Tang Shizhe and Gao Yong giggled as they looked at each other and started to make a series of dirty jokes. Lu Chu was dragged to their side and forced to listen in.
Finally, with Lu Chu’s reminder, Gao Yong remembered that he hadn’t unpacked his luggage. He stopped messing around with Tang Shizhe, then turned around to pack his things up.
Before the sun went down, Lu Chu andTang Shizhe had carried everybody’s bedding back into the bedroom.
Lu Chu placed his sheets on his bed then said, “let’s lay out the sheets, pillows, and blankets, then we can sleep.”
“Roger,” Tang Shizhe gave Lu Chu a military salute, “this one will go now!”
Lu Chu didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
After packing up, the three of them went to the cafeteria for dinner.
That night, even until all three of them fell asleep, Chen Hong didn’t return to the dormitory.
The next day, after Tang Shizhe looked at Chen Hong’s still unoccupied bed, he exchanged an expression with ‘as expected’ written all over it with Gao Yong.
Although the semester was supposed to start today, they didn’t actually have any classes. All they needed to do was report to the instructor’s office and sign-in.
Due to this, some daring students simply bought train tickets that would be arriving tonight, then simply looked for students from other majors to help them sign in — in any case, the instructor
would only see them a few times per semester. They wouldn’t be able to remember everybody, so it would be fine as long as they had the right gender.
During the afternoon, when it was time for the specialised students to report and sign in at the office, Chen Hong was still nowhere to be found.
Tang Shizhe asked the other two, “Chen Hong still hasn’t returned, has he and his girlfriend reached that white-hot and intense stage?”
Gao Yong’s tone was full of envy, “ah, it’s possible…… that said, should we sign for him?”
“How could we sign?” Tang Shizhe asked back, “it’s going to be right under our instructor’s nose, and one person can only sign for one name.”
Gao Yong thought for a while, “maybe, one of us will sign first, then he can go again in about half an hour?”
Tang Shizhe looked down upon him, “it’s not as if our instructor has Alzheimer’s. Even if he can’t recognise you, couldn’t he tell that you’re the same person?”
Gao Yong laughed and said, “we can change our outfits. If that doesn’t work, we can just find someone from another specialisation, right, Lu Chu!”
“I’m not experienced with this, so I’m not sure,” Lu Chu replied.
Just as the three of them were discussing how to get away with signing in for Chen Hong under their instructor’s eye, a clicking noise came from the door along with the sound of a key opening.
Afterwards, the door of thebedroom was pushed open and Chen Hong walked in somewhat weakly.
“You’re back. We were still discussing how to sign in for you,” Gao Yong said, speaking like he was going to take credit for that idea. However, the moment he saw Chen Hong’s face, Gao Yong’seyes widened in shock, “holy shit, were you squeezed dry? !”
From what he could see, not only were Chen Hong’s steps weak, but his face was also kind of pale and green. His eyelids were somewhat lidded and lifeless, and there were heavy and dark circlesunder his eyes. His lips were somewhat dry and peeled, and his entire mental state was extremely poor.
Tang Shizhe was also taken aback, “bro, you played around so intensely?”
Chen Hong rubbed his eyes and his voice was hoarse, “what are you guys thinking about? Yesterday, I took the train for a good half of the day and at night I had to help my girlfriend’s entire dorm move their luggage. I’m exhausted.”
“Then where did you sleep last night?” Tang Shizhe asked one of the questions he was most concerned about.
“Where else can I go? I stayed with my girlfriend at the hotel,” Chen Hong said, as he yawned and climbed onto the bed, “I’m tired, I’ll go to sleep first.”
Tang Shizhe and Gao Yong exchanged glances. Look, he talked for so long, but in the end, it’s still about his virility being used up.
Before Chen Hong went to sleep, Gao Yong asked loudly, “then what are you going to do about your sign in?”
Chen Hong muttered, “I went to sign in when I came back……” His voice was getting softer and softer,and a couple of minutes after he stopped speaking, the sound of snoring came from the bed.
The other three glanced at each other and spoke softly.
Tang Shizhe, “then, shall we go and sign in?”
Gao Yong, “let’s go.”
Lu Chu, “let’s go.”
The three of them walked out of the dormitory, and Lu Chu, who was at the back, looked in Chen Hong’s direction before closing the door.
The atmosphere felt a bit eerie.
After they went to the instructor to sign in, Tang Shizhe and Gao Yong decided to go to an Internet cafe to fight together for the day, forcefully bringing Lu Chu along. The three of them booked a single room, and Lu Chu stared at the computer in a daze while the other two were so excited to play the games until they almost broke the keyboard.
Their dinner was also directly settled in the Internet Cafe’s room. They made instant noodles, and when Lu Chu tried to leave in the middle, Tang Shizhe and Gao Yong forced him to stay, saying that they shouldn’t go back to disturb Chen Hong’s sleep.
The dormitory’s main door would be locked at around ten o’clock in the evening, and it would be quite impossible to climb in through the windows since they lived on the fourth floor. Therefore, at nine o’clock, with great reluctance, Tang Shizhe and Gao Yong finally announced an end.
Lu Chu breathed a sigh of relief. It was finally over.
Back in the dormitory, Chen Hong was still asleep. When he heard the three of them opening the door, he squinted his eyes somewhat dazedly and went to the toilet, and after washing his hands, he climbed back into the bed and continued to sleep. As Lu Chu looked, he noticed that the current Chen Hong’s complexion was a little better with a slightly ruddier colour. The gloomy aura around him had also faded.
Lu Chu was already certain that Chen Hong had encountered something unclean. As for what it was, it was hard to say.
After cleaning up, Lu Chu received a call from his mother.
Lu Chu took the call and walked to the balcony.
“Hey, Xiao Chu.” His mother’s voice sounded from the other side.
“Are you going to sleep?”
“Mom needs to ask you something,” his mother’s tone was serious, “on New Year’s Eve, you said that you encountered something unclean at our doorstep. After that, did anything happen?”
Lu Chu’s expression also became serious, “nothing. Why, Mum, did something happen?”
Ever since he felt the cold wind pass by him on New Year’s Eve, apart from meeting 7 who had attached his spirit body onto the copper coin, he had never encountered anything else that was beyond the scope of science.
“As long as you didn’t, as long as you didn’t,” his mother felt half relieved, “there’s a girl in our village who is about the same age as you. She also goes to a university in your city, but your schools are different. The girl’s parents are working, and she lives with her uncle and aunt. Occasionally, she would go to her grandmother’s place. Due to this, when the school called her uncle to ask why she hadn’t signed in for school yet yesterday, he said she was staying at her grandmother’s place. When they asked her grandmother, she said that the girl was staying with her Aunt and Uncle.”
Having said that, his mother sighed, “now, both sides have discovered that she’s missing.”
Lu Chu frowned after hearing this story, “has she been found?”
“She was found,” his mother said, “it started to snow again after the year started, and the snow piled up in many places around the villages. Just around a snowbank, following along the small path in front of our house, in a pile of snow some distance away in a barren field, the child’s…… corpse was found.”
Before Lu Chu could react, his mother continued, “we called the police and a doctor. The doctor said that the child fell into a pile of snow and was frozen to death. Her time of death was—”
When his mother said this,Lu Chu already knew what she would say next.
“The night of New Year’s Eve.”
His mother suspected that the chilling wind that Lu Chu felt that day had to do with the dead girl, which was why she had rushed to call him and ask about it.
“Mom, don’t worry, I haven’t encountered anything.” Lu Chu comforted his mother for a moment before she felt relieved, and said a couple more things out of concern for Lu Chu before hanging up the phone.
He walked back into the room from the balcony, while Tang Shizhe and the other two had already climbed into bed.
“Lu Chu,” Tang Shizhe shouted from the bed, “turn of the light when you go to bed.”
Lu Chu responded, cleaned up for a bit, then turned off the light and headed to bed.
Lying on the bed, Lu Chu was stillthinking about the matter that his mother had just told him — he didn’t know if this dead girl was related to the ‘Nuptials of the Corses’.
As Lu Chu sorted through his thoughts, he touched the red mark on his chest.
7’s soul was still weak, and he needed to rest. Ever since the day that he met Lu Chu, he hadn’t appeared again.It was as if he was sleeping, and there hadn’t been any news.
As his thoughts turned in his head, Lu Chu closed his eyes and fell asleep before he knew it.
Late at night.
There was no moonlight outside the dormitory, and the darkness inside it became even darker.
Lu Chu frowned in his sleep, let out a low groan, and curled up his body like he was protecting himself.
He was dreaming.
In his dream, he was inside a bridal chamber. On one wall of the bridal chamber was enshrined with portraits of gods he didn’t recognise. In front of the portraits was a reddish-brown wooden table with apples and other food on it.
Lu Chu was in the room, unable to move.
Suddenly, loud drum music sounded by his ears. He felt his body shake along with the rhythm, as he was carried into a bright sedan chair made out of paper. There was the sound of a suona1 being played by his ear, interspersed with the sound of heavy drumming. The people standing in front of the suona team were carrying a red basket, scattering handfuls of white papers outwards, which was exceptionally eerie amid the festive music.
The sedan chair went on for an unknown amount of time, and by the time it finally stopped, Lu Chu felt himself being lifted out of the sedan chair.
He was placed in a deep pit big enough to fit two people in the ground, and just when he thought that he was going to end up buried alive, another body was placed beside him.
It was the corpse of a woman.
Most of her hair had fallen off, and her skin and flesh had long since turned dry and black on her body. Her torso was thin, almost like a bunch of bones, and her body was exuding a rotten stench.
Lu Chu could see it clearly. The moment that she was placed next to him, her cloudy eyeballs that were about to rot out of her eye sockets moved, slowly turning in his direction.
A handful of clear water poured down, bitingly cold as it splashed over his body.
Lu Chu felt the clear water falling on his own body as if flowing directly through his abdomen, dampening the ground under him.
It turns out, he was also a decaying corpse.