Couple of Mirrors – Chapter 23: It’s Haunted??

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Yan Wei makes her way across the roof…

…lowers herself in front of an upstairs window, and manages to slip inside just as Xu Youyi arrives at the front door. Xu Youyi looks at the front door with some puzzlement. ‘Hm, why is it locked? Shouldn’t Yan Wei be home?’

Frantically, Yan Wei sticks her head out of the upstairs window. ‘You’re home!’

‘Oh, you are here,’ says Xu Youyi, more puzzled than ever. ‘But if you are, why is the front door locked?’

‘Wait there, I’ll come down and have a look!’ calls Yan Wei.

Yan Wei runs downstairs, and goes over to the door. ‘It really is locked,’ she says, in pretended confusion.

‘Yes,’ comes Xu Youyi’s reply from the outside. ‘That’s so strange.’

‘I’ll hand you the key,’ says Yan Wei. ‘Let’s get the door open first.’

The door is duly unlocked, and Xu Youyi steps inside. ‘Are you all right?’ she asks. ‘Why are you covered in sweat?’

‘Er,’ says Yan Wei, who is, indeed, visibly sweating. ‘I just had a shower.’

‘Oh, that’s even stranger then,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘Did someone lock the front door while you were in the shower?’

‘Hm, it seems that way,’ says Yan Wei, sweating even more.

‘But that can’t be right,’ Xu Youyi muses. ‘You need the key in order to lock that front door.’ She looks up, suddenly alarmed. ‘Unless…?’

Yan Wei manages, somehow, to sweat even more.

‘Unless the studio is haunted!’ Xu Youyi yelps, and throws herself into Yan Wei’s arms.

‘Um,’ says Yan Wei.

‘Don’t worry,’ Yan Wei tells Xu Youyi, patting her reassuringly. ‘Ghosts are nowhere as terrifying as humans.’

‘That’s true,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘My conscience is clear — why should I be afraid of ghosts?’

Suddenly she leans forward, and sniffs at Yan Wei. ‘Seriously though, why do you smell so sweaty?’

Yan Wei draws back instantly, alarmed.

‘I’m going to take a shower,’ she announces, disentangling herself from Xu Youyi.

Xu Youyi gazes after her, even more puzzled than before. Didn’t she just have a shower?

Never mind, she concludes cheerfully. She’s just a really odd person. I should go and make dinner…

Later, as Yan Wei clears away the dishes from dinner, Xu Youyi settles down with a pen and a stack of paper. ‘You have writing to do this late at night?’ asks Yan Wei.

‘Yes,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘I’m planning to write two articles, one for New Era magazine and the other one for Youth magazine. These are both progressive publications that have the courage to speak truth to power.’

‘You should got to bed first,’ she adds. ‘Don’t wait up for me.’

‘All right,’ says Yan Wei, carrying the dishes away.

Later that night, Yan Wei tosses and turns by herself, unable to sleep.

Has she finished writing yet? she wonders.

She slips downstairs, where Xu Youyi is still writing diligently, haloed in the golden light from the lamp.

So this is what she looks like when she’s writing, Yan Wei muses. She seems very focused; I had better not disturb her. She heads back upstairs.

The next morning, Yan Wei comes downstairs to find Xu Youyi fast asleep on top of her pile of papers.

She drapes a blanket around Xu Youyi’s shoulders, and looks down at her thoughtfully.

Just then, there’s a knock on the door. ‘Is Miss Xu Youyi there?’ calls Agent Bai. Yan Wei lets him in.

‘Is that Agent Bai?’ asks Xu Youyi, waking up.

‘Yes,’ says Yan Wei.

‘Tell him to wait a little while,’ says Xu Youyi, hurrying from the room. ‘I just need to get ready.’

Agent Bai sips from a cup of tea as he waits. Some time later, Xu Youyi reappears, ready to go. ‘I’m sorry to have kept you waiting, Agent Bai,’ she says.

‘It… it’s all right,’ Agent Bai stutters, getting up. ‘Let’s go.’

‘All right,’ says Xu Youyi.

As Yan Wei watches them get into Agent Bai’s car, she finds herself thinking, something isn’t right…

She casts her mind back over Agent Bai’s behaviour. Agent Bai is acting differently from the way he did yesterday. He didn’t look Youyi in the eye, and his hand was shaking when he opened the door of the car for Youyi…

Yan Wei races after the departing car. Is he planning to harm Xu Youyi?

As he drives along, Agent Bai seems to be wrestling silently with his conscience. At length, he tells Xu Youyi, ‘Miss Xu, I’ve made you some tea. It’s in the back seat. You should drink it while it’s hot.’

Xu Youyi opens the flasks and lifts it to her lips. ‘It smells so good,’ she says. ‘Thank you, Agent Bai.’

Agent Bai watches her in the rearview mirror as she drinks.

The mug falls from Xu Youyi’s hand, spilling tea in its wake, as she slumps against the back seat, unconscious.

Meanwhile, Yan Wei is still running after the car, barely able to keep it in sight. It’s heading out of the city, she realises. Xu Youyi is in danger!

Agent Bai stops the car — or at least, slows it down — in a quiet wooded area next to a lake. He gets out of the car. ‘I’m sorry, Xu Youyi,’ he says. ‘It was either your life or my family’s lives.’

The car moves forward and begins sinking slowly into the lake…

…with an unconscious Xu Youyi inside.

***

Please view the original manhua here.

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