Translated by: TaffyGirl13
Chapter 7: Seven Tombstones
“I saw it! I saw it! I saw that woman turn into a puddle of blood!”
4:18 AM. Ma Hong Liang stood on the steps hooting energetically. As he shouted, he flailed his arms around, the cuffs on his wrist making jarring clanging sounds as it rattled against the staircase railing.
“Shut up!” Ye Xiao roared.
However, Ma Hong Liang could not calm down because this was his first time witnessing a death in this house. If he had seen the other three’s dead states, perhaps he would have been a bit more numb to it.
“Wh-What is going on? Someone tell me! What is going on? How di-did she die like that?!”
Ma Hong Liang covered his head with one hand while yelling incredulously.
“No one knows what’s going on! Be quiet right this instant!” Ye Xiao furiously glared at him.
Ma Hong Liang blanked out for a moment, then plopped down onto a step. He shook his head and muttered, “There’s something wrong with this house. There’s definitely something wrong with this house, that’s why no one lives here…”
Everyone stared at him without uttering a word.
At the moment, it didn’t matter if this house was haunted or if something was wrong; no one dared to take even half a step outside the front door either way. With Feng Jing Jing as a precedent, heavens knew what they’d encounter if they left the house.
Their complexions were poor as they felt the indistinct fear that they would be struck by misfortune at any second.
In reality, dying was not frightening. What was truly frightening was waiting for death.
“If I had known earlier, I wouldn’t have stepped foot into this bizarre empty house in the first place!”
Zhao Fei Peng smashed a fist down on the table as he resentfully made this declaration.
Yan Kai raised his eyes to look at him and said, “Isn’t it because you broke the door with a kick? Otherwise we wouldn’t have come in.”
“I…” Zhao Fei Peng felt indignation rush through him as he shot back. “How many times do I have to tell you guys this for you to believe me! Listen up here, the front door of this house wasn’t broken by me at all! It opened by itself!”
Then he threw a kick at the chair next to him to vent his anger.
“Ok, ok, don’t fight. It doesn’t matter how the door opened, we’re already inside now anyways. We’re better off trying to find a way to walk out of here alive,” Yuan Meng Yu said as she held onto Duo Duo’s shoulders.
Zhang Xiao Long pulled out a small notebook from his bag and ripped out a piece of paper, then lowered his head to jot down something.
“Oi, what are you doing?” Zhao Fei Peng shot him a sideways glance.
Zhang Xiao Long earnestly wrote each word down, then pushed the paper in front once he was done. “I was thinking that we should note down the names of the people that died. If we leave here alive, we should light incense for them.”
“Hah, light incense for them? I think you’re better off coming up with ways to protect your own measly life first. Or else a year from today, it’ll be your mom and dad lighting incense for you instead!”
Zhao Fei Peng let out a mocking snort.
Zhang Xiao Long bit his lip and did not reply.
A chilling breeze blew past, gently shifting the paper on the table.
There were four people’s names written on the paper in neat handwriting.
Yang Wen Jie, Zhou Yue, Shao Yue Hua, Feng Jing Jing.
This was a list of names for the dead.
“Four people…now four people have died…”
Yan Kai furrowed his brows at the names. After silently mulling over them for a while, he seemed to think of something. He lifted his head with a flash of understanding and murmured, “At the end of the tunnel, there was a graveyard with seven tombstones in total.”
When the others heard this, their heads whipped towards him with dumbstruck expressions.
“What are you trying to say?” Shao Yue Ting asked.
“I…I’m trying to say…”
Yan Kai hesitated for a beat, his gaze uneasily sweeping across each person’s face. Ultimately, he did not finish his sentence.
“Are you trying to say that three more among us will die?”
Xue Qing looked up, a pair of malicious eyes locking onto Yan Kai from underneath her wide hood.
Yan Kai felt goosebumps rise from her stare. He nervously gulped and stammered out, “I-I was just saying whatever. You-you guys don’t have to take it seriously—”
“No, your words aren’t meaningless.” Xue Qing lifted her hands to reveal a card and she stated in a calm and cold voice, “The divination indicates that those seven tombstones in the ground were indeed prepared for us.”
“Wh-what? Prepared for us?” Shao Yue Ting took a step back as she shook her head and said, “No, that’s impossible. How could there be such a ridiculous thing? We’ve never been here before, who would try to entrap us?”
“There are three empty tombstones left. Which three among us will fill them?”
Yuan Meng Yu’s quiet voice was heard clearly by every person present.
This sentence was like a clap of thunder striking down on their heads.
Who will be the next to die? You? Me? Or him?
Anyone could be the next!
They all stared at each other, their gazes carrying boundless fear, suspicion, and a trace of malice. Because starting from now, every time a person died, it would be another layer of safeguard for the ones remaining.
“Don’t be like this.” Ye Xiao heaved a sigh and commented, “Those words are just guesses without proof. As matters stand, we’re all people on the same boat that share a common goal—”
Before he finished, Zhao Fei Peng jumped up and slammed the table. “In other words, as long as three more die among us, the remaining people can leave safe and sound. Is that what you mean?”
Everyone stared at him in shock.
Zhang Xiao Long shakily asked, “Wh-what do you want to do?”
“What do I want to do?” Zhao Fei Peng fiercely sneered and shot back, “I want to fucking make it out alive!”
He then stepped onto the chair with his right foot and unexpectedly pulled out a six-inch dagger from his short leather shoe!
“Stop! Put the dagger down now!” Ye Xiao roared.
Zhao Fei Peng paid him no mind. The glinting dagger drew a circle through the air and the others retreated fearfully. Duo Duo was so frightened that she began to bawl out loud, and Yuan Meng Yu hurriedly hugged her.
“All of you stand still and don’t move!”
Zhao Fei Peng held the blade with a skillful backwards grip as his eyes scanned everyone. “Since we’ve already found a solution to solve the problem, then let’s just finish things as quickly as possible. Every person wants to fucking leave alive, but three people must die. Go on and speak up, is anyone willing to sacrifice themselves? I’ll give you thirty seconds to consider. If no one voluntarily comes out in thirty seconds, don’t blame me for not holding back!”
He glanced at his watch to begin counting down.
With their hearts in their throats, they exchanged panic-stricken looks with each other.
“It really is ugly!” Yuan Meng Yu spoke under her breath.
“What did you say?” Zhao Fei Peng raised his head to glare at her.
Yuan Meng Yu gritted her teeth and bravely took a step forward to declare, “Things have already reached this stage. Yet not only have we failed to discuss countermeasures to combat the external party, we’ve broken out into internal strife too. And now you want to sacrifice others to protect yourself. If that’s not the ugliness of human nature, then what is it!”
“Damn bitch, shut your mouth! Do you think you have a good nature? If you do, then die right this instant for me and let the others live!”
Zhao Fei Peng lifted his dagger and stabbed it in Yuan Meng Yu’s direction.
The crowd gasped in terror. Duo Duo covered her head and screamed.
No one would have known that in that life-or-death moment before the hand gripping the blade descended, a figure swiftly lunged out to grab hold of Zhao Fei Peng’s wrist. With a forceful push, Zhao Fei Peng was pressed against the floor.
“Drop the dagger!” Ye Xiao commanded as he restrained Zhao Fei Peng.
Zhao Fei Peng was not someone easy to deal with; the sturdy muscles he sported weren’t just for show. When he really acted up, there was likely no one that could obstruct him. He roared, “Are you trying to die,” and flipped over to hold Ye Xiao down underneath him. Then he turned the blade around so that the tip was pointed straight at Ye Xiao’s eye.
“Heh, Mr. Officer, if you’re so just, how about you sacrifice yourself for everyone?”
Zhao Fei Peng sneered as he pushed the tip of the blade lower inch by inch.
Screams of horror rang out from the crowd as they were momentarily at a loss on what to do.
“If you exchange someone’s death for your life, would you be able to live with a peaceful conscience?!”
Ye xiao furiously glared back and used all his strength to fight back that hand. However, the sharp blade flashed with a chilling glow as it continued pressing down bit by bit. It was just about to pierce his eye—
An earth-shattering gunshot instantly shook the entire house.
Zhao Fei Peng’s body shuddered as his hand motions froze in midair. Ye Xiao laid stunned on the floor as he watched dumbly with wide eyes.
After a still pause, dark red blood spurted out from the space between Zhao Fei Peng’s brows, dripping onto Ye Xiao’s shocked face.
Then, Zhao Fei Peng’s tall and sturdy body fell down. What appeared behind him was a smoking muzzle of a gun.
“Can you think for a moment before you act? You clearly don’t have the ability to restrain him, yet you just try to show off. You’ll die a tragic death one day.” Su Mu kept his hold on his gun as he coldly stated this with an expressionless face pointed at Ye Xiao.
Ye Xiao breathed hard, not sure of what to say. He could only dejectedly crawl up from the ground and wipe off the bloodstains on his face. Then he lowered his head to glance at the collapsed Zhao Fei Peng.
Zhao Fei Peng’s eyes remained open to keep the sinister look on his face. However, he could no longer act unbridled.
Su Mu is seriously ruthless. The bullet passed straight through the back of the head, right in between the brows. Killed in a single shot with no room for error.
He’s like this every time; he has no idea what ‘having mercy’ means.
Ye Xiao helplessly sighed.
Thus, the house had another corpse.
Someone softly commented.
Ye Xiao turned his head to survey the crowd.
Zhang Xiao Long stood by the table, dazedly staring at Zhao Fei Peng’s body. After a while, he bowed his head to write a new name on the list of the dead.
Yan Kai picked up his camera, seemingly wanting to take photos. However, after a moment of hesitation he dropped it back down.
Zhao Yue Ting was chewing on her lip, her complexion more ashen than before.
Xue Qing was still wrapped in her black robe. She silently held a deck of shuffled cards.
Duo Duo had been covering her head since the gunshot, curled up and sobbing in a corner of the wall.
No one spoke. Even the noisy Ma Hong Liang immediately went quiet as he anxiously focused on the corpse from where he stood on the stairwell. Then he turned his head back to look at the two young police officers. Finally, he scanned the others, his eyes filled with suspicion and terror.
“Officer Ye, are you alright?”
Yuan Meng Yu saw the unwiped bloodstains on Ye Xiao’s face and pulled out a light pink handkerchief with a cherry blossom print from her pocket. Then she walked over to pass it to him.
Ye Xiao stared at the clean and pretty handkerchief and chuckled in embarrassment. “There’s no need. How could I use such a pretty thing to wipe bloodstains? It’ll get dirty.”
Then he hurriedly used his hands to randomly wipe his face.
A chuckle escaped from Yuan Meng Yu’s lips. She shook her head and replied, “It’s fine, take it. You nearly lost your life to save me just now. What does a mere handkerchief amount to?”
After saying this, she pushed the handkerchief into Ye Xiao’s hands.
Ye Xiao could not decline, so he simply took the handkerchief and quietly said thank you.
Yuan Meng Yu shook her head and sighed. With a somewhat pathetic expression, she asked, “Officer Ye, do you think we still have any hope of leaving here alive?”
Ye Xiao awkwardly scratched his head, not knowing how to answer this question.
However, Yuan Meng Yu was not expecting him to give any reply.
Because only the heavens knew the answer to this question.
Everyone was silent. Eventually, they sat around the long table once more.
There were some unopened foods placed on the table, such as bread, crackers, and a few drinks. Though with there being corpses upstairs, downstairs, and even outside the front entrance, no one had the appetite to eat.
Time ticked by, seconds turning into minutes.
Logically speaking, this time was already nearing daybreak, and the skies should have started to show a hazy glow. Yet there was only dense pitch-black darkness that enveloped everything outside the windows, with absolutely no trace of the sun rising from the east.
“I’m not feeling very well, so I’m going to head upstairs and lie down for a bit.”
Shao Yue Ting dry-heaved a few times while clutching her chest, her complexion as pale as paper.
They glanced at her, not finding this strange.
Ye Xiao and Su Mu exchanged a look. Before they could speak, Shao Yue Ting had stood and unsteadily walked towards the stairs. Thus, Ye Xiao hurriedly followed behind.
Upon arriving at the second floor, Shao Yue Ting spun around and warily asked Ye Xiao, “What are you following me for?”
“I…” Ye Xiao took a step back before asking, “I didn’t have a chance to ask you earlier, so I was coming with you just to ask: do you know how exactly your sister died?”
Shao Yue Ting replied with a strange look, “How would I know?”
“Weren’t you in the same room with her the entire time? You didn’t see the perpetrator?”
“Sorry, I think I already answered that question before.” Shao Yue Hua shook her head in annoyance and impatiently huffed, “I don’t know, I really don’t know anything.”
“Okay,” Ye Xiao spread his hands out in compromise. “Now that things have reached this stage, I don’t want to go in circles with you anymore. I’ll just say it straight out. You were the one that killed your sister, weren’t you?”
Shao Yue Ting started, her eyes widening in shock at Ye Xiao. After standing there blankly for a while, she furiously shot back, “Mr. Officer, if your words just now were not a joke, I can sue you for slander, can’t I?”
“Alright, stop pretending.” Ye Xiao calmly met her eyes and replied, “I personally witnessed you killing your sister, Shao Yue Hua. Why are you unafraid to do it, yet afraid to admit to it?”
“Hah, what a joke. You personally witnessed it? How did you witness it?”
“That’s not important right now. I’m just asking you: do you admit to it or not?”
Shao Yue Ting shot him an enraged glare. “Fine, you want me to admit to it? Then please first tell me, how did I make my sister die in such a demonic, unhuman-like manner? What method did I use to kill her?”
Ye Xiao observed the trembling Shao Yue Ting. No matter what, she did not appear to be acting. However, he really had personally witnessed the process of her committing the murder back then. What exactly is going on? Were they actually not the same person? Or had she been possessed by something at the time?
As Ye Xiao was hesitating, Shao Yue Ting sneered and angrily mocked, “Didn’t you just say you personally witnessed me killing someone? Why aren’t you able to answer?”
As she spoke, she felt a wave of dizziness, perhaps because of her excessively excited emotions. Her body swayed and she nearly fainted. Ye Xiao rushed to catch her, but he was resentfully pushed away.
“Without any actual evidence, please do not frame me. Otherwise, I really will sue you.”
Shao Yue Ting supported herself against the wall to slowly walk to her room with staggered steps.
Ye Xiao watched her back. With lack of a better option, he could only reluctantly leave.
The moment Shao Yue Ting entered the room, she spotted Shao Yue Hua’s body laying on the ground. With a start, she realised that she had unconsciously returned to the room of the homicide because her mind had been muddled with anger.
She fearfully stumbled back so that her back leaned against a corner of the wall. Her eyes stared unblinkingly at the shrivelled corpse. The corpse’s dried-up face was no longer recognisable as Shao Yue Hua’s. Only its identical clothing identified the person on the ground to truly be the biological sister she had grown up with.
She did not feel too much sorrow over Shao Yue Hua’s death, just endless fear. Like a frosty mist, it wrapped all around her.
She truly did not know what had happened.
All she remembered was fighting intensely with Shao Yue Hua over the Ah Wei incident. She had no idea who had made the first move in the end; either way, they had ended up in a frenzied brawl on the floor while hurling abuse at each other like vixens tearing each other apart. She had frantically pulled at Shao Yue Hua’s hair while Shao Yue Hua had been strangling her neck. She had not been able to breathe, on the verge of suffocating. At that moment, she had thought she would really be choked to death. But, what was after that? How did I break free?
Shao Yue Ting shook her head. She could not remember, could not recall a thing. Her brain had completely turned into mush, and she seemed to hear a constant buzzing drone in her ears that gave her an extreme headache.
“Annoying! So damn annoying! Get lost!”
She covered her ears and unsteadily turned around while shouting at the empty air.
However, the noise did not disappear because of this. Like an irritating fly, it continued hovering around her ears.
Bzz bzz bzz, bzz bzz bzz, bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz…
Like a chant, yet also seemingly trying to tell her something.
Shao Yue Ting’s mental state collapsed, the disgusting feeling in her chest growing stronger and stronger.
Since earlier, she had wanted to throw up. However, she had merely dry heaved a few times, unable to vomit anything.
With one arm weakly supporting her body on the ground, she covered her mouth with her other hand.
Something was blocking her throat. It was beyond unbearable.
She continued kneeling on the floor, constantly dry heaving. However, that nauseating object seemed stuck, unable to be thrown up. As a result, she stuck a finger into her own mouth and struggled to dig it out from the depths of her throat. Suddenly—
Her finger was pricked by something. She withdrew her hand and looked at it. To her astonishment, she discovered droplets of blood bubbling out from the tip of her second finger.
Her finger had been cut—and the thing that had cut it was whatever was in her throat?
Shao Yue Ting felt fear course through her, a trace of horror forming on her wan face.
Wh-what is it, what the heck is that thing!
She stood up with the help of the wall and staggered over to throw herself in front of the mirror and force her mouth open wide. When she looked into the mirror, she gasped sharply and froze in place.
A needle? It looks like…like I just saw a needle in my own mouth?
How can that be? How can there be a needle in my mouth?
Panic-stricken, she tried to pull the needle out. However, when she opened her mouth wide once more, she let out an alarmed cry.
Because…because she had spotted a pair of white fangs slowly extending out from both corners of her mouth.
She madly shook her head and stumbled back, then grabbed her cellphone and threw it at the mirror.
Thin cobweb cracks immediately formed across the shattered hive-like mirror. Countless faces split up into pieces were reflected back between the fine lines.
Each face was filled with terror and shock.
“No! No! No way! I’m dreaming, I’m definitely dreaming!”
She sobbed, her tears tumbling down like a broken string of pearls. Behind her crying face, another face appeared without warning.
She reeled in fright and squinted her eyes blurred with shining tears, trying to discern the face in the mirror. But the person behind her spoke first.
“You seem like you haven’t fully awakened yet. Your sister was killed by you, wasn’t she?”
Then the person’s mouth opened to reveal a pair of pointed fangs grinning sinisterly at her.
Shao Yue Ting shuddered violently, her eyes widening in dread.
“Wh-what are you saying—”
She whipped her head around and her vision instantly went black. A sharp stabbing pain rose from the side of her neck, as though something had pierced deeply into it.
She opened her mouth in horror but could not scream. The last image branded into her eyes were her own shriveling arms clutching at empty air…