Initially, the news about the murder case was not reported by the local news media but rather began circulating through vague posts on the internet. Some people claimed that a murder had occurred near their neighbourhood, and the scene seemed quite gruesome. However, the details of the exact nature of the brutality were unclear, as the individuals sharing the information were unable to provide clear specifics.

       One after another, there were some rumours and news circulating. Among the most terrifying rumours was the claim that the victims were all young women, and their faces were completely peeled off.

       When Song Jun saw this post, he couldn’t help but think of some horrifying pictures.

       At that moment, he suddenly heard a sound coming from the window, startling him. When he turned around, he saw that it was the black cat jumping in.

       The little black cat raised its tail and walked back and forth on the window sill twice. It wasn’t until Song Jun took out a small bowl and gave it half a bowl of cat food that it jumped down from the window. With an elegant stride, it walked towards the direction of the small bowl.

       Song Jun squatted next to it, propped up his head and watched it eat.

       After the little black cat finished eating, the cat stuck out its pink tongue to lick its mouth and then plopped down.

       Song Jun then sat down next to it and touched its head with his hand.

       The little black cat seemed to feel comfortable under his touch and slowly lay down on its side, its tail wagging every now and then.

       Song Jun scratched his belly, suddenly stood up, ran over to open the door, and then knocked on Xia Hongshen’s door opposite.

       Xia Hongshen opened the door from the inside and saw Song Jun saying to him with a smile on his face, “Senior Brother, there is a kitten here that always likes to run towards my room. Do you know where it comes from?”

       Xia Hongshen glanced into his room.

       Song Jun also turned around, only to find that the little black cat was gone.

       Xia Hongshen said, “A wild cat from the neighbourhood.”

       Song Jun said, “Hmm”, thinking that he had made a fuss about knocking on Xia Hongshen’s door for this matter.

       Unexpectedly, Xia Hongshen said to him, “Would you like to eat? I bought some snacks.”

       Song Jun was startled, and before he could think about it carefully, he blurted out, “Sure.”

       Xia Hongshen asked Song Jun to sit in his room and took a bag of dried fish from the table to him. Song Jun looked at the bag of dried fish and couldn’t help but glance at Xia Hongshen again. It was strange that Senior Brother Xia would like to eat these things. It was so different from his overall character.

       Xia Hongshen sat down at the table and asked him, “Is it delicious?”

       Song Jun said quickly, “It’s delicious.”

       Xia Hongshen nodded, “Then eat more.”

       In the end, Song Jun sat down and ate a whole bag of dried fish at Xia Hongshen’s place. After returning home, he burped all night and always felt a fishy smell.

       The next day, Song Jun went to the lab in the afternoon. When he went to the bottom of the Forensic Medicine building, he found several police cars parked outside and a lot of people surrounding him downstairs.

       He hesitated in his steps, not knowing what happened.

       Actually, Song Jun would understand that this situation was quite common after staying in school for a long time. The campus’ Forensic Medicine Identification Centre would conduct external assessments. Often, in major cases where the police encountered challenges or when the deceased’s family had objections and disagreed with the forensic assessments conducted by law enforcement, the cases would be sent to the campus’ identification centre for examination.

       Just like when he waited until school officially started in September, he would go to the lab of the identification centre to help.

       Song Jun slowed down, and when he entered the gate, he noticed a young man squatting on the ground and playing games on his mobile phone.

       The young man had a delicate baby face, biting a lollipop in his mouth, and was concentrating on playing games on his mobile phone.

       When Song Jun passed by him, someone suddenly kicked the young man on the butt. The young man grabbed his cell phone, lost his balance and rushed forward just in time to hug Song Jun’s thigh to stabilise himself.

       Song Jun’s pants were almost pulled off. He had a mixed feeling of annoyance and amusement as he pulled up his trousers.

       The young man stood up, raised a hand and said to Song Jun, “Sorry, sorry.”

       Song Jun forced a smile.

       At this time, the middle-aged man who had just kicked the young man said, “Long Xing, stop playing around and go in and take a look.”

       The young man named Long Xing was a young detective. When he heard this, he said, “Oh, okay.” Then he put away his cell phone and walked inside.

       Song Jun also followed him into the building. When he saw Long Xing walking around in the direction of the autopsy room, he was curious and wanted to follow him to have a look.

       Before he entered the autopsy room, Song Jun saw Xia Hongshen, who was putting on gloves. His attention was drawn, and he took a few steps towards Xia Hongshen before suddenly noticing a corpse on the autopsy table next to him.

       It was the body of a young woman, still wearing a T-shirt and shorts. The body was intact, but the entire face had been completely peeled off from the hairline down, leaving only a bloody mess.

       Song Jun was startled and almost screamed and quickly reached out to cover his mouth.

       There were many people in the autopsy room, but no one noticed him. Only Xia Hongshen walked towards him.

       “Is something wrong?” Xia Hongshen asked.

       Song Jun shook his head, not daring to look in that direction anymore, but out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that the young detective named Long Xing was standing next to the autopsy table and looking around. There was a lollipop in his mouth. It seems that he hadn’t finished eating yet.

       Xia Hongshen could see that he was nervous and asked, “Afraid?”

       Song Jun was embarrassed to admit it. He neither shook his head nor nodded.

       Xia Hongshen put his hand on top of his head and said, “Get out first if you’re afraid.”

       Song Jun was stunned for a moment and said, “Then I’m leaving.” After saying that, he immediately turned around and left. He was afraid that he would turn red if he didn’t turn around and leave.

       As he walked into the elevator, Song Jun was still thinking about Xia Hongshen’s actions just now. He felt that Xia Hongshen was a bit too close, and it didn’t look like they had just known each other for less than a month, but he didn’t hate it…

       After staying in the lab all afternoon, when Song Jun left, it seemed that the autopsy on the first floor was not over yet.

       He suddenly remembered the news he had seen online, saying that many young women had been murdered, but he didn’t know if this was that case.

       This time, Song Jun did not boldly look at it again, and walked towards the outside of the building straightaway.

       When he left, the young policeman, Long Xing, was still squatting next to the gate playing games. Two policemen were standing not far away, chatting. Song Jun heard one person say, “What kind of psycho do you think can do this?”

       The other person said, “It’s almost the Hungry Ghost Festival. Could it be the work of ghosts?”

       Song Jun slowed down, took out his mobile phone from his pocket, and checked that it was almost half the seventh month of the lunar calendar.

       Song Jun’s birthday was in the middle of the seventh lunar month. Actually, this was not the exact date. To be precise, he was an orphan. His grandmother burned money paper on the roadside for the Hungry Ghost Festivals and picked him up when she went back. So that day became his birthday.

       Song Jun never knew who his parents were, and it was quite perplexing for him. He was obviously a healthy boy, so it seemed strange that his parents would abandon him.

       The grandmother who adopted him actually had a son and a daughter. She was no longer young at that time, but she still worked hard to raise him. She travelled to many places to ensure he could study, going through the process of adopting him and getting him registered. His grandmother was the only family Song Jun had in this world.

       Now that the Hungry Ghost Festival was coming, Song Jun planned to go back to visit his grandma and celebrate his birthday.

       Grandma’s family lives on the outskirts of a small county town. Although she had a son and a daughter, they were not filial. Since Song Jun started living on campus during his university years, his grandmother had been living alone.

       Song Jun left school in the afternoon, and now he took the bus there just in time for dinner.

       When he arrived, the sun was almost setting, but it was not dark yet. Grandma lived in the suburbs of the county town, and behind her house was a large piece of farmland.

       When she suddenly saw Song Jun, Grandma was naturally very happy. She made him a large table of dishes and asked him how he was doing at school.

       Song Jun said that he was doing well now because he had a scholarship and did not have to spend money on tuition fees. He also had living expenses every month, so he did not spend too much money.

       He had been working part-time during the previous summer vacation, and he planned to continue working when he was familiar with the environment in his current school and when the experiments didn’t require so much time.

       While eating, Song Jun said to his grandma, “When I make enough money, I will buy a house in the city and bring you over.”

       Grandma reached out and touched his head and said, “Xiao Jun is a good boy.”

       After a while, Grandma asked him, “Does Xiao Jun have a girlfriend?”

       Song Jun was embarrassed when asked, “Grandma, why do you ask this?”

       Grandma said, “We are about the same age now. When your grandfather was your age, we already had a son.”

       Song Jun said to Grandma, “I know.”

       Grandma smiled and reached out to touch his head again.

       After dinner, Song Jun helped his grandma wash the dishes. Grandma stood beside him and said to him, “Xiao Jun, your grandpa and his family used to be landlords. During the Cultural Revolution, your grandpa was denounced publicly.”

       Song Jun didn’t know how many times he had heard his grandma say these words. He knew that she was old and had a bad memory, so he just listened to her quietly and didn’t interrupt her.

       He thought his grandmother was just reminiscing about the grandpa, but he didn’t expect that this time Grandma would say, “His family has a family heirloom, which was buried under the bed in my room. At that time, the Red Guards1The Red Guards were a mass, student-led, paramilitary social movement mobilized by Chairman Mao Zedong in 1966 until their abolishment in 1968, during the first phase of the Cultural Revolution, which he had instituted. came to search for things in the house, but they never found it.”

       Song Jun listened to her words and asked smoothly, “What is it?”

       Grandma said, “You will know later when you dig it up and take a look.”

       Song Jun nodded, “I will dig it out when I have the chance.”

       After washing the dishes, Song Jun watched TV with his grandma for a while. Because his grandma was used to going to bed early, he went to bed early too.

       His room was the one he used to have. Grandma had always kept it very clean for him. Perhaps due to it being a bungalow, even in the summer, it remained cool in the evenings, and there was no need for a fan.

       Grandma brought him a big cattail fan and told him to fan himself when it was hot.

       Song Jun said, “I know, grandma, go to bed early.”

       Grandma closed the door for him when he went out.

       Song Jun lay on the bed, grabbed a fan and fanned himself for a while. He soon felt sleepy, turned over and fell asleep. He woke up suddenly in the middle of the night. Song Jun felt like he wanted to relieve himself. He climbed down from the bed, reached out, pushed open the door and walked out.

       When he walked to the living room, Song Jun stopped. He saw a large black-and-white photo of his grandma on the square table in the living room. In front of the photo, there was an incense burner with the remnants of burned incense candles. It was unmistakably a memorial photo!

Hungry Ghost Festival is usually in the middle of the seventh month or on the 15th day of the 7th month in the Lunar Calendar. Lunar Calendar days are different than the Gregorian ones, so the 7th month may not mean July, and it depends on when the Lunar Year start.
People usually burn paper money as a way to ‘send’ some money to their loved ones who have already died
Also, it’s believed that on that day ghosts will come back to our world and that’s why we paid our respect by burning off the money paper

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