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The Boat Heaved Us Fiercely

“Oh, could it be that stiffs are in the river?” A fellow joked, and everyone recollected the same old story three decades ago.

It’s said that a weird cloud first appeared over downtown, slowly covering our sky and forming the shape of “人”, which means “man” in Chinese characters. There was also a tail of cirrus behind, rolling out the shape of “死”- “death” in Chinese, and linking them together meant: “someone is going to die.”

A local prophet sighed that heaven was short of angels and would pull dozens of people to fill that gap.

A porous bridge stood still under the moonlight, like dense bones or a piece of the shroud as we rowed through it.

It’s said that the tragedy occurred on this bridge. There was a grand lantern festival that night. But as many corrupt officials issued scalped tickets at will, it was extremely crowded and eventually caused a severe trampling accident. About dozens of people fell off the bridge into the river, drowned, and died, confirming the clouds’ prophecy. And the survivors recalled that something in the river was pulling them down that night. It was not human at all.

“Oh, there were still some spirits who had no destiny in heaven. They became the water demons. Once someone told this story on this river, they would pull those people into the water, too.” The fellow lowered his voice, and everyone quieted down.

The boat heaved us fiercely.

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