A Guest in a Ghost House - Chapter 6

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Chapter 6 Legend
“Wu, are you going out?”
An old neighbor walked towards me with a handful of green vegetables .
I forced a smile .
It occurred to me to ask her to take a look at the boy’s picture before I left .
I quickly turned around and held up the picture in front of her, “Aunty, do you know this boy?”
My neighbor glanced at the picture . She looked at me with suspicious eyes and said, “The picture is blank . Is this a prank?”
I took a deep breath that refused to come back out and apologized to her, I felt a darkness covering my heart like a widows veil at funeral: My family is so unlucky . Why are these things happening to me?
I didn’t want to give up just yet, so I asked a few more people .
Some were acquaintances, some were strangers, but nevertheless, the photos were completely blank to them .
With every confused stare I got from people that must have thought I was mad, I felt a coldness growing in my heart . It wasn’t easy for me to face the facts . I still wondered, why could my mother and Xue’er see it?
I’d rather endure all this horror on my own than get them involved .
I came back home with a forced smile after I hung out in the streets for a long while . We ate a fancy dinner, though it felt like I was chewing wax . I said good bye to my mom and Xue’er with mixed feelings .
There was nothing I could do but send them away since Xue’er had to go to school on Monday and my home was far away from her school .
I put the envelope I had hidden in my pocket into the box with the other envelopes . I had to figure everything out, even if it led me to my death . Now that my family had the risk of getting involved, I had to make sure they would never get hurt . Ever .
I tried to detach myself from the fear and confusion that clouded my mind . I knew I had to properly consider everything that had happened to me so far and come to a serious conclusion about what was going on .
I sat down and attempted to recall every last detail . Let’s see, I received a letter once every three days . There were three pictures every time . The first one was always normal . The second one was always strange, and judging by the angles of the shots, the pictures could not have been taken by the murderer .
Who took the pictures? What did the third one represent? A ghost?
Every time I received the pictures, the person in them was already dead . Therefore, there was nothing I could do to save that person . Did they just want to frighten me or did they think I enjoyed getting these pictures?
I wasn’t getting anywhere and I knew it . I classified all the pictures on my bed according to when I received them and their type, looking at the third category of picture, which were the strangest and most terrifying ones .
If the first one was the target and the second one was their death, then the third one had to represent their ghost . I admit that I was worried about whether or not ghosts existed . I have always been doubtful .
I had never looked at the pictures in detail, because I was so scared of them . Now as I scrutinized them, I realized that I was familiar with many of the locations where they were taken . After all, I lived in the same city .
Most importantly, there was a vague outline of a house in the background of every picture . It looked like two photos were printed on top of each other .
I fought back my horror . I made out the vague outline of a white, European-style house with Chinese influences . The house was not tall, and only had three floors .
The more I saw the house in the picture, the more familiar it seemed . However, I could not remember where I’d seen it . Since it seemed so familiar, the house couldn’t have been too far away from my house . I rarely went very far away from my home; I was an indoors kind of guy .
I stood up and went towards the computer, posting in the local BBS . As a veteran in the BBS forums, my posts always attracted attention .
There were many idlers who used the forums and my post had accrued many replies before the evening was over .
MoonStar: First comment!
Diao Jihou: Second!
Da Da Fang Fang: Looking to buy a house?

Skipping the nonsense, I saw a piece of useful information at the bottom:
Rujia Buddha: The original poster meant the ghost house in the middle of town .
Seeing that last message, I couldn’t help but get excited, “I think I just found a lead⋯” I hurriedly replied to the comment: @Rujia Buddha The ghost house is white and has three floors .
Rujia Buddha replied immediately: If you add my WeChat number, we could talk about it .
I rushed to my phone and opened up WeChat to add Rujia Buddha as a contact .
I asked the same question as soon as I added Rujia Buddha’s number .
Rujia Buddha: Do you plan on exploring that house? It’s a really evil place .
I wrote: No, I just saw a picture and I wanted to know where it was .
Rujia Buddha: Send me the picture .
It was impossible for me to show him the picture . No one could see it even if I decided to show it . So I replied, “I don’t have the picture anymore . ”
Rujia Buddha: Alright, wait a moment .
After that, he sent me a picture . When I clicked on it, I recognized the ghost house, although the angle of the shot was different and the outline of the picture I had was very vague .
I’m sure every country has its own ghost stories . The story of this ghost house was one such location with ghost stories tied to it’s name, and it was actually a fairly popular story in my hometown . All my fears and worries must have caused some lapse in my memory .
It was said the ghost house was once a brothel built in the early Chinese Republican era . However, its name has since been forgotten .
It came to an end when the Japanese came to destroy it . Many prostitutes were tortured to death in the ghost house and their bodies were thrown out of the house . There were many dead people left behind after the Japanese left .
It was a pity for the big house to be empty, poor people could not buy it and the rich simply didn’t want to buy it . They figured too many people had died there . This is why the house had become a wasteland over the years .
When the city swallowed up Kaoshan Village, where the ghost house was located, many buildings around it were destroyed, but the ghost house was left untouched .
As the city developed, the ghost house’s street became the center of the city . As the city grew more prosperous, the wild ghost house welcomed its first business . Nobody knew what it was called, because no one wanted to go there . About 21 people died in the ghost house without apparent reason within the first seven days, including tenants, workers for the design companies and laborers .
The stories about the ghost house spread quickly . The government covered it up, but still, no one dares to go into the ghost house to this day . Even the businesses in the neighborhood had to close down .
After all, life was more important than having a good location in the city .
I was even more scared after making sure that the vague outline of a house in the photos was indeed the same as the ghost house .
Perhaps if I’d been there before, I would not have been scared of the house . Since it was still a mystery to me however, the very thought of it had my heart racing .
After a lot of contemplation, I decided to leave home and go to Kaoshan Village, which was now called Kaoshan Road .
In the past, my mom made a living so that she could care for Xue’er and me . Now it was time for me to carry everything on my shoulders, or else, I could probably end up dead . I grabbed my things and went to Kaoshan Road .
When I arrived, I found out that the road was very crowded in the day time . After some searching, I found the white wall that guarded the front of the ghost house . I couldn’t help but notice that the urban legends about the companies in the neighborhood that had moved their businesses away from the house were false . They had not closed down as the legend claimed and even appeared to be making several sales . They were all open, including a watch stall to the right of the house . A gap of about 2 meters separated the haunted house from the watch stall .
To the left of the haunted house was a shop with sign that claimed they sold graveclothes . Inside, a old woman with white hair sat inside swatting away at mosquitos attempting to land on her .
That old woman slowly turned, I hoped I was just imagining things, but I swear she was staring right at me . ⋯

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