Translate: An & Sae
There wasn’t much time available for him to contemplate in the car, and with the icebreaker expert Pan Zhi speaking, Jiang Cheng couldn’t just silently ponder about life and not respond at all. But after responding once or twice, he had completely forgotten where he left off in those contemplations of his.
Whatever, he decided to put his thoughts aside for now. Jiang Cheng looked over at the back of Gu Fei’s head. It was a rare chance for them all to hang out together, holding worries inside will affect his mood – nevermind his own mood – such an attentive person like Gu Fei would most likely be affected as well.
When they arrived at the entrance to the park, Jiang Cheng took out his wallet ready to pay but Pan Zhi stopped him by putting a hand on his, and also took out his own wallet: “I asked my mom for quite a bit of money before I came, you don’t have to do the honours as a host.”
“I’m your grandpa in the very least…” Jiang Cheng struggled to escape his hand.
“I know, grandpa, give me the chance to be filial.” Pan Zhi still had a firm grip on him.
During the few seconds that they were struggling, Gu Fei took out some money, handed it to the driver, and got out of the car.
“Oh fuck!” Pan Zhi yelled and pushed Li Yuqing out of the car so that he could get out: “How could we let Gu Fei pay!”
“Have mercy on the driver, he has to pick up his next fare,” Gu Fei said.
Pan Zhi took out some money and forcefully stuck them into Gu Fei’s pocket, then turned around and quickly escaped as the taxi following from behind approached: “Right here! Get out, out, out.”
“Why did you pay?” Jiang Cheng asked casually.
“You two were about to embrace each other, if I don’t fling some cash, you’d probably end up kissing by now.” Gu Fei glanced at him. “It’s quite risqué…”
“Fuck off,” Jiang Cheng started to laugh and glanced toward the ticket booth. “I’ll go and check out how much the entry tickets are. I wonder if there are any discounts.”
“I have a resident pass.” Gu Fei took out a card from his pocket. “I’ll take you guys in.”
“How do we enter?” Jiang Cheng asked. “We don’t have resident IDs ah.”
“I have connections.” Gu Fei smiled, “It’s a small place, so restrictions aren’t so strictly enacted. Tell them to be quiet and follow behind me with their IDs in hand and it’ll be fine.”
After everyone got out of the taxi, Gu Fei led them to the side entrance. As for this entrance, if it wasn’t Gu Fei leading them, a normal tourist honestly wouldn’t have been able to take notice of the path, nor would they think a door could be situated there.
“We’re coming now, you’re there, right?” Gu Fei spoke into his phone as they walked.
“Is his leg really okay?” Li Song asked from behind. “I remember seeing that it couldn’t even touch the ground yesterday?”
“Well, it was probably getting better,” Pan Zhi said. “When my arm was in a cast last semester, whether I could move it or not depended on my mood that day.”
“… how great of you,” Li Song replied.
The group fell into a ball of laughter. Jiang Cheng sighed, “You can laugh idiotically later, but don’t talk.”
“Okay,” Hu Feng answered immediately.
They endured having to shut their mouths for a few moments before bursting into laughter again.
Gu Fei turned around and looked at them, then glanced at Jiang Cheng. Jiang Cheng came up and walked alongside him: “These people must be high on rat poison.1”
“Aren’t you often high on something too?” Gu Fei asked.
“Bullshit,” Jiang Cheng replied, but then recalled all the times he and Gu Fei laughed idiotically in the past few months. He felt stupid just from the thought of it and sighed again, “It’s probably only when I’m with you that it seems like I’m on something, don’t act like you’re any better.”
“We’re still young after all,” Gu Fei said.
The side entrance was very small and not very eye-catching; there were a total of only two people at the ticket booth, a man and a woman.
Gu Fei walked up to the man and handed him the ticket in his hand. The person glanced behind him and counted the number of people, lowered his head and punched a few holes through the ticket. He then scanned their IDs with his eyes, and let them in.
“That guy looks familiar ah?” Jiang Cheng thought about it once they were inside.
“Liu Fan’s older brother,” Gu Fei smiled.
“Ah?” Jiang Cheng was startled, “He looks a lot more proper than Liu Fan.”
“Liu Fan will also be proper in a few years,” Gu Fei said. “That’s just how these people are. They fool around for a few years before eventually returning to the supposedly “correct path” and then try to make do for the rest of their life – fall in love, marry, and have children – unperturbed and tranquil, their whole life would be spent like this.”
“Is that so?” Jiang Cheng glanced at him. Gu Fei had said all of that in total calmness, but once he finished, Jiang Cheng suddenly felt melancholic.
“At least that’s what it all looks like on the surface,” Gu Fei said smiling. “In terms of whether they have any other ideas going on inside, I wouldn’t know, but who wouldn’t develop thoughts of some sort ne? Even Wang Xu has thoughts of opening up a flatbread shop in some big city nearby.”
Jiang Cheng really wanted to ask, how about you?
Do you plan on following this “correct path” also, and like all the people around you, spend the rest of your life like that?
But he didn’t ask.
He once again thought back to Gu Fei’s question.
The haunted house was situated at the far end of the park, and hadn’t always been a property of the park. As the renovation of the park went on for the last two years, that area of land got circled into the same property. The haunted house was previously an old, abandoned factory that occupied quite a bit of space.
“This place used to be an abandoned graveyard,” Pan Zhi read from the brief introduction of the haunted house. “In which buried beneath are nameless corpses……”
“Aiya, that sounds so scary,” Li Yuqing said.
“After the completion of the factory, strange things started to occur consecutively…” Pan Zhi continued to read. “Those that worked the night shifts would frequently hear sounds of singing coming from the empty rooms with no one in them…”
“Fuck,” Jiang Cheng whispered. “They made it sound so real.”
“What if it really is real ne?” Gu Fei answered back. “We do have a lot of abandoned and wild land here, along with many graveyards. Many of the schools were also built on top of graves.”
“You shut up,” Jiang Cheng looked at him.
“You know that technical school beside Si Zhong…” Gu Fei stopped midway through the sentence and looked over at him. “You’re not scared, are you?”
Jiang Cheng didn’t respond.
Seeing that, Gu Fei remained quiet for a moment then smiled: “I honestly couldn’t tell that you’d be scared of these sort of things ah.”
“I’m scared of cockroaches too,” Jiang Cheng added. “Is there something wrong with that?”
“Nope,” Gu Fei withdrew his smile and cleared his throat. “No. Actually, I’m quite afraid of cockroaches myself, and spiders…”
To be honest, Jiang Cheng really enjoyed the horror, thriller, disaster, and sci-fi genre of movies… but the reason he liked ghost movies was due to the process of being scared.
Everything else was fine, he was only scared of ghosts – this being that they were things he adamantly believed didn’t exist yet still remained adamantly scared of.
When he was younger, on his way home from school, when he entered the hallway, he always kept an eye on the corner where the stair turns. He constantly felt that once he turned, there would be…
“Let me!” The roaring sound of Pan Zhi’s voice rang from behind them.
Jiang Cheng, whose heart and body were deeply immersed in childhood memories of trying to scare himself, had goosebumps spreading all over his body. That scream nearly caused his hair, along with every pore, to launch into the air from terror. He couldn’t help but scream back also: “The fuck!”
“What happened!” Pan Zhi was startled into confusion by his scream, and only managed to respond a moment later: “I already said before I came that I’ll treat everyone to the haunted house. This is what I’ve been looking forward to the most, you know!”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng glared at him for a while, then waved his hand: “Go on then sir, go buy us the tickets.”
“It should be pretty dark inside,” Gu Fei whispered while smiling.
“No shit, would it still be called a haunted house if there were 200 watts lightbulbs lit,” Jiang Cheng replied.
“What I’m saying is that,” Gu Fei tsk-ed. “If you get scared and want to hold on to me, I’m sure no one will see.”
“…oh,” Jiang Cheng gave him the side-eye. “Maybe, I don’t need you to hold me. Don’t go thinking too much on your own.”
“If you’re not going to hold me,” Gu Fei eyed the people behind them. “Then someone else might…”
Jiang Cheng turned around to see a jumpy Xu Meng who had her arms wrapped around Li Yuqing. He instantly whipped back his head to look at Gu Fei: “I’m warning you, you better keep yourself in check.”
“En,” Gu Fei smiled with a nod.
Since it was Labour Day, a three-day holiday, the line for the haunted house was much longer than usual. As they stood waiting for their turn, they could clearly hear the people inside screaming at the top of their lungs.
“Is it really that scary?” Pan Zhi looked back and quietly asked Jiang Cheng, “…for them to scream like that.”
“Who knows,” Jiang Cheng answered. “When we go in, who knows how those two girls will be screaming.”
“I wanted to go through it alone ah,” Pan Zhi tsk-ed. “I just asked, and they won’t allow anyone to go solo.”
Jiang Cheng was just about to say something when a few badly shaken people ran out from the exit. Both guys and girls alike were among them; the girls had streaks of tears on their face, and even their hair was a hot mess from the running.
“I’m never coming here again…” one of the girls said as she wiped away her tears.
“Ah,” Xu Meng stomped her feet somewhat nervously. “They had just gone in when we were paying for the tickets. Didn’t they say there’s a 40-minute duration? They came out before finishing it? It’s that scary?”
“Maybe they got lost,” Jiang Cheng answered.
“We should just stay together the whole time.” Xu Meng was a bit worried, “Yuqing, hold on to me.”
“En,” Li Yuqing nodded with a tragically solemn expression. “We can stay in the middle, and the boys can cover the front and back.”
They discussed the formation of this expedition for a while, yet even when it was their turn to enter, a unanimous decision was never made.
“Forget it,” Pan Zhi waved his hand. “Let’s go!”
As the previously hesitant group watched him make his way in, they quickly pushed and grabbed one another inside, afraid they would be left on their own.
“Fuck,” Jiang Cheng uttered as he followed them through the small door ahead. “Why does it all feel a bit scary to me…”
Miles of clear blue sky stretched out above them outside, yet once they went through the small entrance, the sunlight ceased to exist. All that remained before them was the dim and narrow hallway, with not even a single window.
Jiang Cheng suddenly froze in place as his hand quickly reached behind him: “Gu Fei?”
“Here,” Gu Fei patted his hand.
That light touch slightly reassured Jiang Cheng. He turned around to confirm Gu Fei’s distance from himself: “Follow me closely.”
“En.” The corner of Gu Fei’s mouth curved up.
What a mesmerizing smile, Jiang Cheng thought sorrowfully. Under such circumstances, even Gu Fei’s smile wasn’t able to elicit any improper thoughts from him.
Pan Zhi and the others were up ahead, looking aimlessly at their surroundings as they continued to advance. In actuality, this hallway wasn’t part of the haunted house, it was only a passage, yet it already gave off a horrific atmosphere.
There was some sodden part of the walls that had mosses growing on them. Jiang Cheng had a sneaking feeling that they were fake but did not dare to confirm it with a touch of his hand.
None of them had the guts to get too close to either side, and instead squeezed together in the middle. As they got near the pitch-dark doorway that was the official entrance of the haunted house, Jiang Cheng spotted some bloody handprints on the wall.
“Oh my god, look, you guys.” Li Yuqing whispered.
“Don’t make me look, don’t make me look. I’m not looking at anything,” Xu Meng’s voice shook as she spoke.
Jiang Cheng reached back with his hand again and gripped on tightly after feeling the fabric of Gu Fei’s jacket. Gu Fei sighed and grabbed his hand then leaned closer and said in a lowered voice: “Looks like you have some guts in you after all ah, aren’t you afraid of reaching back and grabbing something else instead?”
Jiang Cheng clenched his teeth as he looked back and only said two words: “Fuck off.”
After entering the room, no one uttered a sound, and with their eyes that hadn’t yet adjusted to the darkness surrounding them, silence prevailed.
“Are we… all here?” Hu Fei asked.
“Of course ah,” Pan Zhi answered.
“Should we do a head count?” Hu Feng spoke once.
“Crazy bastard,” Pan Zhi said. “One.”
“Two,” Hu Feng followed.
“Three.” Li Song also worded.
“Four.” “Five.” Li Yuqing and Xu Meng nearly answered simultaneously.
“Six, seven.” Gu Fei added.
“… ah, I’m next to seven.” Jiang Cheng said.
They had barely laughed when out of nowhere a female voice broke through their laughter, “Eight…”
This slightly fleeting voice was the cause of everyone’s immediate silence.
“What the fuck!” Pan Zhi, who had initially laughed the loudest, roared: “Who’s there?!”
“Ahhh——” With Xu Meng and Li Yuqing taking the lead, they instantly became a screaming ball of mess.
Even though Jiang Cheng didn’t make a sound, the paralyzing fear had him grasping Gu Fei’s hand in a death-grip.
What in the actual fuck!
There are actors in this haunted house!
A haunted house in a shitty little city!
Geez, even if they’re actors, why the freaking hell are they so dedicated to their job!
Just then, the noise they made was much louder and shocking than the miserable screams that they heard before; the people outside probably thought the ghosts had taken them away.
“There’s a light!” Pan Zhi shouted. “There’s a light! I see a switch on the wall there. I’ll go turn on the lig…”
Following a ‘slap’, the room was suddenly engulfed in light but just as quickly, it started to flicker frantically.
Jiang Cheng instantly felt that he was afflicted by double the horror and shock; the first was, under the flickering lights, he could clearly see that the walls of this room were covered with bloodstained words – the kinds that made people’s back break out in cold sweats at first glance. “Save me”, “She’s in there”, and “Don’t go inside”. The second was that his hand which was still tightly locked with Gu Fei’s, was never given a chance to break free.
Then again, under this sort of conditions, no one would take notice of such a detail. The girls had already hugged each other into a lump, heck, even Hu Feng was holding onto Pan Zhi’s arm.
Even if at that moment he and Gu Fei were locked in an embrace, it wouldn’t be strange at all… but just as his and Gu Fei’s hands were about to come loose, a closed door on the other side opened all of a sudden. And before anyone could react, someone dropped from the other side of the door and hung from the doorframe.
“Holy shit!” Gu Fei, who had been directly facing that door and witnessed the whole process, suddenly jumped and grabbed hold of Jiang Cheng in his arms.
Jiang Cheng, who was already in a complete state of fear, didn’t even clearly see what was going on, also yelled and hugged onto Gu Fei.
A full-blown screaming session ensued as each person held onto the person next to them.
After screaming wildly with their eyes shut for at least ten seconds, they finally calmed down.
“Fuck me.” Pan Zhi leaned against the wall and stared at that person hanging from the door. “It’s a dummy!”
“You don’t say! You think a real person would actually be hung there.” Jiang Cheng took a few deep breaths. “I think we should all calm down. We’re only in the first room and have already been screaming for two minutes straight. The three before us didn’t even scream this miserably. This is so fucking embarrassing.”
Although the lights in the room were still flickering, there were no longer any more frightening episodes; they reckoned the mechanism must have completed its process.
Pan Zhi lightly pushed the hanging dummy only to find that it didn’t move. He stuck his head out and looked around: “There’s light over there. Let’s go this way?”
With that, they all slowly followed after and made their way through the doorway.
“Here I was fucking thinking that you have a lot of balls?” Jiang Cheng rubbed his arms that had suffered at the hand of Gu Fei’s tight grip and glanced at Gu Fei before he whispered, “If I was a bit shorter, you would’ve climbed straight up to my head huh?”
“Hey,” Gu Fei looked at the hanging dummy once more, pondered for a moment then started to laugh. “I never said that I wasn’t scared ah… shit, that scared me to death.”
After the initial fright and everyone had finally grown accustomed to the horrifying ambience, none of them actually screeched when they heard the loud sounds of weeping as they entered the next room.
“Built-in sound control.” Pan Zhi pointed to the corner of a wall, “Must’ve triggered a sensor when we walked in.”
This room was quite large, appearing to have been a small workshop. There were two planing machines2 situated in the center, covered with bloodstain on the surface, completed with tattered and bloodied garments on the ground.
“They really made it fucking…” Pan Zhi moved in for a closer look, but just as he did so, some movements suddenly came from the middle of the pile of garments, exposing half a hand. “Ahhh——”
Since none of the others had gotten any closer, the experience derived from such visual effects wasn’t as intense as that of Pan Zhi’s. They merely drew back a couple of steps in fear while Pan Zhi, frightened, fell flat on his ass, still determined to yell out the rest of his sentence: “…realistic! Shit!”
Jiang Cheng couldn’t hold back his laughter.
“Which door now?” Pan Zhi sighed.
“Isn’t there only one option?” Gu Fei looked at the two doors before them, “The emergency exit is on the right, and should lead us straight outside.”
“Oh.” Pan Zhi looked over and saw a little light beneath the door on the right that said ‘exit’. “Let’s go to the left one then.”
Li Yuqing quickly followed, grabbing hold of the hem of his jacket.
“Don’t tug at me when you’re nervous, you nearly dragged my pants down just now.” Pan Zhi gave her a glance.
“Oh.” Li Yuqing froze for half a beat then started to laugh.
Once out of that room, they were met with a corridor; immediately to the right was a wall and to the left were rows of rooms, thus, with no paths up ahead, they had to locate the exit from among these rooms.
Jiang Cheng could sense his nervousness steadily coming to a calm state, and oddly enough, even though he and Gu Fei were at the very back of this procession, walking in the position where one would normally get killed first in a horror movie scenario, he… he glanced to the side at Gu Fei.
He actually didn’t get the feeling of ‘getting killed any time soon’ – at all.
“Do you think there’s something behind us?” Gu Fei questioned in a whisper.
“Shit, don’t scare me.” Pan Zhi said from the front.
“There’s six of us behind you,” Jiang Cheng stated, “What are you being all scared for?”
“Who knows,” Pan Zhi started. “You’ve seen a ton of these sorts of movies, and in them, there’s always someone in the front who walks and walks, and then turns around only to see that he’s the only fucking person remaining.”
“This is a man-made haunted house,” Hu Feng reminded him. “Even if there are actors, it’s not possible to simply drag someone away.”
“With an HP level like Jiang Cheng’s, they would have turned into real ghosts before even getting halfway.” Li Song said.
Under extremely stressful circumstances, the acupuncture point that led to one’s laughter was prone to be jammed in the -on- position. Just that sentence alone was enough to set off the group of them to an inexplicable laughter, looking around in fear while continuing to laugh their heads off to no end.
“Ah, idiots.” Jiang Cheng sighed.
It became even more apparent to him that as this group was laughing hysterically, he wasn’t going along with them. And even as he searched in his memory of the past, he seldom participated in the ranks of such foolish laughs. At most, he would join in on the ruckus with a laugh or two whenever Lan Zhi laughed like a dumbass to show that they were on the same battlefront.
It was only when he was together with Gu Fei… He turned to look at Gu Fei.
Gu Fei was to his right, just slightly behind him. The room they entered just then had bloodred lights that brightened and darkened at random, completed with a fearsome atmosphere that enshrouded them, but when saw Gu Fei flash his teeth at him, he still thought that this dude indeed had no dead angles from all 720 degrees.3
So freaking handsome!
Much more handsome than the ghost dripping with blood floating in from the door behind him…
What the fuck!
“Ahhh——fuck, fuck, fuck——” As Jiang Cheng’s roar came out, he thought that it would have been better to laugh along foolishly than to have such a reaction; his voice nearly cracked from the intense scream.
In his mind, it was very clear as day that this was just an actor with a wig that had long gone lopsided, nevertheless, he was so terrified that when he screamed, his heart practically jumped out from his throat, directly devoting itself to Gu Fei.
With this roar, Gu Fei, the person who was still making fun of him before they entered the room, also immediately screamed along without so much of a glance back. As Jiang Cheng turned, joined hands with Gu Fei, and burst into the pile of people, he felt all the pride he had in the nearly 18 years of life was about to be thrown away here.
Fortunately, the few people in front of them were even more rigorous in the action of throwing away their pride. The two girls simply fell to the ground while Hu Feng and Li Song screamed at double the decibels, fleeing in disarray to the right.
When Pan Zhi, at the very front, turned around and widened his eyes, not a single sound managed to come out as he staggered backward. It wasn’t clear if he was trying to evade Jiang Cheng and Gu Fei, or the ghosts with the lopsided wigs behind them.
Altogether, only a few seconds of time had gone by from when the ghost entered the room and turned around only to carelessly bump its head on the doorframe then ran away with its hands on its head. Yet, the room of energetic teenagers already drained from the screaming and disorder.
After panting for a long while, Jiang Cheng sighed: “Ah, this is truly… a large-scale production.”
“Is there a security camera in here?” Pan Zhi questioned.
“There is.” Gu Fei pointed to the top of the doorframe, “If we keep on falling down like this a couple more times, the security guards will probably come in and force us out.”
“Wait,” Pan Zhi pointed at the two of them, pondered a bit and burst out laughing. “How about you two just continue on with your eyes closed. I could never have guessed that the two people who seemed to have the most guts could actually be…”
Pan Zhi’s eyes landed on their hands, and he paused: “My liver nearly exploded when you two ran at me.”
Jiang Cheng laughed without saying a word.
The expression in Pan Zhi’s eyes made him let out a sudden breath of relief.
He figured it out.
Pan Zhi’s intelligence was relatively worthy of his name4, and add on to how tight their friendship was, it probably only took a glance for him to clearly see the truth to everything.
Jiang Cheng looked at Pan Zhi. It wasn’t really his intention to keep the situation as a secret from Pan Zhi, it was only because he didn’t know how to begin the conversation.
He swept his gaze over Gu Fei again.
Gu Fei turned his head, very unconsciously curled up the corner of his mouth, and smiled at him.
Jiang Cheng’s heart momentarily turned into a soft fuzzy mess, all he wanted was to walk up and hug him ferociously.
“Let’s go,” Pan Zhi called out. “Follow close, those who want to cling onto clothes can cling onto clothes, those who want to hug should hug tightly……”
He then turned around and gave Jiang Cheng a look, his voice tinted with laughter: “Those wanting to hold hands should quickly hold on as well.”
“Fuck,” Jiang Cheng laughed and mouthed a word towards his direction. Idiot.
You two. Pan Zhi mouthed back at him.
Jiang Cheng reached out a hand towards Gu Fei’s and squeezed it, Gu Fei also squeezed his, with quite the strength too. Jiang Cheng immediately made a return squeeze, with additional strength, Gu Fei shot back with a counterattack again…
Before they even made it to the doorway, Jiang Cheng clearly heard his own knuckles cracking; he whipped around to glare at Gu Fei.
Gu Fei immediately brought his own two hands together, and the knuckles cracked lightly from pressure.
Jiang Cheng held back the impulse to laugh and caught up with the rest wearing a solemn expression. He had a sneaking feeling that if Pan Zhi knew just how stupid his grandfather could be when he was with Gu Fei, he might even severe their friendship.
1 High on rat poison – took the wrong medicine, took the wrong rat poison
2 Planing machine – a linear motion machine tool that uses a planer to plan the plane, groove, or forming surface of the workpiece. Using planer processing, the tool is simpler, but the productivity is lower (except for long and narrow planes), so it is mainly used for single parts, small batch production, and machine repair workshops, which are often replaced by milling machines in mass production.
3 720度没死角 (no dead angles from all 720 degrees) – comes from “360 degree with no dead angles” and means that something/someone is perfect/beautiful no matter which angle you look.
4 Zhi (智) – the Zhi in Pan Zhi’s name means intelligent/wisdom/knowledge/ intellect