The Tale Of The Ghost Eyes - novelonlinefull.com
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I flew out of bed and began pulling on the clothes I'd left strewn on the floor. "What happened?" I hissed in the darkness.
Zuo Qingmu's voice was the one to answer. "Master Sima! Master Liu! It's the granary floor!"
I heard my parents rouse at his voice and sure enough we met them in the hallway. "What is it?" My father mumbled while rubbing sleep from his eyes.
"Nothing to be concerned about." Master Liu told him, "Go back to bed. I will look after Xiao Yong."
My father gave him an absurd look and then shook his head. "I don't…"
"It will be fine." Master Liu said. He turned and put his arm in the middle of my back, pushing me towards the front door. Zuo Qingmu was standing on the front porch in his beekeeper attire. He looked out of breath and was leaning heavily on the doorframe. Master Liu brushed past him without pause saying, "Let's go."
We moved rapidly down the silent streets. Any and all drowsiness fell out of me as we went. I kept pace with the others, feeling the energy bloom inside of me.
"Two are dead." I heard Zuo Qingmu tell the others.
"Was it the spirit?" Sima Jie asked.
Zuo Qingmu nodded vigorously. "He's red now. Red." His eyes were wide and glossy in the streetlights.
The silence that fell over the elder masters was almost tangible. "What is it?" I asked.
"They don't change." Master Liu said.
"They usually don't change." Master Sima amended. "Only a few spirits can advance in grade. It's supposed to take hundreds of years to advance into a red ghost from a black shadow." His toothless mouth clamped shut, wrinkling his lips into a cinched caterpillar.
"So…" I said, begging them to continue.
"It was the dark day." Master Liu said.
Sima Jie nodded.
The granary came into view. We pa.s.sed through the border gate and marched towards the floor center in a cl.u.s.ter. Ahead of us were piles of something lying in shadow. As we grew closer they began to take shape. Then the smell hit us.
Two blackened bodies were slumped against the thresher near the floor center. The skin and clothes were burnt and still smoking.
Master Liu held out a hand to stop our approach. "What happened, Zuo Qingmu?"
Zuo Qingmu's bounced between the dead men and us. With a low clearing of his throat, he began, "They're thieves. They tried to steal the thresher while I slept. I heard them and moved to stop them when the light appeared." He pointed into a pocket of shadow to the left of the machinery. "A brilliant red light came out of nowhere. I shielded my eyes, but those two…" His hand rose and fell in a defeated gesture. "They stared into it for minutes and then started to move. This one," He pointed to the one closer, a larger man whose face was melted in a silent scream, "Opened the battery compartment and they, they…" His voice dropped into a whisper. "They bit it…they-" Another pause, "They f.u.c.king attacked it! Biting, scratching, and slamming their heads into like they…like they…" he shook his head again. "They caught on fire almost at the same time. It was over very quickly after that. I put out the fire when the light disappeared."
After a moment of silence he raised his hand again, "Their equipment is over there."
"They deserved it." The words came out of my mouth. A cloud of disgust rolled over me when I realized what I'd said. "They," I tried to fix, "They were thieves…"
Master Liu shook his head, not looking at me. "No spirit has the right to take life into its hands, no matter what kind of people these men were."
Sima Jie looked around and let out a deep breath. "When they were dead, where did the spirit go?"
Zuo Qingmu shook his head. "I don't know. I'm sorry master. I was so focused on the men. I didn't see it. I know it was the frozen man though, I could feel its cold."
Sima Jie's head bobbed in agreement, "I know. The air here is the same as the school. It has to be the same spirit."
My eyes were glued to the blackened shapes ahead of us. Master Liu stared ahead at the lumps as well. No one moved for a very long time.
"What do we do now?" Zuo Qingmu finally said.
"Call the police." Master Liu replied. "Tell them it was an accident. We don't want to scare the village away from the granary during harvest season. We will perform the rites to send their souls on the road ahead."
Zuo Qingmu nodded silently.
Master Liu, Sima Jie, and I went back to the house shortly after the rites were performed. The next morning the two men's deaths were in the paper. They were identified as residents of a nearby village. They had been seen working just the day before.
Master Liu and Sima Jie spent the day planning to find the spirit and kill it. "It must be done." Master Liu told me when I tried to interject.
"But it's a person! Well, kinda…" I said. "You're both masters, can't you just… I dunno, talk it down and send it away? We don't have to kill it! That's not what Taoism is!"
Sima Jie gave a smile that didn't reach his eyes and said, "You're from a different world. Ghosts are an abomination of nature. They cause disorder and chaos. Whether good or bad people, they need to be dealt with. When the start killing people, we can't be peaceful any longer."
"I don't understand." I said curtly, biting my lip against the flood of tears and outrage that was pressing into me.
"You will when you're older." Master Sima said simply.
Three days after the pair of thieves was buried, the granary was sprayed with blood. A village worker was preparing for his shift with the machine and checking the motor gears. He reached his hand inside the machine to check for blockage and let out a blood curdling scream as the hood clamped down on his arm. The machine roared to life and began churning against his trapped hand. If it weren't for his brothers grabbing and pulling him out, he would have been dragged into the motor after his mangled hand.
He was rushed to the hospital with what was left of his hand and barely on his back by the time everyone in the village knew about it.
"Do you think someone messed with it? Ya' know, like, rigged it to snap on the next person who used it?" An onlooker whispered.
"How? Or why? Those machines can barely separate wheat, how would you fix it to tear up a person's hand?" His partner replied.
"Maybe it was the ghost of those two men?" A third man said loudly. "Maybe they want revenge?"
"Was it?" I later asked, but Master Liu and Sima both shook their heads.
"Those spirits were sent away." Master Liu said.
"Zuo Qingmu took care of them." Master Sima added. "No, I think it was our frozen friend."
"Will he come after us?" I asked, suddenly very sure that he would.
"Not on my watch." Master Liu told me.
The village was finishing harvest the following week. The spirit seemed to have had its fill and made no further appearance. With the farmlands clearing, we prepared to go back to school.
I went to Zhao Jie's house the night before school started to make sure we had everything ready for the following year's cla.s.ses. I walked into his house and was awestruck by a beautiful dark haired girl that disappeared into the back room.
"Who-" I started, but Zhao Laohei answered my question.
"Zhao Yuan, quit traipsing around the house and get your things ready! Tomorrow is a new start young lady!" Came his voice from the other room.
I gaped after her and felt my blood warming all sorts of things. "I'm gonna marry that girl." I thought and smiled.
Little did I know what else was thinking about Zhao Yuan that evening, or what would go after her in the days to come.