Illusions, Lies, Truth Side Story: Book Writer
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 1: The Children that Can’t be Touched—translated by lucathia (proofread by elisa & Trespasserby; C/E edited by dahlys)
Although she knew that it was something she shouldn’t do, she still couldn’t resist breaking the taboo.
That’s because writing about them was already not enough. She wanted, oh how she wanted more!
She wanted to touch their faces, wanted to see them move, wanted to hear their voices as they spoke…
Do you hear my summons? ******* *******.
Can you hear me?
“Yes, I heard you… Mistress.”
The phone suddenly rang, making Yu Shu jump in shock.
I thought I failed! She was feeling annoyed and felt no desire to pick up the call, but the ringtone was relentless and the phone kept on ringing. Yu Shu already knew who was on the other end. Only that fellow would let the phone ring on and on. She bet that if she didn’t take the call, it would keep on ringing all night!
Furthermore, she couldn’t pick up and hang up or directly pull out the phone cord, since that someone would then come straight to her apartment and ring the doorbell the entire night. Even if she pulled out her doorbell, thunderous pounding on her door would sound throughout the night.
Yu Shu had no choice but to walk over and pick up the phone. Once the call connected, she didn’t even have the chance to say “Hello” before she heard the coldest voice on earth.
“Where’s the manuscript?”
Yu Shu braced herself and meekly said, “Give me a few more days, and I can get it done.”
“I recall that you said the same thing a few days ago. A few days before the few days, you said the same as well. A few days before the few days before the few days—”
Yu Shu hurriedly interrupted the other person and solemnly vowed, “I mean it. I’ll turn in my manuscript in three days.”
“I’m eighty percent sure that it’ll take another thirty days…” The other person muttered.
“Hey! You should at least say nine days. What the heck is up with thirty days?”
“Unfortunately, that’s the truth! But, don’t you dare dream of getting thirty days from me. If you don’t submit your manuscript by the tenth day, you had better brace yourself. I’ll drag my luggage to your place to stay over and watch you until you finish writing!”
Her tone was as cold as ice, so cold that Yu Shu trembled upon hearing her voice. But, she couldn’t help but want to get told off a bit more. In the real world, it was really difficult to meet someone as cold as ice! That person was a rarely seen source material that Yu Shu could reference. Just listening to her speak gave Yu Shu a lot of inspiration, and she really wished she could hear more—if only the other person weren’t her editor and currently pressing her for her manuscript.
“Xiao Luo Luo, ten days seems a little short!”
“My name is Ye Luo. Don’t call me Xiao Luo Luo. Besides, didn’t someone just say three days would be enough?”
Yu Shu immediately lowered her head and said in a small voice, “Well… I’ve been a little busy lately!”
“Busy? Since you haven’t turned in your manuscript, I’m guessing you weren’t busy writing, am I right?”
Yu Shu didn’t even dare reply.
“Remember, ten days! Otherwise, I’ll be dropping in!”
“Okay.” Yu Shu didn’t dare raise her voice in protest, afraid that if she did, Ye Luo would be unwilling to wait even ten days and would pound thunderously on her apartment door within an hour.
After she ended the call, Yu Shu didn’t sit back in front of her computer to continue typing her manuscript. She was a bit out of sorts. Actually, for some time now, she was nearly finished with the manuscript. She had already written up to the finale, but she really couldn’t bring herself to continue writing.
Every time she wrote a conversation, every time she described an action, she would feel as if those guys in the books would jump out from the text. They were like living people, yet she couldn’t see or touch them!
They were her children. They were all her children! She was like a mother who couldn’t see her children, and there was nowhere she could search for them. She was doomed from the start to never be able to see them!
“Just one…No! Two, just two!”
Actually, if possible, she wanted all of them! But that was impossible, so she had to make a choice. She would have two of her children. Yu Shu could not bring herself to give up on either one, so she had to have two.
One of them was already taking form, while the other was just somewhat of a “concept.” But even so, Yu Shu had exhausted herself mentally and physically. After writing for so many years, she was an expert at creating children, but to “give birth” to children was really not her forte.
Yu Shu felt that she was only doing so because she had already gone insane.
She knew that this world had already been modified too much, yet she had actually added oil to the fire; but—
“I’m crazy, aren’t I?”
She couldn’t help but laugh out loud. She yelled, “If I’m crazy, then I’m crazy! I want to see you both no matter what! ******* *******, and ****** ***, come out!”
“Yu Shu, open the door!”
A lanky person stood outside the door, wearing unisex clothing—a dress shirt and a pair of jeans. The person’s appearance was also androgynous with an oval face, large eyes, and sharp eyebrows. However, her slim waist and her figure that couldn’t be hidden by her form-fitting white dress shirt revealed that she was female.
Without any expression, she forcefully rang the doorbell with her slim finger. The sinister, earsplitting doorbell rang incessantly, but no one came to the door.
“This is Ye Luo! Don’t think that playing dead is of any use. I said ten days, so ten days it is. Open the door!”
Even though her words were harsh, Ye Luo still remained expressionless.
There was still no response from inside. She finally felt a bit bewildered. She could hear the doorbell ring, so it couldn’t have been turned off. Why isn’t there any response, then? She didn’t believe that Yu Shu would be able to stand that kind of noise—this doorbell was one that Ye Luo had personally chosen and installed.
Ye Luo’s expression remained undisturbed, and her tone was also very calm too, but her volume had increased, and her actions weren’t tranquil in the least. She straightforwardly raised her foot and kicked the door. Originally, she just hadn’t wanted to hurt her hands by knocking, but once she kicked with her foot, the door actually got directly kicked open. Only then did she discover that the door hadn’t been shut. It had only looked closed.
However, she wasn’t very surprised. With Yu Shu’s personality, don’t even mention forgetting to lock the door. She could even forget the name of her editor that she’d worked with for more than five years!
Without any qualms, she pushed the door open fully to enter. The living room had all sorts of things. The books by the corner were piled higher than a person. Cardboard boxes littered the floor, and they weren’t empty either, filled with books and magazines.
Bookcases lined all four sides of the room, surrounding it. They could be considered organized, but they were packed to the brim, so packed that there wasn’t the slightest gap between anything. Any wall space without bookcases had various weapons hanging there. In conclusion, this living room had everything—except its owner.
Seems like the stuff has increased, and what’s with that super large box leaning against the wall?
After a moment’s hesitation, Ye Luo decided not to investigate the super large box. The box was rectangular, and the length of it was longer than a person. The color wasn’t the usual color of a cardboard box—it was black. On top of it, there were also odd decorative designs. At first glance, it looked a lot like a coffin.
Even if Yu Shu had bought a coffin, it wouldn’t be strange. Ye Luo didn’t care for superstition. As long as Yu Shu was inspired by it and could turn in her manuscript, it was a good coffin. However, she had a feeling that Yu Shu wouldn’t be satisfied by a mere coffin. There might be something inside the coffin, such as a person’s bones or a thousand year old mummy. Of course, it was likely to be a model, but no matter what, it was best that she avoided looking.
Ye Luo walked into the study with an air of familiarity, then the kitchen, then the bathroom… Alright, now she was really astonished.
Yu Shu was actually not at home.
Ye Luo thought about it. Yu Shu must have been at the end of the line, with no choice but to go to the supermarket to buy daily necessities. Only then might she leave the apartment.
She walked to the kitchen, which was actually a lot cleaner than the living room and the study. Yu Shu was definitely very lazy, but she loved good food. Since she rarely left home, she would often make her own food. The kitchen was well equipped, and amongst the items, the most plentiful were the varieties of coffee.
Ye Luo offhandedly grabbed a jar of instant coffee. Although there was a coffee machine to the side, and there were also coffee beans that had already been ground, she really wasn’t very particular about her coffee, and she didn’t know how to use those machines. It had always been Yu Shu who would make coffee for her. Without Yu Shu present, instant coffee plus hot water was the fastest and most convenient.
After making her coffee, Ye Luo returned to the living room. She took out her laptop from her luggage, looking over a manuscript while waiting for Yu Shu to return.
The living room was silent except for the sound of typing, until suddenly, a small, rustling sound caught Ye Luo’s attention. However, the city was full of all sorts of sounds, so she didn’t pay it much attention. She continued to concentrate on the manuscript. But when the sound happened a second and then a third time, she finally reacted.
“Yu Shu?” Ye Luo turned her head to look. The front door hadn’t been opened, and the final sound had been really close, not like a sound from outside. It sounded more like it was right by her. She looked around her. She was the only one in the living room. Even though there were many miscellaneous things, there was no way that this apartment could hide a person without her realizing it. In order to find Yu Shu earlier, she had carefully searched the entire place.
Ye Luo turned her head to look toward the gigantic, rectangular box. If it weren’t because the box wasn’t deep enough, it would really look like a box for holding a refrigerator. However, Yu Shu’s refrigerator was still alive and well. She should have no interest in buying another one to take up space.
Unless Yu Shu is hiding in the box… No, she’s not that kind of person. It wasn’t that Yu Shu didn’t like to joke around by hiding in boxes to scare people, but it had already been at least half an hour since Ye Luo had begun proofreading the manuscript. She rather doubted that Yu Shu would be so into a prank that she would hide in a box for half an hour on such a hot day just to scare someone.
There was another rustling sound. Ye Luo was staring straight at the box, so she was certain that it sounded exactly like someone had shifted inside the box.
Ye Luo, who had been expressionless this entire time, finally furrowed her brows. She stared at the cardboard box and started considering how probable it’d be that a robot that could move was inside of it—but that probability tended toward zero as time passed. She didn’t believe in the least that Yu Shu’s earnings were enough to allow her to buy such a huge robot to play with.
Then, what exactly is inside? Even if it’s a refrigerator, it wouldn’t make noise unless it was taken out and plugged in, right?
There was another small, rustling sound.
Since Ye Luo was staring straight at the box, she was absolutely certain that the sound had indeed come from the cardboard box. She looked toward the front door which remained closed. Evidently, Yu Shu wasn’t returning just yet.
With a sullen face, she muttered, “Being an editor is really not a job fit for the living.”
Finally giving up on continuing with proofreading the draft on her computer, Ye Luo walked to the cardboard box. This time, it wasn’t just sounds anymore. The entire box was shaking.
If Yu Shu is really hiding inside, I’m going to beat her to death!
Ye Luo tightened her fists and took a deep breath. When the box shook again, she pulled it open in one breath, and a dark shadow flew out in the blink of an eye, burrowing straight into Ye Luo’s chest, clinging to her bosom without letting go…
Ye Luo froze, releasing her breath before she asked, “Why did you run out?”
She lowered her head to look at her chest, her expression actually softening a bit. She whispered, “Yu Shu must have forgotten to shut the cage door again.”
What was clinging to her chest was a small animal. She gave it a rub. It was only around the size of her palm. It had large eyes, a long tail, and gray fur that was soft to the touch. This was Yu Shu’s pet, a small animal that was commonly known as a sugar glider.
“Gabi, be good. Go back to your cage to sleep.” Ye Luo patted the small animal on her chest. This little fellow was a nocturnal animal and should have been sleeping during the daytime. It was probably because the cage door hadn’t been closed, and Gabi had been hungry, that it had escaped to find food.
Ye Luo turned, with the intention to go to the kitchen to search for pet feed. Then, she’d return the little fellow to its cage to sleep. Suddenly, she saw a person standing in the corner… No, there was no one there.
In the blink of an eye, whatever had been there had disappeared completely. There was only a pile of books by the corner. No one was standing there.
Did I see wrong? She hesitated a bit. Even though it wasn’t uncommon for people to occasionally see people out of the corner of their eyes, only to discover that it was an illusion created from a pile of items that resembled a human’s silhouette, that particular pile of books was only half the height of a normal person. What Ye Luo had seen was the shadow of a tall person. The respective heights did not match up.
There was another small sound, and Ye Luo felt a bout of squirming in front of her chest. She lowered her head to look. Gabi was doing its utmost to burrow inside her shirt from her collar. This scene stunned her a bit. This little fellow was very afraid of strangers. When she had first come to Yu Shu’s place, she had nearly been bitten when she had tried to pet it.
After coming over many times, it became used to her and finally stopped biting her. Even so, it definitely wouldn’t burrow into her shirt. That kind of treatment was something that only Yu Shu was able to enjoy.
According to her, Gabi was a portable, tiny heater that didn’t need electricity—perfect for winter days. By placing Gabi directly on the stomach, she could keep warm, and it could sleep. Both benefitted from the arrangement. As for summer days, it was definitely a case of mutual dislike, with the master avoiding the pet, and the pet also avoiding the master.
However, at this very moment, Gabi was actually trying its utmost to burrow underneath Ye Luo’s clothes. It was just that she’d buttoned her shirt high, and the collar was very narrow, so it was having some trouble. Ye Luo hesitated for a moment before she simply unbuttoned one of the buttons, letting the little fellow scamper inside to cling closer to her chest. The warmth gave Ye Luo a relaxed feeling.
There came a rustling sound. Ye Luo turned her head to look. The box was half open, half shut. There was the image of a dark shadow inside. Was the pile of books that high earlier?
Touching the warmth in front of her chest, Ye Luo walked over with a cold face. She abruptly pulled open the cardboard box. Inside the box, the dark shadow belonged to a pile of books that was half a person’s height. Upon a closer look, she noted that they were books written by Yu Shu. She didn’t know why Yu Shu had piled the books there.
I must be on edge from pressuring her at all costs for her manuscript as of late. Ye Luo relaxed her cold expression a bit. The city was always filled with all sorts of sounds. It was just that the sounds this time had been rather close, so she had found it strange.
After she thought it through, she turned to head to the kitchen. After she opened the cupboard doors, she took out Gabi’s feed with familiarity, and then she not-so-familiarly took Gabi out from beneath her clothes to feed it. However, the little fellow didn’t want to eat and instead struggled wildly. In a moment of inattention, it had managed to almost burrow underneath her clothes again.
“Not hungry? Then why have you come out?” Ye Luo was a little puzzled. If it’s not hungry, why would a little nocturnal fellow run around in broad daylight instead of sleeping?
“I heard its cry. When I opened the cage to look, it jumped out,” said an apologetic voice.
Ye Luo froze. Even though she wanted to convince herself that maybe Yu Shu had returned, this was obviously a man’s voice!
“Where has Yu Shu gone?” She didn’t turn her head and merely asked her question calmly.
“She said she was going to find the other person.”
Finding someone? Ye Luo frowned. Since the other person was responding to her so normally, and wasn’t screeching or making some sort of strange sound, then maybe, possibly, he could be a normal person? Maybe it was Yu Shu’s friend?
With this kind of hope, Ye Luo turned.
A blurry shadow stood by the kitchen entrance. The entire body was transparent, like a humanoid molded from glass. It had facial features, but they were all transparent, and this glass person was currently smiling. It was obviously not an inanimate object.
Ye Luo’s breathing hitched. Even though she was always calm, there was no way she could stay calm in this kind of situation. Although she wanted to scream and escape through the door, that thing was blocking the exit. If she wanted to escape, she would have to pass by its side!
Ye Luo tightened her hold on Gabi. The warmth coming from her hands was her only comfort at the moment. She clenched her teeth and made a dash for it. The transparent shadow that stood by the door was violently slammed to the side by her… Actually, it couldn’t be considered violent. The sensation that her action gave was very odd, like there was some kind of air resistance. It was like knocking aside a lump of cotton. It didn’t take much strength at all.
Ye Luo rushed to the living room and out the front door, though she didn’t forget to pick up her laptop from the table on the way. Then, she immediately took her customary left turn to race down the stairs. But where were the stairs? There were only messy piles of books all over the place. She was actually back in the living room?
She had obviously exited the place, but the situation right now was like she had just entered it!
Ye Luo was stunned. Although she didn’t know what was going on, when she saw that the transparent shadow was standing on the other side of the living room, she immediately turned and rushed out of the front door again… only to return to the living room once more.
After entering and exiting several times, Ye Luo finally quashed the anxiety she felt. She stopped her steps and no longer tried to flee. She opened the front door but didn’t walk out of it. She wanted to see what the situation outside was, but she could clearly see a dark flight of stairs…
Puzzled, Ye Luo exited again. Before her eyes was brightness. She hadn’t walked to the dark staircase but rather the bright living room. She turned her head to look. The apartment’s door was closed, but she clearly hadn’t pulled it closed.
Now, Ye Luo understood that she couldn’t leave. She finally gave up on fleeing and sat down on the sofa with a pale face, resigning herself to fate.
During the process of Ye Luo’s fleeing and returning, the transparent shadow had stood by the kitchen door the entire time and had not approached.
This person and this… thing, whatever it was, looked at each other, and both actually showed some trepidation.
After a long observation, Ye Luo felt that the shadow was not scary or chilly. It was just that the person was transparent. Also, Gabi had actually fallen asleep while clinging to her. This dispelled some of her nervousness. Don’t they always say that animals always know when it’s dangerous? If Gabi doesn’t have much of a reaction, then maybe it’s not that scary?
“How do I leave?” She tried asking.
The shadow shook his head. “I do not know. I have never left before.”
Even though she hadn’t received a satisfactory answer, she was able to confirm that the shadow didn’t mean her any harm. He was even aware that she was scared of him, so he continued to stand by the kitchen door without entering the living room.
After Ye Luo stayed silent for a while, she then opened her mouth to ask, “I made a cup of coffee earlier. It’s in the kitchen. Can I have it?” Of course, she didn’t care about the coffee. She just wanted to see the other person’s reaction.
He didn’t respond. Instead, he turned to enter the kitchen. Ye Luo was puzzled for a moment before she realized that he intended to get her coffee for her. As expected, he meant her no harm, yet that shadow didn’t come out of the kitchen for quite some time. Rather, she heard a familiar sound. It was the sound of the coffee machine.
A moment later, a fragrant cup of coffee sat before Ye Luo. She was silent and began thinking about the probability that this shadow belonged to Yu Shu.
She took the coffee, drinking it as she observed the shadow—this coffee was really good!
The shadow was quite tall and had broad shoulders. The shape of the face and the figure all appeared to be male. He was obviously not Yu Shu. Also, after he placed down the coffee, he then stood silently by the table. The other side of the table, even, the exact opposite corner, since he seemed to know that Ye Luo was very frightened of him. Ye Luo suddenly felt that he was a really considerate man—what nonsense, he wasn’t even a human. What was she thinking, calling him a man?
Even though he wasn’t human, and even if he were a ghost, he didn’t seem to be an evil one. All this time, he hadn’t shown any malicious intent. Since she was now confident that her life was not being threatened, Ye Luo felt that there was no longer a reason to be overly afraid.
Her tension and fear receded, and Ye Luo returned to her usual expressionless appearance. After she drank a few sips of coffee, she asked indifferently, “Are you a ghost?”
“A ghost?” The other person didn’t seem to know how to respond. A puzzled expression could be observed despite his transparent facial features. He shook his head. “I don’t know what I am either.”
“I’m Ye Luo. Do you have a name?” Ye Luo purposely asked. If the other person held malicious intent, then he wouldn’t be so senseless as to tell her his name and then kill her, right?
The shadow nodded and said, “Yes.” After he finished speaking, he lowered his head a bit, and in a slightly sorrowful tone, he said, “But I have already forgotten it.”
When she heard his grief over forgetting his name, Ye Luo did feel sympathetic, but she was more relieved by her apparent safety. She couldn’t help but drink more of the coffee. Only then did she ask, “Where did Yu Shu go?”
“She went to find the other person.”
This was the second time that he had answered this way.
“Where did she go to find that person?” Ye Luo asked a bit angrily. She didn’t turn in her manuscript, she placed such a bizarre, transparent thing in her home, and I can’t even leave through the front door. Does she think she won’t need to turn in her manuscript if she scares her editor to death?
The shadow raised a hand and gestured. Ye Luo looked in that direction, and surprisingly, he was pointing at that black box.
Normally, if someone said that he wanted to go inside a three meter wide cardboard box to search for someone, Ye Luo would hand him a business card for a psychiatrist. However, with a semi-transparent thing that could speak right in front of her, and a front door that she couldn’t leave through, she had no choice but to consider the possibility.
“There’s no one inside the box.” Ye Luo had checked earlier. Inside, there was even a pile of books that was half a person’s height. Even a child wouldn’t be able to fit inside.
The shadow insisted, “She went inside.”
Ye Luo remained silent. She decided not to delve further into the matter. If she investigated too much and discovered that the author she had worked with for the past five years was actually not human, then what? Should she give up on coming over to badger her for her manuscripts in the future?
“Do you know when she’ll return?” Yu Shu, with how you are, do you think you can be a god? Even if you’re playing around with the occult, you still need to turn in your manuscript!
The shadow shook his head. “She only said that she was going to find someone. She told me to look after the place.”
“How long has she been gone?”
The shadow showed a puzzled expression again and mumbled, “How long… What is ‘how long’?”
Ye Luo was taken aback. It seems that this ghost is rather dim-witted?
“Raising a dim-witted ghost at home, why does this sound exactly like something you would do, Yu Shu?” Ye Luo sighed heavily and began explaining, “’How long’ refers to time. Do you see that clock hanging on the wall over there? That’s…”