Spreading like a Virus
No matter how many rumours there were, no matter how many accidents there were within the crew, as long as Director Chen was alive, the shooting would continue.
The door opened, a pair of red high heels stopped at the doorway.
The room was empty, the famous calligraphy and paintings on the walls, the European style furniture on the floor, even the bird cage hung by the window had been taken away by the creditors. All that was left were pieces and pieces of bills, piled on the floor like a white coloured tombstone.
Chen Shuang He laid on this tombstone, the red high heels walked to his side, he opened his eyes and looked at her, “…Are you here to make fun of me too?”
Ning Ning slowly squatted down. She touched his bloodied lip with her finger, he frowned with pain. She retracted her finger and looked at the blood on her fingertip. She slowly put it up to her mouth and gave it a lick.
Chen Shuang He swallowed, his voice was a little husky, “Does it taste good?”
Ning Ning did not answer him, she just bent down and kissed him.
He resisted her at first, but his breathing gradually got more and more rapid. He reached out and hugged her all of a sudden, the two of them rolling onto the floor with him on top of her.
He lowered his head and kissed her. He was a hungry and thirsty traveller lost in the desert and her lips was the oasis of said desert, the spring in the middle of the oasis. He bent down devoutly, feeling touched as he used her lips to quench his thirst.
They kissed passionately for a moment before Chen Shuang He suddenly pulled her off the ground and dragged her towards the door.
“Leave this place.” He threw her out the door. Just as he was about to close the door, she blocked the door with both her hands. Unless he could heartlessly crush her fingers, he could not chase her away.
“Let me stay.” Ning Ning grabbed onto the door firmly and said, “Papa won’t continue to oppose you if I stay here.”
Chen Shuang He sighed, “That might be true if you were the real Juliet.”
Ning Ning froze.
“Ah Xiu.” Chen Shuang He gently called out—Ah Xiu, her real name. Not the lady of a big financial group, but the daughter of a vegetable farmer. “Although I brought you a lot of trouble, I taught you a lot of things as well. Do you remember the contract the two of us signed?”
“I remember.” Ning Ning stammered, “I’ll help you act as Juliet, you’ll give me money and teach me how to read, up to the point of me being able to pass the department store female staff written examination…”
“The current you will definitely be able to pass the department store written examination, you can also definitely marry the man of your dreams—Ah Niu Ge…” Chen Shuang He spat. “I taught you so well, to the point where I want to marry you as well, don’t tell me you still want to marry Ah Niu Ge now.”
“I like you.” Ning Ning said.
Chen Shuang He was startled. It took a long while before he smiled at her, “I like Juliet.”
The flames of love dissipated from Ning Ning’s eyes. She looked down dejectedly, but she unexpectedly heard the person in front of her say, “…I love you deeply.”
Ning Ning looked up at him abruptly.
“Juliet is my first love from the past. I fell in love with her at first sight, even if she’s dead now, I cannot forget about her. And you,” Chen Shuang He said gently, “…are the person I love now.”
The two of them looked at each other deeply.
“…So you have to leave.” Chen Shuang He laughed. “I have already killed Juliet, I don’t want to kill you. He already knows that you are but an imitation. The reason he did not oppose you as he did against me is that he doesn’t know that we love each other, if he were to find out…”
He paused before he said in a low voice, “Then compared to me, he would hate you even more.”
“Cut!” Director Chen shouted, “Very good, this scene passes!”
Only his voice could be heard within the crew, there was no other voice. Be it the other actors, the cameramen or the make up artists, everyone gazed at Chen Shuang He with a peculiar expression. No matter where he went, their gazes and whispers followed.
This could not go on.
“Director Chen.” Ning Ning looked for Director Chen in private. “Regarding the rumours that have been popping up recently…”
“I already know.” Director Chen waved his hand. “This is a good opportunity for Chen Shuang He.”
“Ah?” Ning Ning said wide-eyed. What is this guy saying? Don’t tell me he has gone senile already?
“The actor I admire the most is Ning Yu Ren. She has a special point about her, she can get into character no matter what kind of role she had to play, transforming herself completely into that person, the emotions in the show were her actual emotions.” Director Chen had a look of longing on his face. “Few actors can achieve such a thing, Shuang He had just gotten such an opportunity.”
Ning Ning seemed to understand what he meant, but she found it kind of unbelievable, because normally no father would treat their child like that.
“What you meant to say is…Chen Shuang He’s situation in the crew right now is very similar to the situation Romeo faces in the show, so you are allowing the others to continue to attack him, slander him, hurt him?” Ning Ning’s voice got louder and louder, as if she was getting angry.
Director Chen shot her a strange look. “Why are you angry? You like him?”
Ning Ning was perplexed for a moment before saying in depressingly, “He’s your son.”
“There is no father and son on the set, in this place, he’s an actor, I’m a director.” Director Chen laughed.
Ning Ning fell silent for an instant. She asked, “Are movies really more important to you than your family?”
Director Chen seemed to have been amused by her childish words, he laughed out loud. “I can look for a new wife if she dies, I can birth a new son if I lose him. One hundred years later, what would lie in the coffin with me is not my wife, neither would it be my son, but my movies! The movie characters that I have created! We will immortalise one another!!”
In the history of movies a hundred years later, Director Chen and his movies could possibly be there, people would worship him and praise him, they would even overlook his flaws, but at this moment, Ning Ning was terrified by his madness and callousness.
She returned to the hotel with a heavy heart. She had thought that Chen Shuang He should be fine with Shi Zhong Tang accompanying him. In the end, she knocked on the door for a very long time before it finally opened, Shi Zhong Tang stood in the doorway and said, “You came at the right time…”
He looked back, Ning Ning looked at where he was looking as well, chills ran through her body.
Chen Shuang He was lying face down by the table, bent over, clawing his throat. He was coughing and hurling repeatedly, red liquid could vaguely be seen dripping from the corner of his mouth. This was not the set, they were not acting!
Ning Ning’s first reaction was—Did Boss Qu finally still decide to strike?
“Hold on!” Ning Ning ran towards the door frantically. “I’ll go get someone!”
In the end, Shi Zhong Tang dragged her back in before she could take a second step.
She took a look at Chen Shuang He and saw that he was still hurling. He was wearing an extremely painful expression, Ning Ning told Shi Zhong Tang frantically, “What else do you want to say to me? Quickly, I don’t think he can hold on for much longer!”
Shi Zhong Tang did not say anything, all he did was look at her with a smile.
Ning Ning struggled, but she was unable to break her arm free from his hand. She looked at him with surprise and doubt. “Shi Zhong Tang…”
Just as she thought that Shi Zhong Tang was acting a little strange and scary, Chen Shuang He finally stopped hurling. He wiped his sweat and turned his head feebly. “I’m fine, it’s just, too spicy.”
“…” Ning Ning, “Huh?”
“This.” Chen Shuang He held out an unfinished meal box. “The crew’s meal for the day. I brought it back to have it here, the crazy chef poured chilli oil all over the food…”
“…But the meal we had was not like that.” Ning Ning looked towards Shi Zhong Tang after she finished speaking.
Shi Zhong Tang raised his hands in the air in surrender, with a look of innocence he said, “I saw that the food was too bland, so I added a little something extra for flavour.”
Chen Shuang He, “…What you meant by a little, is it a bottle or two bottles of chilli oil?”
Shi Zhong Tang, “Oh, three bottles.”
Internal strife had surfaced while the enemy was still around, Chen Shuang He first fought with Shi Zhong Tang. Unfortunately, he did not win. He sat dejectedly on the sofa. Ning Ning reached out with a wet towel afterwards, nursing his red and swollen mouth as she said, “What do we do for the kiss scene tomorrow?”
Ning Ning was at a loss. If the swelling didn’t go down the next day, then what they would be filming would not be <<After Juliet’s Death>>, but <<A Bite of Chen Shuang He>>1—the audience would think she was eating a sausage if they weren’t paying attention.
“Haha, sorry, sorry.” Shi Zhong Tang came over and apologised. “I didn’t think that you are so bad at eating spicy food… How about me acting in your stead tomorrow?”
Ning Ning and Chen Shuang He looked at him puzzled, their expressions seemed to be asking: You? What do you mean act? A masked person who’s equivalent to an invisible man like you, no one would be able to see you act.
“If this goes on, you’re done for.” Shi Zhong Tang told Chen Shuang He, “Even if the shoot finished up for the movie and got popular later, it would have nothing to do with you—your reputation would have already been ruined. If everyone thought you were the culprit, that you had hidden the weapon, that you had bullied your colleagues using your father behind you…then you would be even if you were not.”
Then he started laughing. “So the three of us have to act out a scene for them.”
A few days later, a few videos appeared on the internet.
The contents of the videos were the same, the only difference were the names.
<<Shocking! Under the broad daylight, a member of the crew actually blatantly…>>
<<Shocking! Multiple incidents of causing injury in a crew, the real culprit is actually…>>
<<Shocking! My hair stood on its ends instantly, 1:30 left me stunned!>>
At this point of time the shocking tag had yet to exist, titles like this had not yet been oversaturated, a university student, Lu Ren2, got his attention caught just like that. He clicked on it to check it out. The video quality was very bad, the camera was shaky, one look and he knew that this was filmed secretly.
He got a little excited when Ning Ning and Chen Shuang He’s face appeared. He put down his hand that was rubbing his feet and clicked on the fullscreen button. “Damn, who was the hero who sneaked into the filming location to take this?”
The content of the video was a little boring. Ning Ning and Chen Shuang He were acting for a little while before they were shouted at by Director Chen, afterwards, it was all just the two of them being reprimanded.
But even so, Lu Ren did not fast forward, staring at the screen very patiently. Although the contents were boring, due to the title of the video, as it got closer to a minute and thirty seconds playtime, the more nervous he felt. As it was rapidly approaching a minute thirty seconds, he actually leaned back so that he was some distance away from the screen as if he was watching a ghost movie.
A scream rang out and the screen suddenly turned black.
“What the hell?” Lu Ren smashed his mouse, he felt deceived. Right as he was about to close the video, the screen lit up again, as if what had happened before was just a power outage.
“What the hell is going on? The power has been going out once every few days.”
“The power is back, the power is back, continue filming.”
“Everyone in positions.”
“Hold on, where is my shoe, who stepped on my shoe?”
After a moment of chaos, the crew restarted filming. At the same time, a crew member seemed to have found the person shooting the video. He walked quickly towards the camera. The screen turned black again the moment he reached out with his hand.
“That’s it?” Lu Ren stared at the screen blankly. “It ended just like that?”
This time he did not hesitate. He immediately fast forwarded to a minute and twenty five seconds. A few seconds later, a scream, the screen turning black again. The moment the lights lit up was exactly at one minute thirty seconds playtime. This time, Lu Ren stuck his face up to the screen and stared at it.
Chills ran down his back.
This time he saw it clearly.
He would rather not have seen it clearly. It was already in the middle of the night, how would he wake up to go to the toilet later?
“Hi!” A hand suddenly patted his shoulder.
“Ah!” Lu Ren immediately jumped out from the chair.
He got a fright, the person behind also got frightened. He held his chest and said, “What are you doing? You scared the hell out of me, are you watching a ghost movie?”
Once he finished speaking, he turned around and looked at Lu Ren’s computer. “Huh, that’s not a ghost movie.”
“Ghost movies can’t be compared to this, those are all fake. Come, come, come, let me show you something exhilarating!” Lu Ren completely did not mind that his roommate had frightened him so much his life was shortened by two years. He excitedly hopped back on the computer and reopened the video to show it to his roommate. While they were watching, he was even persistently pointing at the screen. “Pay attention to this spot, pay attention to this spot.”
His roommate felt impatient, what was so interesting about one lousy video?
One minute thirty seconds later.
“Ah!” His roommate screamed as well.
He was more timid compared to Lu Ren, but his eyesight was better than Lu Ren. He saw it clearly the first time. When the lights were switched on, a dagger was floating behind Chen Shuang He. At the beginning, he thought that it was hanging by a wire of sorts, but the dagger suddenly lowered itself, retreated two steps back and vanished.
With that, it looked like an invisible hand was holding a dagger and sneakily getting closer to Chen Shuang He. When the lights were suddenly switched back on, it then silently kept the knife back, sheathing it into an invisible sheathe.
From when it appeared to when it retreated and disappeared, it took a total of three seconds.
Most of the crew was standing across Chen Shuang He, only the person filming the video was standing behind him, so Lu Ren did not know whether the crew saw this incident, but the person filming the video had definitely seen it, otherwise, the shot would not have suddenly shook that much.
“How is it?” Lu Ren turned around and looked at his roommate.
“I…” His roommate struggled to speak for a long time before he said meekly, “I’m a little scared, can you accompany me to the toilet at night?”
Lu Ren felt a lot more relieved in that moment. So I was not the only one that was scared.
“But who was it that was so inconsiderate to send such a terrifying video in the middle of the night? I must definitely forward it to someone else.” An even more inconsiderate smile appeared on his roommate’s face. “If I don’t dare to go to the toilet, everyone else doesn’t have to think about going to the toilet.”
That night, the three videos revealing the truth behind the case within the crew of <<After Juliet’s Death>> started spreading on the internet like a virus.
After Ah Xia’s afternoon tea…
Little Angel picked up an item, “Hmm what is this, it’s actually Ah Xia’s manuscript for tomorrow…”
[Ten minutes later]
Little Angel closed the book in his hands with a complicated expression, he murmured, “I’ll have to buy something nice for Ah Xia to eat later, she will have to eat blades tomorrow…”
1This is a wordplay for an actual Chinese documentary <<A Bite of China>>. Wiki article.
2This is a pun for passerby/pedestrian.