Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 1 Book of Thunder – Chapter 51 Beginning the Investigation (1)
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 51 Beginning the Investigation (1)
“Twenty years…” My second aunt said slowly. “Has it been twenty years already? Gosh, time really does pass too fast and now you’ve seen me when I’ve become old and haggard. Really… my gosh…”
I was left to stand awkwardly to one side, watching the two reminisce. I could only cough dryly. “Second aunt…” I said.
“My gosh!” My second aunt noticed my existence for the first time, suddenly flustered. “A-aren’t you Gu Yu? What are you doing here?”
I laughed a little awkwardly. “Well, it’s a long story…”
“Gu Yu is kind of working for me. He helped me out quite a bit back in Yan City.” Wen Jiubo said, patting my shoulder and smiling. “This time he also decided to come with me to help work out what’s happening with this case.”
As she listened to Wen Jiubo’s words, my second aunt seemed to remember what the business at hand actually was. She opened the door hurriedly. “Oh, that’s right, that’s right. Let’s speak inside. Come on in.”
The last time I was at my second aunt’s home was probably back when I was in my third year of senior high. During that time, my mom was busy with the business and didn’t have much time to go back home. When she was at home, she would always be reprimanding and verbally abusing me. After my second aunt found out about it, she couldn’t stand it anymore and talked with my mom, bringing me to stay with her. Back then, it was all thanks to my second aunt that I had the time and energy to study hard. Even now, the person I had the most positive feelings towards was still my second aunt.
My second aunt’s house wasn’t big to start with, but when I walked into the living room, I discovered that there were more people already sitting down. Adding in both Wen Jiubo and myself, the not so big space suddenly seemed even smaller.
I looked into the living room curiously, there were three people sitting on the sofa – my uncle, my male cousin who had just returned from Japan and my younger second female cousin. My uncle was wearing a leather jacket, sprawled on the sofa smoking a cigarette, a frown between his brows. My male cousin sat next to my uncle, cracking open and eating sunflower seeds. When he saw me, he raised his hand in greeting. My second female cousin was wearing a short skirt and high heels, sitting with her legs crossed on the very edge of the sofa. Her head was bent downwards, focused on her phone.
“I think everyone from the family is mostly here.” My second aunt sighed and looked at me. “Your mother is the only one not here, she said her fashion business had an important contract and she will probably only make it tomorrow.”
I let out the breath I had been holding inside silently. Thank goodness my mom couldn’t make it, otherwise, I would definitely be skinned alive right here.
“Everyone, this is the exorcist I hired, Mr. Wen. He’s come a long way to help mom.” My second aunt said, introducing everyone else in the living room. “Mr. Wen, from left to right, that’s my younger brother, my nephew and my niece.”
Wen Jiubo nodded, clasping his hands together in front of himself and bowing slightly. “Sorry for the intrusion, I’m Wen Jiubo.”
However, in contrast, except for my uncle who reluctantly nodded in Wen Jiubo’s direction, the attitudes of the other two were very cold.
“Second aunt, can you stop inviting all these strange people?” My male cousin said, annoyed. “If it’s not a Daoist, it’s a priest. Grandmother is mentally ill, there’s no point in hiring all these people, we should hurry and send her to the hospital instead.”
“But, we can’t say that for certain.” My uncle furrowed his brows, patting my male cousin once. “We’ve been to the doctors already, didn’t they say they couldn’t find anything wrong?” he said in a low voice.
“Then a fortune teller can see something? Really.” My male cousin grunted and turned his head around, refusing to look at Wen Jiubo anymore.
“What’s the problem though?” My second female cousin, who had been playing on her phone this entire time, spoke up. She still didn’t look away from her phone though. “Useful or not, we might as well try everything we can. Either way, they come to try and trick us for money, but in the end, they won’t be stealing our money.”
My second aunt stood in the living room, her expression full of awkwardness. The hand she had reached out during introductions still hung there, as if she was unable to decide whether to keep it there or not. Wen Jiubo started frowning, clearly unhappy, but didn’t say anything.
However, I was long used to the members of my family spouting sarcastic barbs every now and again. It was one of the reasons I especially disliked hanging around my relatives from a young age.
“I’m sorry, come this way.” My second aunt said softly, leaving the living room. She led us to another room inside the hallway.
This was a bedroom and there was an old woman lying on the bed, my grandmother. It had been a year since I had last seen her and there seemed to be more wrinkles on her face, making her seem even older. She was currently breathing evenly, as if asleep.
My second aunt walked over and smoothed down a corner of my grandmother’s quilt, sighing.
“I’m really sorry. They’re usually like that. If their words offend you in any manner, I apologize on their behalf.”
Wen Jiubo shook his head to show that he wasn’t bothered, instead, his gaze was focused towards the old woman lying on the bed. “This is who you wrote of in your letter? Your mother who would go insane in the middle of the night?”
My second aunt nodded. “But don’t worry, we fed her some sleeping pills. There shouldn’t be any problems at the moment.”
Wen Jiubo sat down on a seat next to the bed. “Then can you tell us in detail about what’s been happening in the past two days?” he asked, looking attentive.
My second aunt nodded and began her story. “It started off more or less like how I described in my letter. A week ago, my mother’s mental state deteriorated, like I described, she would often get out of bed in the middle of the night, wandering around from one end of the room to the other, mumbling some strange stuff. Afterward, she wouldn’t just wander, she would also get very maniacal.”
“What sort of maniacal?” Wen Jiubo asked.
“That’s… very hard to describe to you both.” My second aunt said hesitantly. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen someone who suffered from mad dog disease.”
“Mad dog disease?”
“Yes, it’s about the same as that. Her face would be expressionless, eyes cloudy and her mouth would be open, spittle leaking out. However, she would still be extremely aggressive, jumping on anyone who came near, yelling things that we couldn’t understand. There was one occasion where she broke the window and then continuously attempted to jump out. When I went to stop her, she bit me.”
As she spoke, my second aunt rolled up her sleeve, showing us her arm. As she said, there was a clear bite mark on her arm. You could tell that it was done with quite a bit of force, the wound had swollen and had also turned slightly purple.
I couldn’t help but worry. “Then maybe grandmother actually has mad dog disease?” I asked.
I had heard that the incubation period of mad dog disease was quite long, catching it ten years ago meant it was possible that it would only surface today.
But my second aunt shook her head. “No, it’s not. After that day, I informed the entire family. Originally, everyone wanted to send the old lady to the hospital, but the old lady went quite mad. She would bite and claw at anyone she saw, no one could do a thing. In the end, we had to request a few doctors to make a house call and none of them said it was mad dog disease. Instead, they said she was just mad.”