“Where are we?” Sis Wang and the woman with the black mole suddenly sat up. Only then did they realize that the sky went dark.
“Sis Wang, it hurts! I think I broke my leg.” cried the woman.
“Shut up! As if I’m unharmed,” cursed Sis Wang who was covered in sweat from the excruciating pain.
“Are the two of you aware of your sins?” A white-robed monk appeared in front of the duo. They were given a fright from his appearance. Wasn’t this the monk that ran faster than a motorcycle and nearly caused them to die because of the collision? Hadn’t he left yet?!
“What the heck are you?!” shouted Sis Wang.
Fangzheng waved his hand as he sat in midair. He said nonchalantly, “This Penniless Monk is Fangzheng. Are the both of you aware of your grievous sins!?
Seeing Fangzheng sit in mid air without support, the two women were shocked out of their wits. Was he still human? Sis Wang was not afraid of people but she was afraid of the supernatural! She muttered a question, “What… what are you planning on doing with us?” What… what sins are you talking about?”
Fangzheng snorted coldly. “What obstinance. In that case, look at who they are!” Fangzheng waved his hand as many black shadows appeared on the road. They were small and she could tell at a glance that they were children. All of them had their heads lowered. Their faces could not be seen due to the lighting.
The children were slowly advancing towards them while letting out deep angry growls, “Give me back my life!”
“What… what are all of you?” The woman with the mole was so frightened that she wanted to run backwards. But because of the excruciating pain that arose from moving her broken leg, she was unable to move.
Sis Wang was dumbfounded herself. She looked at the children and realized that none of them had shadows! The color drained from Sis Wang’s face. She still did her best to observe the children carefully. A child approached her and he looked like the boy that she had abducted half a month ago. The more she scrutinized his face, the more familiar he became. Even his voice was identical. When he came close…
Sis Wang screamed, “Aren’t you dead?!”
Fangzheng’s heart jolted from those words. He could not dig out everything from a person’s heart. Because of the limitations he had resorted to a trick. These children did not have any actual appearances but when the two women recalled anyone, the figures would change to resemble their memories. He had planned on scaring the two women, hoping to dig out the location of the other children. However… he never expected to dig out something as dark as this.
The woman with the black mole looked over and shouted, “Ma Xiaohu, aren’t you dead? I threw you into the river with my own hands. How is it possible for you to be alive?”
“Alive? Who told you they are alive?” Fangzheng could only feel the pangs of fury erupt from his heart. A child had been thrown into the river, discarded as a piece of trash. They did not deserve his kindness.
The woman whispered, “Dead? A ghost?”
Sis Wang felt the same. She felt like her brain was about to explode.
Fangzheng knew he had little time. If he did not speed things up, he might not learn enough from the interrogation.
Fangzheng stepped forward looming over the women. “Why did you kill him?”
The two women fell silent.
Fangzheng took a deep breath. “As you have seen, these children have had their souls taken by you. If you do not answer to them today, they will drag you to hell. You will die, tormented by the spirits of those you harmed, daily.”
The duo jolted.
The woman asked, “What if we tell you everything?”
“Their air of grievance will dissipate and they will leave.”
The two women felt a flutter of hope, a straw to grasp. Among all the ghosts, there was only one that looked human… Before Sis Wang spoke, the woman with the black mole screamed, “There was no reason. The child was too noisy. He refused to drink the dissolved sleeping pills and kept screaming and crying. We were afraid he would bring the cops down on us, so we threw him into the river!”
Sis Wang added, “Such children aren’t easily sold and they tend to attract the attention of others. There would be too many issues if we kept him with us. But we can’t let him return as he could describe us.”
Fangzheng felt like his lungs were about to explode from rage! They killed a child for such a reason?!
Fangzheng kept the anger from his voice, softly he asked his next question, “Where are the other children? Where have they been sent?”
“I don’t know… She might know,” exclaimed the woman as she pointed at Sis Wang.
Sis Wang shook her head. “I don’t know either!”
“You said you knew a while ago…” The woman did not care about anything else. The monk in front of her was her only hope for survival. She did not wish to die from the ghost’s tormenting!
Sis Wang bellowed angrily, “Shut up!”
“Fine, since you aren’t willing to elaborate, This Penniless Monk shall leave. To have ghosts feed on your heart is worse than the top ten rated tortures of the Manchu dynasty. Enjoy.” Fangzheng stood up and made to leave. The ghosts began approaching. The more Sis Wang scrutinized them, the more appalled she was to find many familiar faces. Some of them were ones she had almost forgotten about while others were fresh… In her horror, she shouted, “I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you everything!”
Fangzheng turned, hands behind his back, face impassive. “You have one chance. Either you free them or they will take the both of you.”
Sis Wang shouted, “Ma Xiaohu, Li Lingling, Liu Ying…” She spouted out ten names in one breath before saying, “These children were disobedient and I disposed of them.” The word ‘disposed’ explained everything. Fangzheng realized that Sis Wang’s eyes were calm, as if she was not talking about fellow humans but mere trash.
“What about the rest?” Fangzheng growled through gritted teeth.
“The rest? They have been given to others. They are in charge of selling. Some are sold somewhere in the mountains, some overseas. Typically, it’s best if they are sold overseas. That way, they can’t be found and it would save us trouble. There’s also a batch that is sold to beggar syndicates. They would break the children’s limbs or disfigure them with sulfuric acid and cut their tongues off. They would be thrown on the streets to beg for money… and…”
“There’s more?!” Fangzheng could no longer repress his rage. He roared the question.
The shock he gave Sis Wang silenced her. Only then did Fangzheng repress his anger. “Continue!”
“And… there are some sold overseas to have their… organs… harvested…”
Fangzheng’s face began to contort. As Sis Wang began reminiscing, Fangzheng could see the faces of adorable children. Their tiny, smiling faces becoming disfigured, sad, hopeless. Before eventually they filled with despair and numbness. Their helpless, weak bodies stretched out their hands, flailing as they yearned to return home.
Fangzheng took a deep breath when he saw this. He imprinted the sight, carving the scene to memory.
Sis Wang found the darkness as it dissipated. They appeared in a hidden apartment in Spring City. Beside her was the woman with the mole and on the bed was the unconscious Sun Mengmeng.