A Guest in a Ghost House - Chapter 18

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Chapter 18 A Dirty First Night
Night fell . I ate instant noodles again and prepared to head off but first, I called Wu Jian . He said he couldn’t go with me because he had work to do . I was annoyed with him, since he had motivated my decision to go through with this, yet I decided to go to the ghost house anyway . After all, I’d be living in the ghost house sooner or later .
I took out the bag with the paper and candles out of the cupboard . When I about to leave, I saw a white thing among the gold and red candles . I stared at it . It was a business card .
I picked up the business card . There was a name on it - Ge Xianshou - and a phone number . The back of the card had a small symbol, like a stamp . I immediately identified it - it was from the Hall of Tianshou . I remembered the old man in the Chinese tunic suit from inside the nice funeral shop I had visited the day before . When had he put the card in my bag? I could have sworn I never took it from him .
It didn’t matter anyway . I threw his business card into the trash can .
It was 11 oclock when I arrived at Kaoshan Street . There was almost no one around and all the stores were closed . Only the streetlamps were lit . I took a deep breath, standing in the gateway to the ghost house . I had never been here alone before . I had to admit, not having anyone with me made it significantly scarier .
I hesitated for a moment before going through the gateway, but eventually I pushed aside the gate and entered the courtyard . Not wanting to linger outside, I entered the main hall quickly . The hall looked was dimly lit only by the beam of light coming from the flashlight in my hand . It was as lonesome as I was . I dared not raise my head as I went forward towards the ceremonial bowl . I silently hoped the scene from last night would occur once more . Even though I knew they were ghosts, I’d be less scared if they took those forms .
The paper money and candles from the Hall of Tianshou were different than those from the mysterious shroud shop . They burst into flames as soon as I used my lighter . It was not difficult for me to burn them, so I let out a sigh of relief .
The light and warmth from the fire comforted me . However, everything around me suddenly became very bright when I put the last bit paper money into the bowl . I covered my eyes with my hand .
A burst of laughter rang around me . My heart rate accelerated . I opened my eyes, ignoring the urge to keep them shut . The sudden appearance of Sister Hua in front of me was so startling that I stumbled back two or three steps .
I had crashed into something behind me . I turned my head back and saw that I had crashed into a table, knocking over a few cups . Transparent liquid was spilling slowly along the surface of the table .
There was a man with a pale face beside the table . He looked at me unhappily . His eyes were completely white . I couldn’t stop screaming and fell on the floor .
A young, beautiful girl standing by the table said shyly, “Uncle Liu, please excuse him . He is new . Dont mind him . ”
Mr . Liu twitched his nose and said: “A living person?”
The beautiful girl said, “I don’t mind if he’s a living person or not!” The beautiful girl picked up a cup and poured wine into it, handing it to him .
The man she called Uncle Liu didnt pay any more attention to my shivering form and continued enjoying his delicious wine .
I felt a sudden pain in my ear . When I turned around, I saw Sister Hua was twisting it . She said, “If you hadn’t burned the paper money for me, I’d eat you right where you stand . Follow me . ”
She pulled me away as I was reluctantly dragged behind her . On the way, I saw many people in the hall of the ghost house . Then I remembered, they were not human . They were all ghosts . They were all drinking happily, but in a strange silence .
Sister Hua dragged me to a seat next to the back door . Then she let go of my hand and asked me to sit down . She said to me, “Today, I will teach you the rules . This is the Fan House . The doors open at 11 oclock; you should come here on time to do some trivial things . It’s easy . ”
I nodded, but I never asked her whether the time she meant was 11 oclock in the evening or the morning . I asked cautiously, “Um, Sister Hua, why are you making me do this?”
“You dont need to know that now . But you should work hard . If you do a good job, I will give you money to buy things . It is a profitable job . ”
I wasn’t quite sure if I should believe her . I wanted to ask something, but I was scared of angering Sister Hua . After all, she was a ghost . After some thought, I finally spoke my mind about the question burning on my mind, “Sister Hua, do you know about the pictures, those sets of three pictures?”
I had not yet finished my sentence when Sister Hua interrupted me, “Oh, that… it is none of my business . However, you should know that I put you on duty here just because somebody asked me to protect you . ”
I was bewildered . I always believed those envelopes were from the ghost house . However, Sister Hua denied any involvement with them . I felt there was no point in doubting her; Sister Hua wouldn’t lie to me, since she didn’t really want to harm me . But what did she mean by helping somebody protect me? Just when I thought I was about to get some answers, everything got a little more complicated .
Sister Hua sighed, “Do you know the different types of ghosts there are in the world?”
I looked up towards Sister Hua, not knowing anything on the matter . To be honest, I didn’t believe anybody really knew the answer anymore .
“When people die, they become the ghosts . If the ghost has feelings of bitterness, we call it a resentful ghost . If the personality of the ghost is evil, we call it a demon . If the ghost is stubborn, it is called a haunting ghost . Here, we are spiritual ghosts, neither good nor bad . We just want to enjoy the world . There is also the last type, a ferocious ghost . Ah, they are such pitiful creatures . . . They are . . . ” Sister Hua sighed and ended her sentence there .
I was very curious . Looking at Sister Hua, I asked: “Sister Hua, ghosts dont kill human beings, right?” I was hoping Sister Hua would say no . At least then, I would feel a bit more at ease .
Sister Hua used a hand to cover her mouth, letting out a giggle . After a moment, she said, “All ghosts can kill human beings . ”
Sister Hua’s words sent a chill down my spine, but I forced what was probably an ugly looking smile .
At that moment, someone called out to Sister Hua from outside . Sister Hua responded and turned to me, saying “I’m going out . Yan’er will explain the rest to you . ”
Yan’er, I was suddenly reminded of the female ghost who kept a worm in her hair . My face soured . A silvery voice rang out behind me, “Yan’er is accompanying the guests . Let me tell him . ”
I turned my head and saw the small figure of Xiao Lingdang in front of the door . Sister Hua seemed surprised, nodding, “Okay… Xiao Lingdang, teach him properly . ”
Xiao Lingdang nodded seriously . Sister Hua turned around to tell me, “Take this serious . ” and floated out the door .
Xiao Lingdang sat opposite to me and looked right into my eyes with an aggrieved look .

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