My name is Qin Xuan, 20 years old this year. I'm a sophomore in the Department of Forensic Medicine.
I'm an atheist, I don't believe in ghosts, I don't believe in superstitions, but I didn't think that buying an antique painting in the antiques market would make a huge difference in my life.
Since I was young, my parents have divorced and lived with my mother. My mother was a head nurse from a municipal hospital, and coincidentally was on night shift that day, so I agreed to return to my hometown the next day to visit her grave.
At night, I was hungry for supper. On the way, I passed by a long antique street. On a special day like Qingming, the ancient devices placed in front of the vendors emitted a faint light under the moonlight.
I saw a painting. On the stall of a peddler in the middle of the street, a pair of yellowed paintings had been placed on the left side of the stall. There was already a lot of dust and broken holes under the painting.
The general's armor, the black stallion he was riding and the countless details of the army behind him were all very real. Just by looking at them, one could feel the majesty and solemnity of the battle.
"How's the girl? "I think you and this painting are fated. I'll sell it to you for five hundred yuan."
The owner of the painting was an old man with a white beard. He was wearing shabby clothes with an oily star on them. He held a pipe in his hand. His yellow face had a smile on it, and his eyes were squinted, appearing somewhat slovenly.
I shook my head.
"Miss, you should just buy it. Otherwise, come over here again."
How did this old man know I would come again? I had never been interested in finding antiques, nor was I in the habit of collecting paintings.
But just as I was about to pass the street again and go home, I heard a voice inside me telling me to buy the painting, and a strong impulse made me walk into the street again.
When the old man saw that I was back, he squinted his eyes and smiled, revealing a mouthful of yellow teeth. "I knew you would come back."
I don't know what happened to me, but when I came to, I was already walking out of Antique Street with the painting in my hand.
When I looked back, the old man was still sitting in his booth, smiling at me.
Forget it, I'll just buy an ancient painting. I don't care if it's real or fake so I can hang it at home as a decoration.
I was about to walk home through the alley in front of me when a gust of wind sent a shiver down my spine. There was a mother and son burning paper money in the alley, and the heavy smell of soot made me choke. I frowned and was about to walk over to the wall when the child who was burning paper money suddenly looked up at me.
I started. The kid's skin was so pale it was almost transparent, and his dark eyes made me feel strangely depressed. He was wearing shorts, and although it wasn't cold in April, it wasn't to the point of wearing shorts.
I took another look at my mother, who was still burning paper money. She was wearing a long—sleeved hoodie and long jeans, and from time to time she would raise her hand to wipe her tears.
The wind blew again, sending the paper ash flying through the narrow alleyway, and even though I was an atheist, I felt a chill on my back.
When I sped up my pace to leave the alley, I couldn't help but look back. This glance made me stagger and fall down. I saw that the boy's black eyes were almost devoid of color.
A chill went down my spine as I rushed back home without looking back. The first thing I did was to lock the door and turn on all the lights in the room. I sat on the sofa and panted heavily.
Maybe the little boy was just afraid of the heat so he didn't wear much, I thought, but I couldn't explain why when I looked at him he didn't have any whites in his eyes and his face was so pale he didn't look like a normal person.
"Ring, ring, ring ~ ~"
At this moment, the phone in the living room rang. The sharp voice made my already nervous heart tremble once again.
"Xuan Xuan, ah, I'm your mother. I won't be staying here for the night, remember to lock the door."
After hanging up my mother's phone and looking at the spacious and bright room, my mood calmed down a little. I heaved a sigh of relief as I looked at the painting scroll placed on the coffee table.
As I unrolled the picture, the battle scene was still shocking, but this time it was the general's face that caught my attention. I hadn't been able to clearly see the dim light outside, and now, under the incandescent light of the house, the general's handsome face gradually appeared before me.
Black hair flew at his side, a pair of enchanting slender peach blossom eyes under thick eyebrows, a nose like a floating gall, lips straight, water horn clear side face exuding heroic air, a valiant and elegant action of wielding a blade to kill the enemy.
I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn't notice the sharp fruit knife on the coffee table.
Grasping the rough paper on the scroll, I stare at the details. Suddenly my fingers hurt, and I quickly pull my hand back. A drop of red blood dripped onto the painting.
There was a small wound on my finger. I sucked on the wound and hastily went into the room to look for a bandage. However, when I finished treating the wound and came out, I found that the painting was extremely clean and the blood that dripped onto the painting was gone!
How is this possible? I clearly remember having a drop of blood on my hand, but why is there nothing now?
I carefully examined the painting, but still couldn't find the drop of blood that I had dropped on it. The lights in the room suddenly flickered, causing my heart to start beating again.
What was going on?
"I've finally found you."
The lights flickered and the room went dark. In the darkness of the living room, I thought I heard a cold male voice coming from the direction of the balcony. It seemed to be coming from far away, through my eardrums.
After an unknown amount of time, the lights finally came on. The first thing I did was to look at the painting, but it was the same as before. There weren't any bloodstains.
I kept the painting uneasily. I wanted to hang it in my room, but I felt that this fact was strange. After thinking for a while, I decided to leave the painting in the storage room.
After lighting the incense and drinking the milk, I quickly fell asleep, only half conscious that something had lifted the covers of my bed, and then a cold body embraced me, cold to the point where it slowly brushed my collarbone and slowly slipped into my nightgown. The same magnetic, cold male voice rang in my ear.
"I've finally found you."