Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 1 Book of Thunder – Chapter 58 Hospital (1)
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 58 Hospital (1)
I exchanged a questioning glance with Wen Jiubo, though he didn’t seem to express much emotion outwardly, merely helping my male cousin sit down on a chair before straightening up.
“Let’s go and take a look.”
I nodded, pushing open the room door. The hospital room wasn’t big, there was just a bed as if specially prepared for special patients. Next to the bed was an electrocardiograph which beeped steadily. A doctor stood next to the machine, wearing a white lab coat and holding onto a record book. My second aunt stood to the doctor’s side.
However, my gaze was completely focused on my grandmother sitting on the hospital bed. That’s right, my grandmother wasn’t lying on the bed, but rather sitting stiffly straight on top, with her knees bent and folded beneath her chin, curling herself into a ball. My grandmother’s hands were also clasped over her face tightly, her entire face was buried in her palms, and her hair had come loose. No matter how you looked at it, she looked like an asylum patient.
She was, however, very quiet, not crying or making a ruckus. Instead, she made no noise at all. From a certain viewpoint, my grandmother now was much more sinister and terrifying than when she was making a huge scene before.
“…was she already like this when you brought her in?” The doctor standing to one side of the bed asked.
“No, not at all. Before we brought her in, she was screaming and yelling and even scratched me.” My second aunt showed the doctor the bloody mark on the back of her hand. “But we don’t know why, after we brought her in and she woke up, she became like this. Hands across her face and no one can prise them open…”
The doctor nodded, noting a couple of words down on the record book, lifting their head to say, “Noted. For the moment we’ve already done some basic tests and your mother seems fine physically. It’s likely that it’s a mental illness. In a moment, I’ll go and contact a psychiatrist to take a look at your mother, is that okay?”
My second aunt nodded, her eyes reflecting her exhaustion. “Thank you for that, doctor.”
The doctor packed away the book as if wanting to leave but then seemed to remember something and turned back around. “Although, is there something wrong with the old lady’s throat?”
Throat? I looked towards my second aunt, confused. As far as I knew, my grandmother didn’t seem to have any problems with her throat.
“Is anything wrong?” my second aunt asked.
“After the old lady came into the hospital, her yelling and sobbing were quite hoarse and she also didn’t speak apart from that. I thought it was a bit strange so I looked into it a little,” the doctor explained, “I discovered that it seems like her voice box is injured. Is this a problem she’s had from before?”
“Oh… now that you mention it, I think it is.” My second aunt frowned, considering. “It’s something from before.”
“Then do we need to get a doctor from the otolaryngological department to take a look?” the doctor asked.
“There’s no need for that, I don’t want to cause trouble.” My aunt said, apologetically. “It’s an old problem for her, it’s okay.”
The doctor nodded, jotting something else down on the notes and then pushed open the room door and left. Then it was just my aunt standing next to the bed, wearing an exhausted-looking expression as she sighed deeply.
“How did it become like this…” My second aunt mumbled. “Everything was fine originally, everything was going smoothly, how did it change to become like this.”
I couldn’t bear it anymore, walking up to squeeze my second aunt’s shoulders. However, my second aunt not only ignored me but instead turned around and looked towards Wen Jiubo with an expression asking for help. However, Wen Jiubo remained unmoved, expression cold as he stood in place, utterly ignoring my second aunt.
In the period of time following, I sat outside the hospital room for a long time, keeping my mother company. My mother seemed like a completely different person, not reprimanding or verbally abusing me at all, only silently holding me around my shoulders, petting my hair in strokes.
After I don’t know how long, my mother suddenly started talking, voice low. “When I was small, your grandfather often beat me.”
I stilled, listening attentively.
“If I ate an extra bite of bread or had an extra mouthful of vegetables, even if I hadn’t done a single thing wrong if your grandfather was in a bad mood he would hit me as well. Sometimes when he got really brutal, your grandmother would step out and protect me, telling him to stop. However, everytime that happened, your grandfather would get even angrier and pick up a stick to start hitting your grandmother. Your grandmother wouldn’t say a thing, wouldn’t flinch, she would just stand there and let him hit her in silence. After a few hits, your grandfather would find it boring and send your grandmother away to do chores. Your grandmother… my mother, would then silently pick up a broom to sweep the floor, her back stooped, or went to clean the table. Afterward, one day, I accidentally saw my mother when she was changing. Her back was covered in bloody bruises and it was really scary, but she didn’t say a thing and only did the housework quietly.”
As she spoke, my mother’s eyes went red. She lowered her head, silently wiping away her tears.
My mother rarely spoke to me about this type of things. All these years, in my heart, she was forever fierce and terrifying. She had never shed a tear in front of me, ever. Seemingly after my father’s betrayal, she wanted to prove her bravery and strength as a woman in front of me as a man. No matter if it was her method of educating or her way of doing things, it always gave me a sense that she was invincible. Except, today I finally realized that my mother was also human, and was just an ordinary woman who was currently worried enough to be in tears over her own mother.
“Mom, it’ll be okay.” I couldn’t bear it any longer and took hold of my mother’s hand, softly reassuring her. “Wen Jiubo is here, he’s the strongest exorcist in the world. Grandma will definitely get better, please don’t worry.”
My mother nodded, wiping her tears with a paper napkin. She looked like she wanted to say something, but saw that my male cousin was heading this way from the other side.
“Auntie, are you sure it’s okay if you don’t go back? Didn’t you still need to finalize the contract for your company?”
My mother seemed to suddenly think of something, slapping her head. “Oh, that’s right. If you didn’t mention it, I really would’ve forgotten. It’s already five o’clock now, damn. Our meeting is set for seven in the morning, I’ve barely got enough time.”
“Then you should go quickly.” My male cousin sat down next to me.
“Then I’ll be leaving.” My mother stood up, hurriedly picking up her back. Before she left, she still took time to warn me, pointing at me with a finger. “Gu Yu, you stay here quietly. If you’re going back home or going out, tell your boyfriend to give me a call, okay?”
I didn’t know whether I wanted to laugh or cry. My mother and Wen Jiubo had only met twice and she was already so trusting of him? What sort of pretty boy trap did he use to lure my mother in so that she fell under his spell?
“Alright, I know. You should go quickly!” I waved at my mom and she left hurriedly.
It was then that I realized that my male cousin was sitting next to me.
I didn’t know where Wen Jiubo had gone off to and the teasing look my male cousin was giving me made my entire body uncomfortable.
“Your boyfriend? That exorcist is your boyfriend?”