It was night. The cruise ship sailed on the sea and in front of it was an endless sea. It was currently 8 o’clock at night. The bow deck was empty, which could be called a rare sight. In the past, there were always many people who loved to stand on the deck and look at the sea.
It was because today was the first night for passengers on board the ship. There was a grander dance being held inside the East Mermaid for these guests. The centre of the dance hall was a huge turntable with colourful neon lights on top, surrounded by eight pillars covered with feathers and balloons. Outside the turntable was a circle of tables and chairs. Each table had a bottle of red wine and a card folded into a swan.
By the time Xiao Li came out of his room, the dance had already begun. The neon lights changed colours with the dynamic music and for a moment, he was a bit dizzy. The dancers wearing miniskirts danced onstage with the pillars as props.
From time to time, a few balloons would burst to heat up the atmosphere.
Some of the boys in the audience were staring straight at the stage, including Zhu Zhu and the other males who were part of the plot characters group. Zhu Zhu’s eyes were fixed on the dancers’ thighs and chest as he whistled and excitedly clapped his hands.
Xiao Li stood at the doorway and glanced around. He happened to see Xie Zeqing in a position close to the door. Xie Zeqing was sitting alone at a table. He proudly raised his glass and gestured towards Xiao Li.
Xiao Li hesitated for a moment before walking in Xie Zeqing’s direction. Instead of sitting with him, he chose a table next to Xie Zeqing’s seat.
Xie Zeqing glanced in his direction. Xie Zeqing was used to being a core figure that people gathered around wherever he went. His natural ghost sensing made his role in the instance world irreplaceable and everyone wanted to hold his thigh. Now Xiao Li acted differently and he was a bit surprised.
However, this person Xiao Li didn’t seem to be as simple as he looked. Xie Zeqing thought that he faintly sensed some ghosts from the Xiao family. However, that ghostly atmosphere was sometimes looming and sometimes not present. It must be the atmosphere left behind by the expert behind the Xiao family. Did the expert deliberately protect this Xiao Li? Was Xiao Li the apprentice of a big person?
Xiao Li leaned back in the soft chair and watched the performance of the dancers in front of him. He seemed to not feel anything and picked up the card on the table, gently unfolding it.
The card said: This will be a trip that is unique.
Xiao Li folded the card back to its original state and looked at the plot characters. By this time, the dancers had finished a song and started to take photos with the passengers. The plot characters also moved. Zhu Zhu flew towards the most beautiful dancer and raised his phone. “Can you take a photo with me?”
The dancer looked very sweet. She was mixed-race with a thin waist and long legs. She was taller than Zhu Zhu, meaning she bent down as she made a V sign and took a photo with Zhu Zhu.
“Me too. I want this beautiful person to look at me.” Enron squeezed away another man who wanted to be next and came to the dancer’s side. The dancer was obviously more enthusiastic with girls than boys. She placed an arm around Enron’s shoulder and her face was attached to Enron’s face as she took a photo.
“And me—” The last remaining man couldn’t wait to rush forward.
“Lu Tang, you won’t die if you slow down. You hit me.” Enron rubbed her shoulders while complaining.
The girl called Luo Shan stood behind them. She looked out of place compared to her enthusiastic friends. Somehow, Luo Shan had the feeling of being spied on since boarding this cruise ship. The feeling was very light. She looked around but couldn’t find anyone peeping at her. In the end, she could only feel she was thinking too much. The plot characters took photos with the dancer one after another and finally invited another guest to take a group photo, satisfying them.
As every guest was busy taking photos with the dancers or talking, a middle-aged man in a fitted suit held a deck of cards and found each guest in turn. He came to Luo Shan’s group and bowed courteously. “Distinguished guests, are you having a good time?”
Lu Tang had just finished watching the female dancer’s performance and was in high spirits. He wasn’t disappointed when he saw the man and replied with a smile, “Very good.”
“I have something here.” The man unfolded the cards, with the back of the cards facing them. “Please draw a card.”
Enron stared at him suspiciously. The man’s polite smile was impeccable so she casually drew a card from the other person’s hand and looked at it. It was a 4 of Hearts.
She turned the card around to the man, waiting for him to explain. The man didn’t immediately respond but indicated for the rest of the people to draw cards. Lu Tang drew the A of Diamonds, Zhu Zhu got the 9 of Clubs and Luo Shan got the Q of Clubs.
“This is our gift. Please keep it with you.” After everyone had finished, the man didn’t explain. He just left them with this meaningful sentence. The man approached Xiao Li, first telling Xie Zeqing the same words he had told Luo Shan.
The young man put down the wine glass in his hand. Xie Zeqing suspected this staff member was strange but didn’t feel the breath of a ghost from him. He drew from the middle section and revealed a 9 of Clubs.
The young man raised his eyebrows. “What does this mean?”
The middle-aged man in front of him put away the cards, smiled and walked to Xiao Li at the next table. Xie Zeqing stared at the man’s back, the tattoo-like shadow on his arm moving. It seemed to want to attack this person before finally choosing to stop.
Xiao Li had seen the wile thing with Xie Zeqing. The moment the man came to him, he used his index finger and middle finger to draw a card, turning it straight in the air. It was a little devil, the black joker.
“Wow.” The man spoke different words for the first time. “This guest, you are very lucky.”
Xiao Li picked up the card. The neon light fell on his face, half of it in shadow and half of it bright. “Can it make you say a few more tips?”
The man shook his head. “No, all I can tell you is to cherish it as you cherish your life.”
He put away the cards and went looking for the remaining guests. Xiao Li played with the card in his hand before putting it in his pocket. The moment he looked up, he immediately met Xie Zeqing’s eyes.
Xiao Li wondered, “…What’s wrong?”
The young man stood with his arms folded over his chest, voice cold. “Your luck is very good.”
Generally speaking, the joker cards were special cards. No matter the purpose of this person, the status of these two cards were by no means ordinary. They were either very good or very poor.
Xie Zeqing’s expression wasn’t quite right. It was like he was contemplating something. Before Xiao Li could reply, Xie Zeqing suddenly reached out and touched Xiao Li’s sleeve. He stretched out like lightning and retracted his hand, muttering, “I have very bad luck. I should’ve gained a bit of luck…”
Xiao Li, “…”
A generation of extremely lucky people had their lucky energy taken like this! Xie Zeqing’s fingertips still had the touch of Xiao Li’s clothing. He held the playing card in his hand and stared at Xiao Li.
Xiao Li didn’t react. He just got up from his seat and stated, “I’m leaving first.”
The plot characters were glued to the dancers and it seemed there would be nothing on the first day. Xie Zeqing touched his nose and squeezed out some words from his throat, “In this world, a person who goes back first will generally die first.”
He spoke in a roundabout manner. It was clearly stating a fact but he was secretly persuading Xiao Li to not go back alone. Xiao Li got his meaning and laughed lightly. He patted Xie Zeqing’s shoulder before this person could become angrier and told him, “Rest assured.”
Xie Zeqing turned his head. “Why are you telling me to rest assured? I’m not worried about you.”
The smile on Xiao Li’s face widened and he said nothing as he left the ballroom.
Most people were immersed in sleep as the moon outside shone on the sea.
Xiao Li stood in the bathroom, opened the tap and used some water to was his face. It was almost 11 o’clock at night and the bathroom was quiet. Only the sound of water could be heard. The boat was very stable and shaking couldn’t be detected at all.
Xiao Li grabbed a towel, wiped the water droplets from his face and stared in the mirror for a moment. The young man’s hair in the mirror was wet with water, making it stuck to his forehead. His lips were stained with water, the colour bright and the outline beautiful.
He wanted to hang the towel back on the shelf when there was a ‘rumbling’ sound behind him to the right. Xiao Li’s movements paused for a moment before he continued to hang the towel. Then he turned to look in the direction of the sound.
There was a toilet, shower curtain and bathtub. The entire bathroom wasn’t big and Xiao Li could see almost everywhere. There didn’t seem to be a place for a ghost to hide.
Then the next second, there were more bubbling sounds accompanied by water. The sound was light and seemed like a water ghost with a wet body lurking under the water, nose blowing in the water to make these sounds.
Xiao Li turned completely and looked at the bathtub. In his vision, water was flowing from the drain of the bathtub. It rose bit by bit and slowly filled the entire bathtub. There was more and more water, filling the air with the smell of sea water.
Suddenly, a rotten arm stretched out form the tub gradually filling with water! There was still some seaweed wrapped around the hand. It seemed to be a body that had died in the sea…
First the hand and then half of the head rose from the water. It had thick hair and the skin of the forehead was blue.
Xiao Li couldn’t let this continue. He looked around and took a water basin from the place where the towel was placed. He put it into the bathtub and fished up the head and hand like he was fishing.
He held the basin with one hand and opened the toilet lid with the other hand. Then he poured the head from the basin into the toilet, closing the toilet lid. There was a loud bang form the toilet and the toilet lid was constantly shaking. Xiao Li pressed his knees against the toilet lid and pressed the flush button.
There was the flushing of the toilet and the world became quiet.
The water ghost who had been about to emerge, “…….?”
The author has something to say:
Xiao Li: Are you the reason why I drew the joker card?
Little yellow book: No, the person I like is lucky. Isn’t this the right thing?