Translated by: TaffyGirl13
Chapter 1: Bizarre Suicide
It was nine in the evening. There was no moon nor stars; the skies were a deep, pitch-black.
The rain intensified, pitter-pattering down the glass of the windows, producing a heavy clamour.
Ye Xiao had just returned home not long ago and was now comfortably leaning back on his sofa while eating a bowl of instant noodles with great relish. The strong aroma filled the entire living room. He was starving, wolfing down his food without any sense preservation, up until he suddenly hearing the ringing of his cellphone. It nearly made him choke to death on the spicy noodles.
“Cough cough…cough, cough, cough…cough, cough…Hello?”
He angled his head to hold the cellphone up with his shoulder as he grabbed the glass of water on the table to take a big gulp. With much difficulty, he finally stopped his coughing, only to hear two words being coldly stated from the phone.
“A homicide case.”
“No.11, F Street, District C.”
“Received. Heading over now.”
Ye Xiao hung up the call. Unable to do anything about his half-eaten dinner, he immediately jumped up from the sofa. However, because the movement was too large, he accidentally spilled the instant noodles in his hands, the strong soybean soup spraying all over him.
“Ah! Damn it!”
He cried out from the burn and looked down at his own shirt. However, with lack of better option, he could only quickly grab his jacket with him as he left his home. There was nothing he could do; who told him to be a criminal investigator? Carrying out his duties was always first priority.
By the time he rushed over to the scene of the crime, he was already soaked through from the pouring rain. He wiped the water from his face and squinted to discover that it was a Western-cuisine restaurant. Yellow police tape had already been blocked off around the area. As soon as he was about to step over it, he was blocked by an arm.
“Sorry, please show your identification.”
Ye Xiao paused with one of his legs still outside the police tape. He shot a glittering smile at the police cordon and gestured for him to wait a moment before reaching a hand into his shirt pocket. However, he froze, then patted down his pant pockets before stiffening again. He resentfully raised his head, his smile turning into one of embarrassment.
“Er…umm I seem to have forgotten it at home.”
“Sorry, Mister, this is a regulation.” The new police cordon refused to accept the excuse.
Helpless, Ye Xiao could only retreat miserably and stand in the rain. He scratched his head and, after a few seconds of internal struggle, finally pulled out his cellphone and dialled a number before saying in a low voice, “Hello, Su Mu, could you come out and pick me up?”
Thus, a minute later, a young man wearing a neat and tidy suit walked out from the restaurant with an umbrella. He stood five steps away from Ye Xiao to look at him expressionlessly as he stated coldly, “Next time you forget to bring your identification, I’ll ask the Logistics group to hang an iron plate around your neck.”
Ye Xiao chuckled and guiltily replied, “It won’t happen again.”
Su Mu frigidly shot him a look. Just as he was about to turn around, he saw the soaked Ye Xiao shamelessly squeeze in, splashing water onto Su Mu’s shoulder.
“Hey, don’t be so stingy and let me borrow a bit of the umbrella.”
Su Mu let out a sigh and furrowed his brows in annoyance. He then inadvertently smelled a hint of a strange smell in the crisp air, like…like instant noodles.
Ye Xiao awkwardly glanced down at his shirt covered in soup and quickly buttoned up his jacket.
The two entered the crime scene together.
It was the restaurant’s male bathroom. The area was not large, with a door and no windows. As soon as they walked it, they were assaulted by the intense reek of blood, choking Ye Xiao to the point where he nearly threw up the noodles in his stomach. He put on a pair of clean, white gloves and covered his nose as he carefully stepped over the chalked marks on the ground to survey the inside.
The scene inside the bathroom could be described with the word “tragic”. There was blood splattered all over the sink, the mirror, and the walls. The large pool of blood on the ground was a shocking sight, and amongst the thick blood flowing in random directions were eerie bits and fragments of bone.
A man roughly in his thirties had fallen askew on the ground, his cheeks hollow, his body emaciated. However, that pair of dead, grey eyes were still shockingly wide open, and there seemed to be something in his half-open mouth.
Ye Xiao forcefully endured the nauseating stench and crouched down to flip the body over and then immediately took in a sharp breath. The body’s two bare arms were inexplicably missing hands, with mutilated flesh stretching from the wrist to the broken arm. The damaged surface was not smooth, but rather riddled with gouges, leaving quite a few tendons lying around. It was as if some type of beast had taken a bite and then torn it apart.
But this is the urban district, in a restaurant. Where would a beast come from?
Ye Xiao blankly stayed crouched there for a moment before slowly reaching to dig out with much difficulty the bloody object inside the cold and stiff corpse’s mouth. He pinched it between his fingers to study it.
“What is this? How did this person die?”
Ye Xiao looked up in bewilderment at Su Mu, who was standing next to the former with arms crossed as he flatly stated, “To a certain extent, this counts as a suicide.”
“Yes. He bit off his hands and ate them. The arteries ruptured and he died from excessive blood loss.”
“He ate them? You’re saying that he ate his own hands?”
Su Mu’s face remained calm, as if he was describing something that could not be more ordinary. On the other hand, Ye Xiao could no longer keep his mouth shut as he blurted out from the shock, “Heavens! How-how is that possible?”
Su Mu shot him a glare and replied, “In any case, you’re a criminal investigator. Please don’t be make such a commotion over every little thing.”
Ye Xia started and snuck a glance around them, only to discover that his two analyst colleagues currently collecting fingerprints were shooting him looks of disdain. Thus, he hurriedly removed his exaggerated expression and cleared his throat. “Uh…I mean, this is a restaurant. He could’ve eaten anything, yet why did he just have to eat himself instead?”
“I cannot answer that question.”
“Alright, who was the first person to find the body?”
“A restaurant customer. He’s currently recording his testimony in the staff room next door. According to his words, when he entered the bathroom and saw the deceased, they were already like this.”
“So that means he did not personally see the deceased eat their own hand?”
“Yes. If he really had witness it first-hand, we would likely have to send him to a psychologist now.”
“Who is the sobbing girl outside?”
Ye Xiao pointed his chin at the young woman crying in main hall.
“The deceased’s girlfriend. The two have dated for half a year. Today counted as their first date.”
“Date…Oh, did she provide any clues?”
“She does not appear to know anything.” Su Mu shrugged. “She seemed even more shocked than you with regards to her boyfriend eating his own hands.”
Ye Xiao’s lips twitched as he shot a sideway glance at his partner.
As expected, Su Mu’s mouth was most skilled at mocking others, especially mocking him.
Soon afterwards, the deceased’s corpse was stored in a black plastic bag and taken away. Only the bloody mess and the stench remained in the vacant bathroom.
Ye Xiao started to feel a faint stomach-ache, so he slowly walked over to the restaurant entrance and took a few deep breaths of fresh air. Then he lit up a cigarette and slowly inhaled.
If it was not murder, then this case would end here. Everything would depend on the autopsy results from the forensics department. If the stomach of the deceased really did contain his own hands, then this case would conclude as a suicide. However, was that really appropriate? What kind of reason would this person have to actually gnaw off their own hands? If it were just for the sake of committing suicide, slitting wrists or even jumping off a building would undoubtedly be more straightforward methods.
Sigh, people these days can seriously think of anything.
Ye Xiao continued to smoke as he let out a sigh.
The pattering of the evening rain outside was already showing signs of stopping soon. A cold wind blew past with traces of the chilly water droplets. Ye Xiao hugged his jacket and quickly finished the cigarette in his hand. Just as he was about to turn and see if there were any other clues he could find at the scene, he unintentionally spotted a white figure out of the corner of his eye.
He shifted his head to spot a graceful woman standing not too far away. She wore a short, chic, white windbreaker and had permed, wavy hair. There was an exquisite leather purse in one of her hands, with the other hand holding up an umbrella. She stood at the opposite traffic light for a long time and was focusing her gaze at the inside of the restaurant through the broken glass.
She stood slightly on her tiptoes and stretched her neck with a sense of urgency on her face, as if desperately wanting to know something. However, she did not dare to get too close either and could only continue secretly spying from a decent distance.
Ye Xiao studied her for a minute with the nagging feeling that there was something off about her. In addition, this woman was anxiously watching the restaurant without paying any attention to others’ gazes.
Ye Xiao shouted at her from afar. Before he could rush over, he saw the woman seem to spot him and then quickly run away without even looking back.
Ye Xiao chased after her, but only saw the woman swiftly hail a cab to leave abruptly.
“So weird, why did she run?”
Ye Xiao knit his brows together in confusion but could not come up with any ideas and walked back.
Two days later, the autopsy report came out.
The dissection results clearly stated that the deceased’s hands were indeed in his own stomach. Moreover, the victim had not eaten anything for nearly forty-eight hours before dying. The only food he had eaten was his own two hands—if that could just barely count as food.
Since there was no perpetrator, the case counted as closed.
That afternoon, the bright and beautiful sunlight passed through the windows and spilled across the office desks of the Special Crimes Investigation unit in the District T’s police station. Ye Xiao was lazily reclining back on his chair with his right hand raised, palm spread open. He squinted against the shining light and murmured, “Hey, do you think one’s hand would really be that tasty?”
The one his question was directed towards was naturally his partner in the opposite office, Su Mu.
Su Mu did not even raise his head as he continued to organise his own case file notes while indifferently replying, “Why don’t you try and find out?”
Ye Xiao clicked his tongue in disinterest and withdrew his hand to hold his chin as if in deep thought. But his pondering was brief as he suddenly heard a dark chuckle next to him, giving him goosebumps all over.
“Please, mould woman 1, could you not laugh so scarily all the time?”
Ye Xiao’s gaze helplessly landed on the office space of the only female of the Special Crimes unit: Mei Mei.
Mei Mei closed the book in her hands and slowly looked up, a creepy grin peeking out from the long black hair covering her pale face. She commented, “A human’s hand is a supreme delicacy of this world~”
The soft words slowly floated over like a sinister breeze, cold enough to make Ye Xiao involuntarily shudder.
“Do you know what thing in this world loves eating human hands the most?”
Mei Mei did not seem done saying her words as she leaned over with a faint smile, her face nearing Ye Xiao’s.
Ye Xiao reflexively retreated backwards, his lips twitching as he asked, “What-what thing?”
Mei Mei’s mouth curled upwards into a wide grin as she answered in a low voice, “Mermaids.”
“Mermaids?” Ye Xiao blinked doubtfully. “You mean the mermaids that always have two clam shells covering their chests, have crazy curly hair, and permanently wear a fish tail sleeping bag over the lower half of their body?”
“That’s right, those mermaids.” Mei Mei nodded and languidly stated, “Apparently, mermaids don’t exist only in the world of children’s stories, but are life forms that really exist. Like in the legends, a mermaid’s appearance seems like a beautiful and young female human, but it does not have a soul and is just like pretty, empty shells. And what a mermaid desires the most is to obtain a human soul.
“They believe that a human’s soul resides in the hands, since the hands are what the largest distinction between humans and other animals is. A human’s hands are so ingenious and agile, able to create countless miracles. As a result, mermaids love eating human hands the most, for the sake of obtaining a soul.”
After saying all this, Mei Mei still wasn’t done and quietly added, “Maybe that man didn’t commit suicide, but his hands were eaten by a mermaid.”
Ye Xiao was momentarily stunned by her intimidation and took a long time to react. He huffed in exasperation, “Hey, you’re also a criminal investigator, you know. Can’t you read less of these weird books?”
“If you don’t believe it, then forget it.”
Mei Mei smiled mysteriously at him, making Ye Xiao’s scalp crawl. Before he could adjust his emotions, he suddenly felt his collar tighten. When he turned his head around, he saw that Su Mu had at some point come to stand noiselessly behind him with one hand pulling the back of his collar. He coolly declared, “Let’s go.”
“Let’s go where?” Ye Xiao scrambled to grab his own collar as he frowned and asked, “Can you please be less sparing with your words? Seriously, why isn’t there a normal…”
“There’s a case.” Su Mu blankly looked at him and waved his cellphone.
Cases were sometimes just like this: either none at all, or all at once. This was not a particularly alarming statement. After Ye Xiao drove the car with sirens blazing to arrive at the crime scene and saw the body that had fallen from the nineteenth floor, only one thought filled his mind: This world is simply way too crazy.
Because he saw a familiar bloody arm.
Yes, though this person had died from jumping off a building, he had eaten off his own right hand before doing so.
Su Mu remained as collected as usual, his expression undisturbed as he methodically investigated the scene.
Quite a few crowds of onlookers had already gathered around, with everyone feeling both astonishment and fear. However, they still could not contain their curiosity as they pointed at the corpse. Naturally, the crowd discussed nothing aside from: Why had this person jumped off a building? Where did his right hand go?
And these two points were precisely what the police wanted to know most as well.
At this point, they could basically eliminate murder, as this was a single man that lived alone. Before the incident had occurred, he had simply been home alone, so no one had pushed him off the building; he had chosen to jump himself. However, why had he eaten his own hand before killing himself?
Ye Xiao was still puzzled after much thought. As he was wracking his brains and spacing out at the body that was a mess of blood and flesh from the fall, he looked up and suddenly caught a glimpse of a figure he had seen before.
It’s that woman again! It was the white-clothed woman that he had encountered at the previous crime scene!
She was wearing a light blue long-sleeved dress today with a fairly expensive brand-name bag on her. Currently, she was cowering amongst the crowds, either shocked or afraid. She had one hand covering her mouth, her eyes wide as she stared straight at the corpse. Under her delicate makeup, her complexion seemed a bit ashen.
To see the same woman twice at the crime scenes shouldn’t be a coincidence, right?
Ye Xiao stood and strode towards the crowd. Halfway there, the woman spotted him and immediately turned tail to run. Fortunately, Ye Xiao was prepared in advance this time, as he darted across. The woman wore thin high-heels, and as she ran, her foot suddenly twisted and she nearly fell. Fortunately, Ye Xiao caught her in time. However, when he grabbed her clothing, the woman suddenly let out a shrill scream, as if he was molesting her on the street.
Ye Xiao helplessly raised both his hands and placated, “Don’t panic, don’t panic. I’m a police officer.”
The woman gasped for breath, still in a frightened state as she looked at him with her pale face.
“Um…Miss, I have something I wanted to ask you.” Ye Xiao scratched his head and asked, “May I ask if you could assist with a police investigation and return to the station with me to record a testimony?”
The woman froze, her complexion turning paler as she stepped back and shook her head, losing herself from fear. “No, I don’t know anything…don’t ask me, I don’t know anything…”
Ye Xiao chuckled bitterly. Based on his experience, those that said they didn’t know anything always ended up being the ones that knew the most. Despite her extreme unwillingness, he still brought the woman back to the station with him.
Her name was Qin Ni, age thirty-two this year, though she did not look it at all. Having maintained her appearance very well, she still looked like a girl in her twenties, the prime of her youth.
Inside the interrogation room, Qin Ni sat opposite him and took a sip of the tea that Ye Xiao passed her. “Can I take a smoke?”
Ye Xiao made a gesture to indicate that she was “welcome to do as she wished”. Thus, Qin Ni pulled out a slender feminine cigarette from her bag and lit it skilfully. After taking a few deep breaths, she finally began to slowly relax.
“Ask whatever you want to ask.” She leaned back against her chair, and after some thought, added, “But I really don’t know anything.”
Ye Xiao awkwardly scratched his head and smiled. “Actually, I don’t know what to ask you either. But you know, I’m a criminal investigator, and criminal investigators naturally have an instinct, er…or rather, an occupational disease, I guess. Seeing the same passerby at two crime scenes more or less raises suspicions.”
Qin Ni gave a noncommittal smile as she took another smoke.
Ye Xiao paused for a moment and asked, “If my guess isn’t wrong, you should recognise today’s deceased, right?”
“Wei Jin Ping was my ex-boyfriend,” Qin Ni frankly answered.
“Then what about Ouyang Shuo?”
Qin Ni was silent for a while before she replied, “Ouyang was my old classmate.”
There was nothing unexpected about these responses. Ye Xiao studied her expression, which was very calm; it did not appear that she was lying.
Wei Jin Ping, Ouyang Shuo: the deceased from this case and the one from the last case, respectively.
“Why were you at the scene of the crime today?”
“Wei Jin Ping called me to come, saying that he wanted to discuss something with me. But by the time I rushed over, I just saw…” Qin Ni stopped, a hint of pain flashing in her eyes. “…Saw him lying there.”
“Did he mention what he wanted to discuss with you?”
“No, he said that we had to meet face-to-face before talking about this matter.”
“Then do you have any rough guesses about what this matter would be?”
Qin Ni started slightly and lowered her gaze, gripping the scarf around her neck in an unnatural manner. She shook her head and said, “I have no guesses. We haven’t met in a very long time now, and we never had any contact before.”
She pressed her cigarette stub into the ash tray, her expression clearly darkening.
Ye Xiao silently studied her in silence, then asked, “What about last time? Why were you also at that crime scene?”
Qin Ni bit her pale lips, her gaze shifting around. After a long period of thought, she finally said three words:
“Just passed by.”
“Yes, that day I just happened to pass by that restaurant. That’s it.”
Qin Ni looked down, tightening her grip on the scarf around her neck without saying another word.
Ye Xiao frowned as he stared at her. He knew she was lying, but could not do anything about it. That case had already ended long ago. Ouyang Shuo had undoubtedly committed suicide. Regardless of what the reason was, regardless of whether it was related to this woman called Qin Ni, he could not continue pursuing anything.
After a while, Qin Ni said, “Officer Ye, are you done asking? I still have things to do and I’m tight on time.”
Ye Xiao muttered to himself irresolutely but was truly unable to find any reason to detain her. In the end, he could only smile and say, “Thank you for your cooperation.”
Qin Ni forced a laugh and answered, “Not at all. Assisting a police investigation is only proper.”
She picked up her bag and then walked out without a single glance back.
“How was it, any clues?” Su Mu leaned against the wall outside the interrogation room with one hand holding the other arm as he looked at Ye Xiao.
Ye Xiao let out a sigh and shook his head. “There weren’t any results from the questioning. But I keep having this feeling that there’s something a bit strange about that woman, though I can’t say what exactly…”
Su Mu shifted his line of sight over to Qin Ni’s gradually disappearing back and slowly stated, “It’s the scarf.”
“Scarf?” Ye Xiao was taken aback at first, but half a second later, snapped his fingers in realisation. “That’s right, it’s the scarf! How come I didn’t think of that?!”
The first time he had seen Qin Ni outside the restaurant, he had felt inexplicably uncomfortable looking at her. The second time he had seen her, the feeling had only grown stronger. Ye Xiao had been unable to figure out the reason the entire time, but Su Mu’s words had woken him up. Indeed, it was because of the scarf.
Both times he had encountered Qin Ni, she had been wearing a thick scarf around her neck. Although the pattern and style had matched her outfits, the current climate was still not cold enough to require a scarf. Moreover, the interrogation room was set at a constant twenty-five degrees. Ye Xiao had taken off his coat from the heat, but Qin Ni had still tightly wrapped herself up with a thick scarf.
Thinking back now, this was definitely an unusual oddity.
1. The word for mould (黴) and the two characters in her name: 梅玫 are all pronounced as ‘mei’ ↑