Gathering Soul Village didn’t seem prosperous. They bypassed fertile fields to where the old and lonely village sat. There was a huge tree at the entrance of the village and the leaves had fallen to the ground, evidence that it had lost its vitality. There was a bad omen.
Currently, it was close to dinner time. Every household in the village had smoke coming from it and the black clouds above their heads creating a depressing atmosphere around the entire village.
The village head Wu Shan led the reincarnators down the path to a large house in the middle. He opened the wooden gate and his wife had placed tableware on the table. There were more than a dozen settings and the side dishes were also rich. “The dishes were made by my mother and wife and they have been busy for a day. I hope that you don’t dislike them.”
Shi Ye hurriedly replied. “I don’t dislike it. Sister-in-law’s craft looks quite good.”
They sat around the round table and Wu Shan set up a tent huge enough to cover the entire house. Then he sat down with a smile. “It’s cloudy and I’m afraid of sudden rain.
Shi Ye hadn’t spoken yet when a woman with a ponytail called Tao Fei—Xiao Li remembered that she was the one who analyzed the task outside, suddenly spoke. “Village head, why don’t we go inside and eat? Wouldn’t it be troublesome if it rains in the middle of the meal?”
Wu Shan heard these words and quickly glanced at the wooden house behind him. Then he opened his mouth again and replied with a smile, “My home is small and dirty. I’m afraid that the food will become dirty. Outside is better since it is spacious. You don’t have to be afraid of the rain. Look, isn’t there this tent?”
Did this count as a reason? It was obviously an excuse. There were some problems with this house…
Tao Fei wanted to speak again but Shi Ye kicked her. The task prompt had told them to respect the customs of the village and they shouldn’t offend the village head at the beginning. Tao Fei looked back at Shi Ye with a frown but remained silent.
Shi Ye symbolically placed the chopsticks onto the bowl, indicating he had other things on his mind. He said, “The taste is really good.”
“Hahaha, eat more if it is delicious.”
“Of course.” Shi Ye replied. “By the way, Village Chief Wu. We came here because we wanted to do an interview. Has anything special happened on your side recently?”
Wu Shan’s smile froze and he looked at Shi Ye with a deep expression. “Special?”
Shi Ye saw this expression and immediately realized he had been too anxious. He feared he would be disliked by the village chief and quickly replied, “It is because our audience likes little bits of news like ‘Why do hundreds of cows cry late at night?’ or ‘a strange disappearance at midnight’. We can use this title to capture attention and then introduce the Gathering Soul Village.”
Zhu Yiting snorted in the middle of Shi Ye’s words and was slapped in the back by the hook-nosed man. Xiao Li stuffed a roast chicken into his mouth to block all sounds.
These headlines were funny but Wu Shan didn’t think so. Obviously, there were strange things happening in the village lately but he didn’t intend to tell the reporters. He just spoke with an ugly expression, “This reporter is really humorous. How can such a thing happen in our village? Once we finish eating, I will take you out for a walk and show you the scenery here. It is something you would never see in the city.”
Since Wu Shan said so, Shi Ye could only nod. At the same time, he noted down that the village chief’s home might have hidden clues.
They finished dinner and walked along a path with the village chief.
The Gathering Soul Village was sparsely populated. There was plenty of grass growing by the road and almost every household was eating. Some grandfathers were kneeling at the door and greeted the village chief when they saw him. It looked very ordinary.
Every reincarnator was secretly recording the scenery along the road. After another right turn, Wu Shan stopped in front of a yard and walked in after opening the gate. The yard was very clean without a single leaf. It was obvious that someone had cleaned it up.
The village chief opened the front door and inside was a large store with neat bedding. “Reporters, you will live here these days. It is very close to me and if you have something then please say it.”
Wu Shan pointed to the house next door. “The house for the females is next door and it is very close by.”
The reincarnators weren’t used to this treatment but they could only accept it. It was clear that in a village, it was impossible to have single rooms for a dozen people. Shi Ye spoke a few words of thanks to Wu Shan and then Wu Shan went outside.
Tao Fei sat on the bed and stared at Shi Ye’s back, quietly asking, “What do you think?”
“I think it is weird.” Zhu Yiting sat in front of the only small table in the room and raised his legs. “They all look normal but there is a very strange feeling. It is the impression that the entire village gives me…”
The hook-nosed man routinely yelled at him. “This is a haunted instance. Of course, it will feel strange. Why do you keep speaking nonsense?”
Zhu Yiting’s eyes were angry. “Yong Chun, you are like this again. I will beat you up.”
Shi Ye went to the window, opened it and looked at the sky outside. “I also have this feeling. It isn’t as obvious as the village chief’s house but I can feel there is something strange. I just can’t put my finger on it. What is missing?”
Xiao Li, who had been sitting in a corner, rubbed the edge of the bed near his knee and quietly broke the silence. “The threshold.”
“Yes! The threshold!” Zhu Yiting immediately looked at him and then the door.
Generally, rural or even urban houses would have a threshold installed. The higher the better. It was because in ancient times, people thought that ghosts, including zombies, couldn’t bend their knees. Therefore, the higher the threshold, the more they could prevent evil things from entering the house.
In this Gathering Soul Village, including the village chief’s home, they were all built on flat ground. This village had no threshold! Was this a special custom in the village or was it to facilitate the entry and exit of certain things?
“Gathering Soul Village…” Tao Fei spoke to herself. “Do they gather ghosts? However, why do they need reporters?”
The sky had completely darkened and Zhu Yiting pulled out a lighter from his pocket. He ignited the oil lamp and couldn’t help spitting out, “They are still using oil lamps in this age. It is really inconvenient.”
Shi Ye glanced at the old oil lamp. The light coming from it was very small and once it shone on the face, it made the person look like a ghost. He couldn’t help looking away. He went to the bed and took off his coat, seemingly wanting to go to sleep.
Xiao Li stood up at this time and walked to the door.
Zhu Yiting suddenly stopped him. “Wait, buddy, where are you going? I’ll go with you.”
Xiao Li opened the door and cold wind from outside blew in. Zhu Yiting was facing the door and his entire body was blown with the cold wind. Then he heard the other person say calmly, “As we were coming over, I saw someone wearing mourning clothes and headed to the west. I want to go and take a look.”
Zhu Yiting, “…”
He hadn’t expected to get such a serious answer. He just thought this person was going out to pee and he also needed to go. However, he didn’t dare to go alone and he didn’t want to call his two friends because he would be ridiculed. Thus, he told the other person that he would go with them. It was convenient to go to the toilet together…
What was going on with this guy? How could he say such a life or death matter so calmly? Zhu Yiting froze on the spot while Tao Fei immediately stood up from the bed. “You saw someone wearing mourning clothes? Where?”
“When we came here, that fork in the road.”
“You… why didn’t you say anything before?”
Xiao Li glanced at her with a blank expression, stating as he turned away, “You didn’t ask me.”
He walked too fast, leaving the people looking at each other with faces full of question marks. After two seconds, Zhu Yiting jumped up like an ant on a hot pot. “Wait for me, I’ll go with you. Buddy, what are you called? You look like my good friend!”
Xiao Li was caught by the excessive enthusiasm. He took some time to avoid this person and answered with his own name. Yong Chun rolled his eyes and followed behind them.
As a result, Tao Fei and Shi Ye couldn’t sit still, especially Shi Ye. He had wanted to go to bed to rest but was stirred up by these people. As he got up, the remaining few people said, “We won’t go. They might violate a dead end when they go and we don’t know how many will return.”
Some of the others nodded. Tao Fei looked down for a few seconds before gritting her teeth and running out to catch up with the others.
The moonlight of the outside world was completely covered by dark clouds. There were only a few lights on in the houses of the Gathering Soul Village, making them look like ghosts floating in the darkness.
Zhu Yiting felt his legs were a bit soft and urine would soon come out but he stared at the side profile of his new friend and in order to not lose face, he gritted his teeth and suppressed the impulse.
There was a noisy running sound behind him and three people caught up, gasping roughly.
“I say… Sherlock, do you really remember the way? If you don’t remember, let’s go back?” Zhu Yiting followed Xiao Li down the quiet path. He remembered the speculation about the ‘threshold’ and felt that ghosts could appear in the village at any time.
Yong Chun mockingly poked his back. “Are you afraid?”
“Oh, you are the scared one. I just think we should save energy to fight better tomorrow—”
He hadn’t finished his words when he saw two white lanterns hanging from the door of a house in the west. There was the faint sound of crying coming from the open door.
“We… do you want to go in?” Tao Fei had followed but looking at the night scene in front of her, she was still afraid.
Xiao Li’s eyes flashed. “We came all this way. Isn’t it boring to leave?”
He walked in as he spoke, not waiting for a reply. Unexpectedly, Xiao Li didn’t see anyone when he entered. The crying seemed to sense the coming of a living person and abruptly stopped.
On the left side of the mourning hall was a coffin with white paper money and wreaths hanging from the beams above it. There was a table in the middle with a black and white photograph and a tablet on white cloth. It read: Eldest Brother Zhang Tao.
The man in the black and white photo was a middle-aged man with ordinary facial features. He was the man who received the black box in the introductory CG. Then he died because of the box? Where was the box now?
Xiao Li turned his head and looked around, eventually locking eyes on the coffin. The young boy walked over gently and his fingers grabbed the edge of the coffin, pulling hard. He found that the coffin board wasn’t closed so he pushed it outwards and placed a hand inside the coffin.
Zhu Yiting and the others mustered up the courage to come in, only to see such a scene. Zhu Yiting watched Xiao Li restore the coffin with a thoughtful expression and almost screamed. “You… you…”
Was he a devil? He didn’t even let go of the dead? What if he happened to revive the corpse?
“There’s a problem,” Xiao Li suddenly said.
Tao Fei looked at him with complicated eyes and asked, “What is the problem?”
“There isn’t a body in the coffin.” Xiao Li spoke thoughtfully, eyes turning to the black and white photo again. “There is no black box.”
Zhu Yiting took a few steps in the opposite direction of the coffin. He didn’t want to look over there in case something had escaped from the coffin. He fixed his eyes on Xiao Li’s face as he said, “Okay, let’s leave first. I don’t want to stay here.”
He had a thought as he watched. ‘Sherlock has fine and soft skin and looks good. How is his heart so tough? Wait, Sherlock… where have I heard that name?’
Xiao Li just wanted to talk when his eyes suddenly narrowed. Zhu Yiting followed his gaze. He saw the black and white photo suddenly change. Originally, the middle-aged man had been smiling at the crowd but at this moment, he started shedding bloody tears and the entire photo was changing rapidly.
“Escape!” Tao Fei shouted loudly. As an experienced senior, she had experienced many ghost events. Now she wasn’t paralyzed by fear and reacted first. The group immediately dispersed but the time to escape was too short. Some people could only hide behind the door.
Xiao Li didn’t move and kept looking at the man bleeding from his orifices in the photo. The man’s facial features became fiercer and it seemed like he was going to jump out of the photo. Then there was a cat meowing from outside and rapid footsteps coming into the hall. The moment the new person appeared, the strange occurrence vanished and the photo returned to its original state.
It was a man wearing rough linen who entered. His facial features were somewhat similar to the man in the photo and this was apparently his brother. He stared at the strangers in the hall with a bit of dissatisfaction. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
Xiao Li’s expression didn’t change. “We are reporters and when we saw the shrine, we came here to worship.”
The man’s face showed a hint of suspicion before he reached out to the black-haired teenager. “Okay, give me something.”
This time, Xiao Li paused before repeating again in a somewhat confused manner. “…Something?”
“Did you really come here to worship?” The man took back his hand with a deep frown. His index finger and thumb were moving together impatiently.
These brothers obviously didn’t have deep feelings. The man’s face wasn’t sad but he was serious about this. This time, the Xiao family’s second master understood the other person’s gesture. He looked through his pocket and found chocolate, a doll, a mobile phone, paper towels, etc… but no bank notes.
He ended up touching his phone. “Do you accept an Alipay transfer?”
The man, “……”
Xiao Li had just spoken these words when he remembered there was no signal here. Therefore, he looked at those hiding behind the door and Zhu Yiting behind a pillar. “Can I borrow some money?”
Zhu Yiting, whose position was exposed, numbly watched the other person coming towards himself. Then he took three notes from his pocket and handed it over.
Xiao Li took the money, saw Zhu Yiting’s frustrated (?) expression and thought this person was upset because he lost money. Xiao Li patted Zhu Yiting on the shoulder and comforted him. “Go back and give me your number. I’ll return it to you.”
Zhu Yiting watched Xiao Li with a complicated expression and didn’t answer.
The author has something to say:
Xie Lingshi told Zhu Yiting, “Rest assured, there are many victims on this road hurt by Sherlock. You aren’t alone.”
Zhu Yiting: @Bewildered by this behaviour in the ghost world.
Fat man/ Qian Yiwei/ Xu Ying and others liked and forwarded this story.