The Real Ghost
Tiny footprints were left on the snow.
“I didn’t want to kill your mother.” The Skinny Man breathed out a breath of white air. “Too bad she didn’t return the money I loaned her. I even knelt down and begged her, but she laughed at me. I got dizzy with anger so I pushed her out of the building.”
Upon finishing, he looked down at Wen Yu. “You saw all of that right?”
Wen Yu shook his head at him.
He did not see anything. When his mother fell from the building, his mind was blank, he did not notice if there was anyone else upstairs at all.
“We’ve already reached this stage. You don’t have to lie to me anymore.” The Skinny Man smiled neurotically. “If you had not grown suspicious, why would you give the packet of sweets to Elder Sis and not eat it yourself?”
Ever since Wen Yu saw how his mother died, he had not been able to speak, so he could not tell the Skinny Man. Although Eldest Aunt and her family treated him poorly, he was still grateful to them for adopting him. So when he picked up the finely packaged sweets, his first thought would be to share it. It was just that when the sweets ended up in the hands of Eldest Aunt, she was not willing to share them with him and only did so with her family.
In the end they were the only ones who were poisoned, not Wen Yu.
“I didn’t want to kill Eldest Sis. The thought of killing their entire family did not cross my mind.” The Skinny Man mumbled to himself by the side, “Did you know? From the day the news of their deaths reached me, I never had a good night’s sleep again. If there was even a slight movement in the night, I would roll out of bed in fear that it was the police coming to arrest me…”
His days were tough, Wen Yu’s days were even tougher.
People who knew about this incident started spreading it, his reputation as a monster got around thoroughly, no one dared to adopt him anymore. The Skinny Man was the only one who was willing to adopt him, albeit reluctantly.
But Wen Yu didn’t want to drag the Skinny Man down.
At that point of time, Wen Yu really thought that he was a monster. Tragedies would happen wherever he went, ill luck would befall anyone he loved. Thus he did not accept the kindness of the Skinny Man. He brought everything he owned and stowed away on a train. He intended to leave, to go wherever the train would bring him.
“You escaped!” The Skinny Man suddenly viciously hit Wen Yu’s head. “You actually escaped at that time! Do you have any idea how scared I was then? What could I do? I could only abandon my job and my girlfriend, I could only run away like a homeless dog, I was afraid of getting reported by you!”
Wen Yu held his head without saying a word.
He was a homeless dog, how could he not be. The scenery outside the train’s window was getting increasingly unfamiliar. Where was this train heading to? Where would he be alighting? Whom would he look for after he got off the train? A newspaper, a name, a promise, then appeared in his mind.
When he got off the train, he wrote the name ‘Orchid Theater’ on his book and asked for directions along the way. He finally arrived at the entrance of the theater. What was his purpose in looking for her? He had not actually thought of it at that point of time. He was even a little afraid, afraid that she would chase him off at the sight of him…
She emerged from the theater with a gloomy expression. She looked like she was floating in the air, as if she was a ghost under the sun.
“…You came at a bad time.” Ning Ning smiled at him. “I just attempted a murder, I’m about to be arrested soon.”
He was stunned. As she was brought away, he chased after them. Then he heard the argument between the Director and Chen Guan Chao, heard the Director criticising her as an actress with a fatal flaw, someone who completely didn’t understand love.
“I once had it.” A completely withered smile devoid of anger appeared on Ning Ning’s face. “I had once loved…”
At that moment, Wen Yu almost started crying.
Because he was the same. He too once had it, he too once loved. Those who loved him, those whom he loved, all had left him.
“She is as pitiful as me.” Wen Yu looked at her and told himself, “I have to help her.”
“But it’s alright. God was on my side. I never would have thought that I could actually see you on the streets.” The Skinny Man sighed. “Before that, I was not sure of it, but seeing the way you ran at the sight of me, I knew…that you knew about everything I did.”
…He ran away because he was afraid, but not of the Skinny Man. It was because the Skinny Man represented his past. Wen Yu knew however, even if he could speak, the Skinny Man would not listen to him. Because ever since the Skinny Man killed a person for the first time, he had fallen into a very scary vicious cycle—for the sake of covering up that first corpse, he started creating more corpses.
The first one to die was Master Cao. Although his words were a little unforgiving, he actually really liked Wen Yu. Four dishes were not enough, so he went into the kitchen to make more. Wen Yu didn’t want to sit alone, so he went over to help. Later he saw a figure enter the kitchen from afar, as he took a closer look, the figure had gotten behind Master Cao and pushed the already a little drunk Master Cao into the boiling hot wok.
Fire started burning then, the person who killed Master Cao had set fire to the kitchen.
Wen Yu was very scared. He escaped and hid in a place where no one could find him. It was not until Ning Ning appeared outside the ruins that he dared to run over and hug her.
He wanted to tell her what had happened, but when he looked up at the people surrounding the ruins, there was a familiar figure not far from him. He hugged Ning Ning tightly for a while, too scared to do anything.
“I also didn’t want to kill the chef initially, I only wanted to set the place on fire and burn you to death. But when I thought about it, what if he extinguished the fire, or what if he ran away with you, so I decided to kill him along with you.” The Skinny Man’s voice was rather helpless, it also had a hint of someone who was numb from killing too many people. “But you were lucky. You didn’t die, you even drew what happened and showed it to the Language Teacher.”
Wen Yu hadn’t actually seen his face, he had only seen his back view. He felt that the back view was very familiar, but he couldn’t be sure, so he worked hard to draw the person. He drew again and again, then he brought his best drawing and showed it to his then adopter.
The Language Teacher was so frightened that she dropped the oranges in her hands. She looked at Wen Yu with a peculiar expression, “What is this?”
“It’s the bad guy.” Wen Yu wrote on the paper, “He was the one who pushed the person.”
That night, the Language Teacher did not sleep a wink, she looked at the drawing with her table lamp. The next morning, she made a good meal for him, put the new pen and paper that she had bought for him into his bag and put the bag on him, then she held his hand and brought him out.
They were on the way back to Orchid Theater.
“This is too scary. I am too old for this, I don’t want to get involved.” The Language Teacher told him on the way back, “I placed the drawing in your back. Take it with you, show it to whoever you think is trustworthy.”
The most trustworthy person in the world was Ning Ning.
But how would he dare to show it to Ning Ning?
The Language Teacher died. It was said that she accidentally fell into the water and drowned, but he knew that things weren’t that simple. Because the Skinny Man appeared. The Skinny Man was at the theater, like a spirit of the theater, loitering outside. As he told everyone he met that Wen Yu was a monster, he also asked Wen Yu in private, “Besides the Language Teacher, who else has seen this drawing?”
Wen Yu shook his head to indicate that he did not show it to anyone.
Not only that, for the sake of protecting everyone else in the theater, he started to coop himself up in the cellar, consciously minimised his interaction with people, lest the Skinny Man starts eyeing them. The person he needed to distance himself away from the most was Ning Ning! But he could not control himself. Whenever he saw her, he would jump into her bosom, seeking shelter, seeking warmth, seeking her love.
But he could not carry on like this.
Because the Socialite was also dead.
“I’ve killed so many people; your mother, eldest sister, that chef, the language teacher, I even killed an actress in the end. Hehe, looking at the newspaper, she was even a socialite with some reputation.” The Skinny Man smiled neurotically again. “I am not made to be a murderer. Even after killing so many people, I still get scared so I did not dispose of the body properly. It attracted so many policemen…Can you blame me? It was not my fault, it was your mother’s fault, it was all your fault…”
He brought Wen Yu up to the top of a building then flashed a knife at him. He pointed the knife at Wen Yu and said, “Go ahead and jump, just like your mother.”
Wen Yu looked at the Skinny Man then turned around and walked over. He was very high up, the ground was very far away, when he looked down he felt dizzy, as if he was sinking into a swamp.
Wen Yu was not strong enough to look death in its eyes yet. His legs started to shiver uncontrollably after one look. He could not help but take a few steps back, he could not help but escape, but the Skinny Man blocked his way.
“What’s wrong?” The Skinny Man asked, “Feeling regrets?”
Wen Yu looked at him, his tiny body would not stop shivering.
“I know, I understand, I am also feeling regretful. I should not have killed your mother. Why couldn’t I…stop once I have started?” The Skinny Man said with trembling lips, “I’m sorry. I don’t want to kill you. But I’m really scared, I’m scared that you will tell someone what happened.”
The Skinny Man started crying, as he was crying he used the knife to force Wen Yu to the side of the building.
He was already stepping on the edge, Wen Yu looked at the ground and thought: ‘Was this the last thing Mama saw as well? Or did she see me on the ground?’
Then, Wen Yu saw her.
Ning Ning followed the footsteps in the snow and ran towards the building like a madman. The sky was too dark, the street lights were not bright enough to illuminate her face. There was only a voice ringing out from far away. The voice was already broken, it sounded hoarse, it sounded like it was crying, it sounded painful, “Wen Yu!”
Wen Yu’s eyes brimmed over with tears.
Don’t you want to act in a movie? Don’t you want to act as the Phantom? Don’t you want to sing? Your throat is going to be sore from shouting, what will you do? You are already an adult, why don’t you know how to take care of yourself?
“Wen Xiao Ning?” The Skinny Man had also heard her voice, he looked down and was mildly shocked, “Why is she here?”
While the Skinny Man was not paying attention, Wen Yu quickly slipped away from him. Wen Yu didn’t even manage to take a few steps before his hair was pulled and viciously dragged back.
“Don’t think about running away!” The Skinny Man’s eyes were red, he dragged Wen Yu and walked step by step to the side of the building.
Wen Yu used every ounce of his strength to struggle like a fish that was hooked out of the water, but the edge of the roof was getting closer and closer.
Moonlight shone on his face. Wen Yu looked up. With pain, with unwillingness, with sorrow and despair he opened and closed his mouth. No sound came out of his throat, he could only cry in his heart, “I regret this, I don’t want to die, at least…at least don’t let me die in front of her. I don’t want her to look at my corpse, I don’t want her to be sad like me…”