The old couple started arguing in front of the elevator, completely disregarding the judgemental gazes of the tourists around them.
“Old woman, this place has changed ages ago. Look at it now, why are you being so stubborn? The times have changed.”
The old lady shook her head, still agitated, saying: “What’s on the surface may have changed, but what’s below will never change.”
The old man slammed the end of his walking stick on the ground, his tone tinted with anger: “That’s enough. Everybody is looking at us, stop arguing.”
When I heard what the old lady said, I felt a chill run down my spine…
What did she mean by what’s on the surface has changed, but what’s below has not.
An Ning had not noticed the alarming implications of her words, but I could not ignore it.
With a ‘ding’, the elevator reached the first floor, and the doors slowly opened. The people inside exited and an attendant stood next to the buttons, welcoming us with a smile.
The old man walked in with his wife, with An Ning and I following behind them.
After the old lady entered the elevator, she stopped talking, but her eyes kept moving. She looked left and right, then up and down, as if she was searching for something.
Her chin shook, and her eyes alight with fear.
Close to my ear, An Ning whispered: “Hua, do you know what they were just talking about? It sounded so strange.”
As the elevator was very quiet, An Ning’s whisper was loud and clear in the small, enclosed environment. I met the gazes of a pair of newlyweds and the old couple and knew that they had overheard what An Ning had said.
I was suddenly embarrassed and smiled at them before signalling to An Ning.
Don’t talk now, wait until we get to our room!
An Ning probably noticed the people around them. Understanding my signals, she immediately gave them an apologetic smile and stopped talking.
When the elevator reached the third floor, the old couple walked out.
I could vaguely hear the old man berating his wife: “See, that young girl heard you, we came here for a holiday, but you….”
The elevator doors closed before I could hear the rest.
The married couple exited at the eighth floor, and the younger pair of lovers left on the ninth floor.
An Ning and I had booked a room on the eleventh floor, so we were the only people left in the elevator. When we walked out, the attendant gave us a warm smile and pressed the close door button.
Her smile calmed the turbulence in my mind that had started after hearing the old couple’s conversation. The eleventh floor’s hallway was covered with a deep red carpet, the walls papered in cheerful orange patterns. Between each room’s door, there was a delicate sconce, giving out orange light.
Here, everything was silent.
An Ning saw the lights indicating that the elevator had gone down and let out a deep breath, saying: “I was just asking, why was everyone staring at me like I was a circus monkey or something.”
The indignant comparison in her complaint made me laugh.
“Stop laughing. I know you’re curious too. What was that couple talking about? It sounded kind of creepy.”
Sometimes, An Ning was really perceptive. I didn’t know if it was because both of us had contact with and understanding of spirits, but when we heard their conversation, we naturally thought of the horrifying possibilities.
I thought about what the old man had said. With one hand holding my phone and the other one dragging my luggage, I told An Ning: “You look for the room, I’ll search for some information.”
An Ning nodded and looked at the number on the hotel room card, then walked down the hallway in search of the door with the matching number.
I opened the web browser on my phone and searched up the Holiday Villa’s history.
I had just typed in the villa’s name when a suggestion popped up underneath that made my heart skip a beat, and then start pumping faster and faster.
“Summer Holiday Villa, former site of the Yue Family.”
“Former site of the Yue Family? What did that mean?”
When I saw the words “former site”, I thought of what the old man had kept insisting, that this place had changed, that the times had changed. There was nothing wrong with what he had said.
What was important was what his wife said, “What’s on the surface has changed, what’s beneath it has not.”
The search results included the Wikipedia article on the former site of the Yue Family, and I clicked on it.
It would have been better if I hadn’t decided to read it.
When I came, I noticed that the Summer Villa had a lot of guests, and there were tour groups and tourists everywhere. I would never have thought that this place would be a site of any unfortunate happenings.
But what showed up on my phone screen made me shudder.
“Former site of the Yue Family: Rumours say that this place is the old home of an ancient family – the Yue Family. They lived in seclusion here, but their mansion was later left empty for unknown reasons. Then backpackers found the place. At that time, it was already slightly dilapidated, but mysteriously clean, as if someone returned regularly to tidy up.
XX company wanted to invest in the area due to the beautiful vistas, and built a summer villa that became a popular tourist location, but due to their respect for the Yue Family, they did not demolish the empty house, instead constructing the villa some 300 metres to the south of it. The empty mansion is closed to visitors and the surroundings have all been fenced off.”
When I read up to here, I felt like I understood what the old couple was saying.
They probably knew about the Yue Family, most likely they knew even more than what was written on the Wikipedia article.
“Oh! I finally found it. I looked for ages, as there are so many turns.”
An Ning shouted at me, excitedly waving the room card and tapping it on the sensor on the door handle. There was a “beep”, the red light turn green, and with a click, the door opened.
Her expression was like that of a child, enthusiastically running into the room, saying: “Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved using hotel room cards to open the door. It’s so fun. Hahaha.”
I disregarded her and continued to read the Wikipedia page, but there were only a few attached pictures of the old house and the numbers for the land the property took up but with no other information included.
An Ning noticed that I was ignoring her and turned around. Taking my suitcase from my hand, she moved closer to see what I was searching up.
I smiled at her stiffly, the corners of my lips pulled tight.
“Read it yourself. I don’t know if we’re really lucky or if Heaven has decided to mess with us our whole lives.”
Shoving my phone towards her, I closed the door and opened my suitcase to organise my belongings.
An Ning quickly skimmed through the article, then looked up. Panic replaced disbelief and she hurriedly explained: “Hua, I really didn’t know about this. If I knew I wouldn’t have come. I won the tickets in a draw. Anyways, it’s not like I bought them.”
I could tell that she was blaming herself. She lowered her head and didn’t look at me, just like a kid who was caught misbehaving. It was silent for a while, and then she looked like she had made a huge decision. She pulled on my hand and said: “Let’s not holiday. We can go home today!”
My heart warmed, and I looked out the window, then patted her on the shoulder to tell her that I didn’t blame her.
“Of course I know it wasn’t on purpose, don’t be so nervous, I’m not angry. It’s already dark now so if we leave it’ll be a bit awkward, and we’ve already booked the room for seven days, we might as well just stay here.”
An Ning hesitantly said: “That former site….”
Actually I too was nervous, but it was so rare for us to take a trip together, I didn’t want something like that to ruin our experience. The hotel was full of tourists, so there probably wasn’t any danger.
The Holiday Villa had been built quite a few years ago, and there had never been any incidents and the search results had not come up with anything too frightening.
Staying would be better, rather than letting some strange information affect us from enjoying the holiday.
As I reassured myself, I spoke my thoughts out loud to reassure An Ning.
After she heard my opinion, she nodded. Although still slightly scared, she began to organise her clothes.
Suddenly, she thought of something and said: “But that old couple….”
My brows furrowed and rapidly made up a reason: “Old people are more superstitious. We can just stay away from the former site. As long as we don’t go near it, we’ll be fine.”
Actually what I said did not even convince myself.
Ever since the Pervert appeared and I got pregnant, I began to see and interact with spirits. The old couple’s conversation and the presence of the former site made goosebumps appear all over my body.
Ah, I had looked forward to this trip so much. It was already enough for me to have to meet ghosts in my everyday life, why was the place I visited for a holiday also full of such chilling rumours.
I felt apologetic, although An Ning’s family traditionally exorcised ghosts, she was not in the line of succession so she had never had to come in contact with the spirit realm.
From how Grandfather An made her leave the room when he performed the exorcism ritual, I could tell that her family protected her well and did not let her interact with things from the other side.
However, the changes in my life directly affected hers, and because she refused to leave me, whatever happened to me would undoubtedly negatively impact her life.
I shook my head roughly, trying to leave behind the mess of thoughts swirling in my mind. If I continued to think about them, then this holiday would definitely be ruined. All we had to do was have fun and make sure not to go near the former site!
As I reasoned to myself, An Ning had also calmed down and her expression had relaxed.
“Okay, then let’s quickly organise our stuff and go to the restaurant for dinner. I heard the hotel’s buffet is cheap, but of a high quality. I can’t wait!”
An Ning hummed a little tune and hung up her clothes, then placed her toiletries in the bathroom.
Her relaxed state made me relax too, and I immediately decided to forget all about the former site of the Yue Family.
All we needed to do is to have fun!
I also looked forward to the buffet, I would definitely eat my money’s worth!