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Specters of the Night

4

Chapter 4: Get Out!

 

 

Trying to divert the conversation, I asked, "So, what kind of person is Madam Kira?"

 

"Mom told me she was the ninth child in her family and was born with a third eye, meaning she could see spirits. Because of this, everyone thought she was weird and avoided her. She stayed unmarried until she was forty when she finally found a man who accepted her. He was lame, though, and in those days, people like them had few options."

 

“To make a living, Madam Kira started reading fortunes and warding off evil spirits. Surprisingly, her predictions were always accurate, and her business grew. You know how people can be—despite their wealth, they cling to superstitions. Mom's the same way; she wants peace of mind no matter the cost. Over time, Madam Kira became quite wealthy, and people began calling her Madam out of respect."

 

"It must have been tough for her, being both blind and married to a lame man."

 

"She wasn't always blind. Her husband died three years after they married. She fell gravely ill soon after his death, and when she recovered, she had lost her sight. People say it was divine punishment for revealing too many secrets. But since then, nothing strange has happened to her."

 

I remained silent, thinking that Madam Kira’s story could easily be adapted into a historical drama about overcoming adversity. Despite the tragedies, she managed to secure a comfortable life.

 

"We're here. This is Madam Kira's place. Mom and the others got here ahead of us."

 

We had arrived at the outskirts of the city, where small bungalows dotted the landscape. Only one car was parked in front of a modest house, which Aiden pointed out as Madam Kira's home.

 

I stepped out of the car, standing before the house. It looked completely ordinary, not at all like the mystical abode I had imagined. There were no talismans, no incense burning outside, nothing to suggest a fortune teller lived here. Madam Kira appeared to be very low-key.

 

Aiden knocked on the door, and a voice quickly responded, "Coming!"

 

I immediately recognized the voice as Aiden’s mother. Bracing myself for her usual scolding, I was not disappointed. She opened the door and frowned at us.

 

"Why did you take so long? I was worried sick. If Madam Kira hadn’t insisted, I would never have let you come with him," she snapped.

 

"Mom, it's fine. We’re here now," Aiden said.

 

"Come in quickly. Madam Kira is waiting for you."

 

Relieved she wasn’t going to make a scene, I followed Aiden inside. The scent of incense hit me immediately. It was overpowering, making me feel lightheaded and slightly nauseous.

 

I glanced at Aiden. He seemed unaffected by the smell. As we moved further into the house, I tried to steady my nerves.

 

We entered the living room, which was tastefully decorated with an elegance that contrasted sharply with the simplicity outside. Modern furniture was noticeably absent, replaced by a small Buddhist shrine in the east corner, and a Buddha statue smiling down at us.

 

On a plush sofa opposite the shrine sat an old woman with neatly combed gray hair, exuding an unexpected vitality. Aiden's mother sat beside her, attending to her with the utmost respect. This was the renowned Madam Kira.

 

Madam Kira’s eyes were open, but her pupils were clouded white, giving her a disconcerting, almost otherworldly appearance. Aiden's mother took her hand and said, "Madam Kira, my son and his friend are here. Can you take a look at them?"

 

She motioned for us to step forward, but unexpectedly, Madam Kira pulled her hand away, her face contorting.

 

"Don't come any closer!" she shouted.

 

We froze, bewildered. Even Aiden’s mother was taken aback, her words faltering.

 

Madam Kira raised a bony hand and pointed directly at me.

 

"Get out!"

 

Aiden and I exchanged puzzled looks. Was she truly blind, or was this an act to manipulate and deceive?

 

"Get out!"

 

Aiden's mother snapped at me, "Madam Kira told you to leave. Do as she says!"

 

I felt a surge of anger. They had asked me to come, and now they were throwing me out. What was the point?

 

I turned to leave, seething, but Aiden grabbed my arm. "Don't be mad," he pleaded.

 

"How could I not be?"

 

"Just wait outside. I’ll find out what’s going on."

 

Ignoring him, I stormed out.

 

Sitting on the steps outside, I lit a cigarette, hoping it would calm me down. As I smoked, my attention was drawn to a row of small earthenware jars lined against the wall, each sealed with red paper and adorned with cryptic symbols.

 

There were about twenty of them, and curiosity got the better of me. I picked one up, noting its cool, slippery texture and the dried water stains on its surface. It was light, and I shook it gently but heard nothing. I started peeling at the red paper, eager to see inside.

 

Suddenly, the door behind me creaked open. Expecting Aiden, I turned, but it wasn’t him. A young man about my age, wearing a white T-shirt and looking groggy, stepped out. He noticed the jar in my hand and his eyes widened.

 

"If I were you, I wouldn’t touch those," he warned.

 

Thinking he might be related to Madam Kira, I realized it wasn’t appropriate to mess with his things. I returned the jar to its place, curling my lips in annoyance. The man approached me, eyeing the cigarette in my hand with a grin.

 

“Mind sharing one?”

 

I rolled my eyes but handed him a cigarette, lighting another for myself. He sat beside me, took a deep drag, and exhaled slowly, smiling.

 

“I heard my mom kicked you out. Came to see what kind of person scares her so much.”

 

It dawned on me that he wasn’t Madam Kira’s grandson as I initially thought. Considering what Aiden had told me, Madam Kira must be in her sixties, making this man more likely her son.

 

Feeling like a specimen under scrutiny, I asked irritably, “What do you see?”

 

“You’re Yin Bait.”

 

“What?”

 

“Yin Bait. You’re like a spirit-calling flag in ghost stories. You attract ghosts wherever you go.”

 

I felt a mix of skepticism and frustration. How could he label me like that? For more than twenty years, I had lived a normal life until these recent bizarre events. I suspected he was setting me up for some scam, a prelude to demanding money for a solution.

 

“People like you naturally attract spirits. My mom’s old and only deals with small stuff now. Your problem is too big.”

 

Internally, I scoffed. This was a classic setup for a high-priced scam. I asked, “So what should I do?”

 

“Wait for death,” he replied bluntly.

 

My face hardened. He didn’t seem to be joking, and his serious expression made my heart sink. He stubbed out his cigarette and said, “Remember the smell when you entered my house?”

 

I nodded, recalling the overwhelming fragrance. Was there a hidden significance?

 

“That smell drives away ghosts. If it made you uncomfortable, it means you have too much yin energy. Ghosts see you as one of their own.”

 

I thought about Aiden and his mother’s lack of reaction to the smell while it had made me dizzy. Maybe this guy had a point, but I was still skeptical.

 

“Your reaction tells me I’m right.”

 

He then pulled a piece of white cardboard from his pocket and handed it to me. It was a hand-drawn business card with his name and phone number.

 

The title read: **Dylan Drake, Professional Ghost Exorcist**.

 

I stifled a laugh. “Really?”

 

Dylan nodded. “You can laugh, but I’m your best chance. Call me if you change your mind.”

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