Xiao Xia felt goosebumps all over.
She subconsciously clutched her amulet in front of her chest and looked around in alarm. There was nothing in the darkness.
Had the power suddenly cut out?
No, the desktop was still working…Xiao Xia suddenly turned her head. There was a mutilated face on the screen, its muscles twitching and its teeth bared in a grin. Its bleeding eye sockets stared straight at her.
A female ghost!
Xiao Xia thought in extreme terror. She instinctively leapt over to turn the computer off to prevent it from crawling out of the screen like Sadako.1 As the computer was turned off, the only light source in the office vanished, turning everything black.
The chill against her neck, the rustling sounds around her and the thick stench of blood indicated that she wasn’t alone in the office. Her eyes adjusted after a few seconds. Using the faint moonlight, she saw three dark shadows floating in the air, surrounding her. The moment she raised her head, they rushed over.
Six pale, dried and rotted ghost hands, gaping bloodied maws that couldn’t have been opened any wider and the sharp wails all signified that this time they weren’t just trying to scare her. They were after Xiao Xia’s life.
She wasn’t able to think clearly in her panic and hurriedly hid under the nearby desk.
Without warning, the desk suddenly started trembling and something seemed to be brushing over her body. A head descended slowly, upside down over the edge of the desk. Then a second, and a third, with long hair trailing to the floor.
Xiao Xia screamed, raising her amulet and waving it around wildly. As the figures scattered, she took the opportunity to run towards the door. However, when the door closed behind her, she froze in place. She had rushed into the bathroom.
There was a voice calling her here.
She turned her head and happened to see her own face in the bathroom’s mirror. Within the blood red mirror, her pale, frightened face dripping with cold sweat started changing. Her eyes protruded and no longer had pupils. Her features gradually rotted away with mischievous laughter and her skin slid off like a plastic covering….
Xiao Xia suddenly regained a burst of clarity in the midst of her terror. She finally understood the reason she had been randomly attacked. The things in the mirror were all an illusion. If she gave into the fear, she would be done for.
She gritted her teeth and held her amulet in front of her chest. She loudly chanted as before: “Praise be the Ksitigharbha Bodhisattva.” She didn’t know if the elder would have any deterrence on a western evil spirit. Regardless, the illusion in the mirror vanished, but the mirror started leaking blood.
Xiao Xia let out a breath. She could vaguely see that her face in the mirror had turned back to normal, apart from being a little pale. However, she immediately felt something was off. She turned to see three lingering female ghosts lined up in front of the door. Their rotted faces were expressionless but Xiao Xia could clearly sense their strong resentment.
She didn’t know why they were resentful but she clearly understood she needed to get out of here at once. Otherwise, those three definitely wouldn’t let her off. She gritted her teeth and rushed out, clutching the amulet. She ran straight through the female ghost hovering in the air. Then, the moment she got through the door, she was pulled to the floor once again. Their cold and viscous fingers wrapped around her limbs like snakes and their bleeding mouths viciously bit down.
The sharp pain made Xiao Xia involuntarily scream.
Somebody, save her! Although the female ghosts didn’t dare approach her head and chest which was surrounded by the amulet’s gentle protective light, they seemed to be intent on chewing through her limbs. She wasn’t able to move a muscle, unable to resist.
What should she do? What should she do? She was going to get chewed to death here!
“Is someone there?” Suddenly, a familiar male voice rang out, giving Xiao Xia hope. It was Xiao Zhang, the building’s security guard. He would patrol the building once every hour. She struggled with all her strength and loudly responded to Xiao Zhang’s question.
The door opened and the room’s lights flickered on brightly, making it hard to see.
The light was wonderful!
Xiao Xia crawled up from the floor and saw the three female ghosts had vanished. Although her bare arms and legs had no traces of blood, there were small and large bruises that proved it hadn’t just been a nightmare.
“Miss Yue, you haven’t left yet? What are you doing?” Xiao Zhang asked. There were two strangers behind him also dressed in security guard uniforms. Their heads were lowered and they were silent, seemingly new.
“My lights suddenly went out and I took a tumble.” She answered hurriedly, not wanting to scare these little guards with senseless talk. “I was just about to leave.” She grabbed her backpack and no longer wanted to delay. Who knew how long these ordinary people could help her? They probably didn’t have a policeman’s fiendish aura. It was best not to implicate them.
“Alright, let us escort you down.” Xiao Zhang locked the door once she had exited.
He looked at Xiao Xia’s back, and then at the glow in the darkness of the room. He gave a meaningful smile.
The elevator seemed slower than normal and the enclosed environment made Xiao Xia feel even more unsettled. She wanted to find some topic to chat with Xiao Zhang about. However, when she turned her head she saw the three of them staring firmly ahead, seemingly not interested in idle chatter. Suddenly, she felt something wasn’t quite right in the elevator, making her skin crawl.
She took another glance at Xiao Zhang’s group but nothing seemed out of place. She looked again. There really wasn’t anything. She looked one final time and suddenly felt her heart stop!
There were half-length mirrors on each of the elevator’s sides. Sometimes she would preen and check herself out in them, tidying up her appearance. At this moment, she only saw her own reflection. The three security guards were standing next to her but there was nothing in the mirror.
This meant they weren’t human!
With a ding, the elevator stopped at the third floor. Xiao Xia ran out without thinking but three figures with long, scattered hair suddenly rushed at her from the dark hallway. She gave a short scream and could only retreat back into the elevator.
The doors quickly closed and the elevator continued to descend. However, the sound of knocking kept ringing out against the door and a hand was also struggling to reach in from the gap. Furthermore, she was also unsettled by the three “people” next to her.
Everything was silent apart from Xiao Xia’s rushed breathing.
“You’ve noticed?” ‘Xiao Zhang’ suddenly asked. He laughed lightly but sounded like an asthmatic gasping for breath.
Xiao Xia gave him a terrified glance. His face still looked like Xiao Zhang but it was stiff, wooden, pale and expressionless, making his laughter exceptionally eerie and jarring. The other two were like corpses, not breathing and ashen, their features obscured.
She struggled to come up with something but realized she was like a lamb waiting to be slaughtered. She had nowhere to run.
“We’ve arrived. Run desperately, don’t look back.” ‘Xiao Zhang’ spoke again, and even his voice had become rigid. Then, Xiao Xia watched as the “people” suddenly turned into piles of clothing and three blurry figures rushed out of the elevator that had stopped on the first floor. In a strange scene, they entangled and struggled against the three other figures that had wanted to rush inside.
She froze for a second but ran desperately before she could figure out what was going on. She didn’t dare look back towards the shrieks and clamor. She ran onto the empty street in one breath and the fresh air made her feel a little better. She turned back to look at the tall building, but it was dark and she couldn’t see anything clearly. She knew she had to leave immediately. She would be safe once she got to Ruan Zhan.
Ah, Ruan Zhan! This was the first time she missed him so!
A taxi drove over from afar and stopped next to the hesitating Xiao Xia. The amicable middle-aged driver stuck his head out: “Miss, need a ride?”
Xiao Xia nodded and after getting on, she told him the address of the Nocturnal Revenant bar. “Can you drive a little faster?”
“No problem, I’m known for my fast and steady driving.”
Xiao Xia didn’t speak, the temporary safety making her sink into thought. What had she provoked this time? Why were there three female ghosts that seemed intent on taking her life? She felt she hadn’t done anything shameful, and hadn’t committed any murder. Even the meat in her meals usually came from the supermarket’s frozen aisle. Therefore, this attack definitely had something to do with Bloody Mary.
It involved Bloody Mary, but Bloody Mary hadn’t been the one responsible!
During Zhang Xue’s matter, she had seen the ghostly hand in the mirror. The situation she encountered today in the bathroom wasn’t quite the same. The three didn’t seem able to control the mirror, and could only use illusions to frighten her. Furthermore, Bloody Mary shouldn’t be able to leave its place of summoning, which was the school. So who did she encounter today?
The three female ghosts didn’t have faces. Could they be the three victims?!
But what did their deaths have to do with her? Why did they ask her for their lives back? Wasn’t harassing her violating the principle of “resentments have causes and blame has an owner”? Also, who was “Xiao Zhang’s” group? Why did they help her escape her predicament?
Xiao Xia looked worriedly out the window. The scene outside flashed by rapidly and it was clear the car was indeed moving very quickly. The deserted wilderness was completely dark and only occasional bits and pieces could be seen. But, wait, she shouldn’t be in the wilderness. The Nocturnal Revenant bar was in the city center. Was she being kidnapped?
“This isn’t where I said to go.” Xiao Xia patted the driver’s shoulder in her panic, but he didn’t give off the sensation of a human body. Instead, the thudding sound was as though she was hitting something hollow. The driver didn’t turn around at all. She shrank back into her seat in shock. The driver’s face in the rearview mirror almost scared her to death. It was a face made of paper. It wasn’t plain paper or any other type of paper. It was the sort of paper burnt as offerings during the celebration of the dead. Eyes were crudely drawn onto it and they glowed faintly in the rearview mirror.
She had been kidnapped. She had been kidnapped by a ghost.