Netherworld Investigator

Chapter 25

Chapter 25

I told both of them that from now on the three of us should not be seen moving together. It was highly probable that Deng Chao was watching our every move all the time.

I told Huang Xiaotao to drive out of campus, and then after a distance find a place to stop and turn back. I myself went to the library alone and stayed there because it was a public place with a lot of people around so it would be safe. Once it was dark outside, I skipped dinner entirely and rushed to the abandoned building straight away.

The abandoned building was surrounded by a small wooded area, which made the place even darker and creepier, especially as it was nighttime. I started to get a little uneasy with every step I took, because it would be so easy for Deng Chao to jump out of the thick darkness here and kill me.

I wasn’t afraid that the murderer would show up; I was afraid that he would be able to escape with vengeance on his mind — I learned this the hard way when Grandpa died.

I entered the abandoned building, but somebody suddenly tapped on my shoulder! My heart almost stopped, but when I turned around, I heard a voice whispering, “Dude, it’s me!”

“Shit, Dali! You nearly killed me!” I said, my hand holding my chest as I sighed in relief.

“Did anyone follow you on your way here?” asked Huang Xiaotao. It seemed that they’d both arrived earlier than me.

“No.” I had been listening intently for the sound of footsteps behind me when I walked here, so I was very sure that no one had followed me.

Dali was about to turn on the flashlight that he brought with him, but I hastily stopped him.

“No! You’ll ruin the plan!” I said. “By the way, did you buy the stuff that I asked you to?”

“Here,” said Dali, handing me a bag. “What do you need these things for?”

“You’ll know later.”

We made our way up the stairs in the darkness. The two couldn’t see at all, so they held on to my shirt as I used my Cave Vision, which made me able to see in the dark ten times better than the average person, to lead the way.

I wasn’t just bragging about my vision, by the way. I read in a human anatomy textbook that there were cone cells and rod cells in our retinas. Cone cells were concentrated at the center of the retina, and were responsible for vision in bright environment; while rod cells were found all over the retina, and they were responsible for vision in low light areas. Rod cells were very sensitive to light, however, so if someone went from being in a dark place for a long time to a bright place suddenly, the eyes would be over-stimulated and they might hurt. I drank Grandpa’s Eye-Opening Elixir for seven weeks, and I also underwent special training to enhance my eyesight, and because of that I ended up with ten times the number of rod cells on my retinas compared to the average person. I can also control the dilation of my pupils at will, so I could easily see even in a place where there was hardly any light.

“How can you see so well in the darkness, dude?” asked Dali on our way upstairs.

“I trained for it,” I answered.

“What? You can train for that?”

“Yeah, just eat lots of carrots.”

We came to the third floor. I told both of them to guard the stairs and not to make any sound. There was only one staircase in this old building, so if Deng Chao wanted to kill me, he’d have to pass through the stairs no matter what.

“I’ll go now,” I said.

“Be careful!” said Huang Xiaotao.

“Don’t worry.”

I soon reached outside the door of the infamous music room. Police tape was still at the door, but the dead body had been removed. There were still dark traces of blood on the floor. Silvery moonlight shone through the window, while the curtains swayed to the night breeze. I felt inexplicably cold.

I pulled out a small bag of wheat flour and sprinkled a thin layer of it at the piano legs and under the windows. It was my preparation in case the ghost in a white dress showed up. Wheat flour is warm in nature, and it contained yang energy. This meant that it could be used to detect the presence of spirits and ghosts, which contained yin energy, without harming them.

Grandpa taught me these simple methods of dealing with ghosts. In truth, in ancient times it wasn’t just Daoist priests and monks who knew how to deal with evil spirits and ghosts. All kinds of professions had their own ways of doing it. Carpenters would use a special chant; stonemasons would burn a special joss paper when they went into the woods to quarry for stone; butchers would recite a special chant from the ancient texts before they slaughter an animal. But in present times modern industrialization made traditional professions obsolete, and these techniques gradually faded into obscurity.

It would be a lie to say that I wasn’t scared at that moment, especially after hearing Dali’s recounting of the horrifying legend of the cursed piano. Would I meet Xia Mo’s ghost tonight?

I looked out the window and noticed the source of this room’s incredibly creepy atmosphere. There was an intersection right outside the window, and a lot of old banyan trees that shaded the area from sunlight. This filled the room with high amount of yin energy — and that’s why it was so conducive to being haunted.

The moon was bright that night, so anyone looking in from the windows would be able to see the whole room, but anyone looking out from the room wouldn’t be able to see anything because of the leaves of the banyan trees. If Deng Chao really came, I would be easily visible to him.

That meant that it would be dangerous to just stand here doing nothing. And so, I pulled out a small brush and pretended to inspect the place while keeping my eyes out for any movements outside the window.

Seconds passed. Then minutes. These two hours dragged on so slowly that I became more and more impatient.

Suddenly, there was a strange susurrus noise in the room. I sensed an unexplainable cold presence behind my back. I slowly turned my neck to look behind me, and saw a slender figure in a white nightdress with long hair that covered part of her face standing right there in the middle of the room.

Her body was partly transparent, and her legs were almost invisible. Now I could see why there was a common belief that ghosts had no feet. But this ghost did actually have feet, because I noticed very light traces of footprints on the thin layer of wheat flour!

I stood there, stiff as a plank, while my heart was beating my chest like a drum. This was my first time seeing a real ghost! The ghost didn’t look at me, though. She moved across the room to the piano and lightly touched the keys with her white bony fingers. Her skin was as white as a sheet without any trace of blood under it at all, but all across her body were black cracks, signs that her body had been cut up into pieces.

“Miss Xia Mo? Is that you?” I asked. I was extremely nervous, so my voice was low and trembling.

The ghost slowly turned her head and stared at me with eyes that were all white. I noticed bloody lacerations on her deathly pale face.

I put my palms together and bowed, then said with a respectful tone, “Miss Xia Mo, please forgive me, but I must ask your permission to intrude upon your territory tonight to catch a murderer. I give you my word that my intentions are pure.”

I then pulled out a stack of ghost money and a lighter, then tried to burn it as an offering to Xia Mo. But no matter how many times I tried to light it, the ghost money just wouldn’t catch fire. A little bit of the edge would get burnt, but soon a wind would blow it out. I heard that when the ghost money wouldn’t catch fire, it meant that the soul you were making an offering to would not accept your ‘bribes.’

I made a few more attempts, but to no avail. I started to get slightly nervous, but in the end, I had no choice but to just give it up. When I lifted my head again, the ghost had disappeared. But seconds later I heard a voice coming from outside the room.

“A ghost! There’s a ghost!” yelled Dali in the hallway.

I cursed under my breath and rushed out of the music room, but was immediately met with Huang Xiaotao who was pointing the gun at me. Meanwhile, Dali was cowering on the floor, so terrified that he was visibly shaking.

“Don’t shoot! It’s me!” I said, with both of my hands in the air.

Huang Xiaotao squinted to look at me, and after a while she slowly dropped down her gun.

“Ah, dude, it’s you!” said Dali, who sounded like he was about to break into sobs. “I just got so scared my soul almost left my body! I saw a ghost wearing a white dress just now!”

“I saw it too!” said Huang Xiaotao. “I’d never believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes! That ghost floated past us like the wind!”

“Go, now!” I ordered.

“Go?” they both asked with widened eyes.

“I mean both of you should go down to the first floor now, and prepare to ambush at the front door. I’ll stay here. Call me if anything happens.”

The two exchanged looks with each other silently. After a while, it was Huang Xiaotao who spoke up.

“Are you sure? Why don’t we all go to the music room instead?” she asked.

“No,” I said. “Deng Chao is probably observing through the windows. He must not see both of you or our plan will absolutely fail! Leave, now!”

When they were gone, I returned to the music room and looked out the window. The branches of the trees outside were swaying in the wind, and the dim yellow light from the street lamp shone down on an empty street.

From the corner of my eyes, I saw a figure in white standing at the door, but I couldn’t see the face because it was obscured by long hair.

The sight shocked me so much that I broke out in a cold sweat, but when I turned around, that figure was gone.

I finally grasped what was wrong with the ‘ghost’. The figure that I saw was definitely a physical thing, not a spiritual one, and the body shape was completely different from Xia Mo.

I almost let out a cry, because the ‘ghost’ that Dali and Huang Xiaotao saw, and the ghost that I was seeing now, was actually Deng Chao!

What a cunning bastard!

And at that moment, I realized that he and I were the only ones on the empty floor!

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