With screams stuck in their throat, the scene in front of them had disappeared by the time they returned to their senses, leaving behind nothing but a thick and blackish-red stain of blood on the ground.
From somewhere they didn’t know, came the sound of liquid dripping.
The next day.
In the village that had been calm for nearly two decades, waves had been set off. For some time, there were discussions surrounding this topic, and when the people thought about what had happened twenty years ago, they became nervous.
Lu Chu, Song Gui, and the rest were called to the village chief’s place, in order for him to understand the exact situation.
In the village chief’s room, Lu Chu’s mind was filled with nothing but wiggling snakes; they were chopped into pieces, or whole, and all of them were bleeding. It was sinister and frightening, as the blood spread little by little, reaching the bottom of his feet.
He had heard before that a snake only had one and a half cups of blood inside of it, the snake blood that had covered the ground up till his ankles, how many snakes must have died?
The village chief sighed, and said with a sad expression, “I didn’t quite agree with you guys when you went during the day, but I didn’t think that you guys would dare to go in the middle of the night…… Mrs. Lu didn’t stop you?!”
The village chief had just mentioned the Lu family’s grandmother when noise started to travel in from the outside, then the Lu family’s grandmother opened the door and walked in.
“My dear grandson, granny’s dear grandson!” The minute the old lady saw Lu Chu, her tears couldn’t stop falling as she turned him from left to right to check if he was okay, then, she started to chant, “Amitabha, Amitabha, dear ancestors of the Lu family, protect my dear grandchild from misfortune…… The generations in our Lu family have never done anything bad before, and we only have one descendant in this generation, bless and protect my dear grandson, bless and protect my dear grandson…… I should have stopped you guys at that time, why did I agree so easily, this old, foolish me……”
Granny Lu’s mood was extremely unstable, and Lu Chu quickly helped her to sit on a chair at the side, patted her back and continuously comforted her, “Granny, I’m fine.”
When the village chief saw the Lu family’s grandmother in this state, immediately, his eyebrows tightened even more.
On the other side, amongst the four people who had remained silent, Li Jiapeng was the first one to collapse. He kept biting his right hand, and his whole body was trembling as he started to sob. He Mingde’s eyes were also red, Song Gui stood at the side with a gloomy expression, and Qi Li’s expression couldn’t be clearly seen since he was looking down.
The village chief took in a deep breath, calmed down, and said, “it’s been twenty years, and something like this hasn’t happened since then. You, young people really are bold, and the trouble you cause is a really big one!”
Song Gui’s eyes turned red, as if he was really holding back his tears, and Lu Chu felt as if he really had to applaud his acting skills.
Song Gui choked, and asked, “what’s up with twenty years ago, has something like this happened before?”
The village chief glanced at him, and started to tell them the story about what had happened twenty years ago. It was generally quite consistent with what Granny Lu had said, but there were a little more details.
After Song Gui and the rest of the four people heard everything, they became silent, after a long while, Li Jiapeng stoop up and said, “no matter what, Lil’Cheng1成子 (lit. Cheng Zi). 子 (zi) can be added at the end of a name (or part of it), to show closeness, etc. Like Xiao/Little, 子 is a common nickname term, and it also can be used to refer to children, or someone younger. is dead, and we can’t even find his body. We’re his bros, so we certainly must deliver justice for him.”
“Justice? How are you going to find justice when it comes to matters of ghosts and gods?” The village chief interrupted him, “besides, you guys are the ones who spooked something there, and who knows if it’ll come again, and what happened if its next target is one of us villagers?”
Li Jiapeng disagreed, and when he thought about his buddy who had died in such an inexplicable manner, he subconsciously raised his voice, “Lil’Cheng’s matter is clearly isn’t some sort of unexpected disaster! Something happened in your village more than twenty years ago, so why must we be the ones to carry this blame now?!”
“Humph, young people know nothing nowadays. If the ghosts and ghosts want to harm people, why would they care if you were a good person or a bad person?”
He Mingde said, “Jiapeng, don’t talk to him anymore. This place is too remote and the phone signal is too bad, let’s go back to the city and call the police first, and let’s keep it from Aunty and Uncle Yang.”
Li Jiapeng sneered, “there’s nothing to hide, they don’t even care about Lil’Cheng. Anyways, Lil’Cheng was originally adopted by them, and afterwards, when they had their own child, it’s fine even if they stopped bringing him up, but Lil’Cheng basically turned into an ATM, free labour that could be exploited.”
He Mingde was still reasonable, “then, the more we have to hide, Lil’Cheng still had some money with him, and that Yang Family had always been eyeing it. If this thing is revealed, who knows what they would do, we can’t let Lil’Cheng not have peace even after death.”
When the village chief heard their conversation, he immediately cut in and said, “no, at this moment, none of you can leave this village! Calling the police is even worse!”
Several of them said at the same time, “why?!”
“You guys made such a mess, and we don’t know what’s going to happen next. What if this is just the start…… if you’re gone, what about the people in our village? This time, the one that caused everything is a spirit from down below, what use is there in calling the police, can they catch or exorcise evil spirits? I don’t know how people in the city handle these sort of matters, but for this, you must never call the police. In any case, until we’re sure that there won’t be another case, you guys should just stay in the village, and Lu Chu too, don’t casually go out.”
Li Jiapeng wanted to refute, but he was stopped by Song Gui. Song Gui said, “village chief, are you planning to imprison us?”
The village chief shook his head, “what imprison, it’s just for a peace of mind. Of course, we’ll find a separate courtyard for you to live in, away from other people. Young Lu Chu too, so that you don’t pass that negative energy to your grandmother.”
Before Lu Chu could even comment on anything after hearing those words, Granny Lu became very emotional and said, “this is our Lu Family’s good grandson, how could he live outside because of this?! No, no, my dear grandson will follow me home, and the others too. Granny’s already old, with one foot in the grave, I’m not afraid of these monsters or ghosts!”
Lu Chu felt conflicted, “Grandma……”
To be honest, if this sort of negative energy could really spread, Lu Chu was really unwilling to spread it to the old lady.
Granny Lu insisted, “my dear grandson, you don’t need to say anything. Now, go back home with Granny, and Granny will make something for you to relieve the stress, we’re not scared, not scared.”
Lu Chu still wanted to say something, when he saw that Qi Li was looking at him and nodded silently, without anybody noticing, indicating that he was agreeing with this decision of going back to Granny Lu’s place.
Lu Chu fell silent, and chose to believe the man.
The Lu family’s grandmother lived alone, and since she didn’t mind it, and was willing to take in these people, the village chief didn’t bother them anymore, as long as they didn’t leave the village.
On the way back to Granny Lu’s house, they ran into several people at the side of the road who were pointing to them and whispering.
When they reached home, Li Jiapeng collapsed onto a chair, and covered his face with his hands, “I feel as if I’m dreaming, and Lil’Cheng is fine.”
He Mingde took a deep breath, “me too.”
Song Gui and Qi Li remained silent.
Grandma Lu led Lu Chu into the inner room, rummaged through some boxes, found a bunch of worn-out amulets and gave them to Lu Chu. She said, “my good grandson has always been the most fortunate one, and he’s going to be okay. Come, these are some amulets the older generation left behind, wear it, wear it, we’ll be fine……”
The long and slow day went by under everybody’s tense mental state.
In the afternoon, Granny Lu couldn’t sit still anymore, dragged Lu Chu, Song Gui, and the rest of the them along, and once again came to Granny Wang’s place.
It was still the same closed space, the same dim yellow and orange candles that left behind a blur of light on the hanging yellow ribbons. A woman who could be described as a skeleton was sitting at a table, with three incense sticks in her hand, and when she saw them, she didn’t seem surprised at all.
Granny Wang continued on with her own actions, stood up, placed the incense sticks in the small incense burner in the back, before she turned and sat down in front of them.
Granny Wang said to Lu Chu, “help Granny bring the stack of talismans over.”
Lu Chu did as she said, and brought the talismans over to Granny Wang.
In turn, Granny Wang pushed the papers along with a brush stained with cinnabar to Song Gui and said, “write the names of the five people who came from the city.”
Song Gui wasn’t used to using a brush, and slowly wrote down the names of the five people—[Song Gui
Granny Wang took the talisman paper and looked at it repeatedly. After she had confirmed, she took a bowl filled with chicken blood, and placed the talisman into the chicken blood. The talisman changed upon contact with the blood, then disappeared. A moment later, the chicken blood suddenly started to burn, but the flame wasn’t even hot at all, but blue and cold, like a will-o’-wisp.
Granny Wang made a gesture, closed her eyes, and started to mumble.
After a long time, Granny Wang suddenly opened her eyes; her eyes were bright, and blood dripped out from the corner of her mouth.
“Song Gui, Qi Li, Li Jiapeng, He Mingde, Yang Cheng.”
“Four men came from outside the village.”
The author has this to say:
Granny Wang’s method is the author’s own nonsense, don’t take it seriously.