Volume 1: Case 502 – The Intoxicated Frozen Corpse
Yan Xie saw Jiang Ting and immediately changed lanes. Stepping on the accelerator, he charged towards the truck.
The next day.
“Thank you for sparing some time in your busy schedule to come and meet me, but I feel…”
Yan Xie immediately replied, “I know.”
The high-class restaurant was located downtown in a private environment, with a pleasant ambiance to boot. The piano music flowed smoothly across the room amidst the gentle clashes of silver forks and knives. The lady sitting across him bit her lips before politely saying, “Although I have great respect for those in the police profession and admire the sacrifices you’ve made, it’s still..”
Yan Xie responded, “I understand.”
“Officer Yan, you’re a good guy. No matter your looks or your status, you’re especially outstanding. In the future, I’m sure you’ll be able to…”
Yan Xie answered, “I know.”
They stared at each other for a moment, and the woman bit her tongue.
Yan Xie sincerely comforted her, “Don’t worry. I’ll deal with the person who introduced us.”
In a flash, it was as though an eight-hundred-pound burden had been lifted off her chest. Relieved to have this weight off her mind, she called for a waiter with a wave of her hand, “Waiter, bill!”
“I already paid.” Wiping his mouth with a napkin, Yan Xie stood up and courteously apologized, “I’m really sorry for wasting your time. Where do you live? Will you allow me to send you home?”
The woman was a little moved by his suggestion. “That would be great! You…”
Then, a phone rang.
—The dashing and generous Yan Xie—having a superior family background, blessed with looks that were up to par with an idol’s, along with a body that appeared slender when dressed yet muscular when undressed that he had tempered while working in the force at the front line for years—was perfect blind-date material.
Yet, there exists only one reason a big man at his prime would suffer repeated defeats in the matchmaking industry—
“Boss! Chief Wei wants you to come back this instant. There’s a big discovery on last night’s KTV freezer’s hidden corpse case so the case has been transferred to the City Bureau!”
Hanging up the phone, Yan Xie raised his head and asked with an apologetic smile on his face, “How about I send you to the subway station?”
The woman was sensible, expressing her extreme support and understanding of a criminal investigator’s work so she declined his invitation again and again. They both reluctantly parted, bidding their farewells under a friendly atmosphere. But the moment they turned around, they instantly deleted each other’s WeChat’s account from their contact list.
Yan Xie walked down the restaurant’s flight of stairs and was assaulted by the splendid rays of sunshine of early May. Putting on a pair of sunglasses he’d pulled out from his sleeve, he stroked his hair, the sentence the woman didn’t finish earlier—”In the future, I’m sure you’ll be able to…”—flashing through his mind.
Yan Xie sighed loudly. “I can definitely train into becoming the right hand of God! I must believe in myself!”
The phone rang at the right time, cheering loudly for his dreams.
Yan Xie then lazily answered the call. “Hello, who’s this? …..Okay, okay. I’m on my way back to the City Bureau… What? What did you say?!”
“Oh my god! Shit, Boss!” The head forensic specialist’s smiles of exultation could be heard even though they were separated by a phone. “Listen up! It’s too crazy! We found something extraordinarily rare in the body of the deceased. Our hopes of getting our City Bureau’s Golden Week because of Labour Day is officially dashed! Savvy? HAHAHAHA!”
Yan Xie replied, “… Asshole, talk like a normal human being.”
“Who’re you calling an asshole?! My name is Gou Li! Back when I crossed five passes and slew six generals for the forensic examination, facing the dignified flag of our country and the police badge, I just chanted these two lines of poetry, ‘Were it to benefit my country I would lay down my life; What then is risk…’ “
“I’m hanging up. Bye.”
“Heyheyhey!” Head Gou cried, “Don’t hang up on me! I’ll tell you, it’s hyoscine.”
Yan Xie paused slightly in his tracks. “Hyo—what?”
“Hyoscine is a type of alkaloid and functions similarly like atropine. It’s normally used in medications to treat car sickness and sea sickness. But here, the dosage level of hyoscine examined in the deceased’s body is 1,600 times the dosage used in motion sickness medication. When combined with methamphetamine, it’s enough to cause severe cases of hallucinations, epilepsy, and disorientation.”
Yan Xie asked, “So you’re saying that this kid did meth to the extent he got himself killed?”
“Yes and no,” Head Gou gleefully explained, “Through my rich professional experience, and detailed and accurate knowledge in chemistry, as well as my bold analysis and verification… In the preliminary stages, I can conclude that the hallucinogen found within the deceased’s body is a brand new type of drug. Take note, a brand new type that has a different molecular structure than all the drugs that are known on the market. And his cause of death? Under the effects of the hallucinogen, it caused the deceased to suffer from horrific hallucinations and the body temperature to become dysfunctional. Because of that, he went into the freezer and shut the door on his own will, freezing himself to death as a result—The fingerprints you requested the sub-bureau’s technicians to make rubbings of from the inner door of the freezer also prove this fact. So how about it, Old Yan? Do you feel like you’ve finally achieved enlightenment?”
Yan Xie generously passed on the laurel that Wan Zhengguo bestowed him last night without a moment’s hesitation. “You’re the Detective Conan of the era!”
Head Gou jovially expressed some modest remarks.
“Fine, Ah Gou (doggy) , inform everyone to come back for a meeting. Tell Qin Chuan from the Anti-Drug Detachment team next door to come too—I’m already in the car. See you at the City Bureau in fifteen minutes.”
“Gou (doggy), your ass! My name is Gou Li!…”
Yan Xie slammed the car door with a loud bang and stepped on the accelerator. Casually tossing his phone to the passenger seat, he steered the Grand Cherokee, smoothly blending in with the flow of traffic.
Fifteen minutes later, at the City Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Unit meeting room.
Golden Week had just arrived courtesy of Labor Day, so any criminal police officers who hadn’t returned to their hometown to visit their families were all present. The drug enforcement team, technicians, forensic artists, as well as the short and stout head forensic specialist Gou were in attendance. Even the Bureau’s Deputy Director Wei Yao, in charge of the criminal investigators, moved to the chairperson’s seat with a large mug in hand.
Fully decked out in a bright and dashing blind-date outfit, Yan Xie rolled up the sleeves of his white Zilli-branded shirt, revealing the shape of his strong, muscular elbows. Amidst the soft breathing of the people in the room, he played the surveillance video on the big screen.
At 9:30 p.m. on the 2nd of May, a figure donning a blue top and black pants emerged in the surveillance video, staggering deeper into the small alley.
The entire room was completely silent. The majority of them instinctively leaned forward, fixating their utmost attention at the last footage that the man left behind in the world before he died ten minutes after.
The deceased danced and gesticulated with joy as he staggered along and seemed to be conversing with an unknown someone from his imagination. At times he would reach out both his hands with all his strength, or painstakingly clutch at his own hair. All of a sudden, he lost his footing, heavily colliding with the trash bin.
The collision was rather aggressive, as they could hear the sound very clearly through the screen. However, the deceased didn’t seem to find it painful and was preoccupied with desperately pulling at his collar. With this movement, the high definition footage showed a flow of scarlet liquid dripping down his neck—which was the blood effusing out from his ear. Soon after, he discarded his jumper. Without a care for cleanliness, he then pressed his naked torso and rubbed against the side of the trash bin repetitively.
The man’s near-death neurotic action caused a surge of chilliness to rise in the hearts of the majority in the conference room. Precisely at that moment, something seemed to have caught his attention from the unlatched back door leading to the KTV’s rear kitchen. Clambering up to his feet with much difficulty, he then advanced with staggered steps into the rear kitchen.
The scene changed in a flash as the last view of the deceased’s figure disappeared from sight.
Gou Li covered his mouth reservedly to stifle his cough.
“Everyone has already received the autopsy report along with the prints discovered in the inner walls of the freezer’s door. In the beginning stages, we suspected that the deceased had shut himself in the freezer under the strong hallucinatory effects of hyoscine. Everyone, please take a look. No traces of injections were found in the veins of the deceased’s arms. As we analyzed his throat and esophagus, we discovered residues of methamphetamine had remained. Therefore, we were able to conclude that the drug was consumed through the mouth into the body.”
Gou Li showed the autopsy photos on the big screen, using a laser pointer to present them one by one to the audience. He continued to explain, “And the key point is that after we did our best to replicate the drug’s formula, we discovered that the drug taken by the deceased did not match any type of drugs that are currently known in the market.”
The audience instantly whispered to one another. Deputy Director Wei leaned forward and asked, “Is it possible that this is a new type of drug?”
When handling cases, criminal investigators didn’t care much about the order of importance since everyone’s life is of greater value than anything else. However, the serious cases would have their own categorized level of severity. The extent of severity for the influx of a new drug into their own jurisdiction was roughly the same as a perverted serial killer murdering twenty people in the city center within a day or would even be the same as Yan Xie suddenly going mad and deciding to conduct a contest for marriage within the public security system.
If there was an influx of the new drug, where did it come from? What channels did they use?
What was the scale of operation? How many downlines have been established?
The entire room was quiet, not a sound was heard. All of a sudden, a deep male voice spoke out, “…That doesn’t seem right.”
Everyone’s eyes shifted to him in succession. Deputy Director Wei patted his large mug and asked, “What’s wrong with it, Little Yan?”
Yan Xie didn’t say a word as he watched the surveillance footage again; the deranged and contorted figure appeared to be swaying about within the depths of his eyes. By the time the video ended, he pointed at the timestamp at the lower corner of the screen.
“Close to 9 p.m. last night, an eye-witness saw the deceased pacing about on his own from a sidewalk near the KTV’s back door, carrying a black backpack that resembled a school bag. Where is that bag now?”
“When the deceased appeared in the surveillance cam at 9:30 p.m., the drug had already taken effect and he was quickly about to die. In that case, within the time period from 9:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., where did the deceased go? What did he do? Or rather, who did he meet?”
Before the crowd could voice out a reply, Ma Xiang quickly raised his hand into the air and answered, “He went and bought the drug! The bag… the bag contained cash!”
“It’s not necessarily money,” said Yan Xie.
He paused for a while, tapping his chin with his calloused finger again and again. “Let’s suppose that the deceased and the drug dealer agreed to meet near the crime scene. Once he finished the deal and got his drug, the deceased then took the drug orally. Very quickly, the MDMA  caused him to hallucinate and made his body temperature dysfunctional, his entire body emitting heat as a result. Consequently, he began to discard his clothes, and the first thing he removed was his backpack.”
Even if it was in a deserted small alley at night, there was a high possibility that a full and bulging backpack casually discarded at the roadside had already been conveniently stolen by others.
What’s more, the deceased was all decked out in branded wear; even his undergarments were worth 400-500 yuan. His backpack would definitely not be cheap either so the chances of it being picked up on the sly were even greater.
Deputy Director Wei’s brows were tightly knit together. “But the sub-bureau had yet to identify the body. The alarm center did not receive any missing person’s report that matches with the deceased. It’s impossible to locate the mobile phone for now.”
Yan Xie pointed at the surveillance footage and asked out of the blue, “What kind of circumstances would cause a drug addict to take drugs?”
The question was such a far leap from what they were discussing. Before Deputy Director Wei could work out what he asked, someone from the drug enforcement team coughed and said, “Based on previous arrests, they’re roughly divided into two types of addicts. The first type takes drugs alone at home when they suffer from drug withdrawal syndromes while the other type often gathers in a crowd, enjoying them with their close drug-addict friends.”
The person who said this had a refined and handsome appearance. He wore a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles, the tone of his voice tepid. He was Qin Chuan, the guy who was dragged at the last moment from the Anti-Drug Detachment next door.
The drug enforcement team and the criminal investigators’ situation in the City Bureau were almost similar. Their first-in-commands were all close to retiring, yet their second-in-commands had not yet reached the age to replace them. For lack of a better option, the first-in-command could only push their old lives to keep enduring. The second-in-command for the Criminal Investigation Unit team was Yan Xie while the second-in-command for the Anti-Drug Unit team was Qin Chuan.
Although the two of them were a pair of scoundrels who frequently hung out and drank together, Qin Chuan’s public reputation was more reliable within the City Bureau—he was a pro at being the center of attention, his elegant side penetrating deeply into the hearts of the people. At the same time, he kept his hoodlum side well hidden. Rational and intellectual youths were more popular among the older aunties and uncles. As for Yan Xie, who liked to bring out all the cops to sing karaoke at the drop of a hat, he was more of a challenge to the leaders’ weak nerves.
“Taking drugs alone usually happens at areas where the addict will feel mentally safe, such as their homes, rental homes, and hotel rooms, so it’s a pretty rare case for them to be high and dancing and gesticulating on the street. However, if it involves taking drugs in a crowd, the sub-bureau did a preliminary investigation of the surroundings, including the Sleepless Palace KTV’s surveillance videos. They did not discover anything that indicates this kind of behavior.”
“To summarize,” Qin Chuan paused momentarily, pushing his glasses up, “We have no clues at all and completely have no idea as to why the deceased ran off into the road.”
A buzz of discussion sounded out in the conference room.
“No.” All of a sudden, Yan Xie pitched in, “There’s a third scenario.”
Taken aback, Qin Chuan asked, “What is it?”
Yan Xie replied, “Testing the goods.”
Reclining against the swivel chair, Yan Xie rested his thigh on his other leg, tapping the laser pointer on the table.
“‘This is a fresh product that’s not on the market and it’s particularly potent. You try it out now with me here. If you feel good about it, then you can leave with it later.’—Let us suppose that the dealing location between the deceased and the drug dealer was near the crime scene and will take about five to fifteen minutes to reach on foot. The place looks extremely secluded and comfortable, able to provide the addict with the sense of security he needs… Yet in fact, it wasn’t that safe at all.“
In the video, the back door to the KTV is connected to the small, cold alley at night. The surroundings are filled with narrow pathways, closed stores, and the rear kitchen of a food stall. Qin Chuan’s eyes dart around the screen back and fro. Suddenly, realization dawns on him. “A car!”
If a druggie’s urge to take drugs hits again, it’s normal for them to get high in a car. The deceased met with the dealer in the dealer’s car. He never expected that the ‘fresh product’ was too intense to the extent that he’d discard his backpack after testing the goods and rush out of the car in spite of being stopped. This is the most possible hypothesis that is closest to the truth!
“Big Dog, how long does it take for the effects of the hallucinogen to kick in after consumption?”
Gou Li suffered in silence before answering, “It takes five to ten minutes. It’ll reach the peak of its efficacy within fifteen minutes.”
Yan Xie stood up. “Ma Xiang, head to the Traffic Police Brigade to retrieve the surveillance videos of all entrances and exits surrounding the crime scene from 9 p.m. until 10 p.m. and track down the license plates of all vehicles that entered the area and stopped for more than half an hour after 9 p.m. Qin Chuan, bring your Drug Enforcement comrades to go one step further and do a thorough search for the source of the drug’s influx into the city. I’ll investigate the crime scene again.”
One after another, all of them rose up from their seats and began to move. While pushing the chair back to its original place, Qin Chuan asked, “What’s your insight, Old Yan?”
“The bag,” Yan Xie curtly responded. “Once the bag is found, we won’t be far from the truth.”
The long Labor Day holiday effectively reduced the evening rush hour. Holding his cigarette on one hand while the other clutched the steering wheel, Yan Xie slowly moved the car forward following the flow of traffic after the traffic light turned green. Ma Xiang’s voice could be heard from his Bluetooth earphones. “Our comrades from the Fuyang Traffic Police Brigade have already retrieved the surveillance footage. The forensic image analyst has made the comparisons and there are a total of twelve cars that fit within the search criteria. What should we do now, Brother Yan?”
“How many of them are without tinted film?” asked Yan Xie.
The man on the other line faintly rustled about for a moment. “Three!”
“As for the remaining nine, how many cars left the crime scene area fully loaded?”
“Ss!—That’s difficult to say for sure since we can’t see clearly through the tinted glass. For now, we estimate that there were two cars filled with people.”
“Find the target within the remaining seven cars. Prioritize the investigation on those departing cars with two or less people.”
Puzzled, Ma Xiang asked, “Why?”
Yan Xie was about to answer when suddenly, a loud sound erupted from up ahead. Immediately, all vehicles abruptly came to a stop, honking continuously again and again.
“—Hey, Brother Yan! What’s going on over there?”
Poking his head out to look, Yan Xie was greeted by the sight of a BMW colliding into a Meituan Take-Out stall under the traffic light at the crossroad up ahead. The motorbike had completely toppled over with the take-out stall in total disorder, having been destroyed into pieces on the ground.
“How are you even driving?! The traffic light already turned red and you still rushed ahead?!”
“Don’t you dare run your mouth! I didn’t rush a red light!…”
Yan Xie extinguished the cigarette butt and said, “It’s nothing. There’s an accident up front so I’ll just change lanes. If there were more than two passengers in the target’s car, they wouldn’t have let the deceased get off the car in a hurry under the effects of the hallucinogen. So including the driver and the passenger, there’s a higher possibility that the number of people in the car was between one and two. All of you head back to the City Bureau first, later I’ll bring…”
Yan Xie’s voice abruptly came to a stop.
The traffic light changed again, the cars in front starting to slowly move forward. However, not far away from the accident, a silhouette stood rigidly in the center of the crossroad, staring straight at the overturned motorbike.
It was as though his soul had left him, completely unfazed with the soon approaching vehicles. The truck at the front didn’t seem to notice the inconspicuous pedestrian and instantly went full force ahead.
Abruptly, Yan Xie’s pupils contracted—he recognized the person!
Everything happened in that same instant! Stepping on the accelerator, Yan Xie hit the steering wheel, releasing a surge of sharp honks that pierced through the air. He changed lanes amidst the sharp screeches along the way, ruthlessly brushing against the truck. In the midst of the soft collision, the flow of vehicles on both lanes simultaneously came to a halt!
“F*ck!” The truck driver angrily braked. “Are you blind?! Do you f*cking know how to drive?!”
Yan Xie jumped out of his car. The driver was instantly stupefied the instant Yan Xie flashed the ID he fished out from his jacket’s inner pocket, only to see Yan Xie completely ignoring him as he charged directly towards the helpless figure standing in the middle of the crossroad.
It was Jiang Ting.
—At the sound of loud honking, it was as though Jiang Ting’s normally alert self had frozen in place, his mind drawing a vast blank. He was incapable of seeing, hearing, as well as reacting. His field of vision only included a magnified view of the scene of the crash. His distorted and shattered sense of time and place had whizzed forth, swallowing all of his consciousness. In a trance, he had returned to driving on the provincial highway three years ago amidst the torrential rain.
Yes, it was that day.
The sirens behind the car shook the sky from a distance. The intertwining red and blue lights were intermittently visible from his rearview mirror. He was like a surrounded animal that was caught in a trap, charging violently around with nowhere left to go. A voice kept repetitively muttering the same thing over and over again in his mind, he mustn’t get caught by them, he mustn’t fall into his hands—
Pressing hard on the accelerator to speed up, a truck changed lanes and charged out of nowhere in the next second.
Collision, acute pain, dizziness, the heaven revolves and the earth turns. The immeasurable sounds of honking cars occurred again and again, his memories and reality alternating with one another, blending perception and illusion together.
Very soon after, Jiang Ting felt his body become lighter, his entire world turned around. A pair of strong arms picked him up by the waist, thereby shattering his torment.
Yan Xie carried Jiang Ting, three steps turning into two as he moved across the street, charging straight into the sidewalk. He placed him on the bench by the street, grabbing onto his chin to force him to lift his head and look towards him. “Hey, what’s wrong with you? Wake up!”
“Look at me talking!”
Jiang Ting’s eyes stopped focusing, his lips slightly trembling. Immediately, it was as though he’d woken up from a nightmare, abruptly gripping onto Yan Xie’s hand that was still holding his chin.
“…I’m sorry,” Jiang Ting panted as he apologized, “I’m sorry.”
Yan Xie stared at him from an upper angle. The close distance clearly reflected his facial features deep in his eyes, showing what he hadn’t seen at last night’s crime scene. Even the very arc of his eyelashes, the dark shadows under his exhausted eyes, along with the slightly discolored corners of his mouth were nakedly displayed before him, with nowhere for him to hide.
At that exact moment, a figure once again emerged indistinctly from the bottom of his heart.
But soon, he was interrupted.
Suddenly realizing that he was out of bounds, Jiang Ting instantly released Yan Xie’s hands, his upper torso backing away to pull some distance between them. He lifted his eyes and asked, “Officer Yan?”
In an instant, the usually clear-headed Jiang Ting had once again made his return. Apart from the slightly flustered look revealed on his deathly pale face, he was once again equipped with his intangible shields, all thanks to the backward movement he’d made earlier.
Yan Xie stood up and coughed.
“Sit here and wait for me,” he ordered curtly, before taking large strides towards the traffic jam on the road.
‘Were it to benefit my country I would lay down my life; What then is risk…’ : The first two characters of the poem ‘苟利国家生死以，岂因祸福避趋之‘ (gǒu lì guó jiā shēng yǐ sǐ，qǐ yīn huò fú bì qū zhī) spelled out Gou Li’s name.
Ah Gou : Yan Xie called him Gou using the dog character in chinese, a pun on Gou Li’s name.
MDMA : 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as ecstasy, is a psychoactive drug primarily used as a recreational drug. The desired effects include altered sensations and increased energy, empathy, and pleasure. (Stolen from Wikipedia)