Wang Xiaoming hugged the biggest bottle of Sprite he could find at the supermarket and walked silently back home, letting his tears fall as the wind blew in his face.
The night wind was bitterly cold, sweeping his tears to the side until they dried.
His phone played the same song over and over again.
Dao Lang’s raspy voice seemed especially hoarse in the dark —
“You’re my lover, a rose-like woman…”
The hand holding onto the bottle of Sprite shook once. Wang Xiaoming bit his bottom lip and made an effort to rein in his snot.
He hated women and especially women who were like roses. He hated the rose-like woman lying in Chang Haitao’s arms the most!
“With your fiery lips, take my soul in the middle of the night…”
The song continued.
Wang Xiaoming tried to convince himself that the woman was in the middle of seducing Dao Lang, she was in the middle of spending an unforgettable night with Dao Lang…
“Xiaoming, you’re back?” The landlady stuck her head from the first-floor window. “Do you have time tonight? My daughter’s math…” Her voice disappeared as she caught sight of his swollen red eyes. “She can figure it out herself. You get some rest.”
Wang Xiaoming pursed his lips and called out quietly, “Auntie Zhang.”
The landlady sighed, the good mood she’d had from winning 50 yuan this afternoon at mahjong destroyed by that mournful call. “Hurry and come upstairs.”
Wang Xiaoming answered in a low voice and crawled up the stairs.
He realized that he had special feelings for Chang Haitao during their third year of college. It was then that he immediately moved out of the dorms without any regret. Fortunately, the landlady took the fact that he often tutored her daughter in math into consideration and didn’t charge an exorbitant rent. This meant he made enough as a tutor to have some left over.
The apartment he rented was on the third floor. The light in the staircase had been broken for many years, so everyone had climbed the stairs in the moonlight to the point where each and every one of them developed godlike eyesight.
Wang Xiaoming walked to his door with the ease of someone who’d done that a million times. He took out his keys and, just as he was about to open the door, a sudden burst of light flashed. It felt like his chest was being pierced by something and his entire body slammed against the wall.
Wang Xiaoming stared at the moon outside the window in stunned confusion. He waited for a UFO to cover it up and an ET to fall down.
But he waited so long that his eyes stung and the moon remained in the sky.
He touched his chest to make sure there wasn’t a big hole there. Then he touched the Sprite, making sure that it was also undamaged. Afterward, he quickly opened the door, walked inside, closed the door, and locked it.
From childhood to now, he had always been unlucky.
He would hit telephone poles, have water splashed on him, or step in dog poop as he walked. If he ate something, he’d find flies, cockroaches, or hair. Nine out of the ten things he bought were broken and the remaining one was very likely to be fake… In short, his life was a handbook on how to be unfortunate. Whatever misfortune someone else experienced, he had experienced it. And he’d suffer misfortunes nobody else did. If not now, then definitely in the future.
He knew all of this from experience.
So even though what he’d just gone through was weird, he put it out of his mind easily once he made sure in the mirror that his body had not undergone any changes.
He spent today being tortured by the thought of Chang Haitao and his girlfriend. He’d barely eaten anything at the gathering and his stomach was all but eating itself. Wang Xiaoming took out a hardened loaf of bread that had been sitting out for three days and took a bite. Then he poured himself a cup of Sprite and walked to his balcony.
“In memory of my bygone love.”
With a flip of his hand, the Sprite splashed down.
“Shit! Who peed on me?” A voice shouted from below.
Wang Xiaoming hurriedly crouched down. After a few seconds of contemplation, he said in a high-pitched voice, “Not pee, liquor!”
“Don’t you dare lie! What kind of alcohol would have bubbles?”
“… Liar! It’s sweet!”
“How’d you know?” Wang Xiaoming was startled into using his real voice.
The person snorted, “Thought you could get away with lying to me? No way. I licked the ground.”
… Wang Xiaoming had to respect the man’s dedication to the pursuit of knowledge.
The man suddenly spat out three times, “What was I thinking, licking the ground? It’s all your fault, you brat. Get down here!”
Only an idiot would go down under these circumstances.
Not only was Wang Xiaoming not an idiot, but he was also a coward. So no matter how much the man below cursed up a storm, Wang Xiaoming snuck back into his room.
He sat on the sofa and listened to the man curse in a mixture of English and Chinese for quite a while until he finally exhausted himself. He shouted angrily one last time, “You stupid brat! You better pray that I won’t recognize you in the future! Or else I’ll sell you to the Silver House!’
Human trafficking still happened in this day and age?
And what was a silver house?
Wang Xiaoming thought and thought, then he turned on the computer and typed “silver house“ into the search engine. The myriad of silver houses dazzled him but he thought the man probably wasn’t talking about these.
He kept searching out of boredom before giving up and switching over to the game of Dark Destroyer.
Trying to beat the boss as stress relief was his favorite activity in the world.
No matter how unhappy he was, those negative emotions would all scatter with the wind the moment Baal collapsed slowly in front of him.
“Baal! I’ll destroy you!” Wang Xiaoming furiously moved the hand grasping the mouse.
Even though Baal had a lot of tricks up his sleeve, such as burning spells, rotten limbs, and evil illusions, they were all just the last moans of a dying man to Wang Xiaoming.
Dirt devils, skeletons… a bunch of minions tried to stop him.
He smiled evilly in front of the monitor. Only then did he feel like an undefeatable warrior.
“Baal…” He sniggered.
“What are you doing?” A strange male voice asked behind him as if the owner of the voice was smiling.
Wang Xiaoming replied casually, “Beating Baal.”
Three seconds later, the hand holding the mouse froze.
At five seconds, Wang Xiaoming debated turning around.
Even though up until this moment in his unfortunate life, he’d never encountered a ghost walking at night, his bad luck always found new ways to make him suffer.
After ten seconds, he decided to turn around.
Maybe it had all just been an auditory illusion.
He had heard about jilted lovers exhibiting many bizarre symptoms. Auditory hallucinations would be a small matter.
His head turned thirty degrees at the 18-second mark.
About a minute later, he finally discovered that auditory and visual illusions were brothers.
On the sofa, a tall and slender man wearing a black suit sat with his legs crossed. The man had a thick head of curly black hair that fell to his shoulders. His European face had the melancholy look typical of nobles. The man half-smiled at Wang Xiaoming.
If this were a movie, Wang Xiaoming might look at the man with admiration. After all, the man was exceptional in both looks and mannerisms. But… this was his home and this guy had come out of nowhere.
“I want to ask a question…” He swallowed.
The man’s eyebrows winged up.
“Do you… have a shadow?”
The man shook his head.
“Oh.” Wang Xiaoming’s eyes rolled upwards and he fainted.
Wang Xiaoming opened his eyes.
The ceiling was still the ceiling and the ceiling lamp still only had one working light bulb.
This was his home and he just had an unremarkable dream.
Wang Xiaoming got up unhesitatingly and headed towards the bathroom to brush his teeth. When he passed the living room, he saw the man was still sitting there in the same position and he even smiled unhurriedly at Wang Xiaoming before greeting him, “Awake?”
“…” He definitely saw nothing. This was a hallucination, a hallucination!
Wang Xiaoming continued heading towards the bathroom.
As soon as he stepped into the bathroom, the scene in front of his eyes changed and he found himself back in the living room.
He refused to believe his eyes and made another attempt.
The result was the same.
Was this… the rumored ghost-induced-circle-maze?1鬼打墙, literally ghost-hitting-wall, refers to the experience of someone being forced to walk the same route over and over again. It’s believed that this could be caused by malicious ghosts.
Wang Xiaoming shook in fear. There was bright sunlight outside but there was a beautiful ghost sitting in his house… this was the epitome of a black humor tragicomedy.
“I forgot to tell you, I hate it when people ignore my presence.” The man’s smile turned cold.
Wang Xiaoming slammed his knees into the ground and howled with his entire being, “I have an elderly mother and a young child, I can’t lift or carry, I am illiterate, and also a weakling. I would be the worst choice as a substitute body. So please, please don’t use me. I’m begging you… if you agree, I’ll burn a house… and cars… and beautiful women… and delicious food in sacrifice.”2This is referring to burning paper representations of these things to appease unhappy ghosts
The man kept staring languidly at Wang Xiaoming until Wang Xiaoming burst into desperate tears.
“What do you want?” Wang Xiaoming had tears and snot streaming down his face. Even though his life was miserable, he was still alive. He had no intention of dying young.
“I’m not a ghost.”
“…” Wang Xiaoming lifted his tear-stained face and stared at him in confusion. He asked, quietly sobbing, “Then what are you?”
Wang Xiaoming was stunned into silence.
The ugly guy from the game with the antennae?
In his mind, Wang Xiaoming compared the Baal in the game to the man in front of him.
They probably just shared the same name.
Baal smiled menacingly, “Though I’m not a ghost, I enjoy killing people more than ghosts do. If you keep looking at me like this, I can’t promise any self-control.”
Wang Xiaoming quietly swallowed and asked, “Then what is sir?”
Baal lowered his foot and tilted his body forward. A pair of black wings unfurled from behind him and covered Wang Xiaoming’s walls. “What do you think I am?”
“A fallen angel?” Wang Xiaoming’s eyes turned into saucers in surprise. This world must be insane for Baal to be an angel.
Baal proclaimed, “Though I have no need to be an angel, I can at least accept that species as an alternative to being a ghost.”
“Then why are you in my home?” Wang Xiaoming became a bit braver. After all, a fallen angel was still an angel, holier, and cuter than a ghost. “Are you lost?”
“Do I look like I’m stupid enough to get lost?”
“No.” Wang Xiaoming knew the importance of saying the answer someone wanted to hear.
Baal stood up and stared down at him with the ease of someone used to giving a command. “You don’t need to ask why I’m here, or how long I’ll be staying. You just need to know one thing. From this moment henceforth, I need you to figure out how to get that Chang Haitao to fall madly in love with you. I need you two to love each other passionately!”
… Wang Xiaoming finally figured out that there was no “most shocking”, just “more shocking”. Not only did Baal become an angel, but he was also now sidelining as a cupid.
- 1鬼打墙, literally ghost-hitting-wall, refers to the experience of someone being forced to walk the same route over and over again. It’s believed that this could be caused by malicious ghosts.
- 2This is referring to burning paper representations of these things to appease unhappy ghosts