Qin Ye could vaguely make out the grisly, gaping orifices that were trained on him in the darkness.
A split second later, the Yin spirits surrounding him roared at the top of their voice as they lunged straight for Qin Ye’s jugular.
One by one, and layer by layer, the endless Yin spirits in the factory piled onto Qin Ye, instantly transforming an encirclement into a mound of people. The charred corpses roared and writhed, while dozens upon dozens of hands flailed about, desperately clawing and clutching at their target underneath. Maggots crawled in and out of their skin, while the ones within hissed as they frantically bit at their target.
It was like a chaotic dance of a thousand ghosts.
Just then, a contemptuous chuckle rang out right in the middle of the darkness, “Do you know something… horror flicks tend to lose their charm as soon as the ghosts reveal their true form.”
One second later, a boundless wave of Yin energy erupted from the mound of corpses like a terrifying explosion. The evil ghosts that were clinging desperately to Qin Ye suddenly shrieked in unison, before promptly being blown away in all directions like shrapnel from an exploding grenade.
AHHH--!!! AAARRGGHH!!! They cried out with blood curdling shrieks. And then… bzzt… bzzt… The lights that had earlier gone out finally came back on once more.
Qin Ye wasn’t fully in his Hell’s Emissary state just yet. He was already dressed in the garments of an Infernal Judge, but his form was still that of a human body. He glanced around the surroundings, only to discover that the entire factory… was once again completely empty.
There was nothing at all.
It was almost as though everything that had just happened was nothing more than an illusion.
A soft mist of Yin energy continued to drift about the desolate factory grounds, while the pots and steamers were still bubbling with steam. That said, the one difference was that the ground was now strewn all over with loose sheets of papers.
He gently curled his fingers, and all of the loose sheets of papers flew towards him and stacked themselves up neatly.
“What a powerful air of resentment…” He exclaimed aloud as soon as his fingers touched the icy sheets of paper. The pages were tattered and yellow, and words were scrawled all over its surface, not in pen, but in pencil. Nobody knew just how many years it had been, but the words appeared to stand out as though they had just been freshly written.
“11 December, 1947.”
“I wish I could just end it all.” The first statement immediately caused Qin Ye’s heart to skip a beat. It was a simple statement, but Qin Ye could already sense the air of despair from the words of the author.
“When will days like these ever end… It’s already December, yet I don’t even have sufficient clothes to keep myself warm at night. How ironic is it that the only time I feel warm is the time spent working in the silk factory? I don’t even get sufficient food… how is the kid in my womb supposed to grow big and strong…? As things are right now, the future seems completely bleak and hopeless…”
This was clearly a journal record from a woman working in the silk factory. Furthermore, one could tell that she must have been a rather well-educated woman for her time.
Qin Ye continued reading on, “It’s meaningless to continue living like that. Every day is spent living in fear. If those demons realize that I’m pregnant with a child, I won’t be able to continue working here any longer… I even have to tighten my belt each day to keep things under wraps. Things might be difficult around here, but it’s the only place I can still make a living at. I’ve got to support my parents as well… I can’t afford to lose my job! Even if it means working for the Nipponese!”
“And as for a malnourished child with stunted growth… I don’t want to think about these things for now. Every day is already a living hell as it is. Day… after day… after day… It’s all so dreary and hopeless. I’m scared… I’m terrified… The demons have said it before that if any of us know of any incident that should be reported but choose to remain silent, everyone shall share the responsibility of the wrongdoer’s transgression. Everyone in the same team as me risks being dismissed together. I shudder to think of what might happen if… they discover that I’m pregnant…”
Qin Ye maintained a calm expression on his face as he flipped the page. He had seen too many such incidents of death and departure, so he wasn’t the slightest bit moved by her journal records.
But the next entry was clearly written by a different person.
“12 December, 1947.”
“Yu Lishan is pregnant! She must be!”
This person’s handwriting was ostensibly a little bit more forceful than the one before. It revealed traces of her emotions at that time - her apprehension, fear and hesitance in her heart, “What do I do… What do I do?!”
“If the demons learn of this, our entire team is going to get fired! But, I don’t want to tell on her! I’ve told her to leave on her own accord, but she didn’t say anything. She just cried. I know that she’s got a couple of disabled parents in their sixties, but… I have parents too!”
“I’ve even got a six year old daughter to feed! As things stand right now… we’re stranded in the midst of a living hell. I can still scrape by with the food I earn from remaining around here. But if I leave this place right now… I might not even be able to survive this winter!”
“But… her belly is getting bigger and bigger by the day. How long can things drag on like this? Once that demon discovers this, he’ll cast us all out! I can’t have that!”
Qin Ye was slightly astonished.
He had originally thought that this was a silk factory that had been taken over by the invaders, and the workers within were burned en masse. However… a completely different picture was slowly but surely unravelling in his mind.
Human nature was unpredictable. A person could be as great and holy as the Virgin Mary, but he could also equally be as vile as a robber.
Someone had once said that all humans are selfish. Qin Ye subscribed to this notion. No matter how noble a person was, that person would invariably place the considerations of self before others.
“And the so-called ‘demons’ must be referring to the Nipponese soldiers that are overseeing the operations of the silk factory over here.” He sighed softly, before flipping to the third page, “As much as I hate to say it, I think I know what happened over here. I can’t think of any other possibilities. After all, if the female workers were victims of the Nipponese, then the retaking of these lands by Cathay and the founding of modern day Cathay as we know it would resolve all of the lingering grievances of their hearts. And then, all of them would be able to rest in peace, and not have their spirits continue to linger about over here. Thus, there is obviously more than meets the eye… tsk… humans… are truly complicated creatures…”
The third page was of yet another person’s handwriting.
“13 February, 1948.”
“Yu Lishan is pregnant… Her belly is already starting to show it… All of us in the team are on tenterhooks right now. Even the leader of our team has personally spoken to her, yet she… knelt down in front of all of us and begged us not to sell her out to the demons. She’s promised to resign as soon as the days of winter are over. I… don’t know what I should do.”
“We’ve all got our families; we’ve all got parents and children to look after. But… seeing her kowtow to us repeatedly even when her forehead was bleeding profusely, we… eventually gave in.”
“The weather will soon get warmer in April wouldn’t it? That’s no more than a month away. Perhaps… everything will be fine after all?”
Rustle… Qin Ye turned the page. “18 February, 1948.”
“Dear lord! The demon has noticed her! Although she’s tried her best to cover it up… the traitorous supervisor has already begun to ask our team leader about what’s going on over here!!”
“The team leader called for a private meeting with us today. We can’t delay it any longer! She has to go! I didn’t wish for things to happen this way either, but we really can’t go on living in such fear like this everyday! I feel like I’m going crazy!”
“I just hope it’s not already too late! The demon is going to personally investigate matters this afternoon…”
The next page. “24 February, 1948.”
“Yu Lishan is dead…”
This was how this journal entry opened. This sheet of paper appeared somewhat irregular, and there was even a patch of water stain on the paper. Qin Ye ran his finger across that part of the paper. He could tell that this journal entry was written with tears.
After all, when teardrops fall onto paper made of poor quality, it would naturally leave a similar stain when it dried later on. All who had written such emotional letters in the past would have had a similar experience.
“I’m scared… I’m going crazy! I’m leaving this place… I’ll leave this place as soon as spring comes! The Nipponese aren’t humans! They’re demons! Wicked, vile demons!!!!”
There were four exclamation marks in a row, each of which were ostensible written with greater force and emotion. Even the paper was torn at the end of it all.
“Everyone is hiding under their quilts, recording their thoughts in their journal entries. Nobody’s speaking to each other… Earlier today… today…” Qin Ye could practically see the author of this journal entry trembling under the covers, fervently suppressing the fear in her heart as she forged forward with her daily records, “That demon came over. And he… he… actually beat Yu Lishan to death right in front of all of us!!”
“It shouldn’t be this way… It should never have come to that! We’d only asked her to leave! Nobody wanted her to die! Who was the one who snitched on her? Which one of us told that demon about this secret?!”
“And… and that demon! H-he even cut open Yu Lishan’s belly in the public eye and pulled out the baby in her womb! AHHHHH!!”
The pages at the back were all slightly torn and tattered. Qin Ye could practically imagine the grotesque, horrific sight playing out right in front of his very eyes, and not even he could help but frown subconsciously.
And this was precisely because the person who wrote this journal entry was far too emotional. That entry ended there and then, but the next entry was clearly still written with the same handwriting.
“It was a stillborn.” She appeared to have calmed down in this journal entry. Her handwriting was far softer than before, “Yu Lishan had tightened her belt too much in order to keep things under wraps, and… the baby ended up dying of suffocation in the womb. It was a baby girl. I’ll never forget that image for the rest of my life - that purple-looking baby that was… held up in the air by that demon, before being tossed into the pool of boiling water used for cocoons…”
“He’s not human… He’s not fit to be a human! He… even asked us to continue with our work after that! And even… to continue using that pool of water! Karma will catch onto him. He will definitely be banished to the depths of Hell upon death! I know that King Yanluo would never sit idly by and watch something like that transpire without taking any action! I firmly believe that there is still justice in this world!!!”
The journal entry ended there abruptly.
But there were still dozens of pages behind.
Qin Ye had his suspicions. These were the memoirs of the dead. All Yin spirits that harboured grievances would naturally leave behind a set of memoirs or similar memorabilia that documented the source of their grievances. Incidentally, it also formed the evidentiary basis of all investigations by Emissaries thereafter. But these journal entries clearly meant that… he was only at the prologue of the matter.
He read on. However, the next journal entry only comprised of three words.
“There are ghosts!!!”
And there was nothing else in that entry.
Then, the next entry was scribbled as though with frantic writing, “There are ghosts… there are ghosts! There really are ghosts!!! Ahhhhhhh!!! I can’t stay here any longer! I’m going crazy!!”
He quickly flipped through the next dozen or so pages, all of which contained similar entries - “It’s haunted… This place is really haunted… But that demon is guarding the main door. He refuses to allow us to leave this place until our work is complete!!!” “It’s haunted… I know… It’s them… they’re back! Today is the seventh day since her death!” “GHOST!”
Rustle… rustle… He flipped through the pages quickly. Then, after fifteen or so pages, he finally arrived at the next entry that was filled with writing once more.
That said, there was something clearly different about this sheet of paper.
The top half was filled with text, while the bottom half was covered in blood.
“12 March, 1948. Midnight.”
It was obvious that the author of this journal entry was trembling profusely, almost as though he were desperately trying to suppress the fear in his heart, “I’m next… I know that I’m next…”
“Everyone else is dead… Yu Lishan’s team members are all dead! I’m the last one remaining… There’s a ghost… there’s really a ghost… Every night, I continue to retire to bed in this damned room meant for twenty people… but I’m the only one remaining. I can feel it… I can feel them coming for me! Whenever I lie down, I can sense a baby… a stillborn… a baby that was tossed into boiling water… quietly… staring at me with her dark googly eyes… for the entire night…”
“And I know it’s true because every morning, when I get up, I can still see signs of a baby having laid on my bed before!!!!”
“I’m afraid to go to the bathroom… I’m afraid to talk… I leave the lights on for the entire night… But I’m still afraid that a baby will start crying as soon as I make the slightest of sounds… I’m afraid of waking it up and rousing it from its slumber… B-but… tonight, when I closed the windows, I saw a pair of eyes staring right at me from behind!!!”
“Was that just a reflection? I don’t know… I don’t know anymore… There’s something here… there’s definitely something unclean here! She’s coming for me! Yu Lishan and her child are coming for me!! I shouldn’t have told that demon that she was pregnant with a child! I didn’t expect them to kill her! I only wanted them to chase her away!!!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter