YBCB2: V5C3

Words cannot describe how much I struggle with the new WordPress…I swear I will eventually publish a chapter incorrectly because I got confused by the format.

Translated by: TaffyGirl13

Previous             Index              Next


Chapter Three

The next day, Jiu Shen escorted his mom to a taxi to head home in the early morning, then ran straight to the police station.

“Morning, Ah Liu!”

After handing out everything his mom had instructed him to, he entered the analytical quarters and was surprised to see it was deserted.

Jiu Shen blankly stared at the vacant office, uncertain why he had seemingly heard something just now. Probably just mistaken. Thus, he closed his mouth and strode in. There were several items placed on the table for analysis with Ah Liu’s receipt signature on them. It seemed like the other person had gone out to buy something. Ah Liu always ate breakfast at this time, occasionally bringing back coffee, matcha, or green tea to the break room.

Just seeing the [caffeine] drinks being brought back made him shudder.

When he had woken up this morning, he had read the message that Ah Liu had sent him, entailing what had occurred yesterday after he had left. He had wailed out loudly after reading through it, even getting told by his mom to stop whining so much first thing in the morning. She had then given him a scolding before taking her leave.

But it really is so unscientificcccccc—

“I~died~very~tragically~~”

“Gahhhhhhhhh!”

Frightened to death by the sinister voice behind him, Jiu Shen dashed forwards and crashed straight into the cabinets. Then he proceeded to hear laughter ring out.

“Jiu Shen-xiǎodì, isn’t your reaction too much? That’s quite excessive.” Yan Si was leaning against the glass door, a fake smile on his face as he gazed at the person that had nearly bashed their head in.

“Don’t scare me like that!!!” I’m still quaking a bit from yesterday! It was fortunate that his mother had stayed with him last night, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to fall asleep at all. However, he had suffered from nightmares the entire night, keeping him from getting proper rest. Then he had been terrified this morning from the text. He was even considering sleeping over at Ah Liu’s place today! He resentfully glared at the damned forensic investigator as he took two steps back while holding onto the table.

“Stop fooling around.” Li Zi Hong walked over. Seeing the scene before him, he helplessly shook his head, having more or less figured out what tricks Yan Si was up to.

“Ah, Prosecutor Li can return to work?” Jiu Shen hurriedly ran over upon the appearance of the person that had taken leave for a very long time. He immediately discovered that the other person was wearing casual dress.

“I formally return to work two days from now.” Li Zi Hong smiled faintly. He had come today wearing the visitor badge. “I was greeting Officer Yu, so I came around to drop by here too. I’ll be going to find Officer Ye in a bit.”

“Oh, oh, that’s great.” A huge weight in Jiu Shen’s heard lifted now that he saw that this person really did seem to be mostly recovered.

“Actually, it would be better if he rested for a while longer. But this workaholic insisted on going back to work.” Yan Si clicked his tongue and shrugged. “There’s still some aftereffects from his concussion, and he suffers random headaches.”

“Huh? Shouldn’t you rest more then?” Jiu Shen instantly grew concerned again as he peered at the prosecutor. “Wouldn’t it be better to request more leave?” If the prosecutor continued feeling pain for a long while without recovering, it would be terrible.

“It’s nothing. Ah Si is intentionally exaggerating it.” Li Zi Hong did not think it would affect anything. He believed that he was already able to return to office.

“Like hell I’m exaggerating. And who do you think has been taking care of you this whole time?”

“My parents.”

“Are you talking about the sad pair that was chased away by you three days after arriving…”

Jjiu Shen watched the two bickering as they left, then returned to his office.

Once Li Zi Hong is back, everyone will feel probably feel much more at ease.

Although Jiu Shen felt somewhat apologetic about it, there was honestly a gap in understanding when working together with Gu Wen Ying. It wasn’t that she made things difficult for others, but that her work methods were different from Li Zi Hong’s, and were not as convenient as his. She would often go to Yu Xia’s area when she had time to ask if he any reports, which was actually quite annoying.

In any case, it was best for Li Zi Hong to return.

In high spirits, Jiu Shen switched on the equipment and hummed a tune as he inspected the large batch of items that had been brought back yesterday.

“Senior Jiu Shen, do you have time for a signature?”

He raised his head to see someone standing at the doorway. When he went over to accept the delivered item, he found that it was a small box of objects that seemed to have been distributed to him.

“Did Senior not sleep well last night? Your dark circles are quite bad.” The youth asked with a smile as he waited outside.

“A bit…”

His disaster yesterday probably had already spread throughout the station. Just thinking about this made Jiu Shen feel a bit embarrassed.

He was not sure if it was related to the series of abnormal events that had occurred, but after going to bed last night, he had been constantly dreaming of lying in the ice-cold dirt, unable to move at all. He would keep trying to breathe, yet his mouth could not open. The dirt would slowly fill his nose and his mouth, and he could even smell the wet, rotten stench.

Because it was too realistic, he had spent the entire night waking up in fear, then falling back asleep, then waking up in fear again, etc…only finally getting some proper rest after daylight.

Jiu Shen signed the papers and saw the person off. Then he glanced through the objects inside [the box] to find that they were typical trinkets.

“Where’s that from?”

Right as he was about to inspect the contents more carefully, Ah Liu strode in with the slight smell of green tea.

“It doesn’t have ‘urgent’ written on it, so it should be an ordinary case that just needs these items checked.” Jiu Shen sifted through it quickly to find a bloodstained handkerchief, a blue pen, a bloodstained, cheap heart locket – the type that could store a photo inside, though this one had nothing – an empty plastic medicine case, a blank notebook, and a few photos from the crime scene. “A sixteen-year old girl died in her home. The parents discovered her in a pool of blood. The autopsy confirmed that she had gone through an abortion surgery. There’s a high chance that she had found an underground doctor that didn’t handle it well, leading to severe metrorrhagia. In addition, the girl had congenital ailments, so she went into shock from the excessive bleeding. By the time her family found her, it was already too late. It seems like her family was completely unaware of her abortion, nor did they know where she got it done. These are items of hers that they found after her death.”

“Hm…” Some people these days don’t properly protect themselves and end up resorting to rubbish methods after a new life comes into the picture. Ah Liu sighed. “Why didn’t they send clothes?”

“…It says the clothes were lost.” Jiu Shen could not make heads nor tails of it either.

“Huh? No way? They didn’t bring any back when they took in the corpse?” Ah Liu leaned over with a frown. The slip wrote that they had encountered a thief; even if they found the items back, the evidence would already be contaminated and impossible to use. “What the hell.”

“Seems like there were other things stolen too. Open theft seems to be happening really frequently recently. Two days ago, I heard that there were constantly things getting stolen from the fire brigade’s living quarters. They even lost some of the surveillance equipment that had been set up.” While going out to buy rice, Jiu Shen had chatted with some acquaintances. Originally, he had asked them if they had wanted to send any items over, but the group had said they’d already reported it to the police and were just waiting for the administrative group to handle it. The police knew of some habitual thieves, so it was just a question of whether they would help or not.

“Seriously.” Public morals are degenerating every day.

Jiu Shen picked up the box to flip through the few objects inside that were so light that it took no energy to lift. “Only this remains from the weight of a living person. Why didn’t they properly cherish life before?”

He had felt this way ever since he had entered [this office]. He had received case after case, box after box of evidence. The dead would leave behind so few traces, and sometimes it was impossible to find any remaining evidence that they had lived before. If this was all the dead had left, why did they waste their time in this world?

Wasn’t it a good thing to do more enjoyable activities and spend more time with the people by their side?

“Jiu Shen, let’s play our usual game,” Ah Liu cut through the other’s silence upon seeing them go quiet.

“Huh? Sure.”

Ah Liu turned on the mass spectrometer and glanced at the items. “How old is the girl’s partner?”

“There isn’t any detailed background information on hand, but it should be the typical case of a classmate in the same year.” Although their job was analysing these objects without using their first impressions to impact their appraisal approach, they still played guessing games privately while examining the evidence. This was also why Yu Xia and the others would occasionally ask about their opinions as a point of consideration. “Someone older wouldn’t gift this kind of necklace. It’s too dreamy and cheap. It’s rare for sixteen-year old girls to find someone that much younger than themselves, so there’s a higher chance that they’re the same age.” He inspected the necklace carefully. There were bloody fingerprints on it, clearly from that deceased tightly clutching it before dying,

The necklace was likely some kind of promise between lovers. This type of thing would not be a personal purchase, which meant it was gifted; an object that carried some significance.

Under the presumption of it being a promise, an older person would typically consider rings as gifts first. Heart lockets were much rarer.

“The pen and paper were likely because the deceased had wanted to write something for someone at the end. The medicine case might have been to hold some painkillers or post-abortion medicine…this underground doctor was very thorough to use a common case that one could buy at the market. If there was any residual powder, it might be possible to determine the drugs used and then filter through locations that use this medication,” Ah Liu pondered out loud. Then he continued asking, “Then what kind of girl do you think the deceased was before she died?”

“Hm…I think she was a good girl.” Jiu Shen sighed. “She used a handkerchief.”

A boy her age, an innocent heart-shaped locket, a handkerchief she carried around with her – the two were just a very ordinary young couple. They might have even been a class couple, model students.

“The question is how such a child could’ve found an underground doctor.” Ah Liu spun around to meet Jiu Shen’s gaze. “Friend? Guardian? Internet? Classmate?

“Indeed. How did she find the underground doctor?”

And where had she gotten the money to pay them?

***

“Big bro! Big bro!”

It was noon on the dot when Ah Fang stepped out of campus, only to see Xiao Hai waving at him. He hadn’t imagined his own sister to appear outside his school. Quickening his pace, he crossed the street and said, “Why did you suddenly run over here…ah, no wonder I had to buy three cups…”

“What?” Xiao Hai cocked her head to the side.

“Nothing. Weren’t you sleeping at home? What did you run outside for? Didn’t you only come back early in the morning today?” Not long after he had returned home and fallen asleep, he had heard the sound of the Wolf motorbike pulling in, so he had a rough idea of what time [she had returned].

“I kept tossing back and forth but didn’t get tired, so I decided to just come out and take a walk.” She stuck closely behind her older brother as they headed towards a restaurant. Glancing around, she asked, “Where’s Yi Tai-gē?”

“Probably sleeping in some random secret room in the library. He just called and told me to buy drinks and lunch. Do you want to eat together?” Ah Fang voiced this question despite the fact that when he had received the call earlier, Yi Tai had undoubtedly instructed him to buy three portions.

“Sure, sure.” Xiao Hai didn’t have any plans to go anywhere, so she decided to just take the free meal. “By the way, Bro, do you guys not need to do anything for graduation?” She felt like she had never seen her older brother work on anything. But she had heard before that university students always worked to death before graduating. Why had her brother not died?

“I already submitted my thesis early. For some reason, Yi Tai grabbed me a while ago to write my thesis early, so now I have nothing to do aside from waiting for graduation now. Though the design department is probably super busy.” In contrast, Li Lin Yue’s side was truly in turmoil and chaos. Ah Fang had heard Li Lin Yue and Ah Guan complaining that Yu Yin, who was in the same group, had suddenly changed their product’s design plan. Now, they were pretty much all hard-pressed under the workload. Fortunately, they still had enough time if they really tried, though they just needed to sacrifice their entire winter break. “Xiao Hai, don’t go disturbing Ah Yin for no reason. They’re busy enough as it is right now.”

“As if I’d be that fucking stupid.”

“Didn’t you say you would stop cursing? What happened to keeping your manners?”

I…I am! It just takes a bit of time! Ah, I want chicken cutlet rice.”

While shopping, the two continued chatting about trivial matters. With both holding drinks and lunch, they walked back to the campus where the pavilion was.

Far off in the distance, they spotted Yi Tai already sitting in the pavilion, flipping the pages of a small book. When he saw them approach, he closed his book and looked at them with his usual smile.

After exchanging greetings, Xiao Hai opened the extremely fragrant bento box and happily started to eat her chicken cutlets. She had even specially asked the owner not to cut it, as she liked the feeling of chewing it whole.

In comparison, Yi Tai’s eating style was very refined.

Ah Fang sighed as he thought about his younger sister’s terrible eating manners. He split his chopsticks and asked, “Are we going tonight too?”

“Yes.” Yi Tai grabbed a drink and nodded. “Same as usual, same time. Thanks for the trouble.”

“Bro, are you guys going racing today?” Xiao Hai lifted her head up slightly to glance at the other two. “I heard of some rumours in the shop. That crowd is looking to stir up trouble with you guys again. Do you want me to help leave aside some people to root for you guys? If they don’t die, you can still wrap’em up to bring back with you [and continue].”

“We’re not going racing. We’re going on a night spin.”

“If you just drive a bit faster, it’s all the same.” Xiao Hai did not think there was too much of a difference. She personally also enjoyed driving quickly, feeling the cool and comfortable wind. The speed made one feel good and flooring the gas pedal to knock out some thugs felt even better.

“Speaking of which, if you’re not planning on strolling the streets, then can you clean your tires first before coming home next time? I have no idea how to explain to Mom that bloodstain in front of the door from a few days ago.” He had been wanted to park the car that morning and had passed by his mother. She had gone out to water the plants and had stared silently at the bizarre dark-red marks on the ground for a long time. Thus, he could only quickly scrub it away.

“Just say I got rid of some roaches.”

“The cockroaches would need to spit out blood.”

“Eh, they’re all pests, what’s the difference? Anyways, it’s just a pest that bleeds a bit more…That guy seriously went overboard though. He bullied a girl and then kept exploiting her, taking nude photos and constantly ringing her doorbell to bother her. I only cut him down so that he couldn’t commit any more evils for the rest of his life, and that’s already letting him off easy.” These types of people were the ones that Xiao Hai hated the most. If Mr. Cop and the others hadn’t handled the last case so quickly, she would have vaporized the trash from the previous incident. Some scum just loved bullying girls that could not fight back. Did he think that girls were all easy to bully?! She had heard the girl crying in front of the rails while heading home at 4 AM; the girl had been planning to commit suicide later in the day. After grabbing her and interrogating her, she had sent someone to teach those bloodthirsty pests a lesson! Now that she thought about it, she had really let those pests off too lightly!

“…Did you handle it properly?” Ah Fang was honestly very concerned that his sister’s recklessness would get her in trouble sooner or later.

“Don’t worry, I very clearly told him that, while I only wanted his two balls and three teeth this time, his two eyes and all his teeth would go the next time he had the guts to show his face. And it would be his head the third time. The others also went to look into that guy’s background. If we see him again, our people will take turns taking care of him.” Of course, Xiao Hai had also prepared arrangements for the girl, giving her a series of the pest’s retribution photos, as well as helping her move into a new rental apartment. Xiao Hai had also told the girl to contact her if there was any trouble in the future. Only after confirming that the girl really wouldn’t go to back to the rails did Xiao Hai finally go back to her own life. “I told that girl to come find me if anything happened. I’ll definitely handle things properly for her.”

Although she could also report this to Mr. Cop and the others, Xiao Hai felt that it was too slow. Moreover, that girl had cried about how it was too shameful to constantly get asked about it…it wasn’t like it was her fault, yet it had resulted in her being beyond humiliated. After contemplating this for a long time with her not too brilliant brain, Xiao Had had decided to use her own methods to resolve the issue. While Mr. Cop would not like it, she still believed this way was better.

That pest had already crossed the line to even going to the girl’s house. If she let the legal system slowly deal with it, the girl would be run over by a train first. By that point, the lump of flesh would just become meaningless.

That trash had already ruined a person’s entire life. She thought ruining the rest of his life as compensation was quite reasonable.

Hearing Xiao Hai’s description, Yi Tai smiled. “I don’t think they will appear again.”

“See, see, Yi Tai-gē already said it’s fine too, just relax.” Xiao Hai waved her hand to tell her brother not to worry about it.

“Sigh, you…”

“Don’t worry, it’s fine.”

“But I think you should still keep an eye out for the girl.” For some reason, Yi Tai felt like the matter was still not over.

“Yeah, I’ll definitely patrol around every so often.”

After eating, Yi Tai cleared away his lunchbox and saw that the two siblings had mostly finished too. After some thought, he turned to ask Xiao Hai, “Was the matter involving that girl from our school resolved in the end?”

“Oh, you mean my follower’s chick? It’s resolved, I gave that douche a beating and told him to take responsibility for the girl. He’s currently saving money and will marry her next year.”

A while ago, a few girls from the asset management department had come looking for Yi Tai, saying that their underclassman had accidentally gotten pregnant. Because she was still studying, the girl wanted to abort it so that the child would not affect her future prospects. The friends had thought this as inappropriate; moreover, the girl had managed to find information from an unknown source about an underground doctor. As this person was hard to contact directly and strangely obscure, the friends had been a bit frightened. Under their senior’s suggestion, they had sought Yi Tai for assistance.

Yi Tai had found it odd upon hearing about this, so he had asked Xiao Hai about this matter. Xiao Hai had gone to interrogate her followers to learn that it had been them that had found the illegal rubbish and provided the information to the girl for an abortion.

Thus, after learning of this matter, Xiao Hai had first taught the lackey a good lesson on family morals, then called the girl out too. The three had sat down to discuss everything together.

The girl was clean and pure, seemingly raised in a good household. The lackey admitted that he had met her outside the circle, pursuing her because of his infatuation. He also truly did like her, though he hadn’t imagined that they would end up like this in their carelessness.

However, as the two were quite young, with one of them still in school, they were afraid that they could not bear the burden of having a child. After all, their current circumstances were honestly terrible. Having a child on top of that would just bring on suffering. The boy’s job was very unstable; though the boss had given a relatively good salary, it was uncertain how long the job could continue on for. Moreover, the child would affect the girl’s future prospects regardless.

Although the girl really wanted a child, she admitted that it could only be aborted at the moment.

“I just asked them one thing: Do you personally want it or not?” After hearing their decorative explanations, Xiao Hai had cut them off in annoyance. Roundabout excuses like these were what she hated the most. They just had to clearly say if they wanted it or not. Resolving things simply and quickly was more her style.

The lackey and the girl had exchanged a look, then nodded in unison. Both the guy and the girl had been serious; if only it were a few years later, they would absolutely want this child.

Then Xiao Hai had given her lackey (who was actually many years older than her) another beating, telling him that proper men had to take responsibility. He couldn’t just have the girl go abort the child just because he said it was impossible, and especially not by an uncertified doctor! After all, there were people that couldn’t have children even if they wanted them. If they recklessly acted, it was possible that the girl’s body could be damaged, and she might not even be able to have a child in the future. You’d better man up!

The subsequent journey had been pretty rocky. In short, Xiao Hai had violently abused her authority and forcefully dragged the young couple to go home and fearfully let their parents know about the matter. The underling had also been giving a good beating from his parents, to the point where he swelled up to nearly triple his usual size. Afterwards, the boy’s parents had paid a visit to the girl’s parents, also promising to take responsibility. They had even taken out their bankbook and declared as proof that they could support raising a grandson. Finally, a decent conclusion had been reached.

Currently, the agreement was that the girl would give birth. After the child was properly born, the lackey would arrange a wedding. At the moment, the two young ones were still in a sweet [romance]. Possible because the weight lifted from their hearts after the matter was resolved, the girl seemed to be more enthusiastic as well.

Since the underling knew that the girl was from a good family, he had resolved to save enough money for them to rely on for support. His boss, who had beaten up the guy as well, had very kindly stated that he would ask some friends for stable jobs that the boy could take on, rather than fooling around there.

Fortunately, this guy was eager to shape up. He was now studying various things with the girl to improve himself and come clean.

In any case, if he dared to betray the girl’s trust, Xiao Hai would be the first to wring his limbs out.

“That’s good.” Yi Tai nodded, very satisfied with the reported results.

“Oh yeah, I’ve already hired people to go look into that underground doctor too. Why is Yi Tai-gē asking abut this though?” Xiao Hai blinked, uncertain why the other person was interested in such a thing.

These types of people from the underground were actually not rare, and some even had set sources of customers. After all, she had seen plenty of guys and girls recklessly fall into fickle relationships, some not even trying to use protection. Then they would secretly seek help to deal with the aftermath. Xiao Hai’s shop counted as pretty clean, and the boss was somewhat steadfast. In comparison, multiple shops nearby had pretty wild customers, and quite a few too. Thus, they would have various incidents much more frequently.

“I don’t know yet.” Yi Tai smiled. “Perhaps I will need it later. Besides, knowing more about underground matters makes it easier to deal with them.”

Xiao Hai nodded and chewed on her straw. “I’ll find time to personally visit this place. Honestly, I heard from my shop that these girls would be covered at this place no matter how old they were. They even had government people escorting them or whatever. It sounded really bizarre.”

“Mm, make sure to be careful.”

“I’ll be safe!”

***

“Boss.”

Yu Xia turned his head to see Xiao Wu running over.

“What?” Yu Xia pulled on his jacket. He narrowed his eyes, somewhat unhappy about being delayed when he was just about to head out.

“Senior Jiu Shen asked if you could consider taking on a case? He wants to request for information.” Xiao Wu, who had just brought things over, somewhat nervously watched his coworker in front of him. “An abortion case. The girl was found dead in her home. It was on the news last week, and the evidence seems to have been sent over to Senior Jiu Shen’s side.”

“…” Yu Xia considered it for half a beat. He had no idea what that guy was up to again, but it probably was because there was some kind of issue with the evidence. The case was not exactly minor or major. Yu Xia had not been the one to take it originally, but if he spoke up, the other party would definitely hand it over without a word. “Hm…I’ll deal with it after I come back.”

“Oh, ok. Where are you going, Boss?” Xiao Wu asked in curiosity as he followed Yu Xia outside.

“Someone reported the identity of a deceased with a high degree of credibility, so I’ll be running over to request confirmation from the family.” When he had stepped into the station this morning, a group member had informed him of the anonymous report that had been provided through a public phone. They were currently checking to see if there had been any footage caught of the caller in that area.

His cellphone had not stopped ringing since yesterday. A bunch of senior officers and media outlets were constantly probing him for progress on the case, and it had been so noisy that he had turned it off in anger. The senior officers had later announced to the reporters that the investigation was not to be publicised for the time being. But then, while eating breakfast this morning, Yu Xia saw the mess being reported on the news, even adding several times more spice to it. Thus, he had mentally prepared himself to get even more calls today.

“Then I’ll go with you.”

“Being followed everywhere is so damn annoying.”

In the end, after a bunch of nagging, Yu Xia and Xiao Wu left the station.

After driving for a while, they finally reached a pretty average townhouse. The building before them did not have a single distinctive trait aside from being a bit older. It was twenty or thirty years old, with the outer walls already yellowed. The decorative bricks on the outside were an ashen colour. The courtyard even had an illegally constructed metal shed that was extremely old and filled with flower pots and other junk.

Xiao Wu stayed by Yu Xia as he watched the latter press the doorbell. The person that answered the door was an average married woman in her forties or fifties. Her getup looked a bit like Xiao Wu’s mother’s, the type of average quality clothing that only costed 100 yuan because they could not bear to get anything too nice. It might have even been purchased from a peddler while buying groceries. This woman was clearly a typical housewife one could find anywhere. Her sleeves were rolled up, evidently having been doing housework.

Yu Xia flashed his ID and, after a few sentences of explanation, took out the picture for the woman to look at—because the deceased’s appearance was so severely deformed, they had asked someone to quickly replicate the victim’s likeness to distribute for their investigation.

When the woman saw the distinct image, she was stunned for a few seconds and did not show any response at all.

Then, she suddenly collapsed onto the ground, her complexion frighteningly pale. Xiao Wu hurriedly helped her up, and he could sense that her body was ice-cold and trembling all over.

“I…I just knew…it’s been so long since he came home…”

While allowing Xiao Wu to continue holding her arm, the woman repeatedly muttered the same words to herself, her vacant gaze staring at empty air, her body drained of energy. “…How long has it been since he came home to see us…”

Yu Xia helped the woman into the house and, with permission, retrieved some hot water for the woman to hold the warm cup.

While waiting for her, he quickly scanned the house. It was very tidy, though there was the faint reek of alcohol. The walls, floor, and furniture had traces of being a bit damaged. There was a family photo next to the TV with two parents and two little boys. The photo seemed to be quite old now; there were some differences between the mother in the photo and the woman’s current appearance. Back then, she looked quite young and much more spirited; the two boys in elementary shared some resemblance with the deceased’s image.

“That’s my son…”

Yu Xia turned his head to see the woman staring at the photo. Her hands were still shaking. “My older son, Yu Ji…Lin Yu Ji…hasn’t come home in over a month now…” As she spoke, she tried to stand. However, she stumbled and nearly fell over again before Xiao Wu quickly caught hold of her.

While shaking all over, she let herself be supported as she struggled to grab her cellphone. Then she opened the photo album to show Yu Xia the photos.

They were of a boy around eighteen or nineteen years old. His height and stature were similar to the deceased. He was smiling refreshingly in the photos, giving off the same youthful energy as other boys of his age. There was a motorbike in the background.

Yu Xia narrowed his eyes as he found the bike extremely familiar-looking, as though he had seen it somewhere before. He quickly remembered where, but he did not immediately change his expression. “Do you know what he typically does? How are his studies?”

The woman sat back down on the chair and let out a long sigh. “Yu Ji stopped going to school after graduating from junior high…he usually worked at a drinks shop and did some other part-time jobs at places he wouldn’t tell me of, coming back several times a month at random times. He would always bring back some money from his salary payments too…He was a very good child that would take care of children younger than him as well…I-I don’t know…I don’t know anything…”

Seeing that the woman was still very shocked, Yu Xia decided to give her space first. He left behind his business card and told her that he would return again later. Then he led Xiao Wu out.

Soon after leaving, they heard loud, heart-wrenching sobs from the inside.

Xiao Wu’s heart felt heavy and conflicted, but he did not know what to say.

Then they went to the administrative region and asked someone to find the local elder to gather information about the Lin household.

As the elder spoke, Xiao Wu’s mood sank even further.

“The younger brother died many years ago. Apparently when the whole family went to barbecue next to the river, the adults didn’t pay attention and the two children ended up running off to play by themselves in the river, only to be swept away. The older one was rescued back, but the younger one was found floating there three days later.” The elder sighed as he prepared tea for them. “It was truly devastating. Afterwards, Ah Lin-zai kept blaming himself for not watching the children and drank alcohol every day…Ah, please don’t misunderstand, Mr. Officer. There wasn’t any domestic violence or anything. Ah Lin-zai would always drink alone in depression and he’d smash the bottle when drunk, but he never acted roughly to his wife. Whenever Xiu Yue saw Ah Lin-zai get drunk, she would just cry. The two never overcame this and refused others’ help as well. They only improved a bit in the past two years.

“Their Yu Ji is a good kid too. He didn’t talk much, but he was very polite. He just didn’t enjoy studying. It might be because of how miserable his parents were, but he left home after graduating from junior high. I heard some kids say that they sometimes saw him fooling around with bike gangs in the middle of the night, though he didn’t do anything bad. He still sent back money monthly, and would even come back once in a while. Who knows if he was taking proper care of himself out there, sigh…”

They showed the elder the image too, who agreed that it was likely Yu Ji. Then he gave Yu Xia some phone numbers, saying that Yu Ji had provided these in the past. Supposedly, the numbers were in case his parents had trouble at home and he couldn’t be contacted immediately, in which case the elder could contact his friends to come and help first. The elder had kept it under the table the entire time. The elder then said that his own son was studying abroad at the moment, but there had been a period of time where his son and Lin Yu Ji had been very close, so they could try asking him.

After leaving the elder’s home, Yu Xia stood next to his motorcycle and pondered over everything.

“Are we going back to the Lin household now?” Xiao Wu felt a bit upset, as though something was smothering his chest.

“You can go over later. I need to go back to the station first to deal with Jiu Shen’s matter. Wait until the mother has calmed down and then explain the situation to her. It’s best if you wait until the father returns or can be contacted,” Yu Xia said as he glanced at the time.

“Eh, but…” Xiao Wu was terrified of going back to face that kind of parent.

Yu Xia spun around with narrowed eyes. “Since you wanted to follow me out, then there isn’t any ‘but’. You’ll have to face this sooner or later. In the past, I was even stabbed at by disbelieving family members while notifying them. What other ‘but’ can you have?!”

“But…” Xiao Wu lowered his head pitifully. “Take care, Boss.”

“You’d better not cry along with them.”

***

“Jiu Shen, I’m stepping out for a moment.”

“Huh?” Jiu Shen looked up from the pile of data upon being called out suddenly, puzzled as he glanced at his colleague next to him.

“Boss just called me saying that there’s an issue with that motorcycle. I’m heading over to check out the situation.” Ah Liu held his cellphone up with his shoulder while temporarily sealing his partially finished work. “I’ll go buy dinner while I’m at it. What do you want to eat? How about curry rice? From the new place that you said tasted pretty good a few days ago.”

Jiu Shen took a few seconds before understanding what the string of words meant. He hurriedly nodded. “Sure, thanks.” After returning to his senses, he realised that it was already very late. It felt as though he had just stepped into the analytical labs, yet now it was past six at night; working hours had ended.

“Just get it done to a certain point and then call it a day after eating later.” Ah Liu estimated the timing. He had agreed to watch a midnight movie with his godson and had no desire to miss it. With the recent chain of events, he had already stood the child up multiple times. Any more would give rise to resentment.

“Ok.”

After Ah Liu left, the analytical labs were tranquil once again. There was only the whirring sound of various electronic equipment in operation.

Jiu Shen rubbed his slightly sore eyes and, after testing for a chemical reaction, stretched his neck and shoulders. Then he grabbed a chair nearby to sit down and type up a report. That abortion case really bothered him a bit…he had no idea if requesting such a thing would get him slapped by Boss. But even so, he just felt that something was strange about the case.

When he pulled out the photos from the crime scene that had been taken that day, he found it even stranger.

He really wanted to visit the scene personally.

 Drip.

Right as he was staring at the photo and pondering possibilities, Jiu Shen suddenly heard the sound of a droplet, though he had no idea where it had come from…Don’t tell me one of the chemical reactions went wrong?

He somewhat anxiously verified all the machines and freezers, but there was nothing wrong…Probably just a hallucination?

Oh…as expected, being frightened half to the death so often makes it easy to hallucinate. The pressure’s too much…

 Drop.

He froze.

Jiu Shen slowly turned his head. The analytical labs suddenly fell beyond quiet, and the usual monotonous buzzing of the machines suddenly felt eerily out-of-place.

For some reason, he did not think he was alone. Whenever he had experienced this multiple times in the past, he would always be scared to death. However, Ah Yin had come several times and said there was nothing to be seen…had he really become oversensitive? Ah Liu was right, being constantly like this is too…

 Plop.

“Gahhhhhhhhh!”

After leaping up, he realised that his pen had dropped underneath the table.

“Don’t scare yourself, don’t scare yourself…” Even if it seemed like something was there, it made more sense for it to be his imagination. It wasn’t as though he could see like Ah Yin. It had to mostly be his own misconception.

Jiu Shen bent down to pick up the pen, then took a few deep breaths and slowly calmed down. He refocused his attention onto the report and the results. Where was I just now…

Drip drop.

—He was absolutely certain that it was not a hallucination!

The air around him really did change. Jiu Shen dumbly stared at the table, unable to gather the courage to turn his head. He could practically hear the ice-cold air whirling around very faintly next to his ears, causing goosebumps to form all over his body.

The feeling of someone’s gaze materialised behind him.

In the still air, someone was currently staring at him from behind.

They slowly crawled over from the ceiling boards, coming down along the walls without disturbing the silent space at all.

The gaze that had been fixed on the back of his head this entire time were like thin needles piercing straight into the pores of his skin. The fine hairs on his body stood on end and his scalp began to tingle.

When he had encountered these types of situations in the past, Ah Liu and the others had told him he was being too sensitive, that the more scared he was, the more panicked he would feel. This was also why he had found more and more charms over time. The current sensation reminded him of that pair of eyes meeting his back when he had been trapped inside a car trunk.

It had peered straight at him through the darkness, without trying to move forwards or retreat. After everything had unknowingly ended, he had nearly died from the fright.

Back then, he had found it odd. That thing and the deceased that Ah Yin had described had not seemed to be the same. He had no idea why it had appeared in the car trunk nor why he had seen it that time. In any case, after being released from the hospital, he had run over to burn incense and pray for his soul to return to him. He had even considered trying hypnotism to try removing those memories so that his life would be much easier…

Now it had appeared again.

His abdomen and wrists began to hurt; the old injuries that had never seemed to completely heal were throbbing now.

Jiu Shen gripped his wrists and forcefully closed his eyes, then very stiffly stood. He tried to keep his head as low as possible as he slowly moved towards the wall, planning to feel his way along the wall to reach the door. Escaping from this place was the priority.

The computer monitor on the table flickered. The light and shadows on the glass sketched out complicated lines.

“Don’t scare me, don’t scare me…” Jiu Shen gulped and covered his head with his hands, not daring to take a closer look at what was going on with the image. He did not even dare to check its appearance. He took another step forwards when he suddenly felt as though his lab coat had been hooked onto something. As he moved his body forwards, the clothing pulled him backwards.

The inexplicable feeling of someone’s gaze was still there. Moreover, it followed his movements. After internally crying out a few times, he shakily reached his hands out to probe around. He touched the mass spectrometer, but proceeded to find his clothes were hooked onto near the seams. Even after yanking it a few times with his fingertips, he could not win the clothing back, and he nearly burst out into a scream inside his heart.

I really just want to charge out, but my clothes will rip…

Jiu Shen closed his eyes and shakily tilted his body before reaching both hands out to the place where his clothes were caught.

In the moment, he heard a very light giggle, like a child’s entertained laughter. Then small, icy fingertips landed on his fingers before gently tugging the corner of the clothes.

Jiu Shen froze in shock for three seconds.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh—!”


Previous             Index              Next

Leave a Comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.