Chapter 3: Human Warmth
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The hunter patted the ghost on the shoulder and urged him to get in the car. Behind them, the old man looked at the picture and said, “It’s not a pity. Although it is widely said that the painting was made by Prince Ruoshou of the Ming Dynasty, it is actually a fake, and painted by others. That’s right. It’s ancient.”
After that, the old man got into another car. The driver didn’t say a word. He seemed to be used to these discussions.
Sitting in the hunter’s car, the ghost once again began to play with his mobile phone. Now he has learned to text and play various games. He accidentally clicked on the message that the hunter received: someone asked again if he had killed the ghost in the broken temple on the mountain.
“Can you tell me the truth,” the ghost asked, lowering his head. “You let me go because of the cats and dogs?”
“No,” said the hunter, “what will you do if you don’t contact me for adoption?”
“At first, you looked fierce, and seemed like you were going to drive me out of my wits…”
The hunter grinned, “Am I so terrible? All kinds of uncles and aunties like me very much. They say that when I look at them, I am sunny and friendly.”
“Yes,” said the ghost carefully, pausing. “You’re sure you won’t kill me?”
“Yes, I’m a labrador and won’t lie to you.”
“What’s a labrador?”
“There is one in your temple…. Forget it,” said the hunter. “I wonder what you did in that house? It seems that the effect is good.”
The ghost didn’t know whether it was a compliment or not, so he roughly described his own practice. For example, frequently turning on and off lights, tapping on walls and floors, and making things move inside.
When he mentioned ‘sitting on a man’s stomach’ and ‘making the house cold,’ the hunter laughed for a long time, saying that these were classic haunting repertoires, but the ghost didn’t really understand.
Finally, he talked about the moment of his appearance. He made his appearance more ferocious than usual. Then he used this appearance to appear in front of the family for a short time, covered his face with his hair (to prevent being seen as a man), and then entered the painting.
“Haha, I thought you were not good at anything but stealing.” The hunter wiped away the tears of laughter with his free hand.
“I’m also good at attachment, which I’ve done before.” The ghost was honest.
“Oh, yes, you’re good at going through walls. Have you ever tried to walk into a wall and not come out?”
The ghost tilted his head and looked at him in a puzzled way, “Why go into a wall?”
“Didn’t you end up pretending to be in the picture?” The hunter said, “Making them think it’s the person in the picture who’s out there, so you had to pretend to be attached to the painting.”
The ghost was more confused,, “Why pretend? Wasn’t I really attached to the painting?”
The hunter slowed down and suddenly fell silent.
The ghost did not understand, but could feel that the atmosphere became serious.
He began to be afraid that he had done something wrong. When he was about to ask, he suddenly felt dizzy and rubbed his temple gently. He did not know why he still felt dizzy after becoming a ghost.
“Do you mean that you were really attached to that painting?” The hunter slowed down and said, “You see, I mean, I let you pretend to do this, just walk into the wall behind the painting… Were you really in the picture? Are you sure?”
The ghost wanted to answer, but it was too hard to speak. At first, the dizziness was relieved, but then there was a sharp headache. He hugged his head in a disorderly way, shivering.
When the hunter saw it, he pulled over immediately, untied the ghost’s safety belt, and quickly drew a rune in his palm with a marker, and pressed his palm on the ghost’s chest. “How are you feeling?”
The ghost was still shaking, and the headache was accompanied by pain in his neck and back, which he had never felt before.
The hunter just used a rune to help stabilize the soul. Seeing the ghost like this, he suddenly thought of a very strange possibility.
“What’s your name? What did you do in your life?” The hunter tore off the ghost’s clothes and drew the rune he had just pressed on his chest. Although the gestures and behaviors were embarrassing, the scholar ghost had no spare energy to be shy.
“I… I don’t remember…” The ghost grabbed his head and reluctantly replied.
He really doesn’t remember, after all, it’s been so long. The memory of the living is not infinite. A soul who has experienced the Great Barrier between life and death will forget most of the things from before he was born.
Many ghosts can remember their resentment, but not their names and relatives.
The hunter drew the rune, tied the seat belt, rubbed the scholar’s shoulder in comfort and said, “Sit down.”
Then he stepped on the gas pedal and the car sped out like a dead drunk driver. He controlled the steering wheel with one hand and grabbed the phone from the ghost’s leg with the other.
“Mr. Yue, where are you?” He called the old man just now.
The old man was still in the other car, painting on the ancient painting. He had just added a beard on the woman in the painting with a special golden pen, and was now drawing a charm on the picture.
“Just passed the east side highway exit. What’s the matter?” asked the old man.
“Don’t ruin the painting! Have the driver stop and wait for us!”
“What’s the matter?”
“We can’t paint on that picture,” said the hunter, glancing at the scholar’s ghost, who was leaning on his chair and looking more and more ugly. “I’m afraid it was painted by my ghost!”
The scholar’s eyes were twinkling with pain. For a moment, he couldn’t really listen to him. He looked at the hunter dimly with tears.
“Yes, I think so!” The hunter was speeding and making a phone call. If the ghost still had the energy and fear, he would certainly ask him to slow down. “Yes, Mr. Yue, I tell you, he is directly attached to the painting! No, he can’t remember, but now there seems to be no other explanation. By the way, what are you doing?”
At the start, the old man was not fully aware of the problem, holding a golden pen and drawing the charm halfway. Now he’s stopped and understood what the hunter meant.
In many local legends, there is a saying that ‘photos take away the soul.’ Although it is not accurate, it can not be regarded as a fabrication either. Things are limited by form and name.
When the ghost said that he had been attached to the ancient painting, the hunter thought it impossible: this picture showed the image of the woman in Yuefu Poetry, which led to her being trapped in the ‘specific image.’ If there was a sealed soul in the painting or statue already, the spirits of other people will not be able to enter again!
There is one exception – the soul of its maker.
Whether it is a painting or a statue, when the work is altered by a special golden pen and charmed, the soul trapped in the ‘image’ will be free.
In addition, there is an additional effect: if a ghost is involved in the object, because the keepsake is handed down, his soul will be broken down as the seal takes effect.
“Hold on! It’s okay,” the hunter yelled. “I know you’re very upset now. I’ve already called Mr. Yue. He’s waiting for us.”
The ghost wanted to nod, but he was so hurt that he couldn’t even complete such a small movement. He bit his lips, trying to control the groans and cries as much as possible. If it had not been for the ghost’s inability to bleed, he would have broken his lips by now.
Once again, the hunter steered the wheel with one hand, and reached out with the other hand, holding the ghost’s hand tightly. The wristband allowed the ghost to be touched by the living, his hand was cold and trembling, he tried to hold the hunter’s hand harder to relieve the pain, but it was too painful to do so.
“How many times did I have to be photographed by the speed camera along the way…” The hunter murmured, “Damn it, why do I feel like i’m sending my wife to the hospital to give birth to a baby?”
“…What?” The ghost heard this sentence clearly.
“It’s nothing. It’s all on TV.”
The old man’s car was parked on an emergency parking belt, chatting with the driver. When the hunter’s car came to a stop, there was a sigh of relief for the passing vehicles on the road. The hunter helped the ghost out of the car. The ghost could hardly stand and leaned on the hunter’s shoulder. The old man said to his driver, “Get the jade and move to my car.”
They put the ghost of the scholar on the back seat and put the golden pen and ancient painting in front of him. The ghost looked at the old man in perplexity and disbelief, then the hunter came behind him and supported his body.
The old man with white hair and beard stretched out his hand and pressed the scholar’s forehead, which made the scholar feel better for a while.
“Young master, I really did not read it wrong,” the old man said, “this is really not the original work of the calligrapher and painter. It turns out that you painted it. I’m not saying you’re not a good painter. You see, you don’t remember yourself.”
Looking at the ghost’s expression of humming and asking questions, the old man continued, “If I or someone else completes the rune, you will be out of your wits when the girl’s soul is free. So you have to do it yourself.”
“Ah?” asked the ghost with a trill.
“If you don’t do anything, you’ll be in pain forever and ever. So now, you have to take your own pen and draw the symbol yourself. It’s hard for you to draw. Just bear with it. After the painting is finished, you and the painting will be broken. From then on, you can continue to wander around, or you can find someone to help you move on if you’re willing.”
Ghosts, of course, can’t draw that thing. However, a hunter held him from behind and took his hand.
“I’ll draw for you,” said the hunter, taking the scholar’s fingers and changing the gesture from holding the brush to that of holding a ball pen. “As long as you hold the pen in your own hand, I won’t touch the pen.” He firmly grasped the ghost’s hand and said this.
Later, a long time later, the hunter, the exorcist, when he recalled today, he still thought: it was like taking my wife to have a child.
He was behind the ghost, hugging him, holding his hand, telling him to ‘Be strong,’ ‘You’re safe,’ ‘Don’t be afraid, I’m here.’ The scholar ghost writhed, yelled and sweated bitterly.
At the other end, the old man and the driver helped to level the picture, and kept saying ‘Work harder,’ ‘It’s almost ready,’ ‘It’s okay, take a deep breath.’
By the time the last stroke was finished, the ghost was weak, in pain and lay limp against the hunter’s arms. The pen in his hand tumbled onto the mat, while a golden light rose in the middle of the ancient painting.
“Come out! Come out! I see her!” With the exclamation of the old man and the driver, the scene became more like a birth of a child.
Fortunately, they had known for a long time that the man in the painting was a girl, and they said, “Congratulations, it’s a girl!”
The figure of a young woman emerged from the painting. The style of clothes she wore was much older than that of a scholar at that time. She was a virtual body, floating in the air, legs stuck on the roof and half of the body outside the car. The old man seemed to be communicating with her through some incantation or difficult words, which could not be understood by the drowsy scholar.
The scholar fainted. For the first time, he found that ghosts can faint. Before he lost consciousness, he seemed to remember something about his life.
He painted this painting only by chance. He was moved by the story of the goddess tomb and painted it. It was just an episode in his short life, he had never felt the unforgettable love in the story, and the painting did not bring him any fame or fortune or disaster.
These fragments were so small that he didn’t remember them for hundreds of years. The impression of these little things had long faded. The scholar thought it was wonderful that they were not important old things, but changed their destiny and made them meet in the present, which they didn’t dare to think about back then.
He leaned against the hunter’s arms, closed his eyes, and felt that the human body was warm enough to make him cry.