Chapter 6

I had seen a lot of corpses before, as well as the expressions on their faces. Most of the ones in ancient tombs weren’t very peaceful. Whenever the face tightened and a smile-like expression appeared, it meant that the person was feeling extreme fear before death. This kind of fearful expression wouldn’t appear until the person was suffocating.

The corpses here all had this expression. If it was the old days, I would have definitely peed my pants. But fortunately, I had more experience now.

I glanced at Fatty and saw that he was thinking the same question: “If the corpses were pulling us, were they trying to drown us so that we would take their place?” (1)

“When we met them in the water, we weren’t attacked. It was after we came out of the water that they started trying to pull us back into the water. That, coupled with their creepy expressions…” I glanced down the passage we had been planning to go down and saw that it was pitch black. “I think it’s possible that they don’t want us to move on. They’re trying to warn us.”

There was probably something at the end of the tunnel. They must have seen something when they were trapped here by the mudslide.

We brought the bodies up one by one and closed their eyes. Fatty and I had a moment of silence for them. Not only was archaeological work very dangerous, but they had to endure the loneliness that ordinary people couldn’t bear. This kind of sacrifice for their work was a great loss.

Fatty’s rope had been broken, which left only my rope. I was a little flustered, but we couldn’t stop. We had to keep going no matter what. Uncle Three’s secret and the worth of these victims’ sacrifice depended on what we would see next.

Fatty and I didn’t move forward right away. I pulled my rope in a rhythmic pattern, hoping to send some information to those on the other end that we had made it through safely and were conducting the first round of inspection. But I didn’t actually care whether they understood or not.

Then, the two of us sat down and summarized the situation.

My instincts were telling me that we couldn’t go down into the water again. Whether it was the problem of these bodies or other problems in the water, it was very likely that something would happen if we went down again.

Novices would be very worried about how to get back right now, but Fatty and I were quite calm. Based on our experience, there was always another way out. We rarely ever left the same way we came in, so there was probably another entrance in the mountain here.

Fatty tried using the walkie-talkie, but there was no signal and he eventually had to give up. The two of us cleaned up, and then I untied my rope and walked forward. After taking a few steps down the passage, I saw a niche with one of those feather-light skeletons inside.

I couldn’t keep walking forward with the rope and wanted to find a some place to tie it, but I couldn’t find a good spot at all. Moreover, this passage was so clean that I couldn’t even find a rock in it. Fatty took out his dagger, tied the rope around it in a special knot, and then found a gap in the passage to stick the dagger in. He adjusted the angle so that once the rope was pulled, the dagger would get stuck in the gap and would be difficult to pull out. Then, the two of us began walking deep into the tunnel.

The water had been so cold that we now felt warm as we stepped on the stone surface with our bare feet. Fatty and I looked at each other. Our only equipment consisted of one dagger and two flashlights.

This was often the most exciting time of any expedition. Our flashlights were shining in front of us, revealing that the passage was very deep. I knew that something surprising would appear.

This place was very quiet, and all we could hear were some sounds of things falling down from the top of the passage and landing in the water. There were niches on both sides of the wall that contained those feather-light corpses we had seen before. Fatty and I had a tacit understanding that we wouldn’t touch anything. We hardly had any equipment on us, so if a corpse revived, we could only fight it barehanded.

In the time it would take to smoke two cigarettes, we had walked until the upward slope of the passage started to level out and the niches on both sides became denser. As Fatty’s flashlight swept past, we could see that the passage in front of us became even more narrow and short, but there were still niches on both sides. How to put it… we could only crawl through the middle of that passage of corpses sideways.

“Why is it like this?” Fatty asked. “It’s so spacious in front, but now everyone has to squeeze in here. This is like the CBD line (2). Did they build a subway here?”

I looked around with my flashlight, feeling a little leery in my heart. If something happened here, I would be submerged in a tide of corpses with no chance of survival.

Fatty sighed, “If Little Brother were here, he could cut his hand, splash a bit of blood, and make them carry us over.”

“Well he’s not here now is he? Think of something we can do without him. Or, I can cut you instead. It’s all oil anyways, so maybe we can slide right past them, ” I teased him.

Fatty didn’t angry but smiled instead, “You’re not worthy of using my fat. Don’t you know that one drop of oil is equal to ten drops of blood?” He also looked at the passage in front of us. All of the bodies were almost face-to-face with each other, so if we went in, those corpses’ faces would be close to our fronts and backs. “This is too fucking scary. Hey, why don’t we compromise and forget it?”

“Didn’t you hear? There are super rare treasures in the tomb. If you don’t go in now, the professor may not show them to us. Are you ok with that? ” I asked Fatty.

“I’m not, which means there must be a way to have the best of both worlds.” As Fatty took another look, I followed the trajectory of his flashlight’s beam. This time, we saw that there was a reflection of something far away in the passage.

“What is that?”

“It looks like a flashlight.”

Hmmm, there are also people looking in this place? But after taking a closer look, I found that the reflection was gone. If the reflection disappeared for a period of time, then it definitely wasn’t a mirror…

Fatty and I looked at each other. “I’m telling you, it’s definitely a flashlight,” Fatty said. “Shit, maybe someone’s in here grave robbing? Mr. Naïve, although we might have washed our hands of this business, that doesn’t mean we’ll just stand by and watch them take all the good stuff. Let’s confront the hell out of them.”

I touched my chin, feeling more and more uncomfortable. I had a very ominous premonition that was giving me goosebumps all over. It was a weird feeling that I was all too familiar with.

There was something wrong with this place.

<Chapter 5><Table of Contents><Chapter 7>


TN Notes:

(1) Chinese water ghosts lurk in the place where they died, drag unsuspecting victims underwater, and drown them to take possession of their bodies. This process is known as ti shen, in which the spirit returns to life in the victim’s body while the victim’s spirit takes the water ghost’s place and constantly seeks to take control of another living person’s body.

(2) Old name of Line 28 of the Beijing subway line. Info here.

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