I stared at the shadow for a while.
Poker-Face and Fatty weren’t here, but there was an assortment of kitchen knives in the kitchen. I didn’t know what this thing was, but if it was harmful, then all I could do was rush to the kitchen to get a knife and then rush back over. When it attacked me, I could dodge around it, and then run frantically to the road outside. If my hands were quick, I could also cut its feet while I was dodging.
The traffic flow on the road outside was pretty steady, so if I rushed to it and that thing chased after me, then the two of us would soon make headlines. Maybe I could lure it over and let a passing truck run over it.
I didn’t know why, but for some reason, I was very calm and didn’t appear nervous at all. Maybe it was because I had been drawing for too long and my senses became dulled to reality. Or maybe I was the most comfortable I had ever been in my life, so I wasn’t afraid to die tonight. Or maybe I thought it was a kind of good spirit since I had never heard of any mysterious deaths in the area.
Whatever the case, I stood up and looked at the shadow, which was actually blocking the way out. I pulled up a chair and sat down facing it.
When the evening breeze blew, an especially strong scent of bamboo wafted in from the direction of the human-shaped shadow. I didn’t know what it was, but I opened a bottle of beer and started drinking as I watched it.
If it was a ghost or a mountain spirit, it must have felt that I wasn’t an ordinary person, so it didn’t come any closer.
I continued to drink and stare at it silently.
Finally, at the moment when I was a little absent-minded, I looked at the shadow again and saw that it had disappeared from between the bamboo trees. Only the shadows of the bamboo were left in the darkness. After I recalled it very carefully, I felt that the slender figure was especially like that of a giant stick insect.
I was just wondering why this thing had disappeared—did it finally give up on communicating with me or was it intimidated by my invincible calm—when a flashlight suddenly appeared in front of me.
Poker-Face had appeared with a flashlight in hand and was looking at me.
I glanced at my watch. Ah, I’ve been drinking for two hours. I was so comfortable that I lost track of the time.
He was standing where the shadow had been standing and kept looking at me. I knew that Fatty had sent him to urge me to come back, so I made an apologetic gesture, locked the wine cabinet, turned off the lights and then packed up my drawings before walking over to him.
Then, the two of us started heading back to the village. When we reached the roadside, I saw a motorcycle that belonged to the village canteen. The two of us got on and drove back to Rain Village.
When we reached the village entrance, we returned the motorcycle and saw Fatty standing there. He was carrying a few bamboo poles, which were fishing rods for night fishing. He said he was going to fish in the stream.
“You’re not going to sleep?” I asked him.
“Why didn’t you come home? Aren’t you afraid of being there alone?”
I didn’t know why, but I wasn’t afraid at all. In fact, I figured maybe I had been imagining that human-shaped shadow just now. We had rented this land at random, so there shouldn’t be anything wrong with it.
“I was thinking about some things.”
“Let’s go fishing,” Fatty said to me. “There are big fish in the stream today. The village head’s son came back after catching a thirteen catty one.”
I looked at Fatty’s expression and knew right away that it definitely wasn’t as simple as fishing. “What’s going on?” I asked him.
Fatty just laughed and said, “You’ll know when we get there.”