First Published on Chaleuria.
I ignored ‘Uncle Wang’, crouching down to ask Xiaoying, “Xiaoying, the room that you say is haunted, is that your room?”
“Can you take big brother to your room to have a look?” I continued.
Xiaoying nodded again, pulling me by the hand towards the inside of the house. I was about to stand and follow but was stopped by the guy named Wang.
“What do you think you’re doing? How dare you break into someone else’s home?”
I utterly loathed this man with my entire being, but even so, this was his home and I was only a guest. I smothered my anger and did my best to explain kindly.
“Uncle Wang, I’m just a little worried about Xiaoying. I’m just going to have a look, I won’t do anything.”
“No way, who knows what you would or wouldn’t do!” The man frowned, shooing me away impatiently with his hand. “I only opened the door on account of Xiaoying. I’ll take care of my own family, thank you very much. Get lost!”
At his outburst, Xiaoying broke down into tears.
“Uncle Wang, please let big brother in!”
“No, no! Go away!”
At this point, everything got chaotic. I took this opportunity to sneak through, following the corridor down. I spotted a pink room that I figured must be Xiaoying’s. I had no idea why they would put their daughter’s room at the very end of the corridor. Even for someone like me who didn’t understand feng shui , it seemed very unlucky.
However, before I had a chance to look at the room layout clearly, a hand closed around the collar of my jacket, hauling me out by force.
“You little bastard! I already told you to leave, are you planning on making me throw you out instead? You better stay away from Xiaoying!” The man named Wang unhappily yelled at me, throwing me aside with force.
I stumbled and Bai immediately jumped over, sinking his teeth into the man.
“Fucking hell, this ferret bites as well. Fuck off!”
Bai slammed into the ground, making distressed sounds. I hurriedly moved and picked him up, whispering quietly to the helpless Xiaoying.
“If there’s any other trouble, just write a letter to the little ferret, okay?”
The little girl nodded, her eyes full of tears. And just like that, Bai and I were unceremoniously chased out of the house.
“Evil humans!” Bai chittered from my shoulder, teeth bared. “He dared to kick me! It hurts so much —”
“That was pretty embarrassing,” I angrily said, brushing the dirt off myself. “Xiaoying’s stepfather is such a disappointment. Just because she’s not related by blood, that’s still his daughter. He didn’t even care at all. And her mother from start to end didn’t even come out to say a word.”
“Humans are such strange creatures,” Bai said, waving his tail. “She clearly said in her note that Uncle Wang was very kind to her.”
“We can’t be certain. It might be because that uncle doesn’t trust us at all.” I scratched my head and sighed. “The next time we visit, we’ll probably get the door slammed in our faces. We’ve failed our first investigation so badly already…”
“Complaining isn’t going to get you anywhere~,” Bai said in a ‘been there done that’ tone. He patted my shoulder with a little paw. “The most pressing thing to do now is to go get some food and then take a nice long rest. We’ll think about this tomorrow.”
At those words, my stomach started to growl. I found a nearby noodle shop and bought Bai a packet of chips for him to munch on. Just as we arrived back at my dorm, I suddenly remembered something.
“Crap, I… think I forgot to bring my dorm key with me!”
“Why are you always forgetting things, are you dumb?” Bai said unhappily, “What about your dorm mates?”
“They told me yesterday that they’re spending the night at a net cafe and won’t be back til tomorrow,” I replied, depressed. “What do we do now?”
Was my only option tonight to wander the streets with this weasel, homeless?
Bai thought about it for a moment and then suddenly said, “Hey, Mr. Wen is out right? We can go back to the old residence!”
“I-is that so?” I was originally thinking about asking Shi Yitong for a favor, but hearing Bai’s suggestion, I paused. “But… would it be alright?”
“Why wouldn’t it be alright?” Bai told me eagerly. “He’s not here and his bed is empty. If we’re going to work for him, we should at least get some sort of benefit out of it!”
“B-but…” I stuttered.
“But what? Let’s go! I don’t want to sleep on the streets.”
“Didn’t you originally just sleep in bushes?” I teased him playfully.
“That’s not the same, not the same!”
As I argued with Bai, I walked towards the mountain at the back of the school. In reality, even if I had forgotten my dorm key, there were many ways to get around it. I could ask the dorm managers to borrow one, or I could ask Shi Yitong to see if they had any space in their dorm, or I could just rent a room at a motel outside. But I didn’t know why I followed Bai’s suggestion, in the end, pushing open the old residence door.
Even though the owner of the old residence wasn’t there, the front door wasn’t locked. Or rather, the front door didn’t even have a lock. However, I figured that Wen Jiubo probably had some special way to keep out intruders.
Bypassing the familiar double doors, I noticed that the flowers placed on either side of the walkway had their petals closed as if sleeping. It seemed that this old residence indeed did have some strange connection with Wen Jiubo, without him here, I somehow felt that this large place was overly quiet.
“Bed! Bed!” Bai jumped down from my shoulder and immediately slunk like a wisp of smoke towards the room.
“Oi, you! Wait up!” Luckily my reflexes were fast, catching Bai a split second before he landed on the bed. I held him up by the scruff of his neck, scolding him like a child. “Go wash up first. You’re not allowed on the bed until you’re clean!”
“You’re so annoying!” Bai scowled, but still obediently went to take a bath without further complaint.
I pushed aside the thin gauze door curtain and walked into the bedroom. I had been here once before, but before I could see anything clearly, I had been chased out by Wen Jiubo. The first thing to come into vision was a wooden table. There were a couple of books on the table, stacked neatly and some yellowed paper inscribed with charms I couldn’t read. A few pens sat in the pen holder and there was an ink stone with dried ink by its side.
Chair, table, wardrobe, dresser and a single bed. That was all of the furniture in this room. It was both simple and neat, and it was hard to tell that it was a man’s room. If I didn’t know any better, I would probably have said that this was the room belonging to the female lead of some period drama.
Wen Jiubo’s bed was very clean, both the blanket and pillows were set down neatly. I couldn’t help but reach out a hand to touch the soft bed, somewhat distracted.
To be honest, it was very hard to imagine what Wen Jiubo was like when he was sleeping. He always gave the impression of being above us mere mortals. Imagining him undressing and lying down to sleep like any other normal person seemed rather impossible.
— What was I thinking? My face felt vaguely hot as I judged myself silently.
 feng shui, (pronounced [fə́ŋ.ʂwèi]) is a Chinese metaphysical and quasi-philosophical system that seeks to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feng_shui