Volume 1: Case 502 – The Intoxicated Frozen Corpse
“Judging from your attitude, it seems like there are many people out there who want you dead.”
“You’ll get used to it eventually.”
Jiang Ting countered by elbowing the man right in his ribs, knocking him back half a step and hissing out a breath of cold air. But the man was clearly an experienced brawler who was no stranger to pain, so as soon as Jiang Ting turned around, the man pounced on him again fast as lightning, ruthlessly pinning him firmly against the wall. In a split second, the tip of their noses were only merely half-an-inch apart.
Both these suppressive moves kept their bodies pressed tightly together, the heat coming from the man’s muscular body radiated wildly.
Jiang Ting raised his head a little to avoid his hot breath before quietly saying, “…officer Yan.”
Yan Xie’s lips curled upwards, almost pressing them against the corner of Jiang Ting’s lips, he opened them to ask, “What’s the problem here? Which girl did you sleep with to piss of her husband so much?”
Jiang Ting really didn’t feel like answering him.
At this moment, a loud ‘BANG!’ from behind the thicket! After another burst of movement, the baseball cap man had jumped over the fence to close in on them.
When Jiang Ting tried to move, Yan Xie quickly and more ferociously pinned him back down. Both of them stared each other down, locked in a stalemate for a moment. Having no way out, Jiang Ting could only nudge outside the thicket with his chin, raising his brow as he silently mouthed ‘please’ with his lips.
Yan Xie got what he wanted.
“Stay still.” Yan Xie said, patting him on the shoulder; his voice tinged with a playful laugh. He quickly turned around and forced his way out of the thicket.
The thicket shook and rustled with Yan Xie’s footsteps, alerting the other person to check behind him after hearing it. Before he could even call out “Who’s there?”, he was almost knocked flat off his feet from a sudden kick to his chest—‘CRASH!’—the loud noise carried through the air as he collided into a half-collapsed flowerbed.
After being attacked out of the blue, the baseball cap man instantly wrestled between feeling surprise and anger. Holding in the throbbing pain that rippled through him, he staggered to his feet and asked, “Brother, who sent you? Why are you getting in my way?!”
Without responding, Yan Xie broke into a run to tackle him. The other man only had time to loudly yell out “FUCK!”, before quickly whipping out a dagger, and immediately stabbing forward in a flash of cold steel!
This was a serious predicament. The man donning the baseball cap was obviously trained. Several arcs from the cold light of the blade came close to cutting Yan Xie’s face. Fortunately, Yan Xiu was quick enough to dodge them. The daring skills he had gained in beating up thieves, robbers, drug dealers and even some of his colleagues all these years were not in vain. Taking a step back, he countered with a sweep of his leg, staggering the baseball cap man. Seizing the opportunity, he grabbed what was left of a brick from the collapsed wall of the flowerbed, and ferociously swung it down towards the man’s head.
The man twisted his head away to dodge the attack! The brick brushed past his skull and smashed into smithereens against the ground. Fighting for his life, he grit his teeth together, and lunged upwards with the tip of his blade ruthlessly aiming for Yan Xie’s throat—‘SLAP!’ A crisp sound burst out as Yan Xie grabbed onto his wrist and smoothly twisted it. Getting a hold of the dagger, he threw it several meters away with a loud clatter.
The baseball cap man forced out a couple of words through the gaps of his teeth. “Who sent you? Do you know whose business you’re interfering with now?!”
Yan Xie gave a self-effacing smile and with a loud jangling noise, pulled out a pair of handcuffs. “Well, this humbled one is from the legendary, glorious and honorable PRC Police Force.”
Unexpectedly, the man only appeared surprised by his revelation, without even a hint of fear on his expression. Instead, a malicious air flashed over his face. Yan Xie instinctively knew the situation was about to get worse, but everything happened too quickly in that moment—he saw the baseball cap man reach one hand into the inner pocket of his jacket and immediately pull out a gun!
Gunfire echoed in the small alley for the longest time imaginable.
In the driver’s seat of a black SUV parked in the distance, there was a young man donning a leather jacket, Manchu-styled ankle high boots and black sunglasses covering up almost more than half of his face. He withdrew his binoculars before softly saying, “They broke into a fight. The target is hiding behind the bush at the scene. What’s our next move?”
Only the sound of static could be heard from the bluetooth earpiece for several seconds, eventually a man’s voice finally spoke out at an unhurried pace, “Do a clean job.”
To which the young man replied, “Understood, Big Bro.” Then he pulled up the handbrake.
Yan Xie ducked and rolled on the ground the very instant the gunshot rang out. He hurried back to his feet in an instant, with almost godly reaction speed. As soon as he raised his head, smoke and dust were spiraling up before him, the bullet burrowed in a deep, two-finger width hole in the ground.
Without saying another word, the baseball cap man got up and ran!
“Shit!” Pulling out his gun, Yan Xie also broke into a run, yelling, “STOP THIS INSTANT OR I’LL SHOOT!!!”
The other man turned a deaf ear to his cries and charged straight out of the mouth of the alley with Yan Xie hot on his trail. One was running at full speed with the other lagging a few hundred metres close behind in vigorous pursuit . Seeing them rush out of the winding alleyway, an SUV abruptly charged out of nowhere at the intersection of the road ahead of them; brushing extremely close to Yan Xie’s toes as it swept past, forcing him to back off immediately.
“WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING #@￥…” The driver’s angry rant slowly faded into the distance.
Thanks to that few seconds of delay, the man with the baseball cap had already disappeared up ahead and couldn’t be chased anymore.
“DAMN IT!” Yan Xie cursed angrily. He fished out his phone to make a call. “Hey, Ma Xiang. A suspect attacked a police officer with a gun near 52 Zhongzheng Road at the southern alley of Sanmao Street. Tell the traffic police to assist the Law Enforcement Unit. The target is about 185 cm in height, weighing around 90 kg, and is wearing a white shirt with a black baseball cap. Hurry up and get some people to blockade the area, and immediately began the investigation!”
Ma Xiang paled in fright. “HOLY SHIT! On the way!”
Yan Xie ended the call, placing the gun back into the holster behind his waist as he slowly walked back to where Jiang Ting was. Jiang Ting was standing under the shade of a tree making a phone call. He quickly hung up and stood rooted to the spot when he saw Yan Xie approaching. He faintly raised his chin and quietly stared back at him.
Jiang Ting only had a moderate height, but he was accustomed to looking at people from a slightly downward angle—regardless of how well he disguised his past, expression and outward appearance, the minute details of his eyes and the way he moved, were difficult to fool others with.
The two of them continued to stare each other down with a two-three meter gap between them. Neither of them uttered a single word to each other. A moment later, Yan Xie was the one to break the silence, “Can you answer me one question?”
“Go ahead,” replied Jiang Ting.
The small alley was extremely silent that afternoon. The sound of sirens in the distance became clearer by the second as they got closer and closer.
In a completely serious tone, Yan Xie asked, “The truth is, the one you laid is his mom, isn’t it? I just can’t imagine what else you could have possibly done to piss off that poor son of hers so much that he would whip out his gun.”
Police cars screeched to an abrupt stop at the mouth of the alley. More than a dozen criminal investigators from the City Bureau were rushing over to them with rapid footsteps.
“What’s with that look on your face? Can’t you tell I’m screwing with you?” snorted Yan Xie.
With that, he pulled out the sunnies hanging from the collar of his shirt and casually chucked them at Jiang Ting.
As the baseball cap man dashed out around the corner of a street, he narrowly missed knocking down two girls with the parasol they were using to shield themselves from the sun. Without sparing them a second glance, he picked up his heels and quickly ran across the road to the other side, leaving behind a string of people bristling at him with words like—“Are you nuts?!”—way behind him.
The sound of sirens had been going on and off intermittently all this while, sometimes far, sometimes near. Suddenly, the sirens became audible from all directions, as though no place were safe. The baseball cap man propped himself on his knees to catch a breather and tried to call his employer, yet the prompt that came through from his phone indicated that the party had switched off their phone. Fuming with anger, he was at his wit’s end when a black SUV suddenly came to a quick halt before him. The window rolled down to a small crack, revealing the face of a young man with over half his face hidden behind his sunglasses.
Looking as though he was saved, the man said, “Yes, that’s right! You’re here to receive-”
The young man interrupted him with a curt, “-Get in the car.”
“Report! Report! Someone witnessed the suspect running past them outside the main entrance of the China Construction Bank at the intersection of Zhonghuan Road and Mingguang Road. The build and appearance of the man more or less coincides with the description. Dispatch a car to the area immediately!”
The walkie-talkie buzzed with static for a moment before Ma Xiang shouted into it, “GOT IT!” He then nodded towards the cop driving in front.
The police car started with a loud rumble, and backed away with the armed investigators from the City Bureau ready in the car.
Nobody noticed a black SUV visible in the rearview mirror that almost grazed a police car as it sped off in the opposite direction.
In the back seat, Fourth Fan gasped for air after gulping down a large mouthful of water. “What should I call Brother by?”
The young man focused his attention on driving the car, as though he had heard nothing. It was only when Fourth Fan repeated the question again, that he finally spat out two words in response, “Ah Jie.”
“Where are we going?”
The man calling himself Ah Jie didn’t respond immediately. “Have you finished your job?”
“Damn it! I ran into trouble with the target. A cop even appeared halfway out of the blue! I don’t know if that guy was the real deal or not. He didn’t seem serious to me. He doesn’t even look like a real cop…”
Ah Jie said flatly, “You were seen by others. Boss gave an order to send you off to Gongzhou to lie low.”
Fourth Fan was all irritated and dour, still grumbling inaudibly at the back. Ah Jie ignored him, the distinctive outline of his face concealed behind his sunglasses was devoid of all emotions as he fixed his gaze on the road before him. It was only when they finally crossed the flyover leaving the heart of the city that he spoke up in the middle of Fourth Fan’s grumbling. “There’s still four to five hours until we reach there. You should get some rest first.”
Fourth Fan knew he had hit a wall so he agreed. He leaned back against the seat and closed his eyes.
He didn’t sleep for real. His eyelids pried open from time to time to sneak a glance at the movements in the driver’s seat whenever the car shook or jolted.
However, the young name called Ah Jie remained indifferent. He seemed to have no interest in other people’s matters and only knew how to focus on driving. He didn’t even spared him a glance from the rearview mirror.
After they got off the flyover, and an hour later on the provincial highway, the car was suddenly pulled to a stop by the roadside. Fourth Fan pretended like he had just woken up, rubbing his eyes as he stretched his muscles. He saw Ah Jie remove the keys before getting off the car. Without looking back, he said, “Toilet break.”
Fourth Fan had drunk such a large bottle of water in the car so his bladder was about to burst as well. He followed him down to stand amongst the underbrush, relieving himself with a splash.
“Comrade.” Fourth Fan’s constant vigilance eased a little as he voluntarily took out a box of cigarettes to offer the man a stick. A laugh escaped his lips as he said, “I was unlucky this time around, so I missed my mark and troubled you into making this trip. Do you know how long boss wants me to hide in Gongzhou for? Will I still get my remaining balance?”
Ah Jie accepted the cigarette but didn’t light it up. He asked, “Did she tell you about the person you were going kill?”
With a sigh, Fourth Fan replied, “Alas, a client will clearly elaborate so much. It’s enough for me to know that there’s work.”
“What’s the remaining balance?”
Fourth Fan raised two fingers up before stretching out his five digits.
Ah Jie slowly said, “That’s cheap.”
Fourth Fan was shocked.
“Buying his life with that amount. Even if you add another zero to it, it would still be considered too cheap.”
“But if it’s to pay for your life,” Ah Jie continued with a smile. “Then it would be too pricey.”
A chill suddenly rose up from the bottom of Fourth Fan’s heart as he saw this smile. In a split second, his instinct, honed over the years of licking the blood of his victims off a blade all year round, triggered an alarm in his mind, caused him to take two steps back.
But it was already too late.
He could feel his vision blurring. The wind howled in his ears as he was sent flying with a kick from the young man. His whole body abruptly crashed into some boulders, soon followed by a sharp resounding ‘CRACK!’ entering his ears. He wasn’t sure whether the sound belonged to his own broken ribs. All he could feel was the blood gushing up his throat, spilling out of his mouth as they fought their way through the gaps between his teeth.
“You… fuck your… ancestors…”
Ah Jie walked over and knelt down, fixing his gaze attentively on Fourth Fan as though he pitied him a little.
“You really shouldn’t have accepted this job.”
—those were the final words Fourth Fan heard in this world.
With a single hand, the young man who claimed to be Ah Jie gripped Fourth Fan’s throat even as his face contorted with fear and anger. With a slight exertion—‘CRACK!’—the bones in Fourth Fan’s neck broke, releasing a crisp cracking sound into the air that was enough to make anyone’s heart tremble in fear.
Fourth Fan’s head hung down at a bizarre angle, his eyes still dully staring at his murderer.
Ah Jie helped him shut his eyes in a considerably gentle manner, before carrying the completely lifeless Fourth Fan into the trunk of the car.
“Alright. Acknowledged. Continue monitoring the roads. Call for backup immediately as soon as you find the target. Be careful as the suspect is armed.”
With one hand, Yan Xie pressed the button of the walkie-talkie. Head forensic specialist Gou Li was personally pressing his other hand to carefully extract the suspect’s DNA from his fingernails.
“Vice-Captain Yan.” The technician holding the bullet in an evidence bag had a somewhat dismayed expression. “The bullet has no rifling as it’s an improvised firearm. One of the more complex and advanced kinds. We’ll compare it again once we get back to the bureau but there shouldn’t be any more clues other than this.”
Yan Xie gave him a nod, and signed with his hand to indicate that he understood.
“What the heck happened this time?” asked Gou Li as he carefully patted his hand with a cotton swab. “Which ghost did an old man like you bump into now? You managed to run into a thieving gunman just by walking on the road in broad daylight?”
Yan Xie retorted, “Weren’t you listening when I was reporting to Deputy Wei? We, the people’s police, decided to play the white knight and rush to the rescue. How the heck was I supposed to know that I would be unlucky enough to run into one wielding a gun?”
“What about the hapless victim?”
Gou Li clicked his tongue twice at the degeneration of mankind, before slapping Yan Xie’s hand with a scowl on his face. “Enough! —fortunately, your nails are long and haven’t been cut for a few days. Why don’t I bring you to do a manicure on the way back later to satisfy Vice-Captain Yan’s pink maiden heart hidden deep within your soul?”
“No. I can’t bring myself to squeeze into the same car with someone as large as you.
Gou Li was speechless.
It just so happened that the intern Little Suicui who was sent to buy lunch came back at just the right moment. Yan Xie stopped the intern, and without any explanation, grabbed the two takeaway bags of egg-pancake rolls with pork sausages and soymilk drinks. Carrying a bag in each hand, he feigned a smile at Gou Li, and said, “I know you’re trying to lose weight now so Big Bro will eat these for you. You’re welcome.”
Grabbing a brick, Gou Li almost threw himself at him to fight as though his life were on the line, but he was stopped by all the forensic scientists who stubbornly latched onto his legs. Seizing the opportunity to flee, Yan Xie ran off in one swift movement back to the car.
Yan Xie slammed the door shut and spun around to check.
On the large leather backseat of the Phaeton, Jiang Ting sat with his hands over his lap in a very refined sitting posture. As the cold air from the car’s AC blew at him, the lower half of his face not covered by his sunglasses were turning rather pale.
His side profile faced the one-way opaque window, revealing an stern but delicate disposition.
Yan Xie stared at him suspiciously for a moment with Jiang Ting returning the gaze expressionlessly. A moment later, Yan Xie chucked a bag of the takeaway set at him and said, “Eat. So you have the energy to work later.”
With a quick and easy motion, Yan Xie stripped the plastic off and took a large bite out of the roll, savouring the freshly fried and savory pork sausage. His voice sounded muffled and unclear as he said between bites, “Ma Xiang sent news earlier that witnesses saw the suspect running past them in a hurry at the entrance of the China Construction Bank of Zhonghuan Road at around 12:10 p.m. earlier. The police cars arrived at the scene five minutes later without any luck. All the surveillance cams along the roads were manned and even the traffic police and the Law Enforcement Unit were all on board. Yet until now, we still can’t find the suspect.”
Jiang Ting was slowly eating as he listened to his explanation as attentively as he could with almost no response.
“I fought the suspect close to noon. The shortest distance to run from here to the China Construction Bank is two kilometers, which also means that the suspect is running at a speed of 200 meters a minute. If we calculate according to this value, the best area to search would have been in a one kilometer radius around the China Construction Bank. Yet the force also blocked roads from Zhongzheng Road and Mingguang Road, to Jinyuan Road; even going as far as the entrance of the flyover. They dug three feet under but still came up with nothing.”
Coming to a pause, Yan Xie stared at Jiang Ting and asked, “What do we do now? Hmm? How about you analyze this for me?”
Jiang Ting took a small bite out of the roll under Yan Xie’s fierce gaze. After he finished chewing and swallowed it completely, he calmly said, “I’m just a regular civilian who has no idea how to solve crimes. What can I do?”
“Hey, they’re out for your throat and you don’t even care a tiny bit?”
Jiang Ting responded, “It’s precisely because I care that I can’t simply just carelessly analyze it. It has to be a job that’s best left for professionals.”
Yan Xie’s words were forced back into this throat by this flawless answer.
Jiang Ting took another bite out of the ham again before slowly chewing. Then took a sip of the soy milk, the tip of his tongue licking the soy milk foam off his upper lip. Although it only happened in a split second, Yan Xie’s eyelids suddenly twitched a few times. He turned his gaze away and continued, “Judging from your attitude, it seems like there are many people out there who want you dead.”
Jiang Ting replied, “You’ll get used to it eventually.”
The way Jiang Ting ate was similar to how he did everything else—gentle and elegant, acting as though there was nobody else present. Yan Xie looked on as he took one small bite after another out of the pork sausage caught between the egg-pancake rolls before quickly withdrawing his gaze. He continued repeating this action again and again for several moments longer. No one could guess what Yan Xie had on his mind. Quite a while later, Yan Xie finally couldn’t resist the urge to comment, “Can you stop eating the sausage roll like that?”
Jiang Ting returned a confused look.
“Can you please avoid eating pork sausage rolls in front of others in that manner again?”
After a long pause, Jiang Ting asked him in response, “How do you propose I should eat it then?”
Yan Xie turned his head back, sitting still and upright in the driver’s seat with his back to Jiang Ting, and rubbed his face with his hands. A few minutes later, he turned back around, his handsome face devoid of all emotions as though the inexplicable conversation earlier had never happened at all.
“How about we talk about something else? —The chain of explosions that went off at the plastics plant, lead to a blaze that razed that place down. So tell me, how a person who rushed headfirst into the fire could successfully escape without harm?”
“It’s fine that you don’t feel like analyzing the whereabouts of the suspect. So let’s just talk about this puzzle together.”
Jiang Ting stilled for a split second, before swallowing the last bite he had taken from the egg-pancake sausage roll. Putting the trash into the plastic bag, he used the wet tissue that came with it to meticulously clean his fingers one by one, moving as though he were some exalted being. Then, he reached out to open the door.
Yan Xie locked the car.
The two men stared each other in the eye. Smiling, Yan Xie retorted, “You think you can run, Mr. Lu?”