March 24, 2008
On June 7th, 2006, the small island of Ma Wan was bought by Wa Fu Developments, and was scheduled for construction. A new apartment complex, generic and cramped, was the planned development. But a small fishing village on the island blocked construction. So Wa Fu bought out the villagers property, offering them all generous settlements as well as new homes in the future apartment complex. Most gave in eventually, but one family resisted, the Wong family. For weeks they fought Wa Fu, finally resulting in a forced eviction. When the police had to be called, the issue gained public attention. The village was entirely empty, and the family had barricaded themselves in their home, the police were forced to use drastic measures. They advanced on the home. It was then that Mr. Wong became violent. He started with throwing things, eventually to Molotov cocktails. When he pulled out his shotgun and rushed the police, firing, the police took him out. At the sight of his death, Mrs. Wong hung herself, but not before smothering her ten year old daughter. Since then no one will stay the night on the island, for fear of the vengeful spirits of the Wong family. A group of surveyors had visited once, but after several mechanical accidents lead to the serious injury of three surveyors, they left.
For years the land sat empty, Wa Fu too afraid to build after the mechanical accident. Then finally one company, I.F. Trust, bought out Wa Fu. Having taken control of the company, they decided enough was enough. I was time to build.
But before building on the island Wa Fu decided to send a Feng Shui master to examine the island and advise them on the locations that they should choose to build on based on the flow of chi on the island.
The Master, accompanied a representative for I. traveled to the island by rented boat. Upon arrival the boats motor broke down. The two men who owned the boat were mystified, saying it was like someone threw a grenade into the pipes.
"What do you mean you can't fix it until tomorrow afternoon?" Roger, the I.F. Trust representative, roared.
The two fishermen jabbered away in Cantonese to the Master, who translated.
"They have heard of the curse on this island, and fear staying out after dark. They could work now, but that would take them long into the night."
Roger relented, and they left to meet the last remaining inhabitant of the island. An old fisherman who was hired by Wa Fu after they had first emptied the island to watch over it until construction began. The man was short, and looked to be made of skin and bone. His long white beard contrasted his shiny bald head, and his bushy eyebrows hid his eyes. The man looked like a crazy old hermit.
The group met with the man, and he said he could give them a place to stay for the night. He had been maintaining for himself, while the others rotted away. He had expected the developers to come for the day, but not for the night. He did however warn them of the gamble they were about to make by staying the night. He warned them of the spirits that lived on the island. He especially warned Roger that he would be the prime target for the vengeful ghouls. Roger just laughed, then dismissed the old man. The group decided to go for a tour of the island before dark, so the Master could feel out the chi flow.
They walked through the village and into the hills. Roger scoffed at the condition of the village, noting how quickly the elements had taken it back. The apartments were torn to pieces, and the houses were now home to the raging bamboo forests. The fishermen heard his tone and grew more restless, their eyes darting about, as if expecting vengeful spirits to strike him down.
The group continued up to the island mountain.
At the top of the mountain they found an old Buddhist temple. The temple was small, more of a shrine with a door, and the mountain wasn't really that high. Roger noticed firecrackers hanging around the temple and asked the Master about it, then learning that they were for fending off spirits. Roger found this amusing. He suddenly remembered seeing a string of firecrackers sticking out of the old mans pockets. He told the Master, laughing about it, but the Master was not amused. He mapped out the village in his mind, examining its balance of chi. He seemed concerned, and when he saw the sun starting to reach the horizon, he quickly started back down the mountain. The others followed quickly, for seeing a Feng Shui man suddenly fearing evil is the equivalent of seeing a priest suddenly fearing the devil. It wasn't a good sign.
When they returned to the village, they found the old man dead in the apartment. His mouth was blown out and melted red plastic lined his lips. A roll of firecrackers had been shoved down his throat and lit.
The Master grew worried, and the fishermen prayed. Roger felt uneasy, but only because he had just seen a dead body. He treated the event as a suicide, or possible murder by some other inhabitant of the island. The Master, who had studied the spiritual world with great detail during his Feng Shui training, placed several luck charms around the house, and burned incense around the sleeping area. The Master and the fishermen prayed more. Roger, shaken, but not jumping to spiritual explanations, left them to their prayer. As he walked through the decrepit village he felt his first beginings of fear when he saw someone standing on the rotted old pier, a child. She was young, and wore a pretty light pink skirt and a yellow sweater. Her long black hair sat oddly on her head. The girl suddenly turned to him, and then whispered something. Despite how far away the child was, he still heard her words as if they were whispered into his ear.
Sei, four in Cantonese, wasthe number of death, similar to the number 13, but far worse. Roger heard a footstep beside him and slowly turned to look at its source. No one was there. He looked back to the pier. The child was gone.
He quickly found the Master as the sun set and they locked up the apartment. They had blocked off all of the windows with red paper, Buddhist prayers written on each piece. The four of them hid together in the apartment, sitting as far away from doors and windows as they could be, with incense burning, and the Buddhist shrine of the former residents open and decorated. The shrine was lit by two bright red bulbs at the top of it.
The lights turned off an hour into the night. The shrine lights were unaffected, even though every other electrical item in the area had stopped working, including cell phones and even Roger's digital watch.
On the island, which was relatively close to the city of Hong Kong, the night sky was anything but dark. The city lit the sky, casting shadows. The red paper on the windows was thin, and despite how one was shadowed by a tree outside, the other was not. While the Master attempted to remain calm and clear, the others watched the one clear window, shaking with fear. A shadow appeared in the window. It was a woman. The men could only make out her figure from the shoulders up. Her head sat on an angle, atop a grotesquely long and twisted neck, her short hair mottled.
The figure reached for the window, but didn't not touch it. It left, and the front door rattled eerily, as if being blown by the wind. But there was no wind that night. The door to the room was locked, and covered in similar charms as was the entrance to the hallway that lead to the room they resided in. The front door creaked open, then slammed shut. Footsteps quickly pattered towards the room, but stopped at the hall. Heavy breathing was heard through the crack under the door.
"Sei, Cheung," whispered a voice. It came from the tree shadowed window. One of the fishermen screamed. It was his name. He got up and started to run, screaming in Cantonese. He crashed through the door, heading for his boat. The others watched in horror as he passed the hallway charms. They ran into the hall, calling for him to come back.
He reached the front door and threw it open. But he didn't continue. Something was in front of him. He whispered something softly, then turned around. He calmly looked at the three others. His skin slowly changed from a pale white to a red, then to a purple. He collapsed, again turning white. He had suffocated. Behind his limp body was the little girl, the same girl Roger had seen earlier on the pier that day. The girl skipped out of view, giggling. The three men ran back into the room, shutting the door quickly.
Another two hours passed, the whispering continuing. Every so often the windows would rattle, the charms barely holding off the Wong family spirits that were outside. Then suddenly the air conditioner rattled. Roger cursed. The Master's eyes widened. The remaining fisherman did not understand their fear.
"The air conditioner sits in place of a window," said Roger.
"And I did not place charms on the air conditioner," said the Master. Suddenly the air conditioning unit was riped from its place in the wall. Cold ocean wind blew through the room.
"The temple," cried the Master, "It is the only safe place left on the island." The three ran out of the room as the long necked womans face appeared in the hole where the air conditioner had been, her bulging eyes staring off in different directions. The lights in the shrine went out.
The men made it out of the apartment. The Master carried with him three sticks of incense. He lead the way, the smoke of the incense sticks pluming out behind him and around the other two men. This protected them as they made their way out of the village, the twisted form of the mother and the pale little girl always in sight. Sometimes they appeared standing behind a tree, or inside a house, or in a field. The spirits never chased them, they simply seem to appear wherever the men ran, and they were always staring. The little girl was allways smiling a horrible little smile that chilled the men to their bones.
As they reached the base of the mountain the fisherman took one of the three incense sticks from the Master, rushing through the trees, leaving the path. The Master tried to stop him, protesting, but stops, lowering his head. Roger looked at him, trying to hide his terror, but finding himself unable. The Masters silence somehow scared him more than his cries of warning had.
"Why?" Roger sobbed. The master shook his head. The cries of the fisherman ring out from the forest. Roger froze, he didn't even breath.
"He should not have left the path." said the Master simply. Roger stood silent for some time, then the Master took his arm and forced him to walk.
The two continued cautiously up the mountain path. Roger caught a glimpse of the fisherman, hanging from a tree by his neck, his body limp, the girl dancing around his dangling feet like they were some twisted playground set. Roger didn't look away from the path after that, for fear of what else he may see.
As the two spotted the temple in the distance the first incense stick ran out. The master quickly handed the last stick to Roger, a tear running down his face. Roger took it gently.
"Run," said the Master. Roger shook his head, but the Master shoved him away. The second Roger moved away he could see the Master turning red. "One stick saves only one soul."
Roger watched, unable to look away, as the frail old man that was the Master turned blue and died. The little girl stood over his body. She looked up at Roger, and gave him a smile that would haunt Rogers mind for the rest of his life.
Roger didn't even realize he had started running until he reached the temple. He slammed shut the two big wooden doors, painted bright red, and turned to the shrine. The old figures and paintings looked down at him. The Buddhas calm smile instilled a feeling of safety in his heart. He stopped shaking for the first time in hours. He stood tall, breathing in the stale air. He turned to the doors, hearing the Wongs attempting to reach him through the doors.
Roger walked to the doors, and opened them. The two Wongs stood before him. The girl smiled at him, and the woman tilted her head to look at him. He looked them both in the eyes, a feeling of peace flowing through him. He felt safe, the kind of safety felt by a child in his mothers arms. He lifted his dwindling stick of incense and moved it under the end of the massive string of firecrackers at one end of the door that ran all the way around the temple and ended on the other side of the door.
"Sei, Wong," he whispered. The two stared at him, confused. He touched the stick to the fuse and it started to flicker. The little sparks moved up and along the fuse, eventually sinking into the first firecracker in the massive chain. At first Roger thought it was a dud. Then it popped. He stepped back as the hot plastic shot about. Each one sprayed hot red plastic in all directions. The two Wongs stood still, the plastic speckling over their pale bodies. Then the popping stopped, as the last firecracker went off. Roger moved the arm he had been using to shield his eyes from the flying plastic. They were gone, and Roger was alone. He stepped up to the threshold, and looked out over the island. The suns first rays of morning stretched out from behind the mountains of Lantau Island, the Big Buddha sitting atop the island in the middle of the sunbeams. Roger smiled weakly, then collapsed.
"So thats his story?" asked Inspector David Chan of the Hong Kong Police Force.
"Yep," said Inspector Ryan Nielson, the English translator that had questioned Roger Eppson after he was released from the hospital.
"Crazy shit. And the bodies?"
"Almost everything fits, two suffocations and a hanging. Only one kink."
"There was never any 'old fisherman' living on Ma Wan, not a single record of him."
"Huh, go figure, his story doesn't match up," laughed Inspector Chan.
"Yeah, really." The two of them turned to look through the two way mirror at the bizarrely calm man sitting in a chair behind an empty black table.
"Hey, how did the Wong father die in that story again?"
"Got a flash-bang grenade chucked in his mouth when a rookie freaked. His head went off like a firecracker."
"Huh," grunted Chan, watching Roger through the glass, "go figure."
"The surveyor that died on Ma Wan got his head blown off by a demo-charge."