I looked around once more, feeling somewhat overwhelmed with the ancient feeling. Although I was not that surprised of the house’s setting anymore, but I was still not used to it yet. I was about to ask Jing Jing if she wanted to sleep on the bunk bed or the regular bed when the guys sprung up again from the other bunk beds. Ting Wei and CJ were on the same side while Roger was at the opposite corner. CJ climbed down from the ladder and sat next to Ting Wei. Roger walked over to the other two and sat in the chair next to the bed. Jing Jing and I approached the guys. We pulled up some chairs on our way there. Jing Jing was sitting next to Roger while I sat next to Ting Wei.
“This place sure is creepy all right,” CJ began.
“Lower your voice,” Ting Wei reminded him in a low tone. “We don’t want them to hear us.”
We finally switched back to English and modern Chinese language interchangeably.
“How in the world did we get here in the first place?” Roger asked, still confused.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I was in my room doing my article,” I began. “Then I got up to stretch a bit. When I sat back down again to continue, I hear some weird rattling sounds, like an earthquake coming. I got up and walked to the door to check on my parents. But before I could open the door, some weird dark winds circled in front of me, blocking my view. It sort of like wrapped me up and carried me up to the ceiling. And then I think I blacked out. When I woke up, I was in that weird dark house. Then I woke Ting Wei up. Then we woke Jing Jing up. Then of course you two.”
The others were either thinking whether they should believe me or not or they were still sinking it in, considering how fast I talked.
“I swear I didn’t make it up,” I said in an as a matter-of-fact tone. “I thought it was some sort of tornado. And maybe it swept all of us away and somehow some people found us and saved us. And this place just happens to be some film production area, so they don’t have modern clothes so they changed us into these costumes.”
“You know what?” CJ spoke up.
I waited for his attack since I was pretty used to it by now. I only prayed that I wouldn’t strangle him after hearing his blow.
“That was what happened to us, except we were all together,” CJ said. “I mean us guys. We were in Ting Wei’s room talking about something. And then he said…”
CJ turned to Ting Wei.
“What?” I asked, turning to Ting Wei also.
“I don’t remember,” Ting Wei said, looking down.
He was lying.
“What?” I urged.
“His head probably got scrambled in the process,” Roger said. He turned to Jing Jing. “What happened to you? How did you get here?”
“I…” Jing Jing began. “I was at home…in my room. I was watching news on my little TV and then I heard some swooshing sounds and some black wind like you described and I lost conscious until Angela and Ting Wei woke me up.”
“If there was a tornado, don’t you think they would’ve notice?” Roger asked.
“A tornado where we live? Impossible,” I wrinkled my face.
“Anything is possible,” CJ said. “Come on. We’re here, aren’t we?”
“Hmm…” I thought out loud.
“What?” CJ inquired, looking at me.
“I’m just trying to think of a way to get those two to quit with their illusions,” I replied. “And what’s with saying that the dark house is haunted? That’s just too much.”
“And the scariest part is that they sound so serious,” Roger jumped in.
“Like I said before,” CJ reminded us. “We can’t do anything until we have some light. Let’s all turn in.”
“I guess so,” I said tiredly.
We stood up again, setting the chairs back and getting ready for bed.
“Wait,” CJ said.
I turned around to look at him. “What?”
“What was with the Zhao and Zhang thing” He asked, walking toward me.
“You should have stayed awake when our professor was covering the section on ancient China history, Little Bro,” I said, smiling. “And don’t you or your family watch those ancient serial?”
“What?” CJ looked as puzzled as ever.
“The Zhao family is the royal family that ruled during the Song Dynasty. She was asking you if you were a descendant of them. It would be too much trouble trying to explain to her you’re not related, so I have to take you in to save us all the trouble.”
“Oh.” CJ still looked unsure.
“Don’t worry, Little Bro,” I said. “I’ll look out for you.”
“Knock it off, Angela,” CJ said, annoyed.
I smiled. “Too bad. Until we get them back to reality or maybe until we get out of here, you’re my little brother.” I turned to Jing Jing. “You want the normal bed or the bunk bed?”
“Uh…” Jing Jing said, sounding unsure.
“You look too tired to try the bunk bed. I’ll take it,” I said, smiling.
Roger had returned to his side of the room as Ting Wei got back into bed. CJ was still standing in the middle of the room, dumbfounded. I walked toward Roger’s bunk bed and began to ascend the ladder after taking off my boots. As I reached the top bed, I slipped in the covers slowly, trying not to disturb Roger from below. I took my cloak off and placed it on the square pillow before lying on it. These people really went all out on the ancient thing, I thought. I looked back down to see everyone in bed, except for CJ still standing in the center of the room.
“Since you’re standing there, Little Bro, why don’t you turn off the light for us?” I said. “I mean blow out the oil lamp.”
The others laughed as CJ unfroze himself from the spot. As he was about to turn off the light – I meant blow out the lamp, Roger spoke up again.
“Wait!” He exclaimed from below.
Everyone of us sat up at the same time – except for CJ who was still standing, and exclaimed out a “What?” at him.
“I remember now,” Roger said.
“Remember what?” I edged out a little from my place to look below.
“It was Ting Wei who said he wished that we’re here.”
“What?!” I exclaimed, jumping out of bed and completely forgotten that I was high above.
I could feel the wind swooshing by rapidly and then a thud. How come I was not hurt? I opened my eyes again – remembering that I had closed them since I had felt the rushing air. I was in Roger’s arm at the moment. He had somehow managed to jump out of bed and caught me in time. He finally released me and set me down on the ground again as the others were rushing toward me.
“Are you all right?” Ting Wei asked, worried.
“Why did you wish that we’re here?” I demanded.
He turned to Roger.
“I think he must have forgotten when things were so confusing, but I finally remember,” Roger explained. “We were sitting in our room having a guy talk like CJ said earlier. We were talking about some problem. I don’t remember clearly what. But Ting Wei suddenly said that he wishes that we were in the ancient time so things wouldn’t so complicated anymore. And then we’re here. Do you guys get it? This is real.”
I turned to Ting Wei again.
“You’re right,” CJ said silently.
I turned to CJ.
“Roger’s right,” He said, looking at me. “I remember too. He said he wish we were in ancient times so things wouldn’t be so complicated. All five of us, not the others. That’s why our families aren’t here.”
“That’s impossible,” I said.
“Impossible or not, we’ll find out tomorrow,” CJ pointed out.
“You expect me to believe that anyone of us just makes a wish and then it comes true? Like I could wish right now to…”
CJ advanced forward and covered my mouth before I could say the rest. I managed to yank his hand out before choking.
“What are you trying to do?” I said, coughing in the process.
“Don’t try it. At least until we find out what’s going on tomorrow. Better be safe than sorry, you know, Big Sis,” He said, smiling.
I gave him a look. “Fine then.”
I ascended the ladder and slipped into my blanket again. I honestly hoped I remember that we were in that strange place and wouldn’t roll out of my bed by accident at night. There was a little level protecting me, but I still felt unrest. I looked down below again, seeing the others were getting back to bed – even CJ. He was the last one to get into bed since he had to blow out the lamp.
I tossed and turned endlessly that night, not being able to sleep at all. I could hear the crickets chirping so loud that it was driving me insane. I honestly hoped that what Roger said wasn’t true.
When I finally nodded off, I could hear someone calling me. I turned to the other side, ignoring the voice. Since it was so soft, I thought I dreamt it.
“Angela,” The voice became a tad louder, but not too loud.
I finally turned to my right again, opening my eyes. I could see my “Little Brother” hovering over me. What in the world was he doing in the middle of the night? Then I realized it was not nighttime anymore. I might have drifted off a bit and then got woken up.
“What?” I whispered back to him, sitting up. I finally realized that he had climbed the ladder and was leaning on the edge of my bed for support.
“Let’s check outside before the others wake up,” He said, continuing in his low voice.
“How come we can’t wait for the others?” I asked back.
“We don’t want the whole house up,” He said. “The more people there are, the more confusing it will be. Let’s go explore around first and report back to them. Come on. It’s still early. Mrs. Yang and her son are probably still asleep.”
He looked so honest – almost – that I couldn’t help but agree. I grabbed my cloak from my pillow and slipped it on me before following him down the ladder. I put on my boots carefully and tiptoed outside with him. The best thing about these ancient setting was the floor didn’t creak and that the boots didn’t make a sound. We made it to the door safely. CJ opened the door, causing it to creak a bit. We turned around to check on the others. Seeing that they were not the least disturbed, we slipped out quickly and closed it carefully again.
“Where to first?” I said, switching back to ancient Chinese language – just in case the Yangs had already woken up.
“I remember the path back out to the front door, let’s see if we can find the some real buildings and ask them for more information,” He said.
He sounded so serious with his words that I was about ready to put his name on a mantel and worship him. Almost.
We walked out of the back section of the house and into the front area again without bumping into Mrs. Yang or Ah Xiang. We slipped out of the front door unscathed also. Finally, I thought, fresh air. I inhaled and exhaled before looking around at the surrounding area again. It had stopped snowing, but the frosty sheet below our feet was quite a sight. I shivered as a gust of wind swept by.
“You want my cloak also?” CJ asked.
“No, it’s okay,” I replied.
Why was he being so nice and serious today? Or maybe he was just trying to get along with me until we find our way back to civilization? Choice B, I thought.
“Let’s get started,” He said.
“Where to first?” I asked, looking around the area once more.
I stole a glance at the dark black house again. It didn’t look haunted at all. Okay, it was dark and black, but that didn’t mean it was haunted. Somehow, I couldn’t help but shiver.
“You sure you don’t want my cloak?” I heard CJ speaking up again.
“No,” I said, turning to him.
“Okay then,” He said. Then he pointed toward our left. “I honestly think civilization is actually that way. Want to try?”
“That’s my guess too,” I said.
“All right then.” He smiled. “Let’s go, jie.”
I rolled my eyes and followed him toward the left.
We walked quite a distance before we could see some houses or what looked like houses. I could see a tall building from a distance. It looked like a church. I hope it was since that would discredit Roger’s words.
“That looks like a church,” CJ spoke up out of nowhere.
“Yes, it does,” I agreed.
“Hopefully, it is,” He said.
It almost sounded like he was pleading.
“I hope so too,” I said.
We must have walked a mile already. I let out a yawn.
“Couldn’t sleep last night?” He asked, looking sideways at me.
“I know. This is just too strange.”
I nodded, not wanting to say another word. Why did my feet feel so heavy now? I have to stay awake, I urged myself. I was out in the middle of nowhere with the famous ladies’ man here. I couldn’t let my guard down. Suddenly, I couldn’t stand it anymore. My feet began to wobble as my vision blurred.
“Angela!” I heard CJ shouting in alarmed, not caring whether anyone heard him.
He must have caught me in his arms because I couldn’t feel the snow under me. Then I could feel his hand on my face and then nothing.
When I came into consciousness again, I could hear some talking around me. Was I back in Mrs. Yang’s house? Or home? Was it all a dream? Maybe I was home! The thought of it made me feel beyond excited. I sat up straight, opening my eyes again. To my disappointment, I could still see people in ancient attires. Who were these people? I looked around to see it looked like some kind of ancient hotel – an inn to be exact.
“She’s awake,” A woman sitting at a table nearby said, pointing at me.
I looked around, trying to find a familiar face. Then I saw CJ walking toward me.
“Jie, are you all right?” He said, gesturing with his hand to remind me of the situation.
“I know you’re feeling a little light-headed. The medic said that you’re just exhausted from lack of sleep. Don’t worry.”
I turned to look at the others again, wondering who they were.
“They are part of the Huang Tu City,” He said. “The place we saw earlier.”
“Oh,” I said. I turned to look at him with anxious eyes. “That means we’re…”
He stepped forward and sat on the edge of my bed.
“Angela, don’t cry,” He whispered to me in English.
I swallowed the lump forming in my throat and faced the others.
“She must still be tired,” The same woman from earlier said.
“Yes, I think so too,” CJ agreed. “Thanks for everyone’s concern, but could you all…”
“We understand,” The woman replied. “We’re going to go outside now since your sister is awake already.” She turned to the others. “Come on, everyone. Let’s leave and let Shao Han have her rest.”
When it was only me and CJ again in the room, I made sure no one else was in sight before turning to CJ.
“What are we going to do now?” I blurted out. I began to grab both of his shoulders and shook him, losing it. “How are we going to get out of here?”
I didn’t care that the others would hear me or come back.
“Calm down,” He said. “We will find a solution to this.”
“How can we? We’re trapped here because someone decides to make a wish and it actually comes true and…”
I could see his face turning serious. He looked so cool and full of confidence – unlike his cowardly look from the past. I put his name back on the mantel in my mind.
“We’ll find a way. Trust me on this one. We got 20 plus years of intelligence between us,” He said. “We will solve this little mystery no matter what, all right?”
“If you’re feeling up to it, we can walk back to Mrs. Yang’s house and pick up the others. Then we can find our way out of here. Okay?”
I nodded again.
What?! I didn’t realize I was naked to begin with. I checked again. I could see myself wearing a white long sleeves shirt and white pants also. It was probably made out of some kind of silk. It looked more like pajamas. I calmed down again after knowing that I was not naked. I looked around to see my clothes – the parakeet outfit lying on the chair next to my bed. I tossed the cover aside and got off from the bed. CJ stepped forward to help me. I picked the parakeet outfit up and began to put it on. For some odd reason, CJ walked toward the opposite side of the room with his back to me. I was not completely naked, why was he looking away? And when did he become a gentleman? Did this strange place do it to him?
© Tuesday, July 15th, 2008
Posted: Saturday, March 13th, 2010