A Guest in a Ghost House - Chapter 27

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Chapter 27 Xiao Lingdang’s Past
Sister Hua sighed again and told me about Xiao Lingdang’s past .
Although our county was not big, it occupied a very important geographical position . It was a major land and sea transportation hub, and naturally attracted the attention of the Japanese army back in the day . One day, the Japanese occupied the town and stationed a garrison there, and the tragedy of the Fan House, and the whole county, began .
It was at that time that Xiao Lingdang was sold by her parents to the Fan House, at only 11 years of age . The precocious Xiao Lingdang seemed to have resigned herself to her fate, feeling that everything was ordained by the will of Heaven .
Xiao Lingdang’s character made a favorable impression on her peers at the Fan House during her training period, and the other girls always protected her, trying to keep her away from their own path . Xiao Lingdang’s job at the Fan House was similar to mine, wearing a boy’s clothes every day as a waiter .
Sister Hua, as the owner and procuress of the Fan House, was well-known throughout the county, and served the Japanese troops as well . Even in those chaotic times, the Fan House was unaffected by the war .
Until one day, several Japanese officers came to the Fan House to entertain themselves . There was one new, abnormal officer, who didnt like women, but was interested in Xiao Lingdang . Ignoring Sister Hua’s protests, the Japanese officer was about to take Xiao Lingdang away, but then happened to discover that Xiao Lingdang was a girl .
The Japanese officer felt cheated and became so angry that he said if Xiao Lingdang was willing to pretend to be a man, she should become a real man . So the Japanese officer peeled the skin off Xiao Lingdang and caught a random boy and tore his skin off as well, and swapped their skin . Xiao Lingdang did not die immediately, instead she painfully struggled to keep the officer from draping the boy’s skin over her .
That was when Xiaozui ran to ask a Japanese official for help . The senior Japanese official fancied Xiaozui, though she had never cared about him . To capture her heart, he was always treating her well and doing her favors .
Xiaozui devoted herself to get help, but it was too late, and it ultimately led to the end of her painful life . She was burned to death for it .
Xiao Lingdang ended up without a human skin to wear and the Japanese tossed the dead boy’s corpse with her skin on it somewhere no one could find . Nobody had paid attention in the chaos, and when the sisters went looking for it, they had no idea where to start . Xiao Lingdang has been looking for her skin all these years because she couldn’t reincarnate without it, forcing her to exist as a supernatural ghost .
Hearing this story, I felt a lump in my throat . I’d heard stories of the brutal Japanese tyranny ever since childhood, but Sister Hua’s experience made it even more real, and I couldn’t believe Xiao Lingdang’s ordeal happened to such a cute little girl . Was it destiny?
I was speechless for a long time . Finally, I said to Sister Hua, Sister Hua, if Xiao Lingdang’s skin is on that boy’s body, then where is that boy’s ghost?
We never found the boy’s ghost, but it hasn’t gone to hell . Im sure of it, said Sister Hua .
I nodded . I didnt know why Sister Hua was so sure, but it was clear that the boy definitely became a vengeful ghost, which made me feel helpless, but also gave me hope of finding Xiao Lingdang’s skin . As long as it was still in this world, I would find it one day . Sister Hua once said that it was not easy for a ghost to leave its place of death, no matter what type of ghost it was .
I thought for a moment and said, Sister Hua, I tried to look up some information about this place before, and I remember there is a documentary TV series about that period which says there were several mass graves around the city . It might be a clue .
The TV series I mentioned was produced by a local political faction in the early nineties, in the local dialect . The story was about the county and the surrounding areas, but the film was not famous and I had only a vague memory of it as a child .
Sister Hua shook her head and didnt speak . I understood her meaning . In the few days I’ve been in the Fan House, it was full of guests every night . If the stories of mass graves were true, Sister Hua would know some ghosts who knew of them . Nevertheless, I had to try .
I did not press her further on the topic of Xiao Lingdang, Sister Hua ordered me to finish up with Grandpa Huang’s request as soon as possible . I promised to go there tomorrow, and then Sister Hua left, as the guest were already arriving .
I had to pick up the pace and get to work too . Perhaps because of the fake Taoist’s show, tonights business was unusually busy . I was kept busy until 3 a . m . before I could finally sit down at the bar to have a rest .
Hey .
I turned my head and saw Lulu’s unexpressive face pushing a glass of water in front of me . Seeing me turn around, she quickly turned away, as if to show that it was not from her .
I drank the water and politely thanked her . I didnt think that Lulu would take care of me . After all, she had been angry for a long time .
But Lulu gave me another glass and said, “Did Sister Hua tell you about Xiao Lingdang?
I turned my head in surprise . Although I did not understand why Lulu was so angry at me, I did not dare to offend a woman with so much rage . I nodded, Yes .
Do you have any ideas?”
Not really, I shook my head . Even the mass graves were just a long shot .
“Find it for Xiao Lingdang, will you? Lulus words carried a tenderness and supplication that I’d never heard from her before .
Dont worry, Ill find it, I nodded heavily .
Lulu showed a rare smile . I never realized what a beautiful smile she had; she always had on a poker face till now .
I suddenly thought of a question, Lulu, do you know the three people who died here last time?
Lulu nodded, Was that when you came to burn paper for the first time?
Yes . Where are their ghosts now?
Lulu thought for a moment and said, It still hasn’t been seven days . The ghosts of the two boys should still be on the second floor .
I looked toward the second floor and felt a chill run down my spine . I wanted to ask why the two boys were killed, but in the end I held myself back . I didnt want to tempt fate, although I felt it was unlikely I’d be killed for asking .
But Lulu offered up the answer: the two boys crushed Sister Jiajia’s tablet, so she killed them . ”
I paused . Who was Sister Jiajia, and what’s with the tablet? Seeing that Lulu voluntarily spokek, I knew I was worried about nothing . The burning desire to learn more gossip burned in my heart .

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