Proofreaders: Gwen, Hiro, and Red
What has happened in dat room?! OAo
Everyone from 308 has been gathered in the principal’s office. The atmosphere of NY Academy is tense like never before. Police cars have surrounded the premise. Reporters and curious citizens are packed against the gates. The five guys and I are getting interrogated separately by different officers, asked again and again about Kong Linglin’s recent behaviour and if he was involved in any conflicts.
I didn’t see it but from the snippets I have heard from the investigators I get the picture: Kong Linglin’s body on his bed, flesh sliced open all over, so deep that bone shows through, blood sprayed all across the room, the floor soaked in blood…
Even the police officers paled.
Who did it? What for?
The interrogation lasts three hours, followed by comfort consultations with our homeroom teachers, counsellors and principal. I don’t have the strength to even keep track of what they are saying, nor the strength to pretend as if everything is all right, but I do follow my homeroom teacher to our new dorm, 501. The fifth floor is for graduating students. There aren’t as many restrictions here. Furthermore most of them have left the school already so there are lots of rooms available.
The atmosphere is ridiculously heavy when we all meet at 501. We all sit around a table, faces pale, not speaking, not moving.
“I bet,” I try my hardest to sound normal. “We’ll make national headlines.”
No replies. Just more silence. I really want to crack a joke but my mind’s blank.
“Do you think, a human did it?” Wu Fan’s voice is like thunder in the silence.
My blood turns cold and my heart starts beating furiously. From the looks of it the others feel so too.
If they were human, how would they have executed it? Because even with the sharpest blade, it’s impossible to do what they did in such a short period of time.
Unless. Unless it was a customized weapon with several parallel blades, and then slowly pulled through… And considering the amount of blood, it’s as if the body was torn open in the middle and separated in half while the person was still alive.
For the first time in my life I despise my specialization, how it lets me easily understand how difficult it is to die that way and then makes me analyse the possibilities…
“Maybe the murderer left through the windows after destroying the corpse,” Cubs stammers. “Since two stories isn’t far from the ground. That’s why the doors were locked from the inside and there was no one inside.”
“Then there should’ve been prints! But the police didn’t find anything suspicious!” Chief starts getting steamed up. “It couldn’t have been more than ten minutes from the time he got back to the time we got the door open. It’s impossible to bleed that much just from wounds. I reckon they used some sort of machinery to draw the blood out after wrecking the body. Plus-”
“Stop it!” Mu Mu is almost roaring. “What’re you tryin’ to say here? What’re you tryin’ to prove? The police are the ones to investigate, not you! Think about Eng; we were just foolin’ around with him earlier today! How can you be thinkin’ this shit now?!”
The room falls silent once more, only our heavy breathing can be heard.
“Did you guys,” Glooms suddenly speaks, “play that game?”
His words are few but the memories of that night in the meeting room surfaces in my mind. I glance at Mu Mu and Yuan Fei. Their pale faces tell me they’re thinking the same thing.
“You what?” Wu Fan shouts.
“What what? There’s no such thing as ghosts! You hear me?” Mu Mu almost springs up from the table and yells back at Chief.
I understand why he’s reacting this way. He’s realised too, probably, that extra ‘person’…
“Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. These two things might not be related at all,” I point out.
Now, I might say so but I’ve already linked these two events together in my mind. Because that shadow that I saw climb on to the bed above Kong Linglin in the dark of night might really be...
My breathing becomes ragged.
Did we summon something bad by playing that game? Did Kong Linglin die because of that? But why? Does everyone who played have to die?
Then…what about me?
“Which ones of you played? Quick!” Chief glares at us with tightly drawn fists.
“Mu Mu, Kong Linglin, Yuan Fei, and I,” I breathe.
“Chief, don’t put it like that.” Cubs is sniffing already. “Who says the two are related. Let’s not jump to conclusions, ‘kay?”
Chief starts pacing around the room nervously, rubbing his hands together and nudging his glasses into place. I know he’s trying to think of a solution but what he’s said so far has me feeling hopeless already.
What could we possibly do if it really is…
Just then Glooms drops an A-bomb. “Let’s summon it again.”
“Are you out of your fucking mind?” Mu Mu jumps up.
“If it’s really the supernatural we need to ask them why they’re doing this,” he analyses. “If there’s nothing then we can all rest assured, no?”
I’ve got to say, I’m actually kind of impressed at how calm Glooms is right now.
“Over my dead body!” Mu Mu shouts.
“But it’s too late anyway,” Glooms continues. “You’ve already summoned it－the cat’s out the bag.”
Mu Mu grabs Glooms by the collar, and Yuan Fei and I quickly pull the two apart, but he refuses to let go.
“Enough!” Yuan Fei barks.
The commotion stops. He takes a breath before continuing.
“I agree with Glooms. I’d rather witness it with my very own eyes than be kept in the dark, even if it really is…at least I’d have died knowing why.”
“Not you too?” Mu Mu thunders. “Fine, do what you want. Don’t count me in!”
He shoots out the door, not forgetting to slam it in our faces. I can’t help but smile bitterly. It was he who wanted to play in the beginning.
It is always in times of distress that the pettiness of human nature can be observed.
“You need four to play, right?” Chief nudges his glasses and says calmly. “There’s me, Yuan Fei, that makes two. Who else?”
I speak calmly but my nails are digging into my palms, trying to suppress the jitters, because I know I’m already involved－I can’t say no. More importantly, I don’t want to run away like Mu Mu has, even if my legs are still spaghetti.
I look over to Cubs and Xu Ping. I see Cubs quaking in his boots but I guess he doesn’t want to say no, either, so he just looks down without a word. I heave a silent sigh and look towards Glooms.
“I’ll do it,” Glooms volunteers.
“Alright, the four of us, tonight, meeting room.” Chief says emotionlessly.
“Actually, I don’t think we need to,” Glooms suddenly dissents. “All we’ll prove is that there’s really a fifth person; we can’t ask it any questions, we can’t communicate with it.”
“So what’re you suggesting?” Chief sits down on his bed and watches Glooms.
Merely two words impress me even more. He might be kind of emo but he’s surprisingly got a grip on things at times like this. What do you use to talk to spirits? The Pen God of course!
The four of us share a look and reach an agreement.
“Okay, we’ll start when the lights go off. I’ll make preparations,” Chief instructs like the leader he is.
“Guys, don’t, don’t do it.” Cubs is watching us with teary eyes. “Wh-what if, what if something else gets summoned?”
That’s right. If those who play die, then Chief and Glooms will…
I glance towards Yuan Fei. He’s watching me, too. Strange enough, we somehow understood each other just now, even though we’ve never had anything like that before.
“If it’s Pen God, Yuan Fei and I can do it,” I say.
“Right, two’s enough,” Yuan Fei adds.
It falls silent all of a sudden. It seems Chief and Glooms are in deep thought.
“We’ll play,” the two of them say at the same time.
“But-” I try to object, to warn them of the dangers, but Chief interrupts.
“I’m the chief so I have to keep tabs on you all.” He grins while shaking his head.
Glooms calmly explains, “I made the suggestion. I can’t just bail on you guys.”
The next moment, I feel a lump in my throat. I quickly fake a grin but I can’t hide the rush of emotion I’m feeling in my heart like never before.
I’ve never believed there are such things as ‘sharing the good and bad in life’. People always want to have a piece of the pie when things are going well but no one would when things are bad. Our instinct drives us to protect ourselves first in the face of danger and fear; stuff like putting others before ourselves only happens in stories and comics.
Even so, I think I’m really feeling it right now. I guess this is it. It’s like having a pair of hands on your shoulders and even through all your frightened trembling you can’t help but feel safe within its embrace.
My gaze unknowingly falls on Cubs. Ears burning, head bowed, he’s on the brink of crying. I know what’s going through his head right now but he’s just a little weak-hearted, especially with something out-of-this-world like this. I beckon to him and he walks towards me hesitantly. I take his hand and sit him down.
“We’re countin’ on you tonight. If anything happens to us, you gotta go get help right away, you understand?”
He nods his head fiercely and grins weakly only when I pat him reassuringly on his head.
The hours seem to crawl by. Mu Mu hasn’t come back; he has only called saying he’s going to stay over at a friend’s place for the night. When the lights finally turn off at eleven o’clock, the five of us get up and huddle around the flashlight. Cubs stands by the door, ready to sprint out anytime for help.
Chief lays a piece of paper with the alphabet written on it in the middle of the table. There are two of us on each side of the table and our fingers criss-cross around a single ball pen.
“After I say ‘start’, try to keep your mind clear. I’ll ask the questions if the pen starts moving,” Chief says solemnly.
No one has anything else to add. Chief says ‘start,’ and I don’t dare to breathe while I follow the pen tip with my eyes, not secretly trying to move it like the times before.
The pen remains still in the middle of the paper for a long, long time. Other than some slight leaning, I’d say it hasn’t moved at all.
The four of us glance at each other. Chief contemplates and suggests, “How about we give it a little push, not in any particular direction, just to get it started. Let’s try it out once. If it doesn’t work then we’ll leave it.”
I sigh very inappropriately but I can’t help but feel more nervous about having an answer than not. Without one I might feel lost and scared but I think I would jump out of my skin if we got one right away.
Maybe Kong Linglin’s death really was the work of some psychotic murderer and has absolutely nothing to do with supernatural beings. Isn’t it better like that?
I feel a sharp pang of guilt. I haven’t felt grief for his death; instead I’m worrying about my own safety. Fear, anxiety, worry. When the negative feelings inundate you, there’s no one else you can think of but yourself.
I sneer inwardly; what a coward you are.
The pen finally starts moving steadily, bringing my hand along with it. I quickly take a glance at the others. I definitely did not push it enough to get it moving, but I don’t know about the others.
The pen tip is rolling slowly over the paper with no apparent pattern.
Chief takes the first shot. “Who are you?”
The pen moves steadily, crossing several letters, but they don’t seem to form anything meaningful. I tried reading it as English but it’s not a word either. So I guess it’s merely moving.
Chief nudges his glasses with his free hand and presses. “Was it you in the meeting room that night?”
The pen slowly moves to ‘Y’, pauses, then slowly moves over to ‘E’, then pauses again. My heart’s in my throat as I watch the board intently. Is it trying to say ‘YES’? Is this really it? The supernatural really exists?
The pen rolls and stops.
What the hell is ‘YEB’ supposed to mean? Not Pinyin. Not English. It’s not even Wubi input code.
“I…don’t think it works,” Yuan Fei whispers.
“Uh-huh.” Amazingly, everyone makes this exclamation at the same time.
“Maybe we should try to be more straightforward. Like ‘was it you who killed Kong Linglin’ or ‘why are you doing this’ or somethin’,” I suggest.
The next moment, the pen jerks to life again. We didn’t pay much attention while chatting but our hearts all miss a beat now that it has suddenly started moving again.
I watch the pen anxiously as it traces an arc on the paper. Seeing it move now is making my heart beat furiously against my ribcage, unlike before. My instincts tell me that it is moving the pen this time.
Our hands move slowly but surely along with the pen and soon a perfectly round circle appears on the paper. But our hands don’t stop there; it continues tracing over the circle that it just drew once more.
We couldn’t have possibly drawn this perfectly round circle even if the four of us wanted to. Not to mention it’s staying flawlessly in its trail the second time around. It’s simply impossible for humans.
If so, who is drawing this?
Once. Twice. Thrice!
I can feel it slowly picking up speed. An ominous feeling makes my hair stand. My hand is completely out of my control as it goes faster and faster with the pen. Faster. Faster－so fast I want to scream, but the circle stays perfectly circular. The pen is going to break through the paper any moment now.
I try to take control of my appendage but it’s as if it’s being sucked away from me, velocity increasing indefinitely as the pen carry on circling.
I jerk up trying to escape its suction. Chief also shoots up, bewildered, and pulls on the hand holding on to the pen with his free hand. I feel as if our hands has been glued together by something and it’s no use struggling.
“Let go!” Chief yells.
The four of us attempt to but it’s futile; the pen continues along its circular path at an alarming speed. It’s going too fast. The pen tip scratches through the paper but it’s showing no sign of stopping. It keeps doing circles over the shredded piece of paper, even leaving distinct marks on the wooden table underneath.
“It’s not stopping! Whad’we do?”
“Get a hold on the pen!”
“It’s not working!”
The next moment, I turn to Cubs. “Ram the table! Quickly!”
Cubs is already dumbfounded and only comes to his senses after my shout. I, on the other hand, am being tossed around like I’m in a blender. It feels like my arm is being torn out of its socket. Slowly, my body gets swept along, and I’m losing control of it.
“Cubs!” I remind.
He charges and rams into the table but nothing happens. Then he closes his eyes, lets out a war cry and puts all his weight into it this time. This table and the one next to it get knocked a few inches off, and then he follows up with a kick.
The movement of the two tables forces the pen to leave its route and immediately the suction sensation disappears. The four of us get thrown against the walls and scatter across the floor.
I hear commotion outside the door. I guess what just happened woke everyone up. There’s someone beating on the door, asking what is going on inside, but the five of us only lie there dumbly looking at the furniture scattered all over the place.
The caretaker gets the door open in a jiffy and when the lights come on, I guess all they see are five pale-faced students who look possessed. Our gazes are all focused on the letter in the middle of the round piece of paper ripped out by the pen－Y.
What does that mean? ‘Y.’
Does it mean, ‘Yes, I killed him’?
Or maybe it’s, ‘You’re next.’
Dairytea's comment: Who's next~~~ >_< ...or will it stop right there?
ayszhang's question: Tomorrow is Thursday. Would you like to read Cold Sands or The Water Goes Drip-Drop? :3 Tell us in the comments below!
The Water Goes Drip-Drop - English Translation by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.