Chapter 109 – The Cycle of Karma, What Goes Around Comes Around (23)
translator: baumkuchen editors: serefina, glitterypanda
The pungent smell of burnt meat drifted in from the crack between the door and the doorframe, piercing Tian Guangbing like a needle, making his eyelids twitch uncontrollably.
In his panic, Tian Guangbing’s thoughts whirled. He lunged over and grabbed the phone which had yet to be hung up. “h.e.l.lo?”
The smell was as strong as ever, but it didn’t continue to spread.
The child on the other end of the line was silent for a moment. “Tian-laoshi.”
Tian Guangbing used all his strength to suppress the trembling of his voice, “Liu-laoshi is tired, if you have anything to say, can you say it to Tian-laoshi?”
The brat laughed. “Laoshi, I want to play basketball tomorrow.”
For a time, Tian Guangbing didn’t know what to say, yet didn’t dare to delay any longer. He gritted his teeth and promised, “Okay.”
The child giggled gleefully. His childish voice travelled through the buzzing of the electrical current and into his ear, making a layer of gooseb.u.mps rise up on his back.
The brat said, “Laoshi, goodnight. I’ll play “telephone” with Liu-laoshi again tomorrow.”
The “call” ended. Tian Guangbing looked at the clear “no signal” symbol in the upper right corner of the screen, his face green.
……They…… seemed to really have gotten into big trouble.
The couple were both terrified, holding hands as they carefully listened for movement outside. Their palms were slippery and wet, making it feel like they each were holding a snake.
After making sure that there was no movement outside for a long, long time, Tian Guangbing tugged her hand over and wrote in her palm, “Let’s rest.”
Liu Chengyin was still unable to forget about that suddenly appearing woman. She replied, “There was really a woman there.”
Tian Guangbing thought for a moment, then wrote a question, “What did she look like?”
Liu Chengyin had a good memory, and had been given an especially deep impression from that glance in the midst of her panic. “Long hair, long skirt, pale face, dressed in black, very pretty, and dressed very strangely, like a person from the medieval times.”
Tian Guangbing nodded slightly, replying with no doubt whatsoever, “Got it.”
He squeezed his girlfriend’s hand once more, then wrapped his arm around her shoulders, wanting to help her back to bed.
Liu Chengyin was recovering from her shock, and was just about to lie down with her boyfriend’s prompting when unexpectedly, she caught a vague glimpse of something moving in the window over his shoulder, even shaking the window itself along with its movements.
In the beginning, she thought it was a branch outside tapping on the window, but no matter how she looked at it, she felt like there was something spooky about that shadow. She reached out and tugged on her boyfriend’s arm. “……What’s that?”
Tian Guangbing followed her line of sight.
The incandescent light in the room was far too bright. Squinting, he was only able to see a vague, dark shadow fall onto the gla.s.s, which then disappeared immediately afterwards. The window made a low hum, indeed as if it was being beaten on by something from outside.
He said, uncertain, “It’s…… probably the wind.”
However, a second later, his eyes widened and he blurted out a curse, “……f.u.c.k!”
……What d.a.m.ned shadow of a tree? It was a child’s hand lightly tapping on the window from the outside!
At some unknown time, the gla.s.s window had already been filled with little wet handprints, but the prints that were left behind were very special. Those five fingers were stuck together, not like a normal child’s hand, but rather seeming like the webbed feet of a frog.
And on closer inspection, there was even half of a little head poking out from the side of the window, a burnt right eye and an intact left eye staring straight at them.
Before they could make a sound, a hand that had melted to the point where only half of it was left slapped on the gla.s.s, letting out a dull thud that made the skin on their scalp explode with gooseb.u.mps!
Liu Chengyin immediately clapped a hand over her mouth to keep herself from crying out again.
She had already made one wrong move, she couldn’t afford to make any more.
She clearly knew that at this time she should get closer to the child, and treat him with a normal att.i.tude, and even put on the air of a teacher and order him to go to bed……
But she really didn’t dare to. She didn’t even have the strength to stand up.
Suddenly, they heard the sound of a window opening.
The sound had come from the infirmary on the first floor.
The infirmary just so happened to have its windows facing in the same direction as the dorms’. After opening the window, Chi Xiaochi’s clear voice drifted up from downstairs, “Why are you still out here so late?”
The little ghost outside the window looked down at him.
“Yi,” Chi Xiaochi said disdainfully, “What’s covering your face? Get down from the window, I’ll wash it off for you.”
Liu Chengyin, “……”
Liu Chengyin and her boyfriend could want for nothing more. They hurriedly opened the door and let them in.
The two didn’t ask why just now, when they were facing danger, Gan Yu and Yuan Benshan, who were only separated from them by a single wall, hadn’t come out to help.
In this kind of world, protecting oneself was the pre-requisite. Whether or not to help, went only as far as feelings or duty.
Yuan Benshan was still thinking about Song Chunyang. He wanted to go down and have a look at him, but was afraid of that ghost child whose goodness was undetermined. Then, he thought about Chunyang’s ability, as well as Gan Tang, who looked weak, but had the strength of three people, and gradually calmed down.
Chi Xiaochi daring to call the ghost child over, was because he had the confidence to.
It was for no other reason than that in Chi Xiaochi’s current view, the brat who had been burnt into an utter mess was just a little living chibi Mashimaro.
This time, Mashimaro took the proper way down, obediently coming down from upstairs and knocking on the infirmary door.
Chi Xiaochi reached out and pulled him into the room.
If Qin Ling were awake, upon seeing that he was in the same room as a ghost child, he would probably be instantly scared unconscious. Fortunately, he’d lost too much blood and was already unconscious, sparing him the step of having to faint again.
Gan Tang was also utterly calm, which actually made the brat start to feel a little embarra.s.sed, and his face, which had been burnt to the point of warping, returned to being eighty percent normal.
Anyways, Chi Xiaochi couldn’t see it. He casually dragged him over to the sink, dipped a towel in warm water and started wiping Mashimaro’s face. “Leaning on someone’s window in the middle of the night, are you trying to scare people?”
The brat protested vaguely, “Liu-laoshi promised to play with me. She doesn’t keep her promises.”
“So you pranked her?”
The brat didn’t reply.
Seeing him like that, Chi Xiaochi clapped a palm, neither too roughly nor too softly, against his back. “Speaking of which, I was like you when I was younger.”
Then, he glanced at the brat’s face. Even just depending on his imagination, he knew that his face right now couldn’t be cute at all. “Of course, I wasn’t as ugly as you.”
The brat, “……”
“Climbing onto the roof to pull out tiles, playing with cats and teasing dogs, there was nothing I didn’t do,” Chi Xiaochi said cheerfully, “If someone bullied me, I would immediately bully them back.”
Gan Tang listened from next to him, her face remaining unchanged, but unable to help but smile on the inside.
This mouth of Chi Xiaochi’s.
With only a few lines, he had pulled himself into the same camp as the brat, letting him empathise with himself.
How could a little kid possibly beat him?
Sure enough, the brat’s curiosity was piqued. “Then didn’t your teachers. .h.i.t you?”
In response to this rather strange question, Chi Xiaochi’s eyebrows twitched slightly, but he didn’t hurry to ask further.
“They didn’t. When I was younger, my grades were average. Teachers need to care about the better ones and hurry the worse ones, so people like me would never enter the teachers’ eyes.” Chi Xiaochi wrung the towel out again, and enthusiastically wiped the brat’s face. “I actually hoped that my parents would quarrel less to leave time for punishing me together for once. But thinking about it afterwards, seeking beatings when there’s no need for it, isn’t that incredibly lowly?”
The brat giggled.
Chi Xiaochi pulled “Mashimaro”’s hand over and lightly wiped the back of his hand for him.
The brat stared straight at him, then suddenly said, “Lou-laoshi.”
Chi Xiaochi felt several abnormal depressions on the back of his hands, which didn’t seem to be traces left behind by burns, but rather old scars. Furthermore, the shape was rather unique.
He rubbed those scars a few times and said, “Hm?”
The brat asked, “Am I a good boy?”
“Clinging onto people’s windows in the middle of the night to scare them and not apologising, don’t you yourself know if you’re good or not?” Chi Xiaochi mock-glared at him. “Little b.a.s.t.a.r.d.”
The brat who had been scolded was still very happy, the corners of his mouth rising with glee.
Chi Xiaochi stroked those scars again. His expression abruptly changed as he finally figured out what had caused those scars.
He opened his mouth and cursed, “f.u.c.k their grandfathers.”
Gan Tang’s slender eyebrows rose. She softly stopped him, “Chunyang.”
The brat blinked, asking precociously, “Laoshi, what does that mean?”
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Chi Xiaochi’s face didn’t change. “It means ‘h.e.l.lo’.”
Upon noticing the Xiao Doudingin his doorway, he smiled gently. “En?”
Chi Xiaochi had a sweet tongue even since he was a child. “You’re really good-looking.”
This was Lou Ying’s first time being praised like this by someone of the same gender. After being stunned for a moment, his eyes curved upwards slightly. “Thank you.”
Even after a long time, Chi Xiaochi wasn’t able to hear the expected follow-up. He couldn’t help but feel curious, “Yi, aren’t you going to praise me for my good looks?”
Lou Ying was unable to hold back the bark of laughter that escaped him. He put down the mess he was holding, walked over to him, leaned down and inspected him carefully before giving a very sincere reply, “En, you’re very good-looking.”
At that time, Chi Xiaochi hadn’t been able to tell at all that this was a child who was still feeling the pain of just having lost both his parents.
Even at such a young age, he had known how to hide his wounds and retreat to lick them on his own, utterly unwilling to let anyone else see them, only afraid that others would be frightened by them.
Lou Ying showed such a beautiful world to Chi Xiaochi. Even after he left later on, Chi Xiaochi didn’t choose to turn his back and leave it. His appearance as he stubbornly clung to that world, was both laughable, yet warm.
There were only two beds in the infirmary. Chi Xiaochi originally wanted to sleep below the bed, but Gan Tang was very generous, patting her bed and inviting him over, saying, “Come on up, I don’t mind. If something happens, we can take care of each other.”
Chi Xiaochi thought about it for a moment, and didn’t try to refuse any longer. He climbed onto the bed with his quilt, taking up a small half of the bed and sleeping in his clothes.
As he lay on the bed, he kept thinking.
The workings of this world weren’t hard to guess: Don’t overindulge the ghost children, or else their evil thoughts would grow infinitely in a s.p.a.ce one couldn’t see, and they would take whatever they wanted. Qin Ling was an example of this. But they also couldn’t be overly harsh, roughly refusing them at every turn, or else there was a high chance they would take revenge as well.
To put it bluntly, be qualified teachers of the people.
However, they had already unknowingly overstepped.
The children had already seen blood. Who knew what they would do next.
Thinking about such matters, he only fell asleep later in the night.
After Chi Xiaochi sunk into an uneasy sleep, he vaguely heard a voice whisper in his ear, “Oh, you.”
Following that, he felt a warm, ticklish touch to his ear. That touch felt like someone was using a feather to tickle the bottom of his feet, making even his toes curl, and he gently clutched at his sheets.
He let out a low grunt, “……Wu.”
……Fortunately, he didn’t wake up, flipping over and falling asleep once more.
It was strange to say, but for the latter half the night, his sleep was very sound, undisturbed even by dreams.
However, when he woke up, what Chi Xiaochi had been most worried about happening happened after all.
After tasting blood, there was clearly something wrong in the air around the children.
They sat in the canteen, all without exception mechanically silent, their hands by their sides, their heads lowered, their young gazes exchanging messages only they could understand.
When Liu Chengyin, carrying their breakfast, walked into the canteen and was. .h.i.t by that thick scent of burnt meat, she stumbled, almost vomiting.
When she instinctively stopped, more than twenty expressionless faces turned to face her like sunflowers to the sun, making her start to sweat profusely.
Liu Chengyin had already spent most of the night making mental preparations. Seeing this, she forcefully calmed down and straightened her spine. She slowly walked into the canteen and handed out the food one by one.
In contrast, the brat who had been both loud and naughty the day before had become a lot more quiet and disciplined. He took his mealbox and began to pick up vegetables and rice with his chopsticks, bringing them to his mouth and chewing silently.
Soon, three or four children spat out the food in their mouths and began to make a racket, “Laoshi, we don’t want to eat this! This is too disgusting!”
There was an immediate response to this. Many children grabbed their chopsticks and began to beat them against the edges of their bowls, all starting to shout loudly.
The faces of all the people standing at the doorway to the canteen were ugly.
They had expected that after Qin Ling’s incident, the difficulty of this world might have risen again, and that the situation would become more and more out of control, but they hadn’t expected the change to be this quick.
Liu Chengyin, forcing a smile, asked, “Then…… what would you like to eat, laoshi will make it for you? Red braised lion’s head meatb.a.l.l.s, chicken soup, whatever you want——”
A child cut her off. They licked their lips as they stared straight at Liu Chengyin like a hungry little taotie. In a young, sweet voice, they said, “……Do you taste good?”
The author has something to say:
Sorry, sorry! Today I was called back to school to do overtime for my tutor, so I was late again, I’m really, really sorry [wipes tears]
Today’s dose of sweetness is the first childhood meeting between Xiaochi and Lou Ying! The mutual praising between husbands laid down a solid foundation for their relationship qwq
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