Luo Qiu’s father settled in the city where he lived because of his work. However, at the same time, due to some legacy policies of the village and some unknown countryside traditions, Luo Qiu’s house in his hometown had remained there.
It was an old two-story house made of brick. The back of the left side and the back wall were held together with cement. One side of the back door was covered with small square tiles.
The houses next to them were old crude houses. As for the village’s new houses, they were on the other side of the village road facing these old houses.
The new and the old were separated by an era. Both of them were not far and faced each other.
The old woman insisted on living in her old house.
Late autumn had already passed, and the weather became cold. The adults had no choice but to buy some small heaters. While the heaters could not drive away from the cold, it was still good to dry up the old house’s humidity.
When Luo Qiu saw grandma, she was half-awake, drinking rice soup fed by her relatives, which was what the elderly could eat at present.
The person who was feeding the old woman should be Luo Qiu uncle’s wife. The aunty told the old woman that Luo Qiu was back.
The old woman did not respond but babbled. It was unknown what she was saying. It seemed that she said she wanted to eat more.
Luo Qiu’s uncle was smoking a cigarette outside the room, looking very tired, “Luo Qiu, you can see it. She doesn’t recognize anyone anymore. The doctor said it’s not a few days. It can be tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow or even suddenly…”
He did not say anything. He just took a violent puff of the cigarette that had been burned to the end. When the cigarette was almost burned to the filter’s position, he dropped it and lit a new one. He then looked at Luo Qiu, “If you want to go in and meet her, go in. If you’re tired, rest first.”
Luo Qiu nodded and walked into the room.
He called this grandmother, Grandma Xiaochun… The aunt got him a seat. He then took a look at the appearance of Grandma Xiaochun.
The aunty wiped the corners of Grandma Xiaochun’s mouth with a handkerchief. She wanted to eat, but it seemed difficult for her to swallow, “Ai, I had a gastrectomy a few years ago. I thought that gastric cancer would be okay. Within a few years, it relapsed again. Whatever I eat now, I have to vomit it out after eating…”
Luo Qiu reached out and held Grandma Xiaochun’s hand. It was cold as a piece of ice, even a little stiff, “Grandma Xiaochun, I am Luo Qiu. Do you remember me?”
The internal organs of her body had been weakened extremely. Her lifespan had truly come to an end… It was just like the Chinese saying, the oil of the lamp had run dry. The natural cycle was changing on this Grandma Xiaochun.
“She can’t hear anything.” The uncle’s wife, who was beside him, shook her head.
“Then, I will do it,” said Luo Qiu softly and carried the bowl of rice soup from her hand.
“Don’t get dirty. She will vomit.” The aunty suddenly said in a low voice.
But, Grandma Xiaochun was able to swallow it this time. Taking one bite at a time, she appeared to become satisfied. The aunty watched this scene somewhat miraculously. She also could not remember how long it had been since she last saw her husband’s cousin’s son.
Luo Zheng was also a very filial child, but he could not do this kind of work. The aunty subconsciously compared the two children of the same generation.
Unknowingly, the atmosphere of the room seemed to become less gloomy… Although no one was talking, it felt different.
I felt that he must be some magical child… The aunt thought subconsciously.
“It’s too late. Why not just rest at my house tonight?”
After the brief visit, the aunt pointed to the new house on the opposite side of the village road and said to Luo Qiu, “Your house is left vacant for a long time. It will be hard to clean up at night. Besides, your visit is only a few days. So, stay at aunty’s house. We are a family. We will have much to talk about.”
Luo Qiu glanced at the new house opposite the road. In fact, the lights had been turned on early, and people could be seen moving inside the house. He just did not see anyone coming over.
In this kind of village, every household was closed at night. The lights inside the house were very bright and could even illuminate the village’s roads. However, at the same time, it was very quiet.
Even if someone has a watchdog, the dog wandered with its head down or squatting on the ground. No one knew what the dog was looking at.
In the countryside, or from what the elderly said, dogs’ eyes could see more things than humans.
He said, “It’s okay. I will do a simple clean up. That will do.”
“Alright then, if there is any inconvenience, just come and knock on the door.” The uncle nodded immediately at this moment and then gave Luo Qiu a flashlight. “However, the electric switch was broken and has not been repaired. You might not be able to use electricity. As for water, you should still be able to use it… Otherwise, you should stay at uncle’s house.”
“I’m not afraid of the dark.” Luo Qiu smiled.
“It’s not about the dark. It’s…” His aunty wanted to say something but was glared by his uncle.
But, since his aunt had mentioned the matter, his uncle could only speak with resignation after giving a glare, “Your house is a little dirty.”
“I haven’t lived here for so long. Naturally, it will be dirty. Isn’t this normal?” Luo Qiu smiled.
“It’s not this!” The uncle lowered his voice. “Everyone said it is haunted!”
“Where is the electric switch? I kind of forgot.” Luo Qiu suddenly asked.
His uncle was stunned, and shone the flashlight. It was just under the eaves of the house. Luo Qiu walked over, opened the cover, and pushed the switch up easily. The small light bulb in front of the house lit up straight away.
“Strange, isn’t this broken?” The uncle looked at his wife in surprise, frowned, and said. “I tried it, but it can’t be pushed up at all?”
Luo Qiu said, “If there is light, it should be clean.”
“All right…” his uncle and aunt did not continue to pester him.
In their opinion, children who grew up in big cities like Luo Qiu naturally did not believe anything they said… Of course, they did not believe in these things either.
It was just that fear was innate. When a long period passed by, some things would always become taboo… Besides, the village was really quiet.
They soon returned to Grandma Xiaochun’s house, pushed the door, and walked in. Their pace was a bit fast, and the speed of closing the door was also a bit fast.
Luo Qiu shook his head, opened the door, and called Ren Ziling.
Ren Ziling asked caringly, “How is it? Did your relatives bully you? I remember a certain uncle in your family who is very crude and spoke rudely!”
Luo Qiu said, “What crazy things were you thinking again?”
“Hmph, you don’t seem to be grateful for my concern.” Ren Ziling muttered before saying. “By the way, what happened to the Grandmother Xiaochun in my hometown?”
Luo Qiu opened the door and turned on the light while speaking, “She’s almost at the end of her life. I heard that it might happen within these two days.”
“Life and death is inevitable.” Ren Ziling sighed.
Luo Qiu said, “As for the house here, why is the power not cut off for so many years?”
Ren Ziling casually said, “Oh, when your dad was still alive, he always paid the electricity bills. Anyway, no one was staying in that place, and the electricity bills weren’t too high. So, I didn’t cut the power. Hey, have you eaten yet?”
“I’ve eaten. Let me make the room first. We will stop talking,” He said while looking at the ceiling above his head.
Some faint voices were coming from upstairs… Ordinary people probably could not hear them.
“Okay, you do as you see fit. I have to work overtime for a while before leaving.”
“Um… don’t eat instant noodles.” Luo Qiu said his last words and turned off the phone.
Luo Qiu closed the door behind him. His sight was still fixed on the ceiling above him… Although the light was turned on, many cobwebs were hanging on the house left vacant for a long time.
The entrance led to the living room, and next to the living room was the stairs leading up to the second floor.
When Luo Qiu climbed up the stairs and reached upstairs, he turned on the lights in the corridor there.
There were only three rooms upstairs. One was the room of his grandparents, who passed away early. The other was where his father lived when he was young, and the other was used for storing sundries.
At the end was the storeroom. Judging from the sound that could be heard from downstairs, the sound’s location was in this room at the end.
Luo Qiu walked to the storeroom door and put his hand on the knob of the room. It seemed that he had no intention of twisting but just stopped here.
The lights in this corridor had not been used for a long time, perhaps because of the poor contact. At this time, the light was dimming, but would not suddenly go off. However, they would light up and dim consecutively. It would make a kind of electric current sound too.
After a while, Luo Qiu withdrew his hand and did not immediately open the door, but knocked gently on the door—Thud, Thud.
The doorknob of the room suddenly twisted, and only a creak was heard. A small gap was opened in the doorway…
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