Chapter 1: The Lady in the Rain |
Night, heavy rain.
"Captain Zhao, are you sure you want to meet that kid?" Through the constant pattering of rain, a shrill voice came from the other side of the corridor. "Are you sure it's him? There's something psychologically wrong with him, or else he wouldn't be registered at our asylum!" The soles of the leather shoes tapped rhythmically against the tiles. A female voice then added, "Wu Meng, an orphan, hasn't attended any police academy but was often consulted by the law enforcement, he has helped solve many big cases but…"
"During one of the cases," The man called Captain Zhao said, "He caught himself. He surrendered because he believed he was the murderer but in reality the real killer is still out there." The nurse explained, "The man suffers from paranoia."
"Captain, do you think he might actually be the…" The woman suggested.
"We won't know for sure." Captain Zhao said, "In any case, let's go meet this extraordinary police consultant."
And that was how the trio appeared before me. I glanced at them through the iron bars and studied them closely. The one with the shrill voice was a nurse at the mental hospital, I interacted with him quite often. The other two I had not met before. One was a man around 40 and the other a female around 30.
"What is the case this time?" I asked directly.
Captain Zhao raised his brow at me and I noticed satisfaction in his eyes. "Mary, go and handle the procedure."
"You're taking him just like that?" The nurse gasped in disbelief. Captain Zhao glanced at the nurse and then nodded. "He's exactly the person I'm looking for."
Midnight. Heavy storms came and went quickly during summer but this rain did not look like it was abating anytime soon. Captain Zhao drove me and Mary towards the crime scene. It was hard not to believe that the killer had purposely chosen this day to commit his crime because the rain would have washed away all the evidence, except… well the body.
There was a train track that went through western countryside. To prevent kids from playing around the tracks, it was guarded by iron fences on both sides. And on one of the fences strung a female body. Both of her wrists were snapped out of shape as they were forcibly stuffed into the gap between the iron links. She was left dangling there like a macabre art piece. A giant cut spliced through her stomach and all of the internal intestines had been dug clean. She basically only had her skin left of her existence. Due to gravity, the weight of the feet almost tore the human skin apart. The body swayed madly in the storm. The pair of high heels tapped against the iron fence, the constant tutting sounded like she was still walking. Cast by 2 yellow street lights, this crime scene was strange and grotesque.
Moving up further, one would notice that her eyes had been dug out as well and only 2 hollow holes remained. The first people to discover the body were 2 repairmen who were there to fix the wiring. The sudden storm had torn apart the nearby electric lines. Afraid that the electric lines might cause damage to the passing train, the department sent out 2 personnel in the heavy rain to fix it. When they arrived, the place was completely dark. Their flashlights barely did anything to cut through the extreme darkness. The howling winds and whipping rain made their jobs difficult. They had to edge along the fence and examined the electrical line above them inch by inch. Thankfully the power had been cut off so they did not need to worry about electrocution.
Eventually they found the broken line. The line entangled into the fence and the end was lying close to the train tracks. Thankfully it did not get wrapped around the tracks itself. The two worked together to disentangle the wire from the fence and after they were done, they planned to report back to their superior. But at that moment, one of the workers asked, "Brother Liu, did you hear that? It sounds like someone is heading this way."
Brother Liu turned his flashlight left and right. There was no one around. Brother Liu cursed, "Stop talking nonsense, why would there be someone out in the storm so late at night…" But before Brother Liu could finish, he too heard the tapping sound. This was definitely not the sound of rain. However, there was only a muddy road around them. A normal shoe wouldn't cause such a clear ringing when stepping on mud… unless of course that person was walking on the train tracks?
Brother Liu was about to turn his flashlight towards the tracks when a sudden lightning did the job for him. He saw that on the fence not that far from them, there was a dead body fluttering in the wind! The two of them got the fright of their lives. They ran for about several hundred metres before they calmed down enough to call the police.
Taking in the two still frightened adults, I raised my hand to wipe away the rain from my face. Even though I was wearing a raincoat, it did nothing to prevent myself from getting completely soaked. I knelt on the ground to examine the space underneath the hanging body. There was no blood and no internal organ in sight. But more importantly there were no footprints. The ground around the train tracks was all muddy dirt, but there was no footprint around the body. The closest footprints were the ones that belonged to the 2 workers. But those were at least 4 meters away. In that case, how did the murderer manage to hang the body on the iron fence, kill the poor woman and leave the crime scene without leaving behind any trace? Was this even the first crime scene?
"Have you seen enough?" Captain Zhao asked. "I'm going to have my people pull the body down now." I nodded
"Bring the body back to the morgue to the coroner…" Captain Zhao looked at the body and added, "Even though it looks like the murderer has already begun the autopsy for us."
I frowned and voiced the question in my mind. "Captain Zhao, I remember you have a finance, who is a famous coroner. The department even provided her with her own tool kit so she can conduct autopsies at the crime scenes, why isn't she with us?"
Captain Zhao gave a long sigh. Regret seemed to cross his face for a moment. "The world will belong to you young uns soon. Eventually the tool kit will be inherited by one of you. But that's not important, how did you know so many things about me?"
"Captain Zhao and Mary over there." I pointed at the woman who was carrying a backpack. "You are like the modern day Holmes and Watson, your name precedes you. But why would you ask me for help, I'm a basket case." Mary at the side elaborated, "Self-accusation paranoia aka delusion of guilt. The patients will believe that they have committed great sins for no reason. They should be punished with death. As someone who has worked for the law enforcement, your mental illness though worked in your favor. You can manipulate it to see the cases from the murderers' perspective, like you have committed the crime yourself."
I scratched my head and asked confusedly. "So wait, I didn't kill those people?"
Captain Zhao stopped Mary. "Stop toying with him or he might act up again. In any case, tell me what you think."
It had been months since I got administered into the mental hospital, the daily endless routine almost bored me to death. I closed my eyes and with the thunder in the background, I considered who was the killer.
I hate women the most because I've been abandoned by women before. This woman carried my child but she refused to give birth to my baby. She chose to opt for abortion instead. She left and said that I was useless. All the women in the world are the same. I am indeed useless, I survive on collecting scraps and trash. But when there is a chance, I will prove them wrong. I'll show these women who are the real useless one!
I will split open her stomach because she refuses to bear my child anyway. I will dig out her eyes so that she won't have the chance to leave me for another man.
"The killer is a drifter around 40. He has long and dirty hair, he doesn't have the time or money to keep it clean. He likes the color black and he has long fingernails." Opening my eyes, I announced to the group.
"How did you come to those conclusions?" Mary looked at me with pure suspicion.
"Imagination." I smiled and added, "I've examined the woman's stomach wound. The skin around the wound isn't smooth so it wasn't made by a sharp tool. If I have to guess, the killer used his own fingernail to tear open the woman's stomach. And then he used his own hands to pull the internal organs. Finally, he also used his hands to pluck her eyeballs out." After a pause, I continued, "And I believed that was probably the best dinner he has ever had in a long time. He is a drifter so he doesn't have much chance to taste meat. This would have been a scrumptious dinner for him."
At this point, all the police officers grew green with disgust. Indeed, the picture was quite revolting. In the dark of the night, someone was kneeling on the ground and used his own sharp nails to tear open a woman's stomach. When lightning flashed and lit up his face, he was shovelling human organs into his mouth.
Captain Zhao patted me on my shoulders and told the rest. "Send out a BOLO for this drifter within the city. If he is really the killer, he won't have the means to leave this city so soon!"
"A possibly cannibalistic drifter." Captain Zhao shook his head. "The rain has washed away almost all of the evidence or else we wouldn't have gone to get you. Seeing as you've been stuck in the mental hospital for quite some time already, I'll offer you this olive branch. If you can help us solve this case, I'll spring you out of there, deal?"
"Yes sir!" I quickly saluted. The mental hospital was really not a place I would like to call home. Even though my illness did not make me aggressive, which meant that I was allowed free time to wander the grounds but the people I interacted with were either grumpy nurses or incommunicable patients…. Of course, there were murderers kept at the facility as well but I was not dangerous enough to meet them.
"Then again." I sighed. "Until now I cannot determine where is the first crime scene and there is no telling how the murderer managed to escape from this place."
"After we capture the drifter, everything will be explained." Captain Zhao consoled. While we spoke, a train whistle came down the distance. The people dispersed from the tracks. Soon a train rolled by. Captain Zhao stared at the train. An iron fence, a broken electric wire, disappearing footprints, a cannibalistic drifter, this case was indeed interesting.
"The coroner's report is out!" Suddenly someone announced.
"Get it over here!" Captain Zhao ordered.
A phone was passed to Captain Zhao. As he read the report, the frown between his brows deepened. Eventually he said, "This is indeed the first crime scene, the woman has been dead for more or less 2 hours. We took one hour to get here and the workers were running for about 30 minutes before they called the police. This can only mean that…"
"When they discovered the body," I finished the sentence for him. "The killer was still at the crime scene!"