Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 3 Book of Exchange – Chapter 52 Ruins
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 52 Ruins
“You’re right! But if we stay here, we’re all dead!” Su Xiaoyun screamed. “Even though I know this is just a dream!”
“What?” Shi Yitong looked at Su Xiaoyun in surprise. “What did you just say? A dream?”
“You’re right, we’re dreaming!” As I tried to stay completely still, I shouted, “It’s impossible to encounter ghosts on a wide main road during the day! Furthermore, it’s impossible to see such a thick fog while it’s raining, not to mention all these ghosts that appeared from nowhere!”
“But, but, if we die in our dream, what will happen in reality?” Shi Yitong was so frightened that his voice cracked.
“We’ll wake up in the real world, won’t we?” Su Xiaoyun cried out as a skeleton lifted its hand towards her.
“But someone said that if you die in your dreams, you’ll never wake up in the real world!” I yelled.
Even though we remained still, those stinky zombies were still shambling towards us, and some even attempted to scratch our skin with their sharp bone fingers.
“How would I know?” Su Xiaoyun screamed as if she had a mental breakdown. “But we have no other choice! We’re going to die!”
Countless ghosts and zombies floated and hopped towards us with their arms outstretched. As our screams echoed in the sky, they pierced our hearts and gulped down our bodies…
I was awakened from my nightmare, or I should say… I was awakened by Su Xiaoyun’s sharp scream. She was deserving of the name “Queen,” because her scream was the most terrifying I had ever heard. Coo, who was sitting on her arms, was startled by her and quickly hid underneath the seat.
I blinked a couple of times before realizing that we were still sitting in the last row of the bus, and it was still slowly driving. Because of Su Xiaoyun’s scream, the passengers in the front rows turned back and stared at us, some even scolded us in a low voice, “Young people are so rude nowadays.”
Su Xiaoyun gasped. It took her a few seconds to realize where she was. Then, she apologized to other passengers, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, I just fell asleep and had a nightmare. I’m really sorry…”
I hurriedly took out some tissues from my pocket and handed them over. I whispered, “Are you all right?”
Su Xiaoyun couldn’t say a word. She took the tissues, wiped off the sweat on her forehead and shook her head.
Shi Yitong was the last one to wake up. I was not sure if it had anything to do with his slow reaction to everything happening around him. As soon as he woke up, he began to scream, but fortunately, I covered his mouth in time. He stared at me with eyes as big as bronze bells. It took him a while to realize where he was.
‘Are we still on the bus?” He pulled my hand off and asked.
“Yeah. And it seems that we haven’t arrived yet.” I nodded at him before looking out the window. The bus was still moving on the road. There were no dark clouds or thick fog outside the window. The sky was clear blue with white clouds. And unlike our previous dream, everything seemed normal with nothing strange happening.
I looked down at my watch, it was five minutes past ten, the bus was about to reach the station.
“So everything was just a dream?” Shi Yitong had a stunned expression on his face. “But how could the three of us share the same dream?”
“I don’t know. But I have a bad feeling about this,” I whispered.
“We have arrived at Yan City University. Please get off the bus from the back door.” The electronic female voice on the speaker said in a monotone. The bus stopped slowly. The door was opened, and we got off the bus along with other passengers.
Outside was the Yan City University bus station we were familiar with. The weather was nice and there was no weird fog around. Everything seemed normal. Vehicles and pedestrians were passing by, but for some reason, deep inside, my strange hunch lingered on.
“Okay, stop worrying, that dream wasn’t real.” Shi Yitong seemingly didn’t care at all. “We need to go back to school now. If I’m late for the class, the teacher will definitely give me a hard time again.”
“Yeah.” Su Xiaoyun forced a smile. “Let’s go back to school.”
I nodded and hailed a cab. Despite that really bizarre dream, we had to temporarily ignore this bad hunch and return to our normal life.
“Mister, we need to go to Yan City University,” I sat on the passenger seat in the front row and said to the taxi driver.
“Yan City University?” The taxi driver was over forty years old. Apparently, he was puzzled about our destination and he asked us again, “Did you say the old Yan City University?”
“Yes, Yan City University,” Su Xiaoyun asked, feeling strange. “Is there another university in the city?”
“Um… no. There is only one university.”
“So let’s go,” I prompted.
The driver did not ask anything more and started the car. Su Xiaoyun and Shi Yitong sat in the back, discussing courses and teachers as if everything was back to normal.
“…You don’t have as much homework as we do. You don’t know anything about our workload in engineering, we have tons of homework and we have to draw graphs too. I’m not good at drawing, so my design graphs are always terrible. The teacher of my design class really gives me a hard time,” Shi Yitong said with a bitter face. “I really don’t want to see him again.”
“That’s nothing compared to us. We have loads of homework. But the homework is nothing, the most agonizing thing is to remember all the concepts and chapter content. However, I handle it pretty well.” Su Xiaoyun glanced at me with a smug face. “Since Gu Yu’s scores are always lower than me.”
“Hey, you’re exaggerating!” I turned back and complained, making them burst into laughter.
After a short while, the taxi stopped. The taxi driver turned and said, “We’re here.”
I looked out of the window and was flabbergasted. Outside the window, there was nothing but some abandoned old buildings and piles of rock. Those buildings silently stood there with vines growing wildly on the walls.
“We’re here? But I asked you to drive us to Yan City University,” I asked doubtfully.
“That’s why I asked you twice. You said you were going to Yan City University. It’s right here.” The taxi driver was even more confused. “That’s why I asked you if you made a mistake.”
“No, we didn’t!” I exclaimed in surprise. “We’re going to Yan City University, it’s a university, not a bunch of abandoned buildings.”
“But this is the old site of Yan City University.” The taxi driver scratched his head. “There is indeed only one university in the city…but it was abandoned a long time ago.”
“Gu Yu, wait,” Su Xiaoyun interrupted me with a trembling voice. “I think…this might be Yan City University.”
“What are you talking about?” Shi Yitong was shocked.
We jumped out of the taxi and ran to the ruins.
Su Xiaoyun was true, it was our school. However, the school gate was now broken and rusty. We could barely recognize that those collapsed buildings were our teaching buildings. Judging by how damaged they were, they should have been abandoned for more than five years.
“This is impossible!” Shi Yitong turned around and asked the taxi driver, “Mister, what time is it now?”
“Oh, uh… eleven o’clock in the morning,” The taxi driver was startled and answered incoherently.
“No, I mean which year is it?” Shi Yitong grabbed the car window and asked. “Which year is it?”
“Which year? Um, um… 2016.” The driver was confused.
“Time didn’t change,” Shi Yitong muttered. “But, but how is this possible? We were here and had classes four days ago!”
The driver looked at us as if we were some kind of lunatics. “You had classes here four days ago? What’s your problem? It was already abandoned six or seven years ago!”
We looked at the driver, thunderstruck. The taxi driver treated us as some unreasonable lunatics who escaped from the hospital. He hurriedly got into the car, closed the window and drove away without even asking for the fare.
“I, I don’t understand!” Shi Yitong frustratedly scratched his head. “We aren’t dreaming now, are we? How did this happen? 2016, the year is 2016! Or does that mean that the college life we had for the past few months was just a dream?”
“Shi Yitong! You calm down now!” Su Xiaoyun mercilessly hit the back of Shi Yitong’s head.
“How could I possibly calm down in this situation?!” Shi Yitong got emotional.
“I don’t care how you do it, but you have to calm down now!” My scream startled them and resultantly, they looked at me without saying a word.
Actually, I was more concerned about the old residence at the foothill behind the school rather than what happened to the school.
Was Wen Jiubo still there? How could this happen if he was at school? No, that’s not right, if this university doesn’t exist, how could I come here for my degree? How could I have met Wen Jiubo?
The worst-case scenario was… Wen Jiubo was never real, our encounter was just another dream…
No! Impossible, stop overthinking! I knew more clearly than anyone that Wen Jiubo was real!
“Shi Yitong, Su Xiaoyun, can I bother you to go inside the buildings and investigate? Maybe you can find some clues!” I asked after taking a deep breath. “I have to go to the old residence, I want to check on Wen Jiubo.”
“Okay, no problem.” Su Xiaoyun calmed down. She nodded and answered, “Shi Yitong and I will go inside to have a look, maybe we can find someone to ask. You go and check the old residence, but be careful. If something is wrong, call us immediately!”
“I got it, thank you,” I answered as I grasped the cell phone in my pocket.
“Okay, stop talking, let’s go!” Shi Yitong patted me. I nodded and ran towards the foothill as fast as I could.