Chapter 1 - Going Home to Sell Sweet Potatoes

Lu Qingjiu got off the train when it was completely dark and tried to get a taxi with his heavy luggage, but the taxi drivers refused to go to the place he wanted to go.

"Shuifu Village is too remote, I'm not going there." The taxi driver looked Lu Qingjiu up and down, with a wary look in his eyes.

Lu Qingjiu was puzzled by the gaze, he said, "Master, not even if you pay more?"

The driver hesitated for a moment: "You're back from out of town"

Lu Qingjiu nodded, "Yeah, back from A-town." He said and pointed to the suitcase next to his own.

The driver saw Lu Qingjiu's suitcase and said through clenched teeth, "How much more will you pay?"

Lu Qingjiu calculated the distance and said, "Is two hundred okay?"

The driver then let go, "OK, you come up."

Lu Qingjiu, relieved, hurriedly put his luggage in the trunk and got into the passenger seat.

It was already early in the morning and the streets were empty, with only the occasional taxi driving past in a hurry, the weather was still a little chilly for spring and Lu Qingjiu, wearing short sleeves, rubbed his arms which were a little chilly.

It is far away from A-town and belongs to the far suburbs of the province, the economic development is far from A-town, and most of the buildings around are relatively low, exuding a smell of obsolescence.

As the driver drove on, he asked questions and Lu Qingjiu answered them in return, realising why the driver did not want to go to Shuifu Village.

Shuifu Village is a remote village, a long way from their county seat, where two taxi drivers died some time ago and the culprits have not yet been found. There are rumours that the two drivers were not killed at all, but were killed by something dirty, so taxi drivers in the area don't like to go there anymore, especially in the dark at night.

If it wasn't for the two hundred yuan Lu Qingjiu added, he would have had to stay in the county for the night.

"What are you doing back from A-town?" the driver looked ahead and chatted with Lu Qingjiu, "Is your home here?"

Lu Qingjiu said, "Yes, I had a bad time outside, so I just quit my job and thought I still had some land at home."

The driver said, "This poor countryside is not that interesting, young man, I don't think you can stay here."

Lu Qingjiu just smiled at his words and did not respond. He had thought deeply about coming back this time, and it was not a momentary act of passion.

The car drove on, through narrow country roads, and the surroundings became more and more remote, so that eventually there was no light around at all, only endless night.

Lu Qingjiu had been on the train all day, and after chatting with the driver for a while, he got a little sleepy.

Lu Qingjiu jolted awake and asked suspiciously, "What's wrong?"

"Can you see that thing in front of you?" At this point the driver's face was ugly as hell, his eyes wide and his body still trembling slightly, looking as if he might pass out at any moment.

"What?" Lu Qingjiu froze and looked towards the front, sharing the same expression as the driver when he got a good look at what was in front of the vehicle.

There was a white object floating on the narrow mountain road, I couldn't see it clearly because it was a bit far away, but I could vaguely see that it was a person

"What the hell is this?" the driver sounded like he was about to cry, and if it wasn't so narrow that he couldn't reverse, he would have turned around and run.

Lu Qingjiu :""

"The driver grabbed Lu Qingjiu's arm in fear.

Lu Qingjiu: "Calm down, there are no ghosts in the world" He had just finished saying this when the driver beside him screamed again, "That thing is coming towards us"

Lu Qingjiu looked ahead and saw that the white figure was actually approaching them, and the driver beside him was screaming like a pig, which was quite a horror movie atmosphere.

"That seems to be a person," but as the white shadow came closer, Lu Qingjiu could see that the person in white was indeed a person, although the appearance was not very clear, but it should not be something strange.

"It's a person." Lu Qingjiu felt his arm being grabbed by the driver and hissed, "Master, don't grab me, that's really a person."

The "human" driver seemed calmer.

The figure slowly walked up to them, and with the headlights, Lu Qingjiu finally saw the white figure clearly, it was a man dressed in white, very handsome, with little expression on his face, and his feet stopped next to the passenger seat of the taxi.

"Sir," Lu Qingjiu said, relieved that it was a human being and not some strange, dirty thing, as he rolled down the window to reveal half his face and said, "It's late and this place is so remote, what do you want?"

The man looked at Lu Qingjiu and then at the shivering taxi driver next to Lu Qingjiu, smiled slightly and said, "It's nothing, I couldn't sleep at night and came out to find something to eat."

Lu Qingjiu thought to himself, "What can you find to eat in the middle of nowhere at this time of night, but there are strange people everywhere and he couldn't say anything about their hobbies, so he smiled politely, "Yes, well, you take care then."

The man sniffed, but suddenly reached out and slapped his hand on the taxi door, then turned to leave, his figure fading into the darkness of the night.

It was only when he disappeared that the driver on Lu Qingjiu's left started the engine again and drove on towards his destination. Only he was so frightened that he barely spoke for the second half of the road.

Lu Qingjiu didn't take this incident to heart as he got out of the car, thanked the driver and handed him two hundred yuan from his wallet.

The driver took the money without saying a word, drove off, looking like he was being chased by a ghost, and looked like he wouldn't be getting another order from Shuifu Village for a long time.

Lu Qingjiu was dumbfounded to see him running away.

It was the darkest time of the day, the buildings around him were hidden in the darkness, and only the sound of quiet insects could be heard. He had not been back for three years, most recently for his grandmother's funeral. After that, the house had been deserted and he had no idea what had become of it.

The surrounding buildings have changed slightly, but the general direction is still the right one. After walking for more than twenty minutes, Lu Qingjiu has finally found his target.

The red door had a rusty lock on it. Lu Qingjiu took out the key and twisted it several times before opening the lock, and when he reached out and pushed the door, a huge cloud of dust fell on it, causing him to cough uncontrollably.

"It's been a long time since I've been back." Lu Qingjiu opened the door of the small one-storey building and saw the furnishings of the house.

Lu Qingjiu turned on the lights and saw the interior of the house.

Lu Qingjiu had simply cleaned the bed and thought he would stay here for the night. He lay down on the hard wooden bed and looked at the cobwebbed ceiling above him, thinking that he would have to spend more time tomorrow cleaning the house.

The smell of stale air fills his nostrils and Lu Qingjiu falls asleep.

The next day, Lu Qingjiu slept until after nine o'clock, when he woke up naturally. The brilliant sunlight cast through the window, and he opened his eyes in a daze to see the countless tiny specks of dust that filled the light. He sat up and rubbed his eyes, shaking off the haze of sleep.

Lu Qingjiu had a quick bite to eat and then began to tidy up the house.

In the early years, Shuifu Village did not even have running water and the villagers had to go to the mountains to collect it.

Lu Qingjiu found a broom in the corner of the house that was already covered in cobwebs and was about to roll up his sleeve to clean it up when he felt a stinging pain in his arm. Somewhat puzzled, he rolled up the sleeve of his left hand and drew in a breath of cold air when he saw the area of pain in his left hand.

Only five purple-red circular marks appeared on his left arm, standing out against his wheat-coloured skin, and he felt a burning pain when he touched it lightly with his hand.

"Where did I touch it?" Lu Qingjiu muttered, "or was it crawled by a worm" He was a little confused, and after careful thought, an incredible idea popped into his head.

It seemed that the only person who had touched his arm last night was the taxi driver, could it be that the driver was so scared that he had scratched such a mark on his arm

Lu Qingjiu gave a dry laugh, thinking his vision was a bit of a stretch.

But the marks didn't seem to have much effect other than to hurt. Lu Qingjiu looked at them for a while, then put down his sleeves and started to clean the room; he had a lot of work to do today.

"Knock, knock, knock." Around ten o'clock, Lu Qingjiu, who was sweeping the floor with his head down, heard a knock at the door and went to the door, pulled it open and saw a familiar face behind it.

"Sake, you're back, did you arrive last night?" Lu Qingjiu was greeted by a young man, slightly shorter than Lu Qingjiu, who smiled, showing a playful tiger's tooth, "Why didn't you call me?"

Lu Qingjiu saw the youth and smiled along with him, "Xiao Xuan, long time no see."

The man in front of him, Yin Xun, was Lu Qingjiu's childhood playmate, but they had not seen each other for a long time since Lu Qingjiu left Shuifu Village.

"I arrived too late last night to talk to you." Lu Qingjiu lifted the broom in his hand.

"Oh." Yin Xun nodded, "You're cleaning I'll help you."

Lu Qingjiu said, "Your family is done with farm work."

Yin Xun said, "It's almost done, we just planted the seedlings yesterday and they won't be fertilised until next month."

Lu Qingjiu smiled and said, "OK, I'll be happy to help you."

Yin Xun rolls up his sleeves, picks up an old rag and begins to help Lu Qingjiu clean up the furniture, chatting with him as he works.

Although they had been childhood friends, they had not seen each other for a long time and they had a lot to talk about, but Yin Xun still wondered why Lu Qingjiu had quit his job in the big city and returned here.

Lu Qingjiu said sincerely, "My boss told me that if I didn't work hard, I might as well go home and sell sweet potatoes, so I thought about it and thought it would be good to go home and sell sweet potatoes, so I came back."

Yin Xun: "Really?"

Lu Qingjiu stared into his big, eyelid eyes, "Really."

Yin Xun: ""He pretended to believe it.

After a morning of cleaning the house, Yin Xun saw that it was about time and asked Lu Qingjiu to join him for lunch at the village restaurant, to which he readily agreed.

Shuifu Village is a very small village, where you can hear the noise of quarrels at the end of the village, and there are not many businesses in the village.

"You've only just come back, what do you want to eat is on me" Yin Xun said with a big grin.

"Let's have some rice noodles." Lu Qingjiu had eaten rice noodles from that restaurant when she was a child, and they were so good that she felt nostalgic when she thought of them now.

"Sure, let's go." Yin Xun led Lu Qingjiu towards the rice noodle shop.

The rice noodle shop owner saw Yin Xun, greeted him and saw Lu Qingjiu standing next to him and looked him up and down before asking with some uncertainty, "Is this the Lu Family's little grandson?

Lu Qingjiu smiled and nodded.

"Uncle She, I'll have two noodles of beef with extra spices." Yin Xun says, "Add another handful of chives for me, and do you want the sake"

"OK." Lu Qingjiu also eats leeks.

The boss gave an ay and turned around to go inside to cook rice noodles.

Lu Qingjiu observed the small shop, which was small and had tables on the floor outside, but the furnishings were old but clean and did not look dirty. As Lu Qingjiu looks back, he sees a flash of something under the table, so fast that Lu Qingjiu can only barely recognize the red skin of what appears to be an insect.

"What are you looking at?" Yin Xun asked.

"There seems to be a bug." Lu Qingjiu said back.

"Bugs" Yin Xun said, "Yes, it's spring and the bugs are getting more and more frequent, I'll get you some herbs at home later, take them home and light them up.

Lu Qingjiu shook his head, "No."

Yin Xun blinked at that and smoothly rolled up his trouser leg, only to see three or five red bruises on his leg that stood out.

Lu Qingjiu thought for a moment, "Maybe I was lucky."

Yin Xun grinned with a playful tiger's teeth on her lips, "Maybe."

The two were chatting when the owner brought up the cooked rice noodles, which emitted a rich aroma.

Lu Qingjiu picked up his chopsticks and took the first bite and exclaimed, "It still tastes like it did when I was a kid." The rice noodles were not spiked with cooking gelatin, so they tasted soft, sticky and springy, absorbing the flavour of the bone broth and tasting rich and fresh. The leeks were lightly cooked in the broth, which offset the greasiness of the bone broth.

The two of them were already a bit hungry, and once the food was served, they stopped talking and only the sound of eating the rice noodles remained, and only when Lu Qingjiu had finished the bowl of rice noodles and had a few mouthfuls of soup did he let out a long sigh of satisfaction

.

"So full." Yin Xun burped and rubbed his stomach contentedly.

"Delicious." Lu Qingjiu was also quite satisfied, he wiped his mouth and casually said, "By the way, I took a taxi when I arrived here yesterday and heard the taxi driver say that two taxi drivers had died here"

"Oh, you said that." Yin Xun said, "Yes, there are no two of them, but it's not the driver, it's the passenger."

Lu Qingjiu :""

Yin Xun didn't notice Lu Qingjiu's expression was a bit off, he just said as if he was talking about gossip, "But they don't have to be dead, the bodies haven't been found yet, only their luggage."

"Aren't they from Shuifu Village?" Lu Qingjiu asks.

"No." Yin Xun said, "It's from another village, it's just passing through Shuifu Village." Why do you ask?

Lu Qingjiu said, "Oh, I just heard a little bit about it from someone else."

Yin Xun is not impressed: "The security in Shuifu Village is quite good, not even a single thief, it's much better than other places."

As they talked, the two returned to the house, the cleaning was only half done and had to continue.

It was a day when the old house finally looked like something a person could live in, but the yard just needed a little more time to be tended to.

The old house is actually quite large, plus the backyard is almost a small cottage, but because it has not been lived in for many years, there are fewer rooms that can be occupied, and many of the roofs and walls need to be re-enforced.

Lu Qingjiu went to the well in the evening and found that there was still water in the well and that it seemed to be in good working order, except that the rope used to draw the water from it had deteriorated and needed to be replaced.

"I remember using this water to ice watermelons when I was a child." Yin Xun sat on the edge of the well, sticking his head in and looking in, "What are you going to do when you come back this time, farm?"

"Let's raise some animals and plant some fields." Lu Qingjiu said, "I still have some savings, so I'll repair the livestock shed next to it."

Almost every family in this village has some kind of animal, chickens and so on are the norm, and those who are well off will have a few more pigs or cows.

"Sure." Yin Xun said, "I'll talk to the carpenter tomorrow and ask him to come to your house to fix the shed.

"Well, thank you." Lu Qingjiu said gratefully.

"You're welcome." Yin Xun waved his hand and said, somewhat indifferently, "We're on the same page, why are we talking about this? It's late, so I'll go back first."

"Good." Lu Qingjiu said, "Be safe."

Yin Xun turned around and left the courtyard door, and Lu Qingjiu saw him walking away before returning to his old house.

The old house had a TV but no signal yet, so Lu Qingjiu took out his mobile phone and climbed into bed, tapping on the a to watch the news.

After reading for a while, he suddenly remembered something and tapped the search bar, typing in the words Shuifu Village taxi passenger missing. A few moments later, the search results popped up. Lu Qingjiu skimmed through the news and found that it was similar to what Yin Xun had said, except that the details were more detailed. The story was that some people had suddenly disappeared, their families called the police, and their missing luggage was found near Shuifu Village.

When he saw this, Lu Qingjiu put down his phone and pulled up the sleeve of his left arm, where five purple dots were clearly visible on the skin covered by the sleeve.

Lu Qingjiu reached out and touched it, a soft hiss escaped his lips, the red spot still hurt like hell. He had realised by now that there seemed to be something wrong with the taxi driver last night, but luckily he got out of the taxi safely and without incident.

Lu Qingjiu's sleepiness came over him as he thought about it. After a busy day, he was also a bit tired, so he closed his eyes and fell asleep almost in a moment.

He couldn't even think about this kind of sleep when he was at work, after all, their company requires its employees to keep their phones on 24 hours a day, especially for those like him who work as planners, they have to be called to the office anytime there is a problem with a project.

Lu Qingjiu thought he would sleep until dawn, but around midnight he heard a very subtle rattling.

It sounded like something pulling at the tiles above his head, making the top of Lu Qingjiu's head click.

Lu Qingjiu was awakened from his sleep by the noise and opened his hazy eyes to see a faint light above his head, which made Lu Qingjiu freeze, his mind did not turn for a while, and only after a while did he suddenly realise what was going on, his eyes instantly rounded and the tiles on the roof of the house were lifted by something, and the bright moonlight spilled from above his head onto the sheets, like A hot mark.

"Click, click." Lu Qingjiu's first thought was that a wildcat or some other creature had run up to the roof, but just as this thought came into his head, a round object appeared in a hole in the roof. Lu Qingjiu recognised it as a reptile's eye.

Posted on 11/13/2021

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