Chapter 2: The Underworld Show

During the late hours of the night, when the traffic thins out, the broad road can unveil its own truths—the scars that remain hidden under the tumultuous commotion of the day.

Despite being a third-rate detective, I hold my profession in high regard and would do my best for every commission.

The easiest way to tell if the girl was lying is to personally take a trip to the “No-Lights Road” at the mentioned time and look for the underworld show advertised in the card.

Upon searching on the computer, it turned out that there was indeed a no-Lights road in Jiangcheng.

According to the locals of Old Jiangcheng, this particular road held a very unique and ominous moniker—”Screw Knot Peak.”

“Screw Knot Peak” actually meant “piling up corpses to the peak”.
During the Anti-Japanese War, this location served as the largest slaughterhouse in Jiangcheng, where the bodies were piled up layer upon layer until they reached the roofs.
The nearby residents claimed that streetlights were unable to be installed here.
Even if they were installed, they either inexplicably get turned off the following day or were deliberately extinguished by someone.

The bulbs themselves may be intact, but the tungsten wire inside has already snapped, and no one has dared to replace them anymore.
Flashlights would also suddenly and inexplicably turn off while navigating the alleyways, and no electronic devices would function in the area at night.
Even motorcycles and electric bikes had to be manually pushed along the road.

Typically, people in the neighborhood do not venture out after dark.
Therefore, if you happen to encounter someone at “Screw Knot Peak” during the night, it may not actually be a person.

“The fact that the company is located in such a place really lives up to its name as an underworld show.” To be honest, I am a logical and atheistic person.
After collecting information all afternoon, I was even more certain that this was not a clever prank.

“Whether it’s true or not, we’ll find out tonight.” I changed into casual clothing, stowed the advertisement and an anti-wolf electric shock device into my pants pocket, and pedaled my bike towards my destination.

The route leading to the old city area was devoid of any lighting.
By the time I arrived, the sky had darkened and a fine drizzle had begun to fall.

“What bad luck.” On a rainy day, an electric shock anti-wolf device can easily injure the wielder, and if I actually encountered a criminal, that would be awkward.

I wandered through the complicated alleys, surrounded by old buildings.
The locals were unfriendly towards me as an outsider.
Whenever I asked about the “No-Lights” road, they would wave their hands and hurriedly leave.

Without any clues, I wandered aimlessly like a headless chicken, and by late night, I still hadn’t found the rumored road.

As the rain intensified, a hazy fog appeared in the air.
I wanted to find a place to take shelter from the rain, but there wasn’t even a decent store in the surrounding alleys.

There were only a few storefronts, and inside the stores were paper houses for the afterlife, funeral wreaths, and burial clothes.
It was clear that they were in the business of burying.

As the rain grew heavier, with no other options, I had to reluctantly take shelter in a funeral home.
But what surprised me even more was that once it passed 11 o’clock, the store owner turned off all the lights, lit two white candles, and gave me a black umbrella—people used to visit graves with—urging me to leave.

“These people are too strange.” Standing in the rain, holding the black umbrella, I looked around and found that the entire alley was dark.

“No-Lights Road?” I shivered inexplicably.
After wandering for more than 20 minutes, I had lost my way and was about to call the police for help when I saw an old lady waving at me from across the street.

As darkness fell and the rain poured down heavily, I couldn’t help but wonder why she was alone outside.
Where was her family?

The rain had soaked the old woman’s clothes, and she looked far more pitiful than me.
She waved her arms anxiously, and I quickly approached her with the umbrella.
“Grandma, are you okay?”

As lightning flashed, I lowered my head and saw her face.
It was pale, with wrinkles like folded bean curd spreading out in all directions, covering her entire aged face.

“I’ve lost something.
Can you help me find it quickly?”

The old woman’s voice trembled as if she were on the verge of death, and this was her last request.

I forced myself to calm down and asked, “Don’t worry.
What did you lose?”

The old woman’s cloudy eyes rolled to the sides, and she said, “I lost my grandson.
He was just here in this alley.” She pointed to the dark road and, as if possessed, limped inside.

“Grandson? A living person?” I couldn’t help but think of all the rumors I had heard about the dark, no-lights road I hear on the internet.
As I watched the old woman’s figure disappear into the darkness, my hair stood on end.

“It’s impossible.
All these stories about ghosts and monsters are just legends for scaring ourselves.
My current reaction is a natural instinctive response that humans have to uncertain events when facing danger, which is fear and avoidance,” I reassured myself.

The behavior of the locals, combined with the rumors online and the strange behavior of this old lady, all seem to be deliberately creating a terrifying atmosphere.
As someone who doesn’t believe in superstitions, I still think this is a prank.
Nowadays, many variety shows and programs are willing to go to any lengths to pursue high ratings.
Various extreme programs are constantly emerging.
Perhaps in a hidden place nearby, there are more than ten cameras installed to film everything.

As I thought this through, my sense of fear decreased.
I held up the umbrella and followed the old lady deeper into the alleyway.

After a long while, I had lost my sense of direction, but the old lady suddenly stopped walking.
“My precious grandson, don’t run off like that again…” she muttered.

“Did you find him?” I was slightly surprised and followed the direction of her gaze, slowly widening my eyes in shock.

The rain-soaked stairs were cold as we reached the end of the alley, and there on the steps lay a rag doll, soaked and tattered by the rain. 

The old woman picked up the doll with tenderness, disregarding the mud and water stains, and held it carefully as if it were a newborn baby.

“She, she’s insane?” I couldn’t believe I had just spent over an hour running through the rain with a crazy old woman.

“Oh, my dear doll, don’t be angry, let me apologize.
I shouldn’t have lost my temper and thrown you to the ground.
You’ve ruined your new flower dress, and your face is covered in mud.
It must hurt a lot, I’m so sorry! I’ll pat your clothes clean, wash your face, and rub where it hurts.
From now on, we’ll never be separated again.”

The old woman picked up the doll and sang a nursery rhyme as she went away.
I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sympathy for her, who, in her old age, only had a tattered doll as a companion.
With that thought in mind, I ran after the old woman and handed her my black umbrella, saying, “It’s raining heavily.
Please take the umbrella and go home quickly.”

The old woman took the umbrella and stood there stunned for a moment.
“Please be careful on your way home.
Goodbye,” I said, as the rain soaked my clothes.
I found refuge from the rain under the eaves of a small, three-story building with a long-standing rain shelter at the entrance—exactly where she found the doll.

“I’m working really hard for a mere seventy yuan,” I muttered to myself, feeling lost and confused.
I crouched down on the ground, instinctively reaching for a cigarette.
But as I flicked the lighter, my eyes caught sight of the doorplate on the exterior wall of the small building: “No.
44, No-Lights Road.”

In the flicker of the flame, I pulled out a small card and leaned in to confirm, “Could it really be this coincidental?” This was the place I had been searching for, where the advertisement claimed to be.

As the saying goes, “When you are at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on,” this is exactly the place I was looking for.

“The address on the advertisement card really exists; this is getting more interesting,” I thought to myself, my hand pressing the switch of the electric shock anti-wolf device.
Just as I was about to enter the building, my clothes were suddenly pulled from behind.

“Who’s there?!” I spun around and pulled out my anti-wolf device, the crackling electric arc sounding particularly crisp in the dark night.

“Grandma?” The old woman holding the ragdoll was standing behind me, seemingly appearing out of nowhere.
Despite having achieved an A+ in practical combat training at the police academy, I had failed to detect her presence.

“Young man, it’s dark outside.
Don’t run around recklessly,” the old woman said as she blocked the ragdoll’s line of sight.
And almost unintentionally, she slipped a handkerchief out of her sleeve.

“Scurry up the lamp post, little mouse, and steal some oil to eat.
Unable to climb down, meow meow meow, the cat is coming, so roll down with a clatter…”

Singing this nursery rhyme and cradling the ragdoll in her arms, the old woman disappeared into the rainy night.

I picked up the handkerchief she left behind.
It was pure white, like the white silk used for hanging oneself.

Upon closer inspection, I saw that it also had a short and ancient poem inscribed on it.

The humble abode is so impoverished that it’s difficult to paint,

The origin of the emperor’s inner affairs lies in the imperial capital.

If one has received grace, one must have a place to call home,

In the realm of ghosts, the heart wanders aimlessly without a path to roam.

After reading it twice, I broke out in a cold sweat.
This was a hidden poem, where the first character of each line connected to form the phrase, “There’s a ghost in the house!”

“Is she really insane?” Combining the old woman’s previous words, her intended meaning was already quite clear.
Though veiled, it was at least logically sound.

“Do ghosts exist in this world?” I hesitated for a moment, then ultimately stepped into the pitch-black hallway.

For a detective, what always entices him is not the outcome but the process of solving the mystery.

As my eyes gradually adapted to the darkness, I felt my way along the mottled wall and descended the stairs towards the basement.

“44 No-Lights Road, 4th floor underground, Room 444…”


TN : Jiancheng can also be translated as Jiang city but I’ll continue with Jiangcheng

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