Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 2 Book of Xun – Chapter 10 The Truth About Xiaoqiao
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 10 The Truth About Xiaoqiao
I laughed at myself a little, this time there was really no way out.
The monsters closed in on me mercilessly, reaching out with sharp claws.
Just when I was supposed to completely lose all hope, in that split second a feeling of unease struck me.
That’s right, unease.
From the moment I entered this forest, I had felt unease at the back of my mind. Now, as it was a matter of life and death, I focused all my brain cells onto this problem.
What was it, what part of it didn’t make sense? What was the thing that all of us missed because of the sudden danger? What did I not take notice of?!
The monsters came in closer and closer? I backed away futilely, thinking as hard as I could.
What was it… what was it… ?
It was then that I suddenly remembered.
Where was that young girl named Li Qiao? I turned my head to look. Li Qiao was currently crouched in a small corner, holding her head and crying softly in terror. But somehow, for some reason, those terrifying monsters weren’t attacking her.
In an instant, many previously ignored details ran through my mind.
The young girl was wearing a blue dress. But it was already well into autumn, we had all long since started wearing long sleeves and jackets.
She said she had survived with the food and water in the car, but when we went to check, we didn’t even see an empty water bottle lying around, let alone any water.
The forest’s ‘naturally formed’ barrier, that ‘classic-style’ car, and that fist I just threw that hit nothing but air…
That’s right. So that was it. The expression I looked at Li Qiao with, took on a hint of pity.
This girl must be very, very scared.
“Gu Yu, quickly, run!” Su Xiaoyun yelled at the top of her lungs.
The yells of my friends sounded from over there but I smiled, standing up straight. I didn’t hide nor withdraw, letting the monsters jump at right at me.
It was okay. If my suspicions were correct then…
The monster’s sharp claws reached towards me. I closed my eyes and only felt a gust of wind next to my ear. The pain that should’ve accompanied it never came.
I opened my eyes. Just as I had thought, that monster’s sharp claws were transparent, going straight through my body, but didn’t cause me a single shred of harm.
The rest of them seeing this, all froze.
Su Xiaoyun mumbled, “What’s going on?”
I let out the breath I had been holding, my entire body covered in cold sweat. I staggered slightly, sitting down on the floor.
I wiped at the sweat on my forehead and told them, “It’s alright, we’re all safe now.”
“W-what did you say?” Liang Kaifeng swallowed, walking over slowly. He used his hand to touch the monster.
There was nothing there.
“You’re joking right?” Liang Kaifeng said in disbelief. “This is a fake?!”
“What?” Bai’s expression was uncomprehending as he jumped over. It was the same result, his body also went straight through those monsters. “What is the meaning of this?”
Those mountain-sized monsters still growled loudly and gave off a bad stench, but they were unable to threaten us again.
“You would have to ask the girl over there.” I stood up and walked over towards Xiaoqiao in the corner.
Li Qiao crouched in the corner, her entire body shaking from fear. You could still hear her choking out, “No, don’t come over… So scary, don’t come over, don’t eat me…”
“Xiaoqiao.” I kneeled down before the young girl and gently called her name. “Qiaoqiao, don’t be scared. Big brother is here. Can you raise your head to look at me, please?”
Xiaoqiao still sniffled, but slowly raised her head.
“Don’t be scared. It’s alright, we’re here with you.” I reassured her again.
The young girl slowly stopped crying and then, something miraculous occurred. The monsters with sharp claws and gaping jaws all started turning transparent and then gradually all vanished.
“W-what on earth is going on.” Shi Yitong asked, utterly confused.
I ignored everyone’s confusion, only concentrating on Xiaoqiao. “Xiaoqiao, you said you drove here with your mom and dad, is that right?” I asked her seriously.
Xiaoqiao sniffled and nodded her head.
“Then, can you tell me, do you still remember when you came here?” I asked slowly, word by word.
Xiaoqiao looked confused. “I don’t know, I can’t remember… I don’t know.”
“It should’ve been in summer, right?” I pointed at Xiaoqiao’s blue dress. “You’re wearing a summer dress, but it’s now already well into autumn. You’re wearing so little, aren’t you cold?”
The confusion on Xiaoqiao’s face grew. Following that, her breathing started getting faster. “I don’t remember…. I don’t know, I can’t remember!”
“Calm down, Xiaoqiao.” I raised her head to look at me, speaking even more gently than before. “I’m now going to ask you a very, very important question, you need to think carefully and then answer me truthfully, okay? Can you do that?”
Xiaoqiao nodded, lost.
“You said your parents were all eaten by the monsters, then how on earth did you manage to escape?” I asked, enunciating each word. “The door was wrecked, and the windows were also broken by those monsters. You were hiding in the car, so how did you escape? Do you still remember?”
“I don’t know…” Xiaoqiao said, quietly. “I… I…”
A young girl, alone in this wild and desolate mountain, faced with giant monsters…
“I…. didn’t escape.” Xiaoqiao looked at me, confused, her expression lost. She repeated, “I didn’t escape, the monsters ate my dad and captured my mom. Then they used their teeth… and broke my neck.”
“I see, that’s how it is.” Bai said quietly.
“She didn’t escape?” Liang Kaifeng’s fear made his voice louder. “T-then doesn’t that mean, this girl is actually…”
“Dead.” I stood up from in front of Xiaoqiao, my voice calm. “I’m afraid Xiaoqiao and her parents came here a long time ago. Their car broke down halfway and then their entire family of three were eaten by those huge, terrifying monsters.”
“That’s right.” Bai took over and continued. “But the young girl was too scared. The fear that she had in the moments before she died caused her spirit to wander through this forest. Not only that, but her fear unknowingly created a barrier that trapped us within and created the illusions of those monsters. Xiaoqiao ended up being followed and chased by her own fear within this forest the entire time. That’s why that car model is so old, that’s why there was nothing in that car, and that’s why Xiaoqiao is still wearing a summer dress…”
“How could this be…” Su Xiaoyun said softly. She looked towards Xiaoqiao, the corners of her eyes wet.
“I’m… already dead?” Xiaoqiao was silent for a long moment before she raised a hand, closing it into a fist and then letting go. “Is that so?”
“I’m very sorry.” I crouched down again, stroking over Xiaoqiao’s hair.