I assume everyone knows that a house is called ‘haunted’ because someone suddenly dies there, of course not counting natural death. ‘Sudden death’ is a term relatively colloquial, generally referring to unnatural death such as accident, suicide, homicide and so on. People who die this way usually die with resentment because, as the legend says, their destined lifespan has yet to finish. Their soul couldn’t go to the resting place, hence in most haunted houses, strange things will happen. Even if nothing strange actually takes place, people’s words of mouth will make the place seem bizarre.
The owners of such houses are pitiful. If they rent out their house and the tenants die there, it will affect the next tenants’ willingness to rent it. Besides, if they want to sell it away, very few will dare to take on the offer unless those people are utterly clueless about what happened to the house. However, the law nowadays dictates that in a dealing of a haunted house, if disputes arise due to the lack of information, it is almost a given that the court will rule in favour of the buyer.
In addition, even if the owner manages to sell to someone who doesn’t believe in the supernatural, the price will get cut down tremendously. When I was a kid, this happened to my neighbour’s house. Because of love, a lady committed suicide by gas asphyxiation there, following which the house’s price fell from 300,000 yuan to 60,000 yuan – what a significant price drop! That is the type of business that I have been engaging in for the past few years: I find haunted houses then buy them at superbly low price. Older houses are basically just waiting to be rebuilt after demolition – for such old houses I can make a small amount of profit. For newer houses, I would put them on bank mortgages then take the money to invest in another business. Keeping these transactions over and over enables me to maintain quite a good life.
Because I frequently come into contact with haunted houses, it couldn’t be helped that I get scared by the stories behind them. Although no major life-threatening incident has occurred, I often encounter inexplicable things.
And today, I am telling you a bit of my experience with haunted houses in recent years.
The first haunted house I bought had a noteworthy profile. When I say ‘profile’, it isn’t about how much the house is worth, rather, it is about the rumour that this house had ‘supernatural beings’.
The house was located in a bustling area. The original price wasn’t bad at all, but unfortunately around 2003, some robbers invaded the place and killed all three people in the family. Words have it that they died gruesomely; the owner was found dead next to the safe while his wife was found on the bed, apparently sexually assaulted. The cruellest thing was that their primary-school-age child had his head pushed down the toilet bowl until he drowned. The case was never solved, and no one had the courage to consider buying the house. At that time, the house was passed on to the owner’s father. The father then hired some workers to renovate the place in order to, on one hand, wash away the pain of losing his loved ones and on the other hand, improve the chance of being able to rent it out or sell it away.
He hired people who came from the countryside to look for jobs, never mentioning the murders that had taken place in the house. After agreeing on a price, he let these workers stay in the house in order to expedite the process. They worked normally in the day and tried to tone it down at night. During the daytime, the renovation works went on peacefully and the workers carried out their duties eagerly, so I’d guess the payment was pretty good.
But when nighttime came, something bizarre happened. One night, while sleeping in the house, the three workers woke up to find that they were lying in the corridor. They were completely puzzled and had no idea how they ended up outside. Many people would think that sleepwalking could be used to explain this phenomenon, but even if it was indeed the case, it wouldn’t be possible for three people to sleepwalk at the same time. In the end, they chose to squeeze together and sleep in the same place.
Immediately rumours came around and the workers got to know about the murder of the son’s family, thus they were not willing to stay any longer. The owner’s father desperately convinced them and raised their salary a bit more; he even allowed them to find a place outside to stay. The workers agreed to continue their job when the father finally settled that they only had to work during the daytime. However, since that night, strange things started occurring even under broad daylight. The workers’ tools went scattered all over the place even if no one touched them. The neighbours remarked that the house’s lights lit up as night as though there were people living in it. At first the neighbours thought that the workers still stayed inside and only learnt about their move later. These happenings indeed scared people off but wouldn’t actually do any harm, thus in favour of the money they could earn, the workers tried to be more cautious but still kept to the original pacing.
Everything went by smoothly until the renovation was almost completed by one third. However, one day, the workers suddenly came to tell their employer that they would stop working no matter what. The owner’ father asked why, and the workers said that when they slept in the guesthouse, all night long, they dreamed of some faceless people standing around them. The faceless people reprimanded, “There is no bed for me! Are you letting me sleep on the floor?” The workers had always been superstitious and thought of the tragedy that had happened in this house. Now they didn’t dare to work anymore and left immediately after getting a very small amount of payment.
The owner’s father was disheartened, but he felt eagerness creeping up as he heard the workers’ account. It meant that the family of three hadn’t moved on to their next life. He wanted to see his son’s family again, so he himself went to spend the night in the house. No one would expect that something even more chilling happened – he actually died in that house, his body lying stiff on the floor. Many days had passed before the neighbours found out about his death, at which point the corpse had started rotting. Later, I heard some people say that he died so his son’s family could use him as a bed. The soul of someone who died in such an abrupt manner wouldn’t even recognise his six relatives¹, but I didn’t know if such a theory was credible.
¹ 六亲 [liu qin], lit. translated as “six relatives”, refers to the six people who are closest to you in a familial relationship, namely father, mother, elder brother, younger brother, wife and child. The phrase ‘to not recognise one’s six relatives’ means that one has lost his senses and couldn’t even recognise his closest people.
I have this friend called Qin Yiheng who could be considered quite a wise man. At the time, I was thinking of doing some business but had no capital. This friend gave me an idea and asked me to buy the house.
At first I refused, but Qin Yiheng convinced me that everything would work out. I really wanted to do business and make a lot of money, so I decided to take on the gamble and went to talk to the late man’s daughter. The market price of a 110-meter-square house was about 400,000 yuan at that time, yet I bought it for only a little over 70,000 yuan. In fact, I wasn’t sure of anything even after I bought it. Qin Yiheng asked me to buy 150 kilograms of rice and spread the rice on the floor. Three days later, he told me to buy a lot of cocks, and they must be cocks that hadn’t mated before. I had to take the blood of these cocks to spill on the windows and the doors of the whole house, then wait patiently.
I hanged around with a relentless mind for a few days, at which point he informed me that it was almost time to go back. Thereafter, I followed Qin Yiheng to the house. As we pushed the door open, the sight of the room almost scared me to tears. Although I am an atheist, I had never been exposed to such things up close. All over the wall, the doors and the windows were bloody fingerprints. It was as if someone touched the chicken blood that I had splashed before and wiped it everywhere. Qin Yiheng said that the resentful spirits had now disappeared. He used a method of suffocation, which was to trap the spirits in the house, leaving them nowhere to hide. This would suffocate the spirits, thus forcing them to dissipate. He explained that this was a very vicious method, but there was really no other way. If we used any other methods, it would prove too difficult to destroy these spirits. I didn’t give any comment, but the fingerprints in front of me told me that it all seemed to be true.
In the end, Qin Yiheng confirmed that the house was clean, hence I could sell the house I currently lived in and moved in to this new house. Even with such an offer, how would I have the courage to stay in this house knowing that people died here? I told myself I should let some time go by first before discussing the matter further. Later, I treated him to a huge dinner as thanks and we didn’t get home till late. As soon as I returned to my neighbourhood and was reaching home, Qin Yiheng’s call came.
“I read it wrongly during the day! There remains a child ghost and an old ghost that haven’t been destroyed,” he voice shook up nervously. “I’m afraid that after we go in, the ghosts have attached themselves to you.”
He continued in an alarming tone, “You need to be careful and avoid any pair of one adult and one child. No matter what they are, you must not approach them.”
Right upon hearing that, a chill ran down my spine and I quickly looked around. Fortunately, there was no adults bringing children in sight. It was already almost midnight; beside the supermarket and the mahjong hall, there was no one in the neighborhood. That being said, I was awfully scared and every step I took trembled with fear. As I finally passed through the entrance, I hurriedly closed the door and immediately collapsed to the ground.
I called Qin Yiheng to inform him that I had reached home safe. To tell the truth, I was just nervous and wanted to talk to someone so I could calm down.
“Stay exactly there. When you go to sleep, you must not to cover myself with a blanket. Rather, crawl under the bedsheet. If you hear any noise at night, do not go find it,” Qin Yiheng said. “As long as you stay asleep until dawn, everything will be fine.”
I put down the phone and got under the bedsheet. I also prepared an empty water bottle just in case I needed to release myself. According to Qin Yiheng, the ghost wouldn’t know that I hid under the sheet as it could only see the bed. I had no idea if there was any evidence for these sorts of superstitions, but anyway, I didn’t want to challenge the ‘authority’.
Hearing him talk about it as though it was something so simple, the feeling of uneasiness still haunted me. If I knew it was so scary, I wouldn’t buy that haunted house. I asked him to accompany me, but he insisted that such a trivial matter wouldn’t require any more assistance. If I did exactly according to what he had said, nothing would go wrong.
I couldn’t fall asleep at all and shivered with fear till daybreak. When I heard the birds chirping outside, I finally had the courage to crawl out. I looked around, quickly put on some clothes and ran out. I dared to go back to the place only at noon. Recalling that last night nothing strange happened, I realised it was all me scaring myself. However, upon returning home, I found out that Qin Yiheng wasn’t putting up any false alarm — through the sunlight, I saw many footprints beside my bed. They formed a circle as though they had been making many rounds around the bed.
These footprints absolutely couldn’t be mine! I didn’t hear any noise last night, but the footprints still appeared. I finally believed what Qin Yiheng said and immediately jumped on a taxi to head to his place.
I found Qin Yiheng and told him about the footprints. After he spent some time comforting me, I became a little calmer. He then told me that he would help me drive out the two ghosts on my body, and I was naturally moved to tears.
The so-called cleansing rituals that followed were nothing like the ones seen on television or performed by those phoney exorcists. Qin Yiheng found a rope and hung me upside down, then he picked up a small piece of wood and dabbed it all over my body. My phone and keys fell out of my pocket.
About ten minutes later, when my head became so congested I couldn’t stand it, he put me down and gave me a string of coins, asking me to head out and spend them.
It was easy to spend money. I went to the supermarket and use up everything just by buying a few items, but I still felt very puzzled. Such an absurd, silly ritual – I kept thinking. When I returned after finishing all the coins, Qin Yiheng was waiting for me with a basin of water. As soon as I entered the house, he dragged me to the toilet and dumped the entire basin over my head. The water was too cold, so I started to sneeze unstoppably, one after another. Qin Yiheng just stood there and smoked, watching me carefully. I still wanted to complain, but when I saw his solemn expression, I became too embarrassed to say anything.
I continued to sneeze for a long while. Qin Yiheng handed me a cigarette and told me that the piece of wood he used to hit me was a shoehorn. According to him, when we used an old shoehorn to hit an upside-down person, this person’s soul would possibly be shaken out from the top of his skull. This was to shake off the two ghosts and make them less powerfully attached to my body. The coins I carried were merit money in the temple that held a certain amount of mana. When I spent them, I could take some evil energy away from my body. Lastly, the water that he poured on me was even simpler: it was a virgin man²’s urine and rice water. By the time I sneezed, the two ghosts had been completely forced out of my seven apertures³.
² 童子 [tong zi] usually refers to a young boy. In a fengshui/exorcism context as well as in martial art novels, 童子 also refers to a man who is still a virgin. In Chinese belief, the urine of a boy or a virgin man has the power to shoo away evil spirit.
³ 七竅 [qi qiao], lit. translated as “seven apertures/orifices”, refers to the seven openings on a human head, namely the mouth, two eyes, two ears and two nostrils.
After finishing his talk, he gave me an evil smile. I didn’t have the courage to ask him where the virgin’s urine came from, but I could totally figure it out from his expression. It was disgusting to think about, but to save my life, what else could I do?
I didn’t know who taught him this method of exorcising ghosts. Although it didn’t look entirely reliable, I knew he was knowledgeable. Even if I didn’t believe him, there was no other expert for me to turn to. After the incident passed, I never saw the footprints next to my bed again, and when I returned to my house, the gloomy feeling upon entering the place disappeared. After another two months, the haunted house that I bought seemed completely peaceful, so I plucked up courage to move in. In the first week, I dragged Qin Yiheng over to stay with me – first was to make myself less cowardly, second was to borrow his ‘magical qi’. I rented out the house that I used to live in. The rent was acceptable and allowed me to maintain at least a minimal life.
Seeing that it was profitable, I planned to use this method to buy a few more houses. I thought about putting these haunted houses for mortgages so that I could use the money to do bigger businesses. I discussed it with Qin Yiheng and he wholeheartedly agreed. We then started to look for this sort of haunted house news all over the country, and this began our series of encounters with many, many haunted houses.
Translator and reviewer at Strictly Bromance blog. In essence, she lives to indulge in plot-driven stories sprinkled with camaraderie and slow-burn drama-free romance, especially more so if they belong to adventure, mystery or supernatural genre. A trope that she always thirsts after: “Comrades who go through life and death together”.