Meng Dongye was sitting beside a big bed with a MacBook in front of him, while the magic brush was hung by a red thread on the opposite wall.
He was typing as three men stood next to him with emotionless faces. They looked young and were all gazing at the brush.
Another man was looming over Meng Dongye’s shoulder. His hands were placed on top of Meng Dongye’s. Their four hands quickly moved along the keyboard, making loud sounds.
The three other men often reached their hands to touch the brush. Meng Dongye couldn’t see this horde of ghosts, but every time the magic brush swayed, he would cuss loudly. “Go away! Don’t even think about taking it! It’s mine!”
I finally understood how the magic brush worked. The brush didn’t provide or promote inspiration. The ghosts living in the brush helped the current owner write.
I walked over and saw Meng Dongye writing a new script. Although he was fast, there were a lot of spelling mistakes, which made the script unreadable.
His current appearance looked terrible. He used to be an elegant, stylish bearded man. But now, he was so skinny that his eyeballs had sunk deep into his sockets, and dark circles surrounded his eyes. I wonder how many nights he had gone without sleep. He even started to have bald spots on his head and had grown gray hairs. I remembered the last time I saw him; he had thick and sleek black hair.
He was completely absorbed in writing, and even though I waved my hand in front of his eyes, he didn’t see it.
I read a few sentences of the sacred text of Daoism, and the four ghosts disappeared into the wall. During day time, ghosts were relatively weak.
After the ghosts were gone, Meng Dongye’s typing speed was reduced.
I called him. “Mr. Meng?”
“Eh?” He lifted his head and looked at me with an astonished expression. His face was bewildered. “How did you guys get in here?”
“You just talked with us through the intercom. Don’t you remember?”
“Oh right, my mind must have been muddled.” He sorted his files, then got up and stretched his waist. “I’ve been sitting for so long that my back and waist are all sore.”
His desk was filled with empty bottles and ashes from cigarettes. Underneath the desks were a few bottles that contained yellow piss. He didn’t even want to spend a few minutes in the toilet.
Meng Dongye ushered us to the living room. He wanted to prepare a teapot for us, but as he was pinching tea leaves from the box, his hand started to shake hard. He scattered the tea and knocked down a glass. He looked dumb and senile, just like an old man who was about to leave this world. Yin Xinyue went over to support him and walked with him to the sofa. “Mr. Meng, there’s no need to hurry. I’ll help you clean it.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t welcome you properly.” He stiffly sat down. “Mr. Zhang, the brush you introduced to me is really good. I feel like I’m at the peak of my creative period. I think I can compose a masterpiece!”
What peak of your creative period! If we came a few days later, perhaps we would have picked up your dead body.
My stomach churned. A good man had been tortured into this state, and I was responsible for it.
“Screenwriter Meng, you’ve submitted the script, just rest now. I’m worried about your body condition,” I said.
“No, I feel I can write more. I’m writing a great piece for a fantasy script. I have great expectations for it. I’ve sent a few chapters to a famous director, and he plans to pay two hundred thousand renminbi for each episode! You don’t know how magical this brush is. I used to only write spy and war scripts. Besides that, the only thing I wrote was the fight in the Qing Dynasty’s Palace. Now, I can even write a great fantasy script. When I place my hands on the keyboard, I feel like they move on their own. Moreover, whatever I imagine in my head gets projected in front of me. It’s so real. It’s magical!” Meng Dongye was so excited.
It wasn’t him who wrote all of this. The ghosts were the ones writing his scripts.
“Do you know what you look like now?” I gave him a wry smile.
Meng Dongye rubbed his face. “I’ve been staying up these past nights. I may look a little haggard, but that doesn’t matter. After I’m done writing this script, I will rest for a while.”
I asked Li Mazi to fetch a mirror for him.
Meng Dongye couldn’t believe his eyes. He had to rub his eyes before checking his image in the mirror again. “Is this how I currently look?”
“If I’m honest with you, you have one foot in the coffin already. If you don’t stop now, it will be too late!” Li Mazi scolded.
“What should I do now? Mr. Zhang, you must save me!” Meng Dongye was scared of his reflection in the mirror.
“Don’t worry. I’m here to help you. For security reasons, you must stay away from your laptop. Tonight, I’ll see how to deal with the resentful souls in your house,” I told him.
“There are resentful souls in my house?” Meng Dongye seemed to understand something. “No wonder I had a strange feeling. I felt as though people were moving around in my house. Do you know who they are?”
I took out my cell phone and checked a few names. Four authors had been tortured to death by this brush. Two were webnovel authors specialized in fantasy and sci-fi novels respectively. The other two wrote romance and detective stories.
I found a few lines about their deaths on the Internet, which said that they had killed themselves due to immense pressure. I also read about some of their nominated works.
Unfortunately, a star wearing mismatching shoes drew more attention than the death of a writer, so there wasn’t much info.
Anyway, I noticed that the four deaths were pretty close to each other. The first two died in March, the third died in April, and the fourth died in May.
This brush should have a history of more than one thousand years. Perhaps it was buried for quite a long time, and when it resurfaced, it started to kill people immediately.
I asked Yin Xinyue to stay here and watch Meng Dongye with me. I then told Li Mazi to fetch me some items and return before 8:00 PM.
Meng Dongye sank into his sofa and yawed; he looked like a drug addict. I asked him to get some sleep because he might have to stay up tonight.
“Don’t worry. I’m fine.” He answered, and then started to discuss his new script with me. He was high-spirited.
I felt annoyed. Yin Xinyue stood up and told us that she was going to get us something to drink. After a while, she came back with three glasses of lemonade. She offered Meng Dongye a glass. He gulped it down while talking, yawned and and then fell asleep right after.
Yin Xinyue smiled. “I put some sleeping pills in his drink.”
“Where did you get those pills?”
Yin Xinyue answered with a smile. “I had them with me. Last time, I was exhausted from work but couldn’t fall asleep, so I saw the doctor and got some sleeping pills.”
“Dear, you’re so smart!” My eyes brightened.
After Meng Dongye fell asleep, I went to check his work. He had written around one hundred thousand words for his new script. He was really incredible.
I read a few chapters. Aside from the many spelling mistakes, the script was excellent.
I asked Yin Xinyue, “Have you ever written a novel?”
She shook her head. “The longest thing I’ve ever written in my life was probably my job application letter, which was around four or five thousand words.”
“The longest thing I’ve written… Hmm, it should be a self-criticism letter in high school.” I smiled.
“What kind of self-criticism was it? Did you flip a girl’s skirt? Or did you bully your classmate?” Yin Xinyue found it interesting.
“How could I tell you about my dark history?” I answered cunningly.
“No, tell me!”
When Yin Xinyue started to pester me, I told her that I hadn’t eaten lunch yet. As neither of us had lunch yet, she decided to go downstairs to get something to eat.
After Yin Xinyue left, I tried to place my hands on the keyboard and gazed at the magic brush. Suddenly, my head buzzed, and my fingers automatically tapped the keyboard.
I hurried to read the sacred text of Daoism to calm my mind; my fingers then stopped moving. Still, my back was damp with sweat.
I looked at the screen and saw what I had just typed. “Save us. Save us… It’s so painful here… Please release us… We haven’t finished our works… Please, we’re begging you…”
Were the four authors asking me for help?Previous Chapter Next Chapter