Those Years I Employed Non-Humans as Actors - Chapter 4.2
As soon as he walked out of the bedroom, he smelled an appetizing fragrance in the air. Stimulated by the smell, Zhong Jiudao’s empty stomach started to growl.
The aroma came from the dining hall on the first floor. Zhong Jiudao went down and saw steamed buns, porridge, eggs and various other dishes spread out on the table.
Aunt Yang was standing in the corner of the dining hall with a warmhearted expression. Upon seeing Zhong Jiudao, she said, “I don’t know what my lord likes to eat, so I prepared some traditional menu for breakfast. If it doesn’t suit your taste, my lord can tell me what you’d like to eat and I’ll prepare it immediately.”
Zhong Jiudao stared at the spread of tantalizing breakfast on the table, his brows furrowing. The problem wasn’t about whether or not it was to his taste, but on where exactly these dishes came from!
“Where did you get the ingredients?” Zhong Jiudao asked.
Aunt Yang replied respectfully, “Two years ago, when the previous owners moved in, they bought a lot of rice, noodles, meat, eggs and other staples, but they left everything behind when they moved out. I used those ingredients to prepare the food.”
Zhong Jiudao: “…”
Rice and noodles had long shelf lives. Two years was almost pushing the limit, but they were still safe for consumption. Meat and eggs that had been stored for two years, however… Could those things really still be considered food?
“My lord, you don’t need to worry about this. All the ingredients have been preserved with Steward Lin’s Yin energy. Under the nourishment of Yin energy, an ancient corpse can last for a thousand years without rotting and remain just as lifelike as the day it died. In comparison, these animal carcasses had only been stored for two years, so they’re still very fresh,” reassured Aunt Yang.
Zhong Jiudao: “…”
Very well. Hearing what Aunt Yang said, not only did he lose all desire to touch the food on the table, he couldn’t even look straight at the meat dishes!
“You’re able to show your body during the daytime? And you can even handle fire1He asked this because ghosts are usually weak against strong light and fire.
?” For the time being, Zhong Jiudao decided to repress all thoughts about Yin energy fresh-keeping, pushing the information out of his mind lest he be reminded of today’s breakfast whenever he saw meat in the future.
Aunt Yang modestly answered, “We’ve become ghosts for many years and learned some means to protect ourselves. As long as we don’t expose ourselves to direct sunlight of the strong midday sun, we will be fine. This house has a strong Yin energy. In addition, it’s surrounded by trees and sheltered from the sun. Aside from not being able to go up to the rooftop at noon, we can move freely inside the house.”
Since this was the case, the ghosts he hired for the movie could also participate in filming during the day without raising the other staff’s suspicion.
“My lord, are you not going to eat?” Aunt Yang looked up and asked.
Every ghost had their own obsession. Zhong Jiudao didn’t know how Aunt Yang died, but he vaguely sensed that her obsession had something to do with her cooking. Perhaps, when she was alive, something happened to her because of her cooking, making her obsessed with seeing people eat the food she cooked.
It went without saying that Zhong Jiudao left the breakfast untouched. He left the dining hall under Aunt Yang’s disappointed gaze.
Wasting no time, he then walked to the main hall and loudly announced, “Some people will be coming over in a while. They’re here to shoot the movie, so that makes them your future colleagues. For the next two to three months, they’ll be staying in this villa together with everyone. You guys must behave yourselves and promise not to harm these people.”
Dozens of phantom winds drifted into the hall. After hearing Zhong Jiudao’s words, the ghosts made the pledge that they wouldn’t hurt the humans.
“If anyone failed to control themself…” Zhong Jiudao shifted his eyes toward the main switch on the first floor and sneered. “Filming consumes a lot of electricity.”
The phantom winds trembled in fright, consecutively vowing to keep their words.
After warning them, Zhong Jiudao walked out of the house. The red flowers that were in full bloom last night had all withered away, making the flower garden look bleak and barren.
But the stone path leading to the gate was still as clean as it had been yesterday. Not a single fallen leaf could be found in sight.
He stood at the gate and waited for Qian Duoqun. About ten minutes later, a pickup truck pulled up in front of the gate.
Qian Duoqun was a man of ordinary appearance and medium build. Despite looking to be in his late thirties, he was only twenty-eight years old this year. Years of hard work at the grassroots level had made him appear more weathered and older than he actually was.
Aside from Qian Duoqun, there was another passenger inside the truck. It was a tall, long-legged, handsome and clear-eyed young man with a bright temperament. When he got off the truck and saw Zhong Jiudao, he gave him a very polite greeting. “Good afternoon, director. My name is Luo Huai. Brother Qian brought me here to audition for your movie, I hope you can give me the chance to try out for it.”
Zhong Jiudao looked at Qian Duoqun. “He is…?”
Qian Duoqun hurriedly pulled Zhong Jiudao aside and spoke to him in a hushed voice, “He’s someone I managed to trick into coming with me, a shabaitian2傻白甜(sha bai tian), literally means silly(傻), innocent(白), and sweet(甜). Chinese slang for a person who’s nice and sweet but overly naive and gullible to the point of foolishness.. I offered him ten thousand yuan for a three-month filming period and he actually agreed. This fee is even cheaper than what you pay an extra.”
“…How did you do it?” Zhong Jiudao asked.
Luo Huai was very good-looking. Most importantly, he had that fresh and youthful air around him, a valuable quality that couldn’t be replicated through acting. Even without taking acting skills into consideration, an actor with such appearance and temperament should be able to nab a major role in one of those youth dramas that were currently in trend. The pay might not be too high, but it would never be as pitifully low as what Qian Duoqun offered him.
“I told him you have a very powerful backing and that this movie’s bound to be a great success. He obediently followed me just like that. You know, even if it’s a horror movie, you still need an attractive character. He has the looks, so you can include more close-ups of his face in the promotional posters. You can bait some audience into watching the movie with this method,” Qian Duoqun explained.
Zhong Jiudao had no qualms about being ruthless to the ghosts, but when dealing with honest people, he was usually equally honest and kind. Seeing Luo Huai acting as though he had been given a great opportunity when he was in fact being deceived, Zhong Jiudao didn’t have the heart to continue the farce. He whispered to Qian Duoqun, “The pay is really way too low.”
“It’s his luck to be able to participate in our movie!” Noticing Zhong Jiudao’s hesitation, Qian Duoqun quickly said, “When I first met him, a notorious pimp in the circle was trying to trick him into an ‘audition’. That person… tsk tsk, he’s an outright scum, none of the actors who fell into his hands had a good end. You can say that I’ve saved Luo Huai’s life, just consider his reduced pay as a form of gratitude for me.”
With that said, Qian Duoqun left Zhong Jiudao and went over to Luo Huai. “Director Zhong said you’re still too young, he could tell at a glance that your acting skills are still unpolished. He didn’t want to use you at first, but I talked my mouth off and finally managed to convince him to change his mind. You have to do a good job. Be smarter and work conscientiously, got it?”
Luo Huai was indeed a shabaitian. When he heard Qian Duoqun say this, he happily bowed to Zhong Jiudao. “Thank you for giving me this opportunity, Director Zhong.”
After that, Luo Huai ran to the truck, carried two large boxes in his arms, and then asked Zhong Jiudao, “Where should I put these props?”
For a moment, Zhong Jiudao didn’t know what to say. “…Put them back for now. Let’s park the truck in the yard first before we move down the props.”