Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 1 Book of Thunder – Chapter 48 A Couple of Things
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 48 A Couple of Things
Walking out of the train, I stood on the station and breathed in the slightly dry air of the north, breathing it out in one long breath.
I had once again returned to this birth city of mine, Bei Ning.
Familiar air surrounded me, familiar surroundings, and even the stretch of the road from the station was familiar. I felt a complicated expression well up from my heart. Returning to my home, I felt both comforted and yet anxious.
I stole a glance Wen Jiubo who stood next to me. His expression was still very calm, you couldn’t see any sort of reminisce nor could you see any distaste. However, there did seem to be a faint sort of disappointment in the furrow of his brow.
Was that just my imagination?
“What’s wrong?” Wen Jiubo seemed to notice my gaze, turning around.
“No, that’s…” I thought about it for a moment but couldn’t help but ask. “No, I’m still very curious.”
“What are you curious about?”
“How do you know my second aunt?” I asked curiously.
Wen Jiubo laughed when he heard, asking. “Do you really want to know?”
No matter how I looked at it, my second aunt and Wen Jiubo were very different people, I didn’t think they would get along.
“I would have to start from before you were born.” Wen Jiubo said, smiling. “Twenty years ago, I stayed briefly in Bei Ning. Like these days, apart from being an exorcist, I had a normal day job as a cover – I was a teacher in a high school.”
“You actually were a teacher?” I asked in astonishment.
“Of course, don’t you think I seem like someone who would be a teacher?” Wen Jiubo smiled, eyes crinkling.
I rolled my eyes at him. “You were lucky that the school didn’t kick out a teacher as indecent as you.”
Wen Jiubo smiled, continuing, “However, it was then that this indecent teacher met your second aunt, Shanqiu.”
That’s right, speaking of which, my second aunt was also a high school teacher. Did this mean that she and Wen Jiubo taught at the same high school?
“At that time, she and I were colleagues, teaching the same class. Although we weren’t in the same office, we still saw each other on a day-to-day basis. But it was around the end of the school term that I discovered that there was something not right about her.”
“Something not right?”
“That’s right. Shanqiu was normally an outgoing person, but during that time she was quite depressed, there was even once where she forgot to bring her textbooks to class. She had to rush back to her office after the class started to get them. With my willing-to-help attitude, I went to ask her what was wrong. In the end, she told me that there was a ghost haunting her family.”
“A haunting?” I listened eagerly. “Then wasn’t that exactly —”
“That’s right, that was exactly my area of expertise.” Wen Jiubo said, smiling. “I only found out after asking, but around midnight every day at her house, there would always be strange sounds coming from the bathroom. It was creepy sounds of nails scratching against the wall. But whenever she gathered up the courage to switch on the light in the bathroom, there would be nothing there. This continued on for a week, and she wasn’t able to rid herself of the noise.”
“What happened after?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“Afterwards, I agreed to investigate at her house that night. We staked out the room, playing cards until midnight. Just when I was going to win, the strange sound of something scratching the wall came from the direction of the bathroom.” Wen Jiubo said, acting like he was taking it very seriously indeed. “However, I had already set a trap in the bathroom long beforehand. If anything appeared, it would, of course, fall into my trap. As it turned out, we heard a strange sharp cry from the direction of the bathroom, followed by the sounds of an immense struggle.”
“Then did you…” I swallowed, unable to help the way I was sucked in by Wen Jiubo’s story.
“Of course, Shanqiu and I immediately rushed over, kicking open the door and flicking on the light. It was then —” Wen Jiubo deliberately left me on a cliffhanger. “Guess what we saw then?”
“How would I know?” I urged him, “Hurry up and tell me!”
“We charged in and saw the thing that had been caught by my charm and noose — it was a skunk.” Wen Jiubo said, dragging each word out.
I laughed out loud. “A skunk?”
“That’s right, you didn’t hear wrong, it was a skunk.” Wen Jiubo smiled, tucking his hands into his sleeves, speaking as he walked. “It seemed that during that time, many skunks ran into Bei Ning’s sewers by mistake and the one we found in Zhang Shanqiu’s bathroom should’ve been one of the ones that got lost. It was definitely stuck in there for several days. Skunks are skittish animals by nature, so it wouldn’t have dared to come out during the day, only during the night, looking everywhere for a way to escape. The sound your second aunt heard, of nails scratching the wall, was actually made by that skunk’s claws. Basically, in the end, that terrified skunk sprayed an extremely noxious smell and then escaped through the window. It left just your second aunt and I standing in place, covered in that stench. That smell remains fresh in my memory, sticking around for a week.”
Wen Jiubo fanned his nose with his hand helplessly, as if he could still smell that stink even now. I laughed so hard that I had to bend over, and it took a while before I could recover my breath.
“But, wait.” At this point, I suddenly remembered something. “You said you were in Bei Ning as a teacher twenty years ago?” I asked.
I looked him up and down, unable to believe it. “Then how old are you now…”
Wen Jiubo smiled. He seemed just about to answer when suddenly, he was interrupted by a sharp voice.
That voice’s ability to carry wasn’t ordinary. Even amongst a packed crowd of people, I could still hear it clearly in my ear. My body shivered unconsciously, I was too familiar with this voice.
It was my mom.
If I raised my head slightly, I could see a woman who looked past forty but still very well dressed, standing at the very front of the station entrance. She had on vibrant lipstick and was carrying a shiny leather bag, looking around everywhere.
“Gu Yu!” She called again. Even though this call was quickly buried in the loud chatter of the crowd, it still remained clearly in my ear.
I stopped walking against my will, not daring to continue forward.
“What’s wrong?” Wen Jiubo’s voice sounded next to my ear. “The one calling you is your mother, right?”
“Yeah…” I swallowed.
“Why don’t you go over?” Wen Jiubo pushed me lightly.
Right… why not go over? Even if I just stood there, she would find me soon.
She wasn’t really going to eat me, we were in public after all. It would be okay.
I encouraged myself silently with these words, lowering my head and stepping forward.