Chapter 18 Ghost Blows Out the Light

As soon as the torch went out, the originally dimly lit space was suddenly plunged into absolute darkness. I was so scared that I broke out in a cold sweat and almost dropped the torch.

Master Liang was even more timid and let out a strange scream before he took off running. But he only made it a few steps before we heard a loud “thump” and then a painful shout as if he had run into something.

I took out my lighter to examine the torch and found that the combustible part at the top hadn’t been completely burned through just yet. But then why did the flame suddenly go out? Was it the wind? But there wasn’t any wind here at all.

“Old Wu,” Lao Yang said smugly, “your torch-making skills are so bad that even though the torch hasn’t burned all the way through, it still went out as soon as you said it would. It’s enough to give me goosebumps.”

I cursed, “What the hell are you talking about? If you have time to mock me, why don’t you go and see what happened to Master Liang? He might have fallen into one of those corpse piles.” As soon as I said this, I lit the torch again and held it up to get a better look at our surroundings. Master Liang was lying on top of a skeleton, its bones scattered all over the floor.

I went over to help him up and saw that his face was pale and he looked terrified. Lao Yang patted him on the back and said, “Master Liang, you’re hilarious. With guts like that, how do you expect to go grave robbing?”

Seeing that the torch was burning again, Master Liang breathed a sigh of relief and said, “You two…don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m afraid of the dark, it’s just that there seemed to be something blowing air on the back of my neck just now. It was so cold that I thought a zombie had appeared. I thought my heart was going to leap out of my throat.”

Lao Yang laughed, “What do you mean cold air? I think it was just your cold sweat dripping down your neck. If a zombie were behind you, it would go for your neck, not blow on it. What, do you think zombies act like a bunch of fucking girls?”

“That’s right, Master Liang,” I chimed in. “You need to calm down and stop scaring yourself.”

Master Liang, seeing that we didn’t believe him, suddenly coughed anxiously and said, “You… you guys, please believe me. Someone must have been blowing air on the back of my neck just now. It felt so real that it had to be a fucking human. I don’t think we’re the only ones here. I think something else is here with us!”

I looked at the expression on his face, remembered how the torch had suddenly gone out just now, and felt that Master Liang’s words weren’t complete nonsense. After all, a torch wasn’t like a candle. It was actually difficult to put a torch out as long as the combustible part on top hadn’t been completely burned through. So, that meant that something strange must have happened just now. And in a place like this, it was always good to keep an eye out for stuff like that.

After thinking this, I gave Lao Yang a look that said, “I’m going to check it out. Back me up.” Lao Yang nodded, and the two of us pulled out our guns and walked in tandem to the place where Master Liang had been standing just now.

Less than a foot behind where Master Liang had been standing was a stone figurine. The human head on the figurine was already dried up, so it definitely wouldn’t have been the one blowing air on the back of his neck. The only other place to hide was behind the stone figurine.

Lao Yang and I cautiously walked over, first sticking the torch behind it and then peeking at it from the sides out of fear that something would suddenly pop out. Then, Lao Yang suddenly jerked forward and shouted, “Hands up!”

Nothing happened; there was nothing behind the statue.

I breathed a sigh of relief, secretly telling myself that Master Liang must have been so frightened and confused just now that he imagined the whole thing. But I couldn’t blame him—if you had never been to this kind of place before and were facing the kind of circumstances we found ourselves in, it was only inevitable that you would be frightened. I thought back to the time when I entered the Seven Star Lu Palace and realized that I wasn’t all that different from him. It seemed that courage really was something that could be learned through practice.

Lao Yang rolled his eyes at me and shook his head. The two of us turned around and moved to put our guns away, but at this time, there suddenly came a loud “poof” sound and the torch in my hand went out again.

I was completely dumbfounded. What just happened? The flame went out way too suddenly. As these thoughts were flashing through my mind, I heard Lao Yang suddenly shout from the darkness, “Shit! Old Wu, be careful! There’s something here! Light the torch quickly!”

I came back to my senses and hurriedly reached for my lighter, but before I could grab it, I suddenly felt a cool sensation behind my back and then a strong gust of wind struck me as fast as lightning. I knew right away that the situation wasn’t good—without any light, it was impossible to see what was coming. As I quickly ducked down, I immediately felt a strong gust of wind sweep past my scalp, but then I lost my footing and ended up falling to the ground.

The fall wasn’t very painful, but I ended up crashing into a few of those stone figurines on the side, which made a lot of noise. As I lay there, I felt some unknown thing fall onto my face, but I didn’t have time to worry about how disgusting it was. I quickly flicked on my lighter and relit the torch as fast as possible.

In a flash, I saw that Lao Yang and Master Liang were lying on the ground with pale faces. Master Liang was so terrified that he was muttering Amitabha(1) over and over again.

Even Lao Yang sounded frightened as he said to me, “Quick, bring the light over here! What the fuck was that just now? How was it so fast?!”

I clenched my teeth and stood up, raising the torch high so that I could look around. As it turned out, nothing had changed in our surroundings except for the few stone figurines we’d knocked over in the chaos. I didn’t even see any signs of footprints. It was at that moment that I started to panic. The strong gust of wind just now was as fast as lightning, which indicated that the other party was very close. But the stone figurines and corpses here were so densely packed together and the area was so dark that it would’ve been impossible to remove any traces of their presence, no matter how fast they escaped or how long it took me to flick my lighter on. I thought it over again and said to myself, damn, did we really run into a ghost?

The torch had gone out twice, so did that mean that this ghost was still following the age-old “ghost blows out the light” practice, but instead of a candle, it was using my torch?(2) This fucker is too unethical! If you want blow something out, don’t go after my torch!

I lowered the torch below shoulder height in order to prevent it from suddenly being extinguished, and then moved to pull Master Liang up. The man was so out of it that he couldn’t stand up straight no matter how hard I tried, as if his legs had turned to jello. I tried lifting him up two more times but still couldn’t do it, so Lao Yang had no other choice but to give the older man two slaps to the face.

I quickly stopped him for fear that he would be too hard on him, but at this time, Master Liang finally reacted. He looked around and then burst into tears, “Oh, mother! You always said that I was a meddlesome person and that I should just stay at home. What kind of scholar goes grave robbing? I’m going to die here. I’m going to die in a strange place—”

Lao Yang saw that he showed no signs of stopping and quickly covered his mouth with a curse, “How long are you going to keep going?! At your age, you should be ashamed of yourself. If you keep making noise, we’ll abandon you here. Then you’ll have to find your own way out.”

Even though Master Liang had lost control of his emotions, we were still able to intimidate him into obeying. He immediately covered his face, not daring to make any noise. Now that that was settled, Lao Yang turned to me and asked, “Old Wu, what was that just now? Did you see it clearly? Is it zombie?”

I waved him off and said, “No, just think about it. We came face-to-face with whatever it was but didn’t see hide nor hair of it. Zombies don’t move that fast.”

“Look at how many dead bodies are around us,” Lao Yang argued. “No one would believe there aren’t any zombies here. I’ve heard that there are different classes of zombies. Maybe we were unlucky enough to run into a zombie that’s a master of qinggong!”(3)

I didn’t want to keep arguing with him, so I walked over to the corpse fragments Master Liang had sent flying when he fell, searched through the contents with my pistol, and said to him, “The air here is so humid that the only things left of most of these bodies are bones, which are covered in black mold. These kinds of things can never be zombies. I’ll swear on my life.”

Master Liang, who had finally managed to calm down by this point, sniffled and said, “Gentlemen, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a zombie or not. I think we should climb back up the cliff as soon as possible while we still have enough torchlight. We can figure out what to do later.”

Knowing that he couldn’t stand the excitement anymore and wanted to retreat, I patted him on the shoulder and explained that right now, the enemy was hidden in the dark while we were fully visible in the light. If we climbed up the cliff right now, there might be another attack, which we wouldn’t be able to dodge at all. The only thing we’d be able to do in that situation was go to the underworld and cry to King Yama. So, until the situation became clear, we shouldn’t make any rash decisions.

“Old Wu is right,” Lao Yang said. “We still have our guns, so even if our attacker really is a zombie, we don’t need to be afraid of it.”

Master Liang had snot and tears running down his face as he shook his head and said, “Don’t try to comfort me. With only two guns, we’ll definitely die if we encounter any zombies. I’m afraid it’ll be difficult to stop the dead with a mere bullet.”

I honestly hadn’t come across any zombies in the true sense of the word, so I didn’t know if a gun would really work on them or not. But since they were made of flesh, I found it hard to believe that they’d be able to withstand a bullet.

When I thought of this, I no longer felt as nervous as I was just now and immediately relaxed. But after thinking some more, I felt that waiting around here wasn’t the way to go; we should keep moving forward. If we encountered the same problem as before, we could just climb over the piles of corpses and go that way. In any case, we had already knocked so many of them over just now that there wasn’t anything to be afraid of. As for the moral issue…. well, I couldn’t worry about that if my life was at stake.

Lao Yang also agreed that this was the best course of action considering our lack of options right now. So, we pulled Master Liang to his feet and loaded our guns. Then, Lao Yang took the lead while I brought up the rear, and the three of us gritted our teeth and walked down the path towards the depths of the corpse array.

The traces from where we had walked last time were still there—I remembered several places where Lao Yang had sunk a little deeper into the mud, leaving deep footprints. We followed these traces the whole way and found that, sure enough, there weren’t any forks in the path. But as we continued walking, I suddenly felt that something was off—why were the bodies here at such different stages of decomposition? Some corpses were so fully decomposed that the bones were missing while others still had flesh. Just as I was about to stop the others and take a closer look, there suddenly came a loud “bang”, and then a skeleton on the ground fell apart, its skull rolling away. I was so startled that I jumped a little bit, but as soon as I turned around, I heard a “poof” sound, and then the torch in my hand went out for the third time.

I remembered what happened last time and immediately crouched down, but at this time, I heard a loud commotion on the side, and then Lao Yang shouted, “Fuck yeah! I caught it!”

<Chapter 17><Table of Contents><Chapter 19>

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TN Notes:

(1) Amitabha Buddha, the Buddha of the Western paradise. Can also be used as a mantra: “may the lord Buddha preserve us!” or “merciful Buddha!”

(2) When grave robbers go in a tomb, they have to put a candle in the southwest corner with the understanding that if a ghost blows out the candle, they have to put everything back and leave.

(3) Qinggong is a style of Chinese martial arts. It’s a training technique for jumping off vertical surfaces (it influenced the development of parkour). In wuxia fiction, qinggong is usually depicted as being able to move swiftly and lightly at superhuman speed, and perform gravity-defying moves such as gliding on water surfaces and scaling high walls and mounting trees.

3 thoughts on “Chapter 18 Ghost Blows Out the Light

  1. I am honestly finding this section creepier than in the drama. (Also, the ghost blowing out the torch were Very Rude.)

    Like

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