Volume 1: Case 502 – The Intoxicated Frozen Corpse
Yan Xie heard the voice of his younger self say hesitantly, “Um, Captain Jiang…”
“You believed him?” asked Qin Chuan, looking slightly skeptical.
Yan Xie locked his fingers together in a strictly manner. After a short pause, he gradually explained, “The technicians are working on recovering the surveillance footage. If they’re able to find proof that he wasn’t at the scene, I’ll believe him.”
The Vice-Captain’s office was filled with the mixed stench of instant noodles left overnight and cigarette smoke. The sounds of people bustling about could be heard from outside. The officers who didn’t have any night shifts were beginning to report for duty in quick succession.
“But Old Yan, that’s bullshit. Feng Yuguang’s dean and academic advisor both said his results were horrible. They’d thank the heavens if he could even complete his graduation thesis. Yet, that Chu Ci said he desperately wanted to bet with him on the doctorate exam? And he wanted to work on the project? Feng Yuguang indulged himself with TV series, games, and picking up girls every day. It literally isn’t in his character to be fascinated with learning. And just listen to Chu Ci’s statement. Don’t tell me you didn’t hear him spouting lies just now? That brat is definitely hiding a lot of things from us!”
Yan Xie pointed his finger at Qin Chuan’s face, shaking it left to right in front of Qin Chuan’s nose. “I’ll reserve my opinion for the first half. But I very much agree with whatever you said after.”
“…There were some things he tried to cover up.”
Half an hour earlier, the interrogation room.
“He made a bet to take the doctorate exam.”
“He made a bet that he’ll definitely get a Ph.D.,” Chu Ci said grudgingly. “I don’t know what gave him the confidence to say that. Maybe it was because of his end-of-term results— he always manages to miraculously scrape through with a passing grade.”
Yan Xie and the investigator responsible for recording the statement exchanged glances with one another, both of them extremely surprised by this new discovery. Yan Xie quickly turned to Chu Ci. “…How did you end up talking about this topic?”
“When I entered the room, he was studying. There was an experiment he didn’t understand and so he asked me whether I could explain some things to him. Our relationship isn’t so bad that we won’t even talk to each other, so I taught him for like about twenty minutes. There were a few points later on that he couldn’t catch no matter how I explained it. So I told him that we’d leave it at that for the day since that part was just for an extra-curricular extension. Even if he didn’t understand it, it wouldn’t have a big impact on his studies.”
“That’s when he panicked and told me not to look down on him. He said he’s not as bad as everyone else. If he really wanted to get his doctorate, he could,” Chu Ci explained. “I wasn’t actually looking down on him.”
Yan Xie thought deep down that everyone understood. In many cases, the top student would never realize the natural discrimination they held towards a slag student. Yet the slag student in question was very sensitive. But he didn’t express anything on the surface, only asking, “So you two made a bet? What was the bet about?”
“The project. If he managed to get his Ph.D., then I would do the project with him.”
“If he didn’t pass?”
Chu Ci suddenly fell silent for a good few seconds before eventually replying, “He’ll lose one dollar to me.”
Everyone outside the interrogation room froze.
“…” Yan Xie verified once more. “One dollar?”
“I didn’t believe he could pass and I couldn’t be bothered to take advantage of it. But his emotions were all over the place at the time and he was determined to argue with me. I just wanted to quickly get rid of him so I could go to the lab.” Chu Ci gave a long sigh. This time, his voice cracked a little. “If I knew that would be my last time seeing him, I’d probably stay longer… at the very least I’d help him understand the last few topics.”
Silence engulfed the interrogation room as everyone fell into their own train of thoughts. They could only hear the sounds of their own breaths.
“Can I ask you something? Feng Yuguang, how… did he die?”
Yan Xie recovered from his thoughts and gave a non-committal sound, before casually saying, “Hallucination caused by drugs.”
Chu Ci was caught by surprise. “That’s impossible. He did drugs?”
“There are still uncertainties to this case so there is a need for us to thoroughly investigate his death. We aren’t permitted to reveal details to the public during the investigation phase. I’m sure there’s no need to remind you about the legislation involved, especially for a talented student like yourself.”
Closing the shorthand pad, Yan Xie stood up and stretched his shoulders. As though he finally recalled something, he said, “By the way, one last question. When my colleague asked you about the branded bag just now, why did you flatly deny any knowledge about it?”
Chu Ci had already stood up. When he heard the question, he appeared a little hesitant.
“…I didn’t want any trouble.”
Pausing for a moment, he avoided Yan Xie’s line of sight, then continued, “He gave me a bag without any reason. I really couldn’t understand why… If something that strange happened to you, you’d normally try to get as far away as you can. Isn’t that right, Officer?”
“It was indeed strange. But based on that fact alone, we cannot conclude that Chu Ci is a suspect.”
Yan Xie opened the windows, allowing the fresh morning air to surge in, sweeping away the fermented stench of various things left overnight in the office. Qin Chuan stood behind the office desk, still feeling rather puzzled at the whole situation. “How so?”
“If I wanted to kill my roommate, I’d pick a place I knew. Not somewhere thousands of miles away in an unknown city. Truth be told, 90% of the cases involving students getting hurt happen within the school itself. If he really wanted to kill someone, it was more convenient to stage a lab accident than using hyoscine and MDMA to kill him.”
Qin Chuan looked on thoughtfully.
“However,” Yan Xie changed the topic under discussion. “Chu Ci’s statement did give me a bit of insight.”
“It’s still a bit muddled now. I can’t explain it properly yet. I have this distinct feeling that Feng Yuguang’s death had something to do with his vow to pass the doctorate exam. The sudden breakdown of the surveillance cam in the industrial chemical corporation happened very coincidentally as well.”
“But now your godfather only wants to sleep.” Yan Xie turned around and gave a long stretch. “For the sake of living the rich life after work to entertain the city’s young women, the handsome and easy-going, boundlessly charismatic Brother Yan has suffered from constant defeats on his endless journey in matchmaking. I’ll still keep on fighting despite the continual setbacks, exerting myself to the limit until I die from having my nuts drained. Therefore, I urgently need two hours to sleep like a baby without worries to alleviate my tormented heart…”
Qin Chuan scoffed. “Stop blowing your own trumpet. Having your nuts drained? In your dreams.”
To which Yan Xie replied, “Just masturbate hard until you purge it all out. You never tried it before?”
“By the way.” Yan Xie suddenly recalled something again and he stopped Qin Chuan from leaving. “Help me inform the field personnel. Tell them to use the scene of the crime as a focal point and instantly deploy surveillance to do a thorough sweep of the second-hand luxury brand stores in the city.”
Qin Chuan asked, “Second-hand stores?”
“Look for the target’s backpack, it lost a zipper slider,” Yan Xie continued. “It’s a new and high-quality brand so it’s more likely to be recognized. I don’t believe that someone stole it to use as a grocery bag back home.”
Even in the City Bureau, Yan Xie was a rare existence—he didn’t need any rest.
He was a freak who could work hard for three days and two nights in a row while still in great spirits. A devil who could break into a mad run, chasing down drug dealers for dozens of miles without rest. He could endure more than a petty thief, be more active than a serial killer and was even more persistent and violent than a bank robber. With him joining the team, the actual Captain of the Detachment was finally able to find enough free time to do the cardiac catheterization surgery he didn’t have time for all these years.
Pulling the curtains to a close, Yan Xie leaned on his desk, thinking pensively about the statement earlier with his eyes shut tight. There was a sneaking suspicion he hadn’t yet figured out emerging from the bottom of his heart. However, when he tried to focus even the slightest bit of attention on it, the piece of insight would turn into a naughty fish, swimming away with a flick of its tail.
“That’s impossible. He did drugs?”
“He constantly parties and comes back late. He enjoys playing games.”
“Perhaps his results that always seem to miraculously manage to scrape the passing mark gave him the confidence…”
What did a barely studying, rich second-generation boy do to earn enough marks to pass every single time? What gave him the confidence that he would successfully pass the doctorate exam?
If it were some other university, there was a high chance something fishy was going on. But the prestige of Chu Ci’s university instantly ruled out the possibility of bribery using money.
—Then among all this, could it have anything to do with Feng Yuguang’s death?
Inhaling a deep breath of air, Yan Xie knew he needed to seize the moment to take a nap so he dismissed all those distracting thoughts, burying his head in the dark space between his arm and his wooden office desk.
The sounds of voices outside the door gradually faded away, the flow of cars below the building of the Criminal Investigation Unit turned into silence. In a split second, he submerged into a deep sea where he drifted between being half-awake and half-asleep. His sense of space and time quietly merged together, overturning the subconscious mind he had long forgotten onto the water surface.
Absent-mindedly, he left the office, stepping right into a large hall bustling with activity.
Incessant laughter hit his ears as people drank and gambled together in large groups. It seemed to be a festive grand ceremony. He stood out of the way between the tables and chairs when suddenly, someone behind him laughed, “Why are you running around like a headless chicken? He’s over there. Hurry up and thank him.”
Thank him? Yan Xie thought deep down. Thank him for?
I used my life to obtain everything I have today. Who do I have to thank for that?
But he couldn’t control himself in his dream, so he staggered towards the front engulfed by the tide of people. He’d lost count of the number of people he passed by, all with blurry faces as they laughed heartily without restraint. A bright light finally emerged up ahead, only to outline a slender and tall figure whose back was facing him, leaning against the window. He was whispering something into his phone.
“Yan Xie, hurry up and give him a toast. You’ve been fooling around for so long, if it weren’t for Captain Jiang, would that second-class merit ever fall into your lap?”
“Go up there! What’re you zoning out for?”
“Look at you. You don’t even know what to say anymore. Aren’t you normally quite the talker? Since when were you so tongue-tied?”
No. I earned my own achievements. It has nothing to do with anyone else.
Why should I give him a toast? I didn’t depend on anybody! At the crucial moment, was there anyone else besides me who risked his life and limb to stall that drug dealer?!
It was as though numerous voices were making a racket from within his own heart. Yet in reality, Yan Xie only took one step forward. He wasn’t able to control his own limbs, the heavy resentment he bore wasn’t capable of resisting the greater intangible force propelling him forward. As though he was reenacting a scene that had happened before, he raised his glass of wine and heard the voice of his younger self say hesitantly, “Um, Captain Jiang…”
Then, he once again saw that scene.
In all those dreams that seemed falsely true, only this scene felt real. It was so clear and vivid that it felt as though it happened yesterday.
The figure was making a call. Without turning his head, he only lifted a hand. Five lanky fingers spread out from his palm, forming a gentle and firm rejection.
“I know,” the man said. “Just go.”
There was no feigned civility. And there was no need for the slightest degree of flattering to curry favor. His feelings of resentment and unwillingness had no way out. The layers of mental walls he’d built up were instantly ripped away from him, and it left him feeling as light as a feather.
The weightlessness left Yan Xie at a loss on what to do at that very moment.
“Just go.” He heard the man slightly emphasize his tone.
Yan Xie didn’t remember how he turned to leave. The blood in his entire body was still rushing to his head, but that could also be due to the alcohol in his system. The surge of furious rage he was forcefully repressing was suddenly gone. The released tension made him feel muddle-headed and his feet feel lighter, as an indescribably bitter and numbing sensation saturated the tip of his tongue.
But he should be happy.
He had proven himself, although the enemy paid him no heed, and it didn’t require him to clash against him unnecessarily.
Yan Xie went past the hubbub in the hall, wandering through the winding corridor. He kept in his heart the blood and tears he’d accumulated in his decade-long career as an investigator, and he tossed the five years of hardships and frustrations he felt as a vice-captain behind him.
He walked towards the office he knew all too well and placed his head on his arms, sinking into a momentary and hurried deep sleep.
With a quiver, Yan Xie woke up with a start, only to catch sight of the phone on the desk ringing madly. Mind still clouded in a haze, he subconsciously picked up the phone and answered, “Hello?”
His mind was still muddled, but soon Ma Xiang’s booming voice clamored loudly, “Brother Yan! Logistics have transferred a case someone reported to the centre to you!”
“What case report?” Yan Xie was still a little befuddled. “Who made it?”
Ma Xiang completely banished the last trace of drowsiness he had in the next second.
“Lu Chengjiang,” replied Ma Xiang. “The polite guy on a wheelchair from the 502 Frozen Corpse Case—you still remember him? He filed a report. Logistics found it to be very urgent so they asked us to hurry up and head there right away.”