Chapter 27

It was an oil painting with an overall tone that was dark red.

It was the same composition as that of traditional still-life paintings, with a fruit and flower vase arrangement acting as the focal point. The only difference was that the fruit was rotten, the flowers were wilted, and the background behind the arrangement was completely distorted as if you were drunk.

Moreover, strange black spots had been painted on each of the items in the painting, from the fruit to the table.

Because the paint used had a special texture to it when dried, it was easy to see that what was painted on each of these things wasn’t dots but holes.

Rather than saying he had painted polka dots on a whim, these holes looked like they had been made deliberately. Moreover, the holes painted on all of the objects were so densely packed together that anyone with trypophobia(1) wouldn’t be able to look at them. Under the dim candlelight, they actually looked a bit like barnacles.

Upon closer inspection, they could see that a lot of mantis heads had been painted in these holes, as if they were hiding in them. Although they weren’t orchid mantises, they were definitely a strange species of mantis.

Turning to the distorted background behind the objects, they could see that a room had been painted in the distance. The shadow of a person could be seen standing in the room, their body also covered in holes.

This painting was so hard to describe that even these words couldn’t fully do it justice. But if you were to see it with your own eyes, you would know just how amazing this painting’s oppressive power was.

“This painting wasn’t originally like this. When he first moved in to paint, everything was normal. But then he began to modify these paintings, saying that he wanted to paint that kind of smell,” the middle-aged Japanese man said. “As soon as he moved into this house, he began to smell a strange odor and said that he wanted to paint it.”

“Are all of these details showing how he perceived that smell?”


Black Glasses quickly uncovered another painting on the side. Although it was small, it was even more exaggerated than the other one. The whole canvas was filled with the picture of a mantis’s giant egg sac, which was translucent and had what looked like an abstract horsehair worm(2) inside of it.

The horsehair worm was also full of small holes.

The egg sac seemed to be stuck to something rotten, which looked like a dog’s skin.

The whole composition was exaggerated and impactful. This painting had some artistic value, but it was difficult to tell how much.

“Who are you?” Xie Yuchen refused to let himself continue to be distracted by these paintings and used a stern tone to pull the middle-aged man back to reality. With no other choice, the man had to answer the question.

“I’m a servant here, but…that’s not all. This house used to belong to my family before it was sold to the Russians.” The middle-aged man was obviously anxious after seeing the painting and spoke very quickly, his whole body trembling as he stuttered out, “A long time ago, ever since it was first built, this house has belonged to our family. Our ancestors cut down a big tree from China and transported it here. But when they were cutting it into timber, they found that there was a dead dog inside of it. No one knows how it got in. It was very smelly but our ancestors didn’t care. They used the wood from this tree for the roof beams when they built the big house. It was only later when they noticed that something was wrong—the smell never dissipated.”

Xie Yuchen remembered that the first rule stated that someone from the original family had to stay in this house.

“You’re the one from the rules who has to live here, even if the house is sold.”

“You know this rule?”

“I know that there are three rules.”

The middle-aged man smiled, “Then you’re just starting to understand this house. I’ll finish my story quickly so you guys can hurry up and leave. One of our family members must stay in this house because it thinks we’re delicious. It eats smells and the smell on us is apparently special. Our scent tastes different from what it used to eat so if we try to leave, it will find us and then force us to come back to this house. As a result, we take turns here so that others in the family can live a normal life. That keeps it appeased. And since it likes strong odors, we’re to be buried here after we die to act as its reserve food.”

Xie Yuchen had already guessed as much.

“At that time, our family felt that this kind of life was too unbearable. Many people couldn’t face living here at all and some even committed suicide. So, we later decided to find a foreigner to buy this house. Since that thing came from China and thought that our scent was very special, we thought that it might like a foreigner even more and would spare us. But when the white man next to the Russian buyer entered our house, he immediately said that there was something wrong with the house. At that time, I thought that the transaction might not be successful, but I was surprised when the Russian bought it right away.”

When the middle-aged man said this, he was stammering so much that it actually took a lot of effort to get the words out.

“Before he dismantled and moved those other houses here, he moved in first and began researching the house. The white man was very powerful and they soon figured out what the trick was. For generations, we didn’t understand what was going on in this house and just thought that there was a ghost controlling us. But they figured it out. Then, Mr. Yuri became a little obsessed with this matter.” The middle-aged man paused. “This house is amazing. During the time he lived here, I think he saw what he lost and wanted to get it back. He became interested in the rules and found that if you obeyed them, people outside our family wouldn’t be in danger in the house. But at the same time, he also found that if you didn’t obey them, then there was still a chance to trick the power in this house.”


“Yes, when you see what you’ve lost, you must pretend that you didn’t see it. This is the rule you heard, correct? Otherwise, you have to leave quickly. But if you don’t leave, do you know what will happen?”

When Xie Yuchen shook his head, the other man said, “I don’t know either because I dare not disobey the rules. But Mr. Yuri…he went straight up to the thing he had lost and touched it. He didn’t leave the house but was fine so I think the white man taught him a method we’re not familiar with. He must have used that rule and some special method to take back the thing he had lost without having to be punished.”

The middle-aged Japanese man saw Xie Yuchen looking at him and added, “I heard them mention it once. I’ve been learning Russian but they don’t know that. They said that there are actually more than three rules in this house—”

In other words, the rules continued like so:

3. If you see something you’ve lost within the confines of the house, you must pretend that you didn’t see it. Otherwise—

4. If all of the above actions fail, then you can apply the fourth rule to avoid the negative effects of the third rule.

No one violated the third rule so no one knew what the fourth rule was.

But Yuri and the albino knew because they had violated the third rule.

“Why do you live down here?” Xie Yuchen asked.

“The smell is above—on the beams—so we all live below. This used to be the basement. We dug up the graves of our family and put them in the room above so that it couldn’t smell us down here. That way, there won’t be any strange incidents involving the rules here. Do you know how stressful it is when something strange involving the rules occurs?”

During this whole discussion, Black Glasses hadn’t been listening at all. Instead, he looked at the first oil painting and felt that the holes at the bottom of the pond were quite similar to those in this oil painting.

Was the bottom of that pond Yuri’s work, too? Or, was there something behind the logic there that he still didn’t understand?

<Chapter 26><Table of Contents><Chapter 28>


TN Notes:

(1) Remember, trypophobia is a strong fear or disgust of closely packed holes.

(2) Basically a parasite like a roundworm. More info here.

5 thoughts on “Chapter 27

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s