When Fang Guo awoke, it was already around one in the afternoon.
Sunlight came in through the window, shining on his skin, and a long time had passed, thus he felt a scorching heat.
Fang Guo got up, but the aching pain in his waist made him lie down again, and only after a long rest did he manage to adapt with difficulty to that almost back-breaking pain. He got up, and all four limbs were stiff, numb, and aching, especially around his tailbone, tracing along his intimate regions, where an even fiercer throbbing pain resided.
Opening the door, and walking out, Fang Guo’s face immediately turned a deathly pale.
Erected directly opposite the house was a stone tablet, and a burial mound.
There was actually a grave opposite the house! A grave containing a dead person!
Fang Guo actually retained his memories of what happened last night, that entangling picture, of being rigidly gagged and pressed down and occupied by force, the pleasure of reaching the peak of orgasm, and the shameful weeping and begging, along with moans that could not be suppressed. Furthermore, when he had thoroughly woken up, his muscle memory told him that what he thought was a dream, had actually happened.
Ghost marriage, when a child died unmarried, or wished to be buried with the bones of a dead woman.
It was initially supposed to be a marriage between two deceased persons, but it also requires a matchmaker, the three letters and six etiquettes, and a lavish ceremony. Yet he was a living person, who had been blatantly tricked into getting married to a man, and inexplicably entered the bridal chamber.
This left Fang Guo unable to accept it, such that his anger exceeded his fear.
He walked towards the stele, which held the man’s photograph, and name.
Wei Wei’s older brother, a man that Fang Guo had never seen before, and now his ghost husband.
Once Fang Guo thought about this, shame and anger surged from his heart, mostly anger.
Before the grave there was placed things like joss money and candles and joss-sticks, and Fang Guo in his anger kicked all of these away, and even thought about digging open the grave and destroying the stele, and expose the corpse in the coffin to the sun and the wilderness, hopefully until it disappeared into thin air.
Yet he was still a fair-skinned university student, even after coming out to work for a year he was no more than an office worker, according to the ancient wording, he would be a scholar unaccustomed to physical work. Moreover, with his current physical condition, if he suddenly stepped up his physical movements, even kicking the grave goods had already drew out an aching cramp.
Fang Guo had no other option, turning back to see that the central room was still decorated with the ‘happiness’ characters in red and white, and instantly felt a burst of mockery.
A ghost marriage was a wedding ceremony with the deceased, which was classified as a red-and-white marriage1. Thus the arrangements in the room were one half white, one half red, which seemed particularly weird. Furthermore the entire room only contained himself, and with no other noise, it was quiet enough to make him panic.
Fang Guo returned to his room, doing his utmost to ignore the messy bed, and found his own luggage, pulling it out to make sure that nothing was lost. Then he pulled his luggage to leave, and on his way passed by a few plates of dried fruits, with a spirit tablet on the table.
Upon it Wei Ran’s name was rendered in gold characters, that was Wei Ran’s tablet.
Yesterday he had gone through the wedding rites with this tablet.
Fang Guo recovered himself, and ignored the tablet, hurriedly carrying his luggage to leave.
It was not that he was too cowardly to interrogate the villagers, but rather than being angry he was more rational. This was a remote mountain village, and the village had its own rules and regulations. Based on the mere fact that they could let him as a grown man enter a ghost marriage, a matter equivalent to harming human lives, he knew that this village did not have many charitable people.
At least when someone dared to challenge the village rules or harm the village’s interests, they would definitely be attacked by the masses.
Fang Guo may be without high ambitions on many things, and in some respects he was very innocent. Yet this did not mean that he had not seen the dark side of life, and the dark side of this world more often than not broke out in backward, remote places filled with ignorance.
Fang Guo’s late grandmother was a medium, and in the past she helped people by calculating their romantic fortunes, and surveying people’s luck through asking rice. Once she had been invited to a large landowner family in the neighbouring village, and said that the landowner family had met with a curse, with disasters appearing for no reason in the family.
She had gone to look, and then went to look at the landowner’s family grave. On returning she said that it was beyond her ability, and got the landowner to find a fengshui master.
Having especially exhorted a fengshui master, that meant that a problem had come up with the fengshui. In general when unexplained disasters occurred in this type of family, it was either a problem with the residence’s fengshui, or the fengshui of the ancestral tomb.
After returning, she would often reminiscence ‘what evil’ these two words. Yet unexpectedly in a moment of interest, she had mentioned the cause of this matter to him.
She said that the landowner’s family grave was a rarely seen Dragonfly Skims Water spot, and the ancestors had used Ritual Burial, with a water supply on both ends to balance out, it originally should have let the descendants flourish, and let everything go smoothly. Yet the grave’s soil had had white lime scattered upon it.
White lime absorbs water and protected against corrosion, so in reality many graves would have white lime scattered by the periphery. Yet it was not suitable for a Dragonfly Skims Water spot, because if the white lime had absorbed all the water, how would it touch water?
Thus that spot had become a damaged spot, bringing misfortune to the descendants.
At first it was only a matter of failing business until declaring bankruptcy to avoid calamities, and unlikely to go as far as to harm lives. Yet even worse, by coincidence that gravestone had been splashed with black dog’s blood.
As they say ‘black dog’s blood before the tomb, a three-inch nail behind the tomb’, this was malicious fengshui, aimed to end lives, and a method which the master was familiar with.
Thus his grandmother had let the landowner family find a fengshui master.
Come to think of it, yesterday when burying Wei Wei, did they not splash black dog’s blood and scatter white lime as well?
Although he did not know what was going on, yet Fang Guo found it queer.
He did not think that the fengshui master was harming the Wei family village on purpose, and should be some other method.
After all that spot yesterday was a good fengshui spot, but not a Dragonfly Skims Water spot. Yet black dog’s blood and white lime were nothing good either, black dog’s blood suppresses evil spirits, and while white lime prevented corrosion and bugs when scattered at the periphery of graves, if scattered on a burial mound, it had the meaning of cultivating a corpse.
Both cultivating a corpse, as well as suppression, it was strange no matter how he looked at it.
Fang Guo did not want to stay any longer in the Wei family village, and only wished to leave quickly, and never come back again.
Stepping out of the house, he found that this place was located halfway up the mountain, its surroundings filled with sinister trees, quiet, dead silent, without any human presence.
Fang Guo lowered his head and hurried, and he did not know if it was his mind playing tricks or something else, turning back to look at the residence. With astonishment he saw that it was a house made of paper, and he had spent a night within, and was completely unaware of it.
Only after he walked out, did he find it strange.
In his fright, Fang Guo dashed away, and after he had descended to the foot of the mountain and looked back, he saw that house release a blaze that touched the skies, having unexpectedly ignited by itself. He gave large pants, and looking from the foot of the mountain, his field of vision was wide and unimpeded, such that he could spot a man standing in the residence gates.
Fang Guo was so scared he backed away two steps, not daring to stay any longer, and hurried away.
The path he took did not lead to the village, it was a small path. Taking a roundabout way to outside the village, by coincidence he ran into the bus driver, and thus got onboard to leave.
The driver delivered him to the bus stop, and after taking his money hesitated before saying: “Young man, after going home if you have connections find someone to take a look, remove the evil influence.”
Fang Guo kept a tight grip on his luggage handle, and asked without batting an eyelid: “Master, what do you know?”
The driver had the appearance of keeping an important secret, and said: “In future I’m never taking that road to the Wei family village, do you remember those three people, who walked with us on the road that night?”
Fang Guo nodded: “Didn’t they take your bus on the next day to continue on?”
The driver slapped the steering wheel: “Exactly, that’s the strange thing, that day we left, stopped by a stretch of mountain, and they said they were getting off, I found it strange, in this kind of desolate area, why did they get off? I didn’t think much, they were customers. Who knew that once they got off and took the mountain path, I was looking at the cash I got, and it suddenly turned into yellow paper, hell money! I got mad, looking up, the three of them already turned into paper people. You know what’s that? The paper people burnt to the dead. I got a fright and hurried off, later then did I find out that spot was where the Wei family ancestors were buried. You tell me, a place piled with dead people, with paper people turning alive, and going there, what were they doing?”
Fang Guo who had probably just come out of that patch of mountain said: “Doing, doing what?”
Driver: “Ghost marriage!”
Fang Guo was taken aback: “What?”
Driver: “You didn’t see what those three were carrying back then? Half white, half red, besides a happy funeral it could only be a ghost marriage.”
The driver shook his head and clicked his tongue: “Ghost marriage… that thing is lacking in virtue, who knows if the miss was willing. A directed marriage, if they couldn’t get along while alive there’s still divorce, after death won’t they be stuck together?”
Fang Guo gave a forced smile, and got down.
After getting on the next bus and finding a seat, Fang Guo immediately gave the class monitor a call. The strange thing was that the originally blocked phone immediately got through in a short while, and without waiting for the other to speak Fang Guo started to complain: “Class Monitor, what happened to attending Wei Wei’s funeral together, why did you renege first?”
On the other end the class monitor stared blankly, and then gave a baffled reply: “What did you say? You’re Fang Guo right. Oi Fang Guo, we haven’t contacted in years, and you got mad once we connected, did you eat the wrong medicine?”
Fang Guo gave a start, and pressed on: “You didn’t send me an invitation letter to Wei Wei’s funeral? Didn’t invite me to take part in the burial?”
Class monitor: “Nope, who is Wei Wei?”
Fang Guo opened his mouth: “Our high school classmate.”
Class monitor: “You’ve gone dumb right. Three years of high school, I can remember the birthday of every classmate, and you made up a Wei Wei out of nothing, are you playing me?”
Fang Guo was completely taken aback, he tried to think if he had gone wrong somewhere.
“Hello? Fang Guo, you there? Oi, say something.”
Fang Guo recovered, and hurriedly said: “No, I got something here, I’m hanging up first.”
After speaking, he hung up the call. And then taking the bus back home, on the whole way he thought it through, no matter if his memories had a problem or the class monitor’s memories had a problem. Never mind who exactly was Wei Wei, he had decided to forget everything.
He just needed to forget, and treat it as a dream.
Fang Guo comforted himself like this, yet upon opening his luggage, the psychological foundation he had made began to collapse completely.
Within the luggage lay a black tablet, and upon it inscribed with gold lettering there was a name.