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Spring Once More chapter 3
(Traditional Chinese cover scanned by Dairytea)
Most people have dreams of falling, and returning to life is pretty similar.
At first, it almost feels like I’m floating weightlessly in the air, and then my ears pop, and my body shudders. The next time I open my eyes, I find myself lying on a bed.
But, when it comes down to it, returning to life and dreaming are two different things. When I blink my eyes open, I see a dazzling yellow. My eyes are covered by a piece of yellow silk, and a cold, hard object is in my mouth. I can hear the unmistakable sound of keening through the coffin. I wiggle my fingers and exhale once, and the yellow fabric quivers. I reach for the left side of my chest feeling the strength of my heartbeat - boom boom boom. There’s no doubt about it. I’ve landed successfully!
The sensation of air going in and out of my nostrils puts me at ease. The yellow fabric mushrooms and deflates along with my breathing. I suppress my excitement as I wonder how I should declaim my existence to the relevant people in my second life with a speech that will not raise too much suspicion. But before I can even start making full use of my brain cells, I begin to catch bits and pieces of conversation outside the coffin.
“The hour is not yet upon us…”
“It is nigh. Let us nail the coffin.”
Nail the coffin?! Did I hear someone say nailing the coffin?!
“But once that’s been done…”
“We are going to die anyway. Is there a need to be so precise about the time? I want to get it over with quickly. Let’s just nail the coffin.”
To my shock, they’re really going through with it. Another voice seems to hesitate for a moment, and then the wooden board above my head is pounded thrice. “The hour is upon us… Nail the coffin!”
Goddamn, they’re really doing it? What the hell! I finally manage to find the perfect vessel to return to life in, and before I get to enjoy anything, I’m going to suffocate to death in a coffin and become a grudge spirit again? I shoot up, head pushing off the lid of the coffin, and pull off the yellow fabric. I spit out the piece of ceremonial jade from my mouth before I yell, “Don’t do it! I’m alive again!”
Silence all around.
I cling to the edge of the coffin as I look at the surrounding mortals. They are standing like wooden poles wrapped in white, mourning attire. One of them who’s hugging an earthen pot is the quickest to react, the pot clanging as it drops as he cries, “Oh no! The prince has turned into a zombie!”
The wooden poles instantly bounce up like fishes in boiling oil, all hightailing out the door, with butter-fingers in the lead.
“Get the guards! Get the Taoist priest! The hour was not right! The prince’s corpse has been reanimated!”
“Help! Zombie! The prince has become a zombie!”
I stand and make to step out of the coffin attempting to reassure everyone that I’ve returned to life and not turned into a zombie. At the very moment my foot hits the ground, the few people who have not already darted away are petrified as they drop to the ground. One of them keeps kowtowing, his legs trembling as he whimpers, “Milord, Milord… Your slave knows that you died with many regrets…but every debt has its debtor. I, Xiao-Shun was the most faithful to you. His Majesty already issued an edict to execute Wang Rui by slow slicing before your very grave. The masters shall be buried along with you, so please be at ease and leave… Be at ease…”
I laugh hollowly as I reply, “Don’t be afraid. I haven’t turned into a zombie. I have returned to life. If you don’t believe me, touch my hand and see if it’s warm or cold.” I stretch my arm out while I swing my other leg out of the coffin. Xiao-Shun immediately shrieks and scrambles away.
A few others who are frozen in their fear eventually struggle to their feet and make for the door. There remains only a grandpa with a white beard who is giving me a spooked stare and pointing at me with a trembling index finger. I take several steps forward in what I believe to be a friendly manner and hold the grandpa’s hand. “My hand’s warm.”
The grandpa’s eyes roll back in his head. White froth spews from his mouth. He faints.
I roll my eyes and can’t help but rub my nose, “Damn it, what just happened!”
From behind me, an unhurried and matter-of-fact voice remarks, “Your Highness has suddenly returned to life. The servants know very little of the world, so it is expected that they are afraid. Please don’t blame them, Your Highness.”
These words make me jump in fright. The voice sounds similar to that of the person who wanted my coffin nailed. I turn and look for the source of the voice and find a fellow standing next to the Taoist banner behind the coffin who, like the others, wore a white ceremonial robe. I am immediately moved by the expression on his face.
His gaze is definitely one aimed at a living person, and he sounds like he is talking to a living person. Like a guerrilla soldier who has located the Party, I throw myself at him excitedly and grip his hand. “You believe I’m a real living person? That’s wonderful! Look, my hand is warm, which means I’m really alive. Finally someone believes me. May I know your name?”
The moment the words leave my mouth, I realize I’m in deep trouble. I can tell from his speech and white robes that this man clearly belongs to the prince’s manor. He’s handsome beyond words, and I figure he is way up there in the pecking order. Thankfully, with my years of experience handling impromptu situations like this, I can think fast on my feet, so seeing the slight twitch in his brows, I quickly add with enthusiasm, “I’m sure you recognize me. Could I trouble you to tell me who I am?”
 Traditionally, yellow is a colour reserved for only the emperor and the imperial family.
 A piece of precious jade is placed on the tongue of the deceased to prevent the corpse from decomposing and to symbolize the status of the deceased.
 A reference to the Chinese guerilla soldiers who fought against the Japanese invaders.
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Spring Once More by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.