Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 3 Book of Exchange – Chapter 54 Chaotic Space and Time
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 54 Chaotic Space and Time
I stood there frozen, murmuring, “But, how can it be possible? He’s Wen Jiubo. Are you sure about this?”
“I don’t know what kind of person you think he is, but he’s not omnipotent. He is only a monster whose power is sealed,” Bai whispered.
“Sealed?” I was even more confused. I had too much information to process at the same time. “What do you mean by that?”
Bai suddenly realized that he had accidentally leaked a secret. He hurriedly shook his paws and mumbled, “Oh, nothing! Please pretend you never heard that.”
“Bai! Can you please stop treating me like a fool?!” I was enraged and shouted at him. “After all the things I’ve been through, do you actually believe that I don’t know anything? Wen Jiubo is a nine-tailed fox, am I right?”
“So what?” Bai glared at me. “The point is that he was killed by evil-intentioned people because of you!”
“Me? It’s you who snuck out to steal alcohol every day and never did your job properly!” I raised my voice.
“What about you?” Bai retorted rudely. “Even though you were supposed to stay here, didn’t you sneak out to investigate his identity?”
“I…” I was speechless.
“He didn’t even fight back, he volunteered! If it weren’t for you, how could he go down without a fight?” Bai bared his sharp teeth at me.
“What are you talking about?! How is that possible?!” I retorted.
“Wen Jiubo and I thought you were dead!” Bai cried out.
When I heard his words, I was so stunned that my mind stopped working for a moment. I looked at Bai, trying to sort out what he just said, “Wait, you thought I was dead? What happened?”
“Shame on you!” Bai raised his voice. “It’s been 6 years since we got any news from you! Wen Jiubo never stopped looking for you, even though he knew you were probably dead. He was waiting for you, even if you reincarnated and came back as a different person!”
“Wait… six years?” I couldn’t think properly. I raised my hand to signal him to stop. “Hold on! Look at me, does it really look like six years have passed since we last met?”
“How would I know?!” Bai complained, “I’ve always been confused about the changes in human appearance!”
“No, I’m not joking.” I kneeled down to get closer to Bai. I pointed at my face. “Look carefully, do you think anything has changed?”
Bai brought his face closer. After a close look, he shook his head in uncertainty. “It seems… there isn’t any change at all.”
“That’s right! Because it hasn’t been six years!” I said anxiously. “I just went to Mt. Diecui for a few days, and right after we arrived I talked to Wen Jiubo on my cell phone! I only left for four days, how could it be six years?”
“But, but…” Bai stuttered. “But the thing you said happened six years ago! The phone call you mentioned was your last conversation with Wen Jiubo, and ever since that phone call, we were unable to find you! Didn’t you notice the differences when you came here? Yan City University was abandoned because Wen Jiubo almost tore it down in order to find you.”
“But the time is wrong.” I took a deep breath and couldn’t think properly. “It’s 2016 now. It’s the correct year, but I don’t understand…”
“Are you saying that someone meddled with time and space?” Bai spoke up.
“Yeah, that’s it!” Bai’s words enlighted me, and I immediately agreed. “Someone disturbed the timeline… but could somebody really achieve that?”
“Theoretically it’s possible, but it should be really hard to do,” Bai said after serious thought. “They would have to use the gap between the world’s Yin and Yang which requires very strong demon power or mana to achieve.”
“But, but…” I looked at Bai in shock. “If they can alter time, what else couldn’t they do?”
“They didn’t alter time. Gu Yu, you misunderstand. No one in this world can alter the space-time continuum. All they can do is meddle with the timeline to create an illusion of altered time, but it is no different from a barrier.” He looked at me. There was a gleam in his eyes. “What you see and feel now is just an illusion. There must be a way to break it.”
“Easier said than done. How can I break this illusion on my own? What kind of person do you think I am? I’m not an exorcist or a Taoist priest, I’m just an eighteen-year-old college student!” I said frustratedly. “If there is anyone in this world who can break this illusion, it would be Wen Jiubo. But as you said, Wen Jiubo is…”
“Gu Yu, calm down. You need to calm down because Wen Jiubo is now relying on you to save him!” Bai yelled at me, baring his teeth once again.
What did he say?
Yeah, Bai said something when he looked at me just now, what did he say…
——You must save Mr. Wen!
“Wait,” I said hesitantly. “According to what you said, Wen Jiubo is dead, and yet you’re asking me to save him… What is going on here?”
“You dumbass!” Bai jumped up to smack me. “If death was the end of the journey, then what are those ghosts and spirits you have encountered so far?!”
I almost jumped up as I suddenly understood what he meant. Death was not the end but the beginning! If the afterlife didn’t exist, I would never have encountered supernatural events and therefore, I would never have met Wen Jiubo.
“That’s right. Kid, you should find him and ask him in person about what is happening right now.” Bai narrowed his eyes.
“But, isn’t Wen Jiubo a monster like you? Do monsters have souls after death?” I was puzzled.
“The term ‘monster’ isn’t very appropriate for us. The correct term should be ‘spirit monster’,” Bai licked his paws and said solemnly.
“Ferret, snake coquette, or the Jinhua cat you met, we all have our original forms. Even if we lose our demon power, the worst thing that could happen to us would be to turn back into our original forms, but we will never vanish. However, some evil beings that were born from people’s evil thoughts, like the Wangliang (TL note: an evil spirit in Chinese folklore) and parasitic spirits, are not so lucky. On the other hand, Mr. Wen is quite different,” Bai said while pondering. “If my guess is correct, his vitality, or his soul, will go to Hell since that is the only place where the soul can be judged… Hey, Gu Yu, wait! I haven’t finished yet, where are you going?!”
I didn’t pay attention to what exactly Bai was saying and I rushed outside. All those explanations and reasons were not important at all. At that moment, all I needed to know was Wen Jiubo’s whereabouts.
“Hey! Do you know how to get there?” Bai shouted from behind.
“I don’t know!” I looked back to answer while running. “But I know a place where I can get some clues!”
Although I knew it was not appropriate to leave Bai alone in that house, I had no choice, since saving Wen Jiubo’s life was the most urgent thing right now. I ran along the once familiar street that now seemed so strange to my eyes. Yes, I still remembered this place, and if I was lucky…
I reached the end of Jinghua Street. I stood in front of the gray wall and gasped.
The alley with its muddy ground full of moss wasn’t here. I paced in front of the wall, shouting,
“Mr. Cat! Mr. Cat!” I banged on the wall, shouting, “Please let me in! Please! It’s urgent!”
However, no one answered me except for the dead silence. I was terrified because no matter how I banged on the wall and shouted, or even violently kicked it, it stood still as if it was mocking my stupidity.
Could it be that… Mr. Cat’s restaurant wasn’t here anymore? Or was the entrance to Hell closed?
I sat down on the ground, leaning against the wall, breathing heavily and feeling desperate.
What on Earth was going on? Why was Wen Jiubo attacked? Why was the school abandoned? No, none of that mattered right now.
What happened after I left the city? Who was that shadowy, strange Taoist priest? What was his purpose?
Was everything coming to an end before I could sort it out or even have some clues? That’s not fair!
Just as I was sitting on the ground in regret and madly pulling my hair, the wall behind me suddenly disappeared. I lost balance and fell on the ground.
A cat’s face showed up. It said slowly with a distressed expression, “What a worrisome guest you are. Didn’t I tell you a long time ago, my restaurant opens at dusk… but now it’s…”
Mr. Cat stopped before he could finish his sentence. His emerald-green cat eyes fixed on mine.
“Oh, aren’t you that human guest? Why were you shouting and yelling in front of my restaurant? What’s going on?”
I instantly jumped up and almost bumped into Mr. Cat’s nose.
“Yes! I need something from you! It’s very important!”
Unexpectedly, Mr. Cat acted as if he was already aware of what I needed. “You came to me for an old friend, right?”
An old friend? Oh, yes, Wen Jiubo once mentioned that Mr. Cat was his friend. They helped each other before.
Mr. Cat let out a sigh and said nothing. He just turned around while beckoning to me. “In that case, I’ll have to make an exception and close the restaurant for the day. Come with me.”