First Published on Chaleuria.
“Huh? Who’s reading your texts?” Bai said unhappily, “I’m talking about just before when you were picking out that lipstick for that girl. Straight guys can’t differentiate between so many colors. From where I was standing, all those lipsticks were the exact same color.”
I didn’t know why, but I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I put my phone back into my pocket. “I told you already, it was merely a coincidence, alright?”
Bai tilted his little head to the side. “Is that so… But even a coincidence is still pretty impressive.”
“Alright, why are you so talkative? Where’s that little girl’s house?”
Following Bai’s instructions, we quickly reached our target location. Still, when the large structure suddenly appeared looming in front of me, I was quite startled.
“Is this… a villa?” I mumbled.
“Probably? It’s quite large right?” Bai said from my shoulder. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have picked this place to steal food from. You can tell that they’re very rich with one glance.”
However, what startled me wasn’t actually the size of this house. It was more the fact that for such a big villa, there was a strange, sinister air to the place.
This place was already quite far from the city center, well into the suburbs. But compared to Shi Yitong’s home, this area was wild with not many trees left around – likely having been chopped down by people stealing wood. What remained were some dead branches and bare tree stumps.
It was already strange enough that someone was willing to build their house here. However, what was stranger though was the structure of this house.
Although when I say ‘house’, it would probably more accurate to use the word ‘box’.
Precisely, I thought to myself, agreeing with that analogy. It was exactly like a box.
This was a very boxy structure. Even though multi-story houses were all boxy in a way, but it was completely different from how this house before us was. The owner of the house seemed to deliberately want to enclose this house, the bricks were laid neatly, it had basically none of the unevenness that a normal house should.
The door was in the very middle of the structure, with windows on either side. You could faintly see the light from within — of course, that was to be expected. This type of Rubix cube-like structure must not be able to get light into the house naturally. Thus, the windows on both sides of the door seemed like the eyes of a strange creature, staring me down.
“Let’s go? Why are you just standing there?” Bai said, trying to hurry me.
“Don’t you think that this house is kind of strange?” I asked, pushing down my discomfort.
“Is it strange?” Bai tilted his head. “I’m not too familiar with human dwellings, so I can’t say.”
“Living in such a place, it’ll be strange to not be haunted,” I muttered.
If it were an option, I really didn’t want to go into such a sinister house. But since we were already here, if we didn’t go in to ask a few questions, then it would be rather hard to explain.
— I would clarify the case, then leave immediately.
Just as I was struggling internally with myself, the front door of the house suddenly opened. A thin man stood there, looking at us weirdly.
“Ah, you are…?”
The man looked like he was in his thirties. His face was slightly pale, and he didn’t look very happy with his brows drawn together.
“Ah. I…” Faced with such a question, I suddenly found that I was hard-pressed to come up with any sort of excuse for my arrival.
I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t exactly say that a girl had written a letter to a ferret and that’s why I was here, right?
Just then, a sweet, clear voice called out from within the house.
“Uncle Wang! Who is it?”
“Don’t know.” The man called ‘Uncle Wang’ turned to look inside the house.
Not long after, following the patter of footsteps, I saw a little girl dressed in a teddy bear sleeping gown walking towards us, rubbing her eyes. When she saw me, she let out a surprised ‘oh!’.
Eh? I only then realized that she wasn’t looking at me, but rather at Bai sitting on my shoulder.
Bai squeaked happily, jumping down from my shoulder and into the little girl’s arms.
“Hahaha, that tickles, don’t do that little ferret. I’m happy to see you again!” The little girl pressed her face against Bai’s fur, the two of them looking quite comfortable with each other. After a moment, she looked up at me. “Oh right, so you’re the owner of this little ferret, big brother?”
“Basically,” I replied.
“If that’s the case, then that’s great! You must be the savior that little ferret brought!” As she said this, the little girl grabbed my hand, bringing me into the house.
“Xiaoying, is this your friend?” Uncle Wang looked quite confused about everything.
“That’s right!” Xiaoying nodded. “He must be the big brother that little ferret brought to investigate the hauntings!”
After Xiaoying said that, Uncle Wang’s face seemed to darken slightly. He was clearly unwilling but still opened up the door to let me in.
Stepping inside, I found that the ceilings were higher than a normal house, making the entire place seem overly big, giving the feeling of an empty cave. As I had guessed previously, the lighting inside wasn’t great, which was probably the reason why most of the lights were on. With all those lights, it didn’t seem dark at all inside.
On my right, was probably the kitchen, you could hear the stove top fan whirring loudly and the sound of something frying. Shortly afterward, a woman stuck her head out, glanced at me then retreated again to continue cooking without saying a word.
“I’m sorry for the trouble my daughter’s stubbornness has caused you.” The man surnamed Wang apologized to me, but there was no hint of apology in his tone.
“Oh, it’s no trouble at all.” After hearing the unspoken words in his apology, I instead straightened my back and firmed up my tone. “Your Xiaoying must be quite worried about the haunting right? Otherwise, she wouldn’t be desperate enough to write a letter to a ferret for help.”
“What haunting? You needn’t concern yourself about it, it was merely a made-up tale from the mouth of a child too scared to sleep alone at night,” he said grudgingly waving his hand as if completely disregarding this entire thing.
“It’s not a lie!” Xiaoying retorted, her little face puffing up.
Experience had taught me that we should listen carefully to what children say. Small children tend to have a completely different view of this world from everyone else, but because it’s so different, it’s often disregarded by the adults in their life. Back when I was in senior high, I saw a case on the news. An entire family went to the river to have a swim, but the youngest son refused to go anywhere near the water. He kept crying and yelling about how there was something strange in the water, but no one in his family took any heed, thinking it was just a child throwing a tantrum. No one could imagine that afterward, everyone in that family, barring that small boy, all drowned in that river. They said that when they retrieved the bodies, all of them had a purple handprint across their ankle.