An American Jiangshi

Derived from Chinese folklore, jiangshi fiction first appeared in the literature of the Qing Dynasty. The jiangshi is a corpse reanimated by a Taoist priest. The priest commands the jiangshi and directs it to a location for a proper burial. It moves by hopping and steals the life force from living creatures. Some items and methods to counter hopping vampires: peach, the blood of a black dog, mirrors, and dropping a bag of coins (because sometimes they will stop to count the coins). Truth be told, I don’t know how I can make this seem like a horror story. I giggle picturing a hopping old vampire dude counting coins on the ground but here goes nothing. Side note: This is the first I’ve heard of these creatures and with me never grew up with this type of folklore I tried to Americanize it for my understanding.

We weren’t always peach farmers. Actually, my family used to own a prominent cotton plantation using all the high technology machinery and were sought out by many Chinese royals for our product. That all changed when something came back with my great-grandfather from the last cotton trade that our family made. We still have our beautiful plantation home but now mirrors line the walls throughout. At night when the moon hits the grand mirror in the parlor, it creates a romantic view, from moon up to moon down. You’re able to move from room to room watching as the moon moves through the night. That’s not why we have all the mirrors though just like we didn’t always use coins as currency or own roosters. There was a method to what we thought was my great-grandfather’s madness.

How the story goes is that my grandfather was flying back from China meeting with a royal negotiating one of the largest trades we have made. We could have gone commercial but my grandfather had bigger plans. He said personal relationships build a successful business. When he boarded the plane something else boarded as well. We later learned that the deceased human creature is known as a jiangshi. Apparently, another royal family was upset that the one gained such a great deal with our family and let loose one of these things. This, in turn, started a domino effect. Instead of weapons and warfare, royal families used these creatures to do their score-settling. Some of these creatures looked just like us and the only way you could tell a jiangshi from a human was in the movements. I can only describe their motion as a hopping but not in the way that you think. It’s more like a movie that skips when the signal to the picture on the old TVs with bunny ears has been lost. One minute they are a few feet away and the next they have flickered-hopped in front of you. Now our country is swarmed with these life draining pests.

Since these creatures accended onto our soil we’ve somewhat been thrown back into the stone age only to gain baby steps of a world once lost. We do have electricity but we do not have cell phones or internet. I was born when society repaired the old electrical grid. The relationship that my grandfather built with the royal was worth more than money. It was important to this royal that my great-grandfather’s lineage have a chance to survive against the evil and gave him the ancient secrets to abolish the jiangshi. When my great-grandfather learned how to combat these beings our family’s lifestyle and trading habits changed along with decor and how we go by our day to day lives.

Now we have mirrors and operate a successful peach orchard. Peaches are a symbol of the five elements and the wood is sold to other families to ward off the jiangshi. Our roosters that I mentioned in the beginning, yeah those beautiful sounding creatures help keep those pests away except our own personal jiangshi. He was tricky and no matter how many times we thought we banished him he would come back. This meant that we had to get the head of the snake. The kin of the royal that felt my great-grandfather had wronged is still reanimating this creature. After much research and traveling, my father and I learned that it was a priest gone bad. He was being paid a monthly allowance through the royal’s kin to continue tormenting us. He’s even going as far as to figure out a way to reanimate this creature after he has died.

This is when the priest learned that our family roots run deeper than the peach trees and the meaning of an eye for an eye. No, we could not reanimate corpses but what we could do was lodge on this priest’s land. We lured the jiangshi into the priest’s house with coins. Just as the creature finished counting the coins the priest walked into his bedroom. In one flicker-hop the creature was in front of his new victim feeding off his life source. Once the priest was dead by his reanimated monster we were free to hold it by mirrors and set him on fire.

We continue to battle the undead creatures and have a successful business selling peach wood at the same time. We have several close successful relationships with families and even helping others by planting peach trees. Our dream is to one day not need our peach orchard but one thing is for sure, we will not trade with any societies across seas.



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