Safety Manual Labor Tips with a Twist of 2D Chapter 15

Chapter 15 Burial

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“Tonight is destined to be a restless one,” Qi Ming murmured softly.

Lin Zhaohe nodded, “Let’s just make do in the living room for the night, just in case something happens.”

“Sounds good,” Zhuang Lao agreed.

So the three of them decided to spend the night there. The coffins of Xu Yuan’s parents were placed in the center of the living room. With the rain pouring outside and the dimming lights, the atmosphere felt creepy. Even someone as experienced as Qi Ming felt a bit nervous. He wanted to have a conversation, to make the room a bit more lively, and asked, “Lin Zhaohe, how long have you been working at the company?”

Lin Zhaohe: “About three years.”

Qi Ming: “You joined right when the world was ending?”

Lin Zhaohe: “Yeah, right when the world was ending, I lost my job. I had to find some work to support myself.” He blinked as he looked out into the pitch-black night, seemingly lost in serious contemplation.

Qi Ming: “Aren’t you afraid of doing this?”

“Afraid?” Lin Zhaohe replied, “Of course I’m afraid. Who wouldn’t be? Honestly, these past few days, I’ve been so scared that I couldn’t sleep.”

Qi Ming fell silent. In the company, Lin Zhaohe was quite well-known. He had a calm and gentle appearance, but when it came to getting things done, he was determined and relentless. Qi Ming remembered several troublesome clients who were all taken care of by him. He couldn’t fathom where this seemingly delicate young man drew his energy from. In the face of the end of the world, he seemed to have stepped onto his own battlefield. What was it that filled him with such courage and strength?

Qi Ming asked, “Can you assure me that tomorrow will go smoothly?”

Lin Zhaohe remained silent.

“Lin Zhaohe?” Qi Ming called out.

Still, Lin Zhaohe remained silent, but Zhuang Lao, who had been quiet all along, softly spoke up, “He fell asleep.”

Qi Ming turned his head and noticed that Lin Zhaohe was already lying back in the chair, fast asleep. The serene expression on his face made one wonder if he was reclining on a luxurious king-size bed instead of a mere chair.

Qi Ming: “…” Is this what you meant by being too scared to sleep these past few days?

Zhuang Lao propped his chin and chuckled. “Would you like to take a nap too?”

“…Thank you, Boss, but I’m fine,” Qi Ming said, with a mix of laughter and frustration.

The night stretched on, the wind carrying raindrops that brushed against Qi Ming’s face. Despite it being August, the weather felt unusually gloomy, especially tonight. Qi Ming had a faint sense that something was about to happen. He shifted uncomfortably, his lips trembling as he murmured, “Boss, do you smell something strange?”

Zhuang Lao shook his head.

Qi Ming swallowed nervously. He knew his boss was not much of a talker, so he closed his mouth, unable to say more.

A loud thunderclap split the air, casting an eerie spotlight on the two coffins in the hall. Qi Ming reminded himself that there were no ghosts in this movie. He had watched too many horror films, leaving a profound impact on him.

Qi Ming crossed his arms, trying to generate some warmth, but it proved futile. He swallowed nervously and whispered, “Boss, it’s a bit cold. I’ll go upstairs and get a blanket.”

Zhuang Lao glanced at him and said, “I’ll go.”

Qi Ming replied, “No, there’s no need.” He felt it would be better to go upstairs rather than staying alone with two coffins.

Zhuang Lao didn’t insist and simply nodded.

Qi Ming took a deep breath and quickly ascended the stairs. When he reached his room, his plan was to grab the blanket and head back downstairs. However, as soon as he touched the blanket, something felt off—a slippery texture, unlike a soft plush blanket. It almost felt like the skin of an animal.

No, perhaps it wasn’t even animal skin. Qi Ming recalled the experience Zhang Xiaoxiao had mentioned that night. Although he kept telling himself it was fake, when he looked at that blanket, he still saw the most dreaded image from deep within his heart.

There was no blanket, just a piece of wriggling human skin. Even the face had been completely peeled off, and at first glance, it even bore a faint resemblance, reminding him of the missing Zhang Xiaoxiao…

No, this couldn’t be happening. Qi Ming’s pupils contracted as he saw the piece of human skin crawling towards him, his own body completely immobilized, allowing it to slowly cover him entirely.

His vision darkened as he lost consciousness.

Qi Ming never came back downstairs, and Zhuang Lao didn’t make any move to go find him. With his hand propping up his chin, his pitch-black eyes stared aimlessly into the endless curtain of rain. His expression revealed a cold, indifferent boredom.

After several hours had passed, Qi Ming finally came downstairs, but he didn’t have the blanket with him. His appearance seemed somewhat disheveled.

“It’s getting light,” Zhuang Lao said. “The village chief is coming.”

“Hmm,” Qi Ming muttered absentmindedly. “He’s coming.”

Zhuang Lao: “What did you see?”

Qi Ming: “Nothing…”

Zhuang Lao: “Believe it?”

Qi Ming forced a bitter smile. “Not really.”

Zhuang Lao chuckled. “Same here.”

Qi Ming fell silent. He didn’t enjoy discussing these matters with his boss. Zhuang Lao sometimes made him feel uncomfortable, but he couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was exactly.

Time passed quickly, and in the blink of an eye, the village chief arrived with a group of people.

They were all dressed in black, wearing thick raincoats and bamboo hats, resembling ghostly figures moving in the night as they quietly reached the doorstep.

The village chief entered the room and saw the three individuals inside. Zhuang Lao and Qi Ming looked somewhat tired, while Lin Zhaohe, the most difficult one to handle, had his head tilted to the side, wearing an expression as if something had frightened him out of his wits. Their condition seemed to please the village chief, as if it was only when the three of them were like this that it met some kind of requirement.

“What happened to Xiao Lin?” the village chief asked.

“He accidentally bumped into something,” Qi Ming mumbled vaguely.

“How did he accidentally bump his head?” The village chief appeared genuinely concerned about Lin Zhaohe.

“He said he saw something dirty,” Qi Ming provided an answer.

This answer seemed to greatly satisfy the village chief, who even smiled briefly, a rare sight. He then glanced around the room, noticing someone missing. “Where is the Xu boy?”

Xu Yuan had left yesterday and hadn’t returned today. His parents were about to be buried. How would they manage to cover up his absence?

Lin Zhaohe was pondering over this question when he heard Qi Ming’s dismissive response, “I don’t know where he ran off to. I went upstairs to call him just now and found that he wasn’t in the room.”

The village chief showed no urgency despite the son’s absence during his parents’ burial. In fact, he had no reaction at all. He glanced up at the clock hanging on the wall and said, “We can’t delay the burial any longer. Since you are his friends, you can accompany him on this final journey.” He pointed to the mourning clothes and raincoats placed in the corner.

The village chief’s attitude made Lin Zhaohe feel that this group of people didn’t really care whether Xu Yuan participated in the funeral or not. As long as someone replaced him and completed the entire process, it was deemed sufficient.

Lin Zhaohe had wanted to ask a few questions, but seeing Qi Ming and Zhuang Lao naturally pick up the black clothes from the corner, he swallowed his doubts. He deeply regretted falling asleep there last night. His awkward posture gave him a stiff neck, and when Qi Ming woke him up, he felt as if his head had fallen off.

Tilting his head and resembling a simpleton, Lin Zhaohe struggled to put on the clothes and then reluctantly donned the raincoat.

“Let’s go,” the village chief ordered as the clock struck five. Right on time, the funeral procession set off.

Once they left the courtyard, Lin Zhaohe realized that there were a surprisingly large number of people accompanying the funeral. It seemed like the entire village had come out in full force.

Along the sides of the road stood countless people dressed in black raincoats, each holding a dimly flickering red lantern in their hands.

Several strong men carried the coffins at the forefront of the crowd, followed by Lin Zhaohe and the others accompanying the funeral. The village chief and a few musicians playing wind instruments followed behind them. The instruments were suona and drums, which were originally lively, but they now produced a spooky and mournful melody.

The wind, mixed with raindrops, lashed against Lin Zhaohe’s figure. His feet trudged through the muddy mountain path, and he could barely see the road ahead. Despite it being five o’clock, apart from the faint light emitted by the lantern in his hand, the entire world was engulfed in darkness. It felt as if they were walking into hell itself.

“How much longer do we have to walk?” Lin Zhaohe whispered, “Are we really heading up the mountain? It feels strange. Where has the plot progressed to?”

As he spoke, Lin Zhaohe turned to look at Qi Ming and saw Qi Ming’s face pale like a ghost, on the verge of fainting. The flame in Qi Ming’s lantern flickered a few times and suddenly extinguished.

“Qi Ming, are you okay?!” Lin Zhaohe, afraid that he might collapse, quickly reached out and supported him, taking the lantern from his hand as well.

Qi Ming fell into Lin Zhaohe’s arms, and Lin Zhaohe thought he had truly passed out. But then he heard Qi Ming’s faint voice saying, “Tell them my lantern went out.”

Perplexed, Lin Zhaohe suddenly found himself surrounded by several villagers, who had pulled Qi Ming away from his embrace. They encircled Lin Zhaohe tightly, their faces obscured in the darkness, whispering incessantly. Unfortunately, Lin Zhaohe couldn’t understand a single word they were saying.

“Did your lantern go out?” someone asked from within the crowd. The villagers kept repeating the question, their voices unnerving, “Did your lantern go out?”

Lin Zhaohe lowered his head and realized that Qi Ming’s lantern was also in his hand. Based on the village chief’s earlier instructions, it was evident that having the lantern go out was not a good sign. Lin Zhaohe was about to respond when the village chief, seemingly already aware of the answer, waved his hand, instructing the villagers to take Qi Ming away.

Lin Zhaohe widened his eyes. “What are you doing—my lantern went out—” He feared that these people would harm Qi Ming directly.

“It’s alright,” the village chief said calmly. “Let’s go. Your friend is feeling unwell, and we’ll send him back.”

Before Lin Zhaohe could react, he saw Qi Ming being pulled up by a group of people and led away from the crowd. As he was being carried off, Qi Ming glanced back at Lin Zhaohe, his eyes filled with helplessness, as if asking Lin Zhaohe what he was doing.
Lin Zhaohe felt wronged and thought to himself, Why are you like this? I’m worried about you, and you’re glaring at me. Sniffling, after seeing Qi Ming off, the crowd began to move again, carrying Lin Zhaohe, who was still confused, towards a deeper part of the mountain.

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