Twice Goodbye by Ji Yun, The Emperor’s Librarian (1724-1805)

Lady Zhao, the wife of my second son, Ruchuan, was a sensitive and enchanting young woman—one of those people who make you glad to be near them. My wife, Mistress Ma, continually boasted to others about Lady Zhao’s character and literary talent, as well as her needlework. She said that Lady Zhao talked with such charm that one could happily listen to her for a whole day. This was all true. We could not have hoped for a better daughter-in-law. …

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An Early Chinese Alien Abduction Tale

*a nonfiction account as recorded by Ji Yun (1724-1805), Imperial Librarian and Investigator of the Strange, and translated by John Yu Branscum and Yi Izzy Yu; notes on Chinese alien abduction and fairy lore are at the bottom of the piece: One day I received a letter that was written in my language but seemed to be written in a foreign one. The thoughts it expressed were odd, confused, and almost impossible to decipher. The letter’s poor quality especially surprised …

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A Student Out of Time by Su Yi, Changsha

My classmate shared the following experience with me. It occurred in 2016 when we were in eighth grade, shortly before we took our senior high school entrance examinations. We had just temporarily moved to a room in another building for class because our usual eighth-grade classroom was being used as a test site. Our classrooms served multiple purposes. One of these purposes was as a study area at night. After one such night study session, just as everyone was getting …

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One Day Off by Jared Swansboro

It seemed as if time had decided to move a day back, alluding to my own possible mistakes. The first birthday that I spent with my significant other, I wrote her a poem. September 26th. For three years straight, I read her that poem. She’d laugh, smile, and say how grateful she was. But this past year, that didn’t happen. I was in my dorm, waking up from a long night of essay writing, when I decided to call her …

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Ghoul’s Geography by Jared Burkhardt

I went to high school in a lonely, relatively normal town. Often, a few of my friends in the grade below my own would tell some interesting, haunting stories at lunchtime. By my sophomore year, I had heard it all; but I wasn’t ready for a haunting story about a ghost girl in school. My friend Carlos’ geography class was very late in the day. The heat was often blistering as school had just started back up, and this was …

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The Ringing of the Western Beast by Ji Yun (1724-1805), The Emperor’s Librarian

About 150 years ago, in the fourteenth year of Emperor Kangxi’s reign, a Western nation gave him a mysterious creature called a “lion.” No one in his circle had ever seen such a creature before, and it immediately featured prominently in the poetry and paintings produced by members of the court. It also featured in many tall tales. For example, one story that made the rounds detailed how the lion escaped the palace one morning by snapping its chains in …

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Snake Girl by Dao Fei, Yantai

Recently in China, a snake girl was reported in a village in the far north – about three flying or twenty driving hours from my hometown in Yantai.  It’s very cold in this part of China, a Canadian kind of cold. The snake girl who lived in the village was about thirteen years old. Before she became a snake girl, she was just this typical Chinese girl – with two ponytails in the back of her head and with skin …

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Old Trees by Mei Lin, Shanghai

I don’t remember all the details, but my roommate in college, Liaoyang, who comes from the city next to mine, once told me about a strange occurrence in her high school. At this high school, because of increasing enrollment, the administration decided to build a new building in an empty part of the school grounds. There was one big problem, however. A thousand-year-old tree stood in the way. Students quickly heard about the plan for the new building and also …

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