The Haunted Chapter 3
After the meeting with Priest Zhang, Chi Yan felt as if the cobwebs from his head were cleared, and a goal was in sight now. Even though it would be a difficult task to obtain Ye Ying Zhi's ashes…
By the time he reached home, it was already 1pm. As it was an overcast day, the house was dark and dreary. Due to the nightmare, he hadn't slept well last night, and was seized by a sense of drowsiness. Chi Yan fell into bed after a quick change of clothes.
In a daze, he heard the sounds of slippers hitting against the floor, as if someone was walking around. He tried to open his eyes, but could not see anything. When he tried to reach for the light, he realised he could not move his body, akin to sleep paralysis. However he knew that while some things might have a scientific explanation, it might not necessarily apply in his situation. He tried to focus his whole body's energy on the jade pendant on his chest, yet gradually felt himself being unable to catch his breath. Suddenly, the sound stopped and his body regained its senses.
He then realised his phone was ringing, and quickly picked it up. The caller ID showed 'Uncle'.
"Hi Uncle, is anything wrong?"
Feeling parched, Chi Yan got up and went to the kitchen to pour himself a glass of water. After getting through the usual greetings, his uncle Du Ming Jing went straight to the point. "Xiao Chi, could you come over during the weekend? It is Third master Ye's funeral, and I'm overseas, so I need you to go over with your aunt. It would also be a good opportunity to get to know more people. There's only benefits to gain from expanding your social circle."
While Chi Yan could not be said to be very close to his uncle, there was no discord between them. He knew that his uncle thought of him as a good-for-nothing, a young man with no ambitions muddling through life. As one of the older generation, his uncle probably agreed with the proverb, "The more friends you have, the more options you have in life". However Chi Yan's cousin was overseas, and there was no other relatives from his aunt's side that his uncle felt could represent their family, since it would be better if someone went along with his aunt.
Normally, Chi Yan would have used any excuse to reject his uncle, but now this could be said to be a golden opportunity for him. It was twilight now as he had been sleeping for five hours. A face appeared on the windowsill, shooting him a creepy smile. Chi Yan quickly lowered his head, pretended he didn't see anything and left the kitchen. He felt for the pendent on his chest and replied without any hesitation, "Sure, I'll go. I'll contact aunt directly then."
His uncle was surprised at the speed Chi Yan agreed, but thought he had finally come to his senses, and hung up after giving him a few details.
It was a two-hour train ride from Sumin City to Shiming City, and there was a train departing at 6.30am. Even though the sun rose much earlier during summer, Chi Yan still did not dare to drive by himself. He carefully kept the two paper charms Priest Zhang gave him in a backpack, and bought a train ticket. Compared to driving alone, there would be more people on the train, giving him ease of mind. After arriving at Shming City, his aunt had arranged for a car to bring him to the cemetery.
Though he was not close to his uncle, at least they were blood-related relatives, while his aunt was more of a stranger to him. As it was a special occasion, she didn't wear any makeup, and it was obvious that she had taken good care of her skin. She spoke gently and politely to Chi Yan, treating him like a guest.
Everyone kept their voices down, and was orderly, tip-toeing around, almost afraid to breathe loudly. Chi Yan and his aunt stood at the back, and could see the black coffin placed in the middle of the room, as well as the photo placed in front of it.
Chi Yan took a glance and bowed his head, praying in his heart, "Mr Ye, please take mercy on me, let me borrow your ashes, I will definitely worship you everyday and burn incense for you during festivities. Saving a life is akin to building a seven-storey pagoda. If you save me, you will definitely rest in peace in heaven…"
When it was time to mourn and pay their respects, Chi Yan did so sincerely like the others. Since he and his aunt were not close, it got awkward for them to be together for a long period of time, so his aunt did not restrict him. Thus after the ceremony was over, Chi Yan quietly went over to the crematorium.
It was easier than he thought to get the ashes. He told a staff that he was Mr Ye's classmate and had promised him that he would help Ye scatter his ashes into the sea, and asked the staff to help him. He then handed over two boxes of top-grade cigarettes and some cash.
The staff took the things and agreed readily without saying much. He had been working here for some time and while there were taboos he rather believed than not, he was not superstitious and was of the belief that there was nothing once a person died. The ashes were just remains after cremation and at most could only be used for memorial. Since the young man said that he would be scattering it in the sea, he would just take him for his word and fulfil his request. Anyway, it wasn't like any other person would find out about this.
Chi Yan had ordered a tablet immediately after getting his uncle's call. He had also bought a mini porcelain bottle charm online and had brought it along with him. He found a quiet place and rolled up the paper charm into a small tube, and poured the ashes into it before squeezing it into the bottle charm. Making sure the bottle lid was tight, Chi Yan threaded it through the red string, hanging it next to the jade pendant. It didn't look out of place, looking like some sort of intricate ornament.
His grandparents had passed away shortly after moving to live with his uncle in Shiming City. They were now buried side by side, resting in eternal peace in this land. As their graves were nearby, Chi Yan decided to pay them a visit. He informed his aunt, and his aunt lamented that she could not accompany him as she had things to settle in his uncle's absence. Chi Yan told her it was ok as he already had a return train ticket and could return home by himself later.
The cemetery's path was lined with rows of pine and cypress trees, giving the place a sombre atmosphere. While the cemetery had a strong yin energy, due to the sincere mourning feelings that the living carried for the dead, the energy was pure and Chi Yan did not fear being there.
Carrying white chrysanthemums and a clean cloth he had bought, Chi Yan found his grandparents' grave from memory. As he talked to them about the recent ongoings in his life, he cleaned the gravestones and threw away the old dried flowers, arranging the new flowers neatly. Seeing that it was getting late, he decide to leave. As he turned away, the originally smiling faces of his grandparents turned serious. If one looked closer, one could see the worry reflected in their gazes. But Chi Yan didn't see. He also didn't notice a dark, human-shaped shadow that was clinging to his back.