Wu Jinpeng lived at in old apartment. The house was at least thirty years old. The family of three squeezed inside a small room of twenty cubic meters. The toilet was adjacent to the kitchen, and the rooms were separated by curtains.
"The place is a bit cramped. I hope you don't mind it. I plan to move to a bigger place next month." As Wu Jinpeng opened the door, a big yellow dog rushed over, wagging its tail. It was friendly with Wu Jinpeng and Wu Sheng but snarled warningly when it saw Chen Ge. "Down boy! Sorry about that. Ol' Huang is a stray. He has been chased away by many people, so he isn't keen on strangers. Once you get close to him, though, you'll see how friendly and warm he is."
Wu Jinpeng grabbed Ol' Huang by the fur on his head as he invited Chen Ge into the room. The cement floor was not tiled, and a lot of paraphernalia filled the room, but the place was neatly organized. As small as the place was, it did not feel dirty or disorganized.
"Xiao Kun, we have a guest. Please pour us two glasses of tea!" Wu Jinpeng shouted into the room. Moments later, the curtain was pulled open to reveal a dullish young man walking out with an electric fan.
"I know. You prepare the tea, and I'll fix the fan." Wu Jinpeng tried to take the fan away from the young man, but the young man slid away from him, refusing to let go of the fan.
"Bloody hell, I promise to buy you a new fan after I get my salary, okay?" Wu Jinpeng was embarrassed as he looked Chen Ge. "This is my younger brother. He got into an accident when he was young and injured his brain. He might look dull, but he is actually very clever. In primary school, he was a very good student. His results were always in the top ten."
His son did not know how to speak and his brother had a brain injury; life had been difficult for Wu Jinpeng, but he still felt proud of his family.
Chen Ge admired a man like that. "Brother Peng, I ordered something on the way here. Later, we can chat over dinner. I have many questions for you."
"You should not have done that! You're my guest. I should have treated you, not the other way round!"
"It's me who has questions for you. Treating you is the least I can do."
The delivery soon arrived. Other than food, Chen Ge had ordered some alcohol. The family sat on the blanket in the middle of the room. As simple of it was, it was very close and warm. Wu Sheng and Wu Jinpeng's brother appeared like they had not had such a feast in a long time, and they wolfed everything. Seeing how happy they were, Wu Jinpeng's eyes softened. He picked up a bottle of beer and took a generous gulp.
"Brother Peng, is that a family picture on the cupboard?" Chen Ge pointed at the picture above the cupboard. It was a picture of three people. A young Wu Jinpeng stood in the middle. On his left was his younger brother, and on his right stood a pregnant woman.
"Yes, the woman is Wu Sheng's mother. She left after giving birth to Wu Sheng. She was one hell of a woman, but I was incapable of convincing her to stay." Wu Jinpeng chuckled as he took another sip. "Brother, you have treated us very nicely tonight. Should you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If I know anything, I will try my best to answer."
"Brother Peng, since you are being so open, I will not hide the truth from you." Chen Ge clinked his bottle against Wu Jinpeng's and whispered, "Actually, my relative's boy is a bit different from normal. He has some unique symptoms. I have been holding this in for a long time, and I don't quite know how to talk about it."
"Take your time. There's no need to rush."
"It's not that. I'm just afraid that you might not believe me." Chen Ge sidled closer to the Wu Jinpeng. "One night, I came home late from work, and I saw a door standing next to his bed."
When he said that, Chen Ge's eyes stared at Wu Jinpeng. When Wu Jinpeng heard that, his body shivered slightly.
"At the time, I was shocked. Why would there be a door that suddenly appeared in the room?" Chen Ge's brows were screwed together, acting the part of a scared family member. "I wanted to get closer, but before I could do that, the child woke up. When he did, the door disappeared. Initially, I thought that I was too tired from work, but the next night, the door appeared again!"
"Have you tried to enter that door before?" Wu Jinpeng's follow up question helped Chen Ge confirm that the man knew about the door. Normally, when a person heard a story as strange as that, they would first question its validity, and the question would be related to the door. They would not ask directly whether he had entered the door or not. The fact that Wu Jinpeng had asked that meant that he not only knew about the door but had quite possibly entered the door before. The two men held the bottles and looked at each other for a while. Chen Ge took a big swig to calm his nerves and shook his head. "I have not."
"Good." Wu Jinpeng sighed in relief.
He took the bottle, but before his lips reached the bottle, he heard Chen Ge ask, "What about you?"
The bottle froze in midair. It took Wu Jinpeng a while to recover. He stood up to close the door and window.
"Brother, come over here." Wu Jinpeng waved at Chen Ge. They pulled open the curtain and came to the other room. There was a single bed in the room and a bare mattress on the ground. "Normally, Wu Sheng sleeps in this bed. My younger brother, Wu Kun, and I sleep in the living room, and the curtain separates the room. A few days ago, Wu Sheng kept turning in bed at night like he had trouble sleeping. Initially, I did not think much of it, but at midnight one night, Wu Sheng started to roll and turn around, so I looked over and saw a black shadow behind the curtain!"
Wu Jinpeng gestured wildly, agitated. "It was just like the movies. I quietly approached, and when I pulled open the curtain, I saw Wu Sheng staring at me with his eyes open. I did this for several nights before I got a clear glimpse of the shadow. It was like what you said. It was a door, a door standing in the dark. Whenever I switch on the light or Wu Sheng wakes up, the door disappears. Anyone would be afraid if this happened. The day before yesterday, I planned to open the door, but I can't push it open no matter what, and that was quite maddening!"
Wu Jinpeng sat on the bed. "I haven't told anyone about this because I'm afraid they might think I'm crazy."
"If you can't push it open alone, how about both of us try it together later tonight?" Chen Ge's brows slowly relaxed. "Since we're facing the same situation, we should consider helping each other."
"That sounds doable, but I'm afraid of putting you in danger."
"It's fine. We'll be on the lookout for each other. It's better than being in danger alone."
"Brother, you're too kind. I don't even know what to say."
"You're much too welcome." The world behind the door was very dangerous. Even though Chen Ge promised to go with Wu Jinpeng, at the last moment, he would block Wu Jinpeng and enter alone.
"Let's return to dinner and prepare ourselves for tonight."
The issue having been dealt with, Chen Ge's admiration for Wu Jinpeng grew. He even considered offering him a job at his haunted house if Wu Jinpeng was in real financial trouble.