Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 1 Book of Thunder – Chapter 36 Stakeout
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 36 Stakeout
“But this time, there was nothing. I don’t even have that feeling, let alone any dreams.” I couldn’t help myself from asking. “Wen Jiubo, that evil spirit. What exactly is it?”
“Who knows?” Wen Jiubo said, deliberately being vague.
“You obviously do know right?” I could once again feel my anger simmering because of Wen Jiubo’s half-hearted attitude towards things. “If you don’t want to tell me, then say so.”
Wen Jiubo looked at me with a helpless expression and then tucked his hands into his sleeves. “Gu Yu, have you heard about ‘living demons’?” he asked me seriously.
This was completely new to me, I shook my head mystified. “Living demons?”
“A so-called ‘living demon’ is someone who, while still alive, becomes a demon.”
“Becoming a demon… while still alive?” I repeated, surprised, unable to understand what Wen Jiubo meant. “How is that possible?”
“Everything is possible. As long as there is cause and effect, nothing is impossible.” Wen Jiubo looked in my direction. “I’ve told you before right? No matter what sort of supernatural being or superstition, it all originates from the human heart.”
“If there’s no evil in a person’s heart, then there’s no chance of an evil spirit. Therefore the existence of a ‘living demon’ is also easily explained,” Wen Jiubo continued. “A so-called ‘living demon’, is merely a human who has been cursed.”
“Cursed?” I felt even more confused. “You meant saying something like ‘abracadabra’, waving a wand and turning someone into a demon, that sort of curse?”
Wen Jiubo laughed. “Even though there are those, but the ‘curse’ we’re speaking of, isn’t that sort of curse.”
“Then what is it?” I tugged at my hair in frustration. “The more you talk, the more I don’t understand.”
Wen Jiubo smiled, explaining, “Let me try another easier way of explaining. For example —”
As he spoke, Wen Jiubo picked up a leaf from the grass beside himself. He presented it to me. “Tell me, what is this called?”
“Eh?” I was confused. “It’s a leaf.”
“That’s right, this is a leaf.” Wen Jiubo shook the leaf in his hand. “At the moment when you called its name, you, Gu Yu, placed a curse on this leaf. On the other hand, this leaf was also bound by the name ‘leaf’, never to be free from it again.”
“What are you talking about? I still don’t understand a word.” In light of Wen Jiubo’s utterly bizarre logic, I completely gave up trying to understand.
Wen Jiubo dropped the leaf. “Another example,” he said, suddenly leaning into my space. “If I do this…”
I jumped, startled by Wen Jiubo’s sudden move, his face had come dangerously close to mine. At the same time, one of his hands brushed across the back of mine, conveying a sense of warmth where our bare skin touched.
He was too close! The alarms in my mind went off, my heart started hammering away in my chest. Wen Jiubo had positioned himself so that his shapely mouth was only centimeters away from mine. I froze completely in place, my eyes fluttering closed reflexively.
At this point, Wen Jiubo’s lips moved up, next to my ear. He said softly, “If I did this, you would think that I was about to kiss you and close your eyes. Your face heating up, the rapid beat of your heart… these are also a type of curse.”
I suddenly got mad and didn’t even hesitate, punching straight towards Wen Jiubo’s face.
“Ow, that hurt!” Wen Jiubo didn’t have time to move aside, taking the hit straight on, almost falling to the floor.
“Serves you right!” I glared at him. “What face heating, what rapid heartbeat? You just wanted to take the opportunity to be indecent! You’re shameless!”
“You’re overreacting. It’s just a joke.” Wen Jiubo rubbed his cheek, a not-quite-smile on his face. “If I didn’t make you experience it first hand, how would you understand the meaning of a curse.”
“You want to think I fell for your curse, do you?” I said angrily. “You think too highly of yourself!”
“I didn’t say that…”
“What happened?” Bai was startled awake. He rubbed his eyes and looked at the two of us. “Why are you guys fighting already?”
“Ask him,” I huffed, pointing my finger at Wen Jiubo. “I can’t believe you still have the gall to joke around when the situation is like this!”
“Don’t be mad. It’s just that your serious face was way too cute.” Wen Jiubo smiled. “Don’t be so worried. It’s only nine pm, it’s still far too early for us to take action —”
As he spoke, Wen Jiubo lifted his gaze, looking over in the direction of Xiaoying’s room. He paused suddenly, brows drawing together and his lips thinning into a line.
“What happened?” As I asked, I followed Wen Jiubo’s line of sight and also paused.
Even though it was already very dark, we were close to Xiaoying’s room, so we could see through her window and into her room. Both of us immediately saw a floating black shadow inside.
“That is!” The words just left my mouth before Wen Jiubo clapped a hand across my mouth, motioning me to be silent.
He only let me go after I quietly swallowed my words and nodded at him. I stared intently at the window, my heart beating rapidly.
Not good, danger!
Just as I wanted to charge out, Wen Jiubo snagged me by my elbow, growling softly. “Don’t go out!”
I could only remain where I was, gritting my teeth and staring at the window helplessly.
Not long after, that shadow continued to move towards the bed. From where we were, it looked almost like… it crawled onto Xiaoying’s bed! At this point, I clearly heard Xiaoying’s sharp cry.
“No— don’t! Don’t come any closer!”
In the dim light, Xiaoying had sat up, but that shadow seemed to have grabbed her immediately, holding her against the bed. Xiaoying screamed loudly even as she struggled fiercely.
“Stop it!” I couldn’t stand it anymore, charging straight out of the grass thicket.
“Gu Yu, come back!” Wen Jiubo yelled from behind me, but I ignored him, my mind filled with only one thought.
— If I let that continue, Xiaoying will die.
I went straight for the window. It was positioned very low and didn’t have any security bars installed. With the force I slammed into it, it shattered immediately and I rushed in.
The glass scattered all across the floor. Both the shadow in the room and Xiaoying both stopped. I nimbly tumbled over, pulling out the torch I was carrying.
No matter what sort of ghost, it must fear the light.
Thinking that, I flicked on the torch and swung it directly towards the shadow. With a light on it, the features of the shadow were revealed before my eyes. However, it was then that I froze.
The shadow lit by my torch wasn’t some ghost or demon, but actually a human. A tall, thin human man, with overly pale skin. Due to the light from my torch shining directly at him, he was covering his eyes with his hands. Those very same hands clasped a dagger, stained red with fresh blood.
That man’s features were also familiar to me. That’s right, it was the very same man who chased us from the house the first time, ‘Uncle Wang’.