round’s ‘game’, Lu Chu still wasn’t sure what the requirement was exactly referring to.

The so-called ‘beheading a snake’; was it to let him figure out the mystery behind it, which was the mystery of Guo Jianping’s sudden death twenty years ago; or, was this ‘snake’ just a reference, and he needed to find this so-called ‘snake’, then kill it?

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.

“Hey!” Just as he was thinking, Yang Cheng suddenly appeared behind Lu Chu, and patted his shoulder in an attempt to scare him. However, Lu Chu didn’t seem the slightest bit scared.

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.

Yang Cheng pouted, “come on, little bro, you’re not scared at all?”

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.

It had only been a few days since Lu Chu had regained his sight, and he was long used to sudden touches and sounds of unknown things. Coupled with his sentistive hearing, Yang Cheng’s little actions really didn’t frighten him, but seeing that Yang Cheng’s mood had lowered, and the fact that he looked as if he was going to find another opportunity to scare him again, Lu Chu had no choice but to wave his hand in surrender, “actually, I was really frightened. Really, when I’m scared, I’ll lose my voice and become stunned like a wooden chicken.”

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.

Yang Cheng glared at him for a few seconds, then nodded, “I believe you!”

Lu Chu gave a slight smile.

Yang Cheng also smiled, “I’ll stop joking with you for now, and go inspect next door first.”

Lu Chu nodded, “I’ll also go—”

“Lu Chu.”

When Lu Chu heard someone call him, he was a little stunned as he turned around, and saw that Qi Li was staring at him.

Yang Cheng gave a laugh and patted Lu Chu shoulder, then said, “since Qi Li is looking for you, I’ll go myself.”

Then, he left the room.

After they met in this ‘game’, this was the first time 7 actually took the initiative to speak to him, and Lu Chu couldn’t help but feel happy. He walked to the man, and gave a soft smile, “what’s wrong?”

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Qi Li looked in the direction that Yang Cheng left then shook his head, “nothing.”

The atmosphere was very awkward, and Lu Chu opened his mouth, wanting to say something, but the man pressed against his shoulders and pushed him to the corner.

Even if there was a strong flashlight, there were still dark corners in the large dilapidated classroom, especially when the others were busy with what they were doing, and didn’t spare any energy paying attention to other things.

Qi Li was talker than Lu Chu, and he was also physically fitter. When he cornered Lu Chu against the wall in this manner, it was as if his whole body was enveloping Lu Chu.

Perhaps it was because of that period of time where they depended on each other and fled for their lives, Lu Chu didn’t resist his actions at all, and instead, he laughed, “what are you doing?”

Qi Li’s voice was calm, and he spoke from beside Lu Chu’s ears in a low tone, “everything I promised you, I remember.”

With that said, in this corner that couldn’t be seen, he slipped a piece of paper into Lu Chu’s hands, then moved away quietly to organise things on the other side. After that, Lu Chu tried to talk to him, but Qi Li didn’t pay any more attention to him.

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.

Everything I promised you……

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.

Lu Chu realised that it should be the questions that he had asked 7 in the first game.

The old lady who was left behind shook her head as she smiled and said, “still like a child, so eager and anxious.”

What 7 meant was that he would definitely tell him everything that he knew.

7 had too many mysteries on him.

Oh right…… Just now, the man had given him a note.

Lu Chu turned around, pretended to search for something, and secretly opened up the note, looking at the with the help of the flashlight.

There were only two sentences on that piece of paper.

[From life till death, don’t trust anyone.

if you see this, this is a scrambled version.

I will find you.]

What did he mean……

“Little Chuchu, come and help me.” Song Gui’s call interrupted Lu Chu’s thoughts.

Lu Chu shoved the note into his pocket, organised this thoughts, went over to Song Gui and listened to him ramble on as he arranged his work.

Half an hour later, a strange smell made Lu Chu frown.

This faint but unpleasant smell left a deep impression on him, and Lu Chu looked at Qi Li, who was a little further away, and realised that he was also looking over, and he didn’t know how long he had been watched.

When Song Gui saw this, he asked, “why are you in a daze for?”

Lu Chu turned to Song Gui and asked instead, “Song Gui, do you smell anything?”

“Smell what?”

“The smell of blood.”

The scent of blood that gradually went from light to strong.

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!”

When Song Gui heard his, he frowned, “I didn’t smell anything, how would there be the smell of blood in this kind of place…… unless……”

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!”

“Not good!” Li Jiapeng suddenly shouted and ran over, “just now, Yang Cheng went into the room next door, and I thought that since everything was almost done here, I prepared to move there, but I found the other room had been locked from the inside!”

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!”

He Mingde said indifferently, “so what if it’s locked? Who knows, it might be that brat Yang Cheng who did it on purpose, planning to scare us.”

But Li Jiapeng was anxious, “but there’s blood leaking out from the gap under the door!”

“What did you say?!” He Mingde gave a shout and ran next door, and Li Jiapeng followed closely behind him. Qi Li also placed down the things in his arms and walked over. Seeing this, Lu Chu also wanted to go over, but Song Gui grabbed his arm.

He looked back, and saw that Song Gui was smiling happily as he said to him in a low voice, “it’s finally starting.”

It’s not as if Lu Chu couldn’t understand why Song Gui chose not to get involved in order to complete the task, and he might become someone like this in the future, numbly carrying out round after round of gambles at the cost of his own life. However, as a former ‘insider’ of the game, at least for now, he couldn’t do something like laughing as he said, “hey, look, another one died again.”

Breaking away from Song Gui’s hold, Lu Chu went out of the room.

Song Gui licked his lips, “he’s still a good, honest kid.”

Saying that, he also followed behind.

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The room next door had indeed been locked from the inside, and because the wooden door was too old, there was quite a considerable gap at the bottom, and a thick, blackish-red liquid slowly flowed out, excluding a raw scent.

He Mingde pushed the door, but didn’t manage to push it open, and started to slam against it while the remaining people also stepped forward to help.

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.”

One could easily imagine the strength of several grown men. There was a little ‘creak’, and the old lock, along with a part of the door, fell to the ground. He Mingde looked at the people around him, gulped, didn’t dare to open the door, and only raised his voice, “Yang Cheng?”

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.

Nobody answered, and He Mingde’s voice started to tremble, “Yang Cheng, what are you doing inside? Is it that fun to scare us?”

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.”

Drip, drip–

The only thing that replied him was the clear sounds of liquid dripping.

Li Jiapeng beside him was the most impatient one, and simply stepped forward to push open the half-opened door, and the bright light of the flashlight shone into the closed room.

Drip, drip–

Drip, drip–

The scene in front of their eyes, caused everybody to hold their breath.

There were snake carcasses all over the ground, neatly chopped into pieces, with their slightly white meat turning outwards. They were scattered all over the ground, layer after layer, covering the entire floor. The carcasses of the snakes were soaked in fresh-smelling blood, letting out a smell that made people feel like vomiting. In the middle of the room, Yang Cheng’s body was hanging in mid-air, and around his neck was the body of half a snake, with its blood slowly dripping down.

The had blood trickled onto the broken snake bodies on the ground beneath it, causing that dripping sound.

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Li Jiapeng’s eyes immediately turned red, “Yang…… Yang Cheng?”

As if he had heard Li Jiapeng’s shout, Yang Cheng’s body moved, and suddenly, blood started oozing out, mixing together with the snake blood as it dripped towards the carcasses of the snakes below.

The pale moonlight and the light from the flashlight shone into the house, and everything seemed to be in slow motion, as they saw the bodies of the snakes started to wiggle, tangle with each other, then slowly returned to their original shape. Suddenly, Yang Cheng’s body fell from mid-air, splitting in pieces of bone and flesh, covering the chaotic and wriggling snakes.

Gradually, at a speed visible to the naked eye, he turned into a pool of blood.



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. rubydium

    Although YC was just a small character, that’s still very sad…To see one of your friends die in such a way so suddenly…😔

  2. Madi

    Wow, spooky ~
    Thanks for the chapter! I hope you’re staying safe 💕

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