“Wa!” Chen Guan Chao vomitted just as he ran out of the cellar.
Ning Yu Ren who was slightly slower than him, “…”
When he had finally finished vomiting, Chen Guan Chao knelt on the floor. He held himself and shivered. “She is so scary! Ghosts are my greatest fear!”
Ning Yu Ren muttered, “…So timid, how are you even going to shoot a thriller?”
Chen Guan Chao’s face was flushed, he turned around and glared at her, “You’re not scared? Then go back and stay with her!”
Ning Yu Ren shook her head without thinking, her teeth chattering, brrr...
Chen Guan Chao basked under the sun for a while. Feeling that his yang energy1 was recharged, his courage returned. He stood up and pointed at Ning Yu Ren, arrogantly passing judgement, “Let me tell you, you won’t beat her as you are now!”
Ning Yu Ren was stunned.
“There will only be one Phantom candidate!” Chen Gao Chao laughed, raised his arm and pointed towards the cellar, “By the looks of it, she is more like the Phantom than you, isn’t she?
Ning Yu Ren slowly turned pale.
On the second day, Chen Guan Chao had people clean up the rooms and the cellar. Ning Yu Ren grabbed her basic supplies and hesitated for a while in the sparkling clean room, eventually walking down to the cellar resolutely.
…During the night, she was worried about not being able to sleep, needing to use the washroom…
Two coffins were placed side by side in the cellar. Ning Yu Ren pressed her ear on the inner wall of the coffin for a while. She didn’t hear Ning Ning. She gulped and turned on the flashlight, then softly and quietly climbed out of the coffin she was in. Suddenly, she felt that there was something weird beside her. She slowly turned her head and looked over. She saw that in the coffin beside her sat a woman whose hair was draped over her face looking at her.
“It’s a ghost!!!” Ning Yu Ren screamed and ran out of the cellar.
“No, I’m not a ghost.” Ning Ning pulled her hair back, revealing a face full of tears and mucus. “I couldn’t sleep because of a nightmare,.. sob, sniffle…”
Ning Yu Ren returned very late into the night. She tossed and turned after returning, not sleeping a wink that night. She continued to avoid Ning Ning after she had woken up, looking like she was a little afraid of her.
Ning Ning didn’t know why Ning Yu Ren was so scared of her, but she soon found out, it was not only Mama, the rest of the people were also afraid of her.
Till one day she overheard someone else gossiping about her.
“Don’t you guys feel that…” There was a pile of fruits and sunflower seeds, the Socialite was telling everyone as she was munching on a sunflower seed, “That person, Wen Xiao Ning, is a little weird!”
“A little. There was once I woke up in the middle of the night to visit the washroom, I saw her walking around the courtyard, laughing and crying to the plum tree.”
“Oh em gee, you saw that too? Actually I’ve seen that as well, but it was not to the plum tree. She was carrying the head of a doll, talking to it as she combed its hair.”
When someone returned to their old home, they would inevitably be overwhelmed with emotions. Ning Ning’s heart maintained that every blade of grass and every chunk of wood was a piece of memory, a person could not help but laugh and cry.
“Hey…” The Socialite suddenly called everyone over and said in a low voice, “Do you guys think that…she is a human or a ghost?”
The rest of the people collectively took a breath, one of them mocked, “How could a ghost walk under the sun?”
“But have you ever seen her eat warm rice?” The Socialite asked. “I have never seen it. She had never eaten anything hot. Not warm rice, not hot soup, not even hot water.
“That’s right. She had never taken a hot shower either, she always uses cold water.”
“She also doesn’t sleep on a bed and prefers to sleep in a coffin.”
“Oh em gee, let’s stop talking about it, I’m getting goosebumps…”
“So to say, how could a normal person……” as the Socialite was about to make a conclusion, her voice suddenly stopped. She turned around and looked towards a direction.
Seeing that she had been found out, Ning Ning could only walk towards them from where she was. No one spoke for a moment. As she walked past the group of people, an unidentified voice from behind softly called out, “Monster.”
Ning Ning stopped in her tracks, then continued walking forward with her lunchbox.
She was not in a hurry to eat after she got back to the cellar. The lunchbox was placed on the table and left open to let it cool down. It was not that she liked having cold food, but the trauma from the previous movie caused her to be completely incapable of touching anything hot.
They were right. How could a normal person live their life like this. She switched on a table lamp to illuminate the mirror. The face (reflected) in the mirror was that of a dead person. Pale, gloomy, lifeless, it looked like another spiderweb in the dark cellar at a glance.
This was not her, it was…
“Qu Ning’er.” Ning Ning gently called out.
Qu Ning’er smiled at her from within the mirror. Innocent yet evil, the smile was laced with a madness stemmed from deeply accumulated grievances
“…You are a fake. An illusion created from me going overboard with method acting.” Ning Ning stared at the mirror and calmly said, “A type of cognitive dissonance, a leftover trauma from diving too deep into the character. You do not exist and will eventually disappear with the passage of time.”
“I won’t disappear.” In the mirror, Qu Ning’er raised a finger up to the front of her lips as if she was telling a secret. She told Ning Ning furtively, “I’m home.”
Ning Ning quickly closed her eyes, her heart beating very loudly.
She was currently in a very dangerous situation. Seemingly because she returned to Qu family’s old house, not only was she seeing things, she was also hearing things. Her old home had not only awakened her memories, but also the Qu Ning’er within her.
“…Go away.” Ning Ning kept her eyes closed and clenched her teeth, “Your movie had ended. You should disappear, disappear already! Leave my body!!”
“…I won’t leave.” Although she could not see Qu Ning’er, her voice rang out beside her ears, sobbing, “Papa is dead, Wang Ma is dead, I only have you left,.. sob sob.. I will never leave you! Never!!”
…This was a nightmare, once it started there was no end …
It seemed that for the sake of consoling Ning Ning, Qu Ning’er continued to cling onto Ning Ning’s body, refusing to leave. Even though Qu Ning’er created a lot of trouble for Ning Ning she also gave her a benefit 一 the best gift to an actor.
“What a good performance!” Chen Guan Chao was being generous with his praise and applauded while he said, “Simply a great performance! It’s exactly like a real spirit!”
“…What did you say?” Ning Ning turned around, “Come a little closer I didn’t get all of that.”
“…Oh.” Chen Guan Chao who was 30 meters away jogged over, but he still did not dare to get too close to Ning Ning, standing three steps away from her. He raised the script in his hands and said, “I wrote a new scene based on your situation. We rehearse it later, see how it goes?”
He didn’t wait for Ning Ning’s response when he was done and immediately turned back and called the others over. Very quickly, a rowdy group of people came over. Almost half a month had gone by, everyday was extremely dry training sessions, everyone wanted to have some fun. They were also willing to accommodate the investor who was also the male lead, Director Chen.
Ning Ning also felt that she had been too high strung recently and needed to relax a bit, so she smiled at him. “Alright, let me have a look at the script.”
The title for this scene was 一 <<The Ghost’s Victory>>.
This was a chase scene. The Wealthy Lady sneaked into the theater at midnight. She had wanted to give Lu Yun He a surprise, but accidentally discovered that he was with another woman. Thinking that he had a change of heart, the Wealthy Lady flew off the handle, immediately rushed over with the intention to grab that woman.
But in the process of it, somehow their positions had switched. The woman ended up chasing the Wealthy Lady and finally caused her to fall down the stairs. The Wealthy Lady raised her head in pain. As she looked at the top of the stairs, a shadowy figure of the ghost was singing a song to her with a mocking victorious smile.
Ning Ning put down the script. “That’s it?”
You had the cheek to say that you wrote a new scene with such little words? Were you not afraid that the readers and audience would call you a shorty2?
“I’m short on inspiration, damn it!” Chen Guan Chao was not ashamed, but proudly urged, “Quickly act it out you guys, let me find some inspiration!”
You are the investor, whatever you say goes!
The stage was quickly set up. Should Chen Guan Chao be described as a perfectionist, or was he just lenient to himself and strict toward others? Anyway, he just had high expectations of others. It was just a provisional scene, but everything had to be done in the best possible way. Even the standing copper mirror that was for the actual shoot was moved onto the stage for him. He put two fingers together and dashingly swung them towards the stage, “Begin!”
The Socialite handed her parasol to her attendant beside her and went on the stage with a smile. She felt that it was too sunny after a while, so she took the parasol back, but before she could open it, Chen Guan Chao angrily shouted, “Put it down!!”
The Socialite was stunned, she said coquettishly, “The sun is so bright today, this lady’s skin will get too tanned.”
Chen Guan Chao walked over without saying anything, snatched her parasol over and broke it over his knee, then stared at her. “Listen well, this scene happened at night! There was no sun, there wasn’t even a moon! Would a few stars give you sunburn?”
The Socialite was frightened by him and didn’t dare to talk back. Ning Ning looked at him and felt an indescribable familiarity, because Director Chen from the real world was like this as well. He could joke around with people normally, but once the filming started, he would become a film set tyrant.
Chen Guan Chao threw away the broken parasol, then turned around and shook his fingers. “Begin!”
The Socialite was a smart person, she knew when to be coquettish and when to be serious. Looking at Ning Ning on stage, she did not deign to hide the jealousy and hatred in her heart. She shouted at her, “Who are you? What is your relationship with him?”
Like how the Wealthy Lady was jealous of the Phantom, she was also jealous of Ning Ning. Maybe Ning Ning didn’t feel it, but she knew. Chen Guan Chao paid a lot of attention to Ning Ning. Although he said that he only cared about her acting, but who knew if he was telling the truth?
Men were sometimes more fickle than women, a little attention might develop into good feelings.
Ning Ning had not readied herself, but the Socialite had already threw herself at her. Ning Ning hastily dodged, then started to run around the stage.
Something was wrong.
Something was very wrong.
After running for a few minutes, Ning Ning slowly started to feel that something was off.
It was night time, they were at the theater, although it was not that they couldn’t see, but her vision was not clear. If a person that was not from the theater were to run here, they would inevitably bump into stuff. There was no way they would move the same way as they would during the day.
But the Socialite did not act like she had any problems with her vision. She followed behind Ning Ning tightly, almost catching her a few times. When she saw Ning Ning turned back, she would smile at her, a victor’s smile.
Ning Ning suddenly understood.
A loophole existed in the script.
All Chen Guan Chao wrote was “In the process of the chase, the positions of the two characters switched.” But he didn’t write at which point it happened, the reason why their positions had switched.
So the Socialite had the power to decide, the chase would stop whenever she wanted it to stop. Their positions would switch whenever she wanted to switch. She was the cat, Ning Ning was the mouse. She had completely become the lead actress of this scene!
“Little mouse!” The Socialite looked at Ning Ning and coldly laughed in her heart, “A Phantom who could be caught by a mortal, would that still qualify as a Phantom? No, the moment you are caught, you are no longer the Phantom. No! You were never the Phantom! You are only someone who lived in fear in the cellar, a little mouse who cannot be seen in the light!”
The Socialite suddenly threw herself forward, but Ning Ning dodged sideways. The moment they locked eyes, Ning Ning suddenly jumped off the stage, and ran out of the set.
The Socialite stopped for a while, she hesitated while looking at the direction Ning Ning ran off to, not knowing whether to give chase. But right at this moment Chen Guan Chao shouted from beside her, “What are you doing? If I don’t say cut, the scene doesn’t end! Chase her!”
The Socialite could only jump off the stage and chased after Ning Ning.
She originally thought Ning Ning ran off because she could not handle the pressure the Socialite was giving her, or one could say that she had hoped Ning Ning would do this, then look for a place with no one and cry like a loser. But Ning Ning had stopped in front, like she was deliberately waiting for her. Once she got close, Ning Ning turned and ran again.
“What is she doing?” The Socialite was full of doubt, “Where is she leading me?”
Ning Ning stopped at the entrance of the cellar, turned and glanced at the Socialite, then slowly walked down the cellar.
“So she ran home to cry.” The Socialite felt happy, she couldn’t help but reveal a victor’s smile on her face. For the sake of seeing Ning Ning cry in person, she followed her down the cellar.
Then, with a wham, the cellar door behind her closed.
The light had been extinguished, the surroundings turned dark. The Socialite stopped in her footsteps. As she looked back at the door, someone blew at her neck. She gasped and grabbed her neck, but she then heard a chuckle not far away, filled with evil intentions, filled with ridicule.
“You have come into my house.” The voice told her in a low voice, “Get out, or……stay here forever!”
1Yang energy comes from the concept of Yin and Yang, where Yang energy refers to the positive energy of living beings while Yin energy refers to the negative energy from ghosts. This is a common belief among the Chinese.
2Shorty here has a dual meaning; straightforwardly it refers to an author who writes very short chapters, the second meaning is to insult someone for having a short peepee.