Ghosts Know What I Experienced
Author: Mo Chen Huan
Pinghu Natural Scenic Area
The alleged Jiangnan water towns were surrounded by mountains, water, and endless emerald green trees. Pinghu Scenic Area was located in a small county town of J Province. Just two years ago, they were rated as a National A-level scenic area. Two years later, the star rating did not go up and visitors became less and less. It made the county government anxiously worried.
But at the beginning of this month, a group of people entered the Pinghu Scenic Area carrying machines. Their hands were full of bags. Hearing the news, the folks of nearby villages all flocked to the scenic area. They have yet to see anyone before they were stopped by security.
“We’re talking about a movie that will be in cinemas, let those country people leave further away. If any equipment gets knocked over, is it considered mine or yours?”1
The one talking was a twenty-some years old youngster with a thin body sitting at the top of the mountain like a swaying dog’s tail grass. He sat in the director’s chair and gave a single glance at the group of farmers below the mountain, face full of disdain. To the deputy director, he said, “This movie of ours, investment is in the tens of millions, a machine is going to be hundreds of thousands…”
Early in the morning, the crew still hadn’t booted up the equipment. The director was swearing while scolding. The female lead had just arrived to the crew to start makeup. Over there, the bit part supporting actors were already prepared.2
This crew came to Pinghu Scenic Area to film a movie called School Beauty: Soul Shocking Night. Hearing the name, it was precisely a purebred domestic horror film.
The country put forth regulations a few years ago. After the founding of the country, demon spirits cannot become refined.3 Of course, they cannot have ghosts either. So, the domestic horror films of this year were all schizophrenic. This movie was no exception.
Although the country’s level of review of horror films was so strict that they’re beyond recognition, every year, there had to be one or two horror films released in cinemas to complete some movie quotas. This School Beauty: Soul Shocking Night would be in theatres in July. Even though filming only started in March, the director wasn’t in a hurry at all.
The female lead was in the dressing room chatting and drinking tea. The male lead was still at the county hotel sleeping. Only the group of bit part actors suffered. Three people were at the set waiting all this time. Only at noon did the director lazily took the crew deep into the woods to prepare for filming.
“The actors over there, you have read the script right? Later, don’t NG. Let’s pass it in one go.”
The scene that’s to be filmed today was the scary scene at the beginning of the movie. Such domestic ghost films generally started high and then went low. The scare level at the beginning was the pinnacle of the film. In this School Beauty: Soul Shocking Night, the opening scene was a chase for your life, deep in the forest.
The natural landscapes of Pinghu Scenic Area were preserved quite well. Tens of meters tall trees towered high, covering the blue skies. Filming at this kind of remote, densely forested mountain, the tree leaves in all directions would rattle once the wind blew. Even in the daytime, there was an inexplicable gloomy atmosphere.
The director shouted to start and the three bit parts hurriedly ran out. The two people at the back kept turning and looking back. Their faces plastered with no small amount of fake blood, eyes wide, and frightened. Suddenly, not knowing what they saw, they just screamed and fell down.
The camera was still chasing after the last bit part at the front, running faster and faster. All of a sudden, the supporting actor was seen getting tripped by something. He climbed forward a few steps, staggering. The cameraman directly went around, shooting his face from the front.
The neat, delicate, and pretty face was full of shock. Both eyes widened with fear. His body was constantly trembling.
The camera lens went closer and closer, closer and closer, only to hear a scream of despair. The director happily shouted, “Cut! Good, this is a pass!”
The supporting actors that just fell to the ground all stood up. The crew continued to be busy.
Xi Jia wiped the sweat from his forehead, picking himself up. He first went to the dressing room to change clothes and then went to the refreshments room where the crew rested. He picked up his suitcase in the corner and walked outside.
Just halfway, a strong young man came running over. Seeing him like this, he bitterly advised, “Brother Jia, this kind of bit part role, why are you acting it for?4
Xi Jia looked down toward his friend from his university days.5 “If I don’t act to make money, you’ll support me then?”
Speechless, Chen Tao rolled his eyes, “I didn’t say you can’t act, but can you not always act this kind of role that just dies in one minute? Today, this Director Wang even told me you were coming. He said that your looks are not bad, acting was also okay, and can totally play a supporting role with a name and surname. He asked me why I just let you act the role of an extra. You also know that there’s someone behind Director Wang, otherwise, how else can his first movie be able to be in cinemas? Listen to my word of advice, next time act in something with a bit more scenes, okay?”
Xi Jia put his suitcase down, “There’s quite a lot of scenes for this role.”
Chen Tao widened his eyes, “Get chased for a bit, then film the front face, you call this a lot? Look, you came to the crew just yesterday, and today you leave right after finishing the filming. You don’t even need to bring a second set of clothes to change. If this amount of scenes is considered a lot, Brother Jia, does your conscience not hurt?”
Xi Jia patted his good friend’s shoulder, and said with a serious face, “We handsome men have no conscience.”
Chen Tao, “……”
It was useless to say more. After saying goodbye to his best friend, Xi Jia carried his suitcase and walked down the mountain by himself. Before leaving, he still didn’t forget to wave his hand, and said with a serious face, “I’m poor recently. Next time, if there’s this type of good role, remember to remind me again. Especially if it’s Director Wang’s movies, I still want to pick up some more.”
Chen Tao was so angry that he picked up a stone and threw it over, “You only shoot that tiny bit of scenes, how much pay can you get? There’s several directors like Director Wang with more silly money.6 Next time, I’ll definitely arrange something with more scenes. Just you wait!”
After leaving the Pinghu Scenic Area, Xi Jia directly took the bus back to S City. Looking out the window, the trees constantly flew past. The handsome and beautiful young man put on his headphones, and gazed at the green water and blue skies with a poker face.
Xi Jia graduated from university last year, then directly became unemployed.
Usually, it’s said that with his kind of computer major, it’s the most popular after graduation: salary higher than peers, work hard for a few years, and you could save for a down payment. But there were two people that did not take the usual path in their dormitory.
One transformed into an unemployed, Xi Jia, who would refuse to find work even if you beat him to death. And the other one was Chen Tao.
Chen Tao’s dream since he was a child was to be an actor. Who would’ve thought his looks didn’t pass. His acting wasn’t good either. After graduation, he went straight to Hengdian.7 Starting from extras, after half a year, he became the head of the bit parts, responsible for contact between crews and the extras. The biggest bit part under his hands was precisely his good brother, Xi Jia.
During college, Xi Jia would appear and disappear mysteriously, frequently skipping classes. For half a day, you wouldn’t be able to see his shadow. With four people in a dorm, he only had a good relationship with Chen Tao. As for the other two roommates, he couldn’t strike a conversation with them at all. However, Xi Jia’s fame at school was not small. His senior sisters took candid photographs when he just entered the school. Immediately, he was rated as “a flower of the IT department.”8
Having such a school hunk face, usually as long as you enter the entertainment circle, you can make some money even if you aren’t famous.9 But Xi Jia deliberately just wanted to be an extra. It was best if there’s only one scene. If there’s more than three, he would definitely refuse. Each time, staying with the crew for one day, arriving on the same day, leaving on the same day, and not being familiar with the crew were the best.
With such an unmotivated friend, Chen Tao was extremely angry, but he had no choice. In order to not let his friend starve to death, he could only find roles for him as often as he can.
Strangely enough, Xi Jia’s face was liked by many horror film directors. The feeling when shooting on site was still alright. Once it came to post-editing, as long as there was this face on the screen, the editors always felt an inexplicable chill, down to the bones.
From then onwards, a lot of horror films would contact Chen Tao, letting him help find this guest actor.
The bus swayed through the toll. Suddenly braking, the people in the entire bus were startled awake. Soon, curses and complaints sounded. The driver quickly stood up, “There seems to be a car accident in front. The road is blocked. Everyone don’t worry and fasten your seat belts.”
After hearing about the accident, only then did the passengers became more quiet.
The bus was like a snail, slowly moving along on the highway. It took a while to reach to the front of the traffic jam. All of a sudden, an ear piercing scream rang out. In the next moment, the crying of a child resounded throughout the bus.
The mother sitting in front of Xi Jia quickly covered her daughter’s eyes, sweetly coaxing, “Xin Xin be good, don’t cry, don’t look there, there is nothing there. Mommy is here, don’t be afraid, Xin Xin’s the best, Xin Xin’s the bravest……”
As the bus moved past the scene of the accident, many thrill seeking passengers, one after another, ran over to the windows on Xi Jia’s side looking curiously.
“My goodness, this accident is too miserable. That person’s head is all crooked. Are they still alive or not?”
“I think they’re definitely dead. What’s the use of driving a BMW? Hitting a ditch, even flying a plane is useless!”
“Probably not dead yet, but they lost too much blood. If the ambulance still doesn’t come, then they can’t be saved.”
The nosy people took out their cell phones to take some photos and sat back in their seats. Their line of sights all concentrated on the bloody body of the owner of the BMW that was hit.
The bus drove out of the traffic jam bit by bit. Xi Jia was also watching calmly. After the bus left the traffic jam completely, it regained speed once more, driving forward quickly.
But behind the bus, nobody knew that a girl in a blue school uniform was sitting upright on the completely wrecked front of the BMW. Her face was full of blood with half of her head smashed in. She didn’t seem to feel the pain, just staring at the BMW owner lying in the pool of blood with her deathly pale eyes.
Soon, the police and ambulance came together. The moment they stepped out, paramedics quickly lifted the owner of the BMW into the ambulance, doing first-aid. However, after three minutes, the paramedic took off their mask, and looked at the police saying, “Time of death: 16:24 (4:24 pm).”
After hearing that sentence, the female student sitting on the front of BMW suddenly laughed. She turned her head and glanced at the direction where the bus disappeared. Her lips cracked open, releasing a penetrating laugh. Then jumping from the BMW, she disappeared into the air step by step.
Xi Jia arrived home in the evening. A small black shadow flew over right after opening the door. Soft little paws were on Xi Jia’s leg. With a pair of round, watery eyes, the poor little guy was softly meowing incessantly. Xi Jia put his suitcase to the side, and picked up the little guy.
There was no one else in this empty home.
Xi Jia walked towards the cat’s nest, and saw that the fish meat in the bowl had not been touched. He sighed softly, picked up the small spoon next to it, and gently smashed the fish a bit. Then, he brought the small spoon to little guy’s mouth.
The black kitten narrowed its eyes. The tip of the red tongue gently licked the fish on the spoon. One person and one cat were feeding and eating peacefully. Xi Jia fed the last bit of fish into the kitten’s mouth, but the kitten felt wronged and meowed nonstop, as if it hasn’t ate enough.
Xi Jia picked up the kitten and went towards the kitchen. The kitten obediently laid in his arms, and saw Xi Jia take a small fish out from the fridge. It immediately stared at the fish with excitement.
His lips couldn’t help but curl up, his soft voice gently sounded, “I’ll make it for you right away, okay?”
The kitten seemed to understand. Its head curling back into Xi Jia’s embrace, soft fur wrapping around Xi Jia’s neck. He had a kitchen knife in one hand, and the fish in the other. But just when he put the fish onto the cutting board, suddenly…!
The kitten gently took a bite, and the string around Xi Jia’s neck abruptly snapped.
His pair of clear eyes widening, Xi Jia directly threw the kitchen knife. Quickly, he leaned over to catch the string that fell towards the floor.
On the red string was a thumb sized jade the color of blood underneath the illumination of the setting sun. The jade slid down the red string. Xi Jia’s movement was very quick, and grabbed the string in one swipe. But just as the moment he caught the string, the blood colored jade fell onto the tile floor with a “kacha” sound.
As if something had rushed out, the residents currently taking a walk in the community garden felt a chill one after another. “What the hell?10 Yesterday, didn’t the weather station say the temperatures would rise, how is it suddenly so cold?”
In the gap between the soil and trees, in the dark corner of the road, a strand of a gloomy, black colored aura slowly awakened, climbing up from the rocks.11
Just five li away from this community on Jingdu Lake, many tourists took advantage of the weekend to cruise around the lake, taking in the scenery.12 White sailboats and yachts could be seen sailing all over the wide lake. No one noticed a tall and lofty figure floating on the lake since three hours ago, looking indifferently at a mass of black qi in front of him.13
Within these three hours, the mass of black qi charged out again and again. But no matter what, it couldn’t rush out of the range of the circle. Gradually, the volume of the black qi was getting smaller and smaller, and the strikes became more fierce. The black clothed man in front silently looked on this whole time.
Currently, the mass of black qi was reduced to the size of a fist. Probably after another half hour, it would be completely eliminated. But at this time, the handsome man in black sharply turned and looked at a building in the distance. The black qi also suddenly became violent, and directly turned into a ferocious looking middle-aged man.
“Ahhhhhhh yin energy, such strong yin energy……I want to eat it, I want to eat it!!!”
Translator’s Notes – The first few chapters is gonna be hefty in terminology and notes. Hopefully it’ll die down later.
1 They’re talking about the bill for repair or replacement. ↵
2 Bit part actors are higher than extras but lower than supporting characters. They have little to no lines like cameos, but unlike cameos, they are not famous. The term bit part will appear often and extra was not used at all in this chapter. Since they are somewhat considered a supporting role, the author also used supporting actors to describe them. I used bit part and extra interchangeably for variety. ↵
3 Demon and spirits cannot become refined – meaning, they cannot become human/level up. I don’t know about such a rule for movies in China…probably means they cannot be too realistic. ↵
4 哥 (Elder) Brother – Most of you should know by now, but just in case…calling someone else brother, or uncle/aunt/etc. doesn’t necessarily mean they’re related to them. They call them brother/uncle/aunt/etc. to express familiarity or politeness. In this case, he is calling him brother like hyung in Korean. ↵
5 死党 lit. Dead party or sworn follower, basically best friend. ↵
6 傻钱 Silly money – Internet slang that literally means foolish money. Similar idiom: He wears a ten dollar hat on a five cent head. ↵
7 Hengdian – the town contains largest film studio in the world. A lot of the historical dramas are filmed there. ↵
8 校花 lit. school flower, meaning school beauty. Flower usually refers to females. He entered the list of school beauties. It actually says IT School or something similar, but department seems to fit better. ↵
9 校草 lit. school grass, meaning school hunk. Male equivalent of school beauty. ↵
10 什么鬼 – What the hell is literally “What ghost” in Chinese. It becames a pun in this story. ↵
11 气息 – can mean breath, aura, presence, smell, flavor, but I’m leaving it as aura. ↵
12 li – aka Chinese mile, 1 li= .5 kilometers or .3 miles. ↵
13 气 – qi, sometimes romanized as chi or ki, can also mean gas, air, vital energy, energy, etc. If it’s ambigiously mentioned like black qi, I’m leaving it as qi because it makes sense with black gas or black energy. If it’s pretty definite like yin/yang/yuan qi, I’m going to translate it as energy. ↵