Everything immediately became pitch black. There was only the cold wind whooshing as it blew into the room. There was no other movement. The boy seemed to have vanished from this world.
The girl was terrified and shrank into the covers. She felt as if the cold wind was caressing her face. The sense of loneliness and fear made her lie there frozen for a while. Then, she mustered up her courage and lightly called her boyfriend’s name.
In the dark winter night, accompanied by the crooning wind, a girl’s voice slowly called her lover’s name. This scene was like that of a horror movie. She ended up scaring herself and immediately fell silent.
Yet at this time, a sound came from the darkness in response to her call. First came the creaking of the door and then the clinking of the lock. Then…footsteps.
Step, step, step….
The bed sank down on one side. Someone was sitting there but remained silent.
“Is it you?” The girl asked with bated breath.
The person on the bed didn’t respond. A rustling sounded, as though someone had turned around on the bed. Then, with a pop, a small flame lit up. Behind the fire was the boy’s face.
He stared fixedly at the girl, his face alternating between clear and overcast in the faint, wavering light. It seemed a little pale and sinister.
However, the girl finally felt a little at ease seeing her sweetheart’s face. Therefore, she couldn’t help but complain after the fire went out. “Why didn’t you say anything? You scared me to death. I thought you had vanished.”
The boy still didn’t speak. He merely burrowed under the blankets all at once.
The girl immediately felt the outside chill, making her shiver. “Did you…discover anything?” She asked, feeling that her boyfriend seemed a little off.
The girl was a little annoyed when he still didn’t speak. She was about to say something when a hand suddenly started to roughly fondle her body under the blankets.
Before she could finish her words, a thought flashed through her mind and made her hairs stand on end. The hand gave her a very distinct feeling: dry, rough, cold and rigid…
She let out a scream and shoved aside the strange hand. However, she didn’t feel anything with her hands as though they had moved through empty air.
“You brought him inside!” She couldn’t help but yell. She wanted to get up but discovered she was pressed down, unable to move.
Pop. The flame lit up once again, illuminating the boy’s face as before. However, this time the girl could see something was wrong.
The fire wasn’t coming from the lighter at all. Instead, it gave off a faint blue glow that blinked weirdly. It also didn’t have the warmth of fire, and was instead cold.
Most importantly, there wasn’t a hand holding the “lighter”. That fire had appeared from nothing!
“Who else would it be?” The boy finally spoke. Although his voice was the same, his tone was extremely stiff.
The girl wanted to jump up in fear but was still unable to move. She could only look at her boyfriend nearby, whose head was turned ninety degrees towards her in a manner that wasn’t humanly possible.
“The light…broke.” She was almost speechless from fear, and could only mutter erratically. She didn’t even know what she was saying. “I never…want to come here again.”
“That won’t do. If you don’t come, I won’t be able to have you.” The boy continued speaking. “You like light? I can give you that.” As his voice fell, the light on the wall turned on again.
The sudden brightness was piercing, making the girl shut her eyes for a moment. When she opened them again, the boy’s head lay on the pillow, the blankets pulled up to his chin. His eyes stared at her, his appearance both weird and sinister. This was because his eyes didn’t blink at all and there was no human-shaped bulge under the blankets!
Subconsciously, she suddenly pulled the blankets open. The thing underneath made her let out an earth-shattering scream that pierced the night!
The next day, the people on Ronghua Road were all discussing the murder case at the love motel. Many had been startled awake by the scream in the middle of the night. The sirens that came after alerted them that something major must have happened. Therefore, they had mustered up their courage and braved the cold winter night to see what was going on.
Lazy Three was obviously dejected.
This was what hotel owners were most afraid of. It would seriously affect his business. How could such misfortune fall upon him? He was both alarmed and bewildered.
He had been sleeping soundly at the time and vaguely heard some unusual noises. However, he didn’t mind them. Only when that scream pierced through the basement’s thick wooden door to his room in the attic did he startle awake. He knew immediately things were far from good.
He hurriedly got dressed and ran out with bare feet. Once he figured out the scream had come from the basement, he comforted the other startled customers and headed towards the source of the noise with some of the braver male guests.
“That girl must have had a nightmare. She had a timid look about her.” He told the male guests his theory, but he was actually just trying to convince himself. The further he walked, the more unsettled he became. However, as the owner of this place, he had no choice but to check out what had happened. “I’m guessing her boyfriend is holding and comforting her as we speak. Maybe we’ll get to see an appetizing scene!”
“That’s right. They might not even open the door!” Only a single guest went along with his words, though his voice trembled. He clearly didn’t believe it.
Lazy Three didn’t know what else to say and grunted in acknowledgement. He walked through the first floor living room and turned into the hallway to the basement.
The moment he entered the hallway, a thick stench of blood assaulted his nostrils.
When he thought back to that moment, Lazy Three felt he probably wouldn’t have gone inside if he had the chance to think about it. He wouldn’t have had to suffer such a fright. But in the moment, as though subconsciously, he walked inside hesitantly. He was three parts curious but also seven parts afraid. The others followed behind in a similar state.
He was holding an extra-large flashlight that could illuminate twenty meters in front of him. Therefore, the moment they entered the hallway he saw someone lying on the floor facing inwards.
The light moved forward an inch at a time, revealing the outline of the person on the floor. It was a boy. Based on his clothes, it was the boy who was staying in the basement. However, he wasn’t able to confirm it because this boy…was headless.
Lazy Three had uttered an embarrassing scream, sounding more terrified than the girl from before. His timid self even wet his pants on the spot. He hadn’t even been able to run, and had been carried out by some of the calmer guests.
After calling the police, he was still traumatized. He hadn’t been able to respond properly while the police surveyed the scene and questioned him.
However, he knew that the door had been locked. The police had no choice but to break it down. Inside the room, the girl lay naked on the bed, her whole body covered in purple handprints.
They seemed like handprints, but it wasn’t certain. They were smaller than a normal person’s handprint and the shape was extremely uneven. They were like beast claws or the hand of a twisted child.
The blanket was clumped up next to the girl. The police figured the corpse’s head from outside was underneath, and carefully opened it up.
Their conjecture was confirmed, but what was perverse was that the head was stuck on a wooden stick like a skewered fish!
The stick was later found to be the mop handle used by Sis Wang when she cleaned.
Lazy Three was forbidden to reveal the details of the scene. Truthfully speaking, he wouldn’t have dared do so anyway. He got scared just thinking about it, let alone saying it out loud. Furthermore, he didn’t know the details either.
In reality, this seemed to be a locked-room murder.
The door had been locked from the inside, and it was an old-fashioned deadbolt. The police had used quite some effort to break in. The autopsy of the girl’s corpse revealed she had engaged in sexual activity prior to death. However, there were no signs of rape. The cause of death was excessive fright and suffocation. However, the countless bruises on her body couldn’t be explained.
The boy’s headless corpse was even more bizarre. There were no visible wounds, as though he was suddenly beheaded. The cut was straight and flat, clearly having been done in a single blow. How strong and fast it must have been. The victim didn’t show any signs of struggle, which was inconceivable for a tall and strong young man unless he had suffered a huge shock. Furthermore, the murder weapon was actually confirmed to be a mere switchblade with only the victim’s fingerprints.
From the scene, it could be inferred that the male victim must have heard something and come out to investigate. He ended up being killed. Then, the victim entered the room, locked the door and killed the girl. The girl hadn’t screamed prior to that, making it clear the killer had killed the boy without a sound.
But how did the killer escaped the locked room?
The window was too small, only big enough for a seven or eight year old child to fit through. The marks on the girl’s corpse made it seem as if this had been done by a child or a dwarf. But without considering how someone so small had so much strength and daring, the window was covered in a thick layer of dust. It was clear no one had opened it.
Furthermore, this case was so cruel and perverse. What was the motive?
Was this a closed-door murder case? Who would have such capabilities? Was it some unknown type of animal? But a beast wouldn’t have the intellect or exhibit such perverse behavior. This riddle completely bewildered everyone who was aware of the situation.
Since the case remained unsolved, Lazy Three’s love motel closed up for a week. Actually, even if it remained open, no one would dare to come stay. Even Lazy Three went to crash at a friend’s place.
A week later, he hardened his scalp and returned to his little western building. He didn’t dare enter by himself, but then noticed Sis Wang waiting for him. He was extremely happy, realizing this was the difficulty of being poor. There was no use in being afraid. A day without work was a day without food. Someone like Sis Wang, who had exceeded the government-mandated birth quota, had even less right to be afraid.
He had generously given Sis Wang the room on the third floor, not forcing her to sleep in the basement. In reality, this room was the closest to his own in the attic. He felt better having someone accompany him.
After he and Sis Wang spent the night without incident, he finally opened the place back up for business. It was just a murder case, not a haunting. It was all in the past, and things could be as before!
This was what he announced.
As expected, a few days later, young couples unable to restrain themselves came to his hotel. Although there were only half as many guests and no one wanted to stay on the first floor, he was still very happy. After all, he was making money again.
On this day, he came back after drinking outside. He had just climbed to the third floor when he happened to run into a young couple coming out of their room. He knew that the murder case still had some effects. Many couples came during the day and left by nightfall.
“Heading out? Come again next time.” He greeted them solicitously, stumbling to the side to let them pass. However, the couple completely ignored him, heading down by themselves.
“That damn moneygrubber. Raising the room prices so high.” The girl cursed.
The boy didn’t speak but his heart also ached at the price. He was a poor student. For the sake of sleeping with his girlfriend, he actually had to endure this vulgar man’s price gouging. It was essentially extortion. He truly wished to get back at him a little!
Right as he thought this, they reached the first floor and saw a large amount of paper bills scattered all over. The amount was sufficient to give them a fright.
The owner must have accidentally dropped them after getting drunk!
The two thought at the same time and glanced at each other. The money was just there on the floor, being blown about by the breeze coming in from the window that never properly shut.
“It’d be a shame not to take it!” The two spoke in unison. Then, they went to pick up the hundred yuan bills, not wanting to leave a single one. They grew more excited the more they picked up, completely oblivious to the fact that the money led from the foot of the steps all the way until the hallway to the basement.
Furthermore, if someone else had walked by at this moment, they would have seen that the floor was covered with joss paper “ghost money”.1