“What should we do? What should we do?” The people inside the bus were like ants on a hot pot, all out of ideas and panicking, spinning in circles on the spot.

“Is this a ghostly wall of some sort?” Jianye, who had just lost a loved one, crawled to the window. The pregnant woman’s body was still there, but his brother had completely disappeared, as if evaporated, leaving no trace behind.

Yuan Feng’s face was grim. He suddenly pulled out a spring knife and held it to the driver’s neck. “I don’t believe in superstitions. Tell me, are you behind this?”

“Big brother, what do I have to do with this? This is my first time driving the number 14 bus,” the driver dared not move, sweat dripping down his face. “Driving other buses only pays around three thousand yuan a month, but for the last bus of the number 14 route, you only need to drive it four times a month to get an extra four thousand yuan bonus.”

“I was desperate for money for my wedding, so I had no choice but to take over the work of the old driver. If I knew this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have come even if it killed me.” The driver’s tone was tearful and didn’t sound like he was lying.

“If you dare to make any moves, don’t blame me for using my knife!” Yuan Feng said viciously, then put away his knife and walked over to me. “Do you have any ideas? You seem calm, do you know something?”

“I’m just a mortal; what can I do?” I held onto Yi Yi’s hand tightly. “It’s not a big deal for the bus to stop halfway. You should ask the driver to start the bus and go around the pregnant woman’s body. Maybe if we make another round, we can leave this place.”

At this point, we could only try, but half an hour later, everyone’s faces were like they had been covered with a layer of dead ash.

“We’re back again?!”

The huge advertising billboard outside the window stood by the roadside, and the deserted rose garden looked like a dug-up grave waiting to bury the number 14 bus.

“What should we do?”

“Do you guys have anything else to say besides ‘What should we do?’ Use your brains and think, there’s not just me on this bus!” We were almost at the final stop, and to encounter this situation of getting lost in a maze was frustrating me to no end.

Jianye buried his head and seemed to still be mourning his brother, while Wang Chunfu held onto his Guanyin pendant and recited some incomprehensible sutras. Only Yuan Feng stood at the front of the bus, with a constantly changing expression on his face.

“There are indeed more than just you on this bus, but if we were to talk about it, your behavior is the most abnormal,” Yuan Feng put his hand into his left pocket, and I remembered vividly that his spring knife was in his left pocket.

“My behavior is abnormal?” Yuan Feng was starting to suspect me, which left me feeling both amused and exasperated.

“That’s right, you have been calm and collected since you got on the bus, and everything you have done has had a clear purpose. I suspect there is a reason behind your actions,” Yuan Feng maintained a distance of at least two meters from me at all times, and his cautious personality proved inseparable from his ability to evade the law.

After he said that, the remaining few people on the bus began to look at me with strange eyes, except for Yi Yi, who stood firmly by my side.

“Did what I do harm you guys?” I asked, looking at the several despicable people in the bus. “You pushed yourselves into a dead end.” 

“You may not have harmed them, but I think you could harm me,” Yuan Feng leaned against the front door of the bus. “You are a police officer, and although you held back during our fight earlier, some habitual movements cannot be changed. Those are the bare-handed catches and throws practiced by criminal investigators.” 

I didn’t expect Yuan Feng to be so astute. “What does it have to do with you that I’m a police officer? Today, I’m just helping a friend take care of a child, and delivering this little girl to her mother is my primary task.” 

However, I knew that I had to feign confusion and buy myself some time. As long as Yuan Feng desired to live, he wouldn’t turn against me just yet.

“Uncle, you’re a police officer!” The most excited person in the bus was Yi Yi. It seems that police officers have a high status in her eyes. 

“Comrade police officer, what should we do now?” The police officer’s identity was really useful, and Wang Chunfu’s attitude towards me had improved a lot.

I touched the talisman paper placed close to my chest. There was a solution, but I wouldn’t use it unless it was a last resort. 

“Let’s take another lap, everyone keep an eye out, we might discover something unexpected.” 

“Taking even ten more laps would be a waste of time.” Yuan Feng walked to the back of the bus and grabbed Zhang Rong, who was sitting on the ground, with one hand. “I have a way for all of us to escape.” 

“What way?” Even I was curious. 

Yuan Feng smiled cruelly. “It’s simple. The pregnant woman outside was indirectly killed by this woman. We just need to stop the bus next to the corpse and throw this woman out.” 

“No! Don’t do it! Don’t throw me out of the bus!” Zhang Rong ignored the pain of her hair being pulled and hugged Yuan Feng’s thigh. “There’s a female ghost outside the bus window. She’s been there the whole time. I’ll die if I go out!”

Yuan Feng kicked her away, seething with anger. “You, a cruel woman like you, should have met your end long ago.” He paused, his voice growing more menacing, “Buddhism always says that one will face retribution for their karma. As far as I’m concerned, if Zhang Rong dies, we all have a chance at survival.”

It was clear that he was someone who had no regard for human life. For him, as long as he could live, it didn’t matter how many others died. “Those who share my opinion, raise your hand,” he declared, “The minority must follow the majority.”

There were nine people in the bus, including the driver and the eerie little girl sitting silently in the back seat.

“Now let’s start the vote.” After Yuan Feng finished speaking, he raised his hand first, followed by Wang Chunfu and Jianye.

“You have to think carefully. It’s not the time to sympathize with the weak. This vote will determine our life and death.”

Hearing Yuan Feng’s words, the driver also raised his hand: “I’m sorry, my fiancée is waiting for me at home. I’m the pillar of my family and can’t die here.”

It was now four to five, and Yuan Feng turned his gaze towards me. “Are you willing to sacrifice the rest of us just to save her?” I furrowed my brows, preparing to respond when the little girl sitting in the backseat slowly raised her hand.

“Five to four, you two come and assist me,” Yuan Feng commanded, “When we open the door, we’ll use our collective strength to eject her from the bus!” Despite Zhang Rong’s desperate struggles, the three men showed no mercy as they firmly held onto her hands and carried her horizontally.

“Get ready to open the door. On the count of three, we’ll all let go!” The three men were driven insane, willing to throw Zhang Rong off the bus to save their own lives.

“Stop!” Even if I had a heart of stone, I cannot remain indifferent to their actions. “What you’re doing is called murder. Even if you manage to survive tonight, you’ll have broken the law…”

“Don’t lecture me about morality. We’ll all die if we don’t kill her now.”

As the bus pulled into the station and the driver prepared to open the back door, I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. “Let her go. I have a way to save you all!”

I quickly grabbed my phone and walked to the front of the bus. From my pocket, I took out a yellow and black talisman paper—a Maoshan Guiding Talisman.

“Is Half Immortal available? We might have encountered a ghostly wall, and I’m not sure if this Maoshan Guiding Talisman can break the illusion.” Seeking help from the live stream chatroom, Half-Immortal Liu from Qingcheng Mountain did not disappoint.

“You always have some strange talismans on you. You are lucky, little friend. This talisman paper in your hand is drawn by a Maoshan celestial master and is more than enough to break through a ghostly wall.”

“Thank you, Half-Immortal. But I don’t know the incantation and gestures needed to use this Guiding talisman. Can you teach me?”

“You’re putting me in a difficult spot here. Qingcheng and Maoshan are a thousand miles apart, so I can only tell you the incantation for the Qingcheng Guiding talisman. You can give it a try. After all, the path to enlightenment is not easy.”

“Thank you so much, Half-Immortal.” I bowed and thanked Half-Immortal Liu in the live stream room. Without him, I would have been in real trouble tonight.

“Listen carefully. I’ll only say it once: Clear your mind, unblock your passage, and let the divine talisman lead the way, as swift as a law commands!”

“Is that it? Wasn’t the Heavenly Thunder Talisman incantation a long string of words?”

“Talismans in the world are divided into low-grade, intermediate-grade, high-grade, and supreme-grade. The Guiding talisman is only the most common among the intermediate-grade talismans, so its incantation is naturally simple.”

Thanking Half-Immortal. Liu once again, I held the talisman with two fingers and stood at the front of the bus.

“Who is this guy talking to?” 

“Why did the police officer suddenly turn into a Taoist priest? I see he’s still holding a talisman paper.” 

The three men stopped their actions, and Zhang Rong, who had been rescued, crawled to the back of the bus and huddled under the seat. 

Yuan Feng walked towards me and said, “What kind of trick are you preparing to play now?” 

“Step aside and watch quietly!” I shouted, fully concentrating and clearing my mind of all distractions, just like when I was studying The General Outline of inner eye practice manual, emptying my mind and visualizing a point between my eyebrows. 

“Clear the mind, unblock the passage, and let the divine talisman lead the way, as swift as a law commands!”

The talisman paper between my two fingers burned, and the night outside the window rapidly retreated, as if a glass mirror had been shattered. 

“It worked!”